‘Burst’ing With Talent

My friend Jaxon made a bold move to follow his passion and change careers from working in a cube to working behind a camera. I participated in the fitness section of his portfolio. It was a blast! Photos by Kelohimography

“Don’t let a win go to your head, or a loss go to your heart. Keep the faith and trust in the process, put the work in and your time will come.” – Brooks Laich (my fav athlete because of his talent as a hockey player and his life values)

Sequel to the Hike … Floaties Optional


NOTE: The photos that look like streams were all sections of the trail we walked through and across that are normally dry soil!

Shenandoah Hiking Series: Overall Run / Overall Run Falls
Instructors: Beth and Raquel
Classmates: Charlotte, Dan, George, Fazon, Paul (a grad student from France), Jessica and Brain (a cool couple), and Jennifer and Lisa (a mother+daughter duo)
Start Time of Hike at Shenandoah National Park: 9:30 a.m.
End Time of Hike at Shenandoah National Park: 4 p.m.
Total Miles Covered: 10 (it was supposed to be 5.5)
Weather: Overcast the first half of the hike and sunny the second half

I had so much fun on my previous REI hike, that I registered for another one. Again, Mother Nature unleashed buckets of rain the days leading up to the hike, class proceeded and we met outside my local REI store at 7:30 a.m. to board “Teddy”. (See my previous hiking blog post for explanations about “Teddy”and some other details.)

It was a lively group! During the van ride Brain goofed with Paul about the U.S. slang term “splunking” and the sexual meaning. Beth, an avid caver, warned them to be careful where they use the term because to outdoor enthusiasts, “spelunking” refers to a cave rescue due to careless people. Very different meanings! At the start of our hike, Beth and Raquel taught us about the proper use and benefits of trekking poles, botanical life we may see like the wineberry (a favorite of all the instructors, a relative of the raspberry, nonnative to Virginia and safe to forge), and animals to beware of like Copperhead snakes (We came across a Copperhead at one point and I yelled, “Keep it moving people!”). Our fearless leaders were unsure of the condition of the trail given the heavy rainfall days prior. We soon discovered that it was miles and miles of mud ditches! Our major trail connections were washed out with mini rapids. I asked if anyone had swim floaties in their backpack? Raquel just finished telling us a story about the last time she led a hike at Overall Run and how they had to walk crouching down for more than a mile as a survival method amid a thunderstorm. During our hike she said she never saw such “epic streams!” Due to those two incidents Raquel jokingly declared, “this trail is cursed!” Safety was a serious issue given the slippery rocks and rushing waters, so I didn’t take many photos. Teamwork and using the trekking poles were crucial. Never underestimate the power of 1-2 feet deep rapid moving water. When we finally reached our destination Overall Run Falls, know as one of Virginia’s tallest waterfalls, it was a beautiful sight. The cascading falls were to our left and the majestic Massanutten Mountain was to our right. Toward the end of our hike I slipped on rocks, fell on my side and was covered in mud. It looked like half of my body got a fancy spa treatment. Our hike was supposed to be about 5.5 miles, but it ended up being 10 miles due to the rerouting. I was exhausted when I got home from my adventurous day!

To search for REI classes/events in your area go to: https://www.rei.com/learn.html

Take a Hike

Shenandoah Hiking Series: Little Devils Stairs
Instructors: Nathan and Matt
Classmates: Alison, George, Scott, Jayne, Adriana and Al
Start Time of Hike at Shenandoah National Park: 9:15 a.m.
End Time of Hike at Shenandoah National Park: 1:30 p.m.
Total Miles Covered: 5.5
Weather: Rainy, chilly and super foggy

I received a classes/events email from REI and noticed they had some great hikes planned through their outdoor program. I began hiking in 2013 with my Framily (yes, that’s how my crew spells it), but I missed going on hikes last year because of the freaky weather and moving. So I decided to go for it, and signed up for a class. What’s more fun than an adventurous day of fresh air, education and exercise?! At the time, I didn’t know Mother Nature would drench our area with rain for weeks. REI is hard core and naturally, the class proceeded as scheduled. We met up outside my local REI store at 7:30 a.m. and boarded the pimped out 11-passenger Mercedes van. Way to go REI!

The van, nicknamed “Teddy” by REI staff was new, but the front right corner had a dent in it that I found out was accidentally done by one of their unnamed associates. Nathan and Matt were knowledgeable and entertaining. Everyone had a blast. We learned about various invasive and non-invasive plants. Nathan shared this interesting tip with us … whenever we finish hiking we should always clean the bottoms of our shoes, because while walking through the parks the soles of our shoes get impacted with plant pollen and that’s one way both good and bad plant populations are spread. The more you know! (cue music) Despite the bad weather, it was a very fun day and I was able to take some cool pics. Visit my blog next week for tales and pics from my hiking adventure to Overall Run Falls.


Encounter With a Living Legend

Annie Leibovitz

I have been a photography enthusiastic ever since I was little and saved all my money and UPC labels to buy my first camera … a pocket camera that I cherished. Fast-forward many years. I read that Annie Leibovitz was coming to the Corcoran Gallery for a Graduate Symposium on Creativity. I tried to buy tickets, but the tickets available to the public were limited and sold out. I reached out to the event organizer and she told me if I showed up early that day I could put my name on a wait list and that I may have a chance of getting in. Two hours before the event I did exactly that. A minute before the event was to begin one of the women informed us there were openings and my friend and I could take a seat.

I bolted inside the Frances and Armand Hammer Auditorium. The 193-seat room was packed. Annie took the stage and was very soft-spoken. She went through images from her book ‘Pilgrimage’ and immediately captivated me with her behind-the-photos stories. She told tales of when she was at Graceland and how she would have liked access to the upstairs, but didn’t ask because she understood about privacy. She shared a story about how when she photographed Lady Gaga, Gaga entered the room and immediately got naked. Apparently, Gaga assumed celebrities commonly did this for Annie. She said that her crew and her were shocked at first and awkwardly didn’t know where to look. Annie also told us a story of when she was staying with one of Ansel Adams’ family members to photograph specific spots of Yosemite Valley and the challenges of capturing clouds as he had done. Annie said in his photographs, Ansel captured the beauty not in how the landscape appeared, but rather how he envisioned the beauty of the scene.

She spoke for an hour, but it went by so fast that it seemed like only minutes. Some valuable wisdom she shared with us on fostering and sustaining creativity included … Don’t lose your beginnings. Remember to look back from time to time. Be ready. Your studio is anywhere. I built my house for my children, but my home is on the road. I wouldn’t have the career I have if I had listened to what others thought I should do. Find your own way. Repetition is very important. I have taken photographs over and over again trying to improve them. (It inspired me to hear that even someone of her photography caliber does retakes and seeks improvement.)

Following her presentation was a panel discussion featuring five local professionals from a range of creative fields. Towards the end of the panel discussion I noticed a gentleman walking Annie out. (There was supposed to be a reception with Annie afterwards, but things ran late and she had to leave.) I got up quickly, hoping to catch her. Rain was pouring down. She was waiting in the doorway for her driver to pull up. I said hello and asked her if she would please sign my book. She graciously said yes. She didn’t write, but rather drew her signature beautifully on the page. I told her that it was an honor to meet her and how much I enjoyed and learned from her presentation. My brief encounter with her was a thrill — the day exceeded my expectations.

[NOTE: Annie Leibovitz was designated a Living Legend by the Library of Congress.]