Posts Tagged ‘outdoors’

Exploring the Pacific Northwest: Portland and Seattle with High School Students

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UHS Faculty member Maggie Beckman hiking Portland’s Forest Park

I’ve long held the belief that travel is the best kind of education. So when my friend Wes Priest, an English teacher at University High School in Indiana, told me that he was bringing a group of students to the Pacific Northwest with his colleague, art teacher Tasha Barger, I agreed to join them and give a few photography tips.

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Wes and the JTerm students at the Witches Castle in Forest Park (photo credit: Maggie Beckman)

These 23 teenagers spent the first part of January studying the art, photography and literature of the Pacific Northwest with Wes, Tasha, and faculty member Maggie Beckman during their school’s January Term (J-Term). During J-Term, the students take a break from their normal studies to immerse themselves in a single subject that interests them. This interdisciplinary class culminated in a trip to Portland and Seattle.

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PDX snowpocalypse in Forest Park

I met up with the group in Portland, Oregon while the city was still pretty much shut down after experiencing the biggest snowstorm in 20 years. As a seasoned traveler, I know plans how often plans go awry and you need to embrace that. But I had no idea how a group of teenagers would handle it. Their upbeat attitudes and lack of complaints caught me off guard. It was refreshing. There really is nothing you can do about the weather and the students got to see Portland in a really unique way.

Time lapse of the students working on zines in Portland. What a cool class.

Spending time with this group taught me a lot of great things to do with teenagers in Portland. We hiked through snowy Forest Park to the Pittock Mansion to get a view of the city. We hit legendary Portland institutions including Powell’s City of Books and Voodoo Donuts.

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Hiking the Upper Macleay Trail in Forest Park

I learned donuts are very popular with high school students. Top Pot Donuts in Seattle was also on the week’s agenda. The students documented their trip with cameras and used photos and found items to create hand bound zines. It was fun to watch so many young creative minds get busy making art.

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Snoqualmie Falls

Spending the week with this group of students was both exhausting and inspiring. They appreciated both cities as well as the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest and they reminded me of what it is like to have a youthful perspective.

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Eating Ramen at Pine Market in Portland (photo credit: Wes Priest)

Eating Ramen at Pine Street Market was a big hit with this crew on a cold night in Portland.

Watching the students document their trip made me want to include some of their photos and impressions on this blog. Featured below are some images the UHS students shot on their trip to the PNW and their own captions.

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I took this photograph of my friends’ and my feet right before our hike at Twin Falls.”- Kathryn Papp

These students came prepared and learned the best way to handle the Pacific Northwest’s moody weather is by dressing correctly. Every one of these students was wearing appropriate footwear. It made for a cute photo opportunity and I was excited that one of the students captured it.

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Lily in Capitol Hill in front of graffiti- Erin Webb

The students wandered through Portland, checking out local record stores, thrift shops, and the Portland Art Museum.

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I took it because its kind of a perfect depiction of the Seattle vibe. Everyone and everything is accepted, except for lack of acceptance- Lily Hunter

The students broke up into groups and explored different neighborhoods in Seattle, which prides itself on being progressive and a Sanctuary City. I wasn’t surprised the teenagers loved Pike Place Market and my personal favorite, MoPop  (formerly known as the EMP).

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 Gorgeous water fall at Snoqualmie falls in Washington” – Kenzie Binford

Seattle’s weather cooperated with us and the group got to visit Snoqualmie Falls and went for a great hike in Twin Falls.

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 “A different perspective of a piece of wood art at Portland Art Museum”- Drej Cosby

It was my first visit to the Portland Art Museum and I thought it was both user friendly and a nice size. There was lots to see without it being too overwhelming.

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 “Meowtropolitan cat taking some time to chill”- Drej Cosby

Some of the students visited Seattle’s Meowtropolitan, a Japanese-style cat cafe. I’m allergic to cats but was interested in their take. They really enjoyed it, and seemed to think it was quite a bit of fun for the price point!

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 Red and Boji”- Maddie Compton

I was impressed by the student’s genuine appreciation for the post-modern architecture of the the Seattle Central Library. They made me remember just how cool the Rem Koolhas and Joshua Ramus-designed building is.

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 “The Seattle Room at the Seattle Public Library”- Elise Zaniker

Seattle’s Central Library is also a great location to take photographs and the kids got some eye catching shots.

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 The modern built Seattle Public Library is home to many of writers and artists that open a portal of literary bliss to anyone. I felt that this was a good representation of the modern architecture that houses the classic tales of our time.”- Serena Patel

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  “This was on the bus ride from Portland to Seattle. It was just a nice, quiet moment I wanted to capture.”-Kathryn Papp

The students impressed me with their keen interest in the Pacific Northwest, their manners and the general lack of drama. Travelers have always been de facto ambassadors, and this group certainly made University High School look good.

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This bridge that served as our entry point into Forest Park felt like a gateway or portal into another world. Once I crossed under this bridge, I felt like I was in an entirely different universe of snowy bliss. Almost like Narnia.”- Livi Nichols

Spending a week with these kids strengthened my belief that travel is great education. It forces you out of your comfort zone, makes you to think on your feet and switches up your perspective. It was fun being able to share the experience of exploring the Pacific Northwest with these students. Their enthusiasm and curiosity was contagious.

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  Michaela laughed as she hoisted herself up to get a better view of Elliott Bay. It was our first day in Seattle and the rain and fog only added to our ‘authentic’ Seattle experience.“- Livi Nichols

I did not just learn from the students. Wes, Tasha, and Maggie are passionate educators who are dedicated to helping young minds develop. They worked hard to plan this trip and make it a positive experience for all involved. I hope these students know how lucky they are to have such fantastic and accessible teachers.

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“It was really spiritual and one of the best moments of my life because everybody was helping everybody else. People were cold and tired, but everybody stayed positive and struggled together to get the best feeling once we hit the very top.”- Eli DeBrota

The whole J-Term concept is a really cool idea. Where were classes like this when I was in high school?

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The JTerm Crew on the waterfront in Seattle

I have to confess I missed this group once they left Seattle. Hopefully some of them with return to visit. I promise Portland is an entirely different experience without all the snow.

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Wes and Tasha at Snoqualmie Falls

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Exploring Norway’s Lofoten Islands: Utakleiv Beach

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Gorgeous scenery at Utakleiv Beach

Of all of beaches I saw in Norway’s Lofoten Islands, Utakleiv had the most diversity. It’s a photographer’s dream with it’s creamy white sand, green grass, jewel toned tidal pools and rocky coastline.

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Tidal pools and emerald seas in Norway

Utakleiv Beach is also easy to reach by car and doesn’t require a hike, making it one of the most photographed spots in the Lofoten Islands.

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Portrait of Ana at Utakleiv Beach 

While Ana and I explored Utakleiv Beach during the day, it’s also a popular spot to watch (and photograph) the northern lights.

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We had Utakleiv Beach all to ourselves

While we heard that the beach was popular during the summer months, one of the benefits of traveling during shoulder season is that we had the place entirely to ourselves.

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Ana on a grassy knoll at Utakleiv beach 

The clouds were moody, adding to the dramatic and craggy scenery.

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Clouds, water, rocks, and sand 

The light was soft and flattering during our visit so I used the opportunity to shoot a few portraits of Ana using the depth mode (aka portrait mode) feature on my iPhone 7 plus. I love the results.

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Ana at Utakleiv beach (portrait mode)

The beach is also a favorite spot for photographers in winter when the rocks along the coastline are covered in snow.

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Portrait of Ana among the rocks (iPhone 7 plus)

There were a few picnic tables on Utakleiv, and it’s a popular spot for camping when the weather is suitable.

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Jewel toned tidal pool at Utakleiv Beach 

Directions:

From Leknes, it is about 20 minutes out. Follow the E10 out of Leknes and turn right onto Vikveien. Then take the Fv826 to Uttakleivveien. At the intersection, take a left to stay on Uttakleivveien until you see a parking area on the right and the beach right next to it.

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Day Hike to Kvalvika Beach in Norway’s Lofoten Islands

 

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Dramatic clouds and scenery on the hike to Kvalvika Beach

Norway’s Lofoten islands are known for their dramatic landscapes. But the handful of gorgeous sandy beaches came as a real surprise to me as a first-time visitor to the area.

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Clouds reflected in a pond

An unexpected highlight of my recent trip to Norway was the scenic hike we took to Kvalvika Beach. Located onMoskenesøy and only accessible by foot, the day hike is popular with families and photographers. It’s easy to see why.

 

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Looking down at Kvalvika Beach

After about an hour of minutes of pleasant hiking with some slick patches due to the wet grass and natural oil oozing from the land, the mountain landscape opens up to reveal a glorious crescent shaped beach with waves crashing against the golden sand.

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Ana taking in the view from the hike

The hike itself is interesting (and popular) throughout the year. During the summer, campers head to Kvalvika Beach to spend the night under the midnight sun. In the fall and winter, photographers and families head up for the dramatic views.

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Kvalvika Beach, possibly the prettiest spot in Norway’s Lofoten Islands

We wound up being led on this hike by Alex Conu, who we hired from Colors of Lofoten to be our photo guide for the day.

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Red grass and pink clouds on the hike to Kvalvika Beach

It’s worth the effort for the scenery alone. You’ll pass fields of red grasses and lakes before getting a bird’s eye view of Kvalvika Beach.

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Otherworldly landscape in the Lofoten Islands

I appreciate unusual landscape and the moss, rocks, oil, and mountains made this one of the most visually satisfying hikes I’ve ever taken.

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Oil oozing from the Lofoten Islands

There are some step sections, and hiking boots are key to handling this terrain.

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The landscape before dusk looked drastically different

We took this hike just before dusk, when the colors and light were changing quite a bit. Views looked dramatically different on the way back than they did on the way up, We opted to retraced our steps to save time, since we were prioritizing photographing the Northern Lights that evening rather than take the long way back.

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Portrait of Ana in the outdoors

Kvalvika Beach was featured in a documentary called North of the Sun, about two surfers (yes, arctic surfing is a thing) who spent nine months there catching waves. You can watch the film on iTunes.

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Clouds reflected

If you’re headed to the Lofoten Islands and fit enough to handle a reasonably easy hike with some moderate altitude gain, I’d highly suggest taking the hike to Kvalvika Beach.

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Portrait  of Ana in pastels on the hike to Kvalvika Beach

Getting there:

From any location on Lofoten, take the E10 to Fredvang. After leaving the E10 and crossing the twin bridges, turn left into Fredvang and continue along the road through the village. After approximately 3 kilometers (from the turn) you will see a red boat shed on the left near the water. Immediately past this is a paved parking turnout large enough for 10-15 cars. Park here.

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A Visit to the Haukadalur Geothermal Area and Geysir, Iceland

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Obligatory geysir eruption money shot

One of the reasons Iceland’s geographic is so dramatic is because of all the geothermal activity on the island nation. The Haukadalur geothermal region, and Strokkur geysir, are one of the most famous tourist attractions in Iceland and a stop on any good tour of Iceland’s Golden Circle.

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Steam and clouds make Geysir’s geothermic landscape dramatic and beautiful

Strokkur geysir, which erupts every five to 15 minutes, is Iceland’s answer to Old Faithful. The plumes of steam and wispy clouds make for some very unique scenery.

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Tourists visiting Geysir geothermic area in Iceland

Anastasia caught the geysir’s eruption below with her iPhone. Check it out:

 Video of Iceland’s Geysir erupting

The geysir’s plume of steamy water ranges can reach up to 30 meters when it erupts, sometimes with little warning. During our visit it erupted a few times with the water topping out at around 15 meters in height.

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Photographers waiting for the geysir are a common sight in the area

The Haukadalur geothermic region and Geysir are well equipped for tourists, with ample parking and a gift shop and cafeteria. Visiting geysir is free.

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Jorunn, our photo guide, ready to capture geysir’s eruption

 I thought the muddy streams of hot geothermal water made for interesting contrast with the steam and clouds.

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Muddy, moody landscape near Geysir

Our visit to geysir was part of our Golden Circle Day Tour with Jorunn as our guide.

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Geysir is one of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions in 

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Before the Geysir erupts GIF

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Autumn colors add additional interest to the geothermal landscape in Iceland

Geysir Center

Haukadalur, Iceland

Tel: +354 480 6800

E-mail: geysir@geysircenter.is

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Exploring the Pacific Northwest: Visiting Oregon’s Multnomah Falls

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Multnomah Falls is Oregon’s 620 feet year round waterfall

Last week I went to Portland and got a chance to explore the Columbia Gorge. Among Portland’s many charms is how close it is to some spectacular nature, including Multnomah Falls. Multnomah Falls is Oregon’s tallest waterfall, and ranks as the second highest waterfall in the United states. Only Yosemite Falls is higher.

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Vista House in Corbett, Oregon

Located less than half hour’s drive outside of Portland along the historic Columbia River Highway, Oregon’s tallest year round waterfall is not only gorgeous, it’s extremely user friendly. Multnomah Falls is visible from the freeway and it’s an easy walk if you want to get up close and personal with the #1 tourist site in the Columbia Gorge.

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Overcast weather adds atmosphere to the Multnomah Falls hike

If you’re going to walk to the waterfall, wear appropriate footwear. Waterfall spray and the wet Pacific Northwest climate mean that hough paved, the trail does have pools of water and puddles that are unavoidable.

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Reverse view of 69 foot drop of the second tier of Multnomah Falls from above Benson Bridge

The downside of being user friendly? Multnomah Falls is popular destination and often crowded. If you want to avoid the crowds, nearby Wahkeena Falls can be reached by foot and is significantly less popular than Multnomah Falls.

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Looking up at the top tier of  Multnomah Falls

The Multnomah Falls Lodge has a visitors center, gift shop, and restaurant and is nestled at the base of the falls.

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Scarlet and Zeppelin enjoyed exploring the trail to Multnomah Falls

The paved trails are also pet-friendly, so expect plenty of dogs to be enjoying the scenery as well. Dogs need to be kept on a leash at all times, but there was plenty to sniff and keep my two labs excited about on this nice day hike.

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Benson Bridge over Multnomah Falls adds to the cliffside drama

If you’re planning on photographing the waterfall, bring a wide angle lens. I shot mostly using the 24-70 mm Canon zoom as well as my iPhone. I also got a few good shots with my Fuji X-30.

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Misty morning scenery in the Columbia Gorge

I tried a few shots using my Moment Lens wide angle 18 mm lens attachment, but had uneven results due to vignetting. My fingers are crossed my replacement Moment Lens Case corrects this issue.

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The view of the top tier of Multnomah Falls from above the Benson Bridge

I was wowed by Multnomah Falls. It’s not as powerful as Igauzu Falls but it’s steep drop and tree-lined cliffs are dramatic. Plus, it’s close to Stumptown Coffee, vegan cheese, and and the cajun tots that seem to be on every menu in Portland. It was a nice place to get in a little sightseeing, morning hiking and get some good photos.

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Happy hikers at dog-friendly Multnomah Falls.

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls Is easy to reach from Portland. Take I-84 eastbound for approximately 30 miles. Follow signs and take exit 31 (an unusual left-side exit ramp) off I-84 to a parking area. There is a path under the highway that leads to the falls viewing area. Lower trails are paved.

 

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