Welcome to Vancouver!

Switching gears once more, we thought we’d give you a taste of our adventures in another place: Vancouver, BC. A long drive, a beautiful city, and a midnight fire scare.. welcome to Vancouver!

LotsaSmiles Photography

Overall, we found Vancouver B.C. to be a very welcoming city.  After all, it appeared to have more tourists than residents, spanning the entire globe.  And it was quite the destination for Canada Day celebrations.

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Chicago: The Opportunity | LotsaSmiles Photography

It’s time to take another break – the holiday season is crazy busy!!  Are you swamped, too?  We have some exciting updates coming to our website, and more adventures on the horizon.  But for now, please enjoy this tale of another opportunity we had to travel on the corporate dime!


I learned from my father many years ago one very important lesson: take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.  After all, you never know when you might look back on a “no” and wish that it had been a “yes.”  I strive to live every day by the mantra of “no regrets,” and thus far, it has served me well.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2011

When Aaron’s company decided to move its headquarters from Portland to Chicago, they offered him continued work in the new city, along with a relocation package.  To help convince us, they would fly us (both) out to Chicago for a weekend, show us some apartments and the city sights, and wine and dine us – all on the company’s dime.  We’re quite happy living in Portland, and Aaron hated his job at the time, so moving wasn’t even a consideration for us.

Aaron almost told them no, outright.  I thought he was crazy.

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A Weekend in Seattle

As I’ve divulged before, I love surprises.  And fortunately enough for me, Aaron loves to dole them out (when he can keep it secret long enough to actually surprise me).  He particularly loves to plan surprise trips.  So this year, for my birthday, he packed us into the car and just started driving north.  And for me the destination was a mystery.

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Miami – The Expense-free Redux

About a year after we vacationed in Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach, Florida, we had an opportunity to return through a last-minute vacancy in a business-organized trip.  Aaron’s company offered him the suddenly open spot, and much like the last time we were offered a free trip, we jumped on it!

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Of course our agenda was much different, given we weren’t really planning this trip, but it was still just as fun as the previous.  And the obligatory seminar was worth getting the airfare and per diem on someone else’s dime.

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Newport Oregon: A Coastal Gem

Oregon has some magnificent coastal areas that are more than just beaches. Several rock formations create some very unique landscapes that you cannot find anywhere else. Last weekend we enjoyed our time with family, an accommodation with a view, and some delicious seafood during our stay. The weather felt like it was summer even though it was early November.

Beach near Newport Oregon

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Florida: Our Journey to Key West

Throwback Thursday: May 2011

As a traveler, I’ve always loved going on road trips. There are times where it makes sense and other times when it doesn’t. This was one of those times where it didn’t make sense, at least not the way I did it. Oh, I have learned from my mistakes, but I decided anyway to drive from Fort Lauderdale to Key West and back in one day. This is about a 4 hour drive each way, and the way back was not forgiving. But I still had an amazing time that I will never forget.

key West Florida Marina

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Miami: A Ten-Year Celebration

Aaron and I have been traveling together for years.  We kept it local while funds were tight, but as we grew our savings, we were able to venture farther afield.  Ten years into our relationship, we wanted to celebrate with something special, so we flew the farthest we had been to-date: to tropical Miami, Florida.  (We hadn’t yet gone international; that wouldn’t come until our trip to Japan four years later.  And fun fact: Miami is actually 200 miles farther from Portland than Hawaii, where we honeymooned.)  It was one of our earliest major trips, and it only helped solidify our love of travel.  We tend to vacation hard, and this was no exception.

© Brianna Shade 2011

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Portland: Historical Architecture

As a native of Portland, I have seen the city change quite a bit during my time here. Today there are more cranes than ever as the city is rapidly growing. It is almost difficult to walk the sidewalks with so much construction everywhere. Since I am a person who is fascinated with architecture, I set out to capture some older buildings. These buildings are beautiful in their own way and have a story.

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Empty Streets Downtown Portland

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Discovering Crater Lake

© Brianna Shade 2012

We made our way south and saw some amazing things along the way.  We appreciated beautiful beaches.  We survived the drenching jet boats.  The redwoods made us feel rather small.  We escaped from Alcatraz and biked the bridge.  We enjoyed a lovely 4th of July holiday on the bay, and we indulged in all of the traditional Cisco touristy activities.

But all good things must come to an end, and we had reached the end of our trip.  It was finally time to go home.

But we had one last stop before we did: Crater Lake.

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6 Things You Don’t Want to Miss in San Francisco

Last Day in San Francisco

© Brianna Shade 2012

We had finally reached our ominous last day in San Francisco. Without any firm plans, the city was there for us to explore. We even witnessed something shocking and unexpected. Can you guess what that could be?

Painted Ladies San Francisco

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