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Manzanita, Oregon

Manzanita, Oregon

Manzanita is perfect for 14-year old Emma, the Emma yearning for independence. In Manzanita I could ride my bike or walk anywhere around this tiny coastal town. If my family was settled in for the night watching a movie, I could quickly bike to the beach and catch the sun going down by myself. My brother and I used to bring our best friends along with us and we would spend all week exploring and laughing. When I look back on my childhood and teenage years, that time was important and so much fun.

This year we were joined by my cousin Tim. Before he biked from Vancouver, B.C. to our home in Battle Ground, Washington (that’s right, biked) I had never met him before! He joined us on our annual trip to Manzanita, Oregon.

Tim is originally from New Zealand, but has spent the most of the last 10 years living in Australia. This summer he’s been biking from Canada down the west coast to California. He’s got an adventurous spirit and was a great addition to our holiday. We really enjoyed getting to know him and I was so lucky to catch him while he passed through!

My family and I have been coming to Manzanita for about 18 years. We love this small Oregon beach town. It has a main street with shops, restaurants, a cafe and a pub which lead down to the beach. I LOVE fires on the beach and on our last night the weather was perfect for a cozy beach fire. The boys passed the rugby ball around as the sun was setting and we sat by the warm fire and roasted marshmallows. I’m pretty sure it was Tim’s first time eating s’mores, which is basically an American right of passage. I felt like I was able to do so much during my three-week holiday. I can’t wait to come back to Manzanita for many more summers and continue the tradition.

Music Pick of the Week

Each week I try and highlight an Indie music artist at the end of my blog post, but this week I can’t stop listening to Chance the Rapper. 🙂

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.

Exploring: Orcas Island (Part 2)

Exploring: Orcas Island (Part 2)

I’ve heard Canadians express guilt for giving the world Justin Bieber. After spending the weekend a handful of miles off the coast of Victoria listening to Canadian radio stations I’m convinced that they still love him. We heard the same three JB songs probably 700 times, and it was wonderful. Bieber set an amazing tone for our weekend, and I swear I’m not lying.

When we woke up for our first full day on the island we quickly realized that our box of pop tarts and bag of mushy mandarins weren’t going to cut it. We welcomed any excuse to explore the adorable Eastsound downtown and we were excited to gorge at the first cafe we happened to drive by. What we didn’t realize when we accepted the invitation to visit Orcas Island was that the Island was in clear off-season mode. If it wasn’t for an annual marathon through Moran State Park I doubt more than a half dozen business owners would have escaped their Saturday-morning beds.

After admiring local shops, most of which had ‘closed’ signs hanging from their doors, our stomachs whined until we made our way to the Island Skillet. Within minutes of being seated we each identified a yummy order, which is no easy task when your group includes two of the pickiest eaters in Cascadia.

With our tummy’s full and our minds set to adventure we drove to Moran State Park to hike and hopefully catch a glimpse of a couple of waterfalls. Somewhere in my mind I knew the possibility of hiking was likely, yet it never actually occurred to me to pack accordingly. So, as it turns out, hiking in the mud alongside waterfalls in bargain slip-on flats is very difficult. What I’m trying to say is you better enjoy these photos because I sacrificed my life so you could see these waterfalls.

(If you want to see more photos of Moran State park check out part one.)

There’s nothing better than coming home from a hike to a cozy cabin on the water with ice cream waiting in the freezer. Well, that’s what I thought until Gracie served us ice cream on top of a freshly-baked brownie with season 7 of Seinfeld playing on the TV. Even though the point of travel is to experience new things, the comfort of familiar foods and entertainment cannot be underestimated. Sure, you can watch Seinfeld anywhere on the planet. But from now on whenever I watch an episode from season seven I’ll be transported back into that living room with that bowl of ice-cream-soaked brownie.

Sometimes trips like these can feel like little capsules or an episode of a TV show. At first you may recall the characters and the plot but as you keep digging you remember the little details. Maybe you remember a stupid joke that failed miserably or the unusual shape of the coffee table in the living room. Time stands still and you can move through the capsule like a video game. Small details, like looking for a gas station and almost accidentally picking up a hitchhiker when you first arrived on the island, feel like individual Polaroids in your mind. When you reach out and grab an individual frame it expands into a vivid hologram that you can step inside of and explore. Photos do more than represent events as they happened. They can transform your mood like a favorite song or a familiar smell. They have the ability to drop you into a room in the middle of a cabin on Orcas Island and smother you with all the good feelings.

Orcas Island was beautiful, and so were the people that I got to explore it with.

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 beautiful song from the Bellingham jazz band Rex Queen. Give it a listen and maybe even consider giving them a follow on Soundcloud or Facebook.

Exploring: Orcas Island (Part 1)

Exploring: Orcas Island (Part 1)

This was my favorite trip ever while we were back home for our two-month holiday! Tra and I were gifted the opportunity to stay at a beautiful home on Orcas Island. We took the opportunity to invite Tra’s sister, Gracie, and our best friend, Tyler, who both study relatively close to the San Juan Islands in Bellingham, WA. We drove up on a rainy night, picked them up and rushed to the ferry in Anacortes. While we were convinced we were running late the hour long wait to drive onto the fairy proved otherwise. The four of us (and the Subaru) were then shipped across the Rosario Strait to Orcas Island.

It was late and dark when we arrived, but we could tell we were in for a special weekend. We navigated the long and winding road until we finally found our home, despite our GPS’s best efforts. We had seen few photos of the house so we were blown away by the gorgeous view overlooking the sound right from the front porch. It was so peaceful. I can’t remember the last time I felt silence like that.

The next day we explored nearby Moran State Park. We found beautiful trails that lead us to half a dozen waterfalls. The park oozed “northwest winter” and yet you were still able to feel the cozy blanketing feeling of a secluded island.

On our last day we spent a bit more time hiking, but mostly watching season 7 of Seinfeld. I couldn’t imagine a better weekend with better people. It was a beautiful way to end our American holiday.

I’ll be posting more photos from Orcas Island on my next post too. Thank you for reading!

Holidays Recap

Holidays Recap

It’s been another four months since my last blog post. Apparently I post on a tri-annual basis. I don’t know what that’s about. I would like to post more but I’m better at making excuses and watching Netflix than I am writing blog posts. But not today. Today I finish a blog post!

Over the Christmas break I traveled back to the States for a much needed holiday with friends and family. Back to my home, favorite restaurants, recognizable street names and… Winter, again. Flying back to New Zealand marks my fourth winter in a row. As much as I would love your pity, you can save your energy; I actually prefer the colder weather. I’m useless in the heat. If I had it my way I’d wear my paper-white skin forever. Luckily, I do get a few weeks of summer in between to refill my vitamin D reserves.

During our stay Tra and I travelled around Washington and Oregon state to visit friends and family. We had a great time catching up with everyone! Our only regret is that we didn’t have more time.

One week in January we travelled back to Long Beach, WA, one of our favorite places. While I was in Dunedin I kept daydreaming about returning when I should have been listening to lectures. So we were very excited to hop into our car and drive to the beautiful Washington Coast!

We visited the Astoria sea lions, the charming Oysterville and our favorite restaurant all while snapping some photos along the way. Unfortunately I lost about 200 of these photos in a tragic boneheaded tech accident. After beating myself up a bit for making such a silly mistake I was able to salvage a few good ones.

I have a few other trips I’d like to blog about again very soon, so watch out for some photos of our trip to the San Juan Islands and our weekend away in Waiheke Island, NZ.

Thank you for reading! x