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sometimes you go the wrong way and you end up in the right place… November 20, 2010

Filed under: adventures — ravennagirls @ 10:41 pm
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it happened to me recently.

A few weekends ago I took the junior highers on fall retreat.  It was the same location as last year… only sunny this time.

In fact, I had no idea that this mountain was right outside the big lodge windows!!

Pretty spectaular….

I love retreating, can I just say that?  It’s just so …. relaxing yet exhausting, goofy yet powerful, intense yet crazy… Its everything really.   It makes me thankful I have such great 8th graders, even though they woke me up in the middle of the night, even though they took pictures using a flash the entire way up the dark mountain, even though they brought makeup this year and talked about boys, even though they really want me to do everything they are doing every second of the day…

sitting by the fire

They are just seriously the coolest kids I know.

So cool in fact that we went on a little hike.  It was advertised to us by the lodge manager as a mild walk — level and very short.  Some of my girls came, and so did some other jr highers and a few other leaders.  But I drove the van that left the parking lot first and I had the map.

Now before I begin, when I say “map” I really mean a 4″ x 5″ paper with one dark squiggly road on it and a few labels along said road.    I am told, oh, you can’t miss it, it’s around a bend and there is a ranger station.  It’s supposedly called Artists’ Point.

I pull out of the lot, and begin going further up the mountain – winding winding around the curves.  Really spectacular  views … yes, but I was told this place was not far… so where is it?  (and for those of you that don’t know — unlimited hot chocolate at the lodge + switch back roads + the 12 passenger van + kids + too many minutes = a nervous leader who did not bring Dramamine on this adventure.)

Luckily, just as I am about to be seriously worried… we pop out from the road into a parking lot.

No signs to be seen about what the trails were called, but there were tons of people there.  Not a spot in the parking lot.  

We all eagerly jump out kids start running around.  We find the trail head, and with other people all around start walking.  There were big  rocks the kids loved climbing, small areas of snow for a few snowballs, big puddles from melting ices to splash in. 

We keep going on this trail and pretty soon it starts to get steeper, and steeper.  The kids evidently slept way better than I thought last night, because they have energy to burn and still racing ahead.

And before we know it, we are all hiking up the switchbacks up this mountain.  Now, before you think I am whining… This was some serious steep-ness.  Most of the path became small rocks, which started falling as people were walking on them.   This cannot be right, I think.  This is not a short stroll through the woods.  This is like mountain climbing.   {kids beat leaders hands down though, for what it is worth…}

But finally, after what feels like forever… I realize we have not gone the wrong way.  Maybe different from what we set out to do, but certainly not wrong.  We have reached the top and you pop out right next to Mount Baker and all this beauty all around. 

mt baker!

It certainly was the right place to see all that splendor.


…and when we returned we played a very excellent game of  Ticket to Ride, our now yearly tradition….

…with more hot chocolate, but of course.

I hope every weekend is full of fun, laughter, games, deliciousness, and taking wrong turns to end up in exactly the right place.


weekend, i was not ready for you to be over October 25, 2010

Filed under: adventures,photo — ravennagirls @ 10:01 pm
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I am not all that thrilled about Monday today.

The weekend was pretty darn good though.  It probably has something to do with the fact that B and I have been out of town the past two weekends.  By the time Friday happened … I was exhausted.  I had lofty goals of a productive Friday evening… but after work and a quick trip to the gym and making some dinner… I was practically ready for bed.

A few exciting things did happen this weekend though…

We got the house ready for fall and B did this spooky Halloweeny mantle…

and then we had the first fire of the season… & finished some craft projects… & organized some things around here…

We treated ourselves to a dinner out on Sunday night a favorite neighborhood joint and got Mahi Mahi tacos with mango and guacamole.  Yum!  For some dinnertime conversation we brought along our crazy-thick voter’s pamplets in an attempt to read through what all these initiatives are and begin to fill out our ballots.  I am so tired of those TV commercials leading up to election day…. AH!

We planted some more tulip bulbs and did some weeding and had some yard master planning discussions with a surprise few sunshiney hours on Sunday…

And I got a new lens for my camera delivered from Amazon.  I had been looking and looking and wanting it… so finally I just did it.   I was pretty darn excited when it showed up …

And, it showed up just in time to play with it on Saturday when we went over to the twins’ and had a lil photo shoot for their family.  :  )

I have to say, the lens is pretty darn awesome.  Initial reasoning… the ability to get my aperture set as large as 1.8 is just terrific.  I think that if you ever know anyone that is moving to Seattle with an SLR you should get them this lens.   The fact is.. I won’t use a flash unless I have to take a photo at night.  I abhor a direct flash and what that does to the color of my photos.   So during 7 months of the year I am on a constant quest for good lighting.   I hardly take photos after work and on a weekend day I am still struggling to photo indoors.  It usually involves a bunch of exposure/brightness/etc balancing in photoshop.   But with this new lens… and Without much of my typical settings being changed but the f-stop (aperture)… It was SO MUCH EASIER to shoot in a low light setting.  It was so so fast and blured the background WAY better then I have ever done before.

So … while the parents went to get ready for the family photos… B and I sat downstairs and played with the babies.  Well actually baby.   Ethan choose to sleep even though I kept whispering to him that we were taking pictures…. I think he might have whispered back something abou needing his beauty rest for the afternoon.

But Kaylee.. she is a happy picture subject.

Here is a pretty typical photo I would take with my Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S DX VR Nikkor Zoom Lens.  Even with the Vibration Reduction setting on… In order to get enough light the picture is really blurry.  Babies move ….

Now, seconds later, I popped on my new lens…. Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX

So same lighting, same baby, same color/indoor/all that jazz settings on my camera.  This photo just is taken with a lens that got my aperture up to 1.8.

Oh, and she is looking at me now.  Cause she likes my camera clicking. : )

Oh, and I did not Photoshop either of these.  Not even color or brightness or crop or anything.

Now, there are a few things I am really going to have to get used to after day one with this lens on.   All of a sudden  I am getting more light, so the white balance settings I had already customized on my camera where a bit off.    And… it is now possible to get too much light.  Whoa.  That has pretty much never happened to me before.  I could definitely tell sharpness/light/color were some things I cannot wait to practice more .  And the whole one size business.  I walked a lot more and moved a lot more… where before i would have twisted my lens to zoom.  But apparently, according to every blog I could find researching this puppy, I will get used to that.

But the babies… they make excellent lil subjects.  So cutey.


yellowstone September 9, 2010

Filed under: adventures,travel — ravennagirls @ 12:19 pm
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….here we are at the hot springs…


b and i took a little roadtrip recently.  We drove from Seattle to West Yellowstone, Montana (with stops in Ennis on the way there and Bozeman on the way back).


It felt like summer.  

Also, did you know that Yellowstone is like crazy huge?  I had no idea.  

so we drove and drove and drove.

Montana had a big sky.



me, driving …

over river and through the woods and through mountains and farms….

Once at yellowstone we hiked and hiked and hiked until my feet hurt.  Seriously do you know how big that place is?  We stopped at a visitor’s center (the new one at old faithful), and they had a video playing that said you needed 1 and a half days to do the whole loop.  Are they crazy???  Do those people ever get out of the car????

Anyway, we saw lots. 

out to clear lake…

and up to a ridge near the yellowstone river.    see all the calcium carbonate deposits along the raging river?

One day we hiked down into a canyon at another point of the Yellowstone river.  Going down was easy peasy…but climbing back up was a different story!  We saw some amazing and massive waterfalls along this hike too. 


What I loved best of all… was that the park was so huge… you didn’t always have crowds everywhere.  Sure, the major sights to see had people, but there were plenty of hikes on paths less travelled… including this trail, which popped us out of the forest and onto the shores of Lake Yellowstone.  I am a lakes-and-mountains type of girl…

mmm mountains…..  beauty that no picture will ever describe, no matter what lens I use.


Another vacation-love was was the deliciousness of pb&js and huckleberry ice cream.  It’s like summer in food form.

oh, and we saw old faithful erupt. It was amazing! {also amazing was how accurate those scientists are at predicting those eruptions!}


Probably though the craziest and most unique places in the whole park were all the areas where water, minerals, and heat all came together — the geothermal features.  Places like Dragon’s caldron where smoke poured out and mud bubbled… and the Paint Pots which looked like hot piles of paint running together and through little pools… and Mammoth Hot springs which was, well, mammoth.


I had no idea that Yellowstone is the middle of a volcano..

It was also designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978…making it the second World heritage Site we have visited this year.

Now, I am not going to lie to you.  The smell at all these geothermal features was kind of like leaving hundreds of deviled eggs outdoors in 95 degree heat for weeks.  But, I’m blogging so you can’t smell that.  Lucky.

Totally worth it though.  This was at Mammoth, which was amazing. 

And this is from the top lookout at Mammoth Hot Springs.  I loved how the rusty orange seemed to run right into the crystal blue pool before it trickled down the terraces the calcite had formed over time.  Evidently, during seasons where there is a lot of water at the springs… several inches of rock can be added  to terraces each day.  Crazy!



And, just in case you wanted to touch the pretty colors…. or were wondering if there are railings around there….


Oh!  and i forgot to tell you about the wildlife that came with us!!  Luckily we didn’t see any bears.  Getting my lunch stolen was not on my vacation to do list.  Although, B let me talk like Yogi Bear quite a bit.  : ) We did see TONS of Bison.  Often one or two at very close range even.  But one day we saw (and heard) a herd very close to us.



We also watched this little big bison family one afternoon. That baby bison was SO cute.  I mean not as cute as the twins, but pretty cute for a bison!


And then one day a huge bison decided to escort us down the road and over a bridge.  Luckily we did not look appealing to him.  And we stoped moving whenever he turned around and glared at us with his horns.


Mr. Bison, remember – please stay to the right if you are a slower vehicle… the signs say so!

Mr. Bison replied, hey I have a sign with my picture on it that blinks and another sign that says ‘slow down for wildlife’… so I win!


Hehe.  Bison humor for you.

Anyway, we had an AMAZING time.  By the end… we looked like this expression found here, in this mud pool.

Can you see it?


And on our way home, we drove through some pure beauty.  Big sky, bigger clouds, rain and sun-rays pouring through the distance.  Magnificent.


I am not ready for the end of summer.



Roadtrip on the 28th August 28, 2010

Filed under: adventures,travel — ravennagirls @ 3:27 pm
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So, today we will be taking an 8+ hour roadtrip back to Washington from the beautiful state of Montana.

Its August 28th.

This is not the first time D and I have headed off into wild blue yonder for a long road trip on August 28th. 5 years ago today we woke up early, turned on the local news, and decided it was probably about time to get our butts out of dodge. And by dodge, I mean the Crescent City.

5 years ago today, we evacuated from Hurricane Katrina. Most of you know the story already, but for those of you who don’t, just picture this:

3 people (Bri, D, and our great friend Kevin)

1 styrofoam cooler (squeak, squeak)

1 bassoon in its case (being rescued for another friend)

all snugly fit into a blue volkswagon bug.

It was quite a day. It took us 10+ hours to drive 300 miles from New Orleans to Tuscaloosa, Alabama (by the way – our initial destination was Tampa, FL and we made it nowhere NEAR the beach). We passed many gas stations out of fuel, many towns too small to have a name or population, and ran for our lives (literally). Needless to say, there was a bit of stress involved.

So, here’s to roadtrips on the 28th. Replicating today was unintentional, but it does seem awfully fitting as a reminder of how far we and New Orleans have come in the last five years. This trip will no doubt be less soggy, and we are blessed enough to have a home to return to when the day is over, which is more than we can say for last time.

These pictures below are from D’s graduation weekend, almost two years after the storm, taken at several of our favorite places in NOLA, Le Crepe Nanou and St. Joe’s (oh, and thats Kevin!). The city was on its way back then, and its come even further now.

Take a minute out of your day to think about the people of New Orleans, their strength and courage, and how terrific the city has become in the wake of this. One great example can be found over at Le Bateau. People wondered at the time of Katrina what would, and maybe what should become of the Big Easy. I think 5 years later its pretty safe to say that New Orleans is one of the most wondrous places anywhere and that perserverence is the name of the game down that-a-way.


Mount Angel Library August 7, 2010

Filed under: adventures — ravennagirls @ 11:42 am
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Alternately titled: A bunch of Tulane Architecture Alums being nerdy!

in St. Benedict, Oregon

designed by Alvar Aalto






sometimes it rains June 13, 2010

Filed under: adventures — ravennagirls @ 11:35 pm
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quite literally in fact. 

I know, we’ve been neglectful bloggers as of late.  I’d usually apologize, but eh, I just didn’t feel like blogging.  That’s really all.  Plus, June began our crazy busy month of pure fun.  Seriously, sometimes my calendar makes me hyperventilate.  But I have such fun doing it all!!

What’d we miss?

For a whole week my lil sister came out to Seattle to visit me.  It was delightful, except for the whole rain thing.  It wasn’t just a little rain.  It was a whole lotta rain. Cold and rainy.  She probably thinks this place is tragic since her plane landing in town has always issued the start of some unusual pattern of intense grossness lasting for days.  While I was irritated that the camping trip I planned on the peninsula was literally washed away… I was also doing a happy dance for the grass seed B and I planted in the backyard.  It’s like three inches tall after 2 weeks of rain. 

Anyway, I digress.  We found rainy day activities to do.  It involved Kaity making us homemade pancakes on Saturday morning in our PJs .  And then the three of us bundled under blankets on the couch ate and watched TV.  Pure bliss.

Plus, we played hooky from work (shhh!) and finally visited Banya 5.  It’s this great Russian bathhouse in South Lake Union with steam rooms, sauna, a tea room and different temperature pools.  Plus if you arrive before 4.30 it is half off admission.  It was delightful…living in Finland thought B and I how to love sauna.

We ventured out in the rain one day and took the ferry over to the Kitsap Peninsula.  We visited both Port Gamble and Poulsbo… walking around, drinking coffee, shopping.  The sun peeked out a few times… but sadly not on the ferry home….

Kaity and I dined at two of my favorite Seattle restuarants.  Don’t you love when people come to visit and it gives you the perfect excuse to go to your favorite spots??  We had sandwiches at Macrina bakery and sushi at Chiso, yumyum!

Oh, and we played lots of board games in between all of this…and had friends over to join the fun. 

And then, on Memorial Day… it was looking like rain.  So we thought…all well, we will just have an indoor BBQ.  About an hour before people were going to come over… there came the sun, in full force.  We all quick moved the patio furniture out and started the grill… It was glorious.  Also glorious were the made from scratch Red Velvet cupycakes Kaity made for me (which i so nicely shared with my friends…)  Why on earth did I not take a picture of these??  Oh, probably because I was too busy eating them and basking in the sun on the patio. 

The sun was nice enough to last for Kaity’s last day in town too… So we went to Ballard Locks and watched the salmon swim and the boats go through …

danielley says, “watching these salmon  makes me hungry for dinner!”

: )


mmm, a good book April 26, 2010

Filed under: adventures — ravennagirls @ 1:01 am
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while on our trip, B and I are taking along a stack of books that have just been sitting on our to-read list.  Does everyone buy books like we do and then lack the time to actually read them??

(awesome art via dazeychic on etsy…)

Well, anyway, a book that has been read recently is The Help by Kathryn Sockett.

Laugh.Out.Loud funny.

Set in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 60s, the novel explores the depths of the two sides of town…and what happens daily when black women are employed by white families.   It’s a book of stories, what the women see and experience daily during the civil rights movement.  Their stories are collected through an unlikely source.. a young white woman fresh out of college.  While her family pressures her to marry well,  she is passionate about writing something that can call attention to these stories. 

Funny, but also really made you think… and realize that some of the heros of the civil rights movement were not women we have heard of in history.

Anyway, I seriously recommend this one, i loved it!

So far, our vacation will include:

Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani

its sequel… Big Cherry Holler by Adriana Trigiani

The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières

Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson

mmm books.