On the Road: Santa Fe to Burwell, NE

This post is coming to you literally from the road—Iowa to be precise, right outside of Sioux City when I started writing this and we’ll see where I’m at the end of it.  Also, because the light in the car isn't great, I can't edit any of these photos--they are straight from the camera, baby!  Now, there are a lot of updates and lots to share, so let’s get started.

 

The last post I wrote came to you from the amazing house we rented in Santa Fe.  We had rented the house originally because we wanted to have a backup location for the Pop Up wedding we were hosting on April 4, should there be rain or bad weather or such.  We anticipated at least 2 couples signing up for Santa Fe, but we only got one couple (the word “only” is really a shame since this was such a fun day, but more on that later)—and since we had this house rented, Kenn and Katie were totally up for hosting their tiny elopement in the backyard overlooking the valley and mountains.  I mean, it was sort of perfect, so who can blame them? We were stoked to be able to share this awesome house with others!

 

Our time in Santa Fe was spent mostly prepping for the Pop Up.  I had committed to making all the florals and details for this one.  Usually Amy, our awesome stylist, will do these, but since the plane tickets to Santa Fe were around $950, we couldn’t really afford to fly her out—this was sad because we would miss her greatly, but also a little stressful.  I’ve made some floral bouquets before and am a whiz with a flower arrangement, but it was still a lot of pressure.  Plus, I had managed to develop a pretty real true love relationship with the bride, Katie, over text message over the past 5 months, so I really wanted to make sure things were absolutely perfect for her and Kenn.  Wednesday and Thursday we spent wandering around the city a bit, and then I buckled down Thursday night for some intense crafting.  By Thursday night around midnight, I felt comfortable going to bed, as Katie, her mom and her best friend, Theresa, were arriving early in the morning to get ready.

 

Friday morning I made the bouquet (and it turned out great, I’d like to say) and all the jars of flowers.  I wanted this Pop Up to have pretty simple flowers, to let the location speak for itself, but also included some super bright colors and neons to make the whole arrangement pop.  I felt really good about the results.  I also set up some tables with drinks, refreshments and other details for guests to check out while they mingled, including a spot where they could leave a note for Kenn and Katie, that I then included in their picnic basket.  Finally, I made a bunch of doily garland and buntings to hang along the aisle as Katie and her mom walked down it—doily garland is my new favorite decoration I think—super simple, but really pretty and slightly modern. Love it. 

 

Now, I’ve said to Ian a few times that I really wish we had a video of me and Katie meeting for the first time.  I mean, I knew we were going to be great friends, but I had no idea how excited we would both be. We had been texting about 10-15 times a day and emailing multiple emails a week to each other since around November, but nothing prepared me for the shrieks and squeals we both let out when we met for the first time. This is a really great example of why befriending your wedding photographer ahead of time is a really, really good idea. Because Katie and I had been so in touch with each other and so communicative about the Pop Up and also about our lives in general, we both felt SO comfortable working together on her wedding day. It was just like hanging out with good friends.  And her mom…also wonderful.  A lot like my mom, so I think they would have gotten along just perfectly.  We had a great morning of the girls getting their hair done, me finishing up some projects for the Pop Up and photographing the getting ready too (Katie had chosen to add some time to her Pop Up since she and Kenn were our only couple of the day—she ended up with almost 8 hours of coverage, which was great as the shots will really demonstrate a full day from start to finish).


At 4pm, it was Pop Up time. The guests were there, mingling, drinking their lemonade and signing cards (which Katie and Kenn had no idea about)—Katie was hyperventilating with excitement in her room, Kenn was looking dapper and pretty relaxed in the yard, and with a thumbs up to Ian, the song started, and down came the beautiful, giddy Katie with her mom.  The ceremony, which they wrote themselves, was absolutely beautiful.  Instead of having Ian officiate, they chose to have their very close friend Cuffee officiate it and he did a great job—it was seriously emotional and lovely and I felt so honored to get a chance to be part of this super special day.


After the Pop Up was over, Katie and Kenn had invited us back to their rental house to photograph a bit of the after party, but more importantly, to eat green chili cheese burgers out of a food truck and drink ginger beer, which we did with gusto.  It was wonderful.  By the time we got home on Friday night, though, we were both super pooped.  I poured myself a giant glass of wine and took a long bubble bath on the tub that overlooks the mountains.  Then I fell deeply asleep for about 11 hours. 


Saturday we spent the day relaxing, working on photos a bit, cleaning and visiting some small towns near the house.  Then at 4pm we met up with Katie and Kenn again for a Day After session (which Katie and Kenn had added to their Pop Up package) and walked around the Railyard area of the city, shooting around some fantastic urban scenes and laughing really, really hard.  We had definitely made two wonderful friends.  When we said goodbye to them, I’m not going to lie, I totally teared up.  We know they’ll continue to be in our lives, but it is so rare to meet other people who we felt such an immediate and close connection with and we definitely had that with these two.  We’ve since exchanged about 50 texts and 4 emails in the period of 72 hours since last seeing them and they are talking about making a trip to Michigan, so I think it’s going to be ok.  But they were by far some of our favorite humans ever.


Sunday morning we got up pretty early, finished tidying up the house before the owner, Bett, returned, and then packed dup and headed up the hill to hitch the Airstream up and get to Colorado.  OH! I didn’t even tell you where we ended up parking the Airstream—sorry. Back up.


On Monday we had to drop the Airstream off at the RV repair center in Santa Fe.  When we had gotten to New Mexico about 2 weeks ago, Ian noticed that one of the brake wires was hanging loose on the trailer.  And so we figured, not having trailer brakes probably wasn’t a great idea.  So we got them fixed as a repair shop and then had to get the Airstream to the house (it’s part of the Pop Up, so it needs to be there).  Well, Bett had told us we would be able to pull the Airstream into the driveway, and while she was technically right, the driveway was pretty steeping and definitely rocky and bumpy and we weren’t totally sure we’d be able to get it out once it was in…so we hemmed and hawed for awhile and then she said that we could pull it onto the top of the hill above the house. We didn’t have any idea what she was talking about, until Ian walked up there and found the perfect Airstream parking spot ever—just past the driveway, we could pull up onto a huge hill with a big field and the Airstream fit perfectly so that’s where she stayed for the whole time in Santa Fe and it was just a lovely spot.  We could see her from the house, upon the hill, shining away in all her aluminum glory. 


At any rate, Sunday morning we hitched up and hit the road—we were sad to say goodbye to Santa Fe as we had both really loved our time there, but we wanted to get some miles on the road and headed into Colorado towards the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.  We had never really heard much about these dunes, but we had bought a National Parks pass before leaving for the trip and only used it a couple times, so it seemed necessary—plus they were on the way to Denver, where we planned to stay a night with our friends. 


Arriving in the Sand Dunes, we were blown away.  Being from Michigan, we know a thing or two about sand dunes. But these dunes were HUGE and they went on for miles and miles, no to mention they were at the base of a mountain, which made the whole experience a little trippy to be honest—hot dunes surrounded by a mountain range?  Pretty amazing.  We spent a couple hours hiking up and down and up and down, watching the light change and shift, which was also equally amazing.  Afterwards, we found the one campground that was open (yeah, it’s still winter in Colorado, straight up), made a delicious dinner of sausage and kale and potatoes and tucked into bed for the night—well, I tucked in. Ian stayed up to do his favorite thing—night sky photography.


Monday morning we got up early and headed north towards Denver, where we were planning to spend one night and meet up with our friends Kyle, Jesse, Colin, Jen, Ashley and Meg.  Colin and Jen were visiting from Chicago and the rest of the crew live in Colorado.  It was a great high school reunion with way too many stories of poor choices we all made in our early twenties, fish tacos prepared by Ashley and Kyle and spending time with their new baby, Aubrey.  We were able to park the Airstream right in front of Kyle and Ashley’s house and even though we didn’t have electricity, we managed to stay warm….enough.  Both dogs were in my bed, so I had two little furnaces while Ian had to make do with a shabby North Face sleeping bag that’s seen better days. 


First thing Tuesday morning we headed out of Denver, getting stuck in a bit of morning traffic, and planning to haul as far as we could across the plains.  I was definitely feeling pretty burnt out and with weddings upon wedding piling up, it was time to get home.  We made it to Burwell, Nebraska on Tuesday evening and camped in a county park by the river.  Burwell is a straight up ranching town and we were definitely noticed as outsiders.  The drive into Burwell, though, was beautiful.  We got off of 1-80 and took US 2, US 83 and US 20 all through the sand hills of Nebraska.  We wouldn’t have thought to go this route were it not for Instagram—I posted a note on a picture, asking for route advice, and in it flowed—lots of Nebraskans with lots of ideas and suggestions.  Social media wins again!


Ok, computer is dying and we are in Minnesota, so I’ll say adios for now! The next post will most likely come to you from Michigan! We’re getting there!