As much as we love disconnecting from everyday life to find ourselves adventuring in the outdoors, we also really enjoy simple dates within the city.
Through all of high school and early college, I was either painting or playing the piano. I love the arts and any chance we get to visit a museum, we gotta do it! In Seattle, there’s the Chihuly glass and garden exhibit that is… mind-blowing. All of the unique blown glass pieces are illuminated to show off the most vibrant colors. Your jaw will drop from how incredibly beautiful it is.
Take a peek below!
Also, the Native American blanket wall (first photo) you get to see when you enter the exhibit is incredible.
Also, this is just us enjoying ourselves on a rooftop after our date. 💙
Whether the glass is half empty or half full, you have the power to fill it up. Matshona Dhliwayo
Sometimes it’s just the two of us in a mutual awestruck silence taking in how extraordinary Mount Hood really is.
I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, ‘This is what it is to be happy.’Sylvia Plath
Tamanawas Falls, Mount Hood
Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter. Rachel Carson
How do you meet new people, and by chance, they will end up becoming meaningful relationships for the rest of your life? Especially when you aren’t relying on meeting others through school or work?
Well… we got so incredibly lucky with the people we have met here in Portland so far. Every time we think about the strangers that became more than that, it always blows our mind. We moved here without knowing a single soul in Oregon and we just feel grateful.
Michael and I met by a chance encounter when I stood behind him at a coffee shop. From that moment on, we’ve embraced keeping an open mind when it comes to meeting people.
Here are a few of our favorite stories that now have a special place in our hearts. 💙
In 2017, we were visiting Portland for the first time together. Michael already had a job lined up, so he was doing a site visit. I was interviewing to go back to school. We were looking all over downtown for a studio apartment and geez, it was expensive. We decided to stop looking one night and go to a dessert bar. There was such a huge wait, so we initially decided to get a dessert to-go. As we were being handed our to-go box, two seats opened up at the small bar. I immediately asked if we could snag those two bar seats! The restaurant got our dessert plated so we could enjoy it there.
As I was laughing and talking with Michael, my shoulder bumped the older man beside me. I turned to apologize and the man ended up laughing at me and asked what dessert we were having! We ended up talking to this couple for the next hour or so. We found out that they were both in the healthcare field and had a connection to the school I was applying for. They asked about our situation and story. It was so easy talking to them. At one point, I noticed them kind of give each other a silent look, the kind of look that showed they were communicating, but we had no idea what it was…
Turns out, the couple had two homes and they were wanting to rent out one of them, but they did not want to put it on the public market! They said they could sense that we were genuine people, so they offered us to come over right after my interview to see their place!!! We were FREAKING OUT. Of course we said yes.
We brought over two bottles of wine. And when we arrived, they had so many little appetizers. After chatting for awhile, we enjoyed homemade baked salmon, sautéed greens beans, and a side salad. It was soooo delicious and thoughtful of them. We got lost in so many conversations over 4-5 hours of being there.
A few days later, they negotiated a deal with us and umm.. it was a no brainer.
These wonderful humans have become a second family to us. Without their generosity and guidance, we wouldn’t be where we needed to be. We are forever grateful for this family for what they have given us.
This one is a strange one, too. We met all of these folks through Instagram via our mutual love for hiking, adventuring, and photography. I won’t make this too long, so here’s a few photos of our adventures together. 😊
My Mom’s Childhood Friend
This is my mom’s childhood friend from the 70s-80s.
Let this sink in… they hadn’t seen each other in over forty years. By the miracle of social media, my uncle found her profile and forwarded it to my mom a few months ago. My mom discovered that her friend immigrated from Vietnam to Portland!!! I was living so close to her this whole time. Our family flew her out to Dallas for our wedding which was so amazing. Michael and I also ended up spending an afternoon with her a few weeks ago, and she showed us this picture of her and my mom.
That is life, isn’t it? Fate. Luck. Chance.
A long series of what-if’s that lead from one moment to the next, time never pausing for you to catch your breath, to make sense of the cards that have been handed to you. And all you can do is play your cards and hope for the best, because in the end, it all comes back to those three basics.
Growing up, my mom was always someone who celebrated certain holidays with so much enthusiasm and love, especially around Vietnamese new year! She would spruce up the home with bright red and gold decorations and there would always be so much delicious food.
I don’t do nearly as much celebrating as my family would do, but I definitely had to make some of my favorite dishes for us. My mom is incredibly (and hilariously) superstitious. Without fail, my mom always messages me to eat my black eyed peas for the new year. Well, I’ve never missed a year without eating them, so I’m not going to start now!
Black-eyed peas swell when cooked, symbolize prosperity. The mustard greens symbolize money. The pork, because pigs root forward when foraging, represents positive motion. The eggs symbolize fertility and a big healthy family.
This traditional Vietnamese dish is simply cozy and comforting.
Behind the Scenes
This is a little side project I’ve been working on with Michael. We’ve both always loved taking photos of our adventures, but lately I’ve been more interested in shooting … food! I love to cook, so I figured why not combine the two things?
We got some walnut wood and Michael cut them up for me in two feet long pieces. I sanded them down. We stained them. He created a base. And I found some fabric to create a few backdrops! It was so much fun, and I am so excited to see what happens!
May the new year bring in your life joys that never fade, hopes that never die, and strength that never weakens.
Psst! We are going to let you in on a little secret of ours…
When we have friends or family visit us from out of town, we have probably taken almost all of them (if the weather behaved) to these easy-to-visit-but-absolutely-stunning sights along the Columbia River Gorge. I mean.. how could we not?! The drive is less than an hour away from Portland. Even after visiting several times, we still aren’t tired of these views.
Michael and I both grew up in Texas, so we used to joke around about how when we would see a small stream on a hike back then, we would be so excited. Nowadays, we are constantly blown away by the mountains, the waterfalls, the rivers, the trees and everything else we get to see in the pacific northwest.
Here’s our little tour. 😊
Columbia River Gorge
Bridal Veil Falls
If you visit Portland and don’t visit these falls, did you even come visit?!
Yes – it gets crowded. Probably the busiest tourist spot in Oregon, but worth a visit. She’s just so picturesque.
Rowena Crest Viewpoint
Hood River, Oregon
I’ve posted this quote before, but it’s a personal favorite. 💙
Here in the corner attic of America, two hours’ drive from a rain forest, a desert, a foreign country, an empty island, a hidden fjord, a raging river, a glacier, and a volcano is a place where the inhabitants sense they can do no better, nor do they want to. Timothy Egan
Crater Lake is known for its vibrant blues… but when you’re there at sunrise or sunset, the colors you get to see are unbelievably stunning. Seriously… on a clear summer day, take that road trip out there. It’s 100% worth it.
We had already planned to wake up early, but did not expect to witness the most magnificent sunrise. Seeing all of the soft shades of blue, pink, and orange painted across the sky was truly a sight to see.
We felt like we had the whole place to ourselves because no one was around us. This place is also very special to us because it was the last road trip we were able to take Layla on before she passed away.
Experiences like this always remind us to appreciate and love the little things in life. ❤️
Mount Thielsen in all of its glory in the early morning.
We also got to witness a pretty darn amazing sunset here, too.
Sunset at Crater Lake
Our little family at sunset. Miss you, sweet Lay.
This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls. John Muir
I think we are going to go out on a limb and say… these are our favorite waterfalls in Oregon!
These two nearby waterfalls are incredibly easy to access and you will leave feeling like you were just in a scene straight out of a pacific northwest postcard. It’s incredibly beautiful. When you go, definitely wear waterproof everything and bring extra microfibers because your camera will get wet.
We also included a couple of photographs to compare the falls between the spring and fall season. 💙
Koosah Falls, Oregon
Sahalie Falls, Oregon
Detroit Lake, Oregon
This was a little pitstop we had on our road trip. It was a beautiful lake.
To find the universal elements enough;
to find the air and the water exhilarating;
to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter…
to be thrilled by the stars at night;
to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring —
these are some of the rewards of the simple life. John Burroughs
What’s my guilty pleasure? The thing is, I never feel guilty about pleasures. Tom Hiddleston
We were talking about what some of ours were the other day, and we figured we would share them here. Here’s a few of them. 😊
a cozy campfire:
We got so incredibly lucky finding our current place. Our landlord is one of the most wonderful human beings ever. Favorite thing? Our bedroom opens directly into this upper level deck that has this view!! The guilty part? We prefer to stay home more than going out on most days.
Michael loves to build things! He removed the back seats out of our FJ cruiser and built a storage platform that has so much space AND can fit a full size mattress on top of it. There’s nothing like getting the bed set-up, opening the back window, and enjoying the view wherever we are. Also – check out the spice rack he made for me!! (I know, terrible photos. They’re from my Instagram stories haha.) It’s so nice that I can see them all now versus shuffling through them trying to find the right one.
cheese & charcuterie:
Sometimes, you just gotta let yourself enjoy the little things in life. 💛
This winter wonderland, Bavarian-style mountain town in Washington state is absolutely a dream and if it’s not on your places-to-visit list yet, it should be. It is unlike any other town we’ve ever visited up here in the pacific northwest.
Michael wanted to snowboard for his birthday and when we found out this adorable village up in Washington was pretty close to a ski resort, it was a no-brainer. Our good friend, Ashley, wanted to learn to snowboard while I learned to ski, so she came along with us too!
cold wrinkly finger tips & water droplets on pine needles.
We haven’t picked up our camera in a good while… but looking back at some of our somewhat-macro shots go us excited to shoot again. We are going on a trip this weekend for Michael’s birthday, and I think we are gonna finally dust off the little guy and take some photos again!
In the meantime, here’s a few of our favorites we’ve taken on some of our adventures. 🌿
A field of daisies where we saw a view of Mount Saint Helens.
All taken with the good ol’ nifty fifty f/1.8 Canon lens.
I wish more people felt that photography was an adventure. To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them. Elliott Erwitt
Can you believe 2020 is right around the corner? How is there only two more days of this year left?
As it typically does, another year has flown by without us realizing it. And of course, so much has happened. We were driving home the other day and we just went back and forth about what was most memorable and what wasn’t.
We aren’t going to write about what wasn’t so great, but in no particular order, here are a few of our favorites from 2019. 😊
Today we went on our first snowy adventure of the season!
Last night, at around… seven thirty-ish, we decided, “hey, we should go on a hike because it’s been since… September?!” Life just gets by you sometimes and before you know it, so much time has passed.
We bounced a few ideas around and Michael brought up that he’s always wanted to hike Tom, Dick, & Harry Mountain. So I told him, let’s not even think about it.. let’s just go! It was around eight p.m. when we realized we needed a few things. Michael needed a set of trekking poles because I already have some, and I needed new gloves. We got to REI with about twenty minutes to spare before closing.
We woke up around six a.m. and I made my favorite breakfast for us – lightly scrambled eggs with turkey sausage & spinach and we also made a blueberry-banana-spinach smoothie! This was perfect fuel for this hike.
Let me tell you… this hike was unbelievably beautiful! It is about eight miles long with a gradual elevation change that lead to a frozen lake and ended with a view of *five* mountain peaks (photo below)!
Tom, Dick, & Harry Mountain Trail
Snacks we brought for this hike were:
Celery with Justin’s honey peanut butter packets
Milton’s olive oil and sea salt crackers
Sour Patch Watermelon gummies (best thing ever!)
Mountain peaks you can see at the top:
Mount Saint Helens
Michael was squinting so much at the top because of how sunny it was. We definitely forgot our sunglasses. At one point, he had to pull his beanie over his head hahahah 😋. It was so silly.
What a lovely day despite not knowing what to expect.😊 Isn’t that the best when that happens?
The mountain is supposed to snow tomorrow, so we got lucky with a clear view. We were giddy hiking this trail and we were bummed (but definitely tired) when we finished. But! We have a few snow adventures planned this coming week, and we are so looking forward to them. 💙
May your dreams be larger than mountains and may you have the courage to scale their summits. Harley King
When we found out Michael’s old friend, Jonathan, from college was doing a huge cross country road trip with his girlfriend, Laura, and they were going to be in the pacific northwest, we had to take a few days to go adventuring with them!
We decided to meet up with them at Mount Rainier National Park and because we didn’t have service, we had to pre-plan our meeting site and approximate time. We chose the Paradise area around Reflection Lake.
Have you seen this true crime series on Netflix yet? The one about that woman’s obsessive-stalker-psychopath-narcissistic-selfish-violent husband, named John?
It’s hard to watch, but so eye-opening.
We just watched it with our family… and boy does that John have some striking similarities to someone we’ve had to deal with.
I’ve gone back & forth trying to decide if I wanted to write this. Mostly because part of me doesn’t want to give any energy to this, but I also want to because I am now so fascinated by personality disorders and behaviors… especially after dealing with something like this.
Let me paint you a quick picture of that person.
For 3 years, she has made at least 25 Instagram accounts, used 4 phone numbers, harassed 3 ex-boyfriends, future girlfriends of those exes, 2 female no-longer-friends of hers and their families, my brother, my brother-in-law, my mother-in-law, my husband’s employer, at least 20 friend & family of mine. I think I got everyone that I know of. That makes it at least 35 people…
That’s a lot, to say the very least. Yes, this is online harassment, but with this type of hostile behavior, we don’t know when she will become physically violent.
Almost every time we tell someone about her and how she works as a mental health caregiver… no one is surprised. “The crazy are always working with.. the crazy.”
I found that interesting… so I looked up why people think this.
The problem is that mental health professionals do a poor job of monitoring their own mental health problems.
Therapists struggling with marital problems, alcoholism, sexual abuse, substance abuse, depression, and so on don’t function very well as therapists. The questions, then, are these: How can clients be protected—and how can troubled therapists be helped?
Here’s a theory that’s not so crazy: Maybe people enter the mental health field because they have a history of psychological difficulties. Perhaps they’re trying to understand or overcome their own problems, which would give us a pool of therapists who are a hit unusual to begin with.
Robert Epstein Ph.D. & Tim Bower
I understand how this person may be in the mental health profession because she wants to understand her troubling psychological difficulties while having the ability to help others. That’s wonderful. However, what we have a deep issue with is how she uses her mental illness as an excuse to hurt people in her personal life. That’s not okay. Having a mental illness does not justify treating others poorly, right? Does having a mental disorder cause someone to create over 25 social media accounts in order to terrorize 35 people, including strangers like myself?
The reality is this: Mental illness is not a free pass to be cruel, offensive, or to engage in toxic behavior. You can’t justify persistent cruelty as part of your disorder. If you find yourself lashing out of people, that’s something you need to fix. It’s something you should seek help for. It is something you should acknowledge. You should not allow it to continue happening just because you think it’s part of the parcel of mental illness.
I used to want to understand why she does these things, but now I realize there’s no point. We’ve learned to ignore the behavior and just block her accounts. Hopefully it doesn’t escalate beyond this.
The luckiest thing that happened was that my husband got away from that manipulative and bitter person. We often think about how his life would have been if he stayed with her. It kind of sends shivers down my spine thinking about it.
The more we hear about stories like “Dirty John”, the more we just hope women and men can find ways to safely leave toxic relationships like that and find a way to make themselves whole again.
7.5 miles RT.
2200 ft elevation gain.
Unobstructed panoramic views.
This was our first fire lookout!
This place is also first come first serve for overnight stays. We thought it would already be taken, but when we arrived, nobody was staying there!! 😭 We wish we had our backpacks with us. Next time we visit a fire lookout, we plan to bring a small backpack of necessities just in case we can stay!
Although I deeply love oceans, deserts, and other wild landscapes, it is only mountains that beckon me with that sort of painful magnetic pull to walk deeper and deeper into their beauty. Victoria Erikson
Crater Lake will take your breath away. It is such a unique place no matter what time of the year you visit.
In the winter though, it’s different.
There’s a quiet stillness that envelops you when your surroundings are blanketed in snow. But don’t be fooled by how beautiful it is… winter here is definitely cold and harsh. Moving here from Texas, winter in the northwest is still something we haven’t gotten used to yet. Luckily, it doesn’t snow too much in the city here in Portland. If you visit Crater Lake in the winter, do not forget to stuff your gloves with some hand-warmers!
In the summer of 2017, I did my first solo road trip from Dallas, TX to Portland, OR. It included the Grand Canyon National Park.
I drove over over 3000 miles in twelve days. I slept in a tent for four days, stayed in a hostel, booked three different Airbnbs (I needed to shower), and slept in my car all of the other days. I’ve never traveled alone, so the idea of doing so for almost two weeks was slightly terrifying. But… it was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself and I had an absolute blast! I learned how to be resourceful, self-aware, flexible, and most importantly, I learned how to trust myself. I slept in super sketchy areas, but I’m happy I did. Sometimes traveling isn’t always so glamorous, but it still can be a great experience. I know I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. 💛
Michael also had to do his road trip alone because he left for Portland one month before I did, and his road trip was totally different from mine (our maps below!).
Here’s the route of most of the places I visited. ☺️
And this is Michael’s general road trip route below.
Mount Rainier National Park might be the most visited place we’ve been to since moving to the pacific northwest, and we already can’t wait to go back.
Even though we live in Oregon, we tend to gravitate more towards Washington for hiking and adventures. There is SO many hikes we want to do, but finding the time to roadtrip up there has been tricky due to work / school.
Below are some photos from one of our favorite visits up there. 😊
There is just something mysteriously magical about the ocean. Maybe it’s all of the brilliant shades of blues it can be, or maybe it’s the unpredictability of its storms, or even all of the life that is teeming underneath the surface. Whatever it is, whenever we visit the coast, there’s a sense of awe that just takes over us.