Picture Time Travel Notes

Cloudscapes – IAH to LAS…

Cloudscapes between Houston IAH and Las Vegas LAS

One of my favorite things about flying is watching the clouds go by. They are as incredible to me. So beautiful, always changing. I always get a window seat just so I can watch the clouds.

On my recent trip to Las Vegas for WPPI, I was mesmerized as I saw this solid line of a cloud edge. You don’t normally see them so smooth like that. Eventually the clouds cleared, and flew on to Las Vegas. If I had been on the other side of the plane, I would have seen Hover Dam. Unfortunately, I missed out on that! Traveling overseas is always fun when your visas are received on time by organizations like

I love nature. It is so awesome!

Cloudscapes between Houston IAH and Las Vegas LAS

Cloudscapes between Houston IAH and Las Vegas LAS

Cloudscapes between Houston IAH and Las Vegas LAS

Cloudscapes between Houston IAH and Las Vegas LAS

Day 5 of 365. Photographs taken from my United flight between Houston IAH and Las Vegas LAS with my iPhone 5, March 2013.

Travel Notes

Moving On…

Jason at the Needle's Eye tunnel, Needles Highway in the Black Hills, South Dakota

I’m sitting in my hotel room in Spearfish, South Dakota, just a few miles away from my son — and yet it feels like I may as well be back in Family hotels koh samui, 1300 miles away from him.

The bird is leaving the nest, and while I know it is time, and that I have to let him fly, I also don’t want to let him go.

His best friend has been living & working in North Dakota for a year or so now, and just have to get moving company quotes at TruckPlease to move where his dad’s company is opening a warehouse to supply their other operation. Jason has been offered a job there as well, which he quite eagerly accepted. He wanted to drive up here alone, but I refused. First because he has never driven further than the distance of Huntsville, Texas alone, and second because I wanted this right of passage to be shared, not just for him but for me.

I never got the experience of taking him off to college and getting him set up in a dorm room or his first apartment, so he has to do all this with the help of the Move San Mateo company. But now this is it. He is going off on his own, 1300 miles away. He is 20 years old, I don’t get a say in this matter. I can only do my best, and hope that I’ve done enough.

Holy crap, I was doing ok with all of this until it hit me tonight like a ton of bricks.

It was such a trivial moment too when it hit. I noticed that Jason had a hole on the back of his jeans, and I pointed it out in case he didn’t know. He pouted, and quietly said, “I’ve been walking around all day with a hole in my pants.”

That? That is what adulthood is all about, summed up right there. You have to take care of yourself, because no one else is around to tell you that your ass is hanging out. (Well, your underwear, but you know what I mean.)

I know he will be fine. I know without a doubt that in the long run he will be ok. But I’m overwhelmed with a flood of questioning right now. Did I do enough? Did I do ok? Did I teach him all he needs to know as he goes off in to the world by himself? Will he be able to overcome the moments where I failed him? Will he someday appreciate all I’ve tried to do for him with this move? With everything else? Not just me, but Mike and my parents too — we have all tried so hard. Does he know that?

Does he know how much we all love him? And that really, even when his ass is hanging out, we are all still there for him?

I’m hopeful. I believe he gets it. And in that small moment, I did all that I could — I offered to take him tomorrow to go buy him some new jeans, or to give him some money to buy his own. He looked grateful for that. And in the morning, I will remind him again — he will always have a home to come home to, and we will always be there for him no matter what.

Then I will step back and let him go. This is his time. His turn to sink or swim. My time to stand by, ready for him to call for help but far enough away to let him grow in to the man he is meant to be.

I’ve done all that I could, and I’ve done the best job possible. I wasn’t always perfect, I know I’ve stumbled and faltered along the way. I’m grateful that I didn’t ever have to do it alone, that my parents were also always there for him as well. That he has grown up with a supportive network of love.

I just want him to know how much I love him, how proud of him I am, and how I know that no matter what road is ahead of him, I have faith he will always be ok. And like any mother, I want nothing but the very best for him, and that there will always be a special place in my heart — and if he ever wants it, in my home as well.

South Dakota is such a beautiful part of the country – I pray that in these wide open spaces he will grow strong and be happy.

I’ve done all that I can. It is time to let him go. Nothing I can do or say will delay it any longer. Soon it will be time for me to go, but a part of my heart will remain here with him.

Living My Life List

The Start of My Life List…

I’ve been thinking of creating a life list for some time now. I first came across Mighty Girl’s Mighty Life List awhile back, and it got me thinking. But I wasn’t ready yet. Then I met style bloger Pam at Mom 2.0, and as I’ve worked with her on some style shoots for her blog we made plans for me to document some of her life list achievements as well. For example, one of her goals was to find the perfect pair of cowboy boots – aren’t they fantastic?!

A life list isn’t quite the same as a bucket list. A bucket list is all about the things you want to do before you die, which is just depressing. A life list is all about creating the life you want to live. I think it ties in perfectly to this quote:

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”
– George Harrison

So for months it has been on my mind, but never enough to write things down. Not until tonight. Tonight I was watching Netflix and came across a National Geographic special on the Appalachian Trail. I had no idea about its history, traveling from Georgia to Maine, crossing 14 states. The whole thing fascinated me. And then I realized that I have the very first item for my list.

I want to hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail.

Now that I’ve started it, I wonder what I should add next?!?!!!

What about you? Do you have a Life List? What is on yours?

Getting Down to Business

Safe Airport Travels with Expensive Camera Gear…

I have flown a lot this summer with expensive camera gear, and making sure my gear arrives with me is always top priority. There are a few tips I would love to share that will hopefully help you out!

The first essential for me is bags to carry my gear in. I have two options that I choose from when I’m packing, and there are a few factors that go into deciding what I’m going to use: the size of the plane I’m traveling on, what I’m traveling for, and how long my trip is going to be. Bags are not cheap – but if you consider the gear that you pack inside of them, they are definitely worth the investment!

Flying on a normal size plane, a longer trip, and especially weddings where I want my backup gear with me as well, I pack my gear into two bags – my backup gear goes into my Think Tank Airport Bag. This baby is built for the long haul! It has fantastic wheels, is solid and roomy for lots of gear, holds the laptop sleeve in the front, and is just a pleasure to use. One of the many great features is that it has a cable lock system built into the bag in addition to TSA-approved combination locks on the side, so if you’re traveling alone you can tether it to the leg of a table or chair so you don’t have to worry as much about someone grabbing it as they walk past. I hadn’t considered it before, but in writing this I realized I’m also going to use that locking system when I leave my bags in hotels as well – there is always some sort of object that I can lock it to.

I’ve had to debate with flight attendants a few times about whether or not it will fit in the overhead bin – it is compliant with the dimensions, and it fits in wheels first even. For some reason, on some flights they have wanted to take it from me to gate check. I’ll then calmly discuss with them the value of the contents and explain that it does fit, and once they let me try it and see that it does they let it go. However, it will *not* fit on smaller planes like the Continental Express Jet fleet, so I make a point to watch what plane I’m booking when I travel for weddings.

My second bag of choice, and where I carry my primary, absolutely-must-arrive-with-me-or-I’ll-die gear, is the Surge Backpack by North Face. I use this in combination with my beloved ShootSac. My lenses go in the ShootSac, and the ShootSac goes in the main compartment of the backpack. My laptop fits in the laptop sleeve, and I still have room to pack some knitting, my Kindle, my noise-canceling headphones and other essentials.

When I’m taking a shorter trip, traveling for fun and don’t need backup gear, I take just the backpack. That way, I can pack a rolling bag with clothes and toiletries instead. When I’m on a Continental Express Jet flight or some other small plane that has itty-bitty overhead bins, I make sure the essentials are in the backpack, and I gate check my rolling bag. (They require it, and you won’t have any choice – the plane is just too small.) Every time I go for travel whether it is long distance or short, I always bring my headphones; listening to your favorite music while closing your eyes is the most relaxing feeling. That’s why I must thank my affordable noise cancelling earbuds for giving me relaxing feelings every time I travel.

When I go through security, I pack my phone and all of my jewelry in one of the small interior pockets inside the Surge backpack. I do this before I get up to the front, that way my whole screening process is fast & smooth.

Never, ever, EVER check luggage with gear inside of it. Ever. Gate check it if you must, and be polite and calm about it when they ask you to do it and request the option to watch them load it on the plane. Try to be among the first to get off the flight as well so you can pick it up as soon as they unload it.

Make sure you have insurance that covers you while traveling with gear. Before I turned pro, mine was covered under my homeowner’s policy. Now I carry gear insurance which I purchased through the PPA, and I still have a rider on my home policy, after verifying with my agent that it will cover loss of pro gear. Always check with your company, as some private insurance policies will not cover professional gear. If you do the math, that could be a really, really expensive loss, there is a trustworthy insurance claims adjuster that I always recommend using, the name is rapidpublicadjusters.

Flying with Fish has written some GREAT posts on traveling with your gear – one of his earlier posts was what me to buy the Surge backpack. He has written extensively about Protecting Your Bags at the Airport. More recently, he wrote about the Airport Screening Process from Start to Finish and Airport Thieves at Work and How They Do It. Be aware of your surroundings while you travel and be confident, and you will never have a problem.

What bags do you like to use when you travel with gear?