Brown Canyon

The weather here has been phenomenal – mid 70’s for the last week! The Oregonian in me had to get out there, so I researched hiking trails in the area and settled on Brown Canyon.

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I was not disappointed! My hike through the high desert forest was incredible. The trail closely followed a creek bed, sometimes even joining it to wind through a tunnel of trees.

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I had no idea I would find such diverse and colorful plants out here! The leaves are just about finished turning and would float to the ground on the gentle breeze that flowed through the canyon.

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I stumbled across a little path about halfway up that led to what used to be an old building that seemed to be destroyed by mother nature and was now scattered about a clearing. I couldn’t believe my luck! The history there was palpable – walking around there in the absolute silence of the high desert forest was amazing. I especially love what was left of this rusty old wood stove.

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The winter sun was low in the southern sky and so warm. The only indication that winter is just around the corner are all of the orange leaves scattered about. I couldn’t stop staring at each of these that I passed – they stood out so well against the dull yellow of the grass that dominates most of the canyon.

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I thought I was hallucinating the sound of trickling water, but I eventually found a small pipe wandering along the trail. It wound all the way up to this little stream, which was where I turned around and headed back down the mountain to beat the setting sun.

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It was so peaceful out there, I can’t even explain it. I totally felt back in my element, soaking up the sun and the incredible views it gave as it set.

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Mother Nature is awe-inspiring.

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There is something peaceful about being truly alone in the silence and beauty of nature. No traffic sounds or dogs barking, no airplanes roaring above or phones buzzing, not a single voice to be heard except the one in your own head. It’s nice to escape this non-stop, hectic world and take a break from it all.

Today, just as every other day, I am thankful for this Earth, my life, and the ways I live it ❤

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Road Trip: Leg 2

Reno dawned bright, clear and freezing cold. Nothing like 26* to wake you up! We hit the road at about 9, ready for the 7 hour drive to Vegas. Once again, I took the first half of the drive so I could navigate for my ma when we hit Vegas.

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This was by far the loneliest stretch of road we saw. Miles and miles and miles passed before seeing another car. We switched drivers and filled up my car about halfway, in a small town called Tonopah.

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The highway is mostly 2 lanes the entire drive, making semi trucks obvious obstacles – or so you would think. It was so flat and clear that I could see past the 9 semis backed up in front of me, and was able to safely pass them all, in a row. Talk about an adrenaline rush! I think that may have pushed me past my fear of big rigs.

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We saw countless old, dilapidated mining towns along the way. Nothing about them had changed except the effects that time had on their seemingly ancient buildings.

Time also did a number on the geography of Nevada, slowly eroding the countless little mountain ranges we passed along the way.

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I totally nerded out over the layers of rock that glaciers, wind and rain cut through to expose the beautiful colors embedded in the rock. Shoutout to my high school geology teacher, Mr. Reaney!

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These mini-mountains were the most interesting things on this leg. Every once in a while, we would see a tiny little cluster of mobile homes and shacks, backed up against these mountains and wonder “how?”. Where do they get gas, or groceries? Do they have water or electricity?

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For those of you who don’t know, prostitution is legal in many parts of Nevada. It was no surprise when we passed this lovely run-down brothel in the middle of literal no-where. It seems business isn’t so hot with no towns around for miles and miles (shocker..). Kudos to the realtor who placed the for-sale sign over the E in “nude” –  Nud Girls sound so much more interesting. 😂

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I couldn’t believe how many of these mini-mountain ranges there were and how different they all looked! It seemed like every single one was made up of a different kind of rock.

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The closer we got to Sin City, the warmer the temps got, finally reaching 67* when we rolled into town shortly before sunset. Obviously the warmth didn’t last long.. We were disappointed to walk the strip in Vegas with jackets on – it sure didn’t feel like the desert!

I didn’t feel like lugging my camera around the strip, so the rest of the photos I took were on my phone, which I uploaded to Instagram.

Click here to see more photos and videos from my road trip, along with lots of other glimpses into how I live my life through a lens.

After walking the strip, we were in bed and watching Antiques Roadshow by 9pm. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas – even if that means watching someone discover that Grandma’s buttons are worth thousands. 😂

Road Trip: Leg 1

Our first leg was from Portland, OR to Reno, NV – the longest of the three legs: a 9 hour drive.

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I drove from Portland all the way down to Weed, CA, where my mom took over the driving and I got to shoot Mt. Shasta and the beautiful forests of Northern California, not to mention the incredible mountains off Interstate 395.

These are in the same order that they were taken so you can feel as though you were there too 🙂

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Mt. Shasta was beautiful off in the distance, as seen from the city of Weed, but even more impressive up close.

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Highway 89 in Northern Cali was lined with the most perfect, picturesque evergreens I’d ever seen, and topped with a sky so rich in blue I couldn’t believe my eyes.

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As we headed into Lassen National Forest, the elevation rose quickly and mountains loomed all around.

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The scenery changed pretty quickly from summery forests covered in sunshine to mountain peaks and evergreens topped with snow.

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We’d crest the top of one peak and descend into the valley below, usually filled with cows munching on cud.

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The highway wound around tons of beautiful little town nestled into the forest – McCloud was my favorite.

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The farther south-east we went, the more snow we saw.

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This is one of my favorite shots from the entire 24 hours we spent in the car:

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The road was almost completely empty, aside from a semi here and there. It was incredibly peaceful and serene.

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After finally descending out of the forest, we passed through another sweet little town called Susanville. The sun setting over the mountains surrounding it only added to the town’s charm.

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I’m such a sucker for a sunset. If you look close, you can see wisps of fog at the base of the mountain and cows in the pasture. I was starved and wanted to eat one for dinner, but we snacked on Sour Patch Kids instead – much healthier 😉

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This was the last photo I took that day, and I’m bummed that it doesn’t do the view justice. The entire sky was painted in pastel pink and orange, and was beautiful when offset by the bright white of the mountains.

We rolled into Reno at about 6, checked into our hotel, had dinner and passed out shortly after. We woke up to blue skies and 26* temps. BRRRR!

After waking up early to get a kick start on the traffic, we started our trip to Las Vegas!

Stay tuned for leg #2! 🙂

Pumpkin Drilling!

I’ll never carve another pumpkin!!

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I couldn’t tell you how many carving knives I’ve busted throughout the years; How many times I’ve cut myself rather than the pumpkin and how many hours I’ve spent trying to perfect little details with awkward tools. Never again.

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My detail-oriented brain was in absolute heaven with the precision, and finally for the first time ever, I was actually in love with how my pumpkin turned out! Plus I felt like a total badass with that power drill in my hand. 😉

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I only used 3 tools total – the drill, a big serving spoon, and a knife for cutting the tops off. As with any pumpkin decorating that is lit from within, you’ve still got to scoop out the nasty goop. Gag.

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Pumpkin innards give me heebie-jeebies like you wouldn’t believe! I am definitely a spoon-user – you couldn’t pay me enough to use my bare hands. I’ve been a total wimp about it since I first started carving as a kid, when I imagined the insides were ice cold brains with a bunch of slippery teeth mixed in. My dad, on the other hand, likes to imagine that his pumpkins had a bit too much fun the night before and saves the goop so he can use it as “pumpkin puke”. I only like to save the seeds.

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Stay tuned for more on these seeds – I’m going to roast them for my first time today!

After scooping out the innards, really scrape the inside until it is clean, smooth and light in color. This will prevent your pumpkin from rotting quickly. Next my mom and I drew dots on our pumpkins with ballpoint pens, her pumpkin taking on a sophisticated floral pattern, mine trying to be a spooky spiderweb.

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My favorite benefit to drilling rather than carving? The choices in size of the drill-bits – I used four different sizes to mix and match, and also to add depth to my design. Simply attach the drill-bit you want to use, place it to your design, and gently pull the trigger. I started out slow but sped up once I got the hang of it. Watch out for the pumpkin shavings that will start to fly! I had to move my glass of wine to a safe zone so as not to drink my pumpkin. 😋

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Our pumpkins came out looking totally unique! The flickering candles within make each hole look like a glittering star. They give halloween a more sophisticated and grown-up feel, without losing the spirit of the season. Scooping, designing, drilling and all, this project took us less than two hours!

I have a new favorite tradition. 🙂

Bright Futures ~

Kassidy and Kate are absolute naturals in front of the camera! They look like they’ve been modeling for years – smiles always at the ready and so comfortable in their own skin.

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As much as they feed off of one another when together, they’re equally as cute and photogenic individually.

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The best part, though, is that Kassidy and Kate are both wonderful young women with bright futures.

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Throwing it back to the beginning of October, when I photographed these two love birds. This is still one of my favorite sessions ever – the happiness is just oozing from them and we got so lucky with the weather!

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