Seasons are beautiful! They are what help divide the months, the years, and give motion and a sense of time to our lives. This past year, my seasons brought me an end to living life alone, gave me a wonderful family, and taught me lessons in ways that only a new season can. In one year, I saw frozen Niagara Falls, military bases in the conflict torn Middle East, played music with great friends, saw places that few ever get to, and married the love of my life, Natalie. I am only now starting to realize all that has changed. This new season is a wonderful one!
For those of you that know me well, you know that I love photography, and know that I think stories are wonderful. All of the photographs on my website, I have taken. Through my cameras, I love trying to provide a perspective on my travels, but also just find gems in everyday moments that I can share. This past year was no exception.
The spring started with some wonderful winter weather in Nashville. For once, my travels didn't make me miss all of the festive weather! Things began with a trip to Canada, again. The last four winters, I have been in Canada for at least a month. It is cold up there! When I got back it was almost springtime in Nashville. It was a particularly beautiful one, and I was celebrating the fact that I could actually experience for the first time in what felt like several years. Soon after that though, it was time to hit the road again with Kerrie, my friends, and some other unexpected adventures.
The next surprise of the year, was a trip to the Middle East with Danika Portz. It was an opportunity that came along at just the right time. Schedules worked out perfectly. All of us going on the trip were aware that it would be a life-changing experience. Even though it was tough, I would do it all over again. Getting to support and entertain our men and women in the armed forces was an unforgettable experience. Yes, the conditions were not exactly ideal, and we experienced heat in a way that makes summer in the South look like a joke, but it was totally worth it. For those of you that want a full accounting of the trip, buy me some coffee and I will tell you the stories behind the photos I am sharing here. For those with no wish to hear the full story, here are some bullet points of what we experienced:
- Djibouti is a place
- Djibouti is also one of the most hot and humid places I have ever been. Period.
- We bribed our way through Kenya with CD's and American cash.
- Got a private tour of the Grand Mosque in Bahrain.
- Saw the Kuwait oil fields.
- Stood under the Tree of Life.
- Rode a tank.
- Personally drove a MAT-V.
- Stood on an F-15.
- Personally saw an F-22 aircraft up close, and talked to the squadron leaders.
- Met so many amazing people.
- Saw the King's Camels in Bahrain.
After returning back home to the US, it was summer time. But, after the intense heat of the Middle East, it felt like a second spring. There was change in the air. The next two months would define how the rest of the year would go for me. I had been dating Natalie since the summer of 2014. She is wonderful, patient, and understanding of my travels. She also conveniently shares a similar wanderlust, so I'm sure that you will see many photos from our family's travels in the future. While on vacation in Florida with my now step children and Natalie's family, I asked her to marry me. She thankfully said yes, since that would have made the rest of the trip a bit awkward! It was a beautiful time!
We decided that there was no point in waiting over a year, since we wanted a fall wedding. So, we started making plans. Never before in my life have I known such a sweet woman, loving mother, and beautiful, strong soul as Natalie. We got married in October, and it couldn't have been a better start to my fall. I now have children, a wife, a home, and people to come home to. It has been a long time coming. I have learned a lot in life, and there is always more to learn. But, one thing that this last year has taught me is this: If you spend your time caring for the others in your life, and not yourself, life only gets richer. This life is uncertain, but if you rest in God's will, and listen quietly for the path you should take, not necessarily the one you want to, amazing things can happen.
That brings me to the final season of last year. In the midst of crazy schedules, new life adjustments, moving, and work, Natalie and I were able to escape for a few days together in California. We visited San Francisco, Sonoma, and Napa Valley. What a beautiful country we live in. Anyone complacent enough to think that living in the United States is not a blessing, is woefully ignorant of our privileged place in the world.
California was beautiful! Again, if you want the whole story, buy me some coffee, and I will gladly expound. We saw the Golden Gate, Highway 1, the redwood trees, wine country, and know that we only have begun our adventures together! Here are a few favorites from the trip:
Thank you for reading this far! I hope you have enjoyed the pictures, there are more adventures to come! Seasons change, and life moves along. My hope for everyone is that you can find the adventure in the everyday, and take time to relish the small moments in life. Rest assured, even if this is a tough season for you, one thing is for sure, seasons to change, and there is always another right around the corner.