Arts Design Photography Travel

Denver Crush Walls

Got to visit Denver for the second time this year for a friend’s wedding. While there another Denver friend brought me on a walking tour of the Crush Walls urban art festival in the RiNo neighborhood, where we saw some really cool graffiti:

Nature Photography Travel

Done gone fishin’ in the Northwoods

Spent a few days in the Northwoods of Wisconsin on a fishing trip with my dad and friends. Beautiful weather, fresh air, fishing, a rental cabin, film noir in the evenings. Not bad livin’.

I took a few photos and videos along the way. The tree stumps outside our rental cabin had some nice colors:


This was the view for most of the trip:


We mostly saw walleye and croppies, with a few bass and northerns as well.

We went to Chippewa Inn for dinner one night. Somehow it was my first time at one of Wisconsin’s famous supper clubs. I had Bavarian goulash with spaetzle and a Moon Man because when in Wisconsin… :


I guess I love trees:


Here’s a GIF of the water off the dock, which that morning was Malickian:


And another GIF from the rental boat, which stayed smooth and steady even at high speeds:

Photography Travel

Recent Views, Colorado wedding edition

I had the honor of being in a college friend’s wedding in Denver last week. My wife and I made a vacation of it and hit up several spots in Colorado.

For extended trips we usually put together an itinerary with important travel info; Jenny thought of the title and I contributed the images:

We flew in, got our rental car, then headed to the mountains, accompanied by Mr. “Rocky Mountain High” himself. Our first stop was the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park:

Famous for inspiring The Shining, the hotel was more importantly used for filming Dumb and Dumber, namely the entrance (above), the “Race you to the top!” staircase, and the “We landed on the moon!” bar.

We didn’t stick around, however, as we soon embarked on a hike toward the Ouzel Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park. We didn’t make it to the falls, but still soaked in the views and the clean air:

We then headed to Boulder and stayed the night at the Hotel Boulderado, which maintains its original Edwardian-era style and even a working Otis elevator. Supposedly the hotel is haunted. All I know is their creepy chair game was solid:

We stopped at the post office in Boulder, which has some sweet PO boxes:

The Boulder Public Library was another highlight. My wife took pictures of everything, but I only managed the windows:

On Tuesday we drove to Manitou Springs and stayed in a gorgeous Airbnb cabin in the mountains near a friend of mine. The next day was the Fourth of July, so to celebrate we headed to Paint Mines Interpretive Park, outside of Colorado Springs. It was a scorching hot and sunny day, but above all I’ll remember the absolute quiet as we walked through the maze of hoodoos and colorful clay formations. You can find plenty of amazing photos of them online, but here are two I took from it:

It was then back to Denver for the wedding weekend. We enjoyed the nightlife around RiNo, including Odell Brewing Company:

and knockout at Gerard’s Pool Hall:

Finally the wedding arrived. I wasn’t focused on getting good pictures, as I knew the professionals would take care of that. But here’s one in the venue (which hosted the ceremony and reception) of the bridesmaids awaiting the couple after their First Look:

I’ve been to Colorado a few times before, but this trip was especially fun given the variety of activities, the good weather, and quality time with great friends.

Books Science Travel

Atlas of a Lost World

We think of ourselves as different from other animals. We extol our own tool use, congratulate our sentience, but our needs are the same. We are creatures on a planet looking for a way ahead. Why do we like vistas? Why are pullouts drawn on the sides of highways, signs with arrows showing where to stand for the best view? The love for the panorama comes from memory, the earliest form of cartography, a sense of location. Little feels better than knowing where you are, and having a reason to be there.

— from Atlas of a Lost World: Travels in Ice Age America by Craig Childs, a meaty and winding travelogue around North America investigating notable Pleistocene spots, like the Bering land bridge in Alaska and the woolly mammoth remains in Clovis, New Mexico.

I recently realized how fascinated I am with prehistoric people and their times: What was life like back then? How similar were Ice Age humans to us? Childs goes a long way in finding out, hiking through tundra and camping out in a polar vortex and trudging through Floridian swamps. Archaeology, anthropology, sociology, mythology, and philosophy all come into play.

“Science is useful,” he writes. “It fills in the blanks with precision, but history is ultimately more about stories and the unfolding of human whims.”

Nature Photography Travel

Autumn in Asheville

I’d heard a lot of great things about Asheville, North Carolina, so my wife and I finally made a trip there happen to meet up with some Durham friends for a long weekend in the mountains. Surprise: It was wondrous!

Our Airbnb was a cabin on a mountain farm in nearby Black Mountain, complete with sheep named Frodo, Samwise, Arwen, and Twiggy (the last one was named by previous owners). This was the view the first morning:


We missed Peak Fall foliage, but there was still plenty of color to mix with the barren branches:


And cozy morning frosts—very Hygge™ indeed:


One morning we hiked up Lookout Mountain in Montreat based on the recommendation of our Airbnb host. We were not disappointed by the Misty Mountain-esque view:


Asheville proper offered lots of walkable streets, good southern food—had chicken & waffles for the first time—and, among other Liberal College Town accoutrements, several “poems while you wait” street typists:


We flew into Atlanta and drove up to Asheville through South Carolina, but on the way back we drove through the Great Smoky Mountains. We did this not only to enjoy the gorgeous terrain but to stop and see the remnants of Camp Toccoa, the World War II paratroopers training camp made famous by Band of Brothers:


The camp site was closed, but we could see the famous “3 miles up, 3 miles down” Currahee Mountain from town.

I took pictures on a few other occasions, but so often my phone pictures failed to capture what I saw with my own eyes. That’s OK: being there in the moment was reward enough, as was hanging with friends, finally seeing Asheville, and getting to enjoy a crisp autumn weekend in Appalachia.

Photography Travel

Durham Days

We just got back from a long weekend in Durham, North Carolina, for a friend’s wedding. I had a great time bummin’ around the area while my wife was busy on bridesmaid duty. Had some barbecue, heard some blues, and took a few pictures…

at Ponysaurus Brewing:

at Carolina Soul Records, where I found some Sam Cooke, Dionne Warwick, and a Stax Records compilation:

at Stagville, one of the largest plantations in the antebellum South—this one was in the “Great Barn”:

I call this one “Freedom”:

And there was the unintentional irony of a Master lock on one of the preserved slave cabins:

The wedding reception was in a beautiful building near the Eno River State Park:

And our last stop before our flight home was Duke University’s “chapel”, which, come on, is actually a cathedral of epic proportions:


The Strangers I Met

“When you talk to strangers,” writes Kio Stark, author of the TED Talk turned book When Strangers Meet: How People You Don’t Know Can Transform You, “you make beautiful and surprising interruptions in the expected narrative of your daily life. You shift perspective. You form momentary, meaningful connections. You find questions whose answers you thought you knew. You reject the ideas that make us so suspicious of each other.”

We’re especially susceptible to these interactions when traveling, when we’re out of our comfort zone and into the unknown of a new place. That was the case for me last week, when I was visiting a previously unknown place for a few days with my wife. Though I hadn’t yet read When Strangers Meet, I knew it was on hold for me at the library for when I got back, so just the idea of talking to strangers pervaded my time there:

  1. Two of my Uber drivers were very laconic, but two weren’t. We asked Latanya about the craziest rides she’s done: she said she once delivered fried Oreos to someone 12 miles away, which got us talking about the insanity of fried Oreos. And as Edward drove us to the train station, I noticed he had a “Morehouse Alum ’69” badge hanging from his rearview mirror. I said I knew Dr. King went there and asked him what it was like.

  2. It was an unusually cold morning for this southern town, and as I walked down the street a twenty-something dude walking with his friends ducked into a building entrance for just a moment to get out of the biting wind. He reemerged apace with me, huddled and ill-clothed for the temperature, and said “Damn it’s cold.” I said I was from Chicago and was used to it. He showed me the rabbit’s foot he kept on his belt and was stroking just to keep his hands warm. “What you up to?” he asked. Just walking, I said, and asked what he did for a living. He paused and said with a chuckle he makes beats. Anything online? I asked. He said no, then asked if I had a phone number. I laughed uncomfortably. Email? “Yeah,” I said with another chuckle. “Why?” He didn’t say anything, but was still smiling goofily. I told him I was off to find a Dunkin’ Donuts and we parted ways.

  3. I stopped in the main library branch to look around, as is tradition when in a new place. I approached the reference desk and asked the librarians for recommendations of places to see and food to eat. With that oft-reported southern hospitality, they rattled off several sights and restaurants that we ended up going to.

  4. Our flight home was overbooked. We weren’t in a rush to get back home, so we took the airline’s offer of generous flight credit, a free hotel stay, and another flight in the morning. We walked out to the hotel shuttle station where dozens of people were shivering in the surprising night cold and waiting for their shuttle. A woman next to us asked if our flight had been canceled. We told her about the deal and she said she and her boyfriend had done the same thing. She asked what we’d been doing there. Business and pleasure. They were really friendly and were going to the same hotel, but once we got onto the crowded shuttle we didn’t talk again.


Norway, July 2016

This is part 3 of pictures from my summer trip to Scandinavia (previously: Finland and Sweden). I posted pics on Instagram throughout, but these are my favorites from Norway.











Sweden, July 2016

This is part 2 of pictures from my summer trip to Scandinavia (pics from Finland here). I posted pics on Instagram throughout, but these are my favorites from Stockholm and greater Sweden:











Helsinki, July 2016

Just got back from a two-week trip to Scandinavia, through Finland, Sweden, and Norway. I posted pics on Instagram throughout, but first up here are my favorites from Finland: