Peak Reflection

Wishing everyone a peaceful and prosperous New Year!


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My Wordless Birthday


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Smooth Sailing

A Very Foggy Adventure Part 2

Even though I didn’t get to dive on the boat trip, it turned out to be a great adventurous day filled with photographic opportunities of a lifetime.

It’s always exciting to see and learn something new for the first time. In addition to learning about the fog bow phenomenon, on our way to the second dive destination — we came upon a small pod of Orcas (killer whale). I’ve never seen Orcas in the wild and what a sight it was. Captain Phil tried to get closer without breaking the regulations of viewing marine mammals. He told us boats are required to stay back 400 yards. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get any close up shots of the whales but am still happy for the opportunity. It was an exciting sight even if the whales were quite a distance from the boat.

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As we continued on to the second dive location, Long Island Wall — Captain Phil decide to make a little detour by an island full of sea-lions. Another first for me… I’ve never seen a sea-lion in the wild before. And since I had signed up to do the Stellar Sea Lion boat dive that was a couple of weeks away, I was very excited to see the critters I will be swimming underwater with…
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Images of me having fun, diving, swimming with these agile mammals underwater filled my imagination and then I saw them. They were enormous. Many of them were at least a few thousand pounds. My fun-filled imagination quickly brought me back to reality. The thought of swimming with these giants quickly lost its appeal. I think they look much better through my camera’s viewfinder.





Starting My Bucket List

I have been keeping this photography blog for over two years now. The experience has been more rewarding than I’ve ever anticipated. In addition to my greatly improved photographic skills and style, the other valuable experience are the people who I have the pleasure to come in contact with from all over the world. The support and comments are priceless… it’s like having someone to give you a pat on the back — to wish you a job well done. Or when life gets too much and you needed a gentle push. And then there are those people whom I’ve connected and their words help change my life for the better. Yesterday, was my birthday and I received an unexpected birthday wish email from a blogger friend. I was thinking about going to Grand Canyon for my birthday but wasn’t completely sure about it until my friend told me that everyone should see the Grand Canyon at least once before they die. He was right and I decided to add Grand Canyon to my dusty Bucket List. So… that’s what I did for my 47th birthday. I went to see one of the most amazing natural wonders of the world.

Even though the weather was very nice, the harsh lighting from the sun and not to mention the hundreds of people all over the place didn’t make it very ideal for the shots I was looking for. While I couldn’t change the lighting much, I drove around the park seeking areas where there were fewer people. I found a few places and were able to take some snap shots. I discovered the Grand Canyon is one of those places that is very difficult to capture its true grandeur and beauty with the camera — unless you have time and patience to learn about the environment around there. I read that some photographers would study the weather so they know the ideal time to go — to hopefully capture that amazing shot. After taking some photos of the Grand Canyon, I can understand the need to study the weather and light. The harsh lighting created drastic contrasting shapes and shadows of the canyon and over all; the landscape looked flat. Some creative exposure from the camera was needed to make the images more saturated. For me, I try to capture the image as close as I can within the camera instead of relying on using the software to do all the fixing. Also, I knew I would want to turn some of these images into black & white for the more creative look. With that in mind, using manual setting: I set the correct exposure for the landscape in the light so that the shadow part would be even more underexposed and vice versa. It was a very fun learning experience. I got some interesting photos though nothing that I would be overjoyed about. I kept the photos in color for this post. Later when I have more time to play in the darkroom (Adobe Lightroom), I’ll post them in B&W.

I hope someday to return again but given the fact I will be moving out of Arizona, I’m not sure when I will see it again in my life time. But… at least I can cross Grand Canyon off my Bucket List — the list which I want to continue to add to it even if the items might be out of reach right now. Seeing the Grand Canyon has helped clear my blurry vision so that I can see what my life can be around the corner… 🙂

Happy Trails — Part 2

I’ll be 47 years old in a couple of weeks. I remembered I was 12 years old; and one day while walking home from school — for some reason, thoughts of what my life would be like when I’m 47 came to mind… it seems like forever at the time — 35 years away. Yet, little did I realize that it would come a lot quicker than what my childish mind have perceived.  At the time I thought I probably would have kids, have a husband who loves me forever… have a house filled with love and laughter, I would be this great artist, and have the financial independence to travel the world; all the innocent thoughts of a child — full of hopes and dreams — dreams of that perfect life. The only things that came true were the kids. And while not great… I’m an artist.

It has been quite a tumultuous journey… my so call journey of life. Often times I wonder why some people seem to have a life that seems so easy — so perfect. They set out to get what they want: work hard and obtained their desires. Then there are many of us who seems to wander endlessly… like a feather in the wind — seeking the same and yet we can’t seem to get it no matter how hard we try. Perhaps it’s because our destiny has already been etched in stone and we can’t change it — no matter how we tried to rewrite it. And yet, my tenacious personality refuses to let me believe that. I find myself keep trying… wanting to rewrite my destiny. Because I just don’t want to settle for less — at least not all the time. There are situations beyond my control that I have to do whatever to survive. However, what really bothers me more than anything else in this world is to depend my livelihood on people who are undependable.

Last week, I was so happy to finally find a job so soon after closing my restaurant. It was such a relief to know the furry kids and I would not be homeless. And the job has a lot of potential for me to move forward financially. I was told to start work on Monday. The owner said he would call me to let me know the exact time. Monday came and by 10 am, I didn’t hear anything; I called the owner. My alarm sensor went off when I heard his voice. He made some excuses about being busy and that he would call me back in an hour. Well… an hour later and still no words. I try to be optimistic and gave him the benefit of the doubt that he was busy. I decided to call my landlord to let him know the good news and I won’t have to move out of the apartment. Little did I know that phone call would change the course of my life in an instant. I was shocked, disappointed and disgusted beyond belief when I found out through my landlord that I don’t have the job. My landlord had lunch with the owner’s fiancé over the weekend and she told him they are not going to hire me. We both knew it was her who didn’t want to hire me… jealous? But what made me even angrier was the fact that neither the owner nor the general manager had the courtesy to call and let me know personally. When I finally talked to the GM, he sounded very uncomfortable, gave me some lame excuse on why the change of plan and that he would have called me sooner but he didn’t have my phone number… really… I deserved a better answer than that.

Needless to say, this week I’ve been ridding on an emotional roller coaster — pondering about my seemingly torturous life. Why God? I asked. I don’t ask for much. I don’t want all the material crap or the desire to be filthy rich. I just want a joyful, peaceful life where I can contribute some positive difference and to share it with someone who will love me for who I am. Seems simple enough and yet it has been easier said than done.

After beating myself up, and being angry at the world for the week, I decided that I wasn’t going to let this set back get the best of me. As they say… back to the drawing board. Even though once again, the furry kids and I have to deal with being homeless. And my job opportunities don’t look very promising. I try to see the positive things in this ordeal. As I sit and looked through the photos I took on my recent trip, I realized how lucky I am to be able to travel freely and captured the beauty of  my world. I’m grateful to have taken the weekend trip before the bad news. At least, I fulfilled my dream of visiting one of the most amazing landscapes in person.

While I’m not sure where this journey will continue to take me, I know it will not be empty. Until we meet again my fellow bloggers and friends… Happy Trails!

With a view like that… I would be more than happy to live in a box.

Seeking Truth and Forgiveness on Route 66 – Part 4

They say confession is good for the soul. And that’s exactly what I was hoping to find: to somehow confess my sins without the fear of being persecuted for my follies, and to restore my faith in humanity. I drove hundreds of miles in the hot desert sun — hoping to quiet the turmoil in my mind. Although I wasn’t exactly sure if I would find it on the desolate road of Route 66, I thought if nothing else; at least I got the opportunity to explore and shoot some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen.

One of the things I noticed about the desert is how quickly the weather changes; it can be stormy and sunny at the same time. It was fascinating to see nomadic clouds constantly changing across the bright blue sky.

During my on foot discovery, I came across a herd of cattle out in the middle of the nowhere desert. They looked rather emaciated. Poor cows… judging from their protruding ribs, it seems as if they hadn’t eaten in weeks. Perhaps it was the desert heat, or that I was glad to see another life form — I found myself talking to the herd. Asking them if they belong to anyone… if they are hungry and thirsty… and for a moment, I thought about confessing to them my troubles but thought better when they started to move towards me. Quickly, I backed away from them. Don’t need a stampede of cows running after me.

As I continued to explore the desert life, I came across a herd of dall sheep hidden behind a big boulder. I was surprised to see these kinds of sheep in the desert. I always thought they were a cold climate animal. I used to see them often when I lived in Alaska. The male sheep would be very aggressive with each other so I knew better and shot them from a safe distance.

It was getting late by the time I came to the end of Route 66 or so I thought… I later learned that Route 66 starts at Santa Barbara, California and ends in Chicago, Illinois. I decided to seek shelter for the night in the town, Kingman. I have passed by this town earlier on my way to Oatman.

I drove back Kingman’s Route 66 thinking I would do the road again the next day. I’m sure there would be more interesting photo opportunities. However, I wish someone could do the driving so I can focus on just taking photographs. Well… unbeknownst to me, my wish would later come true.

There were plenty of motels of all sizes crowding on both sides of the road to choose from. Out of the corner of my eye, a colorful tower with the word El Tra… something caught my interest as I sped by… and my thought was to stop there but since I passed by it already, I thought I would just find another place ahead. However, my inner voice told me that I should go back to that colorful tower. After driving another few miles, I decided to listen to my inner voice and I made a u-turn to go back to that El something motel. And this is one of those moments that reinforce my belief that your intuition rarely steers you wrong…

Thirty Days of Changes…

It’s hard to believe that it has only been thirty days since I left my old life behind to seek a new one… facing the unknown head on. I didn’t really know what life was going to be like in my new home. While I am very happy with my new hometown, I certainly wasn’t expecting the emotional adjustments I went through in the last month.  I have to admit… for the first couple of weeks, I felt like a fish out of water. All of a sudden, I went from the fast pace, urban life full of glass tower buildings, congested cars and people to a small town life that is much slower, no traffic jam to speak of and at least half million fewer people to deal with.  I find myself having to readjust my speed constantly both on the road and with the residents. And what really surprised me was that; I never thought that giving up my Washington State driver’s license and the plates on my car would bring tears of sadness and abandonment.  I think the reason being that it really represented the end of my old life… the familiarity of what I had known for the last 21 years. I guess that’s what they mean by being stuck in your comfort zone… you just get used to it, even if the zone isn’t exactly comforting. After taking some time to readjust myself, I finally took out my camera yesterday and went for a walk at a lake about 10 minutes from home. Here are some shots I took of the lake and its surrounding trails.

The rock formation in my hometown is amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it. Most of  the lake is surrounded by these giant boulder hills, with various type of trees and vegetation.

As I was exploring around the lake, I came upon an area where I could hear the loud singing of birds. I followed the wonderful sounds to a patch of dried grass and to my amazement, there were a large flock of birds. It was a fantastic sight to see so many birds all in one place. Of course, they were all hanging out on the other side, just out of my lens range for a closer shot. As quietly as I could, I tried to sneak closer…

Of course, the birds knew what I was up to and before I could even get half away… they all took off at once. But… at least I was quick enough with my camera to capture their take off.

This is definitely going to be a wonderful new playground for me. It will be interesting to see what changes each new season will bring…

Home Sweet Home

After more than three days and 1400 miles later, the furry kids and I finally arrived to our new home. This is the view of our new back yard  playground. I took this shot from the side deck of the house.

It was an incredible journey for my mind, body and soul. During my journey of escape to freedom, I went through a roller coaster ride of emotions. It’s amazing what your mind will think about when you have nothing to entertain you but a long and winding — mostly uninhabited road through some of the most amazing landscapes in North America. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos. Not that I didn’t want to… there were so many breath-taking sights. But with a heavy eight-foot trailer towed behind my SUV, made it difficult to just stop and park anywhere. The most difficult part about the trip was traveling with the furry kids. While they were the most well-behaved traveling companions, finding a place to stay with them was not easy.

On our first night, I couldn’t find a motel that would take the furry kids. Since it was freezing cold out, I couldn’t leave them out in the truck on their own; we ended up sleeping in a motel parking lot. Yes, at least they were kind enough to let us use the parking lot. Needless to say, it wasn’t very comfortable sleeping with the steering wheel and it was so cold. I didn’t get very much sleep that night. Our luck was much better the second night. We stopped at a very small town. And there were two restaurants to choose from. One was part of a casino. I was surprised to see a large casino out in the middle of nowhere. So, my instinct told me to choose the small family restaurant instead. And it was the right choice. After subsisting on Subway sandwiches, beef jerky, and water for two days, I was ready for some really good home cooked meal. As I waited for my food, I started to chat with the owners. They were a very nice couple who had been through some hardship themselves. After learning about my plight, the owners were very generous and didn’t charge me for dinner and they also offered free breakfast the next morning. They also directed me to a motel where the nice owner decided to let slide the “NO DOG” rule for us. I was very touched by their kindness and generosity. I felt as if these people were like my guardian angels. They gave me more than just food and shelter; they gave me HOPE and COURAGE to continue on my journey.

On the third night, I thought about staying in Las Vegas. It has been over twenty years since the last time I’ve been to Las Vegas and if I had thought it was an ugly city before, it’s even more ugly now than I had thought. Looking around the environment, I can see why it’s nick named — Sin City. I decided to skip the city and thought maybe a motel outside the city limit would be better. However, the motel I came to would not take Max because he was 10 pounds over the weight limit. It was really late and I was very tired. I pleaded with the clerk to let us stay but he wouldn’t. The clerk refused to budge from the rule that they will only accept dogs less than 45 pounds. Guess I wasn’t surprise by the clerk’s lack of compassion. After all, it was Las Vegas. So, I drove on for another few hours while trying to stay awake… finally just when I thought about sleeping in the SUV again, we found a place that took the pups and without extra pet fee. 🙂

The next day, we arrived to our new home around noon. I met my new roommate Shannon and instantly; I knew we would get along just fine. Her home is on the end of a street, surrounded by the beautiful wilderness. The back yard is part of the national forest with hiking trails that go for miles.

And for the first time in my life, I was able to wake up every morning and look outside my bedroom window to witness beautiful sunrise.

For the last few days, the furry kids and I have been getting up every morning to hike up to the top of the hill to see the gorgeous sunrise. As I sit on top of the boulder looking at the brightly lit sky, casting a warm glow to the valley below — I knew I found the place that I can finally have the quality of life I’ve been looking for. While I know there will be challenges ahead, but for the first time in years; I truly feel happy and free. And it looks like the furry kids feel the same way…

Thank you everyone for all your support. And for those of you who’ve donated money or bought prints, I can’t tell you how much your contribution means to me. All I can say is — THANK YOU!! I will never forget the favor and will find ways to pay it forward when I am back on my feet.  Happy Valentine’s Day! 😀