Macarons, coffee, and a little Cash

Written by Guy

Nostalgia and romance cloak this weekend in a veil of self-propelling smiles. Without a note of causation, no spark to light the fire, Megan and I flashed gestures of love at each other uncontrollably every time ours eyes met this weekend. It was probably annoying to say the least and outright intolerable to say a bit a more. I doubt we feel sorry. Then again, we have been too happy to consider it anyway.

A year ago this weekend is when fate kissed luck and Megan’s finger slid right thereby accepting the possibility of me. ¡Hallelujah Tinder! Although this is not our anniversary, which is a few weeks away, I could not help but smile each moment that memories captured my attention these past couple days. 365 days later and I still cannot believe that stars aligned so perfectly that we were in the same place, at the same time, and by some act of divine mercy she was not in a cycle of auto-swipes to the left. Life is full of blessings.

We spent the weekend seeking small adventures and enjoying an extra day of  leisure — though we did not celebrate anything in particular. It was not our anniversary after all. Still, nevertheless, we spent it happily enjoying time together. Honoring the year we have spent together by cherishing the day. 
 

Our Saturday was centered around tickets to see Get Rhythm at the Secret Society. If you’ve never seen this local, Johnny Cash tribute band you are missing something special. Walking up the Secret Society stairs I thought they were playing old Cash records while the band was getting ready. It is eerily beautiful how well Bryan Wiese sings and sounds like the Man in Black himself. They next play on June 1, again at the Secret Society, and you should go see them.
 

We had time to kill before the concert though and used it to do a little apartment shopping. Our  lease is up soon and we are searching Portland for our new home. It will be our first home together after saying “I do!” and we want a space that is calm, open, and can energize us to create. Have any thoughts? After spending hours touring place after place, our frontrunner favorite is The Ardea at South Waterfront. We simply love the layout and people who work there. Now let’s just hope they have a vacancy at the right price! (Fingers crossed)
 

Without doing much of anything, this weekend was the perfect reminder of how blessed I am to have met Megan. I felt gratitude overwhelming me as we listened to old Cash songs in the dark, with her hand gripping mine tight. I kept kissing it, her hand, as I often do, but this time in worship that those fingers chose me. She swiped right and the rest was history.
 

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Another one of our stops was Petite Provence on NE Alberta. Megan is obsessed with the macarons, so it was another perfect place to kill time before the show. 

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Best Birthday Ever!

He writes in this font, she writes in this font.

Twenty-nine is not the traditional landmark of birthdays. A year before the “dirty thirty” and nearly a decade between the two main flagships of aging: 21 and 40. Searching my memory I cannot recall a single story from friends or family that started with “29 was the best birthday ever.” More often it seems people sweep this not worth mentioning day under the rug of time, just another banal day.

Well, 29 was my best, most favorite, superb birthday — ever.

Let’s talk pre-birthday. I was a little anxious. I’m not quite sure why: he was already grateful after I eagerly greeted him home from walking the dog early that morning. You would have thought I gifted him a million dollars. I truly did not know what to expect from the day, including the Airbnb.

We spent the morning devouring a fruit tart covered in 29 wax dripping candles, and later enjoyed  even more beautiful fresh treats under canopies at the bustling PSU Farmer’s Market. I then nervously took photos of him like a mom at Christmas, while he opened his gifts from me. The day was beautiful. We were also pleasantly surprised by the Airbnb, he’ll share more about it. I spent weeks searching for the perfect place that would give us comfort, peace, and relaxation.

Bags packed, car full of food and some wine, we hit the road and headed north. From the onset I was clueless as to our destination. Up and out of the way in Washington, near White Salmon, but past it, we drove onward. We went through beautiful hills, my eyes growing wide in wonder at the orchards and rolling hills. I would have been happy to stop and camp along the road with all that beauty. Megan had even more grand ideas.

The car finally slowed to a crawl, the right signal-light blinking, in front of the Steelhead Ranch. Gliding slowly through the long driveway to our home for the night, I saw dozens of strange-looking creatures dodging their heads up and down through a fence. It was if they wanted to see us without us seeing them. Hide and seek with an animal that looked like a

poodle and camel somehow came together to create something entirely nonsensical.

“Are those fucking alpacas?”

Megan just laughed at first, for a good fifteen seconds. Then she replied, Yes.” More laughs.

So we spent the celebration of my twenty-ninth year on a ranch. Alpaca petting, fat farm-cat rubbing, adventuring through woods with a healthy Burnese mountain dog following close behind. It wasn’t clear if he followed to protect us or save himself from boredom. Either way we never got his name.

All evening we read and planned our honeymoon. Talking. Really talking the way two people talk when there is nothing else to do except enjoy each other’s company and draw out ideas like spreading sand across a table. Smooth and complete. I think that was the best part of the whole experience. Talking to Megan, undisturbed, is a present beyond the measure of value.

That was how we spent my birthday and it was wonderful.  I suppose I should add that we watched “Spice World” to cap the night. I have no doubt Megan would have mentioned it if I did not.

 

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Lucia Falls with Jessie Christensen

He writes in this font, she writes in this font. 

We made a new friend. The talented photographer, Jessie Christensen. 

For weeks and weeks, maybe months, Megan has been commenting “this girl takes incredible photos” while staring at her phone intently. This initiates twenty minutes or so of IG stalking and mass double-taps on the screen. Megan being so impressed piqued my interest and in no time we were both fans of Jessie’s work.

The likes went both ways. We were overjoyed to learn that Jessie seemed to appreciate Megan’s work as well. Instagram bringing photographers together, who could imagine that happening? It truly is wonderful how such a simple idea could create such a convenient way of bringing people together. 

After some back and forth planning, Megan and I were crossing the river to meet our new friend. As you can see below, Jessie showed us an amazing place near her home: Lucia Falls. A place where she has spent summers playing in the river and studying tide-pools with her family. It’s a place she has shot with her husband, crossing the shallow, rocky shore at low-tide to explore small islands jetting forward and crowned by the sun. An intimate place. We realized how dramatically this river changes through out the year as Jessie described how easy is it to cross the river in the summer. What we experienced was a charging wall of icy water forcing its way over the massive rocks. There was no crossing it. I imagined how unfortunate a fall would be into its dynamism. 

Our shoot with Jessie felt intimate and warm. She shared about her passions and experiences while we roamed around the river discovering a new friendship among the shadows and cool, misty air. I have a great appreciation for Guy during the brief moment Jessie and I geeked out over gear and our favorite photographers, including their life dramas. 

In turn Megan and I talked about our hopes, dreams, and manic love for each other. Nothing new, of course. It’s remarkable and funny and as simple as this: we met shaking hands and left with heartfelt hugs. Now enjoy Jessie’s photos and know they came from an unbelievably inspiring person.





Road Trip to Baker City, Part III: Maryhill Stonehenge Memorial

 

 

He writes in this font, she writes in this font.

Last, a little late, but certainly not least, our final stop on our road trip was the Stonehenge Memorial. At this point in the trip, I was fully appreciating Guy’s advice to actually “plan” this trip out. I was able to do some research and track along the way all of the locations I really wanted to see. That fiancé of mine is sure full of wonderful ideas.

To make this stop we had to cross borders, over the river, to Washington. It was worth the detour and a perfect place to pause for a lunch break.

Eating almond butter and apple sandwiches in the car, we were blown away by how quickly and drastically the weather had changed. Slightly under an hour earlier, while daring death at the Rowena Loops, the sky was a deep, ominous fog that crept along the mountains. It was also cold and misty wet.

Just 31 miles east, we marveled at the clear blue sky with the sun sitting like a halo above the monument. “It’s like the weather wants us to have perfect shots.” We said this nearly in unison in between bites of nut thins and cheese. Enough eating, we had to go explore.

There was a lot to explore. The first thing we had to explore was the adorable puppy another visitor had on leash across the parking area. I was certain it was an Australian Shepherd. Guy has this idea that I believe every adorable puppy is an Aussie. I feel like I know an Aussie when I see one and this time I was certain. So, we did the only thing we could do in that situation to solve this mystery. Next thing I knew, as we were getting out of the car, Guy yells in the direction of the family with the mystery dog, “What kind of dog is that?” The family responds with, “It’s an Australian Shepherd.” That was that. I tried to hide my face of triumph, but I don’t think I succeeded. I’m pretty sure it just turned into a very awkward smile.

Yeah, she was right… now back to the Stonehenge.

The monument alone is an elegant tribute to the many young men that died overseas. On a beautiful day, walking around the large stones and taking glances at the vast view, it was sobering to stop and read how young some died serving our country. In a word, we were grateful.

Making our way around the monument and reading the names and dates, we found a tree perched on the cliff side. It looked like it wanted to be climbed. We obliged. After several attempts to get the timer on cue with Megan’s tree climbing, we finally got some shots worth keeping. Megan satisfied, I got to climbing higher up the tree as she rested in the grass. In flow with the day, the sun opened at the perfect moment for me to get some great shots of my resting beauty lying in the grass.

Fun fact: What’s not shown is Megan making friends with a strange little cat that laid in the brush.

Happy, I was ready to go onward to Baker City. Megan had other ideas. Fully understanding the Fifth Amendment and electing to invoke that right, I won’t say that we hopped any fences marked Private Property or explored the relics of an old cattle house. I wouldn’t make such incriminating admissions. I will say that Megan looked like the most beautiful cowgirl I ever did see. Well, when in Rome… err.. Washington. Yeehaw.

Road Trip Baker City, Part II: Rowena Loops

You have all seen the pictures of Rowena Loops. Between Instagram and Facebook there are probably thousands of pictures uploaded daily of the iconic, drastic loops that make for an incredible photo opportunity. Usually there are only feet in the photo, or a couple holding hands with their backs to the camera. Look down at our first picture for reference. Whether you knew the name or not, you certainly know that vertical view of a road that nearly makes a U-turn. Rowena Loops: beautiful, unique, Oregon.

What you don’t know from the pictures online is that it is more than slightly dangerous to get a good shot of the loops. There is a 4½  foot guardwall that you must hurdle, with difficulty. Once over the wall, there is only about 4 feet of slanted cliff to perch yourself. After those few feet is about a 100 foot drop that is cushioned with rocks, cement, and fencing. A slip could be fatal.

You may be wondering why I note the dimensions of the cliff rather than the beauty of the loops. Well, that’s easy: I took in every aspect of that meager tuff as I helplessly watched the love of my life falling forward towards its end.

Always the adventurer, though not as often the most careful; Megan hopped down from that guardrail like she was jumping into bed. No apprehension, no consideration of the declining patch of rock or the consequential pain she would if she went too far. Nope, none of that.

For seconds that felt like everlasting lifetimes I watched Megan hit the ground near the edge and start tumbling forward. My heart stopped. I stood in utter panic as she popped up and wiped the dust off her green pants. Every detail of our surroundings imprinted on my memory in those moments.  

Yep, that’s how I know the minute details of Rowena Loops. Can you feel my worried frustration resurfacing as I typed the preceding paragraphs? Ugh!

Oh well, all’s well that ends well. And look at these beautiful photos!

Oops. :0