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Back to Long Beach

Back to Long Beach

As this jet-lag is wearing off from my trip back home, I thought I’d update the blog with some adventures from the past three weeks. I traveled home for a wedding. One of my oldest and dearest friends, Kamille, was married on June 25. But the day before the rehearsal I was able to sneak off to Long Beach with Tra’s family.

While I was only there less than 24 hours, it was the perfect time to unwind and catch up with Tra’s dad and his two sisters. I drove up in my Subaru along with their beloved dog, Patton (named after the general… of course).

I listened to some great podcasts on the drive and when we arrived we played volleyball on the beach, which I don’t think I’ve played since high school! I bravely dipped my toe into the ice-cold water and we ended the night playing unexpectedly competitive board games.

Tra and I have had some great trips to Long Beach in the last two years. We love exploring nearby Oysterville and on the drive there and back, Astoria. The beach itself always seems really private. Maybe it’s the quiet area we’re in, or that we usually go in the off-season, but I just love how secluded it feels.

I had so many great moments with Tra’s family I wish I captured. Mia and I hunted for deals at Goodwill, we had a lovely lunch with Tra’s mom and grandma, at Tra’s dad’s house we went through old family albums and he told us stories from his childhood. It felt great to be around them and to get to know them a bit better.

Music Pick of the Week

Each week I try and highlight an Indie music artist at the end of my blog post. If you would like me to consider your music please email me.

This week I’ve chosen a song I stumbled upon on from Apartment 5A. Give it a listen and maybe consider giving them a follow on Bandcamp.

Throwback: Camping in Florence

Throwback: Camping in Florence

“Have you ever been in a kayak before?”

“Oh, yeah. I’ve been in a couple before.”

“So you’ll be fine?”

“Yeah yeah, I’ll be fine.”

As I stepped into the kayak it flipped over throwing me into the lake, fully clothed, seconds after reassuring Tra’s dad that I didn’t need any help. For as long as I can remember my cheeks have refused to let me hide my embarrassment. Life always felt like a game of poker where everyone else could see my hand at all times. I just made an ass of myself in front of my boyfriend’s dad and my cheeks were glowing red.

When Tra invited me to his family camping trip in Florence, Oregon nearly two years ago, I nervously accepted. From my previous experiences with his family I knew I had nothing to worry about, but spending the weekend with your new boyfriend’s family is scary. Not in a spooky ghost story kind of way but a “what if I fall out of a kayak in front of them and make an ass of myself” kind of way.

When we arrived at Camp Honeyman the first thing I realized was that Toby, Tra’s dad, is a camping pro. He built these intricate portable boxes with shelves and drawers for everything you would possibly need. It was like have a kitchen pantry in the middle a camping ground. He also had a system for setting up his unique canvas tents. Coming into the trip I was worried about the sleeping situation since I had very little experience with sleeping in tents and cots. I had no reason to worry. The tents were surprisingly spacious and the cots were better than a hide-a-bed mattress. While it wasn’t a glamping trip, I sure felt spoiled to be able to enjoy such a special setup.

I had never seen anything like the sand dunes in Florence. On one of the last days we took a ride on a dune buggy through the dunes to get a better look. I felt like I was transported into the middle of the Sahara desert. There was nothing but sand for as far as I could see and it was gorgeous. We spent most of our time at the beautiful lake on the campground which sat right against giant sand dunes. The lake was nice and warm and perfect for swimming and kayaking. In hindsight I wish I would have taken advantage of the opportunity to photograph such an amazing location, but cameras have a love-hate relationship with sand.

One place I wasn’t afraid to bring my camera was Old Town Florence. Stepping into the historic downtown was like walking back in time. The old-school architecture and mom-and-pop shops were fun to explore and made fantastic photo backdrops. The downtown sits right on the Siuslaw River and grants visitors access to the boat docks.

This trip was my very first camping trip and I had a blast. Tra’s family could not have been more welcoming and really hope that it wasn’t the last trip I’m invited to, you know, after I proved myself to be a below average mariner.

Music Pick of the Week

Each week I try and highlight an Indie music artist at the end of my blog post. If you would like me to consider your music email me.

This week I’ve chosen a track by Brooklyn artist Oddisee. Give it a listen and maybe consider giving them a follow on twitter.

Our Waiheke Island Pit Stop

Our Waiheke Island Pit Stop

As Tra and I were walking up a hilly road on our trip back from swimming in the ocean we were talking about our short stay on the island.

“They are so great!” we kept saying. “There must be a catch, right? Am I missing something? Nobody can be this nice.”

I was worried that on our trip to Waiheke I would feel like an intruder in somebody else’s life. It was the middle of the week after all. From the moment I stepped off the ferry I never had a chance to feel that worry. Brodie and Sam went above and beyond to make us feel at home and make our short stay special.

When Tra, Grandma and I were planning our holiday break we made sure to fly back through Auckland so that we could visit my cousin Brodie on Waiheke Island. It’s not often that I get to visit a place like Waiheke. Sometimes New Zealand can feel like a tiny continent. When you look at a globe you might feel a bit confined, but it still feels big. You could drive through either island for weeks and still have places to explore. Waiheke feels like an island. The roads are small, fresh green life covers every square inch that isn’t holding a building and around every corner there is a new beach to explore. When I try and visualize my time in Waiheke everything is so bright. Brodie told us stories about celebrities and rich technology executives that purchased holiday homes on the island. Visiting the island felt exclusive yet cozy.

I hadn’t seen Brodie since I was 14 and I was dying to meet her partner Sam and their adorable little girls I had only seen through social media. Brodie is a natural mom. She’s what I imagine my favorite mommy bloggers to be like in real life. She is the queen of multitasking. She can hold a full conversation with me while feeding the baby, preparing for dinner and cleaning up after her toddler. Brodie is three years older than me and doesn’t own a cell phone by choice. When people say “oh I’m not on my phone that often and I don’t really use social media” I don’t really believe them. Brodie walks the walk. Although, she does make sure to post adorable photos of her girls on Instagram.

Their house is stunning. It sits high above the water and only a 10-minute walk from the nearest swimming beach. In the morning you can watch sailboats from the couch in the living room while drinking your morning coffee. We were lucky to catch the tail end of New Zealand’s summer so Tra and I took every chance we got to swim in the ocean. The water was the perfect depth and you could swim out 30 feet and still touch sand. On the edge of the beach where the surf hits the land the water was so clear you could watch groups of tiny shells being dragged by the waves. Also the waves were perfect for body-surfing; not too strong that they pulled you under and not too mild that you felt like you’re in a wave pool at an amusement park.

Brodie’s oldest daughter Bali is really cool. Not in a 2-year-old Fonzie kind of way, more like T-Swift cool. So cool, in fact, that I guarantee she’s too cool for you because most of the time she was too cool for me. She spends her days how I imagine a retired 2-year-old would: lounging on a beautiful tropical island, watering her vegetable garden, swimming in the ocean, making art and dancing to Justin Bieber. When I hung out with Bali she only gave me the illusion that I was in charge, everyone knew that in reality she was the one calling the shots.

Brodie and Sam used to live in Sydney where they owned a beautiful espresso shop right on the beach. Sam is more knowledgeable about coffee than anyone I’ve ever met, so I was excited to pick his brain. One day Sam made us some fantastic filtered coffee in a V60. They are always ordering new coffee online from all over the world. Sam happened to been waiting on beans from Portland when we arrived.

Brodie exposes Bali and India to the widest variety of foods I could ever imagined. Bali was captivated by foods I barely even knew existed. She ate avocado with organic herb paste on spelt bread and then asked for more. Brodie’s pantry was enough to make a hipster vegan Portlander gasp.

Even though in a lot of ways our lives are very different to Brodie and Sam’s we got along so well. They treated us like real adults. Spending the weekend with them was a breath of fresh air and a warm welcome back to New Zealand. It gave Tra and I and glance at where we could be in a few years.

At this point in our lives Tra and I are torn between two homes. Home will always be with our friends and family in the Pacific Northwest, but at the moment home feels like the place where we spend our days and rest our heads. The transition process from one home to the other has been tough and filled with emotion for both of us. Our time in Waiheke with Brodie, Sam and their beautiful girls refreshed our spirits and filled our minds with excitement for the rest of our New Zealand journey. It’s not every day that you feel like someone really gets you, and Brodie and Sam certainly made us feel that way. Tra and I loved every part of our stay and we can’t wait to return.

Music Pick of the Week

Each week I try and highlight an Indie music artist at the end of my blog post. If you would like me to consider your music please email me.

This week I’ve chosen a song from the Seattle-based dream pop band Lofty Stills. Give it a listen and maybe consider giving them a like on facebook or downloading their album on Bandcamp.