Arizona

Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley, Horseshoe Bend. These were the targets of my second ever photo-based trip (the first being Yosemite a couple months ago). I left LA  at 2pm Friday with my buddy / basically pro-photographer, Leif. The trip was his idea and given the itinerary and opportunities to excel my experience in photography, I obviously had to go. It was about a 9 hour drive to Page, AZ. The entire area is in Arizona along the Utah border, and the highways take you back and forth over state line, between Friday and Sunday we crossed state lines 16 times. 

 

Another major driver to go on this trip and get more serious about photography is to expand my portfolio on my other website, philipskinnerphotography.com . I'm testing the waters of what potentially could be done to spend time working on my hobby while sharing the results with others. 

 

Local Scenery

 Friday night I hiked down the short path at Bluff Cove down to a rock reef. I've sailed around this rocky point in the Catalina 30 and sailed over and through it one summer day on a 15' sailboat. The amount of land to take pictures from drastically changes depending on tide levels.Friday night, just as the sun was going down, I was able to walk around the tide pools and get a close picture of the horizon and tried using the pools for reflections. It was a dull sunset but I was content to get back in time to use my camera and try out the wide angle lens.


The next morning I was up at 4:45 and drove up to Del Cerro park, located at a good lookout point on top of Palos Verdes and facing Catalina Island. Here's some pictures of the shipping traffic, the moon high above, and the sun coming up over the channel and over Los Angeles to the north.

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To round out the weekend, I finally went kayaking again, leveled the v-berth bed with some Dri-Deck that I had to wash the scent of plastic off of, and did other random projects around the boat.

Car Show

There was a corvette club car show in the parking lot next door on Saturday. I was pretty dang excited to try my new wide angle 17-35mm lens which is perfect for getting right up close to the classic cars and the lens distorts how they look which produces interesting results. 

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Also a first for my blog,  trying a slideshow (below) of photos. Hope you enjoy! 

 More testing out of my new lens. And a really awesome relief-style map of Redondo / Hermosa beach that was on a wall at the Redondo Beach Hotel.  

More testing out of my new lens. And a really awesome relief-style map of Redondo / Hermosa beach that was on a wall at the Redondo Beach Hotel.  

Mia’s friend Laura flew down to visit and they stayed in the Redondo Beach Hotel just across the street. As a special event for the weekend we went to Justin Timberlake’s show at the Forum on Saturday night. We also checked out Eatily in Century City which was a huge open seating room which about 15 different restaurants and shops all for good Italian food. 

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 Big Tujunga Canyon Bridge near the dam  

Big Tujunga Canyon Bridge near the dam  

 Sun setting under hazy clouds over Malibu mountains from Mt. Lowe trail. I didn’t see a single other person on my hike which seemed weird given how great it was.  

Sun setting under hazy clouds over Malibu mountains from Mt. Lowe trail. I didn’t see a single other person on my hike which seemed weird given how great it was.  

 From the Mt Lowe railway tunnel looking towards Mt San Antonio. Also displaying some of the power of this 28-300mm lens  

From the Mt Lowe railway tunnel looking towards Mt San Antonio. Also displaying some of the power of this 28-300mm lens  

Welp. I made a significant investment into this photo hobby of mine that I've been gradually learning since the beginning of last year. You might remember how it all started, last winter I dug out a Pentax film camera from storage and shot a few rolls. This camera had some risks of losing precious film in the mail and limits to 24 and 36 exposures that must be perfectly done or were a waste of money. I loved taking pictures and that shutter click, though. So I got the most sensible bang-for-my-buck entry-level camera in June which is the Olympus OM-D EM-10 mark II. Many good reasons to justify that, but it left me wanting a couple of things. Better photo quality from a larger camera sensor, better feel of the camera and quality of images. Now that I've taken some more trips and learned a lot more about photography, and thanks to my brother for an Adobe subscription, I kept rolling my eyes at the limitations of the micro four-thirds mirrorless system. I missed the cler-chunk feel of a real shutter opening and shutting and how much more information a full-frame camera can gather. There are pros and cons to everything and I was tipping the scales back and forth for a long time to determine if I should get a full-frame DSLR.

 Sunday’s walk around the Redondo pier area. I just had my earphones in and tried to find a creative way to compose the place.  

Sunday’s walk around the Redondo pier area. I just had my earphones in and tried to find a creative way to compose the place.  

I finally did. The Nikon D750. It's been around for a few years but it's a workhorse and powerful camera with solid reviews and the right price range. A user can use an endless variety of lenses to it and it's likely not to change for a long time. The other front-runner was a new Sony A7iii which is a mirrorless camera but it's full-frame and offered a ton of technology like my Olympus. Some of that worried me, because I feel like the mirrorless cameras are kind of delicate, but what worried me more is the cost of native Sony lenses... most are more than the camera itself and it would've brought a bundle out of my budget. I could go on, trust me I was fully engaged in thinking about these two cameras for weeks.


For now I still have the Olympus and if nobody wants to buy it then I guess I'll keep it. It's funny because the complete setup I had for that is less money than an *inexpensive* lens for the Nikon. So I guess you could say this hobby is getting serious. I am excited to learn even more as I go on.

 Other pictures from around Redondo as well as the result of “operation hoist kayak so I don’t have to keep cleaning the bottom” by using extra dock line to suspend it out of the water. I’m please with the result and hope no more really strong winds come through for awhile. Center is a picture of the new Nikon D750 and 28-300 lens. I probably won’t use the lens hood that Often as it makes it seem even bigger and caused some minor vignette when at the widest angle. 

Other pictures from around Redondo as well as the result of “operation hoist kayak so I don’t have to keep cleaning the bottom” by using extra dock line to suspend it out of the water. I’m please with the result and hope no more really strong winds come through for awhile. Center is a picture of the new Nikon D750 and 28-300 lens. I probably won’t use the lens hood that Often as it makes it seem even bigger and caused some minor vignette when at the widest angle. 

 not much of a sunset through the haze 

not much of a sunset through the haze 

 Does this qualify as street photography? 

Does this qualify as street photography? 

 I’ve noticed the colors are different on this camera. probably more true and wid-ranging especially the dynamic range between light sky and dark shadows. 

I’ve noticed the colors are different on this camera. probably more true and wid-ranging especially the dynamic range between light sky and dark shadows. 

Back to my adventure. Mia was out of town which meant I had some boat chores to do, including hoisting up my kayak on extra dock line and (hopefully) the last time I had to scrub the bottom of it. Midwaythrough SaturdayI was antsy and decided to pack a cooler with lunch and my backpack with some hiking clothes and go for a drive. I went up north of LA into the Angeles Forest on the winding 2-lane roads. These are popular for car and motorcycle enthusiasts who speed around the corners so I found myself pulling aside at turn-outs at least 20 times. I was on an entirely different pace for my day. The point was to see what's up there because I was always curious, and to find some good vantage points to try out my new camera. I eventually made my way to the Mt Wilson summit which overlooks the LA basin and could see all the way to Catalina even through the haze and clouds. I then hiked on a trial that was once used as a railroad from 1902 - 1938 wrapping along cliffs and through tunnels on narrow trestles - It's actually insane that they built this. It looks more like a frightening wooden roller coaster nailed into hillsides from the black and white pictures online. As things go, there was a devastarting wind at the observatory that it served, which knocked it down. So someone turned the land into a tavern to keep people coming up but then that had a fire and was never rebuilt. It was dismantled a few years later.


Sometimes I want to take these far trips to find hikes, views, and a feeling of the outdoors along with some interesting history. I think of Death Valley, Sequoia, Joshua Tree, Big sur, Lost Coast, etc. But this was basically in Los Angeles and checked off all the boxes, albeit they'd be smaller check marks.

 Looking down at Pasadena from the tunnel

Looking down at Pasadena from the tunnel

 There were images at the trail head of a railway track and train along this cliff through the tunnel to provide supplies to Mt Wilson. Also I was impressed by the camera gathering the sun hitting the peak on the right while still gathering detail in the tunnel. Unedited.  

There were images at the trail head of a railway track and train along this cliff through the tunnel to provide supplies to Mt Wilson. Also I was impressed by the camera gathering the sun hitting the peak on the right while still gathering detail in the tunnel. Unedited.  

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 dusk view Angeles Crest Highway and long exposure to get some of the cars racing down it. 

dusk view Angeles Crest Highway and long exposure to get some of the cars racing down it. 

Wheeler Gorge / Ojai

 Smoke from late afternoon campfires starting throughout the full campground. 

Smoke from late afternoon campfires starting throughout the full campground. 

 We arrived at 9:30 Friday night and our reserved spot, #066, we discovered was essentially a parking spot in another groups much larger combined campsite area. I should’ve assumed something was up when the host saw our reservation and replied in a hesitant mumble of acknowledgement.   We drove back to the host and found out about the first-come-first-serve sites and since we were some of the first arrivals for the weekend we took advantage of #020 pictured here.  

We arrived at 9:30 Friday night and our reserved spot, #066, we discovered was essentially a parking spot in another groups much larger combined campsite area. I should’ve assumed something was up when the host saw our reservation and replied in a hesitant mumble of acknowledgement. 

We drove back to the host and found out about the first-come-first-serve sites and since we were some of the first arrivals for the weekend we took advantage of #020 pictured here.  

 We got lucky the campsite also had perfect trees for a hammock. In fact the site to the right of this photo was occupied by 2 guys who showed up and excusively slept in their hammocks and never set up a tent thanks to all the trees. 

We got lucky the campsite also had perfect trees for a hammock. In fact the site to the right of this photo was occupied by 2 guys who showed up and excusively slept in their hammocks and never set up a tent thanks to all the trees. 

 Saturday afternoon. In some areas of the campground, flames did make it in and burned patches of trees. The problem at hand now is mud slides that have eliminated nearby trails and extra campsites up the hill.

Saturday afternoon. In some areas of the campground, flames did make it in and burned patches of trees. The problem at hand now is mud slides that have eliminated nearby trails and extra campsites up the hill.

 Right after we made breakfast a friendly man drove up to us and told us about opening day for the visitor center. Live animals like this owl, a hawk , snakes and critters were on exhibit. We checked it out and talked to a few Ojai locals about the impact of the Thomas fire, how the center and campgrounds were miraculously saved by setting “back-fires” to surround the area and fight back the approaching wildfire. There was an REI CoOp booth and we had what I’d guess was a record breaking Jenga game (look how high that tower is!) and each won some REI steel cups. 

Right after we made breakfast a friendly man drove up to us and told us about opening day for the visitor center. Live animals like this owl, a hawk , snakes and critters were on exhibit. We checked it out and talked to a few Ojai locals about the impact of the Thomas fire, how the center and campgrounds were miraculously saved by setting “back-fires” to surround the area and fight back the approaching wildfire. There was an REI CoOp booth and we had what I’d guess was a record breaking Jenga game (look how high that tower is!) and each won some REI steel cups. 

 We didn’t do much, which was why we came camping. We drove into the outskirts of the town in order to get cell service for a few minutes for something and when we came back to our site we just read and laid around. It was perfect. 

We didn’t do much, which was why we came camping. We drove into the outskirts of the town in order to get cell service for a few minutes for something and when we came back to our site we just read and laid around. It was perfect. 

 Weather was as good as it could get for camping - 80 during the peak of the day and in the mid-50s at night.  

Weather was as good as it could get for camping - 80 during the peak of the day and in the mid-50s at night.  

Point San Vicente Lighthouse

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Took a trip back around Palos Verdes and stopped at the lighthouse. It was a super clear day after rain and wind the day before and it was enough to see the Santa Barbara Channel Islands and San Nicolas island, way out there. From this spot a group of people track whale migration and we were fortunate enough to see some grey whales breach between us and Catalina Island. I’m 

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There was a Holi celebration across the street from our boat at the Lagoon. I was actually waiting for this since last year because I wanted to get pictures of it. Got some! I saw a photography documentary series, Tales By Light, essentially a 2-season long Canon commercial, but one photographer was immersed in India for the holi celebrations and although I didn’t even enter the lagoon area I’m happy I got to get a better look at and photograph the activity. There’s hundreds of people covered in color powder who attend over 2 days and it’s a nice reminder of the local diversity and pride in culture. 

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 Went to a local park in Redondo that I previously never knew existed. We were going a little stir crazy in the boat so turned the opportunity into a picnic and then a little photography as we walked around the park. I was trying to demonstrate stuff with these pictures so I’ll leave them here. Bokeh, aperture, focal length and composition were on the lesson plan. 

Went to a local park in Redondo that I previously never knew existed. We were going a little stir crazy in the boat so turned the opportunity into a picnic and then a little photography as we walked around the park. I was trying to demonstrate stuff with these pictures so I’ll leave them here. Bokeh, aperture, focal length and composition were on the lesson plan. 

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 Sunset in King Harbor  

Sunset in King Harbor  

 Redondo Pier  

Redondo Pier  

 putting my tripod to good use with a long exposure shot

putting my tripod to good use with a long exposure shot

Windy weekends

 A lesser photographed pier in the South Bay - I think this one is getting torn down soon. 

A lesser photographed pier in the South Bay - I think this one is getting torn down soon. 

 I was really far away for this picture - across the boat launch basin and in a parking lot, but I think the composition and subject of this photo were great  

I was really far away for this picture - across the boat launch basin and in a parking lot, but I think the composition and subject of this photo were great  

 Always surprised by how many fishermen are out on the rocks all around the harbor. Spotted a really awesome classic landcruiser which deserves a spot on here somewhere.

Always surprised by how many fishermen are out on the rocks all around the harbor. Spotted a really awesome classic landcruiser which deserves a spot on here somewhere.

 On my walk around sunset trying to find some interesting pictures. It was really windy and I was glad to see a couple sailors going for it. 

On my walk around sunset trying to find some interesting pictures. It was really windy and I was glad to see a couple sailors going for it. 

 We went up the street to a couple formal looking places like the local library and high school as a backdrop for Mia's new professional photo - which I’m really happy how it turned out. I got to use an old manual focus 55mm lens on my camera which was fun and created a nicely blurred background 

We went up the street to a couple formal looking places like the local library and high school as a backdrop for Mia's new professional photo - which I’m really happy how it turned out. I got to use an old manual focus 55mm lens on my camera which was fun and created a nicely blurred background 

 these fishermen are taking risks for their catch 

these fishermen are taking risks for their catch 

 afternoon crowd at Naja’s 

afternoon crowd at Naja’s 

Thirty-two

 Exploring slo in this car with James. I pretended I was a race car driver then I pretended I was photographing it for a magazine.  

Exploring slo in this car with James. I pretended I was a race car driver then I pretended I was photographing it for a magazine.  

 Thankful for some amazing and thoughtful gifts: a tripod (not pictured but used for the night photo), a 70s film camera, a customized CNN vest, and beer plus soap made from beer! 

Thankful for some amazing and thoughtful gifts: a tripod (not pictured but used for the night photo), a 70s film camera, a customized CNN vest, and beer plus soap made from beer! 

 Shots from the Newport breakwall Sunday and the Redondo breakwall (I had to pumpout the boat) earlier.  

Shots from the Newport breakwall Sunday and the Redondo breakwall (I had to pumpout the boat) earlier.  

People usually don’t prefer their birthdays to be on a weekday but I saw an opportunity: use both of the weekends surrounding it to celebrate. 

Mia and I went up to San Luis Obispo the weekend before and her family made me an insanely good cake on Sunday, I got to drive a 911 turbo S as well as some scooters, and we hung out and watched the olympics.  

On my birthday, our friend Molly hosted a small dinner at her apartment and I was totally blown away by the generous and really awesome birthday presents. I felt really lucky to have spent the evening with such solid friends.  

And the following weekend, Presidents’ Day weekend, Mia and I went to Newport to hang out with Dante and Jenn who I’ve known since college and a new crew of friends I met for the first time. We cruised electric Pedego bikes around and then took a Duffy boat out during sunset. epic celebrations all around! 

 Mia got me a tripod I picked out and I couldn’t wait to try it out - this was at 11pm on Saturday out in the cold.  

Mia got me a tripod I picked out and I couldn’t wait to try it out - this was at 11pm on Saturday out in the cold.  

King Harbor

Long story short my back went out and the pain was significant enough that I gained another new appreciation to be able to walk without wobbling and sporadically losing strength in my legs. I took advantage of it by walking...slowly... with a limp... from the boat to the breakwall just in time for sunset and took these pictures.  

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St Lucia

Mia’s cousin Sydney came up with a great idea to invite a group of good people to stay at an Airbnb in St Lucia. Who could say no? We went for 6 days and spent them in the house pool, at a couple different hotel / “public” beaches (the hotels make it very difficult to access the beaches on purpose) and we even chartered a 45’ catamaran and snorkel tour, then I rented a 16 foot Hobie from a resort. Overall it was a perfect balance of lazy relaxation and physical activities that were unique to the location.  

 The view from the downstairs bungalow that the birhday girl, Sydney occupied.  

The view from the downstairs bungalow that the birhday girl, Sydney occupied.  

 Kait, me and Mia, a patio view, a drone shot of Mia and I from Leif, the hobie sail departure taken by Leif, and Mia lounging in a hammock between the living room and backyard.  

Kait, me and Mia, a patio view, a drone shot of Mia and I from Leif, the hobie sail departure taken by Leif, and Mia lounging in a hammock between the living room and backyard.  

The Airbnb was just outside of Soufriere which was a small town with a natural harbor which yachts were rotating through each day.  

 We went to the Viceroy resort which was insanely expensive but offered a nice clean beach between the Piton peaks, and some impressive mega yachts in the bay.  

We went to the Viceroy resort which was insanely expensive but offered a nice clean beach between the Piton peaks, and some impressive mega yachts in the bay.  

 Trying night shots from the pool deck. The white light coming from the right of the first piton is actually lights from a 298’ yacht in front of the Viceroy resort (Sugar Beach)  

Trying night shots from the pool deck. The white light coming from the right of the first piton is actually lights from a 298’ yacht in front of the Viceroy resort (Sugar Beach)  

 The catamaran charter was half snorkel tour and half booze cruise for just our group. The candid photos are Leif’s.  

The catamaran charter was half snorkel tour and half booze cruise for just our group. The candid photos are Leif’s.  

 The catamaran cruise ended at this beach down the hill from our house so we hung out on an abandoned dock for sunset.  

The catamaran cruise ended at this beach down the hill from our house so we hung out on an abandoned dock for sunset.  

 Playing with reflections from the pool.  

Playing with reflections from the pool.  

 The house was very wide open to the Forrest surrounding it so every night lizards, frogs and other bugs made themselves at home.  

The house was very wide open to the Forrest surrounding it so every night lizards, frogs and other bugs made themselves at home.  

 Leif, enjoying the sunset. He and I were technically add-ons to the trip after all the girls already booked and we couldn’t have been happier to be included.  

Leif, enjoying the sunset. He and I were technically add-ons to the trip after all the girls already booked and we couldn’t have been happier to be included.  

Lost Sandals in The Desert

We went to Joshua Tree for New Years weekend. A big group of us stayed in an Airbnb that Mia found which had a huge backyard stretching into the desert. We drove over to an art installation during the day.  

 the art installation was mostly a collection of garbage thrown together in a creative or weird way.  

the art installation was mostly a collection of garbage thrown together in a creative or weird way.  

 a lot of toilets, plywood and loosened nails.  

a lot of toilets, plywood and loosened nails.  

 Pretty sure that’s a catamaran standing straight up... a nice looking one too.  

Pretty sure that’s a catamaran standing straight up... a nice looking one too.  

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 I had my sandals on the roof and totally forgot, drove away at one point down bumpy dirt roads and they must’ve bounced right off   

I had my sandals on the roof and totally forgot, drove away at one point down bumpy dirt roads and they must’ve bounced right off

 

I didn’t actually go into Joshua Tree National Park, because that group outing took place around 6am the first day. But I’m determined to get back out there to see it in 2018, hopefully to camp too.  

 This was all in the backyard of the rental, with a fire pit we all sat out by for New Year’s Eve.  

This was all in the backyard of the rental, with a fire pit we all sat out by for New Year’s Eve.  

 Great way to end a year  

Great way to end a year  

Christmas 2017

 Sophie and Andrew helping each other figure out a new toy  

Sophie and Andrew helping each other figure out a new toy  

 The caption above applies to basically all the presents they opened. Matching pajamas were an awesome addition. 

The caption above applies to basically all the presents they opened. Matching pajamas were an awesome addition. 

 By Christmas afternoon everyone was there

By Christmas afternoon everyone was there

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 A hike on Christmas Eve when Mia was visiting, she got to see Sophie, Nicole and Scott. We hiked the Round Valley loop trail near Morgan Terrotoy which was full of cows and even a coyote 

A hike on Christmas Eve when Mia was visiting, she got to see Sophie, Nicole and Scott. We hiked the Round Valley loop trail near Morgan Terrotoy which was full of cows and even a coyote 

 Andy making sure the toys aren’t edible 

Andy making sure the toys aren’t edible 

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 This marked the first Christmas both of the babies were here so there’s just a ton of pictures.  

This marked the first Christmas both of the babies were here so there’s just a ton of pictures.  

 Mia snapped this photo of me surfing in Shell Beach  

Mia snapped this photo of me surfing in Shell Beach  

 James and I went surfing because the weather was unseasonably warm plus some swell was in the water, we traded boards too so I was trying some nose rides (top right)

James and I went surfing because the weather was unseasonably warm plus some swell was in the water, we traded boards too so I was trying some nose rides (top right)

Winter?

Holidays approaching but the weather in LA was warm and pleasant for a couple weeks. In fact, the Manhattan Beach fireworks felt like it was a 4th of July show instead. Dock neighbors Chris and Mandy brought Mia and I out on their boat to watch the show, the ocean felt like a lake. 

 Sunset through the bow rail / wreath with lights  

Sunset through the bow rail / wreath with lights  

 Unique view of the manhattan beach holiday fireworks on calm water  

Unique view of the manhattan beach holiday fireworks on calm water  

 I’ve been getting good use out of the kayak. The boat parade in Cabrillo from my dads boat.  My kayak trips usually involve a good playlist on my cell phone, tucked inside a waterproof bag under the kayak skirt so I have music to go with the workout. I’ve only gone about 15 minutes outside of the harbor entrance so far but hope to take longer trips 

I’ve been getting good use out of the kayak. The boat parade in Cabrillo from my dads boat.  My kayak trips usually involve a good playlist on my cell phone, tucked inside a waterproof bag under the kayak skirt so I have music to go with the workout. I’ve only gone about 15 minutes outside of the harbor entrance so far but hope to take longer trips 

 Personal favorite: peas on earth (bottom left) (green balloons were the peas) 

Personal favorite: peas on earth (bottom left) (green balloons were the peas) 

The boat parade wrapped through Long Beach / San Pedro for 2.5 hours and ended in front of where we were. 

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Thanksgiving 2017

Right back from the South America trip and I headed north to see everyone for thanksgiving, then to San Luis Obispo to wrap up the weekend.  

 TG dinner table  

TG dinner table  

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 Maybe I’ll go into the family portrait business  

Maybe I’ll go into the family portrait business  

 A hike with Scott at Briones Regional Park  

A hike with Scott at Briones Regional Park  

 Awesome seeing my twin being a dad and also showing Sophie what cows are...when they block the trail.  

Awesome seeing my twin being a dad and also showing Sophie what cows are...when they block the trail.  

 My mom and I went to some close by winery’s that were preparing for upcoming Holiday events, the fall colors were everywhere 

My mom and I went to some close by winery’s that were preparing for upcoming Holiday events, the fall colors were everywhere 

 This crazy peacock, these ranch dogs, Rosie and Journey

This crazy peacock, these ranch dogs, Rosie and Journey

 Mia took Journey for a spin and riding lesson for the horse she said he required so much leg to keep in the right direction she was sore for a few days.  

Mia took Journey for a spin and riding lesson for the horse she said he required so much leg to keep in the right direction she was sore for a few days.  

 Rosie and another dog chased one another around.  

Rosie and another dog chased one another around.