St. John Muir, Pray for Us by Corinne Keener

In my last post I shared photos from a trip to Muir Woods National Landmark. It's an incredible, ancient place with trees bigger than what feels like anything I've ever seen, though I've been near buildings just as tall. It's named for John Muir, John of the Mountains, an early naturalist and preservationist (and also an immigrant) who's passion was responsible for our National Parks. There is nothing I could write about him that hasn't already been said, but I think I've thanked his memory every day since we visited Yosemite and even more in these last couple of weeks. 

Here are some of his words:

"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike. "
The Yosemite, John Muir

"Any fool can destroy trees. They cannot run away; and if they could, they would still be destroyed -- chased and hunted down as long as fun or a dollar could be got out of their bark hides, branching horns, or magnificent bole backbones. Few that fell trees plant them; nor would planting avail much towards getting back anything like the noble primeval forests. .. It took more than three thousand years to make some of the trees in these Western woods -- trees that are still standing in perfect strength and beauty, waving and singing in the mighty forests of the Sierra. Through all the wonderful, eventful centuries ... God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand straining, leveling tempests and floods; but he cannot save them from fools -- only Uncle Sam can do that."
Our National Parks, John Muir

Looking on the Valley and Half Dome from Columbia Rock I said, "John Muir is a saint."

If you get the opportunity, visit a national park. Read about climate science. Get concerned. These lands are our Nation's greatest asset and we owe it to our children to have a place to play in and pray in.

Here are my photos from our trip to Yosemite, a place where every turn felt like the most incredible thing I had ever seen.

The Bae Area by Corinne Keener

We flew in to San Francisco a few days after we were married in late October. I kind of had to be talked into the trip, because when I was maybe 15 I decided that I had no interest in the state because I had "east coast sensibilities." I'm not sure what I thought that meant. Hedge funds? Private school? Dunkin' Donuts?

Either way, I've been to both coasts now, and none of my teenage notions hold up to any real scrutiny, because I love them both for reasons I wouldn't have ever considered.

Here are some reasons San Fransisco is great:

  • Plants I grow in my house grow outside and they are bigger than I am.
  • You can be in the city and then at the ocean, pretty much just like that.
  • Go north of town, drive through a neighborhood, go down a hill that you're pretty sure is not safe for motor vehicles, you're in a National Monument full of redwood trees.
  • The hills are great for your glutes and also for unbeatable vantage points.
  • Drive four-ish hours east. See Half Dome from the Yosemite Valley.
  • Get any kind of food you want, it's probably just around the corner.
  • Public transportation.
  • So many good doggos.
  • So much good bouganville.
  • Never stop singing "Everywhere You Look" everywhere you look.
  • A guy outside of a cafe on a Wednesday morning drinking champagne.
  • The Musée Mécanique is the best place to spend $5 in the whole world.
  • Just kind of wing dinner plans and end up at the top of Lombard Street after you had resigned to not getting to go up Lombard Street.
  • Just kind of wing everything and still have a very fun time.

One thing San Fransisco needs to improve upon:

  • Donuts.

I have far too many photos for one post, and I like them far too much to edit them down to make one reasonable sized blog entry, so I'm going to share them in two parts. Here's Part One: San Francisco, Muir Woods National Monument and Muir Beach, Maverick's Beach, the Golden Gate Bridge via Marshall's Beach, the Musée Mécanique, a Giant Camera that is also a holograph museum, Sutro Baths, etc. I'll post photos from our visit to Yosemite next week.

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new orleans by Corinne Keener

In which we get engaged, hop on a plane, eat some gourmet pork rinds, pay too much for a hotel room above the loudest bar in the world so we don't sleep, but we do get to listen to a genuine Cajun janitor attempt to fix our toilet, get on a bus to Alabama, hang out on the beach with my mom, eat all of the seafood, hide out from a tornado, get on a bus back to Louisiana, move into an old Greek revival bed and breakfast with slanting floors and a thirteen inch CRT TV, meet some cats, walk all around the French Quarter three or four times, order beignets and coffee (twice - Café Beignet is the superior choice, btw), visit a pharmacy museum, take 500 photos with my camera's faulty focus, listen to great live music, ride a tandem bicycle, and fly back home.

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(Also, Michael Pollan's four-part documentary Cooked on Netflix is so great and has almost nothing to do with this post except for that we watched it during this week and I feel like I need to tell you to watch it instead of Fuller House because Fuller House is an abomination and shouldn't exist. I just read somewhere that it's getting a second season and I am outraged. I haven't been this mad since someone promised to bring Sandy's Donuts to work and instead showed up with Dunkin'. So, I really need you to watch the good things that Netflix comes out with or they're going to reboot Step by Step or - god forbid - Saved by the Bell, and honestly, I don't think I could survive that.)

Any way, New Orleans is a great time. Maybe even the best time.

Now to plan a wedding.

Firsts: Jessica & Tim by Corinne Keener

I met Jessica in 2008 as we nervously unpacked our things in our bedroom at GVSU. It wasn't long before we were as close as could be, laughing and quoting Step Brothers to one another from our bunk beds. Jessica's hilarious and kind boyfriend, Tim, would visit on weekends from Ferris.

In August 2011 Jessica and Tim got married. They were my first wedding as a photographer.

Now, they're expecting their first baby and I am absolutely thrilled to share in their love and joy as they take their next step together as a family.

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Congratulations to these three!

So Long, So-Long Winter by Corinne Keener

Frozen lakes perfectly sum up my love/hate relationship with winter: the quiet, surreal landscapes, and the bone aching, bitter cold which either make me thankful and thoughtful or force me further underneath a pile of blankets and deeper into a Netflix rabbit hole until the thermometer hits 45°.

Luckily, yesterday Maggie and I managed to make it out to Lake Michigan on one of the first warmish days this year, so the lake was still the icy land of your most/least favorite Disney feature from the last two years without being a total death trap (even though we were a tiny bit, kind of, probably unnecessarily scared to be out there). And did we ever need this little excursion. The sun, the cold, the unpredictable sand and snow mix on the beach that'll swallow your leg whole to the knee, the laughing, the photo-making. It was a much appreciated farewell to a season that can sometimes - okay, that will always - make me go completely stir crazy, and a great reminder of how a little sun and some time out with a good friend can wake up a whole lot of hope inside of me.


Welcome, Us. by Corinne Keener

I've decided to make 2015 a good year. Not that anyone goes in to any particular year hoping for anything but good, but in 2015 I'm not just hoping, I'm making. And this is going to be my first real step. A website. So we're here, and I'm welcoming you just like I've welcomed myself to the good.

I recently spent a week with my mom while she snow-birds it down in Orange Beach, Alabama. It's an area I was familiar with all throughout my childhood and it was great to go back and experience it as an adult. It was my first trip back since my father passed away and the nostalgia hit hard. My mom and I had a great week, spending time together, relaxing, sharing memories, and exploring some new places. And going to zoos (that's right, plural).

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