Our Life in the Pacific Northwest

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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.

The EcoVessel is a stainless steel insulated water bottles that I use every single day. It keeps your water cold and icy for over 24 hours! This goes with me everywhere and is constantly being used. It can be used for hot beverages also.


Serac Hammock and Straps

The Serac hammock came with all the straps and carabiners needed to use anywhere. It’s usually hanging in my yard or with me when I go camping.


LuminAID PackLite Max 2-In-1 Phone Charger

This is AMAZING! Not only is it bright enough to light up a tent or any dark area using solar power, but it also charges your phones! It’s also inflatable so it collapses flat for easy storing in a backpack or camping gear. It can hang in your tent and has levels of brightness. We also use this at home when we are sitting outside and need additional light.


The beanie and the headlamp came separately in two different boxes. This is not only useful for hiking, camping, and spelunking, I use this whenever I need to see in the dark and don’t have hands for a flashlight.

Below I have displayed 12 months of boxes in order of most recent. I hope this helps you decide if the Cairn subscription box is worth it.

Month 12

12 july 18

Month 11

11 jun 18


Month 10

10 may 18


Month 9

9 april 18

Month 8


8 march 18


Month 7

7 feb 18 (2)

Month 6




Month 5

IMG_6141 (1)


Month 4



Month 3



Month 2


Month 1

1 aug 17

The box below was my very first box which included the Serac hammock. It was a promotional box because it included this cool hammock. This promotional box helped me make up my mind. Cairn does this a few times a year so check the website in case they are offering this special type of box.


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.

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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!

unnamed (2)

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.

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,

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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New Dungeness Lighthouse

New Dungeness Lighthouse
Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge
Sequim Washington


New Dungeness Lighthouse is located on Dungeness Spit on the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge in the town of Sequim on the Olympic Peninsula. To get to the lighthouse you must hike 5 miles on a natural sand spit.  A “Spit” is  a narrow point of land extending into a body of water. The hike is long but worth it. You definitely need to time your hike according to the tides. During low tide there is enough sand to walk comfortably. At high tide you’ll be walking on logs and rocks and it will take you much longer. Check out my Dungeness Spit Hike post for more info.

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100,000 hits!!


My blog hit 100,000 hits and I didn’t even notice! I looked at my sidebar just now and saw that it’s at 101,762 hits! Thanks to everyone who actually reads it and comments!

I promise I will find the time to post more regularly. 🙂

Downtown Seattle Wa.

Seattle Washington

Spring 2011 

Slow exposure photography taken from the Jose Rizal Bridge in south Seattle near I9o.

 I have wanted to try this for a long time after reading up on this particular bridge

 which is well known for slow exposure Seattle shots. When I arrived there were

3 other photographers alreadyset up with their tripods and cameras.

I had to find a spot where I wouldn’t be in someoneelse’s shot. When they

had all left I was able to get this shot of the rail which I felt added depth to the photo.

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Back to Picture Lake

Picture Lake/Heather Meadows

Mt Shuksan/Mt Baker.

Mt Baker Snoqulamie National Forest


I visited Picture Lake a while back with a friend and was hoping to get a perfect shot of Mount Shuksan reflecting in the lake. Picture Lake is rightfully titled since it is positioned in front of the mountain offering a perfect reflection if the day and moment is just right.   Even a slight breeze would ruin the perfect reflection shot I was after. I also wanted to go when the fall colors were out, so in October I ventured back and tried again. Unfortunately the fall colors weren’t as rich as I had hoped, but the day was perfect otherwise. We stayed until the sun went down and I’ve heard that the evening is the best time for the wind to be calm. The moon was coming up over the mountain too which was an added bonus. The photo above was the result of a perfect, windless evening at Picture Lake.

 If you are looking for information about Picture Lake or Heather Meadows you should go to my other blog post. I have included many photos of the area as well. Picture Lake Path/Heather Meadows

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