It was a spur-of-the-moment trip that will top my lists of favorite travels possibly forever. Kelby was nearing the end of his long six week break from the road and I have been working very little since the studio and the music venue that I work for are both a little slow over the holidays and the beginning of the new year. Slightly antsy and a little bored on a Saturday afternoon, I called my best friend, Steph living in Truckee, CA to see if she would be home and wanted some last minute guests for a few days. Steph and her soon-to-be husband recently bought a house in Truckee and she had been anxiously awaiting us to get out there, and hopefully before her summer wedding and in between Kelby’s heavy work travel and her own traveling photography business. To our delight the timing just worked out, everyone was off and we just happened to have plenty of Southwest points to get us there. It would be a little bit of a risk jumping on a plane to head to a place that had been pummeled by snow for several days prior to our departure, but we decided to take our chances.
We had no real itinerary, just football and playing in the snow…and of course photography. Kelby and I both have been teaching ourselves the craft of DSLR cameras and Stephanie is a professional and the owner of Shines Photography willing to give us a few lessons while we were visiting too. Stephanie will also be my wedding photographer so who better to snap a few snowy engagement pics while we were there.
We arrived in the evening after the sun had set over the mountains and for once Kelby and I were traveling to a place that I had been and he had not (a never before occurrence). We had a dinner at a place called Cottonwood, and over a bottle of wine and deliciously filling grub, we caught up and talked about our plans for the next two days. We finished with a night cap at a local dive bar ironically named The Tourist Club. Then it was off to bed so we could wake up early with the sunrise in this world-reknowned mountain town and witness all its grandeur.
Our first morning was full of awe and appreciation. I dolled up a little for our engagement pictures, we layered up for warmth and packed up our camera gear. Stephanie drove us around to a few of her favorite spots to shoot near Donner Lake.
We also hiked back inside a park over a little river and in Steph’s neighborhood on a bridge to get some more sweet engagements pictures. The clouds were hovering over the mountain tops and Steph was beside herself with anticipation for the moment when the clouds would clear and we could really see how “in the mountains” we were. Kelby and I laughed as we trekked through 4+ feet of snow in our not-so-snow gear and when Steph instructed us to “cuddled and look in love” we had no problem curling up to stay warm and show the camera how much fun we were already having. After a coffee stop warm up and a few more pics the clouds were still hanging tight at the tops so we called it stops and got back home for football and chili time. The Packers were playing the Cowboys in the playoffs and this was to be a game both Steph and Kelby really wanted to watch.
The rest of Day 1 was filled with wine, homemade chili, a beer or twelve, football, and some rivalry between Kelby, the Dallas fan and Steph, the…ummm Packers fan?. After the game we had a few buzzed relay races in the hilariously deep snow and played in it like kids.
We concluded the evening with some rounds of the game HEADS UP, that was some of the most hilarious shit I have ever heard. Girls against boys, I couldn’t tell you who actually won, but one example of Kelby giving Jeff hints was “She sucks, she has lots of sisters, she’s married to Kanye West, she got robbed in Paris…” Jeff’s answer…”I have no clue, PASS!” Haaaaaa, I love that Jeff had no idea who Kim Kardashian is. Classic.
The next day was our day of real adventure. We basically had our own personal adventure guide with Steph. We got up around 7am, discussed how strange it was that we weren’t hungover, ate a huge breakfast, packed up all of the snowshoeing and camera gear, and headed for Brockway Summit Trail , (8,990′) elevation. As we made our way the sun started to peek out of the clouds.
There are no words for the scenery we witnessed that day. If you haven’t been to the Tahoe area you need to get yourself there, and I suggest going when there is snow, it was absolutely amazing. We pulled up and Steph said, “ok we are going up there” as she pointed across the street and up a huge mountain side. Kelby and I had never snowshoed, we have hiked, but never up the side of a mountain like this, especially a mountain covered in so much snow. We strapped into our snowshoes, and headed up. Every 5 feet it felt like one of us stopped to take pictures.
When we reached the top, and on one side we were above the clouds and the otherside over looked Lake Tahoe. Again, no words.
I was reluctant on my ability to be graceful on the way back down. We chose to not follow the path back down the mountain side and instead we would make our own “trail”, and tromped through several feet of untouched powder. This ended up being my favorite part. So fun!
After our insanely beautiful hike we headed to the Lake Tahoe shoreline so Kelby could see how pristine and clear the lake water is.
We then made our way back towards the house. We had one more adventure in mind before the sun would set. In Steph’s neighborhood there is another small summit we wanted to get to to watch the sun go back down. I don’t consider myself the most in shape girl in the world, however, I am pretty active, but by this point my legs were starting to slow down. Nonetheless the excitement of watching the sunset in such an extordinary place and getting to strap on those snowshoes again kept me going. Speechless, yet again.
Back down the last mountain of the day, threw the trees, and it felt like we were on another planet.
Needless to say our last full day in Truckee was one for the books and left me feeling like the luckiest girl in the world, yet again. To have the opportunities to see places like this and experience them with my best friend and my own soon-to-be husband is, for lack of better words, like winning the life lottery.
We don’t have bottomless pockets, but for some reason we are exceptionally lucky with opportunities to travel and see the world all the while with good friends, and jobs that allow it to be.
One last dinner at a pizza joint at NorthStar resort and then we were asleep by ten pm. What an amazing trip. The weather was intense right before we arrived and literally started again the day after we got home.
Mother Nature gave Kelby and I a pass to get out there, have an amazing time, take some unbelievable photographs, some photography lessons from Steph, spend time with our great friends, Steph and Jeff, experience snowshoe/hiking and really reset before the new year gets on its way. What a great trip to start the year that both Steph and I will be married, and Kelby’s first major U.S. headlining tour, The Black Roses Tour, with The Cadillac Three.
SIDE NOTE: Steph and I will also be “on tour” later this year too. HA! Celebrating our big year with a girl’s trip in May (our own unconventional “bachelorette party”, just us two on the open road for a week or so traveling through the west visiting Yosemite, Bodi and whatever else we get into…so stay tuned). Our last solo road trip was in 2013 down the PCH and was so awesome we made a music video: —> White Girl Party *beware of epic fashion sense and lengendary dance moves*
A HUGE THANK YOU to Jeff and Steph (and Brody girl) for hosting us and showing us the stunningly gorgeous place they call home.
There will be more engagement pictures from Shines Photography coming soon! To contact or connect with Steph’s work and all of her travels and adventures click the links below:
With so much gratitude and gratefulness,