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Photo by Cierra Joy

Adventure Together by Bridgette Shima 

As part of the Instagramers Seattle admin team, I interact with local photographers on a constant basis.  I am always in awe of the photos I see and by the amount of emerging talent there is in the Pacific Northwest.

There’s something to be said about the passion and adventure Northwesters possess and carry throughout their every day life, which is why we have decided to bring back the Igers feature which began two years ago.

The way this will work is that each admin will select a person (or group) to interview each month.  Our goal is to show you the beauty found in our corner of the world.  We hope that you enjoy this series and feel right at home with us.

Everyone, meet Matthew and Alicia Waag

Do tell us a little bit about yourselves and family life. Where are you from? How many children do you have and what are some of your favorites things to do together on a daily basis?

Alicia: Matthew was born in Wyoming, was raised in Montana and moved to Oregon in 2007 where we fell in love and got married. I was born in California, was raised in Oregon and from there we moved together to the Seattle area this last winter. We have 2 beautiful children, Chloe Jane (2 years) and Axton Bennett (3 months). Matthew is an Account Manager for an IT Staffing Company during the week, and I am blessed to be a full time stay at home mom.

Our all-time favorite thing to do is adventure together, exploring new places whether it be a new park for the kids, a hike in the mountains, a new waterfall, or a new restaurant. Matthew and I are both amateur foodies (or maybe we just love food a lot). We will try any cuisine or any dish at least once. Both of us love anything related to the outdoors; camping, hiking, fishing and just being near the water and mountains in general. We love photography, fashion, art, and all things nautical. I have a small custom prints and digital paper goods shop called Sea Jay, that I spend my free time working on, and Matthew is working on finishing an independent rap album with a good friend and makes beats in his free time.

Who was the first to think of #adventure_together? What is the idea behind it? Have you always been an outdoorsy person?

Matthew: I came up with the idea shortly after we moved to the Seattle area. Alicia and I had made a pact when we first moved here that we would make it a point to get out and explore a new place every weekend to get familiarized with our new city. So the idea sparked from getting out and adventuring together as a family. Both of us grew up loving the outdoors, some of our best memories as kids were adventuring with our families.

Name three of your top family hikes and tell us why they’re high on your list.

1. Snoqualmie Falls is at the top of our list. Not only is it a short easy hike to the bottom, which makes it super family friendly. You are also guaranteed great views with good photo opportunities and the waterfall itself keeps the kids engaged.

Snoqualmie

Photo by Alicia

2. Franklin Falls would be second on our list. At 2 miles round trip, this hike is easy and kid friendly. The terrain is easily maneuverable and there are plenty of spots to stop along the way and see the river, with a grand finale waterfall. (Yes, we are partial to epic waterfalls.)

Franklin Falls

Photo by Alicia

3. Rattlesnake Lake would have to be our third. If hiking to the peak is more than you’d like to bite off, there are plenty of paved walking trails as well as picnic tables that make it friendly to most family outings. You are sure to get a good shot regardless of the elevation.

Rattlesnake

Photo by Matthew 

(Disclaimer – we are rather new to WA so although we have explored several hikes. These cliche hotspots just so happen to be our favorite thus far.)

What tips would you give families just starting to get out there with their children?

1. Be prepared! Pack a tote or something in your vehicle equipped with everything your child/ children may need; diapers, snacks, change of clothes, something warm, rain gear, sunscreen, a favorite toy, etc.

2. Get your kids engaged. Be sure to point out things along the way to keep them entertained like trees, animals, the weather, and any noteworthy sights in general. If they are walking age, let them pick flowers, find rocks or walk with a stick. And wherever possible, make it a treasure hunt.

3. Did we say snacks already?? DON’T FORGET THOSE WHATEVER YOU DO!

4. Be prepared for Plan B. It is bound to happen that your kid(s) will have a meltdown at some point, so being prepared for this is key. If you need to turn back halfway through the hike, be ok with that and prepare yourself ahead of time. You can always take extra photos from your car window (not while you are driving of course).

Are there any websites or resources you use to help find family-friendly adventures?

We typically use the AllTrails app on our iPhone to look for new places to adventure. It is handy because you can filter activities and features you would like to see along the way and can filter the difficulty level as well. Plus you can see pictures of exactly what you’re getting yourself into. Aside from that we use the Washington Trails Association to get additional information.

From your experience, what would your advice be in terms of dealing with those hard and trying moments when your kids are tired and just want to give up and go home?

It’s best to go into it with an open mind in case things do not go as planned. For us snacks seem to be a cure-all. In addition any time we can make a song out of something along the way it help keeps their minds off of what they were upset about in the first place. The more involved they are, the less likely they are to go south. Make a game or a challenge out of it so that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We try and plan our outings so the kids have napped before we leave or can nap in the car on the way. If you can stick to your routine that tends to help.

How do you make your adventure fun for your child? What sorts of things do you bring with you? Do you engage in any activities to keep them going?

Chloe has a toy camera which she takes any where we go. She loves feeling like she is taking pictures like Mommy and Daddy and so we encourage her to take pictures at the same time we do and show her what to look for.

As your kids get older what are some places you wish to explore?

Mount Rainier has a ton of spots we would love to explore, as well as Little Si and Big Si to name a few along with any other hikes that have been too difficult to take on with little children.

How has Instagram influenced the way you see the world?

Matthew: Instagram for me opened my eyes to photography, which now is one of my biggest passions. It not only inspired me to want to get out and explore my surroundings more, it connected me with people all around the world who share the same passions. I have always loved the outdoors but it was not until I began using Instagram that I began to appreciate it the way that I do now.

Alicia: I have always had a connection so to speak with nature. I am most at peace outdoors, taking in sun rays, walking barefoot in the sand, feeling the rain, a breath of mountain fresh air, getting the satisfaction of a long hike. Some may say that technology hinders what used to be a peaceful world, separated from distraction. But when done right, it can enhance the memories we make. This is true for me. Even though I have always appreciated the things around me, Instagram made me take notice more of every detail and gives me an outlet to capture my experience and share it with other around me including my family.

Could you recommend other Pacific Northwest families who share your passion for photography and who #adventure_together?

@justinwhenry, @whenray, @boy_wanderer and @itscierrajoy and @itsjasonallan are a few that come to mind. Aside from that we haven’t met too many other families who share these passions. Which is another reason for the tag, in hopes we would get connected with families who are passionate about those things.

What do you love most about living in Washington State?

We love the fact that there are so many places close to home to explore. When you are a parent, travel time is something that is critical, so to have so many options of incredible places to go explore within a short distance it makes it a prime location. Aside from that we absolutely love all of the fog, the coffee, and the amazing variety of cuisines that Washington has to offer to name a few.

If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be and why?

Matthew: New Zealand is definitely near the top of my list. Incredible beaches, stunning mountain ranges and lush green foliage. That place has it all…from what I’ve seen both online and on the The Lord of the Rings series of course.

Alicia: This is a really tough question. The world has so many places I would like to go.
As much as I would love to say I want to explore Europe in its entirety, I will narrow down to Italy. I want to experience the charm of Tuscany, the romance of Venice, the history of Rome, the beaches & food of Sicily.

When you’re not together you’re…

Winnie the Pooh, one of Chloe’s favorites, said it best:
“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together, there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart, I’ll always be with you.”

Find Matthew here.

Find Alicia here.