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take the long way home.

I sat in the mountains for what felt like an eternity. The sun sat high & full of prosperity.

Do more do what makes your soul feel alive.

Or at least that's what we tell ourselves anyways.

How often do we actually do it?

Sure, I could have taken the quick route home this morning and back to the world of obligation and reality. I could have gotten home earlier and been able to get laundry done.

But where’s the fun in that?

I’ll probably kick myself later as I truly find my time extremely crucial and valuable. I genuinely love to drive places. But boy does it cut into ones editing time.

Regardless, my soul knows best. My mind knew that truthfully, I most likely wouldn’t find time to be this close to the Rocky Mountains during summertime and I ought to soak in the opportunity while it’s nearby.

And what’s a little pre-meditated photo scouting going to hurt in the case a client asks me to meet them in Colorado for a shoot?

Also can a client please ask me to shoot them off a mountain top in Colorado? Can that be my new thing? Let's make that my new thing.

Oops. There it was again. “I’m going to go shoot them…” an awful phrase many of us photographers use. I’m working on transitioning this. To what, I haven’t the slightest clue. “I’m going to go photograph them…” just seems far too dry. Doesn’t it?

Okay. Squirrel. Let’s get back on track.

While on a workshop this weekend with some truly talented and skilled photographers, we discussed our "niches." You know, the things that really drive our passion. While we each study and perform portrait photography, there's always that one outlet in photography that sets our soul on fire.

For me, it's landscape. Landscape is where my passion for photography originated. Watching countless sunrises and sunsets, snapping a photo on my camera or phone nonetheless. Pulling over on dirt roads. Laying on my back to watch the way the stars twinkle and shine, dreaming of a world of forevers ago. Even my first film image is of a flower wilting away. (There's beauty in that too)

For a railroad daughter, when you get time to vacation, it means you find the nearest location and spend as much time together as you can. Often, our family trips included a trip to Colorado. A quick six and half hour drive (sometimes six...)

Every Summer since I can remember, that's where we went.

So as I began my trek home from Cheyenne yesterday morning, I checked my maps to see just how far Este Park was. Okay, so it would be a slight detour. Sure I was excited to get home, but what's a little photo scouting in the mountains anyways. So I hit the gas and made it to my point of destination just after 630am.

I pulled off and got my camera ready. I put on my hiking shoes (is there any better feeling?), grabbed my gas station coffee, put on the Patagonia hat (it's a must) and began to walk. As I walked down the path, I stumbled upon a fly fisherman. Rather than just asking "hey can I take your photo?" I stood back a million miles to capture him. Will call this image, "Where's Waldo?"

It should be noted, it's totally on my bucket list is just that. To learn to fly fish. Just in case anyone wants to invite me next time. It'd be a lot cooler if you did....

Of course, me being me, is over the moon about this perfect morning. The California fires are sweeping through the territory and the sun burns brightly. I find a rock and set down my phone, keys and lens cap. It's time to capture what ignites my passion. While also practicing some of the new things I've learned from my predecessors this weekend.

I'm not a great landscape artist. Okay I'm not even an artist at this point. I'm just a girl who loves solo trips into the mountains to escape reality and capture life through a lens.

I have a whole world of knowledge out there yet to absorb. If you're a new photographer, it's really important to keep this mentality. Truly, if you are at any level of photography, you should keep it. There's never one person who is "the best." And I'm far, far from the real landscape artists who create such masterpieces. But I do know, that I have an eye for looking for textures, things that create emotion and know how I want to range my depth of field.

Click, click, click.

I got back in my car and began to travel further up to the mountain. I had high hopes of making my way to Grandby and Grand Lake before realizing they wouldn't actually allow me into the park until after 3pm. Knowing there wasn't a chance I could stick around that long, I made my way back to Este Park and went for a walk and click.

As I strolled through the town, my heart smiled. Early morning risers, walking hand and hand with their coffee. Sightseeing. The young boys scurrying into the taffy store. Oh how I remember that taffy store. I stumbled upon a familiar restaurant "Poppys Bar and Grill" and "Mama Roses." A swarm of familiar memories rushed over me. I had been there before, hadn't I? I dug through my brain to remember and just kept picturing sitting on the patio. The twinkly lights. I'm a sucker for twinkly lights. The taste of pizza, and not just ordinary pizza. An exquisite taste came to my senses.

I texted Mom an image. "We've been here haven't we?" I pray a day doesn't come near when I can't ask Mom to refresh my memory on our past travels. "Yes, we were."

I make my way to the Stanley hotel of course, a staple for anyones' Este Park trip. On my route I discover Devils Gulch, a trailhead I had just been looking up prior. The name sounds familiar, but I remember a Devils Gulch in the Blackhills so I could be confusing the two. Regardless, it sounds fun. I make my way.

I check my time and it's about time for my day to end. I snap a few more images and decide it's best to get back on the road. This time, I won't stop and take photos off the side of Highway 36 though. I opened my sunroof and just felt the crisp mountain air brush against my skin. There's no cell service, so I don't bother with adding music or turning on the radio. Just the open road and I.

If I just keep going, I'll make it home around 730pm CST. Just enough time to say my hellos and unwind. I think about the next day to come and everything that must be done.

It'll be there tomorrow, I remind myself.

I smile, feeling grateful, that I chose to take the long way home.

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