Hiking Hood – Part 1 of Hood to Coast

•January 11, 2013 • Leave a Comment

In May I headed out to Oregon to join my father in an attempt to summit Mt. Hood. Although my dad goes out West annually to hike, this was my first trip since the summer of 2007. I really enjoy hiking with my father and it was great to be back up there with him.

We all arrived in Portland on a Thursday and Friday saw us at REI grabbing our last minute essentials and then heading out to Hood and the Mazama lodge. The lodge is run by the Mazama mountaineering club that was founded on the summit of Mt. Hood in the 1800s. We relaxed, had dinner, watched the snow fall, and got some rest before getting up at midnight for attempt at the summit.

As we walked outside the wind blasted us and the snow was still falling heavily. Driving up we found ourselves on an unplowed road that the car could barely handle. Eventually we had to get out and push before we finally made it to snowcat; our ride to the climbing area above the ski slopes.

We hopped in, concerned about the very limited visibility. The cab jostled us around with its lack of shock absorbers, but when it almost tilted onto its side going over a mound our concern ratcheted up even more. The driver subsequently stopped and said he couldn’t go any further. As we piled out to determine if we would attempt to head down the driver wouldn’t provide guidance as to whether we should continue or not, but whole-heartedly agreed with the decision not to climb. It was a disappointment; however, we all understood that our safety came first.

The benefit to this setback was that we climbed back into a warm bed and were then able to hike in the daytime after the storm had passed. Although we weren’t able to summit, it is still a wonderful experience to break trail in fresh snow, looking at the cathedral of rock and ice around you, and looking back to a blanket of clouds below you. I look forward to more trips into the mountains.

A quiet dragon slithers away

•January 4, 2013 • Leave a Comment

This past year didn’t find us blogging too much with a grand total of one post – it was cool though. We did continue to have our adventures and are already planning some more for this year. Naturally, the year of the dragon found us in Asia playing with pandas, making a number of trips out to the West Coast, and heading up to the Great White North. Here are some of the photos from our adventures. We’ll take the cold weather and long nights at the beginning of 2013 to write about our adventures.

Rob and Emily

DC Discovery – More than a Flyover

•April 18, 2012 • 4 Comments

Yesterday, Emily and I enjoyed Washington like tourists once again.  Discovery roared past her office patio multiple times.  Each time it came by you heard the oohs and aahs while everyone watched it circle past great American landmarks such as the Washington Monument and the Capitol – maybe the pilot was trying to buzz the ‘control tower.’

It was truly a unique experience and just adds to the multitude of memories we’ve shared in this great city over the past decade.  Many people posted about their memories of the space program or of Discovery itself, but yesterday also gave us a chance to reflect on all the history we’ve witnessed in our short time here.  I wonder what will happen next.

Meanwhile, enjoy the photos below and at Smugmug.

Stetson, the Mischievous (and smart) Kitty

•December 31, 2011 • Leave a Comment

By Emily:

That’s probably the best word to describe our younger cat, Stetson. We love him. He’s friendly, cute, and adorable. But he is a troublemaker.

Over the summer, we were battling with the squirrels in our backyard over who gets to eat our tomatoes. Most of the time, they won.

One day, Rob triumphantly brought in three ripe tomatoes. I place them on the window sill to be eaten the next day. When I come down in the morning one of them is gone. Given that I’m the only human in this house who likes plain tomatoes, I know Rob didn’t touch them.  I look around, and I see Stetson, sitting at my feet, licking his lips…the telltale tomato seeds squirted around him.

Have you ever heard of a cat eating a tomato?

Montague before the snow

•December 31, 2011 • Leave a Comment

By Emily:

In July, we attended (and participated in) the wedding of Anthea & Shamus. After breakfast that Sunday, we headed west rather than south, and stopped by Montague to have lunch with my Aunt Susan.  The garden Susan created in honor of Aunt Kathy provides the first cheerful greeting for every person who comes to visit. This garden blooms more beautifully than anything else we saw in the area.

Susan gave us a tour of her home, the rest of her garden, and the nearby Bookmill. We loved how the owners had turned an old gristmill into a used bookstore. The Bookmill had a comfortable, lived-in feeling and seemed like it would be the perfect place to spend a rainy day.

We had a delicious lunch that Susan made, topped off with yummy vanilla ice cream and blueberries she had preserved the previous summer.

After a bit more conversation, we headed back toward DC and got home around midnight. Though I had to work on the 4th of July, I did get up early enough to make a flag cake to take to our friend’s apartment where we were watching the fireworks that night. As usual, I will always sacrifice sleep for baking.

We thought that a weekend full of wedding festivities, family, friends, and eating delicious food was a perfect way to celebrate our freedom. We are so lucky!


Christmas with Friends

•December 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

By Emily:

Last Sunday, we hosted an open house for the holidays.  We were happy so many people were able to come – about 40 guests.  Our house looked lovely, and our tree received quite a few compliments. 

We have many holiday decorations that we inherited from our family.  We have a lovely Advent calendar that my mom made for us a few years ago, we have silver bells from Rob’s grandmother, and we have lots of other cute little decorative items that are from my late aunt. In addition to the special family items, I put together a few decorations for the party.

I purchased red and white flowers from the bulk flower market. I put red roses next to the bells. On the table, we have a white tablecloth and a red table runner. We have six white candlesticks that are a bit modern and funky looking. I placed a different type of vase between each candlestick.  There were two white bud vases that nicely held a few white flowers. We also have two small square vases. Into each of those, I poured about an inch of Epsom salt, put rosemary leaves on top of the salt, and then put a small pillar candle on top of the rosemary. I also put a few cranberries around each candle. The Epsom salt looks like snow and the rosemary looks like Christmas tree needles.  The cranberries are fun for contrast against the green and white.  In the center of the table, I have a big fishbowl type of vase that I found at Goodwill. I put white flowers in it and surrounded the entire arrangement with cranberries. The contrast between the white and the red was fun and quite lovely.

Outside, I (finally) removed what was left of our petunias and mums. I took the excess branches from our Christmas tree and arranged them in the window boxes. On top of the branches, I added garland, pine cones, and holly berries. Everything looks very cheerful, especially when I’m looking through my kitchen window.

For the party, I made stuffed mushrooms, parmesan thyme crackers, olive cheese balls, and cake balls. We also made mulled wine, which was very popular, and hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows.  Although I made the drinks the day of the party, I was able to prepare the food items ahead of time and just cook them the day of the party, which spread the work out nicely.

Some of our friends brought yummy dishes like flautas, rum balls, chocolates, a delicious nut mix, homemade truffles, veggies with dip, and fruit. We are delighted that our house provides such a great environment for entertaining, and we are grateful that so many people took the time to come over.

After the party and (super easy!) cleanup was over, Rob and I just sat in our living room listening to Christmas music, relaxing and talking. It was a perfect way to end a wonderful Christmas-y weekend. We are definitely looking forward to Christmas.


Adventures in Turkey: Cappadocia, Goreme, Cavusin, and Kaymakli

•December 1, 2011 • 1 Comment

As we woke to depart Ankara, the snow continued to blanket the city in what turned out to be one of the worst snowstorms to hit the city in a decade. While leaving the city on a bus, we witnessed the havoc the storm had on the country, passing mangled wreck after mangled wreck. At one point, the road headed towards Ankara was completely shut down and passengers were getting out of cars, trucks, and buses to walk down the line of stranded vehicles to the nearest shelter. Fortunately, our bus didn’t evacuate, We imagine that one of our co-passengers was even more grateful than we were, as he told us: “The next time I come to Turkey, I’m bringing shoes and socks.” We agreed that it was probably a good idea. Once our bus was outfitted with chains, we continued east toward Cappadocia – a moonscape of fairy chimneys.

It was early evening when we pulled into Göreme, a town in the middle of a forest of geological minaret and pillar-like spires all shaped by mother nature. We knew we wanted to explore, but Emily was also very excited about our cave hotel – a common form of accommodation in the area. Each of the fairy chimneys (the geological minarets/pillars) is formed when winds blow away ash and smaller pebbles, leaving only harder materials, like volcanic stone, behind. The hotel we stayed at fashioned rooms out of the volcanic rock at the base of one of the chimneys, with parts of it lit by candlelight. It was both rustic and very romantic. We loved it.

It was late, but because the town was built in the midst of the fairy chimneys we were able to explore a little as we found a place to eat. The following morning, I got up very early to take in the sunrise and hot air balloons rising above the valley, leaving Emily huddled in the blankets. Overnight, a light snow fell, leaving a thin white blanket on the ground. It was peaceful walking along the rural road in the dark, as I made my way to Cavusin and a cluster of chimneys standing there. The tops of the peaks covered in snow provided much needed color on this mostly overcast morning. It was amazing to wander through this landscape. It felt strangely barren and foreign, a difficult experience to have nowadays.

Later, Emily and I joined a tour that took us to Kaymakli, a tunnel city dug from the hard volcanic rock. Persecuted groups would hide in this and other underground cities as armies and other pursuers passed by. Elaborate civilizations would live for years underground – I’m not sure I would have grown to over six feet tall though. Later, we hiked through a different valley and could look across at a forest of chimneys with belts of different colors from the different minerals in the earth. This is definitely a place to go back to and explore when it is a little warmer.

On our final day in Cappadocia, we took it easy and went to the open-air Göreme Museum. This museum is a collection of churches, gathering areas, and living spots carved into the walls of one part of the valley. The insides of some of the rooms were covered in intricate paintings. It was well worth the price of admission. We also saw some of the hot-air balloons float overhead. While we did want to go up in one, we thought the freezing temperatures at ground level were cold enough. Cappadocia was quiet reprieve from the hustle and bustle that were waiting for us in Istanbul the next day and in Washington the day after that.

Enjoy the photos below and some more on Smugmug. We hoped you liked our Adventures in Turkey: Post 1 (Turkey), Post 2 (Istanbul), Post 3 (Selcuk), Post 4 (Ankara)