Las Vegas (A.K.A. Death Vegas)


With the three-hour trip from Zion behind us, we were pretty tired and stopping in the city was much needed to recharge our batteries. We stayed at the Stratosphere - The tallest building in Las Vegas. We later learned after booking this spot we were far away from the strip, but as we got closer to the hotel, we were like, “Ew” and after looking at so much beauty these past few days, it was an eyesore and Charlotte coined the term Death Vegas.  We saw normal city stuff along the way, and had to go back to our old city ways of ignoring, and not saying hello. Typical Philly attitude. Checking into the stratosphere, the concierge hooked us up with an upgraded room. Not sure why, but we took it. The room was really nice and modern. Super clean, and plenty of room to relax.

After laying down for a few we did not want to get up and explore city, but after a couple hours of procrastination, we finally got up and got dressed. We went up to the top of the hotel to see the city from above with a 360-degree view, which was cool.


The atmosphere was quiet with a couple small young girls being drunk and stumbling taking selfies with each other. We immediately gave each other dirty looks with a drink in hand, and decided to leave. In the elevator making our way down, this crowd of young millennial’s asked me to hit their floor button. I hesitated, and in my head I was like “whatever, here ya go jerk.” Patiently waiting, the door opened and then Charlotte said in a weird creepy voice, “Have a good evening….” Some said thank you, and others were chucking down the hall. We were dying because that was spontaneous, and I didn’t expect that at all.



After some laughs, her friend gave us a recommendation to hit up Fremont Street to see a light show. Catching a cab ride, the taxi driver Jim asked us the normal small talk questions, and we asked for some info. After getting comfortable, he was quite funny playing along with our sarcasm. Gotta love cab rides! He also said the light show was something to see. Exiting the cab, making way to Fremont, little did we know that this light show was the same kind of screens found at baseball stadiums, and was so cheesy. That was a total bummer, and found no interest in looking up, the loud pop/dance music covered up the lame show. The one cool thing you can do is take a zip line ride above which looked fun, but we had more fun people-watching, looking at the dancers on top of tables doing their thing, and a listening to a good cover band rocking out to lots of classics. These dominatrix looking girls were getting their asses slapped for their rent money and Charlotte went up to them and was a little concerned about being slapped and if it really hurt or not. Of course, they were like, “No, nothing bad has happened, and some do hurt, but they’re paying for it so it’s all good.” Soon after, we ordered drinks, and the bartender really, I mean really poured the liquor in our cups doing some cool dance moves while pouring. I said, “Work it man, get those tips!” He laughed and almost messed up. I swear it was four shots in a small vodka cranberry drink. We did not mind that! One drink got me drunk. Wobbly, and giggly while Charlotte screams, whooo death vegas, I hate you!!” She cracked me up. Since I’m a lightweight with drinking, not being my forte anymore, the one vodka cranberry hit me pretty hard. Charlotte got another and then the party began!

We went down to another rock performance on Fremont and this dancing goat man was doing his thing being dirty dancing with girls

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After that, we noticed the time and it was around two in the morning. Making the effort to find a cab, the man we originally asked said he was off, but then noticed us unsuccessful a few moments later, so he called us to the car, and we got in. We were thankful, and he was nice. Good conservationist, although I can’t remember his name, or what we talked about, but I do remember when I had to pay the man, I had the cash-in-hand, Charlotte took my cash, and not noticing how much there was, grabbed it out of my hand and paid him with it! Laying the dirty looks, that’s was a 5 dollar cab ride! I was like there was 25 bucks in my hand. Oh well, he helped us out so a Twenty dollar tip well spent. Back to the Stratosphere, Stumbling into the casino to the elevators, Charlotte decided to sit down and say “Death Vegas…Wooo hoo and very curious roaming around wobbly and talking to strangers about how they shouldn’t play these slots. So funny, I was getting a little embarrassed. So we made it to the elevator, the door opened we get in and she decided to lay down. I had to sit her up as she giggled. The door opened and she didn’t want to leave. She ended up crawling out. I said, okay train wreck let’s go. A guy comes by the elevator and we looked at each other while noticing Charlotte on all fours, he then says, “Having a good time?” I replied with a sarcastic, “oh yeah!” He snickered waking into the elevator, and then says, Have a good night guys!” Stumbling into the room, the night was over and passed the hell out right after.

That concludes our time at Vegas. We didn’t like it very much, but to be fair we didn’t have the chance to really walk around and experience it the way most people do. A part of me was like, I already lived that glitz and glamour super fancy eating great food and exploring the town, kinda thing, so I didn’t really miss anything. This trip was about exploring beautiful places. City life is something we do every day, and having Atlantic City so close, it wasn’t a big deal. Did that, done that. Next time, I’ll try to explore more of it.

Up next: Day 5 Death Valley National Park

West Coast Road Trip - Day One (Part 2)

Fifteen minutes away to the next stop from Señor Loco (cough) I mean The Ponderosa lodge, we hopped back in the car and made way towards Rocky Mountain National Park. Entering all parks are straightforward. Make your way towards the gate where you'll be greeted by a park ranger, then you’ll hand over your weekly/annual pass with ID, or having to purchase one that is good for up to a week. The ranger will gladly hand you a map, and newsletter of the park

Next, we made our way to the visitor center for some insight about the park, and what we could do for a couple hours. We soon learned that the top half the park was closed due to snow, and was not accessible. Once the game plan was set, and few souvenirs purchased, we hopped back into the rental and drove up the mountain. Soon after the first bend, a small heard of Elk were grazing on both sides of the road. Surprisingly, they were comfortable around humans stopping by to take photos.

After spraying action shots of the Elk with my go-to Canon 7D, I decided I got enough shots to hit up the views for those epic landscape views of the park, and finally stretching the Sony A7 legs out with the attached Carl Zeiss 16-35mm lens. Longs Peak and horseshoe bend were one of the sights to check out. I took the time to organize my thoughts staring out, and just enjoying how beautiful this place is.

When this world stood still will you be there to feel the immense power? Rocky Mountain National Park, is a hue of violence always changing from the Earth's strong will to move forward

When this world stood still will you be there to feel the immense power? Rocky Mountain National Park, is a hue of violence always changing from the Earth's strong will to move forward

Further up the mountain at 10,000 feet, snow appeared on this beautiful, but colder thinner climate. After spending about 45 minutes up the mountain taking pictures, and enjoying the views, we were no longer able to proceed towards the north section of the park. Due to time, we had to make our way back down the mountain for the Stanley Hotel night tour! As a huge fan of Stephen King, and his book "The Shining" I have always wanted to come here, with the added bonus from shows like Ghost Adventures, and Ghost Hunters finding evidence of the paranormal here. I knocked this off my bucket list to places I wanted to explore and experience. Great time, and so worth it. 

The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado

The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado

West Coast Road Trip - Day One (Part One)

Day One (Part One)

I have always wanted to do a road trip that extended throughout America since I was a young boy. Having to dream many times how cool it would be to see firsthand what the early explorers experienced. With many sunsets passed, this dream finally came true. As a 35-year-old man, I haven’t been this excited since the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series in 2008.

Setting out on a two-week adventure with my partner in life, we knew that this was going to be the best trip we would ever make. Having the chance to be able to explore, see the country, and get away from every day from the hustle and bustle would be an amazing feeling.

The first stop on this super intensive visual adventurous rollercoaster was Estes Park, Colorado. Driving alongside the Rockies was visually breathtaking. No matter where you would look, there was something to see. From the red rocks below, to the snowcapped mountains above, it was mind blowing how beautiful they are with shades of grey and the haze of orange hue reflecting its way to view across the valley.

Before making way to check-in, Estes Lake is a relaxing spot to kick back before heading into town. With views so grand, I had no desire to think about normal day life. Soon after taking a few photos, realizing that we wanted to have some time to Explore Rocky Mountain National Park, we got back into the rental, and shot over to Ponderosa Lodge.

The location couldn't have been better, and for that price, it couldn't be beat. it was a perfect combo! Ponderosa lodge was really charming, and very laid back. With the river running right beside it. We were greeted nicely by the manager, where he was confused by why I was wearing an Oakland A’s hat, and Charlotte was wearing a Boston Redsox cap with the rental bearing Arizona tags. We joked about it, and talked a little baseball while he was setting up our room. We got to our room, and it was clean and we were satisfied. All we could ask for is a clean place to stay, with no bells and whistles. Equipped with two full sized mattresses, an outdoor patio, a fridge, and a very clean bathroom. For sixty dollars, that's one heck of a bargain.


After settling in, and 10 minutes later, we heard screaming. Not sure where it was coming from, so I peeked out the window, pushing the blinds down observing that an older couple having some words with the manager, and I was in total shock. Confusing why he was super cool to us. That is some real Jekyll and Mr. Hyde stuff right there. What we heard was that this couple was impatient about checking in, and the manager was yelling back, “I was trying to give her some compassion man! Her father just died. What is your problem?” The man said, I was just wondering how long will this will be?” The manager then said, “All you had to do is lay back and wait a minute while you were in line. You're an a****** man!” The man said, I want my money back, this is ridiculous!” Still going back and forth about who's an a******, then the man said I am not gonna take this, I want my money back!” The manager then said, “Her father died and worried about sixty bucks man! Get the F outta here! Meanwhile, All I was worried about is letting this fight cool down, and not walk by them and by some chance be brought into it. Definitely not how I do business, and I'll never speak to someone like that, but I minded my own business and we headed out to Rocky Mountain National Park soon after. Quietly, but enough to get-out-of-dodge.

…to be continued.

How to Stay Creative

For a lot of creatives out there, including myself, we have to produce day-in, and day-out so we can gain some traction in this digital world - Hoping our work can be seen by the right person, but what happens when you hit the “creative wall?” If you’re reading this, you know exactly what I’m talking about, and it happens quite frequently, even for the most experienced. When that arises we often have questions such as: Do I like this, who would like this, and what can I do better from my own critique/criticism from others? In the art world, no matter if it’s journalism, painting, music, or photography, you have to hear the good, and bad. It’s a huge learning curve when someone doesn’t like your work, or you don’t see as many likes on a particular post compared to the other. One way to grow is listen to your audience, ask questions, and don’t be stubborn. An ego can’t make you creative; creativity comes from within, without barriers, and smugness. Have an open mind, and you will succeed.

With this in mind, what can you do to make your next piece interesting, awesome, and most importantly, memorable? First and foremost, do your research. Look at the competition in your similar style, and see what they’re doing, but do not plagiarize their work. That defeats the purpose for you to grow. To step it up to the next level, think beyond the box, and add your personal touch to make your work stand out. Similar editing styles do exists, but there are so many ways that can stretch your imagination. For example, everyone can take a simple landscape photograph, but making it creative with new perspectives from angles, adding layers with other photographs you’ve taken, or from stock images that is legally allowed for you to use from sites like can dramatically improve the shot, making it original, and something you can be proud of.

Also, I cannot stress this enough, the most important aspect of photography is a story. We are engaged by reading stories told by our friends, historians, and those whom inspire us to find aspiration. It is the driving force to portray your work in a new light, and help guide you to success. Start by telling the world what it took to take this photograph, where and why did you travel to this location, and what experience(s) did you have seconds before you snapped that shutter? Your story does not have to be a novel, but a few sentences can explain your work, and people will follow, because they simply enjoyed it, and can’t wait to read more that comes in the future. It also helps you to stay creative, not just from your photography, but with your words. People can feel a lot, and tell a lot about someone how they portray a story.

Lastly, setting the mood. This is not only for date nights. Your workspace has to be an area where you can get in the zone, and shut of the outside world. Setting the mood is a vital step that should be practiced every time you’re trying to prepare yourself for endless hours in front of the computer, or preparing a blank canvas waiting for the brush sweeping your new palette of colors forward. We all have our on ways to meditate, but dimming the lights, listening to music, lighting a few candles with a glass of wine are great ways to whine down. Pun intended! Most importantly, and suggested by many, put the phone down. Make sure to silence it, or have it in the other room. The fewer distractions, the better. A workspace should be comfortable, and not disruptive. Make your workspace your Zen, be happy, and make it count.