An Afternoon at Garden of the Gods

An Afternoon at Garden of the Gods

After lunch with April and Sophia, we spent an afternoon at Garden of the Gods, near Colorado Springs (how did we not get here before?!?). While the clouds seemed heavy at times, we were lucky to get small breaks in the clouds to let the sun poke through and light up some of the iconic rocks within the park. Admission is free and a visit is highly recommend. And go on a weekday, or early in the morning to avoid the crowds. It’s much better light for photos in the morning (or evening if you happen to not be a morning person) anyway. Send us picks if you go, friends! We’d love to see what you capture.

Garden of the Gods overall scene

Ancient tree branch at Garden of the Gods

View from under Balance Rock at Garden of the Gods

Annie in repose under Balance Rock.

Annie stands under Balance Rock at Garden of the Gods

Portrait of Annie at Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods late afternoon beautiful light

A child climbs a rock at Garden of the Gods

One of the main rock formations at Garden of the Gods

A trio of tall rocks with tree in foreground at Garden of the Gods

View through tree branches of rocks at Garden of the Gods

Late afternoon sun glows on rock cliffs at Garden of the Gods

 

 

The Road to Family – Colorado to Utah

The Road to Family – Colorado to Utah

If your travels haven’t yet taken you along I-70 between Denver and Salt Lake City, add it to your bucket list. Second only to Highway 1 along the California-Oregon coast, it’s one of the most scenic stretches of interstate you’re likely to find. It’s a good thing too, since we find ourselves traversing it a handful of times a year when we road trip to visit family in Utah. In fact, as you read this, we’re already there, celebrating Thanksgiving with them.

On one of our road trips late this Summer we not only brought a camera along and actually took our time getting there instead of motoring through the normally nine hour drive each way. Instead of ooohhing and ahhhing over the scenery as it passed by at 80mph (speed limit is crazy high out here, y’all), we stopped often along our route taking photos of anything that caught our eye. A lot caught our eye apparently as it was super hard to narrow down our favorites to just a few for this journal post. We had beautiful weather there and back though so it made it easy to not only pull off, but often turn around at the next exit so we could investigate a possible scene more closely.

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All of the following photos were taken along the side of the I-70 or Rt.6, just off an exit, at one of the few rest stops along the way or within a 3 minute drive of the highway. The landscape changes from wild flowers and the sharp flatirons of Boulder, to canyons past Golden, to driving alongside the Colorado River and looking in envy at the river rafters enjoying a Thursday afternoon adventure. Around Grand Lake and Vail pass upwards of 10,000 ft, we often find snowcapped peaks and frosted evergreens, even in early Summer. Soon the red rocks of Grand Junction open up to a vast, almost desert-like plain and we find ourselves passing abandoned gas stations, motels and cowboys selling “real good” buffalo, elk, and even rattlesnake jerky out of their campers. We’ll take his word for the real good snake jerky, but Bill can attest that the Elk is quite tasty. To Anne’s delight, this is the longest straight stretch of road along the trip so she can finally pull out the magazines! Passing the animal skeletons and unforgiving sandy, rock cliffs of Price Canyon, we start climbing again to cross the Wasatch mountain range. The lush green hills of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest peppered with Star War’s looking windmills then welcome us into Southern Utah and soon very soon we’re back in “civilization”.

Needless to say, we’ll always make sure we’re taking our camera along with us from now on. We look forward to capturing the gorgeous yellow Aspens along the way in Fall, as well as hope to see the elusive Big Horned Sheep, the snow drifts reaching many, many feet along side of the road in the Winter and the gorgeous wildflowers of Spring. While it definitely lengthens the trip, we’d love to capture some of the crazy storms we encounter as the weather in that stretch can go from 26 degrees to 70 in a matter of hours. We’ve learned to dress in layers!

We hope this Thanksgiving finds you celebrating with family and friends and whether or not you hiked, drove, flew, or Amtrak’d, we hope you’ll be able to enjoy the journey as much as the destination. On turkey day we’ll be raising a glass to all of you, clients, family, and friends as we’re so thankful for your love, support and friendship even if we don’t get to celebrate with you in person. We are so incredibly lucky to get to follow our passions wherever they take us and we don’t take that for granted for one second. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours and we’ll see you back here next week as we celebrate M&S’s lovely DC wedding.

As always, several of these photographs are available as fine art prints and as know with Thanksgiving here, the holidays are just around the corner. Just let us know if you see anything you like!

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This little chapel outside Palisades is visible from the road and though it’s hard to tell from this, appears to stand only about 5 feet tall?!

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Guess horses enjoy the wind in their face just like dogs!

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Anne’s brother, his wife and their two adorable little boys. We are incredibly thankful to be so close to them.

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Mohawk day at school. Definitely didn’t have fun stuff like that at our elementary schools!

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xoxo,
…a&b

An Afternoon on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park

An Afternoon on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park

We waited a bit too long last Fall to head to Rocky Mountain National Park, more or less in our backyard given it’s only an hour away. Trail Ridge Road, the famous north-south scenic route connecting the park’s two main entrances, is closed in wintertime as snowplows just can’t compete with Mother Nature. And remember it’s Colorado, so winter starts early here, especially in the upper elevations, and RMNP counts, with parts higher than 12,000 feet above sea level (we’re a mere 5,360 feet here in Boulder).

So we didn’t want to waste another opportunity this season, and still hope to return for some more extensive hiking, but really enjoyed what we did do on this trip. Of course took a camera with a single 24mm lens to document some of the beauty we saw along the way. Have you been here? Let us know of your favorite spots and hikes on our Facebook page or via Twitter or Instagram.

As we’ve done with some of our other travel photography, some of these images are available as limited fine art prints, which make a great gift for a travel- or nature-loving friend or family member, or even for yourself. You know that bare spot above the chair in your family room? There’s something here that might fit the bill. Enjoy!

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This elk and others ended up closing the road for about 20 minutes while they decided whether or not to cross.

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In the background is Long’s Peak, the nearest Fourteener to us in Boulder.

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Heading West to the Rockies…

Heading West to the Rockies…

The blog has been a bit quiet this month, as we’ve had a lot going on behind the scenes in addition to two family deaths, but we have some big news to share with y’all and just couldn’t wait any longer.

Many of you already know, but we’re so excited to officially announce that this Summer we’ll be moving out to Colorado! While we love Charlottesville (and always will) and all our dear friends here and in the surrounding areas, the sunny skies of the Rockies beckon us toward new adventures. The west has always felt like home and we’ve fallen in love with the endless bright blue skies, low humidity, vast open spaces, gorgeous snow-capped mountains, and some of the most friendly people around.

Now we know what you’re thinking and the answer is we are absolutely still going to be shooting weddings. We love documenting couples’ love stories and honestly don’t see that changing anytime soon. However, we will be significantly cutting back on the number of wedding commissions we accept in 2014 and beyond to allow us to pursue other passions. (This year, we have a full schedule of weddings here on the East coast and look forward to returning many times this Fall to photograph those and see friends. Hmmm…anyone have any frequent flier miles they’d like to donate? 😉 ) So this isn’t a goodbye; just a see ya later. We wouldn’t want to get all teary eyed on you now.

Having said that, we would be remiss if we didn’t take a moment to acknowledge how much the local professional relationships we’ve formed over the past ten years have meant to us. Of course, there are way too many wonderful people to list here now, but we trust you all know who you are.

We want to thank each of our talented teams of planners, event designers, florists, cake artists, stationers, calligraphers, hairstylists, and make-up artists for helping make us look so good over the years. And to the bands, DJs, officiants, and others helping create such a compelling celebration, you have helped make our “job” so much more than simply work. To our fellow photographers, we’ve been blessed to be a part of such a welcoming, talented, and all-around fun bunch.

Last but certainly not least, without our lovely clients we’d not only have nothing to do, but would have been left emotionally unfulfilled in work. To the contrary, our hearts are overflowing with warm memories of each of you and the incredible moments you openly shared with each other and with us.

We’re constantly inspired by you all and so appreciate your trust and support with your continued referrals. We look forward to working with you all again soon. Since we’ll be doing fewer weddings in the future, that will only make our time together that much more sweet.

We’re incredibly excited to be closer to our family out West and about moving from wine country (relax, California, we’re not about to take over) to beer country (even though we have some very solid breweries just down the road). Anne is also looking forward to decorating a new home, while Bill can’t wait to hike and ski more. Needless to say we’re both very psyched about all the new photographic opportunities, as well–both personal and professional. In that vein, if you or anyone you know is marrying in Denver, Boulder, Vail, Aspen, Winter Park or hell, really anywhere for that matter, and love the moments we capture, we’d love for you to keep us in mind.

Please know you are always welcome in our new neck of the woods. We’ve already grown to love Boulder, our intended new home, and can’t wait to show you around when you visit.

Much love,
…a&b

P.S. We love our C’ville house too, so instead of selling it, we’d love to open it to a couple or small family who will appreciate it as much as we do. It’s a lovely, peaceful manor home overlooking a small lake and while it feels a world away, is just minutes from downtown Charlottesville. Shoot us an email for details. In the meantime, here’s a photo of the lake taken yesterday morning from our living room. Feeling more peaceful already, aren’t you?

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New Orleans and Imaging USA

New Orleans and Imaging USA

As long-time readers of this journal well know wintertime is usually the period during which we’re able to travel and take advantage of any education and workshops we might want to do before the wedding season really heats up in early Spring. When we found out that Imaging USA, a large conference for photographers of all stripes, was heading to the Big Easy for its latest gathering, we needed no further excuses. Of course we took some time between expo appearances and classes for some shots in and around the city. In addition to our usual hangouts, we also had one of our absolutely best meals we’ve ever had, at Cochon. If you find yourself in New Orleans and you love meat of all kinds, you simply must go. Amazing food. Oh, and they have flights of moon shine. Only in New Orleans!

Thankfully this trip had much nicer weather than when we visited last year!

Since we didn’t have a car this time, we spent more time hanging around Jackson Square and the French Quarter, areas we’ve visited innumerable times. But as any photographer can tell you, a patient shooter viewing a spot with fresh eyes can come up with some really nice images. Shockingly though, we really only took our big fancy camera out one day and even then didn’t shoot much. For some reason this trip, we just wanted to take it all in without having the removal from a scene one can get when behind the lens. We concentrated more on scene setters from around the city this time around for a little project we’re doing. Of course, we know find ourselves a bit bummed we didn’t capture more of our adventures “in print” on this trip. Guess we just have to go back. Darn. 😉

We hope you enjoy these! As usual, they are available as fine art prints for the discerning collector (or fan of the city–lucky you if you happen to be both).

Hotel Monteleone is one of the best places to get a sazerac. If you’re a whiskey drinker, try this traditional drink when you visit the hotel’s carousel bar.

This cat hanging out inside Cafe Beignet ruled the roost (and served as a Keep Out sign for nearby birds).

Love, love this shot that Bill got of some teenage boys laughing. Pure joy.

We love the irreverence of this bumper sticker, and that they placed it on their front door, no less.

Just love this little guy in a drum line getting ready for a parade in Jackson Square.

The St. Louis Cathedral with the statue of Andrew Jackson in the foreground.

The tourist shot…

Anne’s shots….

This store is an explosion of pink. I’m pretty sure we were not it’s target audience.

Best burgers in the city right here, and loaded baked potatoes as big as your head. Oh, and their Monsoon’s aren’t too shabby either. Good thing the ‘quarter is so walkable!

Only in New Orleans can you expect to find mannequins shaped like this. Look closely. Ok, maybe you don’t have to look that closely!

Until we meet again, ‘nawlins.

xoxo,
…a&b

 

A Birthday Breather in Bermuda

While the weekend, when we’re actually shooting, is the absolute best, favorite, part of our job, we still need a breather every once in a while. It’s especially nice when we get a chance to recharge our batteries and replenish those creative juices smack in the middle of our busy Spring season. So we took a short break earlier this month for a quick weekend trip to Bermuda and the Newstead Belmont (oh yes, we’d stay again). Plus, it was Anne’s birthday and Bill decided she needed a good surprise and he *almost* got her this time!

We rarely lifted a camera, it was supposed to be a break after all, but we just couldn’t resist a few snaps to capture just a taste of Bermuda’s beauty. That “little pink houses for you and me” song went through our head more than once while we were there. We look forward to returning someday and exploring the little island more next time on scooters!

Here are a few select images. Enjoy!

Our bay-side inn had a reciprocal agreement with another resort on the ocean side for use of their private beach. It was perfect!

Taking the free ferry into the township of Hamilton for dinner.

What was left of Anne’s birthday dessert…

View from Hamilton back toward our inn.

Happy Mardi Gras!

Many of you know we were married in New Orleans and that we return to the Big Easy whenever possible to experience life in a way you can experience it in no other place.

Following our Foundation Workshop this past year (more on that soon), we traveled back to New Orleans for a few days’ R&R. Despite the insanely cold (for New Orleans) weather, we donned our coats and gloves and braved the chilly wind. So some of the images we shot over our trip aren’t what we intended to shoot, but what was more available to us. Still, we love the little flavor we got from the little adventures we had.

Enjoy Mardi Gras today, celebrating with a hurricane or perhaps a sazerac, and maybe we’ll see you there next time!

We started our first morning back with breakfast at a joint new to us, Elizabeth’s. Two words: Praline Bacon Thanks, Andrea, for the recommendation!

After breakfast, we headed down toward Magazine Street, spending the bulk of our day wandering around, watching people, and petting bulldogs.

This cool purple chair was just placed right outside this Magazine St. shop. So of course we had to try it out. Too bad it didn’t fit in the back of the truck or it might’ve ended up in our basement.

This one’s for Jamie.

We ended up at Audubon Park, across the street from Tulane University, to watch the sun set.

The next day, we were thinking of where we might like to go to watch the Super Bowl, and happened upon a great bar in the Irish Channel neighborhood.

Tracy’s has been one of the most long-standing neighborhood bars, and was the perfect place to watch the game. Loved it!

This oyster shucker had been shucking for hours without break. We were lucky enough to get one of his last available dozen. Yum!

The game begins…

Go Pack Go!

The game ends…we love the variety of expressions here!

Breakfast the next morning, again, thanks for the excellent recommendations for big-as-your-head omelets at The Camellia Grill, from Andrea! Yes, that’s chili and jalapenos on top. Anne chose a more normal ham and cheese, which is easily the best ham and cheese omelet we’ve ever tasted. Holy cow it was so good we went back again the next day!

Bundled up and headed over to Jackson Square to watch the action. There wasn’t a whole lot, but we really liked this gentleman’s reaction to the contents of his bottle.

Back to Royal St., where this troupe braved the wind to perform for the sparsely passing crowds. They were really good! We bought a CD.

The horn section was nearly frozen, but they still belted it out.

Sweet ride. If you’re 8. And a girl.

A trip to New Orleans isn’t a trip without a break at Cafe Du Monde for chicory coffee and beignets.

The Charles Street streetcar is a great way to explore parts of the city outside of the tourist-laden French Quarter.

Back to Audubon Park for a few.

We saw this building and sign combination along Poydras in the Central Business District. Seemed ironic.

Wrapped up our last afternoon in the city with happy-hour cocktails at the revolving bar at Hotel Monteleone. Self-portrait below.

And lastly, several iPhone images. Why not, right?

We already can’t wait to go back! Having done Mardi Gras a few years ago, Jazz Fest is now calling our name!

Escape to Cabo!

Escape to Cabo!

We should clear up any doubt right now about our vacation habits. It might appear to the casual observer based on the photos below we lay around, drinking fruity drinks and reading all day long while on vacation. And while we’re typically more adventurous types when we go away, after twelve years of being together, Anne, who loves her beach time, had never had a “drop and flop” as our friend Karen would put it. So we thought a little about what we wanted in a relaxing vacation but were coming up a little short when our friends Mindy & Eric and subsequently Jamie & Brooks told us to head west! We were not disappointed, and we blatantly stole the blog post’s title from Mindy’s Facebook album (thanks, Mindy!).

So in celebration of our recent wedding anniversary, we cashed in some of our coveted Amex points and spent five wonderfully, relaxing days south of the border at Capella Pedregal. We read some great books (thanks, Karen for loaning Anne, The Help – awesome book!), caught up on some trashy magazines (okay, that was Anne, too) and generally just enjoyed relaxing by the pool with a commanding view of the ocean waves crashing against the beach. Bill discovered a mescal-based cocktail to go along with his Seth Godin book that struck his fancy and it was tough trying something new, namely the resort’s variety of most excellent tequilas. We did tear ourselves away from our lounge chairs one day for some awesome sea kayaking and snorkeling. SO fun! All in all, it was the perfect getaway and we can highly recommend Cabo for your honeymoon, anniversary, or birthday. Or you could just go with no special reason at all.

Of course, we HAD to bring our camera and believe it or not, it was so incredibly beautiful, Anne even found herself rising with the sun several mornings. We hope you enjoy a few vacation pics. 🙂

Heaven. Sigh.

Who needs an eye mask when you have Pacifico beer bottle caps?


Quite the adventure kayaking on the open ocean and quite the workout!

Photo courtesy of Gabriel Garcia Photo

Our guide broke open a sea urchin with his bare hands and gave us part of it to feed the fish. A bit scary at first, but super cool!

Photo courtesy of Gabriel Garcia Photo

Photo courtesy of Gabriel Garcia Photo

Last dinner there so we had to indulge in The Study of Mexican Chocolate. We’re happy to say, we passed the test, but really was there ever any doubt?

Photo courtesy of our waiter!

xoxo,
…a&b

Decorate your home or office with fine art prints from New Zealand

By popular demand, we’re happy to announce we’ve placed the most compelling images from our recent trek to New Zealand in an online gallery. You’re now able to view them all, select ones you like (or a combination of ones), printed on professional photographic or fine art watercolor paper, or as a gorgeous canvas wall wrap, in a variety of print sizes. Or heck, even on art cards you can send to friends and family. (They come blank unless otherwise requested, so you an write your own sweet note.) And here’s something even better: 20% of your every purchase will be donated to the charity of your choice. And moreover, we’ll include free shipping on all orders placed between now and next Wednesday, March 10.

Click through to the fine art gallery and find your favorite images in the New Zealand section. We’ll be adding additional images from our other travels soon. When you find the first image you want, click on its thumbnail, and you can see it larger (and even zoom in on it).

Click the Prints tab to see available types of fine art paper and sizes, and click the Products tab to see other items available, such as frames. Once you’ve chosen all the art prints you want to use to decorate your home or office and added them to your cart, check out, and go. Please let us know in the comments section of your order which of the five charities below you’d like the donation made to.

We look forward to printing your favorite images for you soon! (The print below, for example, will be framed and displayed in our own home soon.)

The available charities are:

  • American Red Cross
  • ASPCA
  • Sierra Club
  • Susan B Komen for the Cure
  • Habitat for Humanity

This is the perfect time to make a charitable donation as so many are hurting right now with the recent natural disasters in Haiti and Chile. Get some beautiful art and some good karma all at the same time!

Thanks so much for following along with us on our journey and please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any questions about the prints or our NZ experiences. We’ve heard from many of you that New Zealand is on your short list. We’d love to hear from you if you go!

Angela & Webster – Anniversary Portraits in New Zealand

In our last of our New Zealand-themed posts, we’ve saved, quite possibly, the best for last. If you’ve been following our little travel log, you know that Angela and Webster graciously opened up their home to us during our visit to Auckland and served as travel guides for our every adventure while there. Since they had celebrated their first wedding anniversary there, we thought it was fitting to do a portrait session spread over a few days and across various locales with them to professionally document the relationship they had with not only each other, but with the environment they had grown to love over the past several months. These are, of course, just a few of the highlights from the trip. Every traveler should be so lucky as to have friends as generous and thoughtful as these two.

Angela is a shutterbug herself and she’s gotten some amazing photos during their sojourn.

Angela & Web reflected in one of the art sculptures at gorgeous Cable Bay Vineyard on Waiheke Island, one of favorite spots just a ferry ride away from Auckland. Wonderful vineyards with truly million dollar views.

We found an old abandoned boat and had lots of fun shooting in and around it.

Thanks so much, Angela and Webster! We had so much fun exploring Northern NZ with you both and can’t wait to see you again back in our neck of the woods soon!

New Zealand: Jet Boats in Paradise

Queenstown is an adrenaline paradise that resembles a typical Colorado ski resort town but with more to do. If you can dream it, you can do it here. They’ve got a variety of different activities for every thrill junkie and of course are very effective at emptying one’s wallet for the endeavor. Nonetheless, it’s a great, vibrant town and we loved our too-brief trip on the jet boat (below). These million-dollar babies can skim along at 50mph in a mere four inches of water, slow a bit, and then turn a 360 on a dime. It was soooo much fun! There are three rivers in the South Island that offer these type of boat rides, and we chose the Shotover River boat because it winds its way close to the river’s tall canyon walls. You could, if you were eager to break your arm, reach out and grab the rock wall as the driver expertly guided the boat around various obstacles. Highly recommended.

Want some action? Check out our cheesy little flip video we made from the Shotover Jet ride. And take your dramamine beforehand.

It’s hard to pass up the opportunity to watch the beautiful light that the sun casts across the mountain range just north of Queenstown as it rises, even if you’re on holiday. There was a cloud that persistently remained just above the summit that was interesting to watch. Despite a morning breeze, it just stayed there because of the different climate at that altitude.

This frame was rather electrifying, as Bill had to lean over an electric fence with the tripod to take a photo of this creek. He didn’t know it was electric at first, so that served as a little wake-up call in lieu of coffee that morning.

One afternoon, shortly after a relaxing lunch at Glenorchy Cafe, we drove out to Lake Sylvan for a hike around the lake and to hang out in the water for a spell. Some of the afternoon light falling through the old and twisted pine trees was absolutely beautiful.

On the way back we stopped on the side of the road and stood on top of the car to get a shot over the fence of this hay barn in the distance.

The next morning Bill (the morning half of Anne&Bill) awoke super early for the half-hour drive out to Paradise. It was so peaceful out there and he saw absolutely no one until returning back to the inn for breakfast. What a wonderful way to begin a morning.

The millions of sheep are usually pretty skittish, but they’re also curious. Especially if they think we might have food.

We saw the most beautiful light on this windmill.

We spent our last afternoon there going around to various wineries. One of them, Chard Farm Vineyards, is set on a hill overlooking the river. The only access is via dirt road that has on its side a steep drop off down a cliff right into the river. No guardrail, no nothing. It used to be the main thoroughfare to Queenstown but now serves as a not-so-gentle reminder to visitors that they need a designated driver for tastings at the vineyard. You can see the buildings to the left of the frame below.

On the way back, we stopped by Amisfield for some chilled wine and cheese to help cool us off from the very warm afternoon and for an appetizer before heading over to Saffron restaurant in Arrowtown. Angela and Webster had previously dined there and had a wonderful experience with the creative fare, so we were eager to try it. Of course we wrapped up with their version of Hokey Pokey ice cream over moist chocolate cake. What a nice, relaxing meal! It was the perfect way to wrap up our trip to these scenic islands. We most certainly look forward to returning, especially to the South Island, and hopefully sooner rather than later. Next up…some images from our portraits done with Angela and Webster!

New Zealand: East Coast to West Coast in One Day. In a Car.

Welcome back to our NZ Journal! See the last entry or type New Zealand into the search box to the right to see all entries thus far.

(Again, please respect our copyright by not printing, sharing or borrowing any of our photos without written permission. Thank you!)

So after we’d had our fill of whales, we took off on the road again and headed to Franz Joseph Glacier on the West Coast of the South Island. It was quite a hike from Kaikoura on the East Coast so we unfortunately didn’t have much time to stop along the way for pics, but of course we had to grab just a few.

So this is where we should have taken Angela and Webster’s advice to visit Fox Glacier over Franz Joseph, but we had already made our lodging arrangements and booked our hike, so we were kinda locked in. Fox Glacier is much less crowded and much less steep than FJ – a big draw for Anne. Unfortunately, we’ll have to hit Fox and their gorgeous blue ice on another visit.

The stunning glacier, just one of, believe it or not, over 3,000 in NZ. Especially wild to note that the glaciers are the only ones in the world basically next to a rain forest!

Don’t let that forced smile fool you. I (Anne) was not exactly thrilled at the heights involved with said glacier hike! Buy her a beer (preferably a Crushed Apple Cider from NZ’s Monteith’s Brewing Company) and she’ll tell you about it sometime.

Click on the photo below to see one of the other hiking groups making their way up the steep rocks to see where the shot of Anne (above) was taken. If you look hard, you can see little specks of red and white from the clothing of those hiking up the south face.

Back on solid ground (yea!), we headed for our next (and sadly, one of our last stops), Glenorchy, just outside of Queenstown. We didn’t do any of the film tours, but heard from locals that they filmed many scenes in the Lord of the Rings trilogy around Glenorchy. We can see why. More pics from there to come, but first we had to get there so it was back in the car for Anne and Bill…

Driftwood sculptures at Hokitika beach…

and Bruce Bay. So cool!

The gorgeous Lake Wanaka on the way from Franz Joseph to Glenorchy.

Could seriously live right here and be eternally fulfilled. Thankfully we have amazing memories and a few cool pics, too!

Just some shots around the garden of our B&B in Glenorchy.

Our view of the sunset that evening from our little private deck. It almost looked as if the mountain were about ready to erupt.

Thanks for joining us today. We’ll have more for you very soon!

New Zealand: Seals+Signs=Snap Happy Hollands

Happy Friday! FAB Finds is on a short break so that we can share more NZ images with you.

On our way south to Kaikoura, the curvy ocean highway is full of amazing views, but one of the coolest sights has to be the fur seal colony that hang out on the rocks about 15 minutes outside of town on SH1.  The New Zealand Fur Seal,  found only on the coasts of NZ and Australia, can be seen up close and personal from Ohau Point and we weren’t the only shutterbugs watching over them from the safety of our elevated vantage point beside the road. Needless to say, they are super cute, but don’t take our word for it, see for yourselves! 🙂

Want to see the pics even larger? Just click on individual photos.

(Please respect our copyright by not printing, sharing or borrowing any of our photos without written permission. Thank you!)

So does not look so comfortable, eh?

Why hello to you, too.

One of the reasons for the large seal colony near Kaikoura is the ocean shelf that rises almost vertically to meet the shoreline, resulting in millions of pounds of plankton along the shore. This plankton of course attracts other fish (and whales) and as a result, seals.

This one apparently wanted the other guy’s sleeping rock. They all looked uncomfortable to us.

So maybe Kiwis don’t love their street signs, but they sure do like their road signs and we saw several fun ones on our travels on both islands.

They are all about telling it like it is. Love that!

Their speed limit signs. Yes, that 100 kilometers, not miles, per hour. Oh, well. PS – “It’s not a target.”

Some like these, weren’t on actual roads.

See outside the Kiwi Bird experience.

A reminder to stay on the paths at Wai-O-Taupo, the geo-thermal playground in the North Island. No problem.

And some just spoke for themselves.

This beer ad cracked us up for a good 10 minutes while we were sitting in traffic. Click on it make it larger, but it reads: “3.5% (alcohol) So there’s a 96.5% chance of not being ‘that guy’ at the Christmas party.”

Um, a bargain? Perhaps in US dollars…?!

Seen at a bungee jumping facility.

Still more to come next week. You won’t want to miss Paradise and Angela & Webster’s portrait session, for sure!

New Zealand: Crayfish, Wine AND Whales?! Yes, please.

Kaikoura Adventures Part Two

(You can see Part One here or right below this post. Click on individual photos to see them larger. Please respect our copyright by not printing, sharing or borrowing any of our photos without written permission. Thank you!)

After rescheduling our whale watching trip for the next morning for 7:15am, since we needed to get on the road once again right after the four hour outing, we set off in search of lunch. Once again, Angela came through for us. She pointed us to Nin’s Bin, a little crayfish spot just north of town. (NZ Crayfish are very similar to Lobster and are roughly the same in price.) Kaikoura actually means “Eat Crayfish” in the traditional Maori language. You can read more about Nin’s on this great Aussie food blog since Nin’s doesn’t have a website (and doesn’t really need one, apparently).

Talk about a table with a view!

This little guy liked it too, although he was definitely more interested in our crayfish.

And the requisite aftermath shot! YUM!

The coastal area right around Nin’s was ripe for photo takin’ so, of course, we obliged.

More Pied Shags!

After we tired of the wind and cold, we made our way to warmer climes at Kaikoura Winery. Located just South from Kaikoura proper, we were a little worried that a winery with such great views would only have that going for it, but our fears were assuaged and we enjoyed a wonderful tasting, especially of their white wines for which New Zealand is rightly renowned.

That night we decided to dine on our balcony overlooking the water and enjoyed some tasty take-away (Kiwis don’t call it take-out) pizza and calamari from The Black Rabbit. We found that most if not all the pizzas (and burgers for that matter) in NZ are loaded with interesting and sometimes intriguing toppings. (For example, their Gone Hunting is smoked venison, wild pork, chorizo, spiced plum sauce, and blue cheese sauce; while their Hen & Ham, which we were also considering, is roasted chicken, spinach, cream cheese, rosemary, cranberry sauce and bacon!) No basic pepperoni and cheese to be found here! We tried the Hen & Fig and found it absolutely delightful. Super thin crust and very tasty. The calamari was excellent, too, although the tiny portion size was seriously lacking. (We hadn’t touched it yet in the photo below – there was hardly any! What’s that quote – “They screw you at the drive thru!” Oh, well, our waistlines were probably happier. ;-D

We also used the opportunity to crack open one of our coveted bottles of ’09 Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc that we picked up on our visit to Spy Valley Wines on our way to Kaikoura. Definitely one of our all-time SB faves for the price point. Highly Recommend!

The next day we arose at o’dark thirty, to pack and make our way over to Whale Watch Kaikoura with fingers crossed that our trip wouldn’t be canceled again due to unsafe seas. It wasn’t, although there was a high sea-sickness warning thanks to moderate to rough seas still. Anne gladly partook of the herbal anti-nausea pill they offered (for $4!) and they were soon on their way. Suffice it to say, it was a very bumpy ride and while neither of us lost our breakfast so to speak, it made for a pretty uncomfortable trip out to the prime viewing locations and back.

We got to “see” two Sperm Whales though, along with a couple of Wandering Albatross. See is in quotes, because, really all we saw was some spurting water from something that looked like it was very large, but couldn’t really be seen below the water (likely thanks in large part to the rough seas), and the huge tail fin as he went down on his dive back to the deep. Consensus: it was cool, but  it wasn’t fun and an adventure we wouldn’t repeat and probably not just because of the rough water. We would recommend spending the big bucks required on other, higher reward activities.

More from the gorgeous South Island to come soon!


New Zealand: Kiwi means CURVY. Roads, that is. Remove mind from gutter, please.

Kaikoura Adventures Part One

Before we get to the latest’s pics from our excellent NZ adventure, we need to add one that we forgot to post on Monday. After taking some quick sunset pics at the lighthouse, we got back in the car and headed back into Wellington city to dine at the fantastic Moonsoon Poon. Talk about a place that doesn’t take itself too seriously. (Check out their website to see what we mean.) We were first introduced to the ‘Poon (remember what we said about that mind 😉 by Angela and Webster in Auckland, so we decided spending our last night in the North Island at their original location in Wellington was fitting. Bill got the Firecracker Chicken, which is ranked 20 on a hotness scale of 1-10, and Anne delved into her tasty Golden Lemon Chicken with coconut rice. So tasty in fact she had it at both locations. Definitely stop by if you ever find yourself down under!

One last shot in front of the lighthouse as the sun comes up.

Our adventure continued the next day as we boarded the inter-island ferry at the crack of dawn. We weren’t expecting much excitement before we even boarded the boat, but it found us anyway. After dropping Anne off with the bags to get in the looooonnnngggg check-in line (did we mention it’s Summer there?), Bill was returning the rental car to the parking lot (for some silly reason you have leave your N.Island car on the N.Island and then pick up your S.Island car on the S.Island) when another driver returning his rental, backed out of his space and hit Bill’s driver’s side door! Dude said he was blinded by the rising sun and couldn’t see so why he didn’t inch his way back just in case is beyond us. Thankfully, of course, Bill was fine and after they briefly exchanged info, we all made it onto the ferry on time. Unfortunately, after when we arrived in the S.Island three hours later, picked up our new car and told them about the damage, we found out we’re responsible for it, leaving it up to us to recover it from the other driver’s insurance. (Doubly unfortunately, we later learned that week that our U.S. auto insurance policy doesn’t cover us outside of the states and Puerto Rico. Note to readers who have wanderlust and travel overseas – check your car insurance policies before you go and make sure your rental car is covered!!) Yikes! Definitely NOT a charge we had budgeted for.

The ferry ride was nice and we had even had wi-fi coverage. Because of this though, I think, we found ourselves arriving at the Picton dock having not taken any photos during the journey. Doh! Truth be told, though, it was really nice just spending the trip relaxing, reading and playing games on our iPhones. Plus we needed to rest up for another long drive ahead. Our plans called for us to head south from Picton to Kaikoura about four hours away. What we didn’t realize is that those four hours seem to be calculated for flat, straight roads, something definitely on the endangered species list in the South Island! What’s a little motion sickness, though when you can get shots like these along the way.

We finally made it to Kaikoura just as the sun was getting nice and low in the sky. When the sun came out that day anyway!

The chimney remaining from the old port before it was moved closer to it’s current location closer to town.

We saw this amazing light as we crested a hill and ran to get the shot before the clouds moved away!

Bill got up early the next day to catch first light and grabbed the photo above, and this amazing shot below looking down on the outskirts of town just as the sun was starting to hit Mt. Fyffe.

Did we mention there are LOTS of cows…

and sheep everywhere?! 🙂

It was gorgeous sunrise, but unfortunately the chilly clouds rolled in and our whale watching adventure for the day was canceled due to high winds and very rough seas. So we did what a lot of people do and ate and drank our sorrows away!

Tune in later this afternoon for Part Two of Kaikoura adventures!

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