Entries Tagged as 'Travel'

29 Portraits Project
Portraits 26 – 30 / 29: Alex, Tish, Christian, Tyler & Andrew

Posted on: Saturday, October 17, 2015

In September, Christian and I traveled to Hawaii with four friends: Andrew, Tyler, Tish and Tish’s boyfriend, Alex. Tish, Andrew, and Tyler all started grad school with Christian. I’ve known the three of them for over five years now. Alex is a relative newcomer–he and Tish started dating early this year–but he fits right in with the group. These are our oldest and closest friends in Santa Cruz–together we’ve celebrated birthdays, thrown parties, laid out by pools, gazed up at stars, floated rivers, spent weekends at a cabin in the woods, gone camping and backpacking, barbecued and pot-lucked, carved pumpkins, decorated cookies, watched super bowls, hosted game nights, had movie nights, thrown darts at The Poet & The Patriot, played corn hole, tossed frisbees, shot guns, visited the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, explored beaches, went out to dinners, met each other’s families, met up for drinks, danced our hearts out, talked late into nights, caught up over breakfasts, made plans and dreamed up trips. Andrew is from Hawaii, and ever since we all became friends, we’d been talking about a Hawaii trip. This September that trip came to fruition.


The beginning of our trip was filled with rain. We swam in the rain, snorkeled in the rain, ran from the grocery store to the car in the rain… It didn’t matter though–we were in Hawaii and the water was warm and the island was lush and we were on vacation with our friends. Sometimes the sun came out–warmed our faces and turned the gray clouds silver–but mostly the weather was erratic with frequent rain spats and wind gusts. I put off taking my final portraits because of the rain.

We arrived on a Friday. On Monday morning, the soggy gray clouds of the past three days burned off and the skies shone a brilliant blue. We passed the better part of that blue sky day at Kuhio Beach in Waikiki, sunbathing and people watching on the crowded, bleached-blond sand; surfing and splashing around in water the color of a seafoam green Crayola crayon. By the time we packed up and headed back to our place though, the skies had clouded over and the rain had returned. Tish and Alex were leaving the next day. Being an optimist, I thought the weather might be better in the morning. It wasn’t. So I took Tish and Alex’s portraits under skies that threatened rain, while a wind whipped their hair around. They were great sports though. And I think we got some good ones!


I took Christian, Tyler, and Andrew’s portraits on my birthday. The plan for the day was to drive to the North Shore, where we would hang out at Waimea Bay and then go into to take some photos. For dinner I wanted dumplings and after some research, decided on Lucky Belly in Honolulu. Andrew took us to the North Shore on the Kamehameha Highway which hugged the coastline–it was postcard beaches and teal ocean waters to the right, and valleys and mountains of emerald jungle to the left. Partway through our drive, we stopped at Kualoa Park to take some portraits with the scenic island of Mokoli’i (formerly known as “Chinaman’s Hat”) as a backdrop. A little further up the highway, after driving through a stretch of beachside houses and imagining what it would be like to live that close to the Pacific Ocean, we stopped at one of a half dozen shrimp trucks and got plates full of garlicky shrimp to tide us over until dinnertime. Chickens loafed in the grass around the covered picnic tables while we ate.

At Waimea Bay people cliff jumped from a large rock just off the beach. The sky was dazzling blue and the soft yellow sand was screaming hot. Overhead were large, lazy, fluffy clouds. The beach was peppered with people in bright suits on patterned towels and out in the water tiny people bobbed around leisurely in neon inner tubes. In the winter, Waimea Bay is host to the famed Quicksilver Big Wave Invitational but in the fall, the waters are calm and flat. We reclined in chairs and beach towels; I took photos of the cliff jumpers and the boys took a dip in the bay’s blue green waters. It was beautiful and serene. It was my favorite beach.

Towards the end of the afternoon, we drove into Haleiwa. The town was full of colorful plantation-era buildings with cute shops and artwork. We took our time walking around, popping into a store or two and grabbing a shave ice. On our way back to the car, we stopped on the bridge for some final portraits and then headed back to Honolulu for what turned out to be an outstanding dinner with two kinds of dumplings (pork belly bao and oxtail dumplings!). Back at our cabin for the week, the boys sang me “Happy Birthday” and I blew out the candles on a Hello Kitty Cake. I couldn’t have asked for a better end to my twenties.

My favorite portraits of Alex, Tish, Christian, Tyler, and Andrew are below. Thanks so much guys!

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This is the conclusion of the project. I took a total of 30 portraits and completed the project on my birthday. My goal was to take 29 portraits by my 30th birthday. Mission accomplished!


…of this project–I have more photo projects to come though,  so check back soon!

Adventures in Backpacking
Ansel Adams Wilderness Area

Posted on: Wednesday, September 2, 2015

It’s September. Labor day is just around the corner. Another summer is ending. As usual, I do not know how this is possible–how a season composed of days which feel so warm and lazy always seems to pass at the fastest clip. Still I am eager for the change–for raindrops and drops in temperature and trees to drop their leaves (although I doubt Santa Cruz, or the rest of California, will comply with my desires).

When Christian was little, his family marked the end of summer with a backpacking trip to Warm Lake in the Goat Rocks. He took me there in 2010–right before we moved to California–it was my first backpacking trip and I was instantly smitten. This is in spite of the fact that I was eaten alive by mosquitoes (photos of me from this trip show comically large red bites running up and down my brown legs); in spite of the fact that Christian led us up some literal goat paths before finding the correct path to our chosen campsite (consequently adding a mile or more onto what was already a 10 mile hike). It didn’t matter. I loved passing the day in almost complete solitude–maybe seeing one other human besides Christian, maybe not. We had an entire lake to ourselves. Sure, it was a very, very cold lake, but it was crazy blue and beautiful, surrounded by wild flowers and totally remote. In that remoteness, my mind emptied itself of its usual anxieties and I felt immersed in the moment. We read next to our lake, sprawled out on sleeping pads; we plunged into its cold waters; we hiked to waterfalls and pumped water at the creek; we cooked over a tiny flame and played gin rummy until the mosquitoes drove us into our tent. And at night the black sky cracked open and a million brilliant stars spilled out above us. Being there felt extraordinary.


This summer, Christian and I joined five friends for a three day backpacking trip in the Ansel Adams Wilderness Area (near Mammoth Lakes, California). We hiked seven miles in to Lake Ediza. We went up: across creeks and alongside waterfalls, vistas rising up behind us. At Shadow Lake, we sat beside the shore and ate lunches–peanut butter and jelly, bread and cheese, salami and trail mix. Then we climbed on: under trees, over rocks, on a path that cut through wild flowers of every color and hugged the rushing creek before jumping over it, departing from and then returning to its winding waters again (and again). Eventually, we rounded a corner and Lake Ediza spread out before us. It was stunning. In the distance you could make out a tent or two but it felt empty–big and isolated; crazy blue and beautiful.

Once again I fed a small army of mosquitoes (I counted 37 bites, mostly on my legs but I’m sure the actual number of bites was even higher). It didn’t matter though. Once again my mind emptied itself of the customary concerns and I reveled in the moment and marveled in that place. Daily tasks are often more difficult in the wilderness (cooking, hygiene, even sleeping all take on a particular effort) but life feels much simpler. I read Vonnegut next to the lake and when I felt hot or dirty, plunged myself in its frigid waters; I played card games on the large rock we used as our kitchen before and after dinner and cooked over small flames (instant coffee at breakfast, grilled cheese at lunch, mac and cheese and other backpacking fare at dinner); I day hiked up to elusive alpine lakes and watched the sun color the sky and pour onto the waters of Lake Ediza as it disappeared behind the surrounding mountain peaks at the end of each day. We explored and talked and stared off into space and splashed around and even celebrated a birthday. And at night the sky split open and stars flooded the darkness. The place was new but the experience was just as I remembered. Five years later and I’m still smitten.

A mix of iPhone and DSLR photos from our backpacking trip to Lake Ediza below:

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When We Were in Iceland – July 2014

Posted on: Wednesday, July 15, 2015

This time last year we were in Iceland (or, if you want to be really technical about it, we were on airplane home after a stop over in Iceland). For two and a half days we were very serious tourists. We rented a car at the airport and drove straight to the Blue Lagoon for a soak with the other tourists; we left with soft skin and light hearts and limbs that felt elastic. We wandered around Reykjavik on foot past inviting store fronts and assorted restaurants, painted buildings and vibrant street art . The sky was gray and the clouds hung low but the city was bright and colorful.

We woke up early and explored in our running shoes–weaving through city streets before joining some bunnies on the trails around the Perlan and looping back around a park. We drove the Golden Circle, visiting Þingvellir, Geysir and Strokkur, Gulfoss and Kerið. It rained off and on throughout the day, but we had raincoats. In the evenings we ate our way through Reykjavik: stir fry, Greek food, and large bowls of noodle soup; we drank local beers and got ice cream even though the summer air felt chilly. At night we went to bed while it was still very, very light out; outside people gathered at bars while we slept.

In the mornings we ate cereal and made coffee in our hotel room. We drove to Jökulsárlón: through black lava fields and fields of yellow flowers, past shaggy sheep and friendly Icelandic horses in every horsey hue, over bridges and under the shadows of volcanoes, and along glaciers and coastline to an enormous bright blue lagoon of floating ice. The drive was long (very, very long) but we saw Iceland in all it’s varying forms (it is a land of contrasts). On the way back, we stopped and looked up at Skógafoss (one of three major waterfalls along our route). From the road we saw more waterfalls. We listened to a playlist named “Icelandic Roadtripping” and dreamed of geothermal pools as the steam from power plants billowed in the distance.

We said good bye to the city from the top of Hallgrimskirkja: goodbye to the rainbow roof tops, the silver sea, the short green trees and the distant mountains; to horses with long bangs and sheep that stared into your soul; to hotpots and warm springs, waterfalls and geysers, glaciers and icebergs, volcanoes and blue lagoons. Back on the ground, we lingered in shops, browsing postcards and t-shirts, and filled our stomachs with hot dogs and coffee. Then we loaded into our tiny car with the nearly burned out clutch and thought, “We’ll be back”.

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I hope we will be. There’s so much more to see.

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