Colorado, my home away from home

"It's knowing that this can't go on forever// Likely one of us will have to spend some days alone// Maybe we'll get forty years together// But one day I'll be gone// Or one day you'll be gone." -- Jason Isbell (If we were vampires)

What started off as a normal road trip across seven states ended up making me love my husband even more.... Traveling across country to go see our most favorite musician Ryan Adams perform at the Red Rocks was a life changing experience to say the least. We both learned a very valuable life lesson -- "The road is not always kind to you" -- while driving in Kansas in a very big SUV thanks to Enterprise (never using Enterprise again but that's another story). Sure, the trip started off extremely ROCKY (no pun intended) but all the sites we got to walk around and see with our own eyes was really something... literally took my breathe away at times (that altitude was no joke) and I highly recommend everyone needs to take a few days, jump on an airplane (it was a over 17 hours drive from Tennessee to Colorado so we will be flying from now on) that way we can skip over Kansas from now on too, and witness the beauty with your own eyes. The pictures are great, but nothing like seeing it in real life.

The first main destination we checked out was down at the Great Sand Dunes. It was about a 3 1/2 hour drive down to it, but it was totally worth it...the view was absolutely breathtaking, the sun was out shining, and the sky was a color blue like I've never seen before. We stopped off at the main entrance sign for some photos and I left a 615Rocks rock I found in Portland for another family to find (It's a Tennessee thing). You could see the detail in the sand dunes, and with every gust of wind it would change. Truly incredible.

Next stop that day as we traveled back up to the Denver area was over at Bishops Castle. Go ahead and Google it if you want... it's a legit castle this guy named Jim Bishop is still building to this day. He had his master plan laid out, and let me just tell you, that when it is finished I will be going back!!! We climbed many staircases that took you to the tip top of it... you were as tall as the tallest tree as you looked around. When a gust of wind hit you, you just had to grab on the handle bars... but once you got back down to the ground, it felt like you just got off the fastest rollercoaster and was a little dizzy from the altitude changes. Leaving the castle, we had to guess which way to travel in since we had no phone service... luckily we were right lol.

Driving another hour or so, we reached the Garden of the Gods (this was a place that was on my bucket list since we started planning this trip_ it did not disappoint me). We went to the Visitors Center to get a map for our scrapbook and from their deck area you were able to see it all including some killer mountains (Pikes Peak was one) while the sun was just starting to set, which left a golden tint on the rocks. We ended up driving through the Garden of the Gods and hiking part of it.... we saw two guys rock climbing one of the rocks in the garden which was really high up in the air, but you could tell they were having the time of their lives.

We stopped off a IL Vicino Pizza for a late lunch before heading to our last main stop for the night.... sat outside on the patio watching people walk by, while we enjoyed some amazing pizza and lots of water (it was super hot and sunny that day) Our last big stop for the day ended at Seven Falls--- literally seven total waterfalls that all connect and run down the mountain side. Okay, this place took my breathe away.... seriously. So many steps to climb in order to reach the top and once again, that altitude is nothing to joke about (at least I had my inhaler lol) but once you got there and looked down, it was worth it. Not going to lie, my anxiety was out of the roof climbing to the top, but with my husbands support and pep talks, we made it to the top. Thank you Jay for always being there to help me reach the top. By the time we got there and reached the top, they had turned the colorful lights on that shown on the water falling down the mountain. You need to check this place out... and buy the tram tickets that take you to it so you have enough strength to climb to 224 steps to the top.... we did not. The shuttle ride was also pretty fun too.

Our late night snack was at Voodoo Doughnuts of the Mile High City. Parking? Impossible! So I stood in line while Jay stayed with the car just to be safe lol. We got the Voodoo and the M&M Doughnuts and let me just tell you, you have never had a better doughnut! No lie! I wish we brought some home with us!!!

Day Two in the colorful state of Colorado started with a stroll through Denver's Botanic Gardens before our lunch reservations at Guard & Grace (best steak ever people__ trust me). The atmosphere of the restaurant was amazing, service was incredible, and the food was seriously the best... yes, it beats Ruth's Chris Steak in my opinion.  

After we had our bellies full of yumminess, it was time to get ready for the main event... the reason why we drove across seven states... ended up staying awake for over 40 hours twice in a week due to driving... it was time put our own feet at the magical venue called Red Rocks to see Ryan Adams... that's Ryan with a R not B.... first off, let's talk about the venue many steps... what is it with Colorado and so many stairs everywhere? lol Once you reach the top, you are out of air (altitude people) but the view is worth it all. You can see the city in the background behind the stage area at nighttime while a lightning storm is happening in the distance around the mountains. MAGICAL... that's the word that comes to mind when I think about Red Rocks. My most favorite concert venues I have been to in all my years of concert going. The sound was perfect, the lights and effects they used on the rocks were awesome, and Ryan put on the best show ever. We even got us a new Improv Song about Colorado being awesome. With every song came emotions like a wave... he even sang Dear John!!!! That song has been this road trip's theme song. If you have not heard it before, please.... go pull it up on YouTube or something right now and prepare yourself for a good cry. So So sad, but a genius song indeed. To Be Young, It Takes Two, Come Pick Me Up, Lie To Me, New York, some killer Jam Sessions, and WONDERWALL are just a few of the songs we enjoyed that night in that magical venue in that colorful state of Colorado. By the way... where else does the people pregame before a concert in the parking lot??? Too cool!

"Cause your always mine// To keep when you're gone// Two silver rings// Ones on my finger, the other one is gone// Went underground with you// Dear John." -- Ryan Adams (Dear John)

Our last day was on Wednesday.... the theme word for that day was ROCKY. We started off driving up to Estes Park where the Rocky Mountains are. We checked out the Stanley Hotel where Stephen King wrote the Shining, shopped at some souvenir stores, and entered the ROCKY MOUNTAINS!!!! We drove all the way to the Alpine Summit area and hiked to the tip top of the world. If you have not been able to witness the beauty of the Rocky Mountains in real life, I urge you to take a trip there. It is life changing, it truly is. I was in awe of it the whole time, and I can still close my eyes and see the tall mountains covered in snow-- I mean come on, snow in JUNE-- too cool. We saw wildlife along the way up to the top, the air was thin, and drinking water tasted different at the top. It was amazing. It was a photographers paradise for sure.

That night we ended Colorado at a Rockies Baseball game. For my very first actual baseball game, it was a BLAST! They let us in the lower levels with some awesome seats and the best view of the whole field. We sang Take me to the Ballgame at the 7th inning stretch with the whole crowd.. memories to cherish forever. On the way back to the SUV (once again, thanks Enterprise for not changing our car for us when it was being weird-- real swell) we were greeted by what seemed like hundreds of people of all ages riding their bicycles down a hill at alarming speeds over a rail road crossing... of course people fall off, but the worse was a little girl. We ended up helping her out before leaving that night.. that was an intense way of starting a 17 hour drive back home.

The hubby was the real MVP during the whole trip and drove the entire way... I'm not sure how I really feel about coffee anymore... and to this day, I still feel like it was all a dream. Colorado was the only place I have been to out of state that I could see myself live there. Everyone was the nicest ever, and you think people in the south was the nicest, go to Colorado... it will blow your mind. It was a photographer's dream state to live in too. Even though Kansas was an awful experience to say the least --- who wants to get pulled over for having a too big SUV at like 4 in the morning with no sleep at all, and had to sit on the side of the road while they searched our big SUV... not the best way to start a road trip I can tell you that. That experience was an eye opener. But even with all that, Colorado was a place that I like to call my home away from home. The first day back here in Portland, I felt like I was the tourist in my own town, like I belonged back in Colorado. I even had someone reach out to me while in Colorado Springs about wanting to book a session with me (couldn't this time, but next time we are getting together). I hear it's so expensive to live out that but I really felt at home there. I literally can not wait to go back to it to explore even more. There's still so much we haven't seen yet!!!

"I rather see something once with my own eyes, than hear about it for a lifetime"

Welcome to the team... officially...

            I am proud to finally announce (and make it official) that I have a Second Photographer now on the team.... Jay Cathcart--- my hubby and most coolest guy ever, in my opinion. I am so excited to put a camera in his hand during weddings and other events. This past weekend was his "first" session--- a Graduation Party at Opryland Hotel in Nashville.... and he ROCKED it! The session I was working at ended early and so I was able to come down and party with him. It was awesome to see him on the other side of the room with a camera in his hand, finding those angles, and getting some awesome shots along the way.... and not going to lie, I loved having him there with me (it's nice to see your favorite face amongst the crowd at sessions). Afterwards, we hit up Nashville for some killer food at Five Points Pizza and went home and relaxed the rest of the night/morning away.

Here's a few pictures from that night.... what a fun night with really good food too!

Here's a few more behind the lens look at what all went on while there.... I finally got an updated picture with the other Tori (both TLC) too!

I look forward to what all the future has in store for both of us! I love you Jay!

It's like my own little Christmas....

     The other night, the hubby did something incredible... he hit the BUY button for my new camera--- EOS Rebel T7i 800D with the EF-S 18-55/4-5.6 IS STM Lens Kit... it also included a new smaller case and a 32GB Memory Card.

     I literally cried for a good few minutes after he told me the good news.... couldn't help myself. So when I saw the UPS guy stop in front of my house today.... I ran as fast as I could to get the box that was sitting on my front porch. Opened it up to see my gorgeous little camera and got the battery on charge as I am typing this. I did get it juiced up enough to take it outside for a few test shots with my doggy Trissy.... here is a shot of his cute little face. Completely unedited-- straight off the camera.

     This could not have come at a better time--- tomorrow starts the Middle Tennessee Strawberry Festival (in my hometown of Portland, TN) along with a family session at the Carnival , a Mommy & Me Mini, and then I get to finish the day at the Roxy in Franklin, KY for a wedding. So I am super excited to play with my new camera all day. The few minutes I have used it already, I think it's safe to say it's my favorite camera so far.

Sashes and Crowns Galore

      This past weekend the annual event of the Middle Tennessee Strawberry Pageants took place here in my hometown of Portland, Tennessee --- home of the Strawberries and the Strawberry Festival. Beauties from ages ranging as young as 17 weeks old to the oldest division with 19 year olds.... all fancied up to walk the stage. The little ones really show their personality on the stage, whether they were running around, making funny faces, or just sitting down on stage waving to their loved ones in the audience. This year the Pageants were on April 28-29, 2017 so they could prepare to be in the Parade on the big Strawberry Festival day on May 13th.... where they are once again able to get all fancy for the day and show off their sashes and crowns once again.

     Congrats to all the winners during all 17 divisions over the two days.... be sure to check out the local paper here in town (Portland Leader) to see all the pageant winners. This is my third year being the official photographer for this fun filled event and I am so blessed to have the opportunity to work with so many amazing people. Big shout out goes to the Portland High School Cheerleaders for allowing me to come back this year (hoping for a 4th year next year?) and for all your hard work setting up the pageants.... and another big shout out to my darling husband Jay who was a big help on Friday Night for the first night of the pageants.... he not only set up my studio for me, he hooked me up with food, ran my table for me, and he fixed the sound board that was having music playing issues... it seems like everywhere I take him on a session, he always ends up running the sound board lol. He's just so talented.

       So another year of Pageants is now in the books.... thousands of photos still need to be sorted through so I can start the individual disks process. Thank you once again for all your support during this busy time of year for our little town for the big Strawberry Festival..... I can not wait to go walk around and see what all the festival has in store this year!

     **Below is just a few of the Crowning Groups from the Pageants... look at all those sashes and crowns***

And the Winners are...

    Thank you so very much to everyone who entered the contest this past week. Names were randomly selected out of an envelope and since there was such a big turn out I was able to give away TWO Gift Certificates as well as the main prize the FREE SESSION.

1st Prize (Free Session)-- Andrea Stewart
2nd Prize (Gift Certificate worth $30)-- Faith Looney
3rd Prize (Gift Certificate worth $20)-- Megan Winterbottom

Keep your eye out for the next contest... who knows what will that one will be. Until then, if you are needing to book your own session, send me a message and I would love to speak to you. Once again, thank you so much to everyone who has supported me throughout the years, for sharing my newly improved website, and for continuing to spread word of who I am.

Love you all

Hello SPRING!!

      My heart is happy--- Spring is here (except the crazy winter-like few days we've had) which means perfect time for newly updated portraits of any kind. Along with Spring comes my fresh new look for my website. I am in love with how it turned out... simple and easy to navigate yet shows the info that's needed... what do you think? Anything I should add that will help you, the clients?
     Back to Spring Time--- that means more hiking trips for me and the hubby so be on the lookout for all new hiking photos! And of course Spring means the best time to update any photos--- family portraits, upcoming seniors, little kiddos milestones, recently engaged, and anything else. I also have a few new locations to try this Spring before I add them to my location list.
     With this new website comes more growing in my business... better ways to edit, newer layout, new logo in the making, and more sessions to come. Be on the look out for the next big contest too!!!

Well Hello There 2017....

             Well, this was the year- mine and my hubby’s first time going downtown to Nashville for the big NYE — music note drop, music, and fireworks— and it was fun… rushed, but fun lol We started off meeting up at Caney Fork (no one has been and everywhere else, well good luck trying to get in somewhere in Nashville) with some great friends of ours…. after what seemed to be an eternity there eating we finally were able to head out to Bridgestone Arena for Widespread Panic—- our awesome friend Paul gave us his free Suite Box seats for the show— it was INSANE and AWESOME!!! Hate we couldn’t stay for it all— plus we ended up late to it due to our dinner at Caney Fork lol.
         We ended up parking across from Bridgestone and called an UBER to pick us up to take us to the Bicentennial Mall/ Park where Nashville decided to throw the big NYE event there instead of on Broadway this year. It was FULL of people and I mean FULL…. it took us some time to get through all the people and we finally found a spot near the back to watch the music note drop along with all the fireworks Nashville had to offer us for the night. The colors in the sky was incredible to witness— I am so happy we finally made it down to Nashville for this time of year. Who knows if we will go back next year— I’m sure we will find us something fun to do. All I do know is that I had the best of nights with my main squeeze, I got my NYE kiss, and we were there to witness along with thousands of others another year coming over to party with us.
           And thanks to UBER for being the real mvp of the night (drove us twice) but in all serious, I look forward to what all 2017 has to offer for me and the hubby - Jay. This year we are planning on exploring the world more and more every chance we get… more hiking…. more concerts… more new restaurants and trying new places…. more roadtrips…. just enjoying all life has to offer us.