Visiting Volcanoes

Hiking through Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii was a surreal and incredible reminder of the power of Mother Nature. I would have never believed that so many beautiful flowering plants could live throughout a sea of hardened black lava. Nor would I have expected clouds of steam to rise from the ground in the middle of a forest. Like taking a walk through a rainforest, which leads you to the moon, where you continue on to Oz, every bit of it was amazing.


Vivid Locales: Santa Fe

Making up a friendly and creative community, the locals of Santa Fe seem to be a happy bunch. Maybe it’s the beautiful mountain views, maybe the awesome tamales, maybe living the artsy life. Whatever their secret is, I believe part of it has to do with all the vibrant colors that are woven throughout the city.

From the plaza shops to the art galleries to the farmers market, Santa Fe is full of color and personality. Visiting places like this always puts a smile on my face and makes me wonder why someone wouldn’t paint their front door turquoise…?

Ulica Florianska

Krakow, Poland

I took this photo from inside the chapel in St. Florian’s Gate, which over looks Ulica Florianska, a fun and lively street full of cafes, shops, and pubs. At the other end of the street is the beautiful Mariacka Basilica. Down this street alone, I purchased a lovely piece of amber jewelry, had an amazing plate of pierogi, found a Krakow Christmas Creche (nativity) to take home, and enjoyed some great live jazz at an underground club…. yes, I did see other parts of the city too.

Prague from Above

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague, Czech Republic

I would say that Prague is the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen, but I don’t think that’s fair to the others. I felt like I stepped into a fairy tale when I arrived, so unless I’m comparing it to Gondor or wherever Cinderella lives (neither of which have I visited, just to be clear) it’s in a category all on it’s own.

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague, Czech Republic

Filled up over the centuries with beautiful architecture as far as the eye can see, Prague is a breathtaking site from above. These are some of my favorite shots from high up in the Powder Tower and Prague Castle. Up high or down on street level though, it’s such a gem. I loved getting lost in it’s magic.

3 Things I Learned from the Big Island

Visiting Hawaii gave me the opportunity to slow down (even though we had a non-stop agenda), get away from the stress of everyday life, and gain a fresh perspective on the important things. Reconnecting with nature, taking in the sweet air, stopping to soak in the beauty that surrounded me, I recognized that I could take away some valuable lessons from the Big Island.

1) Ignore the scary things along your path and just keep going

I was terrified to continue down a rainforest trail once I spotted some big, crunchy spiders looming in the foliage, but if I hadn’t continued on, I would have missed so much. Too often I let the little things scare me from moving forward with something I really want to go after, but like worrying what might crawl up my leg in a beautiful Hawaiian garden, I need to get over my fears of what might happen and focus on the waterfalls, palms, and orchids of life.

2) Jump right in

I had been really looking forward to the opportunity to snorkel with dolphins out in the Pacific ocean, but my crazy imagination (and the fact that I’ve watched Jaws a few too many times) got me a little panicky once it was time to get in the water. After some deep breaths and the added security of a noodle (tiger sharks would never go after someone with a long floaty thing), I was able to relax and truly enjoy the experience. Each time we stopped to get in the water, I felt more at ease and learned to jump right in. I didn’t want to miss a second of swimming with these beautiful, graceful creatures. I guess life should always be like that. If there is something you want to experience or accomplish, jump right in and stop wasting time.

3) Always be ready

You never know when an amazing opportunity will come your way, and like trying to capture spinner dolphins jumping out of the water, you need to always be ready.

Hopefully my new braver, bolder, ready-to-pounce-on-any-opportunity-that-comes-my-way self will stick around for awhile. I’m ready for some great adventures.

Time Traveling to Lapakahi

Like dreaming and time traveling all at once, my hike through Lapakahi State Historical Park was a surreal and mystical journey. Tucked into a quiet corner of the Big Island, and with only a handful of other visitors, I felt like I found the most beautiful secret hiding place.

Surrounded by earthy lava plains, this turquoise and green oasis takes you back to the time of the Hawaiian heiau (temple) and hale (thatched home). It’s easy to see why settlers chose this spot hundreds of years ago, but I won’t ramble on explaining how gorgeous it is. I took pictures to show you.

Maybe Canada Did It

The Ambassador Bridge

My quick trip to over the border this afternoon got me thinking… maybe Canada did it. Living in Detroit my whole life with the Great White North just a twenty minute drive from home, I have always enjoyed visiting our neighbors. Whether it be a long weekend in Toronto or Montreal, or a couple hours spent across the river in Windsor, it’s always a thrill to be in another country (even if the only way to tell I’ve left the States is seeing the signs in English and French – sortie!).

I have been a big fan of many things Canadian for a long time. Hockey, The Tragically Hip, Canadian ketchup and ketchup chips (yes, it’s so delicious they’ve made it a potato chip flavor) are just a few of my Canadian loves. While it’s not exactly culture shock, I have always appreciated the somewhat subtle differences of the Canadian way of life.

So I’ve come to the conclusion that it all started there. Canada triggered my wanderlust, my never ending desire to visit new places and experience new cultures (even if they’re just a hop, skip, and a jump away, eh).

Karluv Most

Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic

There is a legend that says you if you make a wish while touching one of the 30 statues on the Charles Bridge (or Karluv Most in Czech), it will come true. Unfortunately, I touched the wrong one. That’s ok though, it just gives me yet another reason to return to beautiful Prague.

Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic

Construction on the bridge began in 1357, and less than 40 years later poor St. John was thrown from it for not revealing the Queen’s confession to King Wenceslas IV. Today on the bridge though, you will see a lot of non-violent (and quite talented) artists and musicians selling paintings of the city and playing everything from classical music to Metallica.

Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic

Like most visitors, I traveled over the bridge many times during my visit, and even under it once or twice. With beautiful views of the Vltava River and the gorgeous architecture of both the Old Town and Prague Castle, I could have parked myself there for a full day just to take pictures.

Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic

Lost in Recoleta

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina

When taking photos, I usually like to get lost in the moment, wandering aimlessly while snapping photos of whatever strikes me as interesting, and for the most part, blocking out everything else going on around me. In Buenos Aires though, I got lost… literally… and in a giant cemetery no less.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina

At first I wasn’t super thrilled with the idea of visiting Recoleta Cemetera, but we were in the area and thought we would see what all the talk was about. A few steps in I was sold. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before and I immediately started snapping photos.

I was so busy taking pictures that it took me awhile to realize I had no idea where my travel companions were. Not thinking much of it though, I continued snapping photos until I realized no one was around at all.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina

I was spooked (even though, as you can tell from the photos, this all happened during a bright and sunny afternoon… no, I’m not exactly what you would call “brave”). After a few panicky minutes of running around trying my hardest not to see any ghostly apparitions or encounter any zombies, I finally heard voices! Nothing goolish to my relief, I heard nice normal voices, and finally saw other people. All was well once again.

Meeting Kraków


Krakow, Poland

Krakow, Poland

I couldn’t believe I was there. I had been so excited to meet Kraków, and it did not disappoint.

History, art, music, architecture. Lively markets and underground jazz clubs. The best pierogi ever created.



It was a trip full of wonderful experiences, but there are some I know I’ll never forget.

Receiving a warm smile from a stranger when I’m 4,000 miles from home. A silent moment spent contemplating all that had taken place inside a tiny, beautiful, thousand-year-old church. Waking up to a view of a castle.



It was incredible to meet you Kraków. I hope to see you again soon.

El Rancho de las Golondrinas

El Rancho de las Golondrinas is an amazing place to explore. I’ve never seen anything like it. Since I love checking out old places, I was pleasantly surprised to learn of it’s existence and visit the ranch in the same day, during my first (and hopefully not last) visit to Santa Fe.

Las Golondrinas dates back to the early 1700s when it was a stop on the Camino Real, a route from Santa Fe to Mexico City. Imagining the events that took place within the beautiful adobe structures and all the travelers who also took in those sweeping landscapes, not to mention the fun I had running around with my camera, it really made for an incredible afternoon.

A Wonderful Year

Atlixco, Mexico

2011 has been a wonderful year and as it comes to an end I wanted to share one of my favorite travel images from the past 12 months. I had the good fortune of traveling to Puebla for the first time and spent an afternoon in the beautiful town of Atlixco, where this shot was taken. In many ways, I hope 2012 is like this trip, full of time spent with wonderful people, new experiences, exciting adventures, and plenty of fun.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2012 full of new adventures!

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