Sarah Eyk Photography

Ryan and Megan’s Wedding in St. George, UtahNovember 17, 2014

If you’re looking for inspiration for the ultimate Pinterest-vintage-unique styled wedding then look no further! I had the most wonderful privilege to photograph the wedding of Megan and Ryan over the weekend. It took place in beautiful St. George, Utah, which was a nice break from the Las Vegas scenery. The weather was perfect for Fall, complimented by blue skies and colorful trees. It was actually difficult to take a bad photo at this wedding. Everyone looked like they walked out of a magazine ready for a photo shoot.

Before the commotion of the day, Ryan and Megan shared an intimate first look with each other. I really enjoy these moments because it allows the bride and groom a little private moment before their big day, which is usually shared with a crowd. These two goofy souls were made for each other. Their story began with facial hair but did not start up romantically till much later after Megan gracefully dyed Ryan’s beard for Halloween. The first date consisted of frozen custard, walking around downtown, and topping the night off with Asian massages. If that isn’t true love, then I don’t know what is. If a girl brings you to Asian massages on a first date, you say yes. And if that boy says yes, he’s a keeper.

With Big Gulps in hand, we made our way to the temple. If you ever have a chance to visit a Mormon temple, take the time. The grounds were beautifully kept with lots of space, which came in handy because Saturdays are a busy time at the temple.

One last sip as separates then into the temple to become one. The wedding vows and traditions take place inside the temple in a very private ceremony without friends and family. So we all waited patiently outside the temple for their grand exit.

Things can get hectic during a wedding, especially with big families. I like the following picture and if I could title it, I would call is “Wedding Chaos.” My bride and groom were so patient throughout the day and this picture perfectly captures that.

I was delighted to know we had more time to shoot some romantic shots of Megan and Ryan after the ceremony. There’s a whole different glow in the eyes and smile on the face after the vows. Instead of excitement and jitters, the couple is more relaxed. A feeling of ease seems to fall over them in a way that the photos just get more affectionate.

And sometimes people don’t care if you just got married.

The celebration continued later in the evening at a nearby farm complete with horses, cows, llamas, goats, and of course chickens! A brilliant idea made ten times better with all of Megan’s DIY decorations. The simple accents on the table make it any Pinterest-driven bride envious. Don’t worry, once inside and lingering smells of the farm were blown away by the Waffle food truck that catered the party. Once everyone had their fill of waffles and mingling, the party moved upstairs to a wall-less dance floor. The night sky wrapped everyone up and gave it a look of it’s own private dance club. Before the wind picked up, plenty of boots were stomping and hips were swinging.

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Hitching to YosemiteJune 18, 2014

On the morning of June fourteenth, Mike and I were packing our bags for some rock climbing. We grabbed a few snacks, filled up water bottles, and debated who would lead and clean the routes. After we lightly packed our bags for our day adventure up to Mt. Charleston, we drove over to pick up our friend, Lori. All three of us loaded into Mike’s Dodge Avenger, we were off for the day!

As we came upon the on ramp for the 95 northbound, we saw a hitchhiker. We noticed he had a big travel bag, one backpackers might use on long excursions, and also a tent by his side. With a sign that just said, “95N,” we asked him where he was headed. In a thick French accent, the guy said, “Yosemite.” Amazed at this endeavor we offered to take him as far as we were going, which was maybe a mile or two up the road. He said sure and got in the car. His name was Yann. Now to a hitchhiker, one mile is one less mile to be traveled so he probably thought it was a good idea to move forward with us. Unfortunately for him, where we had to drop him off was basically in the middle of nowhere. We felt bad for our poor judgement and lack of mileage we provided. As a last stitch effort to help him as much as I could, I gave him the seven bucks I had in my purse. He thanked us all and got out. Mike, Lori, and I made it about a minute up the road before we turned the car around to rescue Yann from the desert heat. We thought, “Maybe we can’t take him very far but we could at least buy him a plane ticket to get to his friend in San Francisco.” What a brilliant plan, we thought.

We pulled our car up to Yann and he recognized our smiling faces. Delighted with our gesture of buying him a plane ticket, we offered it to him. He laughed and shook his head, once again thanked us and said no thanks. He explained that this was his adventure, to hitchhike and make it across the country. See, he had started in Montreal and was planning his way across the States (and eventually down to South America). Now, we were blown away at this new revalation. Here is this French bloke, following this crazy dream to see the world in an uncommon fashion and along the way make friends with locals or natives. Seeing as he wouldn’t take our plane ticket and we sure as hell couldn’t drive all the way to California from Las Vegas, we offered to take him off the highway back to his prime spot near the on ramp. Yann hopped in the car and we drove him back the couple of miles. Truly amazed at this guy, we gave him good wishes and again left him.

Now right about now, Mike, Lori, and I are reveling in the fact this guy came across our path. None of us have ever picked up a hitchhiker before and here we all were experiencing this for the first time together. Not only was this hitchhiker an awesome traveler but he had amazing dreams.. dreams just like ours. We were on our way back up to Mt. Charleston, making it almost half way up the mountain debating what to do next. We felt bad just leaving him there (for the second time) and we couldn’t imagine anyone picking him up to drive him north on the 95- which has nothing for miles upon miles in that direction. Maybe we were psyching ourselves up or trying to convince ourselves something we already knew we wanted to do. We wanted to help him. We did some calculations.. should we go to Yosemite, what about work, dinner plans with the family, did we have enough money, we all just got paid, we’re always looking for adventure, why not now, why not Yann, do we have the right gear, should we bring a tent, do you want to go? Cue the brakes and flip the car around.

It’s a hot day in Vegas, the sun is shining, a police officer nearby keeps him weary of holding his sign up. Hitchhiking is sometimes illegal in states, some police will write you up or just tell you to move on. After driving the half hour back into town, we see Yann right where we left him. Stoked that no one else picked him up and eager for the light to turn green so we could hurry on over to him. Now, for the third time we pull up to Yann and shout to him, “Get in dude, we’re going to Yosemite.” His face was priceless. His brow furrowed and I could see a confused smile beginning to form. He probably thought he was delusional from the heat that these three crazy Americans were back. He grabbed his gear and ran over to the car. I felt he might’ve been weary getting in the car with us again but he hopped in without hesitation. He began to ask us questions like what are you doing and where will you sleep?  Well we didn’t really think about that part, we were only convinced of one thing and that was to get him to Yosemite. We did though ask him if it was okay if we swung back to Lori’s house to grab a couple of things. Of course he complied and I think he began to feel that this was really going to happen. These three indecisive kids were going to drop everything they had going on with their lives and drive seven hours north. Sure, it was a bit out of the way from Mt. Charleston but this guy needed to get there and we could fulfill that need.

After getting a few items from the house and grabbing an In N Out burger with Lori’s parents, we were off. This was it. It had been decided we were going to do this and we couldn’t turn back now. Now we were all settled into the car and began to learn more about our new friend, Yann.

An adventurous spirit, Yann was from France. A local ski instructor from the Alps, Yann took his time off in the summers to travel. He had been going this style of hitchhike traveling for a few years now. This trip in North and South American was his longest yet, a total of four months on the road. Starting in Montral, Canada and hopefully ending in Peru. Along the way he was meeting up with his fellow Frenchman, a girl who was also a ski instructor back in the Alps. She was working in a bakery in San Francisco and was planning to meet up with him in Yosemite at the infamous Camp Four. He wasn’t planning to do much rock climbing while in Yosemite, maybe just a bit of bouldering. He was though in fact an alpinist, so he is no stranger to exploration. He showed up pictures of his travels, told us about his family and two sisters, and explained why he chose hitchhiking as a way of transportation. He always would save up enough money in case he ever needed to buy a plane ticket but he thought that route was too easy. By hitchhiking, it would allow him to meet many people from all walks of life. The longest time he had spent with someone was about twenty-three hours from Ohio to Nebraska. It is a strange concept to live.. having to restart every couple of hours with someone new. Its a refreshing idea nonetheless and I was impressed with him ability to do so. He is no stranger to the idea of hitchhiking and he understood what it takes to be successful at it. He is always clean shaven, at any point cleans and showers up before hopping back on the road, and even has a prepared slideshow to explain who is/where he is from. Impressive.

The conversation never got too deep. We talked lightly about family, hobbies, and music. Shared pictures of our travels and our homes. As we approached closer to Yosemite, Mike, Lori, and I realized how unprepared we really were. We stopped at a gas station and picked up some food and drinks to help us through the night. We were planning to camp once we reached a destination worthy of camping at. There were a few campgrounds inside the national park that had availability. We decided to go forth with that idea since it was getting dark. The four of us shared a nice dinner of salami, cheese, bread, and chips. Mike even bought Yann a nice craft beer to wash down his dinner. After bidding bonne nuit (goodnight in French) we tried to make the best of the next seven hours. Now, by camping, what I mean to say is balled up in a car and trying to sleep comfortably. Yann had set up his tent and sleeping arrangements just fine. The three of us were left in the car with limited blankets, limited space, and limited comfort. The temperature also dropped.. by forty-five degrees. We fell asleep just fine but around 2:30am is when it was uncomfortably cold and uncomfortably uncomfortable. I looked at the clock counting down each minute thinking if I just made it through the night, the next day would be awesome.

With maybe a few hours of sleep in our bodies, we woke early at five am. The moon was still shining through our fogged up windows. We were advised to make it to camp four early in the morning to have better odds of securing a camp spot. Bright, early, and pretty chilly, we all woke to the sound of birds chirping. A quick brush of the teeth and we were off. We drove the winding road in Yosemite with no other traffic. Not a car was spotted in our route to camp four. Yosemite is the Disneyland of national parks. Its crowded roads are packed to the brim with tourist busses, rangers, climbers, and city folk looking to escape the hustle and bustle. But that Sunday morning was peaceful, calm, and sunny as ever. At one point we even made it to the tunnel view, the infamous Ansel Adams spot overlooking the valley. The big walls were silhouetted by the rising sun, a light fog drifted over the meadows below, and only one other car was in the parking lot. All I thought to myself was how rare this moment was to have completely to ourselves. The park was ours at that moment.

We arrived at camp four. This specific camp within Yosemite is notable with rock climbers and a huge part of our history. After World War 2, it became the hangout spot for the big wall climbers. In the sixties and seventies, legendary climbers began to flock this area as their campsite before they climbed El Cap. It was surreal to be there and walk through the camp. Although now the camp can sometimes be filled with non-climbers, it is small enough that most people there are the dedicated few. Slacklines were set up and Lori and I had a bit of fun playing on those while Yann and Mike waited in the forming line near the front.

At this point, we parted ways with Yann. He was the reason we were standing on that sacred ground, the whole reason we were even in Yosemite that weekend. This wasn’t a trip about being prepared with the right gear. This wasn’t a trip for us to go climbing. This wasn’t a trip on our agenda. This impulsive trip had one mission and that was to get Yann to Yosemite. Simple as that. We drove this goofy Frenchman seven hours to get him there and we were so thankful for him. I’m sure he was thankful for us, too. Even that morning he couldn’t believe we were all still there with him.

We filled our afternoon in Yosemite with hiking and exploring, but first of course we had to stop and get some souvenirs. Surely no one would believe this story if we at least didn’t have a keychain to prove it. The park also had an Ansel Adams museum which I absolutely loved. That guy had it made back in the day with no one else in the park. How beautiful Yosemite must have been without the traffic and loads of people. On another note, the well water in Yosemite is pure gold. I never understood when Mike would say our water in Nevada is hard, but once I drank from the fountain of purity I was in disbelief. There is no other way to describe that water than pure, light, and smooth. We stocked up on said water and began our hike to the bottom of El Cap.
It didn’t take long until we were at the base of this monstrosity of a wall. Pictures truly do not do it justice. You cannot fathom is size until you see it in person. We stood across the street from it in the meadow trying to crane our necks up looking for any climbers on the wall. We spotted two parties near the top. No surprise, the groups either slept on the wall that night and were just finishing up or started in the early hours of the morning when we were still freezing asleep in the car. You could barely spot their tiny bodies on the wall without help from the zoomed in camera, even then it was almost impossible. We decided to get closer to the wall and find the beginning of the route to The Nose. We found a nice ledge to hang out on and soak in the views. It was quiet where we were. No other humans were around, the traffic was far enough away to not be bothering us, occasionally we might here a climber yelling to his partner which was music to our ears. We looked up some pictures of climbers back in the sixties and seventies standing on the same ledge we were on. The same tree was still there, the same rocks, nothing had changed in all these decades. To stand where they stood gave us this weird connection and motivation to come back and also climb.
After spending substantial time on the ledge taking pictures, hanging out, and eating some snacks, we decided to get moving. We wanted to head back to the tunnel view before leaving Yosemite to make our trek home. The tunnel view now mid-day compared to that morning was packed. Buses were packed to the brim, tourists in every spot trying to all capture that same famous view of the valley. We all sat there for awhile soaking it in knowing we would be back in Vegas that night. We all made the promise to come back. Soon.
Another short story really quick. On our way out of the park, we were headed back to our exit on the other side of the grounds and MIke spotted yet another hitchhiker. Mike was on his high of picking up Yann still and made the decision to pull over the car and pick this kid up. He was only going up the road, back to where we had camped, so it wasn’t going to be a long trip again. This goofy kid from Portland was a worker up at the campground’s restaurant. A climber also, he had moved here to work and climb as much as he could. His stench of cigarettes and cheap King Cobra beer was a bit off putting but he was just a young kid out here following his dreams. After we dropped him off, we had the realization that not every hitchhiker would be as cool as Yann.
We lucked out the first time around with this cool dude from France. If it wasn’t for Yann, we would have never had the guts to make a trip like that. It was impulsive, maybe even stupid or dangerous, but it was easily a top ten moment in my life. You always read epic stories about people doing crazy things like this and now we have that story. I look forward to tell this story to my grandkids. I still cannot believe we just did that with no reservations. Thanks to Yann’s dreams of traveling, he pushed us to follow our own goals. To stop asking for permission or wondering about the what ifs. We just went. Because we wanted a story and now we have one.

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