I recently visited Washington for a week for training. Most of my time was spent indoors, so sadly there wasn’t a lot of time available for photography. I also ended up coming down with the flu/sinus infection from hell. Being sick away from home is possibly the worst thing you could do to me. I complained a good deal about that. I did manage to get outside briefly now and then and even managed to get a little sun while visiting Bainbridge Island. I was a little sad about not getting the photos I wanted, but I’m not too worried as I’ll be visiting again in June and then twice in August. Plenty of time right?!
I lived in Belfast, Northern Ireland for a few years after getting married and I couldn’t help but compare Washington to the Emerald Isle. Green is everywhere and stuff grows whether you want it to or not. I love visiting it. My eyes felt rested and my skin rejuvenated, but I was definitely happy to return to the sunny southwest. I’m definitely a sun worshipper and feel melancholy setting in after a few days of overcast and 4:30pm sunsets. After returning home I spent as much time outdoors as I could topping up my vitamin d intake.
So here are the few photos I’m willing to share from this trip. I’m happy to report that I’ve fully recovered from the pesky flu and am ready for my next trip to DC in just a few days!
I recently spent about a week in Washington DC for a conference. That’s one of the great perks of the work I do… I get paid to travel! Love love love. It can get tiring for sure, but I try not to complain about that too much (whining to John about it doesn’t count right?!). I had a bit of free time to walk around the city and I was so close to everything! I’m not really a big city kind of girl but I appreciate the ability to walk everywhere and public transportation. When you’re used to the rural, desert southwest this is quite a treat! Also, I must add that while the cost of living is super expensive in DC, all the monuments, landmarks and museums were free (everything I wanted to see at least). When I arrived at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, I dutifully went to the ticket counter and fully expected a $20 price tag to peruse the exhibits. I had to verify a few times that yes in fact the museum was free. I didn’t owe anything. I didn’t have to watch a one hour sales pitch. I wasn’t limited to just a small section. I could walk around to my hearts delight. Woot.
This was my first time in DC and I felt like everything I said was a bad “that’s what she said” joke, “Oh my gosh! That’s so much bigger than I imagined it” when describing the Washington Monument. I was constantly chuckling to myself. Yes I have infantile humor. But the Washington Monument is huge! And the Lincoln Memorial! I was expecting the average height kind of statue and not the 19 foot statue set on a 10 foot pedestal. Sometimes I prefer what I imagine things to be rather than the reality. I have have a way of making things WAY more impressive in my head and am often disappointed when faced with the real deal. In DC this was never the case. I loved my stay here and am looking forward to visiting again in February.
A little about the images below… obviously there are the necessary photos of monuments etc. but I also stumbled upon a protest outside the Department of Justice one evening. John tried calling me during this and of course I didn’t answer because #1 I politely turned off the sound because I didn’t want to be “that” person and #2 I was just super engrossed in the whole process of the protest, observing and taking photos. I send John a text a few minutes later and just said “Talk later, I’m at a protest” and I received back “Melissa, at a protest. Classic.” The last few images were taken of a very nice artist who was making blown glass pendants at a booth he had set up at a street market. I was mesmerized watching him. It didn’t hurt that he had a space heater as well and it was quite a chilly night. The process of making the pendant you see at the end was maybe 15 minutes at the most. You can see his work here – Eicher Glass Co.
Last but not least, thank you to my good friend Jess and her boyfriend Andy for taking me in for one night and the ticket to see Julius Caesar. Andy was raised in DC and was the perfect tour guide! See you guys again soon!
We spent a whirlwind weekend in San Francisco to photograph some amazing homes for a landscaping design company (photos of that coming later!). The last time I visited this city, I was about 14 years old and I always wanted to go back but somehow just haven’t found the chance until now. It’s a bit of sensory overload at first and while walking around after arriving I whispered to John “there’s so much to photograph that I can’t take a photo.” Sometimes I just need to soak in a place before taking out my camera. I need to let the feeling of it wash over me until I find its groove.
And find it I did! John has visited San Francisco a couple times this past year and his one wish for me on this trip was to rent bikes and cycle to the Golden Gate Bridge. I knew it was a good idea, probably the best one, but after a day of traveling and finally arriving to our hotel room late in the afternoon (and that bed felt sooo good) it was hard to drag myself out. John has a way of knowing what’s best in these moments though. Much like when it’s a bazillion degrees in the AZ desert and he wants to take the wave runners out on the river. It’s an awful lot of work getting everything together in the heat but once out on the water… well I end up with the biggest smile and I’ve never once regretted it. This bike trip was exactly the same. We cycled from the Fisherman’s Wharf right over the bridge. It was quite windy and cold for my thin desert blood but it was also invigorating. The fog had already started to roll in so everything had a bit of a gloomy feel with these magnificent rays of sunshine pouring through now and again. It was stunning. I have vowed that for every trip we take to San Francisco from now on (and there will be more), we will rent some bikes and go explore.
After a couple hours cycling we were completely famished and ready to be out of the wind. We met up with my cousin and she took us to Chinatown at my request. The colors! The lanterns! The food! Oh goodness the food. It was some of the best Chinese food I’ve had in the oddest little basement restaurant. Somehow we ended up with a waitress that seemed rather disappointed with our food choices and actually narrowed her eyes at us when we asked for water. I promise we were the best of customers and we couldn’t figure out the scathing glances but regardless of that we had a great time and yummy food.
That night was the last of my photos for pleasure since Saturday was a really long day of shooting but we managed to meet up with friends for drinks and brunch again the next day and still make it home to AZ before dark on Sunday evening. I would have preferred a bit longer, but I suppose this has left me with a thirst that needs quenched by the city of San Francisco.
Sometimes you need to step out of your normal everyday life to feel inspired again. Sometimes that just means taking a different road to work or starting a random conversation at a diner with someone you’ve never met. Sometimes you have to step into something that shocks your senses.
The White Sands National Monument shocked the senses for me!
This road trip was a great inspiration. At first New Mexico doesn’t seem all that different. The terrain is often very similar to a good portion of Arizona. The heat was definitely the same when we arrived! The newness of the area, though, the unknown roads, cause you to take another look. The subtle differences started to flood into my consciousness!
And then there’s this place.
While chatting to the man who was working on the Roadrunner Sculpture I mentioned in THIS post, I asked him about the White Sands National Monument… was it worth visiting? We received a resounding YES. The next question was… what if it’s windy? Should we visit if it’s windy? Umm, that could be difficult.
Over coffee in Las Cruces I checked the weather and it was definitely going to be windy, but we decided what the hell! We’re here. The white sands looked amazing and who could resist the urge not to photograph them? Definitely not us.
You could see where the dunes were located miles and miles before you arrived at the entrance to the park due to the huge white dust cloud seen in the distance. We hesitated momentarily and considered another route. I actually hate the wind. Loathe it. Often, on windy days I refer to stories about wind so strong and lasting so long that it drove people insane.
The wind was enough to nearly topple me over. My legs were thoroughly wind blasted. I was unable to wear contacts for almost a whole day after this short visit. But it was SO worth it. I’ve never seen such blindingly white sand. If anything, the wind made the experience even more epic. Who wants to take an easy photograph? Stepping out of our little convertible on a beautifully calm day certainly would’ve been easier, but I feel like I earned these photos. We arrived in the harsh, glaring, early afternoon sun and got to work and by work I mean having the most fun ever!
Once I visit a place I’m usually pretty satisfied. I don’t need to visit again especially since I have quite a long list of travel destinations but one of these days I’ll visit the white sands again. It’s just too beautiful not to.