Posts in Travel photography
Moab, Utah
All photos shot on a Canon 7D with a Sigma 15mm fisheye lens.

All photos shot on a Canon 7D with a Sigma 15mm fisheye lens.

Something I share with - and perhaps even require of - my friends is a delight in novelty and a boredom with prosaic tradition. So it was the weekend of Halloween 2016 when we decided to eschew the fake cobwebs & sexy outfits to head west - 6 hours west, through the Rocky Mountains and across the state border to Moab, Utah. The six of us arrived at Ken's Lake Campground around 2am on Saturday morning, set up camp in the black of night and slept under the silent watch of striated cliffs on every side. The landscape that greeted us when we crawled out of our tents the next morning reassured us that our trek was worthwhile. From our campsite we could see a lake, a waterfall, ancient boulders bigger than most buildings, and a dusty road calling us toward Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. Of course, it was a call we had to answer.

We started at the vast chasms of the Canyonlands, which looked like they could once have been inset swimming pools for the dinosaurs. International tourists know the Canyonlands' brother, Arizona's Grand Canyon, but I prefer the isolation that can be found here in Utah. We cooeed and hollered at the faithful red walls and waited for them to reply with an echo. They always did. 

Sunset found us half an hour east in Arches National Park. We slithered up steep rock formations to claim a vista from which to scope the sky's reds and purples. We were thoroughly, delightfully, gratefully present. That, and hungry. So, with the darkness we returned to the campgrounds, where we ate, drank, smoked and generally made merry, except for that one camp neighbour...she made sure we knew she wasn't merry at all. 

Sunday morning bade us to repack and return to Denver, but not before a breakfast beer. By evening, we were home - less than 48 hours after we set out. Some would say it's a long way to drive for just one day, but we say it made for one of the best weekends of the year - and all for less than $50 a person, including food, drinks and petrol.

Arches National Park just after sunset.

Arches National Park just after sunset.

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Canyonlands

Canyonlands

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What to do in New York state

I promised a guide to New York, and here it is. I plan to produce a few more of these over time - how would you feel about a guide to Colorado? (By the way, my favourite accessories brand Benah interviewed me about Denver as a travel destination. If you've wondering why I'm so obsessed, check out what it's all about here.)

What not to do

Times Square is called the armpit of New York City for good reason. Unless you enjoy being punched in the face by the most tasteless aspects of capitalism, it's no fun. 

Where to spend the weekend

True life: I'm addicted to passport stamps. By the time I turned 21, I had already stamped my way through an entire passport, and the way mine is looking now, I'll have to order a replacement before it expires. If you can relate, then use your New York trip as an opportunity to cross another border: visit Niagara Falls. (Though it can be viewed from the US side, the Canadian side is far more impressive.) It's truly spectacular.

Why choose the Hamptons for R&R when this gorgeous thing is just a day's drive away? (Oh, and the drive is almost as impressive as the destination itself. Upstate New York is a sumptuous treat for the eyes.)

Where to stay

The ideal places to stay in New York City will differ vastly depending on the purpose of your visit, and whether you've been there before. If it's your first time, anywhere in Midtown will be ideal, since that's where many of the tourist attractions are. But if you've been there, done that, skip over the river and head to Brooklyn, the growing borough for which most tourists don't often venture out. For similar prices as downtown and uptown, the neighbourhoods there can be far more exciting.

Where to dance

Behind an unmarked door on a filthy street in Chinatown lies Le Baron, one of the best clubs in the city. It's the kind that reminds me of Australian clubs: small, classy, and featuring great music that swings between new house and throwbacks to early 2000's hip hop and R&B. (I accidentally discovered it by means of a NYFW afterparty that saw it endorsed by a gaggle of famous models, including Lindsey Wixson.)

Where to drink

New Yorkers are spoilt for choices as far as places to down a tinnie or two, but for something that will offer you a good amount of unique craft beers, make Proletariat your venue of choice. Or if cocktails are more up your alley, try The Blind Barber, a speakeasy-style watering hole in the East Village.

Where to eat

Vanessa's Dumplings is renowned among the locals for its 25c dumplings, and fantastic Beijing-style pancakes and soups come at equally incredible prices. Don't go during standard meal times, as it's not uncommon to see a queue out the door. Expect to have to stalk down a table at any of Vanessa's three locations.

Do it like a local

Sign up to The Skint's newsletter in the days prior to your trip to find out what's happening across the boroughs. Lots of obscure - but even cooler for it - shows end up on these daily emails. (The Skint's tagline is 'free and cheap new york', but its value doesn't lie in the low cost of the events as much as the variety of events. It excludes the awful touristy stuff, leaving you with information locals rely on to find pop-up events, secret gigs, and other hidden gems of the city.)

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Did @isabelmarant x @heritageparis just create the board of my dreams?

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Do you love New York (city or state) as much as I do? What are your tips?

Climbing Mt Evans, Colorado
One of the friendlier patches of Mt Evans Rd

One of the friendlier patches of Mt Evans Rd

Was it the terror, or the sub-zero temperature, that tightened my grip on the steering wheel? Either way, there was no letting go. My driving was the closest to tiptoeing that a vehicle would ever be. A slight miscalculation - too much pressure on the accelerator here, a failure to notice the patch of ice on the road there - and I would be rolling down the sheer cliff to my left. 

Seven miles to go. The longest seven miles of my life. 

And when I finally did arrive at Summit Lake, where I would camp overnight and hike to the peak of Mt Evans before sunrise, a tempest began to roll in. Of course. I slept in my car instead.

Summit Lake, Colorado

Summit Lake, Colorado

You know those dreams where reality is slowly incorporated into the dream, until you gradually wake up and realise your mind was responding to your surroundings? I dreamt I was on a boat, drifting, rocking side to side, rolling gently with the wind, my car, my car is rocking, MY CAR IS ROCKING VIOLENTLY. 

It was 1am. The wind was so strong it was threatening to roll my car. But that became the least of my worries when my sight was assaulted by lightning that couldn't have struck further than a few dozen metres away. I was blinded for a few seconds and realised I couldn't perceive any gap between the lightning and the thunder. I was stuck in a metal cage, on one of Colorado's highest mountains, in the middle of the angriest lightning storm I'd ever seen. 

Fear assumed control. Put something rubber on, it said. I found thick hiking boots and shoved them on my feet. Drive towards something, anything slightly taller than you, it said. I was out in the open, above the treeline, but I saw a toilet hut and parked next to it. I spent the next few hours desperately counting the seconds between lightning clap and thunder boom - when there was any distance between them at all. 

By 5am, the sky had no wrath left in it, and I looked to my left. On the hut was a sign of guidelines for the national park. Under 'Lightning' was the advice: "One of the safest places you can be is inside your vehicle."

Fear makes you an idiot. Go, do. Climb that mountain. 

Chanelle x

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7 things I learnt as an Australian in Denver
Horsetooth Reservoir, one of my favourite spots to run

Horsetooth Reservoir, one of my favourite spots to run

1. The American stereotype is 100% true...except for the obesity.

If you've been following me on Twitter, you'd have seen the outrageous things people have said to my face. The common attitude towards travel tends to be 'why', instead of 'why not', and conversations regularly zig zag between racism, ignorance and reality television. But in Colorado, at least, people are actually more active than the average Australian. The number of runners and cyclists out in blizzard conditions is the stuff of Nike advertising. 

2. People are obsessed with the idea of being 'hipster'.

This one really confuses me. If you like a nice band, you're hipster. My beanie slipped a little back off my forehead, and I was hipster, apparently. There's a palpable cultural segregation. You're too cool, or you're not cool. You're one of us, or you're one of them. They find identity in their tastes. It reminds me of being 16 again. There's no spread of culture because people desperate to be 'hipster' won't share, and people who judge 'hipsters' for trying so hard won't try anything new for fear of becoming one of them.

3. It's more beautiful than Australia.

I must disclose that there's a lot of Australia I haven't seen. But I've never seen, or heard of, anything quite as stunning as the view you get of the Rocky Mountains even from the heart of downtown Denver. I always hated running outdoors until I came here...now I run just to take it all in. 

4. Unless you eat crap, it's not that much cheaper.

We Australians have this fabled concept of America being unbelievably cheap. $10 for 50 McNuggets, I used to tell people, shuddering at the price of fast food here. But here's a secret you don't hear very often: it's only fast food that's cheap. For some bizarre reason, the government subsidises junk food, and the normal, healthy stuff like nice brunches or fresh veggies is pretty much the same price as it is in Australia. And though alcohol is less heavily taxed, it's still the same price once you factor in tips at bars. Sorry to break it to you. 

5. It's a beer lover's heaven.

Sure, I miss a good drop of Alpha, Box & Dice, but the sheer variety of beer available in Colorado is so overwhelming that I've gone months without wine now. I could have a different local beer every day for years and not have the same one twice. I never used to be a beer girl, but I've even come around to dark stouts and IPAs out here. The craft breweries are incredible.

6. And a pot lover's heaven.

If you like to eat it, you can get a marijuana-laced version of it. I'm not joking: chocolate, pastries, even sushi. Not my vice, but fascinating nonetheless. 

7. But a coffee lover's hell.

Order a macchiato and you'll get a bucket of warm brown milk tainted with sugar and chemicals. Ask for a flat white and you'll get confused looks. And don't even think about requesting a ristretto or lungo. No sir, you'll have burnt, black, caffeinated poo water or you'll have nothing. 

Chanelle x

PS: (Somewhere between marathon training, the Christmas season, and settling into my new job as a magazine journalist in Colorado, I lost touch with blogging. You could call me undisciplined, but realistically I was merely un-tripod-ed. Really, though, I had been stacking piles of books precariously on a desk just to shoot photos.

After a prolonged, nigh emotional wait, a Mefoto Backpacker tripod, with its teeny build perfect for mountain hikes, has arrived in the mail. And with some shoots already around the corner, there's more to come yet.)

Old film from my  surf shoot in Adelaide  came back from the processors...

Old film from my surf shoot in Adelaide came back from the processors...

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I imagine this is what American televangelists do in their spare time: country dancing in Oplin, Texas.

I imagine this is what American televangelists do in their spare time: country dancing in Oplin, Texas.

And I spent Christmas with my homeless brothers and sisters in the centre of Denver.

And I spent Christmas with my homeless brothers and sisters in the centre of Denver.