Mark’s 35th birthday in NYC with the Spillmans.
Nikon One Touch on Tri-X 400
Mark’s 35th birthday in NYC with the Spillmans.
Nikon One Touch on Tri-X 400
Add another week in Sedona with Mom to list of our great adventures together! Three years ago I fell in love with this place. It was awesome to be back and experience entirely different weather. We hiked through and were hit in the eyeballs with rain, sleet, hail and snow but it somehow still managed to be incredibly magical. Seeing the red rocks with snow on them was something my Mom always wanted to experience, and little did I know how much I’d be captivated by it as well. All photographs taken with my trusty and true buddy, the Fuji X100T.
Last month I headed West to Utah to meet my Mom for yet another amazing adventure. We always have a blast together, and I love having her take me to spots that she’s crazy about. This was my first visit to Moab and, to quote a friend of mine, it’s just other worldly. I could not get over the colors, the layers, the history, how often the scenery changed, how gorgeous and mind blowing it is. I love the red rocks. I love the massive Colorado carving it’s way through. And I loved being in awe next to my Mama and, for a few of the days, some of her friends.
When Mom picked me up at the Salt Lake City airport, I knew we were heading to Park City for the night. I did not know, however, that our first stop would be at High West Distillery. They’re responsible for some of my favorite whiskeys and my favorite barrel aged Manhattan. I was geeking out the entire time as we tasted every one of their products on the menu. We also snagged a bunch of bottles to sip on for the remainder of our trip which was perfect.
And onto Moab where we remained for the rest of the week. This was the view from dinner on our first night at Red Cliffs Lodge. Kind of magical. Our room was down to the left right on the river so we had this view each night after as well. Sipping that Manhattan on our back deck and watching the cliffs light up by the sunset was too perfect.
First hike of the trip: Fisher Towers.
That first afternoon we made our first trek to Arches National Park for the short, touristy Delicate Arch hike. Despite that, it’s a must see (it’s the largest free-standing arch in the park). When I made the last turn and saw it for the first time, I forgot about everyone else there. Then the voices slowly came in and I heard a handful of languages and all the cameras snapping and instead of being annoyed, I found it kind of amazing. Hey, I’m here, too. We were all just there to see something beautiful. We truly in an incredible world worthy of exploring together!
Day 2: Negro Bill Canyon.
Morning Glory Bridge.
Before dinner at Desert Bistro.
Day 3: A full day starting in Arches National Park (Landscape Arch, Devil’s Garden, Double O and Double Arch) followed by Canyonlands and Dead Horse State Park. I’ll walk ya though. Up first, Landscape Arch.
Devil’s Garden, followed by the hike to Double O. You can also see Landscape Arch below on the right.
This was a fun little scramble to get up. Overall, the hike to Double O may have been my favorite of the entire trip.
Then on to Double Arch. This is a mere stroll to get to and is covered with tourists but it was a must see for me.
Afternoon in Canyonlands National Park. I loved crossing 2 National Parks off my list in one day. Goal? ALL OF THEM!
Mesa Arch, Mom’s favorite. Just an hour-ish before we were in Arches. Suddenly, now the landscape was drastically different and beautiful in an entirely new way. This is why Moab makes you say “wow” about 100 times a day.
Dead Horse Point State Park. That’s 2 National Parks and 1 State Park in 1 day. That’s a full day! And, much like everything seen so far, photos just don’t do any of it justice. Trying to photograph this place was like my attempts (and, really, all attempts) of photography Grand Canyon. You just can’t get it all. This is beautiful. Every attempt is beautiful, but you’ve got to see it with human eyeballs to truly take it in. It was amazing!
Day 4: Corona Arch hike.
Below is a little Instagram video of the serious 40+ winds on the edge near Corona Arch (make sure your sound is on before you play). We took this after crawling (literally on hands and knees) to a handful of spots for the dropping edge view. One of my favorite memories from the week.
“It’s a little sketchy up here!”
That’s the the screaming dialogue you can’t hear. Mom’s face says it all! So much fun.
It was just the two of us on our last full day. Mom suggested we find the Onion Creek Narrows hike which was vaguely described both in books and online. We attempted to find the “trail” via creek crossings in the truck (an estimated 27 crossings total). Though kind of a fun little drive, we finally pulled over to a spot that seemed as good as any. “Let’s just walk this way and see what happens,” Mom said. I followed her, a tad hesitant, but lo and behold she found a way down and we did a little Canyoneering. We had the whole place to ourselves which made it the perfect adventure for our last day in Moab.
We had an incredible last evening at Sorrel River Ranch, easily the coolest place in Moab.
We pulled over a handful of times on our drive back to Salt Lake City to admire million(s) of year old rocks and killer views.
The final meal before my last minute decision to take the Red Eye home. Lucky 13 in SLC gave us some killer burgers and an impressive whiskey selection.
Can’t stress enough how amazing this week was! Thanks forever to my Mama for the fun and unforgettable memories.
All photos shot with the Fuji x100T.
From Barcelona we flew to Léon and drove to Grenoble – our hub for the first half of our French leg. Mark’s cousin Scott and his fiancé Lisa live in a great house in Grenoble so we felt like we were home the minute we unpacked. They could not have been more perfect guides and company for this part of our trip! Long meals, beautiful adventures and good conversation consumed us.
On our first full day in France they took us to the village of Chamonix in South-Eastern France in the Rhône-Alpes region (and the site of the first Winter Olympics in 1924).
Our first lunch in France was in one of the coolest restaurants I’ve ever been in (our table below on the left). I could not get over this place! To eat? Beer and the best fondue I’ve ever had.
From the center of Chamonix, a 20 minute ride in the Aiguille du Midi cable car takes you to the peak in the Mont Blanc massif of the French Alps at a height of 12,605 ft. This is the closest you can get to the summit of Mont Blanc without hiking or climbing. From there, you get a 360° view of all the French, Swiss and Italian Alps. At the summet terrace, you get a clear view of Mont Blanc. Let me remind you – as mentioned in my Barcelona post – that I had never seen a photo of what I was about to experience. To say it was the most beautiful view I’ve ever seen is a great understatement. Much like the Grand Canyon, a camera just does not do justice to what your eyes are seeing, the breeze tickling your ears, the crisp air on your face, the slight anxiety as you peak over the edge…
See that cable on the right? That’s our ride.
Look closer…mountain climber on the rock down below!
Step into the Void – a glass room with a glass floor – is 3396 ft straight down view where you can see Mont Blanc to the south. I love Mark’s face here as he waits for me join him on the glass – a lot harder to take that step than I anticipated. Mistake #1 – looking down as I took the stepped in.
Day 2 was filled with visiting the Chartreuse Monastery (Grande Chartreuse) followed by the Distillery! Anyone into cocktail culture knows how geeked out I was doing this. Located in the Chartreuse Mountains, north of Grenoble, the process of the glorious French liqueur starts here with the Carthusian Monks who have been making it since 1737. Manufacturing starts in the herb room with the 2 monks in charge of the distillation: Dom Benoit and Brother Jean-Jacques. They’re the only two who knows the names of the herbs and plants used to make Chartreuse. There, they mix and dose 130 herbs, which are then transported to the distillery.
We found this key sitting on a rock from this view. Leaving it behind was one of the hardest things we’ve ever done…but agreed it was the “right” thing to do.
On our way out, we passed a giant trash bin full of these ceramic shingles from the roof of the Monastery. One man’s trash is another (wo)man’s treasure, as this now sits on our bar as my favorite thing we brought home from Europe.
The Chartreuse aging cellar is the largest liqueur cellar in the world and was built in 1860. The floor where the monks divide up the batches can only be entered by them. It’s then poured into stills so the distilling can begin. They’ve perfected the control of the process and can intervene from the Monastery with a computer to make corrections if necessary. It’s then aged for several years and bottled on the floor above this one. Also, you’re not allowed to take photos in the cellar so it’s super weird that this ended up on my camera…
On our third day we hung around Grenoble with Scott. It’s a really neat city and we spent most of the day wandering around, window shopping and drinking wine for hours at one of their favorite spots.
A peak at the best cheese shop in the world (literally). Walked in, lost my mind, bought more cheese than one human should ever eat. I’m not convinced that it wasn’t a preview of Heaven.
Off to the French Riviera! But first, a fabulous detour in Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in Southeastern France. Every little shop and winery had free tastings so we tried as much as could in an afternoon.
We go to our Airbnb in the rainy Fnench Riviera at night. This was the view from our balcony of the Mediterranean Sea.
The rain brought in some flooding to our place so we had to leave just hours after waking up. The (very) positive? We ended up staying at the 5 star Intercontinental Carlton in Cannes thanks to an insane same day booking discount! A little rain could not stop the good times.
The last few days in France were spent in Cannes lusting over Maseratis, Lamborghinis, yachts and $90,000 Rolex watches in windows.
On our last night, we feasted at 2 Michelin Star restaurant La Palme d’Or (our favorite meal of the trip and one of our favorites of all time). This was a once in a lifetime experience for so many reasons, one being that while eating, a Medicane blew through the Riviera. During dinner, in a room of glass, we couldn’t stop commenting on how bad the storm was outside, having no idea what was actually happening. The power went out early into the meal so we ate most of it by candlelight, which was actually kind of wonderful. When we woke up the next morning to blue skies, we discovered that flash floods had killed 16 people and dumped 150mm of rain in two hours. Most of the buildings and restaurants were without power on the morning we left. We were really grateful have not been caught in it – which is exactly what would have happened had we stayed in our initial Airbnb and come into Cannes for dinner with no idea what was about to hit.
I’ll never forget this adventure and am so grateful to Mark who made the entire thing happen. We flew home on our 7th anniversary – a perfect way to end one more year of marriage together and begin another. I can’t wait to see where this life takes us and am always eager to do it with him by my side.
It was about a year ago that I knew Mark was planning a trip for my 30th birthday – the Golden one – 30 on October 30th. I surprised him with his first trip to New York City for his 30th, and being the best husband that he is by knowing exactly how to love me, it was no surprise that he’d return the favor with something big for mine. This big, though? This I was not expecting.
One night over the summer, after a few glasses of a wine on the back porch in that glorious June dusk, Mark decided to tell me what we were doing. The only stipulation was that I couldn’t change any of the plans, to which I gladly obliged.
Barcelona and France for 12 days. There was lots of screaming.
First stop: Barcelona – a city we fell madly in love with. I had done zero research on any of the place we traveled – or look at any photos – which made me so giddy to experience them as they came and have no expectations. Here is a taste of our time in this new favorite city of ours, one that we can’t stop talking about and deeply miss.
Having done no research on the things we’d see, walking up to La Sagrada Família was breathtaking. I didn’t get a photo of it from far away, so if you have no idea what I’m referring to, see here. Designed by legendary Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí in 1883, La Sagrada Família basilica remains unfinished to this day. By the time of his death in 1926, it was less than a quarter complete. Now, more than a century since the first foundation stone was laid, it’s entered its final stage of construction and is scheduled for completion in 2026 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death. It will be the world’s tallest church, standing 565 feet above Barcelona!
Our first evening was spent roaming around Pable Espanyol and being entertained by Flamenco dancing.
Our first full day was consumed by La Mercè, the annual festival and holiday of Barcelona since 1871. All 600-ish events spread throughout the plazas, streets and parks are free. We started the day “waking up the city” in a small parade with locals who played music and walked the streets to the main event location – Plaça St Jaume. There, we watched papier maché giants dance and the Castellers – human towers. I’ve never been in such a large, tight crowd in my life – at one point unable to lift my arms from my side above my head – but it was worth it.
Smoke from musket fire.
A glorious day in Villafranca with lots of Cava.
Attending a FC Barcelona game in Camp Nou was a major highlight of our trip. Any soccer fan should know how happy I was this entire day. Arguably the best (and most supported team) in the world, Barça is my favorite team to watch compete. Besides Messi getting injured in the first five minutes of the game, it was just so incredible – especially with a victory over Las Palmas in a La Liga match.
With a 99,354 capacity, Camp Nou is the biggest stadium in Europe and the second biggest football stadium in the world.
This is us with Sergi and Susan who made this trip unforgettable. Susan and Mark went to high school together and have stayed in touch over the yeara. She moved to Barcelona and married Sergi, who we are obsessed with. It was such a blessing to have a local give us the history of the city and country from his perspective. For almost the entire visit, we chose to spend all free moments with them letting them take us where they thought we should go – eat where they chose – and sit on their roof until 3:00 AM talking life and drinking wine. I had never met Susan until this trip and still miss her. We stayed in their perfect Airbnb so if anyone is ever in search of a place to stay in Barcelona, let us know! Leaving them was equally as hard – if not harder – than leaving Spain.
All photos shot with my new Fuji x100t (thanks Mom and Pop!)
Photographed in Luckenbach, TX
Mamiya 645 on Tri-X
Photographed in Jackson Hole, WY and Tetonia, ID
Mamiya 645 on Portra 400
Harbour Island is approximately 3 1/2 miles long, 1/2 mile wide, and altogether wonderful.
Photographed in Harbour Island, Bahamas
Mamiya 645 + Portra 400, Ektar 100
Black Slim Devil + Ektar 100
Photographed in Burnet, TX
Mamiya 645 + Portra 400
Two frames from a recent trip to Charleston with ma girl Tig.