Category Archives: Oh Snap

[Local Lore] Wild and Free at the William L. Finley Wildlife Refuge

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Tucked deep in the heart of Corvallis sits a whimsical wildlife habitat; a home to many seasonal creatures as they make their semi-annual migratory routes. Created back in 1964, the William L Finley National Wildlife Refuge is a preserved natural land area in the Oregon’s greater Willamette Valley and is notorious for the flocks of dusky Canada geese that frequent the landscape. Unlike typical Canadian geese, their dusky cousins nest and mate along the Copper River Delta in Alaska over the Summer and visit the vast acreage of wetlands of the Finley Wildlife Refuge during the colder, Winter months.

One of the last intact wet prairies in the area, the refuge was a reaction to the Great Alaskan Earthquake of 1964 which diminished the available natural land for dusky Canadian geese. Fast forward almost forty years and in 2006 the Snag Boat Bend Unit was acquired as a partition of the reserve, adding almost 350 acres of unique, historic habitat to the already sprawling 5,300 acres of wetlands covered by the Finley Reserve.

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Beyond the dusky Canadian goose, the William L Finley Wildlife Refuge also plays homebase for a variety of flora, fauna and fowl throughout the year with a handful of habitat regions on site, ranging from wet prairies on the East End to sprawling wetlands off of Muddy Creek, or to the upland Oregon white oak savannas and forests. On any given day, you could run into a menagerie of birds and waterfowl from migratory raptors like the rough-legged hawk to turkey vultures, peregrine falcons, golden and bald eagles, to great horned owls and geese, great blue herons, wood ducks and swans, woodpecker colonies and meadowlarks; not to mention the herds of Roosevelt Elk, blacktailed deer, coyotes and bobcats, alongside pond turtles, red legged frogs and the endangered yet recently re-introduced Fender’s blue butterfly.

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For a full spectrum of the Refuge, I highly suggest returning throughout the year. Even though Winter is wonderful to observe the migratory patterns of waterfowl, November marks the beginning of ‘Sanctuary Season’ which closes off the interior or the park for resting animals; the season end on April 1st, and all interior trails are opened once again.

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Whether you’re hiking, cycling or simply just observing the world at large, the refuge boasts a menagerie of looping trails and rolling hills throughout the grounds, offering over a handful unique hiking paths that cover over a dozen miles of land. For those looking to stay lazy, fret not – there’s an auto tour route with ample roads for roaming. Posted every now and again, you’ll find neat tidbits and educational facts on the nature and ancient nurture of the area.

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Originally, the land was settled by the Kalapuya tribe – a conglomeration of thirteen related tribal groups speaking three distinct languages among themselves; each tribal group inhabited a specific area along and around the Willamette River. With the volcanic Cascade Mountains nearby, tribes around the river effectively fashioned obsidian  arrowheads and spears; if you look hard enough, you can still find obsidian artifacts and minerals in the area to this day – including in the grounds of the Wildlife Refuge. On the other end of history, is the Willamette Valley segment of the Applegate Trail, first used in the 1840’s – it’s a more southerly trail than the Oregon Trail sauntered through by European Settlers.

For more on the William L Finley Wildlife Refuge, head to their social channels – or simply go pay them a wonderful visit; I promise, it’s worth it!

What are your favorite spots to observe the wistful, wonderous wildlife in your town? Let me know in the comments below!

Website | Friends of the WLF Refuge | Facebook | Twitter

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[LA Life] Morning Bliss in Lincoln Park

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A picture might be worth a thousand words, but what they often won’t tell you are calamity, chaos and all around entropy surrounding those perceived moments of serenity.

Just minutes before I found my mental zen at East Los Angeles’ Lincoln Park, I was frustrated to my boiling point with the DMV – infuriated that we’d wasted over two hours of the morning and I’d had essentially had it up to my ears with any semblance of ‘humanity‘ before the clock had even struck noon.  There are few tribulations that we can all share here in this world, and dealing with the Department of Motor Vehicles is definitely one of them.  As we were gallivanting throughout the city’s side streets on the way to the DMV, I noticed glimpses of pastel and primary colors in delicious dichotomy with the multitudes of green in a park across the street.  against the multitude of greens.  And now that the morning had manifested in its own auspicious way, it felt like the only remedy was to delve back into whatever nature I had found as soon as I could.

The second we parked, I couldn’t get out of the car fast enough –  I took a breath of Spring air as I gingerly skipped from the parking lot pavement to the grassy landscape encroaching the tranquil lake.  Technicolor buildings reflected against the lake in a kaleidoscopic fashion as we slowly made our way around in a giant pseudo-circle.  Strolling in synchronicity, we shared a bakers dozen of laughs – enjoying what little time was actually left of the morning hours, blissfully aware that under any other circumstance we would have been tethered to our work lives and inundated with tasks that would require us to stay in doors.

Like treasures tucked away in uncharted territory, there are a plethora of small city parks located around the city of LA simply waiting for you to discover them.  I’ve loved Echo Park Lake for a long time, but Lincoln Park is almost a miniature version and a whole lot less populated. Founded all the way back in 1881, Lincoln Park was originally named East Los Angeles park, only to be renamed ‘Eastlake Park‘ in 1901; you wouldn’t know from looking at it now, but the park used to house a full zoo,  cactus garden and a private alligator farm. Renamed Lincoln Park in 1917 after the local high school, this portion of paradise has been a staple of Los Angeles’ beautiful cross section of counter culture humanity and the arts.

The park itself comes equipped with a menagerie of of activities for all ages, lush lands to picnic on, a playground that has adult swings (yeah, you heard right), a skate park designed by a professional,  BBQ pits, fishing in the lake and last but most certainly not least – the wonderful Plaza de la Raza Cultural Center for the Arts + Education,  a prominent meeting spot for the community and the only multidisciplinary building of its kind in the city.  Not to mention, my favorite touch, sprinkles of large scale art around the edges of the park.

 
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For more on Los Angeles’ Lincoln Park, head to their social media pages – or better yet, just drop on by and pay it a visit.

Website | Facebook | Twitter |  Yelp

What are your favorite local parks?

Let me know in the comments below!

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[Oh, Snap] Eagle Rockin’ and Eagle Walkin’ v9

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Over the last few days, the air has been vibrant with floral fragrances and the coquettish dancing of birds, bees and butterflies while temperatures have sky rocketed back into the 90s.  No, Summer isn’t quick on our heals and Spring isn’t exactly just around the corner – it’s simply another mid-February heat wave in Los Angeles.  Half my mind is wrapped up in the sheer beauty of nature right now, while the other bemoans the fact we haven’t had a good rain in quite some time.

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The year itself is accelerating at a rapid pace, while a proverbial bullet train of emotions, feelings and thoughts trace geometric patterns in my mind.  I’ve had friendships ebb and flow as trust has been simultaneously instilled in and and removed from those who have one way or another, proven themselves to me.  I refuse to be sad or remorseful over the loss of people in my life – while intentional or not, the lessons that I’ve learned and the mechanisms that have inspired my maturity and growth are tantamount to my self understanding in the same way that the love, support and friendship of others have lifted my spirits.  As with pulsating tidal waves on a brilliant seashore, the push and pull are one in the same and it’s the totality of myself that I’m truly in awe of at this point.  The resilient, bounce back of personality and perseverance of passion – it hasn’t left, instead the flames have been fanned higher.

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[LA Life] Kick Start 2016 Off Right With a First Day Hike!

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525, 600 minutes ago, yet I can still taste the moment that I was marinating in: blustery, salted ocean air coating my hair as we adventured down into Crissy Field and over the Golden Gate Bridge where I did my best to forgo my fear of heights.  Somewhere, in between two nights of Pretty Lights, my audiophilic tendencies were reinvigorated and my love for the world blossomed exponentially.  I’m a sucker for the bright lights, bold vibes and vibrant personalities of city life.  There’s an energy that resides in the city, a resilient energy that grows stronger as the night grows darker while glowing technicolor.

It’s not that I don’t find an equal but opposite view of the stars and nature, it’s just for almost 31 years that my dancing feet have led me directly into the heart of the city. Yet, after 31 years I’m finally searching for that something new, something natural, something free  – an oasis in the midst of a barren desert, a secret garden in a concrete jungle. Time and time again, I’ve found myself enthralled by the melody as the bass becomes me, but more and more I’ve simply pulled out of my city kitty tendencies and found myself into the great tonic of wilderness, clean air and a clear conscience.

The New Years offers up a wonderful, albeit temporal, period of solid resolution and personal resolve.  Whether it lasts the whole year or not sounds like more of a personal problem but those who have a will, always always tend to have a way.  But, I’ve found that writing down my personal wants, needs and goals for the year helps me not just keep track of them but I also hold myself increasingly more accountable of them.

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Last year, when I made my 31 Before 31 Resolutions –  I made it a point to visit a new local Botanical Garden or State Park every month and I’ll tell you right now that beyond going to the multitudes of festivals and events – it’s one of the most rewarding feelings I’ve ever had.  Betwixt the travel and writing, work and kitties, music festival after music festival across the West Coast – I’m so grateful that we had the opportunity to visit so many wonderful places steeped in grandiose history and utter beauty.

 

With exercise as one of the most common New Years Resolutions, it might just behoove you to get up, get out, get over that hangover and get healthy – or at least just get some fresh 2016 air.  Around the nation, thousands of people will be hitting the trails, mountains and rivers as part of the National ‘First Day Hike‘ movement – and there’s plenty of fun to go around on each and every corner of the United States.  Just in California, there’s over 50 different hikes to join in over 40 different parks across the state, not to mention paddle boat rides, geology walks, seal tours and some vehicle rides off the beaten path.

Locations include:

Where will you be spending the first day of 2016?

 

For more details on First Day Hikes around California, head over to the State’s Parks Website. For a birds eye view of all the natural, National goodness  – use the hashtag #FirstDayHikes to dive into pictures and locations on Twitter and Instagram.

 

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For a trip down memory lane, try out these adventures from the past year!

December: The Los Angeles Arboretum | Big Bear | Crissy Park

January: UC Botanical Garden

February: Glenoaks Canyon

August: Multnomah Falls, Oregon

October: Big Sur, California

November: Stanford Arboretum + Arizona Cactus Garden

December: LA Zoo Nights

[Oh, Snap] Chasing Sunset at Malibu’s Point Dume

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Last Sunday, we bid adieu to the succulent last seconds of Autumn in one of the most blissful fashions. As I’m sure you’re well aware, Los Angeles either has the absence of seasons or a mass inundation of each throughout a single 24 hour stretch.  With strong Winter storms coming in from the North West on Saturday night, we almost changed our Sunday plans – discussing the merits of cloud coverage in romantic photography and the like, but we decided to throw caution to the literal wind and get our booties out to Malibu to enjoy the last weekend of the season with some of our favorite people, creating magic and celebrating true love.

Love.  It’s a simple four letter word with a complex, vast and almost unfathomable meaning.  Love takes you by the arm securely and leads you to safety, while encouraging you to blast out of your own comfort zone and reach for the stars.  Love isn’t only giving, it’s forgiving; the last piece of the puzzle of a beautiful picture, a picture that was once so inconceivably incomplete.  Love fills your life in time with your heart, warming each and every nook and corner; clearing out the cobwebs of the ego, unchaining your pride and letting your soul shine free.  Love is natural, like the sun, wind, water and Earth; yet love is extraordinary, like the existence of the universe, like the rose that grew from concrete, like the existence of you, or I – or the simple fact that between you and I, there’s a we that is coveted more than the deepest secrets and oldest friendships.  Love is a bridge from nowhere to everywhere, a door that opens infinitely and a dream that’s never deferred.  But the most beautiful thing of all is that love is.

Though photography is a passion of mine, it certainly isn’t a profession – I’ve left that to the fiance.  He’s been building a bustling portfolio in the three years we’ve been together and I’m so thrilled that I’ve had a first hand view at how he’s grown as a creative, as an artist, as a working professional.  Though he’s done his fair share of concerts, shows, festivals, plays and musicals – he’s itching to get his feet wet in other arenas, including headshots, portfolios, high fashion and engagement shoots – and I’m thrilled, because this means I get to learn, too!  So after a quick breakfast and conversation, we were off to the beaches to capture the effortlessness of true love in a fantastic couple.  Now, I don’t have any spoilers – because, well, they’re not my pictures.  But I did get to spend a good amount of time chasing one last Fall Sunset at Malibu’s Point Dume, and let me tell you – so worth it. And a perfect full circle from last year, where we spent the first day of Winter in Big Bear.

Locals might think of it as a total tourist trap with not a lot of parking, but I think the scenery is stunning, the views up and down the Pacific Coast are  breathtaking and there’s a whole host of marine life for you to take in. – from cranes to seals, and even a dolphin (or shark!) if you’re there on a good one.   There’s plenty of rocks for rock climbing, and tons of ocean to relax the mind and body.





For more on Point Dume, check out their State Park website and social media channels.

Website | Facebook | Yelp

[Oh, Snap!] Street Art v20: Adventures Through Downtown LA

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When I moved to Eagle Rock almost a year ago, I knew that I’d be leaving behind a few things – some of which I’d miss more than others.  I definitely wasn’t going to miss the general lack of parking in the area or the amount of rush hour traffic you can get stuck in trying to drive three miles; but on the flip side, there was my proximity to West Hollywood, which brought with it a ridiculous amount of shopping and a menagerie of awesome restaurants, the amazing hipster watching at the Melrose Trading Post and last but certainly not least: the fact that my backyard was essentially the Melrose + Fairfax district, a mecca of the underground arts community that’s rarely spoken of. Sure, the area boasts a good amount of shopping – but in this case, aimed at ballers on a budget like myself and full of fresh street fashion, mirroring the often mind blowing and socially conscious graffiti that ebbed and flowed around their walls.

Once I was relieved of my bubble, I realized that though my area was overflowing with culture and art – so was every other area of LA!  Now that I’ve lived here for almost seven years, and in several different parts of the city – I’ve experienced so many unique pockets of creativity that I’ve realized they must be hidden in every nook and cranny here.  Out further West in Venice, Street Art runs rampant and it’s heavily strewn through Silver Lake and Echo Park all the way into the Arts District of downtown.  The following pictures were collected over the last few months while gallivanting through downtown on urban safaris with my partner in crime; enjoy!