Traveling Isn't Always Fun

My husband may rely a little too much on his phone when it comes to directions, but traveling without this handsome man just isn't the same. 

When people ask about our travels I want them to know it's not always full of happy Instagrams and adventures.

It's often a lot of eating alone at restaurants, packing and unpacking, bad food choices, being sad about leaving our dog, and going longer than we'd like without seeing each other. Someday we hope to do less traveling without each other...but for now, he's ordering my favorite pizza in Boston and I'm packing for the next photo adventures.

What do YOU guys do to stay sane when you're traveling constantly? Especially when your spouse is traveling as well? 

Leave some love below!

-Tara 


The Taj Mahal

I never really thought I would be given the chance to see this seventh wonder of the world, yet there I was standing in her glory! 

I almost didn't think it would be worth the struggle and exhaustion of adding such a long side trip from Jaipur, but last minute I decided to make it happen. I decided to visit the Taj Mahal at sunset AND sunrise! 

My driver was excited for us to be visiting Agra and with him speaking very very little English and me not having phone service, I'm surprised we managed to navigate our way around the city. After going down a few sketchy turns we finally found the Mehtab Bagh on the Yamuna River, across from the Taj Mahal.

Like most of my travels I hardly do any research, so I didn't know a tripod wasn't allowed in the park so I had to run that back to the car. The guys at the front said it looked like a gun and they would take it for me...which I thought was funny. Here a backpack is fine, but not IN the Taj Mahal, so I was able to take my entire backpack. 

Mehtab Bagh Entry: 200 rupees for foreigners

At this point I had yet to actually see the Taj Mahal so I was getting really excited! I was also preparing myself to have one of those Instagram disappointments, yah know...where it's not as good as people make it out to be?

Then suddenly...it was there! I'm not kidding when I say I think I wiped a tear from my eye. It was indeed the most beautiful piece of architecture I had ever seen! 

I made my way across the garden where I came to a fence facing the river with the Taj Mahal overlooking it. I was surprised how few tourists were gathered and I made my way over to a rock wall where I settled in for sunset!

It was around 4:30 pm and sunset would be at about 6pm, so I took some photos for a bit before setting up my time-lapse. During that hour I simply sat there staring at the Taj's beauty. Occasionally I watched some villagers cross the river and I even saw some kind of antelope running around. I think the Yamuna River was lower than normal, but I loved watching everyday life continuing, even with the white marble structure hovering above. 

As the sun slowly starting sinking the colors would shift across the face of the Taj Mahal and I started getting a little chilly. I stopped my time-lapse and grabbed a few more photos before packing up. The Mehtab Bagh closed at sunset, and same for the Taj Mahal. I couldn’t tell you how many times I stopped to look back as I was leaving.

I was so excited to see it even closer tomorrow for SUNRISE!

That night I actually ate the weirdest McDonald’s I’ve ever had, (I might have gotten a little too excited for something other than Indian food) and needless to say was feeling rather gross. Yet when 5:30am rolled around I was out of bed and waiting for my driver exactly at 6am. It was cold and for the first time on my entire trip I was glad I packed my down jacket.

THE PROCESS

I was confused the entire time why my driver was trying to get his friends to be my tour guide. I had to finally tell him enough when he had another tour friend waiting for me inside my hotel. I think everyone and their Mother was confused why I wanted to go alone as a woman. 

However, I was still very confused on if a tour guide was necessary or not? It seemed like it was...but of course as soon as I was dropped off at the East Gate at 6:15am I ended up letting a guy be my guide so the process would go faster. For all I know I paid him too much, but he helped me skip lines and honestly got me in the Gate faster than I would have alone - so that reason alone I would say was worth it!

I also couldn’t believe the line to get in so early. I guess when it comes to seeing the Taj Mahal at sunrise, literally the ENTIRE world is willing to get up early!

It was like waiting to get into Disneyland, but this time there was no Indiana Jones Ride.

I didn’t know when the Taj Mahal was going to reveal it’s sunrise splendor...when I suddenly walked through the final part of the East Gate. I couldn’t help but gasp. I stood there for a moment and had a funny realization that no matter what language we all speak, a “gasp” sounded the same!

Once I was through the final “gateway” it was a madness of selfies, and photos. For some reason this made me want to worry less about trying to get a photo and I found myself focusing on capturing people. 

I noticed people were rarely looking at the Taj Mahal, and I mean really looking at her. People had their phones, go pro's, selfie sticks and large cameras everywhere. In some ways I couldn't blame them. 

After trying to push my way through a few crowds to get some "iconic" reflection shots, I found myself getting lost in something else happening - the SUN! The Indian sunrise that was happening was stunning! It poured all over the gardens and I'd wished I had more than my 35mm. (I only went in with my camera around my neck and one lens.) 

I couldn't help but keep chasing it around the property, making my tour guide so confused! 

I made my way up to the top deck of the Taj Mahal and couldn't believe how beautiful the different areas were. 

I spent a total of about 2.5 hours exploring around the property and as I was heading back down I saw the crowds had tripled.

MY TRAVEL TIPS: 

  • Get there EVEN earlier to beat the long lines to enter. 
  • Go ahead and get a guide if you don't mind spending the extra 500 rupees - just don't buy souvenirs from their "friends". 
  • Take your time and be patient if you're wanting to get that one "awesome" shot. 
  • Look beyond the beautiful Taj Mahal and notice all the other hidden gems: Doors, light, people, did I mention light...just everything! 
  • Pack an extra lens in a lens case - I was stuck with just my one lens. 
  • **Really look at the Taj Mahal

Last of all...

be present. 

Why travel the world to simply have your face pressed in your technology. AS A PHOTOGRAPHER I understand the pressure to get some awesome photos + something to share on social media, but just try it. 

- Tara 


Why We Camp - Estes Park

Have you ever wondered why it is that we decide to camp? Why a certain percentage of us choose to spend nights under the stars on the cold hard ground verses in a warm comfy bed? 

I don't have the answers, but it's a question my husband and I asked each other occasionaly on our last camping trip in Estes Park, Colorado. 

 
 

We wanted to have a quick adventure and decided camping in Estes Park, Colorado would be a good option - so we started compiling what little gear we had!

I grew up camping, but to have a quick understanding of what my camping experience was like in our family of six, we often had a full-size flat bed trailer to haul all the things my parents wanted while camping. Sometimes that included bikes, tubs of food, the biggest green cooler you've ever seen (they still own this), multiple tarps, cooking stoves, our own firewood, chairs, everything...just everything!

It was great! However, Collin and I looked like minimalists compared to my childhood camping days. The world of REI camping gear has evolved and our gear money has not. We even had a guy one morning walk by and look into our tent as ask..."did that REALLY fit you two?" 

It was also our goal to be able to fly with our camping gear without it being a huge hassle. I think we still have a ways to go, but it was our first try at a weekend camping trip where we had to pack everything on a flight. 

CAMPING EQUIPMENT

Tent - Quarter Dome REI Tent

Hammock - Moosejaw Nappetizer 

Sleeping bags - Mountain Hardwear Ratio 15 

Sleeping pads - Self inflating pad / foam pad 

Jet Boiler - Best thing EVER 

Pillows - Target + Nappetizer Pillow 

Hiking Boots - Vasque Talus WP Hiking Boots

Sandals - Teva Originals

Head lamps - Petzl Headlamp

For this camping trip we stayed at Mary's Lake Campground. It was literally the last campsite in Estes for the weekend, but the staff was very helpful with booking over the phone. After setting up our campsite we drove into town to get a few things and stopped right across the campsite to watch the sunset over Mary's Lake.  

We were so proud of our little campsite, but did miss having things like a chair for the fire and maybe a few other kitchen tools, but we made use of our fire bundles for as long as possible. 

 QUICK CAMPFIRE MEALS

Since this was such a quick trip we used our Jetboil for dinner both nights. I have to admit we didn't go the healthiest route with dinners. 

DINNER - Quick & Easy

  • Instant chicken and rice meal (just add water)
  • Steamed Broccoli (in foil on the fire or in the jetboil)
  • Ramen noodles...yah we did that

For breakfast I had packed a baggy with some healthy rolled oats that I also cooked in the jetboil. 

BREAKFAST - Healthy & Hearty

  • Trader Joe's rolled oats
  • Hemp seeds
  • Cranberries 
  • Flax seeds
  • Walnuts 
  • Cinnamon 

After making dinner we sat and enjoyed the fire and made s'mores with chocolate chip cookies - YUM! 

We again talked about why we decided to camp. Not because we were unhappy, but why this process is so enjoyable. Even as we're balancing on our diminishing bundle of logs we turned into chairs, there is a happiness in being uncomfortable.

Something only nature seems to allow us to be okay with. How powerful is that? 

After our first night in our new Quarter Dome tent which to answer that guys question...yes we both fit! 

That first night I slept horrible tough. I got out of the tent twice, once to go to the bathroom and the second because I was determined in my sleepy brain that our hammock was going to rip a hole in it. In addition to those "out of tent moments", I also woke up to a herd of elk literally running past our tent. I woke up again because somebody in a nearby campsite was yelling about something and I laid there waaaay too long trying to figure out what it was about! 

Long story short...getting a good nights rest with only half an inch of cushion under you and a thin layer between you and nature's surroundings is bound to be impossible. Yet we can't wait to do it all again! 

Colorado_Estes_Park_RockClimbing_TaraShupe_017.jpg

So why do "I" camp? 

I love slowing down and finding enjoyment in the sounds, smells and processes. I love the rewarding feeling after I struggle setting up our tent in the wind. I enjoy a meal that would never be considered a proper meal at home, but here it's warm and tastes amazing! 

I could go on forever - but I'd rather know:

Why do YOU camp?! 

-Tara