At the beach

There’s a longstanding annual tradition in my family of spending a week together at the beach. A whole week away from the routines and obligations of our every day lives where we get to enjoy slow mornings, big meals, and time in the sun. I’m always thankful to get so much time in one of my favorite places with my favorite people.

It’s sometimes hard for me to find a balance between picking up my camera on vacation and putting it down. I can feel torn between capturing the moments and being present for them. I don’t want everyone else’s memories of me to include a camera in front of my face.  So I tried to make an effort this year to play more, to converse more, to enjoy more.

This is a short recap of our vacation. But let’s be honest… this is really just a summary of my nephew’s week at the beach with cameo appearances from the rest of the family.

California

In some ways, this trip was an escape from the disappointments that hang heavy on our hearts. We entered the year hopeful that this would be the year our family would grow. And as the end of the year drew closer, we felt a growing need to get away. Vacation days had been stored away and the west coast was calling. So we made an uncharacteristically impulsive decision and booked two tickets to San Francisco.

It turns out that the week before Thanksgiving is a great time to find airline deals. It’s also a perfect time to visit the bay area. Fall on the California coast was balm to our tired souls. Walking among the redwoods, driving the pacific coast highway, biking through golden gate park, watching the sunset over the pacific ocean – it was all so restorative.  We had a week to breathe deeply and to disconnect from the heartbreak at home. And it was so so good.

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Waco

My mom wanted to celebrate her birthday with a girl’s trip to Texas. Like every devoted HGTV fan, her heart was set on traveling to Waco to experience Magnolia in all its glory.

Not having ever been to Waco before, it’s hard to imagine that downtown had much life at all before Chip and Jo resurrected the silos. The Magnolia grounds are an oasis in an otherwise sleepy cityscape. While we did enjoy some unique shopping and dining options, much of downtown Waco is empty. It came as quite a surprise to our group who (let’s be honest!) probably expected the whole town to have undergone a ‘fixer upper’ makeover. It seems the Gaines are breathing new life into this town. And it will be interesting to see where that momentum will take Waco.

A day at the silos is definitely worth the trip to Waco. The shopping, the cupcakes, the garden – it’s all been so thoughtfully designed. And it was the perfect spot for a weekend with the girls.

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Emily and Ryan

My dear Emily, I’ve never seen you happier than you are when you are with Ryan. What a gift to be able to spend the rest of your life with one who so clearly loves and enjoys the woman that you are. You make everything more fun, and your wedding day was no exception. The crowd who traveled from near and far to celebrate with you in the mountains is a testament to the investment you and Ryan make in your relationships.

You entrusted me with the honor of capturing your wedding day. Thank you for believing in me and insisting that I be your photographer! It was more exhilarating, more exhausting, and more fun than I ever thought it would be.

Best wishes to the newly Nolands!

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Germany

A recent stay in Europe began with a few days in Munich. It’s a city proud of its history of brewing beer and building BMWs. Somehow the third largest city in Germany manages to feel clean and quiet.

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Just 20 minutes outside of Munich is the Dachau Concentration Camp. Opened in 1933, Dachau was the first camp the Nazis operated in Germany. For twelve years, thousands of prisoners lived and worked and died on these grounds. We listened to stories of suffering and brutality while we stood in the rooms, in the cells, in the chambers where it had occurred. edit-27

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One rental car and two hours on the autobahn found us in the southeastern corner of Bavaria. A region rich in history and natural beauty, it is home to small mountain villages and fairy-tale palaces. We had just enough time to roam the streets of Berchtesgaden and the grounds of this royal residence.

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One last stop before leaving Germany. The view from the top of Mount Jenner, overlooking Lake Konigssee.

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Nashville

Last fall, my sister and brother-in-law moved across the state line and settled in the Music City. Not quite a year of living in Nashville, and they seem to feel right at home. In a city where the foodie scene is booming and live music venues are on every corner, one weekend is not enough.

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Beach Week

Every summer I get the chance to spend a week vacationing with my family. And most summers, those vacations take place along Florida’s scenic Highway 30-A. Powder white sand and turquoise waters have drawn beachgoers to this area of the panhandle for decades. Pastel colored beach communities have been developing along the highway for as long as I can remember. And year after year, we find ourselves coming back, ordering the same dishes at the same restaurants, riding our bikes along the same pathways, and watching the same sunsets. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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