Wednesday, June 30, 2010

An award & our summer itinerary

Our summer agenda is busier than ever and I love it! We have 7 of the next 8 weekends filled with outdoor activities and parties with friends, which makes me smile even more.  Now that the weather's turned for the better ::crossing our fingers it stays that way:: and we're feeling better and working out more, we're finding we want to be outside and doing active things instead of sitting indoors.

July 3 - Saturday we are driving up to Wenatchee and going White Water Rafting (a first for both of us) then on the way back, we're going to visit the Bavarian village, Leavenworth.

July 11 - Our new gym Anytime Fitness sponsors a local hike every other Sunday at Mount Peak in Enumclaw.  This time we're going to try it.  We may not survive but if we do, I'll show you pictures!

July 14 - Miss Erika's (my mom-in-law) birthday...don't know what we're doing as of yet but still an important mention!

July 18 - Billy & Nikki's son Aiden is turning 2 and they're throwing a perfect party on a hopefully hot & sunny July day, which includes water guns and water balloon fights for the adults!

July 24 - My Worldwide Photowalk in Tacoma with Erika in the morning, then the Issaquah version at 4pm.

August 5-7 - An adults only camping trip to the eastern side of the mountains with some of Rico's friends from work.

August 14 - We've been invited to the 3rd Annual Garza-palooza - Amanda's boss - which includes grilling out and a live band and camping in the backyard if the drinks flow too abundantly!

All, of course, accompanied by photos ;-)

Now on to some important business:

This little lady made my day by nominating me for the SuperStar Blogger Award.  She makes me makes me snort inappropriately when I read the antics her son puts on and has me in awe of how she makes raising 2 kids look easy.

The rule behind accepting this award is I must now divulge 7 things the blogging world doesn't know about me, so here it goes:

1. It creeps me out the sound that eggs make when you put them in water to boil.  It sounds like little baby chicks chirping to be let out.

2. I have a bachelors degree in English degree but I love my job in accounting, yet I still haven't figured out what I want to do with my life career wise.  I love my photography and ideally would love to just travel around the world with my husband and take photos for a living, but it seems too unrealistic to be a viable option!

3. My green thumb is so broken, it's black!  Seriously! I'm horrible at keeping plants alive and yet I still want to have a vegetable and herb garden.  I haven't tried it yet but I'm thinking about it.  Though that would require more sun than where we live now.

4. I hate raw onions, but love them cooked (at least the point where I can't taste them but they still give the food flavor)

5. I used to hate steak, now I can't get enough.  My parents love to tell the story about them eating steak while I preferred hotdogs!

6.  I tried being a vegetarian when I was younger because my star crush - Jonathan Taylor Thomas - once said in Tiger Beat that he was a vegetarian.  I lasted 1 day...

7. I have a scar on my right ring finger from sticking my hand in an air conditioning fan while it was running when I was young.

These bloggers make my day go by so much faster and keep me so entertained!  And my nominees are:
1. Kris at Pretty All True
2. Ree at The Pioneer Woman
3. Amanda at The Family Blog

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Man in the Moon

My intent tonight was to get a good shot of Mount Rainier at sunset because today was going to be the best day of the weekend weather wise.  Amanda told me about a spot that she thought would make a good vantage point so Rico and I headed up to the Mountainview Cemetery Lookout (yes it's as creepy as it sounds...a cemetery is right across the road and looks over this scenic point...though come to think on it, I want a damn good view for my final resting place too so they might have something there!).

Well it turns out that tonight there was going to be a full moon rise at around 9:30.  We didn't realize that until photographers (with much better equipment than me - yes I'm a little intimidated) started showing up and parking their tripods.  They were all very nice and told us why they were setting up shop - the full moon rise behind Mt. Rainier- which sounded really cool!  I ended up taking Rico home in record time (he's going out with friends tonight and was supposed to meet them right around the time the moon would rise...he also wasn't too fond of the mosquitos using him as life support!).  I sped back to the overlook in time to moon!  Everyone waited around til about 10 mins after the time the moon was supposed to rise.  

While I was there, they had started discussing different view points in the city where shots can be taken with unobstructed views.  One of them being the Auburn Transit Center parking garage.  I had given up on getting any shots of the moon but as soon as I started heading down the hill to go home, I saw the moon pop it's head up over the foothills ...apparently we just had our timing wrong.  I quickly looped around Auburn one more time and headed to the Transit center since it was closer than the overlook.

This was my first time shooting the moon but I think it turned out pretty cool!  Since 4th of July is next weekend, Muckleshoot was setting off tons of fireworks and I tried to get some shots of those in front of the moon but they didn't turn out right - focusing on two different distances doesn't work for me apparently.

The moon changed colors a bit as it was going through the smoke of the fireworks and getting higher in the sky.

The good news is that I'm learning how to use my manual setting on the camera a little better which is great.  This was just a lucky day all around -- the weather turned out great, there were no clouds in the sky after 12pm or so (which also helped getting the shots of the moon & mountain) and just by happenstance did we go looking for a good photo op and found a perfect night for it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

One heck of a morning!

I woke up to a sore throat and stuffy nose courtesy of my oh-so-generous-husband! Thanks, babe!  You could've kept those germs to yourself, I wouldn't have minded, honest!  My goal was to go to Walmart for groceries before the crowds of lunch time.  So I made it all the way up to Federal Way to the Super Walmart, only to discover that I had left my wallet at home in my gym bag!

So I headed back down the hill, gathered up my wallet, reusable shopping bags and coupons that I had forgotten the first time and put them in my trunk.  I sat down to start my car...I'd locked my keys in my trunk! Good one Cassie!  Luckily, I hadn't locked my car when I ran inside for the wallet so I could just pop the trunk open and grab them and go.  Good thing, 'cause I let my AAA lapse so I don't have them to fall back on anymore!

The good news of the day.... there's this strange orb of glowing light in the sky making it so we might, might get up to 75 today!  So despite the craptastic morning, the sun is finally shining and I'm a happy girl!

Just a bit of trivia: it has been 272 days since we've hit 75 degrees or higher! Since September 23rd of last year!!  The old record - 254 days!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Rico's First Flight

Merry Christmas Rico! Yes - I know it's late but Rico decided to wait for clearer weather before using his Christmas gift.  Since Rico has contemplated becoming a helicopter pilot, the perfect gift last year for him was a test flight.  He scheduled the flight yesterday when the forecast said perfect weather for today.  We woke up to cloudy skies and chilly temperatures.  But we took the chance and as we drove to Boeing Field, the clouds thinned and finally the sun popped through.  It seemed that the exit for Boeing Field was the line for the clouds, so he got super lucky and had amazing blue skies for his first flight (the clouds returned as soon as we started heading South again and it's supposed to rain all this weekend, blah).

To me, this little copter looks like a dragonfly - little skinny tale with a big head buzzing around.... 
Since there is no way I can describe what it was like to fly a helicopter, I'll let Flyboy tell you in his own words:
It was an amazing experience.  It started out with Bryan (Flight Instructor) walking me through a few of the basics of safety and the controls of the helicopter. Then we headed out and got settled in and ready for take off. During the take off and landings of the helicopter, Bryan was in control but once we got up and out over Seattle, Bryan gave me control and just assisted in making corrections (there were two sets of controls, similar to a Drivers Ed car). We headed north from Boeing Field out over Queen Anne Hill and up to Lake Washington and back down along the shore.  The coolest part was flying right over Qwest Field.  It was so awesome to be able to just hover over Seattle and see everything.  I wish the flight could have been longer but I look forward to going back out and doing more training.

I got to control the Cyclic (basically a stick in the middle of the copter that controls the forward and backward movement), the Collective Lever (up and down controls on the side of the seat) and the Throttle (controls speed of the engine to keep the copter in flight).  I didn't really get to use the Torque petals though which controls the Rudder and controls the pitch and balance - we didn't really need it because the wind wasn't blowing too hard.

 Caught this shot just before Rico strapped in for his lesson!

 Take off!

 Hovering... and showing off for the camera!

See...what'd I tell ya? A Dragonfly!
His huge grin after the flight was finished!

Some other interesting information Rico discovered by talking with his instructor:
  • It takes approximately 4 years to be able to make a decent living flying helicopters.
  • There are 3 levels of licenses: Private, Commercial, CFI (Certified Flight Instructor)
    • Private: 40hrs of flight time (not allowed to charge for your services)
    • Commercial: 250 hrs
    • CFI: Most pilots will work as an instructor to accumulate hours.
  • It takes approximately 1000-1500 hrs of flight time for insurance companies to consider you coverable in the  business of flying.
  • Each hour of flying costs anywhere between $200-$350 depending on where you fly and if you buy in bulk.

Happy Father's Day

To all the men in my life - Fathers and Future Fathers - Happy Father's Day!   You guys are amazing and couldn't imagine my life without you!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Worldwide Photowalk - July 24, 2010

Because last weekends photowalk was so much fun, when I heard about another photowalk, I jumped at the chance.  Erika and I have signed up for Scott Kelby's Third Annual Worldwide Photowalk on July 24th.  There are 4 locations in our area (2 in Seattle, 1 in Issaquah and 1 in Tacoma).  Tacoma is a bit closer (and much easier parking) than Seattle so we chose that one.  I will be doing the one in Issaquah as well.  Tacoma starts at 10am, Issaquah starts at 4:30 so it shouldn't be an issue.  I may not survive the day because I'm sure it will be sweltering outside but at least Tacoma is on the water so that should make it a little cooler.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Perfect Day, Part Deux!

(Blogger was being silly and wouldn't let me upload anymore pictures to the 1st post so you get a 2nd!)

After the bust at the Fruit Loop, we stopped at Full Sail Brewery for some lunch and then we were on our way for the next leg of our trip. On the way, we stopped at Packer Orchards & Cookie Stop Bakery, because, really, who could resist a name like that.

And we saw this handsome fella! 

Our last major stop was much further east, towards the end of the gorge.
Maryhill Stonehenge
It's a full size replica of the one in England, this one dedicated to the fallen soldiers of WW1.

A view of Mt. Hood, through the pillars.

Not a great shot, but you can see the wind turbines on the hillside - very much put use in the desert atmosphere of the eastern side of the Cascades.
On our way back, instead of driving back the same way we came, we headed north to Yakima and drove back through Washington (Oregon is odd in that the state law doesn't allow us to pump our own gas.  You have to wait for an attendant to do it for we chose to stay on the Washington side of the border).

It was a gorgeous day and I'm so happy we went.  We did end up with a little sunburn from the sunroof being open but it was worth it!  For the rest of the weekend, I think we're just going to lounge and grill some steaks up for dinner and watch the True Blood season premiere!

Rico is finally finished with this quarter at school...that make him 3 classes away from graduating! Yay!  2 this summer and one more this Fall!  He starts back June 21st so he has about 10 days to enjoy not doing homework (It's almost over, babe, you can do it!!).

Perfect Day, Part 1!

Yesterday we took a 15hr road trip (Rico drove the entire way - what a champ!), starting out at 3am and returning home around 6pm!  It was a long day but so worth it.  The first 2 1/2 hrs were pretty uneventful driving from Auburn to Portland.

Originally, I had 3 or 4 places picked out that I wanted us to stop at and explore.  We ended up with many more than that because a lot of the waterfalls along the Historic Columbia River Highway are visible from the highway pullouts - which makes it extremely easy to stop and see the sights.

{Left click on the photos for enlarged version}

We started off our day at the end of Larch Mountain Road, which leads to Sherrard Viewpoint.  We were kind of worried at first because on the drive up, it was super foggy and we couldn't see anything beyond the road.  Luckily halfway up, the sun started poking through and eventually at the top, as you can see, we didn't have any issues!

Sherrard Viewpoint boasts a view of 5 mountains.  Mt. St. Helens (left), Mt. Rainier (center) and Mt. Adams (right).

Mount Hood

Mt. Jefferson

Luckily, from the parking lot, there was only a 1/4 mile hike to this scenic viewpoint :) 

After that, the sun had burned off most of the fog so we were able to open the sunroof and cruise around with the windows open.  We discovered that we could usually tell when there was going to be a stop coming up because we could hear the waterfalls through the sunroof which was really cool.  We caught quite a few that weren't listed on the map by listening for them.

Crown Point Overlook Vista House - as you can tell, we couldn't see anything from here...the fog was still too heavy.
Latourell Falls

 Rico insisted on a Vanna White for this one, haha!
 This was one of falls we heard but wasn't on the map!

Sheppard's Dell was right off the road.  The trail led down from the road and right up next to the falls.  It was really cool and it had some great shots from under the bridge as well.

 Wahkeena Falls

 The above shots were from the off-the-road pull off.  But they have a little bridge at the top...I managed to talk Rico into coming up with me - it was only about 1/4 mile up so it wasn't too bad.

Multnomah Falls
One of the most talked about falls of the Columbia Gorge. This is one I insisted on seeing and I'm glad we got there early.  Lots of people were just starting to pull in as we were leaving, so we missed the crowds.  The sun coming through the trees created a really cool lighting effect though it was hard to catch...

 One of the other highlights of the trip was supposed to be the Fruit Loop in Hood River.  The Fruit Loop is a scenic route around the town which is situated in a valley bewteen Mt Hood & Mt. Adams, filled with fruit farms and wineries.  Little did we realize that most of the early blooming fruit had already been picked.  Rico humored me and still drove around and here's what we saw.
 We stopped at Hood River Lavender Farm to see if any of the lavender fields were in bloom but apparently they've been having the same bad weather we've been having and they're blooming season is still a few weeks off.  The manager graciously let us roam around her farm and take pictures.

 I picked him in the garden and decided to take him home!