Camera Phone or DSLR: Break Out Your Inner Artist

This article, at first glance, might seem to be exclusively a comparison between camera phones and DSLR but I think that has already been covered expertly and extensively. Today’s photo essay goal is to convey the accessibility of easy options for experiencing art through photography. So pull out your camera or camera phone and whether it be flowers or your family – or even tree bark – snap some photos because your inner artist is planning a jail break.

Teri Into The Woods
Into the woods, happy time!

This past weekend, while on a jail break from the city, I hiked a favorite mountainous area and found myself thinking of the complexity and beauty of something as simple as tree bark. Looking at it up close left me wondering about the journey that had transpired, causing whatever state the bark was currently in – no I had not eaten any brownies. 😉

The forest truly is its own life-force, rocking along with specific rules and goals and – for the most part – it rocks along fairly unnoticed.

I hope these photos share that simply pulling out a camera phone or DSLR and pausing to capture something that feels poetic to you, can strip away the chaotic noise in life and provide huge exhale.

*Every photo is labeled according to what it was shot with and all photos are unedited to give a better idea of exactly what I was seeing. I alternated between DSLR – Nikon D90 w/ a Tamron 18-270 lens and I-Phone 4S for ease of comparison but please know that I-Phone (as well as other camera phones) can offer up even more stunning shots, that get closer to DSLR, if you decide to apply some post editing. Once again, these photos are unedited.

“Like”/share to Facebook and/or Tweet if you wish. Always grateful.

Angel Wings – I-Phone 4S
Bark 2
Morning Light – Nikon D90
Night & Day – I-Phone 4S
Bark 20
Fine Line Aging – Nikon D90

5 Great Reasons To Visit New Mexico

New Mexico is called the Land Of Enchantment and there is no better description so be prepared to be enchanted. A full page on this heavenly place will be added in the adventure tab but for today’s post, we’re simply sharing what we loved when we were lucky enough to get a recent taste of enchantment.

1) CROWDS – Nope, did not have that experience unlike a lot of high profile locales. We visited Albuquerque twice in two weeks, once through the week and once on a weekend, both times in August. No crowds in Cimarron Canyon State Park (camping closed for the winter season) where we camped, however, we were there through the week and we heard summer weekends book out. Taos was a little busy as was Red River but nothing to truly be concerned about. *Note the fall balloon rally takes place in Taos in October.

Old Town
Old Town Albuquerque

2) UNIQUE – We hit upon several stellar experiences and places that were unplanned. Gale Sutton, an amazingly talented photographer, took us through the Albuquerque Photographers’ Gallery and not only shared images that took our breath away but she also provided a colorful and interesting commentary. And as a little gift with purchase, she referred us to the Classical Gas Museum in Embudo, and can we say FREE!

Gasoline Museum
Classical Gasoline Museum Embudo

3) CAMPING – We camped Cimarron Canyon State Park and for $10 a night had a spot overlooking the tiny lake and caught a mess of trout which we prepared for dinner. New Mexico camping is outstanding.

Lakeside camping
Lakeside camping

4) ROAD TRIP – The obvious draw in New Mexico is Route 66 but my discovery was actually Highway #550 as this stretch was beyond beautiful, both when I traversed it in the afternoon and when I reversed course weeks later and enjoyed it at sunrise.

Sunrise #550
Sunrise Highway #550

5) DIVERSITY – If you like to mix it up, New Mexico is a good choice. We had margaritas and mexican food in Albuquerque, watched a craftsman create turquoise jewelry in Old Town, were privy to amazing art in Madrid and got a rocking coffee and tea, enjoyed puffy clouds floating lazily in the sky along the highways, and took an epic hike in Cimarron Canyon. Whether we were watching sunset from the trail or studying thunderstorms on a mountain, the Land Of Enchantment was absolutely enchanting.

“Like”/share to Facebook and/or Tweet if you wish. Always grateful! 🙂

10 Emergency Tips: Making Yourself OK

Years ago I found myself climbing solo up a mountain, in the middle of the night, when I had the dreaded “uh oh” moment. I had lost the trail. This situation was further complicated by the fact that I had very little hiking experience and the trail was Mount Whitney. At this time I invite all Whitney hikers to crack up laughing as the trail is so well-traveled that it should be impossible to lose. I’d accomplished the impossible, I’d lost it.

I lost it both literally and figuratively, halting in my tracks, freaking out, and staring incredulously at an endless landscape of nothing but rock. My heart raced as I had blundered along in fear and somehow could not even figure out now from where I’d come. Everywhere I looked, all that could be seen was what appeared to be the moon.

Rationality was also nowhere to be found as I envisioned myself continuing to wander until, hundreds of miles off course, I was eaten by wild animals while helicopters circled in the distance, unable to locate my corpse as it had grown so cold that infra-red was shelved in favor of scanning the pitch dark mountain by the one rescue team that had been hired in response to an age discrimination lawsuit. So my geriatric EMTs would throw in the towel and head back to the city for their blue plate breakfast while I was being digested in the stomach of a bear.

I know what you are thinking, “do not ever introduce this woman to hallucinogenic drugs!”

Yes, I found the trail. Yes, I made it to the top of the mountain and it  was all because I made myself ok. Here are some ideas for making yourself ok when adventuring and these might also apply to everyday life.

1) Breathe – Just time yourself and spend 2-3 minutes breathing calmly.

2) Stretch – Stand and do a little stretching, simple and calming.

3) Look – Take time to look around and assess the situation. Fire? Stop, drop, and roll. Bear? Follow bear protocol. All else, just look. I found the Whitney trail in the dark after I calmed down and started walking in small circles, looking for marks. It took a bit of time but I figured it out.

4) Be Still – Don’t race off or run around frantic. If it helps, force yourself to actually sit down. Allow your heart rate to settle.

5) Help – What do you have that will help? Cell service? Call a friend. No service? Maps, other hikers. Water, tea, power bars. The key here is to find something small that will help transition you from fear to problem solving.

6) Time –  If you are in trouble, will someone likely come along if you just wait? On Whitney, I absolutely would’ve had company within 3-4 hours.

7) Hand – I often tell my kids when we’re in the car and need to get over into another lane to roll their window down and put their hand out. It works 100% of the time and there’s a reason. It’s humanity, no denying that a hand is attached to a real live human being. When we’re enclosed, we can ignore and be ignored. Any connectedness and humanity comes stampeding in the second we notice it and that it’s being directed at us. Trail trouble, connect and ask for help. Car trouble, don’t sit and wait. Get out and wave.

8) Think – I listed this one later as it is more effective when you calm down and give yourself a few minutes. Try coming up with several possible actions. On Whitney I considered waiting but it was very cold and I was worried about my schedule due to a forecasted storm. Eventually I went with the plan to carefully circle while paying close attention to my location so as to not veer farther off course.  On a hike in New Mexico where the loss of the trail was a challenge, we opted to leave Hansel and Gretel type markers.

9) Hydrate – In any case where you have water, take a moment to drink some. Just the act of something so rote can center you but also keeping hydrated is incredibly important to brain function. *Attn. Hikers – invest in a water purifier, it is absolutely a life saver.

10) Believe – Know that statistically you are most likely not in as dire straights as it initially feels you are. Believe that you can figure out your predicament but do this without false bravado. Talk to yourself like you would if you were giving a friend advice.

Finally, these ten tricks can be utilized in a number of situations but for adventuring, please have water, food, first aid kit, and if heading into the backcountry, a purifier and emergency blanket (the foil ones also come in handy to spread out on the ground in an area where any search and rescue can spot it from the air).

We’ve listed some links here that also might be helpful.

Hiking Tips:

Red Cross Road Tips:

Tips for communicating during an emergency:

*”Like”/share or Tweet if you wish and HAVE FUN! Grateful. 🙂



Changing My Pants: Do What You Can When Self-Help Fails

Teri Clifton’s collection of essays, THE THINGS I CANNOT DO, is now available on Amazon for FREE until Jan. 2nd!! We’re in the #1 spot for humorous short reads on Kindle and have held in the top 10 spot consistently!

On A Dime Adventure is dedicated to sharing the ways we’ve found to grab slices of fun and enjoyment in a sometimes unpredictable world. Often articles in the “self-help” genre seem to be written by the conquerors – people who climbed their way to the top,  jumped over the edge, and then glided ever so gracefully right into some new fabulous life. We look to them and think “if only I could manage what they have”.

Well friends, we won’t be barking or climbing up the tree of self-help as this latest post comes to you, not from a conqueror, but rather from a struggler. And the purpose is to hopefully engage fellow strugglers in the process of staying afloat and surviving dastardly hurricane-force winds while also seizing moments here and there of sailing with the wind blowing in our hair. Perhaps we’ll even petition for a new genre called “we stepped off the cliff, chickened out and hit bottom, now where’s the bathroom ’cause we need to change our pants”

This morning I was caught in high winds and did my required sobbing, then snapped at the world – via my guy, who unfortunately got whomped as collateral damage – and then I finally settled and sat silent in the cavern of big-picture overwhelm. We’ve all been there, when you are paralyzed by any idea of solving a problem. That was my situation for a while but gradually I took a few breaths and then I changed my pants because that was the only thing I could do.

Changing My Pants is what you are reading now, the one thing in the world I have to do every Saturday, write a blog post. And on this particular jarring Saturday, when I was stymied about what to write about, it came to me that there is no reason to blow smoke up anyone’s body cavity. We all have hard times of cut the bull-malarkey and get to the nitty-gritty so here we go, but if you have a further interest in the transparent making of an adventurous struggler, I am releasing a book of essays in the next couple of months that strives to be cheap and humorous and will include instructions on changing your pants.

For now, we’ll focus on a life-shot of B-12  as there are days when we just need to cut to the chase and for me, this is one of those days.

1) Do What You Can – In my fear moment this morning, I sent an email following up on something that will generate cash flow. Recently, I noticed – in a very upscale neighborhood here in Los Angeles – that someone was selling plants in front of their equally upscale house. I also became aware of a girlfriend who has children in college selling household items via Facebook. And friends, I painted my toenails. Yep, all ten because I remembered when I climbed Mt. Whitney the first time solo, and was terrified of freezing to death and then being eaten by a grizzly, I clung to the fact that my toenails were a fetching shade of scarlet and that was almost as reassuring as the reminder that there are no grizzlies at Mt. Whitney.

2) Skip What You Can – Stay away from the stuff that is not helpful. And people who do nothing for the health of your psyche, avoid them. This one is a no-brainer, SHUT OUT social media and Yahoo news! For the love of Kim Kardashian, opt out of the photos of her latest mansion and remind yourself that she named her daughter North and has Kris for a mom. Do not look over the fence at anything you deem better.

3) Walk It Out – 15 minutes, that’s all. Put your shoes on and go out the door and walk 15 minutes or longer if you can. I’ve worn sunglasses before to hide the tears while walking and then hoped people would mistake me for a celebrity who is in the middle of a scandal about nude photos. Now that I have hit the beyond naked photo age, I think the odds of that mistake are dwindling. Walking or a casual run does not change your outside world when you are struggling but it will change you inside even if just a little.

4) Lower Your Expectations – It’s easier to feel better about yourself if you keep your expectations under control. The beast of unrealistic expectations sometimes has you believing you’ve failed when you have not. Try only expecting a successful climb out of bed, the putting on of clean underwear, and the eating of two scrambled eggs and expect that this is a good thing for your mind/body/soul and pat yourself on the back for accomplishing it.

5) Ask For Help – This is a “do as I say” moment that is really yanking my chain so, unlike the self-help gliders, I now offer you thanks because doling out this little nugget has me thinking “crap, now I have to do this”. And I will, in the tangible sense. In other words, I won’t post some cryptic message on Facebook or a quote that hopes to communicate my need. I will do what I am suggesting you do, call and/or write to very close and safe friends and tell them I need their support.

I hope you also do this and more than anything I hope to hear from some of you that you discover what I did years ago while walking, a trail. A place in the wild where everything falls away (success, failure, money, prestige, glamour, test scores, reject letters etc) and all you are left with is what is basic and simple, the sun on your face, the wind in your hair, and the pack on your back.

Oh, and the ability to change your pants or as in the photo above, change from shorts into pants. Being stuck in life, followed by sliding down to safety, can often lead to a serious case of tree-burn.

We’re loving hearing from you on FB and in comments but realized we needed to add e-mail also so here you go and be in touch.

Per usual, we are grateful if you wish to “like”/share to Facebook and/or Tweet.

View on the way down
View from Mt. Whitney

Wanderlust Wednesday

Today’s Wanderlust Wednesday photo essay is in conjunction with our brand new article on Telluride, Colorado and hopes to share that travel – on a dime – truly is possible even in areas with a reputation for being costly. Telluride was completely free. No charge to camp and the hiking and ghost town… well stunning and yes, FREE.

I camped it solo and after a wee bit of initial trepidation – that included an overactive imagination, engaged in ninja battles with serial killers and bears – I settled down and felt pretty embarrassed. The place can only be described as what you would envision heaven to look like. Alta Lakes sits at eleven-thousand feet and is accessed by about five miles of dirt/rock road and it is just waiting for you to put it on your list!

Feel free to pass this gem along and “like”/share to Facebook and/or Tweet.

Alta Lakes dusk

Bridge across the water
Bridge across the water
View from the former town
View from the former town

House view #2

View near the trailhead
View near the trailhead
Camping lakeside
Camping lakeside
On the trail
Ghost Town Trail
Road to the campground Alta
Road To Alta Lakes