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Month: September 2013

Foxy wedding

Foxy wedding

(As always,  higher res versions of my photos can be found here)

On Wednesday Sam and I packed our bags and walked to the San Francisco Civic Center BART stop.  BART took us to SFO and from there it was on to Seattle.  That night all but one of B’s groomsmen arrived and we (and Sam and another groomsman’s wife) were set to work on wedding tasks.

There was still a lot of work to be done and so over the next three days we did everything from painting signs to filling coffee bag favors to packing books to making bunting, etc. I never knew what bunting was until now.  Of course all this was the lead up to the actual wedding on Saturday, at Admiralty Head Lighthouse.

Byron and Christine’s house was filled with wedding stuff when we arrived, so we were grateful they were able to make room for us to sleep!

Thursday morning Byron and Christine had errands to run and the crafting was put off until the afternoon.  Sam and I hitched a ride with Christine down to the Pike’s Market so we could enjoy some of our favorite Seattle food – Beacher’s Mac&Cheese and the Chowder/sandwiches at Pike Place Chowder.

The wedding prep was mostly crowdsourced (the wedding part and select friends), so we were making final prep right up until the music was cued.  None of the official photos have been released yet, and I was in the ceremony so I couldn’t take many of my own, but I do have some location and process shots that I was able to snap at certain points. Sam took several photos too.

After we took a cab back to the house the crafting began.

Sam(‘s camera) took this one of us at dinner Thursday night with all the groomsmen.

The next morning we all drove up early to Whidbey Island.  Sam and I were staying at the Crocket B&B with the bride and groom (and several bridesmaids).

We gathered in the dining room for breakfast at the B&B, B&C were already emotional over what was about to happen.  The tears (of joy!) would not stop for the next 48 hours.

The setting was extremely rustic.  There were majestic and beautiful storm clouds billowing overhead the entire weekend.  I very very rarely got an opportunity to go off and shoot any of the landscape, a pain that I’m sure Byron felt too (we both have NEX’s, if you didn’t know).

This was shot right outside the B&B next to the barn where the reception would be:

Sam took this photo from the rehearsal on Friday:

snapshot from Alan:

Practice makes perfect:

After the rehearsal we went to the dinner at Garrison Hall where a local chef had made some delicious fresh pork dish.  It was so fresh he told us the name of the pig.

It was here that Byron gave us (other than our bow ties) the groomsman gifts.  He’d carefully picked out a “spirit animal” for each of us, since so much had been made of his adoption of “the fox.”  My animal was, of course, the wise and quiet owl.  What the other dudes didn’t know is that we’d decided on my animal a long time ago.  Getting the tie clips with our animals sculpted in metal was a surprise for all of us, and we each tried to incorporate them into our outfits the next day, even though we weren’t wearing traditional ties.  See if you can spot our clips (pins?) in the photos below from the actual wedding day.

The ceremony itself was perfect for B&C, taking place under layered gray skies by a little light house on the tip of an island north of Seattle.  After they said their vows and exchanged rings, the gray skies parted and brought down shafts of pale yellow sun onto the water behind them.  For someone born and raised in Ohio this weather kindled more than a few homesick knots in my stomach.  Luckily it never more than drizzled on the festivities until it was time to relocate to a barn festooned for the reception.  Byron and Christine are in Bali right now, and then New Zealand after that, so I won’t be waiting for them to release the wedding photos to post things up on here, but the photos will be great whenever they do come out.

Breakfast at B&B morning of:

Driving around prepping for the wedding I snapped a few shots out of the window of the moving car:

We stopped at Knead and Feed for snacks, which includes a little stairway to this amazing view:

Does he look nervous?

Back at the barn things were coming together (we’d set up most of this the day before):

Downstairs the bar was being prepped as well as the photo booth area:

Everyone got to take home a teacup:

Remember those bottles of gin? (yeah, I know.. you can’t read it, so go to the flickr page!)

We would later be told by the Art Director Groom that we were creating a fire hazard and would have to pick all this up.  It was still fun though to rip up those books.

Prepping the coffee bags.  We’d hand stamped and filled each of these on Thursday.

Nametags are all ready for the party (almost):

After this point in the prep I had to put my camera away and my suit on.  For the remainder of the day it would be Sam taking a lot of photos at the ceremony and reception as well as our other friends in attendance:

One taken by David:

View from the guest area:

This one’s from an instagram as Byron and I walk up to take our spots.  So serious!:

And at the reception there was the usual speech by the best man.  You know I wrote and rewrote that thing 5,000 times leading up to the actual day.  All that prep and I ended up basically winging it.

I never realized how much work it is to put on a wedding until I was actually involved with it, nor had I ever paid such intimate attention to the intricacies and staging of the event.  Without all of the groomsmen working together and watching out for those little details the wedding could have easily gone off the rails.  However, it didn’t, and the guests were none the wiser that the entire thing was staged by the twelve or so guys and gals sitting with them at the tables.  Also a huge help was Byron’s uncle who volunteered to cook (at the expense of missing the ceremony) the delicious cajun food for the 120+ guests.

Remember the photobooth?  You can see all the photos here.

Here are our photos in case you don’t want to sift through:

Jessica Keener Photography

Jessica Keener Photography

I hope it goes without saying – Congratulations to Byron and Christine!

Tuesday in San Francisco

Tuesday in San Francisco

(As always, much more and higher res photos can be found here)

On our last full day in the city Sam and I started out from our north Panhandle apartment by going south through the park and up the hill to Haight and Ashbury. We walked down Haight all the way to Golden Gate Park where we rented bikes and headed to the Flower Conservatory.

After the conservatory we biked north again out of the park and into the city for lunch. We stopped at a Korean BBQ place before going back into the park and checking out the Science Museum.

When we left the museum we found out that the observation deck of the de Young was closing in ten minutes, so we ran across the street and made it just in time.

We then headed west through the park until we came to the Pacific Ocean.

We had to return the bikes in a few hours and figured it would be a large effort to pedal up the highway along the coast into the wind and sand around the edge of the city.  So, we turned around and took the northern paths through the park, stopping at the bison paddock and Chinese Pagoda.

Across the street from the bike rental was another Amoeba Music.  We thought Los Angeles’ was unique, but apparently not.

After dinner at Great Indian Food (it had been probably a year since I’d had paneer!)on Haight we walked up the panhandle and over to St. Ignacious before heading to Alamo Square for a night-time view of the city behind the painted ladies.



Monday in San Francisco

Monday in San Francisco

(As always, much more and higher res photos can be found here)

On Monday we had to find a quick cab to the northeast side.  We started our day with a trip to TCHO Chocolate Factory. The actual tour was very short, but I think people just go for the chocolate tasting afterwards.  It’s a bit like a wine tasting, except there’s no need to spit anything out.

We walked up the street for lunch at Fog Harbor Fish House.

After we finished we went next door to the Aquarium.

The aquarium was smaller than we imagined, so we were left with three hours before our Alcatraz tour would leave pier 33.  We walked across the street for a tour of the main creative agency that direct marketing at KP uses.  After that we walked up the hill to Lombard and went to Coit Tower in the daylight, this time getting to take the elevator to the top.

We walked back down the east side of the hill, which is a very interesting walk down wooden stairs through gardens until reaching the final drop.

After coming down we took a break in the park by the Levi building before grabbing some deli sandwiches for dinner while waiting for our Alcatraz tour boat to leave.

On Alcatraz there were many many areas roped off.  It was surprising how little we were allowed to actually see.  Essentially we were only allowed on the walkway from the dock to the prison, inside the first floor of the prison, and the area just in front of the building under the lighthouse.  Everything else, which meant bazillions of photo opportunities, were off limits.

Most visitors were only there to take the self-guided tour through the jailhouse.

I soon found out that my plan to take photos of San Francisco from across the bay may have been quite foolish.  The wind out there on the bay blows hard and cold, and keeping my camera still for any sufficiently long exposure was next to impossible.

For most of our visit the island was packed with people, but after the 8:40pm (the second to last) ferry left, things thinned a bit and we could get some creepy photos in the prison without a herd of humans in the shot.

As I tried to take more long exposures going back to the boat we were pushed along by the national parks rangers before I could get much of anything.  One particularly agitated ranger had to have the concept of “long exposure” explained to him by his coworker, lest he thought I was playing with him when he said “that’s your last one!” and I didn’t move for a minute.


Sunday in San Francisco

Sunday in San Francisco

(As always, much more and higher res photos can be found here)

On Sunday we had lunch with D & G, Sam went to elementary school in Thailand with G.  After lunch at a French Bistro they drove us to Sports Basement where we rented bikes.

We took a leisurely ride across the Golden Gate and back.

After dropping off the bikes at 6pm we walked to The Palace of Fine Arts.

We were hungry again so we walked to the nearby Viva Goa indian restaurant.  The fresh naan was especially delicious so we had two orders to burst our stomachs.

By the time we were done gorging it was night.  We walked all the way down (and then up) Lombard to the famous twisty part (and then down again).

We kept walking along Lombard, eventually going back up Telegraph hill to Coit Tower.

OSU vs. Cal

OSU vs. Cal

On Friday Sam and I headed to LAX to catch an 8pm flight to San Francisco.  Because of “fog” (how unexpected for San Francisco!) our flight was delayed by two hours.  We finally arrived at our airBnB rental long after midnight but were pleasantly surprised by how nice it was.   We’d probably have to pay $400+ per night to stay in a hotel room this nice, but since airBnB is P2P we paid $105/night for a renovated studio apartment with hardwood floors, granite countertops, microwave, fridge, toaster oven, couch, etc.  If you really want to see, it’s this one.  It’s essentially exactly the same as the airbnb photos except the couch is tan now, not white and the plant in the corner is gone.

On Saturday morning we walked from the studio to breakfast at a nearby forgettable coffee shop.  After that, we walked on down (and up) to Alamo Square to see the classic “Full House” painted ladies before walking on down to the Civic Center BART station.  Already at the station the Buckeyes were arriving in waves five hours before the game. From there we took the BART to downtown Berkeley and walked up a few blocks onto campus.   We walked through campus and came out the south side onto to Telegraph.  We’d planned to walk to Zacharies Pizza, one of Cindy’s recommendations, but realized we didn’t have time.  Instead we ate at Thai Noodle II, which had a great green curry that Sam swears she can make (even better) for me when we get home.  Challenge accepted!

Around 3 we joined the throngs and headed up to the stadium for the game.  On the way there we walked past Fox’s gameday setup, complete with a gigantic “real life” version of their creepy robot football player.

When we got to the stadium it was essentially only buckeyes that had showed up half an hour before kickoff.  The photo below is on OSU’s facebook page and looks like it was taken from a press box.  If you could enlarge it clearly (which you can’t) you’d see Sam and me sitting about four rows down from the right side of that giant screen.

As you can see, the Buckeyes outnumber the Bears, and it would continue like that all night.  As far as we could tell the ratio of fans in the stadium seemed to be about 60:40 in our favor.  It was so apparent that a few times during the game we did the O-H-I-O wave all the way around the stadium.

Script Ohio:

We were up there behind the endzone and saw first-hand four of the seven touchdowns.

Here was one of the “tumbling into the goal” touchdowns, as Sam said.

Later, another touchdown! (look around the stadium… see all that red?)

It turned into a football clinic for Sam as she was largely unfamiliar with the game.  Cal even did an onside kick late in the game.

There were a few 4th and inches and Meyer, unlike Tressel, (almost) always went for it!

In the second half we got to witness a great goal-line 4th down defensive stand.

I believe this was the 4th down pass play which was broken up in the end-zone by Roby:

The only bad thing was that we had the sun beaming at us directly to our left for nearly the entire game.  I’m sure our next game will have a lot less glare, and will be a little closer to home albeit probably lower scoring.  Looking forward to watching us win the championship at the Rose Bowl in January 😉

After the game we stopped by crepes a-go-go for desert.

As always, more photos and higher res versions on flickr here.

Denver Tuesday

Denver Tuesday

On our last day we “took it easy,” joining J, J &N for breakfast before a trip to the Denver Botanical Gardens in the morning, just a few blocks from their house.


We saw some tiny hummingbirds (yes, tiny by hummingbird standards) and I struggled to get a shot.  There were no good clear shots, but see if you can find the bird in the photos below:

There was also an interior “tropical” room.

We came back and packed up our bags, but not without getting some pictures with little N.

After packing up and saying goodbye to J & N we decided to head to Boulder on our friends’ recommendation.  We walked up and down Pearl street before heading up into the mountains above the town.

When we came back down we went to see the flatirons, but the sun had already shot to the other side of the mountain, leaving the flatirons in shadow.  We were also plenty tired, so we decided to just head to the airport.

Once at the airport we discovered that Southwest had delayed our flight by an hour.  Once we finally hit the runway at LAX we had to sit and wait as “someone was at our gate.”  Who could have been there?  It was supposed to be us!  Past midnight we finally made it all the way home and went to sleep.

Monday in Denver

Monday in Denver

On Monday we walked to Snooze’s for breakfast and returned with take-out to eat with J, J, J’s mom and little N.  Around noon we headed west again, driving past the old Argo mine in Idaho Springs again before heading south and up Mt. Evans.  The highway going to the peak of Mt. Evans is the highest paved roadway in America at 14,240 feet.  At many points it was a scary drive, but well worth it for the views.

As it turned out, we were visiting the park and road on the very last day before it would close for the winter. Before entering the road to the summit we stopped by Summit Lake.

view of Echo Lake from the road to the top:

At the top we found many resting mountain goats and many excellent bouldering opportunities.

As before, the air here is so thin that any exercise will wear you out very quickly.  We hopped around the peak though, as the view sliding down to the lake below could not be missed.  It’s much steeper and more dangerous in person than it looks in the photos.

That little bubble is the Meyer-Womble Observatory:

Over the cliffs just north of the peak was Summit Lake.

Driving back down the mountain was very slow both because of the danger, but also because I wanted to stop and take photos every two minutes.

At the higher elevations there were herds of mountain goats.  Below them were smaller critters.

At one point I walked down to a vantage point and came across a family of marmots.  They shriek like humans when they see you and scurry away.

The views were spectacular and (Sam stayed in the car on this stop) and I was the only human in sight.

The ground was a mix of moss, grass, and natural stone.  Sometimes on my way back I would stumble on duffel bag sized slabs of pure white marble just jutting from the earth.  It was an otherworldly setting that I’d like to return to on some warmer day when we have more time to enjoy it.

After leaving the road from the summit we ate dinner at the lodge by the lake as rain started to fall again.

I had a buffalo burger and it was probably the last one served until spring as the lodge was getting ready to close for the season.

And we had a big brownie sundae for desert.

We stopped a few more times on the road back down Mt. Evans to photograph the stormy pine covered lower ranges.


When we got closer to Denver and the sun was setting we exited the freeway and did a u-turn so we could watch the sunset next to the Buffalo (Bison?) field.

As always, higher res versions and many more photos from this trip here.

Sunday in Denver

Sunday in Denver

On Sunday we stopped by Whole Foods before heading to Red Rocks.

Red Rocks amphitheater would undoubtedly be a great place to see a concert, but after seeing Zion National Park and the red rocks in Arizona, these Red Rocks were not as impressive.

We walked up around one of the trails and then consulted with some park rangers about where we could actually boulder (going off trail was denied at red rocks).  The ranger directed us towards matthew winters park, which we decided to keep on driving by when we found, as the rocks were rather small and nothing like the red rocks that I’d wanted to climb.

We decided to try and find St. Mary’s Glacier next, but grab something to eat first.  Driving down the country highway we saw a big sign for Heritage Square, which looked like a touristy old-timey place with shops and businesses in faux 19th century design.  By the time we got to the only “restaurant” in the place we discovered that it was more like a hokey permanent county fair.  Except the food was even worse. My $9 cheeseburger was a microwaved frozen piece of gray nothing in a Kroger squished bun and … nothing else on it (except for a square of fake cheese).  Condiments were available in giant squeeze boxes on a table in the middle of the seating area, all of them leaking out onto the cement floor attracting bugs.  We were many miles from any other options, not that we’d even know what those were, so we ate the “food.”

There were other times in Colorado where we felt like elitists when we would compare the food/amenities to Los Angeles, but this food would have seemed low class even to folks tredging through the mud at the Barlow County Fair.  At least the barns in Barlow are real.

Next we drove west through old mining towns in the foothills of the Rockies.  Many times throughout the weekend we saw camouflaged four door automobiles and at one pit-stop we parked next to one and got a closer look.

The cars were a new model coming from either Hyundai or Kia.  The badges were all covered, but the ridiculous signs on the windows warning us not to take photographs of “Hyundai and Kia trade secrets” gave it away.  I’m not sure these Koreans understand how the law works in America, but I’m pretty sure you can’t sue me for photographing a car that is parked (or driving) in public.

After a long winding road going up into the mountains we arrived at the trail head for St. Mary’s Glacier.  It’s only a quarter mile hike up through the forest, but it’s all the more strenuous at that elevation.  The hike itself was very serene, walking through green moss covered boulders between pine trees.

When we reached the end we were treated to an amazing view of a lake beneath a mountain peak with two glaciers laying on the upper slope.

There were lots of little chipmunks running around the edge of the lake.

After walking around the lake to the other side it became apparent that there were no “off trail” restrictions here.  Sam sat for a rest while I bouldered up the mountain right beside the glacier.

Because the glacier was melting and the soil/rocks was loose, there were a few sections in which I second guessed this choice, but I eventually made it to the top and climbed down the other side of the glacier as a rain and thunderstorm started moving in.  As I was climbing up, Sam took a few pictures.  In the other pictures the glacier makes the mountain look small, but maybe when you see how small I am (I have a yellow shirt on) in the photos below it will give a better indication of scale.

We quickly hiked back down to the car in the rain under ominous dark clouds, reminding us occasionally with a rumble to stay away from trees on the way.

We had about two and a half hours before the sun would set, so we tried to go to Daniel’s Park on the Southern edge of Denver.  We arrived at Daniel’s Park just in time to see the sunset, which wasn’t as glorious as it must usually be because there were still heavy rainstorms emptying on top of the mountains in front of the sun.  Every attempt to watch the sunset on our trip would be thwarted by falling water.

After night fell we meandered back into the local neighborhood and picked out a quick place to eat.  We picked Firehouse Subs, which was a drastic improvement over subway or quiznos.  On our way back to Denver, heading north, we saw labor day fireworks over to the East.  We quickly pulled off the freeway and into a Kohls parking lot to watch the rest of the show.

Much more photos in higher res are available here.

Saturday in Denver

Saturday in Denver

On Saturday immediately following the closing whistle of the OSU opening game Sam and I headed to LAX to catch our flight to Denver.  We needed to drop off the car at a parking lot first.  Sam had reserved a spot weeks in advance, however, when we reached the parking lot there was a cone in the entrance greeting us.  I got out of the car and found an attendant out in the lot who said they were sold out and gave me the address of another parking lot apparently owned by the same company.  I couldn’t help but think of the Seinfeld episode about making reservations; unfortunately it wouldn’t be the last time that day.

When we arrived in Denver and found the bus to our rental car company the driver said “no cars” and refused to let us board the bus.  We explained that we had a reservation, but he still didn’t want to let us on.  After another bus for the same company, Advantage, pulled up behind him the two drivers had a chat in a foreign language.  Eventually they said they would take us to their manager.  Instead of driving to Advantage’s lot, he drove in a big loop and took us back to the same “ground transportation” area of the airport, but this time there was a man standing there in a small crowd of angry travellers in our same situation.  His solution was to give each of us a card with the Advantage reservation line and the name “Dickerson” to call to be reimbursed when we found a car somewhere else.

So, we walked down the line of rental car shuttle buses asking every driver.  None of the companies had any cars left.  Sam started calling rental companies that we found on the map using our cell phones.  Nothing in town was open at that hour (we had to remind ourselves we were not in Los Angeles, in Denver, businesses aren’t open late).  Finally, Sam found an open reservation at Avis, and soon an Avis bus rolled up.  At Avis there weren’t many cars left, and we had to choose between a BMW X5 and a Ford C-Max.  We chose the C-Max as we knew it was closer to our “economy car” rental at Advantage and would make a less unpleasant reimbursement conversation later.  The C-Max ended up being a better choice for another reason; gas mileage.  We ended up driving over 400 miles in the next three days and we still had a quarter tank left when we returned the car.  The C-Max was a hybrid with electric drive in most situations at low speeds, which we were constantly doing on our mountain drives, but more on that later…

Driving down from the airport we could see what might be a nice rainy sunset view, but eventually gave up on trying to find a place to watch it.  Instead, we went downtown to Larimer Square for dinner before heading to J&J’s place, where we’d be staying for the rest of the trip.

J&J have a nice new (or completely renovated, not sure) home in the “beverly hills” of Denver.  Their neighbor across the street is a Colorado Senator (possibly Michael Bennet?)  The home seemed massive compared to ours and the neighborhood was filled with joggers and runners every day.  In general the entire state seemed to be more “active” that we’re used to seeing, with bicycles everywhere and racks on almost every vehicle.  Not sure what happens to all that when it starts snowing, but when we were there it was still 90 degrees during the day.

I didn’t take any photos that first night.  The gallery for the entire trip can be seen here.