2016 in review
46,449 Miles Driven // 89 Nights Camped // 1 International Border Crossed
Texas / New Mexico / Arizona / California / Nevada / Utah / Arkansas / Oklahoma / Missouri / Colorado / Wyoming / Idaho / Montana / Alberta (Canada) / British Columbia (Canada) / Washington / Oregon
25 National Parks + Monuments
White Sands / Sonora / Joshua Tree / Death Valley / Zion / Natural Bridges / Canyonlands / Great Sand Dunes / Arches / Rocky Mountain / Grand Teton / Yellowstone / Glacier / Waterton Lakes (Canada) / Banff (Canada) / Yoho (Canada) / Jasper (Canada) / North Cascades / Carlsbad Caverns / Guadeloupe Mountains / Pinnacles / Sequoia / Kings Canyon / Yosemite / Canyons of the Ancients
2016 was a big year for us. It's hard to believe that a year ago, we were just a few months into an apartment lease in The Woodlands, Texas, planning for a big road trip to California. We were determined to squeeze everything we could out of that trip and in a little less than two weeks we saw White Sands National Monument, Zion National Park, Alabama Hills, Whitney Portal Road, Joshua Tree National Park, and Death Valley National Park. It was an incredible trip that just left us wanting more.
By the time march rolled around, we made the impulsive decision to take our Vanagon (we are still recovering emotionally + don't want to discuss it) to Arkansas with a buddy to visit our friends Katie and Lindsey one last time before they graduated from U of A and moved out of Fayetteville. We had a great visit and even did a shoot with one of our favorite companies, Fayettechill. Unfortunately, the return trip wasn't so smooth. Long story short...the van broke, we rented a car to get home, and the van became the only thing we'll ever regret (SO FAR) (but seriously, don't buy a vanagon. just get a econoline. TRUST ME.)
A few weeks after getting home from Fayetteville, we were seriously missing Moab and decided to squeeze a trip in between Sunday's (Cal was working at a church at the time) so we packed the car, left Texas at noon one sunday, got to Moab by monday evening and had a whopping 2.5 days there before heading back Thursday afternoon. We spent more time driving then we did in Moab, but it was SO worth it. That trip, we met Sylvan and Michelle for the first time AND we did our first tandem skydives at Skydive Moab!! SO yeah, it was a super worthwhile trip!
We spent the next few months in The Woodlands, occasionally doing ignorant adventures with our friends the Minors, like when Matt (on the motorcycle) pulled Callen on his mountain board through the forest, or the time I took photos of Matt out the van door while driving. I celebrated my 22 birthday, we shot some gorgeous weddings in Houston (hey Smiths and Knights!), and we eventually felt crazy enough to throw down another 5 day road trip to Moab. This one was especially challenging because Texas put up a fight with flash floods and tornados, but eventually we found ourselves at peace in the desert and discovering new favorite spots we didn't even know existed.
By the time we got home from Moab in May, we were looking at a summer full of gorgeous weddings (Savannah + Mitchell, Allie + Charlie just to name a few!) and I was having a hard time forgetting what it felt like to jump out of a plane. I started looking into getting my Skydiving license and while it scared the heck out of me, Callen and a few close friends (the Minors!!!!) helped me realize I had to go for it. I visited Skydive Spaceland for the first time and did my tandem level 2 jump one day before meeting Kelley and her mom + sister in Houston to shoot her bridals (random, but it'll tie in later) and knew I absolutely had to do this! I started planning when I could spend a week down at the drop zone getting my license and ended up settling on the last week in June. I was so nervous the Sunday Callen dropped me off outside of the hanger with my duffle bag and a few snacks for the week. It was crazy to me that if all went as planned, I'd be jumping solo by the next morning and have my license (and 25 jumps under my belt!) by Friday. I could write a novel about just that week, but long story short, I overcame some intense fears and completely fell in love the sport and my home drop zone! After doing 23 jumps in 5 days, I walked out with my A license and just a few cuts and bruises ;)
The craziest part was probably not even learning to skydive, but the fact that I did it the week of a big wedding! I left Spaceland Friday with my license, shot James and Kelley's gorgeous wedding Saturday, and then we left for a huge 3 week road trip to Canada on Sunday! On that trip, we drove 7,500 miles through 10 states and 9 National Parks! It was amazing and significant in a lot of ways. We bought our camper (what is now our home!) on day 2 and drug it around the US and Canada, testing it out and contemplating if it was suitable for long-term use. While the trip itself was gorgeous and so fun, what we didn't expect was how hungry it would leave us for more. We visited so many amazing places (Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, and the Canadian Rockies) and had a TON of driving time to contemplate our lives and talk about what we wanted life to look like in a few months, and in a few years.
With the end of our lease nearing, we returned from the Canada trip and quickly realized we wanted more. We had felt so alive and so free living on the road for nearly a month and suddenly our apartment in The Woodlands didn't feel like home. After so many tears and hard conversations with each other and dear friends (hey Minors, welcome to my blog post about our friendship), we made the tough but exciting decision to stop working in The Woodlands and pursue photography and life as full-time nomads. It was (and still is) so hard for us to be away from our band community that Callen had been with for 8 years, but we were so excited about the life we had ahead of us and after 3 months of official nomad-life, we are so thankful God gave us the freedom to made that decision!!
When our lease ended on September 7, we packed up (the Minor's helped) and headed west after stopping by Austin and San Antonio to kiss our families goodbye! We headed to California for Eunice and Wilson's gorgeous wedding but not before exploring new places in West Texas and New Mexico stopping in Zion National Park to hike Angel's Landing and meet our friends Eric + Kristen for an anniversary session, exploring Joshua Tree National Park with Katy + Andres, and spending a tough week apart while Callen flew to Nashville for his last gig with the band. Also - I can't leave out the amazing day the band got together and 5 of them did their first skydives at Spaceland after I had been bugging them for months about doing it, best goodbye present ever!
After we reunited and shot E+W's wedding, we drove north along the coast to see Big Sur then headed inland to Pinnacles National Park, Sequoia National Park, and King's Canyon National Park. After spending a few days back out in San Francisco where we saw Reel Rock 11 and attended a The North Face speaker series, we set sails for Yosemite! We were so excited to be back in the Valley again and were lucky enough to shoot an anniversary session for Sara + Jaimie on Taft Point, still one of my favorite sessions to date. It was so refreshing to be back in our favorite park. For me, it was the first time I really felt like we were living this dream we had dreamed for so long. It really set in for me when I was sitting in El Cap meadow feeling no stress and when I'd be back or making sure I got the most out of this one visit.
After Yosemite, we pretty much bombed straight to Moab where we arrived just in time for a ridiculously exciting weekend! On Friday, we took photos of our buddy Andy's birthday which consisted of skydiving, high-lining, rappelling, rock climbing, and BASE jumping! It was intense to say the least. At some point between climbing and BASE jumping, my family arrived (three from Austin and two from Oregon) for a Moab vacation - their first time out there! They got quite the intro with Andy's birthday jump and we spent the rest of their time showing them the beauty of the desert! By the end of it they definitely understood why we gave up everything to live out there!
Once their trip ended (too soon!) we settled in to normal life in Moab, climbing daily and falling in love with the community of friends we'd found. We got to shoot an awesome climbing clinic in Indian Creek, enjoyed a super fun snow day, and made some great new friends. Between all that, we squeezed in a quick trip back to Texas to shoot Hunter + Michael's dreamy wedding. As the days in Moab started growing shorter and colder, we held out through the end of November for the event we'd been looking forward to all year, GGBY! It certainly did not disappoint and we found ourselves feeling so thankful for the opportunity to live a life that allowed us to be there. Our buddies Sylvan and Michelle (I mentioned meeting them in March!) got engaged in the most epic of ways and we were so stoked to be there to capture it after developing such a strong friendship throughout the year.
By the end of November our time in Moab was coming to a close (it was getting waaaay too cold for a camper with no heat!) and we headed back to Texas for our last wedding of the year, Connie + Colton's romantic winter wedding! Since then, we've spent time in San Antonio with Callen's family, a week in The Woodlands visiting our dear buddies (and staying at, you guessed it, the Minor's house!), a few weeks in Austin with my family for Christmas, and now we're back in San Antonio for a stay-cation with Callen's family before heading west again for California!
It's crazy to me to be heading back to California one year later, as if we've come full circle, but in such an insane way. I can't believe how much we've grown this year as individuals, as a couple, and as a business. I couldn't have possibly imagined half of it this time last year, which makes 2017 kind of terrifying and so exciting! If you actually made it through this whole post, I want to THANK YOU for your encouragement, your support, and your excitement for what we're doing. We honestly can't imagine doing this without the support of our Texas community, our dirtbag community, and this crazy online community of friends (followers are friends, not food!) keeping up with us and encouraging us. So here's to 2017, the plans we have, and the ones we don't see coming. I hope it surprises us!