Banff - My Birthday Weekend

Ever since I was a baby, birthdays have  been a big thing. Growing up in the same town as the entirety of my mom's side of the family meant that birthdays were a time to gather, visit, celebrate, and eat cake with all of my aunts/uncles, grandparents, and cousins. Not only has growing up involved horrible things like laundry, grocery shopping, and taxes, it also put an end to that birthday tradition that was always so special to me. It goes without saying that after moving away from homes, birthdays aren't quite the same; luckily for me, my family and my Marky have always tried to make birthdays great for me. I'm pretty sure when my birthday came around only six months after Mark and I had started dating, he probably thought I was a freak for how pumped up I got during the month of November hahah what can I say, birthdays make me excited!!
This year, my birthday happened to fall on the Friday before a long weekend, so after Mark was done class, we packed up the truck, and headed out to Calgary/Banff to spend an adventurous weekend with my sister and brother-in-law! Not only are we so blessed to have siblings/BFF's just three hours down the highway, but we're also super lucky that they planned out and treated us to an incredible getaway weekend to the mountains! After an awesome birthday celebration on Friday night, we left the house bright and early Saturday morning and headed to the Rockies. We started the day off with a 6km walk through Johnston Canyon, where we took in the magnitude and beauty of both the lower and upper falls.

Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0001Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0002Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0003Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0004 Do you ever have those moments where you just stand in awe of how little you really are? The frozen walls of the upper waterfalls did just that to me. The world is filled with such grandiose beauty, and it often leaves me in a silent state of disbelief. Much like our trip to Jasper a few weekends ago, we all embraced the idea of acting like tourists, even though Banff is a place we've all been to countless times before. I do think no matter how many times you've been to the Rockies, they will always have the power to thoroughly impress every. single. time.

Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0005Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0006Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0007 Are you guys familiar with growlers (the old school booze jugs they're drinking from down below)?? They're a really neat way to buy and drink beer if you're into trying out different types. You can find them at some breweries/liquor stores, and you're able to fill them up with one of their specialty beers on tap. Mark and Andrew (my brother-in-law) have made it their mission to collect as many growlers as possible from numerous breweries all around the world. You can usually find some really neat bottles, all with their own unique logo + design. We spent Saturday evening at our beautiful mountain view hotel, drinking wine, eating pizza, and just hanging out and having fun--just the four of us!

Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0008Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0009 Sunday morning we woke up early and enjoyed the tastiest breakfast at Tooloulou's; it was my first time ever eating here but I am most certainly going back. Not only did they have the largest breakfast menu, but it was also filled with the tastiest things I had ever even heard of. Leave it to me to order the same old thing when faced with such an incredible menu (I had eggs benedict)--Mark on the other hand had oreo french toast.....MMMMM!! I also forgot my purse at our table and didn't notice until hours later when we were in Lake Louise....but that's besides the point. Before leaving to L.L we toured around Banff for a bit longer, taking in the crisp foggy morning.

Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0010Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0011Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0013Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0014Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0015 Brace yourself for a BUNCH of mountain pictures. There was just something about that day that I found so inspiring. The rows upon rows of snow covered pines were particularly incredible to me, and I just couldn't get enough of how snowy, grey, and magnificent our surroundings were.

Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0027Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0026Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0025Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0022Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0021Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0020Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0017 While going through these images, I was going to crop out the people in the bottom right of the image (can you see those itty-bitty people in the image below?) so that it could be focused solely on the mountains, but decided to leave them in to reiterate the magnitude of the Rockies' beauty. There's nothing like a walk amongst the mountains and trees to truly put into perspective how minuscule humans truly are.

Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0029Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0031Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0032Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0033Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0034Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0035 Even as a photographer, I find that it's hard to constantly be taking pictures on my DSLR. I almost always have it on me, but it's often just too cumbersome to pull out every time I want to capture a memory. I wanted to include the mini collage below so that you could get a glimpse of the other parts of our weekend that weren't captured on my camera! You can also find me on Instagram (@kaihlatonai) if you want to see the photos below as they're taken--I'm a big Instagram fan, so I'm almost always posting something!

Edmonton_Indie_Photographer_0066 Thank you Erika + Andrew for an unforgettable weekend!! You two were far too good to us and treated us to yet another incredible time--we absolutely love being able to spend times like this with you both. We love you and cannot wait for the next hangout!!