Entries tagged with: travel

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*notcot in travel - 1 Notes

NOTFZJ80: Taylor Creek + Lake Isabella

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We needed to go get lost… in the woods… away from all our screens for a little bit. So Shawn loaded up Bucky and I in the NOTFZJ80, and we headed north! The California drought is no joke… so we weren’t sure what to expect on our hunt for greenery and running water, but luckily we found a bit (though not as much as there once was!) up at the Kern River, and found an amazing camp site alongside Taylor Creek. Falling asleep to the sound of the creek rushing by was amazing - and Bucky just couldn’t get enough of the fresh snow melt and spring water flowing through. While we didn’t do much other than relax and explore - i couldn’t help snapping a few pics on my phone - so take a peek at what we found on the next page!

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Lotus Belle Tents + Assembly

tent0.jpg I haven’t been able to get these Lotus Belle Tents out of my head since i ran into one while exploring Mercado Sagrado. They feel part “normal” tent + part yurt + part awesome inflatable structure looking shape… that all fits in a duffle bag (or two! depending on size) - and it’s SO spacious! They come in 16ft and 13ft sizes - and “The 16ft Lotus is 56% bigger in size than the 13ft and fits everything but the kitchen sink!”

Of course the part that was intriguing me next - HOW do you assemble it? And of course they have an adorable instructional video… and the cutest hand drawn pdf instructions! It’s also surprisingly simple to assemble, even alone (though i’m sure help would speed things along nicely.) Basically you lay the waterproof floor down, pop the walls up, pop the roof up, poke the pole up to hold the center up, and velcro wall and roof together… and you’re done! Depending on your needs, they have a few variations - adding various doors, screens, and other luxuries. Take a peek at it all on the next page - i’m so tempted to pop one up in the yard, or for our next adventure!

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Mercado Sagrado - Malibu

mercados00.jpg I can’t imagine a lovelier way to spend a Sunday than laying out on a grassy field in a Malibu vineyard filled canyon surrounded by chill live music, delicious treats, happy people, horses, ducks, and more… while being inspired by unique artists and the incredible structures they’ve popped up! This was the scene today at Mercado Sagrado - a relaxing festival founded by photographer Heather Culp and artist Carly Jo Morgan - spread out in the Oak Grove at Saddlerock Ranch. Our highlights were definitely seeing more of the geometric wood sculptures of Aleph Geddis (also - his instagram is amazing) and getting our aura photos taken in a geodesic dome by Radiant Human (which has only sparked a fascination with the 70’s polaroid tech behind aura pics. Apparently the tech hasn’t changed much?!?!) Take a look at the relaxing inspiration we found on the next page…

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*notcot in food+drink - 0 Notes

Flor de Lis Restaurante - Guatemala City

flor0.jpg The ultimate meal isn’t just about the food. It’s about the flavors, the plating, the ambiance, the decor, the company, the conversation… and it all came together perfectly at Flor de Lis. Though, you know what’s impossible? Taking photos that do it all justice while armed with just an iPhone and bouncing between great conversation and delicious bites you need to taste as soon as they reach the table. So consider this post a teaser of the reality of a meal at Flor de Lis… but honestly, you need to get to Guatemala City to properly experience it for yourself (or if you’re lucky, we can get them to come do a pop up in LA! or NY? or Miami?)

Backing up a moment - i’ve shown you our amazing Guatemala adventures as well as the story of Flor de Lis’ Pingüi and our Puma Penguins… so you’ve seen peeks of Flor de Lis, but a proper post is definitely overdue! The plating is so stunning! And it all tastes… SO GOOD. To be honest, when Harold reached out about the penguins, with our few hours in Guatemala City, I had to find my way to Flor de Lis, so of course we happily accepted when Harold invited us to dinner with his fiancè and Chef Diego Ruben Telles. Chef Diego is originally from Guatemala and after cooking in Spain and training in Denmark at NOMA, he’s returned to experiment with modernized Guatemalan cuisine.

I’m not kidding when I say the meal was one of the best i’ve had in some time. Situated in Guatemala City’s modern Paseo Cayala (think mini city with-in the city complete with private security - it reminds me of a huge Santana Row with luxury shopping, homes, offices and more which will continue expanding the next few years) - Flor de Lis is a delicious modern twist on traditional Guatemalan flavors and ingredients. While Chef Diego often described the plates as ‘simple’ with regards to the minimal ingredients used, the way he transforms a single ingredient (like a carrot!) into multiple textures (think charred, powdered, saucey) on the same plate is a masterful transformation that i’d consider molecular gastronomy. In addition to using local ingredients (as local as the plants growing right next to our table!) their stunning plating includes traditional Guatemalan pottery, wood, ceramics and more in a whole new context. They want you to truly experience and enjoy the food - so while the plates may look too pretty to disrupt at first, the smell will pull you in, and once you grab a piece with your fingers and taste the sauces, the ultimate compliment is for the chef to see you licking up every last drop! Flor de Lis serves up a delicious, relaxed, beautifully modern experience all around that can’t be missed if you’re in Guatemala City. See the iPhone pics of our experience on the next page!

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Laguna Lodge: Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

laguna000.jpg Sometimes you need a place to truly relax, hide away, and gather your thoughts. Since we were in Guatemala for Jackson’s wedding, we decided to add on a few days to do just that… and Shawn found the eco-luxury 6 room resort and nature reserve, The Laguna Lodge at Lake Atitlan - the perfect getaway add-on to our Antigua plans. Since the lodge is in Santa Cruz La Laguna, Lake Atitlan, on the western highlands of Sololá, you take a car to Panajachel and then hop on a boat for about 10 minutes. To get anywhere from the lodge you can either hop on another boat, or walk along the pathways along the lakeshore. Though, I honestly can’t tell you much about waving down the boats to hop from town to town, since once we were situated, we realized the ultimate break was really to just hide out at the lodge, explore the 100 acres of nature reserve, delicious locally grown, organic, vegetarian fare, and watch the sunsets over the volcanoes and the lake! Of the 6 suites, the majority of couples we met did seem to be American 20-30 somethings as well - but this was the part of our trip that was more about a stunning oasis tucked away from the chaos of everyday life. Two nights at the Laguna Lodge, and we were feeling rejuvenated, relaxed, and ready to get back to reality! Take a look at the stunning space on the next page.

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7 days in 50 Instagrams: Guatemala!

gua0.jpg WOW. What an adventure our week in Guatemala has been! Headed down to Antigua for our Tasteologie editor’s wedding, so of course we had to explore a bit while there, but the amount of different experiences we’ve had still blows my mind. From landing in darkness at GUA and watching the sunrise (and volcano erupt a little) on our drive to Antigua, to exploring (and tasting) Antigua, to the beautiful wedding and before/after events… to heading out to Lake Atitlan and the stunning waterfront, super-eco, all vegetarian Laguna Lodge on 100 acres of nature reserve… to a pit stop at Iximche ruins… back in to Guatemala City, where we end up getting an amazing look at the city thanks to one of our long time readers (and old friend’s of the bride!)… from a peek at the older city center, to the newest city within a city, Paseo Cayala… tasting award winning Guatemalan coffee and even more fantastic food at Flor de Lis… before heading back to LA.

OH! And there are penguins! You know our Puma Penguins (from 2009) - they inspired Pingüi, the mascot of Flor de Lis! Which is even tattooed on the chef’s forearm! But more on that later…

So first things first - here’s a look at our quick, epic Guatemalan adventures in 50 @NOTlabs and @RShawnSims Instagrams as it all happened in real time. My head is still spinning from how many different things we’ve seen and experienced - and HUGE congrats to Jackson + Tish on their special super-pi-day wedding! Yay for 3.14 15!

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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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Operation Window Seat: LA + NOTCOT HQ!

home0.jpg The YYC - LAX flight had a gorgeous path through the rockies and cruised the coast along LA. This last trip, i had some stranger LA questions than usual - hearing “Is this your first time in snow?” and “Do you live downtown/in the city?” and “Do you like ocean or mountains?” I’ve also had so many people assume that NOTCOT is based in NY, SF, LONDON, and so many other places over the years…

So to set the record straight - NOTCOT is based in LA! I’m a born and raised LA kid who has bounced around all over and landed back in LA the last few years (it really is my favorite home base to live in and travel out of!) And as for LA - for those who looked at me perplexed this last adventure - you can see within minutes you can run up mountain trails or roll down to the beach… and see snow on the mountains in the background!

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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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*notcot in nature - 1 Notes

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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*notcot in nature - 0 Notes

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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*notcot in food+drink - 0 Notes

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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*notcot in design - 0 Notes

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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Packaging + Design of BioLite

biolitemain.jpg Ok, so by now, it’s pretty well known that BioLite with its “Energy Everywhere” tagline - has everything you need to not only survive, but charge your gadgets whether you’re camping or weathering inclement weather. With their first product, the CampStove you can get things heating with twigs - no fuel needed! AND the energy can be used to power your devices via USB. The Portable Grill is the perfect add on to expand its capabilities… and my favorite, the KettlePot is a brilliant multipurpose piece that not only serves as a pot and kettle, but also a brilliant case/space saver for the CampStove itself! As they keep expending the line - there is now also a Base Camp stove, as well as the KettleCharge for those times when your power goes out, but you can still light the stove - simply boil and charge!

So yes, they are all incredibly functional for a multitude of situations. And our NOTFZJ80 Land Cruiser feels just a bit safer with them packed - just in case! But what i love even MORE than that about the line - is the packaging and design details! Everything is so thoughtfully created… from the minimal recycled packaging that just pops off the shelf (making them extra awesome holiday gifts!) to the playfully elegant color choices, and smart details that make them intuitive to use. They were kind enough to send over the CampStove and Portable Grill before our epic Alberta Adventures, and we had to add the KettlePot into the mix too! Check out all the packaging and design details on the next page!

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Ojai, CA: Summer Camp, FIG, Tipple & Ramble

ojai0.jpg A friend needed to go pick something up in Ojai yesterday, so i tagged along so long as he let me check out some of the newer little shops in town… We found the adorable Summer Camp in an old gas station, FIG down an incredible vine covered walkway (above!), and picnic store Tipple & Ramble under a bright red woodpecker… see some of the fun products (many of which aren’t online) we discovered on the next page!

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Nomadix Towels

nomadix0.jpg Just home and jetlagging after my first completely work free vacation in some time to Tokyo! Arrived to this adorable orange wooden mini crate from Nomadix, a local Southern California based startup that has created the ultimate versatile, stylish pack towel that can be used for everything from camping to yoga to beach adventures and more! I’m used to the usual boring single color pack towels - lightweight, absorbent, quick drying towels for camping/backpacking… i even used to leave one in the car for beach and other spontaneous adventures. The dimensions however were never quite right to lay out on. So far, beyond the stylish designs (even the bottom has a lovely print!) these Nomadix towels are 100% recycled and rigorously tested to hold up for years. Love their motto - “Own less. Do More. Buy one towel that does it all, instead of three that don’t.” They had a successful Kickstarter funding, and now you can purchase Nomadix Towels on Indigogo! Take a peek at details of the unboxing on the next page, and you can be assured that this towel will be packed for our NOTFZJ80 adventures!

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Road Trip: Oregon + NorCal Coast

roadhome0.jpg 4,000 miles and 2.5 weeks later - we are HOME! From LA up to Alberta and back… the first part took us from LA to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, the second part was 8 days exploring as much of Alberta, Canada as possible, and this final part is the journey home! To get home we crossed over to British Columbia and crossed the border into Idaho through Spokane, WA over to the Oregon Coast and followed the ocean down to San Francisco then dropped back down central California home to Los Angeles! I’m still amazed (and exhausted) reliving how much we’ve seen and done the last few days as i put this post together! Take a peek at the journey and discoveries on the next page - from the “world’s largest truck” to a few breweries to spontaneous forest (and redwood) hikes to a cheese factory to driving the NOTFZJ80 on the beach to 3 dozen elk and mini deer to finding a whole new level of “dog-friendly accomodations” and the pushed up ocean floor at the Stornetta Public Lands… phew what an adventure! Though it is good to be home, even for a few quick days!

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