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Tahoe Event Photography | Women’s Wellness Weekend at Granlibakken

I had such an inspiring and educational weekend accompanied by wine and amazing food at the Granlibakken Resort’s Women’s Wellness Weekend.

The Women’s Wellness Weekend focuses on providing the fusion of Western practices with Eastern philosophy to provide women with information, inspiration, activities,  and great female company.  This is an awesome opportunity for any woman, but especially for those in the medical field.  For an additional $75, healthcare professionals can earn nine hours of CE credit at this amazing weekend getaway in the stunning Tahoe basin.

Granlibakken is a gorgeous resort.  Conveniently located in picturesque Tahoe City, CA, it offers tons of trails for hiking and mountain biking in the summer, a tree-top Adventure Park, a spa, and, in the winter, nordic skiing.  There is a plethora of rooms, units, condos and even large houses available for everyone from the single occupant to an entire family to come stay and enjoy the Tahoe area.

Although I was there to photograph the event, I learned so much from the presenters and I found more than a few of them to be fascinating.  Tahoe City based nutritionist, dietician, and triathlete Jill Whistler specializes in sports nutrition and really reinforced my own personal thoughts regarding nutrition and the best eating habits to fuel your body.  Nueropsychologist Suzanne Aberasturi, Ph.D provided us with a hilarious guide to how your brain develops and grows with age.  Mel Pohl, MD, FASAM is a family practitioner and the ice President of Medical Affairs and the Medical Director of Las Vegas Recovery Center.  His presentation on the disease of addiction was enthralling, surprising and peppered with humor.  I had the pleasure of dining with who is now going to be my new dermatologist: Dr. Jennifer Janiga.  She was a refreshing, gorgeous person who gave a fantastic presentation on healthy skin.

My favorite presentation of the weekend came from Joyce Mikal-Flynn, Ed. D, RN, FNP, MSN, a marathon runner and triathlete, who survived a sudden death in 1990 requiring 22 minutes of CPR.  She released a book, Turning Tragedy into Triumph MetaHabilitation: A Contemporary Model of Recovery which presents her system of rehabilitation.  Mrs. Mikal-Flynn spoke about what happens to people when they suffer life changing events and why some are able to turn their tragedies into triumph when others cannot.   I found her presentation to be particularly inspiring.  As an athlete myself, I wonder how I would react if faced with a similar circumstance.

In addition to the lectures and presentations, the weekend also offered various physical activities such as yoga, zumba and ki gong, as well as, social hours, lots of wine, a health expo, and shopping from local artisans.

The 2014 Women’s Wellness Weekend will be held on November 8 and 9, 2014.  If you register before the end of 2013, you can lock in this year’s super reasonable rate which includes all the Women’s Wellness Weekend Activities, one night lodging, hot buffet breakfasts, 2 lunches, and use of the pool/sauna/hot tub.

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Destination Wedding in Temecula | Haley + Dave

My best mate Haley and I have been friends for over ten years now I think.  We’ve never lived in the same city.  If one of us suddenly gets the feeling that it’s been too long, then we make a point to meet up.  We call them our “rendezvous.”  In 2006 we travelled to Coachella together.  Sometimes we each go half way to San Franciscosometimes I fly to LA.  When Haley and Dave became engaged, I felt honored to be asked to take their engagement portraits.

Though we’re often far apart and sometimes go months without catching up, when we’re together, we’re just the same as always.  I love her to death and I’m so honored to have been able to travel to Temecula Wine Country to witness her marriage to the man she loves.  It should go without saying that I also approve of him.  He drinks great wine.

Haley rented a beautiful house on the top of a hill over looking the wine orchards of Temecula for her venue, which the groomsmen and bridesmaids also stayed in during the week.  It was very much so a family affair – we cooked together, decorated together, puffed up puffy lanterns together, drank wine, laughed and danced and joked together.  Haley’s family and friends all pitched in to arrange flowers and fill ice buckets.  It was a whirlwind of activity and a truly DYI wedding, right up until the point that her amazing wedding coordinator showed up and took over for us.  In the end, it all came together in the most beautiful of ways.

I was not the photographer for the wedding and I was more than happy to put away my camera and dance my butt off all. night. long.  I did photograph most of our week and getting ready photos before the photographer arrived, so that’s what you’ll see here.  Haley and Dave hired the uber-talented, super fun, really adorable Caroline Fontenot and eventually their photos will grace the pages of her blog.  You should go check out her work, it’s fantastic: energy and fun exudes from the very page when you look at her photos.

Haley’s wedding was nothing short of a spectacularly good time: beautiful but relaxed, stylish but informal.  We were paraded around by mariachis, ate street corn and tacos, drank wonderful wine and beer that went down all too easy from Stone Brewing Co, took silly photos in a photobooth, and danced long after the sun went down until we had blisters on our feet.

Temecula was such a great place to visit and if you are in the southern CA area, it would make a great weekend get-away.  I wrote about our adventures wine tasting the other day.  Temecula also has an adorable main street called Old Town, filled with bars and restaurants, hotels and tiny shops.  I stayed in The Palomar Inn, an amazing European (read: shared baths) style hotel right on the main street of Old Town.  The 10 room historic inn is family run, was built in 1927 and is supposedly haunted, though their ghost didn’t show his face to me.  Right around the corner from my Inn every Saturday is an awesome farmer’s market where I sampled amazing hot sauce from Vera’s Tamales Express and then filled my belly before the wedding with a blue crab burrito from Street Foods Co.  I needed it because I’d woken up at 6 AM to run 10 miles with the Temecula Running Club!

Photographer: Caroline Fontenot | Violinists: La Libradolce | Mariachis: Los Salazar | Dress: JLM Couture | Flowers: The Empy Vase | Decor: West Elm | Caterer: M&L Taco Catering | Wedding Cake: Hotcakes Bakes | Popsicles: Front Porch Pops | Bartenders: Always a Happy Hour Bartending | Rentals: Temecula Party Rentals | Wedding Coordinator:  Vanessa Vargess | DJ/Lighting: Brett Elliott | Vacation Home Rental: Eva Woodsmall

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Personal Project: The Adventurers

The Adventurers

is a personal project consisting of portraits of people I meet in my own adventures who, in some way, inspire me, strike me, or surprise me.

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Kayden

Photographed at: my house, South Lake Tahoe, CA

Lives in: Cape Town, South Africa

Occupation: Adventurer

Job Responsibilities include: cycle touring, beer drinking.

“Do you have a beer, man… no, not water, I need a beer!”

Kayden came to stay with us though WarmShowers, a website for reciprocal hosting of touring cyclists.  Kayden is one of the founding members and trustees of Global Wheeling, a South African based charity that focuses on bicycle empowerment and community greening projects in disadvantaged communities.  Kayden’s journey is supported by corporate donors and 100% of all other donations go to the cause.

When Kayden rolled into Tahoe, he had just cycled over Tioga pass to visit Yosemite, Monitor and Luther, as well as spent an afternoon riding through Death Valley at 120 degrees.

Kayden spent three very special, very memorable days with us in total.  He is the Adventurer that trumps all other adventurers.  After years touring the globe on his bike, Kayden will deliver a journal from South Africa to the Burn and this leg of journey will be complete.  Somehow, I just know that Kayden’s journey will never be complete.  His life will be filled with the kinds of adventures that most people cannot even comprehend taking on.  He’s pretty fucking awesome.

Thanks for the stories, the South African Bread and the good times Kayden!  I’m certain our paths will cross again!

You can see more from Kayden’s quick portrait session here.

I encourage you to head to his website and follow his blog and if so inclined, donate to his worthy cause.

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Matt + Sara | Tahoe Pregnancy Portraits

Tahoe Portrait Photographer, Tahoe Portrait Photography, Tahoe Pregnancy Portraits

It’s the ultimate form of flattery when my friends insist that I take their portraits and when Matt and Sara, whose wedding was the first wedding I ever shot from start to finish, asked me to take their Tahoe pregnancy portraits, I readily agreed.  I felt exceedingly honored.

Tahoe Pregnancy Portraits, Tahoe Portrait Photographer, Tahoe Portrait Photography,

We decided to head down to the gorgeous Hope Valley, which is near both of our homes.  Matt and Sara are both very grounded people, with their hearts and souls firmly rooted in the world around them.  They have such a deep spiritual connection with each other and the natural world that it only made sense to me to take them somewhere with huge grand sweeping views.  It’s simply where I thought they belonged.

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These are a few of my favorite photos from the day.  I’m so thrilled them.  Sara looks absolutely glowing, just as she should.  It’s pretty awesome when my creative vision comes to fruition from start to finish.

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A Napa Girls Weekend

The email said, “You’re invited to help create the best 3 days of your life.”

With an intro like that, how could anyone refuse?

What we had the best of intentions to do was to road cycle every morning, followed by cooking amazing meals and then lounging about by pools in the afternoon with some wine tasting mixed in.  See, after all that road biking in the mornings, we would be tired and worn out and oh so deserving of the extra glasses of wine that night.

What we actually did was sleep in every day, lounge about the house in an unmotivated fashion until we cooked amazing meals, went wine tasting, lounged by pools and drank more wine than we deserved because we hadn’t done anything that day to warrant drinking extra wine.

However, no one cared in the least and we were all sublimely happy.

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On our first afternoon there, one of the ladies arranged for us to relax by her AMAZING pool overlooking picturesque vineyards as the sun set.

But wait – it gets better.

On top of that, she hired friends of hers who are masseuses to come give us hour long massages and oh, yes, just wait, it gets better!

In between giving us massages, lounging by the pool, drinking wine and laughing as the sun went down, they cooked us a huge meal of authentic Vietnamese food.

HEAVEN.

Montages-3On the 2nd day, we had grand plans to get up and go road biking but instead we slept in, lounged around, read books, had a late ladies lunch and then visited my good friend James, who is the Assistant Winemaker at Patz and Hall, a small winery with superb Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs.

That evening, we had a girls dinner at the house where Jessica who has secret powers as an amazing chef whipped up a most ridiculous dinner of bruschetta on grilled bread, pasta and Caesar salad with home made dressing.

It should go without saying that there were many bottles of wine consumed.

Montages-2Our last day, we had grand plans to go road biking again but instead opted to visit Jessica at her vineyard.  We had some time to kill so we wandered about the grounds of Beringer for a bit.  I tend to dismiss Beringer wines on the whole simply because of their massive popularity but I would highly recommend a venture around their Historic property.  The Beringer vineyards are the oldest operating vineyard in the area and some of the structures date back to 1850!

Jessica works Sullivan Vineyards, an amazing little boutique vineyard smack in downtown Rutherford.  The home and property on which it stands are breathtaking and the history behind the family owned vineyard is fascinating.  They have some awesome value wines (my favorite was their dry rosè, Pink Ink).

Want your own Napa Valley Girls Weekend?

STAY:

  • The fresh, charming and bright Calistoga Wine Way Inn is a no frills location with rooms from $99 within walking distance of downtown Calistoga.
  • Napa Valley is notoriously expensive for hotel rooms and the prices are kept high from the lack of properties.  That being said, Airbnb is picking up in popularity there and you can rent this bright, airy and beautiful home that sleeps 8 in St. Helena for $250/night.  Bonus: floor to ceiling views of Meadowood Valley and when it says it sleeps 8 it means it: there are four queen beds in the home.

PLAY:

  • The roads in Napa are gorgeous for road cycling but you’ll want to stay off the main highway.  Check out this list of popular road biking routes or head into Vino Velo, owned by the Clif Family to get their take on the best cycling route for you.  They offer free maps with the best rides of various distances on them and a staff that is knowledgable about cycling in the area.  While you’re there, pick up some bicycle themed stuff (I walked out with some gorgeous wine glasses with bikes on them) or some of their tasty jams, nuts or olive oils.  Don’t skip a tasting of bread dipped in olive oil and rolled in the pistachio dukkah – it’s to die for.
  • In nearby Calistoga there is a ton of hot springs to relax in.   Head to the mineral water pools at the Calistoga Spa Hot Spings after 7 p.m., when the entrance fee is only $10.  Bring a picnic dinner and some wine to enjoy poolside.

EAT:

  • The Rutherford Grill is always a staple: not too pricy, with a killer wine list and something on the menu that everyone will love.  I’m a sucker for their homemade veggie burger, which to this day is still the best veggie burger I’ve ever had in my life.  Bold statement, I know.  I will say, they almost lured me in this time with the Butternut Squash Enchiladas but I held firm to my thirst for that burger, which I’ve been dreaming about eating again ever since I first visited in 2009.
  • Oenotri is unbelievably delicious. From their fresh homemade pastas, to their inventive salads to the unbelievably perfect thin crust pizzas, it was everything I needed from my lunch that day. If you order one of each salad and one of each pizza for the table, you won’t be disappointed.

DRINK:

  • Cakebread has always been one of my favorite go-to wines.  Their stainless steel aged Chardonnay is well known.  Their tastings are by appointment only as well.
  • Frog’s Leap will always hold a place near and dear in my heart and not only because their Zinfandel is such a killer wine.  Their tasting is unique, extremely in depth and full of quirk and character.  By appointment only.

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Lake Tahoe Kids Triathlon

I am so happy every summer to donate my services as a photographer to the Lake Tahoe Kids Tri Series.

I love swimming, biking and running (though I’m not so fond of paying the exorbitant race fees to do three all in one day) so lending photography to kids doing the same is a no brainer.  There were three events in Tahoe last summer put on the by the Tahoe Kids Tri Series and they were an absolute riot.

“Running is hard!” one of the youngest competitors yelled to her mom during an event last summer.  Truer words never said.

This was a small warm-up event for the rest of them: a mini tri, if you will, held at the South Lake Tahoe Parks and Recreation Department.  The youngest of the bunch swam 25 yards, biked 1 mile and ran a quarter mile.  The middle group swam 50 yards, biked 2 miles and ran a half mile and the eldest swam 100 yards, biked 3 miles and run a mile.  The youngest competitor was a mere 2 years old and rode a strider on the bike leg!

tri montageOverall, it was an absolute delight to attend and volunteer my time.  I can’t wait for the next one!

If your kids participated in the event, a link to the gallery will remain under the EVENTS selection in the PORTFOLIO tab or you can also view the entire gallery via this link.

Coming to visit Tahoe?  The Tahoe Tri Club will be holding kids’ triathlons at Lake Baron on July 21, Aug 18, and Sept 8.  You can find more information at their website.  The events are fantastic and there are awards for every age in the competition.  Each kid receives a post event BBQ meal and a raffle ticket for awesome swag from local sponsors.

Emerald Bay

Emerald Bay, Tahoe South, South Lake Tahoe, Tahoe,

I sorta half-assed this photo that I grabbed of Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe the other night.  It rained a few days in a row this past week and there was a cold snap.  It was very un-summer-like all of the sudden, which, combined with my ever permanent exhaustion right now, left me super grumps.

Anyways, there’s a lot of things I didn’t bother to do with this photo that are bothering me about it.  I’m not going to tell you what they are because you probably don’t even notice.  But I do.  But I’m tired and working on all my days off in between my real job and I don’t really feel like going back and fixing what I was too lazy to do correctly in the first place so this will just have to do.

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Mammoth Ski Weekend

Can you believe I’ve been in California for seven years years now and I’ve never been to Mammoth Lakes to ski?  The horror!

When PSIA asked me to donate photobooths to their annual spring convention at Mammoth, I was more than happy to do it!  A few days spring skiing in sunny Mammoth Lakes and photobooth fun: I’d be crazy to say no!

Bri and I met up with Meghan Kelly, her husband, and a few of our other Tahoe friends for a mini Mammoth Ski trip.  While I may have not reached my goal of sixty days on mountain this ski season, but I at least ended it with one of my more memorable ski weekends to date.  Mammoth Lakes is a gorgeous place to visit and even more unbelievable from the top of the gondola!

Looking for the PSIA Photobooth Photos?

PSIA Spring Convention, Reno Tahoe Photobooth, Prom Photobooth, Ski Mammoth

The PSIA Flashback Prom Photobooth was a riot, once everyone got liquored up!

If you were in my photobooth at the event, your galleries will always remain here on my page in the 2013 tab of the Photobooth Gallery under Portfolio.

If you want to travel to Mammoth Lakes, here are my recommendations. 

STAY:  The Cinnamon Bear Inn is located just of Main Street in Mammoth Lakes and is so adorable it hurts.  Literally.  There are four poster beds with patchwork quilts and doilies.  It’s run by Pam and her husband, who personally cook and serve you a hot breakfast every morning and offer afternoon apres ski drinks and appetizers in the “lobby” which feels more like your own living room.  If you’re used to the Westin, this is not the place for you: it has it’s quirks (like slow draining tubs), but in my world, that’s all the more reason to love it.

EAT:

  • Old New York Deli and Bakery has bagels to die for.  Bagels like I haven’t ever found out west: crisp shells and doughy centers in all the best flavors, including salt, sourdough and egg!  Substitute cream cheese on your fried egg sunrise bagel sando in the morning and you’ll get the best of both worlds: New York style bagel and schmear meets breakfast sandwich.
  • Toomey’s is famous in California for it’s gourmet meals, served without an ounce of pretentiousness, in odd, quirky and unbecoming locations.   If you think it would be wonderful to eat a loaded seafood jumbalaya amidst baseball jerseys and collector metal lunchboxes from days gone by, don’t skip a meal here.
  • Stellar Brew has killer coffee and loaded sandwhiches, perfect for grabbing on your way to or from the mountain.

DRINK:

  • Get a growler filled and enjoy a tasting sampler of either some or all of the brews that Mammoth Brewery has going in their tasting room.   At $4-$6 (regular/seasonal) for tasting rounds, it’s hard to argue against spending an hour in here.
  • It’s happy hour every day from 4:00-5:30 pm at Whiskey Creek in both Mammoth and Bishop – save a fortune on Mammoth Brewery drafts and get half off bar menu items.

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PLAY:

  • Mammoth Mountain routinely opens earlier and remains open later than other California resorts.  It’s well known for it’s summer skiing.  You might want to get there soon – it’s brewing in the rumor mill that Vail Resorts is about to purchase Mammoth and they will probably ruin every ounce of personality this wonderful place has.  In the summer you can purchase day tickets to mountain bike from top to bottom.
  • Take a day off from the slopes and visit June Lakes, an absolutely stunning series of lakes and rivers set under towering peaks and next to a quaint mountain town.
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Pat Kelly fishes in a stream near June Lake, CA.

  • Bishop, CA is one of the western US’s best epicenters for rock-climbing.  Make it a tri sport weekend: fish, bike and climb!

 

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LA Rendezvous

Every few years, my best mate Haley and I start missing each other and plan a little weekend get away to travel together and catch up.  We call them our “Rendezvous’”.  It just so happens that this year, Haley is marrying a wonderful man and she asked me to travel down to LA for a little rendezvous to celebrate her birthday and take engagement photos of them.

I hadn’t been to LA in years and had a blast drinking “rosé all day” with Haley, her fiance, and Anne, whose been staying in So Cal these past few weeks.  We had our toes done, drank wine while watching the sun go down at a gorgeous house in Palos Verdes, caught up with other old friends, and did a lot of daytime drinking, my favorite vacation activity.

My photos of Haley and Dave’s engagement session are still to come, but in the meantime, you can check out their sneak peak.  You can check out all the photos from my weekend in LA via this link.

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Dancing on the rooftop at the Standard Hotel.

If you want to visit Los Angeles, here are my recommendations.  In general, I like to stay away from LA and Hollywood and hide out in the coastal towns of Venice and Santa Monica, where you can totally do without a car. 

STAY:  This studio rental on Airbnb for two exudes beachy-ness from it’s pores: clean, comforting, and colorful!  Better yet, the stay includes the use of two cruisers, perfect for avoiding the LA traffic and cruising around Venice, Santa Monica, and the Malibu boardwalk.

EAT:

  • Gjelina is the type of place I could eat at three times in one day and not be tired of spending time there.  It’s overwhelmingly comfortable, yet sophisticated and the food is amazing.  The pizzas all sound so delicious it’s hard to choose and the salads are inventive.  It’s best to go as a group and order plates to share.  Word of warning: trust the chef because there is a very strict no substitutions or changes policy and they mean it, even if you’re a celebrity.
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Gjelina’s food is to die for. Just don’t ask to be treated special because you aren’t.

  • Intelligentsia may take their coffee a bit too seriously: the employees are pretentious and over-the-top hipsters but damn, that is a serious latte.  Don’t tell them I said that though, it might go to their heads.

DRINK:

  • It’s a shame that The Tasting Kitchen seems unable to bring the wow factor to their dishes in the same way that their atmosphere and bar does.  Reviews on Yelp for their food are hit and miss, which is exactly how my friends described their menu.  Regardless, skip the overpriced food fare and cozy up to the bar for some killer cocktails or our favorite, a bottle of rosé.
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The Tasting Kitchen’s ambiance is personal, rich in texture, with clean lines with an interesting twist that brings outside, inside.

  • Oscar’s in Venice has a killer happy hour and amazing food and apps to boot.  Sit outside on the deck to take in the SoCal sunshine.
  • Act like you’re richer and cooler than you are and take the rail line to downtown LA and drink on the rooftop by the pool at The Standard Hotel.  There are often DJ’s on the decks on weekends.  With panaramic views of Los Angeles and the mountains beyond, there’s no better way to spend a sunny afternoon than here.  Also, don’t forget your swimsuit: the pool is heated.
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Champagne on the rooftop of The Standard, downtown LA.

  • Areal may not have the most amazing food around but it does have a gorgeous outdoor patio and more importantly, bottomless mimosas with the purchase of a brunch entree on weekends.  Don’t get me wrong: our food was solid and tasty, just not overwhelmingly memorable.  The experience however, was.
bottomless mimosas, brunch at Areal, Areal Restarant, Areal Venice, Los Angeles Travel, Reno Tahoe Photographer

The over-the-top Belgian Waffles at Areal in Venice.

PLAY:

  • The beach and boardwalk shouldn’t even have to be mentioned!
  • Get a glimpse of Hollywood without having to deal with Hollywood and tour Sony Studios in Culver City.  Afterwards, head over to downtown to wander and eat.  Culver City is so quaint and adorable it almost feels like you’re not in Los Angeles.

GET CULTURED:

  • Bergamot Station in Santa Monica was originally a trolley stop, built in 1875 for the Red Line Trolley, which ran from LA to the Santa Monica Pier.  Today, it features art galleries, museums and cafes.