Recreational Vessel

Recreational Vessel

  Summer hangs there like a basket, waiting to be loaded full of memories and feelings. We paddled the Columbia River Slough, the Willamette and the Siltcoos Rivers and we talked about time and birds and life. We explored the hills and rivers near the Middle Fork of the John Day and fell in love with a meadow. […]

Message in a bottle

Message in a bottle

I thought it was a pop bottle that was snuggled tightly into the sea kelp near Crescent Bay, on the Juan de Fuca Straight. The canoe bumped it gently and the boys reached to retrieve the discovery. It quickly became clear the bottle had a different story. Upon noticing the papers tucked inside, Leo shouted, […]

The Leo and Jack Trail

The Leo and Jack Trail

When you become the proud owner of two explorers, it’s best to just sit back and observe. I try to direct the flow, to keep up, but in the end I wind up watching. They dig, throw, study, pick, prod, poke, run, swim, whittle, balance, heave, crunch, crank, grind, balance, jump, leap, run, sprint, crawl, […]

Arts, Crafts and Fishing Gear

Arts, Crafts and Fishing Gear

I sighed quietly. Seated across the table, Leo, 7, looked up from his homework and asked with such gentle concern, “Papa, is it hard to be a parent?” “No,” I told him. “Well sometimes things might be challenging, but it’s a pleasure to be a parent.” Later, he and Jack, 5, sat in their room, […]

To the Horizon

To the Horizon

© Tim LaBarge As Leo struggled to fall asleep tonight, I leaned on the doorframe, willing to talk just a little longer. I didn’t want to get sucked into his tricky ways though. He has a knack for chatting late into the night, asking questions, asking for stories, wanting more. I told him it was […]

Life in the trees

Life in the trees

San Juan Island, Washington I might have to start calling him Cosimo, after Italo Calvino’s character in The Baron in the Trees. Leo has been spending a lot of time in trees these days. It’s no doubt a quest for a little independence, a search for his own place, a spot to sit and think. […]



This puppy thing. I thought it might be easier this time after experiencing the tiny years with a couple of boys. After all, you can put a puppy in a crate and walk away. They eat and drink when you put the bowl down. No diapers. Some mess. But no diapers. These critters can learn […]

Paradise Found

Leo and I were reading a book recently. A character mentions that living in a country with libraries in every community must be paradise. Leo stopped me. “What’s paradise, Papa?” I told him it was the most perfect place you could imagine. A place of infinite happiness. Sounding a bit wistful, he said, “For me, […]

Cyclocross: Learning to compete, and be sweet

A few weeks ago after pounding out a kiddie cross race, Jack, age 4, asked with a slightly disgruntled tone, “Papa, why doesn’t anyone ever win the kid race?” It’s true, I told him, no one wins. This race is about having fun with your friends and riding your bike. This past weekend at the […]

Clown control at Pickathon

We were at a little Mexican tienda up in St. Johns the week before Pickathon and couldn’t resist getting piñata for Leo’s birthday morning bash, which fell on day two of the festival… All smiles. Nobody got hurt…except the clown. all images © Tim LaBarge 2011

Snow Days

“This is the best vacation ever,” Leo announced. Jack agreed. Sara and I smiled. We hadn’t gone very far or done a whole lot or been gone very long. But as these guys get older, it seems they keep redefining what was, or is, the best ever. Leo’s face told the story on Saturday: a […]

Big Mountain, Little Dog

With Mount Rainier hovering, Ryan Trebon rolls on during the Rapha Gentleman’s Race This summer, while photographing a bike race, I popped out of the woods and rounded a bend on Pittsburgh Road above the town of Saint Helens, Ore. Three beautiful volcanoes, Mount Rainier, Mount Saint Helens and Mount Adams, came into view. It […]

Shadowy Future

I just overheard the boys, now five and three, chatting in the bath. “Jack,” Leo said, “dinosaurs are dead. People have never, ever seen them alive.” Saturday, while on a little adventure in The Columbia River Gorge, we found ourselves face to face with a ten foot long sturgeon named Herman. He’s the freak show […]


Near Three Creeks Lake. The color of wheat, with deep brown eyes and a tiny black nose, a tough little street puppy found us one late night in Carthage, Missouri. She had worms and fleas and no home. That was thirteen years ago. She made us whole ever since. You may have known her by […]

Summer of the Fish

First fish. Timothy Lake on Mount Hood, Oregon We’ve already spent a good chunk of these summer days out camping somewhere in the Cascades. Mount Hood, the Metolius River, the McKenzie River and two different Clear Lakes. The driving force and unexpected thrill of all of this has been watching Leo, 4, dive into fishing […]

Passing Time

My dad, brothers and I heading out to go fishing in Colorado in 1977 Leo, age 4, with my dad in 2010 Photo editor and fellow PDXcrosser Mike Davis suggested on his blog just before Father’s Day to “make a picture of your dad, if you can, to remember him as he is this year, […]

Finally Summer

Huckleberry ice cream The sun was watching the calendar up here in the Northwest. On Monday, as if on cue, the weather and my attitude changed with the flip of the switch that sent us into Summer. High lake, still snowy We were up in the Cascades on the Metolius River when it happened. The […]

Farewell Plum

Grazing, August 2008. Yesterday’s wind and rain storm knocked out a few young tomato plants around town for sure. And sadly, it took down my favorite old plum tree. Part of the curved trunk still stands, barely. The mass of the tree tumbled into the neighbor’s yard during an especially gusty few minutes in early […]

Helping Hands

Leo, age four At least once a day, something happens around here that makes me kind of cringe. Markers, crayons, water, paint, sand and on and on. Something happens. And this is normal, I tell myself. I remember my mom sweeping the kitchen floor as the five of us would track pounds of dirt and […]

Rainy, smiley ride home

It was cold and nasty today and little-kid cycling weather seemed very far away, but there we were at Seven Corners chatting with Corey, petting the shop dogs and sizing up a tiny, red bike. The weather was so incredibly beautiful this past weekend people were gardening, studying blooms and standing on the street corner […]


I thought I’d hid that cape. We didn’t need another episode. But Leo appeared out of nowhere last night with headlamp, suspenders and a gold cape ready to zoom through the night in a rush of spring fever. Just a few days earlier, his pal, cape securely fastened, made a leap from the top bunk […]

Merry Christmas

We here at the LaBarge home wish you a happy holiday. I know I’m a few hours early heaving this wish upon you…but there’s a chance I’ll forget to send it tomorrow with Santa coming by and all. Cheers.

Little gifts

“Do you want to see the prettiest thing ever?” Leo asked last night. “It’s a gift from Jack and I love it.” I had no idea what to expect. He cracked open the doors to the cabinet where he stashes stuff. His stash varies. Sometimes he puts little drums in there. Sometimes it’s full of […]

The Surfer

Leo, Jack and I went to the coast for a few days while Sara was backpacking up in Washington with our friend Natasha. I knew I had to create some kind of grand diversion for us all in order to keep the good time rolling for three days. Little did I know it was Leo […]