Social media accounts and local news sites have been abuzz with the word for the past month; the once every so often gorgeous outpouring of flowers driven by a wet winter.
“I wouldn’t drive it to California or anything…” my neighbor said with a chuckle.
I wouldn’t find the humor and irony in this until I was packing up my ‘new’ 1986 Volvo (with 300k+ miles on the odometer) for my drive down the coast. Seattle to LA.
"What a beautiful day!"
An older man dressed in head to toe Helly Hansen rain gear and xtra tuffs, the unofficial uniform for southeast Alaska, said with a smile as we passed on the dock. It was pouring rain, and it wasn’t meant to be ironic. I smiled. “Sure is.” There was no wind today, and a day without wind is a nice day when you're out on the water.
It felt so good to be back in Alaska. Theres something recharging about where you grew up. For me, I usually find that rejuvenation in the forest or on the rocky beaches of the northwest, but even being in the frozen landscape of Nome, AK was energizing.
A while back I helped my buddy, and fellow photographer, Andrew, with some images for marketing an upcoming brewery project he has in the works. We spent the day out on the olympic peninsula playing in the waves and drinking beer.
Another road trip for Edible Seattle - this time to Olympia to cover Oysters and Beer. If you have the chance to check out Chelsea Farms in Olympia, do it. Delicious oysters and a nice space. Chef Austin was passionate and accommodating. Look forward to getting back down there for more delicious bivalves.
I can't believe it's been a year already since Drew and I were in Nepal. As memories often do, it feels like it was in another lifetime, but also, not so long ago. It's amazing how just one week of time can have such a large impact on your memory. I think back to this trip on a regular basis.
One day we would find ourselves haggling over scarves in Thamel and the next day we would find ourselves in the belly of the UN building conducting interviews on Nepal's slow reconstruction after the earthquake one year earlier. What a complicated subject. What a complicated place.
Recently, writer Megan Hill and I took a road trip down to Long Beach, Washington. We met with Carol, David and Phill and went on a crab catching adventure for Edible Seattle. It was a great time of sitting in the sun, having some drinks, and at the end of the day, feasting on the days catch of Dungeness Crab.
Before this trip, I had no idea that casting for crabs was even a thing. Thanks for the education, and the good times!
It's not always work. I grabbed a couple of my closest friends, some canoes, and a bunch of snacks and we headed to Diablo Lake for a multi day bachelor party / canoe trip. Despite the howling winds, whitecaps, and pouring rain, we had a fun-filled couple days. Ultimately, the weather would let up on the last day and we'd have a sunny end to our trip.
Spain... Spain was amazing. Strangely, one of the highlights was a city. Usually I enjoy a large city for a day or two but am soon ready to break away and get out into the country. Barcelona was different. I couldn't really put a finger on it - why I felt so at peace there - but when it came time to leave, I wanted to stay.
Excited to see a story I shot for Edible Seattle show up in the mail. I recently took a road trip down to the Hood Canal to shoot Alderbrook Resort and Chef Josh Delgado. It was dumping rain the entire time but Josh was a champ and humored me in the elements.
Fireworks never get old... I mean, I've been lighting sparklers off since about as early as I can remember. Somehow though, still fun. This year we spent New Years Eve shooting sparks off into the sky behind my parents place in Sequim. The flashy lights and big bangs bringing Ohhhs and Ahhhs from the crowd of four...
Hooch's first stop after Richie and Cassie adopted him was my dinky studio atop a garage in Santa Barbara. He was tiny - couldn't make it up the stairs, onto the couch, off the couch, or very far in any direction. I was in charge of his first hours in his new family. We sat and ate tuna out of the can in my unfurnished kitchen. Since he was a pup, he's attacked every back door doorknob in every house Richie and Cassy have lived - eaten through several doors, destroyed more than one car interior, pulled the blinds off of any window near the couch, and pretty much destroyed any world he's lived in... but he's always done it with such a sweet temperament. He was one of the most gentle dog's I've ever met.
"The flight is very full, so please check any carry ons you don't need" the ticket agent kept announcing over the loudspeaker. Flying standby is stressful. There is only one flight from LA to Mexico City on AK air every day, and its at 12:10am. We stood near a trash can in the middle of the boarding area watching the standby list grow and the paying passengers board, oblivious to the stress of an uncertain future. Fortunately, fortune would smile on us and we gleefully take up the last two seats on the plane.
After our flight to Mexico City, the cabbie wound his way through the insane city traffic to the bus stop and we started the next leg of our trip, a six hour bus ride to Oaxaca. I will admit, after a flight from LA to Mexico City, a six hour (probably more like seven) bus ride was just a wee bit too long. I would recommend flying to Oaxaca if you can swing the extra dinero and find a good connection. However, you might miss out on watching Labor Day in Spanish on your bus ride. Oh man, how confusing was that?
Tom and I got up to the enchantments before the season opened this year. There was still plenty of snow on our three day hike. Unfortunately we couldn't see the lakes as they were buried in snow and ice. I can see why its such a popular destination. Beautiful. Will be going back again someday, Im sure.
Perhaps the best part of this trip, and the real destination, was Landmannalaugar. Accessible only by 4x4 - or the giant tour busses that take people out there in droves - Landmannalaugar is riddled with hiking trails that sprout out from a camp site, caretakers cabin, and amazing hot springs.
After delicious sandwiches at Take 5, we set off for a last minute hike through Tiger Mountain. I love winter light. There is something so clear, crisp and alive abut it. We catch the tail end of the day as the sun started dipping behind the trees. We also miss Alina's nap time. With much distress and a fair amount of wailing to let us know that she has definitely missed her beauty sleep, we make a loop and I snap some pictures.
Alina is one cute kid... even with all the fuss.
This is without a doubt one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever been on. You leave a parking lot just like any other hike but soon forget about cars, people, and the rest of the world. You can hike down to the lake first (we did) and look up at the mountains surrounding - those will be the mountains you will hike along. Its a trail that leads around the lake and back to the parking lot (loops are the best!). The most of the time you are high on a ridge with absolutely stunning vistas in every direction. Mountains, snow, green, gray, beautiful blue lakes in the distance. It's almost overwhelming.
We spent christmas this year in Vermont where the wind took us to a brisk -20º. It was a beautiful, snowy, cold, wonderful Christmas and New Year. I'm looking forward to going back in the fall some year.
A trip home to Sitka for a couple days, camping on the Olympic Peninsula and then the San Juan Islands, friends wedding in Carmel, and life around Seattle...
While the Chinese New Year Parade itself wasn't as spectacular as I had expected, we still had a great time. Firecrackers in the street, pops and bursts of light everywhere. After the parade, every shop became a fireworks store with their little tables boasting sparklers and things that go bang - "2 for $1."
Starting from Yelapa and going only on recommendations , we found ourselves hiking / hitchhiking from the costal getaway over a small mountain pass to a neighboring town to the east. We were told to find Benny at the store - the only store in the small dirt road town, and he would have a place for us to stay. After a very awkward conversation explaining that someone he knew had sent us, we dropped off our packs at his place and were toured around town by his son and brother. We went from "raicilla factory" to "raicilla factory" - the factories actually being a few slightly intoxicated men distilling large amounts of fermented agave under crude shelter.