A PNW road trip of epic proportions - dubbed "vancrewver" - my first visit to the northwestern region of the U.S. and Canada was a nothing less of extraordinary. My traveling companions - Christian & Caleb - are also photographers, and great friends from college. I knew that traveling with other photogs would be fun, but I had no idea how refreshing it would be. We pushed each other to sharpen our skills, style and workflow. We couldn't help but take portraits of each other in the many beautiful places we visited, so it was fun to be in front of the camera a bit. I feel that my creative reserves were replenished from this extended time of rest and personal work. For us, this 10-day trip was a break from the grind, so we made sure the trip was an overall a pleasant and relaxing experience, even though we covered many miles and visited many places.
There's a fun highlight video at the bottom of this post, so make sure to keep scrolling!
First stop: Seattle. We spent a couple days exploring the city, and met up with some Atlanta friends to take some couple portraits on a rooftop. Highlights included the famous Public Market, a drop-dead sunset at Golden Gardens Park, and visiting Starbucks Reserve (we went back two more times before the trip was over). I loved Seattle.
Next stop: North Cascades National Park. Perhaps one of the least-known national parks in the northwest, I wasn't sure what to expect from NC. My mind was blown away by awe-inspiring natural beauty, found in the form of massive snow-peaked mountains, blue lakes, and dense forests. Being in the wilderness, without cell service, was like a huge breath of fresh air. Plus, because the park is not on the "must-see" list for northwestern tourism, we basically had the park all to ourselves to explore, camp and hike. My favorite moments were simply cruising through the park with the windows down, music up, breathing the fresh, crisp air hitting my face.
Side note: Turo is a great alternative for car rentals! We loved our snazzy Toyota 4runner that we rented from a local in Seattle - and we saved some money too.
After a grueling 11-mile hike up a mountain, we drove to Bellingham to stay with a friend, and caught another incredible sunset over the bay.
Our trip route was basically a big loop, so next we headed up into Canada. The Sea-to-Sky highway provided some epic views (including yet another breathtaking sunset). We also visited Brandywine Falls near Whistler and did a little bit of rock climbing in Squamish, which is one of the best place for outdoor rock climbing.
We stopped in Vancouver next. Unfortunately, our visit was over the weekend so there was a good bit of traffic - quite the contrast from the empty expanses of North Cascades. But we made the most of our time and enjoyed the local culture and scenery. We stopped in Stanley Park for sunset, and captured some night shots of the skyline from a pier in North Vancouver. Before leaving, we visited Lynn Canyon, did a little shopping, then caught a late ferry to Victoria.
We spent only a little time in Victoria itself, though the city was quite charming. We took a short but steep hike in Goldstream Provincial Park to find a waterfall and a couple of railroad trestles, and then caught another ferry back to the U.S. at Port Angeles, en route to Olympic National Park.
Olympic National Park - the grande finale of our trip, and certainly the most anticipated stop. I had never before seen the pacific from the northern coast, and it certainly blew away any expectations I had. I was completely captivated by the vibes of the PNW coast - the black sand, the moody blue waves, the looming haystacks, the smooth driftwood... so many textures and tones. I couldn't get enough of it. We spent our time near La Push at Rialto Beach, and a couple of friends joined us for a 2-mile walk down the beach to Hole-in-the-Wall. Other highlights included the vibrant yellow flowers gracing the winding roads, the Hoh Rainforest in all its green splendor, and yet another killer sunset over Crystal Lake. What a way to go out.
We edited our work as we went, so I'm thankful to come home with very little post-processing left to do. I had no idea how refreshing a non-work-related trip would be, and therefore this one won't be the last. The freedom to create and enjoy without any client pressure was so refreshing. Passion projects, vacation and rest is so important for the professional creative - burnout is real and I was close to the breaking point right before this trip. I'm reminded how essential it is to set aside time for my own creative endeavors that are motivated by my own passion and inspiration, whether that be an afternoon or a 10-day epic road trip.
All-in-all, this trip was one of the most incredible experiences I've ever had. My soul has been washed in beauty, and I am not the same. The PNW was more lovely than I could have ever dreamed, and I can't wait to visit again.
Here's a fun highlight video we shot on a couple of GoPro cameras for a little behind-the-scenes look at our trip. needless to say, we had a lot of fun :)