National Zoo with Steve

The next day – after returning Emily safely back to her parents following our trip to NYC – I was up early and in the car driving once again towards another mega-metropolis.

My friend Steve and I managed to squeeze in another day of shooting together, only this time we were at the National Zoo in Washington, DC. It’s been a pleasure shooting with you Steve. I hope we get the chance to do it again someday my friend.National Zoo w Steve -3National Zoo w Steve -7National Zoo w Steve -14National Zoo w Steve -17National Zoo w Steve -18National Zoo w Steve -19National Zoo w Steve -20National Zoo w Steve -24National Zoo w Steve -27National Zoo w Steve -28National Zoo w Steve -30National Zoo w Steve -31National Zoo w Steve -39National Zoo w Steve -41National Zoo w Steve -42National Zoo w Steve -43National Zoo w Steve -44National Zoo w Steve -45National Zoo w Steve -47National Zoo w Steve -48National Zoo w Steve -49National Zoo w Steve -53National Zoo w Steve -55National Zoo w Steve -57National Zoo w Steve -59National Zoo w Steve -62

No Sleep Till Brooklyn

Growing up in a small town has its perks. It also leaves a lot to be desired if you’re born with a strong desire to travel the world.

When my brother and sister started families of their own I knew in my heart that I someday wanted to have the chance to travel and adventure with them each individually. Seeing my oldest niece’s 12th birthday fast approaching I took advantage of my time on the east coast and planned a trip to NYC exclusively for her and I.

We left early one morning for the 6 hour drive from Somerset County, Pennsylvania to NYC. Since we are both the animal lovers of our family our first stop was the Bronx Zoo.
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Afterwards we traveled by car [during rush hour] to our AirBnB in Brooklyn. I only got lost twice before finally making it across the right bridge to get us over the East River. After a quick check-in we were back out the door for Emily’s first culinary adventure of the trip – and one that should not come as a surprise to anyone who knows me – sushi!
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We arrived back at our homestead around 8:30 and started readying ourselves for bed, but before we made it there Em informed me that she was plenty awake to take a late night trip to Times Square. After a quick check of the subway map we found ourselves on a train bound for Manhattan.
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It was nearing 2am when our heads hit the pillows and we both dreamed of lights that night. In the morning we found ourselves bound for Battery Park.

We took a boat to the Statue of Liberty.
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Then found my grandmother’s (Em’s great-grandmother’s)name on the Memorial Wall at Ellis Island.
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When we returned to shore Em had her first taste of Starbucks (have I ever mentioned it’s a really, REALLY small town we’re from),
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and faced the raging bull.
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On a previous trip to NYC the 9/11 Memorial was still under construction. Being from Somerset County, Pennsylvania – not far from where Flight 93 found its resting place in a  field – it was important to me that Emily and I visit this place and read the names along the memorial fountain.
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While we were there I watched this man weep over a name and captured this image. I choose to share this picture to remind us all that although it’s been nearly 17 years since these attacks, the horrors of that day and the memories of those lost are still very fresh wounds for some…
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Needing a mental break we walked to our next destination to clear our heads. Doh was a much needed treat to pull us back into a happier place before dinner with my friend Ty.NYC - 45NYC - 46NYC - 48

On Wednesday morning we packed our bags and set our sights back on Pennsylvania. Little did Emily know that her adventure did not end with our return home. While waiting for her family to get back we walked around the land enjoying all the animals, especially the baby ducks that had recently hatched. Em received an early birthday gift she’d been wanting for so long. Enjoy your time with Mo!
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**It should also be noted that while I did take my nephews on a special day trip with just them and myself, they have also requested I take them on ‘an awesome overnight trip like their sister’s trip when they’re old enough.’ Ben would like to drive an RV to Hawaii and Aron has set his sights on Hollywood. I better start saving (and figure out how to drive an RV to Hawaii)!

Living Treasure’s Animal Park

There is a small animal park near my parents house I had visited once in high school. I distinctly remember it being tucked away in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania as well as a place to get up close to some exotic animals. Both points still hold true today,  although some enclosures of the menagerie (like the lions and bears) seems far more depressing than I remember it being way back when.Living Treasures Animal Park - 1Living Treasures Animal Park - 5Living Treasures Animal Park - 6Living Treasures Animal Park - 7Living Treasures Animal Park - 8Living Treasures Animal Park - 9Living Treasures Animal Park - 10Living Treasures Animal Park - 11Living Treasures Animal Park - 12Living Treasures Animal Park - 13Living Treasures Animal Park - 14

Maryland Zoo

Where do I even start this story? I guess at the beginning…

I met Steve the fall of 2005 at Delaware Valley College in Pennsylvania. Despite the fact that we were in the same (very specialized) degree program and have lots (and lots) in common, we were more mutual acquaintances than friends at the time. We had many mutual friends and of course, like most people our age, were Facebook friends by association.

Fast forward to several years later when, through the lovely channel of social media, we reconnected through our love of photography.

You see, Steve is not only a keeper at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, MD, but he is an astounding wildlife photographer who has been taking leaps and bounds in his practice. When he invited me to a behind the scenes tour of his home zoo, I not only jumped at the chance to get up close and personal with some amazing animals, I jumped at the chance to see such a gifted photographer in action.

Below are some of my photos from the trip, but if you’d like to see more of Steve’s work (and I highly recommend you see his work) you can give him a follow on Instagram @Steve_Dombroskie or here @
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National Zoo: Take Two!

I had the chance to head back to DC for a weekend with Brian, which also coincided with another trip to the National Zoo to spend some time with the pandas and other creatures there, which didn’t disappoint this time either. Hopefully I’ll be able to carve out some time for one or two more trips down here while I’m on the east coast.

Even the drive down doesn’t disappoint. I don’t know that I’ll ever tire of a good road trip.

Brian is a huge fan of scary movies (while I have cried during a sitting of the Blair Witch Project: 2) so we made a point to seek out the stairs from the classic scary picture The Exorcist.

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Spending so much time in DC has its advantages:

I get to hang out with my super awesome husband whom I wasn’t expecting to see much of during this time.
I get to photograph lots of historic and beautiful places that I otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to. AND I talked said super awesome husband into a quick walkthrough of the National Zoo just so I could a Panda Bear in real life for the first time. Thanks for that super awesome husband.National Zoo - 3National Zoo - 4National Zoo - 5National Zoo - 8

Sashimi, Soy Sauce, & Tigers… Oh My!

Needing an excuse to go to Pittsburgh I called a friend up and asked her to try out a new (to me) sushi restaurant in the ‘Burgh. I’ve been dying to finally try out the sushi burritos I’ve been seeing trending all over social media. Sushi Fuku in Oakland was every bit as delicious as I had dreamed and after eating my body weight in salmon, avocado, and soy sauce I hugged my friend goodbye and headed to the Pittsburgh Zoo with camera in hand. My FitBit and I agreed that a few hours trekking around the zoo before sitting in the car for the three hour drive back to Columbus was much needed. Pittsburgh Zoo Walkthrough - 1Pittsburgh Zoo Walkthrough - 10Pittsburgh Zoo Walkthrough - 11Pittsburgh Zoo Walkthrough - 12Pittsburgh Zoo Walkthrough - 13Pittsburgh Zoo Walkthrough - 14Pittsburgh Zoo Walkthrough - 15Pittsburgh Zoo Walkthrough - 16Pittsburgh Zoo Walkthrough - 17Pittsburgh Zoo Walkthrough - 18Pittsburgh Zoo Walkthrough - 19Pittsburgh Zoo Walkthrough - 2Pittsburgh Zoo Walkthrough - 20Pittsburgh Zoo Walkthrough - 21Pittsburgh Zoo Walkthrough - 3Pittsburgh Zoo Walkthrough - 9Pittsburgh Zoo Walkthrough - 6Pittsburgh Zoo Walkthrough - 20Pittsburgh Zoo Walkthrough - 19Pittsburgh Zoo Walkthrough - 5Pittsburgh Zoo Walkthrough - 5 B&WPittsburgh Zoo Walkthrough - 18Pittsburgh Zoo Walkthrough - 17Pittsburgh Zoo Walkthrough - 4