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Sublime. Wild. Otherworldly.

“There is only one road that goes to the heart of Denali, and today I’m excited to take you on this wild journey with me,” announced the park ranger cheerfully at five in the morning. We, while still wondering if it is actually five, as the summer months in Alaska are always bright, tried to match that cheerfulness with a broad smile. I, along with my family and friends, sat on the last window seat with my camera and a yellow jacket. …


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Whimsical. Pristine. Kind.

From where I stand I see uncountable stars, their faces turned toward Mount Hood in a chorus of softening light. The wind in the valley murmurs at the approach of the sun and I find myself fixed on the single small spark of Venus as the stars silently surrender to the light. The first light of day finds my eye and we are connected. Today, standing here with the mountain, the first light suddenly feels like the. first. light. and I breathe it in with both soul and senses.

I want to carry these moments with me forever, to sense them on my skin and taste them in my mouth as effortlessly as a thought.


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Photos & thoughts from the wilderness of Sierra Nevada

As the long lights of summer dim and move slowly toward the heart of fall, I find myself wandering the trails of Yosemite National Park in Northern California, caught in the middle of a conversation of colors between the seasons. It’s my second trip here and I arrive just past the tipping point. The crowds of summer are not long gone, but only an occasionally echo reminds me I’m not completely alone. The river is running low and the mountains themselves, showing fresh scars from summer wildfires, seem anxious to see the end of a thirsty season.

From my vantage, I see El Capitan, Half Dome, and Bridalveil Falls in a single camera frame — undoubtedly one of the most magnificent single frames possible in nature. In the valley below, the rising sun warms away the mists of a cool, moonlit night. I step behind the citrine yellow leaves of a nearby shrub to capture the sharp contrast of muted and vibrant colors. …


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Turquoise. Wild. Summer.

“Arh-woooooo…” I howl, echoing a call from deep within the forest on the other side of Maligne Lake. In return, a chorus of ‘Arh-wooo … arh-wooOO…’ shatters any possibility of the signal being human. It’s a pack of wolves, calling to each other as the light begins to fade under the waxing gibbous moon above Jasper National Park.

I’m certain I’m safe in the middle of the lake, but I pick up the wooden paddle and continue my return to the launch point. Wolves can’t possibly swim this far out, right? The rhythm of the paddle on the lake calms my nerves, and I spend the next two hours reminding myself not to underestimate the forces of nature that rule the Canadian wilderness. Earlier in the evening, I bought a wolf-pattern blanket when I rented the canoe. …


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Exploring a diverse slice of PNW

Surrounded by the tall Douglas-fir trees, I trek on a trail which resembles a frame from the Temple Run game. It’s seven o’clock in the evening, and a thick veil of mist has blanketed the coast. A southerly wind is blowing at the point, and the ocean isn’t as turbulent as I thought it might be.

After a few minutes of patience, the weather begins to break just enough to highlight sublime views of the surrounding sea stacks. As I gaze into the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, I see seagulls, cormorants, what I thought might have been puffins, a few other birds, and best of all, many sea otters! …


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An unplanned solo weekend adventure

I take a dip in the glacier water and begin counting my breath. After fifteen or so seconds, I come out fluttering and sit on the rock. I put my glasses aside, close my eyes to the sun, and let it warm my uncovered skin. The whole valley sings to the tune of the river.

It’s the first sunny weekend in Washington State in an age. People in the Pacific Northwest wait and live, and wait to live, moments like these. I nap on a rock in the middle of Baker River surrounded by peaks of the North Cascades. …


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From Mt. Rainier to Zion; from Glacier to Denali + many more

We all keep a checklist of must-see places, don’t we? Some keep them in a notebook with photos, while others in their desires. As summer is around the corner, it’s time to mark off some items from that list.

For those of you who are still deciding where to go, let me give colors to your list. Since the National Park Service just turned 100 years old! You can celebrate the start of second century by visiting a national park in 2017.

And take this as an opportunity to evoke your soul by experiencing the beauty and diversity of this planet. …


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From gut instinct to data driven decisions

Design is ever-evolving, and there’s value in taking small, insulated steps to reach the grand product vision. When we launched Microsoft Flow last year, most of the design decisions were made using our collective intuition and market research. We wanted to create something powerful, something useful, and then send it into the wild. To raise it up right and hope we’d instilled good survival skills.

Months later, we now have data pouring in from telemetry and user studies. It’s challenging our initial thinking in the best way; making us more aware of the opportunities to design better. For us, this is one of the most exciting phases of product development. …


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Where wonder reigns

Every day I woke up with a desire to feel the Sun. Instead, the day offered gray sky with hints of a snowstorm. The peaks of Teton were hidden, but I felt irresistibly drawn to its other glories: the purity of the wind, the promise of imminent thunder, the morning whisper of birds.

As I made my way through the curvy and snowy roads of the Tetons, the scenery reminded me of my summer in Alaska. Eminent mountains, frozen lakes, and many sightings of wild animals. Out here, I didn’t take many photos. …


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Moments from a solo 12-day train journey

My first morning in LA, I went to a restaurant and said — ‘Table for one, please’ with an excitement in my smile. They kindly offered me a seat and asked — what am I grateful for today? Feeling on the spot, I took a deep breath and replied — the time that I’m making for myself.

In life, we often chase the next big highlight or experience, but it’s the moment in between that stick with us for long. …

About

Nitish Meena

A desire to capture, to explore, and to create. Senior Designer at Microsoft, Seattle | Reach out to me nitishm@outlook.com

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