18 September 2015

An Alberta Road Trip in Selfies (And A Few Other Photos)

The selfies are in chronological order. Everything else is not.

I never really told you guys about going to Alberta! I'm getting into this bad habit where I go on these road trips and tell very few people, and then start posting photos from there. I know I never got around to posting about my Vancouver trip, and good golly, I'm not sure I'll get around to posting about the Navajo Nation, but at least I'll have Alberta down. 


So go back a month, and you'll see that Jake and I began our road trip with a 7 hour gallivant from Salt Lake City, UT to Helena, MT.  It was a good halfway point between home and our destination, and a city neither of us had been to before. It was probably one of the best stops we could have made. The town has such a cool character to it, such good Romanesque architecture and just a really cool vibe in general. It also happens to be the capitol of Montana, and our Airbnb was a quick 5 minute walk from it. Unfortunately the building was closed, but we managed to snap this photo before heading out.


Our next stop was the border! I've crossed into Canada three other times, all by land. This was probably the least dramatic of those crossings. It is lots of farm and prairie land that goes into more Canadian farm and prairie land. The point is, this particular crossing is essentially in the middle of nowhere. It happens to be at the northern terminus of I-15, and the closest border crossing to Calgary, which is the only reason it exists.


This is the Bow! Which is the tower directly behind us. This was our first night in the city after checking into our Airbnb. We just wanted to explore a little bit, and this was taken at the Olympic Park in downtown Calgary. We spent most of our time in the city doing everything from Shakespeare in the park, to Taste of Calgary (a kind of buffet of all city restaurants), visiting shopping malls, using the 15+ network of skybridges to get around the city and eventually visiting the University of Calgary.


We did spend an entire day in Banff National Park. It is sort of regarded as the Yellowstone of Canada, and it was the country's first and most famous national park. And my god, it was beautiful. Behind us are the Bow Falls. They are more of a set of large cascades along the river. We followed this river all the way from downtown Calgary to its glacial headwaters.


This is the Banff Springs Hotel. It was one of the old historic hotels built along the Canadian National Railroad to bring tourists and passengers from as far away as Toronto and Montréal. It is located directly above the waterfalls we took a picture in from of.


This is a lake. I can't quite remember which one. It was blue and beautiful. This one just took our breath away and I insisted it was selfie worthy. All of the water in the park was a glacier, like, yesterday. You can actually see a bit of a glacier in this photo, hanging high above the lake. We did a long, roughly 4 hour round trip scenic drive through Banff National Park to Jasper National Park and we probably saw at least two dozen glaciers.



This is one of the most photographed lakes in the world. It is called Lake Louise, and you should google it right this second. We were there later in the evening to beat the crowds but consequently we got the poor end of the lighting. The lake is as beautiful in person as it is in the photos. Although honestly after spending an entire day looking at one impossibly beautiful thing after another, some of the initial amazement may have worn off.


We took this one right before we left the city. Our Airbnb was in the neighborhood of Ramsay, which is an old neighborhood sitting on a bluff just over the city. There is one street that has just an amazing view of the city. There is another photo below taken at this same location of the city at night.


This is us somewhere in Idaho. We decided to do the 13 hour journey home in one giant hurrah, and it was hard not to get a little bored once and a while. Jake is a really handsome fellow.

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Below are a selection of photos in no particular order that I took on the trip. I'll include captions for some of them, but mostly they are just really great things to look at.


Above is the city of Calgary at night with the Saddle Dome in front. The Saddle Dome is the centre piece of a large complex known as the Calgary Stampede, one of the largest of its kind in the world. Our train station was on the other side of that building, so we ended up walking around it probably a dozen times in our short time there.


This is the library at the University of Calgary. I had two different meetings with advisers in their planning school, and we had a self guided tour of the campus while were were there.


This one is great. This is taken from a park above Helena, MT. I would call it the Ensign Peak of Helena. You should zoon in on this one, because it was just beautiful.


The Calgary C-Train. It is the oldest light rail system in North America, and it was a super convenient way to get around the city.

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Everything below this is from either Banff or Jasper National Park. The second to last photo is the Athabasca Glacier, which was so rad you should definitely google it.






That was our trip in selfies! (And some other photos). It was totally an awesome experience, and it has definitely given me a lot to thing about when it comes to deciding where to apply to grad school. I'll try my best to get my next road trip up on here from the Navajo Nation, but until then, you can always read and then re-read this post!

Bests,

Browne



28 August 2015

My Great Salt Summer


As you may have surmised from social media I've done a lot this summer. Seriously. Several things. I went to Canada on two different occasions, took classes, worked, started an internship with a transit agency and slept a lot. One thing I managed to do with great regularity was go to my favorite place on earth, the Great Salt Lake.

The stunning waters, soft sand, quiet beaches and endless vistas drew my to its shores again and again. Jake and I managed to go on more than a dozen occasions, spending whole afternoons and evenings in the salty waters. Something that I finally invested in this year was a set of plastic buckets and shovels to build sandcastles with. 

Best. Purchase. Yet.

I'm going to take you in chronological order of some of the more notable sandcastles that team Anderbright made.

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1. The Lagoon Castle


This might not make 100% sense if you haven't visited the Great Salt Lake in person. The Great Salt Lake has a bunch of really curious characteristics that are pretty unique to it. (I wrote an entire blog post on it forever ago if you are curious as to what some of those are). Like the big puddles that hang around at the beach after high tide recedes, the Great Salt Lake has big pools or inlets of water that stick behind the regular shoreline after wind storms or from the inevitable evaporation that constantly changes the lake's shape. You end up with these long sand bars that form the regular shoreline to the lake where the little waves crash, and where I build my sandcastles. After playing in the water for a bit I saw him building this castle, so I came along to help. Anyway, it was one of the first larger sandcastles we built. It was built on the back end of one of these sand bars, on the calmer lagoon side, hence the name.

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2. Age of Salty Empires


I was putting some towers up using my big orange bucket and then I decided to build a wall between them. Then I had this childhood moment of inspiration where I remembered how I used to play in the creek by my house growing up and pretend that it was all a small civilization and that I had these god-like powers to create towns, canals, roads and bridges. (How I didn't realize urban planning was my calling from an earlier age, I have no idea). I also used to (read: still do) play Age of Empires II, which is such a rad game. When building this castle I had the sudden inspiration that I needed to build a wall around my highly coveted stretch of beach to keep the wild and ferocious monsters from trespassing onto my territory. As far as I can recall, it was wildly successful.

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3. Great Salt Coffin 


You probably saw this castle on social media with Jake's seemingly dead body occupying its interior. I was going for something similar to the Age of Salty Empires, but with a more bad-ass front. Then as I started to build the walls back along the shore line of the peninsula it was occupying, the winds shifted north and the shallow waters of the Great Salt Lake began to recede leaving my coastal castle a little dryer than expected. With it situated higher on a bigger piece of land, I decided to give it some symmetry, giving it its coffin shape.

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4. The Canadian Tower of Glory 


Jake and I have tried a few times before to create a castle of any notable height. Most of them were so much of failures that they didn't warrant a photo to be taken of their shame. This time we were pretty sure that it was our lucky day, and we built the castle you see above. It was actually a lot cooler about 15 minutes before we took this photo. About an hour earlier, the winds shifted to the south and the prevailing breezes skimmed the great expansive surface of the lake causing the water to rise on the southern shores. The water level was at least 3-5 centimeters lower when we started construction. The castle was originally at the high point of the island when we began construction, but as you can see in the photo it suddenly became flooded. Think of it like a saltier version of Dry Tortugas National Park. I think I forgot to tell Jake that I was taking the photo, so pardon his somewhat frustrated expression. I'm calling it our Canadian Tower of Glory because we had some left over miniature Canadian flags from our Canada Day party back in July, and we put some in our beach bag to decorate the awesomeness that is a Great Salt Sand Castle. 

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That pretty much catches us up! 

Except, have I told you about our cat, Joy? 

I suppose the internet would not be any worse of a place with a few extra photos of felines on it. Here we go.


Joy is jealous of all electronic devices in the house because they take attention away from her cuteness. Also, note how I am on Facebook looking at photos of my friend's cats. Because the internet.

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WARNING. SEXY THIGH ALERT.


Joy is a very cuddle cat. It is awesome. Except at 4:00 AM when she nudges you, and meows at your face to make sure you are alive. And also, if you are alive to make sure to give her some token of affection and attention. Adorable.

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This one is just too cute. Sometimes when I come home, she is sitting in a corner propped up like she is some kind of primate. Damn. The internet would be a much more boring/less adorable place without cats. 

Thanks for reading. I know I have no sense of regularity whatsoever, and given that this is the first week of a new semester, chances of me writing a follow up post to this a dropping by the second. If I ever do get around to such a literary work I think I'll write about my trips to our neighbor to the north, Canada.

Until then, bests!

-Browne


^ Canada ^

29 April 2015

Becoming Browne

Hey.

I bet you thought I forgot about you.

Nah, I just had my typical cycle of complete lack of motivation and the absurd desire to be more of an introvert than usual.

I've done a lot of stuff since I last blogged. 

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1. I went to San Francisco


And the only photo that I took and that I also did not manage to instagram was the interior of the Cathedral we attended mass in. Probably because it was blurry.

It was the typical road trip magic. Staying with some hip millennial in Reno. Crashing for two nights in cheap Japanese hostel. Exploring to my hearts content on a very long weekend and enjoying every second of it.

I just remember that I am totally not studying for my exam tomorrow.

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2. I went to Portland


Bennion Center. Service trip. Urban Environmentalism.

It was a blast. My first time in the Pacific Northwest was incredible. Very little privacy in a giant dorm of a dozen people. So much Portland goodness. Also very instagramed. 

For more photos check out a post on my sister blog, Coherent Creation

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3. I'm making it slowly through this semester.


In complete honesty, this semester has been a little bit of a drag. It was my first semester not taking a design studio. I feel somewhat caught in between pre-major and actual major moments. I'm taking very interesting classes, don't get me wrong, but with maybe one exception most of my classes are hovering in the theoretical. Not enough actual application, and ideas being left unchallenged. I would have liked some more dynamics in my education.

I'm hoping that in a few weeks I'll forget the dull parts and remember more of the awesome ones.

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4. I'm dating this kid named Jake and we moved in together and our apartment looks into this lovely alley way.


Whaaaat. I know, so much brick. But I swear it gets this really lovely ambient lighting in the morning. And the apartment is full of plants and so for lack of a view we get lovely green space.

And this Jake kid is pretty great too. We are going on a road trip next week. That will be awesome. 

I really need a road trip. Or some level of dynamic to break from this three month long uphill drudge. Two more days and my exams will be done. And then a final paper. And then everything will be done. Finally.

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It was almost exactly two years ago that I decided to start going by my middle name, Browne. 

In my procrastination, I decided to do a little thought experiment to see what it felt like to experience that again. It was awkward. It was frustrating. But for some reason I really wanted to do it. And honestly, I'm not entirely sure why I did. Something about it suiting me better or being on a bucket list or something of that nature.

I definitely do not regret it at all. I think Browne suits me much better. And frankly, I really like my name. It is old, it is different and it is very much me. But I really like being Aaron too. I love that I go by both. It is the very very subtle adventure I get every few weeks introducing myself. The papers says Aaron but it is actually Browne. Crazy.

You guys are great. I hope to see you more often. 

Have happy dreams.

16 January 2015

Coherent Creation

Hey everybody!

I'm gearing up for an exciting semester here at the University of Utah. I'll be taking 17 credit hours with 5 classes, two sociology classes, two city and metropolitan planning classes and one design class. So far, I am extremely pleased with my professors, the syllabi and having lots of friends in each class. I'm also starting a few new projects that might be unique to this semester.

As part of my studies in my Green Communities class, an elective taught by Stephen Goldsmith, I'll be keeping an online blog for a series of responses, reflections and observations that he assigns weekly on the topics of city planning, urban ecology, architecture, design and sustainability. Since I've already dabbled in the world of blogging here on Page Turning, I decided to create a sister blog, called Coherent Creation

Over the next semester you can expect regular posts, insights and meanderings on various urban topics. I'm not sure how quality the content will be, but I think you might enjoy it none the less!


15 January 2015

#TheGreatCanadianRoadTrip

Once upon a time there was a young man named Browne.

He had never been out of the country.

He really missed his sister.

He was very interested in Canadian grad schools.


Once upon a time, Browne went on #TheGreatCanadianRoadTrip.


So a little recap for you: 

About a month ago I was feeling kind of bluesly. Like I usually do at such times, I dream about traveling. The city of choice? Montreal, Quebec. I thought about flying in to New York City and taking a train up across the border. I thought about flying to Maine and driving up with a friend. Nothing was realistic. After lamenting about it on the internets, my sister responded that she was interesting in making such a trip. And boom, it was a thing.

I hurried as quick as I could to get decently affordable plane tickets to get myself out to Michigan and submitted my passport documents in record time. A month later, I left Salt Lake International to head to the wolverine state. After landing in Toledo, Ohio, we drove up to Ann Arbor where my sister, brother in law and nephew live. 48 hours later and I left American soil for the my first time ever. I know, huge culture shock was awaiting me in Canada.


My first impression of Ontario was how pastoral it was. Lots of farms and tons and tons of wind turbines. That was pretty rad. Fast forward a bunch and here we are at Niagara Falls. It was a little detour we took to go see a big landmark and break up the drive. It also meant we drove back through upstate New York to continue onto Quebec.


Quebec is really cool. It is a French province and ALL the signs are in French. What was super interesting to me was how geographically isolated Quebec feels compared to the rest of lower Canada. You drive though hours and hours of dense, snowy maple forests. Very few farms or any developement. It really felt like we were traveling to this far northern place that was completely culturally unique. We arrived in Montreal late in the evening, and the whole city was covered in a thick, wet snow. 




Fast forward again. The next day, (after a very complicated morning), I went to mass at the Notre-Dame Basilica de Montreal!




That was rad as hell. Good gracious, that church is magnificent. And thank goodness mass is the same in every language, because catholic vernacular in French goes right over my head. Mass was the first moment when the city became very human to me. One of my favorite parts of mass is when you greet one another and say, "Peace be with you". Even as an atheist, I absolutely love that gesture. It is so human. It doesn't feel like blind well wishing or greeting, but rather a recognition and appreciation that this is a place for the human soul to be at peace. Unfortunately I didn't know what the Catholic French equivalent to, "Peace be with you" was, so I just smiled and greet the people around me. 

Fast forward a bit. After traveling around Old Montreal (Vieux-Montreal) for a bit in the freezing rain, we took the metro up to the Olympic Park and the Montreal Biodome.






Huzzah for awesome. Then we went and ate Lebanese food on Rue Crescent, one of the main dining streets in the city.




Huzzah for that magic. The next day we went to check out McGill University, one of the main Canadian Universities I'm looking at for a potential grad school. The center building two photos below is their architecture and planning building-- where I would be studying if I attended there.



So that was magnificent and wonderful. The last thing we did in Montreal was drive up Mount Royal, the city's name sake. It is halfway between Central Park and Ensign Peak. Really, really stunning views of the city.





Fast forward again.

BOOM.

We are in Toronto, exploring the University of Toronto.

The mathleets auditorium from Mean Girls



Ontario Provincial Parliament Building


Aaaaand that's about it. The next day we drove back to Michigan. I do have photos from The University of Michigan and Detroit, but I might save those for another post. Or more realistically I'll forget to write that post and you can just google those places and take the tour for yourself. :)

I am eternally grateful to my sister Catherine, my brother in law Jesse, and my nephew Nikolai for taking me in for almost two weeks and going on this phenomenal trip with me. They were more than generous to spare the time and money to make it happen.

Thanks for reading, you guys. And thanks for being patient on my hiatus from the blogosphere.

Peace!