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Welcome to my little corner of the internet! I'm a wedding photographer, mom to a sweet little boy (with another on the way), and wife to my high school sweetheart - who also happens to be my second shooter! We photographed our first wedding over five years ago and have since been blessed to work with over fifty incredible #kjcouples!

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Katie!

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Our Southwest Road Trip

May 4

Personal

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Hey, friends! It has been a little less than a week since we arrived back home from our two-week trip out west, and we haven’t had one second to catch our breath. There’s still a giant pile of laundry in the hallway and suitcases open on the floor – but that’s life and we’re embracing the craziness! We had to repack one of those suitcases last night since we’re headed back out of town today for a beautiful wedding weekend in Alabama but first we wanted to share some of the highlights from our trip with you all!

Keep in mind that while we did have one camera with us, a lot of these images were shot with our phones! And while sunscreen is a necessity while hiking around the Southwest, makeup is not. So prepare to see lots of #makeupfreeselfies throughout this post! Enjoy a peek into our personal lives!

Let’s start where every great road trip begins – the mode of transportation.

When we booked our rental car online, we chose a Nissan Maxima that we’d pick up at the Las Vegas Airport to start our trip. To our surprise (and Blake’s delight), when we arrived at the rental car pickup they directed us to a long row of cars and told us that we could pick whichever one we wanted from that row. The cars consisted of a mix of Nissan Maximas, Honda Accords, and other similar cars, however nestled right in the middle of two Accords was a 2018 black Chevy Camero. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Blake so excited.

But there was a catch. We had two-weeks worth of luggage. And I am not a light packer.

I told Blake that he couldn’t take the Camero unless he somehow managed to fit all of our luggage inside comfortably. Ladies and gentlemen, Blake is a magician.

 

Day One – Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. Of course we had to bring the letterboard along for in-car entertainment, and the Hoover Dam was the perfect spot for our first picture with it! As you’ll see we continued to utilize it at every stop along our trip.

We arrived at the Grand Canyon in the afternoon, but it was too late to start any hikes. Instead, we wandered around the Rim Trail, had our minds blown by the vastness that is the Grand Canyon, and took selfies with the hundreds of elk roaming around everywhere.

 

On Monday, we ventured down into the canyon on the South Kaibab Trail. We didn’t go too far down, but we did have the chance to see incredible sights from the very aptly named “Ooh Ahh Point” and meet an overly friendly squirrel who really wanted our trail mix. No worries – we did NOT feed the wild life. We also spent the evening with a local photographer to have our own session (because how could we pass up the opportunity for Grand Canyon pictures?!), but we’ll share those shots in another post.

 

Next up – Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. Located in Page, AZ these two spots were on our “must see” list evenĀ before the Grand Canyon was! Our original plan was to see Horseshoe Bend first, but our wonderful photographer from the night before recommended that we go two hours before sunset, find a good spot, and watch the sun set over the desert (Best. Suggestion. Ever.). Along our way to Page, we made a stop at one of the various trading posts where we learned about the stacks of rocks that we’d been seeing everywhere. They’re called cairns!

If you ever get the chance to visit Antelope Canyon, do it. You have to do one of the guided tours and they are anything but cheap, but it is so worth it! After extensive research, we decided to tour Upper Antelope Canyon, and we got extremely lucky that it was unusually quiet at the time. In fact, we were the only tour group there but four more showed up as we were leaving!!

And as was suggested, we ended the day watching the sunset over Horseshoe Bend. We had to do a little rock climbing to get up to the perfect spot, but to say it was magical would be an understatement. Blake built a very elaborate cairn (if it can even be classified as such) and proceeded to spend the next twenty minutes trying to get the perfect shot of the sun setting behind his pile of rocks.

 

Day Five – Zion National Park. The day we were most excited about. We started at 4am – checking out of our hotel in Page and hitting the road to Zion. Words cannot describe the wonder that is Zion National Park. Nothing prepared us. The towering rocks. The lush green gardens. Everything about Zion was incredible.

One of the most famous hikes in the US National Park System is Angels Landing in Zion National Park. It is a roughly 5-mile hike on a trail with sheer drop-offs on both sides and only a thin chain to hold on to as you go. Since Blake isn’t a big fan of heights, it wasn’t a hard decision to forgo that one. Instead, we opted to do the slightly more strenuous 8-mile (our watches actually recorded it being about 10 miles total) hike up to Observation Point which looks down on Angels Landing. It consists of several miles up steep switchbacks to get to one of the most beautiful sites in the whole park. We were also surprised to learn that it also had super steep drop-offs on a fairly narrow trail, but Blake persisted and it was SO worth it!!

We also had some pretty incredible timing because while we were at the top, a sweet couple got engaged! Since we had our camera with us, we of course offered to take one or two shots of them. Even though the sun was practically directly on top of us and the lighting was anything but ideal, we wanted them to have at least one picture to capture the moment. We were so happy that we got to meet these two!

 

To make our time at Zion even more memorable, we got to stay at Under Canvas Zion and sleep under the stars in a canvas tent. A lot of people questioned us when we said we were staying in a tent, but it was fully furnished and had a bathroom! Talk about glamping!! At night, we crowded around the community fire pit and roasted s’mores with people from around the world. We met one family from London who had sold their home and was traveling the world for a year with their two kids! This was very easily our favorite part of the entire trip!

 

After Zion, we headed back towards Las Vegas with a quick stop at Snow Canyon State Park to explore some lava tubes (special thanks to the woman at Under Canvas who suggested that to us!). Las Vegas was a completely different world and it wasn’t too hard to say good-bye to that part of the trip (the almost 100 degree temperatures didn’t hurt either).

So many wonderful memories, and we are already looking for the perfect place for our next road trip! Maybe to Glacier National Park? If you have any suggestions, let us know in the comments below!

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