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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.

Our day with Mia

Our day with Mia

The other day I was walking home alone on a return trip from the dairy listening to one of my favorite podcasts. As I turn onto my street a strange man in dark clothing snickered in my direction. I rushed to the alleyway where my flat is located but before I could get my key in the door the man caught up to me and pulled a gun out of his jacket.

“If you don’t tell me which of Tra’s sisters you like better in the next five seconds I’m going to shoot you in the head,” the man screamed.

“…uh…umm… well I guess…. hmmmm…. I’d probably have to say…. well uhh…”

Boom. The clock expired and the gun blew smoke. The bullet grazed the side of my head and the dripping blood stained my teeth. As I looked down my hands morphed into what I could only describe as mollusk-covered crab claws. I bludgeoned the man with my new crustacean appendage and he disappeared into a cloud of fuchsia smoke.

Okay maybe that didn’t happen. But if someone made me choose between Tra’s two sisters I simply wouldn’t be able to.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say something crazy: life is better when you get along with your partner’s family. Lucky for me I love Tra’s family! They have been so kind and welcoming and couldn’t imagine a better fit. While I could say so many great things about all of his family, I seriously love spending time with his two sisters, Gracie and Mia. We made sure to spend as much time as we could with each of them before we returned to New Zealand. About a week before our return trip home we set up a date with Tra’s younger sister Mia to hang out and maybe shoot some photos.

(Check out our weekend in Orcas Island with Gracie part 1, part 2)

Our first planned stop of the day was to visit Compass Coffee’s new location. Tra’s friend has been a barista for Compass for a couple of years and we try and visit every couple weeks when we’re in Vancouver. The new location is beautiful. While I loved the intimate environment of the old location, it could sometimes feel a bit dark and cramped. The new location is bright and welcoming without losing it’s small business feel. Aesthetics are one thing but the real test is the coffee. And the coffee’s pretty damn great.

Like all 18-year-olds, Mia is still learning about herself. Through this learning process she’s discovered that drinking coffee makes her already anxious self even more anxious. Some people (including me) can’t function without coffee; she has a hard time functioning with coffee. So, like a responsible adult, she chose to order a decaf latte. I’ll admit, I’ve had a hard time understanding why anyone would order decaf coffee. Choosing to order coffee without caffeine is like working as an unpaid intern. It feels like a real job, but without the crucial benefit of the real thing. After hearing Mia’s point of view I find it a lot easier to understand. For a lot of people coffee is comforting.

Before leaving downtown Mia wanted to explore some of the vintage shops. She has a passion for finding hidden gems in her grandparent’s closet and can often be found digging through Goodwill bins for bargain finds. Mia has the uncanny ability to see the potential in clothing that I wouldn’t have given a second glance and rock it like she’s Madonna. To her, vintage shops are home. For me and Tra, a fourth consecutive winter was right around the corner so we tried our best to find some nice warm clothing while Mia was busy networking with the shop owner. Mia left with the woman’s email address and the possible opportunity to model for her company in the future.

Earlier in the day we decided to explore Camas. Downtown Camas has that time-capsuley feel and we thought it would be great for photos. Also we don’t visit Camas that often. Sometimes I forget that Camas is a place worth visiting just for fun. I tend to think of the paper mill before I think of the vintage movie theater and small art galleries.

The first shop we visited was an art gallery off of the main street. As soon as we entered the shop the eccentric gallery director was captivated by Mia’s outfit. The woman, who was sporting quite the outfit herself, raved that she loved her patched loose-fitting retro jeans. We sorted through all of the interesting sculptures and paintings and a few other people joined us in the store. After sharing a few laughs with the director we waved goodbye and exited the gallery.

As we were searching for interesting backdrops for a photo shoot we found a little alleyway with old brick on one side and a painted silver wall on the other. We had Mia strike some silly over-the-top model poses and we all laughed. She also tried flipping her hair to show off her lion’s mane, but my camera was having a hard time adjusting to the quick movements. Both Mia and I had entrusted our bags with Tra and he looked like a goof strutting with two purses around his neck.

After exploring a few vintage shops we hopped back in the car and started driving around Camas. We drove through some cute neighborhoods and stopped by a swimming pool that I used to visit every summer as a kid. Mostly though, we just drove. We talked about relationships, goals, our ideas and the past. We sang along to Bon Iver while Tra (unsuccessfully) mimicked his falsetto. When we saw all that we needed to see we just kept driving.

Sometimes driving aimlessly with people you love is the best. There’s something about the confining space of a car whipping through space that creates the best atmosphere for conversation. The best car rides end long after you reach your destination. Sometimes a conversation can feel like a radio program or a podcast that is longer than the actual journey. You can’t be satisfied until you’ve emptied all of your thoughts. So, you continue to talk in the parked car for hours and hours without even realizing your seat belt is still fastened. Getting lost in time with the people you love is a great indicator of a quality relationship. I loved getting lost with Tra and Mia.

 

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 an oldie but goodie that you might not have heard from the local Vancouver artist iiiso. Give it a listen and maybe even consider giving him a follow on Soundcloud or 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

Emma