Monday, June 30, 2008

Adventure Bound!

I'm sorry to inform you that this will be my final blog post for a few weeks. I know many of you live and breath and hang on pins and needles in anticipation of my next post but you are just going to have to wait :)

For those of you that do not know I will be traveling to Tanzania, Africa for an adventure safari. I'm flying off by myself and will spend most of the time camping in the tent you see in the photograph. There will be a couple of days in hotel's so I can hopefully bathe to prevent the animals from running away at the first scent :)

My plan is to keep a daily journal on the trip. When I get back I will post my journal entries in their entirety day by day and will include my favorite photo's from the day of the journal entry. If you've read my blog for a while you know I can be a bit long winded so beware :)

I fly from Seattle to San Francisco then it's a 10 hour flight to London where I have a 6 hour layover and I'm seriously debating whether or not that's enough time to go through customs and hop a cab to see some sites. We'll see. From there it's 8 and a half more hours in a plane to Kenya where I wait for a few hours to hop a puddle jumper to Tanzania. I'll be picked up at the airport and escorted to a town that serves as the hub of Tanzania called Arusha.

Early in the morning I'm off to Tarangire National Park where I will camp for 2 days then off to Lake Manyara National Park for a day followed by the main event the Serengeti for 4 days where millions of Wildebeests are migrating providing an all you can eat buffet for the carnivores of Africa..should make for a good photo op :) After the Serengeti it's a couple days at Ngorongoro Crater, back to Arusha and home.

I am very excited about this trip. Since I will be by myself I get to follow my own agenda which is cool. My plan is pre-sunrise beginnings shooting animals with a long lens through the golden hour and sunsets every night as well with sleep during the day. Stay tuned for a fun batch of stories near the end of the month!


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Craig and Shelley

Last Saturday in Portland, Oregon Shelley and Craig were married at the Four Square Church followed by an amazing reception at The Governor Hotel. No detail was left untouched with beautiful flowers, custom M&M's, delicious food (ask John McGrath about the food, he loved it as you can see by the photo of him below :) and wonderful people!

A great band called the Swingline Cubs played throughout the night enhancing an upbeat, fun wedding day.

The day began with Shelley and her bridesmaids getting ready at the very classy Dosha Salon Spa while Craig and his friends were shaved, snipped, massaged and covered in hot towels at a very cool mens salon called Hair M. I'm not kidding when I say I may make the drive back down to Portland just to visit this place and get the royal treatment these guys had. It was relaxing just being there.

The ceremony was quite beautiful. My wife and I belong to the Foursquare church in Everett and it was a treat to be down in Portland for this ceremony as it was filled with my favorite part of a wedding day..pure emotion. Tears, laughter, love and the Lord...all the necessary components of a great wedding ceremony and just the first step in what is so obviously going to be an amazing marriage.

Below are a few of my favorite photo's from the day. Congratulations Shelley and Craig. It was a great privilege to photograph your wedding day!

One of the flower girls enjoying a good laugh at the Dosha Hair Salon.
Craig at Hair M getting ready for the big day.

A very charming flower girl.
Ron seeing his daughter in her dress the first time.
The final moment just before walking down the aisle.
Craig seeing his bride for the first time that day.

After the ceremony they couldn't be close enough to each other.
A romantic moment in the foyer.
They had a great band.
A fellow Shutterbug :)
Their beautiful cake.
John McGrath laughing hysterically after seeing a very funny joke his wife Debbie played on him during the reception.
Craig and Shelley's first dance as a married couple.
The Father/Daughter Dance was a lot of fun to watch.

Friday, June 20, 2008


Last week was amazing! I hopped on a plane and flew to the incredibly beautiful state of Alaska with my Brother-in-Law Rick and his friend (and now mine) Dwayne. When we arrived we picked up a camper and Rick's Drift Boat and drove 5 hours to the Gulkana River. The great thing about Rick and Dwayne is that they speak "Fish." The Gulkana river feeds into the Copper River. The fish we were after...Copper River King's aka Chinook. For those of you that don't know, this the best, most sought after Salmon run in the world. The fish are incredibly strong, their meat is a vibrant red and the taste is indescribable.

Because Rick and Dwayne speak fish they also understood them and knew where they would be and what they would be hungry for. I'll spare you the details of a long story about the boat launch, but essentially the owner of the RV park that has access to the only ramp on the river less than 28 miles from the end of the run was making it very difficult for people to stay there let alone launch their boats. Rick and Dwayne have a history with him so after some wheeling and dealing and potentially Rick working as a guide for him next year for a short while we were given access to camp and launch. We were the only people in this huge area and some of the only people with a boat on the river! 99% of everyone else had to fish off the bank. This was a huge advantage for us.

Because the run had just begun the salmon weren't thick in the river. What was lacking in quantity was certainly not lacking in quality. We landed between 10 to 15 fish a day (you can only keep 1 per person though). If you have never caught a wild King Salmon but plan to do so I have one piece of advice for out! These fish are strong and that is an understatement. I'm not ashamed to admit that one fish fought me and won. For nearly 30 minutes I wrestled with what had to be a huge salmon. We had to pull the boat to the bank and I ran down stream trying to keep up with it. After an awesome battle the fish found the strong rapids and after all the tugging and jerking the hook must have loosened and he broke off. That is one fish I hope makes the end of the run.

The average fish we caught was between 20-25 pounds with a couple over 30 pounds! There were Bald Eagles everywhere which I love. It was a great experience slowly walking through the river trying to get as close as I could to eagles feeding on Salmon or chilling out in the trees. One of the greatest moments for me was while reeling in my first fish of the trip a giant Bald Eagle flew silently over my head. At that moment I knew I was in God's country for sure!

Something that took a lot of getting used to was the fact it doesn't get completely dark up there. We were fishing past midnight on a regular basis! One day we started fishing at 4AM and didn't end until after midnight! Didn't hit the sack until 2:30 and back on the river at 6:30! It was a shot in the arm to feed my soul and I am incredibly grateful to Rick and Dwayne for allowing me to join them on the adventure! Below are quite a few photo's from the trip as I had a tough time narrowing it down for the blog. There are of course many others. It was an adventure in itself keeping the camera dry and clean while floating down the river all day but I pulled it off.

Enjoy the photo's and as alway..comments are welcome and appreciated very much!

I huge iceberg near the highway. Rick and Dwayne tell me this was over 2 times the size just 4 years ago.
Is this the hand of a fisherman or what?
Quickfish Lures get em every time!
Dwayne letting a big Buck go to fight another day.
Rick proudly displaying the first fish of the trip.
I was literally on my knees in rapid water up to my chest being as stealthlike as possible to get this shot. The Eagles eat well on the Gulkana River.
Dwayne and a giant King Salmon!
Did I mention these fish fight hard?
The one that got away :)
One of the only bucks (male) we kept. This guy was a hog!
At the end of the day we vacuum packed the fillets for easy freezing. Here is Dwayne crossing his fingers in hopes it would did.
4AM mist on the river. This was my view most of the trip.
A proud fisherman. What you can't see in the photo's is that my arm was about ready to fall off holding her after an epic battle :)
95% of the fish we kept were hens (female). They are loaded with eggs which makes for the very best bait. We cleaned and filleted the fish right on the river.
Even at the end of a fight these fish don't stop!
Rick with a big, fat fish.
Rick and Dwayne showing off their catch in the middle of the night.
Rick is an incredibly strong rower. He never got tired after rowing literally all day long.
A feast by the fire. This shot was taken at around 2am. It appears darker than it was because of my shutter speed.
I wasn't the only one taking pictures.
An adolescent bald eagle hanging out nearby waiting for some fish.
While I was in the river stalking Eagles Dwayne and Rick each hooked a fish at the same time in the best hole on the river.
All three of us with our keepers for the day.
Dwayne showing off an incredible bright silver hen.
A huge hen I caught just moments before the end of our final river run. Awesome fish!
A very welcome site after a long day on the river :)
Now that I think about it..I may have gotten a bit too close to this giant Moose. She was just too pretty not to shoot though.
The End Result!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Travel season has begun

When I look back on 2008 I imaging I will reflect on the summer as being a season filled with travel. Amy and Eddie's wedding in San Francisco. This week I am on a much needed vacation from the restaurant. Sunday Lea, the girls and I drove out to the coast to spend a few days at the beach. We arrived and the weather was great so we took advantage and hiked to an abandoned road we had discovered a couple of years ago for a quick photo session. It was wise that we did so as the weather turned nasty and fast! 70mph winds were rocking the house we had rented. We stayed in a house that was built on stilts so when the wind was blowing we felt it! There is something about sitting on a couch in front of a warm fire, looking up and watching the ceiling fan swing back and forth. I thought it was cool, Lea thought it was cause for concern. Either way it was pure heaven spending a couple of uninterrupted days with my amazing family.

I just recharged my batteries, packed a bag and I'm posting this quick blog before I hop on a plane and fly to Alaska for a fishing trip. You know I'll be posting pics asap.

I'm in the process of changing my main web page so I need to upload these pics the old fashioned way.