During my recent trip to Australia for work, I got to spend a day just bring a tourist. I signed up to go on a tour bus style trip down to the coast to pet koalas and kangaroos, and spy on some fairy penguins as they came in from the sea for the night. I didn’t know that I would be the actual youngest person on the trip, and I didn’t know that we would be stopping at such a beautiful beach.

 

Had I missed the bus, and gotten stuck on Smiths Beach, that would have been just fine by me. I stood with my feet in the warm sand, and started to imagine my new, Aussie beach bum life. I would get a tan again, maybe learn how to surf, and I’d have fab beach waves on a daily basis. It wouldn’t be too bad. Unfortunately, I did get back to the bus on time. But I did find my new “happy place” that I can visit whenever Seattle is feeling a bit too grey and cold. _MG_8568 _MG_8570 _MG_8572 _MG_8575

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I went to Alaska with my Dad back in June, and cannot believe that I haven’t posted anything about the trip (actually, I can believe it, as the blog had been collecting dust for almost the entire year).

A few months before the trip, my Dad called me up during work and asked if I’d like to join him on his annual fly fishing trip in Alaska. As you can imagine, my answer was a very enthusiastic “YES”. He has been fishing with the same guides for longer than I’ve been alive, so to be invited to tag along was really exciting.

We flew into Anchorage, and the flight there was probably the most beautiful flight I’ve ever been on (pictured above). The mountains and glaciers in various shades of blue and white will remain one of my favorite sights. From Anchorage, we flew to Bethel, and then on to Quinhagak on a private plane. When I say private plane, I really mean that there are no roads over the tundra, and we were the only two passengers on a plane that could carry 12 people and cargo…

Quinhagak is on the southwestern coast along the Kanektok River. Our camp was a few miles up river, and was only accessible by boat. This was definitely the most remote place I’ve ever been. We spent every day out on the river fishing for Rainbow Trout and Salmon. I spent about half of that time reading and trying to stay warm. Even though I don’t consider myself to be an avid angler, it was so rewarding to feel a tug on the line and find that the hook caught a fish and not a root! I enjoyed learning to fly fish, taking photos, and disconnecting from real life; but more than anything, I was excited to get to share in one of my Dad’s favorite places and activities.

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 Dad with a fish on the line
 
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 A dark, old Rainbow Trout

 

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The most massive trout of the trip. Rainbowsaurus Rex

 

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Chum Salmon have the coolest “tiger stripes” 
 
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Close-up

 

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With Dad and a Rainbow Trout 

 

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 King Salmon – I actually caught this on a rod meant for a trout… This was quite the arm workout!

 

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Quinnie, the camp dog.

 

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The Kenektok River

 

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A few weeks ago I went to Bainbridge Island for the first time with my Mom. I can’t believe that it took me over a year to hop on the ferry and visit this little island across the sound. With its boutique lined main street, tall trees, and cute little houses, Bainbridge reminds me so much of my childhood hometown in Connecticut. I only took a few photos during the day, but I am so glad that I caught some of the autumn colors at Bainbridge Winery and forced Brodie to pose with some pumpkins.

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please, please, please pay attention to that fabulous sea lion in the back. 

I know that most people don’t find work travel to be all that exciting or glamorous, but I just came back home to Seattle from SUCH a fun trip to San Francisco. I was sent there for two days for work with a few of my good friends, and tacked on an extra day for sight seeing, and loved just about every minute of it. I just wish I had more time to spend there!

I have a bit of a history with quick trips to San Francisco – as my only other time visiting the city lasted less than 48 hours in 2012 for a job interview. Even with such brevity as 48 hours then, and 72 hours now, it is totally possible to have an amazing time in this city. Here are a few things from each of my quick trips to SF…

On a semi unrelated note – comparing photos from two different trips, two years apart from each other, is really interesting. It is so cool to see how much I have grown as far as my camera skills are concerned. I hesitate to say “photography” because I can’t take myself that seriously…

2012:

After spending most of the day having brunch and generally bopping around with one of my friends in the city, I took one of the famous trolleys up to Lombard Street. This was not without a fair bit of hill climbing on my own, though. I knew I had to check out the world’s most crooked street, as my Great Aunt said that is was one of her favorite things in SF when she had visited more than 20 years ago. I would love to live along side such a crazy street, especially since it is filled with Hydrangeas.

From Lombard Street, I made my descent to the water, and caught an amazing view of Alcatraz at sunset. The fog was beginning to roll in, and was breath taking. Coming from Texas, where everything is dry and flat, it was amazing to see how different this city was from Austin.

I’m not sure why this photo is so washed out – I really don’t remember making that editing decision – but for the sake of posterity and comparison, it stays. I made my way down to Pier 39 to check out the Sea Lions and fell in love. They are the weirdest and most wonderful combination of the mermaid version of cats and puppies, and I cannot say how much I love them.

2015:

This time around, I had a bit more time to spend, so I was able to fit in some more than just a very steep walk. On Thursday, my friends and I walked over 10 miles; usually this would be awesome, but I sprained my ankle last week, so it was a bit of a struggle that ended in a very ugly ankle. It was totally worth it though. We walked through Chinatown, went to the Ferry building and had the most AMAZING ice cream ever, and had a delicious seafood dinner at Scoma’s. Friday was all work, and then some play with friends for dinner and drinks. I met up with the same friend that I hung out with in 2012, and literally ran into a friend from Austin in a bar. For as big as the world is, it sure can be small…

Saturday was the day, though. We woke up, went to brunch, and then set sail on a Catamaran to tour the harbor. This is by far my favorite part of the trip. I found Adventure Cat tours online, and would recommend it to anyone who loves chill, classy times. What is better than Cali wine, Jazz, Sailing, and beautiful views? Nothing, that’s what.

Fun fact: I bought the exact same style of Minnetonka moccasins on my last trip to SF. Both times, I was wearing inappropriate shoes for the amount of walking I’d be doing. I had been waiting to replace my old pair for some reason, and now I know why…. Even with such comfy shoes, kicking my feet up on the cruise was utter bliss. 

We all let everyone else do the hard work.

The weather was perfect for us, but the storm clouds rolling in didn’t bode well for the later cruise…

I would want in on that cuddle, but I cannot unsee the things that these guys were laying in… ew.
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As a kid, Christmas always seemed to be ages after Thanksgiving. The waiting was always super intense; but I managed to fill the time with wish list refinements, holiday music, shopping with my mom, and decorating. I have to say, not much has really changed now that I am an “adult”.

My pre-Christmas routine didn’t differ much from the norm this year, as my Mom came out to Seattle to spend Thanksgiving with me. My Dad is a hunter, so fall is really his only time to enjoy his hobbies in Texas. As a result, he pretty much spends all of Thanksgiving out in the wilderness every year. This usually results in my Mom and I turning Thanksgiving into girls’ weekend.

Here are some of the highlights of our trip… Get ready – this is a doozy, people.

Monday: After spending some time getting some work done, we had planned on going out to dinner somewhere. This didn’t actually happen, as we got too wrapped up in catching up over Deep Eddy Ruby Red cocktails – which happens to be our favorite way to spend an evening.

Tuesday: Tuesday marked Sandy’s first food truck experience. It was super misty and gross out, but I had to show her how awesome eating food out of a vehicle could be. We went to Nosh – and ordered some Fish and Chips. After taking her on a tour of my office, she went off shopping…. without me 🙁 Four hours, and five pairs of shoes later, I met up with her and all of her purchases in time to go to dinner with one of my friends and her puppy. We went to Belltown Pub, and it might be one of my new favorite places. Not only is it super dog friendly, but it also serves my fav drink (see above) and it happened to be playing the SMU basketball game! Go Mustangs 🙂
Wednesday: I was lucky enough to only have to work some of the day on Wednesday, so we took advantage of the afternoon and drove out to Woodinville to sip on some wines! I had been to a few wine tastings the previous weekend, and knew it would be a hit. We only went to Chateau St. Michelle, but really maximized our time there. Finally, I learned how to properly taste wine from a very nice employee named Tom. Now I won’t feel like such a fool as I gulp down wines and say “Very nice” to everything I try.
We also ventured out to Snoqualmie Casino to try our luck on some slots. After about an hour of utter failure, we parked ourselves at the Michael Jackson machines of all places. My luck was a bit better than my Mom’s so I got to pick up our tab for dinner…
Since it was already suuuuper dark outside, I suggested that we stop by Bellevue Collection – which sounds quite fancy but is basically just a very nice semi-outdoor mall. There, we shopped until the stores closed and enjoyed some pink drinks (Grapefruit Martini for Mom, and Rosé for myself). I bought just a few things, but I’ll save those for a later day. 🙂
Thursday: Turkey Day. To prepare for our literal monumental dinner, we absolutely needed to do something at least semi-active early in the day. Again, the weather was not on our side, so the options for hikes were limited. I hadn’t yet been to Alki Beach, and now I’m wondering why I had waited so long! The views are beautiful no matter what part of the trail you are on, though you simply can’t beat the view of the Seattle skyline! 
From there, we proceeded to prime our systems for the meal ahead with a small lunch of smoked salmon, fresh baguette, brie, and wine. We were both so excited for our meal at the Space Needle, and it definitely didn’t disappoint! I ordered the traditional turkey dinner, while my Mom went for the uber rich filet mignon and lobster tail. I 100% endorse the dessert choices there, as well – apple cobbler with snickerdoodle crust? Yes please! One of the most entertaining parts of the dinner was reading all of the notes that some of the kids (and adults!) from other tables posted to the window as the tables spin around the city. 
Friday: Oh boy. We walked something like 11 miles that day, just checking out all the Black Friday deals. Add to that at least 3 inches of rain, and people protesting just about everything imaginable, it made for quite an interesting day downtown. I didn’t actually end up buying anything because the crowds were just too insane, unfortunately. At one point we may have been locked in the mall by protestors? After reading that tweet from the Seattle PD, we figured it was about time to go home. Makes for some memories at the very least! 
Saturday: Sadly the last day of our Thanksgiving weekend. My Mom flew home that afternoon, but not without one last surprise. SNOW! Admittedly, I didn’t get much where I live, but it still counts. I had to document this beautiful moment on my pathetically bare patio 🙂
Mom – I had a lovely week hanging out with you in my new ‘hood! I can’t wait to come home to spend the holidays with you, Dad and the dogs in just a few weeks!
(If anyone else read this far, I applaud you.)

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