personal

happy new year // personal

phew.

what a year. i won't go into a paragraphs-long recap of 2015, i'll spare you that ;), but i will say thank you to everyone who has supported me this year. i ventured out and tried something new, i vowed to say "yes" more often, and to get uncomfortable in the hopes of learning something new and growing as a story teller and as a person. and because of the wonderful people in my life i've been able to capture memories of new babies and race cars and weddings, of people madly in love and of landscapes i never thought i'd see in a million years. i feel incredibly invigorated and excited about 2016, and i hope you too are looking ahead with passion and aim and optimism. and drive.

cheers to a very happy new year.

and thank you. :)

here are a few of my favorite images from 2015, of the places and experiences i've loved, and the people i love even more. they're not necessarily the most "technically" perfect photos, some are maybe out of focus, others are overexposed, but they capture more than the moment, and that feeling is why i take pictures in the first place.

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5 fishing licenses and some thoughts on success // personal

success has many different faces. it can look like an award or a promotion, it can look like stacks of little green paper, or it can look like complete and utter exhaustion.

it's cliche, i know, but here are merriam-webster's various definitions for 'success':

  1. favorable or desired outcome; also: the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence
  2. the correct or desired result of an attempt

therefore, if you've tried something, anything, and you've ended up where you'd hoped you would, you've succeeded. 

did you attempt to make hot, delicious, fresh coffee this morning, and did?! congratulations! you've succeeded. did you tell someone, genuinely, "thank you", with the hope that it would make them feel appreciated and valued? hooray! it worked! you succeeded. or, a year ago, did you hope that some day down the road you'd be in a better place, that you'd somehow, by some miracle of your own doing, be able to make it through whatever shit storm was clouding up your world at the time? hey, guess what? it's a year from then. and you're still you, and you're successful.

sometimes it really is about the tiny little victories.

this year has been a whirlwind for me. i didn't have a concrete plan when i came back home to moab in the spring, but i knew i wanted flexibility in my schedule, that i wanted to spend more time on photography, and that i absolutely wanted to get outside more, specifically to ride and run new trails and fish and float new rivers and streams. this morning i'm thinking about a fishing trip to a new place, with the best person, and about buying my fifth fishing license for the year. without a doubt there is always something to be working towards, ways in which you can make yourself better and do more for those around you, but this morning, with this cup of coffee, i feel pretty damn successful.

cheers to your monday. :)

and as a sort of unrelated follow-up, here are some photos from a recent trip down hells canyon on the snake river. there aren't really words big enough to describe these people or that place. 

staycation // personal

i've spent the last few days indulging - in rich foods, a lot of wine, and new experiences. i've also laughed and laughed and laughed with some of my oldest friends, as well as some new ones that feel like old friends just the same. from a ski out to a fancy restaurant where we shared a four course meal and then proceeded to have our faces painted by a woman at a neighboring table, to an overnight hot springs trip that included waterfall jumps, homemade pizza, and interpretive dancing, it's been a good week. i hope everyone gets to enjoy a little vacation in their backyard sometime soon. :)

she started it...

she started it...

i don't know if there is anything funnier than five people on skis, who don't ski, ever, skiing home after a few cocktails and a bottle of wine, in the dark.

i don't know if there is anything funnier than five people on skis, who don't ski, ever, skiing home after a few cocktails and a bottle of wine, in the dark.

hearts like sponges // personal

grandcanyonstars

there's nothing quite like it. walking down the sidewalk in a new town, where no one knows your name, no one knows your story, your history, your faults or weaknesses or mistakes. you are a clean slate, a stranger and newcomer. it's an opportunity for new beginnings and new relationships, a chance to explain yourself using different words. who are you? where are you from? what do you do? you can answer these questions in myriad ways, and now is your chance to reshape your self.

oh, but it's exhausting, isn't it? the repetitiveness. the expectations and explanations and assumptions made by first impressions that can't be taken back. the excitement of something new is always tainted by time; what was once a mystery becomes old hat and you're left with yet another ending, another experience you are supposed to be grateful for, one you're supposed to learn from and grow from, right? that's what they say, isn't it? they ask you to be patient and understanding and thankful for everything. but at what point are you so sick and tired of going through the motions that you're not grateful any more? at what point are you so defeated that you don't see the beauty in every damn thing but only the truth that it will all come to a close and you'll be left with nothing but the thoughts floating around in your head and the love in your heart that has nowhere to go. how do you manage that existential, entirely depressing realization that maybe, this time, it was all for nothing? 

grandraven

i recently spoke with a good friend about this disheartening topic. they let me word vomit all over the place, dumping every thing every thought every emotion out until i could say no more. and then, like we usually do, we tried to figure out what the point of all this nonsense was. the heavy hearts, the fleeting moments of absolute beauty, the headaches and lies and infidelities and pure joy of it all. a person i never knew personally but who was close with many of my friends passed away recently. he had been battling cancer for as long as i knew him and he ended up leaving his friends and family a few days ago. on or right around that very same day, two of my friends got engaged and a dear friend gave birth to her first child, a heathy baby boy. how the hell are we supposed to reconcile all of these things? how do we mourn for the loss of a soul that shouldn't have been taken so soon, a dear friend to so many dear friends, and rejoice in the birth of a new little man and the union of two fabulous people in love? i felt as though my head and heart were going to explode with the range of emotions capable in all of these events. but this is what we are, this is the purpose. i said to my friend that i didn't think we (meaning me) were capable of dealing with all of this, all at one time. without skipping a beat they rejected my statement, arguing that we are capable, we have to be, for that is part of what it means to be human. we are resilient beyond measure and are tested every goddamn day to prove that point. it can be miserable and draining and utterly consuming, but there is a beauty in the way we can carry all of this and still wake up every day and do it all over again. it isn't always easy, but nothing worth a damn ever is.

so that's what i'll hold on to. i don't feel like being grateful today, but i can sit with the knowledge that we are all suited for this life, every single one of us. with a toolbox of sentiments and hearts like sponges, we'll all wake up tomorrow and do it all over again. 

desert magic // personal

belief? what do i believe in? i believe in sun. in rock. in the dogma of the sun and the doctrine of the rock. i believe in blood, fire, woman, rivers, eagles, storm, drums, flutes, banjos, and broom-tailed horsesā€¦
— edward abbey

what is it about the desert that keeps me coming back for more? it's hot and uncomfortable most of the year, nearly every plant you walk by makes you bleed if you come too close, and water can be very, very hard to come by. in short, it's harsh. this environment is rocky and dry and seemingly empty. aha! but that's just it: 

the emptiness.

here you have nothing to save you, nothing to protect you from the blazing sun except for a lone juniper impossibly hanging onto the edge of a cliff. it is vast and huge and seemingly vacant of life. looking off into the distance you see mostly sky, wide open sky, with nothing but a thin line of scarlet on the edge of the horizon. in the desert it seems as though everything is working against you, everything wants to tear your skin, shred your clothes, starve you, and burn you.

but the emptiness.

you cannot hide from yourself in the desert. you won't find comfort under a grove of redwoods, the company of which seems to be incredibly soothing. you won't get lost in the sound of the ocean's waves crashing onto the shore, spending your time searching for seashells and driftwood and sea glass. there's nothing here to distract or dissuade you from looking anywhere but in. 

here i can breathe. i can battle my way up rocks and blast my way down trails that are mere feet from hundred-feet drop offs. i am exposed, ripped open, and i feel alive. vulnerable, i can push the limit of what i think is comfortable and come out the other side stronger, better, smarter. 

i recently was able to spend five days out in my backyard, in a place i had never been. there was a lot of time for thinking and climbing and hiking talus slopes that definitely did not want me and my heavy pack anywhere near them, but i did squeeze in a couple photos. if you don't live in the desert, i hope you get the chance to spend some time out there. it's magic.

lucky? // personal

if you know me or you've been paying attention to most of the photos i've been sharing lately, you may have noticed that i've been spending a great deal of my free time in western colorado. this is for a number of reasons (fly-fishing, mountain biking, it's hot in moab, etc.), and on my most recent trip i mentioned to a friend back home in moab that i was in aspen for a really quick, twenty-four hour trip to visit some friends. she responded that i was, "lucky". this gave me pause. lucky? i didn't fall into a car and end up in aspen. i wasn't asked to go along with anyone (my only companion this time around was the best dog i know), i wasn't paid to go or obligated in any way to be there. i wanted to go, so i went.

now, this is not to say that everything is quite so simple. i've set my life up in such a way that trips like these are do-able, pretty much on a weekly basis, because seeing and doing new things is what drives me and fulfills me unlike anything else. i know what makes me happy so i've done my best to create a life that leaves room for those things. my spanish teacher in college was a total badass (this seems like a tangent. it's not.). she grew up in el salvador, taught herself english and french, travelled all over the world, and finally landed in redlands, california as a professor of her native language. she was going through a divorce (with another professor in the language department) during one of the years that i was in her class and she would sometimes stop in the middle of her lecture and leave the room to cry. it was horrible to know that someone was wholly suffering right in front of you, yet it was inspiring to watch her come in, day after day, and laugh at a room full of 19 and 20 year olds singing the lyrics to some ridiculous shakira song, or shake her head at us for once again forgetting what the hell the subjunctive was. she said something to us one day that i will never forget: you have to make time for what you want. it sounds so simple, so obvious, but the most poignant thoughts usually are as such. YOU have to make the time. for most of us, the good things don't just fall into our laps. if you want to travel the world, you have to make time do so. you have to choose a job that allows you to make a lot of money in a short amount of time, and that allows you to take off for 3 months to see what you want to see. you have to be able to leave your place of residence without any strings attached. you have to keep your possessions to a minimum so you don't have too much to store at friends' places when you disappear to africa, or thailand, or mexico.

you have to make the time.

without a doubt, there are things that get in the way. health, family, relationships, finances, etc. sometimes the universe throws a wrench in your sweet plan of dirtbagging your way through the pacific northwest. so deal with whatever needs to be dealt with, and keep working towards your dream. and it doesn't necessarily have to be a dream of travel and gypsy-livin'. the dream can be grad school or owning your own business or it can be creating a family and building a home, from scratch. whatever it is, don't stop thinking about it. don't stop working on it. don't stop creating inventive new ways of making it happen. don't stop.

we're all moving forward anyway, might as well be moving in the direction of our dreams.

happy fall. ;) these are some photos from a recent trip up to our local mountains.




to return // personal

six years ago this winter i worked on a guest ranch about forty-five minutes north of steamboat springs, colorado. my job was in no way glamorous - i wore a pine-green fleece vest and served filet mignon and fresh fish to politicians and members of that top echelon of folks who are kind and polite, but who you (i?) will never stand shoulder to shoulder with. my so cal blood experienced a full-blown colorado winter for the first time. i spent my days learning to skate ski on the ranch's private trails, drinking my fair share of pendleton whiskey with a pretty amazing group of badass folks, and listening to the pregnant silence of the world when it is completely blanketed in the purest, whitest snow i had ever seen.

this past weekend i returned to that same place. not the ranch, exactly, but the south fork of the elk river that runs just across from the property. we drove along the road i used to run on six years before, covered from head to toe except for my cheeks, and i couldn't help but think of where i was then and where i am now. it's difficult to crawl out of your moment, your day, your perspective, to see beyond the lip of the bowl you're living in and stand tall to view the horizon and the beauty of the unknown that's ahead. it's difficult mostly because you just don't know what's around the next bend. that was a hard winter, one of transition and big choices. i made some wrong ones, without a doubt, but learned and grew from them like all of us do. i spent a year in oregon, and the last four, almost five, in moab, only to return to that same plot of land happier than i've been since who knows when. it's hard to believe the same person who worked in that lodge is the same person who drove by it a few days ago. to return to a place, noticeably changed, is both strange and utterly empowering.

i spent the day with incredible people who i am lucky to know. i learned how to fly fish and, excuse the pun, think i might be hooked. i spent the day outside, in the water and sunshine, completely consumed by the moment, learning something new with the best people.

what else is there?

driving through the desert // personal

i spent the last seventy-two hours cruising through utah, nevada, arizona, and california. a glorified (and very expensive) trip to the beach in a friend's car ended up being just what i needed to clear my head and recharge. i guess sometimes you just need twenty solo hours in a car and a long run on the beach to figure out what's what. after i nearly lost my voice singing along with garth brooks, i let the silence settle in. i steeped myself in the emptiness and opened the car door to whatever wanted to come along on the drive. i ate a lot of jolly ranchers and drank what was probably the worst cup of coffee i've ever had, but i also discovered that i am doing exactly what i want to be doing, that i'm right where i'm supposed to be. i still have a very long way to go, but i'm moving in the right direction.

we all only have one shot to get this thing right. make a decision, make a plan, and run with it. 

"it is a paradox that is rooted in the dream that many of us have of immersing ourselves so deeply and inextricably into a pocket of landscape, or a stretch of river - anything that seems to embody the wildness and the magic we feel we have lost - that we can somehow take possession of those places and make them ours.

yet the truth, like an eddy, runs in the opposite direction.

in the end, it is they that claim us. and we who belong to them."

-  kevin fedarko, the emerald mile

a free riverside concert // personal

living in a small town has plenty of perks: your "commute" is worth complaining about only if it takes more than seven minutes; there's a really good chance you know the person making your latte; and if you need a pedal wrench for your bike fifteen minutes before you're supposed to meet someone for a ride, you know four different bike mechanics to call, all who live within a two block radius.

however, as with everything, there is always a downside. sometimes you gotta get out of town to listen to some free live music down by the river. last week i headed to fruita, colorado with some good people to do just that.