Tag Archives: North Carolina

When the Banff Mountain Film Festival comes to town








This weekend the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour made its way to Boone, NC. This Friday and Saturday event brought in families, college students, adults, youth and senior citizens to the Appalachian State Schaffer Center to view some of the best outdoor and adventure documentaries on earth. Banff Mountain, in Canada, puts on a yearly film festival. After the festival, a select group of films are chosen to go on the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour. Throughout the tour these films will be shown to audiences of over 390,000 people, at over 840 screenings and in over 40 countries.

I got to attend the festival on Saturday night, sitting front and center (it pays off to get there an hour early), with a group of High Schoolers that I volunteer with. Oh and did I mention that I also got to launch T-Shirts into the crowd with slingshots?? That was pretty cool.

All of these films grabbed my attention and had that “wow” factor. The kind of thing that just makes your jaw drop. Throughout the films it was not unusual for the crowd to burst into applause, not because the film was over, but because something incredible happened. I was in an auditorium surrounded by almost a thousand people and yet, these films spoke and moved each of us individually. I left the festival so inspired by the people in the films the settings they were located in and the underlying story that each of them told. These weren’t just extreme sports clips, they had a purpose and meaning but, most importantly they had passion.

This film, a 3 minute film about Bruce Kirkby and his journey as he crossed the Pacific from Vancouver to Victoria on a stand-up paddle board, is entitled, The Questions We Ask. Kirkby narrates the film and ponders what adventure means to him and why we partake in adventurous activities. This was one of his final statements-

“What is Adventure? I’m not so sure we know these days. Movies and magazines all scream extreme. Gore Tex suits and vertical routes, foreign trips and big cliff hits but, that’s not the heart of it. Adventure is curiosity, the willingness to embrace uncertainty and wondering about the possibility of just doing one thing differently than before.” -Bruce Kirkby

To me this quote serves as an inspiring reminder. A reminder that I do not always have to be doing an extreme sport or paying a fortune to be adventurous. An adventure can happen anywhere, in any aspect of my life, as long as i am willing to embrace the uncertainty.

What is adventure to you?

My Auto Biography—In 500 words or Less

For a recent internship application I was asked to provide an autobiography….in 500 words or less. This assignment came as a little bit of a surprise to me but, I am thankful for a chance to show their company just exactly who I am and where I come from. I wanted to share this with you.

My Autobiography 

I am from Wilmington, on the North Carolina coast, about as far east as it gets. I grew up in a brick house with a white picket fence where I lived with my parents, older sister and a blonde cocker spaniel, that I so proudly named Snuggles.  I spent my summers kayaking, swimming, tubing, surfing, traveling and spending time with my family.  From Kindergarten until the 8th grade my mom and I went to school together. I was known as “Mrs. Upton’s daughter” which was a title I wore proudly until about the 6th grade, when I realized the boys didn’t want to talk to the teacher’s daughter. She was a legendary teacher in my county’s public school system, and she even had her own television show on the local education channel. My mom, along with my Dad, a professional photographer, seemed to know everybody in Wilmington, which is not a small town. From a young age ,I have been very outgoing and friendly, and this is an attribute that I cultivated from my parents.

I give my parents and my youth group all credit for who I am and everything I have today. When I was twelve years old, I started attending my church’s youth group, which was one of the largest and most active youth groups in Wilmington. It was through my youth group and on our mission trips that I traveled to Colorado, Puerto Rico, Kentucky, Arkansas, Bimini, West Virginia, Tennessee, Florida and numerous rural places throughout North Carolina.  It was during these seven years that I became a woman of Christ, acquired my love to travel and was taught to find what made me “come alive”.

On the opposite end of North Carolina at Appalachian State University in Boone, where both the Appalachian Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway run, is where I am an early senior in college. Much of my time is spent hiking, biking, hammocking, snowboarding and exploring. Living in both the mountains and on the coast, I realize that I truly have the best of both worlds. I  am constantly in amazement of the Lord’s vast creation. When I graduated from high school and came to college, I wanted to find a major and career path that would continue to inspire me to find what made me “come alive.”  Now, I am a Recreation Management major because I want to see the world and encourage others to do the same. Jesus came so that we may have life and live it abundantly, and I feel that it is my passion to encourage people to leap outside their comfort zones, as challenging as it may be, and come alive.

join the fun

Capturing Travel: Featuring My Dad

Meet my Dad. Jack Upton. I got my Mom’s good looks.

Since 1974 my dad, a professional photographer, has made a living behind the lens of his various cameras. When I was younger having a photographer as a father had little value to me other than having fun photoshoots with my friends and awesome Christmas cards each year. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that my Dad’s profession might have been cooler than I had originally thought. As a tourism major and a recent blogger,I  am constantly exposed to personal and professional travel photos. For class assignments  I am always researching and looking at agency’s and organization’s brochures, websites and magazines. One day it dawned on me that my Dad had been traveling and taking pictures for agencies and organizations just like the ones I look at in class. My Dad took artsy travel photographs even before social media made it a trend!  This caused me to wonder…Was my dad trendier and cooler than I was when he was my age? Probably.


Fort Fisher, NC- Jack Upton

This past Thanksgiving break I sat my dad down for a quick interview about his experiences as a photographer and how he managed to not only sell his photographs but also sell the destination itself through these photos.


Ariel Bald Head Island – Jack Upton

With inspiration from photographers such as, Richard Avedon, Jim Brandenburg, and Irving Penn my Dad got his start right out of his high school graduation (once he finally passed his math classes). When I asked him about his first camera ,he responded by placing his fingers under his chin, turning his head, pondering for a second and then responding, “ It was a twin lense Rolleiflex camera that was originally given to my sister by my Uncle. She didn’t really give to it me; I just started using it since she never used it.” I began to laugh because that sounds exactly like something my dad would have done.The Rolleiflex camera was a film camera which led him to a 25 year career as a film photographer (he later added a dark room in our garage). Having been in a generation of photographers that made the transition from film to digital, I was interested in asking about what made film such a unique element. He said,”Film,black and white is better, contains a lot more latitude and it gives you better tonal range. Film photography is definitely a craft, digital is too easy because you can manipulate anything.” None of that makes any sense to me but, I’m sure that all of you photographers out there will resonate with that statement.


St. Thomas – Jack Upton

As I asked him about some of his favorite experiences and photoshoots from his almost 40 year career, we both start to reminisce.  Many of his experiences are my favorite memories with him.  His favorite and most memorable photography trip was taken before I was born, in 1990 to the U.S Virgin Islands to take stock photographs. The incredible scenery and natural landscapes made for beautiful photographs, a great business trip and a quick break from his toddler at home ( my sister). This tropical paradise left him with images that captured the essence and atmosphere that portrayed the U.S Virgin Islands as the perfect travel destination that it is.He has had many more memorable opportunities, especially in his home state of North Carolina. Hang Gliding tournaments at Grandfather Mountain and the Outer Banks, hiking along the Appalachian Trail, taking aerial photographs of the coast and capturing skylines from the top of historical steeples, Jack Upton was in high demand across the state to capture its beauty and feature all that North Carolina has to offer. For him, it is all about capturing the atmosphere, excitement and emotion that comes along with each destination. Many of these trips  my family and I got to accompany him, but I was sometimes put to work.My sister and I were often  asked to grab our beach bags and boogie boards to capture the perfect all in one sunset/beach/family vacation photograph. We made quite a few debuts in brochures and magazines. My modeling days are long over, but growing up with Jack Upton as a father was never without excitement and surprise.


Bald Head Island Sunset – Jack Upton

I know very little about photography. Jack hooked me up with a snazzy little point and shoot lumix a few years ago, but I leave photography to my dad and photography major friends at school. But, despite who is taking these pictures, these pictures are important. Think about it. What makes you want to travel?? For me, it’s seeing pictures on pinterest, facebook or in a magazine (usually National Geographic). My freshman year in college a lot of my friends had this iconic pictures on the edge of the rock and for the longest time my close friends and I could not figure where this picture was taken. After some research ,we finally discovered the overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and we managed to snap a few photos ourselves…nothing like hopping on a bandwagon. eeekk. So ,why do i tell you this??? Well, mostly to brag about my dad because I have never given him enough credit,  Also,  I  tell you this so you will appreciate the pictures, the pictures that inspire you to travel and to encourage you to take more pictures. You never know when your newest blog post or facebook album will have friends dying to know where they were taken.


4th of July – Jack Upton

Thanks for reading friends. As always I love your comments. Have a Great day.

Peace Out, HayUp

p.s make sure you hop on over to Treasure Tromp’s blog hop— http://www.treasuretromp.com


Things I’m Looking Forward To

As the end of the semester approaches and i feel myself getting trapped in a never ending cycle of school work and sleep and then more school work (and some blogging). The thing that is motivating me through these dull times are the EXCITING things that I have coming up in the next few weeks and months. In no particular order here are some things that you can look forward to reading about in the near future.



I go to school in the Mountains of North Carolina so snowboarding is pretty popular, not as popular as up North or out West but popular none the less. My freshman year in college I even got to take snowboarding as a PE credit. Unreal I know. Last year I got a snowboard for my Birthday and spent the majority of my winter hitting the slopes every chance I got. The mountain opens any day now and I cannot wait to be back in action and snowboarding with my bestfriends. Another added excitement to this is to finally get to wear my early Christmas present, a new snowboarding Jacket. Having my old pink one since the 7th grade I finally decided to ask for a new one this Christmas. I found this beautiful blue Dakine jacket for 50% off at a local sale.


Getting to see my Family

Ever since I have left for college I spend very little time back at home in Wilmington. I go to school across the state and have spent my past 2 summers in Maine so my time at home is limited to holidays and extended school breaks. I haven’t even seen my brother-in-law since May so I am looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas with the ENTIRE family.

Getting to see my Friends

Like I said, I spend very little time at home and when I do it usually doesn’t correspond to when my friends that attend other colleges are home. Christmas break is the one-time throughout the school year that almost all my friends I grew up with are home at the same time! This year I will be hosting my 3rd annual Christmas cookie party and will get to see all of my closest friends from highschool. Which brings me to my next exciting thing…


When I was younger, okay to this day, I love to bake. I always love a good excuse to bring out the apron and my kitchenaid mixer (that was my christmas gift when i was 14) and whip up a batch of cookies. Because I am in college, have a very tiny kitchen and frankly can’t afford to buy ingredients I only get a chance to bake again around the Holidays. I can’t wait (and neither can my friends) to get back in the kitchen to whip up some of my favorite recipes. Definitely recipes and pictures to come.


Yes, I said it, COSTA RICA!! I just made my last payment so it couldn’t be more official! I am leaving on January 2nd for a 9 day trip through Costa Rica where I will be touring and learning about eco and sustainable tourism efforts in Costa Rica while having TONS of fun along the way. I am so excited not only to travel somewhere new but also to learn about an industry that I would love to work in one day!

Leave a comment and let me know what you are excited this upcoming holiday season and Winter!

Peace Out–HAYUP