”I think that one of the things that you learn is that falling in love and being in love with someone is a rarity. That you don’t fall in love as many times as you think you’re going to. And when you do, it’s really special; it’s really important.” Julianne Moore


Fifteen days. Fifteen very long, cold, snowy days, since my airport goodbye with the perfect stranger.

Even though we maintained constant communication via text, email, and phone, it wasn’t enough! I missed her and I wanted more than a friendship. Call me impulsive, may be even slightly pathetic. I didn’t care; I made my intentions known.

Regardless of the outcome, it felt like a win-win situation. I valued the sacredness of our friendship and I was committed to maintaining it. I knew romanticizing our friendship could complicate our lives. Somehow, I wasn’t worried; either way, friendship or relationship, it was a lifelong commitment.


While many lesbians in my community joke about having U-Haul relationships, I wanted my friendship and potential romance to be different. I was invested; trading the U-Haul for the long haul!


After receiving a positive response to my New Year’s video, the perfect stranger and I planned an immediate adventure. Consider it round two; no longer where we strangers, and we weren’t simply just friends.


January 5, 2015 I left the snow melt of Vermilion Cliffs, bound for Prescott airport. Slightly panicked, as I had slept through my alarm, I could only hope the perfect stranger’s flight had been delayed; otherwise, I would be officially running late. 

Being late was out of the norm for me. It was unfamiliar as falling in love with a perfect stranger. Growing up in Australia, there were only two excusable reasons for tardiness. Either your mother was in the hospital or you had been killed. That was it! Any other excuses, explanations, or reasons were deemed unacceptable.


As I looked at my watch, I made peace with the reality of the situation. I was going to be late. I had 3 hours to complete a four hour drive. Outside of refraining from roadside photo opportunities and limiting my bathroom breaks; there was simply no way to make up the time.


Note to self – I do not recommend holding your pee on a long drive. The bladder strain and fear of peeing yourself while driving is not enjoyable. Airport entrances are not attractive when your hands are dam walling your urethra.


After a loving embrace and an apology for being late, the perfect stranger and I headed to the Flagstaff Nordic Center. For the next few days we would be yurting in the Coconino National forest. That’s right, I said yurting!


Like two excited kids waking up on Christmas morning, the perfect stranger and I headed into the Nordic Center for check in. As the only overnight guests, we were given free reign picking our yurt location. Still struggling with her knee injury, I suggested to the perfect stranger we ease up on the miles and stay in a yurt close to the lodge.


She wasn’t having it! Not in this lifetime anyway. The perfect stranger insisted we hike to our yurt. Who was I to tell her no? She said she could do it and I believed her.


After a quick lunch, the perfect stranger and I put on your packs and hit the trail. With minimal snow, snowshoes weren’t necessary; however, they were still a Nordic Center requirement.




Less than a mile into our hike, we decided the snowshoes were more a hindrance than a help. Without adequate snow, it felt like we were dry-landing it in flippers. They had to go!!


Celebrating our foot freedom, the perfect stranger took a selfie shot that captured the spirit of our connection. There was no denying it; we were a dynamic duo, a perfect pair, a true team. This is what happiness looks like!


With the yurt in plain sight, the perfect stranger and I made a bee-line for base camp. Neither one of us had been backcountry glamping before; it was another shared first.




After unpacking our gear, the perfect stranger and I took a late afternoon stroll through the forest. With less than an hour until sunset, we didn’t venture too far away from camp. We were on a mission though, in search of a pink sunset!


During our maiden voyage, the perfect stranger explained to me that pink was not only her favorite color, it was a lifestyle!


Can one color really inspire a way of life? Can one color determine your choice of attire, kitchenware, and car accessories? Who knew one color could bring so much joy. What better way to honor the perfect stranger than be giving her a sky of pink.


As we left the yurt, I offered my hand to the perfect stranger. She responded by holding mine. While some may consider hand holding  a simple gesture, I consider it sacred. Out of all the people on the planet, the perfect stranger chose to hold my hand. Now that’s special!


Patiently waiting for our pink sky, the perfect stranger and I made ourselves comfortable in the snow.


Life for me has never been about personal milestones, it has always come down to magic moments. This was one of them!


With her beautiful brain resting in my lap, not even the frozen ground could stop my heart from melting. I had helplessly fallen in love with a woman I had yet to kiss. How is that even possible? Is this the way love is meant to be? Could getting to know someone without fast-tracking physical intimacy be key to a long-term love affair? Our pending first kiss felt inevitable; it was more of matter of when than if. For now, my focus was finding a pink sky for the love of my life.


Less than ten minutes down the trail, a pink hue sky appeared through the trees.


Captivated, the perfect stranger stared into the pink empyrean as if it offered some type of cosmic healing. Perhaps color psychologists are right: pink is seen as the color of hope. Pink inspires warm and comforting feelings, creating a sense that everything will be okay.


Pink is a symbol of compassion, nurturing, and love. It’s a color that represents the sweetness and innocence of the child in all of us. Pink is also said to be the color of uncomplicated emotions.


I feel color psychologists had exquisitely described the perfect stranger. Perhaps she is more a pink goddess than my perfect stranger. Either way, I knew pink defined her. It made her happy and brought her peace.

Pink and the perfect stranger are my package deal in the most uncomplicated way. Here’s to pink! 


“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating: there is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.” John Ruskin


How do you tell your dog that the snowstorm is over? It’s rather simple, take him outside!


With my cup of coffee and camera in hand, I settled into the snow as a spectator. For the next few hours, I had the pleasure of capturing Shadow explore his world.









Shadow and I shared a very adventurous 2014. Together, we experienced the many faces and flavors of Vermilion Cliffs.

2015 was already looking bright. As a team, we experienced our first snow storm together. I could only hope he had as much fun as me!





The first river you paddle runs through the rest of your life. It bubbles up in pools and eddies and reminds you who you are.” Lynn Culbreath Noel


In the dark hours of the morning, the Perfect Stranger and I left Laughlin, bound for Needles, California. If you have ever driven across the I-40 in California; you may have exited at Needles to get gas, and perhaps wondered what this “in the middle nowhere” town has to offer. Call it an offer or perhaps an open invitation; paddling Topock Gorge, the crown jewel of the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge was my inspiration for visiting Needles.


Leaving the I-40, we exited from Park Moabi Road, bound for the Pirate Cove Resort and Marina. The Pirate Cove Resort is a first class family destination nestled along the banks of the Colorado River. With a 250 slip marina and a seven lane launch ramp, it’s a summer haven for boaters and water lovers. In the off-season, it’s home to migrating fowl and snow bird campers. For the next few days, Pirate’s Cove would be our base camp and kayak launch point.


Out of  sheer convenience, we booked a kayak and shuttle package from Desert River Kayaks. For a mere $55, the company will deliver rental kayaks and shuttle you back to camp.This was my second time renting gear from Desert River Kayaks. The owner Helen Howard, has spent 46 years observing the changes in recreation and resource preservation on the Colorado River. As a board member of the Lower Colorado River Water Trail Alliance, Helen holds the Colorado river close to her heart. Her knowledge of the river and willingness to assist clients in trip planning makes Desert River Kayaks my first choice.


With expected overnight temperatures in the high 20’s, we decided to set up camp before Helen delivered our gear. I have made a point over the years of trying to avoid pet peeves. My pet peeve with camping; setting up tents in the cold and at night.


Around 730am, the Perfect Stranger and I left Pirate Cove Resort bound for Topock Gorge. This majestic 17 mile paddle had been on my adventure list since 2001. I was finally here! Not only was I here; I was sharing it with someone I was falling in love with. Perhaps it’s human nature, or maybe it’s just me: however I feel when we fall in love we tend to start thinking more about the future than focusing on the now. As much as I was appreciating and honoring the now, I found myself thinking about the future. How can I date a woman who lives 500 miles away? Would I entertain a long distance relationship? Is a long distance relationship really sustainable? Do long distance relationships need an agreed end point? Do long distance relationships feel more like romantic getaways, or do they simply lack in the daily rituals and routines that regular relationships experience?


Bringing it back to the now, why contemplate or worry about a long distance relationship with a woman I hadn’t even held nor kissed. Maybe it wasn’t worry; it was more wanting.


Barely half a mile down the river, the perfect stranger and I decided to make our first stop. Mother Nature’s light show had led us ashore. The shades, shadows, and textures of the early morning captivated me. I have often wondered if photography can legitimize a landscape. Is it really possible to capture the authenticity of a scene? Perhaps I am merely freeze framing the feelings landscapes evoke in me, or maybe I’m simply shutter friendly?


After a brief snack, the perfect stranger and I headed back out onto the water. In the distance, we could hear the sound of a roaring freight train. We were now approaching the Santa Fe Rail Bridge. Built in 1945, the Santa Fe Bridge lies next to the modern Interstate I-40 Topock Bridge and the Old Trails Arch Bridge



Completed in 1916, the Old Trails Arch Bridge was the longest three-hinged arch bridge in the nation. A decade later,with the opening of Route 66; the bridge was bypassed, abandoned, and deemed worthless. In the ultimate act of recycling, Pacific Gas and Electric appropriated the bridge. Thanks to a fresh coat of paint, this centennial bridge gives the appearance of a far younger structure.


Paddling under the Old Trail Arch Bridge meant we were officially entering Topock Gorge and the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. Home to over 318 species of birds; the Refuge lies within the Pacific Flyway, a major north-south migratory route along the western coast of the United States. Birders flock to the refuge during the autumn and winter months, not just for rare species such as Yuma clapper rail, Southwestern willow flycatcher and peregrine falcon, but also for the sheer abundance. Thousands of Canadian snow geese, ducks and other waterfowl seek winter shelter in Topock Gorge and Marsh.



As the perfect stranger paddled slightly ahead of me; the words of Loren Eisley came to mind, “If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.”


The morning lighting on the Colorado River had created a fairytale kind of magic. I will never forget the breath taking cloud reflections, the sunlight sparkles bouncing off the water’s surface, and the perfect stranger, finding pink and purple peace on the river.


In many ways, I feel photography is about capturing unguarded micro-second moments. While a creative eye is considered invaluable, I feel the ability to recognize limbically driven moments is crucial. Personal is when you feel someone’s spirit, intimate is when you know them.


With twelve more miles ahead of us, I could only wonder,what is next?