Creationz by Catherine – A Collaboration

This post is a bit different than my normal travel posts, but I’m excited to share something that wowed me and something that I’m truly passionate about. I recently had the wonderful opportunity to work with Catherine on photographing her work for her 2018 Christmas catalog. To me this wasn’t just any ordinary photoshoot, but something that really wowed me. Catherine has a true passion in arts and design and it really shows in her work.

Catherine is passionate about creating and designing. She sources her inspiration from the places that she travels to and nostalgic objects. She loves bright colours and everything about the fifties (think mid-century modern), and this is definitely reflected in her designs. After studying fine arts and theatrical design in Ottawa (her home town) she was determined to pursue an artistic career. Catherine worked a variety of jobs over the years but her heart was in art. She put her skills to the test and created her own line of items, which lead into her own company called Creationz by Catherine. With this new found passion the success quickly followed. When she’s not busy working on her next creation, she’s travelling the world and sourcing new inspiration.

Creationz by Catherine is a brand of illustrated handmade products. Catherine makes Christmas ornaments, embroidered hoops, wallets, iPad and laptop cases, stockings, and tea towels. She even does custom orders by request. Each piece is designed, printed and sewn with high quality materials and meticulous attention to detail. All items are designed and crafted in her studio right here in Calgary, Alberta.

The 2018 Christmas catalog was a collaboration between Catherine, her sister Esther, and myself. I had so much fun working on this project, and will continue to work with Catherine on her future projects. I was even featured in the catalogue (semi-voluntold). You can check out the catalogue here.

If you’re looking for a wonderful gift idea for family, friends, or a treat for yourself I highly suggest you check out her work; it’s absolutely top notch. You can purchase from her on Etsy here.

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2018-05-17 – US Route 66 Day 1

Today was the start of my trip with my father to the USA to start our Route 66 journey from Chicago to Las Vegas. I woke up at 3:40am. I had difficulty going to sleep early last night so I was fairly groggy this morning. I made some tea, as I didn’t have enough time to make coffee. I had a quick shower, and finished packing the last few items that I needed to pack. My father came to pick me up at 4:00am.

When we arrived at the airport we checked our bags, as we were on a smaller airplane (Embraer ERJ-175) and they typically can barely fit a roller bag unless they are a smaller one. We went through security, which in both of our opinions is poorly setup in the new international terminal. If you’re Global NEXUS or TSA Pre-Check you still get funneled into the regular lineup’s so it creates a fair amount of inefficiencies. On top of that you still have to take off your shoes, and take out all of your electronics. Most of the other airports I’ve been through don’t require you to do this if you’re either Global NEXUS or TSA Pre-Check.

We had breakfast at Wolfgang Puck. I had a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel and coffee, which was delicious. We boarded our flight, which took about 3.5 hours to get to Chicago. The flight was moderately choppy for the first half but ended up smoothing out for the later half.

Upon arriving in Chicago we picked up our car, a Cadillac XTS. It’s an extremely comfortable ride and quite luxurious. Today we ended up driving from Chicago, Illinois to Dwight, Illinois; a distance of about 120 miles. Getting out of Chicago was rather slow going because traffic was bumper to bumper. Chicago is plagued by gridlock.

The sights we saw today was the following.

  • Route 66 Beginning Sign, Chicago
  • Berghoff Restaurant, Chicago
  • Lou Michells Restaurant, Chicago
  • Lulu’s Hot Dogs, Chicago. We ate here. I had a Chili Cheese Dog. My Father had a Hot Dog.
  • Castle Car Wash, Chicago
  • Cyndy Lyn Motel, Chicago
  • Henry’s Drive In, Cicero
  • Suffy’s, Mc Cook
  • Dell Rheas Chicken Basket, Willowbrook
  • White Fence Farm Restaurant & Petting Zoo, Romeoville
  • Isle a La Cache Museum, Romeoville. It was closed but there was a nice park here.
  • Route 66 Park, Joliet. There was an Ice Cream shop & Dick’s Towing.
  • Route 66 Visitor Centre, Joliet. The museum was closed when we arrive.
  • Rialto Square Theatre, Joilet
  • Gemini Giant, Wilminton
  • Mar Theatre, Wilminton
  • Polk-A-Dot Drive In, Braidwood. There was a lot of life-sized fiberglass statues.
  • Two-Cell Jail, Gardner
  • Riviera Restaurant, Garner
  • Old Route 66 Restaurant, Dwight. We ate here. I had a Rueben Sandwich. My Father had a Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

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2018-03-13 – Paris

Today I woke up at 6:00am and took the metro to Du Pain et des Idees, a very well recommended Bakery and had an apple pie for breakfast. I walked over to Canal Saint-Martin and ate my apple pie while people watching.
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I still hadn’t had my morning coffee so I picked up a McDonald’s Cafe Lungo before heading to see The Wall of Love (Le Mur Des Je’Taime). The Wall of Love was created by calligraphist Fédéric Baron and mural artist Claire Kito.
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After visiting the wall I went to grab an iconic photo of the North side of Les Invalides. It’s quite the spectacular sight. Les Invalides was built in 1678 as a hospital and housing for unwell soldiers. Today it houses museums, a church, a mausoleum, and still houses and has medical facilities for war veterans.
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I went back to the hotel to get my bags and checkout before heading to a cheese shop that is highly recommended; Fromagerie Laurent Dubois. I tried some samples of cheese, which were absolutely delicious, but didn’t end up buying any because the smallest of pieces were still too much for me to eat by myself today. I then proceeded to explore more city landmarks including the Colosseum and Louvre before heading to have some Vietnamese food for lunch at a place called Pho 14 Opera.

After lunch I went to the Apple Store at The Louvre because my charging cable stopped working. This is the third cable to stop working in only one year, and I’m fairly gentle with my stuff, so Apple needs to do something with their quality of their cables. They never used to be this poor. The gentleman I talked to (Michael) was very helpful but it did take 20 minutes of persuading him to replace it under warranty.

After that I took the RER B train and ORLYVAL automated train to Paris Orly airport. I had a few beers while waiting for my flight to Toulouse.

After arriving in Toulouse I took the tram to my hotel (Ibis Budget), stopping along the way for a donair, and went to bed because I was exhausted.

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2018-03-11 – Paris

Today I woke up at 5:45am. I started the day off by going to Moulin Rouge to take a photo of the exterior, but was disappointed that it wasn’t lit up. I’ll have to try again later. I then visited the two remaining Art Nouveau stations left in Paris (Abbesses and Point Dauphine). After that I went to Sacre Coure. It’s absolutely beautiful inside but sadly you’re not allowed to take pictures inside, and in fact I tried to take a photo but got in trouble and they made me delete the photo. My camera is so noisy you can’t hide the fact that it’s taking a photo. After that I took the Funicular down and went to the Grand and Petit Palaces, and Pont Alexandre III Bridge.
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I decided it was time for a break so I went to a Starbucks near Arc du Triumph. There was quite a bunch of hungover young women draped all over the couches in there. I was laughing on the inside remembering a few of those days in my youth. After having a coffee at Starbucks I went to The Arc. It was absolutely stunning and well worth the 200 or so steps to climb to the top!
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After visiting the Arc I went and saw the Eiffel Tower, found a good Vietnamese restaurant for lunch, and then went back to my hotel for a short nap.
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After waking from my nap I went to see the Parisian Catacombs. The lineup was about 1 1/2 hours but it was well worth the wait. The catacombs was originally used as a rock quarry and then later used as a mass burial ground when the city ran out of cemetery space and later bared burials from happening within city limits. Its estimated over 4 million people’s remains are in the catacombs. It’s an incredible but creepy sight to see.
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Random fact about the catacombs; during 2004, police discovered a fully equipped movie theatre in one of the caverns. It was equipped with a giant cinema screen, seats for the audience, projection equipment, film reels of recent thrillers and film noir classics, a fully stocked bar, and a complete restaurant with tables and chairs. The source of its electrical power and the identity of those responsible remain unknown.
After the catacombs I went to a highly rated (on Google) beer market called Brewberry Beer Cellar. There I picked up three beers; Jet Lag IPA, Jai Alai White Oak IPA, and HibouBerry Double IPA. All were absolutely amazing, but my personal favorite was the Jai Alai. I’ve been scoping out that one for a few years now since I heard about it on one of the podcasts I listen to. It’s brewed by Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Florida, USA.
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I headed back towards my hotel and stopped for a Crepe and then relaxed in my hotel room for a bit and had my beers. After having my beers I went to take photos of the Eiffel Tower at night, and I must say it was definitely worth it!

I got back to my hotel quite late, around midnight. Tomorrow I’m off to see Mont Saint-Michel!!!

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Quebec & Montreal

The week after returning from my Boston & New York trip I had the opportunity to go on a trip to Quebec & Montreal for my birthday. Work was a bit slow still and I approached my boss and asked if I could go away for another week, and he said go for it. I found a steal of a deal for $700 for flights to/from YYC to YUL (Air Canada), hotels in both Quebec and Montreal, and Via rail to/from Quebec/Montreal. Not bad for easter weekend!

I was blown away by the sheer beauty of Quebec and Montreal. I’ve been wanting to go here for years but hadn’t got around to it.

In Montreal I met up with my friend Myriam, who I had met earlier this year on my trip to Hawaii. We had some of the most amazing poutine I’ve ever had in my life! I even met some new friends while at a brewery in Montreal, who I still maintain contact with. One of them even lives here in Calgary.

Take a look at my pictures below and see the amazing beauty of both these amazing cities.

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September 2nd 2016 – New Zealand Day 13

Today I was woken up at 4:37am by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. The van was shaking slowly from left to right, but I couldn’t hear any wind. This odded me out, so I tried going back to sleep, but the shakes kept happening. At first I thought it was some punks who thought shaking my van would be funny, but I looked outside and saw other campers also shaking. I thought to myself earthquake, and then went back to bed because I was in no immediate danger.
I woke up again at 7:00am to a message from my father stating that there had been an earthquake in New Zealand. I looked on the news and it was a 7.1 magnitude, which is a fairly reasonably sized on. It occurred over 300 km away from where I was, so I was surprised to have felt it. Upon talking with others throughout my day they also confirmed that they had felt it too. Some areas of New Zealand, specifically around Gisborne, where temporarily evacuated because of concern over a 1 metre tsunami, but were allowed to return later in the day.
I started my day by having a quick breakfast of yoghurt, and cheese on toast before hitting the road. Today was mostly a driving day. My first stop was the town of Waverly where I saw a war memorial tower.
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My next stop was Patea, where I saw a piece of artwork; a Maori canoe on top of an arch.
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The next stop was Hawera, which had a water tower that I paid $2.50 to go up. Hawera is Maori for “burnt place”, from fighting between two local sub-tribes, which culminated in the setting ablaze of the house of the tribe under attack. The name became apparent in 1884, 1888, and 1912 when extensive blazes occurred. It was decided that a water tower was to be built in the centre of town to increase its water pressure for fire fighting duties. The tower was closed to the public is 2001 after falling into disrepair, and after a vote to keep the landmark instead of tearing it down, it was opened again in 2004 after extensive restoration. The tower stands 55 metres tall and holds nearly 700,000 litres of water, but is no longer required due to having an adequate water supply now.
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From the top of the water tower I could see Mount Taranaki, albeit a bit a cloud cover. It looks like a mini Mount Fuji.
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My next stop was New Plymouth, where I walked around for a bit admiring more Art Deco architecture, and a mix of Victorian and Art Nouveau, the predecessor to Art Deco. I then made a special stop at Market Patisserie and Cafe to see Kira and her husband Chris, who own the place. My very good friends Marc and Jennifer at home told me I should visit them when I was in New Zealand. Jennifer and Kira went to school together in Calgary, before Kira moved to New Zealand. Chris wasn’t anywhere to be seen, but Kira and I talked for a bit before I ordered a grilled chicken wrap, and a coffee. She brought them over to my table, along with a delicious donut that I could choose how much cream I wanted to put instead. The food was very good! The lunch time rush was coming in so I said my goodbyes and went back to my camper.
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I had a fairly long two hour drive along a windy road to Waitomo, where I choose this adorable little place that has cute hotel rooms in an airplane, a boat, a train, a little hobbit houses. The camping was free for the time being because the site was currently being built and had no power, toilets, showers, etc.  I ended up finding a lot more about the site the next day, but more on that tomorrow!
Tomorrow I will be visiting the Waitomo glow worm caves!
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August 30th 2016 – New Zealand Day 10

Today I had a lazy start to my day. I woke up at around 8:00am. I made myself a home made egg McMuffin style sandwich, and a coffee before hitting the road. My first stop was Pukaha Mount Bruce, a wildlife and bird sanctuary that help to reintroduce and repopulate endangered species, such as the Kiwi, into a protected environment. I saw over two dozen birds, as well as Kiwi’s, including a rare white Kiwi. Their day’s are reversed so that we can see them (sort of), but my camera was unable to capture them very well. They are under an infrared light so I had to convert the images to black and white, and it was nearly pitch black and flash photography was not allowed.

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I spent a few hours walking around the wildlife sanctuary before heading on to my next stop, Castlepoint Lighthouse. The cast iron lighthouse was built in 1913, and originally used oil and a wick and needed to be manned continuously. As technology evolved the lighthouse was converted to run a 1000 watt bulb off of a diesel generator in 1954, and subsequently converted to run off mains in 1961, with the diesel generator as a backup. The facility was fully automated in 1988. The views at Castlepoint were amazing!

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I was pretty hungry after climbing up to Castlepoint so I decided to have some lunch, some leftover spaghetti and meat sauce from last night. It was now about a two and a half hour drive towards Wellington, but I decided to break it up by stopping in Carleton to see more Art Deco, and Greytown to admire Victorian style architecture, as well as some Art Deco.

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I arrived in Wellington during rush hour, but surprisingly traffic wasn’t that bad. That’s thanks to their proper planning and use of public transportation. They have the highest usage rates of public transportation in all of New Zealand. I visited a camper dump station to drain and refill my water before finding a parking spot overlooking the beautiful southern coast. The night sky was perfectly clear so I even had the opportunity to do a long exposure shot of the milky way!

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