I finally got a chance to start looking through the images from this session and I just had to share one quick.
I think this might just be what happy looks like. Hope you experience some happy today. :)

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Here's my niece, Jocelin, showing off her fishing skills. She's so dang cute! I love this girl so much... even when she smells like stinky fish and worms. ;)


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Have I convinced you yet to check out Matt Nathanson?! Seriously. You should. His new album (Modern Love) came out a few weeks ago and it is the bomb. Ok, I never (ever) say something is "the bomb" - but it's what came to mind as I was typing this - so there you have it. :) He's so amazingly fun to see live. Tonight he was at the Electric Fetus doing a free in-store performance. He's never disappointing.

You have to stand in the aisles to watch in-store performances, so sight-lines aren't so great - which meant no shot opportunities for me during the performance. But before the show, Matt was out doing some shopping. Funny. And then the other image is just a quick shot after he performed. It was a good Wednesday night. :)


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A family I truly feel fortunate to know. And to get to photograph all their love is an honor. Thank you Kiley for turning one and giving me an opportunity to spend the morning with your family. I think of Kiley, all grown up, having these images. That makes me happy. :)

* all images copyright krysten halek photography *

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Annamay says:

I feel fortunate to know this family, too. The cuteness of the kids is killing me! My favorite picture is the one with the kiss. :)

(07.13.11 @ 12:15 AM)
2,150 miles. 7 days. 6 states. 4 hotels. Lots of BBQ. 49 mpg (thanks prius!). 1 Graceland.

When my friend Ann and I realized that we both love Elvis, a road trip to Memphis was clearly inevitable. I've been wanting to visit Graceland forever. But sadly, (before Ann) none of my friends were really that keen on visiting the home of the king. And really, you want to be at Graceland with someone who wants to be there too! So after months of planning, we hit the road.

In an attempt to organize this post, I decided to do a "Top 10". I will say, 6-10 were hard to really put in order, but here it goes...

10. Land Between the Lakes
This is a 170,000 acre National Park located in Kentucky and Western Tennessee. This was a planned stop on our way from St. Louis to Nashville. We were really looking forward to seeing the Bison. Unfortunately, we didn't see any in the area we were hoping (just wrong time of day) - so it was a little bit of a let-down. But it was still really pretty.

10lbl-3.jpg9. Branson & Arkansas Caves
When we realized that our route back home could take us through Branson... well, we couldn't resist checking it out. And it was a good stopping place to spend the night. We didn't really see much of Branson, but we did go to Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede.
(Bummer, no photos allowed in the Stampede.) They claim to be "the most fun place to eat in Branson" - and I will say it was pretty fun. It's a dinner show - mainly involving horses, singing, and the cutest little racing piglets. Oh, and lots of cheering for either the North or South - that part was a little weird. When we reserved our tickets we actually had to choose North or South. A little different. :)

08branson-1.jpgMystic Cavers - these caves in Arkansas were pretty amazing (and were literally cool ;)).
08-1caves-1.jpg08-2caves-2.jpg8. Memphis & the Peabody Ducks
Oh Memphis, while you do have Graceland, I wasn't totally feeling the love for you. I think cities have a vibe (or a feel) - and Memphis and I weren't vibing like I thought we would. But I did like you, Memphis. Beale Street wasn't quite what we were expecting either. But the Peabody Ducks lived up to our expectations. The Peabody Hotel has ducks that they parade out each morning to spend the day in the lobby fountain and then each evening they return (via the red carpet and elevator) to their sleeping area on the roof. It's quite an event, and the lobby was full the morning we were there. Those ducks were pretty cute.

09memphis-2.jpg7. St. Louis Arch
On our way down, we made an overnight stop in St. Louis. I've been to St. Louis a couple of times, but this was Ann's first visit so we made a trip up in the Arch. Although it was hot (it was St. Louis in June), it was a beautiful day and this was a fun first stop on our road trip adventure.

07st-louis-3.jpg6. Opryland Resort
You don't need to stay here to visit - it's a tourist attraction all on it's own - kind of made me think of Disney combined with a Vegas hotel. The resort is huge - big enough to take a little boat ride through. We watched the fountain show (again, I admit that I was surprisingly moved by it), we ate dinner at one of the restaurants and got to see some live music. I was starting to fall in love with Nashville a little.

06opryland-4.jpg5. Gibson Guitar Factory Tour
This was not a planned stop in Memphis, but discovered thanks to our waitress one evening. (Unfortunately, no photos were allowed inside.) While this was not Ann's favorite part of the trip :), I thought it was super cool. There is something about guitars that I love. And I was so blown-away by how much of making a guitar is still done by hand - nearly all of it. There was just something about seeing these guitars go through so many different hands, taking such care to make it beautiful and perfect. Super cool.

05gibson.jpg4. Sun Studios
While in Memphis, you can't skip touring the "birthplace of rock n' roll". This is where Elvis was discovered and first recorded. Many, many other greats, including Johnny Cash, have recorded here. So much music history here.

04sun-studio.jpg3. Nashville
So I mentioned that Memphis didn't quite have my kind of vibe, well, I think Nashville may have had that vibe. We were only there one night, so I can't quite declare love - but it's possible. I would definitely visit again to see some shows (see #2). But maybe in the fall. ;)

03nashville-2.jpg2. Grand Ole Opry & Ryman Auditorium
I was so surprised by my reaction to these two places. Sure, I was looking forward to seeing them (how can you not visit the Grand Ole Opry and the Ryman (the original Grand Ole Opry while in Nashville). But I didn't expect to be so moved by them. And I left having a little more respect for country music. It's too bad we weren't able to see a show at either place - but I imagine someday I'll be back to do so. I really, really enjoyed these tours.

Each member of the Opry has a mailbox where they can pick up fan mail whenever they stop by. We were told the letter just needs to be addressed with the musician's name and Grand Old Opry and it will get there. Kinda cool.
02ryman-3.jpgDrum roll...

1. Graceland

Of course this is number 1! Gosh, I even get a little choked up right now writing this - I think I'm just thankful that I got to finally visit. And it was cool. Was it my top place to visit ever? No. But it was a place that I've been drawn to for such a long time. To finally see it - and have it live up to my expectations of what it would feel like to be there - is a great thing. While Graceland lived up to some of my expectations, I couldn't believe how much smaller it is than I imagined. We were able to tour most everything, except no one is allowed upstairs in the house.

So amazing to me how many people come here after all these years.

The infamous "jungle room". Also not quite what I imagined.
01graceland-5.jpgBasement (check out that ceiling!), room not in the main house, backyard, Ann and me :)
Elvis created this logo (I guess that's what you'd call it) - it stands for "taking care of business". It cracks me up.
Food Highlights (yes, definitely worth mentioning):
* Banana cream pie at McEwan's on Monroe (Memphis). I love pie and this was some good pie.
* Chopped chicken BBQ sandwich at Rendezvous (Memphis). It was the best BBQ of the trip.
* Banana pudding at this little cafe we stopped at in Beaumont Arkansas. Made that part of the drive a little better. :)

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lauren waye says:

you are so cute! i learnt so much about you from this post! i love that you get choked up thinking about graceland :)xo

(07.27.11 @ 03:08 AM)