ART SHOW ANNOUNCMENT!!

Not too long ago I had a meeting with a good friend of mine whom I have worked with on countless occasions over the past several years. We have been throwing an idea around that is finally coming to fruition. 
With that.... I am very excited to announce that I have been given the amazing opportunity to show 25+ pieces & prints of my personal art at Parkwood Studios Sept 7th, 2018 from 6pm-10pm! This will be the first of many First Friday art shows at this location, because First Friday isn’t just a location, its a way to celebrate and show support to your local creatives monthly! 
There will also 9 other artists and photographers, Andrew Millet and his band mates playing acoustic live music and light snacks/refreshments provided by the artists. 
What makes this particular location even more special is that I have modeled here countless times and have grown quite comfortable in this environment. That means I should be completely relaxed and at ease when discussing my art with all those who are so kind as to show up!   
Words truly cannot begin to describe my excitment over this opportunity!! In the past I have only been able to show between 2-5 peices, but this will be a game changer!  I have been waiting for this since I was just a little girl and I’m extatic that it’s finally happening! I just know this is the beginning of an amazing artististic adventure!
Who would have known modeling would lead me back down the path to my artwork and this absolutely perfect opportunity!? As Steve Jobs once said, “You cannot connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwords.”    
Things are all coming together. ^_^   
So please; mark the date, share with your friends, and come support/mingle with local creatives!! I look forward to seeing you there!! 

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'Taking Flight' Aurora's 3rd Annual Sketchbook

After months of organizing and arranging a  year's worth of sketches and doodles; it's finally here! My 3rd annual sketchbook! 

This one is in color and full of new digital art! That's right, I finally overcame the 'digital disconnect'. For those who follow me on Patreon, you know that was a bit of a struggle for me.
I am also pleased to announce my good friend/fellow model Percolate was awesome enough to pull out her incredible poses specifically for this sketchbook! You will see her dynamic posing,  dramatically lite by Scottsdale photographer Michael Luna.
BUT That's not all! The cover, centerfold and back cover were taken by photographer Scott Chaffee of Oak Imagery in a beautiful cotton field at sunset. It was such an incredible shoot with endlessly amazing captures! I just had to include them!! Working in my cute woodland critters was such a blast! 
Overall, I am very pleased and cannot wait to share this with you to help lift your spirts and transport you to a whole new world!
MY WORLD!! 

Limited & Numbered: 50 total run. 
Preorder Available! Get yourself a low #!
Paypal $30 to dmobrien88@gmail.com to reserve your copy while supplies last! Sketchbooks will be available at Phx Comic Fest, but once they are gone, they're gone. 

Special thanks to photographers for allowing me to combine our art! 
http://mlpscottsdale.com
http://www.scottchaffee.com

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The Hidden AZ Hanging Gardens

AURORA THE EXPLORER DOES THE HIDDEN AZ HANGING GARDENS Strawberry, AZ 

Length: 5 miles round-trip approx: 5-6 hrs
Difficulty:  Moderate  3/5
Elevation: Approx: -550 feet
Directions: Take the I17 N & exit Camp Verde "US260" Head east on US260. Then make a right at mile marker 142. Continue on FS142 till you come to a T in the road, then go left on FR142B. At the Y stay left. Continue on this road till you reach the canyon edge. Then, look for the staked rocks as markers.
Best suited for high-clearance vehicles.
Dogs Allowed: Not Recommended
Best Times. April-August
Horses Allowed: No
Camping. Yes, definitely recommended. 

Let me just start by saying, this is by far my most favorite hike to date! It has just the right amount of adventure, beauty, and obstacles to make for a truly amazing day trip! 
For starters, you must have a 4x4 high clearance vehicle to make it here. The trail is a rocky one and quite an adventure in itself! Of course once you get to the trailhead, you forget completely about the ride in.
You start off right at the edge of the canyon with a breath- taking view! You then seek out the stacked rocks, and make your way down the narrow trail. Be aware it is incredibly steep and the rocks are covered in sand and dirt so please proceed with caution. 

Once you reach the bottom, I recommend you make a marker of where you came out at. You certainly don't want to miss your exit on the way back. From here, just follow the stream. Water shoes are a must here; along with a waterproof bag and a floaty of some sort is recommended. For as you make you way upstream, the canyon walls begin to close in around you and there is only way thing left to do; swim. 

Now, that wasn't the only part you have to swim across to get the magical, 'Hanging Gardens'. There are several more...somewhere between 8-10 depending on water levels. Don't worry, the experience is absolutely incredible! Being out in the middle of no where, swimming in in the crystal clear water, surrounded by the red canyon walls...golly here is thinking like it! It's just so surreal. 
PLEASE NOTE: This is absolutely NOT the place you want to be during a flash flood. There would literally be no escape so urge you to please check the weather report before making this trip! Also, this water is very cold so do not even attempt this during the winter months unless you have a full wetsuit. Moving on...

My recommendation is to bring a cheap inflatable tube or 2 to haul your stuff and/or yourself across. I wore flippers to give me speed and so I could look underwater, but there wasn't much to be seen below the surface.
You just have to keep moving along upstream...don't get discouraged like I did. It took my 3 attempts to find this place, and when I turned the corner  and was greeted with this view...
 

This makes it all worth while. There aren't to many people  in the world who get to see a place like this. A true oasis in the desert. Words cannot even begin to describe it! I bathed under the falls, swung from the rope swing, and swam in the cave...I will never forget this amazing journey! It is not easy, but it is SO worth it! 

Please PM me for questions/comments. 

Devils Bridge

AURORA THE EXPLORER does Devils Bridge Sedona, AZ

Length: Approx 2 miles round trip from the Devil's Bridge parking area (4x4 vehicle required) Approx: 1.5hrs. 4 miles round trip from the parking area on Long Canyon Road, 6 miles from the Dry Creek Vista parking area.
Difficulty:  Moderate  2.5/5
Elevation: Approx 400 feet
Directions: Head to Sedona, Arizona. Continue through Sedona to Dry Creek Road (FR152) at the west end of town. Turn right on Dry Creek Road and drive for two miles to where FR152 forks and take the right fork (leaving the paved road). It is best suited for high-clearance vehicles. It is not recommended during wet weather. About 1.3 miles up this road, turn right to Devil's Bridge Trailhead and parking lot. 
Dogs Allowed: Yes (on a leash)
Best Times. Apri-May and September-November
Horses Allowed: Not Recommended 

Now this is a place I truly cannot recommend enough! I also cannot stress the importance of getting here nice and early. This is a very popular trail and people travel from all across the world just to see this iconic landmark! It is the largest natural sandstone arch in Sedona and the hike to get there is just beautiful. 
If you do not have a 4x4 vehicle to park in the Trailhead parking lot, I recommend bringing a mountain bike to shave some time off the beginning half of the hike. It just looked a bit dull to me. Also there is not much shade along the way so don't forget a hat, sunscreen and plenty of water.

 Family makes every adventure more fun! Also, if my 67 year old uncle pictured about can do it, so can you! 

Family makes every adventure more fun! Also, if my 67 year old uncle pictured about can do it, so can you! 

The hike itself is quite pleasant and there is much to see along the way so be sure to take your time and enjoy each and every moment! It's not about the destination folks, it all about THE JOURNEY! 
The red rock formations are breath-taking and the steep, natural rock staircase (pictured left) is quite fun to admire & maneuver. It is also the most difficult part of the trail & should be treated with extreme caution. Bear in mind, this hike is only 1.8 miles round trip so "just keep swimming", drink lots of water, take breaks to admire your surroundings and you'll have absolutely nothing worry about! You can dooooooo it! 
After you make your way towards the top, the trail opens up & you are greeted by a KILLER view worthy of some picture taking! (as shown above) 

Keep going, and you'll reach yet another level area that leads directly to the epic destination; Devil's Bridge. Your jaw will likely drop, this is perfectly natural. Just let it happen and prepare to take a walk on the wild side. 

The bridge in it's thinnest part is approx 4-5 feet across so don't get yourself too worked up. I actually did a cartwheel here, and while I do not recommend it as it is a LOOONG way down, I can't help but seek that added adrenaline rush. Now that you are here, take moment to enjoy it and explore, then pull out your camera and document this amazing moment! YOUR VICTORY!! Once you are satisfied and rested up, its time to make your way down with CAUTION. Those natural steps are covered in loose gravel and sand making it easy to loose your footing.
If this wasn't enough adventure for you and your feeling good about seeing more, then just keep en eye out on the way down for the trail that leads you just BELOW the bridge! 

 What a view! I highly recommend following the trail that leads below the bridge! Just beware of bees on the way. 

What a view! I highly recommend following the trail that leads below the bridge! Just beware of bees on the way. 

Here you'll get an interesting perspective and even encounter a great opportunity for some mild rock climbing (pictured below) if you are into that sort of thing. All in all, this is an absolute must for anyone interested in a fun and unique adventure that you will likely remember for a lifetime! Happy exploring fellow adventurers! 

 Just doing some rock climbing... Can you find me? 

Just doing some rock climbing... Can you find me? 

Please PM me for any questions or concerns. 

West Fork Canyon Trail

AURORA THE EXPLORER does the West Fork Trail Sedona, AZ 

Length: 6.4 miles round-trip approx: 2-3.5 hrs
Difficulty:  Easy-Moderate  3/5
Elevation: Approx 400ft (from 5,320 to 5,660ft)
Directions: 17.5 miles south of Flagstaff (9.5 miles north of Sedona) on paved roads in scenic Oak Creek Canyon. Drive south 17.5 miles south from Flagstaff or north 9.5 miles from Sedona to about halfway between milepost 385 and 384. The trailhead is on the west side of the highway down a paved lane that leads behind a few creekside houses. Park at the Call O' The Canyon day-use area.
Dogs Allowed: Yes (on a leash)
Best Times. Late March - Early September
Horses Allowed: No.

The "Call of the Canyon Recreational Area"

  • Open 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Day-use: $10 per vehicle (up to 5 people)
  • Walk-in, bicycle, bus: $2 per person
  • Passes: The Big Three Pass or the Grand Annual Red Rock Pass will be accepted here for entry to the site. 
 The view while crossing the first bridge. Just look at those colors!  

The view while crossing the first bridge. Just look at those colors!  

The West Fork trail in Sedona is a sensational trail that offers a beautiful & relaxing way to beat the heat and give you some truly awe-inspiring sites. Before we get started, let me point out that this is a VERY popular trail with limited parking. I highly recommend you arrive no later than 9:15a to ensure a spot! Info on parking and fees, can be found above.  
When you first start off on the trail you can admire how fairytale forest-like it seems. In the spring migrating songbirds gather here & offer a lovely opportunity for bird watching and listening. One of the first things you will come upon is the beautiful Oak Creek bridge! You can get an absolutely amazing view of the clear creek below.
(As seen on the left)
 Then make your way to the burnt down structures of Meyhew's Lodge. Fun Fact: The first cabin at the site was built by Charles “Bear” Howard in 1870. This place is such a joy to explore! I love imagining what it must have been like to live there & how amazing it looked in it's day. 
 Once you have had your fill explorering the ruins & admiring the beauty of the towering canyon walls looming above, you continue your journey to the creek. Head upstream along sandy trails and be prepared to cross over approx thirteen times. The crossings are relatively simple & even refreshing.  

 The walls along the creek something else! 

The walls along the creek something else! 

 Looking up at the canyon walls towering above, providing shade. 

Looking up at the canyon walls towering above, providing shade. 

Head upstream along sandy trails and be prepared to cross over approx thirteen times. The crossings are relatively simple & even refreshing as long as it didn't rain recently causing water levels to rise. I def recommend water-shoes or waterproof shoes either way. 

 One of the last creek crossings was my favorite. You get the canyon walls, red rock, the beautiful creek & plenty of beauiful green all about! 

One of the last creek crossings was my favorite. You get the canyon walls, red rock, the beautiful creek & plenty of beauiful green all about! 

On the last leg of this pleasant hike, you will run into a, incline of stepping stones, which is simple but may feel moderate nearing the end. Soon after that, you reach the end. The trail will come to canyon walls that close in on you. This is a great time to get some pics, eat lunch, admire how the water has created all the beautiful walls around you. .
From this point, the hike is very challenging, wet and requires an overnight stay.  Please PM me if you re interested in contunueing beyond this point.

 Family makes every adventure more fun!

Family makes every adventure more fun!

 The end of the trail. Such beautiful walls!! <3 One day I will continue forward,

The end of the trail. Such beautiful walls!! <3 One day I will continue forward,