Image of the Day: Diggin’ for pollen in Denver.

A classic shot from last year’s midwest road trip, and one of my all time favorite critter photos. I can’t recall if we were waiting for someone or just decided to stop, but our crew ended up spending quite some time exploring this charming community garden in Denver, Colorado.

There were bees swarming every blossom, and pudgy vegetables lined the soiled pathways. I’m no gardening expert, but the keepers of this little sliver of land certainly knew what they were doing by the looks of their blushing rhubarb and cautious signs that warned of recently planted seeds or particularly delicate plants. It made me want a garden, so very badly.

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Monday Motivation – inspiring words by L. Sepe and bumble bee photography

Today’s uplifting quote comes from one of the most beautiful ladies to ever grace the planet, Lauren Sepe. This girl has a captivating spirit that seeks out all the beauty in the world around her, which means you’d do well to follow her word.

To compliment her wise words, enjoy a lovely pair of shots I took this weekend at Railroad Square Art Park. Spring is officially upon us, and the bugs are lovin’ it.

“The pursuit of happiness is a matter of choice! If we regularly deposit encouraging thoughts in our minds, bite our lips before we begin to complain and shoot down that harmless negative thought, we will find that there is much to rejoice about. The best things in life are unexpected because there were no expectations. Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference… Make your optimism come true!” – Lauren Sepe
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Beach Bouldering in South Florida? – It Exists!

Whenever I’m out at a crag up north and am asked by fellow climbers where I’m from, the answer “Florida” always gets sympathetic looks and mumblings about how it must be rough to live without easily accessible climbing.

Well, according to Dead Point Magazine and the legendary Chris Brown of Vertical Ventures – beach bouldering isn’t just a myth in south Florida. Avid climbers can enjoy outdoor Floridian climbing at the Blowing Rocks Preserve, located a little more than an hour north of Miami.

Mark Mercer proves the reality of beach bouldering at Blowing Rocks Preserve in Florida. Photo by: Chris Brown of

Naturally, there’s a catch – a pretty big one at that. Not only are the rangers in this area known for chasing off climbers, the crag is dangerous and extremely time-sensitive.

Climbing at Blowing Rocks is entirely dependent on the tides; you must get there before the tide begins to rise. Another issue? Sand levels. The exposed rock formations are frequently covered up by thick dunes of sand that make it impossible to reach routes – which are allegedly rated up to V12!

As a Miami native, I feel it is my civil duty to check this place out and give it a shot. Plus, this would make for a sweet photoshoot, as Chris Brown has already proven on his HighExposures blog. Enjoy, Florida kids!

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Photos of the Day: Shredding snow in Fernie, British Columbia

A very special thanks to the talented Jaron Frost for sharing some of his stunning photographs from a recent snowboarding excursion at Polar Peak at the Fernie Alpine Ski Resort in British Columbia.

Jaron and his beautiful girlfriend, Kay, are the ultimate travelers. Skipping between Florida, New Zealand, Canada and across the globe, this duo defines the epitome of adventure.

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Feast your eyes on Sam Carter’s ‘Half-Light Honey’ photography, seriously.

You may remember Samantha Carter from a July 2010 post, where I expressed my raging room envy over her perfect vintage-style bedroom. I featured her summertime project loaded with kitschy artwork, entitled ‘asleep on a sunbeam.’

Well folks, Sam is raising the artistic bar once again with her new photoblog, Half-Light Honey. Her work with 35 mm film inspires a desire to whip out my AE-1 and adventure around Tallahassee in search of peculiar subjects.

Her best work is easily her double exposure photography. While she may not identify herself as a travel photographer, her double exposures are my favorite because of their combination of images snapped in different locations throughout different areas of Florida and its neighboring states.

Here are two of my all-time favorite double exposures taken by Sam:

Sam has a great eye for discovering beauty in unlikely places, and her talent for combining photos into a single, flawless image is astounding. She would make an excellent road trip buddy; she’s the type of gal who wouldn’t protest when I want to veer off a country road to stop at a dusty antique shop in the middle of no where.

Be sure to check out Half-Light Honey, and stay tuned to her blog for frequent updates and dazzling photos.

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On the Youth Team Photoshoot, Lessons in Poor Lighting and Another Failed Climbing Trip

In an effort to expand my photography horizons, I offered to snap some shots of the Youth Team at the Tallahassee Rock Gym last week. My excitement for this new venture was very quickly diminished as I realized that the rock gym has terrible – read horrific – lighting during the evening. Nevertheless, I worked with that I had and was able to snag a few decent photos throughout the evening. To be frank, I am not a proud mama to any of these pictures, but I’m pleased that at least a small batch were worthy of being posted on The Morning Fresh for your viewing pleasure.

Next time, I’ll have to resort to harassing the Youth Team members with my spot lights to ensure that I’m able to capture higher quality photos. It’s always a struggle to find a balance between lighting and graininess when you’re shooting in the dark. The new Nikon has taught me that photography is a constant process of learning, adjusting and making mistakes.

In other news, the climbing trip to Rocktown has been trumped by Mother Nature herself, as usual. Silly me didn’t realize that every state in the Southeast, except for Florida, has been knee-deep in a snow storm. When the Weather Channel started spitting out warnings about “black ice expected throughout central and south Georgia roadways” and warning “travelers should exercise extreme caution in hazardous conditions,” I figured my little Scion tC might not be up for the challenge.

Instead, the famous Kendal Jackson will be gracing Tallahassee with his dread-locked presence, which means that I will be abusing my paparazzi privileges at the rock gym for another sweet photo shoot – this time with drastically improved lighting, thank you. As for the rest of my Thursday, the evening will be concluded with a tasty girls’ night dinner, and perhaps I’ll share a few photos if our cooking skills prove worthy!

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Late Night Climbing Photoshoot at TRG

After convincing the owner of the Tallahassee Rock Gym to close early on Saturday night so we could all go feast at China Delight, the crew and I returned to the rock gym armed with two bright portable lights and my camera. We spent the evening testing out the new routes, chasing trains as they passed Railroad Square and eventually, I fell asleep on the dirty rubber floor of the gym. It was a fantastic evening, even though McGoo and Niko stole my camera within five minutes of our photoshoot.

The real proof that my camera is a miracle worker? Check out how professional my roommate, Brooke, looks in her climbing shots. This girl hasn’t climbed in months, and yet the glory of Nikon was able to make her look like she was a seasoned veteran.

I was very pleased with the results from the photoshoot, and am eager to get back into the gym to take some more sweet shots! I’ll be taking some video footage this week to begin your weekly presentations of the best routes at the Tallahassee Rock Gym.

Get ready for the week to begin, especially all you students! Spring semester is only a few days away, and it’s time to kick things into high gear in preparation for a successful semester. I’m looking forward to my last first day of classes, but it will be bittersweet every step of the way.

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Dreaming of the Mountains, Climbing and Nature

Folks, it is a miserable day here in Tallahassee. The sunshine is nowhere to be found, the air is tepid and raindrops are threatening to assault the ground at any moment. It’s days like this that I find myself daydreaming of the mountains, lakes and climbing. Today’s photos aim to give you a peek into the images floating around in my head. In less than two weeks, Niko and I will be setting out on our return trip to Little Rock City and Rocktown, both located in Tennessee. Until then, my mind shall be consumed by thoughts of:

Escaping back to Tennessee.

I miss waking up in Chester Frost Campground to the sound of rustling climbers making instant oatmeal and loading up cars with crash pads and gear. I miss sitting on the docks of Campsite #303, watching the fog dissipate as the sun warms the air.

Getting back into nature.

My Communications Geography course is discussing the idea of ‘opting out’ this week, which deals with notions of disconnecting from technology and attempting to live ‘off the grid.’ I can relate this concept to climbing trips, where we abandon the conveniences of modern technology in favor of embracing the simplicity of the outdoors. It is such a beautiful way to refresh your perspective.

Bloody fingertips and chalky palms.

This may sound unusual to a non-climber – This morning, I came across this photo taken by my friend Raychel  and felt my hands start to anxiously sweat at the sight of this self-inflicted carnage. The battle wounds one acquires while climbing are almost as gratifying as sending the problem; it’s a sign that you fought to the best of your abilities – your blood is a badge of honor.

I am very impatiently biding my time until the semester ends and winter break begins. I’ve got a weeks worth of papers, articles, projects and exams to tackle, so these photos will keep me truckin’ onwards until it is finally time to break free. It is going to feel absolutely amazing to escape back into the wild.

For this upcoming trip, Niko and I are doing things properly. No cramped cars, no ill-planned meals – it’s going to be perfect. Just me and him driving up in my car, packing delicious food like avocados with garlic naan, sleeping in my cozy hatchback. Hopefully Steve and McGoo will be able to join us for one final southeast trip before they move to Colorado, and maybe we’ll be able to meet up with other climbers — any takers?

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Image of the Day: Hello, Mr. Caterpillar Buddy!

Today’s awesome creature photograph is dedicated to one of my favorite readers: the very adorable, recently turned one-year-old baby Mia. She and her mom read The Morning Fresh each night before Mia gets tucked into bed. Her favorite posts are the photos of all my little creature buddies, so this one is for you, cute little lady!

How cool is this shot? I have to wonder if the photographer just happened upon this scene, or if they had to construct the situation manually. In any case, fuzzy caterpillars make my heart swell.

Sweet dreams, tiny Mia!
& Happy Wednesday, readers.

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Little Rock City – Where I’m at Now.

As you read this, I’ll be out in the boulder fields of Little Rock City in Tennessee. While I can’t promise any live updates from the mountaintop, here are some sweet shots from my last trip to LRC to give you a little glimpse at what I’m experiencing, and what you can expect when I return with lots of stories and stellar photos – compliments of Marisa’s beautiful Nikon d60!

Little Rock City is the first place I ever visited to climb outdoors. I am looking forward to revisiting all the boulder problems I watched people send in awe while I was still inexperienced; now I’m returning to conquer those problems myself. On the check list for routes I must complete: Super Mario, Sternum, Ribcage, The Main Event and possibly Dragon Lady. They’re all V4+ problems, but after a year of training for this moment, I think I’m ready.

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