Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Darien Illinois Walking

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve: Everything You Need to Know!

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Darien Illinois Walking

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve: Everything You Need to

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve is a 2,503-acre of beautiful open space in DuPage County of Illinois. It is named after it’s Rocky Glen waterfall and offers a comprehensive amount of hiking trails. 

This wonderful oasis contains rocky landscapes, with varying elevations including the well known Sawmill Creek bluff overlook. In addition, Waterfall Glen provides 11 miles of winding nature trails which are beloved by hikers, trail runners, cyclist, horseback riders. In the winter months, these extensive trails are popular with cross country skiers. Looking for a more relaxing activity? The forest preserve is also home to fishing and youth group campsite. Who would have though, that this open space of nature in Illinois is home to such a wide variety of outdoor activities.

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve Scenic Overlook

Where is Waterfall Glen?

Waterfall Glen is located Darien &  Lemont, a south-western suburb of Chicago, Illinois. It is part of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County.

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Darien Illinois Running Trails

How to Get Here

Waterfall Glen is accessible at a plethora of locations, offering a variety of parking options. It is conveniently located off of the I-55 highway with the main entrance and trailhead being right off of Northgate Road. There are also parking lot options on Lemont Road by the intersection of 101st street as well as a parking lot at the intersection of Cass Avenue and Bluff Road.

waterfall glen rocky glen waterfall long exposure water photography

Where is the waterfall?

Rocky Glen waterfall which is the waterfall at Waterfall Glen is located towards the south east part of the forest preserve. The best and easiest way to get to the waterfall is at the Waterfall parking lot located at the intersection of Cass and Bluff Road. From there you can travel along the Rocky Glen trail for a little less than half a mile until you reach the infamous waterfall. From there I suggest traveling up south to view the scenic overlook. It only takes a few minutes but the view of the waterfall from above is absolutely worth it.

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Darien Illinois Entrance Trail

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve Trail Map

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Illinois Trail map 2020
Waterfall Glen Couple Engagement Portrait Photography in the Fall

Photography at Waterfall Fall Glen

This forest preserve is a nature and portrait photographer’s dream. From the beautiful lush trails to the picturesque scenery, the opportunities here are endless. This was one of the first places I explored when I first started photography and now it is one of my favorite locations for engagement photography. Grab your camera and get lost in the natural beautiful of Waterfall Glen!

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Darien Illinois Dirt Trails

Fun Facts:

  • Located in it’s ravine is the famous waterfall which is actually is a dam.
  • It completely surrounds Argonne National Laboratory.
  • Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve is  2,503-acre.
  • You can actually swim in the waterfall area so bring the kids. (Well, wading is more suitable than swim.)
  • The Forest Preserve District bought its first 75 acres at Waterfall Glen in 1925.
Surreal Conceptual Story Telling through Photography of a Folded Paper airplane being Thrown Around a Spinning Globe

We All Have Stories

We All Have Stories

Stories are what makes the world go around. It’s what makes us who we are, each having a library of their own and everyday we write a new one.

Every now and then we thumb through our dusty shelves. Those frail experiences filed away for when we desperately need strength. Reread those moments of happiness when we are looking for a smile. Glance over a memorable string of words we highlighted because they meant just a little bit more to us and when we are done, we crease over the ear of the page of the seconds before to remind us of where we left off.

Surreal Conceptual Story Telling through Photography of a Folded Paper airplane being Thrown Around a Spinning Globe

But the most important thing we do, is we share our stories. Some in lessons, others as entertainment, a few in a flash of vulnerability, regret or fear but there is always someone wanting to read them even the ones of how your day was. Someone wanted to learn. Someone looking for a different perspective. Someone who’s fascinated in what you have done and who you are. It’s how we are connected and if you are reading this then you are a part of mine and I am a part of yours.

Keep on writing, keep on reading and keep on sharing because stories are what makes the world go around.

Surviving Social Distancing During Covid 19 coronavirus pandemic in the united states a black and white silhouette of a man and his shadow on his phone

Social Distancing

Social Distancing

With everything that is currently occurring with the health pandemic and social distancing, the world is looking quite different.

Personally it was a situation that seemed very much distant while ever so quickly becoming a stark reality. A month or so ago I recalled hearing through passing about a virus called COVID-19 aka the coronavirus sweeping through Wuhan, China. I would see snippets of how the city was being barricaded, I would see images of doctors working nonstop in hazmat suits, I would read number of how many people were being effected and just how quickly it was able to spread and still it did not hit home.

I am the first to shamefully admit that I live in my own little bubble sort of naturally social distancing from the world to an extent. I confine myself to what I know, learn and see but am always eager to escape that safekeeping.

That was one of the underlying reasons that Ive always wanted to travel. Mostly I did not believe that these far away places truly existed and knew the only way to believe in the beauty of this world was to experience it first hand. And like those travel adventures, this is how many saw the coronavirus. It quickly spread from China in December of 2019 to more than 145 countries as I’m writing this on March 18th 2020. This still unimaginable reality instantaneously struck like a bat out of hell.

Dramatic visual changes are happening in communities, lockdown in cities, in social appearances or lack thereof, and in thought. I see reactions ranging from the still nonchalant, unconcerned to distress slowly unraveling people’s once tough as nails mindsets.

Personally, my grandfather passed away earlier this week (not due to coronavirus) but as a result my family had to make the painful decision to adhere to the CDC and social distancing and restrict the services to my father and his siblings. I truly believe that it was the right decision but it’s still hard to accept that being physically there for someone when they genuinely need it is almost beyond the bounds of possibilities right now.

I remember reading something like “In the end, it will be impossible to know if we overreacted or did too much, but it will be QUITE apparent if we under reacted or did too little.” COVID-19 affected every aspect of most if not all of everyone’s life.

Surviving Social Distancing During Covid 19 coronavirus pandemic in the united states a black and white silhouette of a man and his shadow on his phone

Take a Deep Breathe

For me, the daunting realness of these past few days and weeks is not the pandemic in itself but the uncertainty it carries. This sort of vulnerability makes us feel powerless. We do not know what the future will look like let alone what tomorrow will bring.

And it’s scary.

But amidst this rough patch, I think we are all just striving for the best for each other. I see how powerful we are as not just people but as humans. It’s not just a town, a city, or a state but in countries and most importantly the world. People all around the globe joined together to put a pause on their life no matter how much it’s personally and financially is going to effect them, in order to reduce the rick of harming others.

I am optimistic.

The small to large changes in our lifestyle are all in trying to keep each other and ourselves safe and healthy. It’s comforting to know that we have each other’s backs. It’s encouraging to know that we are here for each other, especially as we desperately search for a little certainty in life.

I am hopeful.

Take some time away from the news, listen to some music, read a book, text a friend and take a deep breath.

Be well. Stay safe. You are not alone in this. We are in this together.

Food for Thought

Below is a piece of writing from Laura Kelly Fanucci that is so humbly, beautiful I just had to share and type the words down myself to feel the realness in them.

When this is over,

may we never again

take for granted

A handshake with a stranger

Full shelves at the store

Conversations with neighbors

A crowded theatre

Friday night out

The tased of communion

A routine checkup

The school rush each morning

Coffee with a friend

The stadium roaring

Each deep breath

A boring Tuesday

Life itself.

When this ends,

may we find

that we have become

more like the people

we wanted to be

we were called to be

we hoped to be

and may we stay

that way—better

for each other

because of the worst.

– Laura Kelly Fannucci

For more information and up to date  news about Covid-19/ Coronavirus pandemic please follow the CDC and WHO

And so the adventure begins surreal fine art concept photography with an old type writer on a rustic table setting with a globe, travel passport, vintage camera and a morning coffee

Escaping Your Comfort Zone

Escaping Your Comfort Zone


This artwork was a concept piece I worked on about escaping your comfort zone.

I was in a rut. Days ran into days which felt like an endless stream and it felt easier to let the current carry me away rather than to fight against it. This is a comforting feeling, you feel safe. While at the same time, it’s easy to lose track of time and stray far away from where you once intended to be.

We all have been in a place in which comfortability has played a circumscribing factor in our life. We think of all the things we want to do, envision a future self we want to be and imagine a place where we want to wake up in but we quickly push it aside in the someday endeavor category in our head. There it sits, boxed up in our attic saved for later. We continue with our life waking up, going through the motion, hurry back home, rinse, sleep and repeat.

Those future endeavors, those dreams and ideas we once painted for ourselves remain a faint outline. They become ever more hazy, slowly feeling less attainable as time passes by. It seems like we fell asleep on the river of life and have drifted too far away to know the way back.

How do you fight against the current? What is the life preserver you strive for to get you back on your feet? I’ve always thought the answer to this was happiness. And it’s true in a way but something I read that stuck with me is that ‘Happiness can be bought with a bottle of wine and has become ambiguous through overuse’. So what is objective then? What’s the goal?

And so the adventure begins surreal fine art concept photography with an old type writer on a rustic table setting with a globe, travel passport, vintage camera and a morning coffee

Finding Excitement.

Finding excitement in life is the driving factor in motivation. It’s the very aspect that pushes you to learn, to act. It incites passion and is the spark to igniting your mental bliss. I started to write ‘don’t be afraid to try something new’ but that’s honestly not honest. It’s a terrifying feeling. Exiting the familiarity of life is scary as hell but that’s also what makes it so, so exciting. 

Tim Ferris wrote in his book The 4-Hour Workweek “‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. If it’s important to you and you want to do it ‘eventually,’ just do it and correct along the way.”

I feel fear is the biggest denominator in whether you act on something that you truly want to do. Comfortability is so attractive due to its certainty while excitement has become a sort of ‘risk’. It’s uncertain and not a lot of people feel comfortable with not knowing what’s next. But it’s the very reason why we watch tv shows & movies, why we read books or watch sporting events. Not knowing is a little exciting. No it’s down right exhilarating.

Whether it’s in your job, your relationships or your personal life, find something that constantly forces you to step away from your comfort zone. Find something that forces you to see the world in a different way. Find something that makes you ask questions. Find something that makes you smile with anticipation. Even if it’s small, find something that excites you.

And so the adventure begins…

If you like this, click to see more from my surreal photography gallery

Traveling to Kelingking Beach Nusa Penida

Traveling in Indonesia for 2 Weeks

Traveling in Indonesia for 2 Weeks

And just like that, with one click of the mouse, I’m traveling to Indonesia for 2 weeks. The first question is most likely, why Indonesia? Honestly, there was not one thing that I could say that would truthfully answer that question. Of course Bali, with it’s endless beaches and countless waterfalls could be a suitable reason. Or Nusa Penida with it’s turquoise water and rugged landscape could be another. And I mean who would not want to visit Komodo Island and look into the eyes of the largest lizards in the world, the Komodo dragons. All viable explanations of why Indonesia. But I would be lying to say that these were the reasons I clicked ‘book it’.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you a little bit about my experience traveling to the world’s largest island country that is Indonesia.

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Yogyakarta the Soul of Java

Our journey started Yogyakarta. A traditional city located on the Indonesian island of Java. It was the first day and that was all it took for me to realize that I will not dare to try and drive here. It was hypnotizing seeing scooters dodge and weave their way through traffic like they were swimming through the sea. We were dropped off at our airbnb, which was a beautiful guest house that was hidden in an oasis of trees and water. Our time was limited but our priorities were straight. First indulge in street food, second explore the soul of Yogyakarta.


Prambanan Temple at Sunset Indonesia Travel

Sunset at Prambanan Temple

We only had one day in Yogyakarta and we were eager to make the best of it. Our first evening of soul searching was spent watching the sunset at Prambanan Temple. It was a immense field of ancient ruins. Watching each step, I carefully made my way through the stone remains. I tried to imagine what it would have been like in the 9th century. Walking up the steps, and overlooking the 244 Hindu temples scattered throughout the landscape as the day slowly fades away. I snapped back to reality as child screamed with laughter, running through the most beautiful architectural grave site I’ve stepped foot in.


Borobudur Temple Sunrise Photography

Sunrise at Borobudur Temple

It was 4:30 am and I was rubbing the last bit of yesterday from my eyes. I gathered my things, opened the bedroom door and walked into the darkness of the morning to meet our Grab driver. He drove us through winding roads showing us the plethora of markets that were already full of life. The car started to slow and we came to a stop at Manohara hotel. This is the only ‘official’ way to enter the world’s largest Buddhist temple Borobudur and since I did not feel like getting arrested this trip, I thought this would be our safest bet.

We walked through the entrance, paid our fee and they handed us our flashlights. We turned them on and started walking towards the soft chatters of our fellow sunrise chasers. We found the stairs and started the trek up. It was still picth black but with the faint light of the flashlights I quickly felt the immensity of this sacred site.

I waited patiently, feeling like the lights just dimmed in the theatre and you knew instantly that the show was about to begin. The rays of light broke through the horizon first as the sun quickly followed. The scene turned from pitch black to the warm colors of the morning, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I really wish that my photography did justice to this wonder of the world that is Bororbudur Temple but below is my attempt.


Bali Sunrise Indonesia Travel Photography

Bali

Bali seems to be forefront when speaking about Indonesia. It has become a consistent tourist destination for good reason. It honestly has everything for everyone. From walking along white sand beaches to swinging over a stretch of rice fields to drinking a cup of koi luwak coffee in the middle of a forest after hiking to a waterfall, it was more of a playground for me. 

Truth to be told, I could have spent a month here and still have much more to explore. With 99% less than a month in our schedule, we booked an Airbnb Tour to see as much as we could. It was worth it. Walking up to the Gate of Heaven in person, overlooking Agung, the biggest volcano in Bali, was an image I’ve seen all over instagram and blogs and now I know why. Experience. The air you soak up at Tegalalang terrace, feeling the water hitting against your face under the Tukad Cepung waterfall, or smelling the mixture of scents filling the air at a coffee plantation, makes these places you see behind a screen real. Visit Bali just once and you’ll understand this.


Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud

The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary

I woke up to unfamiliar sounds on my balcony. I rolled over to see the source and to my surprise, a monkey was making itself comfortable. Then another and another joined and the next thing I knew, my friends shoe was over the edge. This was going to be a good day.

The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, also known as the Ubud Monkey Forest, is home to over 600 Balinese long-tailed monkeys. You are the visitor as you walk through this forest sanctuary that is their home. From a mother feeding their child to a group sitting watching as children performed a balinese dance, there was a humanist quality to them. It was quite captivating in a mysterious way. Although one of the warnings were not to look at them in their eye, I caught a few glances. Here are a few photographs from a stroll in their habitat.


Traveling to Kelingking Beach Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida is the largest of the Nusa Islands sitting just south east of Bali. If there was an image that influenced my choice to going to Indonesia it was this island. Kelingking, also known as the t-rex arm, fittingly appeared like it was preserved from the Cretaceous Period. It was lush, rugged and like a scene from a movie, enclosed a beautiful secluded beach. The hike down was somewhat challenging and some places a little sketchy, but once your feet hits the sand, surrounded by cliffs, and seeing the crystal blue water, those thoughts are quickly washed away. 

Wild and free. This was how the whole island felt. Exploring through rough terrain, sitting along endless cliffs and unwinding in the warm tropical water, all to fall asleep under a blanket of stars, that is what Nusa Penida was for me. Diamonds scattered throughout this pebble in the world, just waiting to be found.


Padar Island Flores Indonesia Travel Photography

Traveling to Komodo

Komodo Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and part of the Lesser Sunda chain of Islands in East Nusa Tenggara. It’s also known for, drumroll please, Komodo Dragons. Yes I know shocker! But these islands are the only place in the world to see them so as they say, when in Indonesia! So we hopped on a plane from Bali and headed straight to the closest town which is Labuan Bajo on the island of Flores.

Like Bali, we were extremely limited on time and so we booked an all day excursion with Bintang Komodo Tours to experience as much as we could. It did not disappoint. Starting in the early morning, a few of us set sail as the sun began to rise and arrived at the first stop which was Padar Island. The view from the top of this hike was worth everything and more. A panorama view of the landscape that looked like it was crawling out to sea. We then stopped by the famous pink sand beach (pink due to it’s Corals) and an small banana shaped island/ sand bar to snorkel and finally made our way to see the legendary lizards.


Komodo Dragons Indonesia Travel Photography

Komodo National Park

There has been a lot of talk about Komodo National Park. Mainly about tourism. It was said that they would close off the park to tourist in 2020 and just recently rumored that it will be open but at a premium cost of $1000. We were fortunate enough to make it before any drastic changes were made. Upon arriving, we were given a tour guide, explained to us the risks, and ended on a somber note of the good possibility of not seeing any dragons at all. Optimistic though, we set out and within 5 minutes, stumbled upon 6 Dragons, 3 adults and 3 babies, all in one communal area! It was a surreal moment for sure, that I will not take with a grain of salt. Encountering the worlds largest and quite deadly lizards, with saliva and remnants of blood on their face is a memory  I will hold onto.

Komodo Dragons Indonesia Travel Photography


Snorkeling with Manta Rays in Indonesia

Snorkeling in Indonesia

With over 17,000 islands comprising of Indonesia, snorkeling is a rights of passage when visiting. I have never snorkeled in my life, like really snorkeled. There may have been a few incidents when I’ve placed a snorkel mask on my face and swam around the pool looking for pennies at the bottom. But trust me nothing like this.

I still can’t quite comprehend what I saw. One day we hopped on a boat in Gilli Island and the next I was circling around an underwater sculpture, watching the array of tropical fish swimming along not taking notice or more not caring that a stranger was hovering around their neighborhood. The next time we jumped on a boat in Nusa Penida, I did the Shaka shake for my GoPro as I spilled over the side of the boat and all of a sudden an 11 ft Manta Ray came gliding above me. Lastly, on our excursion in and around Komodo Island, felt more like a grand finale. From beautiful coral, to nibbling tropical fish to sea turtles and chasing down a giant manta ray, it was quite the underwater adventure. I think I did good for my first time, if I say so myself. 


Tegalalang Rice Portrait Terrace Indonesia Travel Photography

Faces from Indonesia

You meet a lot of interesting people when you travel. From literally all ends of the world. Some faces you see for a moment and they pass, others stay with you. This trip was this trip because of people. From my friend Tyler who stuck out every second of this hectic ride, to all of the drivers, tour guides and hosts that did everything they could to make our trip the best it could be to the little girl who tried her best to teach me a little bit of the Indonesian language and laughed at my American pronunciation. this is what traveling is. This is why I love it. These are some of the faces from Indonesia.


Reflection

The main reason, the true reason that I started traveling was to wander away from my comfort zone. The first time I ventured from North America was to Iceland. That trip opened up my eyes to the beautiful possibilities the world has in stored. I was curious about the unknown but frankly I yearned to know what was beyond that hill, those houses or across that ocean. So I went. Just me. I look at myself a little bit differently after traveling solo to Scotland. You learn quite a lot about yourself when you’re alone.

But being a travel photographer persuaded many of these adventures. I chose places in which the landscapes pulled me in. I already had glimpses of myself stepping at the edge of Trolltunga in Norway or walking up the Seceda Ridge in the Dolomites of Northern Italy. I found myself in an uncharacteristic comfort zone. I got caught up with these photographic pilgrimages and I wanted to step away for one. 

I went to Indonesia to see more with my eyes and less from behind the camera. 11 flights, 10 islands and 7 boat rides later. I choose right.

Bouldering Photography at Devils Lake State Park

Bouldering Photography at Devil’s Lake State Park

Bouldering Photography at Devils Lake State Park

Bouldering Photography at Devil’s Lake State Park

If you mentioned rock climbing at Devil’s Lake State Park a year ago, I would look at you with a blank stare. I have previously ventured up to Wisconsin to photograph this picturesque state park but it was not until about 8 months ago that I would have known the hidden gems embedded in the nature of this park. In early of September of 2018 I got introduced to the world of rock climbing. I’ve always been intrigued in the simplicity of climbing. Watching professional climbers such as Adam Ondra or Sasha DiGiulian naturally scale up the face of a mountain is poetry in motion. Needless to say, I was quickly hooked.

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The midwest is not widely known for a mecca of outdoor climbing. In fact, if you are from Chicago and want to climb outdoors, you will most likely find yourself 3 hours away at Devils Lake State Park which is not only the largest state park in Wisconsin but also offers some of the best bouldering and climbing in the midwest. With over 1600 routes, beautiful hiking trails and quartzite rock cliffs overlooking the lake, it only seems natural that I start my exploration of rock climbing and photography here.

Camping at Mirror Lake State Park

The best part of bouldering at Devils Lake, is camping under the stars at Mirror Lake State Park and of course ordering Pizza Pub. We actually found this campsite by mere coincidence. On the first trip to climb, the Devils Lake Camp grounds were completely booked and this was recommended by park ranger. The moment we set up camp, I already knew that this is where I will be falling asleep whenever I come back up here. On a clear night, the stars light up the sky over the lake and at that moment the name Mirror Lake becomes clear. This is the perfect remedy after a hard day of climbing.

A Passion Found in Rock Climbing

Rock climbing is something else. I fell into this world unknowingly. I didn’t ask to be here but here I am and I absolutely love it. I went from not knowing what a rock climbing gym was to joining one and climbing in it 5 times a week. I remember only being able to climb for 30 minutes because the skin on my fingers were shredded to being able to climb for hours with ease. It’s therapeutic in that way. My mind shuts down all of those lingering thoughts in the back of my head and I become fully present. Climbing has shown me that growth only exists when you push yourself out of your comfort zone and welcome the unknown.

It’s a beautiful thing.

Manarola Italy Travel Photography

A Road Trip Through the Cities of Italy

A Road Trip Through Italy: Italian Cities

Lake Karersee Italy Travel Photography

Back from the Italian Alps

Still in a daze from the scenes the first half of my road trip through Italy in Northern Italy, we continue traveling on the open road. Living out the words to Chuck Berry’s No Particular Place to Go, we find ourselves in a flux of mountains and age-old cities of Italy. Arco, a small town north of Lake Garda with its ancient hilltop castle and mountainous backdrop was the stunning welcoming that we needed. Without thinking, we pulled over. From the second I pulled the door handle, my eyes were jumping from one scene to the next. This was the start of a new adventure.

Exploring the Italian Coast

Although, the objective is to head down the Italian Coast and make a loop back to Venice, this trip was not ruled by an agenda. We took each road, each turn, each place as it is. This is the only way I can imagine traveling for myself. It’s cliché to even type “Its the not the Destination, It’s the journey.” But that is what traveling, adventure and memories are. I can share pictures of beautiful Italian destinations but what I can’t share are the laughs, the long rides, the happiness that simple conversations with strangers bear. I try to convey as much as I can through photography while at the same time, I enjoy keeping some of the most important moments to myself. Moments that I will look back on in my own time and just smile. I did that, I was there, and I will never forget this.

Lost in Italian Cities

The cities of Italy is alive through their stories, through their past. From Venice to Milan to Florence, you could close your eyes and imagine with ease walking in a time that’s not yours. A hurried Filippo Brunelleschi drifting through the streets of Florence or a glimpse of Leonardo da Vinci as he adds the final brush stroke to The Last Supper in Milan. It’s hard not to get lost in your surroundings, to get soaked up in the architecture, art, nature and landscape of this beautiful land. I have never stepped on a street that felt so catalytic in the importance of history than the streets of Italy. It’s hard not to fall in love in a country like this.

Serendipity: The City of Siena

The chants of a faceless crowd finds its way through the winding, cobblestone streets of Siena, Italy. Moments later the crowd with their Contrade’s emblem banners raised in hand, marched their way around the corner. This was the celebration of the The Palio horse race. A passionate event with its origin tracing back to the 6th century. This was how Italian cities felt. Frozen in time while the rest of the world marched on.

What was important about this, was that this was never planned. We didn’t know about this city nor of this celebration that only happens twice a year. Sunset was quickly approaching and our original destination was out of reach. By chance we entered the city of Siena for the night. This was probably one of the most memorable moments of any trip that I have ever had. It wasn’t scripted, it was living in the present. It was discovering a love for a place that was waiting to be found.

If you like this, you will love A Road Trip Through Italy

Italy Travel Photography

A Road Trip Through Italy: Part 1

A Road Trip Through Italy

Traveling to Italy is simply a dream. I honestly do not even know where to begin. It’s been about a month since getting back from Italy but the winding roads, the running canals, Italian cities lost in history and the picturesque backdrops are still fresh in my mind. Ever since seeing a picture of the slopes of Seceda in the Italian Dolomites, I knew that I would be walking on that very grass to witness it for myself. With no plan in mind except to go, I booked my ticket. There’s no turning back now. This is my road trip through Italy.

Italy Travel Photography

The Floating City

Every adventure starts somewhere, and mine began in Venice, Italy. An agglomerate of land carved out by canals running through it like veins in a body. Truly the most romantic city that I have ever seen. Without a single road, you experience every twist and turn right under your feet, seeing fragments of history at every step. From San Marco Square to the Grand Canal to the singing of the gondoliers as the sun touches down, Venice was a masterpiece that surpass every expectation that I ever thought I had about it. A dream city floating on water and this was only the start.

The Pale Mountains

Located a short few hours from Venice, sits one of the most beautiful places on earth. The Dolomites are a mountain range that crowns northern Italy. A place of wild mystery and now a friend & I are about to make our way through it. The very first time seeing just a hint of the jutting rock of the Dolomites my eyes were transfixed. The jagged mountains shooting up into the sky, surrounded by rolling green hills and mirrored lakes, this was a paradise that could have only been dreamt up in fairytales.

Lago Di Braies

This was the first night in the albino rhino (which I secretly called our white Jeep). We just spent the day on the road winding our way through the Dolomites heading north toward Pragser Wildsee for the night. Arriving in a small town well past 9pm, we found the only place that was open for a meal. It was a small Hotel/ Restaurante that I wouldn’t ever have known existed if it wasn’t for our late arrival; it was posted at the end of numerous switchbacks overlooking the small, flickering city below. It was a hidden gem that was home to some of the most welcoming people but also offered one of the best meals on this trip. These are the moments that I will always stay with me.

After eating, we found our way to a small parking lot to call home for the night.  Not being a stranger to sleeping in a car I quickly got as comfortable as I could to call it a night. I laid there listening to a few passing cars but my mind was still racing with excitement. Although I could feel my body physically tired, these swimming thoughts of what was in stored for the next day won the battle for the first few hours but eventually faded.

We woke up at first light to the brisk mountain air and made our way to this little lake in the Prags valley. Lago di Braies is one of those places that I have/ you may have seen many pictures of but nothing could have prepared me for seeing this place in person. The water was still and blue, the light was just waking up and slowly finding it’s way through the surrounding mountains. There were few people up, making it beautifully quiet. This was the first time (but not the last) where these far away places that I grew up seeing pictures of weren’t so far away anymore.

The Seceda

Every oversea trip that I have ever been on has been based on one single image. Kirkjufell in Iceland, Trolltunga in Norway, Neist Point in Scotland and for Italy it was the Seceda.  These are the places that restore the childlike mentally of how simple life can truly be. These are the places that swim over you like a breath of fresh air, that revives that sense of curiosity and adventure. These are the places, that makes me believe how beautiful the world really is. I really wish I could talk more about it, but I don’t have the words. I mean the Seceda ridge line was the catalyst of this whole trip and when I first laid eyes on it, I just sat, and laughed in disbelief. A place like this actually exists.

The first leg of this trip was the most important part to me since it was the whole reason why I pushed the confirm button at checkout for my flight. I have been fortunate enough to have seen some beautiful places in my life but experiencing the Dolomites was something else. It left me speechless with a feeling that I really can’t explain. You just have to go and experience it for yourself. It’s such a beautiful place that many people do not associate when talking about Italy and maybe that’s one of the beauties of it. With every turn was a moment filled with anticipation as I could never have predicted what I would see next. Northern Italy makes you feel small and unimportant in the best possible way, washing away egos and selfishness and shines light on the world around you. Now off to the next adventure.

If you like this, you will love A Road Trip Through the Cities of Italy

Colorado Travel Photography

You had me at Colorado

You had me at Colorado.

When you have Chicago in your backyard, you hike through dense city streets, breathing in the heavy air, while the sweet sounds of a car honks and everyday conversations fill your ears. You look up through the shadows and your surround by architectural mountains; while I suppose some refer to them as skyscrapers… nonetheless this is the urban landscape that I am oh so familiar with. On the other hand, it cultivated this allurement to nature, hiking, camping, traveling etc. and I find myself constantly seeking these momentary escapes in the world’s more natural landscapes.

When asked by two friends if I would be interested in shooting their engagement photos, I happily accepted. But when expressed that they would like the backdrop to be Colorado, all I could think of is ‘yes, yes and yes. I have personally never been to Colorado, well of which I could remember (I may have driven through Colorado riding in the backseat as a child at some point, but those years of my life are a little hazy.) however I have seen and heard various anecdotes of just how beautiful it is. The seed was planted and the anticipation grew instantly. Let the adventure begin.

With an average 243 sunny days a year, it’s a sort of unwritten law that you should be outside. From the beautiful Red Rocks Amphitheater to the copious hiking trails to watching the sunrise above the clouds, Colorado is an outdoor lover’s paradise. I did not quite know what to expect but it was everything and more. It’s a place where you can get lost in yet at that exact moment feel like you were meant to be here. Oh Colorado, you are quite beautiful. Until we meet again.

When I first picked up a camera, I never knew, well how to use it but moreover, what I would do with it or where it would take me. It has allowed me to meet some amazing people, rekindle old friendships, and to see places that I never thought I’d ever step foot in. When I look back at pictures like these, I can’t help but be humble at the remarkable people and opportunities that I was given. I am sure I say this a lot but it is an important notion to recognize. I can not thank enough, these two wonderful people I’m lucky enough to call friends, for not only showing me around but letting me be apart of this special time in their lives.

 

If you like this, you will love A Road Trip Through Scotland

A Road Trip Through Scotland II

Scotland

I feel like I should ramble some more about a trip that I took a some weeks ago. If you haven’t seen my last post, you can read it (or just look at the pictures) here at A Road Trip Through Scotland. But I’ll just give you a brief in-depth summary now. Went to Scotland. Enjoyed Glasgow. Rented a car. Saw pretty things and now I’m here. Ok, I hope I didn’t lose you yet. I’ll start off like I started off last time, the reason why I first wanted to see Scotland was because of Neist Point. The little sea cliff that I loved so much I had to go back the next morning.

The Isles of Skye

The Isles of Skye (from the old Norse sky-a, meaning ‘cloud island’) was filled with remarkable natural sights. The Isles’ rugged sea cliffs, and mountainous scenary sparked with life at every turn. The dark jagged basalt appeared to be breaking through the ground, forming the natural landscape of this island. It’s the home to some of the most beautiful places I have been fortunate enough to experience such as Neist Point, the Quiraing, Fairy Glen, the Old Man of Storr and much more. I spent about two and half days here but could have easily spent a lot longer. Pictures just do not do the Isles of Skye justice, but hey I tried.

A map, a car, a camera and the road

Its the not the Destination, It’s the journey.’ Yes, very cliché I know. A phrase that I have heard so many times that I tend to forget it’s true value.

When I began planning for Scotland, I did what most people tend to do. I googled places to see in Scotland. And of course, I find plethora of beautiful photographs of castles, waterfalls, landscapes, cities and honestly thats great. I made it a point to see a lot of these places but some of my most memorable moments and favorite photographs are of those that you can not find on google or Pinterest. I believe it’s because these are my personal experiences. These are the places that I choose to stop at because they incited my curiosity. We all have our own stories and the ones who have experienced these well known places, share the same sort of paragraph in their story (If that makes any sense). But those places in between are what makes everyones story unique and different. And that’s a beautiful thing. Here are a few paragraphs from my story.

From Edinburgh to Glasgow

Other than Scotland’s natural beauty, it is home to a rich history. I felt like everywhere I turned, I was surrounded by stories of the past. From castles to cobble stone roads to cathedrals and cemeteries, exploring these places made me feel like a kid again. Honestly, all I could do was try to soak in as much information that I could, and I am still trying to process everything that I saw. Edinburgh and Glasgow, although somewhat opposite, will remain very close to my heart. These are cities that I saw the sun disappear in and shedding light the next. I felt at home here. This was truly an unbelievable experience, that I would not have changed one moment of. Until next time Scotland and thank you for your hospitality but most importantly, thank you for changing my life for the better.

Food For Thought

I’ve been asked by a few people how traveling alone was so I thought I’d share my experience of it. When I first thought about traveling alone, in all honestly I was terrified of. I mean the very idea of not knowing where you are let alone, anyone you know is quite frightening. I was clouded with ideas of everything that could go wrong but I’ve always dreamed of someday of taking an prolong road trip and just traveling. If I ever wanted to do this I knew at some point that I would have to be comfortable traveling alone. So I took a chance, sucked it up, swallowed my fears and decided to go to Scotland solo.

Preparing for this involved in constant researching on other’s experiences as well and a few solo overnight trips to dip my toes into. I learned a lot from South Dakota and the Upper Peninsula, such as what were my necessities and what I could do without i.e less is more. But most importantly I learned how to be comfortable being by myself (which was a little hard because I could be very talkative to myself).

What I took out of this experience was an indescribable experience. Some may think that it will be lonely, but this was far from that case. Photography and the mystery of being somewhere new, preoccupied my mind to the point that I did not even grasp the idea that I was alone. There are moments where your initial fear resurfaces but it’s quickly put to rest once you recognize where you are, and that the world is not as scary as you imaged. The most exciting part about traveling alone is that your flying first hand outside of your comfort zone, igniting that flame of curiosity and wonder. And you realize how exciting life can be again.

I feel like every trip that I take I always end it by saying that I learned a lot about myself and so on. And Scotland was no different. Everything thing that I have learned in the past, I have applied to the present which only opens another door of lessons to face. Life is a learning experience that everyone is trying to master. But the beauty lies in each person’s pursuit of it.

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