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So much has changed since I last posted, I don't even know where to begin. First and foremost, I am now engaged! At the end of May, the 26th to be exact, I asked Nhu Nguyen to marry me. We were in Tucson for the week, as she signed up for a biology field study class there. While she was exploring Saguaro National Park with her classmates, I worked from the hotel. I spent most of my time inside the room, as it was a very warm 105 degrees for most of the week. Thankfully, it cooled down considerably for the weekend, reaching only the low 90s. On Saturday, we drove up to Phoenix to visit friends and relatives. We first met up with Tracy, a friend of mine from college who has lived in Phoenix since graduation. After some good Thai food, I introduced Tracy to the delectable Frost Gelato, a chain in Tucson and Phoenix which serves the best gelato I have ever had outside of Italy. After saying goodbye to Tracy, Nhu and I went to visit Nhu's aunt and cousins, who also live in the Phoenix area. I told them that we had to leave at five o'clock, though, because I had somewhere in Tucson to take Nhu for sunset. They told us to check out out Hole-in-the-Rock instead so we could stay longer, but ultimately we decided too much hiking would be involved. So, Nhu and I left for Grant's Pass soon thereafter. Of course, once we got there, we found out that the sun was far enough north that we did have to hike just a bit to be able to see the sun go down, so I helped Nhu along the trail, since she was in sandles. A few minutes later, we found a good spot to sit, and I began, of course, to take some pictures. While doing this, though, I dug the engagement ring out of my camera bag, and gave it to Nhu. The look on her face was priceless. I asked her, "so, is that a yes?" to which she responded, "yes to what?" I then said, "will you marry me?" And the answer was yes!

Another recent change in my life has been my departure from IBM. My last day there was the 30th of May. I am now working at a much smaller consulting company called Neudesic, a small tehnical consulting firm that focuses on software development using Microsoft technologies. This change should see me near home much more often, which has its pluses and minuses. I still have a passion for visiting (and photographing) new places, but I do like the idea of going where I want to go. Most importantly, though, I will be able to spend more time with my fiancée! So far the new job is enjoyable. My first project is using the latest and greatest from Microsoft: ASP.NET MVC 3, with Razor views. Unfortunately, my first project is all the way down in Centennial, which means I have a rather colossal drive. I was told that it is the exception to the rule, though, as most projects allow much more remote work, so we'll see. I do have high hopes for my role at Neudesic!

Posted by nick.steinbaugh at 2:57 PM
Filed under: Travel, Nhu, Phoenix, Tucson, Job, Arizona

Three months this time... I guess that's an improvement! Since I last posted, I have started a new project in Issaquah, Washington, which is a suburb of Seattle. I started there at the beginning of February, and aside from a good amount of sun the first week I was there, the weather has been pretty bleak. It even snowed once, and apparently 2-3 inches is enough to keep people away from work, as half the client's employees stayed home the next day.

I haven't taken any photos to speak of since starting the project, though I did take a couple fun trips just before. In late December, I went on a road trip to Arizona, to see some things that I hadn't yet seen, and to revisit some favorites. My first stop was the Petrified Forest National park, but I had unfortunately forgotten to charge my batteries, and didn't get any photos there. Next on the list was the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Immediately afterward, though, I managed to get stuck in Flagstaff, snowed in by well over a foot of snow. I was stuck in the area for a day and a half, but I did manage to leave on the day I had originally planned, so that was a plus. From there, I went to see Monument Valley again, which was absolutely beautiful after being dusted with snow. The next day, I made my way down to Canyon de Chelly, which was something I had not seen before. Spider Rock is really quite beautiful, especially when surrounded by a blanket of snow on a sunny day. From there, I went to Albuquerque to spend the night, and home the following morning.

In January, a bunch of us on the project in San Jose went down to Los Cabos for a few days, as a sort of last hurrah. I had been working with some of them for over three years at that point, so we had become pretty good friends. It was my first trip to Mexico, and I had a great time there. The Hilton resort there is beautiful, and the two towns of San Jose and San Lucas have plenty to offer. We took a small boat out to Land's End, the very tip of Baja California. We also rented a car there, which was an experience in itself. Nobody drove as crazily as I was expecting, though, so that was a relief.

I do have a few trips coming up, once the weather gets nicer, some planned in more detail than others. First, I am going to take a week and go see some spots in Utah that I have not yet seen, such as Zion and Canyonlands. I'm hoping to make it out to the Bonneville salt flats as well. After that, I am going all the way to the other coast to see Washington D.C.'s cherry blossom festival, which I am greatly looking forward to. I also would like to visit Vancouver, the Olympics, the Cascades, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. St. Helen's while I'm in the Seattle area, but I think I am going to wait a bit before I get to those. I'd also love to make it up to Alaska during the summer as well.

Posted by nick.steinbaugh at 12:35 PM

Well, it's been quite a long time since I posted here, and I think it's time for an update. Since my last post, I've been to plenty of places, which are of course reflected in my photos. I've been doing a much better job of keeping those up to date than posting here.

My first trip was an extended weekend in Yellowstone, which was pretty amazing. I have been there before, but it's been a while. As is so easy to do there, I stumbled upon many beautiful photo opportunities. I stayed in Jackson, which made for a long drive to the park, and to compound the issue there was even construction on the road there. Still, I managed to see everything that I wanted, including making the drive all the way around the park's main loop. In doing so, I saw the beautiful canyon, many of the hot springs, Yellowstone Lake, and of course Old Faithful. I was also lucky enough to come across a moose, a black bear, and a brown bear in my short stay.

My next trip was another weekend in Seattle, to see my college roommate Matt. We took a ferry to Victoria to spend the weekend there, which was quite enjoyable. Victoria is a very nice little city, especially the harbor. We also made it up to Butchart Gardens, which is every macro photographer's dream.

In September, I went all the way to Buffalo to see Niagara Falls. I had never been there before, but it has been on my list for a while. I went there with Huy, a coworker who is on my current project (and the same guy that I went with to Vietnam). We visited both the American and Canadian sides of the falls, and I have to say that the Canadian side does offer a much better view. With that said, both sides offer a very unique experience, and I must say I do not approve of the over-commercialization of the Canadian side. The falls are really quite beautiful, though, and I was afforded some very stunning photos, and a fantastic time. It was perfect for a weekend trip.

Next on the list was a trip to Mono Lake via Reno. Mono Lake is a much-photographed location, despite being very much out of the way. It's located just to the east of the Sierras and Yosemite National Park, and a few hours south of Reno. I decided to fly to Reno to get there, though it probably wouldn't have taken much longer to drive from San Jose. I got there in the mid afternoon, took some photos and then waited for sunset. The place was then hopping with photographers, though it was still quite easy to find some wonderfull shooting opportunities. I managed to get quite a few that I liked. I also stayed past sunset, as someone there told me there would be a harvest moon, which turned out to be pretty spectacular. It was dark enough that you could see the glow in the horizon before the moon itself appeared, and it made for a great experience, especially with the coyotes howling nearby. The next day I went to the rather unique Devil's Postpile before leaving for Reno and the airport.

In October, I took another extended weekend trip, this time to New England to see the fall leaves. I had never been to New England before, and I had a great time. I flew into Boston, but wasted no time and went straight up to Vermont. I drove all around, from Smuggler's Notch to Montgomery to Burlington to Montpelier. I also hit up Franconia Notch, the Kancamagus Highway, Conway, Mount Washington and Lake Winnipesaukee. According to Hertz, I covered over a thousand miles in my five days there. The leaves were quite beautiful, and unlike anything I had seen before. Colorado obviously has beautiful leaves as well, but almost all of them are yellow and gold. New England has a broader spectrum, including oranges and very rich reds, which are quite spectacular. The small towns in Vermont add quite a bit to the experience as well.

Still not done! My most recent was a weekend trip to Sedona. I flew into Phoenix, and was lucky enough to be given a convertible Mustang. I then drove up to Sedona, and was greated with some of the most beautiful rock formations I have seen outside of the Grand Canyon. The small town is nestled against them, with many spectacular trails and vistas nearby. I spent a good deal of time at Redrock Crossing, another popular photo location. I also climbed the trail up Cathedral Rock, hiked a bit around Bell Rock, and drove out to see the Oak Creek vista. Additionally, I took my poor rental car up Schnebly Hill Road, a very rough dirt/rock road recommended only for trucks, but with a spectacular view. It was slow-going, but I made it to the vista point, which was well worth it.

That brings my blog up to date with all of my recent adventures. I've also had some other positive developments in my life recently, though I will save them for the time being.

Posted by nick.steinbaugh at 9:49 AM