Thanks for stopping by! I’m Sara, a 29-year-old photographer, database wrangler and nature lover from Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Growing up in the Rio Grande valley, my parents let my sister and I run fairly wild – outside, that is. When I think back on my childhood, my most vivid memories involve galloping down riverbeds, across beaches and over desert landscapes covered with juniper trees, cactus and sagebrush. I hiked, camped, caved, and saw much of the Western US on epic summer road trips (when my dad’s ’88 Plymouth Reliant K broke down on a deserted stretch of highway in California? “The perfect makings of an adventure,” he proudly proclaimed). I’m incredibly grateful to my parents for providing us with a seemingly endless supply of opportunity to wander and explore. As a result, a devotion to nature embedded itself deeply within my bones and hasn’t let go since.
Life took an unexpected turn when my dad passed away in 2006. I was 18, had just graduated high school, and everything I knew was abruptly uprooted and turned upside down by this invisible force. In the midst of my grief, I found myself literally running for the hills, spending many afternoons alone wandering the trails winding through the rugged foothills of the Sandia Mountains. I felt a huge sense of peace in that place, surrounded by nothing but granite boulders, sagebrush and the howl of the wind.
In 2010, I was 22 and feeling rather stuck in my hometown. In search of pure adventure and growth, I took the biggest leap of my life and moved to Alaska with Steph, my co-worker-turned-friend-turned-love of my life. We chose the tiny town of Juneau (pop. 30,000), in the Southeast panhandle of the state, due to its milder temperatures and idyllic setting nestled against snow-capped mountains, islands, and channels.
In time, we found jobs with the state government, bought a house, made lovely friends, and created a quiet life in one of the most stunning yet unforgiving landscapes I’ve ever experienced. My love of the wild only increased, of course, and we found ourselves outside kayaking, hiking, enjoying bonfires “out the road,” nordic skiing or walking on a beach as often as possible (while desperately trying to avoid run-ins with the local black bear population #bearphobic).
After living in Juneau for two years, Steph and I decided to end our Alaskan Adventure by relocating to Portland, Oregon in 2012. I still feel a sharp pang of sadness when I think of what we lost when we left Alaska, but our reasons to move back to the lower 48 were plentiful and unavoidable. Isolation (Juneau is only accessible by boat or plane), a high cost of living, rain 95% of the year and a right-leaning social and political climate made us realize that we would not be comfortable in Alaska long-term.
Portland proved to be the perfect progressive antidote and we quickly dove into exploring all the city had to offer. Concerts, road trips to the beach, fine dining and city life were suddenly within reach, and it. was. GLORIOUS. We morphed into city folk, working soul-sucking jobs to pay our outrageous Portland rent, sitting in traffic jams and complaining about the wait at our favorite brunch spots. Still, we managed to escape the hustle for weekend adventures to the coast, long drives, camping trips with friends and hikes in the Columbia River Gorge or Forest Park.
After a few years, however, we’d grown weary of the hectic and lonely life we found ourselves living. We missed our family and old friends in New Mexico dearly and found it increasingly difficult to picture living in Portland long-term without a solid support system. Plus, the weather sucked, the congestion was almost unbearable, and we’d be stuck working unfulfilling jobs and commuting for the next 50 years if we weren’t careful. Our conversations on how we could change things for the better always lead us back to the idea of moving back home. See also: sopapillas.
By the summer of 2016, project boomerang was in full effect. Leaving Portland was bittersweet, but as we drove our moving truck into New Mexico, I felt just as excited to be driving back as I’d been driving away six years earlier. The desert called us home, and we answered.
Since moving back to NM, life’s been a whirlwind of reconnections, hikes, planning for the future, and reacquainting ourselves with a place that somehow manages to feel foreign and familiar at the same time. Steph proposed to me in January (I said duh), and I can’t wait to see what new adventures are in store for our little family.