The long road to California

Back in November my husband and I drove from North East Kansas all the way to central California. It took us 25 hours straight. A very long 25 hours.

There was a lot of excitement and anxiousness attached to our trip MAINLY because only about three people knew we were on our way to California. Our intentions were to just show up on Thanksgiving to our family’s dinners and take them by surprise.

We started driving sometime after midnight and made it all the way to Denver, Colorado, just as the sun was starting to come up. The one and only time we hit snow was in Wyoming. It was all over the mountains in Utah though.

Luckily, there was no snow on the freeways!

The Salt Lake flats ♥

We took turns driving and for the most part, it was a pretty easy trip. We got to Nevada right after the sun had set. We got to Reno, Nevada, when I learned a very humorous (now, but not at the time) lesson. I wanted to pick out healthy snacks for us on our drive, so when I ate almost an entire bag of dried fruit to myself, I gave myself a pat on the back. Turns out though, dried fruit have a WHOLE LOT of fiber in them. Snack wisely, my friends! Especially if you have at least another four hours of your road trip left.

BUT we made it!

We “hid out” at my very gracious friend, Heather’s house for a few days. When Thanksgiving morning rolled around, we drove up the hill to Steven’s grandparents house. There’s a gate at their property and Steven’s mom heard it, came running at us full force in excitement. When we headed to my Aunt Linda’s house for my family’s dinner, we made it before my parents did. We stayed in a back room while they came in for a few minutes but jumped into the crowd of my cousins who were greeting them. My mom looked right at me but it took a few moments to register who I was, and my dad did the same thing to Steven. If you’re reading this Brittany, you were the first one to figure out our surprise! ♥

I think being home for Thanksgiving made us holiday confused. It was like Christmas had already happened for us.

I tagged along with my cousin Brittany to Sacramento State University, where I graduated from, and she’s currently attending. I went to all my favorite spots on campus, even got to sit in on one of Brittany’s classes, and had a wonderful visit with one of my very favorite professors, Professor Gieger. Turns out he had been visiting Manhattan, Kansas, just the last summer!

Sacramento was GORGEOUS (like always). Fall is my absolute favorite season because it’s in the 60s (but ask any Californian and that is their “Freezing”) and everything is so colorful!

We played tourist in our own hometown.

& No trip home is complete without a trip to the city.

the most fun tourist traps, collection of souvenirs, and delicious food!

We will return for our hearts some day.

Our trip home was the fastest two weeks of my life. We did not get to see everyone we hoped to see and we did not get to do everything we wanted to, but we did eat a lot of good food! My scale will tell you I ate at least 7 pounds worth (oops! BUT totally worth it). I did not take nearly enough photos, either. I was definitely too busy enjoying everything to pull out my camera, but I’m kind of disappointed that I did not snap more photos of the faces I miss so very much!

We learned our lesson with taking a 25 hour drive and knew we wanted to do something different for the drive back to Kansas. We also wanted to avoid all the bad weather, so we took the Southern route, which is a bit longer. We drove straight through to Albuquerque, and couldn’t help but be complete Breaking Bad fans.

Walter White had decorated for Christmas!

Tuco’s hideout is actually Java Joes, and they make delicious coffee!

& We stopped at The Candy Lady, the store that provided all the prop meth for Breaking Bad.

The Southern route just isn’t as pretty as the Northern.

Hopefully our next trip home will not be so far off as this last one had been. We had been away for 20 months, and that was just too long!

Until next time! ♥


Antiquing in Abilene

It’s official! Steven and I have caught the antiquing bug. Steven is always on the hunt for a good coin and I’m looking for cameras and photos. There’s a lot of fun and nostalgic things to be found in the in between of antique stores. We went to five different antique stores, and I must say, they were all a bit overpriced. We did find a few goodies to take home with us, and I thought I would share some items that I couldn’t help but snap a few photos of!

Steven said, “People who own antique stores are really just hoarders that are okay with selling some of their stuff,” as we tried to make our way through a tight fit in parts of a one store.

I love that there’s a window over the kitchen sink. If you look close enough you can see that it shows a man walking through a gate and a child running to greet him.

I would have loved to have made this beautiful camera mine! It’s a Kodak Retinette 1A Schneider Kreuznach that was made in Germany. They wanted $90 for it! Although it’s pretty, it’s not worth that much!

I like the antiques that surprise you with a laughing fit.

I’ve seen this Smokey the Bear doll in several antique stores. It’s always on the pricier side and never with a hat! He is really cute though, and a good reminder that “only you can prevent forest fires!”

I feel like I should know who this invisible man with a removable face is, but I don’t! Do you know who this guy is?

Three states in between us and home, but it is always finding us here.

The drive to and from Abilene was much quicker than we originally thought! We’re going to have to venture West more often!

I actually ended up with a total of four cameras, but the one not pictured is for a friend!

& of course a few more photos to add to my collection!

Discovering Kansas City

Kansas City is larger than any other city I’ve ever been in. Granted, there’s Kansas City and then there’s the Kansas City area, not the same but they might as well be. Steven and I have gone many times, a mixture of his medical training and trips to my fertility doctor. The majority of those visits were for a few hours, and mainly making quick stops at stores we love but don’t have back in the part of Kansas we live in. Over Labor Day weekend, we went for a few days, to try to experience all we could in a short time. These are the events that followed:

We got to our hotel, checked in and unloaded the car. We stopped in Lawrence for lunch and got to the city a bit later than we had originally planned. However, we did have a few hours to find and wander around River City Market Antique Mall before it closed. The outside of the building is covered in a colorful Lewis & Clark mural and looks HUGE! It’s four stories, including the basement. As soon as we walked in I knew I was going to love the place.

Too many old photographs to go through!

This place is after my heart!

If you are going through Kansas City and love collections of awesome and random things, this store is a MUST. From clothes, furniture, toys, home goods, there is seriously everything you could think of at a relatively decent price! We were in there for two hours and it was not enough to see everything.

A few blocks away is a must see for book lovers:

Kansas City Public Library (the parking garage!)

even the steps are books!

The sun was starting to get lower, and our stomachs were starting to grumble. On the way back to the hotel we made a stop in the Shawnee area of Kansas City to see a hidden gem I’d seen many photos of online:

Sauer’s Castle, Built in 1871.

It’s currently abandoned but there is a caretaker who lives in a separate home on the property. It’s completely gated off, but the caretaker said that almost nightly – someone is trying to break in. I honestly cannot blame the people for their curiosity, the place just reeks of history and creepy vibes. The current owner lives in New York, and does not seem to be in any hurry to restore the property. I hope one day soon he’ll change his mind and open it to the public. I would most certainly pay for a tour!

For dinner, we went to a little place called Mi Ranchito. It honestly was not much to look at from the outside, being attached to an auto repair shop, but the outside patio was packed with people – so we thought we would give it a shot! Manhattan and the Fort Riley area do not really have the Mexican food we are used to, but this place has been the best Mexican food we’ve had since moving away from California! It was also a gorgeous night, the weather was behaving itself, and the patio was a great place to be.

We went back to our hotel, tried to recover from walking and standing in the hot tub, and then retired to our room to look over the photos I had got from River Market Antique Mall as well as figure out what we were going to do the next day. Of course, until this happened:

Around 11:30 PM our hotel was evacuated. 200 some folks standing in the parking lot for a half hour because someone decided to smoke in their room. Kudos to the hotel though for having a very efficient alarm. There was no way anyone could sleep through it and/or take their time getting out of the hotel; it was so loud it could have easily induced a headache in no time.

We got up, got ready, checked out and headed out for more adventures. We ate a quick breakfast and then Steven was nice enough to let me make my way into an ULTA. The first one did not have any of the Naked Basics 2 palette by Urban Decay that had just come out, so we jumped on the freeway for ten minutes to the next. Can I say how unfair it is that Kansas City has multiple ULTAs in less than a fifteen minute drive radius, and Manhattan has none?! Anyway, I got my hands on the new Naked Basics palette, and yes, I love it!

Next it was off to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. This museum is COMPLETELY free to visit, minus the $8 to park in their parking garage.

There is art all around the museum, but they’re most known for the huge shuttlecocks that are in various locations.

The building itself is a piece of art:

Water Lilies by Claude Monet. I saw it and was immediately brought to tears. I’ve seen this series so many times in art history books and never thought it would be as big as it is. It’s absolutely breathtaking.

I also cried when I saw the few pieces they have by Vincent Van Gogh (Pictured Olive Orchard). To be in front of a canvas that he painted felt like such a huge honor. If only he could have known how much is artwork is known and loved today.

Modern & Contemporary Art Gallery (Can you spot the Andy Warhol?)

We spent somewhere around four hours in the museum, and by then our legs and feet were exhausted. We had originally wanted to go to Country Club Plaza after, but there was just no way.

We made a quick stop to Gates BBQ and had some of the best barbeque we’ve had since coming to Kansas (Oklahoma Joe’s who?). SO delicious!

On the way back home we stopped in Topeka to see the very famously offensive hate group, The Westboro Baptist Church. Their amount of arrogance, hatred, and downright disrespect for others is mind blowing. Across the street, however, is a wonderful sight to see. We took the above photo in front of The Equality House.

Turns out we should have left Kansas City earlier and completely skipped Topeka, though, because we got stuck in the middle of the worst storm we’ve had this summer. High winds, rain so heavy we were only going maybe 20 MPH in a 75 MPH zone and almost had to pull over, and not to mention the pretty but very scary light show:

I definitely fell in love with Kansas City that weekend. I’m ready to go back and explore more!

Photos featuring Fluffy White Clouds

With everything that has happened this past year, I feel as though I built a lot of barriers around myself and my feelings. It is bizarre to me that some people who have been through the same thing can be so unsympathetic. It is hurtful how ignorant people who have not been through it can be. I have been lucky enough to come in contact with MANY wonderful people who do understand, though, do not get me wrong. What I’m trying to say is, I feel like in many ways, I have lost my way with words.

I’m trying to get myself back together, back into the world, back into the old, but good habits. I’ll write more about my journey back to happiness next week.

These past few weeks I’ve spent a lot of time behind the camera lens. These are the snaps from the past week!:

Last weekend was Steven’s birthday weekend. I thought for sure we would spend every day fishing at this particular spot. We only went last Saturday, but it was probably the most beautiful day to be there.

While Steven fished, I sat back at a picnic table brainstorming blog ideas. Not a bad view.

I use to ALWAYS take jump photos. The area was so green, I had to take the opportunity to shoot one for old time’s sake. I’m a little rusty.

I’m making a video for Steven’s family because they have yet to be out to visit us. Since we moved into a new house, I’ve video taped a tour, as well as the surrounding areas. We went to a few of our favorite places on post.

I like to caption this one with “Eat your heart out Led Zeppelin!”…. (Stairway to Heaven)

While we were at the top, the clouds got quite the sense of humor. I turned around to see what almost appeared to be a working chimney!

Thanks to my handy dandy tripod, I took a few photos of Steven and I! It was really hot and I wore out quickly running between Steven and my tripod! We got a few good ones, but the majority of them we looked too tired.

We’re still in counseling for our miscarriages, and when I told our counselor that I had taken maternity photos for a friend she grimaced and gave an empathetic nod. I told her I actually did really well with it. My friend pictured found out she was pregnant the same day as I did, the first pregnancy that I lost. Her due date is ten days after mine would have been. Not until I was home sifting through the photos did I realize that if I was still pregnant, I would have looked the same. Even then, I was able to quickly shake it off. Granted, I have high hopes that we will have our rainbow baby next year. I have been having more good than bad days lately.

One day at a time.

Remembering 2005 ♥ blogs of the past

Over the past month I’ve been investigating myself on the internet (I say “investigate” because my user name for things changed as much as my clothes did at the time). I’ve been an internet addict since the days of dial-up AOL. I’ve tried to claim my corner of the internet ever since then. I had an e-mail zine (that’s an AOL thing), I had a “diary” on a similarly named website, I even had a LiveJournal (or three or four). My first “blog” post ever was on November 10th 2001. The first few year’s were rarely accompanied with photos, and if they were, they were hosted on websites that no longer exist. Thanks to Photobucket, I was able to go through pictures from 2004 on.

As much as I have gotten tired of the whole “throwback Thursday” trend, it is Thursday, and I have photos from the past to share. I was doing the whole Instagram thing before it was a thing! These are from 2005 and I was 18 and 19 when these were taken. I cannot believe it’s been SO long ago. I’m still the same girl, but I’ve learned a lot since these were taken.

I went to the snow for the very first time on New Year’s Day in 2005. I was 18.

Selfie! I remember thinking this was so clever.

This may be from 2004. I saw Fall Out Boy then, and again in 2005.

“Don’t you worry IT’S FRIDAY and you’re awesome”
I would bake cookies, cakes, and cupcakes and bring them into work JUST because.

Yes, this was on Myspace.

Tayte and the cone.

My favorite location on campus. This is the film developing room in the photography lab.
I was OBSESSED with that orange hoodie. I only got it in orange because it reminded me
of Clementine from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

One of my favorite photos taken for that class. My nephew, age 7 (he’s now 16!)

Empty film canisters.

I use to make my own bookmarks. I’m pretty sure I still have this one.

California State Fair ♥

Second favorite place on campus. The Library, 3rd floor.

These people were my best friends. Life can be unnecessarily complicated sometimes.

I got on an airplane for the first time in 2005 too!

I cannot remember what all of these were. But I can spot
Phantom Planet Phantom Planet is Missing,
Modest Mouse Good News for People Who Love Bad News
Head Automatica Decadence
& Spitalfield Remember Right Now
STILL some of my favorite albums ever.

That phone. That iPod. The button that says “I’m no longer with stupid” 🙂

California: where it only rains in the fall & winter.

I know I have been sharing more photo posts than anything, and I apologize. We are in the process of moving and I am a little scatterbrained right now. However, I called this Camera Kristen for a reason! 🙂 Hope you are all having a wonderful week thus far! ❤

The Adventure that was April

This past month has been so hectic. I’ve been in shock all month how quickly time was passing. This month we quickly said our “see you later”s to friends and family, spent two and a half very long days inside a moving truck, and moved into our new home in Manhattan, Kansas.

I don’t have a favorites list this month because I honestly haven’t had enough time to try anything new. Some days I didn’t even put on makeup, and I don’t believe my nails have been painted at all this month! Some days I didn’t even wash my hair, but that I am doing on purpose. I’ve gotten my hair to do two days really well, working on getting three. I want my hair to get healthy again! I didn’t even rediscover anything I already had and love enough to say “HEY! this is awesome!”

I loved April entirely. April, itself, has been my favorite so far. I had my husband the ENTIRE time (well, for the most part. It was as “normal” as it has been since last August!), I tried a lot of new food, saw a lot of new faces, had a lot of new experiences, and I’m becoming a new version of me. This is Kansas Kristen, ya’ll!

(Mini plug! Follow me on Instagram! CameraKristen)

April was full of a lot of highs and it’s definitely ending on a low. Three people I hold near and dear all lost someone over the weekend. But like I said, April started some new chapters. Spring is starting to blossom, and Spring is kind of an interesting season. I always say Spring is my least favorite season (due to allergies), but it’s so darn pretty! So excuse me while I try to make an analogy. Life can bring some struggles, some cold days, some unexpected snowstorms, but sooner or later the season will change and the flowers will bloom again. Yes, it might hurt (sneeze and sniffles and sinus pressure – amongst other things that are not allergy related: sadness and loss), but it’s up to you to see the beauty in those flowers. You can look from afar if need be, ease your way in (take that allegra!), and get yourself back out there. That wasn’t that great, sorry! I meant well.

For me, April was pretty stressful but exciting. We packed our moving truck with the help of our parents, my sister and nephews, and left the next day. We stayed a night in southern California, another in Albuquerque, and the night after that we had made it to Fort Riley. We only stayed on post two nights, another night in Manhattan, and the next day we were moved into our new home. Unpacking seemed like a never ending process. Organizing it all was another thing. It didn’t really hit me that we were so far from home until I went to find a place for a cookbook holder my mom and got for me a few days before we had left home. I haven’t been on post too much, but it seems nice enough. Manhattan, on the other hand, I LOVE! It’s such a cute college town. It has Target and Chipotle, and those were the two things I begged the Army gods for. I should have thrown in a Ross or Marshalls too but hey, there’s one not too terribly far away. Ikea, on the other hand, is an eight hour drive away. I’m starting to finally get used to our house, where everything is, and trying to work out a daily schedule for myself. We only have one car, so I’m stuck being a home body for now. HOWEVER, I am in walking distance of quite a bit, so, it is all good!

I took these panoramas of our living room about a week ago. Still on the messy side, but it’s all coming together!

Anywhos! Here’s to a new chapter, a new (but really, very much the same) Kristen, and a whole bunch of new adventures!