Saturday, November 2, 2013

Fun with Aerials

Last week a client sent me up in a helicopter to get some aerials of their project. After getting over my initial shock that this tiny toy of a helicopter was for humans and not run by a remote control, I had a blast shooting out of the open door. We took off from Boeing field and headed to Issaquah following I-90. It was a bit foggy, but the fall colors were spectacular from the air. While we hovered between 500 and 2000 feet, my numb fingers shot continuously. I could do this every day!

Seattle in the fog


Mercer Island


Love the fall leaves

Hanging out the door

Shout out to Helicopters Northwest for taking me up! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Key West

I just got back from a trip to Key West with mom. Neither of us had been before and were excited to see the infamous Keys. It was tropical, warm and beautiful. The quaint architecture with the white painted homes and black shutters made it feel unique. Renting a beach cruiser and leisurely exploring the beaches was a highlight. As was the wreck diving. With 100 feet of clear visibility, 85 degree water and 524 ft of ship to explore, The Vandenberg was one of the best dives I've done.

Key West is an odd place. Huge cruise ships dock every couple days and loom over the little island. Tourists crowd Bourbon St's cousin Duval St and stumble out of it's many bars. Generally an older crowd sports their hawaiian shirts and fruity cocktails. But beyond the tourists there is a local tribe of folks who feel like they live in paradise every day. The type that say if a hurricane takes them out, it's the way they were supposed to go. And the easygoing type that lovingly co-exist with the feral chickens and roosters that roam the streets.

Key West was not my usual destination, and I think one visit was enough, but I'm glad I swam in her warm water, soaked up her sun and experienced her quirks.

Hemmingway House and his 6 toed cats:

 Key lime pie

Monday, September 9, 2013

Corsica Part III: Bonifacio

Bonifacio is jaw-droppingly beautiful. I knew I had to see it even if it meant driving the length of the island and back in one day. Of course, I didn't mind doing some more driving in Corsica anyway. On the way we saw cute coastal towns, more beautiful landscapes and even witnessed a Mafia altercation. 

The protected port of Bonifacio is believed to be where Odysseus arrived and met the Lystragonians in Homer's The Odyssey. The white limestone cliffs over aqua blue water are breathtaking, as is the ancient precariously perched town. 

We didn't have much time so what did we do? Took a long lunch bien sur. Fresh Mediterranean fish and rosé satisfied us as we people watched and looked out at the cliffs.

At one point as we wandered the winding streets we heard what sounded like a gun shot. Knowing the Mafia presence all too well, we stopped in our tracks. An old man came around the corner, motioned a slit across his throat and said 'kaput' in a thick accent before laughing hard. Turned out to be fireworks of course. We continued our wandering, hiking up the cliff for a view of the whole town, climbing the citadel walls and talking to shop owners. One woman was very friendly so I asked if I could take her portrait. She said it was nice to see our excitement about Bonifacio because it reminds her that she lives in a very beautiful place- something she forgets living there day to day. I of course knew what she meant, but couldn't imagine forgetting such beauty.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Corsica Part II

Okay, part deux: Le Cap Corse. 

The little peninsula that juts off the northern tip of Corsica is called le cap. On July 13th Julia and I convinced our friends Hervé and Stephane to faire le tour from Bastia to Nonza. I drove the rental car while Hervé led the way on his moto. Knowing his home well, he'd point to interesting things and pull over at spots he knew we'd like. Our first stop was Erbalunga, a small town with one of the many ancient stone towers. Les tours line the coast and were used to warn of invasions by lighting fires within them. Of course Hervé (a fellow climber) and I had to climb up inside one to check it out. 

 After un café there, our next stop on the road was a climbing destination. We pulled over on the top of a cliff and hiked down to the water. Sport holds lined the walls and a group of Spanish climbers were roped in. Not having any gear, I had to at least traverse out a bit over the water. I threw my sunglasses to Hervé and went out as far as my arms allowed. When my strength was gone, I fell into the water and joined them for a swim... that is until les méduses (jellyfish) started to sting!


A little ways up the coast we headed up and over the mountains to the Western side. I had a blast driving the little car on the narrow, winding streets. The streets are only as wide as a donkey cart since cars weren't brought to Corsica until 1960! We drove through tiny hill top towns and gawked at the incredible views of the countryside and Mediterranean below. Sweeping around corners to the sight of another incredible view, I'd squeal with delight and Stephane would laugh and tell me I could stop to take another photograph. Julia was having her own squeals of delight on Hervé's moto.

Near the top of the mountain we pulled over  for a pic nic lunch. Proscuitto, fresh peaches, comté cheese, baguette, red pepper, avocadoes and chocolate were procured earlier. Siesta and tree climbing followed in the warm dappled light.


We continued our descent towards Nonza, discovering the more wild and less developed Western coast. We passed through more breathtaking towns, stopping in one called Pino for coffee and ice cream. The one corner town was perched on a cliff overlooking the sea and an ancient tour below. The café was setting up for the Bastille Day festivities that evening. We sat in the sun, read the Corse Matin newspaper, ate fig and honey ice cream and sipped cafés. Insane, crazy happiness settled in.


Finally, we could see Nonza in the distance high sur les falaises over a long, black beach. We arrived at the perfect time, just before sunset. We'd been invited to Jean-Jaques' house for a party... 


 ...once we started hiking down hundreds of steps into the woods, I realized this wasn't going to be a normal house...

Over the past 20 years Jean-Jaques has rebuilt a stone home. Un vrai ruin quoi. Built by the Italians many years ago, it was used during the harvest of oranges which were exported to Italy. A grill and a fresh spring are all he needs. That night we drank local rosé, sang songs and enjoyed being outside in this incredible place.

 The view(and our bed later)

To entertain the kids I set my camera up on the tripod and we painted with light. Everyone took a turn, each one getting more and more creative. Since we'd come unprepared for camping, once it was time for bed, we scavenged for supplies. Finding a pillow here and a towel there, we made ourselves a bed par terre and slept under the stars. Well, that is until Stephane started snoring like a bear!

In the morning I hiked down to the black stone beach and did yoga in the sun below the town. Later we swam in the ocean, sun bathed on hot rocks and soaked in the spring-fed basin.

Although we hated to leave Nonza and Jean-Jaques' peaceful place, our epic adventure was not over! We zipped back over to the East coast and went paddle boarding with Hervé. It was that perfect evening light with no wind and few méduses. I showed them SUP yoga and we gave the beach a show. The paddle board owner asked if he could use images of us to promote classes and I said, "if I can take your portrait in exchange". ;)

Exhausted, we raced back to Bastia for dinner and fireworks over the Vieux Port in celebration of Bastille Day. What an incredible road trip- Corsican style!