Captured: A Working Photo Series {5}

Captured: A Working Photo Series {5}

My lens for the Thousand Islands.

From Rochester, the Thousand Islands is a fun weekend getaway. With boat rides and some history, it is a beautiful gem that my family has enjoyed over the years. One of my favorite spots is Boldt Castle on Heart Island. Find out a little bit of Boldt Castle's incredible history here.

Here is my personal lens of the Thousand Islands:

Cover Image Credit: Hadassah Rivera

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.

After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

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5 Places To Road Trip From Tucson

Tucson can be boring at times, here are the top 5 places to road trip to.

Tucson can be arguably boring at times, and a lot of us get into the same rhythm of staying in. It is so important to utilize the beautiful state that we're in, and adventure as much as possible! If you don't have a car, then find a friend that you can carpool with. I promise, you will be so glad that you decided to road trip and explore our surroundings. At the end of college, I want to be able to say that I traveled all over Arizona, and experienced the best parts of nature (and I'm sure you do too)!

here are the top 5 places to road trip to:

1. Mt. Lemmon

1-hour drive from Tucson.

Okay this one can be super obvious to a lot of locals, but surprisingly a lot of students have yet to take a trip to Mt. Lemmon. It's a beautiful little microclimate, and this mountain is usually about twenty degrees cooler than Tucson, which can be an amazing getaway during the hottest days. Most people don't even know that there is a lake where you can walk, run, or even fish in!

2. Picacho Peak

41 minutes from Tucson.

Picacho Peak is an awesome place to hike, but make sure you bring sunblock and LOTS of water. There is also a cute ostrich farm where you can feed the ostriches, and even pet stingray!

3. The Grand Canyon

5 hours from Tucson.

The Grand Canyon is one of the seven wonders of the world, and it's only about a 5 hour car ride away! Definitely rent an airbnb and spend the weekend hiking, rafting, or rock climbing.

4. Seven Falls

25 minutes from the University of Arizona.

This is one of my favorite hikes in Tucson, by far! I would highly recommend going right after it rains, because that's when the falls are the fullest! Make sure you bring your swim suit, and go early because the sun is super intense.

5. Lake Pleasant

2 1/2 hours from Tucson.

This was by far one of my favorite hikes in Phoenix. My friends and I actually saw a herd of wild horses grazing, fighting, and even mating (yeah that last one wasn't the best to witness)! There is also a place where you can cliff jump, but be prepared, its a mile hike up a rocky path!

Overall, my favorite places to road trip to have been Seven Falls, Lake Pleasant, and Mt. Lemmon. I really recommend stepping out into nature. Instead of staying in and watching a movie, rather enjoy what Arizona has to offer. Arizona is a beautiful state, make sure that you don't miss out on taking an adventure whether it's in Tucson or beyond.

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