Pacific North West: Living in the Present

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As a photographer and someone who finds the most simple of things amusing, I often struggle to keep the camera away from my face and be fully present to the joy (and most often chaos) that fills my everyday life. It was time, I was due for a trip and break from work. A little over two years ago, I jumped in my 2009 blue Dodge caravan with three of the raddest gals destined for the Pacific North West. Our only plotted destination and reason for our road trip was the SGCI Printmaking Conference in Portland, Oregon. We filled our cooler with the essentials, loaded the minivan with camping gear, and began our 24+ hour journey West. 

Our first stop was the Redwood National Forest in Northern California, where a wrong turn had us taking Ole Blue up a steep, gravel path as if she were an all-terrain vehicle only to come across an old shot-up camper sending us back in the other direction. We eventually reached our campground, set up shop, and quickly found we were ill prepared for the severe cold that struck at nightfall. The next morning we hiked Boy Scouts Trail surrounding ourselves in some of the largest trees on the planet. From there, we headed for the coast to begin our journey up to Portland. We wrapped up our time in Oregon with a hike to Punch Bowl Falls, sharing a ceremonial coconut and chillin' in the hammock. Our poor timing left us hiking back in complete darkness along a rocky cliffside. Stars filled the valley between the mountains and the roaring river below gave us a friendly reminder of the steep tumble we'd have had we lost our footing. Our trip took us as far North as we could with the remaining time we had; we left Port Angeles, Washington with a straight shot home.

As I recently revisited my photos from this trip, I was surprised to find most of my fondest memories where the times not photographed. I had made the choice to be present, taking a break from my full-time photography job and creating memories with others instead of pictures. At times we are more concerned with documenting and preserving moments that we truly miss out on what's really happening around us, which makes it even more important to find a balance. I often find myself going back to one place in particular and absolute favorite from the trip: the tree in Kalaloch, Washington. I am happy to have taken some time to photograph one of the places that I hold so dear to me, to have a little reminder of the the time I spent with three of the most empowering, strong women underneath a tree drinking fresh coffee on a rainy day, but I am much more grateful to have taken the majority of that time being present.

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