Utah | Spiral Jetty

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When I was younger, I remember my parents taking me out to the grapevine to visit an art installation by Christo & Jeanne-Claude of yellow umbrellas. My parents weren’t really the artist-types, but I do remember trips of this nature often. You could see the umbrellas from far away, the little specks of yellow growing larger and larger the closer we got. I remember reading about one of the umbrellas killing someone. I think a gust of wind caused one to come out of the ground. I suppose that’s beside the point.
In the 60’s, artists began a movement away from the museums and galleries and started creating art in the landscape itself. Spiral Jetty was created by Robert Smithson 1970, using over six thousand tons of black basalt rocks and earth from the site to form the coil that is 15,000 feet long and 15 feet wide. “Created at a time when water levels were particularly low, the artwork was submerged from 1972 onward, and was only known through documentation. However, regional droughts thirty years later caused the lake to recede such that by 2002, a salt-encrusted Spiral Jetty reappeared for the first prolonged period in its history. Smithson often asserted that by responding to the landscape, rather than imposing itself upon it, Spiral Jetty is a site to actively walk on rather than a sculpture to behold.” I love the idea of not imposing oneself upon it; I like to think of myself as a photographer in the same sense — not imposing, but rather using what is real and before me. Makes it more indestructible, I suppose. I find that really beautiful.
I hope my boys care about art and have enough interest in the matter to search things like this out. And, at the same time, I don’t want them to be anyone other than who they are. But, at the same same time, I hope the things I expose them to leave some sort of impression on them. Much love to my girl Janet for the introduction. And with that, my images from Utah are complete. But if you wanna take a moment to discuss Van’s oversized mittens, I’m game.

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Utah | Side of a deserted road

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We were on our way to one thing, short on time, with two cars filled with kiddos that had been promised things we realized we’d no longer had enough time to give them. The side of the road in a beautiful majestic canyon served as a fair substitute. Complaints of cold hands quickly dissipated as those numb little hands discovered rocks to throw into the stream, sticks to collect, and tree stumps to climb. And those little babies faired pretty darn well; arguably better than others. We stopped at a diner on the way home, got the big kids chocolate milk, and unthawed in the car on the way home.

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Utah | Antelope Island

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We had intended to venture out to Antelope Island last time I was in Utah and ultimately decided we didn’t have enough time and ended up at the Great Salt Lake instead. I suppose that’s the thing about Utah, you can’t really go wrong. You can argue a lot of things about Utah but denying it’s beauty is just not debatable.
We came across two different herds of Bison, both of which tolerated us at a relatively close proximity. Van was more interested in staying in the car, in the drivers seat, and pretending to steer the wheel. Hooper braved the cold with me and came out to get a closer look. It was all pretty amazing. Growing up in Southern California, I feel like the zoo is the closest we get to seeing animals in their natural habitats.
I think Antelope Island will stay on my must-see list for any and all future visits. And I won’t complain revisiting in the summer when it doesn’t feel like the wind chill is going to cause any moisture in my eyeball to freeze. Who knows, Van may even be more turned on by bison than by the car’s steering wheel by then.

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Utah | At home

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I flew to Utah with both boys on my own which isn’t as gutsy as it sounds. For the most part, they’re good travelers. Sure, the guy sitting in front of Hooper may have stories about a particular tray table that kept going up and down and the flight attendant may have had to talk to Van about keeping his seat belt fastened, but all in all it was trouble free. Perspective is everything, right? Van’s insistence with pushing the suitcase actually paid off because when you add up the number of car seats, suit cases, and carry-on bags and compare that number to the number of willing and able hands, I’m clearly outnumbered. Janet (pronounced Jeanette) met us at the airport and helped out from there.
The weather was cold, much colder than it had been in the weeks prior. I would have whined more, but Hooper and Van did enough whining for all of us. Determined, we refused to let any whining or cold weather or hungry babies or nap times slow us down. We had a list of things we wanted to do and we damn near did them all. As for our time spent in the home though? Well, in looking at these pictures now, it’s painfully clear that the majority of our time at home was spent feeding people. Namely babies. But the bigger kids, too.
More from Utah to come in the days to follow… lots of adventures were had.

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The Great Salt Lake

My kids whine a lot. Hooper more so than Van, due to his age. I don’t think that they are any different than any other kid; all kids whine. I know “I’m bored” is in my not-so-distant-future, but at this point in time it’s a plethora of moans and groans that make my hairs all stand on end and makes me wonder why I drag my kids out of the house ever.
When we first parked at the Salt Lake, it was tantrumville immediately. Being 100 degrees out didn’t help. Nor did the smell of pungent sulfur. Or the abundance – or shall I say downright invasion – of flies or whatever those bugs are that hang out at water’s edge in droves. They whined about going in the water, then they whined when they got in the water but the salt burned, and then – as if a miracle from above – they got over it. All of it. And they, well, enjoyed themselves immensely.
Kids have split personalities. I’m sure of it.
And as the sun went down and we hosed the salt off their skin and clothes, they whined about leaving. And so it goes.
Motherhood: the never ending test of patience.

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The Colorado River, Utah

 We had stopped to get gas when we ran into a car with three guys in it that introduced themselves as “river guides”. This explained the rafts they were hauling and given the fact we had no plans and a full tank of gas, we joined them. We spent that night on a sandbar underneath the stars.  
Fast forward eight years later; driving down the same road reminiscing and praising the angels above that nothing bad ever happened to us, ever, on any of our travels together. And there were many. We passed the same campground we camped at back then; memories of doing our laundry and putting together scrapbooks from our overseas travels we were on before we decided to hit the road. Who knew that visiting a town would unlock little mementos of tiny little memories that would have otherwise been forgotten like leaves falling from a tree and blowing away. Something as simple as a sign alongside the highway that caught your interest way back when, but did nothing for you this go-around. 
Back then, we had no iPods and no iPhones. We made CD’s for the road and blasted our favorite ones over and over again. We had a book the size of the yellow pages full of campgrounds and directions of how to get to them. We had maps, for goodness sakes.
As we glanced behind us in our rented minivan, we couldn’t help but giggle about how much has changed; the kids, the car seats, the twin babies on the way, the husbands back home, Siri telling us to “continue to the route”. Damn Siri and her route. Sometimes I just want to tell her to shove it. Or at least hold on for a minute.
But one thing remained the same. Every time we passed a “view point”, we giggled again, thought of Dan Eldon (who was at that time was our idol and in many ways still is), and were reminded – as we were years ago – that the view is always all around you.
We splashed around in the same river that allowed us to rest our tired heads on it’s banks years ago. Janet, feeling weightless. Carla, feeling brave. Hooper, feeling free. Van, dropping a load in his pants that would later roll out and surprise us all. And myself, feeling grateful to add another memory with my best, most treasured friend to the proverbial banks.

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The last hoorah. It’s only a few weeks later and already so much has changed. Van and Carla are now both 2. And those babies that had been kickin’ around in Janet’s belly have made their way out, happy and healthy. And so it goes, life runs her course and keeps moving whether your bags are packed or not.

I will be back in the beautiful state of Utah from August 28 through August 31, with bookings available on each of those days. I will then be in Arizona on September 1 & 2 and will be able to take sessions on each of those days as well. If you’re interested in booking a session, kindly email me: ashley@thestorkandthebeanstalk.com. Thank you.

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Childhood Unplugged

A few snapshots from our time spent in Utah.
Little Sahara State Park, Utah
Please join me in supporting the other photographers participating in the Childhood Unplugged movement by clicking here to see all our submissions. You can also follow us on instagram (@childhoodunplugged) and be sure to use #childhoodunplugged for a chance to be featured on our Instagram feed.

Bits + Pieces

I spent this past weekend in Utah, visiting my best friend and her new baby (Carla is one week older than Van). Years ago, Janet and I were road trippin’ scoundrels. Back then was my first time visiting Utah and I came to associate the state with freedom, the open road, and pleasantly lost souls. We spent our days back then scouring the outskirts of cities big and small for a campground to rest our road heavy and stoned eyes. And now we’re adults, or whatever, looking for quiet corners to breastfeed our young. My oh my how things change and evolve. I’ve spent the last week contemplating and appreciating the beautiful ebbs and flow of life.
In case you missed it, you can check out the videos we made here and here. Happy Saturday!

Utah, Part 1

I spent this past weekend in Utah, with my best friend. My heart is warm every time I’m with her. I feel inspired by her mere presence. If it sounds like I love her, it’s because I do. Every girl needs a best friend they truly love. Mine is Janet.
When we’re together, anything feels possible. The world feels small again. I swear I hear opportunity knocking on my doorstep and the footsteps of ideas running through my head. She leaves me feeling motivated and confident. Every time.
Hope you enjoy this little video of our time together. And thank you, J, for an epic weekend… The weekend where your Carla met my Van. They don’t know it, but their lives will never be the same 😉

Utah, Part 1 from The Stork & The Beanstalk on Vimeo.