February 3, 2014

Pilgrimage: Israel

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About the time the sun was coming up as we approached Tel Aviv on the plane, I knew this was going to be a very different trip. About a dozen Orthodox Jews stood up and began praying and reading from the Torah right on the plane. I had never experienced anything like it. It was just the beginning. I have read about Jerusalem but nothing can prepare you for it. It is so completely different than my everyday life that it is mind boggling.

We experienced a lot in a short period of time, incredible hummus and falafel to the incredibly powerful and well designed Holocaust Museum, Yad Vanesh.  The beauty, the devotion and the history make this place the most interesting I have ever been to, EVER!! You simply must go.  If you want some beach time Tel Aviv is only an hour away and has some incredible beaches on the Mediterranean. Drop your plans to Europe or to Hawaii and go. I won’t even try to explain it any further.

If a picture says  1000 words here are about a million.

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January 16, 2014

Could’ve kept going…

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We are back!! I had a strong urge to keep going south. I love the road. It has taken me years to discover that my life is a cycle. I get extremely busy in the Spring, Summer and Fall and when winter comes around and I have too much time on my hands, I scheme about traveling. It happens every year without fail. Today, I have a great desire to go to India. Let me explain. I am currently enrolled as a student at USU. I have been a senior for 11 years. For no particular reason, I decided to finish up my few remaining classes and graduate after what will be 19 years. I will discuss that another day. Suffice it to say, I am taking my final two classes right now, both of which I am enjoying tremendously. The first is “Religion and Play”, which essentially is a class about Hinduism. The second class is called “Living with Wildlife”.  Both interesting, but my Hindu class is mesmerizing! Hence, the desire to go to India. Not to mention Indian food is ultra fantastic!

Travel is a large part of my McFarland family culture. We are bred to explore and if an adventure is not had for a period of time we get the itch. In the winter, I never stop itching! Experiencing different cultures is one of the quickest ways to learn that really we are all the same in so many ways.  When it boils down to it though, for me food is the ultimate travel experience. I will travel across the planet to try new foods. I think I can remember just about every thing I have ever eaten while traveling. While I love traveling abroad, I have a deep appreciation for the gems we have right in our midst. There are many!

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You couldn’t find someone who embodied the image of a forest ranger better if you tried!  Jim took us on a two hour snowshoe tour across the rim of Bryce Canyon that blew our minds. It was freezing and the wind was piercing but my boy Jack didn’t flinch. He was a rock! Jim was so excited to be out and about. I always love seeing people who love getting up to go to work.
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If you go on KSl deals right now you can stay at Ruby’s Inn, one mile away from Bryce Canyon, for two nights for only $70. It was a real nice hotel and the swimming pool was piping hot! Best of all, we had the entire Bryce Canyon National Park to ourselves.

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I felt so sorry for this deer because just getting out to take the picture I almost got frost bite.

 

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We are National Park Fanatics! I love that Maddi loves her Jr. Ranger badges. If you have kids, you simply have got to do the Jr Ranger programs at any National Park. Below, Melanie is working with the kids to fulfill the requirements and when they are done a ranger swears them in as Jr. Rangers. The kids love it! If you must know, Utah has the second most National Parks in America, maybe the world. California has nine and Utah has five. They are ALL incredible and can only be experienced to be believed.
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We headed to lower elevation, down to St. George where it was almost 60 degrees. We soaked it up like lizards. HEAT!! YES!!

 

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Brigham Young’s winter home in St. George.

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This couple below has been volunteering for 10 months to give tours at the Brigham Young home. They were super nice and probably annoyed by my questions.cmp_7406

 

 

The oldest tree in St. George. Brigham Young ordered a ton of silk worms to make silk with so they planted Mulberry Trees for the silk worms to eat.He also brought carp to Utah! The silk didn’t last long but we know how carp ended up.cmp_7411

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We Spent two entire days exploring Snow Canyon. I am blown away with everything we have within a half a days drive of my home. cmp_7427

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The kids fed these birds for like an hour. I laid on my stomach for like an hour trying to get one to eat some bread off my back. I think I could have done it if I had another hour or so. cmp_7557

 

 

January 9, 2014

Why people don’t like to read

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For Maddi’s birthday we got her a lamp so she can read at night without bothering her sister. I walked in on her a couple nights ago to see her reading at about 10:00 pm. I have noticed many kids nowadays seem to read more than we did as kids. Because I am such an avid reader and I believe life STAGNATES without reading, I frequently ask my clients if they like to read.  Many of them are college students. It surprises me to discover that the majority don’t like it. It makes sense. Reading, as it applies to a college student is associated, sometimes forever, with textbooks, boredom and work.  I heard a stat that stated that close to 60% of people had not read a book from cover to cover since they graduated from college. Even if that were 10% I would be astounded. YIKES!

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When people say they hate reading what they are truly saying is, ” I hate reading stuff that I hate reading”. At least that is the way I hear it. It is like a challenge to me. How do I get this person to like reading? The prescription is, they need to be introduced to something that interests them and it has been my experience that it doesn’t take long for them to like reading again. This is anecdotal but I have found it to work in the few instances I have tried it. For kids, building strong associations with reading early on will hook them for life.  The best thing for kids learning to love reading is seeing their parents love reading. My parents loved books. My dad had a copy of Mark Twain’s entire collection with him wherever we went it seems. We lurked around used books stores and he purchased for me “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin” when I was 18 right across the street where Ben Franklin is buried in Philly. These are great associations I have with reading, therefore I read and so on.

“You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket.”-John Adams

January 4, 2014

Happy Birthday!!

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My sweet little girl woke me up this morning so she could hear me say, “Happy Birthday”.  We had a birthday party last night on ice. She was so excited.  I love this little girl.

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This song reminds me of Maddi:

December 30, 2013

Thank You and Happy New Year!!

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No joking, 2013 was the best year I have had in my career in so many ways. It was incredibly enjoyable largely because I have great clients, many who have become lifelong friends. I cannot tell you how important that is to me. Thank you for letting me be a part of your lives albeit in a small way. It is an honor for me to take pictures of the people and events that mean so much to everyone. Have a Happy New Year and may all your wildest dreams come true in 2014!

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Synopsis of 2013:

I slurp up my blog and print it in an album for a journal so I am going to write a few details about this last year so I can cue my memory.

 

Notable events of 2013: Yellowstone 2 times, Guatemala to visit the Dennings and Jensens (Check out their blog here: discover share inspire ), Eastern Idaho State Fair (counts as a different country) Moab, St. George (for 100 century bike ride), THE DMZ in South Korea (no man’s land), Gramma Carol’s twice (Firth, Idaho better than disneyland), Twin Falls to visit Cousin Melissa and swim in a frigid river with the kids, Bear lake multiple times, Sanpete County (Ephraim and Manti for weddings and to visit where Mel and I met) Antelope Island for multiple photo sessions, rafted the Oneida narrows with the Kids, etc.. All in all it was eventful. Great memories!! 

New things I tried: Roasted a pig, became proficient in Indian and Korean Cuisine, opened up to photo classes, tore out my old yard to put in a new one, graduated from the Kimchi Academy in Seoul, ordered olives from California and brined them from raw (awesome), bought the Contax 645 I have wanted for a long time, sold it and bought a bunch of video equipment, went back to college to finish a degree I will never use (I only had a few classes left and I finish in the Spring), wrote an Ebook for beginning photographers, held a ping pong tournament at my house (I got 4th place), went on a date every week with my wife, began Taco mondays in which I take one of my kids each monday out to lunch, tried street tamales in Guatemala and got sick for a week and a half, went into a tunnel in the DMZ that the North Koreans secretly dug (couldn’t take pictures, sorry), bought a travel camper, bought a full suspension mountain bike, headed up a festival for my church for 200 people (success!), read a zillion books my favorite being The Black Count, dabbled in professional video, made a lot of new friends and most important to me I spent a lot of time watching my family grow up.

 

 

 

October 3, 2013

300,000 and going strong!!

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Every once in a while I check myshuttercount.com to see how many shots I have taken on my main camera. You may remember my post a year or so ago when I hit 200k on my Nikon d700. Think of it like an odometer in a car. This camera is rated and tested to 150,000 shutter actuations so this is a lot like going around 250,000 miles maybe. It has far exceeded its expectations. Imagine how many faces have been on the other side of this baby.  I love this camera!!

This time my shutter rose and fell on 300,000 at Meagan and Chris’s wedding while they were cutting cake last Saturday. Couldn’t have planned it better! Such a great couple!

For the record I have a back-up camera with me every where I go just in case she decides to call it quits. I am sincerely hoping to do a blog post next year when I hit the 400k mark. Wish me luck!

 

 

 

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August 9, 2013

Ashamed that this is my First Rodeo!

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Ashamed that this is my First Rodeo!

I have been to the Eastern Idaho Stare Fair every year for nearly fifteen years. It is a family event(cousins and aunts and grandma and all) that we go visit my grandparents in Blackfoot, Idaho around Labor day. We have our routine , the tiger ear scones, huckleberry ice cream, scuggets, turkey drums on a stick, petting zoo, alligator wrestler, monkeys on horseback, you know, the usual. For some reason the rodeo has never been a part of it. Last night was my first taste (other than the movie 8 seconds). I am not sure there is anything more American than a rodeo (with the exception of baseball). I was having so much fun taking pictures with my backup camera, my D7000. It doesn’t see much light but I broke it in like a good horse last night. The highlight last night was a little girl who competed in the mutton busting competition. She held on to that sheep like a barnacle and wasted all the boys in the arena. The crowd went bananas. It makes me wonder how many treasures are sitting right in front of me and I don’t even know it. Love it!

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