Travel Photographer - Page 2

Alaska: Flying over the Alaska Range


One of my favorite things to do when I’m back home is to go flying with my dad. He has been a bush pilot since 1970 and over the years, he has shown me the world from many different vantage points. I grew up flying with him to remote areas of Alaska and depending upon the season, we’d land with floats on water, skis in the winter or we’d bump along in tundra tires on a rough, homemade runway in the middle of nowhere. At the time, I didn’t realize how special this was because it was simply what we did — but as an adult living in the “Lower 48” now, I feel especially grateful for such a unique experience. It definitely helped shape my love of travel and flying!


Alaska has multiple mountain ranges spanning across most of the state, but the largest and perhaps most well known is the Alaska Range. It houses North America’s highest peak, Denali (aka Mt. McKinley @20, 310 ft. high) and on a clear day, it’s truly a magnificent sight to see. Last summer we flew around it and landed in the park (photos coming soon), so this year we decided to go slightly east, along the Wood River towards Mount Deborah and Yanert Glacier. Finally, we stopped for a picnic near Gold King, an old Air Force communications site.

180360_flyingovertananaflatsAfter leaving Fairbanks, we flew over the Tanana Flats. (above) 

180360_flyingtoalaskarangeAfter the flats, we crossed over creeks and valleys on our way towards the mountains.

180360_alaskarange5Taking photos in a small plane is pretty challenging! It’s bumpy; the windows are reflective; there are often wings in the way, etc. Even so, I like the way it creates an almost painterly effect in the images.

180360_alaskarange4The Wood River.


180360_alaskarange10Heading into the range.


It’s easy to feel really small and insignificant amongst these massive mountains.



Peaks for days.



A wider view of Mount Deborah and Yanert Glacier.


Meltwater from the glacier that feeds into the Wood River.


 Following the Wood River back out.


Taiga (aka boreal forest) covers much of this area.


A quick stop near Gold King for lunch and a visit with some of my dad’s friends who have a cabin here.


Below is my dad’s Piper Super Cub — a 2 seater, single-engine monoplane.


Flying back to Fairbanks.


On a side note: I found this impressive video about 2 guys that climbed Mt. Deborah last year. I like to think I’m adventurous, but then I see something like this and realize I’ve got a lonnnng way to go… 🙂


Crete: Balos Lagoon


Crete definitely takes the cake when it comes to unusual beaches! Prior to visiting Seitan Limania, one of our first stops on the island was the Balos Lagoon. I’d discovered it during my travel research and knew it wasn’t to be missed, despite reading a few off-putting comments regarding the drive, hike-in and the occasional unpleasant scent (thanks to shallow and fairly still water). Thankfully, none of those were an issue for us.


We left Chania around 10 am, driving westward on the freeway until it turned into a dirt road. It was dusty and bumpy, with never-ending twists and turns, along with errant goats that would pop out to say hello. But the lovely views of the aquamarine water butted up against the vermillion colored sand and desert-like coastline made up for any irritating anomalies.

All in all, it took a little under an hour to get there. Eventually the road ended at a nondescript plot of land, also known as a “Greek car park”. With what appears to be only goats (and maybe one guy) in charge, cars are squeezed into impossibly tight spaces, angled in all directions, with no rhyme or reason. Somehow, it works despite the disorganization and haphazardness.


The hike there isn’t too bad. It’s mostly downhill on a well worn trail. And while the heat can be a bit intense, as soon as the lagoon comes into view, it propels even the whiniest of children right down the hill. Besides, there’s plenty of places to stop for a breather or take photos of the bizarre blip of land and sea below. 



At the bottom, there’s another several hundred yards of sand to trudge through before getting to the actual beach. On the left, is a knee-high, shallow pool filled with what feels like warm bathwater. To the right, is a fairly normal, albeit incredibly turquoise sea, with glints of pink in the soft, white sand. When we arrived, they were just setting up the loungers and umbrellas, so we rented ours right away, knowing the beach would soon be full. I’m glad we did, because they ran out quickly and people had to wait for others to leave if they wanted some reprieve from the sun. 





Now, the hike back up is a slightly different story. After relaxing in the hot sun and sea, trudging through sand and then hiking in even warmer temperatures through the desert — it isn’t so appealing. Our 11 year old was bright red and thought she was going to have to flag down a donkey taxi. I had a toddler on my back and a 9 year old to prod along, so I wasn’t too sympathetic. She managed to rally, but even I will admit — the return trip was much more challenging. 





  • Go early! The boats arrive around noon and bring loads of people to the area.
  • Be prepared for the drive, hike-in and lack of facilities. In other words, expect a bumpy ride and about an hour total of hiking. 
  • If the drive/hike doesn’t appeal, you can also arrive by boat. 
  • Bring everything you need with you: money for lounger and umbrella, snacks, sunscreen, water, towels, etc. 
  • Plan to rent a lounger/umbrella. There’s no shade to speak of and it’s nice to have a place to take a break from the hot sun. Ours cost €8 ea. 
  • This is a great area for children to play and swim — just mind the reef and rocky spots!
  • There are donkey taxis for hire if the hike is too much. 
  • On your way back, stop for a late but traditional lunch at Gramvousa Restaurant in Kalivani. Delicious and beautiful! (see photos below)





Santorini / Part 1


The first travel magazine I remember reading was when I was around 15 years old. Long before I’d dreamed of being a photographer, the cover caught my eye and the photos inside were seared into my memory for life. They were of Santorini; purple-tinged images of quaint, white cave houses and tiny alleyways perched on a cliffside. I thought, “I must go here one day.

A decade later, I started traveling to Europe, but by then, other locations had jumped in the queue of “Places to go” and Santorini was knocked back several spots. The funny thing about life is that experience sort of changes everything. By the time I finally made it to Greece, I’d already been to one of the most beautiful places on earth the year before… so it had to compete with Positano and the Amalfi coast, which is next to impossible in my book! Is this to say Santorini isn’t charming and lovely? Not at all. It is absolutely photogenic… in places.

We rented a cave house in the village of Oia and after touring the entire island, I can’t imagine staying anywhere else. Oia is the depiction of Santorini that everyone knows and loves. Sadly, it’s not the most accurate representation of the rest of the island. Every afternoon and evening, the appeal wore off as cruise ships let loose countless groups of obnoxious tourists with cameras, numbered signs and selfie-sticks. Hundreds of people flooded and congregated the quaint alleyways vying for the best photos until the sun went down. It made me embarrassed to be seen with a camera.

I still managed to find my repose. Thanks to jet lag and sick children, I was awake more than asleep. While everyone else slept, I was up early, coffee in hand, climbing to the terrace above to watch the sun rise over the sea and slowly illuminate the houses on the hillside. After coffee, I ran and climbed the myriad of dodgy steps and trails that laced along the cliff through the old pedestrian houses. The only other living things I came in contact with were stray dogs and cats, as most tourists stayed on the main paths above. I found peace in these winding passageways throughout the day and they will forever be my favorite part of Santorini. Although the rest of the island wasn’t quite what I expected, I was able to experience that magazine cover in person — in the wee hours of the morn, lavender-lit and tranquil, just as I’d imagined it would be.
















Old San Juan, Puerto Rico


At the tail end of our trip to Puerto Rico, we spent one night in Old San Juan. Although it’s known for being a touristy cruise ship port, San Juan’s charming mix of influences (Spanish, Cuban, Italian, and Caribbean) and colonial history easily make up for its short comings. I found it to be a lovely, little town with some of the most colorful buildings, quaint architectural details and perfect cobblestones I’ve ever seen. In a short amount of time, we managed to visit the El Morro fort, the Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis Cementerio, eat a delicious brunch, snack on a classic Mallorca (the must-try pastry), and peek in a few shops along the way. I could’ve easily spent another day wandering the quaint streets, popping into galleries, bakeries and cafes. I suppose we’ll just have to go back! 



The Gallery Inn 


St. Germain Bistro + Cafe, certainly not authentic to P.R. but fantastic food and beverage all the same!

Cafeteria Mallorca for an authentic bakery experience.


El Morro Fort

Cementerio Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis

American Southwest: Monument Valley


I’m willing to bet that nearly every American could recall a movie or advertising image they’ve seen from Monument Valley. However, nothing quite beats driving around that bend on US-163 and seeing it in real life. It’s funny how well-known places tend to be different in person; sometimes for the worse, but in this case, for the better. There’s far more to it than those three iconic mounds.


Truthfully, I knew almost nothing about the area. For instance, I didn’t even realize Monument Valley is in both Arizona and Utah! (This can be a bit confusing with regard to time zones.) Nor did I know those recognizable buttes above are called “The Mittens.” And like most areas in the Southwest, a Navajo tour guide is pretty much a necessity in order to see anything off the beaten path.


Good thing I discovered Navajo Spirit Tours on TripAdvisor! I booked with them hoping they’d teach us all we needed to know. I’ve never been a big fan of guided tours, but they had so many amazing reviews, they won me over. The tours involve a 2-3 hour (or more) off-roading adventure with a Native American in an open air vehicle into the back country. The guides are locals that have been intrinsically connected to the area for generations. They explain the history of their people and culture, as well as the names and meanings behind the different rock formations.


As much as I would’ve liked to spend the day trekking around the valley, we needed an option that would accommodate our 2 children and baby. Luckily, Navajo Spirit Tours were more than willing to accommodate. We met up with our guide, “Will Cowboy,” in the lobby of our hotel and off we went riding into the red dust like John Wayne, or more likely like Clark Griswold and Beverly D’Angelo in National Lampoon’s Vacation, but in a 1980’s Suburban instead of a station wagon.


It was a wild and bumpy ride. The children happily bounced around the back seat. The baby fell asleep in my husband’s arms (!!) 30 seconds into the drive. Will Cowboy didn’t mind stopping whenever I wanted a photo. In fact, he encouraged it! We chased the sun until the full moon arose in the sky. It was my kind of adventure…


The Hand of the God


Arches Mesa

180360_MonumentValley_9Petroglyphs near the Sun’s Eye


The Sun’s Eye


Max and more petroglyphs




Totem Pole and Yei Bi Chei



The Valley Drive and North Window


Sand Springs



The Three Sisters




It’s no wonder why Monument Valley is seared into our memory. It has starred in countless films, television shows, commercials, video games, and music videos. But none of those can compare to absorbing its expansive beauty in person. It is wild and yet austere. And although the different mesas, buttes and rock formations are all truly impressive, the underlying history of its people stands out the most. One can’t help but feel the ancestors in the land and the movie stars in the dust.