In which we took a day trip to Mount Rainier

You know you’re going to miss a place when you can go on a random Thursday afternoon road trip with your awesome neighbors to say goodbye to your favorite mountain.

It started off cloudy

It started off cloudy

We stopped at the Box Canyon on the way - it was such a steep and narrow drop that a picture doesn't adequately encompass it.

We stopped at the Box Canyon on the way – it was such a steep and narrow drop that a picture doesn’t adequately encompass it.

We hiked the short Grove of the Patriarchs that we think should be renamed - or at least get us our own Matriarch Grove.

We hiked the short Grove of the Patriarchs that we think should be renamed – or at least get us our own Matriarch Grove.

The trail was short, but full of giants.

The trail was short, but full of giants.

And required crossing a cool bridge.

And required crossing a cool bridge.

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There were plenty of photos taken, but none do it complete justice.

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Anna's water bottle to commemorate her first time at Mount Rainier matches mine.

Anna’s water bottle to commemorate her first time at Mount Rainier matches mine.

The largest trees had a built walkway around them.

The largest trees had a built walkway around them.

You couldn't help but look UP.

You couldn’t help but look UP.

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Giants.

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So lucky.

Is this real life? Is this Thursday?

Is this real life? Is this Thursday?

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When we emerged from the forest we caught our first glimpse of the Mountain. She had been obscured by clouds all day.

When we emerged from the forest we caught our first glimpse of the Mountain. She had been obscured by clouds all day.

See?! She is SO BIG!

See?! She is SO BIG!

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I have amazing friends

I have amazing friends

After stopping at all the view points, we popped into the Paradise Visitor’s Center. Seattle may be getting ready to slide into the sea in the coming Big Earthquake, but we’re safe if Rainier erupts:

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The clouds obscured the summit before we were done - so we headed home.

The clouds obscured the summit before we were done – so we headed home.

I will miss this Mountain and all her beauty. I will miss my dear friends. I will miss all of this so much. But how lucky am I that I have so much good to miss?

I will miss this Mountain and all her beauty. I will miss my dear friends. I will miss all of this so much. But how lucky am I that I have so many amazing things to miss?

In which we go on our Graduation-moon, Part I: Haleakala

Jeff and I decided to take a celebratory trip after graduation. Twenty-three grades, four degrees and two certificates now under my belt; we both needed a vacation. Since we are currently “so close” to Hawaii and neither of us had been it was an easy choice. Picking the island was a little harder – but we narrowed it down to Maui or the Big Island in part because they both have national parks. Maui won out and I’m so glad we picked it – we had an incredible time!

Po'olenalena Beach

Po’olenalena Beach

The first day on the island we picked up our 2015 Nissan Rogue (thank you Priceline for letting me bid on an incredible deal – having an SUV was a fun luxury) and drove to our VRBO condo in Kihei. The Rogue was brand new – only 520 miles on it. We would double that amount on our adventures. Most of the rest of the first day was spent sleeping, which was much needed after the hustle that was finishing residency and my final graduation. The second day we explored our nearby beaches (Kama’ole I, Po’olenalena, Makena Landing and Big Beach), snorkeled in among the reefs (and saw sea turtles!) and ate the best lobster of my life at Mama’s Beach House. It was so good we went back for the only other reservation available during our time there and we both ordered it again! My Aunt Teresa and Uncle Larry would be proud of us – we toasted with Cakebread chardonnay – from one of their favorite vineyards.

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Wednesday we woke late and had a lazy brunch at Chez Meme in Kihei after seeing the line for the other popular breakfast spot, Kihei Caffe, was going to be an hour long. It was a great choice – they had delicious mimosas and french toast and a couple of freshly baked pastries ended up coming home with us for later.

After relaxing on our beach, we drove to Pai’a and picked up a picnic lunch and dinner from the Hana Picnic Lunch Company and began the winding, foggy drive up the volcano.Most of the drive was in thick clouds – so much so that the car in front of us just gave up and stopped driving in the middle of the road. They insisted on waving me around by way of the oncoming lane – a scary proposition considering it was so hazy I couldn’t see the front of their car, but we made it. The road snaked through the Maui high country, then into deep coniferous forests and then out into fields that looked like Scottish moors. We finally emerged from the soup into a landscape that looked more like the moon than a tropical island:

Emerging

Emerging

At the top we ate our lunch sitting on beach chairs in the parking lot and took in the visitor’s center. You could see over into Science City where national space observatories and secret Air Force tracking facilities are housed.

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The road into Science City. The pale blue ocean is separated from the sky by a thin line of clouds on the horizon.

At the observatory

At the observatory

After lunch we started on the first of many hikes that we’d take on our visit here: Keonehe’ehe’e,  or as we called it, Sliding Sands Trail down into the crater of the Haleakala volcano.

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You can see some of the cinder cones in the right of this picture. Each one marks a different eruption.

While it looks warm the temperatures hovered in the mid-70s since we were 10,000 feet above sea level. Every step you take going down this trail makes you acutely aware that you will have to come back up the other way soon enough. We marked our progress by time – one hour down in order to give ourselves two hours to return. We were pleasantly surprised it only took us an hour and a half to climb out though.

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Clouds rising off the western shores of Maui and cooling as they reached us. It felt so good.

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Like walking on the moon

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I don’t even care if this picture is sappy. We needed this vacation! We’re done! We made it!

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You can take the girl out of the South.. but you can’t keep her from hiking in a skirt.

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Stepping off the trail damages sensitive roots of endangered plants and wrecks the fragile ecosystem

These are 'ahinahina plants - also known as Haleakala silversword. They are found here and no where else on earth.

These are ‘ahinahina plants – also known as Haleakala silversword. They are found here and no where else on Earth.

Their Hawaiian name means

Their Hawaiian name means “grey grey” – the closest word the ancient Polynesians had considering they had never seen silver metal. They are only found at elevations above 6,900 ft on this island and came close to extinction due to cattle grazing and people taking them for ornamental purposes.

They are like salmon - they bloom once in their 15 - 40 year life spans, and then they die.

We were lucky enough to see one in flower – they bloom once in their 15 – 40 year life spans, spread their seeds, and then they die.

Overlooking the crater on the way back up.

Overlooking the crater on the way back up.

After hiking we hung out around the summit waiting for twilight.

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Feeling on top of the world.

Feeling on top of the world. This is looking towards the north – strange to think there is nothing but water until you reach Alaska.

Sunrise and sunset on Haleakala have taken on a mythical event status for Maui tourists. Most people (in the throws of jet lag, I’m convinced) rise at ungodly hours, drive up that windy road in the dark and watch the golden light rise from the ocean. Many then bike down afterwards. Neither rising early on our vacation, nor hurdling down the side of a 10,000 ft mountain, white-knuckled and potentially ruining my newly-earned career that needs fully functioning hands, appealed to us, so sunset it was:

Moon rise over the observatory.

Moon rise over the observatory.

Everyone gathered for the sunset. Bonus for being crepuscular later - less people to share the summit with.

Everyone gathered for the sunset. Bonus for being crepuscular later – less people to share the summit with.

Another spin around done.

Another spin done.

I loved how it bathed the volcano with it's last rays.

I loved how it bathed the volcano with it’s last rays.

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Changed into warmer clothes for the plunging temperatures.

Going, going...

Going, going…

...and gone.

…and gone.

I became mildly obsessed with taking pictures of the tiny people silhouetted by the setting sun on the rim of the crater. It just looked so cool:

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As the last bits of light settled out of view we retreated to the Rogue to rest and eat our picnic dinner while it got really good and dark. I wanted to try to take pictures of the stars since we were in one of the best places on Earth to see them. Unfortunately a brilliant full moon wrecked our plans to see the Milky Way, but it was cool nonetheless:

Too many lights

Too many lights

Kahului from above. While the full moon ruined plans for some spectacular stargazing we did see Jupiter and Venus at their closest point in the sky in 2,000 years. Some think that the last time they were so close together was the inspiration for the Star of Bethlehem.

The town of Kahului from above. While the full moon ruined plans for some spectacular stargazing we did see Jupiter and Venus at their closest point in the sky in 2,000 years (upper left corner – the big dot is Venus, the smaller one to the right, Jupiter). Some think that the last time they were so close together was the inspiration for the Star of Bethlehem.

Despite the full moon, it's easy to see why you would put an observatory up here - it's so far from light and air pollution you feel as if you could reach up and graze the sky with your fingers.

Despite the full moon, it’s easy to see why you would put an observatory up here – it’s so far from light and air pollution you feel as if you could reach up and graze the sky with your fingers.

We ended our full day crawling slowly back down the mountain, listening to the Rolling Stones and Jimmy Buffet and planning our next adventure on the island.

In which, here are some things to do in Seattle while at AAPD

When it was first announced that the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD)’s conference would be in Seattle while I was here as a resident, I was a little disappointed – one of the highlights of residency is traveling somewhere during your graduation year. Going to Boston last year made up for it, but still. After having traveled all over the US in the past five months however, my tune has changed and I am very excited to have a conference where I can sleep in my own bed.

So, if you’re coming to our current city, here are some of my favorite things to do. I hope you enjoy your stay as much as we have!

Within walking distance of the Convention Center (West, up the hill)

  • This is the Capitol Hill neighborhood – the historic “LGBTQ neighborhood” now is filled with hipsters, fancy restaurants, art galleries and startups. A great infographic (made of course by an infographic specific startup in Capitol Hill) can be seen here.
View from Capitol Hill looking downtown

View from Capitol Hill looking downtown

  • Food
    • Sitka and Spruce: Classic Seattle farm-to-table dining with a menu changing nightly.  The space is just lovely – the restaurant is housed within Melrose Market (which has Taylor Shellfish if you like oysters, a distillery or two and some Seattle-y small shops: flower shop, butcher, cheese shop etc)
    • Mamnoon: Delicious Lebanese fusion that is still very “Seattle”
    • Oddfellows Cafe: Great dining space and food. Takes reservations. Check out the Elliot Bay Book Company next door
    • Barrio: One of my favorite fancy Mexican restaurants
    • La Spiga: Excellent Italian food
    • Dick’s Drive-In: Hometown hero Macklemore shot a video here and while the burgers are good, the fries aren’t awesome (acceptable if doused in tartar sauce). It’s a Seattle icon and cheap. Cash only.
    • Really anywhere along The Pike-Pine corridor or along Madison – it will be hopping on Thursday/Friday/Saturday nights
  • Sites
    • Broadway is a street with a young scene. A lot of easy to grab food and funky shops. Seattle Central College’s campus is here.
    • Cal Anderson Park – grab some Molly Moon’s ice cream and watch people play bike polo (it’s weirdly entertaining and some of the best in the world practice here).
    • Starbucks Roastery – their uber fancy Seattle coffee room. Better than the Original Starbucks in the Market (and less tourists vying to snap a photo of the mermaid with boobs), but still Starbucks. Other great coffees include Caffe Vita, Broadcast Coffee, and Top Pot (which also has amazing doughnuts)
    • Some of the best people-watching in the city, and very few of them will be tourists.
Bike polo near Cal Anderson Park

Bike polo near Cal Anderson Park

Within walking distance of the Convention Center (East, down the hill)

  • This is the City Center/Downtown/Pike Place Market area – the touristy area that you should at least check out so you can say you’ve “been to Seattle”:
Seattle skyline from the waterfront

Seattle skyline from the waterfront

  • Food
    •  Plenty of stalls to grab fresh fruit or veggies from in the Market
    • Of course you’ll find all your chain restaurants in the City Center: Cheesecake Factory, Capitol Grill, Ruth’s Chris, etc (but you didn’t come all this way to eat there, right?)
    • The Original Starbucks – it’ll be the one with a long line of tourists with cameras. It serves the same drinks as the others, but with a longer wait. You can get a specialty roast there that is only sold in that store, but otherwise, I’d just peek in and skip the line.
    • Etta’s – or really any of the Tom Douglas restaurants. Grab fresh seafood here instead of the higher priced restaurants in the Market proper (Matt’s, Cafe Campagne, etc) or the decent, but panders-to-tourists Pike Place Chowder.
      • Speaking of Tom Douglas, his other restaurants that are in walking distance: Lola (Mediterranean), Dahlia Lounge (new American), Serious Pie (pizza – delicious!), SeaBar (seafood/oysters), Palace Kitchen (comfort food, open late), Tanaka San (“unauthentic Asian street food” – his words, not mine), and most recenty Cantina Lena (Mexican).
    • A little further out, but delicious: Bar Sajor is a Mediterranean/almost north African inspired, lots of great spices, still with a Northwest twist
    • Rachel’s Ginger Beer – delicious and comes in a bunch of seasonal flavors. Also has a cute tasting room with great views of Elliot Bay and the ferries
    • Local 360 and Spur Gastropub – both farm-to-table places and delicious

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  • Sites
    • We are home to the original Nordstrom’s and the flagship store for REI (two stories of gear with an outdoor bike track) – both fun buildings to check out.
    • Once in the Market, stop by the Gum Wall: down Post Alley, gross, but a good picture
    • Watch them throw fish on the corner at Pike Place Fish Company
    • Wander down through the Market to the Seattle Waterfront. It’s under a lot of construction (we’re trying to replace the ugly double-decker Highway 99 that threatens to fall into Elliot Bay during an earthquake)
      • Seattle Aquarium ($22): Play in tide pools and see the great otter exhibit. Good feel of PNW wildlife.
      • Walk out on the piers for great views of the stadiums, Seattle harbor and Mount Rainier on a sunny day. If you look back and see Smith Tower (white, pointy building) – it was once the tallest building west of the Mississippi and someone lives in the top spire.
      • Seattle Wheel ($13): I’ve never been able to justify the price and go up in it, but fun to look at.
      • If you have time: a great hour to two hour trip is to walk onto a ferry and go over the Bainbridge Island. It’s $8 and gives you the opportunity to 1) ride on a Washington state ferry from the busiest ferry terminal in the US, 2) check out Bainbridge (there’s a great ice cream shop at the ferry terminal) and 3) have spectacular views of the city, the Sound, the Olympic mountains out on the peninsula and get some fresh air. One of my favorite things to do with out-of-towners.
      • Also can ride the water taxi out to Alki Beach if you’re short on time and see where the first settlers tried to brave out a stormy winter.
    • Also, just FYI: we’re currently protesting the Shell Oil rig on it’s way up drill near Alaska. You’ll see a bunch of people kayaking in the Harbor as “kayaktavists”  #sHellNo
Activists participate in the sHell No Flotilla part of the Paddle In Seattle protest.  Nearly a thousand people from country gathered May 16, 2015 in Seattle's Elliot Bay for a family-friendly festival and on-land rally to protest against Shell’s Arctic drilling plans.  Photo by Greenpeace

Activists participate in the sHell No Flotilla part of the Paddle In Seattle protest. Nearly a thousand people from country gathered May 16, 2015 in Seattle’s Elliot Bay for a family-friendly festival and on-land rally to protest against Shell’s Arctic drilling plans. Photo by Greenpeace

Will require either a taxi or an Uber ride, but worth it (organized by neighborhood)

All of these will be a $10-15 ride, but you can walk a lot or do other activities while you’re there and will show you a taste of how real Seattlites live.

Gas Works Park from the water

Gas Works Park from the water

  • Lake Union/U-District/Wallingford
    • You can rent a bike (maybe at REI?) and ride around it – great interurban lake.
    • Gas Works Park: at the north end, one of my favorite views of the city. Great for a picnic lunch. If you’re going that way, stop by Paseo’s in Fremont for one of my favorite sandwiches of all time (cash only, expect a line).
    • Rent a kayak at Agua Verde in the U-district (it’s really close to the dental school if you’d like to see that, but it’s old and kind of ugly, so would not recommend). You can paddle out to Lake Union (calmer) or Lake Washington (if you’re feeling brave) and enjoy tacos afterwards. Next to the University of Washington
    • Center for Wooden Boats and the MOHAI – great Seattle cultural areas in South Lake Union (where Amazon reigns)
    • Ivar’s Salmon House (a Seattle icon) or Westward (outdoor fireplace!) for delicious seafood and spectacular views of the city across Lake Union. Both take reservations.
    • We live in the Wallingford neighborhood which we love – let me know if you have an specific questions about food there (or see our Seattle Survey).
View of the city from Gas Works Park

View of the city from Gas Works Park

  • Queen Anne
    • This is near the Seattle Center where the Reception will be. Since that’s included in the AAPD I’m not going to go into detail about it, but it’s an easy walk to Westlake Center (a shopping area) and then you can take the monorail down to it. There are only terminal stops on the monorail despite the vote every few years to extend it throughout the city.
    • One of my favorite views of the city is at Kerry Park, up the hill and you can see Mount Rainier on a sunny day
My mom and I in front of the Fremont Troll under the Aurora Bridge in Fremont

My mom and I in front of the Fremont Troll under the Aurora Bridge in Fremont

  • Ballard/Fremont
    • Fremont has a reputation for being where all the old hippies in Seattle live and they are the self-proclaimed “Center of the Universe”. Funky shops and great food including Revel, The Whale Wins, Agrodolce, Joule and Roux.
    • Awesome tasting room and some of my favorite beer at the Fremont Brewery. Get the Interurban IPA, it tastes like summer.  
    • Also to see in Fremont: The Fremont Troll, the Lenin Statue and the Ballard Locks on your way out to Ballard
    • Ballard’s Market Street has a ton of great shops and restaurants including Bastille Cafe and Bar and the best oysters in the city at The Walrus and the Carpenter (does not take reservations, opens at 4pm).
    • Grab a Paseo sandwich (cash only) and eat a picnic lunch at Golden Gardens – a fantastic park overlooking the Sound and Olympic mountains. You can have bonfires on the beach here.
View of the Olympics across the Puget Sound

View of the Olympics across the Puget Sound

Links to some of the things I’ve done with visitors

Other “cultural” notes

Just some things to be aware of when visiting our fine city:

  • The fine for jaywalking ($56) is higher than the fine for smoking pot in public ($27) and they love to write tickets for the former, not the latter. You’ve been warned.
  • Our public transit isn’t great. The light rail won’t get you anywhere too exciting and the monorail only runs between Westlake Center and the Space Needle. Uber and Lyft are some of the easiest and cheapest ways to get around or a traditional taxi. Rides from the City Center to any of the places listed will run $10-15 (but check first to make sure there isn’t a rate hike due to demand).
  • Most places will have three bins in which to dispose of your trash: landfill, recycle and compost. Use the signs that are usually attached to help you navigate them or ask a friendly stranger – people won’t judge you for sending things to the landfill, but they will judge you for putting a recyclable in the compost bin. Also any compostable utensil (usually they’re brown and feel plastic-y) will melt in your very hot food – just don’t let it sit in there between bites and you’ll be okay.

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In which there’s an announcement (and we’re not pregnant)

I have been traveling a lot lately. See this map for places I’ve been since January of this year:

Where in the US is Elise??

Where in the US is Elise??

About half of it has been for conferences, but the other half was for job interviews. I graduate from my program in two short months and after completing the 23rd grade, most people expect that you’ll be employable. Well, I am!

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This is us, standing on a frozen lake in our new city.

In July, Jeff and I will be moving to Minnesota so that I can join the faculty as an Assistant Professor in their pediatric dental division. It is literally my dream job – I’ll be teaching pre-doctoral students and residents and working in their Children’s Hospital and pediatric dental clinic. Our only sadness is that we will have to leave Seattle, a city we’ve come to know and love and the many dear, sweet friends we’ve made here. I am so thankful for their friendships, for the chance to live in the beauty that is the Pacific Northwest, for the training I’ve received from the University of Washington and for the opportunity to fulfill the mission of one of my favorite quotes:

Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good. 

{Minor Myers, Jr.}

More to come.

In which there are a few more pictures from Sol Duc

Just a few more pictures:

Taken by a man we met at a viewpoint along Crescent Lake

Panoramic taken by a man we met at a viewpoint along Crescent Lake

This poem has been reminding me about our trip this past week:

Give me a land of boughs in leaf
A land of trees that stand;
Where trees are fallen there is grief;
I love no leafless land.

-A.E. Housman

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Seriously, I will take trees any day. I love no leafless land either Housman.

In which I glamp with the neighbors

Glamping is the portmanteau of glamorous camping. And my new favorite thing, or at least the RV version of it. Until now I’ve always experienced the outdoors under the thin cloth of a tent, but after tasting the civilization in the wilderness that is wine, cheese, Trader Joe’s appetizers, an actual mattress and a heated, dry place to sleep, glamping might be my new thing. This past weekend I went with my friend-neighbors Anna and Mary out to the Sol Duc area of Olympic National Park – an absolutely gorgeous corner of Washington state. Even the drive out was breathtaking:

Crescent Lake

Crescent Lake

Fog lifting briefly off the road

Fog lifting briefly off the road

Gary the Mann took our picture by the side of the road.

Gary the Mann took our picture by the side of the road.

The next morning after setting up camp we decided to make an easy hike up to the Sol Duc Falls. We started in a light mist that progressed to heavier rain.

Starting out

Starting out

And then, was that snow? And then, omg snow! So much of it!

Covering the trailhead in a winter wonderland.

Covering the trailhead in a winter wonderland.

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What do you get when you mix a rain forest with snow? A mossy, cold wonderland:

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The falls were fairly close to the trail head – good thing, because we were cold and wet at this point:

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Overlooking the water

Opposite side of the falls

Opposite side of the falls

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Close up of the falls

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So cold – let’s go to the hot springs!

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Bridge over the river

Lunch was sandwiches complemented by bacon jerky and prosecco eaten under a 1938 shelter built by the CCC - galloping at its finest.

Lunch was sandwiches complemented by bacon jerky and prosecco eaten under a 1938 shelter built by the CCC – glamping at its finest.

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I wish I could show you how large this forest feels. The greenery is overpowering and my neck was constantly looking too far up to grasp it all. It overwhelms you what tiny, tiny creatures we are in this forest; how small we are on this planet:

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Mary and Anna

Anna and I

Anna and I

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You can tell you're almost back to the springs by the sulfur smell in the air

You can tell you’re almost back to the springs by the sulfur smell in the air

After our hike we spent some time in the hot springs that Sol Duc is famous for. I never quite got a picture since I did not want to take my camera, but here is a picture from the website:

The large pool in the background was 53oF (cold!!!), the smaller ones closer were in the between 98oF and 103oF.

The large pool in the background was 53oF (cold!!!), the smaller ones closer were in the between 98oF and 103oF. It was fun to soak while it snowed and then jump in between to get the circulation going.

All too soon we had to get home.

Kingston-Edmonds ferry.

Kingston-Edmonds ferry.

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When you wave goodbye to the mountains off the back of the ferry – the fact that you’ve had to travel over land and sea to get there combined with their perpetual misty cloak, makes the Olympics seem like a forbidden land unlike any other.

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Here’s to many more adventures with these two!

In which we visit the Ice Caves

I have been traveling quite a bit lately, so it was nice to have an entire weekend in Seattle for the first time in while. After watching Duke beat MSU yesterday (and we’re going to the championship!!), we decided to spend our balmy Easter seeing the Big Four Ice Caves in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National forest.

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They’re formed by avalanches off the mountain behind it and carved out by summer streams. Their position in perpetual shade means they’re there all year round – making them the lowest elevation glaciers in the lower 49 states.

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The caves and ice fields are actually pretty dangerous – people have died as a result of falling ice. Signage was everywhere.

People have died

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In which I went to Boston and turned 30

Last fall I was one of two residents who were chosen to represent our pediatric dental department at the International Association of Dental Research conference in Boston. The next few times this conference meets it’ll be in LA, South Korea and San Francisco – not sure how I got lucky enough to go to the city who is having snowiest winter on record!

Seattle is currently in full on spring right now

Seattle is currently in full on spring right now

As the dates worked out – I had to take the Red-Eye flight on our anniversary (3 years! how did it go by so quickly?!) and left Seattle springtime for this:

That is the Charles River - frozen.

That is the Charles River – frozen.

To be honest I wasn’t expecting a lot out of this conference – I had presentations Wednesday morning (an hour after landing from the Red-Eye) and a presentation on Saturday (two hours before leaving to catch a flight home on my birthday), but not much else lined up. I brough extra work to catch up on and something I never bring to a conference – running clothes in anticipation of going to the gym. HAHAHAHAHA. None of that happened. I was busy every day from early in the morning to late at night finding symposia, attending lectures, and  meeting up with old friends. So much for getting caught up.

The conference was in the same place whee the AAPD meeting was last year so I knew where everything was and it also meant that I had pretty much exhausted the must-do touristy things in the area. That didn’t stop me from heading up to the North End for Italian food with another grad student the first evening though:

I ordered the lobster special - was not disappointed!

I ordered the lobster special – was not disappointed!

Cheers to good food and grad student therapy sessions

Cheers to good food and grad student therapy sessions

I don’t have many other fun pictures – because what else do you expect from a research meeting? I did have the chance to catch up with Kevin Ricker, my classmate from UNC and the only one still hanging out with me in residency since his is a three-year program as well:

Always good to catch up

Always good to catch up

The largest component of a research meeting is the poster presentations. To give you some scale, here is one half of one of the two halls that were going on a given day:

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And there were two halls filled with posters. Each day was a new session with new posters – and there were three days of those. Goodness! It was a little crazy. You’re required to stand in front of your poster for an hour or so at a given time on the given day of your presentation in case someone wanted to come ask you questions about your research – otherwise people were free to browse them at will.

My advisor and I in front of my poster

My advisor and I in front of my poster

Karin, my co-resident who presented a poster as well, and I

Karin, my co-resident who presented a poster as well, and I

You’re assigned your poster time and unfortunately mine was on the 14th, my birthday.

Don't all the cool kids celebrate turning 30 at a dental research poster session?

Don’t all the cool kids celebrate turning 30 at a dental research poster session?

Despite spending most of the day on the east coast, the plane ride back to Seattle meant that I got an extra three hours of birthday in the air. I ordered wine accordingly. Arriving at 11:00pm meant that I was in no mood to go out, but my dear friends offered to host a birthday brunch the next day – my favorite kind of party 🙂

Mike made these awesome authentic Belgian pancakes with apples and bacon - so delicious!

Mike made these awesome authentic Belgian pancakes with apples and bacon – so delicious!

Great friends!

Great friends!

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Beautiful cheese tray

The only thing that could’ve made the party more perfect is if I didn’t have a final the next day – oh grad school! You’re so close to being done!

Since I’ve posted about my 30th here, I might as well post Jeff’s pictures too since I’m catching up on things. I threw him a surprise party at the Moon Temple (before it closed 😦 ) back in December with a bunch of our good friends:

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Pecan pie - his favorite

Pecan pie – his favorite

Tim McGraw, as he always so good at doing, summed it up best in his song:

I think I’ll take a moment celebrate my age
End of an era and the turning of a page
Now it’s time to focus in on where I go from here
Lord have mercy on my next thirty years

In my next thirty years I’m gonna have some fun
Try to forget about all the crazy things I’ve done
Maybe now I’ve conquered all my adolescent fears
And I’ll do it better in my next thirty years

My next thirty years I’m gonna settle all the scores
Cry a little less, laugh a little more
Find a world of happiness without the hate and fear
Figure out just what I’m doin’ here in my next thirty years

For my next thirty years I’m gonna watch my weight
Eat a few more salads and not stay up so late
Drink a little lemonade and not so many beers
Maybe I’ll remember my next thirty years

My next thirty years will be the best years of my life
Raise a little family and hang out with my wife
Spend precious moments with the ones that I hold dear
Make up for lost time here in my next thirty years
In my next thirty years

The only line I take issue with is to “try to forget about all the crazy things I’ve done” – those crazy things have been some of my favorite memories or best lessons. It’s been a humbling, intense, amazing three decades for which I am immensely grateful; I’m excited to see where we go from here.

In which we Burned the Man (again)

Wow – how long has it been since I’ve updated this thing? Between hunting for jobs, finishing up the last remaining residency requirements, conference season and successfully defending my thesis (yay!), I’ve been a bit busy. Here’s the beginning of an attempt to catch up!

Jeff and I were so fortunate to go to Burning Man again in 2014. I’m not sure what 2015 hold for us, so our plans to return to Black Rock City may have to take a small hiatus, but we’ll see. Our camp, Camp No Plan, named for the fact that we were taking only one virgin with us and none of us had adequate time or resources to plan something elaborate, was amazing. I couldn’t have asked for better companions. It was an amazing time, as I suspect it always is.

Our car - as clean as we'll be for the next week at some rest stop in Oregon

Our car – as clean as we’ll be for the next week at some rest stop in Oregon

To begin with – the drive down from Washington, through remote parts of Oregon and across the tip of Northern California into the Nevada desert is absolutely breathtaking. Jeff, Anna, Alyssa our virgin, and I left out Saturday mid-morning with the trailer and made it all the way to Klamath Falls, OR the first day.

We had spectacular views of Mount Hood outside Portland

We had spectacular views of Mount Hood outside Portland

We drove down through Bend in what I can only describe as desolate volcano country. It's eerily empty and beautiful.

We drove down through Bend in what I can only describe as desolate volcano country. It’s eerily empty and beautiful.

After a night in Klammath and the annual trip to the Fred Meyer to stock up on last minute supplies, we decided to try to a night approach to the line. That meant leaving Klammath in late afternoon so we hit the line entering Gerlach just perfectly at sunset. Our dear Jeep is running strong, but no one wants to sit in a hot, dusty line in the blazing heat without any air conditioning. This also mean we had fantastic “golden hour” shots of some of my favorite landscapes along the way:

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This is what the drive looks like from the backseat from Anna’s camera

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Always good to take a look back and make sure the trailer is still attached..

We hit the line around sunset and made it almost to the gate at around midnight. It ended up that we were three cars behind the gate when the fireworks began to celebrate the official opening of the event – so close! After we made it through, we found some of our friends camped in a great spot (9 o’clock and E) who offered us space. We had to decide at that point if we were going to set up camp in the dark or go out exploring – exploring won the day.

I got to hold this 30 seconds after our group making that decision:

A giant ballon string filled with tiny LED lights. Photo by David Hays from here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dav1d/4979419103/

A giant ballon string filled with tiny LED lights. Photo by David Hays from here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dav1d/4979419103/

Slightly terrifying – it’s all your childhood nightmares of letting go of a balloon multiplied by 1000 – but it’s tethered to a harness, so the chances of that happening are slim.

The other half of our group had planned to come the following day, so we went in search of some of our other friends but couldn’t find their camp. We have a tradition of meeting at the far side of the Temple at sunrise in the mornings as as the sky began to lighten we gave up our search and headed there. The playa was unusually quiet, but we chalked that up to it being still early on the first day. Unknown to us the gate had been closed because of rain which turned the gigantic prehistoric lake bed into an oozing sticky clay. We hardly saw anyone as we approached the Temple, but as we rounded to the other side we saw a small group of people standing under a “Finish Line” art piece/sign. Our friends! Some of whom we hadn’t seen since last year!

Finish Line art installation at sunrise

Finish Line art installation at sunrise. Photo credit: Alex Cahn

Our friends! Photo credit: Alex Cahn

Our friends! I’m in the leopard coat and neon green backpack. 
Photo credit: Alex Cahn

Catching up with old friends and drinking champagne - just like how all mornings should start.

Catching up with old friends and drinking champagne – just like how all mornings should start.

We all went to Robot Heart afterwards and got to dance to the smallest gathering there all week - it was great! Like having the best party place all to yourself. I also got to drink bloody marys with the owner which was awesome.

We all went to Robot Heart afterwards and got to dance to the smallest gathering there all week – it was great! Like having the best party place all to yourself. I also got to drink bloody marys with the owner which was awesome.

For comparison, this is what Robot Heart normally looks like at sunrise:

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Crowded, fun, chaos with great beats

After being up for 36 hours Jeff and I somehow managed to make it back across the playa in a rain storm, put up our yurt and crawl inside to sleep. Typical Burning Man. The other half of our camp managed to get in early Tuesday morning after being hampered by closed gates and rain.

Random pictures of excursions into the playa:

Biking down the 9 o'clock street

Biking down the 9 o’clock street

Climbing brightly lit plexiglass sculptures.

Climbing brightly lit plexiglass sculptures.

Watching the sunrise in front of a laser-cut wooden gorgeous Temple

Watching the sunrise in front of a laser-cut wooden gorgeous Temple

Hanging out with friends in a huge net-hammock seat.

Hanging out with friends in a huge net-hammock seat.

Comparing beard lengths

Comparing beard lengths

Dressing as Jeff with a beard - he was only slightly amused. I didn't keep it on for long because it was too hot!

Dressing as Jeff with a beard – he was only slightly amused. I didn’t keep it on for long because it was too hot!

Beard reprisal.

Beard reprisal.

Beard buddies

Beard buddies

Night adventures

Night adventures

Giant crocodile art installation

Giant crocodile art installation

Biking down a path towards the temple

Biking down a path towards the temple

Open playa

The Man - the tallest one they've ever built

The Man – the tallest one they’ve ever built

It was hard to get him into my lens

It was hard to get him into my lens

Surrounded by souks in the spirit of the Caravansary theme.

Surrounded by souks in the spirit of the Caravansary theme.

The Canadians filled their souk with useful items for rent.

The Canadians filled their souk with useful items for rent.

Meeting in front of the temple to drink champagne and watch the sunrise

Meeting in front of the temple to drink champagne and watch the sunrise

The Embrace sculpture you could go up into!

The Embrace sculpture you could go up into!

Looking through paper books in the library

Looking through paper books in the library

Getting ready to go out - camp style

Getting ready to go out – camp style

Because Burning Man is the only place a bear hat, hot pink tutu, geometric tights, moccasin boots and a leopard fur coat don't look out of place together.

Because Burning Man is the only place a bear hat, hot pink tutu, geometric tights, moccasin boots and a leopard fur coat don’t look out of place together.

My camera broke early on, so most of these pictures are stolen from Anna, Mary, Hannah and Alex. I was sad at the time, but it allowed me to truly live in the moment of being there. All too soon the week came to the final close and it was time to burn the Man:

Burn night

Burn night

Dusty burn night

Dusty burn night

Goodbye Man!

Goodbye Man!

Dusty friends

Dusty friends

We took one last shot of the best No Plan Camp ever…

Ben, Amy, Yoni, Alyssa,

Ben, Amy, Yoni, Alyssa, Anna, Mary, Jeff and I

…and headed home:

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Writing this post now so many months removed and just trying to spill all the pictures into place I’m remiss on too many things from that time to put on here. Burning Man stretches you to all the limits you knew you had and exposes you to new ones – I always come back in a weird state of refreshment and exhaustion and with a renewed hope in humanity.

This year I felt like I knew what I was doing (to the best you ever can); was integral to our (no) plan camp in ways I could’ve have been last year; and immersed myself in the community more (one morning I was one-handed biking through a dust storm, eating an Uncrustable sandwich on three hours of sleep to get to a volunteer shift at the airport and kind of felt completely normal about that). I hope life has many more Burns in store for us in the future.

In which we go to a wedding: Symon & Ashley edition

August was a busy month: two weddings in two weekends, each of which one of us was in. We couldn’t be more happy for our dear friends starting this new chapter in their lives and joining Team Married! After Bri and Ian’s nuptials we were back in Seattle for Symon and Ashley’s. Again, some of my terrible photos instead of their wedding photographer’s quality images:

Our dear friend Verlaine who was in our freshman dorm and is one of the few people that knew us before we were dating stayed with us for the weekend. After picking him up our first stop was to the Moon Temple for some celebratory drinks.

Our dear friend Verlaine who was in our freshman dorm and is one of the few people that knew us before we were dating stayed with us for the weekend. After picking him up our first stop was to the Moon Temple for some celebratory drinks. I sent this photo to Molly with the caption, “Jealous?” The answer was a resounding YES!

Verlaine wanted to go jogging the next morning so I hauled myself out of bed before work and ran around Green Lake with him. Only an 11 year friendship could make me do that.

Verlaine wanted to go jogging the next morning so I hauled myself out of bed before work and ran around Green Lake with him. Only an 11 year friendship could make me do that.

The rehearsal dinner was at the first restaurant Symon and Ashley took us to on our first night in Seattle - Barrio in Capitol Hill. It was so good! Since the food was Mexican to celebrate Ashley's heritage we had British paper crowns to celebrate Symon's.

The rehearsal dinner was at the first restaurant Symon and Ashley took us to on our first night in Seattle – Barrio in Capitol Hill. It was so good! Since the food was Mexican to celebrate Ashley’s heritage we had British paper crowns to celebrate Symon’s.

Adults turn into five year olds with British crackers

Adults turn into five year olds with British crackers

Harold, another old Duke friend, grew up in London. He told us that most of the time people wear the paper crowns for about five minutes before quietly slipping them off - this crowd though was full of good sports who wore them the majority of the night.

Harold, another old Duke friend, grew up in London. He told us that most of the time people wear the paper crowns for about five minutes before quietly slipping them off – this crowd though was full of good sports who wore them the majority of the night.

Anna, myself, Verlaine, Fernanda and Bruno

Anna, myself, Verlaine, Fernanda and Bruno at the rehearsal

Almost newly weds!

Almost newlyweds!

On the day of the wedding Jeff had to go early for pictures and my only job was getting the Steckel brothers and Verlaine to the venue on time. We got ready at my house and I had the chance to try Rent the Runway for the first time. It was awesome! I loved my dress and from now on I’m only using them for events.

On you know, just being serenaded by a Juilliard trained violinist while getting ready. Verlaine played for Symon and Ashley as they processed, and recessed down the aisle. It was fun because he also played our first dance at our wedding.

On you know, just being serenaded by a Juilliard trained violinist in our kitchen while getting ready. Verlaine played for Symon and Ashley as they processed, and recessed down the aisle. It was fun to hear him again because he also played our first dance at our wedding.

On our way to the venue with the boys (and champagne).

On our way to the venue with the boys (and champagne).

Getting ready for the ceremony - photo credit by Hannah P.

Getting ready for the ceremony – photo credit by Hannah P.

Jeff and I at the reception

Jeff and I at the reception

Verlaine and I at dinner

Verlaine and I at dinner

Brad Kelly and I at dinner - it was so much fun to catch up with so many old Duke alums!

Brad Kelly and I at dinner – it was so much fun to catch up with so many old Duke alums!

The stunning bride and groom!

The stunning bride and groom!

There were 10 Duke alumni there - some of whom I hadn't seen in years! They came from Brazil, New York, Texas, LA and of course, Seattle.

There were 10 Duke alumni there – some of whom I hadn’t seen in years! They came from Brazil, New York, Texas, LA and of course, Seattle. It was nice to know that all these years later we can still party pretty well.

Photo booth!

Photo booth!

The next morning I took Symon’s cousin Kai, Verlaine, David and Lauren – all out of towners – on a mini-tour of Seattle.

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We stopped by Pike Place Market to see the thrown fish, saw the waterfront, ate clam chowder at Ivar’s, were disgusted by the gum wall and enjoy the sunshine before heading up the hill to one of my favorite views of Seattle from Kerry Park:

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Since they all had planes to catch we truncated the tour and swung by the Fremont Troll before enjoying more sunshine at Gas Works Park. All too soon we dropped everyone at their hotels or packed them into Ubers on their way to the airport. It was such a fun weekend and I’m so happy we could celebrate Symon and Ashley!