Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Conquering a Mountain!

A long-time goal of Russ' and an ambitious challenge for us both was accomplished this past Memorial Day weekend. We made it to the top of Half Dome at Yosemite National Park and it was truly a remarkable experience!

We arrived Friday afternoon with a good part of the day left and so we drove into Yosemite for a little site-seeing and enjoyed drinks on the Pizza Deck before heading back to Oakhurst. One of the highlights of Oakhurst is that we managed to find the best Mexican food we've ever had! El Cid Restaurant isn't much to look at but they make a killer carne asada burrito and strawberry margaritas. It was the perfect way to fuel up before the big hike.

We took off early Friday morning to avoid Memorial Day weekend traffic. It was a surprisingly quick 4.5 hour drive mainly because it's a straight shot on I-5 for the majority of the way and, Russ had remembered to download a few episodes of This American Life for us to listen to. Our plan was to spend the night in Oakhurst, a little town outside of Yosemite, on Friday night and start the 20+ mile hike first thing on Saturday morning.

Taken at the beginning of our hike from Glacier Point. The Panorama Trail curves around to the right, across the waterfall (Nevada Falls) in the distance and culminated at the big perch of granite, also known as, Half Dome on the left.
A beautiful butterfly that wanted to go with us.
Stopping at Nevada Falls for cheese, salami and crackers...everything tastes better on a hike.

Nevada Falls
The next morning, we started out strong. The first two+ miles are largely down hill and then it's uphill for a few miles and a beautiful hike along the ridge line where the views are spectacular. The scenery in Yosemite is so beautiful and breathtaking that it almost looks fake, it is truly one of the most majestic places we've yet to see. We ended the day in Little Yosemite Valley, a place for backpackers to camp, and made sure to secure our food in our bear canister. I was originally terrified of bears but realized there is nothing to worry about and we actually found ourselves hoping one would roam into our camp so we could get a closer look.

This little Stellar's Jay was a friend of ours and loved to perch himself next to our tent.
The next morning we headed out for the most exciting part of our adventure....making it to the top of Half Dome! We hiked the 3. 5 miles up hill and used the cables for the last 900 feet to the very top of the Dome. It was a little nerve-wrecking at times but overall, it was a piece of cake!

You can see the cables lining the way to the top of the Dome.
A 45-60 degree climb, yet we manage to take photos :)

We returned to camp, made some dinner, and savored the adventure. We look forward to conquering many more mountains in the years ahead!
The top of the Dome! Standing on the Diving Board...it is very high up 4,737 feet above the valley floor and about 8,900 feel in total elevation.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Brink Family Weekend Extravaganza! Portand, OR

A few pictures from a celebratory weekend in Portland, OR. Mom's surprise 60th birthday at our friend TJ and Dwayne's restaurant, Roux, can you say delicious! With dad's help and a lot of white lies, we managed to surprise the pants off of mom! It was a beautiful celebration for a beautiful woman.

Dad giving a very nice welcome and toast for the big birthday girl! Good work dad.

A delicious and "ginormous" cake to help celebrate the occasion!

Then it was up early the next morning to help celebrate Heather and Dwayne's soon-to-be baby girl "Talia". After 3 boys, we are excited to buy Heather some pink.

It was truly a lovely shower thrown by Crea McKeen Willis and Lisa McKeen. No detail was overlooked from the delicious salad and quiche, to cranberry "pink" champagne, the delicious petits fours and champagne gellato, to the and cacao parting favors and thoughtful "blessing/yarn" circle. It was really a beautiful celebration and LOTS of pink was to be had.

The Hostesses - Crea and Lisa

Grandma Lynn offering her blessing to Heather and baby Talia

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Loving the Sun and Family

Russ and I have been pondering how happy we are that we are Angelenos. While we miss our friends in the NW, we are very lucky to live in the land of sunshine, which in "Seattle Language" means lots of visitors. We like to think that everyone really wants to see us, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the sun may have something to do with our ever-inflated aerobed :)

This past week, we were lucky enough to have our "mom" (well, Russ' mom but she's mine too) come to visit. I like to call her "Nancy Pants" and she actually started her visit with MacKenzie (Russ' sister). They arrived via ultra-green mass transit (i.e. the train) early Tuesday and were able to enjoy a couple of fun-filled "girl days". We ate a fantastic lunch at the new-ish Urth cafe and even went to the Ellen Show, which was actually very fun. We were dancing fools and our row almost won t-shirts for our "innovative" dancing abilities :) It would have been even more fun if we would have been guests to show #1000, but settled for show #998 and Michael Douglas. We had a great time and Nancy wins the award for most dedicated visitor yet...she spent at least five hours helping me with a mailing (thanks).
Runyon Canyon Hike

The other great thing about having company is that we are forced to explore places we haven't visited, most notably...restaurants! We tried three new places - Urth Caffe (but I won't go into this one, it is a definite "must" for coffee or lunch), Reservoir in Silverlake (I would recommend) and Church and State in the old Nabisco Loft building downtown (I'd recommend for the cool ambiance and the steak frites but it gets dicey if you order the fish). Both were lovely and had great atmosphere. We aren't huge fans of the food at Church and State...very French, very odd combinations, and pretty expensive for the amount of food you get. It was fun though and we'd go back for a glass of wine and maybe even split the steak frites because this was a delicious dish (hard to mess up and who doesn't love a good steak and potatoes soaked in grease/salt!)

Outside Reservoir
Kenzie, Nancy "Birthday Girl", Russ & Ang

It was a really nice visit and we are very blessed to have such great family. Speaking of family, we also helped my sister move into her own super-cute place in Santa Monica. Hello beach parties and hanging out on the west side! It's uber cute with adorable coved ceilings, crown molding, lots of awesome hardware from Anthropologie and the living room looks just big enough for Russ and I to crash on post a long day at the beach :)
We also had a chance to meet up with our friend Emily down in Hermosa Beach. Unfortunately, we couldn't visit as long as we'd have liked because we had a birthday party back up North but it was great to see her and spend some time catching up.
We finished our weekend off with a game of tennis, of which I kicked Russ' butt! He seems to think it's possible to beat me but let's face it...I'm a machine :)

Ang "the machine" and Russ picnicing post tennis match