Winter Glow

Feeling okay about 2017 coming to an end. It's okay to say it was a sad year, and it's fair to say a new year doesn't necessarily make it feel better. But, 2018 feels like a new starting point at the very least.

I'm grateful for my vintage shop this year, a place to focus my creative energy in a void. And a hobby that built my savings up considerably this year.

It's weird feeling comfortable in my finances, and thinking you could buy anything you want! But also thinking I really don't need anything. I don't need clothing, I don't need more house goods. Those are little things though. Bigger purchases are more abstract, a trip? Another house? Dental work? These are harder for me to plan for. Maybe I could use one or two of those. I'm 28 in 2018. Old enough to know better, young enough to feel in the dark.

Snow for Christmas, I'm not a Christmas person - but i enjoy a day off and winder lights. I treated myself to a prism lens and more diffraction glasses to play with.

Northern State Mental Hospital

The ruins of Northern State Mental Hospital, what beauty and magic. This was my first visit as it's a bit further north than I normally travel, one of the best spots yet! This was once a thriving mini city with a lumber mill, quarry, steam plant, greenhouse, canning facilities, library, bakery, dairy, and 700-acre farm for growing vegetables and raising livestock. Opened as an overflow facility for Western State Mental Hospital in 1909, by the 1970s the hospital lost it's funding and closed. Now it is called the Northern State "Recreation Area." There are many well established trails around the property with the remaining buildings on full display. I was excited to see so much access to these derelict structures, climb and explore until your heart is content.

For being an abandoned mental hospital, i found the ruins peaceful, not eerie. There was beauty all around, nature reclaiming all, and the landscape was magnificent. I was dressed for a retirement party earlier in the day, so after grabbing Selena, i just slipped into some tennies and went!

I plan for a living. I organize so many details from day to day. So when I have time on the weekend, I'm now getting a kick out of not planing at all. I'm good at impulsive decision making (well, part tortured and prolonged decision making that will eventually turn into a quick last-minute resolution). I'm also tired of being the planner among friends. I tend to be the one who takes initiative when an idea is being tossed around and organize the date and meeting spot. It's exhausting, and I'm tired of it - so more spontaneous is the game now.

Snoqualmie River in September

Baby it's hot out there. Suns out buns out. September Snoqualmie River through the toy holga lens again. The water was low, slow, and warm (as far as rivers go).

Longbranch a Holga Lens and a Heat Wave

Holding a close friends new baby, I commented we had the same skin tone. But, this is a two-month-old new life who has been lovingly kept away from direct sunlight. Me? Welp, it's that kind of summer.

A heat wave through Western Washington is keeping me in the shade, and honestly a bit sluggish. Too hot to move.

I've spent the past couple of months organizing. Going through closets and drawers, sorting keepers from donations. It feels good to know what's behind the can of black beans in the cupboard, and that the "junk drawer" actually has some useful important stuff. It started as a cleansing exercise, when you're surrounded in negative news, having a clean house makes a difference. And over the past few weeks my projects turned to making room for another person. The second bedroom (former "stuff!" room) will soon be inhabited by a friend. My first roommate in years!

So much of this year has felt like the twilight zone. This isn't where I thought I'd be a year ago. I imagined building my relationship, and inevitably thinking about the next house, a house that could be both of ours. So moving on, away from that relationship, and taking on a roommate feels like a step backwards to an extent. There is a beauty to strong friendships though, I'm going in open to growing and making something new with a friend I've known longer than I haven't known. We are both HSP's, passionate long term vegetarians, and aquatic signs. It will be interesting to see how our dynamic will work on an everyday basis.

My biggest fear is not having enough space. I really can spend DAYS by myself and be happy as a clam. Then again, this can be exercise to spend less time alone and be social (something I've put exceptionally little effort into this year).

Due to my months and months of a melted spirit, I haven't been taking many photos the way I used to. So here is a rare moment of thoughtful documentation. I used a toy Holga lens on my SLR. It's like instant film ;)

Iceland in May

I was feeling a lot of feelings and teary in the airport before leaving on this trip. It hasn't been an easy couple of months between family deaths, accidents at work, and a breakup. After asking the internet if anyone was interested in jumping on a trip to Iceland with me, I landed on someone much closer to home. I am endlessly grateful my sister agreed to join me on such short notice for my first couple nights away. My heart was at ease upon the plane landing. I was no world traveler at the start of this adventure, but by the end I can picture trying it again.

Iceland is a relatively easy place to travel. Everyone speaks English, and the locals are so kind and funny, and while not very big - nature has created some phenomenal works of art, it is a photographers dream! I chose to rent a car for this trip to explore lesser known areas in greater detail. With 8 full days, the car ensured lots of adventures! (side note, get the gravel insurance, the roads are often unpaved and the winter really does a number on the "better" roads. Peace of mind is worth it).

Though this trip was only half of the country, there is a lot to see in Iceland without hiring a tour service!

Day 1
A day in Reykjavik

It was a busy day figuring out a different country. I landed at 6:45am and met my sister at our AirBnB in Reykjavik. After a catnap, we walked the streets of the city and putzed around lots of vintage shops. Everything is in walking distance in downtown. We also toured the Nation Museum of Iceland to build up our knowledge of the country (did you know 80% of female Icelanders are of British decent, while men are 60% Nordic? Vikings stole themselves some wives). Scouting the city from Hallgrimskirkja Church was quite the view. After, Yuzu ate fermented shark at Loki Cafe across the street, a must-do on her list. The waitress presented her with a shot of Brennivin to wash it down, and asked if she could watch her eat it. Yuzu was satisfied, but will probably never try the ammonia scented food again. Just like in any city, after dinner is cat-hour, we met some cool urban cats on our walk home.

Day 2
Starting The Golden Circle

After a slow morning in Reykjavik with avocado rye toast and the best coffee I would experience in Iceland at Reykjavik Roasters, we picked up my rental car. Commence the self-guided Golden Circle tour. Stopping by Þingvellir (where the tectonic plate divides North America from Europe), a dairy farm for ice-cream (where I accidentally threw a farm dog's stick on the roof... he probably hates me), we saw Geysir (looking back, this was a big highlight of the trip if you've never seen a geyser before!), and Gullfoss (one of Iceland's most famous waterfalls full of rainbows). There are more sheep, ponies, and horses in Iceland than people. 800,000 sheep to 323,000 humans. We landed in Flúðir for the night.


Day 3
Sourth Iceland: Turf-houses and The Secret Lagoon

Catching my groove a bit by day three. Starting with turf houses at Keldur (some of the oldest survuving turf-houses in Iceland. Carved beams dating back to the 1600s). Turf house are all over the south. You know what I'm good at in the US? Trespassing and exploring.... we spotted fantastic turf houses on the side of the road, Rutshellir as it turned out, and found a series of huge caves inside (and dead sheep...)! Here's the thing about trespassing in Iceland, it's okay, just close the gate behind you. Okay... rather, the freedom to roam is in effect. Further down the road, we found another damn waterfall, Seljalandsfoss. Many travelers stood from afar snapping photos, few seemed interested in walking up and behind the falls. Yuzu and I jumped at the opportunity with little thought and quickly found it was a soaker (worth it). Lunch in Vik, then some cool beach rocks at Reynisfjara and black sand beaches. Ending the day at The Secret Lagoon, a natural thermal pool created in 1891.

The Secret Lagoon

Day 4
No Rest in Reykjavik

I arrived back in Reykjavik in the morning so Yuzu could head to the airport. I ventured to the furthest west point of the city and took a foggy beach walk near the Grótta lighthouse. My hostile was right downtown on the main drag, but, that was hard on a day my brain wanted to rest. The city was busy! Cafes have charming tables overflowing into the streets, lively with locals and tourists alike. I was so tired from the previous couple of days, so I retreated to my rented car on a quiet street for some rest. This day's main objective was planning my next five days (yes five) that didn't have an literary for yet.

Day 5
North to Hvammstangi

From Reykjavik, I worked my way north passing through coast towns. In Arkanes i found a rusty old boat in a ship yard. Then found a huge all vegetarian buffet in Borgarbyggð. How lucky is that to just stumble upon?! I had been eating a lot of bread, cheese, and yogurt prior to this buffet. Upon arriving in Hvammstangi, I ventured a little further out to the Hvítserkur rock formation in the Vatnsnes Peninsula.


Day 6
West Fjords

Oh man, this day was very Icelandic. I ventured as far north as I have ever been in my life! Starting from Hvammstangi, going north to the West Fjords. Stopped in Hólmavík and visited the Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft Museum. They had a replica of pair of pants made from a dead mans legs. Then further north to just past Melgraseyri for epic view points. Nauteyrarlaug is a lesser known hot spring bath. It's waaaaaay out in the middle of no where in the West Fjords - which happened to be on the roads I traveled. It was tepid at best so I did not take a dip in this one. Majestic views, snow, beaming sun. It has been sunny every single day! Despite sunscreen, I certainly have new freckles on my face.

Day 7
Selfoss & Spirit Farm

A light day of driving 3 hours from Hvammstangi to Selfoss. Played on a farm with horses and tiny kittens. A resident at the farm presented me with his favorite Icelandic music including Icelandic reggae, I have never been so confused. Best part of the day was chatting with locals at this community based farm.

Day 8
South Iceland

On my last full day in Iceland I visited the secluded Bruarfoss Waterfall. Fantastically soft blue water, glacier fresh. Then off to a one last hot spring pool recommended by a local at the farm stay, Hrunalaug. This day was windy. Like they closed roads by the water due to treacherous conditions windy! So while the hot spring pools were warm and soothing, changing in and out of your swimsuit inside that lil shack was cold! The wind continued through the evening and I'm so thankful to have lucked out with mostly sunny warm days while in Iceland. Home the next day.