Another Friday Rivercruise

About a year ago, Melody and I took a cruise down a part of the St Croix river, from Taylors Falls. A beautiful trip, I blogged about it previously and posted pictures.

I wanted to recreate that feeling of peace I had then, after busy days of preparing for the movers arrival next Monday. So I booked a river cruise on another part of the St Croix river. This time from Stillwater.

The weather forecast was showing rain, but when I arrived there were very little clouds in the sky and it was beautifully sunny. I could pick my spot as I was early… top deck near the front. I missed my chatterbox daughter… but the instant peace of being on the water was there…

There is nothing more calming to me than the sound of the water, with beautiful birds up in the sky. Especially my favourite in this part of the world… the bald eagle. Such majestic soaring over the waters…

It always reminds me of the sermon Geert preaches often.. the song of Moses in Deuteronomy, where he compares the father Eagle to our Heavenly Father. Soaring, watching, feeding, and there to catch us when we fall. Seeing these eagles puts things in perspective. He is in control…

‘When the oceans rise and thunders roar, I will soar with You above the Storm. Father you are King over the flood, I will be still and know You are God…’

Enjoy the weekend, my soul is calm.

Crochet

Yep, my favourite past time… crocheting takes my mind of lots of things. Anyone who knows me knows I can’t sit still.. I need to have something to do, something to not only keep my hands occupied, but something to take my mind of things. So hands race over the wool…

With my soon return to England, a lot of things need to be arranged.. simple things, like changing my phone plan, to more complex things like arranging the movers and applying for customs exemption…. my mind is racing, and so are my hands… I like straight forward patterns for this… something I do not need to keep my mind on… no complex patterns (unlike my daughter Melody does)… just straight forward and fast… counting till 7.

Blanket after blanket, with a scarf or two in between are getting finished… if you happen to receive one from me, yep… crocheted with a busy cluttered mind… if you did not receive one… it’s not personal… my stress period is not over yet… hahaha

“Crocheting keeps me from unraveling”

Am curious to know what your way is of stopping the mind from ‘unraveling’. Everyone copes in their own ways..there are no good or bad ways… but curious I am!

Happy Friday!

Team Building

The last couple days have all been marked with special experiences…. I went to see the play ‘guess who’s coming to dinner’ in the Guthrie theatre in Minneapolis. That play reminds me once again how prejudiced we can be to those that are different. An old movie with a very relevant theme. It’s hard to accept those that are different to us, whether it’s because of culture, beliefs or skin colour. I know I don’t see different skin tones, but I can’t say I never feel prejudiced towards others with different customs and believes!

Tonight was our work team building event. Not everyone was able to make it..but for those that could…we went axe throwing… not something I would choose to do, and of course I suck at it big time… but it taught me something… I don’t need to be good at something in order for me to enjoy it. Quite a different thought for me…as my husband reminded me, I can be rather competitive…. today I could rejoice in the fact that everyone was achieving well, except for me.. and that’s ok! The teams were fun, friendly banter…and an opportunity to see colleagues away from the seriousness and business of work.

Sometimes we don’t take the time to stop and have fun with those whom we spend so much time with. Life is more than hitting deadlines and achieving at work… also this was an opportunity to let go of preconceived ideas and prejudices about colleagues… see them in a different way. As I hope they will see me in a different way also.

Team… that rocked… let’s do it again some day (when I can move my arms and shoulders again!)

Weekend

Another weekend is here. Am so glad the snow has finally given in to beautiful sunshine and is nearly gone. The lakes are still frozen but the scent of spring is in the air. Not long now and the trees will start to show their green leaves… hope the flowers start soon to bloom too. All in time for me to experience a last spring while living here in the USA.

Yes, the year in America is coming to an end. 5 weekends left before my home address goes back over the pond again… England, I have missed you!

But first… weekend! Sun, God, me-time..

What are your weekend plans? I hope your weekend will be peaceful with unexpected blessings!!!

Spring

Spring in Minnesota has a different ring to it. Instead of seeing lots of blossoms in the trees, there is another 6 inches of snow on the ground.

Yesterday we wanted to get pancakes in St Paul, which ended up with the car stuck up a hill. The friendly Minnesota nice came out with a random guy behind us helping to push the car up the hill. If it would not have been so inappropriate I would have taken pictures!!!

We made it home safe though and were just watching the winter wonderland from the window.

I guess there will be some more Home days!! Although Geert is now on its way to Washington for a pastor conference.

I am ready for real Spring though!!!

Deadwood & the Badlands

Driving down the motorway, you see lots of billboards. Everyone is advertising something, or giving some snippet of knowledge. I came across the below quote:

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. John Muir

That’s truly what I feel like, having spend a couple days admiring Gods handiwork in nature.

Leaving the Rocky Mountains I did not think anything would top that beautiful scenery, see the pictures I shared in the previous post. We made our way slowly north east, towards Custer State Park and Deadwood. A little drive from the town of Deadwood we stumbled across Crazy Horse, the Indian sculpture in process. I could not remember this statue was so close to where we would stay the night… but now I felt we had to make a tiny detour and also see Mount Rushmore….evidence below…

Deadwood was not how I remembered it from a couple years ago. It was dead… only casinos livening up the atmosphere a little. Not really my scene. No music, no dancing, no re-enactments… clearly still winter season. At least the food was very good in one of the Steakhouses ‘ Legends’!

The next morning we needed to leave early to make it back to Minnesota at a decent hour. After all, I have to work again on Wednesday! We set off through the beautiful Black Hills and decided to stop at Wall. Probably a must do stop on the very long and straight I90. Also quiet, as it was not in the tourist season… but still, stretching the legs in beautiful sunshine was worth it!

Next unexpected detour: a drive through the South Dakota Badlands. Mesmerising, legends encouraging, beautiful scenery. A bonus to see long horn goats, mountain goats, deer and prairie dogs. So glad we took that small detour!

Have now arrived home, ready to sleep… a clean spirit as John Muir stated in the quote above.

America, you truly have such awe inspiring nature! I feel so blessed to have been able to see more. Below a few shots….

Road trip to Colorado

When I knew Geert would come to Minnesota one last time while I am still living there, I started thinking of where to spend a last couple days together. Packing is not everything after all, and he still has a few days to help me. We settled on a trip to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Realistically we would only spend one day there… yesterday.. but that’s ok since most of the park is still closed for the winter.

Yesterday was our Rocky Mountain National Park day… the Estes Park entry was open, so off we went. The scenery of the National Forest before you get to Estes Park is already stunning. We say the first couple Elks in Estes Park… just beautiful! After the entry fee of $20 was paid and a map was received we set of to explore all open roads. Below a selection of pictures.

The highlight was probably the coyote hunting on the plain. Very hard to spot due to its colours blending into the background of the fields… not sure if you are able to see in the pictures below… he was just running and playing as if there was no tomorrow. So cute!

The higher we drove, the more snow there was… plenty dead ends due to road closures… made me think on a beautiful day as yesterday…. if you feel like your road is closed, dead end… do you turn around and try another road? Or do you stay there waiting for the snow to melt to let you pass? Maybe something to ponder over as you flip through the pictures below…

On the way back to the hotel there was this beautiful sky, setting apart the white trees so vividly. I just could not stop taking pictures. As if God painted a picture just for me.

Today we will drive to Deadwood, South Dakota, so expect more cowboy pictures soon!

Easter

It’s Easter, today was Good Friday… we associate Easter with new beginnings, Spring, Chocolates, family, holiday etc.

The most important remembrance should be that Jesus came, died and rose again. That’s allows us the promise a new beginning. Something to celebrate for sure…

On Sunday Christians all over will say to each other ‘He is risen’, ‘He is risen indeed’

New beginnings… are you ready for one?

Happy Easter!

Reflections

This has been a weekend of reflection, re-evaluating that which is important during a period of madness. Work has been very busy, a little more than usual. I did not know if I could make it to go away. Although I had scheduled holiday, I could not actually take the time off. However, I really did want to go down to Tennessee where the memorial service of my uncle would be held. Of course my uncle would not know any better if I would turn up or not. After all we believe the dead are sleeping, until the resurrection. But I really wanted to be there for my cousin, whom I just recently reconnected with. Being in the US is a great opportunity to tighten family connections.

But now work commitments were threatening this time I had sat aside. Even though I had wanted to spend as much time as possible, I actually only saw them for the first time during visitation. And as my uncle was well loved, there was high demand on my family’s time. Particularly since they had all lived in Tennessee also and were there to visit.

It became quickly known to me that my desire to spend time was to be put on hold. Mixed with a bout of shyness to intrude and work calling, I only stayed for the service.

Coming back to my hotel room, and having my cousins words ringing through my head ‘don’t disappear’ I realised I really did have to think about what’s important. Sure, I need the job and right now work requires my focus. But being so close to relocating back to the UK, my opportunity to connect with family far away is also very important to me. I had challenged my cousin to a ‘rematch’ of walking/running up a hill in one of the state parks, and the time window was closing!

I ensured to have understanding of my boss that it was ok to skive off on Sunday…. and down the country lanes I went. Shame it was dreary out, no walking to be done. But I was very fortunate to have my cousin and his wife for myself for a couple hours! Catching up on years gone by and reminiscing of shared past time. Meeting up with their kids and grand kids, whom I actually had not met (except their eldest son, who was at Newbold College in England for a year during our time there).

The time to leave cane around way to early. Funny how you can feel so connected to someone in such a shirt time!

With promises to stay in touch I drove back to Atlanta to fly home to Minnesota, glad I did do what’s important to me. Family, no matter how far away, is very important. Time spend is not wasted.

Looking forward to the next opportunities to spend time!

My Top 10 Photos and the Stories Behind Them

In preparation for the release of the gallery part of the blog I decided to show my top 10 pictures and the stories behind them. Photography has been a huge part of my life and is one of the main ways in which I can be creative. I have been asked ‘why photography’ a lot and for me it allows me to show the world from my perspective. Something which you could walk past every day, is beautiful to the next person. So I try in my daily life to imagine what would make a good picture.

I have done some interesting things in my life and so I thought about sharing my top 10 pictures and also why I took them. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to some incredible places in the world and have seen and experienced so many different cultures and wildlife that can’t be found anywhere else.

  1. My First Long Exposure Shot – MadagascarIMG_8087

Back in 2012 I went for 10 weeks to Madagascar where I had an unforgettable time! It was genuinely one of the best trips of my life. Everything was super photogenic out there and one evening whilst sat watching the sunset, I just looked down and saw this log being washed ashore and saw the beautiful patterns and decided to try my first attempt at long exposure photography. This was the result. Yes the focus isn’t perfect, nor the composition, but it was my first attempt at something I had been too scared to try. The reason I chose to include this in my top 10 is not only because it was my first attempt, but I love the movement of the water and I love that it tells a story.

2. Ethiopian Man – Ethiopia

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I took this picture whilst I was there for my first time in Ethiopia. During that trip we were taken to a religious festival in the middle of nowhere. Everyone was so happy and the people of Ethiopia are all just so beautiful! Whilst having lunch I looked up from my food and noticed this old man standing in a doorway just watching the celebrations and I just thought that that would make such a beautiful picture and I just couldn’t stop myself from grabbing my camera and taking the shot. This was the outcome…It still remains as one of my favourite pictures from my trip.

3.  Why Did the Bear Cross the Road – Yellowstone National Park, USA12698140_10153445388827613_5201671014563450931_o

A couple years ago, my parents and I decided to do a proper American road trip. Starting from Minnesota and passing through 5 states before coming back to Minnesota. One of the major stops on the road trip would be Yellowstone National Park. On our first morning in Yellowstone, we had breakfast in a diner where we spoke to a couple who had been going there for years and hadn’t seen anything other than bison and elks. Well the morning before we had already seen a baby bear, so we were having a good start. Later that day, whilst driving around we spotted a bear walking in the bushes and quickly decided to drive slowly whilst the other cars were parked. And that gamble paid off…the baby bear decided to walk next to the car and then cross the road right in front of us. What an awesome way to experience the wonderful wildlife of Yellowstone!

4.  Sisterly Love – UK17861959_10154584511697613_2200926202777938493_n

These 2 beauties are the gorgeous daughters of some family friends. They were the perfect models and behaved so well! Bare in mind that I did have a broken finger on my left hand and could barely carry my camera. So just before this moment, I had my back turned to the children whilst talking to the parents. I turned round to see the big sister tenderly touching her little sister and I caught this moment. I love taking pictures of children and babies as they are just so unpredictable. Blink and the moment is gone! Seeing the joy on the parents face when you show the final product, makes all the stress of shooting on the day, worthwhile!

5. Taking a Deep Breath – MadagascarCamera 14MP-9PC

Whilst on the trip in Madagascar, we visited one of the islands nearby to where our camp was and visited the reef there. Whilst snorkelling I suddenly spotted a turtle swimming really close to me and decided to swim alongside it for as long as it would let me (whilst keeping a respectable distance!). This moment was just so special for me as it was the first time I had seen a turtle in the wild, it also allowed me to swim with it for about 20 minutes! It was just amazing!

6. Conquering your fears – Costa Rica

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Those of you who know me, know that I am PETRIFIED of heights! Yet this opportunity in Costa Rica, was one that I could not let slip! I took this picture with my GoPro to give the widest angle of where we were. Yes I was scared, but after one bridge that fear was gone! The nature was just so beautiful that I was distracted! When you are surrounded by the beautiful scenery, you can’t help but take pictures everywhere!

7. Tree With a View – Minnesota, USADSC_0041

Whilst Canoeing down a river in Minnesota, we noticed this beautiful bird sitting in the tree. Now it isn’t crazy to see Bald Eagles in Minnesota, but there were hundreds of people below it and hadn’t spotted it. I’ve spent a lot of time in Minnesota over the last couple years and yet every single time I see them they blow my mind! I was so lucky to see such a beautiful bird so close by with such blue sky as the perfect background! I think I ended up taking about 50 pictures of this single Bald Eagle. It was clearly waiting to spot a fish!

8. Miniature World – Wisconsin, USA14525015_10154011743427613_4904568668393714772_o

A couple years ago, I treated myself to a macro lens, and this opened up a whole new world of photography for me! Whilst taking pictures in a garden in Wisconsin I suddenly spotted this tiny spider and I thought could I take a picture of it with my new lens? It was incredibly jumpy and I knew it had moved just as I took a picture. To my surprise when I looked back at it, it was staring right into the camera! It stays one of my favourite pictures I’ve taken with my macro lens as this spider was smaller than your little finger nail!

9. Curiosity Never Hurt Anyone – Madagascar544481_10150927775222613_1435884139_n

Whilst going on a walk in the forest in Madagascar, we came across this tiny chameleon! At the time it was the smallest known chameleon! This picture was taken whilst it was in my friends hand! And again just as I took the picture, it decided to move its head towards my camera to get a good look! I just loved the curious nature of this chameleon and that it really wasn’t scared!

10. Flashy Chameleon – Madagascar 529121_10150924222632613_1178186907_n

So as my last picture I couldn’t not chose this one! It has always been one of my proudest shots! The story behind this picture is that whilst we were at the camp, this panther chameleon strolled into the camp. My friend picked him up and I suddenly noticed how striking the colours were on the perfect background!! The dark background brought out his colours perfectly! A while back I actually entered this into the National Geographic photo of the year and it got into the top 10. It is one of my biggest achievements in my photography career!

So what about you? What is your favourite shot and why?

~ I love photography because I can show people the world through my lens ~