Kelowna – Part 2 of 3

Last week Julie and I embarked on a week long holiday to Kelowna for some relaxation, lots of food, wine tours, cider tastings, and to visit my friend Krystylyn. We left on Saturday September 5th and went home on Saturday September 12th. Let’s continue with this series.

Tuesday September 8th 2020

Tuesday was our wine tour day with Uncorked. We were picked up at 9:00am by our lovely driver Herb. Herb has been with the company for 11 years now, and spent the majority of his working life as an RCMP Crime Scene Investigator. He worked on many high profile cases.

First stop on our tour was Summer Hill Pyramid Winery, a classic favourite of Julie and I’s. We ended up purchasing a few bottles of wine here. This is my third time coming here. I even attended a wedding here in 2014. The winery was established in 1986 by the Cipes family, and is the most visited winery in British Columbia. A unique feature of the winery is the pyramid cellar that ages the wine. The pyramid was built in 1997 and is an 8% replica of the Great Pyramid in Egypt. Rumour has it numerous taste comparisons of the same wine, bottled on the same day, and served at the same temperature (some in the pyramid, some outside) resulted in the majority preferring the wine aged in the cellar.

Second stop on our tour was Nagging Doubt, a small artisanal winery owned and operated by Rob Westbury. His small winery was a very pleasant surprise and he had some of the nicest wine I have ever tasted in Kelowna. We ended up purchasing a bottle of their 2015 “The Pull”, and a 2016 “The Leap”, but strong red wines.

Third stop was Priest Creek Family Estate Winery, Kelowna’s newest winery, that just opened up a few weeks ago. It is quite remarkable that they opened during the middle of a pandemic, but they are doing quite well, and sold out of many of their wines already. They used some creative marketing techniques such as social media, flyers, pamphlets, etc. to get their name out there. The vineyard was purchased by Darren and Jane Sawin in 2015. Originally they sold their grapes to BC Fruit, but realized that wasn’t going to pay the bills. With some consultation of some friends they decided to start their own winery on their vineyard and bottle their own grapes. The wines here are super light and delicate, but are delicious.

It was then time for lunch. We ended up stopping at McCulloch Station Pub, where I had a delicious Ruben sandwich, deep fried pickles and beer.

The fourth stop was Vibrant Vines. The winery was established in 2010 by Wyn Lewis. You’re handed a pair of 3D glasses when you start your tour and can enjoy all the beautiful 3D artwork throughout the building, and on the bottles of wine. While we enjoyed the beautiful artwork, we can’t say we enjoyed the wine very much. We ended up skipping wine purchases here.

The fifth stop was Tantalus, which is both a favourite of ours. Tantalus was established in 2004 by Eric Savics. Eric purchased the vineyard from Pioneer Vineyards, who planted the first grapes in 1927 when it was under the reins of local horticulturist JW Hughes. The old vine plantings; 1978 Riesling and 1985 Pinot Noir & Chardonnay’s became the backbone of the vineyard. The other grapes were removed and three new types of grapes were planted in 2005.

After the wine tour Herb allowed up to stop at the liquor store so I could pick up some IPA beers, before dropping us off back at our condo. The rest of the evening was spent playing board games, reading, and down by the dock.

Wednesday September 9th 2020

Wednesday morning we spent relaxing by the beach. I read some of my book called “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”, which I loaned from Julie. It’s a really informative book that puts things into perspective.

In the afternoon Julie and I visited Wards Cidery and Vineyard, and Kitsch Wines quickly before meeting up with Krystylyn for dinner. At Wards we ended up purchasing a few bottles and cans of cider from Wards, including my personal favourite which was hibiscus tea infused cider.

Wards Cidery has been around since 1922 and is in it’s 5th generation of family ownership. Within the last 10 years they also started dabbling in wines, but I honestly didn’t like their wines. We ended up purchasing some Hibiscus infused Cider, and two other types of hard cider from them.

Kitsch Wines is owned by founders Ria and Trent Kitsch, who also launched SAXX Underwear in 2006. The couple planted a vineyard in 2010. The family roots actually stems back to 1910, when Kelowna was still in its infancy, four generations ago. We liked some of the wines there and ended up purchasing a 2016 Pinot Noir.

After visiting Wards & Kitsch we met up with Krystylyn at her condo and walked over to this hole in the wall restaurant called Mad Mango for some Malaysian Laksa. This was my first time having Laksa, as well as Julie, and we both agreed that it was fantastic. We will definitely be trying to make Laksa in the coming weeks, as we are big foodies.

After having dinner we walked back to Krystylyn’s condo and said bye for the evening. We will meet her again, one more time on the last day before we head home.

We quickly stopped by Red Bird Brewery for a six-pack of IPA for myself and then head back to the condo. In the evening we hung out by the dock and played some more Catan. Honestly Julie has been kicking my butt this week at Catan, and I can’t catch a break. While at the dock we meet another wonderful couple named Evan and Kayla and ended up chatting for about and hour.

Be sure to check back soon for part 3 of 3 in my Kelowna series.

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Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park

Last weekend Julie and I took a long 1900km roundtrip road trip to Jasper and Wells gray Provincial Park. We used my new trusty steed; 2018 Toyota Prius PRIME. Total fuel cost on the trip was $60 because I was able to take advantage of multiple free charges during our trip, including at our hotels, and BC Info Centre’s.

We left Calgary on Friday July 31st 2020 at 4pm, picked up some Subway sandwiches and headed straight towards Jasper. The drive took just over 5 hours and we ended up staying at the Tonquin Inn for $200 for the night, which is quite acceptable for being a hot spot. The place was well equipped with a queen bed, separate living room, kitchen, and bathrooms.

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The next morning we got breakfast at Coco’s Cafe. We both had coffee and a Montreal style bagel (Julie had gluten free) with Salmon and cream cheese. After we ate our food we drove to Overlander Falls, about an hour away.

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Overlander Falls was a quick 30 minute return walk to the beautiful high-volume, but low height waterfalls. We were the only people there so I was able to take the time to capture some video and long exposure photographs.

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After visiting Overlander Falls we stopped in at the Mt. Robson Information Centre, which was only a 5 minute drive away. There we received some information booklets on Wells Gray Provincial Park, and the Berg Lake hike, which I plan on doing sometime this year. While we were there I took advantage of the free Level 2 EV charging there and was able to charge my PRIME about 50%.

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Continuing along we drove to Clearwater, BC, with a brief stop in Blue River for $15 worth of fuel, as it was a good price. We stopped at Clearwater to quickly take a look at which hikes we should visit on the first day. First stop was Spahats Falls. The walk / “hike” to Spahats Falls is an easy 3.1 km with 91 metres of elevation difference. The views are stunning! This is where I realized Julie was a bit afraid of heights, but she did really well all things considered.

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Second stop was Dawson Falls. The walk / “hike” to Dawson Falls is an easy 1.4 km with 38 metres of elevation difference. The falls are very wide, but only about 15 metres tall.

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Third stop was Helmcken Falls. The walk / “hike” to Helmcken Falls in an easy 1.0 km hike with 60 metres of elevation difference. The falls are a stunning 141 metres tall and are the fourth highest waterfall in Canada. While we were there we saw a cute young couple getting married, which we saw later on in the evening when we were eating, but more on that later.

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Fourth stop was Osprey Falls, about a 30 minute drive away, but it was very underwhelming so we didn’t take any photos. It was 6pm so we decided to head back to our accommodation for the night; a cute bungalow at the Wells Gray KOA Journey Campground.

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After checking in and plugging in my car to recharge we walked over to a wonderful restaurant called Hop N Hog, where I had some delicious brisket and Julie had some delicious Pulled Pork. While we were there we learned of some nasty false reviews from a woman on Google and Travelocity against the owner. I suspect it was a date that went bad. This saddens me because these small “ma and pa” style restaurants rely on reviews from people like you and I. I left a super positive review because I thought the food and service was incredible.

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The next day Julie and I woke up around 7am, got ready and headed to the Painted Turtle Restaurant, which was just a few kilometres away. There I had an Eggs Benedict and Julie had a traditional breakfast, minus eggs, since she’s allergic to eggs. The restaurant overlooked a gorgeous lake which had a variety of turtles. The restaurant was on the same property as a campground, but the lack of trees at the campground would make me reluctant to stay there.

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After breakfast we drove to our first hike of the day; Moul Falls. Moul Falls is a 5.5 km return hike with 200 metres of elevation differential. At the end of the hike you decent via a steep trail / staircase to the bottom of the waterfall, where you can walk behind the waterfall. I decided the venture behind the waterfall, but Julie stayed behind because of a previous knee injury.

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After hiking Moul Falls we drove to Triple Decker Falls. The hike is only 0.8 km, and 52 metres of elevation differential, but don’t let that fool you, because it’s difficult. When you start the hike you’re presented with some donated hiking poles from “Y2C”; Youth to Christ, that you can borrow. Julie and I both took two as she has her prior knee injury, and I didn’t want to fall. Halfway through the hike I told Julie to stay behind, and I went to the bottom to complete the hike. The waterfall is beautiful, but I’m glad that Julie stayed behind as the last 1/4 of the hike was very technical and would have probably resulted in further injury to her knee.

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After completing the two hikes we drove back to Jasper and checked into our accommodation for the night; the Jasper Inn. Our room had a queen sized bed, a nice bathroom, a kitchen, and separate living room. After checking in we decided to walk to Jasper Pizza Place for dinner. Sadly they were out of gluten free crust so Julie had gluten free pasta, while I enjoyed a delicious glutenous pizza.

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After dinner we returned to our hotel where we watched a movie called Extraction. After watching Extraction we went to bed.

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The next morning we woke up around 8am and drove to the Jasper Fairmont where we had breakfast. I had Eggs Benedict, and Julie had the traditional breakfast, minus eggs, due to her allergies.

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After breakfast we started the drive back to Calgary with a couple of stops; Athabasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls, and Athabasca Glacier.

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Natasha & Tracey’s Wedding

Last weekend I had the wonderful experience of photographing Natasha & Tracey’s wedding at the Al Azhar Shriner in Calgary, Alberta. My day started out at the Al Azhar Shriner at 10am with me taking photos of the venue before heading to the Sheraton Four Points hotel at 11am.

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Makeup and hair were done by Amy Bower and Becky Froland from Illuminate Makeup. Illuminate Makeup is independently owned and operated by Amy Bower. Amy has 13 years of makeup experience and she’s had the opportunity to work with local television networks such as City TV, Shaw, CTV, The Calgary Sun, and The National Post. Becky has over 15 years of experience with hair styling and attended Delmar College in 2004.

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After makeup and hair were finished I took photos of the girls getting ready before heading back to the Al Azhar Shriner to setup my video gear and prepare for the ceremony.

The Ceremony took place outside and started at 4:00pm. Following the 20 minute ceremony the girls signed their legal papers and we spent the next hour taking photos of the girls, bridesmaids, and family in a few locations (outside on the lawn at the Al Azhar Shriner, the road leading up to the Al Azhar Shriner, and in Bakers Park.

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Upon arriving back at the Al Azhar Shriner at 5:30pm MC Mitch introduced the bridal party with an absolutely humorous made-up story about each of the women and men. Dinner, a delicious buffet of fresh salads, buns, chicken, beef roast, mashed potatoes, etc. was served from 6:00pm to 7:30pm. Throughout dinner toasts were done with shots of Newfoundland Screech, a drink similar to moonshine.

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Cupcakes and a small top tier cake were served prior to the girls first dance to “She Keeps Me Warm” by Mary Lambert. Mother & Father/Daughter dancing followed with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole.

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I left at around 10:00pm but I was told that there was a built your own nachos event that occurred shortly after and the dancing went into the night. It was such an honor for me to have shot this wonderful wedding and to see my friend Natasha marry the beautiful Tracey!

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Stay tuned for my next blog post, a maternity shot that I did the week prior for Lindsay & Michael, who are expecting their first born in a mere few weeks!

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Natasha & Tracey’s Engagement

It’s only two weeks away before Natasha & Tracey get married. I met Natasha at the climbing gym that we climb at over five years ago. When she introduced me to Tracey I immediately know they were perfect for one another. They’re both sarcastic, don’t take things too seriously, and have a lot of love to give. When Natasha asked me to be her wedding photographer I said “YES!” I’m looking forward to July 14th when Natasha & Tracey both say “I DO”. Here’s a few photographs from their engagement shoot that I did in Fall 2017 at Nose Hill Park.

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April 5th 2016 – Marc and Jen’s Big Day!

Today I managed to sleep in and the roosters or birds didn’t wake me up. I managed to figure out how to block out some of the sound by closing the horizontal slats in my room at night to keep the sound out, but then open them when I wake up to get cool air flow throughout the day.

Today was the big day for Marc and Jen! I didn’t have my SLR with me today because I was part of the big day, so pardon the iPhone pictures. The day started out with the groom and groomsmen going for breakfast at this cute little bakery Called Lei Petite Cafe and Bakery. Marc’s father ended up catching the tab for everyone which was very nice of him.
After breakfast we went to play football at a beach called Puu Paa beach. Nobody except me could find it and it was quite the hike in, and very beautiful. I got separated from
The rest of the group but eventually caught up with them again.
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We ended up just going down to their hotel beach and playing there. It was pouring rain the entire time but it kept it nice and cool for playing football.
We finished playing around 1030 and headed back to Marc’s fathers condo to get ready. Marc made a speech and began crying after 8 seconds the first time, then four seconds the second time. We told him he wasn’t going to even make it 2 seconds during the ceremony if he keeps this up. Marc thanked us all for coming and presented us all with customized cards and beautiful wooden sunglasses made by Woodsy.
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After getting ready for the Ceremony we piled into shuttles to head down to the Na’ Aina’ Kai botanical gardens where they are getting married. The botanical gardens spans over 240 acres! I’ll be visiting here on Friday so I’ll post pictures on my Friday blog. We waited around in the lobby for a bit until we were ready to head down to where the ceremony is setup by the beach.
Originally the ceremony was supposed to take place on the beach but it was too windy so they moved in inland a bit into a sheltered area. The ceremony was absolutely beautiful and I ended up shedding a fair amount of tears. After all Marc is one of my best friends and Jen couldn’t be better suited for him. They are perfect for one another. After the ceremony we had a formal dinner and speeches. The dinner was absolutely amazing; a perfect rare steak with mushrooms and tomatoes, asparagus, and a garden salad. I never thought of putting tomatoes on my steak before but it was delicious.
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Dancing commenced after the dinner, and then we took shuttles to a beach bonfire. Sadly I didn’t feel like staying because I was exhausted and wasn’t feeling too well (because I was exhausted) so I took a taxi home shortly after I arrived.

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April 4th 2016 – Beach Day and Wedding Rehearsal

Today I was woken up again at 6am by the pesky rooster! I made breakfast and had some coffee, and had a bit of spare time before I was meeting up with the Bride and Groom for a beach day. I decided to go for a walk around the resort and took some photos.

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I then went to meet up with Marc and Jen to soak up some sun on the beach before the wedding rehearsal. We went to the Hanalei Bay Pier, which was absolutely beautiful.

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After the beach I went back to my condo to get ready for the wedding rehearsal. The wedding is taking place at Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens. It’s absolutely breathtaking, and I only saw a bit of a glimpse of what the entire botanical gardens looks like.

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After the rehearsal we went for dinner at this restaurant called The Bistro. I had a burger, white wine, and some yummy appetizers. It was all delicious. After dinner we went back and had some drinks at a bar on our resort.

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