A little escapism, if you please.

At this phase of winter in Seattle, I'm most ardently dreaming about escaping to a sunny, warm place where my wine glass is always full and my shadow is always behind me (or directly underneath).  Given the current political and meteorological climate, I would suggest that we all need a little escapism to offset the days and weeks ahead (okay, perhaps to weather the coming months, if not years).  I promise not to daydream in excess, but exploring my own happy diversions for a few hours on a Sunday morning is certainly acceptable, isn't it?

Today, I'm looking back to a getaway that inspired such revelations, before and even after it occurred.  It was a visit to Sonoma's Russian River Valley and neighboring Dry Creek Valley (to be frank, we may have also briefly dipped our toes in the Alexander Valley AVA).  Although the trip itself took place a few years ago, I still relish a chance to recall our musings and winery visits, and long for the chance to return and uncover more of the unexpected gems of Sonoma.

Among the wineries we visited in Dry Creek Valley, one happened to showcase some Italian varietals (including a rosé!) that piqued our interest.  Although Unti Winery required an appointment, a quick phone call made clear they were extremely welcoming and happy to provide us a taste of their wines.  If I recall correctly, their rosé was certainly calling my name in the midsummer heat...

 UNTI Winery, Dry Creek Valley

UNTI Winery, Dry Creek Valley

 UNTI tasting menu, circa 2015

UNTI tasting menu, circa 2015

 UNTI Montepulciano 2012

UNTI Montepulciano 2012

 UNTI signage

UNTI signage

For a few starry nights we also had the pleasure of staying on the winery grounds at VML Winery.  I must admit, I'm a wine club member who thoroughly enjoys their take on syrah, pinot noir, and gewurztraminer (not that dodgy bottle you try to avoid at Thanksgiving, I promise!).  What made the overnight stay even more special was their brilliant garden and grounds, where you are free to enjoy sips of their current tastings while admiring the flowers and plucking fresh figs right off the tree.

 VML Winery, Russian River Valley

VML Winery, Russian River Valley

 Fresh apricots and a neighbor's hive

Fresh apricots and a neighbor's hive

 VML fountain and water plants

VML fountain and water plants

 VML garden staircase & succulents

VML garden staircase & succulents

 The VML tasting room & an unidentified citrus fruit on an orange table

The VML tasting room & an unidentified citrus fruit on an orange table

 The magic hour overlooking the neighbor's trees

The magic hour overlooking the neighbor's trees

 VML winery logo

VML winery logo

Although we spent much of our time in Sonoma perusing wineries, I should also mention that we did wander into a few other establishments.  Because, well...coffee.  Starting the day with one passion and ending it with another is, in my opinion, as close to godliness as we humans can get.  Flying Goat Coffee won me over on a previous trip to Sonoma, so perhaps it had an unfair advantage.  It made for the perfect way to bookend our Sonoma experience and gave us an excuse to linger over sunny mornings in wine country.  What else could you ask for?

 A cappuccino at Flying Goat Coffee, Healdsburg, CA

A cappuccino at Flying Goat Coffee, Healdsburg, CA

 Flying Goat Coffee, Healdsburg, CA

Flying Goat Coffee, Healdsburg, CA

Delicious summer hike, anyone?

With all of the lovely sunny weather we've been privy to this spring in the pacific northwest, I'm pining for upcoming summer outings and hikes.  And I'll be the first to admit it--I need an excuse to decompress.  It doesn't come very naturally to me.  For that reason, typically a bit of effort and planning is required on my part to schedule some downtime and ultimately make room for a more creative and non-stressful head space.  In my life, hiking bestows this most precious reward, and I try not to take it for granted one bit.  Last summer I had the privilege of hiking up towards Heliotrope Ridge near Mt. Baker, and I was stunned by the beauty of it.  The photos shown below offer a glimpse of the magic of this trail.  In fact, I would say this hike makes my top 10 all time favorite hikes, which I've listed below in no particular order...

  1. Heliotrope Ridge near Mt. Baker.
  2. Raptor Ridge in the Chuckanuts.
  3. The south rim of the Grand Canyon down to the Colorado River.
  4. Sauk Mountain near Burlington.
  5. Park Butte near Mt. Baker.
  6. Mt. Untersberg in Austria, because The Sound of Music.
  7. Mt. Si near Seattle.
  8. Second Beach Trail on the Olympic Peninsula, not necessarily because of the hike itself but because of the amazing beach at the end.
  9. Avalanche Lake trail in Glacier National Park.
  10. Sleeping Bear Dunes (pick any hike).
 View of Mt Baker from heliotrope ridge hike.

View of Mt Baker from heliotrope ridge hike.

 My trusty co-hiker @milampix

My trusty co-hiker @milampix

 Other hikers (not us) descending Mt Baker.

Other hikers (not us) descending Mt Baker.

 Part of the glacier comes into view.

Part of the glacier comes into view.

 Left: Sasha the poodle photo bombs Eric's portrait.  Right: Joey winces at the camera from the pack.

Left: Sasha the poodle photo bombs Eric's portrait.  Right: Joey winces at the camera from the pack.

 I always forget Joey despises the camera.  The camera does not give belly rubs.

I always forget Joey despises the camera.  The camera does not give belly rubs.

 Erin on the left and her inimitable poodle Sasha on the right.

Erin on the left and her inimitable poodle Sasha on the right.

 Lunch break spot.

Lunch break spot.

 Forever curious.

Forever curious.

 So.  Many.  Wildflowers.

So.  Many.  Wildflowers.

 Looking north from heliotrope ridge.

Looking north from heliotrope ridge.

Pickford Film Center's Red Carpet Affair

I'm a longtime fan of the Pickford Film Center.  Having lived in downtown Bellingham for almost eight years I can attest that it's a unique and inspirational place where you are welcome to sit back, check out of your day to day life, and enjoy a brief respite from reality--a movie or two.  Maybe even back to back.  I regret that there is no similar art house movie theater within walking distance of my current home, so I made my way back to the Pickford this year to shoot some black tie cinephiles for the annual Red Carpet Affair on the night of the Oscars.  If you want to peruse all of the red carpet images you are welcome to follow the link here.  Below is a smattering of images from the night and perhaps a few teasers.  And the Oscar goes to...

Rosebrock-Pickford-7628.jpg

Paper hearts and local dreams

I had an epiphany this week.  Why not make Valentine's Day about something different this year?  Sending heart-shaped mementos to friends and family is all well and good, but I had the inclination to try something new and step out of my comfort zone.  To be true, this time of year reminds me of an image I took in Bellingham a few years ago...of a local icon--an ivy heart on the side of a dilapidated, yet historically significant eggery building.  Local lore reveals the heart is tended every Valentine's Day by a Bellingham man, for his true love.  Though to be honest, the heart has become more significant in my mind for it's statement about the community as a whole.  Bellingham is one of those places where a sense of community and hospitality abounds.  So why not celebrate this notion and donate some of the proceeds to a local non-profit, to return the favor to the community that birthed this symbol?

It seemed like the obvious thing to do.  So here I am, providing a paper heart print to those of you who are interested in supporting this venture.  Most importantly, I chose the Whatcom Humane Society to receive half of the proceeds, because pets of all shapes and sizes tend to make us happier and better humans.  Click here to purchase an 8x8 inch print for 15$ and support a worthy cause!

 Yep, this is a Holga camera.

Yep, this is a Holga camera.

A brief development history: you may be surprised to know that I shot the ivy heart image with a film camera, a very low tech film camera called a Holga.  After which, I developed the film myself.  And then I printed the image on B&W paper in the dark room.  Eventually, I scanned the print to add color and character.  So the development cycle is a combination of old world and new, and now the print is digitized and available for purchase in all sorts of colors.  Hint--I'd frame several of these separately and hang them on the same wall!