Chicago Marathon | Fundraising for ALS

I like to run one marathon a year.

At the end of the year, at least I have that.

“What did you do this year?”

“I ran a marathon,” I can scoff, joining the ranks of those elitists who think that marathon running is an accomplishment.  This doesn’t work as well on people who then go, “how far was the one you did?” because then your accomplishment is mired by the annoyance that runners have when they have to explain that a marathon is always the same distance.

Sheesh, those non-runners.

This year, I’m not just going to run a marathon.  I’m proud to say that I will be fundraising for the Les Turner ALS Foundation.   It was recently brought to my attention that the family of a very close friend has been severely affected by Lou Gerig’s disease.

More than 5,600 Americans are diagnosed with ALS each year.  It is a progressive, degenerative disease that affects your motor neurons, which carry signals from the brain to your muscles by way of the spinal cord.  As the victim’s motor neurons cease function and die due to the disease, their muscles spasm and atrophy.

Since 1977, the Les Turner ALS Foundation has been a leader in research, patient care and education about ALS.   It is one of the nation’s largest independent ALS organizations and has raised over $48 million to fight the disease.

There are four of us running this year.  It will be M and I’s fourth marathon, Sarah’s 2nd and Taylor’s first.  Collectively, we will be raising, at minimum, $4,000 for the Les Turner ALS Foundation.

Please consider supporting my efforts and kick-starting my fundraising by donating $20 to the cause by following this link.  

I figured out that I need to raise a mere $33 every week from now through the Marathon week in order to meet my goal.  If three people reading this give me $11, or 2 people give me $16.50, or one really awesome amazing person gives me $33, I’ll have met my goal this week just like that.

And don’t be that person who reads this and says, I’ll have to donate later.  Now.  Just give the ALS foundation $10 right now.  It’s a shit disease and they need help.  

Go here to help.

You help them and that supports me.  Win win everyone.

PS.  I know who reads this because the internet is like magic.  I will publicly shame you.

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Travel Photography | Washington, DC

After spending a few days in New York City, Boyfriend and I headed down to Washington DC via bus to meet up with M, my post-college roommate, travel partner and marathon running partner.

A few years ago, M got the hare-brained idea to run a marathon and insisted I do it with her.  We chose the California International Marathon as our first event and despite apparently telling people that I was never going to do that again, we signed up again the following year for the Dallas Marathon.   By now, we are absolute pros at our drink-wine-and-don’t-train-marathon-training-program and took it to the streets of DC for the Marine Corps Marathon, which due to it’s popularity is as difficult to get into as it is to run it.

The race itself was absolutely outstanding, though it did have some lonely moments.  There’s an absolutely surreal bit of it that goes on the freeway overpass to Virginia: it’s very exposed, sun baked, and eerie, as if you’re in a zombie apocalypse movie all of the sudden.   The experience overall was phenomenal and awe inspiring.  It was hard not to cry at the starting line as jets flew over, dropping marines with American Flags and parachutes into the crowd as the anthem played.  It was encouraging to run along side Wounded Warriors as they pushed themselves on hand bikes with no gears up the hills of the 26.2 mile course.  It was invigorating to hear words of encouragement from Marines stationed every 200 yards in the last few miles.  “Keep your head up! Run with purpose!  Never give up!” they called.  It was thrilling to know that you were in the last tenth of a mile when the row of marines waiting to high five you for your efforts at the finish line showed up and then, as you cross the line, another row of Marines, waiting to shake your hand, hang your medal on your head and thank you for supporting them.

You think the laundry list of things to see in New York City is overwhelming?  DC is worse.  I wish we’d had two weeks there to really take in all the sights and museums available to you.  Here’s what we did, but this is by no means the extensive list.

STAY: Fred and Kadija’s Cozy Rowhouse on Airbnb is absolutely perfect for exploring DC from.  It’s extremely close to the NOMA metro stop and made it so insanely easy to get out on foot every day and check stuff out. The house is adequately stocked with almost everything you would need, was clean, comfortable and perfect for a group.  You won’t need a car if you stay here!

EAT:

  • Indigo is just around the corner from the Rowhouse.  Order menu items a la carte to share or scarf down by yourself.  It’s BYOB, casual and amazing.  Apparently, it’s the only authentic home-style Punjabi (North Indian) food that you’ll find in DC.
  • Our meal at Tash was one of the most memorable of our trip.  The grilled flatbread rivaled my own and was perfectly accompanied by heaping mounds of Baba Ganoush.  M’s meal, the Gheymeh Lamb Shank, was rich and cooked with precision.
  • Thank god for Teds Bulletin.  I spend four and a half hours of every marathon thinking about nothing but breakfast.  After a serious people-moving snafu occurred after the marathon (apparently moving 100,000 people via public transportation is not that easy), we were a bit concerned that it was so late we wouldn’t be able to find breakfast.  Teds Bulletin came to the rescue and not only did I have the most perfect post marathon breakfast of all time but our amazing waiter treated us to free homemade pop tart treats after we told him what we had just accomplished.

DRINK:

  • Little Miss Whiskey’s is awash with concert posters and a dark, but chill vibe.  The bartenders were great conversationalists and chatted with us for quite some time about our adventures.  The beer selection is varied and filled with local gems and the whiskey knowledge and selection is what you would expect given the name.
  • Beirgarten Haus serves authentic German beer and food in a eerily accurate setting.  It took me back to Oktoberfest.  The draft selection of German brews is extensive and the pretzel bread is not to be missed.
  • The Hawk n’ Dove is practically a historical monument in DC.  It was recently rennovated out of it’s “dive bar” status and while the locals may notice and dislike the changes, we were so comfortable here that we returned more than once to imbibe at the deep dark comfortable bar.

EXPLORE:

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Musings on a New Year

I do athletics.

Some years, I do a lot of athletics.  The last two years, not so much.  I tried to make it a priority to exercise more last year, but let’s just face it: I was overworked and tired most of the year.  Somewhere in the last year I realized that maybe I should quit my job and just be a photographer.  And so I’m going to do that.  I worked REALLY hard last year at both my jobs to get to the position I’m in today and I’m pretty proud of myself.  If some exercising went by the wayside, well, that’s what this year is for.  Right?

Among other informal goals, I try to visit at least one foreign country a year (didn’t happen) and one new ski resort a year (did happen).

In Steamboat Springs for Music Fest with my bff Liana.

My goals for 2013 were as follows.  Here’s how I fared:

1.  Become more proficient at Photoshop.

Success.  Not a total I’m-a-Photoshop-wiz and I no longer scream and want to throw my computer when I’m trying to super-impose my face to Olivia Newton John’s, but better.  I took an online course through LTCC and while the first half of it went really well, things went a bit wayside in the 2nd half while I was shooting multiple weddings, running a marathon, vacationing, fighting with my old landlord, traveling for work and moving.  I’m glad all that is over and I still have the textbook which I plan on going back through and spending some loving quality time with.

2.  I thought I wanted to take on another photo project for the year.  Last year I started a project through a website where you took one shot a month based on the word they chose.  They lost me in August though when they started having a different word for every day.  That was too much.  I thought that perhaps I might want to take on a self-portrait a month project, but I think I’ll just end up over-extending myself.  Instead, I think I should focus my energy into committing to photo sessions at least once a month during the winter with Megs.  It will help both of us reach our mutual goals.

Success.  I’m not sure if we managed EVERY month, but we did have a pretty good run of photos from last year.  I would really like for it to snow so that we can go out and get some amazing photos THIS year.

3.  60 days on the mountain.

Um, no.  Most underwhelming winter ever.  Until this one.

Tahoe Backcountry, Tahoe Backcountry Skiing, Waterhouse, Skiing, Backcountry Skiing, Telemark Skiing

4.   Pay off the credit card.  I am the WORST at this.  Most of the time, I feel like life is too short to be ridiculously responsible.  I do things like pay it off and then put a really awesome trip on there.  There will always be more money.  There will not always be fun trips with your friends.  But for real, I really want to pay it off.  Kinda.

EPIC fail.  Pretty sure I put more stuff on there.  Well, hell, there’s always money in the banana stand.

5.  Legitimately train for the marathon.  Perhaps run more than 30 miles in the six weeks leading up to it.

Ha!  Just this week, my marathon running partner wrote a very eloquent post about why she puts herself through the torment of running a marathon every year.  I didn’t actually realize it prior to reading it, but our feelings towards it are the same.  Although I totally improperly train or fail to train at all or just stop training or whatever throughout the course of my marathon training season when push comes to shove there’s this: I run marathons because at the end of the year if I have completely and totally failed in some partial or entire sense of my goals for the year, I always have the marathon.  And you know what, marathons are fucking hard.

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6.  Consistently: swim more, run more, ride my bike more.  Make sure that I schedule in time to exercise, time to work and time to learn and frankly, time to do nothing.  Time to veg on the couch is sometimes needed and I think the only days this year that I had literally nothing to do where the days that I was on vacation.

None of this happened.  At all.  At any time this year.  I’m just going to leave it at that.

7.  Read more non-photography books.

I actually did fairly well with this one.  That being said, it wasn’t quite as many as I would have liked but still a reasonable attempt and moderately successful.

8.  Photograph more music festivals.  Seriously!  Two of my most favorite loves: live music + photography.  So awesomely fun I wish I could do it full time.

This happened.  I photographed a LOT of music this year and it was rad.

Snowglobe Music Fest, Snowglobe, Tahoe South

My goals for 2014:

1.  Read 20 pages a day.  One of my wedding clients started a group on the FB to help keep her accountable for a promise to hike for 30 days straight.  It piqued my interest and I decided I would join in on her goal, but instead read 20 pages a day.  It’s been such an enjoyable experience, I think I’m going to keep it going all year long.  I haven’t missed a day yet.

2.  Exercise 5 days a week.  I have to start making time for myself a priority again, regardless of how many hours a week I am working.  I sleep better and my stress levels are lower if I just force myself out the door in a timely manner to sneak a little cardio in.

3.  Stop interneting in bed in the morning and after 6 PM.  I have a tendency to wake up and bring my coffee and laptop into my giant cozy amazing bed in my big dark wonderful bedroom.  This keeps me from wanting to get out of bed in the cold to go run or swim or ride my bike.  I need better work-life balance and keeping myself to this along with a commitment to exercise and a pledge to read every day is going to get me there.

4.  Run another marathon.  Because after all, I always have that.

5.  24 weddings in 2014.   My calendar is filling up fast – 11 dates are already taken!

6.  Go to Moab with the Purvis-Daniels clan.  For years I have been promising to tag along on this trip and this year I’m going to make it happen.  You can hold me to it friends!

7.  Cook more.  My boyfriend is the most supportive boyfriend in the world and all last summer while I worked 7 days a week, 10-12 hours a day, he would make me dinner.  It was an amazing relief in a summer that was super stressful.  I appreciate it, but I also don’t want to work that hard this year which means I get to spend more time in a place that I love: our kitchen.

Here’s to another awesome amazing super crazy insane fun filled adventurous year that only I know how to do.  2014, lets do this! 

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Tahoe Event Photography | Freakin’ Fun Run

It’s getting a little ghoulish up in Tahoe.

Thanks to the Tahoe Tri Club and a whole slew of local volunteers, we have our very own Holiday Fun Run Series!  Run through the Holidays is a series of three runs.  The first in the series was the Freakin’ Fun Run and I was more than thrilled to volunteer my time and donate my photography services for the finish line.

Normally, I’d be out on the course running myself but as I cracked up at the antics of Race Director and Head Zombie Jason Collin, I did not regret missing out on the athletics.  It was quite the show!

 Did you participate in the Freakin’ Fun Run?  

If so, head over to the full photo gallery via this link to see all the photos and download them for free.

Want to join in on the fun?  

Each of the three events features a 5k, 10k and a kids’ fun run.  The South Tahoe Turkey Trot will be held Sunday, November 17, 2013 and the Jingle Jog Hot Chocolate Run will be held Sunday, December 15, 2013.  Head to the Tahoe Fun Runs website for more information and to register.  100% of the proceeds from these events benefit the Junior program for the Tahoe Tri Club.

Hotter than Hell

Every year my company sends me to Wichita Falls, TX to work this massive cycling event that I have yet to figure out the allure of participating in.

In Wichita Falls I do things like complain about the heat and lack of food.  I had to eat at Chili’s for god’s sake.  One time I ate out of the Walmart because it seemed like a better alternative to the fast food options in the city.  Now they have an On the Boarder which to their credit had real margs.  Regardless, my stomach was in turmoil for days.

I book-ended the work trip with some time visiting my mom, who I hadn’t seen since Thanksgiving and some time with my bffs from high school, LT and K.

My mom, Aunt Cheryl and I went to one of my favorite Dallas joints: Fireside Pies.   They’d been taunting me on twitter all month waxing and waning about their hatch chili pizza pie and it was everything I’d dreamed it would be.  I can’t go there without ordering the warm goat cheese which is served so simply that I could technically do it myself at home but honestly, everything tastes better when someone else makes it for you.  Big thanks to Fireside for the complimentary fresh berry cobbler – it was insanely delicious and devoured with great haste.

K and her sister and I went to a Ranger’s game at the Ballpark at Arlington, which was a blast right up until the relief pitcher hit another player in the head.  We also caught the Oddball Tour with Demetri Martin, Dave Chappelle and Flight of the Conchords and LT came with us.  It was pretty awesome.  I missed getting tickets to Flight of the Conchords the last time they toured the US, mostly because it was when their show was on and tickets were a hot commodity.  I’m happy to see Chappell back in action, though apparently he may not be as sound as we would hope he is.

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Last, but not least, I made the mistake of signing up for a half marathon at White Rock lake that weekend.  If you aren’t aware, I am training running a half marathon every week and pretending like that’s training for a marathon.  It’s in 57 days.  I knew that if I didn’t sign up for an event, the likelihood of me completing a long run would be absolutely zero percent.  It was so humid and so hot that my clothes became soaked with water and sweat and there was nowhere for it to disperse to so I ended up with burn marks on my chest.  Pleasantly, however, my high school friend Maddie was also running and we ran the first 8 miles of the event together and I had a delightful time.  I’m proud to be sporting a K’s for Keegan technical tee!

Anyways, that’s my week in a nutshell.  I took my camera with me but didn’t even take it out of the bag.  Here’s some phone photos of the week instead.  Other pertinent info:

  • Custom cowbells via Cowbell Crusade.
  • Eat pizza and drink cocktails at any of the DFW area Fireside Pies.  You won’t regret it.
  • The ice cream at the new Sprinkles Ice Cream shop at Preston/Forest is worth the line.  It moves fast.
  • Wound Up Cafe kept us caffeinated at the Hotter than Hell expo, but they are actually a food truck located in Dallas.
  • We had brunch at Gloria’s on Lower Greenville after the half marathon.  It was bomb.  $2 mimosas on Sunday mornings but they don’t open until 11 AM which is CLEARLY not early enough for $2 mimosa drinking.

 

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Tahoe Kids Tri | Tahoe Event Photography

“Mom, I want to beat all the boys,” allegedly declared one competitor.  This was no normal competitor, mind you.  She is a very ferocious child under the age of 10.

Fist pumping since he’s in the lead!

The 2nd of the the three event series that comprises the Tahoe Kids Triathlon Series occurred this past Sunday and this event was no different than the others but just as special: two year olds kickin’ butt and taking names on strider bikes, races for the finish, aggressive cornering, and yes, a few tears.  But mostly, it’s all laughter, smiles and high fives when they cross the finish line.

The youngest competitor, a 2 year old, starts to the bike leg on his strider.

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 the Parks and Recreation Department on Rufus Allen Blvd again on Sept 8.  The event starts at 1:30 PM and you need to show up early to register.  You can find more information at their website.  Each kid receives post event grub and a raffle ticket for awesome swag from local sponsors.

If you are looking for photos from previous Tahoe Tri Club Events, you can view them via these links:

2013 Tahoe Kids Tri #2: August 18, 2013

2013 Tahoe Kids Tri #1: July 21, 2013

2013 Tahoe Kids Tri Mini Event: June 30, 2013

2012 Tahoe Kids Tri #3: Sept 9, 2012

2012 Tahoe Kids Tri #2: Aug 12, 2012

2012 Tahoe Kids Tri #1: July 7, 2012

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3rd Annual Angora Lakes Tri

Every year, my bff Meghan Kelly throws an awesome unofficial tri called the Angora Lakes Tri.

And by “throws” I mean she: tells people to show up, sorta of wrangles volunteers, and forces her husband Pat and usually Boyfriend to write down our finish times and suggests that people write things on their legs in permanent sharpie.

It’s the best day ever.

The starting line of the third annual unofficial Angora Lakes Tri (photo by Gretchen Eicher).

The tri is a bit unorthodox and once again the order of events suited me: we ride our bikes from Kiva Beach to the Angora Lakes parking lot, where a volunteer with a car has our running shoes and swim stuff.  Put your running shoes on and run power walk UP the steep hill to Angora, swim across the lake, get a 2 minute time bonus for jumping off the cliff, swim back, run back, ride back, celebrate, drink beer.

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Here I am, swimming with style (photo by Court Brock).

I have a tendency to pass people on the swim and make up a lot of time and this year was no different.  That being said, I had zero chance of catching up to the overall and men’s winner Lee who had 10 minutes on me.

Competitors cliff jumping for the 2 minute time bonus (photo by Court Brock).

You can read Meghan’s write up and see the official results via this link.

Read about year 1 here.

Read about year 2 here.

The finish line (photo by Sheriff Underhill).

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Tahoe Kids Tri | Tahoe Event Photography

Sponsoring our local Tahoe Kids Tri Series as a photographer is a no brainer for me and not just because I get to listen to parents yell at their kids to go faster or hurry up or take their helmet off (serious competitors, those parents) or because sometimes the kids break down in tears when they don’t get 1st place (happens) but mostly because I love swimming, running and cycling myself.

Montage-3The 2nd event of the summer was held this past Sunday at the South Lake Tahoe Parks and Recreation Department on Rufus Allen Blvd, which is where all of the events will be held from now on.  The new venue makes it much easier for me to grab action shots of the race itself and all the finish line shots, which is awesome.

Overall, it was an absolute delight to attend, as always, and a great way to volunteer my time.  If you have a kid and they haven’t yet participated in this awesome home grown local event, get them out there at the next one!  The kids LOVE it and they are all smiling ear to ear after they finish, regardless of any tears spilled mid-race.  These events are nothing short of fantastic and there are age group awards for every single age increment, which means more kids get the feeling of accomplishment from standing on the podium.  A 2 year old competed for the second time this summer – if he can do it, any kid can do it!

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 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 the Parks and Recreation Department on Rufus Allen Blvd again on Aug 18 and Sept 8.  The events start at 1:30 PM and you need to show up early to register.  You can find more information at their website.  Each kid receives post event grub and a raffle ticket for awesome swag from local sponsors.

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If you are looking for photos from previous Tahoe Tri Club Events, you can view them via these links:

2013 Tahoe Kids Tri #1: July 21, 2013

2013 Tahoe Kids Tri Mini Event: June 30, 2013

2012 Tahoe Kids Tri #3: Sept 9, 2012

2012 Tahoe Kids Tri #2: Aug 12, 2012

2012 Tahoe Kids Tri #1: July 7, 2012

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Calling All Athletes – K’s for Keegan

In high school, Maddie was one of my first and best friends.  Her family is so ridiculously kind, not to mention gorgeous, that I spent most of my freshman and sophomore year feeling not worthy of their generosity.  Maddie not only fancied Audrey Hepburn as her style icon but literally looked like her, which was horrifying because I wore button down shirts three sizes too big and had no idea how to style my hair at all.

Horrifying, but really, isn’t all of high school?

Today, Maddie has married one of our high school friends whose family is equally as kind as hers and together  they make this super family of gorgeous people who deserve all the happiness in the world.

And they have it.

Except, their son Keegan has had and will continue to have a world of health problems.

Despite this, they are still ridiculously optimistic, loving, and clearly happy.

When Keegan was born, he was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect.  In the first few weeks of his life, Keegan was became the youngest and smallest heart transplant in the state of Texas and the smallest heart transplant in the US.

Today, Keegan is a super happy kid whose strength I can’t imagine.  He clearly gets it from his mother.  He’s in the hospital constantly.  Despite this, Maddie and Gray try to provide a somewhat normal life for their son and his sister, aptly named Audrey.

Why am I telling you this?

 Because you can support me by supporting my awesome friend and her awesome family by joining K’s for Keegan by buying a tee with us.  If there is enough interest, we can get technical wicking tees made.  On the back, it will say “Keegan is alive today thanks to an organ donor.  Be a hero.  Donate life.”  It will also have the website for the national organ donation non-profit organization that helps coordinate the official state registries, http://donatelife.net, and Keegan’s blog address.

Head over to Keegan’s Blog or  email Maddie at keeganharrison@yahoo.com with your desired number and sizes.  Do it!  Stat!  That means RIGHT NOW!

A Few of my Favorite Things

I’m working on my Outdoor Retailer/Utah post, I promise.

In the meantime, there’s a lot of things I’m totally obsessed with right now and most of them involve food:

  • Steel Cut Oats and Quinoa breakfast cereal: I’ve been making a big batch of this at the beginning of the week and then reheating it when I get to the store. Add in some fresh fruit and a little bit of honey and it’s the best part of waking up other than coffee. Recipe via Bon Appetit.
  • Curried Chicken Salad Sandwiches for lunch every day. I bought a chicken to roast last weekend at Whole Foods and used the leftovers to make us a ton of chicken salad for our lunches. Buying lunch meet is ridiculous and expensive. This stuff just gets tastier every day! I think you could probably use greek yogurt in place of the mayo. Recipe via Cooking Light.
  • My crockpot. I am SO productive in the morning. At night? Not so much. Especially in the winter. In the last month I’ve used my crockpot at least once or twice a week, making stand out dinners like Shredded Pulled Sandwiches, Pork Ragu, and Beef Burgundy with Egg Noodles. The best part is how amazing your house smells when you come home from work or the mountain.
  • Listening to NPR while I run on the treadmill. Something about Terry Gross’ voice during her in depth and often funny interviews, the stories on This American Life, and the hijinks of Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me totally draw me in and make me forget I’m on the treadmill. Otherwise I get super sadistic and end up running quarter mile or hill repeats almost every day.  I’m sure I’m giving the gym quite a show because most of the time I’m on the treadmill, grinning ear to ear and laughing out loud.
  • Dreaming of traveling. January, otherwise known as Junuary in Tahoe, totally brings me down: it never snows and it’s always warm and sunny during the day and freezing at night. I either want powder or I want to ride my bike. None of this in between crap. I start to get claustrophobic, especially since it’s one of the slowest months at my store. I get bored, restless, and start fantasizing about places to go.
  • Dreaming of a new wardrobe. I haven’t bought a new skirt in years. I’m tired of the ones hanging in my closet. I feel a shopping spree coming on. Also, most of the skirts I have are flirty, summery and totally inappropriate for the Tahoe winter. First purchase in the closet update: this super cute chunky denim A-line from Boden. Also on the agenda: cute, fun, functional dress-up-or-down classic dresses, including a little black dress, and some tops that I can wear with all the amazing wide leg pants from Anthropologie that I have nothing to wear with.

Things I’m looking forward to:

  • Heading to Austin at the end of February to see James Zabiela play, who I haven’t seen since before I moved to California, and spend the evening with Lance, Toddy, Jamie and my old crew whom I get to see briefly and infrequently these days.
  • Photographing SXSW in Austin in March.
  • Mountain biking Moab in May with Torril, Marion, Bill and the rest of their crew.
  • My birthday party. That’s right. It’s never too early to start planning your next birthday party. FIVE MONTHS til we Rock the Casbah!

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