Home Sweet Home – Father’s Day Edition!

As some of you may already know, I got a new job!  Fortunately, I had some time off before starting, so I decided to fly home and surprise my family!  The catch?  I only had a few days. :/  But, it had been almost a year since I was last home, so I needed it badly and it just so happened to align with Father’s Day.

It all started early Saturday morning at the very awesome PDX airport with a standby flight.  I missed the first two flights (granted, we changed from the first flight to the second before I even left the apartment), but it was all good.  Had a safe flight over (full of photo editing and Anchorman 2) and spent the night with John’s parents.  It was so sweet spending time with them and Clarence!IMG_5686Areh came to pick me up bright and early on Sunday morning.  The plan once we got home was for her to go inside, take Daisy potty, then have me bring Daisy back inside.  I apparently looked like a ghost to everyone.  It was an awesome surprise!

I had such a wonderful time at home and took a ton of photos, so without further ado, I bring you a photo dump of home in Georgia in June.  Enjoy!

Mikey Art 2The products of art camp.  He created all of these entirely by himself!!  He’s so talented!  I couldn’t be more proud!Mikey Art 1A girl and her kitty!IMG_6903Cassie boo boo is so silly! IMG_6898 Ava BBallI had forgotten how hot GA summers are and agreed to walk with the little ones to the neighborhood playground…in the middle of the day.  We didn’t last very long…  😛Silly Cutie Pies IMG_6938 Malina Jumprope Mr Mikey IMG_6946IMG_6963 IMG_6964 IMG_6966 IMG_7000 IMG_7005 IMG_7012This picture makes me so happy because she wouldn’t have jumped in the pool last summer if I had candy!  And now look at her go! 🙂

IMG_7015Obligatory Father’s Day dinner pic. 😀  My apologies for the poor lighting but this photo is pretty epic in that it was the first time all the kids were at home in YEARS!  IMG_6971And here are the Father’s Day gifts.  The kids created some awesome handmade gifts. IMG_6975I just love this one!

IMG_6978 IMG_6982 IMG_6983We made a hand print tree for Daddy. 🙂IMG_6990 IMG_6997 IMG_6998This shirt is funny because it’s true!  My dad preeetty much knows how everything works and can fix anything.  He used to help me with my math & physics homework even through college…many years after he first learned it!  He has a very kind heart and a hilarious sense of humor.  I love you, Daddy!  😀Daddy IMG_7064 IMG_7066 IMG_7071 IMG_7095 IMG_7097

IMG_7137Mr Mikey2Well, next up will be pics from the second half of my vacay…camping in the high desert.  Woot woot!

ahsa*

Explore OR: Salem

IMG_6220_2From our apartment, Salem is an easy 30 minute drive down I-5 South and a city definitely touched by the past.  It is the Oregon state capitol with a population of around 150,000.  There are a few possible sources for the name, but my favorite is that it was derived from the word, “shalom,” meaning peace.  🙂

While laying in bed the night before Memorial Day, John and I were brainstorming things to do on the day off and decided it was high time we visited Salem!  So the next morning, we woke up around 5am, shortly before sunrise, ate breakfast and hit the road.  It’s a sweet drive, with the sun gently rising on your left as you pass miles and miles of farmland.  We arrived in Salem around 7am, parked the car downtown and started wandering.

IMG_6155Only the pigeons and a handful of people were awake this early on the holiday morning.IMG_6172IMG_6183Salem is full of vintage signs and historic architecture.Untitled-1Book Bin and PigeonIMG_6186The Native Americans who originally inhabited Salem called it Chemeketa.  In Santiam, the language of the Kalapuyans, it means “meeting or resting place.”IMG_6199We found this sweet artwork depicting the chakras in the window of a building, but couldn’t locate the artist’s name.  😦 IMG_6188Stone Figures IMG_6263We walked around downtown, sipped on a cup of coffee at The Beanery, then wandered towards the capitol mall.capitol IMG_6212Perfect timing!  😀amurica IMG_6226 J and churchThe YMCA building, which has been at this location since 1926 (and in Salem since 1892) houses this beautiful artwork.IMG_6250IMG_6252John enjoys being a subject for the paparazzi… 😉  Also, we are lovers of the color blue!J and ALast but not least, we have the juxtaposition of the past, present, and future of the automobile.  One day we will own a Tesla! 😀tesla and old carAfter Salem, we jumped down to Eugene (where the University of Oregon is located), ate lunch and dropped by a sweet natural grocery store, then headed back home, stopping by the Tesla supercharging station in Springfield.  John and I both agreed that Salem is definitely worth another visit in the future since most everything was closed due to the holiday and we didn’t even get a chance to visit the waterfront.  I will keep you posted!

ahsa*

Explore OR: Newport

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A lil bit ago, John and I took a short trip to Newport, which is along the Oregon Coast.  Did you know that all Oregon beaches are public?  The Oregon Beach Bill of 1967 granted free beach access to everyone!  Isn’t that awesome?

So anywho, we briefly visited the beach and had the most amazing breakfast at a French restaurant in a tiny, old house.  It was so cute and I still dream about that meal!  I had the Loire valley omelet, which came with a fresh baked croissant (and delicious jelly) and a fruit/hazelnut/brown sugar/cream cup.  Oh man, I’ll never forget it…

Okay, back to the point of this post…the photos!

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I got a new zoom lens from Craigslist right before this, which allowed me to get these close shots of the seagulls, or shall I say, the Larus occidentalis. 😉

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That would be a drop of water in between his beak.  I also got a shot of a seagull with something hanging out of his beak, which I later discovered was part of a starfish.  It’s not for the faint of heart. 😛

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My favorite part is that cute little footsie!!  And that distant seagull is all like, “Psssh, yeah right, dude.”

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You talkin’ to me?  I said, ‘You?  Talkin’ to me?’  ‘Cuz I don’t see anybody else around here, so you must be talkin’ to me.”

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This one is my favorite.  He’s got a lot on his mind. 😉

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We only had a few hours in Newport, so we just got a taste of it.  The Oregon Coast Aquarium is in Newport, so we might find ourselves back there one day.  Hope to visit more towns along the coast this summer!

ahsa*

Explore OR: Angel’s Rest Trail

I edited these photos awhile back but have been waiting to upload them, since I’m in the middle of rebranding my site (big news coming soon!), but a recent email from my dad that said, “AHSAMON, what happened to your website?!” encouraged me to share this little update.  😉 These photos were taken on my only day off in February (thank you, President’s Day!).  With one day off per month, I found myself so appreciative of time off from work and determined to make the most of it!  We love to go hiking, so I Googled some easy, notable hikes around the Portland area and found Angel’s Rest Trail.  It was an easy, 45min drive from our apartment and boasts 270 degree views at the summit!  It was AMAZING and I cannot wait to go back!

4.6 total miles was a perfect warmup hike for the season since we hadn’t been hiking in quite awhile.  The air was crisp, the light was bright, and the earth was squishy!

AandJ1Along many parts of the trail, one side will literally just drop off like this…

IMG_5376Do you see the puppy dog face in this mossy tree branch? 🙂IMG_5397There were two sweet waterfalls along the trail which allowed me to experiment with shutter speed.IMG_5407John balancing amongst what resembled an old, elven tree entrance.IMG_5420Mount St. Helens…maybe??IMG_5427Approaching the golden hour, almost to the summit.  We stopped to eat our packed lunch around here…on a couple of rocks on the edge of a cliff!  Huzzah!IMG_5444It was breathtaking!

IMG_5448I enjoy striking yoga poses whilst in nature…and crocheting cute ear flap hats with pom poms.

IMG_5457Enjoying the sunset.  We didn’t have flashlights on us, so we needed to get down the mountain before the sun set.  So, we didn’t make it to the actual tip-top summit.  Next time!  Also, I love this picture because John is wearing a vintage Cowboys jacket and his pants look like bell-bottoms — very 70’s!

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IMG_5471The sky turned a colorful cotton candy color while we walked down.IMG_5473

The weather is warming up here in Oregon, so I can’t wait till our next adventure!  Weatherman’s calling for some 80 degree days next week…uh oh!  Beach camping is on my “14 for 2014” list, so hopefully we can make that happen soon.

Stay tuned for big, exciting news happenin’ around these parts this summer…

ahsa*

Graham Oaks Golden Birthday

On October 27th, I celebrated my golden birthday!  John had to work that day, so I decided to treat myself to a solo walk in nature.  I planned on hiking Powell Butte, but when I woke up that Sunday morning, it was gray, cold, rainy, and windy.  😦  I was still happy regardless because it was my birthday, but I didn’t feel like driving that far in the rain.  So, I decided to find somewhere closer to explore (I was still determined to spend time out in nature!)  I remembered hearing about Graham Oaks Nature Park and decided to check it out.  I enjoyed the morning inside, skyped with Silv and then, around 2pm, I saw the sun had emerged so I rushed to get out of the door A.S.A.P. in order to enjoy it.  Here are some photos from my golden birthday at Graham Oaks.

This park is very green!  Check out the green roof above the picnic shelter!  It keeps the water clean, improves air quality, and provides a habitat for birds and butterflies.

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And look at this giant acorn statue!  It weighs 6,000lbs and was designed by local artist, Mauricio Saldana.acorn and moss

This visit, I took the Tonquin Trail (from the Gateway Trailhead) -> Legacy Creek Trail -> Coyote Way -> Oak Woodland Walk -> Tonquin Trail.IMG_5127Leaves as big as my feet, I tell ya!IMG_5139 IMG_5153My absolute favorite thing about the Pacific Northwest is the moss on the trees. IMG_5154IMG_5162 IMG_5169I wasn’t kidding about the moss on the trees…it’s everywhere!IMG_5172IMG_5195 IMG_5211 IMG_5214IMG_5223IMG_5256 IMG_5266So, funny story, I mistook this slug for cat poop!  Once I got closer, I saw it moving and realized it was alive…IMG_5275 IMG_5287I love this tree.  And apparently, oak trees form this mushroom-like shape when their branches don’t have to compete for sunlight with neighboring trees.IMG_529927 is my lucky number so I’m hoping this will be my lucky year!  Here’s to many, many more!

ahsa*

Lawrence, KS

Lawrence, Kansas is like Athens in the mid-west, without the emphasis on drinking and football.  It’s cool, artsy, hippy, family-friendly, clean and safe.  It’s like this oasis of progressive minds in the middle of farmland.  Our friends, Greg and Nicole, live here…which happened to be right along our road trip.  We spent the weekend with them and stumbled upon the Lawrence Busker Festival!  None of us knew the festival was going on so after the third or fourth street performer, we figured something was up.

We got in earlier than expected, so John played his guitar in the shade until Greg arrived.  The houses are so cute and their mailmen deliver mail on foot, right to your front door!  As in, there are no mailboxes on the side of the road!  There were kids laughing and playing on their way home from school.  It was the cutest neighborhood!

Photo credits to John for these next two photos of the church.

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This next performer is Cate the Great.  She is an acrobatic juggler and did a very impressive hand stand!

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Juggler

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There were several magicians and the girls on the right would freeze into position, only to adjust when someone offered a donation into their hat.

Magician and mimes

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Apparently this sax player is a regular in downtown Lawrence.  He was very talented and appeared to be really enjoying it.  I was also happy to see the yarn bomb on the tree on the right.

Sax and Yarnbomb

This is the Alferd Packer Band.  They had me at their first song about Gregor Mendel and his peas (I do have my degree in biology, btw).  They also sang a catchy song called, “Pi”.  I quite liked them!

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This gentleman on the right would also hold poses…he wouldn’t even blink!  Kids were having fun putting props on him.

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This is Tyler Gregory.  He is well-known in Lawrence and has a raw, yet warm, bluegrass sound.  It was so cute seeing the little girls dance around him.

Tyler Gregory

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Later in the night, the guys brought their guitars out and played on a bench.

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While out walking the next day, we found an outdoor piano, just asking John to play it!

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We also stumbled upon the farmers’ market and got a few local peaches!

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Adventure Time shout-out!

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This kitty was found napping in a record store in downtown.  It was SO cute!

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Many thanks to Greg and Nicole for letting us crash and showing us around town.  We had an awesome time!

ahsa*

…and we’re off!

Life is wonderful and wild and crazy and we’ve found ourselves in Portland, Oregon!  I have hundreds of photos to sort through from the road trip over, so I’ll try to get them posted over the next few blog posts.  Anywho, away we go!  The following are from before we left (spending time with family and friends) and our drive from GA to TN.  Nanny and Earle were so kind to let us visit for a couple of days in the beautiful Tennessee countryside.

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Oh, the country is so peaceful, quiet, and full of fresh, clean air!

Up next, Lawrence, KS!

ahsa*