For the photo nerds out there I used the new Fuji X-T1 with the 23 mm 1.4 lens for all of these pictures. I purchased it a few days before I left after retiring the x100 travel camera. This camera far exceeded my expectations and could truly rival the slr’s out there, plus it’s tiny and durable. I love it!

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I had moments where I felt like the most rocking dad, and then plenty of moments where I felt like a complete failure as a parent. Kids are very humbling creatures.

I like to think I know my kids fairly well but there is always more to know.  As a photographer and operating my own business from my home office I see my kids most of the day (and hear them all the time).  I would be lying though if I said it was quality bonding time as it tends to feel more like survival mode from the moment one of the kids gets up to the moment the last one is asleep.  So as a parent and business owner that can control my own working hours I am very lucky to be able to take the opportunity to travel with of my kids for some real one on one bonding time.

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It was about this time last year (2013) when I decided to decline any bookings for the majority of September 2014 in order to devote a couple of weeks to my son Keir.   As a family it’s a risky decision financially as we could always benefit from more income but my wife and I are often amazed at how fast the years go by and how short of a period these little tyrants are actually with us.  So with that in the back of our minds Colleen and I tend to make sure we do as much with our kids as possible while we can, while we’re healthy and while we’re still super cool.

When my oldest daughter Wynter was around the same age I took her on a 9 day camping trip throughout BC.  It was my first time having so much one on one time with her and I still remember how we became better friends and how much I learned about her.  It was also my chance to show her who I am and share some of the things I love to do with her.  It was because of that experience that I have carried this tradition onwards to Keir and later with baby Ilse.

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Keir is a special little guy.  He has a very different personality than Wynter and Ilse (we think so far at least).  He is an engineer and a thinker, nothing like me.  He is the type of kid that can’t walk by a door without studying the hinges and inspect how they work where I could personally care less about hinges.  He’s quick to pick up athletics and likes to ask questions and can’t stop thinking about something until he finds out the answer, here we share a few characteristics.   With three kids though, Colleen and I most often feel like we know the unit, but not always the individual personalities.  So while I took little man away  for 10 days my wife had a chance to see the girls alone and get to know them better.   As Keir and I left the driveway we had no real destination just exploration with the same start and end point, our home.

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I’ll let the images tell the tale of our trip but I’ll highlight a few things that we loved.  The parents reading this will understand that when I use the word “we” it means that when Keir enjoyed something and was good then we had fun. When kids are happy, we’re all happy.

With that being said please don’t let all the smiles and giggles in these photos fool you.  This was probably the hardest and most demanding trip I’ve ever taken, and I’ve been to the Congo.lol  The first five days were filled with some fantastic highs, and some terrible lows.  We found ourselves battling over potty issues and tantrums, which when camping is always an added bonus.  There was truly a point during the trip were I thought we should just turn back and head home.  I’m glad we didn’t though.  I made a choice one night when Keir was sleeping in the tent to embrace the crap (pun intended) and the frustrating things and roll with it.  Colleen gave me some great advice and it stuck with me and turned our trip around.

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After the 5th day we were lucky to stay with my great friend Fran Chelico and her family in Vancouver.  These two nights gave us a little break and allowed us to start fresh when we were back on the road.   It’s amazing as it was like we headed back out traveling in rhythm.   By this time I could see the signals he would send and we paced it out differently.  It’s a lot to ask a little man to sit still in the car for a few hours each day but we found a way to stop a lot, bought more books at a value village for him to read (and pick out himself) find small hikes/bike rides along the drive and after I seduced him with cookies when he pooped in the potty we were in business.  A real clean slate!

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I got to know my son on this trip and although I’m uncertain he will remember much of it, I know I will.  I’m a bit of a sap but we all leave home and have vague memories of the cool things and the crazy things we did with our parents.  I just want to give my kids as many of those as I can and I take pictures along the way.   They grow too fast, even when we think the days drag on, the years truly do fly by.

Here’s to my little man and one of my best little friends!

 

 

 

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Things I learnt about my son:

1.  He needs to wrestle a few times a day.  I don’t mean maybe as he mentally and physically needs to wrestle to the point of exhuastion.  I’m ok with this though because as dad and boy this may be the closest thing I get to a hug.

2.  He’s not a swimmer, he’s a sandcastle maker.  You can go to the beach but it’s not about the water, it’s about the sand and how the water works to facilitate the castle.  (engineer trait)

3  The kid is super fast on a bike.  He picked up riding last year and I’m impressed at how he can ride for 3-4 km’s on a bike.  I thought al of our rides would be around the camp sites and stay close but soon found ourselves riding for miles.   However, his little legs hate any climbs (and loose gravel which made some sections a bit interesting.

4.  The phrase “ahhh Coconuts” is swearing in 3-speak.  I thought it was cute but it was also reflective of how much Jake and the Never land pirates he watched along the drives.

5.  Cookies solve pooping your pants problems.   Who knew chocolate has such power over kids, weird!

6.  Temper, he has a short fuse.   I don’t know anyone like that.haha

7.  He’s super sincere and kind to others when he’s not running around like a crazy man.

8.  He appreciates when I take full swings of the axe to chop large peices.  He doesn’t like when I split the small pieces for kindling and finds it very dull.  One of the campsites we stayed at, Lac Le Jeune I believe, he watched me split some large pieces and asked for my attention and blurted out, ” Thanks so much for the big swings, I appreciate that”.  I lost it.lol

9.  If you call a a hill “Fort Point” he may not want to climb it.  If however you call it “Sprinkle Mountain” you better pack you snacks for that epic climb.

10.  Stand-up pees are awesome.  He thinks they are a way of watering plants so they can grow big and then flower.  He’s bang on!

11.  He drools an absurd amount.  It’s actually pretty disgusting.

12.  If I don’t put gel in his hair he looks like one of the three stooges.  My wife was not impressed that I wasn’t getting all doned’up for our hikes.lol

 

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The first night of our trip.  It got cold in Jasper and we woke up to about 3 degrees.  I love that feel of crisp mountain air.
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Climbing Sprinkle Mountain

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Keir was asking what this sign said.

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Another cool morning but not for us.  My dad’s old coleman bag that I have had for about 20 years myself.  Never leave home without it.

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This image does not give it Justice.  Helmcken Falls is Wells Gray is one of the most beautiful waterfalls I’ve ever seen.

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Dutch Lake in Clearwater.  Another gem in Canada that few know about.

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Creeping up on Kamploops early one morning.

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Helping dad set up the tent again.

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On his bike right up to dusk.  He loves his big boy bike.

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The Capiliano Suspension Bridge and Skywalk

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Biking around Stanley park

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One of the nicest people I know.  Fran and I have been friends for six years and she and her family are amazing people.  I love these guys!

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A photographer friend Jayme Ford and I met up for a few hours in Salmon Arm.  These two had never met but within minutes had become fast friends.

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The Enchanted Forest in Three Valley Gap.  This place is crack for kids!  I always remember asking my folks to stop and they never did so I knew that my kids would see it.  As an adult it’s fine, but for kids it’s a wonderland.

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Glacier National Park and the Rogers Summit.

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A pit stop in Invermere in the Kootenays.

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Hiking up the “Cracky Cliffs” aka the Hoodoos in Fairmont.

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Dreamy summer days at lake Lillian

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The Kootenay river.

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One of our last hikes near Nuna Falls in the Kootenay National Park

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Vermillion Lake on the homestretch.

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