Geology Rocks: A Trip to Enchanted Rock

Great news! I’m starting a new job next week as a Senior Project Environmental Scientist, meaning you can expect more exciting reports from the field as I take NYC by storm in the coming months!

With impending full-time employment looming in the near future, I naturally took a trip to the lovely state of Texas to visit my awesome siblings. They’re in San Antonio – a city with more Walmart’s and HEB’s per capita than anywhere else in the world, but also home to an incredibly rich history and vibrant culture unlike any other city in the south. Oh, and AMAZINGLY authentic barbecue!

The reason I visit San Antonio at least 2x per year - my hilarious family!

The reason I visit San Antonio at least 2x per year – my hilarious family!

My latest discovery in the San Antonio region is Enchanted Rock. My brother and sis-in-law had visited a half-dozen times, and were more than happy to take the geologist of the family (aka me!) along for the hour drive this past trip.

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There she is! Enchanted Rock. Humans for scale.

Here she is in all of her geologic glory – Enchanted Rock! I had to keep my siblings in the frame so you could get a grasp of it’s size.

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I’m totally in my element here at the base of the trail…

Enchanted Rock stands 425 feet above the base elevation of the park, and is 1,825 feet above sea level. According to Texas Parks & Wildlife, climbing Enchanted Rock is like climbing the stairs of a 30- or 40-story building. The meandering route my sister and I took in-between taking selfies broke things up nicely, and was a leisurely little climb. Wear good shoes!

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Geology Lesson 101: Around 1,000,000,000 years ago, magma rose from beneath the Earth’s crust and pushed up the overlying rock surface. The magma then cooled VERY VERY slowly and turned into a granite dome/ pluton/ batholith (take your pick!). The overlying sedimentary rock crumbled away over millions of years of chemical and physical erosion – Granite is a very hardy rock and is able to “weather the storm” against erosion, and that’s why it’s here today!

From below, looking up.

From below, looking up.

Enchanted Rock is just the tip of the iceburg – it covers an area appx. 62 square miles with most of it remaining underground. Maybe in a few million years we’ll be able to climb on more of it!

My brother Edwin and wife Jenna run up the rock face like it's no big deal.

My brother Edwin and wife Jenna run up the rock face like it’s no big deal.

Another neat thing to note about Enchanted Rock is that it’s technically classified as an exfoliation dome – it’s not completely immune to erosion, and it can be seen breaking apart in many areas similarly to the structure of an onion.

Exfoliation: We all benefit from a bit of some!

Exfoliation: We all benefit from a bit of some!

Why does this happen? Well, after the overlying sedimentary rock eroded away from the surface of the granite dome, it began to expand just a little bit due to the lack of pressure bearing down. This expansion caused fracturing of the granite along its “curve”, resulting in a “peeling away” appearance. Enchanted Rock continues to exfoliate today!

My sister Amanda looks like she's on the surface of Mars (except the sky would be a more hazy-brown color!).

My sister Amanda looks like she’s on the surface of Mars (except the sky would be a more hazy-brown color!).

So if you’re looking to get out of the city (that is, San Antonio!), I highly recommend a drive to Enchanted Rock. The drive itself is almost surreal: beautiful winding roads through hills, endless acres of woods, vast grazing fields home to many happy cows, and even a couple wild bobcats (!).

View looking down: vast open landscape of central TX.

View looking down: vast open landscape of central TX.

And the vistas from the top of the rock – so gorgeous and expansive! I especially loved the mini oasis that grew in the center of the dome… it’s incredible how resilient nature is and how determined some species of plants are to live!

Little sister, little oasis.

Little sister, little oasis.

The climb is very kid/ dog/ family friendly. If you have bad knees, the walk down could be a bit intense without hiking poles. And definitely don’t roll or run down unless you don’t mind seriously busting your face open! I took my sweet ol’ time and soaked in the warm sun as much as possible.

Climbing the mini rocks is safe though! The granite had excellent traction!

Climbing the mini rocks is safe though! The granite had excellent traction!

Ah yes, another week done, making the start-date to the next chapter even closer. Sure, I won’t have endless open days to hang out with family and waste away on my Netflix queue, but I’ll definitely have a more structured life/ routine! Stay tuned for more lady-engineer-scientist adventures from NYC… I’m so excited πŸ™‚

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All photographs taken with my Sony A99 Full Frame SLT Camera πŸ™‚

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Rough Seas, Final Days on Cayman Brac

Before I dabble too deeply into my 3-month hiatus from society in the Cayman Islands, (it included a bit of construction oversight, management of a farm, little sleep, constant movement, alarms 6-days a week at 4:55am, and epic sunrises) I’ll share a few photos captured from my last day on the island.

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It’s been a week since I’ve returned home to Brooklyn and I am still processing the entirety of the experience.

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Inner-growth, isolation, meditation, endless work, introspection, and endless papaya.

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More stories to come, the most exciting of which is happening in the present moment. Home.

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Mary-Reid & Mike – Wedded Bliss

This may very well be the longest and most heart-felt post in the history of this blog, even though its history is fairly brief.

Let’s go back to the year 1998 – I am 9 years old and our family of 6 had just moved to Framingham mid-way through September from the tiny woodsy town of Madison, NH. I was that fourth grade new-girl-on-the-block, essentially. The awkward shy one, no less.

My clearest memory of that first September day at school was entering Mrs. Carbeau’s classroom: everyone was seated in a small circle in the center of the room, hushed with all bright eyes on me. I quietly took my seat in a perfect little open spot within the circle and I was slowly introduced to each student. I looked around and saw Mary-Reid, Joanne, and Hannah for the first time and said to myself, “these are going to be my best friends”.

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That’s us! From left, Joanne, Myself, Hannah, and Mary-Reid

Fast-forward to 2004: We’re still together and yup, the very best of friends.Β  However, at some point amongst our teenage wanderings, Mary-Reid meets Mike. Their love was both effortlessly poetic and passionate and one couldn’t help but smile when you saw the two of these love birds together. They were the epitome of true classic high-school sweethearts. I mean look at the photo from prom!

Mary-Reid and Mike: Senior Prom 2007. For real people!

Mary-Reid and Mike: Senior Prom 2007. For real people!

And then in early March of 2013, I receive a phone call at 1:00pm from Mary-Reid… there’s a certain distinguishable tremor of excitement in her voice, and then the famous words I’ll never forget: “Mike Proposed!!!!!”. I can’t say I was terribly surprised – it was really just a matter of time before Mike made the best decision of his life πŸ™‚

Fast forward once more my dears to August 16th, 2014. The most absolutely crisp-yet-perfectly-balmy August morning. The wedding day. Location: Mary-Reid’s family home on Prospect Street. We spent years and years running around the big historic colonial and jumping into the pool on summer days, and now it was time for it to be the perfect setting for Mike & Mary-Reid’s wedding!

The setting: Family Home on Prospect Street

The setting: Family Home on Prospect Street

This wedding was truly like no other in that so many family and friends poured their hearts in to making this day perfect for the bride and groom. From catering all of the food themselves in the barn, to placing perfectly crafted fondant flowers on the 3-tiered cake, to hand-altering her daughter’s wedding gown, to growing wildflowers all summer long for the bouquets, to setting tables and pressing linens, and everything in between that you could possibly imagine. They got it done!

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Just shy of 4:00pm, every little detail finally falls in to place…

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After spending hours running around lighting hundreds of tea lights, hanging dozens of lanterns, setting each plate just-so, and tying together the bouquets, we ladies finally enjoyed some well-deserved pampering!

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And now for a bit about the gown. Mary-Reid’s wedding vision stemmed mainly from Anthropologie’s wedding off-shoot, BHLDN. Short for “Beholden”, they offer ethereal and whimsical wedding inspirations from cake toppers to stunning hand-beaded gowns. In the winter this of this past year, Mary-Reid and I essentially camped out in a nicely heated car (beginning at 4:00am no less) at their first-ever trunk show in Philly. We had no idea what to expect, but we were determined to find the one. Long story short, we did! And oh my goodness, is she a thing of beauty!

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Bridesmaid dresses were key additions to Mary-Reid’s inspiration for a romantic garden wedding, and fortunately for us ladies, we too got to don some gorgeous BHLDN gowns!

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Again, thank you Mary-Reid for selecting these gorgeous gowns for us to wear! I think you can see that we loved wearing them…

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From the left: Joanne, Xenia, Mary-Reid, Hannah, and Myself. Note the drawn curtains to keep sneaky peekers from peeking!

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For having pulled off planning an entire wedding, Mary-Reid looks absolutely serene and peaceful just moments before walking down the aisle. We had a few moments to glance through this window to see the groomsmen make their way down first…

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And before you know it, I had to drop my camera (couldn’t possibly have hid it behind my bouquet now!), and walked down the aisle of my dearest friend’s wedding. The ceremony was nothing short of incredibly intimate and exceptionally beautiful – there truly wasn’t a dry eye in the garden!

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That’s right ladies, He put a ring on it! Below are some of my favorite shots of my favorite two love birds…

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If this isn’t true electric love then I don’t know what is πŸ™‚

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And of course some group photos of the ladies and gents up by the barn…

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And the obligatory bling ring shot with Hannah…

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And more importantly, the cake! Crafted by the exceptionally talented hands of Mary-Reid’s aunt, maid of honor Hannah, and the bride herself. See the connection between the design on the wedding gown? Thought so!

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Sometimes I have a difficult time expressing my love in words, and I often find that actions speak volumes when it comes to doing so. Not only was this wedding a pure manifestation of love between two souls, but a perfect example of how far humans will go for the ones they love. Each and every person in attendance found a way to lend a hand (or two!) to the bride and groom to ensure their day was overflowing with joy, bliss, and love.

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To my dearest friends Mary-Reid and Mike: you have already built a wonderful life together these past 9 or so years, but this is just the beginning of a most beautiful thing. I admire your strength, unconditional love and support for each other, and am certain your marriage will light the whole earth. Through thick and thin the two of you have grown into an unbreakable pair of lovers, friends, and true partners. I know you will have nothing but a lifetime rich with love and happiness. Thank you for having me be a part of this unforgettable moment in your lives!

Danielle & Tony – Part II Engagement Shoot

I told you there would be more of these cutie pies! Danielle & Tony swap the threads and we head off again into the late afternoon for more engagement photography in the Pine Hills, MA. Oh and their adorable pup Coco came along as well πŸ™‚ The warm evening light around 6:30pm and full shade coverage makes for an excellent natural lighting setting.DSC03700 - Version 2

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DSC03770Mark your calendars for August 31st, when this adorable duo will finally say “I Do!”

Danielle & Tony – Engagement Shoot Part I

I honestly can’t think of a better way to spend a glorious Sunday afternoon than with two people madly in love with each other. This past Sunday I had the pleasure to meet Danielle & Tony and capture their electric love with my camera(s) in tow. They’ll be saying their I Do’s in just a little over two months. This collection of my personal favorites from our balmy June afternoon together serves as Part I of their engagement shoot. Yes, there will be a part two, and stay tuned for the scene/ outfit change πŸ™‚

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We ventured on down the winding dirt road of the Pine Hills (MA) and came across one of those iconic open fields. Needless to say, we stopped here to begin the shoot.

She Said Yes, of Course!

That’s right, ladies. He. put. a. ring. on. it. And it’s quite gorgeous too!Β  A combination of Danielle’s mother’s diamond and their own intricate design.

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And amazingly, we didn’t attract a single tick in this field! I am still shocked (and doing tick checks!).

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Sneaking in a few kisses here and there is always allowed in my book.

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Beautiful Bride to Be

The Beautiful Bride to Be.

Road Together

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He put a ring on it

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Β The big day is just right around the corner on the 31st of August. In the meantime, you’ll find this adorable pair decorating their new dream home, playing with their adorable pup Coco (photos to come, I promise!), and taking long strolls into the sunset.

Stay tuned my lovelies for a change in scenery and outfits!

~ em