Coming home: Wisconsin Summer

I love coming home from a trip- I am so thankful for my husband, and my home, and my own bed… and of course, my little pup.

With that said, I apologize for the next few posts, as they’re a little behind schedule. :)

My first morning home, I had lots of work to catch up on, including errands. I hooked Abbie up, laced up my running shoes, and ran to the post office and the bank. I even ran through the “drive through” at the bank, since I can’t take Abbie inside, and when the tube came back through the little vacuum thing, there was a biscuit inside!


She sure earned it, as she did a great job as District 4 Alderdog and welcomed everyone we saw on the run. Thanks, Chase!


This is random, but we picked up some sweet corn, and I just LOVED this middle cob. Why have straight lines, when you can be crazy? :)


I was able to squeeze in an engagement photo shoot with Brigitta and Stryder. They’re such a neat couple, and we were so excited to work with them!


We had gorgeous weather, and we went for a little walk on the Green Circle. Lovely!

It is so hard going on vacation during the middle of wedding season, and I have so much to try and catch up on. This year was even crazier, as I am also staying very active as a new alderwoman, and trying to learn as much as I can from everyone around me. This brings me to Bob. Meet Bob!


Bob runs Poky Pedaling, a totally free group of organized bicycle rides around our community. He’s an active advocate for pedestrian and bicycle safety, so I had my meeting with him on our bikes, and we rode around the city. Thanks for sharing your thoughts during our “mobile meeting,” Bob!

I made it home in time to help stack some wood near our shed, and I amazed at this piece that I found…


Bark beetles do some beautiful work. Art by bugs. They must have been incredibly busy before the bark fell off, revealing this masterpiece. :)

We worked up quite an appetite working in the yard, and we were more than happy to have dinner with Brian’s family, at Dale and Sheri’s house.

Fish fry, jalepeno poppers, french fries… yes, we’re spoiled.


It was really awesome. I sure love these people!

We got home late Friday night, and I was exhausted, but I climbed out of the covers just early enough to run the Violet Thompson 5K, a fundraiser for a very special little girl in town. I had no idea if I’d know anyone there, but sure enough, I found George and Marc around mile 1.5. :)


Great run, boys. :)

I’ll leave you all with a few photos from paddling out on the chain. I just can’t get enough of my SUP and Marl Lake.

I made us SUP hatch-friendly blackberry mojitos. I muddled the rum and mint and berries before we left, and the rest is a delicious memory. We know how to spend a day on the water. :)

So many more shoots to share with you- it will be an engagement and wedding explosion here for a while!

As always, thanks for reading, friends!

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Print releases: to give, or not to give?

This is probably one of the toughest blog posts I’ve written, since the topic is pretty controversial in my world:

Print releases.

Even though I work with my husband, I’m writing from my own point of view, but he is the other half of the “we” that I talk about. :)


As a portrait photographer, I’ve gone through phases. When Brian and I first started shooting weddings together in 2006, we gave our clients a disc with an unlimited release. I didn’t know anything different, at the time… I’d had an internship with another photographer, and he also gave away the rights to his images. As a result, my clients were able to print their photos anywhere they chose. They could put them online, in their full size. They could edit them, crop them, add filters, or do whatever they wanted.

And I had no problem with that. I ordered photo books for my friends and family from Shutterfly when I got a killer deal- the quality of the printing had completely eluded me. We were in college, I was planning on being a music teacher, and photography was just something “fun” that I did with my husband to help us pay our rent. We charged next-to-nothing, we didn’t have an in-person sales model for our clients, we hadn’t worked with different print companies, and we didn’t really care what happened to those images once they left our computers.

Until suddenly, I cared.

As I worked more and more, and studied more and more, and experimented more and more, I began to discover my own style.

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We raised our prices.

I worked in this photography medium to create my own kind of art. I practiced, and practiced, learned tons of tips and tricks, and made lots of mistakes.

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We raised our prices again.

I started to take A LOT of pride in the images I was creating, and in the moments that I was capturing.

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We raised our prices again.

When I was able to shoot fully manually, both camera and flash, and I was able to catch the perfect moment between a bride and groom or a mother and child, I was pumped.


Then everything changed, and we made a big business decision. This is why…

A moment sticks out to me in particular: we did a family photo shoot for a local woman. I was really happy with the way her images turned out, and I was so pleased to burn those to a disk and deliver them to her. The next time she saw me around town, she pulled out a little plastic-sleeved album of prints she’d made from my session. She’d printed them at Walmart, and I couldn’t believe how terrible the clarity was. Photo after photo looked AWFUL. They were all too dark, or too overexposed, and the contrast was inconsistent. The color also looked pretty bad, and I realized the problem at the same time that the words came out of her mouth,

“I had so much fun playing with these photos in iPhoto. Don’t they look great? Don’t worry, I told everyone that you took them. Maybe you’ll book more families in our neighborhood!”

She beamed with pride, and I slunk into my imaginary shell. I was mortified! Those were not my images, it was not my art. Not my vision. I didn’t want my name attached to those in any way! I can’t remember exactly what happened after that- I think I said something about being happy that she was so pleased, and I hightailed it out of there.

Shortly after that, we had a bride and groom of ours from several years prior contact me and ask if they could have another copy of their disk. They’d lost theirs, and they were thinking about finally putting wedding images up around their house. I was so sad that they’d spent their newlywed years without any of my beautiful images in their home. Of course, I burned them another disc, then Brian and I had a discussion about how we wanted to take care of our clients… how long were we going to keep these images? Where were we going to store them? Stacking hard drive upon hard drive seemed less than ideal, but that’s the direction we were headed. We started shooting RAW, and we were filling up space like crazy.

We decided to pony up the cash for an off-site storage company, so we would be protected in the awful case of a flood or fire in my office. We were capturing incredibly special moments for our clients, and I wanted to make sure that their images would be protected. You can’t recreate a first kiss or a new baby! :)


I quit my part time job, and became fully invested in creating this business.

I started “trying out” print companies to see which ones I liked. I was pleasantly surprised that some offered the option to submit annual test prints to make sure the photos looked just how we’d intended. We picked one of those, and also invested in a monitor calibration system, to make sure that the colors and lighting on our screens matched the finished product. I started researching wedding albums- you know, the beautiful, leather-bound, lay-flat kind. I discovered that some companies required an “audition:” I had to submit some of our work to their design team, to show that we were professional. I applied to three, was accepted to three, and chose my favorite album company. I was kind of surprised to discover that these albums weren’t available to the general public, and I wondered where normal people went to order that kind of thing, if they weren’t offered by their photographer.

We upgraded our main gear (currently a Nikon D4 and D800) and purchased TWO beautiful D700s as backups, in case we both dropped our cameras at the same time. We purchased liability insurance.

We raised our prices again.

I started to consider ourselves an investment for our clients, and wondered if I was doing them a disservice by letting them spend a considerable chunk of their wedding budget on us, but letting them order discount prints? I think about this all the time… can the majority of people tell the difference between photos from a pro lab and photos from Target? I came across this blog post a couple years ago when researching this subject, and if you have a few minutes, it’s a good read that shows the difference between a couple major labs… and it’s a little funny, too. :)

All the work that we put into selecting top-of-the-line gear, learning to use it and adapt to sudden changes or unexpected moments, practicing our skills for years, finding (or creating) the perfect light to make their skin glow, capturing a clear image of a bouncing baby or dancing couple, calibrating our monitors, testing the prints, using the best editing software, spending hours editing and perfecting their galleries (and crying, oh, I always cry!), only to have them spend $0.29 on a 4″x6″ print that could (and sometimes does!) negate several aspects of that workflow?

It was then that we decided to go “whole hog” in this business and stop offering print releases to our portrait clients. I set our print prices in the lower-middle of the price range for our area, and set up all of our wedding packages with a built-in print credit so we could rest easy, knowing our clients would never go years without prints and products from their wedding, and that we knew what the quality would be. We can’t stand behind a product when we don’t know where it comes from, and that doesn’t sit well with me. This is my work, and I want to be proud to put my name on it.

Even if our couples empty their bank account for their wedding, they will still have a credit to use to purchase standard prints, or canvas wraps, or metal prints, or whatever they’d like- and it’s not small. The credit I made yesterday for an October wedding was worth $500! We want to fill their homes, and the homes of their friends and families, too.

The income from our prints isn’t much, it’s much less than 1/10 of our total photography income, and we want to keep it that way. Our goal isn’t to make money on extra print sales, it’s to get this art (in the form of quality work) in the hands of our clients.

It is truly heartbreaking for me to see our work printed in places that just don’t do it justice. I firmly believe that my clients deserve magazine-worthy prints, and I strive to capture these authentic moments while I’m working! I don’t think they should have average-looking images in their home when the people that we work with are truly awesome. I want everyone to look at the results of our session and beam with pride that they started their family/pulled off their dream wedding/have a gorgeous baby bump/adopted the perfect rescue pup.


We have had a few clients who come to us and don’t understand why we run our business this way. They often imply that we are selfish for “keeping” these files to ourselves. I even had a groom stand over me, yelling, arguing with me over copyright law. He firmly believed that if he was IN the photo, that he owned the copyright to it- and by not giving them copyrights to their photos, I was deceiving them or doing some kind of shady business deal. When he was done yelling, I was sitting there, shaking. Brian and I usually do our consults together, since we shoot all our weddings together, but for some reason, I was doing this one alone. I didn’t have the business sense or confidence to get up and walk out of the consult, and they ended up booking us for their wedding. After that, I was nervous at every meeting or shoot that we did with them, and I’m still kicking myself for letting someone walk all over me like that.

We also have clients who hire us and just assume that they will have all rights. We lay it out in our contract, but we have couples ask us for copyrights all the time. Giving a client copyrights and giving them a print release is DEFINITELY not the same thing. When a photo is taken, the photographer immediately retains the copyright to the image. If I gave them away, it would mean, essentially, that my clients could take those images, edit them, destroy them, modify them, enter them in contests, use them in advertisements, etc… and the photographer (me!)  would have no right to use the images themselves. Not in portfolio work, or on their website, or in ads, or on their Facebook page or Instagram- I don’t believe photographers should ever give away their copyrights.

I’m not sure why people ask for copyrights, instead of print releases. I’m guessing there is a wedding planning book somewhere that says to do so, or maybe some kind of portrait tip website…?

I actually have a kind of embarrassing story about print releases and Walgreens. One Christmas (a couple years ago), we decided we wanted to give our family gifts of photos we’d taken. I ordered them all from my pro lab ahead of time, and everything was matted, framed, wrapped, and all set when we were getting ready to head out Christmas Eve. Of course, I’d forgotten one image that I wanted to print, and I thought about printing it on my small office photo printer, but we decided to hit up Walgreens on our way out of town, with the intention that I’d also order it with my next pro print order, and replace the Walgreens print when it came in. I uploaded the image to the Walgreens website, and we stopped there as we left to see our family. When I got there, the photo clerk informed me that I couldn’t take the print, because it looked professionally done, and I didn’t have a print release. I explained that I was the photographer, and that I’m a professional, so that’s why it looked that way.

She still wouldn’t let me take it.

I showed her my business card, but she still wouldn’t let me take it.

I offered to grab my camera out of the car, if that would help, but no luck.

I asked for the standard print release form, then filled it out for myself. She was not pleased.

It occurred to me that Walgreens isn’t designed for professionals to print their photos. I was sort of relieved to know that Walgreens wouldn’t be printing any photos that my clients brought there without a print release, but it was embarrassing, nonetheless.

I don’t think that the top notch photographers that shot my senior portraits or dance portraits in the 2000’s would have EVER given their files away with a print release, so I’m wondering if I’m grounded in the past, even though times are changing. I know tons of incredible photographers who give out print releases. Am I old fashioned?


Granted, we include several images with a print release for our clients to use- I know that people want to put their photos on Christmas cards, birthday invitations, or thank you notes, and we are a two-man operation, with not nearly enough time to do all the design work to make these ourselves. I do want our clients to be happy, and we’re walking the line between making them happy/letting them do what they want to do -and- doing them justice, since they’re paying for a professional service. We decided to offer additional images for a small charge per file- I found that asking my clients to pay $10 for a file was sort of an insurance policy that they wanted to do something cool with it (like print it and transfer it to wood, like one of our brides!), and not just find the cheapest place possible, where I might be embarrassed to put my name on our work.

Those print releases are just for that use, though… printing. I don’t want to find our images floating around in cyberspace unwatermarked, and that is for a very specific reason. As I started to get more involved in the global photography community, I joined several organizations and forums of photographers. Occasionally, stories would pop up of wedding photographers who were vendors at a bridal show, booked brides and grooms, and took retainers to secure the wedding dates. Sure enough, those “photographers” wouldn’t show up on the wedding day, leaving the poor couples out a major chunk of money AND more importantly, without a photographer to shoot their big day!

I started wondering where those fake photographers were getting the large files they needed to print big beautiful display prints for their bridal show booth… and then I realized that there are wedding photographers who give their clients full size files of their wedding photos. A quick google search later, and I found tons of beautiful wedding photos, ripe for the downloading.

I decided then and there that I didn’t want to contribute to that in any way. That’s why you’ll see photos of our weddings on social media and on my blog, but they’re always a small size, and they always have a watermark. In fact, I post additional photos with watermarks anytime our clients request it. I’d love for them to share the photos online on social media, but I don’t want them to be stolen and used for anything other than their intended purpose. All of our clients also receive their own website, with password access, so they can share their photos with anyone that they’d like. I’m not trying to keep our images behind closed doors, or anything- we want them to be shared!


In all honesty, I think that watermarks are distracting. If I think about some of my favorite timeless photos (the romantic return-from-war kiss in Times Square, the workers sitting high atop NYC having lunch on that beam, the beautiful eyes of that anonymous Afghan woman), they’d be very different if the photographer had thrown a big watermark on them. I’m kind of torn about it, but I view watermarks as a necessary evil.

I know that, in theory, I could put a clause in our contract saying that any photos with a print release are not meant for online use, but they end up there anyway. I don’t take it as a direct insult, I just know that many of my clients don’t understand copyright law the way I do. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scrolled through Facebook or Instagram and saw dozens of memes (or inspirational words on pictures or funny cartoons) that were screenshotted and re-posted without any credit to the original content creator. :( I’ve also seen our watermarked images downloaded and printed, and even though that’s NOT the purpose of sharing them online, I haven’t ever said anything about it to anyone. I don’t want to start a fight or argue about it, so I’ve just let it go. I’ve even seen our viewing sites screenshotted and posted on social media- I don’t know if the average person doesn’t know that it’s illegal, or if they just don’t care. Which is worse? As a photographer, do I have an obligation to help educate my friends and family?

Gosh, my heart is racing. I’m going to take a break to pet my pup…


I know that this is a touchy subject for people, and I definitely don’t want to offend any of my many photographer friends who give print releases to their clients. I don’t want to drive a wedge into our community, but I’m interested in how other photographers handle this. We can have different business models, and that’s totally okay. In fact, my commercial photography business model is very different than our portrait business model. My commercial clients often use the images of their products on their websites and business cards. I know they email headshots to places where they have been booked to give presentations, and they print their own business fliers through their graphics teams. I give different releases to our commercial clients than I do to my portrait clients, and we’re okay with that.

I am writing this post because I’m interested in what you all have to say about this issue. I know I have many VERY successful, talented, fabulous photographer friends who wouldn’t dream of giving their files to their clients. I also have many VERY successful, talented, fabulous photographer friends who give their files to their clients. Every once in a while, I think maybe we should do the same thing. It would certainly be easier! Clients, future, present, and past- what do you think about it? Photographer friends? I’d like to start an open conversation about it.


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Colorado Days Five, Six, and Seven

I woke up, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in Denver, ready to head back to Boulder for a little trip north. A quick stop for coffee, and I was on my way- I’m definitely fueled by caffeine. I stopped to pick up Aaron, shower and change, and we hit the road for Rocky Mountain National Park.

I made Aaron stop a couple times, when I saw something pretty… and that happens a lot in the mountains!

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Traffic was crazy on the way up- I guess everyone wants to spend their weekends playing outside. We stopped at Kirk’s fly shop in Estes Park, picked up a couple flies…


…grabbed a sandwich, saw this cool sculpture,


and finished the trip north.

The drive into the park was pretty smooth, and it was beautiful. I kept watching for wildlife, but I didn’t see much. We looked around as we drove into the park, and speculated about where we thought there would be fish hiding out.

Eventually, we picked a spot, parked, and parted ways. I fished. I caught. Fly fishing does something to me- I cherish the peace and quiet and solitude.

The turbulence of the water was at odds with the peace in my soul, quite possibly my favorite juxtaposition. I love waterfalls.

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By the end of the day, I was tired but jazzed that I got into some trout, and I settled in for the drive back to Aaron’s. Unfortunately, I was too busy gawking out the window at the mountains to look at the map, and we got lost. It was just a couple hours out of the way, we drove through Loveland (such a cute name- it made me homesick!), and by the time we got back, it was pretty late. I love seeing the sunset over the mountains.


The ride was pretty quiet, since hanger was setting in. Aaron barely survived the wrath of a hungry, tired Heidi. We ordered a pizza, and I fell asleep immediately after dinner. :)

Day Six began with a hot run on the Boulder Creek Trail. Six miles on my sixth day.



This trail intertwines with the creek and the road like a braid, and I saw a variety of scenery!






Boulder was preparing for their Ironman the following weekend, so I saw signs everywhere letting people know they should plan alternate routes. :)


I was so hot when I finished my run that I jumped right in the stream. I advocate for cold water all over the place, and I know the science behind the water temperature needs of trout, so I KNOW how cold trout streams are… but there is nothing quite like sticking your head in one. I cooled down in a hurry. :)


I started and ended my run at a busy park (Eben G. Fine), so there were two cars waiting for spaces in the small parking lot. It made my usual change-in-the-car routine a little more awkward- struggling to change out of stream-soaked running clothes in a car while you’re being mildly monitored is less than romantic. ;) After I swapped out spandex for a sundress, I went to grab coffee and lunch at The Cup.


I made a quick stop at Boulder Running Company to buy a perfectly tourist “Run Colorado” shirt, then I headed back to Aaron’s. A quick shower, a clean dress, and we went to Avery Brewing for dinner and beer




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The food was fabulous, the beer was great, and I was happy to relax. All these adventures were starting to wear me out!

On the way back to the car, I noticed this…

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Boulder: where even the fire hydrants are pretty.

We finished up dinner with frozen yogurt, probably the most innocent of my vices, and before I knew it, I was sleeping soundly.

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Day Seven, my last day in Colorado, started with me driving into Boulder, renting a bike and checking out the city on two wheels.

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My job as an alderperson has changed the way I think about cities, and it makes me extra interested in how other municipalities approach pedestrian and bicycle traffic. I took lots of photos and started formulating new ideas to take home.image6 (1)

I rode past my favorite Boulder fly shop

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…loved this downtown bicycle parking…

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…and returned my bike in time to head over to Celestial Seasonings for a tour of their tea factory. It was a perfect way to wind down my last day- relaxing with some hot tea.




Since there are no cameras allowed inside the facility, I’ll leave you with this super sexy image of me in a hair net. :)



I headed back to Aaron’s and starting packing everything back into my luggage. It’s amazing how much my clothes multiply while I’m on a trip. I suppose that if I stopped shopping on vacation, the problem would be alleviated. ;)

Day Eight. Coming home. Denver has a pretty cool airport.




You’ll find me in the airport with my three necessities: my fly rod, my yoga mat, and a tripod. :)




My flights were uneventful, and even with the time change and the three hour drive from the airport, I made it home in time for dinner and a nap. :)

More adventures to come- I returned from this trip with lots of photo shoots and meetings to catch up on.

As always, thanks for reading!

Miles this year: 350.3

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Colorado: Days Three and Four

I kicked off day three in Colorado with a little paddleboarding at the reservoir. It was a beautiful morning to spend on the water! Just as I was about to lock the car and head in, one of my October brides called me, reminding me that I’m never actually on vacation, but I can pretend to be. I scheduled a meeting with her for when I got home and tried to put it out of my mind.

This view helped.

I took my brookie for a swim…

This SUP was very different than the wooden beauty that I have at home, but it was a great time. I changed out of my suit into a sundress in the car (mental note: spray Febreeze again to keep that hot car from smelling like the river…), then headed downtown to grab coffee and do a little work.

I love this little shop, The Cup, so I kept coming back. It’s a really popular place, so the lines are usually pretty long. I had almost made it to the front of the line, and the man in front of me was asking the barista all sorts of questions about the prices of coffee, and he dropped a handful of change on the counter and started counting it. He suggested that he’d go to Starbucks since it was cheaper over there. It was obvious to me that he was having a hard time paying for his coffee, so I said, “It’s okay, I’ll give you a buck or two to cover your coffee.” Karma points earned. It was sure a surprise for me when he turned to the barista and said, “In that case, instead of drip coffee, I’d like the Nitro.” It must have been some kind of coffee with nitrogen… so I ended up buying my stranger a $5 cup of coffee. Sure, I’d blown my coffee budget, but at least that guy got a really nice cup of coffee. I stuck with drip, myself.

I typed and edited and read and sorted, then packed up to head to the fly shop to meet Kyle. I’d been virtually introduced to Kyle through my other TU friend from Oregon, also named Kyle. It turns out that TU people are awesome, though that’s really no surprise to me. We met in real life at the shop, grabbed a couple flies, then headed out to Boulder Creek.


It was a beautiful day to be out on the water.

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(photo credit: random awesome fly angler who walked by)

Kyle caught a couple fish, and I didn’t catch a darn thing. I did have a strike, though… but couldn’t follow through. I was amazed at some of the shallow moving water that was holding fish. I couldn’t believe they were in there! I tried several new casting techniques that I’ve never done before. It was a great learning experience. I just love fishing in other areas and learning more about fish behavior.

We stripped off our wet waders and boots and headed back into town for tacos and beer at Sanitas, and we talked about TU on the drive. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I really love that organization and everything they do for cold water.

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Delicious food, great beer, and fabulous company. Thank you for all your help, Kyle! I really appreciate you taking a chance to get out fishing with a stranger.

I came home to see this smiling face, and I fell sound asleep, dreaming dreams of pretty mountain trout. <3


And just like that, I woke up. Solo fishing day.

Don’t get scared now.

After being skunked fishing with Kyle the day before (who certainly knows what he’s doing), I headed out to the stream with low confidence. I knew I needed an attitude adjustment, because embracing a bad mood is no help to anyone, especially myself.

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Once I picked my spot to fish, I grabbed my yoga mat, did a few poses with deep breathing, and strung up my rod.
I walked down to the river, and tried this new spot. No luck.

Another new spot. No luck.

Changed flies. No luck.

Changed flies and went to a new spot, scaring a snake along the way. No luck.

Tried a dropper. Lost both flies in a tree lined with other anglers’ flies.

Tried not to be frustrated, but didn’t know what fly to use. Tried a hopper. No luck.

Caddis? Before I had a chance to cast, I saw a hummingbird flying near me, making the cutest little sound. Took a brave little walk through fast water, holding on to a dead tree for security.
Cast once. Twice. Three times, then a flash and strike. Set the hook!
I pulled in the prettiest brown trout, and burst into tears.. so yeah, I snapped. Lost my shit. It must have been the stress and the pressure… no one wants to fly out to a new state in a new region and come home empty handed. Relief washed over me when I felt the tug at the end of my line. Thank. Goodness. I fooled one.

I caught several more in the next fifteen minutes, including the biggest trout I’ve ever caught while wading. I packed it up and headed back early, leaving on a high note.
This game is certainly about the chase, about feeling independently adequate, trusting yourself and trusting the fish, and being brave on solo adventures. Sometimes it’s harder than I thought it would be, but it’s always worth it.



I grabbed a quick lunch from a food truck downtown, then headed up to Chautauqua to run my little heart out.

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Trail running: where going down is just as hard as going up. Don’t-fall-don’t-fall-don’t-fall.



It was an awesome run, and very unlike my flat Central Sands home. There is a beautiful grassy park at Chautauqua where I stretched out and did a little yoga, then headed back to Aaron’s to shower and get ready for “girls’ night out.”

The drive to Denver was pretty short and there wasn’t much traffic, so I got there before Meredith was finished with her kickball game. I stopped in at Starbucks to grab coffee and do a little work until she was ready to hang out. The view from the coffee shop was amazing!


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When I got the “I’m ready!” text, I headed to the park to finally see my friend! I met Meredith when we were in first grade, and the rest is history. I love that the park she was playing in had views of the mountains on one side, and the Denver skyline on the other. So awesome.


We headed to Meredith’s condo for dinner, catching up, and we got ready to go out. She has a gorgeous view of the skyline from the patio of her Capitol Hill condo.


I don’t know the names of all the places we went, but we danced, played beer pong, and laughed a lot. Thank you for the fun night, Mere!!!

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All this vacation was wearing me out, and I was so happy to snuggle in on Meredith’s couch for a night of sleep before my upcoming day at Rocky Mountain National Park. That adventure is up next.

Here, fishy fishy…

Miles this year: 347.65

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Colorado Day Two

The best part about being overtired is that when you finally emerge in the morning after a solid night of sleep, the world feels brimming with possibilities.

I grabbed my camera, my trail running shoes, and headed down to Manitou Springs to climb The Incline.

I stopped along the way when the beauty of the mountains became too distracting, which was often.

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The mountain range stretches alongside the entire highway 87 corridor, and it was such a change from my flat Central Sands home.

As I got closer to The Incline, I started thinking seriously about the challenge I was about to undertake. Can you see that little path up the mountain there? That doesn’t look so bad.


It’s the base of Pike’s Peak, and it’s one mile long, but 2,000 feet up.


As I got closer, I started thinking, “Yeah, maybe that will be hard.”


“Really hard. Did I bring enough water?” Spoiler alert: I didn’t. I had my distance running hydration belt with a couple little bottles of water, and I started the climb.


I had planned on running up part of it, and I made it exactly .1 miles before I was huffing and puffing like the big bad wolf. I was climbing next to a mom and her three kids- I’d say between the ages of 10 and 15. They were not having fun. It was really hard! They’d run up ahead of me, then stop to rest in the shade and I’d catch up. I heard the mom say, “Okay, we can rest until this girl in pink catches up, but then we’re heading off again.” The teenage girl looked at me as if to say, “I don’t want to go! Why are you still climbing, ‘girl in pink?!'” I told them both that I wasn’t going anywhere quickly, so they’d have time to rest. :)


I made it about halfway up before I had to sit down to take a break, and it hadn’t occurred to me until that point to turn around and enjoy the view! It came at a great time, when I had to start bartering with myself. “Okay, let’s take one step up and take a rest. One step, one breath.” Finally, I decided to sit for a moment. I was getting sick to my stomach.


I didn’t notice, in the picture above, the writing on that man’s chest… but he has big letters DNR on him. Either he’s a giant fan of our Department of Natural Resources, or if he had health trouble on the climb, he wanted to die up there. Intense.

The farther up that I got, the steeper the steps were. I got to a point where I couldn’t even step up like a normal step- I had to swing my leg up onto the next step and use my arms to help push myself. It was crazy. I was out of water. I thought, “I’m an athlete. What the heck is this? I look and sound like an out-of-shape elderly woman.” It was then that I saw a fit-looking man projectile vomit.

Oh, yeah. Altitude sickness. No wonder I felt like yakking myself. The point to cut out early was about 2/3 of the way up, and I saw the family again. The kids asked if they could stop climbing and go get ice cream. Their athletic mother said, “No- ice cream only happens if we finish.”

Jeez. Some pep talk. I pushed ahead.

I met a new friend and her mother, and we talked to each other to help cheer us on. We all questioned our sanity and wondered why we’d want to do that, and before we knew it, I was at the top.



It was awesome. The view was beautiful, and the trailhead at the bottom looked SO FAR away. I really wanted some water. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to go back down the way I came up… there was a trail to run down. The fastest three trail miles of my life happened there on Barr Trail, and I kept running downhill straight to Aaron’s car.

That warm Kleen Kanteen and Nalgene full of water were a Godsend. I opened those car doors and changed out of my trail shoes into my sandals. Oh, my little toes were thankful. I rolled down the windows, made a mental note to buy some Febreeze for the car, and headed out of town.

Until I remembered Garden of the Gods. I really wanted to head back, to drink my weight in cold water, and take a shower, but I couldn’t pass up such a beautiful location. Plus, I love rocks.

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Colorado Day Two-2

After wandering around that natural beauty for a while, I went straight to Sonic, where I drank 44 ounces of iced tea and ate an ice cream sundae for lunch. I know how to live it up on vacation!


I only stopped once on the way back, to take a picture of this crazy looking little hill…


Once I arrived back in Boulder, I swung through Target to grab a few things (including that Febreeze, which made Aaron’s car smell like ‘fresh linen’ instead of ‘sweaty Heidi’), took a fabulous shower and went swimming at the pool in Aaron’s apartment complex.


It was a fabulous way to unwind. There is a Which Wich close to Aaron’s apartment, so I refueled with some amazing carby goodness, then headed downtown to have beer with the talented (and obviously sassy) Tim Romano. We talked fly fishing, photography, fly fishing photography… you get the idea.


I made it back to Aaron’s apartment just in time to watch some TV and relax. I felt awesome… DOMS later, maybe?

Up next? Finally, some time on the water. Both on it and in it.

Miles this year: 343.65

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Chasing Adventure: Colorado, Day One

On Monday morning, all I wanted to do was sleep in. Those campers wore me out… but I brewed some coffee and got my butt in gear. I had to unpack from the camp and repack for Colorado, and I had to review my materials for that evening’s city council meeting.

I downloaded, uploaded, read, notated, washed, dried, folded, rolled, charged, dusted, packed, unpacked, and repacked. I was pretty close to having my luggage packed and ready to leave for the airport, but I had to head out for my council meeting, so I kissed Brian goodbye and left.

This is a perfect bag, in my opinion. Camera gear and fly reels combined make for a fabulous trip!

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Our 7:00 council meeting went a little on the long side… and I got home shortly after midnight. I needed to leave the house at 1:30 to get to the Milwaukee airport on time, and it took me a little while to unwind and finish packing, so I took a 35 minute nap in Brian’s arms on the couch, then headed out to the airport.

That wasn’t enough sleep. It was a rough drive, complete with the eerie quality of an empty interstate at 3:30 am, and my constant desire to stop for donuts, which tested my self control.
I made it to the airport, and as I boarded my plane, rod tube in hand, I heard someone call my name. I looked up and saw my friend, Jon Christiansen!

I was able to sleep (though fitfully) for a couple hours on the plane, and I was woken up by the jostling during landing.
Jon waited for me after we landed, carefully placed a few special flies in my hand, and wished me luck on my Colorado adventure.

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Rainbow warriors… hope you’re magic out there! (Read later posts to hear about my fly fishing successes…)

My luggage was already on the carousel when I arrived at baggage claim, and Aaron was waiting to pick me up, as well!

As soon as we drove out of the Denver airport, I saw the mountains in the distance. They’re just amazing! We stopped at Aaron’s apartment to drop off my gear, then went to drop him off at work. As I dropped him off, he said, “Two rules: don’t kill yourself, and don’t hurt my car.” He then dropped a spare set of keys in my hand and ushered me off for some “Heidi adventures.” I have the BEST friends!

Of course, I was too tired to do anything. I had meant well, when booking that early flight, but I couldn’t have known that I’d be stuck in a five hour meeting and not be able to get any sleep. I wasn’t quite ready to lose my whole first day in Colorado, though, so I grabbed coffee from Starbucks then reclined in the parking lot and slept soundly for a few hours. I’m always running around (at least) just a little tired, and I’m one of those lucky people who can fall asleep pretty much anywhere. Naps are one of my best friends! I felt slightly better after my nap, so I headed down to the pedestrian mall in downtown Boulder. It’s a beautifully designed city! After becoming an alderwoman, I look at cities much differently.

I did a little shopping, since of course I forgot a few things. Their downtown has some of my favorite stores, including Lush, Patagonia, and prAna. Yoga classes, anyone?

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It started raining, so I played in the puddles, ate lunch from a food truck, drank more coffee…

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…and visited a fly shop.

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After asking about good local water, I decided to take a short drive along Boulder Creek to check it out. Winding through mountains following a stream is one of my new favorite things to do.

Boulder: where even the fire hydrants are pretty.

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Before I knew it, I had to head back to pick up Aaron from work. We went to dinner at Southern Sun Pub and Brewery, and after a good Colorado beer, I fell sound asleep around 8 pm!

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Up next? Climbing The Incline, taking photos, and meeting a Boulder friend. :)

Miles this year: 339.65

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Wisconsin Trout Unlimited Youth Fishing Camp 2015

One more year of our WITU Youth Camp under our belts, and one more graduating class of educated angler citizens.

This year’s group was thoughtful and funny, sassy and naughty, insightful and competitive. Basically, they were typical teenagers (and pre-teens). The camp is held at the beautiful Pine Lake Bible Camp, and it is a wonderful facility!

We started with knot tying…

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…and fly casting.

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I was the counselor for two girls, and here they are! Natalie and Katie. Two totally different personalities and two different experience levels, but the three of us meshed flawlessly and we all had a great time. :)

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We had many fabulous volunteers, who drove out to the middle of nowhere (Wild Rose) and donated their time and talents. I love my TU friends!

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We went on a field trip to visit our local DNR fisheries guys and they demonstrated how they do fish surveys on our streams.

When it was dark, we came inside and the kids learned about fly tying. Some of our older kids from last year came back and helped us out as junior counselors. They were fantastic! Even though I think this stuff is awesome, it means more to the campers to hear it from other kids.

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Here are my girls with the grownups that they brought- one had her grampie, and one had her dad.

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We had a lesson from past WITU council chair, Henry, on what TU does and why we do it.

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Those lucky kids even had a chance to make their own spinners! Too cool.

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The camp is on a lake, so we were able to swim and fish out there in between classes. It was a hot week- in the 90s every day. We made extra break times for a dip in the lake, and I made a couple popsicle runs.

Despite the heat, I found a little break to go for a run on the trails through the camp. It was beautiful!!

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Early mornings were spent soaking up knowledge from these TU members (and total fly fishing experts!)…

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…and drinking tea on the deck. Those kids stayed up way past “lights out,” probably studying their fishing books, I’m sure, so they slept in until the very last moment each morning. It was nice to have a few minutes of peace!image5 (2)

Our final day included some stream fishing, and my girls did a fantastic job!

Bob, who is one of the organizers of the camp, came out to our stream section and captured this image of Natalie and I. She did a great job! I was so proud.

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Girls on the stream: Linda, from Wisconsin River Valley TU, came out to help guide!

We had a wonderful camp this year. Congratulations, campers! You learned a lot of new skills, and you taught us all a lot, too. Thank you for the great week!

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I headed out immediately after the kids were picked up, because I only had one day at home before I had to leave on my Colorado adventure. One day is not nearly enough time to do all my laundry, snuggle my pup and my mustachioed husband, and charge my camera batteries.

That trip (and the insanity of my day at home) is up next! As always, thank you for reading!

Miles this year: 335.4


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