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A Friend in the Cellar

Posted by on Mar 27, 2017 in Travel | 13 comments


Phillip and I are walking through the passage into the cellar under Monticello, when a woman coming the other direction stops us. Because she wants to take a photo. Of us. For us.


“It just looks so cool with the light filtering through the fog behind you…it’s okay…I work here,” she reassured us with that non-sequitur.

Still slightly stunned, we hand her a phone, pose for a photo, and then find ourselves in a conversation about our visit to Virginia and her work at Monticello (which does not typically involve walking around taking strangers’ photos).

Momticello window

“Have a good trip!” she calls after us when we finally part ways.

I randomly respond with “Thanks! May the Force be with you!”

She stops in her tracks. “Have you seen it?”

Of course, she means the then-newly-released Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, that had shocked fans (including us) with the death of a hero.

“Yes!” I was still moving through the stages of fictional character grief, and she just opened her arms to hug me.

The three of us stood in the passageway awhile longer, talking about the movie and the plot twist and feelings and nostalgia, and it was this beautiful moment of connection in a really unexpected location.

monticello passage by liz marshall

P.S. I just posted more about what to see at Monticello and will be posting how to tackle tickets and tour schedules later this week.

Last photo by Liz Marshall.

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Photos of 2016

Posted by on Jan 16, 2017 in Life, Travel | 10 comments

Best nine 2016

Near the end of 2015, I posted the collage of Instagram photos the Best Nine app considered my best nine. (I think they’re just the most liked.)

Looking at the collage, it didn’t feel very representative of my year, though.

So, with encouragement from Traci and others, I decided to choose one of my Instagram photos every month that felt significant or like it just fit, and then compare it to my Best Nine at the end of the year.

The photos at the top are my “best nine”, and here are the ones I chose for each month…

2016 photo collage

They don’t really overlap, except for that weather-beaten tree. I remember almost choosing some of the same ones the app did – some months had a couple photos that seemed like a good fit for that month.

I’m still on the fence about whether I want to do this again, but it is really cool to look back and see snapshots of the past year this way.

Locations of Best Nine photos (l-r, from top):

  1. Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior, AZ
  2. Seven Magic Mountains, near Las Vegas, NV
  3. Our Airbnb rental [referral discount] in Tucson, AZ 
  4. Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, NV
  5. Kehinde Wiley exhibition at Phoenix Art Museum, AZ
  6. Nothing, AZ
  7. Downtown Las Vegas, NV
  8. Barrick Museum at UNLV, NV
  9. Phoenix Chile Pepper Festival, Phoenix, AZ


My monthly photos from 2016: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December.

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January Photo: Monticello Fog

Posted by on Feb 15, 2016 in Life, Travel | 8 comments

After looking back at what an app considered my top photos from last year, I realized the app doesn’t really know my life.

So this year, I’ll be choosing one of my Instagram photos each month that speaks to where I’m at in some way and sharing it here as my own Photo of the Month.


For January, I chose this photo from the foggy day we visited Monticello during our DC and Virginia trip. Phillip and I enjoyed exploring the grounds, and the fog added a layer of romance and mystery.

Also, I find myself drawn to photos with empty seats in them. Maybe when I see this type of image, it makes me feel like there’s a place for me in the space. Maybe I take them (and post them), so you can feel like there’s a place for you in my photos too.

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People Like Deserts and Dessert

Posted by on Feb 1, 2016 in Travel | 11 comments

According to the Nine app, these were my best 9 Instagram photos last year.


I don’t know why, but I was a little surprised by the results. While I like these photos and they bring up good memories, it doesn’t feel like they sum up the year or represent the range of things I posted. It’s pretty heavy on the desert scenery.

Of course, the app doesn’t – can’t – measure those things. It just makes a collage of your photos that have the most likes.

What people like, apparently, are hot-climate plants. And whipped-cream-topped waffles.


Location of collage photos (l to r): 1. Silly Mountain Botanical Walk 2. Usery Pass Park 3. My back porch. 4.  Silly Mountain Botanical Walk 5. Cabazon Dinosaurs 6. Usery Pass Park 7. Center for Creative Photography, Tucson 8. Summer of the Waffle party 9. Tucson, before heading up Mount Lemmon

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