Crinkled Maps, High Hopes and Rain Clouds- Loch Lomond, Scotland

The day started earlier than I expected, at 5am. Jetlag sucks, but at least it helped me get an early start to the day, which included a brisk walk down into the center of Morningside (the district in Edinburgh my hotel was located in) to pick up some breakfast and grab pastries to bring along the planned roadtrip up to Loch Lomond. The day was already a bit rainy but I had hopes that maybe it would clear up as it went on. I also had hopes that I wouldn’t completely collapse on the side of some Scottish mountain while trying to keep up with someone who was much more accustomed to being out and about in the woods than me. Only one of these two would be fully realized (lets take a guess which one).

Fun side story: the week before I left for this trip, actually just 4 days beforehand, I endured a grueling hour long 3-person panel interview for a new position at work that I still wasn’t even sure if I actually wanted. The reason this is relevant is because I couldn’t help from worrying about hearing back about it, as I can be a tight-knit ball of stress sometimes that doesn’t know how to relax even when on vacation. I do honestly still feel bad that Rob had to deal with that while just trying to enjoy this mid morning hike up around Loch Lomond that we eventually decided on, but then again he’s been my friend for a good bit now and knows my personality can be a fun grab bag of both good and bad. 

The thing about this hike was, I didn’t realize till about a 3rd of the way- at the point where I needed to take a break every 15 minuets- that we would only be going straight up and the landscape wouldn’t level out till we started making out way back down. It was at this point that I decided to just gracefully bow out of further physical exertion and head back down to the lakeside to rest and de-stress. Though it would have perhaps have been more interesting for me (and this blogs readers) if Rob had followed me down and we had tried a different trail or continued exploring the area together, I urged him to finish the hike as he had been really excited to do it and I didn’t feel it was fair for him to miss out on the experience just because i’m a dumpster fire mess sometimes.

So after we parted ways, I took my time on the winding trail heading back down to the lake, photographing the beautiful landscape as it was laid out before me, the air so crisp and clean and scented with something I still can’t quite put my finger on. Green, wild and unknown. Eventually making it back down to the lake I spent the next two hours writing in my travel journal, talking to my boyfriend back home who helped me stop worrying about everything (the lost credit card, the potential job I was waiting to hear back from, the idea of meeting up with a bunch more people I had never met in real life and wondering if we would all get along, the stress of traveling through all new countries mostly by myself, ect) and by the time Rob made it back from the hike my head was clearer than it had been in weeks.

We headed back to Edinburgh to drop off the rental car, enjoying a leisurely drive that was full of more genuine conversation and laughter than had been there before and we wrapped up the day at The Worlds End pub complete with fish and chips, haggis and of course, surprisingly good warm beer.

The next day was another early start as I headed off to Amsterdam and though it wasn’t as quick or as easy as I had hoped (I missed my connecting flight and kept mistakenly buying sparkling drinks even though I hate sparkling drinks), eventually I made it to the city I had dreamed of visiting since I was 16 and all the struggles to get there were more than worth it.

~m

Coming up, Amsterdam (Walking tour around Amsterdam and the canals, the Rijksmuseum, Albert Cuyp market) and then Germany (Bavaria and King Ludwig II’s castles) and Austria (Salzburg).

In the Cold and Beautiful Silence of Bear Lake- Rocky Mountain NP, CO

The goal was a nice morning, a good start to the day ahead of us before we headed down to the Garden of the Gods and ended the day in the San Juan Mountains. To that end, we didn’t push ourselves to wake up before the sun, knowing the lake would probably be filled with many a photographer hoping to catch that beautiful early morning light. We packed up the car just a little after 630am, checked out of the hotel we were staying at in Estes Park (which I highly recommend as your home base if your going to be spending time in Rocky Mountain NP) and headed on up into the park at a leisurely pace.

A couple of wild animal crossings later, we made it to the parking lot of Bear Lake, which just two days prior we had driven to just a little before midday and found absolutely packed. That morning however, only a few cars remained. We slipped (and I do very much mean slipped, neither one of us had the forethought to pack yak trax and the short trail was covered with snow that had iced over) our way out to the lake and found it completely frozen over and beautifully quiet. It was cold, the sun still making it’s way up and our hands stupidly bare and freezing, but it was so incredibly beautiful to the point that it made us forget the discomfort.

Only two people remained, both slipping their way back towards the parking lot by the time we started to make out way around the lake, leaving us with the place all to ourselves. Neither the bf or I had ever seen a completely frozen over lake before, never mind actually walk out on the surface of one, so the whole experience was full of adventure and discovery. Somehow neither one of us actually fell, though we came close a couple of times, and we ended up sitting on some rocks jutting out near the edges of the lake, watching the light come up.

It was very cold, very quiet and above all, incredibly breathtaking.

~m

The Magnificent Windows – Arches National Park, Utah

double arch in the morning light
The Windows, arches National Park
Turret Arch, Arches NP
Towards La Sal Mountains
The Magnificent Windows, Arches National Park
View out of North Window Arch


To be accurate, this section of the park is just called “The Windows”, but I felt it necessary to add the Magnificent in part because because I saw The Magnificent Seven in theaters right before we went on this roadtrip and also because there’s nothing short of magnificence here.

There’s something so compelling to me, something that just reaches inside my chest and tugs at places heretofore unknown when I look out across the landscapes laid out in this corner of Utah. Something so essential and almost ridiculous in it’s intensity that has me to the point of almost desperation. I was granted almost 5 whole minuets of solitude basking in the view out of the North Windows opening before yet another tour bus started unloading in the parking lot and it was almost enough to revel in the scene.

If I could offer just one tip to anyone visiting this section of the park, it would be this: arrive with a bag full of patience to be doled out while waiting to scamper up the rocks to see the view out of the opening of the windows. Early morning is best for almost every single part of the park, though sunrise will most likely find you surrounded by early bird tripod wielding photographers so, waiting till just after would maybe be just a tab better if all you want to do is enjoy the view. As this blog shows, I love photographing the places I visit but i’m not a professional by any stretch of the imagination, so I can let myself off the hook when it comes to capturing the best shots or having the right equipment (and i’ve yet to find a tripod that doesn’t frustrate me). That isn’t to say you won’t find me half dangling off a precarious perch just to get a better view- if the bf started his own blog i’m sure half of the post there would be titled “M tests her mortality and shaves five years off my life yet again” . 

what’s life without stupid risk though?
~m

Delicate Arch And Blanket Capes- Arches National Park, Utah

delicate arch, from viewpoint landscape at delicate arch viewpoint trail delicate arch at sunrise Delicate Arch viewpoint at sunrise

Sometimes i want adventure and sometimes I just want naps.

Case in point, a 330 am wake up call found me grumpy, cold and ready to call it quits almost as soon as we arrived back inside Arches NP. The hope was to catch some sufficiently dark night skies, as the last trip to accomplish this at Big Bend was very poorly timed (my fault for not researching beforehand) . This time….well, I can at the very least say they were almost the darkest skies i’ve ever seen, certainly the darkest i’ve ever seen since I took that ill-fated adventure down HWY 1 a couple of years ago that had me convinced i’d encounter Bigfoot. Possible cryptids aside however, the night sky at Arches was lovely and I enjoyed the chance to see stars twinkling merrily even as both me and the bf froze our butts off waiting for sunrise to near.

We picked Delicate Arch as our sunrise viewpoint, though I should point out we didn’t do the Delicate Arch trail, instead making our way up to the Upper Delicate Arch viewpoint. The actual trail is about 3 miles, rated as difficult and not particularly recommended after rainfall, whereas the upper viewpoint trail is just half a mile or so and only moderately difficult. Also, sunrise is much less crowded on either trail than at sunset when literally a hundred people might just be the low end of the estimate.

I’m gonna go ahead and suggest not doing either one of these trails whilst wrapping yourself up in a blanket that ends up fluttering behind you in a cape-like fashion…at least if you don’t want people staring at you like you’ve gone completely nuts. Usually, you would think I was the one that would do something like that…BUT, i’m somewhat proud to point out that I had both appropriate hiking books on and adequate layers to insulate me from the chilly morning. The bf however, did not. I honestly think i’m definitely rubbing off on him in the worst way.

The colors here are everywhere, the obvious reds and oranges slowly arriving with the sun’s rise while the greens, blues and purples in the sky become an almost perfect match for the gorgeously unexpected tones running through the landscape itself. I’d love to do the actual Delicate Arch trail one day, but cape or no cape, even this short hike was more than worth the view.

~m

Champney Falls, NH- A Photo Journal (and also, my phone died)

White Mountains National Forest

White Mountains, NH foliage

New Hamshire white mountains river

New Hampshire forest photography

New Hampshire mountains

Champney Falls, NH waterfall photography

Champney Falls trail signs

Trail signs in New Hampshire

Up the steps, New Hampshire travel photography

White mountains, green

Rivers here, man, they're magical

Champney Falls, NH

~Continuing the photographic adventures I had with a good friend back in May that i’ve just now finally gotten ’round to editing….. ahem, procrastination, I am thy humble slave…

To say I was good at any part of this would be a terrible, terrible lie. I wouldn’t stop taking photographs, Kat trail blazed like a pro, and I fell down numerous times, though thankfully I somehow managed not to break my camera even a little. At the falls my phone, though being perfectly fine throughout the hike up, decided to commit suicide and turned itself off till we had gotten back to the start of the trail. Cheeky little thing.
We snacked on really unhealthy frosted donuts and water, completely alone up in trail, enjoying the falls all to ourselves, and while my joints ached with disuse and I half wanted to die a little, I want to go back one day soon and do it all over again.

~m