Travel Guide: Fall Break in Broken Bow, Oklahoma

Hey guys! You guys are all probably thinking, “Hasn’t she already done a Travel Guide for Broken Bow?” Well yeah, I did, back in the spring, whenever everything was green and it was warm enough to lay out by the waters. Well, this go around is a little different.

We managed to make our way back to the Hochatown to see the Ouachita Mountains in all their fall glory. Everyone we had talked to said that the Talimena Scenic Byway, a road passing through the Ouachita Mountains into Arkansas, was a must-see for those wanting to soak in all the colors of October! For those of you planning Fall Break, this should be on your list. Or even stop by this summer, the lake is great.

For us, Broken Bow plays the part of a retreat. We all know that Dallas Fort Worth can feel like a concrete jungle at times so we feel lucky that we found this oasis in the southeastern corner of the Sooner state. There is just so much to do.

You can go horseback riding, kayak down the Lower Mountain Fork, head to the Girls Gone Wine Boutique or the new, Beaver’s Bend Brewery or even try your hand at zip lining with Rugaru Adventures! We’ve hiked the trails at Beaver’s Bend State Park, toured their Historical Museum and even partaken in some Big Foot Hunting (totally joking though this is a thing). Whatever the rhyme or reason, I feel like you could custom design a trip to this part of the country to suite your needs. You have the option to rest and relax by the lake or take on a whole new kind of adventure. The options are endless.

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Where and What to Eat:

  1. PIZZA at The Grateful Head! This is seriously some of the best pizza I have ever had. My favorite is the Tree Hugger. Those whole olives, spinach and cherry tomatoes make this a must-eat in Hochatown!
  2. Anything from the Moon Tower Bar and Grill. CHOPPED winner, Tabb Singleton has opened a bar and grill near Broken Bow Lake and this menu is worth drooling over. I snagged the  MTBG Loaded Fries, braised beef short rib, herbed potato fries, Wisconsin cheese curds and brown gravy. Imagine Poutine Fries topped with hearty short ribs…mouth watering. Russ snagged the Mountain Fork Burger, an 8 oz American Waygu Beef burger, small batch bacon, beer braised onions, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, sunny side up egg, choice of mayo or mustard or both on a brioche bun. Both were out of this world.
  3. The Turkey Bacon Avocado sandwich from Adam & Eve’s Coffee Shop. This was the perfect lunch stop. We snagged 2 of these bad boys and headed down to Paddle Beaver’s Bend to grab our kayaks. Halfway down the Mountain Fork, we busted these guys our for the perfect lunch on the water.
  4. Hochatown BBQ!! Just go ahead and order one of everything. The pork and brisket were sooooo good. Add some potato salad and few jalapeños and you’ve got yourself an excellent dinner for a great price.

PHOTOGRAPHERS:

For you photographers out there, Beaver’s Bend State Park plays the part of your dream back drop. I managed to sneak in a Senior Portrait Session with these two lovely ladies while I was visiting the area. We rented canoes, blew off a few smoke bombs and even made smores by the Lower Mountain Fork River. To see the Tucker Twins Senior Portraits, head here.

GOLF:

Cedar Creek Golf Course at Beaver’s Bend was most definitely the highlight of the trip for Russ. I kept joking that I was gonna start offering Golf Mini Sessions for guys who want to work on their swing. This course is beautiful, but I will admit that it was find to hard the ball. The foundation of the Ouachita Mountains consists of a lot of white shale so looking for a white ball in a bed of white rocks can be a little daunting though the scenic views down each fairway were worth every penny. The views of the lake are phenomenal and we saw our fair share of wild life, including a 12 point buck!

Traveling in Oklahoma in the Fall is somewhat magical. Just a short 3 hour drive from Fort Worth, this trip is worth taking. We love the outdoors. Having grown up in the lush greenery of Pennsylvania, this trip is my opportunity to bask in the autumn leaves and get all nostalgic about how much I love nature. The ever-changing weather also provides the most magical sun rises and sunsets. Our view from the deck at Lakeview Lodge is the perfect place to chow down on the complimentary breakfast and watch the deer run around the lake. I always make sure to snag a few extra muffins and cereal to pack in our bag for hiking snacks.

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 HOW I GOT THE ITCH FOR TRAVEL JOURNALISM & WHERE ARE WE HEADED TO NEXT:

In the spring of 2016, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Carolyn Anderson, a landscape photographer based out of New Alexandria, Pennsylvania. After our chat, I made it a point to try my hand at capturing the highlights of our adventures. We traveled so much in 2016. Our East Coast Girl’s Trip was my first attempt at Travel Journalism and since then, we’ve traveled all around Colorado, through the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania and to Broken Bow, Oklahoma in the spring. This year, we have visited Reykjavik, Iceland and Edinburg, Scotland and recently, Yellowstone National Park, so keep your eyes out for the next Travel Guide!

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IS THERE SOMEWHERE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE RUSTIE NAIL TRAVEL TO? LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS/SUGGESTIONS BELOW!

Visiting Daddy’s Alma Mater: Saint Vincent College

Hey guys! I am so excited to share this particular Portait Session with you all because I have waited far too long to photograph this adorable family! These sweet babes, Jake & Elliana, were one of the first sessions that I ever did. Elliana wasn’t more than a month old the last time I had these 2 in front of the lens and I am so pumped to see how my work has evolved since then.

If you don’t know them, it is past time you met the Greece Family! Tony, his wife, Emily and their two adorable kiddos are my first cousins. Tony is a local school teacher and Emily is the girl you go to when it’s past due for a new hair “do”. Just this past year, they moved into a new home in Latrobe, PA and I wanted to help them decorate their house with new family photos.

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We chose to set up the shoot at the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve at Saint Vincent College mainly because Tony graduated with his masters here not too long ago but also  because the scenery here would make the perfect backdrop for their shoot! Located just off of Route 30 in Latrobe, this place around sunset is a gorgeous stroll.

I wanted to get the “Family of 4” shots done first simply because kids have no patience and I wasn’t about to test the patience of two small Greece children. We set up the first image along the driveway into the Reserve. The flowers are in full bloom this year and the image would look perfect with the Cathedral in the background.

After running around in the flowers for a bit, we managed to make our way down to the big red barn located near the entrance. Since the little ones have the shortest attention spans, I figured I would start shooting the individual portraits of Elliana first and boy, is she a ham! This girl was sniffing all the pretty flowers and showing me all the pretty bracelets she had worn for her shoot. Though chalk full of giggles at first, this Mama’s girl made sure we knew who runs the show!

After snapping a few photos of Emily and Elliana in the gardens, we headed to the back of the barn to snap a few of Tony and his little guy, Jake. I was thinking of different Father-Son poses when my little buddy suggested that he sit on Daddy’s shoulders. With the barn in the background and my little buddy squealing “Angaweena!!!” to get my attention, the moment was picture perfect.

Like most Family Sessions, my sweet cousins wanted to focus on the kiddos but I always make an effort to get a few good pics of Mom and Dad together. It’s almost like after kids come into the fold, couples forget that their love story should be documented too! But, I wasn’t about to let them get off scot-free. I made sure to get a few photos of Tony & Emily posing “prom-style”.

We made our way down to the historic Lochry Block House and snapped a few more of the whole family together in the adjacent garden before we decided to head for a walk around the paths in the park. We passed a small pond and marched our way towards the Observation Deck all the while catching up on life and what we’ve missed since my last visit home.

It was so nice to catch up with them. But, even better spending time with the little ones. I feel so lucky that after all these years, Tony and I have remained close. Like most cousins, we have this shared history of family dysfunction but beneath the surafce of forced family interaction, Tony, Emily, Russ and I have formed this genuine friendship. When they got engaged, we got the call. When we got engaged, they got the call. When they found out that their family would be expanding, we heard the news of Jake’s arrival first. Through a flood of Facetime tears, I met Jake just hours after he came into this world and when I found out they were expecting their 2nd baby, I immediatey bought my plane ticket to be there when Ellie was born.

During that visit back home, I had the great pleasure of photographing my new baby cousin for the first time. She was so perfectly pink, just the prettiest baby I ever saw. She had big blue eyes and the tiniest little toes. I couldn’t of imagined then but later that day, Tony and Emily would honor me by asking me to take on the role of being Elliana’s Godmother. Cue the ugly tears guys.

We ended this shoot by wrapping up quickly and heading to the Red Brick for pizza with our friends and family! I am so thankful for any time that I get to share with these guys especially because our time together is few and far between since I am in Texas. Tony, thank you, for being such a great role model and constantly encouraging me to chase my dreams. I’ve always looked up to you and I am so happy to see all your dreams coming true. Emily, thank you, for being the best addition to the Greece Family. You are kind and God-fearing, ambitious and graceful. I could not imagine a better match for my big cousin! Jake, thank you, for dubbing me “Angaweena” and for just being the smartest cookie in our family. You are one crazy little guy who always knows how to put a smile on my face. And, Elliana, thank you, for reminding me that life comes full circle. You remind me so much of another sassy little girl we all used to know. Though we miss her everyday, you help keep her memory shining bright. You are a light in the world little girl and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for you.

For more information on how to book your Family Portrait Session, please contact me through email at therustienailhead@gmail.com and I will provide you with our Pricing and Packages! If you would like to book a session or to inquire about our Fall Mini Sessions in the Laurel Highlands and our Travel Dates, just give me a ring at 724-216-8185 and we can get you all in the books!

Garden Party with the Foley Sisters

Hey guys! I am just getting back from another whirlwind vacation home to the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania and I am so excited to share a few sneak peeks of the Portrait Sessions that I crammed in during my visit. My first session was a long overdue play date with my younger cousins, Kaylee and Ryan! Their Momma is my first cousin and we have been trying to work her family into my books for months now!

We decided to meet at one of our family’s favorite restaurants, Rizzo’s Malabar Inn. In fact, Russell and I had our Rehearsal Dinner here. Settled into the quaint, country farming community of Crabtree, Rizzo’s has grown and evolved over the last 75 years from a small sub shop during the coal mining days into a fine-dining establishment with a massive banquet hall and outdoor patio!

After initialing launching Bar Rizzi, the company chose to adapt the space to fit the needs of their clientele. They turned the Bar into a Banquet Hall. Weddings, company meetings, baby showers and many other events have graced the adjacent ballrooms but the staff still felt like something was missing. Just this year, Rizzo’s chose to add on an outdoor ceremony site, a gorgeous water feature and they even added a Fireworks Package for those who book the space.

Because these little girls have a Daddy with a major hookup at Rizzo’s (He’s one of the longtime chefs!), we were able to sneak out onto the property and use this location as our shoot site! I must say, Rizzo’s has done a fantastic job with the space! The pergola is simply decorated with Boston Ferns and the water feature was exquisitely designed making this site a perfect backdrop!

We spent the first half of the morning frolicking through the freshly planted flowers and practicing our best dance moves! Kaylee was her usual self; quiet, reserved yet silly and polite at the same time. From the time that she was little, she was always good at taking direction and this shoot would be no exception. She patiently waited for instruction and followed them meticulously. You could tell that she has come into herself over the years. She knew which side was her “best” side and which smile was her “best” smile. She has become quite the little lady and I am so proud of her for being so responsible all the while maintaining her childlike wonder!

Ryan, on the other hand, is Kaylee’s opposite. She is crazy and wild and has a short attention span. I guess that’s the way it goes with sisters. Ryan is constantly moving. Whether she is exploring a new place or telling a story, there are always a lot of ideas running through her little mind. She told me all about her summer plans and how NOT excited she was to go back to school in the fall.  Ryan is a handful, in the best of ways. Even when she was a baby, she could find a way to keep the whole family in stitches. We are kindred spirits in that sense and I am so happy to see that someone else on the Miller side of the family, besides me, got the “wildchild” gene.

We ended our shoot by jumping in the water. I had promised them in the beginning that if they were good, I would let them get dirty and play in the water feature. Both girls were so excited when I told them it was time to make “Martha Washington” hair! They built houses with the rocks they found in the riverbed and even tried to climb into the massive water bowls at the base of the fountain. We ended the shoot by drying them off and giving them both their first photography lesson. I let each of them have a turn at taking a few photos! I loved getting to spend some time with my baby cousins and I look forward to seeing them every time I come back to visit!

For more information on this location or how to book your next event at Rizzo’s, head to www.rizzosmalabarinn.com. And for information on how to book your Portrait Session or to learn about our Pennsylvania Travel Dates, shoot me an email at therustienailhead@gmail.com.

Texas Tulips: A Girls Day in North Texas

A few weeks back, my bestie and full time petal pusher, Tiffany of Wanderlust Floral Designs, headed out to the U-Pick Tulip Farm in Pilot Point, Texas. Just north of Denton, you can find this traditional Dutch tulip farm. Truth be told, this was our 2nd go around at this particular farm. Last year, we headed there bright and early but were soon swarmed by Spring Breakers. To check out our last trip to the Tulip Farm, click on this link. I’d like to say we prepared better this year but I’d be wasting my breath. Though we managed to beat the crowds, we happened to go on a particularly dreary day.

Thank goodness we brought our coats because the sun chose to hide behind the clouds most of the morning. It was chilly!! Luckily for us, overcast makes for some pretty great floral photos.

The colors were so vibrant and the variety was insane. They must have had 50 variations of tulips in every shape, color and size. From fringed parrot heads to to willowed lush petals, we found an interesting array of Holland’s best known blooms.

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We strolled the rows and rows, picking one of each kind it seemed like. I was going to bright and lush. I love the way they float from a vase. Tiff was more interested in the pastels. Her arrangement felt a little earthier than mine which I am always envious of. Tiff has a way with picking the right bouquet. She knows which sizes and colors are going to coordinate well together. You really do need to check out her work, she has been up to some pretty exciting things this season. Follow along on her Instagram at @wanderlustflorals.

 

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Did I mention it was chilly? Ya, and muddy. Very, very muddy. We may have beat the crowds, but we didn’t get any better at planning. Case in point, check the shoes yo. Neither one of us dressed appropriately for our girls day. Word to the wise: Check the weather.  By the end of our romp around the farm, we were soaked and caked in mud. We got a good laugh out of it but ended up stopping at Ross to buy a new pair on the way home.

 

 We witnessed photographers out on shoots with little girls in their Easter hats. You could easily see the potential for an amazing backdrop. Seriously, could this place get any more adorable?

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At $3/cover and $2.50/stem, this place can add up quick. But, we agree, it was totally worth it. We soaked up the aroma and beauty of this little piece of heaven in North Texas and we will be back again next year!  For more information on how to visit Texas Tulips, head here to www.texas-tulips.com.

My name is Angelina Norris. I am natural light photographer based in Dallas-Fort Worth, with roots in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania. I specialize in family and lifestyle portraiture with an emphasis on play. I believe that the best portraits are a combination of  genuine intimacy and playful experience. I live for the opportunity to test out the waters of new shoot locations and discover new places all around the globe. Photography Services start at $300. If you would like to book your unique portrait session, shoot me an email at therustienailhead@gmail.com.

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Travel Guide: 3 Days in Iceland

Hey guys! As most of you know, my husband and I just got back from an amazing vacation abroad. During our 8 day trip across the pond, we visited 2 countries, Iceland and Scotland. Today, I’m going to let you in on some of the fun we had while traveling near the North Pole! Our time in Iceland consisted of touring the Golden Circle, road tripping to the southern most point of the island and soaking in the geothermal pools of the Blue Lagoon. It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip for us and I am excited to share this guide and the fun we had on our adventure! If you’re thinking about heading far north, I have provided a bunch of tips and tricks to make the most of your time while exploring the last true frontier!

 DAY ONE:

We arrived bright and early, courtesy of Iceland’s up and coming airline, WOW air. Upon our arrival in Keflavik, we immediately headed to pick up our rental car. We chose to rent through SADcars. Days before our arrival, Reykjavik was hit with the biggest blizzard since 1952. We were worried about what the road conditions would be like considering that we had planned on driving during most of our stay. Though our Subaru Forester was a little rusty and the check engine light was on, I must admit, this little car got us where we needed to go.

Our first stop was The Blue Lagoon. This spa is located in Grindavik, Iceland, about 20 minutes away from Keflavik International. We arrived shortly before sunrise. After checking in, we jumped into our swimsuits and headed into the geothermal pool. Our favorite parts of the Lagoon included sipping on raspberry ICEES, heading into the steaming grotto and basking in the waters with our silica and algae masks. If you’re questioning on whether or not to splurge on this luxury, trust me, it’s worth it. This was a great way to relax as soon as we got off the plane and an even better way to explore the Reykjanes peninsula!

Located just south of Reykjavik on the Atlantic coast, Kalfatjarnarkirkja church boasts fantastic views of the Gerdistangi Lighthouse. Founded in 1891, Kalfatjarnarkirkja is the largest rural church in all of Iceland. If you are looking for a picturesque way to explore the coast on your way to Reykjavik, this is the perfect pitstop. We strolled behind the property to find a famous whale bone and admired the nearby golf course.

 

After our pitstop on the coast, we began our journey into downtown Reykjavik. I had booked us a room in Heida’s Home. It was a lovely hostel located just south of the main drag, Laugavegur. We were within walking distance of the bars, restaurants and all the major attractions in Reykjavik. To boot, Heida was the best. She gave us great advice on where to park to avoid crazy fees, where to check out the best street art and our room had a quaint balcony for us to enjoy our coffee in the morning.

By 3 pm that day, we were pooped but hell bent on staying awake so as to adjust to the time change. After checking in, we decided to walk around downtown and check out some of the attractions on our “Must See” List. Our first stop was Hallgrimskirkja Church. This establishment is the tallest building in Iceland and for around 8 bucks, you can take the elevator to the top floor and check out the views from the North, East, South and West! The massive organ, located just inside the entrance, consists of 5275 pipes and was designed by Johannes Klais of Bonn. Construction of the church began in 1945 and was not completed until 1986. This architectural feat and the statue of Leifur Erriksson, the first person to discover America, is a labor of love come to life.

After snapping a few photos from the tower above Hallgrimskirkja, we decided to head downtown and find a bite to eat. After getting a little lost, we managed to walk right into the famous hot dog stand, Baejarins Beztu Pylsur! Everyone raved about these so we made sure to snag a few to munch on while we walked around. I was told beforehand to order them the Icelandic way “ein meo ollu“, which means everything on it! After grabbing a Gull beer at a local bar, we made our way down to the harbor for some dinner at Saegriffin or “Seabaron” to try the humarsupa, lobster soup, with some fresh bread and butter. No joke, there was a whole half a lobster in my soup and it was just spicy enough to warm me up for the walk back to our hostel.

After dinner, we managed to walk past the Harpa, Reykjavik’s Opera House and then on down to the Viking Sculpture, Solfario, to watch the sunset. Dubbed the Sun Voyager, Jon Gunnar Arnason completed this sculpture in 1990! The mountains in the backdrop make this site a perfect photo opportunity.

DAY TWO:

Day Two was all about road tripping the Golden Circle Tour. Though there many companies offering bus tours of this particular part of the country, we decided to make the trek ourselves so we could make the most of our day. After stopping at Mokka Kaffi for a café Americano and their famous waffles and jam, we started out on our adventure. The first sight would be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Thingvellir National Park. This park is special because it is said to have been the site of the first Alping, a parliamentary meeting place. Though covered in a fresh blanket of snow, the blue skies reflected beautifully off the Thingvallavatn Lake.

The next thing on our must-see list was the great geysir, Stokkur. Located in the Haukadalur valley, this famous geysir erupts about every 5-6 minutes and boy is it a site to see! I will warn you though, the temperature of the water is around 484 degrees so keep your distance and make sure to bring durable shoes. The geothermal activity will melt the bottom of your shoes if you don’t watch where you are stepping.

Located about 10-15 minutes away is the incomparable Gullfoss Falls. After viewing the immensity of the falls from the southern entrance, we climbed the stairs to the overlook. From there, you can see the mouth of the river flowing into the staircase of falls that form the colorful display in the Hvita canyon. There were literally too many rainbows to count though I kept my eye on the looney tune who dared to surpass the barriers and climb down onto the side of a massive cliff. One thing is for sure, there are no shortages of daredevils in this unknown land.

On our way back into Reykjavik, we decided to stop for lunch. Before traveling to Iceland, I had read about Fridheimar, a greenhouse where we could purchase tomato soup and bread. I know, it doesn’t sound like much but this was most definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip. Imagine walking into a huge greenhouse, tomato plants are everywhere, from floor to ceiling. While bumble bees fly above you pollinating the plants, you can start snipping the fresh basil from the plant that adorns the table. Add a little bit of the cucumber slaw or sour cream to your endless bowl of soup and throw in some bread that was baked in the geothermal ground and you’ve got the recipe for the perfect dish. Give the Bloody Mary a try too while you’re at it. You can thank me later.

Our last stop on our road trip was the Wall. For those of living under a rock, this WALL is the WALL, the Game of Thrones, “we are watchers on the wall”….wall. Or it’s at least where they’ve shot a few scenes. It was immense and beautiful and I turned into a total fangirl in search of Jon Snow while we were there.

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That night, we headed out on a Northern Lights tour with Reykjavik Excursions. I loaded up all my camera gear (TRIPOD is a MUST) and headed out with high hopes of capturing the aurora borealis. Our tour was heading just south of Selfoss, the 2nd largest town in Iceland. Shortly after we departed the capital, we noticed the green hue dancing across the sky out of the bus window. For an hour, we drove in unison with them. I even cried. It was beautiful but to my dismay, when the bus stopped so did the lights. So sorry to disappoint you guys but I don’t have any amazing Northern Lights pictures to show you. But, I will forever have that memory of watching them dance their way along the sky.

Iceland-Northern-Lights**This picture was taken from a Google Image Search!**

DAY THREE:

Day Three was all about driving down the Southern Coast. After indulging in a typical Icelandic breakfast of smoked salmon at Grai Kotturin, we set out on the ring road!

Our first stop was around sunrise to check out the Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. Even from far off in the distance, this waterfall would be hard to miss. This massive fall juts out and descends 166 feet from the cliff above. Another thing to mention is that when it isn’t layered with icicles, you can actually climb behind the fall for a really amazing photo. Unfortunately, the day we went would have required krampons. I was nowhere near brave enough to attempt the slippery slide behind the falls. I did manage to have a good laugh watching others attempt it though!

Just a few minutes down the road lies the Skogafoss Waterfall. We managed to beat the bus crowds which made for the perfect photo opportunity. The full rainbow glistening above us and the birds nesting in the sea caves as we trekked through the waters was something out of a movie. Check out the Secret Life of Walter Mitty to catch the Skogafoss cameo. I had to keep my distance in order to protect my camera otherwise we would have been soaked! Dropping 200 feet from the massive plateau above, this place is magical and a must-see if you are traveling along the southern rim.

Our next stop on our trip was to Seljavellalaug, a “Secret Swimming Pool” located near the Eyjafjoll Mountains. A 15 minute hike through an iced over rocky stream will lead you to this small geothermal pool built into the mountainside. The water is piped in by a hot spring so make sure to bring your swimsuit and don’t worry, there are changing rooms.

The next stop on our journey was Numero Uno on my list. Dyrholaey Lighthouse is a tough spot to get to if you don’t have a 4×4 vehicle. After climbing the side of something that slightly resembled a mountain, we arrived at the most magical of places. To the west, black sand beaches and glacial mountains adorn the coastline.

To the east,  Reynisdrangar, a set of exquisitely shaped basalt sea stacks, ornament the southern most point of Iceland. We spent the majority of our time here watching the birds nesting along the cliffs and the waves crashing below. I loved every single minute of this peaceful oasis. Word of advice, skip the bus tour and drive it yourself so you can soak up the sun and spend some quality time with the Atlantic Ocean.

Our last stop was Vik. Located at the southernmost point of Iceland, this quaint small town plays host to the black sand beaches and the feat that is Reynisdrangar. According to folklore, the stacks were once trolls who were dragging a treasure to shore but when the sun rose, they froze in their place. Though I highly doubt any of it happened, the stepping stone formation of the basalt stacks and the cave nearby add an enchanting element to the landscape. The beach was crowded and we were exhausted so we stuck around long enough to take a mental note of its beauty but then we hit the road to head back to Reykjavik. Watching the sun set during our 3 hour drive back to Reykjavik was the perfect ending to this amazing vacation.

Why Iceland? Literally, everyone has asked me this question and truth be told, I was not even sure until we got there. Forbes named Iceland one of the top 10 places to see in 2017 and as a photographer, I knew I would have an opportunity to see the Northern Lights if I traveled during the low season but I could not have imagined how much I would fall in love with this country.  After all, it is not very often that you can see glaciers and volcanoes in the same day.

 I have always said that I would never visit the same place twice but I am already ready to break that rule. Iceland gave me major Fernweh, Wanderlust, whatever you call it. I want to see more. I want to see the Highlands and the West Fjords and the Snaefellsness Peninsula and Kirkjufell. I want to see Jokulsarlon, a glacier that comprises 30% of the entire island. The list goes on and on and I hope I get to share more of our adventures in Iceland with you in the future.  Until then, stay tuned for Part II of our trip. We jetted out of Iceland and straight into the United Kingdom. Scotland is up on the Blog next week! Check back in!

HOW I GOT THE ITCH FOR TRAVEL JOURNALISM & WHERE ARE WE HEADED TO NEXT:

In the spring of 2016, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Carolyn Anderson, a landscape photographer based out of New Alexandria, Pennsylvania. After our chat, I made it a point to try my hand at capturing the highlights of our adventures. We traveled so much in 2016. Our East Coast Girl’s Trip was my first attempt at Travel Journalism and since then, we’ve traveled around and through the state of Colorado, through the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania and to Broken Bow, Oklahoma. Mr. Norris and I just got back from Reykjavik, Iceland and Edinburg, Scotland so keep an eye out for our Travel Guides for those trips in 2017!

IS THERE SOMEWHERE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE RUSTIE NAIL TRAVEL TO? LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS/SUGGESTIONS BELOW!

If any of you out there have more questions about our trip, feel free to email me at therustienailhead@gmail.com.

Greensburg Salem Class of 2017: Kiara’s Senior Session

This lady is no stranger to the Blog. Kiara has been featured in family portraits and I have had the great pleasure of helping her build her modeling portfolio on more than one occasion. This go-around in front of the lens would be different. This shoot was all about this baby girl graduating high school in a few short months. Que the tears. She’s my little cousin. As in, she was born when I was already half grown so the fact that she’s graduating high school is kind of a reality check. Holy crap. I’m really 29. She is really 18. What is happening??? I mean, really guys. There is a story about us that gets told at every family function and to this day, still pains me.

It was my first time changing a baby’s diaper. Her grandmother had told me to lay a blanket down on the table and lay her down on her back, grab the wipes, blah blah. I was 11. I wanted to show her that I knew what I was doing. Everything was going fine. Until, I forgot to grab the diaper. So, I placed my hand on her belly to prevent her from rolling off the table and reached with my other hand for the diaper.

In those 2 seconds, this sweet little baby reached her tiny little hand around and grabbed the closest thing…a steaming hot cup of coffee. It spilled all over the table and down her teeny tiny back. I did my best to clean her up and calm her down but she kept screaming. I felt like I had burns all over my body. That’s how bad I felt. It was killing me to see her in pain. I was cursed. I was never going to touch another baby again.

After rushing her to the ER, they confirmed she was gonna make it. Or at least that’s how it felt to me that the time. Within a week or so, her baby soft skin had healed itself. We all forget how resilient kids are. We drill into them to get back on the horse. So they do. And they come back bigger and stronger every time. The reason I am telling you all this is because this girl right here is a fighter. Even as a toddler, she was sassy. She seems real quiet at first, minds her Ps &Qs, but just give her the chance to say what’s on her mind, and you all are gonna see the world a little bit differently. She is strong, kind and probably the biggest klutz I know but she has very bright future ahead of her. Congrats Kiara. I cannot wait to see where this journey takes you. And, I am officially stating how sorry I am for traumatizing you as a little one. Think of it this way, you’re still cute so we’re square. Love you Kiki!

Do you have a Senior graduating in 2017? Are YOU graduating this year? We offer Graduation Portrait Packages for every price point because we know how hard you’ve worked and that should be documented. I wanna hear your vision. Shoot me some ideas at therustienailhead@gmail.com because I’d love to hear what you’ve got in mind. Let’s start off the last half of your Senior Year with a photo shoot to highlight your achievements and get onto those Senior Week Trips and College Applications!!

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SIDENOTE: Yes, we did go down the humongous slide and it ended up being soaking wet. Still fun though. This huge slide is located at Mammoth Park near Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania. Words of advice: Bring wax paper and a little Pam and maybe, a pillow to land on at the bottom. 🙂