#9: Attend Becky’s 20 Year High School Reunion

This is part of our 100 Things in 2014 challenge. Here’s the full list.

Becky graduated from high school in 1994, which means it’s been 20 years! She volunteered us to be the official photographers for the event.


The reunion was held at the Oregon City Elks’ Grand Ballroom, and there was a pretty good turnout.


We used our photographers’ super-power to make people pose in groups.


Sometimes it even works on Becky!

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It was a pretty good time. Not without its awkwardnesses, but we chatted with some pretty cool people – some of whom were cool back then, and some who have matured into coolness.


The DJ caught us slow-dancing toward the end of the night.


Hat Rock State Park (and Pendleton Aquatic Center)

This is part of our Oregon State Park challenge! Check out our progress here.

We drove out to Hat Rock State Park from Emigrant Springs, expecting to find a swimming hole.


It turns out that it’s not very easy to go swimming here if you don’t have a boat, so we strolled around the fishing pond, and hiked up to the eponymous rock:

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It’s a nice place for a picnic and a short hike, and there’s a boat ramp if you have one of those.

Aside: Pendleton Aquatic Center

The kids were mightily disappointed that we didn’t go swimming. On our way back, we stopped at the Pendleton Aquatic Center, which was awesome.

That photo shows one of the three pools – there’s also a lap pool and a high-dive pool that’s 12′ deep. Will rode the big slide you see above (Lucy wasn’t tall enough), and both of them went off a diving board!

This place was a highlight of our trip, and it only cost $20 for all of us for the day. There’s a food stand (with predictable quality), but we also spotted people hauling in their own barbecues and coolers. It was a hot summer day with lots of people, but there was still plenty of shade for us to hang out in. Highly recommended, 5 stars, would pool again.

#77: Visit the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute

This is part of our 100 Things in 2014 challenge. Here’s the full list.

We were in the Pendleton area, and had to stop by this place.


It’s a pretty amazing space. As soon as we bought our tickets (a whopping $22 for all of us), the kids were handed an entire binder full of activities and things to find around the museum. They were really engaged with this, and now we wish more museums would do this.


The first exhibit was full of wolves. Will and Lucy each posed in front of their favorite one.

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The very next thing we saw was a craft area. In homage to the native tribes’ beadwork skills, they got to make a plastic-bead mosaic. They had both done this at school, so they knew exactly what to do.

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Here’s what they were aiming to reproduce, and also them working on their binders – drawing pictograms.


There was also a cool exhibit outdoors, showing how the tribes would do things that we take for granted. Here’s the firestarting table; Will and Lucy both got to start a fire with a magnifying glass and a bit of rope.

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There were several styles of shelter set up. We didn’t leave a single one unexplored.

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The indoor exhibits were incredible, comprehensive, and well done, but no photos are allowed. We snuck one shot of the kids (again) working on their binders – solving an animal-track mystery, with some clues that were on the wall.


We really liked this place. It’s little-known, and only a short drive from I-84, so if you’re passing by and want to stretch your legs a bit, head on over. It probably won’t be crowded.


Emigrant Springs State Heritage Area

This is part of our Oregon State Park challenge! Check out our progress here.

We headed out to eastern Oregon for a long weekend. Emigrant Springs State Park is right on I-84, so we hit the road running. On the way, we spotted signs of a big fire just west of The Dalles. I managed to snap this shot out the window of a car Becky was driving at 70 miles per hour.


(We later found out that the fire was mostly under control at that point, but the kids swore up and down that they saw huge flames. I have doubts.)

We arrived pretty late at night, and had to port our sleeping gear down 30 yards of unlit, narrow path to our duplex cabin in near-absolute darkness. The next morning, we started our normal camping-morning routine: fire and journals.

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We were staying in the “Totem Cabin”, which is fairly rustic (two electrical outlets, a roof, some walls, and a bunk bed), and it’s a duplex, so we only got half of the building. It was cozy, but almost roomy enough; the kids took turns sleeping in the tent (which they loved).

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Dishwashing was just as basic, though thankfully not in a river. Will and Lucy took turns helping out, and at one point they both wanted to help, so I let them do it all. We had dinner-tasting breakfast the next morning, but it was so worth it.

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We always try to get to know our campground. Here are a few things we saw during our explorations.

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There was even a geocache hidden nearby, which we couldn’t pass up. It took a bit of looking to find. See if you can spot Will in this first photo:

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The purple bin in the background is full of art supplies and activities. I decided to draw a city, and Will and Lucy pitched in.


Lucy always likes to build a Fairy House, and she and Will write the most fanciful stories around it.

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We also taught them to play Mastermind, and I got some writing done.


Bedtime stories are a must. We always hit the library before going on any camping trip.


Will really enjoys the gift he chose for Lucy’s birthday.


One night, there was a ranger-led program about the wildlife in the area. They had lots of dead animals on display, some of which were mounted really realistically. The one Lucy is petting is a blonde black bear.

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Then it was time to say goodbye. We roasted our breakfast hot dogs over the fire, packed up, and headed home.

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But we couldn’t resist one more viewpoint.


The eastern part of our state is pretty gorgeous. Until next time!

July Misc. Round-Up

Lucy made a phases-of-the-moon diagram with Oreos at school.


Her class discovered a “witch’s hut” in Forest Park.


They had a “camp out” under their tables, with story time.


This is what they do on especially hot days – their playground turns into a water park!


When she finishes her library books, she asks for more.


These two are… creative with hammocks.


Laney had a birthday party at a trampoline gym!


As well as a cake-and-presents affair back at the Aldridge estate.


Sometimes the kids help out with packing their lunches.


We spent an afternoon picking excess produce from the backyard greenhouse of some friends of ours. Lucy found the biggest tomato she could, and bit into it like an apple. She finished the whole thing, and at least 90% of it made it into her mouth.


This is how Becky hands the kids off to the Swanks for a week in Portland: all the dinners pre-cooked, a detailed calendar, and three sheets full of routines and rules.


Our friend Aaron turned old, and he likes to throw his parties at a karaoke bar. Ben went alone this time, but tried really hard to do justice to some Van Halen.


Ben had a Birthday too!

Ben turned 35 this year! We couldn’t fit all the candles in his pancakes.


Here’s his “official” portrait, from our hike in the woods.


And here are his unofficial portraits. Whenever I’m setting up a shot for clients, he always stands in the right place for my light tests, and because sometimes he’s even smiling, I’ll never run out of great shots of him.


Happy birthday! I’m so glad this guy was born.

#90: Visit the Tillamook Forest Center

This is part of our 100 Things in 2014 challenge. Here’s the full list.

It was my birthday. What better way to celebrate than by going to an interpretive center and on a cool hike?


The Tillamook Forest Center is about halfway to the coast from where we live, and it’s full of firefighting lore and history. We’ve driven past this at least a dozen times, it was about time we stopped. There’s a 40-foot-tall replica of a forest-fire lookout tower, and at the top is a snapshot of how the lookouts lived in such remote places.


Will spotted his name, but it was all scrambled up.


Then we went into the main exhibit. Smokey was in attendance, of course, but there were all kinds of interesting things just laying around.


As with every museum in this part of the world, part of it is set aside for dressing up like a wagon-train pioneer.


But here there are also forest fire fighter costumes!


We took a guided tree walk. Will and Lucy both volunteered to help with the teaching. Here Will is a tree that loves sunshine.


Lucy’s character likes the rainy shade.


At one point I turned around, and my entire family was trapped under a river diorama with plastic salmon.


The kids went out bug-hunting by the river side with a ranger guide. They learned to identify at least three kinds of bug.


We also stopped to take my birthday portraits!


(Super informative signage here.)


We liked this place, and it was completely free! It’s only an hour away, people. Seriously.

#68: Buy Art from Local Artist

This is part of our 100 Things in 2014 challenge. Here’s the full list.

While we were out at the Saturday Market, we saw quite a few local artists. We’ve needed drink coasters for a while now, and this nice lady happened to be there, so we grabbed some.


We put together a “bridges” theme, but there are a wide variety of other very Portlandy things. And now our tables won’t have water rings on them. Score!

#81: Visit Portland Saturday Market

This is part of our 100 Things in 2014 challenge. Here’s the full list.

Becky has fond memories of coming to this market as a pre-teen.


There aren’t many photos of our visit – we had been shooting a wedding for 14 hours the day before, and were still pretty wiped out. We didn’t even buy any food.


But we did manage to buy some local art, and wander through all the aisles. We don’t come down here often enough.

#35: Try 5 New Fruits or Vegetables

This is part of our 100 Things in 2014 challenge. Here’s the full list.

We saw a golden opportunity when we visited the big Portland farmer’s market, and set out to get some never-before-seen-in-our-kitchen ingredients

First up: these gnomish little potatoes. We cooked them up in our breakfast hash, and were creamy and a bit pink.


These purple beans turned bright green when we sauteed them!


As did these purple peppers; we couldn’t tell them from the green ones we cooked with them.


These plums were dessert, served raw. The skin was tart, but the flesh was amazingly sweet.


These tiny grapes didn’t last long. Each one had the flavor of a full-sized grape in a much smaller package.


We think maybe these are a cross between plums and apricots? Anyway, they were delicious.


We’ve had huckleberry products before, but never on their own. These were our favorite.


Will and Lucy are great eaters, and will try anything. They had as much fun as we did on this little culinary adventure!