Houston I Have a Problem.

I tend to start my story in the middle (just ask my mom). It’s something I’ve always done. In my mind I’ve already read the first 100 pages of my book, so I tend to start telling people where I am in my story instead of telling how I got there. So if I ever ramble, or otherwise sound like I'm all over the place. I apologize. Feel free to let me know in the comments...lol
Throughout my life I will get a little nudge in the back of my mind, a flicker of an idea that develops and as I learn, research what this nudge is pushing me towards; I then will let my family and friends know what I’m thinking especially if it’s a big change.

So, here is my story (so far), my flicker from the beginning instead of starting it in the middle.

Born in a small town in Indiana. Farming was the lifestyle. A large part of my family are farmers and ranchers. My dad however never wanted to become a farmer, he grew up in that life and did not want it for his kids. So he and my mom worked jobs to continue to make our lives better as we grew up.  While we were not wealthy or well-off; we had everything we needed. My brother and I were raised by two very practical parents. However, on the flip-side; my dad can be very spontaneous. We moved from Indiana to Canton, Ohio on a whim (to put it simply) because his friend Arnold said, “hey we're moving to Canton, Ohio; wanna come?” We moved in the middle of a blizzard and into our new apartment in North Canton, Ohio as neighbors. Their son, Lenny and I (same age), grew up like brother and sister. Many nights and weekends were spent at their home or ours.

My brother then came along and we outgrew the first place and moved to a small North Canton neighborhood and rented a house not to far from the apartment. When I was 8, we moved again to a house in Canton and I changed school districts. In 1984, my parents finally purchased their home in another school district. These moves and changes I had experiences, I feel allowed me to become more of an extrovert. I had to make new friends, I had to learn to be social. I had to learn to survive. If anyone thinks middle school isn’t about survival..well, you are mistaken and have blocked it out your memories :/

One for every location! Each tells a story and history of the area visited.

One for every location! Each tells a story and history of the area visited.

Our summers were spent in Clayton, Ohio at my grandparents. There I learned how to drive a lawn mower (which had a trailer) to haul the smaller kids around on the 2.5 acres. I went fishing (wasn’t a fan)..i.e GIANT bugs, we went canoeing and spent time at Fantasy Farm in Middletown, Ohio. Fantasy Farm was a kids' park built in 1968 by Edger Streifhau. It closed in the nineties but during its heyday, featured rides such as the Scrambler (my favorite), and Bumper Cars, a petting zoo, mini race cars, curly slides and old-fashioned stores.


When we weren’t at this amazing place, we traveled a bit south to Kings Island. As soon as I saw The Beast, it’s the only ride I wanted to be on. I was adventurous from the beginning. LOVE roller coasters! 

Since we had family spread throughout the US, my grandparents planned summer vacations driving across country to visit many of them. My grandmother has the plates to prove it! When I  was 12 years old I was offered the chance to traveled across country with them for three weeks towing a pop-up camper. We spent time looking at national landmarks like Devils Tower, the St. Louis Arch, The Corn Palace, Badlands,Yellowstone Park and many more. We visited family in Montana, Wyoming and Oregon. I worked my first cattle drive on a families ranch. My horse, named “Dumb” was a trail horse and just followed along. Considering it was my first actual ride that did not go in a circle, I was ok with that. Hours and hours later when all I wanted was a bathroom and to get down....I no longer liked the horse. I was 12. 

This experience opened my eyes to a world much larger than my neighborhood in Canton, Ohio.

I have a distinct memory; driving on the highway in Colorado a section overlooked a gorgeous green valley, on the side of the mountain a small cabin and tiny dirt road; it was by far one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen.

My aunt was still in high school when I was born, so she immediately became someone I would attach myself to when we visited my grandparents. When she graduated High School, I was 7 years old. She spent some time after college and traveled the world; Stockholm, Sweden, Helsinki, Finland, Soviet Union and New Zealand and other places I’ve only ever seen in books or one of the thousands of National Geographic Magazines my grandparents kept. I remember being excited to see the photos she came back with and wanting to hear all of her travel stories.

I was envious.

I remember thinking “I want to do this; I want to travel the world and take photos for a living.”

As long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a photographer; I had a brief period when I also wanted to become the next Disney singing voice...but Mickey never called.

In the photography world:

I have been:
a yearbook staff photographer
an intern
an assistant photographer
a commencement photographer
a lab technician
a freelancer
a photojournalist
a wedding photographer
a technical service rep
a director of photography
a photography store manager

All of these taught me different aspects of photography, but my love of photography is to explore and capture new and unique places. Granted, there really isn’t anything new to see. I have learned however that not everyone sees the world around them the same way. What one person feels is ugly, the other examines and sees something else.

Since moving to California, I have been to a few places that I’ve never been but not traveling like I had always envisioned I would. I’ve explored the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, Salton Sea, Joshua Tree, Palm Springs and San Francisco.

Within the state of California I have nine national parks that I can go to and visit and I’m a short drive from one of the largest natural gaps that exist, it is 1.2 million acres and includes one of America's most stunning natural features, the vast Grand Canyon, which stretches up to 15 miles wide and a mile deep at some points.

When I drove to California, one of my many stops was the Grand Canyon. Now it didn’t go as planned. I arrived around 7pm in Flagstaff. On a chance, I decided to drive towards the Canyon, being told there were hotels and places I could stay. Unfortunately they did not indicate that it would take another hour or so to get to the corner of US 180 &  64. In 2004, there were two hotels on that route. The main hotel, the Grand Canyon Inn on the corner, also owned the small one motel (i.e. Bates Motel) across the street. I am NOT kidding, I truly thought this was the inspiration for the movie.

I woke the following morning to beat the sunrise, unfortunately my phone never caught up with the current time zone and I overslept. I spent a short time in the park and vowed I would someday spend a week.

Yosemite national Park, is also one of the many places I have always wished I could visit. I remember seeing the photos of cars driving through the trees and were amazed that there are trees that large. It is best known for its waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles, you can find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias and a vast wilderness area.

My real first trip in the trailer (week long) will be to one of these two places. I haven’t decided, but really plan to be there no later than September 2019. I do use plan on spending some long weekends before to explore places and camp around Los Angeles like Castaic Lake, CA and Big Bear, which gives me an opportunity to learn the trailer but to also train the dogs.

Did you know there are 59 National US Parks them? They cover 84 million (MILLION) acres!!! 

California alone has 9 of them, I plan to visit each one of them.

I know my plan or way to travel is not for everyone. A few people I have told think it sounds interesting but have no desire to travel (let alone drive). I’ve been flat out told “I don’t care” by someone. I’ve learned to understand and accept that, I do not get mad at those that don’t understand or want to criticize. Why would I? What I’m doing is not for them, it’s for me. 

Those that are closest to me know that as a photographer, traveling and capturing my experiences is top on my bucket-list of life.

Over the next year, I will be researching, planning, purchasing (truck and trailer), renovating a travel trailer so I can explore the world around me. Not only will I be doing this on a budget, I will be doing this during my vacation time and long-holiday weekends. 

Life is what you make it and I’m about to add a dash of adventure to mine.