I’ve never felt like time is so precious with the girls as I do right now. Our eldest Madeline will be off to college this coming September and there will be much fewer opportunities for family adventures so I decided that we should make the most of the recent two-week break from school. I wanted the girls to see more of the USA and after some thought came up with a road trip focused on the desert and the stars. I highly recommend this curated Hartshorn adventure!
We spent Christmas in San Diego with Mac’s family enjoying the gorgeous local beach before headed closer to LA for a couple of days where we visited the Griffith Observatory to brush up our knowledge about the stars.
Then the road trip began! Palm Springs was our first destination and we made a detour to visit Joshua Tree National Park. The first of many incredible sights. The rock formations and Joshua trees as far as the eye could see- they only grow a couple of inches per year! We drove around the park and 15 minutes before sunset came upon a great expanse of cacti backlit by the setting sun. The timing was perfect and the view was mesmerizing. We headed to Palm Springs and the following day toured the area. Highlights included a date shake at Shields Date Farm and a drive up route 74 into the mountains to enjoy a view of the valley. As we headed higher into the mountains it began to snow and the temperate dropped around 30 degrees. The cacti here were dusted with snow – It just made no sense.
The next day our road trip got serious as we drove almost 6 hours to the Grand Canyon. The drive was just beautiful although we did arrive to a temperature of about 10 degrees. The following morning Mac and I dragged the girls out of bed to watch the sun rise over the canyon. A beautiful sight to behold. We spent the rest of the day exploring and took a plane ride which was a treat though a little disappointing as you only fly around the edges of the Canyon.
On day four to break up the drive to Monument Valley and Native America country we stopped at Upper Antelope Canyon for a tour. It was mystical and stunning and in the past had been a place only visited by Navajo medicine men. The natural beauty brought tears to my eyes. Although this canyon was open to the public there are still canyons only visited by those wise medicine men and it was wonderful to hear about the ceremony involved. Note that Horseshoe Bend is another stop along that route that you should consider. This is a natural bend in the Colorado River but there is a short hike from the road to see this wonder. Madeline had badly twisted her ankle just before we left so hiking was out of the question for the Hartshorns.
We continued on our journey taking a detour to drive Route 66 and stopping in an old gold rush town called Oatman. Burros (wild donkeys) roamed the streets. They were brought here during the mining rush in the 1800s and set loose when the mines ran dry. We stopped at the Oatman Hotel which was built in 1902 and could not believe what we saw with our eyes. Dollar bills pinned to every flat surface! Locals reckon that there is about $250,000 in dollar bills pinned up on the walls of this hotel. Can I just talk about the vistas we saw as we drove? One was more beautiful than the next!
We had definitely hit a cold spell on this trip with daytime temperatures around 18 degrees and nighttime temperatures of 10 degrees or less. We arrived in Monument Valley taking in the incredible views just before sundown and saw that famous stretch of the road where Forrest Gump just stopped running. Here we watched the sunset over our Hogan. “What’s a Hogan?” you may ask. In my eagerness to expose the girls to the Native American way of life I had rented a traditional mud hut called a Hogan. I was regretting my enthusiasm as we entered the structure – juniper beams and red mud held this hut together! There was a small stove in the center and it was COLD. Mac had to set his alarm so he could feed the fire every other hour through the night to keep us warm. But the stars… we could see the entire Milky Way. What an incredible sight. Team Hartshorn were good sports and this part of the trip was apparently their highlight. We had a local Navajo Indian take us on a tour the next day. Sharing the history of the area and his tribe, stories of his upbringing and singing us a song at one point as we looked up from under a cave-like sandstone formation at the blue sky. It certainly felt like we were on blessed land.
The last day of our trip was spent driving to Phoenix airport enjoying more of the incredible vistas along the way. This trip was a reminder of what a beautiful country we have. Let’s take care of it!
As much as we love our Fall park sessions and Summer beach sunrise and sunset images there is a special affection for studio images. Our studio has the advantage of 2 full walls of windows providing loads of natural light. The temperature is neither too hot nor too cold and our lovely pine floors allow for barefoot running, spinning and dancing.
We want to take this opportunity to introduce you to how wonderful a studio session can be with a very special offer- our 45 minute mini session with a custom 8×10 print, regularly $495 is just $295 Sessions in the studio are perfect for
- Extended families (wonderful as a gift for grandparents!)
These sessions can be used for your own family or given to friends for the holidays and their own portraits. Please give us a call at 201.610.1199 to schedule a session or order a gift certificate that will delight the recipient.
This session special pricing is only valid for sessions taking place between January 7th and February 28th. All sessions must take place in our 720 Monroe Street Studio. Sessions are subject to availability. Studio special pricing is not valid for prior sessions.
session special session special session special session special
This might be an unpopular opinion, but January is actually my favorite month of the year. It’s a clean slate, a time to believe and dream again, and an opportunity to clean up all the messes made in 2018 (especially around self-care and health). Considering all this, and the strength and clarity that comes along in January, I believe it’s important to utilize this month to optimize the entire year. Here are six things we can all do to start 2019 off right.
- Identify Key Big-Picture Goals You don’t have to have goals in every area of your life—relationships, money, career, family, etcetera; instead, focus on whatever buckets you feel most compelled to improve or change. Be specific and prioritize, as the idea is to execute against these goals. Don’t forget to consider less obvious categories like health and charity. If you aren’t sure what your goals are for the new year, consider creating a vision board, either IRL or on Pinterest. Make sure at least one of the big-ticket items on this list is something that terrifies you—if you accomplish little else in 2019, doing this one thing will make you feel like the year mattered.
- Break Down Each Goal into Smaller Goals Aiming to save up to buy a house is a great goal; however, it’s also overwhelming and vague. Figure out what smaller goals could feed into this goal—in this example, it would be to pay off your credit card debt or take on a side gig that will bring in extra income.
- Plot These Smaller Goals into Your Calendar Now that you have your smaller goal—e.g. “earn $10,000 in extra income”—plot this into the calendar. How much can you realistically aim to take in each month? Set regular calendar appointments to keep you on track. If your goal is relationship-based—e.g. meeting someone new—set regular date appointments into your calendar and bumble your way into them. These appointments will keep you accountable as the year’s many demands threaten to overwhelm your resolutions.
- Evaluate What Didn’t Work in 2018 If the definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior and expecting different results, we think it’s wise to start the new year by identifying what didn’t work for you in 2018 so you can avoid it in 2019. Did a specific friendship cause you innumerable headaches? Cut it. Can you see an unhealthy pattern in your dating life? Resolve to change it. Did you complain about your job daily? It’s time to find a new one. Even looking at smaller things, like a resolution to go to the gym every day that didn’t work out, are worth evaluating—maybe this year, your goal is instead to find a class you like, trying one new workout per week until you’ve settled on something that actually incentivizes you.
- Make a Networking List Whether you’re interested in quietly pursuing a different career path or would like to keep advancing in your current field, investing in your network is critical. Make a plan in January to meet with a certain number of individuals each month of the year who may help, advise or inspire your 2018 path. Reach out and schedule an initial round of meetings, and set reminders each month to schedule the following month’s touch bases.
- Wake Up One Hour Earlier Than You Did Last Year For whatever reason, we often have the fortitude to follow through on big, hard changes like this in January more so than in any other month. Resolve to wake up an hour earlier starting in January to set the tone for the rest of the year. Then, use that found hour toward your goals, to work out or even just to meditate. The new habit may not stick throughout the entire year, but you may be surprised how much better the extra hour makes you feel and wonder how you ever survived without it.