Our Life in the Pacific Northwest

One year of Cairn subscription boxes!

2c-500x500 (1)   Over a year ago I signed up for the  Cairn subscription box. The Cairn Box is a monthly subscription based company that caters to hikers, backpackers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. It’s about $29.00 a month, and I have been extremely satisfied thus far. I receive the box about mid-month and when I know it’s coming I find myself checking the mail with enthusiasm. When I initially considered subscribing, I tried to find a blog or video displaying the past boxes in detail. I couldn’t find anything. I gathered what info I could find and decided I’d try it for a few months.  I told myself that I would take a picture of the items each month and add it to my blog for others trying to decide if it was worth it.

Overall I am happy with the subscription. Of course, there were months when I said “are you kidding?” when I saw the contents, especially when I saw other other reviews and saw that they got better stuff than I did. It only happened once or twice and the next month usually made up for it. I also have to add that as you sign up you answer specific questions so they can customize your box, which is why you may get different items than other subscribers.

In each box, you usually get 1 pretty good item, 1 very interesting snack bar or drink mix and 1 or 2 smaller trinkets you wouldn’t normally think to purchase but usually ends up being useful. Each box comes with a newspaper explaining the contents and other information pertinent to the items, and every month you get a Cairn sticker. I have a collection of multi-colored Cairn stickers that I haven’t found uses for yet. The companies also offer discounts for some items if you want to purchase more.

Below you’ll find my favorite items that I either use every day or quite often. Read more…

Getting Prepared

Having grown up in California, I’ve been in a few earthquakes. Fortunately, I missed the 1994 Northridge quake that devastated the town I grew up in. My friends and family described it as catastrophic and something they will never forget. That quake was a 6.7 magnitude and considered a moderate earthquake even though it caused major damage. Sections of major freeways collapsed, parking structures and office buildings collapsed, and many apartment buildings suffered irreparable damage. I watched the news for days and saw emergency workers at the Northridge mall, the place I hung out with every day with my friends, trying to rescue people stuck under the rubble. It was heartbreaking to watch the place I grew up in a state of disaster.  The home I grew up in was red tagged (considered unsafe to enter). As a result, we have always tried to be “prepared”.

(Left) Northridge Mall   (Right) My favorite record store when I was a teenager

They’ve been talking about the “big one” for years now. I am referring to the subduction zone earthquake that we are overdue for in the Pacific Northwest. People have been inundated with warnings, scary scenarios and what some would call “over exaggerations” of the impending devastation. Even so, the residents of the Pacific Northwest do need to take notice and plan for the worst.

Read more…

I am back!

I have been MIA for a long while now due to other focuses and interests but I always knew I’d be back. I haven’t had much time for hiking and outdoor activities like I had in the past, but I am ready to get back to my old life. I have really missed the comments and emails from my subscribers and fellow Pacific Northwest enthusiasts. I just hope you’re all still around. 🙂 I am still a photographer but my focus has been more on theater and portrait photography. I am excited to get back outdoors and make time for both! I’ll be posting regularly about all aspects of photography, the outdoors and about the amazing place we live.

IMG_0636l (Skagit Valley Snow Geese 2017)

Time for a new camera bag?

I’ve had my camera bag/backpack for about 7 years. I chose the backpack style so I could bring it on hikes and carry it comfortably on photo shoots. It’s been on overnight backpacking trips, beaches, airplanes, camping, and everywhere else I’ve dragged it. It’s been used and abused and I’ve been told it’s time for a new one from more than a few people. Ok, so the zipper on the inside pocket doesn’t zip and the outside is worn and there’s a splotch of green spray paint from a senior photo shoot (ahh the memories!) on the front, but it has character and it has been with me through many amazing experiences!

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My camera backpack was made by Lowepro which is a popular camera bag brand. They don’t have this particular model available anymore but I believe it’s an older version of the Photo Classic AW (pictured below) in a smaller size. The newer model can hold two camera bodies and has enough room for lenses and equipment and is priced at $119.00

Photo_Classic_HotPointsLowepro Classic AW

One of the best features is the  All Weather cover. It is hidden in the bottom of the bag in a sleeve. When the weather turns bad you pull it out and it wraps around the bag to protect it like a rain coat. This has saved me numerous times! It also has a strap and loop on the front to keep your tripod secured.

I’ve really used this bag. Like really used it. Most days I have it with me and like I said before, it’s been everywhere so durability would be my number one compliment for this bag.It fits all of my equipment comfortably, has storage for memory cards and a zippered pouch where I keep extra batteries and little gadgets like my remote shutter release. It has a storage pocket on the front that zips and is big enough for my wallet, keys, gum, pens, thumb drives, business cards and whatever else I would normally carry in a purse. It has large mesh pockets on each side where I keep a water bottle and my cell phone.

    I like the simplicity of this bag. It’s basic, straightforward and economical. I believe I paid under $100.   It has been on my shoulder almost every day for many years and it’ll probably stay there for at least a few more.

World Photography Day


August 19th is World Photography Day. The image above is what I woke up to this morning on Facebook after being tagged by a friend. The point of this day is to celebrate the art of photography. Back in 2010 a group of photographers set aside this specific day for everyone in the photography community to share a single photo of what their view of the world is. This event caught on, and 6 years later it’s even more popular now because of the significant rise in photography enthusiasts.

My take on this day is to focus on (and share) how far photography has come since August 19th, 1839 when the patent for the Daguerreotype (one of the earliest forms of practical photography) was released to the public.

Read more…

Our hidden volcano threat.

Today is the 35th anniversary of the Mount St. Helens eruption of 1980. I grew up in California so I missed experiencing it in person and remember watching it on tv wondering if the ash could reach California.  I also recall in 6th grade someone bringing a vial full of ash from Mount St. Helens. I remember thinking that it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. I instantly became fascinated with volcanoes and mountains of the world which may have also created  my crazy geography fascination. Anyway that concludes my 10 year old recollection of the eruption of Mount St Helens.

On May 18th 1980 Mount St Helens erupted killing 57 people. Naturally the news media is widely covering the anniversary which lead me to an interesting article about a subject I have heard about before but never really paid much attention to.   Did you know that there is an active volcano in Snohomish County called Glacier Peak? 

bilde - Copy

 (King 5 News image)

Read more…

Big Four Ice Caves Collapsing

It’s been all over the news the last few days that because of the unseasonably warm weather we’ve had this year Big Four Ice Caves is unstable and is collapsing.

Lead Field Ranger Matthew Riggen said in a news release. “The cave is in a condition that we would normally not see until at least September – large, inviting and collapsing.”

This makes me nervous since I know many curious people have ventured into the caves, myself included. Yes, about 5 years ago my curiosity and my camera lead me into the caves and it wasn’t until 9 days later when a young girl was killed and her mother injured that I realized just how reckless and stupid I had been. If you want to read more about that day click here: BIG FOUR ICE CAVES.

Heed the warnings and let other people know how dangerous the caves are this year. The more people who know the less likely we will have another senseless tragedy,

The Little Free Library

 My Little Free Library


  Every morning as I walk my son to the bus stop we check our little free library and everyday there’s a new book or two and some are gone. This is a great feeling! We’ve had our little free library for about two months now and it’s so exciting to see it being used as much as it is. My neighbor said she has seen cars drive up with kids exchanging books. I love that a little box full of books is reaching so many people!

Read more…

Sea Star Wasting Disease

Pacific Coast

Anyone who knows me knows that I have always been fascinated by low tides and tide pools. For years I  dragged my kids and whoever would go with me to low tide, especially the extreme low tides that occur 3 or 4 times a year. I’ve taken hundreds of photos of starfish in the last  7 years and the sun starfish has always been my favorite. I have a particular location in Edmonds that I go to where there has always been tons and tons of starfish during extreme low tides. For more info on that spot click here. A photo I had taken at this particular beach of a crawling sun starfish won an honorable mention in the Seattle Times Photos of the year.  (Pictured below)



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Dungeness Spit Hike

Dungeness Spit National Wildlife Refuge/Dungeness Recreation Area
Sequim Wa.
Olympic Peninsula


I’ve had my eye on this hike for a really long time, so I chose Dungeness Spit for our family camping trip last summer. A “Spit” is  a narrow point of land extending into a body of water. Dungeness Spit is the longest natural sand spit in the United States and there is a working lighthouse at the end of the 5 mile trek. You can read more about the New Dungeness Lighthouse here.

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