New Year, Same Start by Londen Wheeler

Happy New Year, everyone!  Man, I tell ya.  What a start to the New Year!  This year started off exactly like it did last year.  James Madison University (JMU) came down to compete in this year's NCAA DI FCS Football Championship game against North Dakota State University (NDSU).  But before I talk about this crazy game, let's talk about an event that transpired the day before the game!

My good friend, Scott came down to photograph the game so you know we had to get together and hit the road.  Thursday night, Scott asked me if I wanted to go to Waco and visit Magnolia.  You know Magnolia!  The Magnolia from HGTV?  Yes, Magnolia!  I had no idea what Magnolia was and HGTV wasn't my first choice when it comes to watching tv.  I happily agreed to take the trip down since I have never been to this Magnolia.  Come to find out, last year when I photographed JMU softball at Baylor, I stayed in a hotel right down the street from Magnolia and still had no idea where or what it was.  Seeing this place was pretty neat.  I posted to my Snapchat and within 2 minutes of posting, I had several friends send me a message saying how jealous they were of me being there. 

Scott and I walked around the store so that he could pick up something for his wife and while we did that, I was taking in the ambience of this place.  It was certainly a place I would want to visit the next time I go to Baylor.  Maybe even take a friend or two and do a photoshoot there?

So Saturday was the big day and probably one of the most exciting events to add to my list of crazy things to happen in 2018.  JMU, looking for a back-to-back win, while NDSU was fighting to reclaim their title.  A nail-biting game to say the least.  I was shooting and trying to keep my emotion out of the game but could find myself actually getting stressed at almost every point in the game.  I didn't go to JMU, never taken a class there, but I am a self-proclaimed, die-hard JMU Dukes fan!  Don't @ me.

Ok, so not only was the game super exciting to shoot, I also got to photograph Terrell Owens!  Like, the Terrell Owens.  You know, T.O.  It was a pretty good day, other than the loss.  Lots of excitement, lots of photos, and even getting to spend some time with the FCS's best photo team!  Big thanks to Cathy for getting the squad back together for another year of photos, laughs, and love.

Land of Enchantment by Londen Wheeler


What’s up, everyone!  It’s been a solid three months since my last post but I’m back!  I took a little break from photography and is now back with some new “bangers” as the young folks call it.

So this weekend, my friends Kelsey, Natassia, Leo and I decided that we would take a road trip and go to Albuquerque, New Mexico for some hiking and exploring.  We faced some adversities with my work schedule changing and week before we were supposed to leave, our Airbnb host canceled our booking unexpectedly.  So, we scrambled for a couple of days to make sure we could still make this trip after we spent two months planning and being excited.

Friday comes and we’re excited to finally be leaving.  We loaded up the car and hit the road towards New Mexico.  Being in the car with friend’s for 10+ hours is a good way to test a friendship but I have to say, I enjoyed every second of the ride with my squad.  We literally talked about everything you can talk about.  From politics to “oh my gosh, what is that? It’s an alien coming to abduct us, don’t worry.”

We arrived in Albuquerque around 7pm Mountain Time. Talk about a long drive, right? Feeling exhausted and with a painful headache, I jumped into my bed with shoes on and all.  Kelsey and Natassia brought me some pain killers to relieve my horrible headache and that’s really all I remember from that point. I guess I was so tired from the drive, working full time, and barely sleeping the night before that I was just worn out.  I woke up the next morning feeling super refreshed and ready to start the day.  We got dressed, planned our day and hit the road.  About an hour and a half away from Albuquerque is this place called Tent Rocks.  We hiked to the very top of Tent Rocks (around 6,700 feet above sea level) and was taken back by its beauty.  You could see the six to seven million-year-old layers of rock all around and it is just crazy to think about how long these mountains have been here.  On our way down from the mountain, we came across two runners who passed us to run to the top.  By the time we were halfway down the mountain, the two runners sped past us.  Now, as a former runner, I was out of breath and struggling in the altitude but these runners ran past us smiling like it was nothing.  Like, what?!

Later that evening, we drove about 30 minutes through Albuquerque and arrived at the Sandia Peak Ski & Tramway.  First of all, I had no idea what I was in for.  I thought it was going to be a chill tram ride… No.  We were suspended thousands of feet in the air overlooking Albuquerque for about 10 minutes.  I know I looked pretty cool on the outside but me on the inside was screaming and shouting the entire time.  Once we got to the top, you could literally see for miles.  We were standing about 10,000 feet above sea level which is the highest I’ve ever been outside of an airplane.  The temperature felt like fall time in Virginia.  If it feels like that in August, I can only imagine what it feels like come December.  I’m sure the temperature is easily in the negatives. Still worth the view I'm sure!

Sunday comes and we wake up for one final push to explore Santa Fe which is an hour or so from Albuquerque.  We arrive in Santa Fe and it is literally one of the coziest downtowns I have ever been in.  I didn’t feel that hustle and bustle of normal downtowns in other cities that I’ve been to.  Definitely a place where I can see myself living.  Santa Fe had a unique spirit and I felt like a local walking around.  We got to experience the shops, the outdoor flea markets, and an awesome outdoors art exhibit.  One of the really cool things about walking around Santa Fe was hearing Native American languages being spoken.  I’m 23 years old and has never heard a Native American language in person.  Beautiful is an understatement.  The people I came in contact with were amazing, I felt the tranquility in the air, and I honestly felt refreshed again.  They weren’t kidding about New Mexico being the Land of Enchantment because by the time I left, my spirit was overflowing with joy and peace, even when things around me weren’t.

After spending a couple of hours in Santa Fe, we loaded up and started our trek back to Dallas.  We got into Dallas around 11:30 on Sunday night and of course, no matter the time of day, you will be stopped on a 75mph highway in traffic.  Never fails.

Special Shoutout

I do want to give a special shoutout to Kelsey for reaching out to me and inviting me to go on this trip.  It was truly something magical and the bond that I made with these three amazing individuals will be lifelong.  Let’s plan another trip soon, guys!  Cali and the mountains of Colorado are calling my name now!


Neighborhood Basketball by Londen Wheeler

On my way home, I pass this park every day but for some reason I told myself to look over towards the basketball court today.  So I looked over and saw a bunch of guys playing this heat... So kudos to them for being out there and not passing out like I would've done.  But the guys were all very welcoming and cool to be around.  Some of them asked me if I was shooting for someone big which was a big "no" from me.  I explained that I did a lot of sports photography in my college days and that I needed to get some extra practice for what I have planned for this week.  I definitely need to get my eyes back into the swing of catching action so this was the next best thing for some extra practice.  Also, it's been four months since I last shot with my 1D Mark III so I had to dust that bad boy off and get some shots with it.

Some of the guys actually enjoy going to Downtown Dallas and doing shoots so I can't wait to link up with them and head down to Dallas for some street photography.  These are the moments that I live for.  Making these connections and getting to know people that I wouldn't normally make an effort to reach out to.  After being at work since 5:30 in the morning, that's the last thing I want to do is interact with people but today was different.  Maybe next time I see the fellas out there playing ball, I may just join them.  Don't know how well that would turn out since my soccer and track running skills don't cross over to basketball very well. *inserts wide eye emoji*

I would write more but I'm feeling a nap coming on! 

Also, can y'all believe we're halfway through the month of May? I swear it was just April last week!!  Where is the time going?!  Another thing, guys!  I'm interested in know what you all listen to on a daily basis!  If you have a Spotify account, feel free to send me a playlist or two or comment your favorite songs below.  I've been listening to a lot of Spanish music lately so I'm sharing one of my playlists with you guys!