A Canadian Adventure (with the scariest hike that I've ever done)

Back in May, me and my good friend Randy decided to hit up the Great White North for a few days to just unplug from all of the stresses and worries in our lives. This was my second time in this beautiful country and it was a first time for Randy.

One of the places that was on top of our bucket list was Peyto Lake. As we got to the parking lot we couldn’t believe that it has been completely covered in snow.

Our next stop was Athabasca Glacier. We were astonished at how big the glacier looked in person. It looked like it stretched for miles. We could see to the side of the mountain that there was a road in which tour buses are able to take tourists to the face of the glacier.

Our next stop was Athabasca Falls. I’ve seen so many photos on Instagram of this place and I was stoked that I was finally here. I really wanted to go to the base of the waterfall, where it looked like the winter version of Antelope Canyon. Unfortunately, there was so much water flowing that it wasn’t possible to walk to the base. That didn’t stop us from exploring the area as there were beautiful views around every corner.

As it was approaching dinner time, we decided to check out the small town of Jasper and ate at ALBA Restaurant. This was probably the best decision that we’ve ever made because the food was excellent. Randy got the Pappardelle with Duck Leg Confit (1st pic below) while I got the Carbonara Alla Jasper (2nd pic below). The duck had such a unique taste to it that it left quite a lasting impression on us. Randy mentioned that he could tell that this was made from a chef who has perfected their craft over the years. Make sure to check out ALBA Restaurant if you’re ever in the area.

Since we didn’t have a place to stay for the night, we decided to car camp near Lake Louise. One of the benefits of car camping is that you can just wake up and don’t have to drive anywhere for sunrise since you’re already there! Lake Louise is a very popular spot as there are many tourists that visit during the day. Since it was around 6:30am, we had Lake Louise all to ourselves and it was AMAZING.

Most of the time when renting cars from rental companies, it’s more often a miss rather than a hit. This time however, we got really lucky and got a Jeep Cherokee (due to my friend upgrading his membership at Hertz) for our whole trip. Driving this car was such an enjoyable experience. This car has a lot of power, can handle most terrains, and has all the latest technology inside. But the highlight to me was the heated front seats! It was perfect for the cold weather.

After checking out Emerald Lake, we drove down to Banff to explore the city. We grabbed dinner at this small Japanese restaurant in Banff which we thought was ok, nothing too special. After we ate, we went to Cows to get one of the best icecreams that we’ve ever had.

One of the places that I wanted to visit was Vermillion Lakes. My goal was to get a good reflection of the mountain peak with the alpine glow and we got just that. We also ran into a fellow Instagrammer named Ryan Field. It’s crazy that just a few days ago before my trip, I was watching him in a travel video on Adorama’s YouTube channel and now I got to meet him in person. I love traveling because you never know who you’ll meet along the way.

The next day, we hiked to Johnston Canyon which is one of the most popular hikes in the Banff area. I always wanted to check out this secret cave where the huge rock was in the middle but couldn’t find it. After seeing a few hikers go down to the side, we eventually followed their path and found the cave!

For sunset, we decided to go back to Vermillion Lake. If there’s one things that I learned from photographing landscapes is that the same scene can look very different the following day based on the weather conditions. Compared to a clear sky yesterday, we got some clouds this time around.

The next morning at around 4am, I had to go to the airport to drop off Randy since his flight was 2 days earlier than mine. I wish he would of stayed longer but it was really fun adventuring with him these past few days. After dropping him off, I went home, got some more sleep, woke up in the afternoon and shot with a Calgary native: Theresa! It was so much fun working with her and being able to shoot at so many different locations. You can follow her on Instagram at @theresazulia

One the last day of my trip, I wanted to challenge myself and decided to hike the East End of Rundle. For those of you who don’t know, this is a pretty popular and strenuous hike in the Canmore area a few minutes out from Banff. They call this a “hike” but it becomes a scramble once you get past the forest of trees. It was quite the struggle trying to climb up, as there were times where I would have to use both of my hands and feet to climb. I came up to a very high viewpoint thinking that this was the top BUT to my disappointment, it was not. There was still a steep incline of rocks that I had to climb to get to the very top. At this point I knew I was not going to make it because it was one hour before sunset. I decided to make my way down until I reached a point in the hike where there was a significant drop from the rock I was standing on to the bottom of what looked to be a trail. I decided that I would drop down and had my two arms clinging onto the rock I was previously standing on. I looked down and had second thoughts. I saw the sun going down and started to panic. I eventually climbed back up and found another way to get down which was to go all the way around. Having finally found the trail, I made my way down but not without sliding down on piles of rocks and ripping a hole in my back jean pocket in the process. The trail became harder to see as it became darker and darker. I heard the sound of a river and thought to myself that if I go in the direction of the river, I should be able to get back. I was able to reach the forest of trees but at this point it was completely dark. Having only my smartphone as a flashlight, I used it and prayed that a bear would not pop out. On my way down I heard some rustling noises in the bushes which made me paranoid throughout the rest of the hike. After about 20 minutes hiking in the dark, I reached ground level and got to my car. You guys have no idea how relieved I was to finally make it back in one piece. This was my first time hiking by myself and also hiking in the dark. Something that I would probably do different next time is to manage my time more wisely and start the hike early!

There are so many beautiful landscapes in Canada that it’s very difficult to see them all in just one trip. I felt like we only scratched the surface of what Canada has to offer. I’m hoping that I can go back sometime next year to explore more of Canada and reunite with some friends. As always thanks for reading my blog and I’ll catch you in the next one!

A Weekend Trip to the Southwest with Megan

Hey guys! I hope everyone's week is going well! I'm back with another blog post of my travels. This past winter, I got a chance to explore the southwest with my good friend Megan. Although I've been to the Southwest before, I've never visited during the winter time. Originally this was going to be a group trip consisting of the 3 of us, however our other photographer friend couldn't go anymore so I got to spend a lot of time with Megan. We managed to explore 3 states: Utah, Arizona, and Nevada all in a weekend. You can read the first part of our trip here detailing our experience at the Mystic Hot Springs.

Almost exactly a year prior to this trip is when I first got a DM from Megan asking if I wanted to shoot. With work consuming most of my life at the time, it was really difficult for me to set something up. Over time I've been watching Megan grow as a model and she has improved a lot since I first saw her Instagram. I think we can proudly say that we both have grown a lot since then as artists.

After exploring Monument Valley, we headed straight to Antelope Canyon. This was my third time exploring the area but it was my first time taking portraits inside these beautiful slot canyons. It's always a bit challenging taking portraits in low light situations such as this but once you know the direction of light, it gets pretty easy exposing for the image and nailing the focus.

Our next stop was the famous Horseshoe Bend. I've been here plenty of times, but I've never taken portraits at this location. As always, Megan killed it. Horseshoe Bend has a great significance to Megan because this is where she had her first portrait shoot as a model. This is where it all started for her a year ago. The photographer found her on Instagram, messaged her, and they decided to take a roadtrip to Arizona. The shoot went so well that she decided that she wanted to keep modeling on the side. It still blows my mind how one app can connect people on so many levels. Who would of thought that we would be living in an age where we can meet people through an app where in most cases, we probably would of never met that person if it wasn't for that app.

While we were driving, the landscape around us caught my eye so we decided to pull over and snap a few pics before the sun went down.

Throughout the trip we were deciding where to go for our "retro themed diner shoot". Since nothing was on our route back home, we stopped in Las Vegas at Ruby's Diner. It definitely gave off those 80's retro vibes and the food was pretty good too! I highly recommend stopping by there if you're ever in the Vegas area.

Overall, it was an exhausting but very fun and rewarding trip. By spending a weekend away from home, me and Megan got to know each other a lot better. I think if I had to choose between instameets or a weekend getaway with a model, I would probably choose the latter. You get to know a person so much better when it's one on one and can have really deep conversations. From my experience, instameets don't really provide that chance since the time that you're with people is so short and it can get overwhelming since there's so many people. Thanks for reading this far and I hope I was able to motivate you to get out into the outdoors and adventure!

A Weekend Trip to Oregon with Grace

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I hope you guys are ready to switch gears from all of the grad and proposal blog posts to more travel feels! I've been meaning to write this blog post way earlier in the year but I've been so busy that I haven't had the chance to sit down and write about it until now. Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to go to Oregon with my friend Grace who I met through Instagram. It's crazy how Instagram tend to bring other creatives together. Me and Grace met up once, shot together, and that was it! Next thing you know we're planning out our trip to Oregon. Shoutout to her for putting up with all my derpy moments on this trip! After having visited Oregon once a couple of years ago, I've been wanting to go back since there's so many sights to see in the PNW. After we got breakfast at Screen Door (which was amazing btw), we headed out to our first stop which was Latourell Falls.

Going to the base of this waterfall was no joke. We were soaking wet in just a few seconds of standing there. After we were done taking photos at the base of the waterfall, we decided to head up. Needless to say, it was quite the incline.

Next stop was Bridal Veil Falls. Another popular waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge. Also a popular waterfall name as there's so many waterfalls in the world with that same name.

We woke up really early the next day in order to catch sunrise from Pittock Mansion. From this location you can see a really clear view of Portland with Mt. Hood in the background. As we scrambled up to the top we arrived just on time for sunrise and caught a little bit of color in the clouds.

After we got done taking photos, we headed out to our next destination: Cape Kiwanda. From Portland it's approximately a 2 hour drive to the coast. I was hoping that the clouds would stay but as we got closer to the coast, the clouds started to disappear and it felt like we were back in California.

Not far from this spot was this really cool A-frame overlooking the beach.

Next stop on our trip was Ecola State Park. On the way to our destination we saw these golden rays peaking through the trees and we pulled off to the side to take photos.

The view from the top of Ecola State Park was amazing as you can see the layers of waves with the mist in the background from the photos below.

Our final destination was Cannon Beach. It's one of the most picture-esque beaches in all of the US because of that giant rock formation in the middle of the ocean called "Haystack Rock". This is also where the movie Twilight was shot.

On the last day of our trip, we woke up early and went to get some Voodoo donuts in Portland. It was pretty good but I think people hype it up way too much than it should be in my opinion. After a light breakfast we got some flowers for our shoot and headed off to our last destination on our Oregon trip. 3 hours later, we finally arrived at Boardman Tree Farm. One of the main reason why I wanted to go to Oregon during this time was to shoot these symmetrical poplar trees. Unfortunately these trees will not be here around much longer as a dairy company recently bought the land and are cutting down all the trees! So if anyone of you wants to see these trees, you should go as soon as possible!

I would definitely recommend Oregon as one of the places you should visit since there's so many beautiful sights to explore. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more travel blog posts coming soon!