Seattle & Alaska

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I can’t remember exactly how old I was the first and only other time that I went on a cruise. All I recall is that I won a quick $100 bucks, not sure it was legal for me to be playing or if my dad let me pull the handle when no one was looking. I was into boys. In fact, I remember having to pay my parents $100 for a 10 minute phone call I ‘secretly’ made to a boy back home. A boy that later stalked me, but that’s a separate story. In any event, it was to the Caribbean and the perks of the cruise excited me; all you could eat junk, a nightclub with fancy lights, multiple pools. All the consumerism USA that, like candy cigarettes, try to suck you in at a young age and get you hooked. As I write this, I wonder what my parents really thought of it; when I think of my parents and traveling the first image that comes to mind is my my dad naked on a rock in Yosemite. But I’m sure, like most who seem to walk the line, they figured it’d afford a little something for everyone; for my sister and I, a bit of freedom that teenagers only dream of. And for them, less whiny teenagers as a result of said freedom.

Fast forward to my early twenties when I traveled a lot; planes, trains, automobiles, mopeds… everything short of a cruise, cuz, well with my twenties came two diplomas and no career. Not that it mattered anyway, to this day my chosen mode of travel is on a budget to countries that the only thing you need to save for is airfare. Janet and I spent two weeks in India, for example, and spent a total of $500. Five. Hundred. Dollars. And much of that was spent on bus fares because I distinctly remember paying $2 / night at some places.

In any event, in celebration of forty years of marriage, Willy’s parents kindly offered to take us (and Willy’s brother’s family) on an Alaskan cruise. Let’s pause the cruise talk for a moment because 40 years of marriage really deserves a moment of silence. I’ve always felt so fortunate to have such strong examples of marriage in both my own parents and in Willy’s. His parents are two of the most kind and giving and humble and -since I’m being honest – raunchy people around (gotta love straight shooters. Well, at least I do). They still hold hands and kiss goodbye.

Nothing devalues quality time with family and this particular trip wasn’t about the cruise experience so much as it was about spending time with grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and each other. And for that and that alone I will walk off the ship with fond memories.

That said, if you subtract family and celebration from the equation, the cruise life is not for me. I found it hard to get past the forced fun and the amusement park-esqueness of it all. Getting off the ship, or trying to anyway, amongst lines of people and staff scanning badges only to be force-rushed into a picture with a man in an eagle costume gave me anxiety. The kids drew a lot of stink eyes early on from fellow cruisers that presumably sensed the threat to their peaceful retreat; one women remarked from a balcony below below how loud the kids were being and that was before the ship even started moving.

Leading up to the cruise I heard myself testifying to not being the ‘cruise type’, clinging to the hope that the Alaskan cruise is different than the rest, ‘no better way to see the glaciers’ being my cling-to-hope catch phrase. And then I boarded the ship and came upon staff dressed as lumberjacks enthusiastically dancing as if they were at a pride parade. I love a good pride parade, don’t get me wrong. In fact, we missed the one in Seattle by a day which bums me out. It all just feels like a weird pairing; chefs on floor 5 carving watermelons and pineapples into the shapes of owls and fish and birds, group jazzer size on floor 3, and glaciers and bear spotting out the right-side of ship.

I can recall visiting many of cities that would change from quiet, serene towns into an implosion of tourists as soon as the ships dock. And it always ruined it for me. I mean while the town was taken over, anyway. I felt bad being the intruder.

Toward the end, I think we all accepted it for what it was and relaxed to take in the real purpose — a celebration of love and togetherness. A tribute to the simple truth that any experience in life is made meaningful by those you spend building the memories with.

And the glaciers. I mean, they sure were incredible.

Childhood Unplugged

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Posting anything after all the tragedies that have taken place as of late feels inherently wrong. I get stuck in a sulking rut, feeling a bit down, burdened by the lack of motivation to move onward and trying to balance moving onward with making sense of all that has occurred in our troubled world. Thinking hard about the future and the children I’ve brought into this world who hopefully will shape it to be better than it is today. My heart goes out to all the families who are suffering because they’ve lost someone dear to them. Trying hard to hold onto hope.


I spent a few days visiting Janet in the beginning of June. In so many ways, it feels like yesterday when it was just the two of us, kicking cans on the side of the road in a town we didn’t know; when adventures of the like were’t so well documented and, well, cool. Fast forward a few years and six kids (between the two of us) later, not to mention moves beyond state lines and, well, it’s hard to get any sort of quality time these days. And by quality time, I mean slowness that allows for silence only the closest of friendships can feel comfortable with. With her husband and kids back in Utah for the week, it was just us girls (and Sonny), working side by side (so many new shop updates to come), mostly, drinking beer and ordering take out and catching up on all things big and small. Just what I needed, just when I needed it. A thirst only a best friend can quench.

Hoping to make it back before Summer is over and the rain rolls in; If you’re in the Seattle area, I’ll be offering a few sessions during my next visit. You can read the details here.

Janet & Co.

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Janet recently moved from Utah to Seattle and given the fact I had never been to Seattle (and wanted to see her, duh) I scheduled my flight.

I took on a few sessions while I was there, which turned out fantastic despite my mode of operation to practically drive myself into a panic attack beforehand. Both families were sweet as could be, a delight to photograph, and the images turned out great. I hope to open myself up to more travel sessions in the future… I gotta give my nerves some practice.

I spent the first day there entirely on my own, with intentions to explore the city, meet Janet for lunch, and pick her up at the end of her work day. I barely made it out of the shower before wanting to climb back in bed for a nap. I could blame it on first trimester or I could blame it on standing in line for an hour and a half waiting to pick up a rental car from Hertz the night prior. Seriously, don’t use Hertz. In any event, I didn’t make it further than Whole Foods – where I stopped to pick up some things to make for dinner – before taking a nap in the car; the windows down, the sun shining through the window. By all accounts, perfect car nap ingredients if you were to ask my dad (who himself is well versed in both car naps and face-down-on-the-hallway-carpet naps). I didn’t see much of the city and I nearly convinced myself that traveling, at all, while in the first trimester is a complete sham.

I felt better the next day. We packed a few things and hit the road for Portland, where both of my sessions were. The traffic reminded me of LA but we made due with good music and good conversation and a relatively good toddler that sat relatively quietly in the backseat.

We learned quickly that gone are the days that you can roll into a city, pull up at the first hotel you see, and get a room. Times sure have changed since the summer we spent on the road, driving all the way to Louisiana and back without a single reservation or even a hint of a plan. Needless to say, we opted for the Travelodge, which appeared to be the only option in town with only one room left and a front desk employee who had never even heard of a pack-n-play and proceeded to scratch his head when we described it as a “travel crib”.

We spent much of our time exploring the city and surrounding areas, stopping in at the occasional Denny’s which seems to fulfill whatever pregnancy cravings I’ve had thus far (hello magnificent butter-melted-belgium-waffles and french fries with those little salt canals engraved into their salty potato goodness). We met up with a few friends in the area as well, which makes this big world we live in feel just a bit friendlier. I shot my sessions and we headed back to Seattle, albeit sitting in traffic for much of the way, and I flew home the following morning, before the sun was even up.

I always longed for the day Janet moved from Utah; always assumed it’d be back to California. And yet visiting the path her life has taken her on has proven almost as fun. Almost. Still longing for the day…