Photoset : Tofino

TOFINO, BC

I find myself in Tofino often enough for work, but not enough for fun... Growing up on the island, it was always a go-to place for camping and surfing, so last month it felt great to get up there for a week of exploring and camping. 

La Casa Winnebago

La Casa Winnebago

I was fortunate enough to have my bike with me on this trip, camping at my friend Taylor's spot in a trailer park a few minutes outside town... It was a perfect spot to commute on my bike for beer runs at Tofino Brew Co. 
 

Trailer Park campfire

Trailer Park campfire

We took a day trip out to Kennedy Lake & explored the logging roads...

Followed by a hike & beach fire with some new friends...

Julia flew out from Vancouver on my birthday to hang out on the beach and do some camping... we found a spot right off a beach to do some bouldering, walked along boardwalks and filled up our growler before hitting a beautiful camping spot outside of town on the ocean. 

3 months on Galiano Island

I started off 2017 with an eviction notice from our landlord in Vancouver. A common story in the city of 'renovictions.' We had only been there for a few months before the landlord decided to sell the unit we were living in under our feet. Instead of spending Christmas looming over finding another rental in the city, we opted to try something new.

We moved our things into a storage unit and January 1st, I packed up my truck and moved over to Galiano Island to live in a cabin for the winter. 

Lucky for me, a buddy of mine on the island has a beautiful cabin resort called Bodega Ridge. It's located on the quiet side of the island, surrounded by arbutus trees and just a block away from the ocean...

Over the 3 months on the island, I helped Jesse with some projects during the day, and spent my evenings by the woodstove reading books and sometimes watching the snow fall... A pretty dreamy place to spend cold winter nights.

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Winter can be really slow on the island, which can have it's up's and down's. I broke up the days by going out for hikes. My favourite happens to be Bodega Ridge Provincial Park, just behind the property. The views of the gulf islands from the top are amazing. 

If staying at a beautiful cabin for the winter wasn't good enough, I was so excited to dine out at Pilgrimme, one of Canada's top restaurants which happens to be in a quaint cabin style building tucked in the forest. I won't ruin the surprises for you, but if you go to Galiano... don't think twice about eating here and if there's room, book a stay at Bodega Ridge.

I hope to one day have my own cabin on Galiano, but for now, the journey continues as I am back on the road, living between my rooftop tent on my Toyota, at friend's places in the city or working with resorts along the way. 

Casa Corona in Whistler

#coronasunsets

A couple of weekends ago, Corona invited me up to Whistler for a getaway in the mountains. They hosted a two-day VIP après-ski party at Casa Corona, a beautiful chalet with mountain views, equipped with a backyard dance floor, bar, dj booth and live art. During the day, my friends and I got to take in the festivities at the World Ski & Snowboard Festival, before enjoying sunset at Casa Corona. 
 

The venue was gorgeous, a beautiful mountain home just outside the village. Right from the party, you could see the ski runs on Blackcomb... A perfect place to watch sunset and enjoy a Corona. 

The stage was set for an amazing party in the mountains. Corona outdid themselves with a great venue, decorations, amazing music from artists including Grammy Award winners, Brasstracks and of course a great group of guests to enjoy it all. 

After an amazing party, we woke up way too early for a must-do Whistler activity... Snowmobiling to a cabin for breakfast with Canadian Wilderness Adventures. There aren't too many things that will get me up at 6am on a Sunday, but this was worth it!
 

We were fortunate to be the last guests of the season to enjoy the Yukon Breakfast run at the cabin. The snow this time of the year was much better than we expected but we'd definitely do this again on a fresh powder day, maybe next year! We headed back to Casa Corona afterwards to close off our weekend in the mountains with a great après-ski experience.

Sad to say, it's time to say goodbye to winter... but this weekend experience in Whistler with Corona was the best way to cap it off! Until next year, winter.

On the road again...

October 2016
BC - California

THE BEGINNING

It's always a treat to fly down and visit friends in LA or San Fransisco, but nothing compares to doing the trip on the road. I hopped in my cruiser with my best friend, Graham who had recently quit his job to go chase summer, leaving behind a cooling Vancouver for sunny California. 

We drove to Portland on our first day, breaking in the rooftop tent with a campout in the driveway of a cinematographer friend I met on instagram named Octave, he also has a beautiful Landcruiser and gets up to some cool stuff, so he was very welcoming to let us crash in his yard for the night before making our way south. 

Octave feeding his chickens

Octave feeding his chickens

Graham taking a piss looking towards a snowy crater lake

Graham taking a piss looking towards a snowy crater lake

Our plan was to avoid going on the I-5 as much as we could, sticking to the old highways that ventured through the scenic routes. We headed east along the 395 towards Reno, stopping at Crater lake for a piss and some food. Our next camp spot was about 5 hours away from Reno, along a lake. We set up camp in the dark, cooked some pasta & woke up the next morning to find out that the lake had dried up... a sad sight, but a good sign that we were getting closer to the warmer climates in California.

YOSEMITE

In between Reno & Yosemite is a bit of a blur, lots of small California towns, deserts, mountain passes & americana. We were keen to keep rolling through until we arrived in Yosemite to start our first day of rock climbing. We made the mistake of staying at a hostel called the Yosemite Bug hostel, it's not that it was a bad spot, but it took almost an hour each day in and out of the park to get back and forth... also the decor in the place was weird to say the least and so were most of the people there... not the dirtbag climbers we were hoping to see.

Yosemite is an intimidating mammoth of granite, something you need to see in person to truly understand... and the climbing was just the same... even the easiest routes we could find proved to be difficult just at the reach of our capacity. It didn't stop us from getting up on some amazing climbs over a few days in the park, and made us itch to come back again to tackle more.

Stanley & his travel partner before a climb in Yosemite

Stanley & his travel partner before a climb in Yosemite

Climbers ascending El Cap just after sunset

Climbers ascending El Cap just after sunset

DEATH VALLEY

I don't know what it is about the desert, but i've always had some sort of respect for it... the same respect I have for the mountains. Just a vast baron landscape with nothing but flat lands, sandy plaines, jagged rocks and no water for miles and miles. This is what enticed me to check out Death Valley... 

The sunsets in the desert seem never ending, but when the last light disappears, you have just infinite stars and moonlight.

The sunsets in the desert seem never ending, but when the last light disappears, you have just infinite stars and moonlight.

RED ROCKS

We drove endlessly through the desert it felt, south east towards Las Vegas. With no A/C we were windows down in shorts and t-shirt, finally found our summer. We were on our way to Vegas to meet up with our friend Andrew Knapp for a small lantern festival in the desert called RISE. The festival was a few hours long just after sunset, and thousands of people came to release lanterns in the sky. It was a powerful experience, and a great stop on the journey. 

Just before we were about to leave, someone at a gas-station told us about Red Rocks, a park just 20 minutes outside the strip, a meca for rock-climbing... so with a few extra days to kill, we decided to go check it out, and to our luck, it was the best climbing i've ever done. Graham taught me how to lead my first climb, it was scary but stoked to send it to the next level.

Graham gearing up on a climb in Red Rocks

Graham gearing up on a climb in Red Rocks

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MOJAVE

Heading south to Joshua tree, we passed through the Mojave Desert, similar to Death Valley, except with a bit more life. Cactus start to appear, coyote and armadillo... But similar with hundreds of miles of baron landscape. You feel like if your truck broke down here, you will run out of water and the vultures will start circling over you. Lucky for us we didn't break down, but we did take a break to do some penny boarding in the middle of the desert. 

Penny sesh through the Mojave

Penny sesh through the Mojave

Stopped at a lot of funny gas stations and weird americana, this was one of my favourites in the middle of the desert. 

Stopped at a lot of funny gas stations and weird americana, this was one of my favourites in the middle of the desert. 

JOSHUA TREE

Probably one of my favourite spots in southern California. We camped in the campground of the park, there were no spots left when we showed up, but luckily we were able to score a spot on the second night and camped for a few days here. The stars at night are comparable to the Rockies, the day-time is very hot, even in October... the climbing is everywhere and so are the coyotes, hundreds of them just in our campground alone. 

Our camp spot in Joshua Tree

Our camp spot in Joshua Tree

PALM SPRINGS & LA

Graham & I parted ways in Palm Springs as I linked up with Julia & my parents for Desert Trip, a music festival with acts like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Rolling Stones & Pink Floyd. Our family had been planning to attend this for almost a year & it was awesome to see the legends come together for a festival like that. We were supposed to be camping on site in the truck with a friend who drove down from BC in his Landcruiser as well, but there was some complication with the camping passes we had so instead we opted for a beautiful villa with a private pool, not bad. the following few days were spent in Palm Springs at the ACE Hotel where we went to bingo night with a hilarious host named shirley. After some R&R, we ventured to LA to visit some friends, go to Disneyland & stay at the LINE hotel in Koreatown, before hitting the road back North.

Amin Cielo

Amin Cielo

Palm Springs

Palm Springs

The Commissary at the LINE Hotel in LA

The Commissary at the LINE Hotel in LA

ACE hotel Palm Springs

ACE hotel Palm Springs

Poolside at the LINE hotel in Los Angeles

Poolside at the LINE hotel in Los Angeles

DRIVING BACK ALONG THE COAST

We made good time from LA to our first camp spot along the coast... with a quick pit-stop in Ventura to meet "Chipper Bro" a legendary receptionist at the Patagonia HQ, recommended stop from my friend Harvey and then we continued north as far as we could. Things were a bit blurry between Ventura and Big Sur, we did a long day... about 8 hours of driving to get up there, and camped on the side of the 1 on a pull-out. 

just below our road-side camp spot.

just below our road-side camp spot.

BIG SUR

Probably one of my favourite stops along the coast. A small town on the rocky banks of the US-1. Just a quaint artistic town with some beautiful landscape, including the infamous Mcway Falls pictured here.


BIGFOOT COUNTRY

The Redwoods are a staple of California, an old growth forest with trees the width of cars, I had always missed this part of California when driving so we drove through the 'Avenue of giants' in one of the most memorable parts of the road trip. The road winds through the forest like a never-ending Jurassic Park forest... and when you pop out the other side, you are in Bigfoot Country... This was a great discovery for me, having encountered a Sasquatch in BC a few years back with some friends and now we were now in the area where the famous footage from the 1950's was filmed. The video is controversial, skeptics think it was staged, but Bigfoot enthusiasts believe that the video clearly depicts a female Sasquatch, walking unlike a human, unlike a bear. Why would someone go through the trouble of creating such an elaborate costume and depict a female? I guess it's all up for debate, either way... I was so excited to be driving through this part of California... & had to stop and meet some characters.

Avenue Of The Giants

Avenue Of The Giants

Big Bigfoot

Big Bigfoot


OREGON COAST & HOME

The last stretch was a time crunch. Julia had to be back at work, and it was evident the trip was coming to an end. We drove along the northern border of California up along the Oregon Coast, it was late & we were both tired so we decided to post up for the last night along the ocean at a rest stop... not ideal, but we were hoping to wake up to a great view.

At around 2 am, the storm begun. It started out with a heavy rain combined with thrashing wind, but only seemed to worsen. At around 3am, we decided to batten down the hatches, but the rain started to blow through the tent sideways, soaking through the canvas. At around 4am, it was a full on category 3 storm, the wind was bending the tent frame, the truck was swaying from side to side, and although I kept my cool... I was worried that we might be in trouble. We somehow managed to sleep in the wet tent through the rest of the night, maybe only falling asleep for a few minutes total before packing up and making the tired wet ride home to Vancouver. Later on, I was chatting with my friend in Bend, OR about it and he mentioned that just weeks before along the coast, tornados had actually been forming and could have ripped our tent right off... A perfect way to end an epic trip, with a little adventure.

 

 

1 van, 2 friends, 1 dog & 4200 kms

Sudbury, ON - Vancouver, BC

I fell asleep for most of my flight from Vancouver and woke up in a daze, slobbering on myself as we were circling in for landing in Toronto. I grasped that the flight was 7 hours, but I never really stopped to think how long it would take to drive to Vancouver, especially in a 1977 Volkswagen Van with a top speed of 80km/hr. It's always been on my bucket list to travel across Canada, I tend to stick around BC or the Western USA because it's convenient, and well it's where the mountains live however, experiencing the flatlands of the prairies and the giant lakes of Ontario and everything in between gave me an interesting perspective about Canada, and amazed me just how big of a country it really is. 

Andrew & Momo

Andrew & Momo

As you venture further away from big cities, the towns begin to get smaller and smaller and seem to be stuck in time, but a good time or at least a simpler time. There are less chain stores and malls and more local shops and community places. It had me questioning how we ended up with such corporate culture influencing our communities, how people have moved away from the family owned businesses and started to support the walmarts and home depots... I guess it's hard to compete with a well-funded corporation, but I was always excited to experience the local flavours of the small towns.

 
Northern Ontario

Northern Ontario

 

After a long day of driving, sometimes the only thing that you can think about is sleep... And if you are like us, you'd rather find a side road or free campsite than staying in a motel or provincial campground... luckily along the way we were fortunate to find some "free camping." These are generally dead end side roads near a lake or river or in certain areas you can find free designated camping along the highways. 

Sunset in Saskatchewan

Sunset in Saskatchewan

 
Camp spot near Thunder Bay, ON

Camp spot near Thunder Bay, ON

 

We stopped mostly for gas, snacks and to take photos of unique places, but the best places we stopped were the truck stops, diners and shops in the middle of nowhere. We rolled into a small mining town in Manitoba to grab a drink at the local bar. It was a dark bar, with a shuffleboard table, some slot machines, Coors Light on tap and 8 locals. We mingled a bit and met a character named Doug who brought his own fly-swatter from home to the bar ( the bugs are bad in the prairies. ) Another guy had also brought a fly swatter from home... I couldn't remember his name. We didn't stick around long, but enough time to get a feel for the town and back on the road we went.

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Growing up in BC, i've been fortunate to have the mountains around me, and never really understood why the Rockies were so much different. I had skipped over them a few times heading to Calgary in a plane, but when we drove into Banff, I couldn't believe how incredible the Rockies really are. We only had one night in Banff, so I made sure to battle a hangover and get up for sunrise. 

The drive from Banff to Jasper is filled with glacier lakes, intense peaks and winding roads... it's easy to get distracted while you are driving by the sights. There are signs for wildlife everywhere but when you see a row of cars pulled off the side of the road, you know there is a bear or elk or moose... we got lucky and had a group of elk cross the highway right in front of us near Jasper. 

We posted up near Jasper for a couple of nights, exploring around, camping and canoeing on Maligne Lake. We caught the canoe rental spot just after they closed but sweet talked our way into letting them rent us a canoe overnight. We were trying to make it to Spirit Island, about halfway across the lake, but after about 3 hours of paddling we made it as far as we could for sunset, enjoyed some sandwiches from the gift shop and then paddled 3 hours back to the parking lot with only the stars and some headlamps to light the way. There was complete silence on the lake as we drifted along the silky water, so quiet that my ears were slightly ringing... This was the highlight of the trip for me.

 
 

For every mountain is a desert, and British Columbia is no exception to that. The border of Alberta and BC lies in the Rockies, it was a familiar feeling when we entered back into BC as the first road sign had a sticker that read : "I <3 BC Bud." The further that we got from the mountains, the closer we got to desert land. We arrived into Kamploops around sunset and stocked up on a few things, ventured west towards Cache Creek and found a provincial campground... equipped with hot showers running water and electricity... a real camping experience, but it seemed to be the only place we could camp for the night so we popped the top and called it a night. In the morning we continued west and ended up in the middle of the desert. It was still mountainous but it reminded me of Arizona. We stopped briefly at a 'ghost town museum' which looked interesting from the road, but as we parked out front a man approached us, he was the owner of this weird establishment, told us that there were no dogs allowed and there was a sign out front that said no photography... a real inviting museum. He allowed us to take 1 photograph and warned us about the rattlesnakes.

 
 

Last stop, Lillooet. This would be our final night on the road... We could have made it to Vancouver that day, but taking our time on the last leg at a slow pace was nice. We camped at a free BC Hydro campground on Seton Lake, drank a bottle of bourbon with a nice french couple who were travelling in their van and had a friend from town come to join us for a drink. It was a beautiful part of BC that I had never been to, and a great way to cap off the trip. 

 
 

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Up Here Festival : Big things in a small town

Sudbury, Ontario

There are some common staples in most towns of 10,000-150,000... Strip malls, chain stores, a struggling downtown, some quirky branding, and a general lack of culture. Sudbury, ON has all of those things, but amongst the stereotypes is a group of people who are dedicated to inspiring the community with creative projects like 'We Live Up Here' and 'UP HERE Festival.'

Ola Volo's Mural

Ola Volo's Mural

The initiatives were created by a few Sudburians who want to inspire creativity in the city and create space for interaction, involvement and positivity. I was extremely honoured to experience and interact with the festival in it's second year and see how a small town can shake up the norms and bring the community together.

This festival is the type of event you might expect from cities like Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver and has attracted a variety of muralists, musicians and installation artists to Sudbury to participate in 3 days of displays. UP HERE uses a combination of local venues, galleries and restaurants as well as a shut-down street for the weekend all taking place in the charming downtown core which attracts people downtown that normally might stick to the suburbs and strip-malls.

My favourite part about the festival were the curated murals that are painted over the weekend by artists from France, Vancouver, Toronto and Sudbury. The murals will be up for a minimum of 5 years at a time and are an integral part of creating long-lasting vibrancy in the community, something I always hoped for in my hometown of Nanaimo, BC. I found myself watching the muralists painting and asking people walking by what they thought about the murals... There were some folks who didn't know what to think or weren't sure how to interact with the art and some people who loved it, but it seemed everyone was very curious and interested in what was happening that weekend. 

France based Muralists, Ella & Pitr

France based Muralists, Ella & Pitr

Residents braving the rain for one of the outdoor performances

Residents braving the rain for one of the outdoor performances

To check out more on the festival or the initiative click on the links below  

www.uphere.com
www.weliveuphere.com