BBJ Rocky Mountain Road Trippin’

         BBJ Rocky Mountain Road Trippin’

(Aka Brooke, Boone, Jessie – Clever I know)

         This past weekend I spent 4 days adventuring around, starting in YYC (Calgary) and then out West in the mountains with a friend, Jessie Williams (aka @jadubya ). She is currently living in Denver, Colorado but originally from Dallas, Texas. She had never been to Canada before so when she confirmed that she was coming North for a few days to visit me and adventure around, I knew I had to make the best of the 4 days she would be here for! Soooo…. hence the many miles, sites and things we did in such a short period of time. We traveled through 4 national parks, Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, Yoho National Park and Kootney.

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Oh and we cant forget about her pup Boone (aka @boone_tails ) that she brought along for the ride! I can not wait till I have my own adventure pup companion. It was so great having them two to explore with and be around, Jessies energy and passion for life and adventure is very contagious! I know in the ‘old n’days’ our parents use to tell us never to talk to or meet up with strangers though Instagram has kind of been a game changer in that… I can admit to having talked to and met up with a number of ‘strangers’ through the app. Though it has provided me with many amazing experiences, connections and opportunity to learn and grow and be around like minded people. You just have to be smart about it 🙂

Jessie and I started following each other almost two years ago, and started chatting back and forth a few months after that, then eventually began planning a time to meet up. We can relate to SOOOO many of the same things, whether it be our careers (both working in the school district with kids, our relationships, love for adventure, the outdoors, dogs, people and so many other things.

Being a teacher down in Colorado, Jessie drove up at the start of her during her week off for Thanksgiving, and I managed to get a couple days off work to show her around! From Denver up to Calgary its about 16 hours in the car… but that didn’t seem to phase her.

We started the trip out with a day in Calgary (YYC) we went for brunch, walked around downtown, along the Bow River, then headed to the Florida Georgia Line Concert!! Which would be my favorite ‘country’ band, and luckily she loves them too… After a few drinks and singing to every song we headed to sleep and tried to get a few hours in before we started our mountains adventure!

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We woke up bright and early, loaded the car up and headed straight for Tim Hortons (her first true Canadian experience). Then headed through Banff National Park towards Lake Louise – via the Bow Valley Parkway just off of the main highway, the weather was a bit foggy and gloomy but hey, what can ya do! Boone was definetely the centre of attention with all the tourists at the lake!

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(Lake Louise – 57 Kms from Banff – 183km from Calgary)

From there we headed for the Icefields Parkway (One of Alberta’s most scenic drives), making a pitstop at Bow Lake (pictured below).

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(Bow Lake – 39kms from Lake Louise)

From there we continued to Athabasca Glacier, where it was VERY windy and chilly so we piled on the layers and then headed for the icecaves – which is about a 20 minute walk up and down some rocks, we took a few wrong turns trying to get to the caves, due to the blowing wind and it having covered up other footprints and the trails but we managed to get there! I had been two years prior and WOW have the caves changed but they were still beautiful. Jessie had never seen ice caves before either so I thought it would be neat to check out.

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(Athabasca Glacier – 106kms from Jasper)

We then continued our drive down the Parkway entering into Jasper National Park, and made a pit stop at a beautiful river sight just off the highway (Pictured below – We both were amazed by the intense aqua blue coloured water!)

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From there we continued to Athabasca Falls, though it was getting a bit dark out so the colour of the water was not AS vibrant as I had seen before and was hopping to see again this time but it was still amazing non the less! It is a very accessible place to stop if you are ever in Jasper and area.

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(Athabasca Falls – Jasper National Park – 32kms from Jasper)

We spent the night at Best Western in the town of Jasper – which accommodates dogs and is very reasonably priced! We went out to Famoso for soup and salad (which I highly recommend – even though we probably should have got their famous pizza) to warm up and then walked around the town in the evening checking out shops, before turning in for the night.

We then woke up bright and early and got on the road for 7 am, first with another stop at TIMMIES, for coffee and bagels!!! On our way out of town Jessie spotted a HUGE wolf on the side of the highway, its eyes were dark to miss. We turned around in hopes of going back to see it and we did, but there wasn’t only one but TWO of them! We both had never seen wolves out in the wild before so it was VERY neat to see. We followed them for a few minutes trotting along side the highway before they scurried off  back into the woods. I wish I would have gotten a great photo of them, but with it being dark and me just wanting to admire them I failed to do so. But here are some photos of the drive 😀

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We then stopped at Peyto Lake, which is also along the Icefields Parkway just a few kms from Bow Lake where we stopped the day before, when we stopped Sunday it was PACKED due to people there for avalanche awareness – field work, so we said we would come back the next day and it was DEAD. We were the only vehicle there so was nice to have the whole place to ourselves. The water colour of Peyto (Pronounced Pee – toe, which I just found out this trip as it was written on a information sign) blows my mind every single time I visit it. I mean look at it! How could it not 😮

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(Peyto Lake – 42 kms North of Lake Louise)

We Left Peyto and headed for Yoho National Park, entering into British Columbia, stopping at Emerald Lake Lodge and the Natural Bridge which are just a couple kms away from each other, off the highway outside of Field, BC. They can both get very crowded during peak times and with tourists but we managed to get to experience them with no one really around!

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(Natural Bridge – Yoho National Park – 32km from Lake Louise)

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(Emerald lake – Yoho National Park – 37km from Lake Louise)

It was a quick stop in Yoho, as we left quickly and headed back East before turning South into Kootney National Park! We were headed for the Lussier HOTSPRINGS, a place I have been DYING to go to. I have seen photos and heard stories of these natural hot springs, though never had the opportunity to go for myself and check them out… I thought this trip would be a perfect chance to finally check that off my bucket list. It certainly wasn’t a CLOSE drive but it was well worth it. The hot springs are located just out side of Invermere off the highway down a forest road about 18km. They get VERY busy also during the weekends and evenings during the week as people start to hear about them more and more, but again we managed to find a time to go when it was quiet, before a few people joined us.

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There are different temperature pools, pictured above I am sitting in the ‘cooler’ pool down below and pictures below we are in the hotter pool. We had to get out every once and awhile to sit on the rocks to cool down cause they are THAT hot! We also brought along popcorn to enjoy :p Which isn’t pictured. Was the perfect way to end a long two days thus far of adventuring and driving.

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(Lussier hot springs – 214km from Lake Louise)

They were soooo worth every km we drove. I would go back again and again. We relaxed there for a couple hours before making the trek back towards Banff National Park where we stayed again at Best Western because we knew they allowed dogs! (@boone_tails)  We walked quickly to grab a bite to eat and then went straight to bed, as the drive back pooped us out and we wanted to get up early to take advantage of Jessies last day in Canada!!!

We got up, went for a quick breakfast and then headed for a walk around town. I LOVE Banff and could spend days and days there just wandering. There are a number of trails along the river and through the forested areas. We wandered the river and shopped around a bit downtown Banff before heading to a few lakes near by.

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(Banff – Banff National Park – With Mount Cascade in the background)

After touring the town we headed to Vermillion Lakes – which is just outside of Banff. It is a great place to watch the sunrise! But we may have missed that… In the winter you can ice skate there as well! We watched the skaters for a bit wishing we had brought ours!

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We then headed for Two Jack Lake – 13kms from Vermillion, which is another unbelievable spot for sunrise and sunset! We walked around the lake for a bit and took some photos for @REI #optoutside campaign, which encourages people to get outside on Black Friday instead of hitting up the malls allllll dayyyy, and spending the day indoors.

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(Two Jack Lake – Banff National Park – 13 km from Banff)

From there we headed two kms down the road to Lake Minnewanka! We went for a little hike along the lake to a bridge that continues along to Aylmer pass/Lookout – though we did not have time to do the whole hike which is 12.6 ONE WAY. Lake Minnewanka is a great place to kayak or hike in the summer months, you can also book boat tours or rent your own little boat to tour the lake in!

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I wanted to write this blog to give people a little idea of things you could get up to / a little itinerary (Or big depending how you look at it) if you have a few days in the area and want to see a bunch of cool things quickly! ‘A taste of the Canadian Rockies’ – The neat thing about traveling through these areas is there are SOOOO many places to stop along the way, whether it be lakes, tourist attractions, mountain views, pull offs, mini hikes (or big hikes), wild life spottings, waterfalls and more depending on what you are looking for. If you have ANY questions at all about our trip, or just want some advice on some of the stops/locations feel free to send me an email or drop a comment! Always happy to help 🙂

Thanks for reading!!!

‘That One Photo’

I know its been a while since I last updated my website or wrote a blog but I felt the need to this morning as I woke up to a eye opening email that stated:

Hi Brooke,

One question: “If all your travel photos were to be deleted but one, which one would you keep and why?”

We believe that by sharing the story behind that very special photo we can connect more people on a basic human level.

We would love to feature you. So if you want to join, please email/dm us your photo, a small caption answering the question and the location. We look forward to reading your story.

Much happiness,

Hansel (www.ensoexpeditions.com)

          A lot has changed it my life in the last year, last month and last week even more so and it truly has opened my eyes to a TON. As most of you know I am a Social Worker, though have been working in my local school district for 8 years now as either a practicum student, Educational Assistant or Youth Worker… and I am going back to school next year for my teaching degree. I like to think that even if I can’t always teach the standard curriculum very well I sure as HELL will be able to teach some valid life lessons, give advice and tell some life changing stories that I hope will influence and empower my kids in the classroom.

           At first I thought wow this is an intensive email that will take a lot of thought and time to write and AHHH I don’t even know what photo I would keep if I was asked to delete all of my travel photos except for one… but not even 10 seconds later it struck me and the photo came to mind and the words just began to flow…

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‘Do NOT seek to have events happen as you want them to, but instead want them to happen as they do happen, and your life will go well.’

            ‘The photo I would keep (pictured above) – is one taken during my first solo trip I ever did – I saved up for months and months in order to make enough to afford such a trip. I was working FT at an elementary school during the day as an EA and then working PT at a restaurant as a waitress in the evenings just to save up money. Every tip I made I remember when into a glass mason jar on my shelf and then I used that money to buy my round trip ticket to Thailand. I appreciated absolutely every single second of that 4 month trip which took me to 5 countries in South East Asia cause I Worked extremely hard for it and paid for it with my own money. No one was ‘payingggg’ me to be there or paying for it. There was no ‘work’ involved. Like most of my trips had been now over the past year and a bit due to my growing Instagram account, following and engagement…. I was present every SINGLE second of those 120 days in SE Asia – with every person I met and every place I visited.

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           I also kept a journal – one I wrote it every single day on that trip. I would say is my most cherished possession I have in my home. I kept every single plane, boat, or entry ticket, little pieces of paper from here and there, I wrote poetry, drew photos, wrote notes, jotted down my feelings day to day, and where I was, places I stayed at. Just EVERYTHING. That was how I reflected on my travels and daily experiences.

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          The photo I chose speaks ‘peace’… I was at peace with myself and at peace with the the world around me. I was 100% OK with just living day by day. The photo was taken in Cambodia at Angkor Wat, one of the 7 Wonders of the World. It was a 4 month solo trip through Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Laos and Cambodia about 6 years ago when I was 19. My first ever ‘real’ BIG trip. I did NOT take a cell phone with me. I had a small little point and shoot camera and valued every single photo I took. And were they by any means ‘perfect’ photos? NOPE, they sure as HELL were not…. which most people seek out now. Spending hours and planning trips around capturing that ‘perfect’ photo, something I am guilty of having done as well… but reality is life sure AIN’T perfect, and I certainly am NOT perfect. I have flaws. I have sad days. I get down. I get self-conscious. I get anxiety when things don’t go as planned or I don’t live up to expectations that I have set for myself. I am only HUMAN, just like everyone else… and that’s also what makes it fun and interesting.

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        All of these photos I am including in this blog are raw, cultural, true photos from my SE Asia trip and when I look at them I see a present, content, very happy girl who’s longing for adventure, experience and grateful for every moment of it. When I do look at my photos from the past year of trips I see a lot of anxiety, frustration and you know even unhappiness… as happy as I thought I was at the time. In the end things don’t matter, people and relationships do and the true connections we make along the way.

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          One month into this trip my camera got wet when I was in Laos floating down the Luang Probang river and I lost the entire memory card and about 1000 photos due to water damage and I didn’t even care …. and well if that happened now while I was gone on one of my ‘working’ trips I would probably would have had a big anxiety attack cause I’d be letting people down and wouldn’t be able to fulfill that contract or make that post… or whatever it may be. Being so focused on taking photos while traveling truly does take away and not allow us to be fully present and enjoy every single moment like we should… cause hey tomorrow is NOT promised and I would be quite upset leaving on the note that I did not live every day to the very best I could.

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The locals would all laugh at me and my blonde crazy hair, they would want photos with me and would often pet my arms… don’t think they are so use to blonde hair? Got to love the locals! I think if I had traveled with friends or for work I would not have spent as much time interacting with the local people.

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I made a ton of amazing friend ships along the way… You guys know who you are :p

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           Also because I didn’t have a cellphone with me for 4 months I had to spend time seeking out internet locations every few days to update my parents and get in touch with friends back home and let them know I was safe, alive and fill them in on some of my experiences. I had to feed money into the slot to be able to communicate. So I did also value every minute of time I had to Skype with them… it wasn’t a constant conversation I was having back home with friends / family or whatever. Another reason that I was left to feel present in the moment while traveling that long. We MUST be present or we risk missing out on some important experiences, ones we may never get back.’

‘There is never anything but the present and if one can not live there, one can not live anywhere’ – Alan Watts

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This trip was one for many ‘first’… from scuba diving to bungee jumping… Those memories are near and dear to my heart (even if both scared the CRAP out of me).

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        I could say SO much about this topic… During this SE Asia trip I didn’t feel the need to let people know where I was or what exactly I was doing…. a feeling I and many other people seem to get these days with social media being so avid in our lives… whether it be through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat…  I ask myself why do I need that gratification? Why can’t I just 100% be okay experiencing it on my own, without peoples approval or likes and what not? This is something I have spent a lot of time reflecting on in the last while and I believe a topic that many people would go back and forth about. It could turn into quite the sensitive topic for many but hey maybe those buttons need to be pushed and get people thinking about.

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It was often just me… my scooter and a map… I didn’t have google maps and I got everywhere just fine! :p

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I would often wander, get lost and stumble upon beautiful waterfalls and cute kids 😛

        I have been on a few ‘work’ trips in the last year and I can truly say I didn’t deep down TRULY enjoy them as much as those trips that I put every dollar of my own into and lived present in… We do lose out on the purpose… also when we are traveling to places that may or may not have been the first on our list of places we really wanted to go to experience. I am NOT saying I don’t appreciate every single opportunity I was given, all the gear I have been sent and contracts I have made and relationships I have created all over the world. I realize just how blessed I have been to have had the opportunities I did and look… now I have so much experience and have learned so much about myself and what it does mean to be truly happy. Am I still learning? YEP… and will I continue to learn? YEP… But I am so grateful for every single thing I have been through cause it has brought me to where I am now and I would like to think I am a pretty decent person. One with STRONG values, a rewarding job empowering kids, an amazing supportive family and friend group, a healthy body and a passport full of stamps and an endless list of life lessons and advice.

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Photo by: @lauren_parks_

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        Like I said I am SO far from perfect…. and I do have my bad days just like everyone else even though based off my Instagram it may look like I am ALWAYS happy… which also made it hard when I was traveling and working. I always did have to put on that happy face and well ya sometimes it was fake. Though as of today I and am going to make a very conscious decision to live every day to the very best and be present at work with my kids and people who cross my path on a day to day basis. Because they are the ones that deserve my utmost attention and words. I am guilty of having missed out on a lot in the last while cause well…. my head just GOESSSS and GOESSS and I start thinking down the line, worrying about things and getting ahead of myself, whereas if I just lived for today those issues would come and sort themselves out when they were suppose to. A lot of my worries stems from living up to expectations I have set out for myself… and well truth is those aren’t realistic. I’m me…. perfectly imperfect.

‘Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.’ – Coco Chanel

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My sisters ❤

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My whole fam ❤

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          When I got the email this morning I found it to be extremely weird timing and am happy this man sent it, whoever he may be. It has been a HUGE eye opener for many reasons and it’s something I had been thinking bout for a while now. I do hope that whoever reads this will take it all to heart…. and hey if you really do agree with it and think its an important issue DO share it and spread the word. Our future generation will thank us and we need to start thinking about that. Social Media can be very beneficial if used in the right way, though the way I see our youth using it often is scary and they need to know the pros and cons to it and when to leave the phones behind!

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        I am not saying at all that those who live for photography are doing it all wrong. I highly respect those people who have turned their passions into their career and live for travel and photography. Just as long as we are conscious of how we are living and experiencing it while we are doing it…. I admire those people who can tell stories through  photos and show so much emotion. It’s a gift many people do have and I do respect it. I am simply saying some of us are perhaps missing out on the reason why we travel and why we are doing what we are doing and it’s just something we have to think about… Cause hey I also do like looking at some of those ‘picture perfect’ photos too… I think their kinda neat? :p Every single adventure and photo played a role in my learning journey and so for that I will cherish each and every one no matter the circumstance 🙂 Here are just a few of the thousands of photos…

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Photos by: @kalenemsley

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Photos by: @andyaustinphoto

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Photos by: @findmeoutside

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Photo by: @erin.noelle1

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Spain, Italy and France this past June with @harmonyoftheseas

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Photos by: @chaseteron in Iceland

       I just want to thank you all for reading this and hope I did make an impact and got those little hamster wheels turning upstairs. Just a little food for thought going into this weekend!

‘Ask yourself if what you are doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow.’

xoxo Brooke

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Finding My ‘Beach’ In The Mountains

Finding My ‘Beach’ In the Mountains

With Corona Canada

            Just a few weeks ago @Corona Canada had reached out to me asking if I would be down to work with them on one of their newest campaigns… Re: ‘Your Perfect Canadian Mountain Moment – Opportunity’. I can surely say the whole experience ended up being just that. Where I had the opportunity to spend a day with three close girlfriends on the ski slopes before wrapping up the day with an amazing apres experience around a fire!

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‘Closer to the sun’ is a hash-tag/slogan Corona uses to promote their brand, as their intention is to radiate sunshine in the world. How they do this is by encouraging others to ‘Find their Beach’ – A place they can go to escape the ‘hustle and bustle’ of the world to reconnect with what matters most (and no I don’t just mean connecting with a good cold Corona). But to just lay back, unwind and enjoy the moment. I am sure all of you initially connect Corona with summer, hot weather, the ocean or a sandy beach. This year Corona has decided to take on a whole new outlook, bringing the brand to the snowy, wintery mountains… way above sea level!

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As different as the beach and the mountains are… they both represent the same things in a way. They offer feelings of freedom, vastness, opportunity and have a way of bringing people back from that ‘hustle and bustle’ I was speaking of earlier, where responsibilities and worries can be put aside for the time being. After a long day on the ski slopes, out in the backcountry snowshoeing/skiing, or whatever activity you may be participating in all day in the snow… there’s nothing quite like unwinding while watching the sunset, in a hot tub, around a fire etc. reminiscing about the day. ‘When the lifts close, horizons open’ is a way Corona likes to describe it. It’s all about those apres-moments.

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Three girlfriends and myself had the opportunity to hit the slopes at Nakiska Ski Resort in Kananaskis for a full day of skiing/boarding. The sun was shining, snow was great, the hills were quiet (given it was mid week) and laughs were frequent. Nothing like some quality girl time in the snow!

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Once the hills closed we headed for Fortress Mountain, where we gathered for an ‘après-ski’ experience, around a fire, completely encircled by mountain peaks. With smores and Coronas in hand, music, good company, mountain views, the sunset… We were able to unwind and take in the day. What more can a few girls ask for? It was an experience that will not be forgotten.

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We encourage all of you to find your own ‘beach’ in the mountains after a long day outside in the snow! Whether its with one friends or a huge group, there’s nothing quite like that quality time spent with amazing people in such an amazing place, providing us with those feelings of freedom and relaxation. A cold Corona tastes just as good during moments like these.

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Disconnect to Reconnect

Disconnect to Reconnect

‘There is Often no Wifi out in Mother Nature, but Trust me… You’ll Find a Better Connection’

Burstall Pass

The title somewhat speaks for itself… I am sure you have read numerous blogs on the ‘connection’ we may have to our phones, computers, social media and technology in general. How dependent we all have become and how many of our lives are revolving around it. I can’t deny that dependency and am guilty of carrying my phone everywhere I go, freaking out if I cant find it, often checking it every few minutes to see what the latest updates are: whether it is on Facebook, Instagram, emails or text messages. What sweet photos have been posted? Where are people at these days? Who has been more recently engaged (Since I could probably count at least 30 people within the last couple months on my own Facebook Homepage). Checking to see how my latest Instagram post is doing and replying to all the comments… It is NEVER ending!

Social media can be a very good thing if used in balance, and for the right reasons… But what are the right reasons? And who has the power to define that balance? What’s too much? Could some people use more social media in their lives? I think its all personal and relative, and depends on one another personalities, jobs and abilities to draw the line between ‘too much’ and ‘too little’. Is there even such thing as too little, or would that maybe be best? Back at the end of June I decided to leave my stable 8-4, Monday – Friday job to take on all this ‘Social Media Marketing’ full time, just to see what could come from it. As if I wasn’t already on my phone enough BEFORE taking this all on…

Without Social Media I can say I wouldn’t have many of the same friends I do now, which I have met through instameets, company partnerships, and simply chatting through the app. Having found one another through similar interests, photos, features etc. These people are some of the most AMAZING individuals I have ever met, some of which will certainly be life long friends. I met one gal a couple months ago and she ended up traveling to Peru with me shortly after, and now I am her roommate here in Canmore (aka @miniuii– Marie-Eve). I would name all the rest, but you know who you are 😛 I also would NOT have had many of the same opportunities I have had and am EXTREMELY grateful for everything I have been able to do over the year, thanks to connections and networking through social media.

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Iceland 2015

Instagram is a place where ‘creatives’, ‘outdoor-enthusiasts’, ‘adventurers’, ‘ photographers’, ‘athletes’ and more can all come, post, interact and express themselves in ways that they may not be able to in person. It’s immediate and makes networking, and advertising even, a heck of a lot easier these days. I see it as an outlet. It is a way for me to share my own experiences with others. To inspire and showcase my own adventures in hopes of encouraging others to GET OUT THERE and simply embrace all that Mother Nature has to offer! Mother Nature is the BEST teacher one could ever have, and ‘eco-therapy’ is the best form of therapy (Well I believe it is). I wrote a blog post for @tentree which explains exactly that:

 http://www.tentree.com/blog/10-things-mother-nature-can-teach-us-part-1/

http://www.tentree.com/blog/10-things-mother-nature-can-teach-us-part-2/

 Sure I encourage one another to get connected through Instagram, especially if you don’t have many friends around you, or others you know who may be interested in getting outside with you, whether it be hiking, biking, kayaking, running, camping, climbing, taking photos, etc. Online is a GREAT place to find people to get outdoors with and who will inspire you to keep on truckin’! Or maybe you are a newbie to the outdoors and are seeking others to help ya get out!

 

My motto: ‘Get Inspired. Get Connected. Get outside.’ Speaks to that. Yah its great to be inspired by all those fancy outdoor photos, insanely epic camping spots, bird eye views from helicopters, sick starry night shots, gorgeous colored lakes and epic travel locations around the world… But those photos don’t do us any justice if we just continue to scroll up and down and DREAM about one day experiencing those things for ourselves … It almost is worse, because we begin to potentially ‘hate’ our own lives, or realize how ‘boring’ we are compared to others. We may become envious or jealous or people who are able to drop everything and just go, who can take off traveling whenever they want, with minimal responsibilities or commitments back home. We can become more or less upset or depressed by scrolling through social media if we don’t know how to process or separate it.

‘Never Get So Busy Living, That You Forget To Make A Life’

I mean some of us obviously have more time then others to get outside and travel, where as many people I come across on Instagram have found a way to combined their passions, including myself (Whether it be photography, inspiration, geology, journalism, blogging, biology, art and illustration, community networking and more) with work to enable us to be able to travel more. Some people call us lucky, or fortunate to be able to, and how they ‘wish’ they could do the same etc. But heyyyyyy we MADE those decisions for ourselves, we took chances and followed our hearts. I also had a 8-4 job for years and was in school for many of those, on top of working and that didn’t stop me from getting outside, planning trips whether it be to the mountains or internationally! I just made it work. I traveled when I could and took advantage of Mother Nature in every way I knew how. I prioritized. To me there ain’t to many excuses for those working 8-4, Monday – Friday jobs who say they are limited to being able to get outside, to travel or even to ‘exercise’.

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Photo By: @kalenemsley

‘All Our Dreams Can Come True if We Have The Power To Pursue Them’ – Walt Disney

I can say though… that since leaving my desk job, working for myself and having turned travel, outdoors, and social media into a ‘career’ for now, I have found it even more difficult to disconnect. Being on my phone, checking emails, being on my computer and writing IS MY JOB. Adventuring has become more or less work as well. Am I climbing that mountain, heading out camping, traveling to get those shots, or am I doing it because I truly LOVE it and want to do it every single time? I have recently begun asking myself that… and when do I turn work off? There are ALWAYS opportunities for blogging, photos and creating content for ‘work’ and it’s hard sometimes to just say ‘NOPE, this trip/experience is JUST for me and not for my followers or anyone else’. I also recently moved to the mountains… whereas it use to be a place I could ‘escape’ too and now I ask myself, where can I ‘escape’ too when things get crazy?

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‘You Can’t Do a Good Job, If Your Job Is All You Do’ – Artifact Uprising 

This is where I have come to the realization I need to disconnect to reconnect every once and a while. YES I do love the outdoors and adventuring, taking photos along the way no matter if its going to be posted online or if that photo will just be put into a folder or deleted in the future… but its necessary that I, along with others take those steps back and do things just for fun. Forgetting the camera and cellphone at home, or turning it off when we don’t NEED it is important. Also not always documenting/writing our adventures and just simply ‘BEING’ in the moment. Disconnecting from the online world, from that ‘hecticness’ back home, that anxiety that’s been building up, those difficult relationships, ‘work life’ and more. Reconnecting with not only our own selves but with nature as well. Remembering WHY exactly it is we get outside in the first place… Is it so we can obtain that perfect photo for our IG feeds, or because we LOVE it and WANT to be there?

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I recently traveled to Cabo, Mexico for a much-needed 20 day ‘holiday’ with my family. I didn’t ‘adventure’ as much as I thought I would. I didn’t take as many photos as I thought I would. I didn’t work on my website as I had planned too. I didn’t read any books like I thought I would. I didn’t blog as much as I wanted too. Though, I did drink a lot of margaritas. I spent hours laying poolside and on the beach. I ate a ton of guacamole, salsa and chips. I spent a ton of time visiting with my family. Got in a total of over 300kms of running over the span of my time here… And I am 100% okay with all of that.

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Photo by: @picobac aka @hike365

When I got back I headed straight for the backcountry with @highlinemag. A group of 15 creatives: Photographers, Journalists, Marketing/Advertisement ‘pros’, illustrators/artists, and more were hosted by Sundance Lodge and Highline Magazine for a weekend of fun, reflection, networking and talking about this coming year and goals for Highline! Nothing like being around an amazing, inspiring group of fun, passionate energetic folks for three days of skiing, chit chatting, wine drinking and food eating at a beautiful lodge, with NO wifi. Between both Cabo and the backcountry retreat I took time to really disconnect, reflect and journal. So many things have became clear over the last few weeks and I realize I need to make a lot more time for exactly that this coming year.

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I saw this quote: ‘The Best Moments Of My Life Don’t Make it To Social Media’ Which really spoke to me, cause its true (Which is a whole other topic on its own – which I will get around to writing about) … Though I then also thought to myself ‘The Worst Moments Of My Life Don’t Make It To Social Media’. It’s important we take time to soak in our own experiences without having to showcase them to the world, in order to gain reassurance and satisfaction in likes, or numbers/comments. Having experiences that are ONLY ours. My life is NOT all rainbows and butterflies and when I scroll through my own Instagram it often looks like it is. I am human just like anyone else… I have my down days, my anxiety gets me here and there, I have arguments, I cry, I get frustrated, my adventures don’t always go as planned.. though my photos don’t often showcase all of that. Social Media can turn into the ‘highlights’ of peoples lives, or what we ‘wish’ our lives were like all the time. I want to try and include more heartfelt posts, captions, blogs on not only the UP’S but also the DOWNS of my own life, and how I manage to keep on keepin’ on 🙂

‘There is no strength without challenge, adversity, resistance and often pain. Strength comes from our ability to stand up, face resistance and walk through it’. – Unknown

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Photo By: @chaseteron

I know this is a HEAVY topic.. Speaking about social media (Instagram in particular) one that I could write about for pages upon pages, along with my own experience and opinion but I will leave it at that for yal to soak up. If you have any questions or comments about the blog PLEASE feel free to leave a message and I will be sure to answer back!

 My friend Holly @missholldoll wrote a blog ‘For The Love, Or For The Gram?’ that I just LOVED and also speaks to this topic… Check it out if you have time:

http://www.mymountaintherapy.com/blog/2015/9/11/for-the-love-or-for-the-gram

Ten Drawbacks to Having Caught the Backpackers ‘Travel bug’

Ten Drawbacks to Having Caught the Backpackers Travel Bug

Those who have caught the bug will understand – those that don’t… well here’s what we have to deal with:

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Santa Cruz Trek, Peru.

  1. Maintaining Friendships back ‘home’

It isn’t always easy maintaining those friendships while away for months at a time. Keeping people posted on your whereabouts, your experiences, what is happening in her life, etc. For those that aren’t ‘travelers’ it is hard for us to really explain why we do what we do and why we ‘have to’ do it. I often find myself explaining to others why it is I have prioritized travel, whether it be to other countries or just spending my spare time out in the mountains, but then I catch myself and think ‘My dreams don’t always need an explanation because they don’t belong to anyone else but myself’.

We may seem a bit selfish at times, putting travel/exploring before other things but it’s because we see something that others may not. Friends may come and go along the way, with time and as we change and ‘find ourselves’. This may mean having to let go of some friendships, that no longer serve us purpose or that may be bringing us down… But we in turn  make new friendships along the way, with individuals whom  can relate to our passions and support our dreams 100% and understand this travel bug ‘issue’. Though we may also realize how much those friendships back home mean to us and realize our priorities were off a little… and come back and try and mend those friendships. But in the end there is no regretting the chances taken.

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 2. Maintaining a Routine on the road

 If you LOVE routine, the backpacking life may not be one for you, though then again if you are one for routine, maybe it is JUST what you need to push you outside of your comfort zone. 5 years ago I took my first big leap of faith and booked a 4-month solo trip to Asia… kicking it off with a 25 day tour with Free and Easy Traveler. before that I was a very routine girl. Run. School. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. Booking that trip was just what I needed to break me out of that day to day routine.

From the various transportation sources, to different foods (Where it isn’t always super easy to eat healthy), to not being able to run every single morning/day for whatever reason, to the random complications you may come across, to the language barriers you may face… My heart is CONSTANTLY being torn between the need for routine and the need for freedom. I am still struggling to find that balance.

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Huacachina, Peru.

 3. Potential Sickness

Home sickness, Motion sickness,  ‘Food sickness’ (poisoning), Travelers diarrhea (Yah I said it), to those mad hangovers from that ‘whacky’ alcohol you drank… Any backpacker will know just what I am talking about. It is not all rainbows and butterflies when out on the road. It is easy to begin missing loved ones back home and missing all those comforts. From the long plane rides, to those rocky uncomfortable boat rides, wild taxi rides, crowded smelly buses and night trains… We look forward to coming back and getting in that comfy car of ours back home, where we are in complete control. The ‘funky’ smells of certain places may have us holding our breath as well. We all have those stories on how we got ‘sick’ during our travels.

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kicking it off with a 25 day tour Huacachina, Peru.

4. Missing out on important life events back ‘home’

 Being away for months at a time we are bound to miss out on certain life events back home. Whether it be engagements, weddings, birthdays, childbirths, and anything else for that matter. It isn’t always easy seeing photos of people you care about going through unbelievable times in their lives and us not being their to support them the way we possibly should be. We often think to ourselves… ‘Am I selfish out here traveling while my friends and family are back home… or am I doing the right thing by investing in myself and memories made?’ You all know what I am talking about.

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Bolivia

5. The curse of increased curiosity

The more we travel… the more curious we get. It’s seriously both a blessing and a curse. The more countries we experience, the more that get added to our list. The more we face our fears, the more fearless we become and we find ourselves wanted to push our boundaries that much more. How far can I go? What else can I check off my bucket list? What more can I ADD to that list? When will I ever be satisfied enough? It’s an endless, vicious circle…

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Machu Picchu, Peru.

6. Decreased interest in work at ‘home’

Let’s face it, beaches, drinks, new culture, unreal landscapes, hot temperatures, new friendships and experiences… beat that 9-4 job back home, am I right? The freedom we get from traveling is extremely addicting and the more time we spend away from that routine life/work back home, the more we don’t want to go back. Often times the only thing bringing us back in to make more money just to jet off again. Unless we become lucky enough in being able to combine the love for travel and work!

Travels bring us to some unreal places, surrounded by unreal people. For the most part everyone is happy and free, with minimal responsibilities. Backpackers find themselves more able to come out of their shells, and be whoever they want to be when on the road, away from that life at home. We too often see people at our day jobs upset, cranky, and complaining about their jobs and that doesn’t make us want to go back one bit. Why go back to that when you can just travel, have fun and be around happy people? Right?

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Huacachina, Peru.

 7. Confusion with personal relationships

A whole new topic of its own… Being away from loved ones at home is tough. Much like #1 in this blog… keeping them up to date… in the loop of what’s going on etc. can become exhausting. Traveling also alters people’s perspectives, and backpacking can truly ‘change’ a person’s perspective. We may grow apart from that relationship and see things differently because of our experiences. We may also meet someone during our travels that we seem to relate better too and find interest in, that may spark the confusion.

Though is that real life? Yah its all fun while backpacking cause we have no worries in the world, but what happens when we get back to ‘real life’ and actually have to exist running errands together, cooking diner, and cleaning the house back home? Who else can relate?

Don’t get me wrong, not everyone who goes backpacking runs into this experience, some couples are lucky to be able to travel together and make memories side by side. Others relationships are strong enough there is NO WAY travelling separate could tear them apart.

 8. Running into money ‘Probs’

‘If traveling were free, you’d never see me again’. I am sure a number of people can say this. Travel is not always cheap. We may get carried away, go over our budget, get money stolen from us… spend way to much on something because we are confused with the currency, or just a little bit tipsy at the time (Drinks on drinks). We may end up having to call our folks back home to help us out, or call our trip short because we spent to much and have to get back home to work again! Wouldn’t it be great if money weren’t a concern?

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9. Living out of a backpack

Sure it is fun for a while… and great knowing we can survive so many months just off of what we can carry on our backs (The minimalist lifestyle). Seeing how many days we can go in that favourite pair of flip-flops before having to toss them in the garbage, or how many times we can get away with wearing that same shirt before having to hunt down a laundromat to save others from the stench…. Though it is always fun coming back home to a closet full of ‘new’ clothes to chose from.

Living out of a pack also means we can’t always be buying that much on the road. So may as well take a whole lot of photos instead of material memories! Hauling it around all the time can also be a pain, shore shoulders, having to worry about things being stolen out of it when you leave it behind, or ‘under the bus’. Kind of freaky knowing your life is in ONE bag!

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10. Missing our comfort items back ‘home’

The backpackers life… sleeping in different beds all the time (not always very comfortable), hammocks, on the sandy beach, or hey who knows where some of us end up finding ourselves sleeping for the night. Mice, lizards, rats, beetles, and other creatures are also not that uncommon in some of these places we may find ourselves ‘bunking’ out in.

Hot showers? Mmmmm not always guaranteed. Good water pressure? Good luck! We may find ourselves resorting to lakes, the ocean, or other water sources to rinse off. Or hey… May go quite a few days without a shower at all! At least we are all in it together, right?

I cant forget to mention PETS… being on the go all the time it is hard to have dogs or other animals back home. Or if you do have them, having to find places to take them to (Parents/friends/kennels) while we head out on our adventure. I know that first handedly – I have been wanting a husky pup for years but haven’t committed to getting one because I would be heartbroken having to leave him behind. I have to wait till I am more settled before taking on that responsibility.

We all have our comfort foods as well, or comfort items. We can’t be hauling around our favourite treats/luxury items/pets from back home. Blow dryer,  straightening iron, our dogs… It just isn’t practical. Our favourite foods may also not be available… and have to sometimes eat whatever we can get our hands on!

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With all that said there is nothing quite like coming home, taking a wonderful hot, pressurized shower, and falling asleep in that amazingly comfortable bed. Waking up and tossing on new fresh clothes, being around loved ones and having those comforts of home. This experience in itself is something that makes us truly appreciate what we have. It often takes going away and living that back packer life for a while, for us to realize how blessed we really are.

 

 

Golden Rules

Golden Rules

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Photos by: @kalenemsley (Who joined me out in Golden for three epic days of exploring!)

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What an unreal three days spent exploring Golden, BC a small mountain town located between Banff, AB and Revelstoke, BC. I had driven through Golden more times then I could count on my way to Osoyoos, BC every summer and had never really taken the time to stop and really explore it. When I was given the opportunity to come and visit the area via @tourismgolden I grabbed ahold. The area is loaded with adventure opportunity for all types and levels of ‘adventurists’, whether it is families wanting to get away for a relaxing holiday to the advanced athletes seeking that greater challenge!

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From downhill skiing at Kicking Horse Mountain @kickinghorsemtn , Classic and Skate at The Golden Nordic Ski Club (@goldennordicclub), to heli, cat and endless backcountry, the views and opportunity for skiers and snowboarders is endless. Snowmobiling, dogsledding, snowshoeing, skating, and visits to the wolf sanctuary, are a few of the winter activities available in the area. I would be leaving out a HUGE part if I failed to mention the wonderful, cozy coffee shops and restaurants scattered throughout the town. If you are like me and LOVE your coffee it is great to come and chill out in some of them before or after you head outside to explore!

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If you have the chance to stay at the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort (@kickinghorselodging – pictured above) I would highly suggest it. There is nothing quite like waking up to incredible views of the ski hill out your bedroom window, and enjoying a morning coffee (On the porch if its not freezing out, or inside by the fire) before you head out your door (literally) for a day on the hill.

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lI will let you in on a little secret… Before coming to Golden I had never downhill skied before, though had snowboarded and been skate and classic skiing. I decided to pick up a pair of downhill/backcountry skis this year (seeing as we have a very long winter season here in the Canadian Rockies) to make winter that much more enjoyable! Where better to start out then at Kicking Horse right? One of the steepest hill resorts in the area… how hard could it really be, right?! I may have taken a hard fall the first run, but after that I surprised myself and caught on quickly, making it top to bottom multiple times without bailing.

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On the second day at Kicking Horse we enjoyed lunch up at ‘Eagles Eye’ a restaurant/bar that is only accessible by chair lift and overlooks the ski hill, so we could ski right on out the door once we were done. After two full days on my new skis, I had muscles awakening, in me which I didn’t even know I had, but it was certainly fun. I am already making plans to get back out to Golden.

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We spent the third morning snowshoeing with @goldennordicclub just a couple minutes from where we were staying @kickinghorselodging. It was a crisp morning but nothing a few layers, coffee and quick movement couldn’t fix. The mountain valley, fresh powder and morning light made for some unreal views.

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Dogsledding had been on my bucket-list for YEARS and I finally was able to check that off the list through @goldendogsledadventures. A two-sled company, run by 3 siblings and located only 25 minutes outside of Golden. All 14 of the dogs were rescued by the owners and some of the happiest I have ever seen! It was the perfect way to spend an afternoon. We followed up the ride with some hot chocolate and treats to warm up after the ride!

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From skiing and dogsledding for the first time ever, to snowshoeing and enjoying the numerous coffee shops and restaurants in the area, my time spent in Golden was surely one for the books! The small town vibe and local friendliness has a person feeling at home quite quickly. Can’t wait to get back to Kicking Horse to ski this winter, and again in the summer where the list of outdoor activities in Golden is even more vast.

Annnnnddddd thats a wrap!

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If you have any questions about my experience in Golden feel free to leave a comment or send me an email (b7.willson@gmail.com).

Check out www.tourismgolden.com for more facts and info on winter activities, and things to do in the area!