Alberta, September 2017 – pt. 1

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WOW – finally! I can’t remember the last time I had such a huge photographic undertaking and then waited so long to blog about it. Things have gotten in the way – actual paying freelance design gigs, parenting my child, DEPRESSION, etc. Despite the fact that I had such an amazing time taking these photos and also experiencing the real life moments happening around them, I felt very little motivation to edit them once I got back home.

First I feel like I need to back up and explain what this trip even was. Back in the summer I saw a post from an instagram account I follow talking about this camp happening in Alberta in September. I had at that point not had a job in over a year, had been exclusively breastfeeding and caring for a baby 24/7, and was feeling creatively restless and totally lost. You KNOW I love my baby Alex more than anything, but I’m also an artist and I needed to create. This camp – Socality Camp – was presented as a camp for creatives/entrepreneurs in the Canadian Rockies, which I felt was the most ideal place to have a creative re-awakening. I love the cold, I love mountains, I love outdoor photography, and I desperately craved the company of fellow artists, makers and more.

SOCALITY_LAYOUT2SOCALITY_LAYOUT3SOCALITY_LAYOUT4We did have to figure out a few things, like who would take care of Alex while I was away? As it happened, we were already sort of planning to enroll him in day care in September anyway so that would take care of the day-to-day. What about feeding? I was his ONLY source of milk at that point. Well, other things transpired leading up to my leaving – we got him started on formula (for an entirely different reasoning) so that was one less thing for Alan to worry about, and I didn’t have to stress out about what kind of breastmilk stores I was leaving behind, OR making on my trip (TMI? Maybe!).

So with all that squared away, I held my breath and bought two tickets; one for the plane and one for the camp. I’ll pause for a minute to acknowledge how PRIVILEGED and LUCKY I am that I was able to do this. I don’t for a second take for granted the good fortune I’ve had in my life, and this trip is more than proof of that. SOCALITY_LAYOUT5SOCALITY_LAYOUT6SOCALITY_LAYOUT7Anyway. Since this blog is so late, and I’ve already seen a ton of blogs from other attendees about the camp, I feel a little bit of pressure to do some EXTREME EDITING. I made an indesign document to layout my photos, because it gives it an editorial feel and allows me to feature a few photos at once in some cases. I thought “20 pages should help me reign it in” NOPE I have over 50. I can’t be anything less than what I am, man. This is my truth. So you’re getting two blogs however many blogs it takes!

SOCALITY_LAYOUT8SOCALITY_LAYOUT9SOCALITY_LAYOUT10I haven’t even really talked about what this camp even WAS, though. It was at a big ranch-style camp in remote Alberta – extremely off the grid. No cell reception, hardly even decent Wifi. There were guests and speakers and workshops, all centering about creativity – building your brand, working with other brands, finding your voice, etc. Some times we got to play around with actual product, photograph people ~whose actual jobs are being models on instagram~, and getting to pick the brains of Instagram “influencers” who regularly work with companies to create content, and a lot of whom travel around full time taking photos. That’s a dreamy life.

Above is Joelle Friend during a workshop on brand photography led by Garrett King

SOCALITY_LAYOUT13This trip was also my first encounter with the Northern Lights!!! The forecast said they’d be out at like 3 AM so I went to bed extra early so I could wake up at 2:45 (and pump milk in a weird fancy outhouse – let’s not forget I was pumping milk the ENTIRE trip) and get my tripod set up. Unbeknownst to me, the Aurora had come out already, at a much more manageable hour, while I was trying to get to sleep earlier and everyone else was still up. So. But, shrug, I still got to see them, and be in a little mini workshop with the super cool Tanner StewartHe had already shot the Aurora earlier that evening, but still came out to show us normies how it’s done. Such a mensch.

The people who were the de facto “leaders” of the camp I’m just sort of in awe of for their drive, but also for their generosity and patience to help people learn and become better at their crafts. That’s a noble undertaking. I’m really glad I got to meet some of them, even though I was sort of shy. I should work on that. SOCALITY_LAYOUT14I was going to say “the next morning” but it was actually like, an hour after we started shooting the lights, the camp boarded busses to drive the 3-some hours to Banff, to see the sunrise at Moraine Lake. It’s an iconic shot. Pretty sure it was an Apple default desktop at one point? As we arrived, there was kind of a scramble to get a good spot to shoot from. Most folks went on this big rock hill so I camped out on the rocky shore.

Inevitably, when you’re finally physically in a location that you’ve seen so many times in photos, some of the mystique is gone. I didn’t know what Moraine Lake looked like outside of that view. It’s actually pretty crowded, and there’s like, a gift shop 50 feet away.

SOCALITY_LAYOUT15I really dug Moraine Lake. The sun rose around ~8AM but for the most part stayed behind the mountains until noon. So it was surreal, walking up and down this spot which, while crowded, was still pretty remote, and if you walked far enough away, you could be totally alone. SOCALITY_LAYOUT16Despite the fact that I came on this trip to get to know people and bond with like-minded creatives, I was still a bit of a loner. Being 1 in 150 and trying to make deep personal connections in 5 days is a challenge. But most everyone I met was so kind and they all listened to me talk about how I had a baby at home and I was looking for a creative rebirth (haha, sorry). SOCALITY_LAYOUT17SOCALITY_LAYOUT18

Wendy, aka @nomadicfare.SOCALITY_LAYOUT19SOCALITY_LAYOUT20

Speaking of Instagram influencers I was kind of in awe of, Christian Watson, aka 1924 (who actually *deleted* his instagram recently, like a boss). His whole persona is something to behold, online but especially in person. I was way too intimidated to say hi to him almost the entire trip, but on our last night I got up the nerve and we chatted for a few minutes during a campfire dance party. He asked me about myself, and I asked him for a hug, which he obliged. I wonder if I’ll ever get a chance to meet him again?

Christian brought this cool Merrimack Canoe and Sanborn Paddles down to the lake and people started getting in the canoe and taking photos of each other with the mountains in the background. I initially witnessed this from a bench a ways away sipping my second latte (hey – when you come in contact with espresso for the first time in a whole two days, you lean in to that shit). I kind of thought it was funny at first, and wondered what the other tourists standing around would be thinking about – literally – 10 photographers huddled together taking pictures of a person in a canoe, not even paddling the canoe! I wrote about what happened next on Instagram and am not gonna try to phrase it a different way:

 The moment when it all clicked for me at @socalitycamp was when I was drinking my *second* latte at Moraine Lake. The sun takes a long time to come up over the lake after it’s risen and it sorta felt like we were in a snow globe — for a place so huge it felt small and contained. @1924us brought out a @merrimackcanoes canoe and a couple @sanborncanoe paddles and people started jumping in, paddling around and taking photos – practicing their craft, together. People on the shore packed in close together to get the perfect shot. The freewheeling collaborative effort shook something loose in me and I had to jump in. What I had been witnessing from afar I suddenly was a part of and I felt connected. To the people, the land, to my camera, and importantly, to myself. I felt at that moment that I could DO this kinda thing.

It’s cheesy but so true! I went to Alberta to feel more connected to my creativity and this one instance really busted open the floodgates. It was so special. SOCALITY_LAYOUT21SOCALITY_LAYOUT22@ScottBakkenSocality Founder

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Part 2 coming later this week!

The Mountains are Calling

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Friends, tomorrow I’m embarking on a trip! By myself! I’ll be attending Socality Camp in the Canadian Rockies and I can’t tell you how stoked I am about this.

I first learned of this over the summer, and it seemed pretty affordable (at least compared to other camp-for-creatives events I’ve encountered in the past) and Alan and I talked it out and decided I could go for it. I was so scared. Scared of leaving my baby for 6 days, scared of him not being well fed or not sleeping and creating chaos and stress for Alan. Scared of being all by myself in a sea of strangers! Scared of having to continuously pump milk so my supply doesn’t run out. It had also been so long since I did anything independently, and that was scary too.

But, I thought, if it scares me, I should do it. If I can do it, I should do it. I’ve been away from other creative adults for so long, and becoming a mother, while amazing and life-changing, meant that I lost part of myself along the way, and this is an opportunity to get some of that back, maybe an even better part.

So that’s where I’ll be! And I hope to return refreshed and positively abuzz with creative energy and motivation to do and make and maybe I can dust off the ol’ blog for fall.

Make sure to follow along on Instagram!

Weekend Away

JUGGLER-16JUGGLER-14Last Tuesday we returned home from a whirlwind long weekend Up North to visit Alan’s folks at their cabin. It’s recently built (replacing a TRULY rustic cabin that lacked electricity or indoor plumbing!) and we only briefly toured the place last summer on a day trip from my family’s cabin. Now that this cabin is here, Alex will have twice the fun summer times with family! It’s so nice to be able to have these places for our kids. Growing up going to the cabin was and still is one of my most cherished traditions.JUGGLER-1JUGGLER-2JUGGLER-5JUGGLER-8JUGGLER-9JUGGLER-11JUGGLER-20A couple evenings Alan’s dad took us two out in the little boat to tour the lake. Is there anything better than an evening on a lake? No there is not.JUGGLER-27JUGGLER-29It occurred to me that I’ve never been this far north, this close to the solstice, so it stayed light out past 10 o’clock. This was a bit of a novelty to me. I’d hoped to do some astrophotography but I couldn’t make it to darkness. And good thing too, because our first morning Alex woke up about 5:30. It’s tough for a little guy to adjust to vacations!JUGGLER-30JUGGLER-31I really don’t mind waking up at dawn (although these photos were taken decidedly post-dawn). It’s tough, but when you’re at a beautiful lake in the woods, that’s basically a feature. I’m sure there will be more of these next month at the other cabin.

And if you’re going to have a baby force you awake in the early hours, it’s nice to have a couple extra pairs of hands to hold him while you get your bearings and drink lots of coffee.JUGGLER-33Hah! Alan’s uncle who owns a little stretch of shore across the lake picked us up in a pontoon for a little family visit. Alex’s first time on a boat!JUGGLER-37JUGGLER-38JUGGLER-39JUGGLER-40JUGGLER-43JUGGLER-44JUGGLER-45JUGGLER-46JUGGLER-47JUGGLER-48JUGGLER-50JUGGLER-51JUGGLER-52JUGGLER-53JUGGLER-54JUGGLER-55JUGGLER-56JUGGLER-57JUGGLER-58JUGGLER-60JUGGLER-63JUGGLER-64JUGGLER-65JUGGLER-66JUGGLER-68

Highway 61, We Visited

NORTHSHORE-32NORTHSHORE-24Last weekend for our 3rd anniversary we packed up the minivan and headed north. The plan? Explore the north shore of Lake Superior. That was all we knew. The unpredictability of the baby made it hard to have any solid plans.

And that really worked out well.

Parenthood is challenging, in a thousand different ways, but for me particularly, accepting that I can’t control everything, or even most things, is an incredible hurdle to leap. I guess I was always a bit testy, but the hormones, the loss of sleep, and a plan gone off the rails? I get terribly agitated, which is a great understatement.

I had visions in my head of beautiful sun kissed afternoons and us on the craggy rocks overlooking Lake Superior, on hours-long hikes, while the baby happily snoozed and we took little breaks to have a picnic of cheeses and salmon spreads. But the forecast indicated a much different trip, one with coldness and rain. Everything we wanted to do was more or less set in the outdoors. If the weather was shit, the trip would be RUINED. I tried not to get bummed about the trip before it even started, but it was hard.

But, back to this trip. It actually turned out really great! We had one day of really crap weather but still managed to go out and do some stuff. Our little lakeside condo at Bluefin Bay was cozy and spacious. We don’t feel any time was wasted, which in my mind, means the trip was a huge success.

Day 01

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Day 02

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Day 03

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Day 04

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Day 04

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Day 1 was spent driving, walking around Canal Park in Duluth. We ate lunch at Northern Waters Smokehaus and grabbed beers at Canal Park Brewery . We then took a pit stop at Tettegouche State Park. We stayed at Bluefin Bay for the trip. 

Day 2 started sunny, but quickly turned to rain. We rode the new gondola at Lutsen and got lunch and beers at the Summit Chalet. Later on, we took Alex swimming for the first time in the hotel pool.

Day 3 we got breakfast at Coho Cafe (and every morning subsequently!) and hiked around Temperance River State Park in the drizzle. After naps, we ventured to Grand Marais to eat lunch at The Angry Trout  and explore Artists’ Point. Before heading back we got beers at Voyageur Brewing. And later, more swimming!

Day 4 we went to Cascade River State Park, followed by lunch at Cascade Restaurant

Day 5 we packed up and headed home with a brief pit stop at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.

It’s easy to forget how much beauty is in your own state. I can’t recommend the North Shore enough for a family getaway. I think going later in the summer would’ve given us a wider range of opportunities for activities, but I’m glad we got to go when it was still pretty quiet and cool.

Help Plan our Anniversary Trip!

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Our anniversary is in a couple months, and we can’t really do what we did last year, but we still want to do something exciting! So, what I proposed was a tour of Minnesota’s beautiful north shore. But, we need some help deciding what to do and most importantly, where to stay. It’ll be 4 nights and 5 days in May AND oh, we’ll have a baby, so baby travel tips are welcome too.

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I made this super cool graphic to wrap my head about what is available to us up there because there’s so much to do and see.

So, go! What should we do Up North?

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