Year in photos: 2014

Even though I didn’t shoot as much as I would have liked to, I think I still had some decent shots.

Some are in Los Angeles, others home in Montana. A few are from our annual trip to the Cape haus, and some are from Austin, Texas. Overall these highlight the better parts of the year. The bad parts, luckily, weren’t photographed so they’ll fade fast.

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Down South with friends and queso.

A few months ago I went to Austin, Texas for a few days to spend time with Chelsea and Comrade Kate. They live in the cutest little apartment and graciously hosted me on the most comfortable blow-up mattress ever. Not even a single hint of sarcasm there- I slept like a queen!

Austin was hot, brutally so, but still really beautiful. Chelsea got a job working for a really neat start up company where she can flex her creative muscles (which are metaphorically huge) and Kate freelances with her wicked English and grammar skills and helps edit and make everything better. I secretly see her writing something that sort of makes a little Texas Southern Gothic novel somewhere, but that’s my opinion.

In our time there we ate so much good food. My first meal was catfish and fried okra and it was delicious! Kate and I made the most expensive pie because we bought $40 of fresh fruit from Whole Foods accidentally while Chelsea was at work. Oops. I also forgot about sales tax, a most annoying thing that superior Montanan residents don’t have to fuss over.

My first night there Chelsea whipped up some pretty strong mojitos in their cute little kitchen. We then went across the street to a wonderfully decorated bar where I ordered a whole glass of gin and petted a stuffed javelina head. The bartender asked me if I was sure I wanted an entire large glass of grapefruit infused gin, to which in my mojito-induced state I eagerly agreed to. I’m pretty sure Chelsea intervened and there was some tonic in that gin. The rest of the night was mostly me nibbling at an amazing brisket that I actually didn’t remember eating but I’m 100% sure was amazing.

The next day we went to the botanical gardens, where I was feeling pretty rough. I’m honestly a 1 or 2 wine glasses kind of girl (did I really just type that). The gardens were the perfect salve for my hangover. They were misty and cool, and I was distracted from my pounding head and want to sleep forever by foliage the likes of which I had never seen in semi-arid Montana. I have successfully raised 2 cacti and several aloe plants in my house but it was really amazing to see some fantastic different sorts of plants. We stayed for a few hours and I took so many pictures of all the flora. We found out that some of Chelsea’s Swedish ancestors had chosen Texas as their home, and I chased several lizards and saw a snake.

Afterwards we had QUESO. I had to capitalize queso because it was like I’d met God. Queso, hot and cheesy and delicious, was an underlying theme of my whole trip. I swear if there was a religion around queso I would join and worship daily. I doubt it’s really that healthy but health be damned because queso made me feel like I was a better person just for having eaten it. I still dream about it.

On my second to last day Chelsea, Kate and I watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier in their massive bed and then went mini-golfing to shake off the fact that Bucky was the Winter Solider (WHAT). We picked up a six pack of a really delicious beer, and drank the whole thing quickly because it was so…horribly…hot. Sweat was dripping from us all. We golfed faster than I think I ever had. Mostly because there was a couple right behind us, so we felt socially pressured, but also because it was so hot. Afterwards we went and ate more queso. Or maybe that was just me, but either way I definitely ate queso.

While I was there we did go to Sixth Street and had a blast. We had the most amazing queso at an Irish bar (yup) and drank in a bar that had enormous framed Civil War generals and quotes about alcohol that they’d said. I saw my friend Ann briefly.

Overall Austin was a seriously beautiful place with a lot happening. There was a lot of gentrification, a lot of money, and a lot of hope. Optimism was everywhere. Chelsea and Kate live in a really nice part of Austin that is easy to get anywhere from, and I felt so lucky to be able to get a little break from Montana and be with some really remarkable souls who have found a little place to set down some roots. My grandmother grew up in Texas and still misses it and I really liked seeing the Capitol and learning a bit of Texas history and telling her all about it.

Thanks again to Chelsea and Kate for being models, hosts, and makers of wonderful drinks. You both are absolutely marvelous creatures.

A place I never wanted to leave

35mm goodness from my sturdy Olympus OM-G. I only brought my f/1.8 lens for some reason, not my f/1.4 or a wide angle or even my shift lens, but I’m still pretty happy with how many of my frames from the trip turned out.

I still can’t believe it only cost $2.00 to go into the gardens. Montana doesn’t have the sort of season to encourage ferns, flowers, and lily pads everywhere, so I’ve never been anywhere like this. I wanted to settle down on one of the many benches and sketch and maybe sing to myself a little because it was the most calming place I’d been in a long, long time. There weren’t a lot of people and we had the gardens mostly to ourselves. The overcast day made parts seem eerily private and in this way perfect. I loved the curling edges of ferns and the twirling stems of so many different flowers.

I’ve got many more frames to share with you all but for now I think I’ll let these stand alone. Mother Nature has such beautiful creations.

I could have set up a tent in the bamboo forest and lived there happily ever after. Too bad we only spent a few hours there! It felt incredible to be surrounded by the hum of birds, bugs, and the sound of water while being visually enveloped with every color possible.

Craft Pride: Texas brews on display

Chelsea and Kate and I paid for parking after doing loops trying to find a space for the car. It was definitely worth it!

Craft Pride was worth the parking hassle. It had more kinds of Texas local brews than I thought possible (I think close to 50) and deciding was the worst part. If I had the liver of a decades-older Scotsman I might have been able to try multiple brews, but I only had one!

The one I did have, a delightfully fruity IPA called the Yellow Rose from Lone Pint Brewery, was fantastic! I loved how different it was. I am by no means literate in the sort of terms that are used to describe beer, but regardless of that, I plain loved my beer. The atmosphere was fun, too, with tactile, textured wood tables and hanging lights. We went right at the golden hour and so photographing our brews was perfect. I don’t remember what Chelsea and Kate both got but every beer I tried there was fantastic!

Being from Montana, I’m lucky to be surrounded by a wealth of craft breweries that are always trying new things, but I was really excited to experience Craft Pride in Austin! What an awesome place.

Botanical gardens

My favorite part of Austin was exploring the Botanical Gardens.

For a whole $2.00 we were given the chance to see more species of flora than I’d ever before in my life! Lily pads, trees, ferns, and flowers I’d never seen before. I can’t describe how much I loved being there. I loved every moment of it. It was cloudy and humid and quiet and I smelled and touched everything.

I never wanted to leave.

Neature ahoy!

The Austin Nature and Science Center was awesome- and free!

We got to see some beautiful rescued raptors. There were 3 barred owls, a great horned owl, some gorgeous turkey vultures, and an awesome, sassy raven! A pair of female ducks named Mac and Cheese shared a pool. None of these animals were releasable due to injuries or the fact that people had made them into pets.

Inside the Center there were tables overflowing with naturalia! Stones, skeletons, taxidermy, and geodes were everywhere! I loved touching the smooth stones and seeing all the critters. It was definitely a neat place to spend a cool morning!