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.
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.
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
Well, it’s been nearly 3 months since I last posted…amazing how time just sneaks away when you’re not looking. The weeks and months since Christmas have been an adjustment around our house, for the better in some ways and worse in others.
Severus and I flew to Oregon on Christmas Day to enjoy some oceanic therapy. It really is amazing what being oceanfront can do for the soul! It’s also amazing what falling into the ocean can do to an iPhone 6—not good amazing. Fortunately, we still had an upgrade on our contract so my waterlogged, 3-month-old phone has been replaced and I’m back up and running. Here’s a little peek at what that dip in the Pacific looked like.
Unfortunately, we’ve not yet been able to recover the photos/videos that hadn’t yet loaded to the cloud. That in itself wouldn’t be a big deal except that it was our last Christmas with Vampire Kitty. We got frequent reports from my mom (who was housesitting) that Storm wasn’t eating. We had hoped it was a simple matter of her being a cat and protesting our absence. When we returned home on New Years Day we found that wasn’t the case. After several days of syringe-feedings, we took her back to the vet’s office and learned she was losing weight at an alarming rate. On Friday, January 9, a bitey little soul left our lives; melodramatic though it is, I haven’t been quite the same since.
Storm and I were almost like halves of a whole. She was both a BFF and nemesis. She slept right beside me at night, joined me as I prepared for work each morning and greeted me at the door when I arrived home. In spite of all that togetherness—or perhaps because of it—she also lashed out and bit me with regularity. Given all of the wounds she inflicted over the years, I feel secure in saying that we shared a bond forged in blood.
Those first few weeks found me nearly inconsolable. Translation: there was a whole lot of ugly crying! For heaven’s sake, I’ve got misty eyes again now just thinking about it. That’s why it’s taken me so long to get back in the swing of blogging; I dreaded having to write this post but couldn’t pretend like it didn’t happen or have a tremendous impact on my world.
She was just a cat, and she was kind of a jerk of one at that, but she was my little jerk. Things have steadily improved and we’ve welcomed a new little family member that I’ll introduce soon. Still, the Storm-shaped void aches with fluctuating intensity and, like any grief, finds the most obscure ways to resurface.
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).
A lot has happened since I last posted. First, the hard drive on my MacBook decided to die; fortunately, I rescued my files by creating a mirror image of the drive on an external hard drive. So all is not lost, and I’ll have a new HD installed sooner or later.
My mom and I took a trip to Oregon last week (pics coming when I have my laptop again). It was lovely, of course, but I was saddened to see how dry things have gotten. Here’s hoping for a precipitous autumn and winter in the PNW.
Also over the last couple of weeks our 12-year-old vampire kitty has been under the weather. After a couple of trips to the veterinarian’s office and blood tests, we’re not any closer to knowing what’s wrong. Poor girl has been very lethargic and shows no interest in food or playing… though I have gotten in some good snuggles. If you’d be willing to send up a little prayer for Storm, we’d appreciate it. She’s a mean little cuss but we love her terribly in spite of herself, and it’s hard to see her suffer.
Happy Friday to all, and to all a good night.
I was in my early teens when the internet first became a household amenity, so I remember quite a bit about life pre-www. We listened to music using bulky stereo systems that played formats ranging from shiny compact discs to clunky cassette tapes and scratch-prone vinyl. We bought those cds/tapes/records at brick-and-mortar stores or through the mail via rip-off “clubs” like BMG, often purchasing an entire album for a single radio hit. Yes, I’m one of the kids who fell victim to BMG.
Though I had my own computer games, VHS tapes with programs recorded from the television and a few video-gaming platforms (Intellivision, Atari, NES and Sega GameGear) at my disposal, play time most often involved action figures, Barbie dolls, storybooks, stuffed animals, puzzles, crayons/coloring books, my bike and the swing set in the back yard. Tablet-toting tykes just didn’t exist.
My 110 camera used flash cubes, took film that you had to manually advance after each photo and probably cost the same as what you’d pay now for a family of 4 to eat at McDonald’s. What if your subject blinked when you took a picture? Well, that’s just too bad because you didn’t know for sure until after the film was developed, which took at least a couple of days. No instant uploading.
We sent actual cards and letters in the mail. We wrote checks and meticulously balanced our checkbook registers. We did everything then that we do now, just a little more slowly.
Try as I might, though, I simply can’t fathom how people planned vacations back then. My parents had a file drawer full of travel brochures—something of a mystery since we only ventured out of state to visit family—and I assume the telephone must’ve played an integral role. Were that the case today, I would be even more of a curmudgeonly homebody than I am now.
Thanks to modern technology, I am empowered to explore locales unknown with nary a voice call on my phone. Airfare, rental car and hotel rooms are all booked online, and I spend time equivalent to days on end harvesting ideas and reading others’ reviews to decide what we want to see.
My travel-planning “dream team” consists of Pinterest, Google Maps, TripAdvisor, a physical map, some Post-it flags and a Sharpie. See, I’m still a little old-fashioned…I just happen to buy the maps on Amazon or order them from state tourist websites—some states even offer them for free!
When we have an overarching idea of where we’d like to go (Oregon, for example), I fire up Pinterest; inevitably, I discover places that make my heart go pitter-patter. I open separate browser tabs for Google Maps and TripAdvisor. Google Maps helps me narrow down which part of the state I’m exploring, and TripAdvisor gives me an idea of if I want to stay in a particular city or look for a neighboring community instead. I also pull up candidate hotels’ websites and scour the web for coupon codes or special pricing. It’s a lot of legwork, but we rarely end up disappointed.
Google Maps also helps me plan out how much travel time we’ll need between destinations. This is particularly helpful as we tend to cover a lot of ground on our trips.
Utilizing a tangible map adds an extra step to planning a trip, but I find it worth the effort. After I’ve located sights and sites online, I lay out the map and start flagging destinations; this gives me a much better feel for the terrain and helps me analyze which routes we should take to maximize our experience.
The map also helps when we find ourselves in areas devoid of cell and satellite signals, which happens more often than I would’ve thought. Let me tell you from experience, it can be more than a little unsettling when you’re driving through the middle of a deep, dark forest without any sign of civilization and no technological assistance. I’m considering investing in more comprehensive state atlases at some point for this very reason.
While it all sounds very structured, the reality is that the planning just gives me an overall “ballpark” idea of how things will go—our vacations tend to be rather free-flowing and include a lot of naps. We generally know where we want to go and how to get there, so we fill in the rest along the way.
What are your favorite travel resources?