Year in Review

2015: I dub thee “Year of the House.” Like everyone else, Andy and I got caught up in the Portland housing frenzy: we rebuilt the foundation on our little guacamole green house, sold it, and somehow managed to not have to move twice after our offer on a home we loved was accepted. Now we just have to rebuild a roof. It’s always a fixer with us.

There were also job changes, the addition of second fuzzy pup, and bizarre weather: one of our hottest summers preceded by one of our lowest snowpack winters. Now, it’s our rainiest December on record (including our highest single day of rainfall (>3”), and the mountains are getting hammered with snow.

Sometimes, it actually feels like we are grownups.

Aka “Juneuary” in 2015. Sunny skies, above average temps, minimal precipitation. Made for some glorious kayaking and backcountry adventures. 

welcoming in 2015 on Johnston Ridge

the epitome of "Juneuary"- kayaking Silver Lake

A fantastic, week-long, impromptu vacation with my husband/soul mate/best friend. No rhyme or reason, just bouncing around between city, mountain and coastal adventures. 

Seattle skyline

Hug Point sunset

The absence of snow leads me to places I shouldn’t be in March, including a backpacking trip at 4000’. New gear tests always make me happy.

No snow at 4000' in the Badger Creek Wilderness

Two funerals. Loss. Waterfalls and balsamroot in the desert are therapy for the soul. 

 White River Falls

An absolutely beautiful month. Revisiting old haunts and finding new ones to love, just before the unbearable heat wave begins. 

Loowit trail above Ape Canyon

mysterious and lovely Bell Creek

Selling our house, a moving frenzy. A single, glorious backpacking trip (minus the mozzies) with Andy into Jeff Park. Alpine wonderland.

This is the stuff my dreams are made of

Not much to say. Honestly, it was just HOT. Missing the mountains. 

The best backpacking trip of the year: introducing lovely trail friends to the Goat Rocks. Even if I did feel like I was going to die of heat exhaustion. 

celebration at Cispus Pass 6400'

Love these ladies

Taking our kayaks into new waters, new skills. Eighteen years with the love of my life. 

contemplating Siletz

Not much to say here, these months were mostly overrun with work and home projects. Although we did manage to sneak a trip in to the elusive Panther Creek Falls. 

(this was actually late September but who cares, it feels very "fall") a snowy solo near Barrett Spur
the incredibly lovely Panther Creek Falls

So far, quiet. The holiday insanity is finished, but this is a month for recovery (injuries for both our new pup and myself). Focusing on photography, hobbies, and bonding. Yearning for the mountains.

our new, sweet boy

Fall into winter....settling in

fireplace snuggles and puppies

At the beginning of November, we brought home this sweet, giant galumph of a boy for a trial and a few weeks later, decided he was a total keeper. 

love this sweet face

We’ve been looking for a second dog for some time now- in July, we fostered/trialed Chewy for almost a month before heartrendingly deciding we weren’t a good match for his needs (tremendous separation anxiety and dog aggression. We had been through horrifying dog aggressive behavior with our previous boy, Rocky, for over ten years and honestly, just weren’t up for it again). We took a few months off of thinking about a second furry addition to the house, but upon seeing Captain’s face, had to inquire about this boy.

He’s like a cross between a kangaroo and a giraffe and Gumby; funny and clumsy and endearing with way too many transitions in his life. Sadly, between a back injury for me at work and a new health issue/leg injury for him (that cropped up shortly after bringing him home) we’ve done next to no hiking. I’m yearning for snow and he loooooves the outdoors. And playing with Pepper, which he can’t do right now due to the fragility of his leg. 

amazing to see Pepper actually snuggle- bossy little wench that she is

one of our only hikes in November- Gillette Lake


So let’s say we are both (all of us, actually) stir crazy. But getting lots of naps and long walks around the neighborhood, dreaming about chasing squirrels and eating snowcones. 

napping with my dogs is a favorite pastime

stretchy leg twins

Kayak Luv

Eighteen years or seven, take your pick. That’s how long I have had my soul mate, best friend, (now) husband in my life. People always ask how long we’ve been together, and we always look at each other first, trying to figure out which number they want: eighteen since first date/kiss  or seven since we finally made it *official* on paperwork. Like I said, take your pick.

We got out to the coast for three gorgeous late September days, testing our kayaks in new waters with newly acquired skills. In August we participated in Alder Creek’s Full Immersion Sea Kayak II class which took learning to a whole new level.

taking in Siletz Bay


Full Immersion II

Like Full Immersion I, the course consisted of 2.5 days of consecutive learning: a night in the pool, practicing skills (including an introduction to rolling) followed by two days on the water. The first full day we predominantly played with current and maneuvering skills in the Gorge near Hood River. We paddled up the Klickitat battling swift current and practicing ferrying skills, testing our lungs in the heavy wildfire smoke settling in the Hood River valley. The day also included a more in depth session regarding reading water, maneuvering, tides and practicing new strokes and tow line rescues. 

4:30 pm in Hood River. Yes, it was this dark (wildfire smoke)

heading towards the Klickitat, crossing the open Columbia

Sunday we drove to the coast to take these new skills into a true teaching environment- the Oregon coast off the Salmon River near Cascade Head. It was stunning- a clear, cold morning, blissfully free of the smoke haze from the day before. Everyone chose dry suits over wet suits for immersion gear. Today, today there was no doubt we were going into the water, voluntary or not.  The river was absolutely gorgeous: clear, azure water with crabs, mini jellyfish and Dungeness crab visible in the water. Seals poked their heads in and out, curious about our group. We timed our journey with the tides; here, the Salmon River is fully tidal- we put in with the outgoing tide, coordinating our journey to finish with the incoming tide. Kayaking is all about utilizing your resources and conserving energy.

We got our water wings under us, warming up, and practicing skills and maneuvers learned in Hood River. Afterwards we headed out into the surf. In truth, here, I was terrified. My last washing machine cycle experience in the Surf Zone class had hammered my confidence badly; although the waves this day weren’t insurmountable (and I was in a safe learning environment), the ocean seemed frothy and unforgiveable and brutal. The instructors, as always, were phenomenal. In the end all was well...I just needed to spend some time in what Andrew-from-Wisconsin dubbed the “soup zone”, moving in and out of rip tides and shore currents. I needed time to *feel* what was happening with the boat in these types of currents, to process and understand them instead of panicking when my boat got pitched to and fro. In the end, I ventured further out into the four and five foot swells, learning to hold position again an incoming breaker, and I even managed to surf a few times. I also did a lot of swimming. :)

where the Salmon River meets the ocean

Our condo rental was in Lincoln City on the shores of Siletz Bay. Andy and I fell in love with this place, especially for kayaking. 

little beach behind our condo

We trialed our new dry suits and what a world of difference those made in conditions. Netarts Bay is one of my favorite places on the coast, yet we ended up loving Siletz more for paddling. Netarts is deeper and one of the best places for crabbing on the coast; however, there are few places to land and when the afternoon wind finally picks up, you end up fighting the wind more than the current, which makes for some interesting chop. 

paddling chop & current in Netarts

Siletz is simply lovely. Of varying depths, in certain places, with the incoming tide, we were just coasting over shallow sand bars, seals and birds warily watching us from a safe distance. We made land on one of many small islands and tried our hand at crabbing and just enjoyed the sun and wind and water.  

loved weaving in and out of these giant driftwood trees in Siletz

beyond stoked that he caught a crab

driftwood forest maze

taking in Siletz at high tide

It was interesting to see how much Full Immersion II came into play, even in the sheltered bays. One of the biggest lessons taught was in regards to respecting the mouth of the bays and how they shift currents with the incoming and outgoing tides. Per another instructor, “Stay away from the mouth at the outgoing tide- they act like a nozzle and will shoot you out into the ocean.”

We thought maybe he was exaggerating. Nope.

Our first day at Siletz we had done some recon regarding the outgoing current at the mouth- it was humbling to see just how swiftly the water was flowing. And we knew just by looking at it there was no way to beat that through sheer paddling strength (a valuable lesson in recon and in having an exit strategy should you get caught). As it was, coming back in with the outgoing tide, Andy and I got to practice skills learned in the second immersion class, especially regarding point navigation and correcting trajectory when the current is pulling you in a different direction than you want to go.

We also learned that Pepper will eat starfish if given the chance. Go figure.

To eighteen years, my love.