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Camping with the kids

This past weekend we took the kids camping at Nehalem Bay State Park. It was… challenging. Not that it wasn’t worth it… it just… took a lot of effort. There were times we had to remind ourselves that home was less than two hours away and we could leave at any time. But hey, we did it! The kids had a great time playing on the beach both days – soaking up the sun, splashing in the water, flying the kite, and generally getting sand everywhere. The hardest part was in the evening, I think. Of course the kids couldn’t get to sleep on time, were occasionally loud which I worried bothered our fellow campers, and then there were “incidences” – like when Leo jabbed himself in the eye with a fork and I feared that we’d have to rush to the hospital, or when Chloe fell face first into the fire pit, scraping her face, bloodying her nose and getting soot all over herself. And sleeping, well… we only have 3 sleeping bags, so I shared mine with Leo, which was kind of awkward, and I kept waking up all night wondering if he or Chloe was cold.

Anyways, it was a good learning experience (and exercise in patience!). Next time we are going to do what our neighbors are doing this week, and getting a yurt. 🙂
More photos can be seen here.


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Splish splash

Another beautiful Saturday at Cannon Beach. David and Chloe purchased her first “real” kite at the Kite Factory, and it joined the many other flying colors in the air that day. I felt so happy watching them play. I want Chloe’s (and Leo’s) childhood to be filled with days like this – full of sunshine and fresh air, and lots of joy. I want them to love the beach as much as I do. My only regret is not taking a photo of Leo. It’s his third time at the coast, but it’s always been too windy to lay him down on the sand. Instead, he spends his time sleeping on my chest in his carrier, which makes him hard to photograph. But it won’t be long before he is out enjoying the water just like his sister.


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A very good start to the New Year


Overlook on hwy 101, near Manzanita, Oregon

We decided to head to the coast today. It was dark, cloudy and pouring rain, but I didn’t care. I was just glad to begin the new year in one of my favorite places.

Luckily we timed the drive during Chloe’s first nap. David and I talked along the way, sang songs, made plans. We stopped at one of the overlooks to watch the churning, pounding waves below and I tried to snap a few photos while the wind whipped my hair in all directions. Unfortunately, I wasn’t watching when I got out and lost one of my cashmere wristwarmers made by my sister-in-law. I didn’t realize this until later, of course, and was pretty bummed, but determined to not let anything ruin the day.

In Manzanita we took it easy. Shared a mocha from Manzanita News & Espresso, and poked into a few of the cute little shops, including Unfurl, my favorite eco-clothing shop. They were having a fantastic sale, including 50% off Danskos, the brand of shoe I wear 98% of the time (I’m on my third pair of black professionals, plus I have a pair in brown). I eventually walked out with a pair of black Sallys that David talked me into. Looking down at them now I’m glad he did. I’m generally too practical to waste money on cute shoes, but these are a good blend of comfort and style to suit me (at half-price!).


Showing off my new danskos

Wild elk herd near Cannon Beach, Oregon

For lunch we shared a tasty clam chowder, halibut fish & chips, and hushpuppies at the charming Manzanita Seafood & Chowderhouse. Happy and full we braved exposure on the beach to let the dog loose  in the sand and surf. Too soon it was time to head home. On the way we saw a herd of wild elk by the highway near Cannon Beach. Can you imagine? Just minding their own business, munching on grass, and stopping traffic on the highway.

And remember my lost wrist-warmer? David decided we should check the overlook on the way back to see if we could find it. And guess what? He found it! Sodden and a little worse for wear, but it was FOUND! David is really amazing like that. He doesn’t just give up, instead he puts in that extra effort that so often ends in a rewarding outcome. And that, I would say, is a very good start to the New Year!


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A good kind of sting

Despite hearing stories of long lines and hours of wait, we decided that our daughter’s health and well-being was worth the effort of trying to procure for her the H1N1 vaccine. We were out of the house within minutes of confirming that yes, our provider finally received a shipment at our local clinic.

When we arrived, the line was out the door, but the check-in station was just around the corner. There was a security officer there, presumably to keep the peace should anyone choose to get rowdy, but he was very nice and even gave Chloe a sticker. It goes to show how very protective of Chloe I was being, because I did not want her touching that sticker, or anything else (even though the clinic was also offering free hot chocolate). I even chose to carry her in the Beco. I did not want to risk her getting sick from anything or anybody there.

The wait was surprisingly short, maybe 25 minutes before Chloe was screened as a priority candidate. After signing a short form the nurse asked if David and if we were also wanting to be vaccinated. We answered yes. And so all three of us got the H1N1 vaccine (whew!).

FYI: Often there is a choice between the spray and the shot. Pediatric doses are only given as shots. If you have asthma, you cannot choose the spray version. And even though David has a different insurance provider, he was still able to get a dose, because these were paid for by the government.


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Chanterelle Season

With the clouds and rain that mark the closing of summer, comes the beginning of golden chanterelles dotting the forest floor. It was a good day for a hike in the woods, and David was a trooper for carrying Chloe on his back the entire time.

Things I like about mushroom hunting:
•    The thrill of the hunt
•    Enjoying the outdoors
•    Letting the dog run off-leash
•    Getting something for free
•    Knowing that they’ll make something tasty and delicious
Things I don’t like about mushroom hunting:
•    Walking through spiderwebs
•    Possibly getting lost
•    Possibly picking the wrong type (however unlikely)
•    Hearing the gunshots of hunters in the distance


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Oregon Mini-Vacation, Day 3-6

Roseburg

By day three we had reached our friends for the Fourth-of-July weekend. Our first day there we drove down just south to visit to the drive-through Wildlife Safari. We went in the afternoon and it was a pretty warm day, so I don’t think the animals were as active as they’d be in the morning or late evening. The ranger said that I could even hold Chloe on my lap, which was a nice change. Really fun to have the animals so close! I was kind of afraid the camel was going to do some damage to our car as he walked by, but he was just rearing his head and smacking his hump. Strange, but fascinating!

McKenzie River Area

I don’t know why, but after this I put my camera away for a few days. Then on day 5 we left and headed to the McKenzie River so David could do some fishing. We camped at Riverside Campground, so he could throw his line into the Santiam as well. Barkley, Chloe and I just sort of hung out. Barkley’s leg is almost perfectly healed, thank goodness. You can hardly see the demarcation line where his fur is growing back (although he still has a bald spot on his back by his tail, where they shaved him WAY too close). And here’s a trial self-portrait with my slr, much harder than with a point-and-shoot!


Self-portrait with the SLR, much harder than with a point-and-shoot!

Barkley relaxing by the river, finally back off-leash


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Oregon Mini-Vacation, Day 2

So, I had every intention of writing about the rest of our trip, but I think now I’m just going to summarize the highlights in one long post. We had a good time, no question, and I do want to share, just not as individually detailed as I had planned. I haven’t been in a very bloggy mood lately, probably because Chloe is evolving faster than I can keep up. She’s amazing. But more on that later. Here’s some pics from the remainder of our trip.

Shore Acres State Park


Restored formal garden

Grandiflora Crimson Boquet Rose

The hidden gem of Simpson Beach

This park is awesome. Imagine owning a private estate on the coast, with your own sandy beach, and building a gorgeous summer home on a bluff high above the waves. Then add a formal garden, including a Japanese-style garden surrounding a 100-foot lily pond, all in the early 1900s. Unfortunately (or fortunately for us), the great depression occured. Now the mansion is gone, but the gardens have been restored and there now sits an enclosed observation deck on the original home site. I would have loved to have spent more time here (just down the road from Sunset Bay State Park), but Chloe was getting tired and we wanted to let her sleep on the drive down to Bandon. Thus, we also missed Cape Arago State Park, just south.

Bandon


Part of the Bandon coastline, plus a view of riders probably from Bandon Beach Riding Stables

Coquille River (Bandon) Lighthouse

By noon of day 2 we were in Bandon, Oregon. We treated ourselves to a fresh and delicious! halibut fish-and-chips lunch at Bandon Fish Market, before perusing the little shops. Dessert was yummy chocolate and handmade candy samples at Cranberry Sweets. (Steer clear of Bandon’s Coffee Cafe, though, our latte was very disappointing.)

Port Orford


Misty boats at the Port of Port Orford, Circa 1856

Port Orford coastline


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Oregon Mini-Vacation, Day 1

Florence to Coos Bay

We drove from Portland to just north of Florence for our first visit to the Sea Lion Caves. They don’t tell you this on the web site, but be prepared for the biggest stink of your life. I was actually fine, but David had a stronger reaction. Kind of expensive, but worth seeing, as it is the world’s largest sea cave.

Heading south on hwy 101 to Florence we stopped briefly at the Darlingtonia Botanical Gardens, a preserve that protects a small area of naturally occurring cobra lilies Darlingtonia californica. I find these insectivorous pitcher plants fascinating!

We took a brief tour of Florence’s Old Town before continuing south through the Oregon Dunes National Rec Area and Coos Bay to Sunset Bay State Park. We chose to camp here for our first night, and I’m surprised now to find I hadn’t taken any photos. I can definitely see coming back here someday when Chloe is older. The little bay offers a charming sandy beach with calm water, a large expanse of grassy, wooded play and picnic area, and warm showers after you’re all done.


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Scandinavian Midsummer Festival


Traditional Handmade Wooden Clogs

On Saturday we headed to Astoria to check out the Scandinavian Midsummer Festival (found via Greenclogs). I like any excuse to visit Astoria, located in the far northwestern corner of Oregon, where the wide Columbia River meets the Pacific. I love its history and Victorian homes, seeing the huge ships and smelling the salty sea air. At the festival we sampled krumbkake, prune tarts and krab kakor (nordic crab cake in a sour cream dill sauce, wrapped in puff pastry), browsed the boutique stalls where I picked up a jar of chocolate hazelnut butter and enjoyed a performance from an honest to goodness yodeler. We didn’t stay very long, because I wanted to spend some time in town, but it was plenty of time to get a glimpse into that proud and wonderful heritage.

Chloe in wooden clog boat

1. Flags flowing over the fairground walkway  2. A platter of krumbkake
3. Chloe playing dress up  4. Chloe checking out the giant wooden clog
5. Hand carved traditional wooden wedding clogs


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Sahalie Falls & Fishing


Sahalie Falls, McKenzie River, Oregon

This is one of two breathtaking waterfalls we saw this weekend. I only got a couple shots before my camera died, and I didn’t have a spare battery with me. The other falls, not far down, was called Koosah Falls. We were in the area so David could do some fly fishing on the McKenzie, which is 2+ hours south of Portland. If my camera had been working, I would have taken some great shots of David reeling in his catch. I’ve been trying to convince him lately that we should start keeping the big ones for dinner (instead of always releasing). He came so close this time, but in the end the beauty of the fish overwhelmed him and he had to let it go. That’s okay, honey, maybe next time.

Postscript: David just showed me this video on how to clean and cook river side trout “McKenzie Style.”


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Oregon State Fair 2008

Some pics of my very first Oregon State Fair this weekend. I definitely did not regulate my time, or my appetite, very well. The first thing I did shortly after we arrived was buy an order of GIANT onion rings (which I split with David), and a GIANT baked potato glopping with sour cream and a mountain of bacon. Then I bought a carnival-sized root beer float to wash it all down with, which made me feel soooo bloated and sick. Of course, pregnant women can’t go on rides, not that I would have wanted to at that point anyway. We spent most of our time looking around at the livestock and exhibits, the colorful game booths, the myriad of people, and part of a couple shows. Too bad I was feeling so rotten, though, because we ended up leaving pretty early (not that David was disappointed. He hates crowds). And wouldn’t you know, I was feeling a little better on the way out, so I snagged some fresh cotton candy, a bag the length of my arm. Then, on the ride home, I ate the whole thing by myself. Geesh.


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Diary of a Day Trip to the Oregon Coast


A Photo of Manzanita from Hwy 101, taken last year

David and I spent the lovliest day at the coast on Saturday. This entry is an overview of our day, as both a reminder for myself and to anyone who might want to travel this same Portland/Oregon Coast loop. My only regret is that I forgot my camera (and phone), but in a way, it may have freed me up to experience the day in a way that I wouldn’t have normally. Who knows. But it sure was wonderful.

After a leisurely Saturday breakfast at home, David, Barkley and I left Portland mid-morning and headed toward my favorite, Cannon Beach. If I had pots of money, this is where I would buy a vacation home. Yes, it is super-touristy (more so every year), but it retains lots of its original small beach-town charm. We walked north through town, peeking in various shops until we reached Pizza à Fetta. We ordered two slices of pepperoni pizza and a coke and from the to-go window. (Our other favorite lunch spot is Ecola Seafoods, but neither of us felt like fresh halibut fish ‘n chips today). We ate our slices in the little courtyard, and enjoyed some entertaining people and dog watching.

After lunch we perused a few more galleries on our way to Bruce’s Candy Kitchen. We love to watch them pull fresh saltwater taffy on their old-timey machine, but we must have arrived between showings. I picked up some hard-to-find watermelon and cherry zotz, some sweet and sour Haribo fruit salad, and a nugget each of semi-sweet chocolate seafoam and haystack (my sweet tooth existed way before pregnancy). David decided on a small handful of Atomic Fireballs and his favorite fresh taffys out of the individual flavor bins.

While heading back to the car with our pink and white striped goody bag, we were surprised to find a hole-in-the wall I had never seen before called The Center of the Elephant Ear Universe. It specializes in a while-you-wait deep fried, thin & crispy pastry with your choice of toppings (similar to funnel cake – see side story). We opted to split a half classic (butter glaze with cinnamon sugar) and half dutch baby (butter, sugar and lemon). It disappeared off our plate in seconds, licking our fingers afterwards.

Side Story: one of the things I had been craving since getting pregnant was funnel cake. For some reason I have never seen them on the west coast, so I thought maybe this was one craving that wouldn’t get satisfied. However, while in picturesque Manitou Springs, Colorado, a few weeks back, Marcy noticed a place that did make them called Patsy’s. Mmmm! We even went back a few days later for a second round, no matter that it was a half hours drive away)!

Back at the car, we drove a short way down scenic hwy 101, turning into the smaller beach-side town of Manzanita. Much less crowded here, but just as sweet. David noted that he would much rather have a vacation house here, and after thinking about it I had to agree. The sun had finally come out, but it remained cool and windy. There were more kite boarders and windsurfers than I had ever seen dotting the horizon with their colorful equipment, enjoying the waves. We stopped to check out a few of the shops here and I’m glad we did. At Overboard, we found a christmas gift for our nephew (shopping early this year, due to our baby on the way) and found several goodies for ourselves at eco-conscious Unfurl. We walked out with a cool new hat for each of us, 6 postcards for the new nursery frames by one of my favorite Portland artists, Trish Grantham (love her website), and a bar of Coastal Sage soap. I was this close to also walking out with the sweetest Kate Quinn Organics Baby Kimono Bodysuit and pant set in hibiscus, but then put it back at the last minute. I don’t know how I resisted. The other shop I liked in particular was Four Paws on the Beach. It was fun to check out over-the-top dog goodies like organic frozen yogurt and ‘doggles’ (eye goggles for dogs).

Again we headed back to the car to continue down hwy 101. The little towns and scenery are really beautiful, and there were many places we could have idled away the day, but decided on Rockaway Beach for our third stop. This long stretch of sandy beach had a lot less people, perfect for playing fetch with Barkley and allowing him some wave crashing fun. It was here David found a perfect whole sand dollar, but we left it for some other lucky beachcomber to find.

Driving south again we entered the town of Tillamook (known especially for it’s famous dairy). The factory makes a fun tour for those who haven’t been their before, with a nice sampling of their cheeses. We passed through town after a brief look at some crab traps for sale, and headed partially down the Three Cape Scenic Loop Drive to the Bay Ocean Spit. From the parking area we walked along a sandy path until we came out to the ocean, basically having the whole beach to ourselves. It is hard to believe that places like this still exist, pristine and beautiful with nothing man-made on the horizon to mar its remote beauty, and still be so close to civilization. Eventually, happy and hungry we headed back into town for a hearty mexican dinner at La Mexicana, situated in a cute pink house on the way to hwy 6, our route back home. Hwy 6 follows the Wilson River, so we stopped a couple times to look for fish, and for David to try his luck before eventually making it back home by 10pm. Wow! I think I’ll be remembering today for a very long time.

Footnote: It would be easy to spend all day at any of the areas listed above, but because we’ve been to some of these places many times before, we opted to keep on going, stopping at more places. These visits could easily be broken up over a long weekend or more, with lots more to see and do than just listed here.

Here is a map starting from the Oregon Zoo and following the individual destinations listed above.


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Weekend Retreat, Crescent Lake


A view of the cabin from the back, almost buried in the snow.

This past Friday Alex called about the four of us and the dogs spending the 3-day weekend away somewhere. We agreed it would be fun to go somewhere new, but not spend all day in the car. We settled on the Waldo/Crescent/Odell lake area east of Eugene, about a 3.5 hour drive southeast of Portland. A place where we’d find lots of snow for snowshoeing. Not surprisingly, most of the lodges and cabins in the area were already booked. Luckily Alex found a private home listed on craigslist that was still available. So that’s where we went.

The home was a charming A-frame cabin on a secluded 3.5 acre lot, not far from the national forest. Although poorly furnished (with not a shred of toilet paper to be found), it was comfortable and cheerily warmed with a sturdy wood stove. Actually, the place had loads of potential, and I couldn’t help wondering why the owners didn’t put any effort into making it a little better. A set of decent hooks for hanging wet coats or towels and a matching set of dining chairs could have made a big difference (but I’m just picky). When we arrived there wasn’t a track to be found, and in some spots the dogs would sink in up to their bodies. Part of the fun was just watching them bound in and out of the drifts.


Crescent Creek, right in the backyard.

A little snowshoeing adventure along the creek. We made those tracks ourselves.

Barkley taking a much needed break from all the excitement.

Overall, it was so nice to get away. And I’m again reminded how lucky we are to have such good friends. With Marcy and Alex’s baby boy on the way (see this pic), it likely won’t be so easy to just pick up and go, as we’ve done in the past. But it will be interesting, too, to see what kind of new adventures will come into play, and all that the future will bring.


A brief stop at Odell Lake, on our way back to Portland.

More pics from this weekend can be found here on my flickr page.


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This thing called Sun

Yesterday I woke up to honest-to-goodness sunlight streaming through the house. What a miracle! There has hardly been even a partial day of sun since our return from the holidays, mostly just cold, rain, grey, rain, freezing, grey, overcast, rain, cloudy, dreary, rain. I’m sure it has been affecting my mood. The sun makes me happy. I like a few days of rain, okay, but weeks of it? No can do. So why do I suffer through this lousy weather here in Portland? Because the summers are phenomenal. As is autumn, and spring, too.

I ran out of the house almost immediately to snap photos of the frosty ice crystals that formed overnight on the plants and then later the three of us dressed warm and spent the afternoon along the Wilson River. David fished, Barkley explored and marked his territory, and I took photographs and read (fingers were too cold to knit, although I did bring it along). It was so good to go for a drive in the country and get out of the house.


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A Pumpkin Graveyard

pumpkin patch

From far away it doesn’t look so bad

David and I took the dog to The Pumpkin Patch on Sauvie Island to look for the perfect pumpkin. What we found was more like a pumpkin graveyard. I don’t know if it was because we showed up so late in the season or because they were truly having a bad pumpkin year, but what was left was an entire field full of mostly rotted pumpkins. So disappointing! The last time we were there was amazing – the excitement of criss-crossing the patch, a sharp eye out weighing all the possibilities, enjoying the crisp autumn weather and the free hay rides…

In the end, we did find two small, nicely shaped pumpkins – an orange one for David and a white one for me. We also bought lots of fresh farm produce: fall apples, turnips, cabbage, onions, shallots, hazelnuts, and brussel sprouts still on the stalk. It was also fun to see the farm animals. The goat in particular couldn’t take his eyes off of David sucking on a honey stick. My favorites were the black and pink baby pigs, the clucking chickens and the beautifully large and feminine eyes of the llama. Why wasn’t I blessed with eyelashes like that? Throw in one pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw and a caramel apple and it was a worthy trip after all.

frog

David spotted a bright green frog in the field

oregon hazelnuts

Oregon is the nation’s largest producer of hazelnuts

fresh fall apples

A huge bin of fresh and crisp fall apples

pumpkins

Our final pumpkin choices – one white and one orange

Tips for picking the perfect pumpkin:

1. If you’re going to carve it, choose one to match your design – a tall oval for a vertical design or a wide rounded one for a horizontal design.

2. Make sure it can stand up by itself. A tipsy one can be a pain to brace and carve properly.

3. A decent size stalk is helpful for lifting the top off when carving and lighting.

4. Double check for any soft spots, and be sure any blemishes are around back where they won’t be seen.

Happy Halloween!


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A Beach House Weekend

View from the deck of Eagle’s Nest

Another great weekend at the beach. It just never gets old. Pretty much every trip is an adventure and this one was certainly no different. This weekend was Marcy’s birthday weekend and we spent it at a gorgeous house called Eagle’s Nest (the pictures here do not do it justice, much more Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous at least to me!) that had an incredible view of the Pacific City coastline and miles of ocean. The first night we let the dogs run on the sand and frolic in the water while we simply admired the crashing waves from the stormy weather. Then we went back to for dinner and birthday cake.

On Saturday we rented crab rings and bought crabbing licenses and bait in a town called Garibaldi. Let me just say that crab bait does not smell or look pretty – basically large fish heads frozen with string, so they can be attached to the rings. The traps are thrown off the pier and checked every 10 minutes or so. Although many found their way into our nets, none were large enough to keep, so we ended up buying live crab nearby. Meanwhile, David had struck up a conversation with another couple on the pier while the rest of us went to find lunch. I’m not sure how, but eventually it came out that they live in our neighborhood, which is pretty weird considering how far we all were from home. One thing led to another and they joined us for some late afternoon mushroom hunting and also for dinner back at the rental house of crab and freshly picked wild chanterelles. Yum!

Late afternoon on the beach, hardly a soul in sight.

Beach houses aglow from the late afternoon sun

The marina in Garabaldi, where we rented our crab rings

A desirable male, but too small to keep

Barkley on the train tracks with the pier behind him

University Falls, on the drive home from Tillamook

A little caterpillar resting near the falls

More photos of our weekend can be found here.


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A Lake Creek Lodge Reception

What a lovely weekend. My in-laws flew into town and we drove the 2.5 hours to Lake Creek Lodge, where our friends Alex and Marcy were holding their wedding reception. Lake Creek Lodge is completely charming, surrounded by its various unique rental cabins. Best of all, they allow dogs, so Barkley, Mia, Suki and Booker all had a marvelous time playing together.

There were many things that made this a wonderful weekend, even beyond the fact that we were here to celebrate the marriage of two such dear friends. Everything just seemed to come together… the friends and family, the elegant and woodsy decor, the music, the games, the food and drink, the cakes… and all this despite the inevitable bumps that come along with every reception.

A few things that I found particularly memorable – the beauty of the Metolius River and Lake Creek, the multiple meals taken together with incredible friends, the bounding happiness of all the dogs, the newlyweds looking gorgeous and dashing in their elegant attire, the heartfelt speeches, the 5 individual cakes, the impromptu after-dinner salsa lesson, and the bride & groom “shoe question” game (read about it here).

Photos from the weekend:

The bridge connecting our cabins to the main lodge

The dogs during a moment of obedience with Jerry

A rare view of sunlight through the trees

An evening shot of Kevin & Jerry’s Cabin, #5, where we all congregated and
enjoyed the delicious food so generously provided.

The remarkably clear water of the Metolius River

Photos from the Reception:

A table awaiting the guests. The reception colors were burnt orange
and brown as depicted by the runner, the matching roses and pine cones.

The happy couple…

Flower seed favors in reusable magnetic tins

One of the 5 cakes, each with a different flavor and white-on-white design
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