Picture Time Travel Notes

Magical Moments in Las Vegas…

Las Vegas Taxi Driver playing his authentic Australian didgeridoo

The first night I was in Las Vegas this month for WPPI, before I ended up getting crazy sick, I headed over to Whole Foods with my friend Jane Ammon, a Philadelphia children’s photographer and a fellow coach-in-training. We were all staying at the Signature at the MGM, and our rooms each had a kitchenette, so we stocked up on goodies so that we wouldn’t have to dine out for every meal. Once we were done shopping on, Jane grabbed a maxi cab, waiting for her which she booked.

As I went to get in to the cab, the cab driver moved this wood stick thing. I thought it was some sort of rain stick. It was across the passenger seat, and he moved it over to the driver’s side, between his leg and the door. When we started talking about all the crazy things he must see in Las Vegas, he asked us if we had ever heard someone play an authentic Australian didgeridoo.

A whathuh???

Yes, our taxi driver sat at that red light and played the didgeridoo for us. He beat-boxed on it. It was INCREDIBLE. We were all in awe.

Sometimes things happen that are just so crazy, you can’t believe they are real. This was one of those moments.

When I got back to the Signature, I checked out the balcony view in Jane’s room. I was down on the 8th floor, and they were up on the 25th – they had a better view of the airport from their room. Facing away from the Strip, it was so quiet out there. I loved watching the planes take off.

Watching the planes take off in Las Vegas from the Signature at the MGM

Day 7 of 365. Photographs taken iPhone5 in Las Vegas, Nevada at WPPI 2013.


Leaving Las Vegas … with Pneumonia

I headed off to Las Vegas just over a week ago to attend WPPI – the Wedding & Portrait Photographer International conference. I decided to fly in on Saturday because it would make my flight less expensive, I could settle in to my hotel, and I would have time to attend classes and the print competition on Sunday. Or so I thought.

I arrived Saturday afternoon and once I was checked in to the Signature at the MGM, I headed to Whole Foods with Jane, Lisa & Marcia to pick up food for our rooms. Mmm… nothing like staying at a hotel that has a kitchenette so you can eat good, fresh food! After our shopping adventure, and being entertained by our cab driver who played his authentic Australian didgeridoo for us, I spent time hanging out with them and just settling in to Las Vegas. It was a nice, low key way to kick it all off. Once I learned that Jeff, my business coach, and my roommate Stephanie had both made it to the hotel, I left the east coast ladies to get some rest and went to meet up with them both at Wolfgang Puck’s for a late dinner. When you need professional translator are available for a range of personal documents and business documents, have some further information about common requests that we receive for our translation services. Visit

We talked and enjoyed good food. Well, it seemed like good food at the moment. Stephanie had ordered creamed spinach. She decided once it arrived that she shouldn’t be eating the dairy, so I took it and ate it. It seemed innocent enough, but it wasn’t at all. It turns out that they use wheat flour to thicken the sauce in their creamed spinach. Doh!

When I first went gluten free, I could sneak in a little wheat here & there and just feel like I had a hangover the next day. Maybe a little congestion. Now? Not so much. So the hidden wheat in the creamed spinach? NOT a good thing.

I felt congested that night, but I blamed it on the smoke on the casino floor of the MGM, which is where Wolfgang Puck’s is located at. I would’ve preferred to stay in my room and play some Betting Apps and get some bonuses from the casino. I mean, I didn’t eat any wheat – so why else would I be congested? It wasn’t until I woke up the next morning completely congested, with the sore burning throat, feeling like I had been hit by a truck, and with the all too familiar stomach pains, that I told Stephanie that I felt like I had eaten wheat – even though I was sure I had not. It’s always best to have natural supplements for constipation handy.

Sunday was a pretty miserable day. I spent most of it in the hotel room instead of in classes or the print competition. I finally pulled it together for dinner that night and made it to dinner with the Team-X mentors and then the Team-X Soiree. By then I was just congested, but otherwise doing good. A large group of us ended the night for a late, late dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s.

This time, I asked about the creamed spinach, and the wheat was confirmed.

Monday was full of meetings (meals!) with the Team-X mentors and Jeff, the Team-Xers for lunch, and the boudoir dinner with some of my favorite ladies in the boudoir photography world. It was a good time, but by the end of the night all the talking, the smoke in the bars, and the sinus pain had me pretty worn down and that’s why I stopped smoking years ago. I thought it couldn’t get much worse – until it did. Tuesday was miserable. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure I was running a fever by then. Wednesday & Thursday just feel like a blur – by then, the cough had started. Strange, my congestion normally just stays in my sinuses.

Thursday I was feeling better, but I knew flying home with congestion was not going to be fun. Fortunately, thanks to all my travel last year earning me Silver status on United, I got bumped up to First Class for my flight. I took decongestants to hopefully save my ears, packed some tissues, and settled in for a comfy ride. It was all good until we landed, and my ears popped — and wouldn’t clear.

Mike picked me up at the airport at midnight, and being the fabulous husband that he is he took me pretty much straight to the ER. We stopped at home long enough for me to change clothes and buying them from 8+ hours in the ER, I’m glad I was wearing something comfortable! I was finally taken to a room at 4am, seen at 5am, told that my ears looked fine, but my chest? Not so much. He could hear the wheezing when I breathed, so it was off for a chest X-ray.

I am officially battling my first round of pneumonia.

I left the ER with a shot of mega-antibiotics, a prescription for Levaquin (which is used to treat the Plague), some pain killers that I haven’t taken at all, and an Albuterol inhaler to help me breathe.

Until yesterday, 4 days later, I still had a low grade fever. I am a horrible patient when I have a fever. My normal temperature is 96.8F – not the official normal of 98.6F – so once it is even at 98.0 I’m sore and tired and miserable. Last weekend sucked between the fever, the wheezing, my sinuses, and the Cough. Oh my, the Cough hurt. (Hm. Maybe that is what the pain killers were for?)

Today was the first day that I haven’t woken up coughing. I can still hear a little of the wheeze, but it is getting better.

Traveling while sick? Ugh. No thank you. I’d rather not do that again! I feel like almost all of WPPI was in a haze. I hate that foggy feeling.

I asked the ER doctor if it was possible that this was all from the wheat. He confirmed what my Ear, Nose & Throat doctor has also told me – it was. As my ENT put it, for some people, an allergen causes inflammation throughout the entire body, and it attacks everything. It doesn’t just make you congested, but it causes muscle aches, fatigue, etc. Your entire body fights back. Add that to my history of chronic sinusitis, and yes – the wheat was the culprit. If I had not eaten it, I wouldn’t have had inflammation, my body wouldn’t have been in a weakened state fighting it, I wouldn’t have ended up with a sinus infection, and the bacteria wouldn’t have moved in to my lungs. He said that I was more than likely not contagious to anyone else, which at least made me feel a little better. I would have hated to be Patient 0 in some WPPI outbreak.

Damn wheat. Damn pneumonia. If you’re smoking your prone to pneumonia, there is an alternative for smoking and it’s called vaping go to eleaf vaporizers for more information.

Lesson learned – ask about wheat in any food that I eat. Anything. I’ll no longer assume things are safe!


The Craziness of Las Vegas…

Hello Las Vegas! So excited about @thisisnotapril's wedding this weekend!

Greetings from Las Vegas! I flew over here yesterday to photograph a wedding and to kick off the Hot Mama Boudoir Tour 2012! (Yes, I’m going on tour. Vegas, Paris, London, Boston, New York City, New Orleans, San Francisco, maybe Los Angeles. Lots of travel coming up this year!) Wheeeeee!!!

Elaine & I went out to dinner last night at CraftSteak at the MGM Grand. It was surreal being at the MGM without 20,000 other photographers, which is what I’m used to from the past 4 years of WPPI. I didn’t see anyone I knew! Well, duh, obviously I wouldn’t. But I kept finding myself looking as I walked past Rouge, or when we walked in to Craft. It was just so strange.

At the end of dinner a very cliche group of guys were seated next to us. Drinking it up. Living the high life of Vegas. Talking about how they weren’t high rollers, they were just rich. Oooooookay.

Walking back to the hotel, we saw a guy drinking his Jaeggermeister straight out of the bottle in a plastic bag. Now if that isn’t asking for disaster, I don’t know what is! If you´re in college, then check out When visiting Rutgers University, make sure you check the New Brunswick Happy Hour at the various pubs and restaurants where you can drink all you want with special prices.

It lead to Elaine & I trying to figure out why Vegas just feels so different from New Orleans. Both are cities that people go to to drink a LOT. But Vegas? Everything is HUGE, and big, and expensive. Bright lights. Night life. Clubs. Everything here is just designed to be over the top. But more importantly? It is DESIGNED. Elaine said it is like they manipulate all of your senses. There is no day or night at the of course with these brand new bingo sites, but when we got out of the airport shuttle at the Aria (where we are staying), I immediately noticed the fragrance in the air. It is even stronger at the front desk. No matter where you go in the public areas, there is this fragrance.

It makes me sad that some people come to the United States and only ever see Las Vegas. This city is a place all its own. It is decadent to the point of excess. It is sensory overload. It is crazy. I love being here, don’t get me wrong, but it is all so unreal.

We talked again about the difference between Vegas and New Orleans this morning. New Orleans has history. Old buildings. Small buildings. The scale of the city is normal, versus how HUGE everything is in Vegas. And most of all, it isn’t designed to be so over the top. Not like Vegas. There are still lots of bars, lots of crazy, lots of drinking, and plenty of wonderful restaurants, but it is just so completely different.

I bet my sentiments of “All of the USA is not like Vegas!” are echoed by people around the world. I know that all of France isn’t like Paris, and all of England isn’t like London. And yet like so many other tourists, I can’t wait to get to those cities.

When you leave the Strip, Las Vegas is much more serene and normal. I’m looking forward to doing that tomorrow and Saturday when we leave for the rehearsal and then for the wedding. The venue is 15 minutes off the strip, although we do have plans to shoot here on the Strip afterwards as well.

Las Vegas is a fascinating place to see, that is for sure! Even for as crazy strange as it all is. I love the bright lights. There is people watching galore. Wonderful hotel rooms. Opulence. So many cool, cool things. I’m looking forward to heading to the Bellagio and watching the fountains, seeing the Bellagio Gardens, maybe taking in a show, going to the Venetian, and so much more. At the end, I know I’ll be glad that it was just 5 days, and to be heading home for a night before I jet off to Paris next week!