WHERE IN THE WORLD IS THE REPTILE?

I realize this is not my usual blog post, but this is special sighting I want to share with you. On a recent trip to far west Texas, there was a little critter who blended in with the soil and rocks so well that only his/her movement gave him/her away. This guy is classified as a reptile, and he/she was tiny - maybe the size of a quarter excluding the tail. Do you want to take a look and maybe make a guess? Well, here you go:

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MY OFFICE FOR THE WEEK

 
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My "Office" Last Week

I love it when my “office” for the week looks like this. Some gals showcase their pedicured feet perched on the lounge chair by the pool. Apparently, hiking boots, snake leggings, and a camera in my hand is the way I roll. LOL!

I made a few (okay, a LOT of) images that I hope to work on next week.

However, on a serious note, the Big Bend area of Texas is in desperate need of rain. So, order up one rain storm, hold the lightning, please.

WEDNESDAY WANDERING: ON THE STEINBECK TRAIL

In March, I had an opportunity to visit the Silicon Valley area of California. I have visited San Francisco, Napa Valley, Laguna Beach, Los Angeles…, but I never made it to this area. Can I tell you a secret? I was really excited because, as you might recall, in 2016 I wrote a blog post about John Steinbeck’s novel Travels with Charley. This was my opportunity to visit some of the places like Monterey, Cannery Row, Salinas, and… wait for it… The National Steinbeck Center. But, I’m getting ahead of myself so I will start at the beginning of the trip.

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Year in Review

I have spent some time this month reviewing 2016 and preparing for 2017. So, I thought I would share a quick overview of 2016 accomplishments:

JANUARY

I "assisted" my talented sister-in-law with a photo shoot for a magazine. Actually, one of her images became the cover of the magazine. I put assisted in quotes because I really just showed up for the party and watched her do her magic. I am so grateful for the opportunity. Did I say she is talented? Yes. Well, you can see some of her work here: http://www.cindyangerer.com/

FEBRUARY

I donated a framed version of this image to the Taste of Salado fundraiser for the Public Arts League of Salado.

New Season Fog, Digital Photography, Copyright © 2015
New Season Fog, Digital Photography, Copyright © 2015

I am happy to announce that I did not have to do the "walk of shame" with the work under my arm at the end of the event. Thank you to the generous supporter who bid on my work, as well as supporting the Arts in Central Texas.

MARCH

I had the opportunity to visit friends in Las Cruces, New Mexico and my gracious hostess, Peggy, introduced me to some of the wonderful galleries in Las Cruces. It was such a fun visit with wonderful hosts. I love New Mexico.

APRIL

I think I already posted about participating in the 15-Minute A Day Creative Challenge in April. But, since this is a recap, here is a peek at the first thing I created, in 15 minutes (or more) per day. This old car did take several 15 minute blocks of time. And, while it isn't what I consider finished or gallery-worthy, it represents my commitment to a daily creative endeavor.

Watercolor, Copyright © 2016 SuZan Alexander
Watercolor, Copyright © 2016 SuZan Alexander

MAY

I am shamed to report that there were not a lot of artistic endeavors worth sharing in May - unless painting the Master Bedroom counts. I did, however, continue with my daily/weekly/monthly goal for post-processing images.

JUNE

In June, I hosted my first give-away. I worked on a Watercolor Batik that I offered to my Newsletter "Tribe". The beauty of watercolor batik is that each final work is unique. You may use the same paint, same paint colors, the same process, but each one takes on their own unique look.

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JULY

I made a trip to Palo Duro Canyon and the Cadillac Ranch in July and I can't wait to return.

Digital Photography, Copyright © 2016 SuZan Alexander
Digital Photography, Copyright © 2016 SuZan Alexander

AUGUST

August was SERIOUS. I met with a CPA, as well as the Comptroller to set-up bookkeeping for the Studio so I could start offering my image for sale online.

SEPTEMBER

This isn't art related, but, in September, I cut my hair so I could fulfill my wish of contributing my hair to make wigs for cancer patients and celebrate my own survivor status.

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OCTOBER

The Texas Professional Photographers Association (TPPA) held an event in San Marcos that I was happy to get a chance to attend. What a great event and even better group of photographers. I can not wait to attend next year.

NOVEMBER

I participated in Flood the Streets with Art and left five images around Salado for shoppers to find.

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DECEMBER

I am happy to report that I FINALLY completed organizing and post-processing images with a few days of 2016 to spare. Now, I can start 2017 "fresh".

If you made it this far, thanks! Just so I do not write another long post like this one, I plan to be more consistent with my blog and social media posts in 2017. I even have a plan that I am very excited about and I look forward to sharing it with you.  Tomorrow is the second month of the 2017 party, so... Let's get going!

Sacred Valley Days 2 and 3 (or How I Now Own a New Explorer Status)

Days two and three of hiking the Sacred Valley are, quite frankly, a blur. I was trying to enjoy the experience and take it all in, but that proved to be difficult when you feel like you are neither seeing, nor experiencing, nor photographing when you are worried about safely navigating the climb/descent immediately before you. Many times, I felt like I was snapping photos from an automobile speeding down the Autobahn. I returned from the trip with very few usable photos, but hey, I got a torn hamstring as a souvenir. So, given the speed of our travels, I will consolidate these two days into one post. You are just going to have to trust me on this one. Day 2, we traveled about an hour drive from Cusco and hiked the back side of Tipón, where we saw examples of the Inca water channels and impressive stonework.

Sacred Valley II Collage, Digital Photography, © 2015 SuZan Alexander
Sacred Valley II Collage, Digital Photography, © 2015 SuZan Alexander
Senor de Huanca, Digital Photography, © 2015 SuZan Alexander
Senor de Huanca, Digital Photography, © 2015 SuZan Alexander

After that, we met the van and traveled toward Pisaq.  Along the way, we stopped at a beautiful church – Seńor de Huanca. So named after the person who owned the land.  The spot is famous because a meteor landed there.  The meteor remains to this day inside a special room inside the church. It is a magical place and well worth a visit.

And then we were on our way to Pisaq. The Pisaq ruins were difficult for me. As full disclosure about this part of our adventure, there was more than one time I wanted to channel my inner two-year-old child so someone would remove me from the trail. I managed to be an adult and push through…barely. There was one point where we were on a very steep, narrow trail, and, I admit, parts of the trail was navigated on all fours. But I DID navigate it. After what I THOUGHT was a difficult passage, Jay and I reached a somewhat level area where we hugged the mountain stopped to catch our breath (we were high five-ing and celebrating our safety) when we turned the corner and discovered that we had another steep hill to climb. Okay, so this is where I lost it and started chanting, “I can NOT do that!” repeatedly. Maybe even at a decibel level higher than I realized at the time. Did I say, repeatedly?  Jay finally broke the verbal panic-induced trance with the reality of our situation by stating the obvious, “We have to do this because there is no other way out.” For the record, I hate when he unleashes logic on me. And so, this is where the real “fun” began. Needless to say, I do not have pictures memorializing that part of the hike.

Day 3, we started the day visiting the ruins in Ollantaytambo. Sometime the day before, my Fitbit went dead, and I had no way to recharge it.  With all these stinkin’ steps I was taking, I was not even getting fitness “credit”.

In the afternoon, I finally got some quality time in Ollantaytambo to walk around and take pictures. Ahh! This is more like it.

Collage 3 Digital Photography, © 2015 SuZan Alexander
Collage 3 Digital Photography, © 2015 SuZan Alexander

Before I hit any of these trails, one of the books I read was Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams, in which he references “martini explorers”. When I read that, I scoffed, thinking, right-on brother. Then, it occurred to me that I might be classified as a "martini explorer". Horror! I had justified not hiking the entire Inca Trail, theorizing, to assuage my guilt, that this was my reconnaissance of the trek. By the end of day two, when I enviously; neigh, covetously, sat in a restaurant all stinky, sweaty, hurting, exhausted, sporting hat-hair… watching a group of ladies load up on a Mercedes bus looking all fresh and put together with shopping bags in tow; I know I was looking at them like a puppy eyeing a piece of bacon. It was then I announced aloud, "I want a Mercedes bus. I NEED a Mercedes bus." From here on out (and I feel a bit Scarlett O’Hara-ish about this), I shall be a “martini explorer”. And, furthermore, I shall make no excuses, nor be shamed by my new status as a “martini explorer”, for I have earned it.

LIFE LESSON: Before you unleash your hard earned money on a tour, make sure there is a Mercedes bus somewhere in the package. If there is no bus...RUN!! Run hard. Run fast. This is no time to power walk.

Next week, the reward is the end of the trail: Machu Picchu, so until then…

Happy Trails…