If you’re a diver or if you’ve ever looked into getting certified, then you’re well aware that diving is an expensive hobby.
And since we’d been on a strict budget for a year after quitting our jobs to travel, we hadn’t been diving in two whole years! This being my first visit to Hawaii’s Big Island, I was absolutely dying to do the manta ray night dive. But first, it was time for a refresher. Continue reading →
Fancy a snorkel in one of the Hawaii’s best snorkeling locales? If you’re staying on the Big Island, you don’t want to miss “Two Steps.” It’s a laid-back beach snorkel destination with abundant sea life less than 40 minutes south of Kailua-Kona. And it’s free!
Continue reading for more info on snorkeling at Two Steps, plus a video from our visit. Continue reading →
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 →
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.
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.
I was half asleep. Only half because of the awkward angle at which my head was tilted when I’d closed my eyes. Sleeping in the car has never been my forte. I quickly snapped out of my sleepy state, however, when my brain finally registered the three words that had just exited Ian’s mouth: “the Northern Lights.”
It was an unexpected sight, in Yellowstone National Park, but having severely sub-par cell service the past two days couldn’t even stop us from seeing them. There was no visible green glow or anything, but the eery gray streaks sweeping across the northern sky were visible to the naked eye. I quickly pulled my RX100 out of the glove compartment and clambered over the middle console of our Yaris and into the driver’s seat. Ian was already out of the car with the a7 mounted to his tripod. I opted for the meager warmth our Yaris could offer with its front window rolled down all the way.
My first shots were crap, from a photographer’s perspective, but the colors were absolutely amazing. To start, I’d quickly flipped my dial to ‘M’ and prepped for a 6-second exposure. No tripod. Just handheld. Propped atop the open window frame of the driver’s side door. With some expected star streaking from my unsteady hand in my first few exposures, I made some minor adjustments — adding a 2-second timer, using the tilt screen to more steadily prop my camera up on the window ledge — and was rewarded with better results. My final improvement to my set-up was turning the car’s engine off and setting the e-brake (Ian never does) to keep car movements to an absolute minimum. And I was quite impressed with my results!
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 →
Johnson’s Shut-Ins is a magical place from my childhood… A two-hour drive from home in St. Louis, we only visited a handful of times when I was young. But boy did I remember it. I’ve always loved outings that involved swimming, and of all the places I’ve swam in the world, Johnson’s Shut-Ins takes the cake.
Crystal-clear water flows through, around, and over the rocks at “Nature’s Water Park,” creating tiny pools where tadpoles grow up into frogs… And you can climb right in to experience it firsthand! It’s amazing. It’s also one of few places you can find where it’s fashionably acceptable to wear tennis shoes with a swimsuit. And you need them to climb around the slippery, rocky pools. The Shut-Ins aren’t particularly large, so it was always busy when we’d arrive early morning in my childhood. But mid-afternoon just after Memorial Day weekend, we were pleasantly surprised to have the place almost entirely to ourselves. If you’re looking for a summer day trip from St. Louis or Branson or the Ozarks, go here. You won’t want to miss it.
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 →
Before I met Ian, the nicest camera I ever owned was probably the one on my cell phone. Well, he fixed that faster than you can say “interchangeable lenses,” and gave me my first digital SLR (a Canon T2i) after just two months of us being together. That was three years ago. Since then, the digital cameras I’ve “owned” include a Canon EOS M, a Sony a6000, and finally, my beloved Sony RX100 III. The T2i was a great camera to learn on, the EOS M I never really grew fond of, and the a6000? It was GREAT! Until I tried the RX100 III and just HAD to have that instead. Keep reading to find out why AND to see my favorite photos I’ve taken with this camera. Continue reading →