Reflections of my Father – Self Portrait Sunday #8

The San Francisco Museum of Modern art was at times bewildering. I know that modern art sometimes isn’t supposed to be “gotten,” but as someone who considers herself fairly cultured, so much of the upper floors in particular were sometimes difficult to process. 

Most paintings I can “get,” but several of the sculptures and videos just flew straight over my head. 

Except this pile of red dirt intersected by mirrors. 

It made me cry. 

I’m sure the artist didn’t have me and my Papa in mind when he made his creation, but that doesn’t really matter. 

Since my dad died in November I’ve spent a lot of time thinking over our relationship, which was so complicated and at times difficult. I always identified more with my mom than my dad, partially because people are forever telling us how much alike we are. 

But in many ways I am more like Papa than I realized while he was here. I have his temper (though I keep it under control better), his habit of keeping lengthy to-do lists (I didn’t discover this until we were cleaning out his office), and maybe the thing we talked about the most the last several years: his love of photography. 

Since about 2000 it was really uncommon to see my dad without a camera in his face, and I’m the same way. In 2012 James gave me my first DSLR, a Nikon D5100 that I took everywhere with me for more than 4 years. A few months later Papa bought his Nikon D7000, a step up from mine.  

After he died mom gave me his old camera, and it’s the one I shoot with now. 

I remember being so frustrated at our wedding that after all the money we paid for a professional photographer, Papa still couldn’t put down his own camera. But when he sent me all the photos he’d taken I was so happy he had… Some of my favorite candids from that day are ones he took. This shot of how James looked right before our first kiss, for example.

Papa also probably spent more time in the Red Clay of Alabama than any non-farmer in history. 

He was an incredible gardener, filling our bellies with bountiful vegetables every summer, and mom’s vases with roses and hydrangeas through most of the year. 

Every spring he’d till compost into the red dirt, coaxing it into fertility. 

Besides his family, Papa’s great love was the Grant Baseball Park. He spent thousands of hours there after we moved to the small town making it a jewel in rural Alabama. He coached literally thousands of young men and women in baseball and softball, teaching not only the fundamentals of the sport, but also important lessons about sportsmanship and leadership. 

Between the garden and the park his socks and shoes inevitably turned from crisp white to red every spring, until they matched both the earth and his deeply suntanned skin. 

So when I saw this pile of red clay in the middle of California, and bent down and saw my own reflection I couldn’t help but get emotional. Because, not for the first time, I saw Papa right there with me.

Camera in our faces, red dirt on our shoes. 

The Dadgum Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

There are some world sights that are completely underwhelming… The Alamo comes to mind… And then there are some that I believe are completely undersold. 

The Golden Gate Bridge definitely fits in the latter category. 

Because of our sore feet and rumbling bellies Anna and I were just going to go down to the San Francisco side viewing area to take pictures, but our Uber driver accidentally took us across the bridge over to the Marin County side. We decided to roll with it, and walked across.

I am SO glad we did! 

It’s even bigger and more impressive than I had imagined, and walking across was so exciting and nervewracking (turns out I am scared of heights). I loved it!

After we made it back across into SF we just sat at the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center and watched the sun begin to set while we waited for our husbands to get done with work and come join us. 

We probably hung out there for around 2-and-a-half hours, giving me time to take a bazillion pictures, and take pictures for couples and groups traveling together. We even met some folks who grew up just 10 minutes from where I live!

Talking to other travelers is one of my favorite things about visiting new places, and sitting in one spot, being open and friendly, and offering to help them take pictures is a great way to get to do that! Because let’s be real, we all already have enough selfies…

When James and Ryan finally got there we grabbed an Uber back over to Fisherman’s Wharf to enjoy our last meal in the city… The world famous In-N-Out Burger. 

In-N-Out BurgerIt was an absolutely incredible day, and by far my favorite one in SF! I can’t wait to go back and explore even more. 


What to Do in San Francisco on a Rainy Day

We had so much fun in San Francisco last week, despite the rain! Of the three and a half days we were there, two and a half of them were very very rainy. SF has a very distinct “rainy season” and we were there right in the middle of it!

It usually ranges from November to April, though there is variation from year to year. 

Yesterday I shared what I wore most of the trip to stay dry and warm: 

(click through for details!) 

BUT there are also a number of ways in SF you can stay inside almost all day and still get to experience some of the best the bay city has to offer! 

What to do in San Francisco on Rainy Days

First, I’d take an Uber or Lyft to the Ferry Building and explore some of the amazing shops and eateries, all under the skylights:

(Blue bottle coffee)

(Book Passage independent bookstore

(Humphrey Slocolmb Ice Cream)

Plus, there are great views of the bay, the Bay Bridge, and this neat Ghandi statue right outside. I could have spent all morning (and lots of money) in the Ferry Building, but alas, I was on a budget. Besides, carrying around souvenirs all day would have been a huge hassle. 


Next, head over to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and take in pieces from some of the worlds most well-known artists, as well as lots of local artists. 

Get ready for even more picture overload… I had a lot of favorites!

Oh Matisse, you’re my fave.

By around 2pm our feet were tired and our tummies were rumbling, so it’s great SFMoMA’s also has a fantastic little cafe on the 5th floor (about the halfway point through the museum) where you can grab lunch and Illy coffee!

There’s loads and loads to do in SF on rainy days, but check back in soon for what we did on the gorgeous days too! Spoiler alert: the Golden Gate Bridge 100% lives up to the hype. 


What to Wear on Rainy Travel Days

It was extremely rainy on my recent trip to San Francisco, and I’m sure we’ll encounter some rain during our London trip next month. Being able to enjoy a new city is so important, no matter the weather, so here’s what I wore on rainy travel days to keep as dry as possible and hit the sidewalks!

  1. A good rain jacket

    This one is the Barbour Beadnell that I wear all the time here at home too! It’s waterproof and warmer than your average rain jacket without being a full-on parka. 

  2. A hood to go with it

    The Beadnell’s hood is sold separately. I like that it can snap off for non-rainy days. 

  3. A baseball cap

    I have found this combination works better than carrying an umbrella because the hat and hood keep water off your face, but you don’t have to worry about the wind turning it inside out. Besides, walking on the side walk through crowds with an umbrella can be hazardous! 

  4. A light, waterproof, travel backpack

    I actually carried two backpacks on this trip: one for my laptop and for my on-plane carry on, and this tiny one used simply for while walking around in the rain. It’s small and super light, folds into a little pouch not much bigger than my hand, and kept the water off my camera and wallet while walking around in the rain.

  5. Waterproof boots

    I can’t sing the praises of these boots enough. I did end up needing to put some cheap arch support insoles in them because I’ve always had arch problems, but they kept my tootsies warm, dry, and comfortable on a day I walked more than 12 miles!

If you really don’t mind being out in the rain, grab some waterproof boots, a baseball cap, and a rain jacket with a hood and you’ll be great in all but the stormiest of conditions. 

Here they are in action! 

Truckin’ – 2017 in Photos day 44

This classic Chevy truck was on the historic ferry Eureka found at the Hyde Street Pier. 

I can’t wait to put all these little sneak peeks into context over the next week or so. But until then I’m still recuperating from the red eye home, party in Demopolis Saturday night, messed up sleep cycle last night, and trip to Montgomery today!

Exposure: 1/80th of a second
Aperture: f/4.5
ISO: 400
Lens: 28mm-75mm f/2.8
Treatment: Desaturated, fiddled with clarity, whites, blacks, in raw editor. Edge burn and tilt shift in Photoshop.

Headed for the Frisco Bay – 2017 in Photos Day 41

Lots and lots more pictures are incoming, but after three days of rain we were awarded with probably the most beautiful day in history on our last day in San Francisco. James had to work the whole time we were here, but he got off just in time this afternoon to come watch the sunset behind the Golden Gate Bridge. 


Exposure: 1/180th of a second
Aperture: f/1.8
ISO: 20
Lens: iPhone 7 Plus
Treatment: SOOC