Honeymooning in Hawaii

I’m relaxing in my chair, partly reclined with my feet resting on top of a fence and a laptop wedged between my legs and torso. I’ve got a crazy panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean and clear view of downtown Kona to my right, only obscured by my beautiful new wife, Nikki, sitting in another chair, switching between writing in a leather bound journal and reading the latest issue of Cosmopolitan. Like any other morning, we’ve got our fresh coffee next to us – except this time it’s local Kona coffee.

My wife writing in her journal at sunset in #Kona - #vsco #honeymoon

We’re on our honeymoon.

We’ve been married now for one week and three days and been enjoying the tropical sunsets, clear water, and roads with speed limits fit only for school zones in the mainland.

As of now, we’ve been 130 feet underwater in a submarine, had Mai Tais in a beachside cabana, watched a luau, “enjoyed” some escargot while dining next to a swan pond, viewed a beautiful low-altitude approach into Maui and Kona in a Cessna Caravan, swam around a cave-pool with glasses of wine, toured a brewery, visited a huge used bookstore, flew over lava flows and waterfalls in a helicopter, snorkeled in crystal clear shallow water for Nikki’s first time, dined with friends, polished off a bag of fresh Kona coffee, posted up on a white sand beach and played in the waves, and most importantly adjusted to referring to each other as “wife” and “husband.”

Oh yeah, and we’ve taken an unbelievable number of selfies.  You probably have already seen some – but that isn’t even close to a tenth of what I’ve got on my phone. Just for a taste, here is a selfie slideshow:

Now that I’ve shared all of these, I’m wondering if the selfie taboo still applies or is it even called a selfie if there are two of us in the photo? I dunno.

Anyhow, now that the selfie confession is over…

Yesterday, we took a super cool helicopter tour in Hilo.  We flew over lava flows in Volcanos National Park and then circled a bunch of waterfalls closer to Hilo airport.

Volcanos National Park

Volcanos National Park

The Hawaii Coast

Hilo Waterfall


Nikki at the A-Star

On our drive back to Kona, we took the Hawaii Belt road (which basically follows the coastline from the Hilo side of the Big Island to the Kona side) and encountered some awesome views. The best decision we made yesterday was quickly turning off onto the clearly marked “scenic route.” As Nikki said, “we’re on vacation, why not?” On this little four mile detour, we saw the more jungle-looking views that we imagined before our trip.

Old Mamalahoa Highway

Old Mamalahoa Highway

After the little drive-detour, we pulled off the highway to visit Akaka Falls. I must say, the best part is that we did not have to pay for parking by simply parking literally 5 feet outside of the gate *score for the new Mr. & Mrs. Barthelmess.* The falls were beautiful and twice the height of Niagra Falls. We also took the “scenic route” by doing a little walk around that most of the chubby tourists decided not to (no really, we heard the discussion).

Akaka Falls

Akaka Falls

Akaka Falls

Akaka Falls

Akaka Falls

A field we passed by between Hilo and Kona.

Today, we went for another snorkel at Kahalu’u Beach. This spot is incredible. It is a massive snorkel spot that is really shallow throughout a large area and it’s loaded with fish (some of which Nikki thought were sharks and even argued that the video of them was different and that they actually were large sharks – if you hadn’t noticed, Nikki has a very big fear of sharks). We took a snorkel-stroll through this underwater park and saw all kinds of awesome, colorful, tropical fish. I must say, this snorkel felt a lot like Scuba diving because we were so close to the coral.

Kahalu'u Snorkel

Nikki Snorkeling

Oh, and of course we took some more underwater selfies… Nikki didn’t get to work her wedding ring into the shot because we took them off prior to going in the water in order to be safe.

underwater selfie.

underwater selfie.

And here is a video of our snorkel today. I broke down and got us a GoPro for the trip – so here it is being put to good use.

Well, I’d say that’s a solid update for today. We have much more honeymooning to do, so I best be off. I’ll consider updating you all again soon – I know you are dying to read the latest blog post.  Until then, I highly suggest you follow me like a pack of ants on a slug (an odd, but appropriate visual that we keep seeing in the morning around Kona…) on twitter – so do it.  I’m just shy of 400 followers and the only way this honeymoon could get more awesome would be to pick up a few more loyal followers who care to see my deepest thoughts compressed to 160 characters.

My Wedding Vows

May 10th, 2014

I’ve been told to be precise with love. 

I’ve been told to keep the words “I love you” safe and to be very careful when I use them. 

Jesus uses the word “love” a lot. One might accuse him of using the word loosely, but I suspect he did not. In the way he knows the word “love,” keeping it under lock and key is near impossible. The words cannot be said enough. 

When love truly means love, the words “I love you” cannot be confined.

It is in this way I use these words with you, Nikki.

When I love you, I mean that I love you beyond any one moment. I vow to love you now and for the rest of our lives. 

I love you with no reservations. 

I love you because I can never not love you. 

I do not vow to take the path of least resistance in our life together, I vow to take the path aimed at glorifying God. Our marriage will not be about comfort but rather to give back to the world and leave a legacy of what it means to love. 

If you want an easy life, don’t marry me. If you want a life of leisure, don’t marry me. 

But, if you want a life aimed at purpose, do marry me.

I’ve never felt as confident as when your eyes first said that you love me. The world was never as colorful nor music ever as powerful as when I first knew we were in love.

You were built to love. You love like no one I’ve ever met. 

I promise to love you the way you love me. I vow to love you with all of me. I vow that I will have and hold you until the day I die. 

When I first told you that I loved you, I made you read a chapter out of a book – in that chapter, the author says, “Love makes us see the truth, makes it our duty to tell the truth.” 

He calls it the vital connection.

Above all else, I desire truth – and the truth is, this is love. 

Thank you to Julian Barnes for his beautiful words and thoughts in A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters, as they have inspired me for years and shaped my understanding of what it means to love.

Thanks for reading,


Seattle It Is!

We are now officially moving to Seattle.

I am enrolled at Seattle University School of Law and will begin in June (they offer a summer session that I’m taking advantage of).

The decision was an easy one after we spent some time at the school and enjoyed the city. Also, the school was awesome enough to offer me an academic scholarship for three years. That is contingent upon keeping my grades in the upper half of the class, so I may have to suffer a quasi-breakup with Netflix. Realistically, that just means that I need to overload on Netflix until I begin class…

As Nikki and I sat in coffee shop area at the law school last week (which has Stumptown Coffee by the way…), she finally just said “So…are we doing it? We need to make a decision.”

“Yes,” I replied.

Seattle University’s campus is really nice looking and located in the middle of Capitol Hill. Our new apartment will be only a few minutes walk from the campus.

The school offers a criminal law summer session that I will be attending, meaning we move in June. This allows me to finish that first class before beginning the others in August. This is going to provide us with a great way to learn about the city, sharpen my legal skills, and settle in before becoming overwhelmed with a “more hours than a full-time job” lifestyle.

We just mailed in the deposit for our new apartment on Capitol Hill – which is really on the intersection between downtown and Capitol Hill. We will be living in a small space, but we will have a sweet view and be in the middle of lot of activity. I think it is a nice shock method to throw us into the city lifestyle that differs quite a bit from the condo we are living in now.

As for our trip this past weekend, we had an awesome time and that made the choice to move that much easier. It was Nikki’s first time in Seattle, so it was important that we see and explore as much as possible to ensure that it was a good choice for us.

After arriving at SEA-TAC on Saturday, we took the light rail into downtown and walked a couple of blocks to our hotel (which was awesome by the way…check out this sweet corner room we got for pretty cheap).

I really like cool views and I really like corner rooms (probably a result of too much Mad Men and Suits).

I really like cool views and I really like corner rooms (probably a result of too much Mad Men and Suits).

Nikki’s friend from college, Holly, lives in Portland, but commonly works in Seattle, so we had the pleasure of hanging out with her for a little while. A friend of hers who lives in Seattle had an awesome recommendation for lunch on Capitol Hill, called Honey Hole. I treated myself to my first local beer and we then walked over to Seattle University after saying our goodbyes to Holly (who we will be seeing in two weeks at our wedding).

The campus is in a pretty busy area with lots of activity on all sides. It was really beautiful. The law school building was absolutely stunning — really modern and very large. The Washington Supreme Court comes to visit and use the school’s courtroom setup to hear a few cases every year. The legal writing program is really thorough and has ranked #1 in the nation for the past six years (pardon my slight bragging, but I’m allowed to be proud of my new school). Needless to say, we were really impressed. I loved seeing plenty of study areas, couches, tables, fancy classrooms, and a thriving schedule of interesting speakers and forums.

During our official tour on with the law school, we met with a current third year student who spoke highly of the program and described the atmosphere as welcoming and not overly competitive (as many places can be). He also is married and said that it is great to get connected with other couples.

I still have not even heard back from all of the schools, but the scholarship combined with the vast number of opportunities for Nikki and the emotional pull that the city has had on me for years has made it an easy decision.

Sullivan Hall - Seattle University School of Law

Sullivan Hall – Seattle University School of Law

The rest of the school looked great as well.

Another part of the school.

The student center and library (to the right).

There are far too many awesome coffee shops, so we had to check out a couple of them while we were out.

Pike Place

Storyville near the Pike Place Market was super awesome. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes to vegetate in coffee shops and write overly long blog posts that might get a reader count of 3 and 1/2.

On Sunday, we met up with two friends of Nikki’s from an internship she had back in college. They gave us a nice taste of the city and filled us in on a lot of the details about the area. They are two incredible people who have devoted their careers to helping foster youth. I was happy to get to know them a bit and I’m hoping Nikki and I get to see them more after we move.

During our walk, I weirdly received two compliments on my shirt…and I still have no idea why.

Of course we checked out the Space Needle as well – we walked ALL over the place and then took the monorail back.

I commandeered the front seat on the monorail.

I commandeered the front seat on the monorail.

Now I’m selling lots of furniture, unused technology, and more to pay for the move and also hopefully get us some rain-friendly clothing.  I quickly learned during our first day in Seattle that my California clothing is now weather-ready…

Thanks for reading.

Visiting Seattle [Day 1]

Off to Seattle #travel


As of now, I’m sitting cross-legged on the floor of a crowded LAX airport gate waiting to board a flight to Seattle, Washington for the second time in my life. As you BETTER might have read in my last post, Nikki and I are thinking of moving to Seattle so that I can attend Seattle University Law School. She and I are headed up there now to visit the city, the school, apartments, and look into job opportunities for Nikki.

Since I visited the city for the first time a couple of years ago, I have fantasized about living there. As my family and I walked around the downtown area when I first visited, I remember telling my sister, Deedee, “I could live here someday.” Something about the city captured my interest at that moment and I have always wanted to return. When I began applying to law schools, I immediately looked in the Pacific Northwest.

While I enjoyed UCLA quite a bit, I never liked Los Angeles. It was bearable, but not enjoyable. I’m hoping that Seattle will be different from everything I’ve seen and all that I remember, it is.

Nikki, in all of her supportive-awesomeness, agreed to go look at the city with me and see if it is a place where we could both live for the next three years just after we get married. Nikki is a big fan of the Southern California sun, so Seattle’s eternal wet-gloom was not exactly a good selling point. She has also never been to Seattle before today.

I’m excited to go back.

We plan to do some of the standard touristy things to get a good feel for the area, as well as check out the numerous coffee shops, the school, and some potential places to live. I’m pretty sure that the view from the Space Needle could never get old, so I’ve made the executive decision to go again. My friend Devlin is stationed up in Tacoma and recommended some solid breweries, a pizza place, and a burger joint. (If you have any recommendations, do feel free to chime in.)

The other pretty significant game changers that have entered the decision-making process since my last post is that first, Seattle University awarded me a scholarship, and second, they offer a summer start program so that I could begin a criminal law course at the end of June. Both of these are incredibly appealing and add to the pull that the school already has on my heart.

That said, we aren’t closing the door to some other schools yet. This weekend will help us to get a better idea of what is ahead.

As of now, I’m hopeful and ready to check out a new city that is vastly different from the one I’ve grown up in and love. We will see how it goes.

Thanks for reading.

P.S. The Android is working out quite well. ;-)

A shot of the Space Needle from my last trip

A shot of the Space Needle from my last trip

What Isn’t Changing? Pretty much nothing (A Life Update)

I can’t tell you how many times lately I get approached and awkwardly asked “what are you up to these days?”

I figured that I would take a moment (or a couple of thousand words) to update everyone on where I’m at, where I’m going, and some changes that I hope to be making. Please accept this list article (in an attempt to gain readership) as an explanation.

1. I’m getting married in May.

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 4.42.26 PM

That’s us, lookin’ all fancy at Casey & Kelci’s engagement celebration.

And I couldn’t be happier. Yes, it is a big change, and yes, it is a life altering one, but I know with certainty that marrying Nikki is an unbelievable blessing and I literally cannot wait to call her my wife.

*I know some of you will rejoice at that moment, because it will mean that I no longer get to refer to her as my “betrothed.” But fear not, I will begin looking for olde timey words for “wife.” (I’m taking suggestions now.) As I write this, I’ve been persuading her to get a new e-mail address using her new unpronounceable and hard to spell awesome last name.*

For those of you who don’t know her: Nikki treats me as though I’m the most important person in her life; she talks about how much she loves me to her friends so often that they get sick of hearing my name; she’s the strongest person I know, who has overcome unbelievable obstacles in her life that have made her into a better person; she’s optimistic; she’s driven like no other; she’s a damn good writer (but a kind-of harsh editor…); she’s got a heart for people like you wouldn’t believe; she is devoted to her faith and hasn’t let the evil that she’s experienced firsthand shake her faith in God for one second; she can back up her political positions with experience and theory (necessary, but not a sufficient condition to being my wife); she challenges me constantly to do better; her mere existence at my side gives me confidence that I’ve never felt before; and I can say with full confidence and certainty that I love her with all that I have.

Oh, and did I mention she’s quite the looker?

2. I sold my camera.


She’s been with me to Thailand, Europe (3 times), Australia, my high school graduation, by my side the whole time… *tear*

The title is deceiving, but I’m just rewarding those who read beyond the headlines… I sold my workhorse camera. I’ve kept one around for my own fun and to continue an art that I love, but certainly do not want to make a career. I’ve known this for a while and decided to stop pursing photography as a full-time career during my first year as an undergrad. In short, just because I like photography does not mean that I want to photograph your events for free.  Pardon me for being open, but I’m just being honest.

In other words, I’m pretty much not taking any photography work anymore. I’ve had an awesome run with it all, but that part of it that I really love the most, newspaper work, has crushed my soul. I’ll let you all speculate about the contributing factors.

3. I’ve been in law school and I’m now transferring to a school outside of Santa Barbara.

In other words, Nikki and I are moving away from Santa Barbara. 


My first, first day of law school. My second first day of law school is coming.

I began studying at Santa Barbara College of Law in August 2013 and I cannot even begin to describe how much I have loved it, lest I shall…

Since beginning at SBCOL, I met some people in my class who I honestly love (to any of you who are reading this…I think you probably have influenced me quite a bit more than you might have thought). These people have encouraged me, they have been role models, and they have helped me see how important it is to make friends in school. Telling them that I was leaving was really difficult, but I have every intention of working alongside them in three years, after we all survive and pass the California Bar Exam.

*Side note to anyone considering the school – I recommend it very highly. I have loved my time there and the professors are some of the best I’ve had in all of my schooling.*

While I have planned on going to law school since my first year of college and then solidified that choice during my study of philosophy at UCLA, I was always worried that I wouldn’t like it or I wouldn’t be good at it.

I learned quickly that I love it. Law school is basically philosophy in a more structured format. It’s awesome and I’m going all in and devoting myself completely to it’s study. I’ve never done that – I worked while I was at Santa Barbara City College and didn’t officially declare a major until my second year, then I transferred to UCLA and was half there and half back home in Santa Barbara. I’ve always been a person who has too many interests and that has prevented me from devoting myself completely to one of them. Although I wouldn’t change any of it, I know now that I’m ready to devote myself to studying law full time. Plus, now I’ll have an awesome wife alongside me to keep me company, encourage me, and challenge me and cook me some mac n’ cheese maybe!?.

That said, there are no full time, American Bar Association-accredited law schools in Santa Barbara. This is a blessing for me, because I am ripping myself out of my comfort zone to begin in a new city where I will have no choice but to integrate and grow in my new marriage and new life. Santa Barbara is wonderful and we have every intention of returning, but my lack of saying “no” to friends, family, and others in the community has been a constant difficulty throughout law school this year. While I love everyone around me, I know that we would benefit greatly from a new environment and a new adventure.

This brings me to my next point: as of this moment, I don’t know exactly which school I will be attending. Emotionally speaking (which I rarely do), I want to go to Seattle University. By the grace of God, I was admitted. I booked us a flight to go check it out next week. While the weather is not Nikki’s ideal, the city is loaded with opportunity. I am still waiting to hear back from two additional schools. At this point, any one of those three will make us super happy. The other schools I was accepted by so far have been wonderful, but I’ve now narrowed it down to one of these three (crossing my fingers they offer big scholarships). Nikki and I are hanging tight and waiting to decide after we have all of the decisions back.

4. Kids + Cameras will be under new management.


I’m the worst at maintaining order in a classroom.

I have absolutely loved running Kids+Cameras for the past couple of years. Given my changes, I need to pass it along to new management so the program can continue to run in Santa Barbara.  I am working on setting this up now and will update everyone as soon as possible. Thank you to all of you who have contributed, supported Kids+Cameras, and helped to create an incredible photography program serving at-risk children in Santa Barbara. I am excited to see it grow and will remain involved to the best of my ability.

For those of you who didn’t hear, Kids+Cameras was recognized by the California State Senate for contributions to the A-OK Program.

that's a fancy certificate from the California State Senate

That’s a fancy certificate from the California State Senate.

To stay up to date, follow Kids+Cameras at the website.

5. I overhauled my website to reflect these changes.

It's new, it's cool, it's going to contain a lot more ranting and a lot less photographs.

It’s new, it’s cool, it’s going to contain a lot more ranting and a lot less photographs.

I ditched my variety of photography-based websites. It’s a tactic to save some much needed money. Whether or not readers like the look of this new page is no longer my primary concern. However, if you have read this far into my blog post, I owe you a giant high-five and I’m super impressed that you care about me this much…or you are super bored.

Coffee-fueled rants and more life-type posts will frequent this new website. If you follow me just for the photos, I won’t be too crushed if you abandon me. *email subscriber number drops to 2*

6. Last, and definitely not least, I’m switching from an iPhone to an Android.

Goodbye iPhone.

Crazy, right?

I thought so, too.  Apple, you’ve been great, but you’ve stopped innovating and you’ve become a “me too” phone. Most of you know my love for Apple products, but that Galaxy s5 is awesome. I figured I’m making enough other big changes, why not throw another into the mix?

Watch out world, my Twitter is still up and active as well. If you aren’t on Twitter, we cannot be friends. You can find that feed on this website’s homepage. I’m sure you can’t wait to get there.

Thank you for reading!

Watch out…more posts to come…

Tall Ship “Pilgrim” Arrives in the Santa Barbara Harbor

The Ocean Institute’s tall ship, called the “Pilgrim,” based at Dana Point, arrived for a visit in the Santa Barbara harbor Friday evening. The ship is beautiful and is quite noticeable where it is docked at the Navy Pier. The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum will be holding various events and educational tours aboard the ship.

I also believe that the ship will be allowing classes of elementary school students to spend the night on the ship to learn more about maritime history.

If you are in the area, I highly recommend checking it out.




San Francisco, as seen from Twin Peaks

A view of San Francisco from Twin Peaks.

A view of San Francisco from Twin Peaks.

A view of San Francisco, California from the popular “Twin Peaks” overlook. As you can see, the view is incredible and is definitely one of my favorite places.

This is an old photo from a trip a couple of years ago that I found while organizing my computer.

Thanks for stopping by.


Lizard’s Mouth

I went bouldering with some friends up at Lizard’s Mouth yesterday evening.

I started climbing a couple of months ago, so this was my first time giving it a shot outside.

Climbing on the semi-sandy material flanked by sweeping ocean and city views is quite a bit different than being indoors.

I can say that I did conquer one rock, which was substantially more difficult than others that had tried at the gym.

Anyhow, I highly recommend that anyone interested in climbing gives it a try up at Lizard’s Mouth. The scenery alone is worth it.

JN0413RB_LizardsMouth-589 JN0413RB_LizardsMouth-599 JN0413RB_LizardsMouth-632 JN0413RB_LizardsMouth-636 JN0413RB_LizardsMouth-683