Well over a month ago now, I packed my bags up once again and started out on my first ever solo road trip across the west coast. I rarely get to feel the kind of freedom that I had along that journey, which would take me across California, Oregon, Washington, and eventually to Canada and back.
I met several friends along the way, some old and several more new. I saw incredible sights that I only wish I had been able to capture authentically. I was reassured in my lifelong belief that the west coast is where I belong, and I found a new love for the Pacific Northwest in particular. I was reminded, once again, that home can be found in so many different places, with so many different people, and that my quest to find a true ‘home’ will never really end.
While Portland and Seattle were obvious highlights of my trip, my very favorite part came when I crossed the border into British Columbia and embarked on another adventure with some of my dearest friends in the world. We boarded a gigantic ferry that would take us to an island, which would lead us to another ferry, which would take us to our home for the week, Newcastle Island–or what was soon to be dubbed as “Flickr Island.” It seemed as though we had stepped into another world when we entered Vancouver. Nothing is comparable to those mountains, evergreen, foggy, and serene, as peaceful as the quiet ocean surrounding them. The views along this ferry ride were too beautiful to be real. I felt like I was in a movie, drifting along the freezing slate blue water, surrounded on all sides by the looming peaks swathed in mist and fog. I can’t remember a time prior or since that I’ve felt so at peace as I did on that ferry ride. “The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hands of man.”
Finally we arrived on Nanaimo Island, and we were told we still had another ferry ride to get to “Flickr Island”. I didn’t expect this particular ferry to be so adorable. It was precious. Flickr Island was beautiful beyond belief. It sounds so cheesy to say, but it really was straight out of a movie about a summer camp or something. It was a little island just off the mainland, with one side of the island offering views of the bustling city of Nanaimo, and the other side opening up to the crystal clear ocean. Gigantic trees dressed the island in emerald greens and autumnal gold leaves, and every evening the tide came in over the rocks concealing tiny crabs in every crevice.
Being surrounded by so many dear friends is the best feeling in the world–even better to be able to create alongside them. I feel like this week solidified those friendships even more than any previous meet up had before. These people are truly my second family, and I love watching each and every one of them grow and develop in their craft, and in their individual lives. They’re all going to do amazing things, I have no doubt of that.
The thing I loved most about this meetup, as compared to the others, is how little pressure we put on ourselves. Of course we all wanted to shoot and create, but we also acknowledged the importance of just enjoying our time in this beautiful place, with friends we only get to see every so often. Time seemed to slow down on Flickr Island, and I’ll never forget how happy and serene that made me feel. It was a magical place to be that week. I didn’t shoot as many conceptual photos as I wanted to, but in the end I didn’t really mind. Instead, I had captured some beautiful portraits of several of my friends, and I froze moments in time for myself to keep. It was just what I needed–to take a break from my regular day-to-day life and just soak up the memories. I feel truly blessed by the experiences I have been given, and my heart is full just thinking about this time I spent with my friends in Vancouver.
More images from this set of Michelle can be found HERE.There was never a dull moment here, never a time where I wished to be anywhere else but exactly where I was. From the canoe trips around the island, to the music festival nights, to the trips back and forth between the campsite and the concessions shop, Vancouver was just what I had hoped for it to be.See more from this shoot with Lindsay Anne HERE.
When we left Flickr Island, we went back to Vancouver to stay at the home of a friend of our host’s. It was the most perfect little farm home, with horses in the stables and kittens in a box for anyone to hold if they wanted to. Of course, I wanted to.
Those kittens were the most precious thing I had ever seen in my life, and I couldn’t contain my excitement when I finally got to cuddle this little fella we affectionately named “Rodrigo”. At night, we sat around the fire and talked about life, photography, and the friendships we were lucky to have found within this group of talented artists. We ate marshmallows and hot dogs and danced Bollywood style until our legs gave out. We watched a meteor streak across the sky, and we watched the flames diminish before us as we tried not to think about leaving. We listened to our friends play the guitar and sing with the most beautiful voices, and we all sang along. “Riptide” became our anthem and we felt lumps in our throats as we mouthed the lyrics.In the morning we ate breakfast and talked amongst ourselves, joking back and forth and explaining photo ideas to each other. A small group of us shot in an abandoned house down the road, and the cool empty air gave me the chills. I always love exploring abandoned places, and this place was too good to be true. Paint peeled off the walls, floorboards creaked underfoot, and birds flew in and out of the shattered windows.The last night of Flickr Island was, without question, one of the best. We returned to my favorite lake in the world, Alouette Lake, to shoot photos and enjoy each other’s company. The views at this lake are insane, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for one of the calmest, peaceful places in British Columbia. This place is stunning, trust me on that.
It was my second time there, and yet I was still blown away by its beauty. The last time I went was in 2012, when my friend Rob created this beautiful photo of me and our friend Peter. That photograph is still one of my favorite images to this day. (Peter and I recreated it below, though we accidentally switched sides…oops.
This time, several of the same friends I had come here with before, along the rest of the group took in the sunny weather and gorgeous views. It was the perfect last evening, surrounded by friends and loved ones in such a cinematic location. More photos from this shoot can be found HERE.
I want to take a moment to thank our hosts, Lizzy and Gurbir, along with all of their amazing friends and family, who put so much hard work into making Flickr Island a success. They certainly triumphed in that regard, and I will always be grateful to them for that. My friends took our lives into their hands that week, and they gave us these beautiful memories that will last a lifetime. Liz and Gurb, you rock, eh? 🙂
Vancouver was one of many best weeks of my life. It was the perfect break from my everyday life, and I was lucky enough to spend it with some wonderful, talented people in the most beautiful places.
This week will always remain near and dear to my heart.
Thank you Elizabeth Gadd for this photo. Love you sweetie ❤