nesting * geeking * critiquing

Posts tagged “nature

#My5Days A Tale of 2 Beaches

A new Star Wars movie came out yesterday!!!! So you probably think you know what I’m blogging about today, right?! Amazingly, Rogue One isn’t the topic. I did see it last night and really loved about 80% of it (the other 20% is up for debate), and I’m going again tonight so we’ll see if that number fluctuates before I post about it exclusively.

Instead, I’m sitting in front of a space heater, watching it sleet outside and reflecting on days spent at the beach. For many people, a day at the beach means hot temperatures, warm water and roasting oneself in sunshine. I prefer something a bit more rustic: rocky shorelines, pine-crested bluffs and the fewer people, the better. Foggy and overcast is A-okay by me, and I’m perfectly content not venturing too far into the waters of the Pacific (COLD!). So it should come as no surprise to anyone here that Washington and Oregon are my go-to happy places.

Back in September, I spent a week on the Oregon Coast with my momma; naturally, we had a fantastic time! Temperatures topped out in the mid-60s, and each day boasted a beautiful mix of sun and clouds. One very special afternoon was dedicated to visiting what is perhaps my favorite place on earth, Indian Beach at Ecola State Park. Just north of the bustling Cannon Beach tourist destination, Ecola is a divine mix of old-growth forest and pristine shoreline. Though hikers and surfers and casual revelers like ourselves typically flock to Ecola, this day was blissfully quiet. Our own perfect little slice of heaven, shared with only 4 or 5 other people and their canine companions. As the golden hour fell before sunset, the tide quieted and mirror-smooth water lapped against the shore, create exquisite reflections of the soaring landscape. I wanted desperately to capture the beauty through the lens of my camera, but I found it difficult to concentrate on that task…instead, I let the serenity of my surroundings wash away my self-imposed anxiety over capturing a perfect image, took in as many mental images as possible and left the rest up to my trusty iPhone.

It’s hard for me to overcome the feeling that every moment needs to be documented. Heaven knows I have enough photographs of even the most trivial bits of life stored on my phone, computer and external hard drives. But when you stand in the midst of natural splendor like Indian Beach, sometimes the strongest desire is to simply soak it all in sans camera. I hope you’ll enjoy the reflections I did capture, imagine the salty brine of crisp ocean air and unplug from the bustle of the season for a moment and do some reflecting of your own.

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In stark contrast to the peace and calm of Oregon, my husband and I found ourselves in Los Angeles at the beginning of December. In addition to christening our new Universal Studios Hollywood annual passes—Wizarding World of Harry Potter with waaaaaaayyy shorter lines than Orlando!!!—I thought it would be great fun to photograph architecture and Hollywood landmarks and all of the things that make Southern California so different from my beloved Pacific Northwest. And then I got sick. Really sick: a 104 fever yielded a diagnosis of flu and pneumonia from the minute clinic in Burbank, CA. So the first 2 days of our trip included quarantine in the hotel room and even without having cable at home, it wasn’t awesome. The nurse practitioner had instructed me to wear a mask if I went in public, which seemed like a miserable option. Instead, we found a loophole: avoid people. As you may know, this is no small task in southern California. With a little help from Google, we drove an hour and a half north of Los Angeles to a quiet beach in Oxnard and were shocked to discover we were the only people there! A couple of fishermen showed up later, but the majority of the day was spent simply walking the shore and breathing in the healing power of the ocean.

Unlike the ragged cliff faces and thick vegetation that leads to Indian Beach, Ormond Beach is surrounded by flatlands that feature a U.S. Navy base to the south and an abandoned (I think?) power plant on the northeast side. Instead of the fairy-tale forest walk to the shore, it felt more like navigating a postapocalyptic wasteland, complete with signs for rattlesnakes. My illness kept my quest for adventure at bay, so I mostly just sat on a little sandy ridge as we waited for sunset over the beautiful, blustery Pacific. I would have preferred to be healthy for our little trip, but the limitations made me slow down and be deliberate about taking care of myself. If that’s not a worthwhile way to spend a “free” day from work, I’m not sure what is.

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I’ve worked for Hallmark Cards 8 years now in various editorial roles, currently as a writer for the e-commerce team. This year, the Creative division decided to start at its core by giving each employee 5 days to use (apart from regular PTO) for finding inspiration and tapping into creative outlets that may not be leveraged in our everyday positions. A couple of days exploring the West Coast were just what I needed to refuel! #My5Days


Geeky in Seattle

If I’m being honest, I have to admit that before this last trip we’d never spent more than roughly 24 hours’ time actually in Seattle. We can luxuriate in a relatively bustling city scene here in Kansas City if we really want to (we generally don’t) but have nothing comparable to the ocean and mountains and temperate rainforests, so most of our time in the PNW is spent enjoying those natural splendors. And indulge in the outdoors we did: we walked stunning ocean shores, hiked to waterfalls, ventured to the northwestern most point of the continental U.S., decompressed with beautiful lakeside vistas and paraglided for unrivaled sights and exhilaration.

While searching for a hike near North Bend/Snoqualmie*, we stumbled across a film crew at a local diner. Perhaps you’ve heard about the resurrection of a cult favorite tv show, Twin Peaks… You guys, we were in North Bend while they were filming Twin Peaks! We really didn’t see much, as the flurry of crew members obscured most anything interesting and accessibility near the set was limited. (David Lynch was apparently unhappy with fan presence; this article was published the day before we coincidentally ended up on-site.) We might have been more obnoxious in trying to obtain photos had we binged all 22 episodes prior to going rather than just finishing it this week.
I can tell you that from a couple of blocks away, down a back alley, we saw the classic turquoise waitress dresses—couldn’t discern which actresses were wearing them. One gal had curly hair but looked too short and a bit too round to be the fictional Shelley Johnson.

*We never found the hike I had planned. Crews were working on Middle Fork Road, so that access was cut off and we opted to return to the hotel for an afternoon nap rather than search for work-arounds.

Twin Peaks wasn’t the only geeky indulgence on our vacation. The EMP Museum in downtown Seattle ensured that, as our time in town corresponded with the traveling exhibit “Star Wars and the Power of Costume.”

The exhibit itself was quite nice, if a bit overpriced. Past exhibits “Star Wars in Concert” and “Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination” showcased many of the same costumes, but that didn’t hamper my enthusiasm. This is, after all, the year of Star Wars!

EMP also featured brilliant exhibits for fantasy, horror and sci-fi costumes and artifacts. There was something for virtually every geeky indulgence, from Ghostbusters to the Wizard of Oz, Alien, Harry Potter, Doctor Who and Game of Thrones to The Princess Bride. I definitely recommend visiting if you can stand to pull yourself away from the majestic wilderness.

To see the full complement of photos from our trip, including MANY more geektastic exhibit images, trek on over to my share site (HERE).


Eggs

When I was a kid they represented your brain or, somehow, your brain on drugs. “Any questions?”
Later they were rebranded, because eggs need a marketing strategy, apparently?! Now the ad gods will tell you they’re incredible and edible.

Well, friends, I’m here to tell you that farm-fresh eggs are more than just incredible and edible—they’re powerful! I don’t mean like protein and nutrient powerful, I’m talking time-machine powerful. And I’m not yolking.

It doesn’t matter what my day has been like, a fresh egg instantly takes me back to my grandparents’ house.

Mama and Papa lived about 3 hours away so “going down home” meant driving on narrow 2-lane highways and crunchy gravel roads, traversing sweeping curves and nauseating hills. I grew to learn the nuances of the little towns we passed through, the countryside blurring past my window. Excitement swelled with each passing mile

The farm was a wonderland for this suburban girl. The majority of the acreage was wooded with pin oak trees; a rock-rimmed pond and big, open field anchored the space east of the house. It was that one big field that captivated my imagination.

During our visits, my mom and I slept in the bedroom with a little window that overlooked the far field. Papa used to tell me that he went out into the clearing late at night to smoke a peace pipe with the “Indians.” Naturally, I believed him. Night after night I planned to peek out and watch his ceremony. But night after night, my little body was tired from play and lulled to sleep by the sound of the fan, the softness of the bed and the “magic paintbrush” bedtime story. I never did manage to stay awake long enough to see the Indians for myself.

In the early days Mama and Papa kept pigs, rabbits and chickens. Each morning Papa took me out to the chicken house to gather eggs and spread feed. One half of the little red shanty was the chicken coop with storage in the other half. The feed—kept in a huge barrel, which seemed bigger than me—smelled of dried corn and grains, organic and sweet. I loved running my hands through the mixture, letting the little morsels fall between my fingers and back into the barrel. When the chore was complete my dusty hands proudly cradled the eggs, and my shoes glistened with the early morning dew…and the occasional bit of chicken poop.

Mama fixed eggs for breakfast, usually fried. We gobbled them up with buttered toast and cold milk served up in pastel-colored Tupperware cups. No matter how often they were washed, the thick plastic tumblers carried the faint stench of cigarette smoke and looked perpetually dirty from the hard water.

The best farm visits were when all of my aunts/uncles and cousins came, too—I’ll never know how we all fit in that little trailer. Back then I was the middle cousin, the only girl; 3 years separated each of us. No matter how hot and humid, we played outside with reckless abandon. There was a long, old platform trailer that made a nice (if only imagined) respite from the scratchy farm grass, chiggers and ticks. That trailer also served as the home base when my older cousin Dusty and I pretended to be Ghostbusters.

Things changed when I was 6 years old. The farm got a new double-wide trailer with plenty of room for all of us.  Sadly, Mama went to be with Jesus before she got to really enjoy it; she was just 5 days shy of her 56th birthday. April 21 marks 26 years past.

It’s amazing how something as mundane as an egg can bring back such a flood of memories, but that’s exactly what happens when I eat a farm-fresh egg. I know what’s for dinner tonight!

Chicks, Donuts & Dusty

Chicks, Donuts & Dusty

Note: elements of this were edited from a 2013 post; an earlier version of this piece was published on my now-defunct blog, The Road to Kilmarnock.

Intermission

We interrupt this dead air for a brief transmission from yours truly.

Working short-staffed by day is not good for my recreational writing. Neither is binge watching shows like Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD by night. (For the record, people aren’t lying when they say it got unbelievably better after the first 12 or so episodes.)

But all is not lost…I finally finished editing photos from my September Oregon adventures with my momma. I’m including my 15 top picks below as a teaser; you can view a couple hundred more over at my share site (here).


Colorado Photos

Finally got around to posting photos from last month’s Colorado trip. You can find the entire album at my share site (there’s also a link at the Gallery tab above).

Here are a dozen of my favorites…