old faces, new places

The past few weekends have been pretty low-key for us. We got to hang out with some Taylor friends of ours in Portland a couple of weekends ago, which was great. We got to tour the town from the eyes of locals, and it was really nice to see the familiar faces of people that we share some history with.

Last weekend we went to Long Beach in Washington, which claims to be the longest in the world. It's a beautiful area, and we were virtually alone. . . which is an amazing thing on a huge stretch of sandy beach. It's a breeding habitat for the endangered Western Snowy Plovers, so a lot of the beach is blocked off to preserve their nesting sites.


Almost Famous

Last week, Astoria was transformed into the backdrop for scenes from the upcoming movie, Into the Wild. Based on the book by John Krakauer, the movie tells the true story of Chris McCandless, a college student who left his Georgia home to cross the country and live in the Alaskan interior only to die of starvation a few months after reaching the wilderness outside of Fairbanks. Krakaur, the journalist who originally reported the story for Outdoor magazine, felt that there was more to his death than met the eye, so he wrote the book to uncover the real truth.

Sean Penn (who is directing the film) and Vince Vaughn spent the week in Astoria shooting scenes for the movie. (Vaughn was rumored to have been visited by Jennifer Aniston for a day or two during the shoot. Also, in an unrelated star-sighting, Johnny Depp was supposedly in Seaside, about 20 minutes from Astoria, checking out potential sites for Pirates of the Carribean III.)

Evidently there was a casting call the week before, but I didn't hear about it until afterwards. I could have been an extra!

Nungesser Lake, Ontario fishing trip

For the first time in two years, I got to go on our annual family fishing trip with my dad, my brothers Alex and Chris, my uncle Jim, and my cousin John.

1. My dad with one of many large walleyes caught during the week. We only ate the tender little ones, so this one is probably still cruising the lake.

2. I'm not sure which one would inflict the worse bite, Alex or the walleye...

3. A quality catch not quite caught on film. Four of us landed 24+ inch walleyes within about a minute of each other. Alex had already thrown his back, but I was trying to get the other three in the same shot. The one that Chris was holding flipped out of his hands just before I could take the picture.

4. After a meal on the lake, sometimes a nap is in order. I happened to find my lifer Spruce Grouse inland from this peninsula.

5. After a rough and exciting boat ride, we were blessed with a spectacular double rainbow. From the boat, we were able to see the complete arch.


for the birds

I love the West Coast! We climbed a mountain one day and went to the beach the next!

On Friday, we hiked a rather treacherous trail up Saddle Mountain, about half an hour from Astoria. It was absolutely beautiful, and well worth the life-threatening feats it took to make it to the summit. (I'm exaggerating, Mom...slightly...) From the top, we could see the peaks of all five snow-capped mountains in the region -- St. Helens, Hood, Rainier, Adams, and Jefferson. The trail has a lot of biodiversity, beginning in dense forest and ending in wild-flower covered prairies.

Saturday we went to a number of local beaches on the hunt for a Tufted Puffin. After driving five hours to where we heard they were breeding, we arrived only to find out that abnormally high tides had recently washed away their habitat. We still managed to see some other interesting birds, though, like Common Murres, a Rhinoceros Auklet, and a White-tailed Kite. It was pretty chilly, so no swimming this weekend, but as soon as the weather gets a little warmer, we'll definitely be back.


O, Canada! ...eh?

We spent this past weekend (all 5 days of it) in Vancouver, British Columbia with Kelly's coworker who is from there. We had a great time and did tons of fun stuff, including:
We did, of course, make it back to Astoria in time for 4th of July fireworks over the Columbia River.

The mountains of Whistler seen from the Sea to Sky Highway

Us at Shannon Falls