What to say about 2016…
Well, it wasn’t boring. I think we all had a “You Live, You Learn” kind of year *cue Alanis*. Personally, I had my head down for much of it with my nose glued to the grindstone. I was working a 9-5 job, a part-time gig, a writing gig, plus writing for this blog, so I didn’t have much time for leisurely activities.
My main jaunts in 2016 were Saskatchewan (which is always a given), Los Angeles, Las Vegas, a road trip through the American Southwest, Montreal, Cleveland, and Ottawa/Wallingford Back Mine. While this was a light travel year for me, it was all in preparation for a spectacular, travel-filled 2017.
So, like I did for 2015, I’m going through some of my favorite moments of the past year, from the precious to the ugly.
1. Fearing for my life at Wallingford-Back Mine in Quebec:
Wallingford-Back Mine and surrounding area is an incredibly beautiful region, kept that way in part by it not being too touched by human development. It is a largely wooded area, and it’s roads are narrow, unpaved, rocky, and sometimes adjacent to a 50-ft drop.
On my excursion to the region this summer with pals Ashley and Hannah, we were in Hannah’s perfect-for-the-city-but-probably-shouldn’t-go-offroading-in-it car. Getting to Wallingford-Back Mine was mostly fine, with us descending one of these aforementioned terrible roads and using gravity to our advantage all the way down. But I knew we were in for a real treat when we were to make our way up again.
There was one patch of road in particular that would make even the most sensible British Grandmother shit her pants. On the left side of the car was a sheet of rock ascending into the heavens, on the right side of the car was a steep cliff descending to our mortal demise, in front of us was a very large truck with a bunch of young able-bodied men, and underneath us was a tire stuck in a very deep crevice with the bottom of the car scraping against rocks.
Hannah was driving, Ashley was in the back, and I was in the passenger seat looking down over my right shoulder into my aforementioned mortal demise.The smell of burnt rubber was in the air as Hannah tried to rock us out of the crevice, and the truck in front of us was waiting for us to stop taking up the road.
I could hear the panic in my friends voices as Hannah tried to pry the car loose, and every time she roared the engine and the car lurched in one direction or another I could very clearly envision us going right over the edge of the cliff.
I honestly don’t remember making the decision to bail, but when I found myself out of the car looking in, I found Ashley right by my side doing the same thing. Sorry Hannah…
This must have been when the truck of able-bodied men came to our aid and pushed us out of the pit. Cheers were had!
2. Stumbling upon the town of Williams, Arizona:
One of my favorite things I did this year was take a family road-trip through the American Southwest with nary a route planned or hotel room booked. So when my family and I were sitting in the diner at the Hualapai lodge learning from the waitress that the Grand Canyon’s gates were about to close for the evening, we were left wondering both how we were going to spend the evening and where we were going to stay. Then she told us of a little town just up the road called Williams.
Williams is indisputably a giant tourist trap for those not wanting to spend their life savings to stay closer to the Grand Canyon. It was part 50’s diner, part wild wild west. It was neon signs and dusty roads. It was a one way street lined with cheap motels. It was a scene straight out of National Lampoon’s ‘Vacation’. It was fucking awesome.
God, I love a good cliche.
3. Taking a Sound Bath at the Integratron:
I know I know, by this point you’re probably like “Gaddamit Taylor, stop blabbing on about that blasted place!” But guys, seriously, it was so weird and so relaxing that literally every time you say a variation of the words “time-travelling sound chamber” I will launch into a tirade about the Integratron.
Set out in the Mohave desert near Joshua Tree, the Integratron was created by George Van Tassel as a way to talk to aliens, time travel, and extend his life. Today, it’s used as a relaxation space used to give Sound Baths. If you want to know more about it, read my full Integratron experience here.
*Fun life game – take a shot every time I say ‘Integratron’*
4. Hiking the Los Angeles hills in jeans without food or water:
Sometimes my lack of planning is fun and endearing, and sometimes, such as this instance, it just hurts.
One bright and smoggy morning this past may, my younger brother Garrett and I decided to get away from the concrete of LA and hike the hills to the Hollywood sign. We left our sleeping parents at around 10 AM and hailed a cab to take us to Griffith Observatory, where we would begin our hike.
We hiked in the heat past flora, fauna, and extremely fit and bubbly valley girls dressed in pink. We only had a vague idea of where we were going, and that was ‘up’. After not much time at all, I began to feel parched and realized that we were completely without water. I felt like the freaking embodiment of California. “Did you have breakfast this morning?” I asked Garrett. “Nope.”
Nevertheless, ‘up’ we went. My legs began to feel tight in my jeans, and my tongue felt tacky in my mouth. We passed hikers with full water bottles that taunted us. We passed dog owners pouring crystal clear agua from their Evian bottles straight to the dog dish.
“I’mmm dyinnnngg” I whined.
“Do you want to go back?” questioned Garrett.
“Noooo” I whined again.
Just then, as if in a B-movie, the clouds parted and one brilliant ray of light shone down from the heavens on to the dirt in front of us and there we found a stream of water. I HAD to find the source. We rounded the next corner and there it was, in all its glory, a makeshift water fountain about a foot of the ground. Totally meant for pooches.
We would live to see another day.
5. Celebrating my 25th birthday with some of my oldest friends:
I have a love/hate relationship with my birthday. I simultaneously want nothing to do with it and everything to do with it. I’m like your mom at Christmas when she tells you not to get her a present but she knows that you’re not going to NOT get her a present so she hints at what she wants and then says “I just want to be with my family”. </rant><BREATH>
I was heading to my hometown in Saskatchewan the same week as my 25th birthday, and so I used it as an excuse to get some of my oldest friends together. I told them that I was going to be home and that I was free Saturday night if they wanted to come over and hang out. And, oh yeah, it was coincidentally my birthday as well.
I have to admit I am pretty lucky with these friends. While I’ve lost touch with about 99% of the people I went to high school with, I can go home, call up any one of these guys, and know that when I see them it’ll be like there hasn’t been years or miles between us. I grew up in a teeny-tiny hamlet of about 400 people, and there were ten of us in my grade from K-9. In that kind of a situation, you get to know people really really freaking well.
It wasn’t a raver of a party; it was just us hanging out in my parents backyard getting drunk and eating hot dogs to be honest. But when they finally rolled out as the sun came up at 5AM, it felt like a success.