north cascade mountain range

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Mount Hood and White River, Oregon by 4 Corners Photo
Via Flickr:
The White River flows from the White River Glacier on the south slope of Mount Hood in the distance. Sediment from glacial runoff turns the water white during late summer and fall as it flows across the Columbia Plateau in Clackamas, Oregon.

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Smoke and Trees, Klamath County, OR by 4 Corners Photo
Via Flickr:
Afternoon sun filters through smoke filling the Pumice Desert in Crater Lake National Park. The smoke was caused by many lightning caused fires burning throughout central Oregon during the summer of 2017.

The People Who Wouldn’t Mind if the Pacific Northwest Were Its Own Country

The first thing we heard when we pulled into the Finney Farm was the clattering of drums, followed by a high-pitched howling noise.

Suddenly a wild pack of young girls came running out of the woods waving sticks in the air. The youngest, maybe two years old, had sticky berries smeared across her face. She was inexplicably waving a $5 bill in the air. The leader of the pack, maybe 13, suddenly noticed us and halted her group—who all promptly dropped their sticks.

“Oh, hi, I haven’t seen you yet, so I guess you’re new here,” she said. “Well, um, welcome to the farm. If you go way down the forest trail, past the big fallen tree, you’ll find a clearing that I think would be nice to set a tent up in. I dunno. You’ll figure it out.”

Then the pack took off howling back into the woods.

We were here for the Cascadia Rainingman Festival, held on Labor Day weekend at a gorgeous 100-plus acre organic farm in the foothills of the North Cascade mountain range in Washington State. Unless you follow the fringe politics of the Pacific Northwest, you’re probably wondering what Cascadia is, and that’s a tricky question, because self-described “Cascadians” hold all kinds of different beliefs. (The first of many workshops at the festival was titled “What is Cascadia?”)

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Scott and I had the pleasure of photographing the wedding and reception of Megan and Curtis on September 6th. Scott had previously taken their engagement photos, but I met this lovely young couple for the first time on their big day.

The festivities were held in the gorgeous North Bend, WA backyard of Megan’s aunt. The families did a wonderful job of prepping the yard for the ceremony and reception. Everything looked so lush and green, and the details were pretty amazing. North Bend is in the foothills of the Cascade Mountain range, and most of the exterior shots for Twin Peaks were shot there if that helps you get a feel for its woodsiness.

I started the day taking shots of Curtis and his fellow Coast Guard groomsmen at a nearby hotel before I hopped a ride with Curtis to meet up with Scott and Megan for first look photos in the shadow of Mount Si. Curtis entertained me with stories of how he and Megan met on our drive to the first look location–the place where he had proposed to Megan. Our joyful mood wore off, however, when we realized there had been a miscommunication about where we were all gathering to meet, and Curtis and I were several mountains miles away. And Curtis needed to get gas. Did you know mountain parks all look the same? And also tend to have terrible no cell reception?

Luckily, we all managed to reconnect, and Scott took some very cool first look and bridal party photos and still stayed within the timeline. The delay was actually fortuitous, since it was incredibly hot that afternoon, and it felt a little like we were taking pictures on the surface of the sun.

The wedding was relatively small, but it was certainly lively, and Megan and Curtis’ friends and family were a real treat to get to know. The ceremony was incredibly sweet, and the dip at the end was perfect. Guests dined on wonderful food and super yummy cake before dancing the night away. Seeing Megan’s awesome grandma dance to YMCA was the highlight of my evening. 

As the sun started to set, Scott whisked Megan and Curtis down the road to take a few sunset photos in a nearby clearing where they were joined by a large herd of grazing elk. You know, just your average backyard wedding guests. In the Pacific Northwest anyway.

This wedding had its share of challenges. It was very hot, the first look started off a little shaky, and the officiant was an hour and a half late among other things. But Scott and I were really impressed with the poise and maturity of the young bride and groom. They were very relaxed and gracious, and I have seen much older couples crumble under similar stresses.

Must be the military training. And that mountain air.