2015 … A Transitional Year in Review

As we begin the 2016 new year, I always take the time to reflect back on the past year.  It was a year of great change for me (as I knew it would be), great opportunities, and awesome experiences.  Here are just a few of the highlights.

Early in the year, when the hot weather cools down a bit, I always take the time to visit “my park” – Everglades National Park.  The Everglades are a place where you visit with great anticipation as to what you’ll find, as the environment changes always depending on the water levels. During the first 5 months of the year, it can be a mecca for bird watchers and photographers, as well as offer landscape gems such as this wonderful, and unexpected, fog bow.

DSC_0391We usually also spend a few weekends up in the Gainesville area early in the year, since we have a home up there.  To my surprise this year, in addition to the influx of migratory sandhill cranes which visit, there was also a whooping crane, specifically No. 9-13.  He stayed for several months before he migrated successfully back to the north in WI.  DSC_9825Of course, it was also quite a thrill to share the hiking path with bison at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park in Alachua County.  As we were on the lookout for the alligators, can you imagine Tom’s surprise when it emerged from the grasses and brush adjacent to where he was standing?  LOLDSC_4785-2

So far the year had been progressing along routinely, but that was about to change.  On March 4th, I took retirement from my medical sales position (aka my “day job”).  Though it was to happen on its own in 2015, this came about in an unexpected way … I felt like I won the lottery!  LOL  Before long, I learned that Fridays were no longer the best day of the week and I learned to love Mondays!  It’s all about perspective.  🙂
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Always an exciting day is the arrival of the swallowtail kites in Florida.  Numerous trips “upstate” followed for more bird photography.DSC_5426

As Kelli and Mitchell progressed with their educational pursuits, they met us out in Bozeman, MT for some snowboarding fun.

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Combining that trip for Tom & I, we arrived early and toured Yellowstone NP in what can only be described as an anomaly winter for them, as much of the snow had already begun to melt.  On that trip, I learned the cruelty of nature, as we watched a bison who had fallen through the ice of the frozen pond, and being unable to free itself, eventually died there, and the circle of life displayed itself right before our eyes.  I stood there, numb and crying, as there was nothing that I could do to help.DSC_6735

We also encountered many specimens of wildlife, including these wonderful and beautiful bighorn sheep.DSC_5928

Grand Teton NP was also visited during this trip and the wildlife and landscape opportunities were undeniable.  Who would have thought that we would have a red fox posing so nicely for us as we happily snapped away images.  DSC_7292

There’s nothing like experiencing first light on a mountain and the Tetons are no exception.  A better day couldn’t have been possible.DSC_0822

OK, perhaps it was the mother in me, but these bighorn sheep ewes teaching the young ones how to navigate the rocky cliff ledges had me on pins & needles.  It was fascinating beyond belief to witness their skills … I mean, I’m less sure footed on solid ground!  LOLDSC_1653

There were several “firsts” for me in 2015.  I was fortunate enough to photograph both the long-eared owl and the short-eared owl as well.  As many of you know, other than my beloved bears, owls rank very high on my favorites list, so I was thrilled.DSC_7170DSC_0727

Once back in Florida, I spent many days photographing the courtship, mating, nesting, and raising of the young of many of our birds that make spring in Florida so unbelievably amazing.DSC_8390DSC_2391DSC_3577

How about a wild American Flamingo?  Yep, it was an amazing experience, one that my tripod still bears the scars of, as I got so excited when I witnessed the flamingo take flight.DSC_2209

In April, Tom competed in the Florida Firefighter Games.  Held at Alafia River State Park, some of the states finest mountain bikers raced through the POURING down rain for medals, both individually and as teams.  DSC_3054

Of course, no season would be complete without my mornings and/or evenings revolving around the burrowing owls.  Once again I had the pleasure of photographing them as they literally grew up before my lens.  Often, I would simply delight in their antics, forgetting to click away.DSC_8841DSC_1341DSC_4436DSC_2476

A real special treat was this bird’s eye view shooting position of this young osprey while dad had just dropped off a nice fresh catch and mom proceeded to feed it.  Someone get this guy a napkin.  🙂DSC_9194

Now that I had more time to do the things that I had always wanted to do, I traveled to the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine, FL.  For 4 days I learned how to best expose for the outdoor subjects, tell a story with my images, use my flash (no more auto mode for the rare times that I actually use it), and even a bit more on processing images too.  A bonus was that we were able to shoot at the rookery a full hour before even the Photo Pass kicks in.DSC_9707DSC_9839DSC_3464

Two trips up to St. Augustine also followed for capturing the courtship, mating, tending to the nest, and taking care of the young, as performed by the least terns.  Sometimes the taking care of was accomplished by teamwork in elimination of the enemy intruder.DSC_2723DSC_3242

Well, as you can probably guess, 2015 experiences were too many to lump into just one post.  Picking up in June, Part 2 will follow in the next post.  STAY TUNED.  🙂

© 2015 TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

Homer-Bound

The Russian River Campground is an interesting place to stay when in Cooper Landing, Alaska.  It is home to the notorious “combat fly fishing” for salmon, trout, and other varieties.  It’s also a place where the photographers can find bears also fishing in those rivers.  While we did find brown bears again on this trip, it was only one afternoon, and we really wanted to say our goodbyes to them.  🙂  So we visited the river via the boardwalk for a final walk.  We took our time once we arrived at the confluence of the Russian River and the Kenai River, just down a bit of the ferry.
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It was a stunning morning and once again we were treated to the early morning sunlight peering through the trees along the boardwalk.  It was a bit cold this morning and foggy as well._DSC2970 We patiently sat down for awhile at the stairs and chatted with some of the fishermen.  We received various stories of theories as to where the bears were … none of which were authenticated nor pleasant.  I still hoped that they would return one last time for us.  In the meanwhile, a big group of common mergansers came by.  I was quite fascinated at their “team effort” in chasing down and beaching of some small minnows and smelt for their dining pleasure.  I had never witnessed it before!DSC_6022

The fireweed was still in bloom and had already reached the end of the stalk … meaning winter was simply about 6 weeks away.  It was only August 21st!_DSC3009

Harlequin ducks were also out and about in the Russian River.

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When we decided to make our way back on the boardwalk, we encountered this sighting, which usually means only one thing … bear(s)!  I eagerly made my way to their spotting._DSC3014 But it was for not, as it was simply a bald eagle that had flow in and the fishermen were simply admiring it and taking some cell phone shots as well.  Dang!DSC_6076 On the way towards Homer, we stopped a few times for photographs, but we were equally anxious to get there and check in with Beluga Air and Dave for our Katmai bear viewing the next day._DSC3042 It’s so beautiful to photograph the fireweed standing tall and proud in various fields.IMG_2901 _DSC5946 Once we arrived at our final destination for the evening, Homer, we ventured to the end of the “spit” and took in the beauty of Kachemak Bay and glaciers within the state park across the Cook Inlet waters.DSC_6159 IMG_2914We visited the Beluga Slough area, which is a “must do” annually, though we didn’t see the sandhill cranes like in years past.

_DSC3131 We also visited Bishop’s Beach and built our traditional cairn … in celebration of our upcoming wedding anniversary.  Each year we build this feature containing 1 stone for every year we’ve been together … plus 1 more for good luck … so this year it was a cairn of 19!  It wouldn’t be the same to not do it, though I’m wondering how much more stable we can make it during the next 5-10 years!  LOL_DSC3124

We then checked in for our bear trip which initiates the next day … weather permitting, as always.  Let’s hope for it to be a good morning.  🙂

Next up:  Katmai or bust ….

© 2015  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

 

Park City & the Relentless Rain

After visiting my daughter, Kelli, and attending her “White Coat” Ceremony, it was time to return back to the cycling road trip.  It was my turn to support Tom wholeheartedly in his cycling endeavors, but in reality it wasn’t too hard of a task.  We were off to Park City, Moab, Grand Junction/Fruita, Mt. Evans, Colorado Springs, Denver, and wherever else Tom’s spirit felt like taking him.  🙂

Up at a horrendous time in the morning to catch a flight to Salt Lake City, I was rewarded by on-time flights.  Didn’t travel with much more than a small carry-on backpack, since I had left all of my camera gear with Tom when I left Baltimore (actually left Washington, DC, but Baltimore had direct flights).  When I arrived in Park City, Tom picked me up and before long we met up with some long time mountain biking friends, Dawn & Daryll.  Tom and Kelli used to race for years with them in Florida when Kelli grew up.  It was amazing to see them again and I know that Tom certainly enjoyed his riding time with them.
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Our condo faced the Park City ski area, which was very convenient for them.  The resort offered downhill mountain bike/chair lift tickets and they all took advantage of it.  I, on the other hand, stayed away from the biking, since I tend to be “accident-prone” when cycling.  🙂

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However, most of the afternoons looked like this out of our condo…. that’s right, pouring down rain, complete with very close vicinity electrical storms as well.  Ugh!  Of course, the guys and Dawn would set out in the sunshine in the morning with the best of intentions.  They would come back and tell me about the moose and her calf that they saw on the trails … the “lemur”, which was actually a weasel (don’t ask – LOL) … and the golden eagles they encountered.  Me, I was inside watching the Tour de France.  Ugh!

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We spent 5 days there with the same routine each day.  I outsmarted my bad luck by dragging Tom out really early one morning, before his cycling.  We drove up Guardsmen Pass and were treated to wonderful views.

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The wildflowers were also in bloom and quite beautiful.

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Just before leaving the Park City / Deer Valley area, of course, the sun emerged and blue skies broke through the clouds.  Oh well, it probably didn’t rain for the next week!  LOL

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It was nice for Tom and Todd too, as they got to reunite with one of their dear friends, Ed, who spends part of his time out in that area.  They used to work at the Dania Beach Fire & Rescue together and reminisced over the good days.

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Of course, I would not be skunked on the wildlife front … unfortunately, this was the best I got during those rainy 5 days.  🙂

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Totally not what I expected in terms of the lack of wildlife, but the trip was young still.

Next up:  Onward to Moab, UT … the mountain biker’s mecca.

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

Cycling … It’s What’s On Tap For Today’s Post

The 2015 World Police & Fire Games were recently held in Fairfax, Virginia.  Tom and some of his fellow firefighter colleagues, as well as police and law enforcement officers, from around the world showed up in full force to compete in the “Olympic-like” Games…. dubbed “The Games of Heroes”.  Tom competed in both road cycling and mountain biking events.  Let’s see the competition in images and stories…. this way ….

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One of the Road Cycling events, and the first that Tom competed in, was the Criterium race.  Crit races are generally a mile or so circuit lap, repeated for a specified amount of minutes, then a designated number of additional laps.  In The Games, the competitors are divided in age groups, to keep the competition fair.  Funny because often the strongest riders are not necessarily the youngest.  When the start was whistled, off they went on their first lap.  I think that there was about 20 in Tom’s group at the start.

20150628-DSC_3557To help cheer Tom on, my cousin Violet and her daughter Nicole, who live nearby showed up and kept me company during those tense moments.  It was great to see them.

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Before long, the group dropped over half of the riders, leaving just 8 lead riders.  The racers had timing chips, so that kept the # of laps straight, as several of the riders were “lapped” before the end of the race.

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It was easy to spot Tom because thankfully he had on his sun sleeves, which help keep him safe from the sun.  Today, they were also the identification key for me as they zipped by with each lap.

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About 1/2 way through the race, the 8 riders thinned out to only 6 in the lead group.  Tom kept his position in that group.

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On the bell (final) lap, the 6 riders sprinted to the finish line.

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Tom finished in 3rd Place … not bad for a guy that, though he rides his bike almost daily, hadn’t raced on the road in a very long time, especially in a crit race.  See, in a crit race, it’s more of a strategic race and it’s not necessarily the strongest rider, but rather the “smartest” rider that wins.

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After the victory laps for the 3 medalists, it’s time for the Medal Ceremony.  Congrats guys!

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The next day, it was on to the Mountain Bike Cross Country race and there were many more medals on the line.

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The start of the race featured a bit of a road climb to “thin the pack” into the singletrack of the course.  Tom went into the course in 2nd position.

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While Tom was racing in his age group, one of our friends Johnny Sobkowski (Sunrise FD), was racing in his younger age group and went on to take 3rd Place.

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Another friend, Scott Sherry (Palm Beach FD) was also competing in his age group.

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Tom arrived to finish his 1st lap, navigating in preparation of running through the ribboned route through the scoring area.

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As he entered his 2nd lap, he was situated in 1st place…. Go Tom!

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Todd Neal (Broward County Fire & Rescue) finished up his 1st lap as well.

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Finally, after 1 hr, 18 mins Tom emerged to finish his race.

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Such determination shown in the fierce look of a competitor, as Tom crosses the finish line in 1st place!  WooHoo!

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John Cole (Ret. Charleston FD) was also racing and part of our traveling group.  This was just the 2nd race ever for him.

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Gil, who was from Washington state, works for the National Park Service and finished his age group in 1st place as well.

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On the podium stood Malcolm Bow (Peel Regional Police Dept from Ontario) in 3rd Place, Tom (my person hero and sherpa & Ret. Dania Beach FD) claimed 1st Place, and Randy Winwood (Nanpa FD from Idaho) picked up 2nd Place.  I was quite proud of Tom.  It was a mere 14 years ago when he last competed in “The Games” and took 1st Place honors as well … guess the guy still has it!  LOL

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After the races, it was time for some beers and lunch at a local brew pub.  Good times with good friends, for sure.

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In celebration of the games also, we had a wonderful dinner with my cousin Violet and her husband, Bob.  Such wonderful memories!

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At this time, I had to say goodbye to Maria Scherer (Dale City FD), who graciously hosted John, Todd, Tom & I during our stay at The Games.  She was so supportive of the guys and a great new friend for us as well.  🙂

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© 2015 Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

Note:  This blog post also takes a moment to honor the memory of Carlos Silva, Brazil PD and also in thought for the 2 other cycling competitors injured during the road race cycling event.

 

#FindYourPark … Everglades-style

In 2016, the National Park Service will be celebrating its centennial birthday!  Leading up to that event, they have launched a “Find Your Park” campaign, where visitors tell stories about “their” park.  Recently I launched a 9-day series of #FindYourPark images and stories on my flickr page (if you haven’t seen it yet and are interested, click on the flickr link, scan down several weeks of images, and give it a look).  I found it difficult to designate “my park” … should it be the one I visit most often, the one my soul calls to the most, the one I find most beautiful, or perhaps the one geographically closest?

Geographically, “my park” would then be Everglades National Park.  🙂  Now the Everglades NP is an amazing place to visit, has so much beauty to explore, and holds such an environmental significance to Florida and worldwide as well.  So, let’s visit there virtually together in this blog post.  Ready?

Now this is what I’m talking about … pure iconic Everglades … an early morning sunrise often is accompanied by mist and low profile fog … so very beautiful.  Water levels change drastically depending on the season and recent rainfall in the Everglades.  The Everglades represents such change that you can only be guaranteed that each day will have a look all its own – very different than the day before or even the day after.  It’s totally amazing!

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Having grown up in South Florida and visiting the Everglades more that I can easily count, on one recent very foggy morning, I was treated to a new phenomenon for me … a fog bow.  Similar to a rainbow, but it lacks color, due to the small size of the water droplets, it was fabulous to see.  Immediately I pulled off the road to try to document what I saw.  Have to say that it was a fairly close rendition of the moment.  🙂

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Being that these images were from February, much of the wildlife encountered revolved around the birds.  See, the Everglades are an important part of many species of birds and their migratory paths.  I joke too because once the warmer weather comes, as well as the skeeters, even the birds don’t want to hang around (OK, they probably leave for other reasons ;-), and good thing because you’ve got to really want to hang out in the heat and humidity and get totally bit up to come in the height of the summer).

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Roseate spoonbills arrive to various ponds and waters to do some feeding and begin looking for their mate.  About this time, they begin to get those fabulous breeding colors that make them irresistible to all who catch a glimpse of them.  So bizarre looking for sure, but gorgeous!

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The pileated woodpeckers are just one of the birds which call the area their local hangout.

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Most times they’re quite cooperative, but eventually they launch for destinations unknown.

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Of course, the Flamingo area of the Everglades most dominant resident bird is the osprey. In the winter they build their nests, mate, sit on their eggs, and eventually raise their young.  It’s always fascinating to watch dad bring in a fresh catch for mom as she tends to the nest.  Yum!

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Black necked stilts, as in the image below, as well as avocets and yellowlegs, etc, also join in on the fun at Eco Pond.

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Red shouldered hawks are seemingly plentiful as well.  Sometimes you see them … sometimes you don’t … until off they fly with a quick launch.  So very beautiful.  American kestrels and northern harriers often make themselves visible as well.

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Probably one of the most animated of all birds to visit is the reddish egret.  They always make a grand entrance as they fly low just above the waters surface, allowing their reflection to be seen.  They fly with such grace and beauty … such sophistication.  But don’t let that fool you, for they look more like drunken sailors as they run around doing silly antics as they fish for food.  I dare you to watch them for more than 5 minutes without getting a huge grin on your face, or if you’re like me … busting out in laughter.

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While the Everglades always has its fair share of brown pelicans, they also get white pelicans too.  Again, they also have quite the splashdown landing, which commands your attention when they fly in.

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I’m continually amazed at how they go about catching their food.  They seemingly eye it with their heads on a sideways angle, then slam their head and beak into the water and go for it!  You know that they’ve hit pay dirt when they then sit up and swallow.  So fascinating to watch.

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Probably one of my favorite wading birds are the lovely and delicate-looking black-necked stilts.  So very beautiful and skilled at catching the tiniest of minnows, they get quite beautiful this time of year with those bright legs and big red eye.  Soon they will begin their courtship and mating.

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Before long the osprey babies get big enough to make their presence known.  Not only do they offer the photographer a nice glimpse at their big orange eyes, but they also sure learn quick how to scream at dad to bring them some dinner.  🙂

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Yes, the landscapes of the Everglades are iconic and second to none.  Case in point it this view of what’s affectionately known as the “Z” tree.  Nature is quite amazing, don’t you agree?

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Now no trip to the Everglades is ever complete, at least not for Tom & I, without a stop at the famous “Robert’s” on your way out.  The best key lime milkshakes in town (as well as many other exotic flavors) and much more for the tourists.  For me, I always appreciate it when they grow the sunflowers along the roadside … which is Florida-unique when coupled with the palm trees in the background!

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Hope that gave you an idea about Everglades NP.  That being said, take a moment to ponder and ask yourself … where is your park? … then participate in the #FindYourPark movement in celebration of the NPS.

Stay tuned for more …

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

A Season to Give Thanks

As we approach the Thanksgiving holidays, I can’t help but take a moment to pause and reflect on the things in life that I’m most thankful for.

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Overlook at Dead Horse State Park in Utah – taken by Rodney Lange… Thanks!

First and foremost is Tom.  I know that I joke about him being my sherpa, but he’s a whole lot more.

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“Sherpa” Tom out to find some bears – Katmai NP & Preserve

Tom is my husband (6+ years now), my best friend, and my partner in travel and adventure.

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Taken by Kelli Williams somewhere in Utah …Thanks sunshine!

I know that it’s a bit cliche to say, but he “completes me” … more importantly, he gets me … and embraces it.

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Thanks for the shot Dave! (www.goseebears.com)

There isn’t a person in the world that I would rather share my life with.

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Selfie @ Dahmen Barn, Uniontown, WA

He shares my spirit of adventure and my love of nature.

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Glacial hiking at Valdez Glacier

Sherpa Tom

Sherpa Tom is also a fine photographer – Yellowstone NP

He encourages me to spread my wings, always encouraging me to follow my heart and my dreams.

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Snowy egrets – Orlando Wetlands

Debbie ready for action. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Thanks for the image Dan Cox of Natural Exposures!

Always willing to try or go somewhere new, life never gets boring.  🙂

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Tom looks out at the Dead Horse SP landscape

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Powder Mountain chairlift selfie in Utah

Then there’s my family… starting first with my daughter, Kelli.  I don’t think that it’s possible to be more proud of her than I.

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~~~ Kelli, my “sunshine” & apparently my “unicorn” as well~~~ 🙂

She really follows her dreams and stays true to herself.  Currently 1/2 way through her first year of PA school, she continues to amaze me with her dedication and drive to excel.

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NSU Jax Physician Assistant Class of 2016 Inauguration

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Kelli & her husband Mitchell … both amazing!

With all of the studying that she endures, she still finds the time to have fun with her husband, Mitchell, and their dogs … or should I say “poodles”.

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Snowbunnies – Utah

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Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, New Mexico

I’m grateful also to my mom and her husband, who live nearby and always a part of my week.  Growing up my mom always set a great example of integrity for me, combined with a love for life.  Though they think that Tom & I have a severe case of “wanderlust”, truth be told, so do they, only their travel is usually on the seas.

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My wonderful mom

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My mom & her husband in Jackson Hole, WY

Family reunion

Family trip to Yellowstone NP

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Holiday celebration with the family, Florida

I’m grateful that Tom & I have always had good and rewarding careers, which have allowed us the resources to do some of the things that we love.

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Landing @ Katmai NP & Preserve

Out on the Russian River

Taken on the Russian River by Todd Stein … Thanks!

Of course, it goes without saying that our close friends and neighbors are also something that we’re grateful for as well.  Whether it be for a social gathering over dinner and drinks or lending an ear to help each other through this journey of life, it’s always a needed ingredient to a happy life.

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Denali NP snowstorm in August. Taken by Tom; edited by Rebecca Tifft.

Last, but not least, I’m thankful for the opportunities that have presented me, whether it be travel, wildlife encounters, photographic adventures, or just the ability to clear my mind in the great outdoors.

Not a cloud in the sky - viewpoint of Mt. McKinley (aka Denali) from Stony Hill Overlook

Not a cloud in the sky – viewpoint of Mt. McKinley (aka Denali) from Stony Hill Overlook

Yes, life is good, and my thirst for travel and experiences that I have yet to have will surely continue … those who know me, know that it doesn’t take a lot to make me happy … just give me a few bears, owls, (and other wildlife is welcome as well) and a great view!  Remember … “life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away”.  That’s my motto … and I’m sticking with it … THANKFULLY!

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Coastal brown bear @ Katmai NP & Preserve

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Great gray owl looking down at us in Ottawa.

Two Jack Lake, Banff NP, Alberta, Canada

Two Jack Lake, Banff NP, Alberta, Canada

Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!  May you spend time surrounded by those whom are important to you and get the chance to reflect upon what you’re thankful for and celebrate life.

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Upstate NY winery … Cheers to all 🙂

Next up:  Kayaking the Valdez Glacier ice caves!

© 2014  TNWA Photography

 

 

 

 

Welcome to My Blog

Happy New Year!

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I had a New Year’s Resolution in 2012 … it was to begin my personal blog.  I did create the blog site, however, I never got around to posting any blog entries.  Not that I hadn’t thought about it … for every month it seems, as I saw my “To Do” list … there it was …. “Write a blog entry”.  So, guess what my first 2013 New Year’s Resolution was?  You guessed it, finally the first entry!  This all seems a bit weird for me.  Those of you who know me, know that I’m not short on words, but this is so “out there” for me, so have some patience with me as I undergo my first post.

What to talk about?  Let’s see … overall I want to share random thoughts about life, travel, wildlife, nature, and of course adventures experienced.  I have always loved to LIVE life to the fullest … trying to never have regrets about something I did, but more importantly something that I didn’t do.

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I thought that it would be best if I took the first post opportunity to reflect upon my life in 2012.  It was a very busy one for me!  From wedding planning to a return journey to Alaska to a family reunion (and its extension travel, of course) out west, it was a challenge to say the least.

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PART 1:  See, early in 2012, we were putting the finishing touches to a year’s worth of planning my daughter Kelli’s wedding.  Well, she actually did the vast majority of the work – bless her heart – all while finishing her Master’s in Human Performance at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL  (yes, she’s a Gator – after spending 6 years pursuing her educational goals – but she did me proud by graduating With Honors, with a B.S. and her M.S.), while still holding down a research position and then a FT job as an Exercise Physiologist in Ocala, FL.  All the while her husband-to-be was traveling for his job and spending a full year in Arkansas.  Imagine my surprise when she told me that she wanted to get married in the Georgia mountains!  Now that planning was quite complicated, but it did have benefits – as we needed to travel to Cleveland, GA to visit Neverland Farms (no, not Neverland Ranch). The wedding was the most amazing one – so relaxed, so natural, so beautiful, so “country chic” as my daughter calls it.  (Note:  the wedding images are not mine, simply borrowed for the blog, yet impressed in my memory – thanks to Matthew for capturing through images this spectacular day for us).

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These wonderful candles are available from our friends @ Drunkenbottle  (www.drunkenbottle.com)

These wonderful candles are available from our friends @ Drunkenbottle – the art of recycle  (www.drunkenbottle.com)

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I honestly don’t think that I’ve ever felt so proud … the moment when the ceremony was over and Tom & I were watching everyone have an amazing time at the reception.  How beautiful Kelli was and what a lovely young lady she had become – so caring, yet strong, and how mature she had become over the years when I wasn’t looking.  🙂  I distinctly remember looking at Tom and declaring … “We’ve done good”!

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Immediately after the wedding, they took off on their honeymoon to Costa Rica, where apparently my daughter and Mitchell walked through the croc-infested waters unknowingly, because they didn’t want to be “tourists” and take the boat over to the other side.  Yes, she’s got a bit of me in her – always seeking adventure.  Yikes!  They are now living in Brockport, NY, where Mitchell’s job has taken him.  Of course, this called for a visit where we toured Niagara Falls, Rochester, Hamlin Beach, Braddock Bay and the quite impressive Letchworth State Park.  Destination for 2013?  Who knows, but hopefully somewhere fun!

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Over the next few months, we visited the Everglades quite a bit and had a crocodile experience of our own!  What a thrill!

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Do a Blog : Check!

Stay tuned for Parts 2, 3, & 4 of my 2012 Year in Review.