U.S. Road Trip Re-Cap: Weeks Nine, Ten, Eleven & Twelve (Chicago & Oshkosh)

North to South U.S. road trip recap weeks nine, ten, eleven and twelve

Two months of nearly non-stop road-tripping exhausted us, so we decided to take a break.

We wanted some time to relax, regroup, and work on our blogs, and to do that, we needed to stay still. Luckily, we were traveling around the midwest at the time, and my twin brother had a room available for rent in his Chicago apartment. So we settled down for a full month and used the time to explore Chicago more, set new goals for our projects, dabble in some artistic hobbies, and even launch a new business. See what else we accomplished during our month-long road trip break in Chicago below!

Note: I’m still catching up on our weekly road trip re-caps! This one covers July 5 – August 1.  Continue reading

U.S. Road Trip Re-Cap: Week Seven (Wyoming to Alberta)

North to South U.S. road trip recap week seven

Week seven was by far one of the most memorable weeks on our road trip. I can’t believe how much we saw in one week! Oodles of wildlife, gorgeous sunrises, and even the Northern Lights — all the way down in Yellowstone National Park (they’re not usually visible so far south).

Somehow we managed to visit FOUR national parks all in one week. And despite late night Milky Way photo sessions, we managed to wake up before dawn TWICE to witness the gorgeous sunrises Yellowstone has to offer. If you’ve never seen Yellowstone yourself, add it to your bucket list NOW. And in the meantime, you can drool a bit over these photos!

Note: I’m still catching up on our weekly road trip re-caps! This one covers June 20-27.

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U.S. Road Trip Re-Cap: Weeks Four, Five & Six (Illinois to South Dakota)

North to South U.S. road trip recap weeks four, five and six

After completing our third week on the road in the U.S. this summer, we decided it was time for a little breather. We departed St. Louis at the beginning of week four and then pressed the pause button when we reached Chicago. And there we stayed, visiting my twin brother, for the first two and a half weeks of June.

Despite growing up in St. Louis, I’d never visited the nearby Windy City ’til now. And what an awesome place it turned out to be! So much so that we decided we’d return to Chicago for an even longer break after our upcoming national park loop. We finished off this three-week period in Badlands National Park, where we found unique erosion-formed landscapes, plentiful prairie dogs, and the craziest (and unexpected) storm we’ve ever experienced! (You don’t want to miss that video.)

Note: Since we paused for so long in Chicago, this recap covers weeks four through six of our U.S. road trip. And I’m still catching up on our weekly road trip re-caps! This one covers May 30 – June 19.

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Proof that PHOTOS Make the Best Souvenirs: 9 Awesome Travel Portraits to Capture on Your Next Vacation

9 Awesome Travel Portraits and How to Capture Them on Your Next Vacation

Are you a serial souvenir collector? Always gotta grab something from the gift shop to remember your trip?

What if I told you there’s a better way to remember that vacation than shelling out money at souvenir stands? This trip, say no to souvenirs and take a more active (and fun) approach to capturing memories: photography.

Here we’ve put together a collection of our favorite travel photos, complete with how-to instructions for capturing a similar shot of your own. Whether you’re city-, beach-, or outdoor adventure-bound… we’ve got a photo idea for you. You DON’T have to be an expert photographer, either. Almost all of these shots are beginner-friendly.

So grab your camera and put on your best face for your very own vacation portrait shoot!  Continue reading

[VIDEO] Shot of the Week: Night Storm Symphony (Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA)

It was cool and sunny in South Dakota when we woke up in our tent this morning. No indication of the craziness that ensued last night, other than the minor bowing to our east-facing tent poles that left our tent slightly askew. And we were among the lucky. Our tent had survived.

Around 8pm the lightning started. It was beautiful. The sun was setting behind a thick wall of clouds, and whenever the distant lightning struck, pink light puffs would appear and pulse throughout the sky.

The campground full, there didn’t seem to be need for alarm. Everyone was continuing on, getting ready for bed as they would if there were no threat nor signs of a storm. It wasn’t until I overheard a neighboring camper collecting his son, telling him “Let’s go. I don’t want to be here when it hits,” that I started to worry. We quickly checked the radar on Ian’s phone, and the image confirmed: it was coming. And it would hit hard. Continue reading

U.S. Road Trip Re-Cap: Week Two (Arizona, New Mexico and Texas)

U.S. Road Trip Week Two: The American Southwest -- Arizona, New Mexico and Texas

Two more National Parks and three new National Monuments, including the most beautiful (and surreal) place I’ve ever seen! Week two of our summer road trip took us all the way from Arizona to Texas, with a scenic desert drive through New Mexico on the way.

Below is a photographic re-cap of our second week of road-tripping across the U.S. in our little red Yaris. Read on for beautiful white sand dunes, cacti that actually look like the ones you drew when you were a kid, and a couple of neat ruins speckled about the American Southwest!  Continue reading

Shot of the Week: Wanderlust and White Sands (White Sands National Monument, New Mexico, USA)

Shot of the Week: White Sands National Monument sunset hike

Roaring wind. Rippling sand. Rolling dunes. All were present on the night we backpacked out to our backcountry campsite at White Sands National Monument. As luck would have it, we’d gotten the last available site. And we were grateful. Otherwise we’d’ve had to backtrack 30 miles toward Las Cruces and the nearest campground.

Up and over and in between the dunes we hiked, each carrying our backpacks, cameras at-the-ready. It took us 45 minutes to get to our campsite, racing the setting sun. We set up camp, took off our boots, and set out barefoot for the top of a neighboring dune, getting in just a few more photos before darkness and the evening wind settled in. We’ve now completed week two of our cross-country U.S. road trip, and White Sands stands out as one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever seen. It was magical. Enchanting, even. If you’ve never hiked over sand dunes before, add it to your bucket list. It’s surreal.

This photo was taken on May 18th with the Sony a7 II and Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 Heliar III lens. Continue to view full photo.  Continue reading

Shot of the Week: American Woman (Simi Valley, California, USA)

Shot of the Week: American Woman -- American flag photo shoot

With this post, we’re now officially caught up on our Shot of the Week post series. (Yay!) And since it’s Memorial Day, we’ve got an America-themed photo to share.

As we’re road-tripping around the U.S. this summer, Ian and I are working on an American Women photo shoot for my women’s travel fashion blog, which I’ll be publishing the first week of July. I’m gathering friends (and friendly strangers) to create a collection of photos of American women with the American flag in cool places around the U.S. The best photos we get — from two months of shooting — will be featured in a post on the blog!

This shot is from our first day of shooting, when my two L.A. friends Maya and Vaish joined me in the rocky peaks overlooking Simi Valley, California for a sunset shoot. This isn’t the best shot from that evening. I’m saving those. I’m really really happy with how the photos are turning out, and I’m super excited to share them on Stylish Travel Girl in just a little over a month! P.S. I’m still looking for women to participate in St. Louis, Chicago, and beyond. If you’re interested, please don’t be shy!

This photo was taken on May 2nd with the Sony a7 II and 35mm f/2.8 lens. Continue to view full photo.  Continue reading

Shot of the Week: The Grandest of Canyons (Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA)

Shot of the Week: The Grandest of Canyons (Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA)

One week into our road trip, and we finally made it to the Grand Canyon! Before this visit, I’d been there for a brief stop along one of my many journeys between St. Louis and LA in college, and Ian had only flown over it in a plane. It was time for both of us to really see this place. And see it we did, in the sun, rain, sleet, hail and snow!

We camped for two days at the South Rim’s Desert View Campground — a deal at just $12/night — and endured cold, snowy weather inside our warm sleeping bags and tent (see more of our camping essentials here). After roughing it at Lake Mead and Williams the two previous nights, I was SO happy to finally be staying at a place that had showers (thought it did require a 20+ mile drive to the other side of the park). It was also the perfect, iconic place to round out week one of our all-American road trip.

This photo of the Grand Canyon was taken on Thursday May 14th with the Sony a7 II and Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 Heliar III lens. (Continue to view full photo.)  Continue reading

Shot of the Week: Busy Bee (Huntington Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California, USA)

Shot of the Week: Flying Bee and orange flowers at Huntington Botanical Gardens, California, USA

One hundred thirty-six. If you’ve ever wondered how many shots it takes to capture a killer, in-focus — and in-flight — bee photo, that’s your answer.  We don’t typically do this type of photography, but the setting we found ourselves in earlier this week gave us the perfect opportunity to practice. My cousin Val is visiting California this week, and luckily (for once) I was in town! While searching for something to do together near to where she’s staying, I remembered the Huntington Gardens. I’d been once or twice before, several years ago, and I always enjoyed spending a few hours meandering around the Garden’s huge variety of flowers, plants and trees.

The weather’s been chilly here in California the last few days, but Monday treated us to a beautiful sunny California day. Hummingbirds were flitting about, the gardeners were busy pruning, and bees were buzzing around all the vibrantly colored flowers.

Ian, having just borrowed a new lens to review from B&H Photo, was eager to take photos. While flowers are a fine subject on their own, they’re certainly more interesting when there’s something flying around them. But these little buggers just wouldn’t hold still! This photo is #121 out of 136 bee photos he took in this spot. (Just ask me how many external hard drives we have — completely filled with photo files…)

This photo was taken on Monday, May 4th with the Sony a7 II and Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 Heliar III lens with the Hawk’s Helicoid V5 close focus adapter. (Continue to view full photo.)  Continue reading