Switching Over

I’ve always known that I’d take my husband’s name – there was no question about it. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with my maiden name, I’m just a traditionalist with some things. I’ve also known, knowing me as well as I do, that it would take for-ever to get it all done (it’s still not…)

But I’ve done the big two: social security card and now, the drivers license.

The social security card was put off more out of inconvenience than sentimentality. Starting the day after the wedding, I used my married name in my personal life (I’ve retained my maiden name for professional purposes and SEO), so it was only a matter of being home sometime M-F between 9:30 and 3pm before I legally changed my name.

The drivers license, that was another story. I’m a little attached to my drivers license photo. See, I don’t always photograph well – and this photo was the exception. So much so that waiters/bartenders would comment on what a nice photo it was. The key was in the slight turn of my head. So I waited. I waited until I had a new social security card, an address that wouldn’t be changing… and until my current license expired… and even then, for 2 days later. Which left me at the DMV on a Saturday (insert 1.5 hours of my life here).

While standing in line I grew nervous and nostalgic. I’d heard some people state that they didn’t have to retake their photo when they got their license renewed, there was hope. I also noted that everyone in line had folders and forms. Crap, was that something I needed too?! After getting through the gate-keeper (the elderly woman who makes sure that you have enough forms of identification with you to accomplish the task at hand) I waited, and waited and waited some more for my number to be called. I’ve never wanted to jump up and yell for joy as I did when my number was finally called. But it was bittersweet, that meant the time for me to part with my license had come.

I tried to keep my current license by casually mentioning that I’d need it to vote – the man behind the desk informed me that, 1. he couldn’t give it back to me and 2. I didn’t need it to vote. Now, I already knew that, but I was hoping he didn’t. haha. Then he dropped the boom, I’d also need a new photograph. Drat.

Another line to wait in. They finally called my name, my new name. And they said it wrong. I’d been practicing how I’d subtly turn my head to the side to get the best angle when the man behind the counter told me to look straight ahead. So I turned my head just slightly back towards center. No dice. He informed me that homeland security dictated that we all must be facing head-on for our IDs.

Ah well, the photo didn’t turn out as poorly as I’d anticipated, it’s quite nice actually. Probably not nice enough for the wait staff to take notice, but at least I won’t be embarrassed like I was with the photo on my first drivers license when I first learned to drive.

So now I’m one step closer to being totally switched over: next step, credit and debit cards – but I’ll probably put that off until the new year, I wouldn’t want to jeopardize all my stored info being useable on my favorite online shopping sites 🙂

Before / After

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Where did October go?

It shouldn’t surprise me that the months from September through December tend to fly past – with countless birthdays, holidays and parties it’s easy to look up one day and wonder when September 1st turned into December 31st.

This October was particularly busy for us. Having Mike off work between shows for most of the month, we took advantage of his time and went on our long-awaited honeymoon and started our laundry list of things that we felt needed to happen to our house before winter settles in:

– We had a landscape designer come design out what our property could look like. Pending timing and final cost, we may start implementing some of work as early as this fall. It turns out that evergreens are fairly inexpensive this time of year, and the plans have some bushes being planted between our yard and our neighbor’s parking area. That would also require the unsightly chain link fence to come down (oh darn…).

– Mike insulated the attics. Insulation is on my list of things that freaks me out (anything that causes injury just by coming in contact with your skin, thanks but no thanks) so I was really glad that Mike took the initiative on this one.

– Garage door openers came next. I regret to inform anyone eagerly awaiting the time when Mike and I decide to have children, but our first born will be headed off to the garage door guys for payment. I nearly swooned when I heard the cost of having two garage door openers installed. It didn’t help that we have “heavy doors”…

– We still need to figure out the shed situation. Now that we have these nice new garage door openers and the threat of snow looms ever near, we need to start parking our cars in the garage. But not until the riding mower, regular lawn mower and motorcycle find a new home for the winter.

– Our second born child will inevitably be headed off to live with whoever we hire to re-do our driveway. It’s currently very uneven and falling apart, and doesn’t line up with the base of the garage. Currently it has two wooden ramps for the cars to go over. Mike’s particularly worried that when it gets icy, these ramps will be near impossible to get the cars over and into the garage.

What happened to doing fun things around the house, like painting? And mentally redesigning our kitchen for it’s future facelift? No one walks up to your door and is like, those are some mighty fine garage door openers you’ve got there – say, are your doors extra heavy? Or, look at that asphalt driveway, now that’s a driveway! I can practically hear Mom over my shoulder saying “welcome to adulthood!”

4 Great Men in a Rock

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A couple days ago, Mike and I ventured over to the town of Keystone to see Mount Rushmore. We were quite impressed on a number of levels:

1) The craftsmanship that went into such a masterpiece. Sculptures produced by chipping stone away never cease to amaze me.

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photo of a photo - shows the scale compared to a human

2) The scale. See the above photo. Enough said.

3) The fact that it is probably the least touristy tourist spot that I’ve ever been to. There are no outside vendors hawking cheap souvenirs. When you reach the summit of the hike, there is no one offering to take your photo and then sell it back to you. No sponsor logos plastered on anything. The entrance fee was a modest $11 total for the car and good through the end of the year. There is a discreet bookstore inside the museum and a souvenir shop by the entrance, that’s it.

4) The museum is just enough information to be informative and answer any questions that you may have, but not overwhelming.

5) The fact that the design for Mount Rushmore changed majorly twice after production had already begun!

I 100% recommend a visit at some point. The sight and accompanying information really provide you with more of an appreciation for this National Monument.

The Badlands… More Like The Awesomelands

I’ve been wanting to experience the Badlands for a few years now. I’ve seen several photos and heard nothing but good reviews, but that didn’t make the view upon entry into the park any less awe-inspiring. They are absolutely breathtaking. And they’re so much more than that first viewpoint when you enter the park that you usually see photos of.

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a viewpoint closer to the Sage Creek campsite

Sometimes they appear to be carved down into the earth, and other times they tower up like mountains. Some are graced with dusty pink stripes, others are a rich yellow and still others seem almost white.

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the yellow mounds

They are jagged and rocky, smooth and rounded, flat topped and grassy. Some are dotted with animals while others are barren alien lands. Sometimes it’s so quiet that the only noises that you hear are your own footsteps, there are times when the wind is so violent that it’s all you can hear, and at dusk and dawn the silence is punctuated with the songs of the coyotes.

As a photographer this range frustrated and inspired me. I love to tell the story of a place, journey or person to my audience, but here there is no definitive view and what you can get into the viewfinder on your camera is never enough to give the full picture. It’s a land that needs to be experienced. It cannot be contained in a single image.

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along the Castle trail

The national park is filled with opportunities to immerse yourself, if you take them. Driving all the way out to the campsite at Sage Creek takes you through a range of landscapes and hiking the 15+ miles of trails allows you deep into their heart. Mike and I took every one of those opportunities so we could learn, explore and enjoy the Badlands.

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A Morning Jaunt in Palisades State Park

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Right across the border from Minnesota into South Dakota is a charming state park called Palisades. Definitely worth a visit on your way to the western portion of the state.
Mike and I really enjoyed our morning hike traversing most of the park. The trails are of moderate difficulty, with some hopping from rock to rock, small hills, interesting landscapes and beautiful views. Oh, and a pack of wild turkeys (the mystery birds from the other night revealed themselves to us while we were hiking).

50 Billboards to Wall Drug

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The approximately 5 hours it took to drive through three quarters of the state of South Dakota was dotted much of the way with billboards beckoning travelers to various attractions: the Corn Palace, 1880s Town, Bear Town USA, Reptile Gardens and quite possibly the most famous of them all, Wall Drug, made famous by its 5 cent coffee. While we won’t be stopping at the Corn Palace or 1880s Town, the historic Wall Drug is on our to-do list for Tuesday.

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Each billboard for this exhibit has an old fire truck below each one.

Roughing It

I think I speak for both Mike and myself when I state that we have a new appreciation for our memory foam mattress pad on our bed at home.
As a child I loved sleeping on the floor, in fact I loved it so much that I would go for months on end sleeping in my sleeping bag on the floor in my bedroom. When I got to college, I spent the better part of a year sleeping on a loveseat under my lofted bed due to an allergy to my dorm room ceiling. I prided myself for having the ability to sleep anywhere on anything. Pride myself no more, at a few days shy of 26 my back is in pain after 1 night on a rock hard cabin mattress followed by 2 nights in a tent. We even had pads to go under the sleeping bags, but those made little difference.
The sleeping bags themselves were a whole other issue. We passed up normal sleeping bags that my in-laws lent us for my dad and brother’s heavy duty -20 degree mummy sleeping bags. Neither of us had ever slept in a mummy bag before, and what we learned was that we both sprawl out when we’re sleeping, a lot. Mummies do not sprawl out, and apparently neither do dad and Ian.
The last camping-related issue we encountered was the lack of daylight and the fire ban. Without a campfire the only thing we could do after dark was look at the photos on my digital camera (which we did each night) and go to bed at 7:30…for the next 12 hours til the sun came up the next morning. This usually resulted in being fully awake for me around 3:30-4am. As well as waking up around 11pm. Last night the wind was so intense and loud that I found myself laying awake for hours wondering if my shoes outside the tent had blown away.
But camping was worth it. Dad and Ian generously outfitted us with great supplies and shelter (not convinced that we set up the tent correctly though). We stayed at a primitive campsite for free. It was 25+ miles from civilization, the visitors center and the campsite with running water. The awesome part of that was that in order to get to our campsite we had to drive through parts of the park that most people seem to miss. And man oh man do they miss out: great views, varying landscape and close encounters with wild animals (more on that later). Also, due to our darkness-imposed early bedtime followed by early rising, we got to have nice full days and watch the sunrise.

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Saturday sunrise at our campsite

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Sunday sunrise at our campsite

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Sunday golden hour at our campsite