Day 21 : pre-monsoon season clouds
While up in Flagstaff, I captured these pre-monsoon season clouds. Amazingly goofy and abundant in number.
Tip for Arizona photographers: go places even when theres a chance of rain. You’ll thank yourself.
with a small family, (and by that I mean a 4 year old that talks your ear off and eats her weight in food by the hour) it’s hard to point to the map with your eyes closed and say, “lets go there!” So instead my husband throws us in the car and is like, “we’re going somewhere today.” We are almost always ill prepared for these trips, but without them I wouldn’t have have the photos I do of random Arizona scenery. Like this gem, at a state park station across from Roosevelt Lake. The perspective, the clouds, the rocks.. it all snowballs into something I want to put on a canvas some day.
You guys, adventure is out there. It’s not going to invite itself over. Go find it.
This weekend I traveled to Carefree, AZ to witness a wonderful baptism at Our Lady Of Joy Roman Catholic Church.
Being that I grew up Catholic I was 100% comfortable being in a church documenting this awesome day for the C family.
Her gown was phenomenal; we joked that a wedding dress would be less maintenance it was so flowy. Baby C’s demeanor was so calm and easygoing it just made you smile when you saw her so content!
It was a gorgeous day, and the ceremony was short. Afterward we did family images outside of the church for them to really capture the whole of the family and Godparents in light of the day.
I really love being able to accommodate to people during life events. I’m a huge #putdownyoursmartphone believer. In other words ENJOY THE MOMENT – let someone else photograph it for you. Be in the frame, and let your image be more than smart phone quality.
All in all, it was an honor, priviledge and a blessing to meet and help the C family out, as it’d be to help anyone out capturing an important day in their or their child’s life.
Ever been completely captivated by something so large that your mind is sort of confused and refuses to process the reality that’s presented before you?
First off, yay. I’m 27. But secondly — how am I suppose to take this all in at once? Its a huge gaping hole. A majestic canyon; the first of seven wonders of the world.
Lets start by talking about the train ride, taking off around 9:00am.
We said goodbye to Williams and Hi to Kathy with a K who was more than upbeat, she was awesome. Last thing you need on a 2 hr 15 minute ride is a mean old lady.
You end up going through just miles and miles of plains and herds of cattle.
we got to the Grand Canyon and we had 3 hours to see it. Well three hours is NOTHING at the Grand Canyon. I could have stayed there for 12 more hours to watch the sunset, watch it rise, document the wildlife, take a freaking break from walking once in a blue moon & hydrate.
We had 3 hours to see something that probably should take a few days to visit.
It was HOT. it was like 90 degrees out. and 30% chance of rain so there was humidity. Between my daughter who didn’t want to walk anymore, and the horrible decision to wear all black – the day was going very rocky but the beauty of where we were had to make up for that. See that bird? That’s a Calfornia Condor. He nearly went extinct!
Heres CaliCon # 30. They’re all tagged because they really nearly went extinct. Click the link if you’d like to read more on the bird with a nearly 9 foot wingspan!
So we went on this walk, a trail. It was suppose to take way less time than it did, but our awesome daughter with short legs just wasn’t having it. I don’t blame her; it was hot, it was a rather long trail in open sun… but we had no choice but to finish it and take a bus back to the station.
Now when you take the Grand Canyon Railway, you NEED to make it to the station on time or you will be left behind. They don’t do a head count, they don’t really care if you’re left behind because really there are people that don’t return on the train every day.
We had to take a 2 mile trail, to a bus stop, to get to another bus transfer, then take that one to the station. The bus left at 3:30 and we got there at 3:15.
Needless to say I was literally thinking of worst case scenarios: taking a $140 cab ride back to Williams, getting a hotel room for $160+. Just. Stress.
We get back to the train and we just MELT. We are relieved, stress is lifted, yadda. My husband will say he wasn’t stressed nor worried but I on the other hand just saw dollar signs occur in the worst case scenario plan and didn’t like it one bit.
We get some wine and some beer from the food car, and enjoyed the scenery and extra cows on the way home. Oh, and we got robbed.
My daughter was not a fan of them. She was seriously afraid of all the
actors robbers but yet this kid LOVES Chuck E Cheese.
We get robbed,
my daughter clings to daddy–
you get the deal.
Saw plenty of elk too.
We got back to the station and decided that we would try and take the chance of going out to eat in the adorable town of Williams despite our child testing every limit ever laid before her.
We ate – and we headed back to Phoenix. What was so awesome about that was the lightening storms we got to watch literally the whole way home.
(realistically) you don’t have enough time (3hrs) to hang out at the GC (Grand Canyon.)
I AM NOT DISSING THE GRAND CANYON RAILWAY. But when you have a really antsy 4-year-old who is afraid of fake cowboys – you set yourself up for failure and frustration by taking the train.
If you plan on taking the train – take it with well obedient children or plan on staying up there for a while and stay at the lodging that’s immediately at the canyon itself. You don’t have to return the day you ride up there, and vice versa.
Be prepared for crazy prices, yolo. When in rome, do as the romans do.
Don’t go during hot months, and if you do, know you’ll regret wearing black. There is minimal shade. MINIMAL.
It’s illegal to throw rocks, coins and feed animals at the canyon. Like: fine-you-illegal. Don’t feed anyone but your family.
When we go next, we plan to drive all the way to the south rim and bring bikes. we plan on lodging at the rim and being able to spend more than 3 hours there.
We may even hike down the canyon, it can take like all day – but I think one day when Hailey’s old enough to stay behind Tim and I might do that.
So, below you’ll see a slideshow of some of the pictures. They all start looking the same, really. I mean it was an amazing experience but the rate at which you can walk is nothing compared to the size of the canyon. Your view doesn’t really change much even walking around it for a few miles.
We have seen the first wonder of the world. We can rest our heads easy on our pillows at night. But if we had to do again we’d do it differently!
I say this to anyone I meet.
They’ll say, “do you have any children?”
and I’ll show them my business card or the background of my phone and I’ll say,
“yes, I have a 4 year old – she’s my model.”
She’s not really a model, but she’s MY model.
Melissa Garcia is a Family and Children’s Lifestyle & Portrait Photographer based out of South Phoenix serving the entire Valley Area.
Tempe, Chandler, Phoenix, Mesa, Gilbert, Carefree, Scottsdale, Surprise, Peoria, Tolleson, Avondale.
I was hesitant to go, because the price seems a bit high. $50 to drive through a park!? drive through!? Sounds like a ploy.
But maybe it’s worth it I mean they’ve got a cool name, it’s gotta be worth the money, right?
I’m speaking of course, of Bearizona.
Experience animal wildlife the way it was meant to be, in a natural environment, all from the comfort and safety of your own vehicle. Your family will enjoy our wide variety of wildlife, from majestic bison and nimble big horn sheep to stealthy wolves and adorable bear cubs.
So we drive in, and first animal whose habitat you drive through is the Rocky Mountain Goat.
Next up, Is the Dall Sheep. They were pretty chill and liked to hide, here you see a mature dall sheep, and then a baby.
Then we moved to the American Burro (thats a donkey)
After the Burros, we move on to what my daughter called, “Mr Hairy face.” Otherwise known as the American Bison!
When you are done getting through these animals you run into a sign that reminds you to roll up your windows, and lock your doors. Why? because you’re about to be surrounded by Alaskan Tundra, and Arctic Wolves. Let me tell you; they made the money we paid to get in WELL WORTH every single penny. They walk right up to your car and you suddenly feel like you’re gonna be in what seems like youtube video of a wolf on a persons car.
When you’re done with the wolves, you go through Junior Black Bears but we didn’t see any. Not sure what was going on, but we end up seeing plenty of black bears at the walk-through portion of the zoo at Bearizona. (plenty of pictures from that t00, don’t worry!)
I could not get enough of the yellow wild flowers and the setting that the next animal, the White Bison.
Next: Ah yes, Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep.
THE BLACK BEAR! They were lazy. They were sleepy. They were HOT. I’m pretty sure that when it downpoured they were ecstatic (while staying asleep) that it was finally cooling off. It went from 82 degrees to 66 when It rained.
That my friends, is the drive through portion of Bearizona. Now, its not just a drive through zoo and I learned when we visited. There is also a walk through portion with shows, exhibits, and shops!
Let me share some amazing bear images I got after they fed the junior bears, and the baby cubs (plus some more other animals!)
Overall: A+. 100%. Awesome! Totally worth the drive if you’re in the market for a day trip, if you’re staying in the vicinity, or if you are an avid nature photographer.
Pay once, go through alllll dayyyy. on wheels. not your feet. Are you getting how awesome it is to go to a zoo where you can stay in the car and not walk?
Like, we realized how awesome it was that we didn’t have to walk and hear about how “tired” our 4 year old is after walking. (heard enough of that in the actual walk through portion of the zoo.)
Bonus points if you go on a cold day, an over cast day, or a rainy day. We went when there was a 30% chance of rain. You bet your bottom dollar it rained. Scratch that — it poured. It was awesome!
For more information on Bearizona [ location, hours, FAQ] visit Bearizona.com
* This post is in no way endorsed by Bearizona, I just so happened to have been really impressed. *
stay tuned for a super-awesome post about our day long trip to the Grand Canyon!
I was born in , raised in, and still visit Grand Rapids, MI. It’s where my parents bought a tiny red brick house and made it their home. It’s where the kids left the nest from. It’s my mother’s resting place. It’s where my daughter loves to visit Papa.
It’s where I met my husband, it’s where my husband’s family lives. it’s where I see my in-laws, its where my husband sees his parents and family. It’s where my daughter loves to see GiGi and Grandpa Joe.
Regardless, it’s a place full of memories. It will always remain a place of memories.
I mock the hashtag and saying #PureMI or #PureMichigan because of the semi-famous “Pure Michigan” (click that for commercial) travel ad campaign that started in 2007 and still runs to this day. I have friends here in Phoenix, AZ that they always see the ads, I saw them when we lived in CA and people worldwide probably have the same testimonial.
She’s never seen a whirly-bird before. (helicopter, whatever you call them.) Her shirt? says it all.
This trip revolved around my brother getting married to his amazing fiance. I may be a bit bias, but she’s awesome. I didn’t photograph their wedding, thank gosh, because I had enough fun in the party to convince me to never shoot a wedding I’m invited to, ever. The amazing Peach Moon Photography based out of Grand Haven, MI shot their engagement photos and wedding photos and were great people to work with. I’m the tall blonde in the family image on the alter with the PRECIOUS flower girl that is my daughter, and the tall bald ravishingly handsome man that I’m married to. Thats my “cleans up well” dad next to me, and then of course her family on her side.
There are plenty of other #thelillis wedding insta-pictures on my IG Feed but you gotta go back a little ways. You can’t miss ’em!
Besides being there for their wedding, we were there for personal vacation as well. We saw plenty of family, scenery, and I took so many nature/still life shots it will make your eyes numb.
We went to the Grand Rapids Arts Festival downtown Grand Rapids, MI.
We visited Grand Haven State Beach both as a family and as a couples date to just get away.
We went to Traverse City (TC), MI which is known for their berries, and cherries. We went because our daughter had never been there, and I haven’t either. There’s this place called the Sleeping Bear Dunes which is like, arguably one of the prettiest places to visit in the lower peninsula of Michigan. WE LITERALLY SAW A BEAR CUB CROSS THE ROAD. <– caps necessary.
Known for their berries and cherries, so naturally I had to have a very berry filled pie at Grand Traverse Pie Co. Some lighthouse that wanted $4.00 to walk upstairs in it. No thanks! We visited family for Father’s Day. The best part was that my dad came along with us to my husbands side of the family’s gathering. It’s so nice to have them integrated!
My husband and I respectfully saw friends I see once a year (when we visit.) Nothings more refreshing, more awesome, and more rewarding than maintaining friendships over years and years. We pick up where we left off the last time we saw each other — it’s how I’m able to have friends nation and world wide. Friends are the flowers in the garden of life!
Making S’mores with out friends Lisa and Conor whom will be getting married this year.
childhood best friends grow up, and have kids, who hang out with each other — i’d say that’s more like family.
The literally awesome part of the friends that I visit is they continue to grow up, prosper, and I get to see them from afar on facebook them actually meet their kids they’ve had or the ones they’re about to have! (a friend announced she was pregnant on fathers day!)
I saw old high school friends, old family friends. Family.
Oh, and I continued to shoot barns for no good reason at all.