Entries tagged with: sponsored

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Inspiration: Jurassic World at Target

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This post is brought to you by Target. When they reached out asking if I’d be interested in playing with (and sharing!) Jurassic World toys of course I said yes! They provided the toys and trusted us to do our thing for the content!

Target provided the Jurassic World toys (and a gift card for us to pick some of our own) and Shawn, Bucky, and I happily took their inspiration and ran with it. Who doesn’t love dinosaurs? … and Jurassic Park was one of the first “scary” books I read as a kid. The movies are also ridiculously epic, so it’s hard not to imagine how fun the latest one will be too. When the box of dinosaur toys arrived, Bucky, the NOTpuppy, was the first to dive in and try to run off with the Indominus Rex (something about that rubbery face he just HAD to grab). I started to poke at the pile of dinos and when I discovered the Jurassic World Lego sets with Lego Unimog, G-Wagen, and raptors online… that Target gift card disappeared pretty quickly. The dinosaurs quickly spread across NOTlabs, the Legos were built over coffee one morning… and as Shawn and I played with them and brainstormed ideas to try out with the new Roland CNC - it hit us! Wooden Desktop Planters! A fun little set that we could attach the Lego pieces to made from a nice dark walnut wood to mix with succulents and strawberries would be the PERFECT playful table top setup for the dinosaurs!

So if you’re ready to see all the fun we’ve been having… and the ridiculousness that ensued… to the next page!

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11 days in 100 Instagrams: Winter in Alberta

winter0.jpgThis post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, we roadtripped up from LA for a fall adventure. In Part II, we are experiencing all that Alberta Winter has to offer! Follow the series to see what inspires us along the way!

First things first - THANK YOU, Travel Alberta! I’m sad to say our Alberta adventures have come to a close. It has been a fantastic journey - exploring incredible places, meeting amazing people, doing new things, and road tripping to clear our minds, and get reinvigorated for the second decade of NOTCOT! Shawn (and Bucky) and I had a blast - with amazing animal encounters, feeling tiny amongst the stunning Rockies, climbing walls of ice, and so so much more… So a huge thank you, for helping for me to step out of my comfort zone, and get out of my head a bit while still simultaneously working. It has been so much fun to explore and share it all as we went! And we’ll definitely be back! (Canmore, Jasper, and one day catching those northern lights are on my list…)

So while there are proper feature posts on our adventures - for the super preview with all the crazy little details and inspiration along the way - see it as we shared it in real time on the NOTlabs Instagram. You can see Part I rounded up here - 8 days in 100 Instagrams - Alberta Summer, and Part II - 11 days of Alberta Winter in 100 Instagrams on the next page!

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Parks Canada Logos - Cave and Basin

cnplogos0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, we roadtripped up from LA for a fall adventure. In Part II, we are experiencing all that Alberta Winter has to offer! Follow the series to see what inspires us along the way!

Going through tons of pictures from our Alberta winter adventure the hardest part is deciding what to share! So many stories, so many things we’ve seen and done… so using my fall back question for post decision making: “Would I want 90 year old me to remember this?” - I have to share this amazing wall of Parks Canada Logos i saw at the Cave and Basin National Historic Site, the birthplace of Canada’s National Parks! I love a good logo, especially simple animal ones… and their evolution of their current beaver is fascinating! There are also some great mountain goats, big horn sheep, bears, bison, mountains, and more… check them out on the next page!

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The Livery Shop, Calgary

livery0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, we roadtripped up from LA for a fall adventure. In Part II, we are experiencing all that Alberta Winter has to offer! Follow the series to see what inspires us along the way!

The last leg of our winter adventures in Alberta landed us in Calgary for about 24 hours. On fun discoveries, in Inglewood, look for the red barn. Inside is the new Livery Shop - an awesome little shop in the front, and the studios of Camp Brand Goods and Coutu Kitcsh. The shop naturally carries both of their lines, in addition to some other fun local brands like Treeline Outdoors and Fiasco Gelato , as well as other camping accessories and dog friendly goodies. You might also get lucky and meet their adorable dogs in the back (Otis the sheepdog pup even modeled one of their caps for us!) Ooooh and the shirts are SO SOFT and so well cut. We just wore them on the flight back (we looked like - Team Bison!) - and the women’s tees have such a nice scooped neckline (I hate the ones that feel like they are going to choke you.) Take a peek inside the adorable barn of a store on the next page!

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Snowy Owl Dog Sledding - Canmore

dogMAIN0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, we roadtripped up from LA for a fall adventure. In Part II, we are experiencing all that Alberta Winter has to offer! Follow the series to see what inspires us along the way!

Dog Sledding!!! I’ve always been curious about what dog sledding is like, so when Travel Alberta asked if we wanted to try it, of course we said yes! Today we joined Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours for a 2 hour adventure, and it was eye opening! First, for a bit of back story - Snowy Owl Sled Dog Kennel was created in 1983 by Connie and Charles Arsenault as one of the first dog sledding tours, and is now run by their kids, Jereme and Carlin. They have around 175 dogs, and tend to breed/adopt their dogs. While they are of racing stock, they really train them for tourist adventures - meaning they are all extremely people and camera friendly, and love the hugs and attention from all the visitors. Their website is extremely detailed about the high standards of their kennel, their dog training, feeding, and why their dogs are everything. The love between the dogs and the Snowy Owl folks is apparent as soon as you meet them all - so much playful passion and work ethic from both the dogs and humans! Even though the snow was minimal, and the adventure was not as awesome as it can be (i’ve got to try again in fresh powder!) - the experience was fascinating, the dogs adorable, and Shawn and I learned a lot riding with Jereme.

Take a peek at the stunning adventure on the next page! And of course, tons of adorable dog pics.

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Ice Climbing with Yamnuska - Johnston Canyon

climb0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, we roadtripped up from LA for a fall adventure. In Part II, we are experiencing all that Alberta Winter has to offer! Follow the series to see what inspires us along the way!

Ice Climbing! As far as our itinerary for this adventure, I knew that the intro to ice climbing with Yamnuska Mountain Adventures would be the most ambitious new experience on the list. Based in Canmore, they are over 30 years old, and have an impressive (intimidating?) team of incredibly qualified guides. In fact, as i research to write this post, i’m still floored by the background of our ice climbing instructor, Barry Blanchard, who has been with Yamnuska since the beginning! A quick internet search, shows he’s pretty much a legend in the alpine world… and as Shawn and I know, he’s also one of the nicest, most patient, passionate, intelligent teachers we’ve experienced! I don’t even know where to start - so take a peek at his wikipedia entry for the highlights, he’s also one of Patagonia’s first ambassadors, just published his memoir, and is a go to by Hollywood for alpine related films.

But all that aside, before we got to know Barry, we knew little about ice climbing at all. We met with him, learned the gear basics, put our crampons on, and hiked into Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park to the upper falls. Once there, he walked us through the basics, and got us climbing! The experience was AMAZING - also made me realize how much i need to get into shape so we can get even further next time! Take a peek on the next page for the experience, and the breathtaking icy falls of Johnston Canyon.

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Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep

sheep0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, we roadtripped up from LA for a fall adventure. In Part II, we are experiencing all that Alberta Winter has to offer! Follow the series to see what inspires us along the way!

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep! Absolutely surreal to see them walk across the highway and jump over the railing towards the frozen lake. Usually the males and female herds are separate unless it’s mating season, but somehow we found the group of females and young on the right side of the highway, only to look up and see the males crossing the highway not far ahead. Remember on our last trip to Jasper we saw SO much wildlife, and Bucky got his first introduction to so many species. Well this trip, perhaps because it’s winter and snowing quite a bit, we haven’t seen nearly as many creatures - so when we came across this large herd of bighorn sheep, our jaws dropped. The backdrop of a frozen Abraham Lake (which is apparently known for its frozen methane bubbles beneath the surface!) and snow falling all around us, made the scene all the more dramatic. Take a look at our encounter on the next page!

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The Prairie Creek Inn - Aspen Tree House

tcpi0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, we roadtripped up from LA for a fall adventure. In Part II, we are experiencing all that Alberta Winter has to offer! Follow the series to see what inspires us along the way!

Everyone needs a relaxing, magical getaway - the type that forces you to stop, relax, and just revel in the beauty around you and the company you’re with. We just found that at The Prairie Creek Inn in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, which is about 3 hours east from Banff and Jasper. Even spending a mere 20 hours there, Shawn and i feel rejuvenated to continue on our epic Alberta adventure! This luxury B&B is actually a group of cottages spread throughout their large property (there’s even a creek running through!), so you feel more like you’re staying in a private cabin in the woods… only with a delicious restaurant, wonderful hosts, and all the amenities you could need (firewood, snacks, movies, and more.)

We had the chance to stay in the Aspen Tree House - just up the hill from the main lodge, and it truly is magical… from the moment you walk up to it in the clearing between the trees, to waking up in the morning and pulling back the curtains to expose the windows on two sides of the cabin that make you feel like you’re right in the woods. How anyone can watch the tv in the corner over the fire place between the two HUGE windows when snow is falling, is beyond me. The tree house interior is that perfect balance between comfortably homey, and spaciously modern. Even with just a few hours there, we had to make use of the fire pit (i’ve never done a fire in the snow!) It was fantastic to chop some wood and curl up by the fire after dinner as the snow fell around us. Take a peek into the Prairie Creek Inn Aspen Tree House on the next page…

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Athabasca Glacier + Skywalk

glacier0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, we roadtripped up from LA for a fall adventure. In Part II, we are experiencing all that Alberta Winter has to offer! Follow the series to see what inspires us along the way!

If there’s one thing that can truly make you feel small, it’s a visit to the Athabasca Glacier at the tip of the Columbia Icefield in Jasper National Park. While pictures are beautiful, i haven’t found that they even remotely do it justice… they mostly end up very white. It is so large, that unless you zoom way out and the people are tiny specs, you can’t even see most of it in frame. The glacier covers an area of nearly 2.5 sq miles and can be up to 1000 ft thick. Regardless of whether you are there in winter or summer, you have to climb up on it to see how incredibly LARGE it is. When you see the signs of where it USED to reach as you walk up the trails… you quickly realize that this monstrous glacier may not be here for many future generations to see. In the past 125 years, it has receded nearly a mile, and lost over half its volume! Every year it recedes another 16ft or so.

To my surprise, this is really a summer stop to do the full Columbia Icefield Glacier tour and to walk out on the Glacier Skywalk. In the winter, you can still walk out to the Athabasca Glacier on your own though, and its certainly far quieter than tour bus season when we first went by in Sept. Beautiful to see it in both seasons - its so different! Take a peek at the pictures of Sept vs Feb on the next page!

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Maligne Canyon Icewalk

ice0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, we roadtripped up from LA for a fall adventure. In Part II, we are experiencing all that Alberta Winter has to offer! Follow the series to see what inspires us along the way!

Firstly, wow. ICEWALK!!! Today we went on an Icewalk in Maligne Canyon in Jasper National Park with Maligne Adventures and it was unbelievably beautiful. I’ve always known ice is beautiful - who doesn’t love or admire an impressive ice ball in their drink? But WOW. I’m still spinning with how inspiring and impressive the ice formations we walked over, under, and through are! From the walls of ice forming on the mountainsides, to the shelves of ice we precariously walk across, to the incredible patterns of what almost looks like bubbles of ice that form from water dripping down… I honestly can’t find the words to tell you how beautiful it all is - so go see the pictures on the next page!

Side note - while you can go wander Maligne Canyon on your own, i’d definitely suggest doing a tour the first time. They provide you with crampons/boots if you don’t have them, and the experienced guide is a wealth of knowledge… not to mention there are a lot of beautiful areas to see off trail as well as more precarious areas that an untrained explorer may not know about. Anyhow - to the next page for all the pictures!

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Duchess Bake Shop & Provisions

duchess0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, we roadtripped up from LA for a fall adventure. In Part II, we are experiencing all that Alberta Winter has to offer! Follow the series to see what inspires us along the way!

If there’s one place that keeps coming up on Edmonton lists that you HAVE to try, it is Duchess Bake Shop, as well as their specialty baking store Provisions by Duchess, next door. The bakery has clearly become a destination for foodies and macaron lovers everywhere, and as soon as you step in, it’s easy to see why. Tucked away in a strip of shops, you enter an ornate, yet modern, parisian feeling spot filled with world class pastries made daily from scratch. And if you’re inspired to make your own, Provisions is filled with the who’s who of pastry cookbooks, specialty ingredients, baking tools, and even their new self published Duchess Bake Shop Cookbook - complete with 80 recipes for their most loved pastries from the bakery.

While our culinary adventures in Edmonton surprised us - so many delicious new restaurants filled with modern interiors I loved, and incredibly nice folks. Heading to Duchess near lunch hour was a bit more like Disneyland! But worth the chaos. One thing to note if you make the pilgrimage to Duchess is that they are not open Mondays, and if Monday happens to be a public holiday (in this case Family Day), they are also closed Tuesday. Luckily, we were driving to Jasper on Weds, so managed to squeeze in a quick stop to check it out, have a quiche and croque monsieur, and pick up a box of treats to enjoy on our road trip! Of course, once i got there and peek at the cookbook, it warranted a longer read… so check it all out on the next page!

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Making Cutting Boards with Oliver Apt

_cutting0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, we roadtripped up from LA for a fall adventure. In Part II, we are experiencing all that Alberta Winter has to offer! Follow the series to see what inspires us along the way!

I made a cutting board! On fun ways to explore a city and get to know the people and find out more about life - i’ve now learned that a workshop is incredible! Edmonton Tourism definitely knows how to appeal to our designer side by mixing in a special Oliver Apt Cutting Board Workshop into our itinerary. While at first glance i wasn’t sure how it fit in… after the fact? Genius move!

Firstly, the workshop is with Oliver Apt and the founder, 3rd generation carpenter, Landon Schedler, who beyond knowing just about everyone in the creative community, has a portfolio that nearly completely overlaps the Edmonton ‘must try’ lists! (i.e. Woodwork, Meat, Duchess Bake Shop) Also, how awesome is it to not only get to tour someone else’s studio, but to also try out their tools? Secondly, a magical thing happens when you have a physical goal/project in front of you. As much as all parties want to focus on the tour and interview or talk about their work… the common goal occupying your hands and mind - somehow makes the conversation far more fluid - and fun! I learned more about the local creative community and the inspiring people and culture of Edmonton in that few hours making a cutting board, than most of my trip!

And the bonus? Cutting board! Which will always make me think of my Alberta winter adventures! And it’s hand made by me… with the clear expertise of years of woodworking know how from Landon. While i definitely learned a lot about wood, tools, laminating, planing, and more… perhaps throwing a workshop is the ultimate humblebrag. It’s only when you TRY to do what experts do, that you realize just how amazing experts really are!

Ready for a peek into the Oliver Apt wood shop/studio and a step by step look at how to make your own faceted cutting board on the next page!

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Elk Island National Park

elk0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, we roadtripped up from LA for a fall adventure. In Part II, we are experiencing all that Alberta Winter has to offer! Follow the series to see what inspires us along the way!

You know i’m not one to pass up a visit to see some bison! (Remember the baby ones at Waterton?) When I found out that Elk Island National Park is just outside Edmonton (maybe a half hour drive), I had to go see! While we were warned to keep our eyes open as we cruised the highway through the park for Bison, and as promised, on the highway we saw a good two dozen or so bison along the fences! Both when coming and going! I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that once inside the park, we only found one - seeing as we knew exactly where most of the others were. It was also surreal to see a coyote jumping so high as it ran through the snow across the road! The visitors center is a must stop too - so many funky taxidermied creatures and fun gifts. I adore their stress bisons - see the stress bisons above in lieu of the herds of bison along the highway i couldn’t get pictures of.

According to the Elk Island National Park site, “Elk Park was first established in 1906 as a federal game preserve to protect the declining elk populations of the Beaver Hills. Some of the last Plains Bison in the world were reintroduced to Elk Park in 1907. In 1913 Elk Park joined the Parks Canada family. Since that time Elk Island National Park has been Canada’s source of disease free bison for re-introduction and conservation initiatives throughout its former range.”

On a longer trip (or the next time we’re in Edmonton), we’re definitely coming back to Elk Island National Park - perhaps to camp, hike, or snowshoe around the lakes! See what we saw on the next page!

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Edmonton Silver Skate Festival

snow0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, we roadtripped up from LA for a fall adventure. In Part II, we are experiencing all that Alberta Winter has to offer! Follow the series to see what inspires us along the way!

When i think winter and snow - first things that pop to mind are skating on a frozen pond and making a snowman. So when we first got in to Alberta for this Winter adventure, it seems only appropriate to start things off at the Silver Skate Festival in Edmonton at Hawrelak Park - and on Family Day no less! The free festival was a plethora of all things winter fun - so many families skating together on the frozen lake (even pulling each other on sleds across it), bundled up kids running around through snow mazes and sliding down ice slides, beautiful huge snow sculptures, snow blocks you could move and build forts out of… and watch out for the dogsleds coming around the lake! (FYI, that ringing bell, isn’t a bike behind you - the dogs are coming! Learned that one fast!) In addition to all the demos (from blacksmithing to curling and more) there was live music in a few spots, ongoing performances, and even a zombie 5k and triathlon. With an incredible staff of volunteers and supporters, Silver Skate Festival is now in its 25th year and still free for all to enjoy. It’s hard not to love the snow with such a vibrant, energetic festival! Take a peek on the next page for my highlights…

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Inspiration: YEG - Edmonton Airport

yeg0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, we roadtripped up from LA for a fall adventure. In Part II, we are experiencing all that Alberta Winter has to offer! Follow the series to see what inspires us along the way!

We’re back in Alberta! This time it’s nearly 2 weeks of wintry adventures! Lots and lots of NOTCOT firsts (perfect for kicking off decade 2!) that i can’t wait to experience (and share!) with all of you. But first… instead of roadtripping up from LA like last time, we’ve flown up and rented a car to explore the snowiness properly.

So first stop was YEG, and while the flight from 85 degree weather to below freezing was a smidge nerve racking… and i did feel ridiculous in the LA heat in snow boots (but it was easier to wear than pack them)… I must admit i’ve been excited for a taste of winter, but i never expected to feel so inspired simply stepping off the PLANE! The Edmonton Airport manages to make even waiting in line at immigration more pleasant with a luscious, tall, green living wall! And when you pass through that to baggage claim - there are fun sports dioramas within them - complete with tvs to inform and occupy your time while you wait. Even those who aren’t into sports can’t help but be fascinated. So take a peek on the next page to see what grabbed me (and distracted me) from just how cold it looked as we flew in…

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Cadillac: Driven By Design, Los Angeles

arch0.jpg This post is in partnership with Cadillac. Last time they brought us to Atlanta for Road to Table: A Cadillac Culinary Experience. This time, they invited us to Driven by Design, in our hometown of Los Angeles. A fantastic day of architectural adventuring close to home!

Cadillac has teamed up with Architectural Digest for a series of architectural tours in various cities, including Miami and Los Angeles, and they were kind enough to invite us to experience a different view of LA in a train of brand new 2015 Cadillac Escalades cruising through the hills. First stop: The Hotel Bel-Air. Followed by the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, the iconic (and film and music video famous) Sheats Goldstein residence in Beverly Hills by John Lautner, and the North Faring residence in Holmby Hills. There was definitely something surreal about wandering the Sheats Goldstein residence at sunset, aka the Big Lebowski Jackie Treehorn House! It was a great experience to get to peek at all of these designs up close. See the details of them all on the next page.


This post is in partnership with Cadillac.

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Cadillac Road to Table: Atlanta

0-cadillac.jpg This post is in partnership with Cadillac. A few weeks ago, they invited us out to Atlanta to participate in Road to Table: A Cadillac Culinary Experience in partnership with Saveur Magazine. I’m excited to share our awesome experience test driving the CTS-V to the acclaimed Restaurant Eugene and Holeman & Finch.

On my first trip to Atlanta last year for the Final Four, we were starving and flew in pretty late. Hunting for a great restaurant, we happened upon Holeman & Finch Public House - it was a beautiful gastropub of sorts with delicious craft cocktails and even more delicious gastropubby southern comfort foods. So when I got the invitation to head out to Atlanta to join Road to Table with Cadillac, and saw that the chef was Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene and Holeman & Finch - I was ecstatic. When we stumbled in that first time - we thought we’d just gotten lucky with such a delicious spot. Turns out Chef Linton Hopkins behind it all is a James Beard winner and multi-time nominee, a Food & Wine Magazine ‘Best New Chef’, and his restaurants make many national restaurant lists… it all started to come together. And on top of that, getting a chance to test drive and experience the new Cadillac CTSs and Escalades… we hopped right on the plane! See the details of our adventure on the next page!

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8 days in 100 Instagrams: Alberta, Canada

use00.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, Shawn, Bucky, and I are loaded up in the NOTFZJ80 spending a week in Alberta roadtripping, camping, and exploring all that we can fit in… follow the series here to see what inspires us along the way!

WOW. It’s surreal to be home in Los Angeles - after putting 4000 miles on the NOTFZJ80 in 2.5 weeks as Shawn, Bucky, and I headed up from LA up through the middle of the US, spent a week in Alberta, Canada, and came home down the west coast… Even as i work on making sense of our many pictures and adventures, SO much has happened and been experienced along the way! One of the most important things i’ve learned on this Alberta adventure - be ready for ANYTHING - from hot weather into a snow storm - from camping to luxury hotels - from stuck in traffic to being alongside amazing creatures. You just never know what might be around the corner…

When I was counting things up, i couldn’t believe how much has happened in our 8 days across the border alone, which i’ve shared in exactly 100 @NOTlabs Instagram pictures! So as fun as breaking it all up is, the epic nature of our adventure seemed like it deserved a post of its own - all 100 instagram pics in chronological order to relive it all in one scroll! See it all from crossing the border to Waterton to Calgary to Canmore to Banff to Jasper to more Calgary to Drumheller and more on the next page.

p.s. Why an Instagram picture roundup of the whole trip? When i look back to remember this adventure - going through hundreds of pictures to make posts is one thing - refiltering it all through a new lens… but the Instagrams in order with their captions… THESE are the things that got us at the exact moments they were happening (or very close to it, depending on cell reception) - looking through/reading all of these are the 8 days as we got excited about things in real time!

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Hotel Arts, Calgary

arts0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, Shawn, Bucky, and I are loaded up in the NOTFZJ80 spending a week in Alberta roadtripping, camping, and exploring all that we can fit in… follow the series here to see what inspires us along the way!

One of our favorite Calgary spots is definitely their designer boutique Hotel Arts in the heart of downtown. Dog friendly, well located, and awesomely designed? Amazingness! And as far as Bucky was concerned, it was his first luxury hotel experience (days after his first hotel experience ever)… and i’m pretty sure he thinks that walking into them now means belly rubs and excited greetings from the valets and front desk ladies are standard. They also spoiled him (and us!) with treats when we got in - that are so beautiful! I’ve never seen a fruit+chocolate platter displayed quite like the one above! And their fun greetings on the plates - even special Bucky ones… so cute. We also got to check out the newly redesign interiors by B+H Architects - including my favorite custom made bedside tables (minimalist with USB and outlets in the base)! Take a peek inside the lovely new rooms and goodies on the next page!

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Beakerhead 2014, Calgary

beaker0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, Shawn, Bucky, and I are loaded up in the NOTFZJ80 spending a week in Alberta roadtripping, camping, and exploring all that we can fit in… follow the series here to see what inspires us along the way! I know, i’m jumping around a little, but with so many pictures and experiences to share with you guys from this Alberta adventure, i’m working through it bit by bit!

The most inspiring things to me have always been exploring nature and art+tech+design. So while exploring all that Alberta has to offer (or what is possible in a mere week with such a HUGE province)… when we were heading out of the Alberta National Parks to Calgary, I heard about Beakerhead, a “smash up of art, science, and engineering”… which is right up our alley! They describe it as when Calgary turns into a hands on laboratory - “it’s a time and place where engineers show their creative sides, and artists get technical, where science hits the street, and everyone gets ingenious.” Throughout the week, there were workshops for kids and adults, engaging talks and performances, and it sounds like all around playful inspiration! They even had “Canada’s first sustainable energy ferris-wheel-turned-dining-room. The 16-bucket wheel gently rotates while diners are treated to a multi-course molecular gastronomy meal created by esteemed Calgary chef Nicole Gomes, a contestant on Top Chef Canada,” called the Periodic Table - unfortunately all the tickets were sold out!

We managed to get back to Calgary just in time to see the displays at Little Big Street and Beakernight. They felt a bit like a mini Makerfaire/Burning Man/Design week combo of sorts with a Calgary flair. Even The Uncommons (which we just featured) had a pop up shop in a Pod shipping container! There was a huge discoball on a crane, a structure made of sticks, an inflatable living room, interactive/3D printed Absolut installations, a rideable hippo, a flame shooting octopus and more… take a peek at what we found on the next page!

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Inspiration: Glacier Water Blue...

lakes0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, Shawn, Bucky, and I are loaded up in the NOTFZJ80 spending a week in Alberta roadtripping, camping, and exploring all that we can fit in… follow the series here to see what inspires us along the way!

This trip I may have found a new favorite color: that magical Glacier Water Blue! My first taste was the incredible Moraine Lake. And then i’ve shown you the powerful Sunwapta Falls! Well on the drive up the Icefields Parkway from Banff National Park into Jasper National Park, almost anytime we saw the word lake/creek, we tried to pull over and check it out. Sure, it made the drive a bit slower, but each and every one was worth it! No matter how many we saw, the color really doesn’t get old. The varying shades of minty turquoise of sorts… a greenish robin’s egg blue? a saturated Tiffany blue? As for what causes the unique colors, it comes from the light refracting off the rock flour suspended in the water from the melting glaciers. It varies from lake to lake, depending on the not only the rock flour, but also the lighting/weather/time of day… but the color is always spectacular. See some of the incredible Glacier Water Blues we encountered on the next page.

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Animals of Jasper National Park

animal0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, Shawn, Bucky, and I are loaded up in the NOTFZJ80 spending a week in Alberta roadtripping, camping, and exploring all that we can fit in… follow the series here to see what inspires us along the way!

As you know, we’re pretty animal obsessed over here at NOTCOT. So when we heard there we lots of critters to see in the National Parks, I was skeptical but hopeful to get to see at least a few! When at Mount Engadine Lodge we were lucky to see a few moose, deer, and a mama and baby black bear… but when we went to Jasper National Park… driving around we found Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Elk, Mountain Goats, Black Bears, Canadian Geese, and some monster crows. Far more than I expected, and so many of each! The one elusive creature we tried to find, but will have to come back for? Beavers! Check out the amazing animals we found on the next page…

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Sunwapta Falls, Jasper, Alberta

sunwapta00.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, Shawn, Bucky, and I are loaded up in the NOTFZJ80 spending a week in Alberta roadtripping, camping, and exploring all that we can fit in… follow the series here to see what inspires us along the way!

Sunwapta Falls - another favorite so far that I definitely need to get back to next time we’re in Jasper National Park (Notice, we haven’t even left, and i’m already planning a trip back?)… We debated whether we were losing too much sun to pull off when we saw the sign, but decided to rush over and see what we could anyhow… and WOW. So worth it, though I can’t wait to see it in bright sunshine! The glacier blue falls come down and around an island then rush into quite the drop before swooping onwards. I could have stood and stared at it all on the bridge for ages… also the tree roots that form steps down to the falls are mesmerizing in their own right. Check it out on the next page.

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Moraine Lake in Banff, Alberta

moraine0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, Shawn, Bucky, and I are loaded up in the NOTFZJ80 spending a week in Alberta roadtripping, camping, and exploring all that we can fit in… follow the series here to see what inspires us along the way!

The BLUE! That Glacier Water Blue… to be honest, I thought most people’s pictures were over saturated or photoshopped, but no. It really is THAT blue. It’s amazing how quickly the weather changed - from our snowy adventures at Spray Lakes to heading up into Banff National Park. My first stunningly glacier blue lake was Moraine Lake. We’d heard rumors that it is even more breathtaking than Lake Louise, so we detoured over first, and WOW. It is AMAZING. And beyond the lake views as you wander around… the Chipmunks! I’ve never seen such chubby little chipmunks run right up to you. Even crazier, they run up to BUCKY! And stand up in his face. You’d think a pup like him would go after it, but when it came right up to HIM, he had no idea what to do. And once you wander up past the chipmunks, the view down at the lake is just incredible. It was hard to leave Moraine Lake, but I had to keep reminding myself this was just the beginning! Check it out on the next page.

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Mount Engadine Lodge + Spray Lakes

engadineMAIN.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, Shawn, Bucky, and I are loaded up in the NOTFZJ80 spending a week in Alberta roadtripping, camping, and exploring all that we can fit in… follow the series here to see what inspires us along the way!

The one thing you can count on on a multiweek road trip is running into the unexpected. In this case the weather took a turn to the cold and snowy for a few days! Like wake up to half a foot of snow sticking kind of snowy… and that didn’t stop us from genuinely, excitedly trying to go find a camp site by Spray Lakes. The camp sites are THAT stunning just off the water nestled in the trees. But like in a fairy tale ~ we headed to dinner at the Mount Engadine Lodge around the lake, which appeared like an adorable Swiss chalet mirage through the low visibility of the snow and trees… and with dinner, they offered us a spare room and told us not to be silly instead. By the time i woke up and saw the inches of fresh powder everywhere, i think we made the right decision!

Honestly, there is something just magical about Mount Engadine Lodge. Beyond the adorable chalet style, the people both running it and guests immediately treat you like family as you curl up by the fire, play games, and join the communal dining area. The first thing you are offered is to get out of your wet shoes and slip on some colorful hand knit slippers. Then you hear “BEAR” and “MOOSE” and then “TWO MOOSE!” within moments of arrival… and it’s not joke. Staring out the vast windows overlooking the meadow, sure enough there is a mama and baby bear sauntering down, and two moose chowing down in the mud pit. Often you read things are “like the Serengeti for wildlife viewing”, but to pop in and have all of this happen so fast… magical! See our adventure to Spray Lakes, Mount Engadine Lodge, and the rather precarious drive out on the next page!

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