Spring Training and Sister Time

Wow- I’m waaay behind on blog posts for Sugar Sand! I have been focused this past year on getting the word out about a cookbook I recently co-wrote, but I am back now to, hopefully, a more even balance of main employment, cookbooks, and photography. I’m going to try anyway!

Last month, my sisters and I all met back up (after a hiatus last year) in Phoenix for our long weekend of fun, sister time, and Seattle Mariners Spring Training. We stay at the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort (I love to say “tapatio”) which has great landscaping and colorful architecture on the grounds, and also has a variety of great pools to get in as much sun as possible! And these white Seattle legs needed it that’s for sure! In addition, the resort is located right next to the North Phoenix Mountain Preserve, so we can go on our morning hikes before we hit the sun and baseball. The beautiful hiking trails and the proximity of them to the resort make it one of my most favorite parts of the vacation. Within a few minutes you feel like you’re really out in the middle of nowhere and able to really relax and enjoy the beauty that is Arizona.

Here are some photos taken of the hotel grounds, on our hikes, and at the baseball games and practices. I’m already looking forward to the next trip!

 

 

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Our Recent Visit to Iceland

My apologies for the long post this time. They normally aren’t this bad, but I had a lot to share from our recent trip to Iceland!

 

Even as far back as the Fall of 2013, I began wondering “WHAT would be a cool thing to do for my 40th birthday?” (which wasn’t until that next March). Nothing really came to mind until I came across a deal on Living Social entitled “Reykjavik Nights: A 4-day, 3-night stay in Iceland.”

“That’s IT” I thought! How cool would Iceland be?! A quick whipping out of a credit card, a few clicks of the mouse later, and next thing you knew it; we were headed to Iceland. And we would be going just a week before my birthday. Perfect timing!

Andy and I were International travel newbies for sure. I had been to the Bahamas, but being a Floridian, that barely counts, so, needless to say, we were a little nervous when the travel day actually got here. We landed at Keyflavik International Airport on a Thursday morning and got on a couple of different buses, taking us to downtown Reykjavik and onto our hotel. After we checked in and dropped off our bags (the room wasn’t ready yet. It was, after all, only 9:00 in the morning and the people were still in their rooms!), we headed to the City Centre and did some sightseeing. The city sits right on the water, so it’s quite stunning. I also noticed a lot of murals and artistic drawings and graffiti (as you’ll see in the photo gallery). One thing I had heard about Iceland is that often times, and experienced it firsthand as we were sightseeing, is that Iceland can have all 4 seasons of the weather in one day. Man, that was definitely true! One minute the weather was quite pleasant and I could take some pictures, and then it was a full on, wind blowing sideways blizzard! After we did some more sightseeing and got some lunch, we headed back to the hotel; completely exhausted.

While we didn’t get to see the Northern Lights due to cloudiness (the only bummer of the trip), we did go on two very interesting tours over the next couple of days. One was the Reykjavik City tour and the other was called the “Golden Circle” tour.

The city tour was a nice way to learn about the history of Reykjavik and just to see the downtown and other nearby sites. We saw the President’s house, the “Pearl” (the highest point in the city- where the warm water from underground is pumped to, for distribution throughout the area), and the house where the 1986 Reagan/Gorbachev summit was held. It was a really nice tour.

The “Golden Circle” tour was billed as a “must see”, wonderful thing to do on your first visit to Iceland and wonderful it was. The tour consisted of seeing the following sites: Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir geothermal area, and the Gullfoss (“Golden Falls”) waterfall.

Thingvellir is where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart at a rate of a few centimeters/year. That spot is the only place in the world where this separation happens above sea level. Having a minor degree in geology, Andy thought this was particularly cool (as did I). And I believe the tour guide had said that some of the HBO show “Game of Thrones” was filmed there as well. Thingvellir is also important historically, because it is where the parliament would meet during the long summer days. Their parliament is the oldest in the world; dating back to 930 AD.

The Gullfoss waterfall was socked in with fog when we first got there, but as I mentioned earlier, the weather changes very quickly there, and soon the fog lifted! The Geysir geothermal area was also quite lovely, and very similar to another favorite of mine: Yellowstone National Park.

One thing that I found so interesting, is that Icelanders pay almost nothing for heat. There is so much warm water from the geothermal activity below the surface of the whole island, that they just pump it into all buildings and houses (the Pearl mentioned above). Paying nothing for heat?! That’s just crazy to me! And it’s a great heating system. Many time we would have to open the window in our room it was so warm (a not uncommon thing to do there).

I have to say though, that my favorite part of the trip (and, unfortunately, what we spent the least amount of time at due to the schedule), was the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa located in a lava field in Grindavik, west of Reykjavik. Listed by National Geographic as one of the 25 “wonders of the world”, it was truly spectacular. The water was a beautiful turquoise and it was so warm and re-energizing. It felt so amazing; like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. What was funny was that my hair felt so weird afterwards! Like pure straw! The mineral-rich water completely stripped everything out of my hair. It was so cool, and when we do go back there, Blue Lagoon is getting its own day for sure.

While relatively short, we packed a lot into those days, and were happy because we had a great time (and we felt it would be mostly a “reconnaissance” trip to kind of check things out and “get our toes wet” so to speak!). Iceland is a beautiful place, and one that we would definitely go back to. I have to see my Northern Lights after all and need my spa day at the Blue Lagoon! We felt so good to have had a successful first international trip, and we look forward to many more.

Sisters Weekend 2013

Ahh.. Another spring.. And another sisters long weekend to Phoenix for some sun, fun, and Seattle Mariners Spring Training!

We stay at our favorite place: the Point Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort. Oh it’s so lovely there!  The resort is nestled into the side of a mountain (yes, they DO have mountains in Arizona! They’re no Rockies, but there’s elevation just the same!). The grounds are located next to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Posse, where they train their horses, and the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. Being this close to both of these makes for nice morning walks.

The grounds themselves are just lovely. The architecture, the color of the buildings, and general layout of the resort makes for a great place to shoot! Year after year, I never get tired of taking pictures there.

But while we spent a good amount of time lounging around at one of the pools and sipping on umbrella-laced froofy drinks, we also enjoyed some Seattle Mariners spring training baseball in Peoria. That’s always fun to relax and watch some baseball in the warm, dry weather (a little bit unlike Seattle; thank goodness!).

Below are some photos from the trip (click on a picture to enlarge and scroll through):

Point Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort:

Plants & Cactus:

Seattle Mariners Baseball!

The Beautiful Phoenix Landscape:


Until next time Phoenix!

Taking a Walk Down College/Memory Lane

I posted a picture of my alma mater, Florida State University, earlier today, and the response from people caught me pleasantly by surprise. Seeing that one picture either brought people back immediately to their college “heyday” or it simply made them proud to see a picture of their campus that they hold so dear.

From that post, I began thinking more about FSU, and how I miss the simpler life of those days. Oh how we thought otherwise at the time though!  I love that university and will treasure all my college experiences there. It’s a wonderful school that keeps getting better and better (when I went there, friends of mine who wanted to go to med school had to go to the dreaded University of Florida-yuck-because that was the closest school that had a med school program. I pleased to say that FSU now has a very good med school program).

Another cool, fun fact (picture is below) is that FSU has a full-fledged circus, that contains all FSU students doing their own circus acts. It has been around since the late 1940s and is one of only 2 circuses at a 4-year institution (the other is Illinois State University). I think that’s so cool! (and it’s a good show too!)

FSU is located in a lovely Southern city; Tallahassee, Florida. Not that being from Tallahassee and where I was born bleeding garnet and gold, makes me partial or anything! The campus is full of sunshine and students and oak trees with Spanish moss. Just a beautiful campus.

Just feeling all nostalgic for the good old days, so decided to share some photographs from the campus.

GO NOLES! xoxo

Recent Little Bit Adventure!

I recently was at one of my most favorite places: the Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center. I just love when I’m able to go there to photograph and support them. It’s such a blessing and an honor to be a part of an organization that is such a positive force in the community and makes so many people’s lives a better place.

The event I was most recently there for was for the Rider Showcase. This is an event that mostly serves to have student riders demonstrate the types of therapy that Little Bit provides. It is also an opportunity for Little Bit to provide answers to questions people might have about the program and their current facility, as well as their new facility that is opening in April 2013.

It was a very fun event and a great opportunity to generate support for the Center. Here are some photos of the kids, parents, family members, staff, and horses of Little Bit!

Lovely Phoenix

My sisters and I take an annual trip to Phoenix for some sun and Spring training baseball. I had forgotten to post these to the blog earlier; better late than never!

We stay at an absolutely lovely place: the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort. It’s a beautiful place, nestled into the Phoenix mountains (yes, they do have mountains there! No Everests, but good sized hills nonetheless!). We throw in a couple of Mariner’s spring training games over in Peoria, and we’re SET!

Looking forward to next year already!

Sugar Sand in the Media

The “Home For The Holidays” show in Bellingham went well, and I learned a huge amount. I learned how best to represent my photography, how these shows with many vendors work, and in general what TO do and what NOT to do in the future. I appreciate a good learning experience. It’s what helps me grow and develop as both a photographer and as a person.

I am so happy that Sugar Sand Photography has recently been featured in the class calendar mail out from Culinary Events Northwest. I enjoy working with Leslie and hope to continue in the future. Very exciting! I’ll scan the page in (hopefully by this weekend) and will post soon.

I’m also so happy to have placed 2nd in the Bellingham/Whatcom County Photo Contest with my “Chuckanut Drive” entry! See link below:

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150276802861196.337680.139676211195&type=3

Here is the pic:

 

Very exciting start to December!