Playing Pro!

A couple years back Rick and I attended a meeting of the Tacoma Photographic Society.  They meet on Thursdays and share pictures and then critique.  It was enjoyable and educational, I wish I could attend more often and get some of my stuff critiqued as well.  But Thursday is my meeting night...

Having attended a meeting got us on a mailing list which hasn't resulted in many benefits.  Until last week!

Digital Days Photography was planning to have a 2 day workshop here in Seattle and everyone getting the necessary promo code could attend for FREE!  So I quickly jumped on line and got us signed up.

We had plans to go to Tacoma and shoot some urban photography with Sarah so we couldn't make the Saturday session.  That was fine because the description showed that to be the fundamentals, which, after having our cameras for 4+ years now, we have figured out pretty well.  But Sunday was gonna be the hands-on day.  An all day session with models to be photographed inside and then a walk around Seattle with more model shots.  Fun!

So we got signed in and listened to the brief lessons on mastering ISO, exposure, shutter speed, white balance, etc. then the fun began.  There were about 8 models with a variety of outfits and about 6 areas to shoot indoors, the majority with lights, a backdrop and some kind of flooring.  One area was next to a window with a reflector and one was at a table with candles backed by a dark backdrop and rope lights.

There were at least 50 of us so every location was crowded with some laying on the floor, some sitting, kneeling, holding their cameras high to shoot downward, etc.  We shot for I think at least an hour inside, then turned our memory cards over to the instructors while we broke for lunch.

Rick and I wandered down to the Westlake area and found a hot dog stand called "Dog in the Park". A little pricey but fit in with what we needed, simplicity and speed.  We both enjoyed our dogs (although they were a bit heavy on the greasy side), enjoyed the ambiance of the area, the live music, the trees painted vivid blue, the statues planted around, the beautiful day and doing something completely different from our usual Sunday.

Returning to "class" we reviewed some of the best shots and examples of what not to do.  Then we headed back outside, to the Harbor Steps which were just a few blocks away.  It was an odd thing to be doing and created a lot of curiosity in people going about their normal business.  A model would pick a spot and begin posing while the assistants would use reflectors or diffusers to create the correct lighting.  Then there would be a mob of photographers jockeying for the best position.  Onlookers were convinced the models were celebrities and some even joined in on the photography, not wanting to miss out on getting the shot of "whoever she is"!

The Digital Days folks aren't from this area so depended on us locals to lead them to interesting shooting spots.  We helped a group find the infamous "gum wall" of Post Alley while others headed toward the waterfront and our brand-new ferris wheel.  We managed to get ourselves included with both groups.  But that involved a lot of walking and hill- and stair-climbing.  The day turned quite a bit warmer than we expected so it was quite a workout!

We went back to the classroom for a few last pointers then headed for our cars.  The parking garage that we'd been directed to use for its $6 fee for the day turned out to be wrong - our parking bill was $26!  Yikes!  Oh well, the class was free so we spent $13 each for a fun day in the city doing something we'll probably never do again!  Hopefully we learned something as well - I know!  Check the parking rates for yourself!

Girls' Hike Day

At least we TRIED to hike!

Shirley came up with the idea of a girls' hike day for the 5 of us (Shirley, Heather [who couldn't make it], Rachyl, Chelsea, moi)  a while back and we tossed around a few ideas of where to go.  Our weather here, while not as extreme as so many other areas in the country, sure makes lots of things difficult!

The first thing we had to contend with was the hills.  We don't live in a flat area, every hike is either up or down - or up AND down - a hill.  Or a mountain!  So we had to find something for non-hikers.  

Next we had to find something at an elevation that the snow was gone.  Lots of the hikes on Mt Rainier, for example, are at an elevation that the trails are still 80% covered with snow and some even still require use of an ice axe!

We finally found a nice hike to a lake that didn't include too much climbing and lead to a lake AND was at an elevation that the snow had all melted off.  It was out just past our camping spot, Lily Lake.

The drive out there is very pleasant with killer views of Mt Rainier, wildflowers (in season) waterfalls, forests, and wildlife.  Nearly the ENTIRE 100 miles is that way!  So we drove out and enjoyed the drive.  We stopped at Lily Lake so Chelsea could get her first glimpse of it before we camp there next month.  Then we continued on for the last mile.  We crawled that last mile on a terrible rocky road and donned our backpacks for our 2-3 mile trek to Swamp Lake.  Before we hit the trail I asked the other party that was just leaving how the hike was and they informed us that it was nice but they didn't get too far, they had small kids and the trail took you across a river, one that the trail description described as about ankle deep this time of year.

That's fine, we left our kids home so we should be able to cross.

NOT! The river was raging pretty good due to our long, cool, wet spring, probably thigh-high and the rocks in the bottom were bright green, which means VERY slippery!  We guestimated our walk to have been maybe 3/4 of a mile til we were stopped at the river.  Too bad, it was a nice trail, the ups and downs were often and not too steep, enough for a workout without being too strenuous. 

So our 4 - 5 mile hike turned into a mere 1.5 miles.  What to do now?  Rach kept talking about a ghost town that was up another local road that had been closed since 2006 as well due to washed out roads and bridge repair.

We drove down to that road and then up it as far as it would go.  I had researched that ghost town and saw that it was miles past the road closure but we thought we'd give it a shot anyway.  Failure #2.

I suggested that we do an informational investigation of the Bumping Lake campground.  That was a nice accomplishment, there are a few nice sites that members of this crazy camping family may enjoy in future years, since they're all reserved for the rest of our "summer".  We also drove over the dam and found a "store" and "marina" on the opposite side of the lake.  It was a congested, unappealing mess but the store was a cool find.

Most of us had, in the past, visited Boulder Caves which was about 5 miles further down the highway.  We decided to go there since it'd been a while.  My recreation pass got the parking fee covered and we started the walk to the caves.  It turned out to be more of a hike than any of us remembered and Rach just couldn't tough it out, she wasn't prepared for a mostly uphill walk of that length and was also coming down with a stomach bug.  Failure #3.  For Rach anyway.  The rest of us continued on while Rach sat in the air conditioned car, playing a game on her phone and listening to the radio.  

The cave(s?) were/was way more awesome than any of us remembered.  Rach will definitely have to check them out the next time!

Well, not the day we'd planned on but we still enjoyed our "Girls' Day" and will have to do this again!

A Beloved Family Tradition Resumes!

Summer of 1988 I was starting my life with Mr. Wonderful and pregnant with Dane.  We had our separate children on alternating weekends.  Gary lived in Everett and on the weekends we had him we attempted to have an outing as his mother did nothing with him.  I'd sit down with the Gazetteer and look for lakes or rivers near a forest service road where we could possibly find a place to pull off the road and camp.  We stayed near plenty of rivers but lakes were a lot harder to find.  

One day I found on a map the very arrangement I was looking for, although the lake was not as near the road as we would have liked.  We decided to give it a shot.  So we went and picked Gary up in Everett and then drove clear down to Bumping Lake, about 140 miles and then 6 miles down the dirt road that continues past the road's end.  By flashlight and headlight we set up camp in a little pull-through right next to the road, using our car to block anyone from accidentally driving through our camp.

In the morning we put on all our gear for the hike to the lake.  We were just barely down the trail when we ran into the lake - it was so close we could have hauled our stuff and camped right there!  There was an island in the middle of the lake but we hadn't planned to swim.  As was our custom whenever we ran into a small lake we decided to hike around it and when we got to the opposite side we saw that the water was very shallow and the island was close.  So Mr W decided to try to walk through the shallow water to the island.  The lake bed was very soft there and he sunk up to his chins or knees and ended up getting fairly wet, more so than he'd planned.  We totally enjoyed the pretty little lake we'd found and determined that someday we'd come back and actually camp on its shores.

The next year we headed out to that area but, again, didn't camp at Lily Lake.  Instead we stopped at a river where we'd seen others, even with camping trailers, camping before.  It was a nice camping area but, again, not a lake.  We visited the lake during the day.  

I believe we camped in the same spot the next year as well.  That year a full moon completely lit up our camp when it came out.  I remember Vivian Padilla came with us and spent all her time taking care of Keith who was about 7 months old.  Dane was 2 and camping with babies like that can be exhausting but we still enjoyed ourselves.

Finally, in 1992 we decided to camp at the lake - on the island even!  We came to that conclusion because during our visits we discovered that the camps on the shore of the lake were thick with mosquitoes but not the island!  So we got our rafts and hauled our stuff over.  We immediately fell in love with the camp.

We spent lots of time in those early years with Pete and Laura Eno and their boys and our first camping trip included them and their dog.

In 1993 we had made friends with lots of people in Auburn and a group decided to give our style of camping a shot.  Our group included our family, the 4 Bushnells and Heather Tallent.

1994 our group shrank a bit, it appears to have been only our family and Brian Boston.  Mark Berndt may have been there as well, he became a fixture in our lives for a few years and that included our annual Lily Lake trips.

Then in 1995 we had a mob.  My parents had moved up from California and we ended up helping Hik move  here too, so he camped and they came out for a day visit.  Other campers included 4 Bushnells, 2 Berndts, 2 (or3?) Colemans, Havalah Morgan, Laura Conkler, and another couple strays, I believe.  It seems like there were 21 at the Watchtower study we had Sunday morning around the campfire before we broke camp.

We continued to go annually with a variety of friends and/or family through 2006.  Through a divorce, depression, a couple changes of congregations, children's marriages, etc. we continued the tradition.  Then the winter floods washed away part of the road and our trips ended.  Sadly.  We all mourned our lost tradition until, determined, we decided to break all the rules and just go out on quads in 2009.  It was a good trip but didn't end well.  The rangers found us riding our quads and fined Kevin and Rachyl (the drivers).  Oh well, it was worth it, it cost each family/couple $50 for the 3-4 day trip, not bad...

After that fiasco, though, I started pushing it to the back of my mind as a tradition that was past.  The grandsons had gotten to experience Lily Lake camping but so young they wouldn't remember.  We kept an eye on the condition of the road.  Closed.  We drove out.  Closed.  Signs of protected rivers started springing up.  That's it - they protected the waterways and now the environmentalists won't let it be reopened.  Boo...

Rachyl took the initiative to look into the road more so than the rest of us and found information a week or so ago that sounded like the road was probably open!  What?!?! I'd been aching to take a drive out there just to see and so was Shirley so after hearing THAT news we decided we HAD to go!  

So Wednesday we packed up the kids and made a day of it.  It was the usual beautiful drive and, lo and behold, the road was open!  I drove my toaster which is very close to the ground so had to take some really bad areas very slowly.  There were lots of downed trees.  The horse camp that had been built just before the road was closed still looks like new.  Then, just as we got to the parking area for "our" lake - a tree across the road!  

No sweat.  Remember the little pull-through area we first camped in way back in the late 80's?  It's now the road and the parking area is split in 2 (by a tree) and there's room for more cars.

I planned to break the news of the upcoming camping trip to Rick gently, since he seems hesitant to do things with my mob in totality.  But there was no way to hide my excitement!  


About Me

My photo
After 2 unsuccessful marriages I spent 12 years as a divorcee, only to fall prey to another man's wiles. We had a fun 5 years together and then he decided he wanted more freedom so once again I'm single.

So I'm freshly divorced at 57 and have 5 great kids and now 7 grandkids. My kids are still a major part of my life but I'm busy helping my aging parents on Kauai.

I've lived in California, Hawaii and Oklahoma before finally settling here in Washington. I love Washington and come back to visit family, friends and take care of my garden often but will be temporarily a resident of Kauai.

I've moved 30 times in my life (no, my parents weren't in the service, at least not since I was about 2) and finally planted roots when I got my little house that I've owned since '91.

My family are Jehovah's Witnesses, I've been one since '72.