#7SuperShots

Young enough to still remember using film, I have been taking photographs since I was a kid. With each snap of my camera and each year, I find myself falling in love with the craft more and more. As part of the Hostelbookers “7 Super Shots” photo project, I was nominated by the best Philadelphia Photographer, Picture Philly (okay the only one I know, but he’s still pretty awesome), to show off some of my favorite work.

Participants post their best photos for seven different categories. You can check out the official rules here.

Below are my favorite photographs for each of the categories. Some are from my travels and others of home, but each hold a dear memory and snap shot of life exactly how I remember it. Enjoy!

A photo that takes my breath away

Snowy Neuschwanstein Castle near Fussen, Germany

I had the joy of visiting the Neuschwanstein Castle (the castle Disney based his design around) at the very beginning of winter in 2008. Through the snow and fog from town you could just barely make out the castle framed against the trees and sky. To reach the castle for a tour, my travel buddies and myself took a horse drawn carriage due to the buses being shut down thanks to the fresh & unexpected snow. Definitely a fairy-tale experience.

A photo that makes me laugh or smile

Covered Bridge near Cottage Grove Oregon

Chest bump jumping photo at Covered Bridge

This photo is from my jumping covered bridges tour of Lane County. Taken with a 10 second self timer, my friend Sarah and I attempted to chest bump in the air at this bridge near Cottage Grove, Oregon. It always makes me laugh. I hope it brings a smile to your face too.

A photo that makes me dream

Bubbles at Yachats Beach sunset

Photo through a bubble at Oregon Coast

By pure luck I snapped this photo back in 2006 at the Oregon Coast. On a family vacation, I captured this photo through a restaurant window, through a bubble of a man blowing bubbles at sunset. The photo still blows my mind to today.

A photo that makes me think

Sunlight breaking through the trees in Oregon Coast range

Sunlight breaking through the trees

If you follow my blog regularly you probably saw this photo not that far back during my recent trip out Highway 36 from Eugene, Oregon to finish my jumping covered bridges tour. This photo always brings questions to my mind about life, nature and God. Nature can be so serendipitous & wonderful.

A photo that makes my mouth water

Cape Town vineyards

Cape Town vineyards

I discovered with this assignment that I don’t take many photos of food. But this photo still makes my mouth water all the same. The vineyards at Constantia Uitsig in South Africa produce some of the most delicious wines and I had the joy of working for them for three months in 2010. This photo brings me back – I can almost taste their crisp, light & refreshing Sauvignon Blanc.

A photo that tells a story

Overturned police vehicles in Athens, Greece riots

Overturned police vehicles in Athens, Greece riots

This photo is from my trip to Athens, Greece back in 2008. I was studying abroad in Italy for three months and as a final hurrah, a couple friends and I decided to delay our flights home to take a quick vacation to Athens. Unbeknown to us, the day we arrived – the night streets covered with riot police – a 15 year old boy was shot & killed by the police. For the next few days heavy riots broke out across the city and country. Destination attractions shut down, transportation closed and we found ourselves in the middle of it. Read more about my experience caught in the Greece Riots in my article in Ethos Magazine here.

A photo that I am most proud of (aka my worthy of National Geographic shot)

Montana's Big Sky

Montana's Big Sky

Whether this photo is National Geographic worthy is up to the society to decided, but it is by far one of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken. While leaving Yellowstone National Park to the north in Montana, the sky romantically left this beautiful painted effect across the plains. I could have stood there in the middle of nowhere until there was no light left in the sky to watch this art worthy vista unfold in front of me.

I’m nominating the following five bloggers to participate in 7 SuperShots:

Zwicklemania: Eugene Brewery Tour

Trading in my hiking shoe for the day, I took to a different kind of trail in Eugene, Oregon – the Ale Trail for Zwicklemania.

Featuring dozens of Oregon breweries and brewpubs across the state, Zwicklemania is a sudsy celebration of craft brew. In its fourth year, Zwicklemania is a free event hosted by the Oregon Brewers Guild on President’s Day weekend. Organized by regions throughout the state, visitors have a chance to meet the brewers and sample their favorite beers for a unique day of pint-filled fun.

Named after the small sampling value that can be attached to fermentation tank, this event is made for Zwicklemanics, homebrews, craft brewlovers…but most importantly anyone interested in drinking great Oregon craft beer!

In Eugene, five breweries and pubs opened there doors for the event and a bus sponsored by Rogue ran on a loop around town to shutter visitors.

Oakshire

Known for their super rare, single-batch medleys, Oakshire crafts high quality brews with creativity and spunk. Located along the railroad tracks in the industrial part of Eugene, Oakshire produces three year round ales: Amber, Watershed IPA and Espresso stout.

Oakshire Brewery Company beer samplesFor Zwicklemania, I ordered up their tasting board which featured their three year-round brews plus a tasting of the Spring Seasonal, O’Dark 30.

Like an overly-honest friend, The O’Dark 30 with a dark malty flavor was upfront and awesome. With its richness and weight that ignited your taste buds without killing them with zing, the O’Dark 30 was by far my favorite sample from this brewery stop.

Oakshire’s tasting room is open every Saturday from noon – 5 p.m. with brewery tours occurring at 1 p.m. & 3 p.m. Additional hours include: 3 – 6 p.m. Monday – Thursday and 3 – 7 p.m. on Fridays.

1055 Madera St., Eugene, OR 97402 – ( 541) 688-4555

Ninkasi Brewing Company

Located in the heart of the Whiteaker Neighborhood, Ninkasi serves up tingling-good craft brews. From their Total Domination IPA, which has taken the craft brew market by storm in the Pacific Northwest, to the brewery’s popular seasonal flavors like Renewal and Spring Reign Ale, Ninkasi’s beers offer delicious variety for every beer-lovers’ tastes.

For the event I stated with a sample of their always-awesome IPA with a beef slider on their outdoor patio and then moved indoors to taste their Pilsner.

Ninkasi is open Sunday – Wednesday, noon – 9 p.m. and Thursday – Saturday, noon – 10 p.m.

272 Van Buren Street, Eugene, Oregon 97402 – (541) 344-2739

Falling Sky Brewery tour and tastingFalling Sky Brewery

Eugene’s newest brewpub, Falling Sky Brewery joins the pouring club and in style for its first Zwicklemania. With a full house of regular customers this saturday, the brewery and pub is a lively spot located between downtown and the University district. Serving a selection of hand craft beers from around the state along with recently released in-house creations, Falling Sky specializes in rainy day pints – when it pours outside, Falling Sky pours for 25 cents off. (Lucky for us Eugenians because it rains an awful lot!)

Complimenting their beers, Falling Sky Brewery also offers a lunch and dinner menu featuring food items that are bigger and better than your average brew-pubs such as Pork Rillette and Beer Poached Chicken, but still at a great value.

Falling Sky Brewery is open Sunday – Wednesday, 11 a.m. – midnight and Thursday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 1 a.m.

1334 Oak Alley, Eugene, OR 97401 – (541) 505-7096

McMenamins High Street Brewery & Cafe

From classic Ruby bubbles to zingy IPAs and the most delicious Cajun tots around the McMenamins on High Street showcases brews that go down like old friends. Located in a historic, renovated 1900s house styled with dark wood tables & booths (kind of like what I imagine the Three Broom Sticks -Harry Potter pub- would look like), this McMenamins has all the pub charm needed plus fantastic beer and food to tops – plus it was the first microbrewery in Eugene since Prohibition.

The Brewer, Charlton Fulton, who creates specialty batches of his own recipes from the basement of the house along with the chain favorites, produces craft beers for both the High Street and North Bank locations. For Zwicklemania, Fulton took visitors on tours of the basement brewery, which features its painted steel cask.

In September visit for the annual Mid-Valley Brewfest.

High Street Brewery & Café is open Monday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 1 a.m. and Sunday, noon – midnight.

1243 High Street, Eugene, OR 97401 – (541) 345-4905

Rogue Beer SampleRogue Public House

The home of Track Town Ales, the Eugene Rogue Public House knows how to serve its customers and keep them running back for more with in-house favorites and tried & true brews.

Based from the original historic Eugene City Brewery, Rogue keeps a laid back pub style that is cozy and comfortable for sharing a couple of pints with friends. Crafting artisan varietals, the pub has 35 beers on tap including the infamous Track Town Ales: 100 Meter, 200 Meter and Triple Jump. Along with their wide variety of brews, Rogue also serves a full lunch and dinner menu and during the week hosts fun trivia and bingo nights.

Rogue Public House is open Monday, noon – 10 p.m., Tuesday – Thursday, noon – 11 p.m., Friday & Saturday, noon – midnight, and Sunday, noon – 9 p.m. and offers brewery tours weekdays at 4:30 p.m.

844 Olive Street, Eugene, OR 97401 – 541-345-4155

More Eugene Area Breweries & Bottle Shops:

Wetlands at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

With over 3,000 acres of salt and freshwater grasslands, marshes and wetlands, the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge located just north of Olympia, Washington is bird-lover’s and nature photographer’s haven. Established in 1974, the reserve offers natural protection for thousands of migratory birds along the southern bays of the Puget Sound. Continue reading

Sunset Beyond Views

“When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator”. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Oregon sunset

The sun setting beyond the Willamette Valley's view

This Valentine’s Day I am celebrating my love of nature and all its colors. From the sunrise to the scattered stars of midnight, nature never leaves you. The trails weaving through the dense forests never abandon your trek. The rivers, lakes and oceans lap at your toes like refreshing kisses against your skin. And though the weather can sometimes be relentless, the sun always rises.

Cross-Country Courage

Sliding and swishing through the snow like the polar bears in this year’s Coca Cola Super Bowl commercial, I cruised around Mount Catherine at the Snoqualmie Summit in Washington this past weekend. With blue skies, warm weather and hardly a cloud in sight, I strapped two skinny skies to my feet for a day in the backcountry snow with hardly a second thought.

The Nordic Center at Snoqualmie Summit features over 50 kilometers of groomed trails for all ski and snowshoe levels. Showing off the natural beauty of the Washington Cascades, the Nordic trails weave through the dense evergreen forests, follow creeks and ridgeline ledges and serve up stunning vistas of the surrounding jagged mountains and high elevation lakes. But the cross-country course serves up something extra too – a healthy helping of courage.

Courage to Try Something New

Meeting up with an old friend and three new, I started the day by familiarizing myself with my ski-bum buddies for the afternoon. Initially afraid that I was going to be the rusty fool on the slopes while cross-country skiing, I was happy to find that the rest of my group was new to the sport as well with one exception. I have Nordic skied many times since I was a kid but it had been several years (5+) since my last trek, but three others had only gone once or never before.

Trying a new sport – or anything really – especially one that includes attaching a slipper stick to your body takes a whole lot of courage. Anytime you are willing to look like a crazy-ass nutcase, fall down a hill, and then do it all over again…is amazing. We should all act so silly more often!

Courage to Find Balance

Starting out on the Mt. Catherine Loop, a 15K trail circumventing the ski park, the first thing we had to do was find our balance and rhythm, side to side and toes to heel. To keep grip and forward motion, you will get nowhere on x-country skis without a little ballerina skill – except for maybe face first in the snow. Settling in the tracks, with polls swinging we slowly built momentum like a steam train over the rolling flat sections of the trail.

Like having your legs clicked into the Nordic skis, balance is also key to life. To keep moving forward and to avoid cold wipe-outs, the scale has to be kept equal between all the important paths in your life. For me I work hard so I can play hard because both are equally important and then on top of that I also make time for my family, friends and of course everything else. This gets out of whack every once in awhile, but when you place value in each of your corners they will always return to even.

David Sedaris wrote in an article for the New Yorker that life is like a stove top, “one burner represents your family, one is your friends, the third is your health and the fourth is your work.” To be successful, many people cut off one of their burners, to be really successful they to cut off two. But this creates a horrible and unhappy unbalance. What you need to do is change your definition of success. Like out on the snow trail, success isn’t always just finishing the loop but on some stretches it is to not fall down, or making it to the next bend, or to keep pushing until lunch. At times you may need to lower the burners, but I never-ever turn off the flame. The disproportionate balancing act that inevitably creeps into people lives is not by any means the rule – sometimes it just takes a little courage to keep your feet solid and to strike a balance to stay standing.

Courage to Conquer the Mountain

Just when we thought the trail was easy, it started to climb…and climb…and climb. We would think, oh just around that next bend and we will be at the top for lunch, but no. Following a thin ledge around the backside of the mountain for several kilometers, each of us kept sliding one foot in front of the other as we continued up in elevation. Stopping for lunch we savored in the beautiful rugged views as the wind wiped up clouds of white swirling snow and replenished our tired bodies with food. Though wearing out from the endless incline, there is something invigorating and internally motivating about reaching for a peak. It’s a deep sense of courage tangled with faith that keeps my eyes up. (Matthew 14: 22-33)

The group at the top (photo by Elysia)

Finally we were greeted with a kiss from the wide-open blue ski at the top of the run and white humps of snow speckled by trees. In our narrow-sightedness to reach the top though we overlook one small problem – the challenging descent and sinking sun.

Courage to Turn Back

Sometimes it takes more courage to realize your limitations and turn back then to climb the mountain. As much as we wanted to complete the full loop we had to take into consideration that we did not have the needed resources to make it – the time, skill or endurance. Toasting our toes in the warming hut, which is located just about as far away from the Nordic Center as possible on the backside of the mountain, we re-organized our attack for the trail. Though we had already traveled more than half-way around the loop, the upcoming kilometers mixed more uphill and steeper downhill according to the backcountry ski patrol member stationed at the hut. At 2:30 in the afternoon (our rentals were supposed to be back at 3:30 p.m. – whoops!) we turned our backs on the forward trail and retraced our trenches.

Going back the way we came though was no beachy stroll. Anyone who has ever cross-country skied can tell you that skinny skis – especially when they are too long – are not built to go downhill. Sliding along the crusted ice, my skis grinded along the surface offering little resistance to help me slow down. Unable to make turns in the snow, all of use took many hard tumbles into the snow banks as our nerves gripped our bodies. Looking down the mountain, the slopes appeared much, much taller! Yet we couldn’t stop, so in a perpetual wedge that burned my thighs and knees, we slowly continued down the trail.

Courage to Let Go

On my way down the mountain, with shaky, tired legs attempting to hold a steady wedge and poles dragging behind me through the icy snow, a middle-aged man powered up the steep slope like a steroid-duped Frozone from the Incredibles. As he passed me, he turned and yelled back with a Norwegian accent, “just let go!”

And he was right, my tight ridged form was just holding me back – and cramping my legs and grinding my knees. Once I loosened up and looked passed the ledge, my turns became smoother and the trail more manageable. Like my fear of sliding down the slope, sometimes we need to let go and stop trying to control the situation. The baggage we drag will, yes, slow us down, but that apprehension will also leave its sore spots the next day.

Letting go of the GPS is not an easy task just like cross-country skiing down that mountain was for me, but the exhilarating fear tends to steer right. By putting a little trust in my ability and mustering the courage to point my tips downhill, I not only made it down the mountain faster but fell fewer times along the way.

Courage to Forage on Alone

Once down the steep sections of the trail, we still had 3-5 kilometers of rolling hills to ski to reach the Nordic center. With the sun already below the ridgeline, I was starting to get chilled from my sweat coloring in the crispy dusk air. As a more regular skiing than the majority of my travel buddies (snowboarders), my pace also outran the group. After waiting for over 10 minutes for my friends to catch up, I finally decided to just continue ahead alone. Sailing through the sparse trees of the lower hills, my shadows cast by the low sun raced ahead of me.

At times, we just have to go it alone. Don’t let yourself be held back by your fear of being solo. You can do just about anything by yourself and easily have just as much fun if not more. Some days I am my only best friends, and yes it can be lonely at times, but I am more independent and confident for it. I refused to wait around – doesn’t help I’m not a super patient person, but that’s another post – because time won’t wait for me to catch up.

Sailing into the Nordic Center back at the base of the ski area around 5 p.m. – just a tad late with our rentals – I was rosy cheeked and glad to be back. Warming up inside and enjoying the tail ends of my trail mix, I rested my sore feet up on a bench while waiting for the rest of my group to slide on in from our courageous journey.

More Posts To Explore:

Little Light Light Posts

The weather lately has been crazy nice. Are we sure its winter? This photo was snapped using my iPhone the other day while I was on one of my long training runs. The sun was slowly setting and blasting beautiful colors against the ski.

Right as I ran by the lights turned on, giving a royal gold glow against the darkening night sky. This second photo was also taken with my iPhone, looking up at the lamps from the opposite direction.

Enjoy the lovely winter!

Snowshoe Hike at Salt Creek Falls

With each step a high-decibel crunch erupted against the crusted white snow, drowning out the winter silence in the central Oregon Cascades like a rolling freight train – but our laughter sounded louder.

This past weekend I headed east along highway 58 into the Cascades from Eugene to spend the day playing in the snow. Stopping at the Mercantile in Oakridge, which carries snowshoes and cross-country skis during the winter season, we picked up some winter gear and continued to Salt Creek SnoPark. Continue reading