Posts tagged maps


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Whistler, BC, Canada

A Marmot is a particularly stunning rodent, a species of squirrel that has spurred a plethora of outdoor adventure branding from Marmot Clothing to Marmot Mountain in Alberta to the more obscure Whistler Mountain Resort named not for the wind that whistles between the high altitude peaks as some would suspect but for the high pitched, excited squeal of the Marmot.

The Himalayan Marmot claimed his fame in the ethnologies of history as a bit of a gold digger. Minaro tribes would frequent their burrows often and excavate the gold dust they would hoard inside. I don’t know for sure, but if the brains behind the resort town’s construction in Whistler all those years ago named the Mountain in a proverbial nod to the mammal’s tendencies to occupy a space where money would stick to walls as the tourists filed through, they were right on the money.

Whistler and the Marmot are truly beautiful cash hogs (groundhogs that is).


St Andrew’s Scotland

st. andrews scotland map collection


St Andrews Scotland

We were speaking quietly of adventure as the sun and the Scots had dropped one after the other into a traveling slumber around us; Shannon and I were too excited to sleep. The hills turned from green to grey as the light faded and now only the street lights painted the views out the window of the double decker bus. We gathered our backpacks, slowly through the wave of fatigued passengers making their way home, and covering our heads afraid of the downpour we hailed a cab to take us down passed the hidden gardens, and the historic lore of St. Andrews to Krista’s flat.

Krista and I have known each other since we were young, maybe thirteen, maybe fourteen. As life taken everyone differently from our home town she headed to Scotland for university. It was her fourth year living in St. Andrews and I knew she loved it there as much as I would come to.

Shannon and I rang the buzzer and climbed the stairs into a party, everyone was buzzing, ten international students – a fabulous girl from New York, a shy first year from Hong Kong, Krista’s Scottish roommate who later told me he was building a real life invisibility cloak. (It is a real thing) The table took up the entire room, covered in cheap wine and a puff pastry dinner. I hugged Krista like you can only hug an old friend that you’ve travelled an ocean to see, changed from my wet clothes and settled in to what felt like a global welcome to my UK trip.


New York City

NYC cycling map NYC cycling Map NYC-cycling-map-5


Summer had come to sit on New York’s face said Tom Robbins. I was pink, the sun had retired for the night but her memory was painted lightly on my skin, reminding my freckles to come out to play, to which they replied ‘I’m exhausted’. Blisters occupied the sweaty space between my toes and flats. The wrong choice of footwear for a long day of pavement and tourist attractions, that was now, already, a small part of the past. That evening, ignoring the signs posted on the hostel walls like an over cautious teacher, Sam and I crawled out as gracefully as possible through a window opening made perfectly for the size of two delinquent Canadians. We needed to pay tribute to a day of feet torturing tourism and friendship.

We sat on the the fire escape and dangled our feet over the human concentrate of Manhattan. A brown bag between us clinked holding two bottles of wine next to a couple burritos. I lit a cigarette, and blew into the air an imagined sophistication. This was the New York we’d been sold on television, and I’d be damned if while I was here I didn’t somewhat embody the movie archetypes.

Four stories below strangers were heading home, and above the hustle we smile silently to one another. We are both unsure of what the next few days would hold, but there was a quiet excitement sipping wine and letting the wind as a relief to the humidity dance around us.

Sam can pick a silence just as well as she picks conversations, thoughtful and effortlessly. The combination which I’ve admired since we became friends in the summer of 2011 is one of the things I miss most about not sharing the cities we’ve lived and travelled together now.

Two days from now she’ll light up the conversation and find her way into a short lived friendship with the bouncer at a club. With a smile that can only come from the friendly Canadian suburbs she’ll ask him where the Biggie Smalls mural is in Brooklyn. To which he will stare at us and reply, “What’chya know about Biggie Smalls.” There will be not a hint of humour in his voice, he’ll cross his giant arms across his chest and look at Sam quizzically. The length of silence is awkwardly growing and not orchestrated by us, we are utterly speechless and slightly terrified. But just as suddenly as the question came about, the quiet is broken with a laugh as big as the bouncer himself. He laughs and laughs at us, and then finds us a round of drinks that we don’t need. Playfully teasing, we learn a little bit more about New York that night, and never end up seeing the mural.

Long before we take on big city night life though, and soon after we perched ourselves like high park pigeons above New York we met Paulo. He was our Italian server at a patio restaurant a few blocks north of Time’s Square. A new immigrant he was positive and outgoing as the service industry in North America intends servers to be. I was trying to manifest the hip, nonchalance, romantic hustle of New York on that fire escape, but Paulo was the true New Yorker. He was the poster child of the American Dream. He was sending part of his earnings back to Italy, and was almost ready to bring his brother to the land of opportunity. Working two jobs, as many as 60 hours a week, and he had fifty stars of hope in his eyes. He had guzzled the red white and blue cool-aid  and smiled back at us with a milk moustache of patriotism. He was the underdog story we all love and that hollywood reinforces.

We spent five days tramping around New York, and close to twenty four hours sleeping uncomfortably on a bus to get there and back, while the lives of the people we met, and enjoyed so briefly roll on. Are they still chasing the dream, playfully terrorizing the tourists? There are few countries that can’t look to New York and see their reflection in one pocket or another. Its mystery I think comes from the combination of an elusive diversity in a shared space. I was and I think  Sam was also sucked right into that enigma.

The evening on the fire escape was just the beginning. We didn’t know what was in New York’s bag, and it was easy together, like with any good travel partner to bask in the uncertainty, and listen to the locals.

[Memories, adapted from my journal and further romanticized in my head from New York, June 2013]

[NYC cycling map spray painted, and screen printed by unknown street artist]

Seattle by Bus

seattle map-terra-1

 [Port Angeles to Seattle – stuck in my journal April 2013]


I sat behind a lady on the right hand side of the minibus her hair was grey, cropped and curled tight like my grandmas. I spent three hours staring out the window, staring at the mountains and the trees meant for tales of giants and gypsies, and then taking a breath I stared back at the the top of her head over the grey, embroidered bus seat. A dose of reality in the fairytale landscape I passed through. I left my raincoat on the bus, the weather was warm, the first hint of spring, my head was in the clouds of Mt Rainer.

Ironic maybe, but now that I’ve moved just north of that bus route I’m only a little mad at myself for being so distracted by the pacific northwest.

The Isle of Eigg




Peculiar Travel Suggestions are Dancing Lessons From God – Kurt Vonnegut


My knee was elevated, and an ice pack was strapped to my foot. The mountains surrounding Fort Williams stood silent beyond the windows of the wooden hostel. You sat in front of me and asked about my knee. I told you that against the best advice of my hiking partner I pushed myself too hard, walked too far, too fast, and injured myself. Proud that I completed the 120km walk across the Great Glen Way fault line in Scotland, I was ashamed I popped two painkillers to get through the last five miles. You were no stranger to the self medicating outdoor enthusiast within, and told me stories of your own mountaineering, ruining the cartilage in your knees.

It was the evening and after one more day of rest I knew that I would leave Fort Williams, but now maimed I couldn’t continue with my original travel plans. I wasn’t upset, I was sore, but I had just walked five days and another week of walking could be saved for another trip. It was just a question of where to next.

I remember you were from South Africa and we talked about what freedom meant and why you had decided to live the last few decades in the UK away from family and friends. You said it was just impossible to walk and camp freely as a young female, just as I had done the week prior. That was a freedom no women should take for granted in the UK or anywhere. The freedom of movement without fear, the freedom to enjoy the outdoors.  We talked about the hidden treasures on the west coast of Scotland, and with utter authority, after knowing just briefly my love for photography, cheap travel, and the urge to get off the beaten path; you said;  “go to the Isle Eigg.”

“From here just take the train to Mallaig in the morning, you can catch the ferry in the afternoon, you can camp for free! It is one of the most beautiful places in the world.”

And it was. And I had an amazing time.

So this is a little thank you note, Linda, because of what at first seemed like a peculiar travel suggestion turned into quite an adventure. You never needed to ask about my knee, and I could have avoided a conversation, but instead I had a lovely night, taking pictures of the stars and talking about life over cider with you.

Sihanoukville Cambodia Coastline Map

map of Shanoukville Cambodia

Otres Beach is beautiful and therefore I am sunburnt.

My hands are stiff from my grip on the motorbike handle bars, Alex and I waited out the last of the light on the beach and drove back into town as the moon rose. I am stressed out and my chest feels tight. Alex’s front headlight stayed dark the entire ride, and I lit the way just ahead of her as the lights from the city came into view.

I know how to drive a motorbike and I wasn’t worried about an accident, but we couldn’t take the route we had coming into the beach. I was disoriented and intimated by the poverty that coated the road sides. Blank stares and dark corners.

We are now safely back in Sihanoukville and everything will be better in the morning. It always is. The sunburn will subside.

map of Sihanoukville Cambodia Sihanoukville beach at sunset cambodia


[March 2012]

Hong Kong MRT Map

Hong Kong Subway System Map - Map Collection

The bathroom had a line, like all women’s bathrooms across the world I knew it would have a line… and Hong Kong the most densely populated place in the world, of course, had a nice long line of well dressed business class women. I was just outside the airport at the entrance to the MTR underground subway in Hong Kong. I wasn’t waiting for a toilet, only a sink and so with my bulky camera bag on my back I shuffled to the front to wash my face.

I was meeting my friend and her new baby son, and I smelt like day old beer and a night on the airport floor. I had just flown from Bangkok to Hong Kong on a red eye, and as I stood at the sink surrounded by locals brushing my teeth, I felt for the first time in my life homeless.

My hair was disheveled; I had run into a friend on Koa San Road, the late night, sometimes precarious tourist district, as I waited for an airport shuttle bus – the impromptu reunion led to more than a few Chang beers, a little dancing, top forty music blaring, and a missed bus, which then became a later night cab ride.

At 3am only slightly intoxicated I set up a makeshift bed, and spent a few hours on the airport floor to save a few dollars. My flight took off at 6am – what feels like a decade ago, and it is now 11:00. I’ve brushed the knots out of my hair, much shorter than when I started this trip, and changed my shirt. I had only one clean option left my backpack.

I’m being stared at; I’m a foot taller, and a hell of a lot blonder than any one else in the bathroom. I feel self conscious about my loose travel clothing, and the fact that I am brushing my teeth in a public washroom.  Hong Kong is business and I am out of place, I feel like I don’t belong this late in the morning, still foggy.

I often ask myself how did I end up here? Its not that I didn’t make a conscious choice to go to Hong Kong but when I left home three months ago I could have never predicted my current situation.

Yet here I was, about to ride in a tube underwater to an island filled to the brim with people. A tube that moves millions of people around everyday and all I could think about was my hangover and the new conversion rate I was still trying to grasp. I put some makeup on covering up the bags under my eyes from the lack of sleep, stared at myself in the mirror, and then conspicuously I watched the people milling around me. It is a habit of a photographer people watching, culture watching. Then with a quick look at my watch, I walk out of the bathroom, no longer homeless but with places to be and a friend to meet.

[adapted from March 2012]