Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2011, european heaven (pt 2)

Picking up where I left off with my last entry, here's the 2nd third of 2011!

Apparently, I didn't do much in May besides work as much as possible to store up money for Europe. The only event of note was a baseball game with a group from my church. I had been going to the University Village campus of Park Community Church since late 2010, but I didn't start meeting people until this spring. Going to the Sox game was extra special for me because it was my first trip to Comiskey since they won the World Series in 2005.

Other than that, I think I mainly stayed inside and planned for the Europe trip!

Of course the main event in June was the start of the European Adventure, but before I left, I had to celebrate my birthday multiple times. You understand. My first celebration was with my mom, and we finally had a chance to try Piccolo Sogno, the Italian restaurant in my neighbourhood that is always packed and gets amazing reviews. It definitely lived up to its reputation! I also treated myself to brunch at the Bongo Room on my actual birthday, and then I went to Toronto for Sixth Annual Birthday Weekend with Jules and Christina.

I wasn't originally going to go to Toronto—Christina won tickets to the Glee concert on the radio, and I was supposed to be in London, so she and Jules made plans to go. When my departure date got moved back, they asked me to come, but I had to turn it down once I looked into ticket prices for the show. So then Christina announced that she was able to get an extra ticket, and I believed her, because I didn't think she'd lie to me. ;-) It turned out that she and Jules had decided to buy a ticket to the show for me for my birthday, so we'd have birthday weekend together again. I have the best friends!
The show was awesome! They sounded fantastic and did so many of the songs that I would have picked, if I had been in charge of the set list, including "Somebody to Love" as one of the encores (as pictured above)!
Toronto Music Garden
On Sunday, we went to the Toronto Music Garden at my request, which is a waterfront park designed by Yo-Yo Ma around Bach's 1st Cello Suite. I had wanted to go the year before, on the road trip, but it was just a tad difficult to get around Toronto that day, what with the rioting and all.
I only had 3 days at home after the Toronto weekend before it was time to leave for EUROPE. I was starting off in London for two weeks, as the second half of a summer course. The first half had been done in Chicago, with 5 students from London Metropolitan University joining us to study Chicago writers. Then we all headed to London together to study London writers. At the end of the course, my mom met me in London, and we traveled together for about two more weeks, hitting Paris, Normandy, Brittany, Edinburgh, and Cardiff. A little over half of the trip has been chronicled at my travel blog, with more entries still to come. So in here, I will pick one photo per day to post.

June 16: fly from Chicago to London.

June 17: Arrive in London, get to hotel, hang out in train station, buy voltage converter. No photos of note.

Westminster at Sunset
June 18: First sightseeing day! Trafalgar Square, Westminster Palace (pictured at sunset), monsoon, pub lunch.

Portobello Road
June 19: St. Paul's, Notting Hill (Portobello Road pictured), take 2 of Westminster at sunset

British Museum
June 20: mainly the British Museum

St. Paul's
June 21: Bus ride from Portobello Road to South Bank Centre, Tate Modern, traditional fish & chips, Camden. Shot of St. Paul's and Millenium Bridge, taken from near Tate Modern.

June 22: no photos taken. Must have rained.

June 23: Greenwich! Gorgeous day, gorgeous views, gorgeous buildings.

Covent Garden
June 24: One of the best days of my life. Covent Garden (above), London Transport Museum, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, froyo, cupcakes, macarons from Ladurée, amazing coffee from Caffe Nero, and capping it all off with a West End performance of Chicago.

Hyde Park
June 25: South Kensington walking, Hummingbird Bakery, Victoria & Albert Museum, Harrod's, Hyde Park (above).

Columbia Road
June 26: Columbia Road flower market (above), Brick Lane, Sunday UpMarket, Spitalfields Market.

Southwark Cathedral
June 27: a really hot day seeing Southwark Cathedral (above), Borough Market area including Monmouth Coffee, river walking and views of Tower Bridge.

Liverpool Street station
June 28: trip to Liverpool Street station (above) for a Brick Lane evening with class

Trafalgar Square
June 29: Mom's arrival in London, so a repeat of Trafalgar Square (above), National Gallery, Covent Garden, St. Paul's, Westminster area. Little Venice for dinner for our last class.

June 30: Crazy travel begins! Eurostar to Paris, train to Caen, rent car, drive to Honfleur (above), French laundromat adventures, first of several amazing seafood dinners.

Pegasus Bridge
July 1: Cathedral viewing in Rouen, Normandy D-Day tour begins, Pegasus Bridge Museum (above), German bunker tour, Juno Beach and Museum.

Omaha Beach
July 2: Day 2 of D-Day tour including Utah Beach, Omaha Beach (above), American and Canadian cemeteries, Mulberry Harbour museum, also Bayeux and its tapestry and the medieval fest.

Pink Granite Coast
July 3: Mont St-Michel, a random windmill, and one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen—the Pink Granite Coast in Perros-Guirec and Ploumanac'h. And some of the best seafood I've ever had!

Eiffel Tower
July 4: Travel back to Paris, evening sightseeing in the Latin Quarter, waiting in line for Berthillon ice cream behind Meg Ryan, and taking poster-perfect night shots of the Eiffel Tower.

Opera Garnier
July 5: Full day in Paris! Finally saw inside the Opéra Garnier (above), introduced my mom to lunching at bougie grocery stores, paid a visit to the Arc de Triomphe, macarons at Pierre Hermé, the Tuileries gardens, and the Musée Rodin.

Sainte Chapelle
July 6: La Sainte Chapelle (above), my favourite place in Paris. Victor Hugo house, and an amazing on the Place des Vosges. Travel back to London on the Eurostar, overnight train to Edinburgh.

July 7: Arrive in Edinburgh, various city sightseeing, including several museums.

Edinburgh Castle
July 8: Edinburgh Castle, another museum, climbed the hill to the National Monument and climbed the tower on the hill for great views of the city. Overnight train back to London.

Cardiff Bay
July 9: Arrive back in London, send Mom off to the airport for her trip home, train to Cardiff. Cardiff Bay (above) sightseeing on a summer festival evening.

Cardiff Castle
July 10: Wandered around Cardiff, and realized that I had allowed far too much time to wander around Cardiff. Enjoyed the art museum, but too much shopping in Cardiff and no extra cash with which to shop.

July 11: Took a train and a bus to get to Tintern to see the abbey ruins. So worth it! Beautiful day, incredible site, and a lovely town. Finally had a full English tea on one of my last days. Surprised that I liked it. Train back to London in the evening.

Buckingham Palace
July 12: Last full day of the trip. Several eating goals in London accomplished: one more coffee at Caffe Nero, a few more macarons from Pierre Hermé, frozen yogurt at Snog, one more yummy salad from Simply Food. When I wasn't eating, I walked by Buckingham Palace and had one more pint of cider in Victoria Station during rush hour.

July 13: Early wake-up call to drag myself to the train station and then the airport. Saw Brad Pitt at Heathrow. Exhausted. Slept most of the way home. What a trip!

After I got home from Europe, I only had about a week to recover before I left again for the start of the skating season and my usual trip to Lake Placid and Ottawa. On the way, I stopped in Michigan to spend a weekend with Jules and then spent a night with Christina in Toronto. This year, LPIDC and Minto were on the same weekend, and since I had people that I needed to see at both events, I stayed in Lake Placid from Tuesday afternoon to Saturday morning, and then drove up to Ottawa to catch the junior and senior dance on Saturday and Sunday. Exhausting, but worth it. And some photo highlights:

I love doing off-ice portraits in Lake Placid, because the scenic views make every shot seem special. This year, I had a chance to work with some new athletes and I had a great time with all of them, but towards the end of a long day of photoshoots on Wednesday, I reconvened with my usuals, Danielle & Alex Gamelin, for our fourth annual Lake Placid photoshoot. And we got this shot:
I remember checking my LCD screen and saying something like, "OK, we can take a few more, but seriously...this is the shot." And it was!

Wade & Wilson
Between shoots all over town, I snuck in a couple of hours at junior dance practice, where I got this winner of Vanessa Wade & JoeBen Wilson. The partnership did not survive, but this photo lives on!

On Day 2 in Placid, I photographed intermediate compulsories, a few novice free dances, and most of the junior and senior short dances.

Biechler & Petrov
I think that Julia Biechler & Sasha Petrov are just lovely. They have terrific unison in their compulsories, especially for such a young team.

Moore & Klaber
Holly Moore & Daniel Klaber volunteered to make us lunch one day, so of course we were thrilled that they have such a winning free dance.

Friday in Placid was my final shooting day. I shot the novice Kilian, and then some of the junior and senior free dances. It's usually tough to pick which photos to post, but one of these was an easy choice.

Culhane & Mondor
My Canadian li'l sis, Cate Culhane, made her junior début in Placid with Simon Mondor. Their free dance was just a few weeks old at that point, but it made me cry anyway. Even though I had spent two years shooting skating events with her family, Placid was the first time that I saw her compete live, since her dad obviously photographed her while she was competing, and I would be on the other rink. I'd seen her compete free skate once, but never dance, so this was extra special for me.

Cannuscio & Lorello
Three of us were sharing my camera during the senior free dance, and when we had divided up the teams to shoot, I had taken the Canadians. But when the last skaters of the night were up, Michelle was exhausted and told me to keep going, which is how I ended up grabbing this airborne shot of Isabella Cannuscio & Ian Lorello. Just wish their costumes hadn't gotten stuck in Russia before Placid!

On Saturday morning, I got up super early to hit the road for Minto Summer Skate in Ottawa. Without any traffic, I arrived in plenty of time to charge my computer and get caught up with a ton of folks. It was really nice to be back, especially among the volunteers that make sure that I am fed!

Orford & Williams
Nicole Orford & Thomas Williams in the junior short dance

Moyer & Chapplain
Haili Moyer & Aaron Chapplain in the novice Cha Cha Congelado

Edwards & Pang
Madeline Edwards & Zhaokai Pang in the junior free dance

Harvey & Gagnon
I had already seen Tarrah Harvey & Keith Gagnon's free dance twice that week, so I loved knowing exactly when this move was going to happen, and knowing that I was in the perfect spot for it!

The free dances were over by early afternoon, and just as I was trying to decide how much of the trip home to tackle in one day, the BC crowd invited me to join them for a late lunch, and then lunch turned into lunch + football in the park. Which I, of course, photographed.
Aaron makes the catch

Overall...another wonderful trip. Already thinking about Lake Placid/Minto 2012!

Two weeks later, I went up to the NW suburbs of Chicago to photograph our local summer competition, the Dupage Open. It was fun to see plenty of new faces, even more fun to see junior ladies that could jump, and weird thinking about how I can walk into a club competition in Ontario and immediately start hugging people, but I went almost the whole day at home without even speaking to anyone.

Lexis Verhulst and a picture-perfect Ina Bauer

Jordan Moeller, one of my favourite younger guys in the States to watch. He goes to a school in my mom's district and, well, let's just say that the big-name skaters have never come from the south suburbs of Chicago. So it's been fun to watch him develop; he's a lovely skater.

I hadn't seen Jason Brown since fall 2008, when Jules and I were at a show and he was one of the local talents, and I leaned over to her about a minute into his program and said, "this kid is GOOD." Well, this kid recently won the Junior Grand Prix Final!

And to close out August and this blog post, I leave you with a photo of my family on the Wendella river & lake cruise:
Me, Kristin, Bradley, Uncle Bill, Danielle, and my mom.

Part 3 coming soon-ish!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2011, european heaven (pt 1)

Contrary to what the title suggests, I (unfortunately) did not spend all of 2011 in a European heaven. But I'm limited by rhyming options this year, so I'm going with that. It's hard to believe that this year is over...a part of me still feels like the Olympics (in February 2010) were just yesterday. They were not. Anyway, I am at least a little more organized than I was a this time last year, due to missing Challenge, so I figured that I would start my year-in-review posts. Considering that I posted all three of them in February last year, this is a huge improvement.

Trimming the Tree
I kicked off the New Year sitting on an Amtrak train in Jackson, Michigan, craning my neck to see fireworks from the window. A last-minute gap in my work schedule allowed me to join Christina and Jules in Michigan after all, but by the time I knew my schedule and could buy a train ticket, the one that would have allowed me to ring in the New Year with them was out of my budget. So I arrived in Royal Oak after 1am, and they picked me up on their way home from the New Year's party that they had attended. We had a stellar couple of days together for our belated Christmas.

I also went to a Charlotte Martin concert in January!
CharMar is one of my absolute favourite musicians, and I had not seen her perform before. The show was incredible. She débuted many of the new songs from her album Dancing on Needles, and I fell in love with "Warrior," which I am still patiently waiting for her to release as a B-side...

Of course, the main event in January was, once again, the Canadian Figure Skating Championships. They were in Victoria, BC, this year, so the trip was looking like it would be quite expensive, at first. I managed to save money by flying into Seattle and when one of the skating families found out that I planned to stay in a hostel, they found space for me in their rooms. Skating families are fantastic! Flying into Seattle also meant that I had a great excuse to fly in a couple of days early, so that I could spend some time in Vancouver with Lori! Of course, it rained the whole time, but she had tons of Road to Avonlea episodes available on PVR, so all was not lost. After 2 days with L$, it was off to Victoria! I was busier at Canadians than I have ever been, since I doubled up on coverage and was working for both Ice-Dance.com and GoldenSkate. It was exhausting, but exhilarating, and I'm still so relieved that the pieces fell into place for the trip to be a possibility.

Day 1: Grueling 15-hour day at the rink for novice short programs, the junior ladies short, where I snagged this amazing Ina Bauer shot of Julianna Sagaria, and junior dance practice.
Julianna Sagaria

Day 2: Another 15-hour day for novice free skates, junior pairs short, and the novice medal ceremony, which was way after bedtime for some of the kids on the podium. The novice dance event was my favourite to shoot all last year, because the top 6 or 7 teams were so talented and had such wonderful free dances. I hated that it was the first event to end this week! So one of the standout moments of the day was Madeline Edwards & Zhao Kai Pang's championship-winning novice free dance. They also set a new Canadian record. I love this shot, snapped a couple of seconds after they hit their end pose, because it's so easy to tell how thrilled they are with their skate.
Edwards & Pang

Day 3: Three junior programs, but I was able to sneak out after the junior free dance to head back to the hotel early, eat an actual meal (and not just a bagel slathered in Nutella), and catch up on photo organization and submissions. Photo of the day is Nicole Orford & Thomas Williams in their first-place short dance. They also won the title the next day, which meant that their coaches & my friends went 3-for-3 on the national dance titles below the senior level. Awesome! Anyway, I had the privilege of shooting Nicole & Thomas quite a few times in their début season, but this shot might be my favourite.
Orford & Williams

Day 4: Finally, the schedule worked in my favour! I shot senior dance practice in the morning, and then I had time to get out of the rink and breathe. I met some of the novice dancers & parents at Roger's for sundaes, and embarked on an amusing turbo-shopping adventure to find a black skirt for Maddie, before heading back to the rink for the junior free dance, men's free, and medals. Photo of the day is Kelly Oliveira & Jordan Hockley, a team I loved watching for several years. I didn't have any idea then that this was my last time to photograph them as a team. I sure miss those smiles! At IDC, we called them our prozac team, since they always gave such a bubbly performance.
Oliveira & Hockley

Day 5: First day of senior competition! However, the POTD is from practice, since I knew that I wanted this shot of Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje, and I knew that I needed an angle that I wouldn't be able to get from the media seats during the competition. The first time that I saw their short dance, via a tiny feed on my computer, I knew that I wanted to get this shot at Canadians. I had missed it a couple of times in practice the day before, so this was my last chance, and it was one of those moments where I knew that it was perfect the instant that I clicked the shutter. Love those moments!
Weaver & Poje

Day 6: Two of the senior frees, ladies and pairs. POTD is, without a doubt, Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford's reaction at the end of the free skate that would propel them onto the podium and send them to Worlds. I think that even people who don't know the backstory can understand what this moment meant to them, but for those of us who have watched Meagan's career unfold over the past decade, well, it probably means a bit more.
Duhamel & Radford

Day 7: Canadians comes to a close with two incredible events, the free dance and the men's free skate. In the free dance, Vanessa Crone & Paul Poirier and Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje were so fantastic and so close that I almost forgot that the headliners had withdrawn earlier in the week. In the men's free skate, Shawn Sawyer and Patrick Chan delivered the most incredible back-to-back free skates I have ever seen, finally topping Chris Mabee and Jeff Buttle in 2005. (No offense meant to Chris and Jeff, I still adore those moments, too.) It's funny—during the competition, I am so focused and so worried about my action shots, and initially, those are the ones that I look through first. But months after the event, when I go through the photos again, it is almost always a photo from the emotional reaction that jumps out at me...
...like Vanessa & Paul's reaction in the kiss & cry, when they found out that they'd won the Canadian title. Again, I had no idea that this would be the last time that I would see this familiar scene.
Shawn Sawyer
...and like Shawn Sawyer's extended celebration at the end of his free skate. I think that his flawless performance surprised even himself, and for me, it was the most incredible moment of a wonderful week. And I don't think I have ever left an event more exhausted than I left Victoria.

February kicked off with a big, white, fluffy bang. Chicago had its worst blizzard in something like 30 years. People who didn't listen to repeated warnings and tried to drive home on Lake Shore Drive were stranded until the wee hours of the morning, but I didn't mind the blizzard much at all, tucked inside my house, watching the snow drift all the way to the top of my patio door while I sipped hot chocolate and probably ate Nutella.

Fortunately, the blizzard came the day that it did and not a day later, because just two days after the dumping, I was on a flight east for my second skating event of the year. The eventual destination was Oshawa, Ontario, for EOSIC, but since I'd forgotten to make my plane reservation while I was at Canadians, I ended up flying to Buffalo, taking a bus to Toronto, and taking the commuter train to Oshawa. Quite the ordeal. I wasn't too excited about the actual competition at first, since it was a StarSkate event, and I did not know most of the competitors. But of course, once I was there, I had a great time shooting. I especially enjoyed the Triathlon event, which I had never shot before, since I got to follow the same girls through three phases of the competition. A few highlights:

Francesca Joanette
Francesca Joanette, one of the most expressive skaters in the junior bronze event
Sheridan & Gunther
I even got to shoot some dance! Here's Chelsea Sheridan & Alex Gunther in the pre-juvenile Fiesta Tango.
Casey Barber
Casey Barber, gold triathlon skills
Marisa De Souza
Marisa De Souza, bronze triathlon interpretive; this Chicago program is one of the only skates that I still remember at the end of the year, such a joy to watch
Rebecca Marcinek
Rebecca Marcinek, gold triathlon free skate

I don't think I did anything interesting the rest of February. At least, I didn't take any photos. I wrote a lot of Olympics-in-review and year-in-review posts in February, so I'm guessing that it was cold and I stayed inside all month.

March kicked off with beautiful weather. I remember this because I left my coat in the car when I went to a concert on March 3, and I did not suffer from frostbite or hypothermia as a result.

Made Avail
The show was Made Avail's CD release party, but they invited Superchick, and that was why I was there.

Matt Dally
Specifically, because I grew up in church/school/jazz band with the Superchick bassist, Matt Dally. I was hoping to see more folks that I knew there, but the only person I knew besides Matt was his mom, who was running the merch table. I'm also remembering now that I think I promised to send her photos, and I don't think I ever did...perhaps I should see if I can find her email address. Anyway, Superchick always puts on a great show, but this show was even more fantastic because the lighting was just perfect. I got so many great shots, most of which have still never seen the light of day.

The following weekend, I went to see Stars on Ice with my mom. This was my 10th event (or so) of the season, but this was my mom's first time seeing live skating since Disney on Ice with Girl Scouts, circa 1993. I was excited for the chance to take her, but a little worried that she would hate it. She didn't, though, and she even wanted to talk about who was good and who wasn't on the drive home. Our seats were crap (sometimes Stars on Ice gives the photographer a good seat, and sometimes they can't be bothered; this was a 'can't be bothered' day), but Mom was willing to scootch at intermission.

Joannie Rochette
Mom and I were both most excited to see Jo, who was definitely on our "good" list.

Sasha Cohen
I can't remember if Sasha jumped or not at that show, but she was into the dramatic flair, at least, and I really enjoyed this shot.

Evan Lysacek
I was also thrilled to get a dramatic!Evan!spin! photo, and even more thrilled about the angle. Perfectly in front of the SOI sign! Tell me again why they haven't hired me as their official photographer yet. Haha.

At the end of the month, Mom went to a conference in San Francisco, and asked me if I would go with her. I couldn't turn down an almost-free trip to one of my favourite American cities, so off I went! Unfortunately, a sunny California weekend was not in the cards for us, but we went out in between the showers and made the best of it. We went to SFO in 2007 for Thanksgiving, and it was the first trip that I took with a "real" camera. I was anxious to get better shots this time, now that I have a bit more experience, and I even sprung for a wide-angle lens rental. I typically rent with BorrowLenses, and they are based in SFO, so I was able to do a local pick-up 3-day rental. Awesome!

Day 1: Scoped out the walk to Mom's conference and also picked up my lens rental. Introduced my mom to the magic of eating quick meals at Whole Foods, instead of at a sandwich shop. Took the ferry to Sausalito and spent the day walking, drinking cappuccino, and browsing art galleries. Dinner in North Beach, walked back to our hotel just off Union Square.
Ferry Views
Great views of San Francisco on the ferry ride!
Ferry Building
And I fell pretty hard for both the Ferry Building and wide-angle photography.

Day 2: Mom's conference started, so I was on my own. Met up with Tina for lunch at the Ferry Building (Blue Bottle Coffee & Cowgirl Creamery & Scream non-dairy ice cream!) and wandered the Saturday market, too. Walked and photographed all afternoon, through the Financial District, Chinatown, Nob Hill, and Union Square. Met up with Mom after sessions ended, and went out for sushi.
Ferry Building
More Ferry Building photography
Stockton Street View
View from Nob Hill, looking north down Stockton Street, all the way to the bay
Union Square
I also decided to try HDR more on this trip, and here's one of the crazier results. I don't know, I really like something about the effects on this shot at Union Square.

Day 3: On my own most of the day again. Took the cable car to Ghirardelli Square (I would do this every day of my life if I lived there, I feel), then continued west to the Palace of Fine Arts and the Presidio, where I thought that I would see the Golden Gate Bridge, but I did not. Treated myself to froyo twice. Photographed Alamo Square once the afternoon sun went away. Paid homage to the Full House house. Met up with Mom, and had dinner at the fabulous Hyde Street Bistro, which I found a Yelp, and which I later read about in a travel magazine. Guess I picked a good one!
Palace of Fine Arts
The Palace of Fine Arts is other-worldly!
Alamo Square
My effort at the postcard shot. Much better than the 2007 attempt, but still not zingy enough.

Day 4: No photos, since I had to return my lens on the evening of Day 3. During Mom's morning sessions, I walked around Union Square some more, but the real highlight came at lunch, when I brought her to the Blue Bottle Coffee shop on Mint Plaza. Most perfect cup of coffee ever. I can still taste it.

Much of April was spent finishing my last lit class ever, in which I wrote a killer paper that compared the two most recent film adaptations of Sense and Sensibility to the novel. It was a good way to end my lit class career. Of course, even with concentrating on school, it's not like I could deal with staying home all of the time.

So once again, I spent the second weekend of April in Ottawa, shooting the Gloucester Spring Skate. I had fun shooting the interpretive events and a lot of cute little ones, but I did not have fun when my shutter died. It had been acting funny for most of the day, and at least I had my backup 20D close by. Until that one died, too. Oups. So I had to spend the second day shooting with Phil's backup Nikon. Everything felt backwards, so it was challenging, but I made it through. And at least we didn't have to close up shop on one of the rinks. Of course, it was just about the last thing that I needed. I sent the 50D off to get fixed as soon as I got home, using the money that I made from the competition, but I still haven't been able to afford to fix the 20D. It also seems silly to fix a 20D (soooo 4 models ago), but I am having a hard time imagining being able to afford an upgrade. Everyone cross your fingers for me for more photo sales and freelance work. But anyway, a couple of random shots I liked from Gloucester:
Cute kid in hat
Cute kid in pink
Beyond the photography that weekend, I had a wonderful weekend with the Ottawa family, and as was the theme of the year, I didn't realize that it would be my last event with them. I am really missing my regular trips to see my "Canadian li'l sis."

Right after the semester ended, I was off to Toronto for the annual Canadian Stars on Ice weekend. We went to the usual Friday night show at the ACC, which I photographed, of course.
Kurt Browning
This program of Kurt's wasn't my favourite (I am getting a little tired of voiceover programs), but it was quite photogenic.
Another photogenic one was this quirky ensemble number that reminded me of the way SOI used to be, pre-budget cuts.

We were feeling a serious lack of energy and commitment from the skaters during the show, so for the first time in a long time, we didn't feel like going to another Canadian show. Jules, Christina, and I skipped Hamilton and spent our Saturday in Niagara-on-the-Lake instead. Christina took us to some touristy sites we'd never seen before, like the world's smallest chapel:
and we feasted on a Whole Foods picnic in the park before doing some photoshooting on Lake Ontario. Note to self: when the plan is to save money and skipping eating in a restaurant, buying picnic fare at Whole Foods with the girls doesn't actually save money...but it sure is tasty!
The Girls

And that's it for my first four months of the year. I'm expecting the summer months to take some time to put together, so I hope I'll have that post ready by January. No promises, though. ;-)