Reflections: Boulder

July 30 - August 5, 2023

On a camping trip nearly ten years ago, Drew and I met in the woods near Lake Tahoe. I was drawn to his bright smile, determined athleticism, and the way he asked questions that made people pause before responding. Since then, we've visited two more continents and dozens of cities together. Whenever I am lucky enough to travel with Drew, I deepen my understanding of the world, its people, and of myself.

Drew is a digital nomad, taking sales calls from wherever there's an Internet connection. He moves himself and his backpack to several new homes every year. Booking quality time with Drew IRL requires the stars to align and plenty of advance notice.

In late May, Drew sent me this invitation:

A Meta Messenger screenshot of Drew saying 'Want to come to Boulder this summer?'

You can imagine my instant excitement.

Two months later, I snuggled Mosby goodbye, told Liv how grateful I was to her for this opportunity, hugged her goodbye, and boarded a Southwest flight toward Denver. From there, I took a bus to Boulder, where I'd spend the next seven days with the following cast of characters:

Drew

Drew

Nicolle

Nicolle

Rebecca

Rebecca

Tim

Tim

Ronnie

Ronnie

George

George

From left to right:

  1. Drew. The connection point, the hub, the reason this happened.
  2. Nicolle. Drew's partner. Met Drew in South Africa. There, they discovered that they wanted the same things. Then, they committed to travelling the world together.
  3. Rebecca. Drew's former coworker. A triathlete and beyond, and humble about it. Has a laugh that could light up any room.
  4. Tim. Rebecca's partner. Makes a delicious oat milk latte. Wore Birkenstocks before it was cool.
  5. Ronnie. Has floppy ears. Runs 10 miles for every 5 miles her people hike.
  6. George. Enjoys licking every last morsel of peanut butter out of the jar.

My week with these humans (and puppies) changed me in ways that I'd like to share with you through words and high-resolution photographs. If you feel inspired by this story or its presentation, please reach out to me - I'd love to hear from you.

This story is organized into seven chapters, one for each of my days in Colorado. Each chapter contains a rich photo slideshow, including a privacy-minded map of where I captured the photo and the technical EXIF data (such as capture time, shutter speed, and aperture setting) associated with each image. If you're using a mobile device, tap the button at the bottom left of the slideshow to view a photo's metadata.

I'm so glad you're here. Let's explore!

Chapter Navigation

  1. July 30th, 2023

  2. July 31st, 2023

  3. August 01, 2023

  4. August 02, 2023

  5. August 03, 2023

  6. August 04, 2023

  7. August 05, 2023

The Zach Fox Photography logo looks like a fox in the shape of a camera's aperture
The Zach Fox Photography logo looks like a fox in the shape of a camera's aperture

โœจGratitudes

  • ๐Ÿค— Being greeted by people I'd never met with trust, excitement, and warm hugs
  • โšก Being around people who immediately matched my energy
  • ๐Ÿšถ Walking Pearl Street in downtown Boulder
  • ๐Ÿ“ท Taking my first great photos of Drew and Nicolle so soon after meeting them together
  • ๐Ÿซง Popping huge bubbles created by "the Bubblefarie"
  • ๐Ÿถ Meeting the doggos in their natural habitat on a beautiful hike (and watching George emerge from that culvert)
  • ๐Ÿšš Drinks, food trucks, and conversation at the Rayback Collective

๐ŸŒ‡Reflections

  • Whenever I meet someone who is a friend of a trusted friend, it's easier for me to express myself more authentically. Is there a way I can harness that ease of expression around people who are new to me where I don't already have that connection?
  • It continues to serve me to avoid setting expectations about what kind of photographs I want to take and just be, knowing that I will get what I want.
  • Bubbles are cool
The Zach Fox Photography logo looks like a fox in the shape of a camera's aperture
The Zach Fox Photography logo looks like a fox in the shape of a camera's aperture

โœจGratitudes

  • ๐Ÿฅพ The hike to Diamond Lake . This was one of my favorite hikes of all time, made better by the fact that it was lightly drizzling and loudly thundering for our hike's duration. Perfection.
  • ๐ŸŒผ Stumbling across Colorado's rare state flower, the Columbine
  • ๐Ÿ• George turning into a swamp monster

๐ŸŒ‡Reflections

The Zach Fox Photography logo looks like a fox in the shape of a camera's aperture
The Zach Fox Photography logo looks like a fox in the shape of a camera's aperture

โœจGratitudes

  • ๐Ÿ˜‹ Yummy Indian food
  • ๐Ÿคฃ THC and some Jackbox games with some folks who had never before played Jackbox games

๐ŸŒ‡Reflections

When I was a teenager, attending the Topsfield Fair was a wonderful Autumn tradition. The Fair is the USA's oldest agricultural fair, with events like tractor pulls and pumpkin decorating contests. I only really cared about the rides.

A small group of friends and I would walk around the fairgrounds dressed in oversized hoodies to stay warm in the cool twilight air. We'd share fried dough and wander the midway, riding the Gravitron and the Flying Bobs and the Pirate Ship. Our bodies weren't capable of experiencing motion sickness.

I'd load into a cage of The Zipper, my favorite ride, with someone I trusted:

The Zipper carnival ride

The Zipper at the Topsfield Fair, 2019-10-08

We'd sit there, snug, the fabric of our hoodies touching, gripping the black bars of the cage, elated with the anticipation of spinning uncontrollably.

These were magical moments for me. I felt safe, and comfortable, and confident. I felt like I was sitting somewhere I belonged next to someone who enjoyed my company and my uncontrollable laughter.

Twenty-some years later, I found myself sitting on a comfortable mattress pad in front of a television in Boulder, playing Quiplash with four close friends, the fabric of our clothing touching, uncontrollably laughing.

The Zach Fox Photography logo looks like a fox in the shape of a camera's aperture
The Zach Fox Photography logo looks like a fox in the shape of a camera's aperture

โœจGratitudes

  • ๐ŸŒป Walking around the Boulder Reservoir with Nicolle, talking about things that mattered to us

    • Drew and Rebecca ran the path we walked three times in the time it took us to walk it once. They are so fast!
  • ๐Ÿถ Watching Ronnie's floppy ears as she barrelled towards me
  • ๐Ÿ“ท Saying hi to a guy who was lugging around this huge 150-600mm Sigma lens (a lens which I own and love)
  • ๐Ÿฅฐ Watching and listening to Drew and Nicolle as they planned their next couple of travel months together. There was so much love and respect in the way they talked to each other while doing something some might consider stressful. The photos I captured of the two of them talking about this are some of my favorite from the trip.
  • ๐Ÿ’… Seeing Barbie in a mostly-full movie theatre (it was fantastic)

๐ŸŒ‡Reflections

It was on this fourth day - and on the night of the previous day - where something clicked, and I started to feel a new authenticity around my travel companions. The degree of acceptance and openness surrounding me was enough to shift and reinforce some of my thoughts around community.

I thought about the times opposite these - where I've expressed my brand of vulnerability around new people and been received in a way that didn't resonate with me, or in a way I didn't understand.

It's fantastic when someone else seems to feel as intensely as I feel, and shares experiences so openly, and wants to spend day after day after day being around me. I'm fortunate enough to have a wonderful wife who is all of those things and so much more, and she's a part of my life all the time.

Also, though, I can make room for people who don't want the same things as me at the same time or as intensely as I want them. There's room for a life-affirming vacation with my friends with whom I wish I could spend much more time. There's room for acquaintences. And there's room for folks outside and in between.

I am so lucky to have so many people in my life to whom I can say "I love you," and who will tell me that they love me.

โš ๏ธ hey. call your best friend right now and tell them you love them

The Zach Fox Photography logo looks like a fox in the shape of a camera's aperture
The Zach Fox Photography logo looks like a fox in the shape of a camera's aperture

โœจGratitudes

  • ๐ŸŒ„ Waking up and hearing Drew say "hey, the morning light in the Airstream is really nice right now, go take a look"
  • ๐Ÿฅพ Hiking with just Rebecca and the dogs and getting to know her better
  • ๐Ÿฅฐ Being around beautiful people who let me capture beautiful photos of them
  • ๐Ÿฅœ Watching George go to town on the inside of a nearly-empty peanut butter jar
  • ๐ŸŽฎ More Jackbox games on and around the couch
  • ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿคโ€๐Ÿง‘ Connecting with Tim and Rebecca's neighbors around the fire pit and sharing my photography with them
  • ๐Ÿšตโ€โ™‚๏ธ Listening to Tim talk about his mountain biking adventures from his 20s

๐ŸŒ‡Reflections

One of the fastest ways to get to know people is to confidently say out loud the things that feel scary or hard to share.

Ask genuine questions to which you want answers. Flex your curiosity muscle.

The Zach Fox Photography logo looks like a fox in the shape of a camera's aperture
The Zach Fox Photography logo looks like a fox in the shape of a camera's aperture

โœจGratitudes

  • โ›ฐ๏ธ Being surrounded by the gorgeous Flatirons (despite the sweltering heat)
  • ๐Ÿงก Getting my first tattoo! It says "grateful!" in Liv's handwriting. Four of us got gratitude-themed tattoos at the same time.
  • ๐Ÿป Driving into Denver to spend hours eating, drinking, and joking with one of Drew's friends
  • ๐Ÿฅฒ It was this night where I started to feel anxious about leaving Colorado. The next day, Saturday, was my next-to-last day before returning home. I channeled this anxiety into the last two photos in the slideshow below.

๐ŸŒ‡Reflections

  • Getting a tattoo is painful but I am so happy to have one.
  • There's magic in being around people who I think are really funny.
The Zach Fox Photography logo looks like a fox in the shape of a camera's aperture
The Zach Fox Photography logo looks like a fox in the shape of a camera's aperture

โœจGratitudes

  • ๐Ÿฝ๏ธ Having friends who understand that waiting in a big crowd for a food truck can be overstimulating for me (we went to a Vietnamese place instead and it was delicious)
  • ๐Ÿฑ My Meow Wolf experience... (More under "Reflections")
  • ๐Ÿคฏ Learning about Rebecca's father - he worked on the Apollo Lunar Module, and Rebecca broke out the LM's hardcopy manuals!

๐ŸŒ‡Reflections

Meow Wolf is an immersive art installation with four locations across the US. Meow Wolf's Denver location is the collective's largest, standing at four stories and housing 90,000 square feet of weirdness.

I knew nothing about Meow Wolf before going. We spent three hours wandering its exhausting and transformational corridors, peering into rooms filled with details at millimeter scale.

My second-favorite part about the whole experience was watching Drew and Nicolle fall more deeply in love. My first-favorite part was capturing so many of those candid moments with my camera in such a supernatural environment.

For a long time, my dream has been to travel the world with people I love and capture real emotions and thoughts and sounds and smells and tastes and feelings and sights with my camera, then share those captured moments in time with the world.

Great news! I'm doing it. I'm fulfilling a dream. I hope to do this for the rest of my life.