Well, that’s it folks, another year in the books.
The end of a year, the end of a decade. And, if you’re feeling the way I’m feeling right now, the end of an era. Moving into the 2020s, I’m really starting to lean into a new groove, and I’ve got some pretty big life changes planned going forward. I’m not huge into New Year’s resolutions, but I am into New Year’s nostalgia. I think it’s fun to look back on everything you’ve accomplished in the past 12 months and reflect.
2019 was all over the board for me. Starting out, I was living in Medicine Hat, Alberta working as Promotions Director at two radio stations — 105.3 ROCK and 102.1 CJCY. I liked the job but felt a little less-than-inspired living in Medicine Hat. That said, at the start of this year, I did make a point to take some great day trips from Medicine Hat to Red Rock Coulee, Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park, and Dinosaur Provincial Park. Despite having kind of a tough time in the Hat, I have to say I loved the diverse landscapes of the Alberta Badlands.
Then, on May 31st, I packed up my Medicine Hat apartment and put all my stuff back into storage in my parent’s garage. I spent a couple of weeks hanging out with my fam on the Canadian Prairies, and then I was off on my first big trip of the year.
I left for a 3 week trip through Toronto, Boston, Cleveland, and Louisville on June 17th. I partied with my friends in Toronto, I attended TravelCon 2.0 in Boston, I spent my 28th birthday in Louisville, and I celebrated the 4th of July with friends in Cleveland.
But then, just like that, my three weeks on the road were up and I found myself back on a plane to Saskatchewan. During this time, I caught up on a lot of work, attempted a tan in my parent’s pool, and put all the pieces in place for my next adventure.
On August 16th, I packed my bags once again and headed to sunny San Diego, California. California is by far my favorite state — I would love to call it home someday — and I was delighted to check out an area I had never seen before. While there, I stayed with friends who live in Oceanside, hit up the beach every single day, and ate way too many taco’s.
From California, I flew to Mexico, where I spent the next month and a half working, playing, and again, eating too many taco’s. I started off my time there in Valladolid before heading to Playa del Carmen. My time in Mexico was a lot of things, most of which I summed up in this post about traveling to Mexico during rainy season.
I have a lot more to write about Mexico, which I’m sure will keep me occupied on this blog through the middle of next year (joking, not joking), as well as a lot of content on where I went after — Nevada and Utah!
That’s right, though I’ve yet to publish anything about my hiking trip through the American Southwest, in summary, I met my brother in Las Vegas, rented a car, and we trekked through Valley of Fire, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Grand Staircase Escalante. I have so many stories from this time, and I can’t wait to share.
And then, once again, I found myself in Saskatchewan. Ready to get back to work, build my business, move to a new city, and start some new projects — which I did a lot of until December 26th, when I hit the road headed west for Vancouver Island where I rang in the new year.
A Personal Tour of the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville
When Megan and I decided we were going to visit Louisville, Kentucky, one non-negotiable to-do was to have a drink at the historic Seelbach Hotel.
Opened in 1905, the Seelbach Hotel is one of Louisville’s most iconic buildings and has played host to a jumble of characters. The hotel is where F. Scott Fitzgerald stayed while he was in the army, where Al Capone used to do dealings, and where raucous parties were held during prohibition. As you can read all about in this article, once we had a few bourbons, we asked a man at the front desk if he would take a photo of us, which turned into him — Patrick, the chief of security — offering to give us a private tour of the place.
Patrick showed us the room that inspired Daisy and Tom Buchanan’s wedding scene in the Great Gatsby, he took us to the rooms where Otto and Louis Seelbach (the original owners) stayed, he showed us Al Capone’s two-way mirrors, and he had us on the edges of our seats telling us ghost stories.
At the end of the day, experiences like the one we had with Patrick is why we travel. We travel to meet people, hear their stories, and make connections. Megan and I left the hotel that night with huge smiles on our faces.
Caving in Playa del Carmen
After a few weeks of living in Playa del Carmen, my friend and I decided to go on a personal caving adventure with a local tour guide.
The morning of the tour we woke up at the crack of dawn to meet our ride in downtown Playa del Carmen, yawning as we went. We were shuttled about an hour north of Playa, over rocky roads and through the jungle to the cave location. I still don’t know exactly where the cave was, as we were in complete mercy of our drivers the whole time, but I do know that it was on private property, and not on the popular tourist trail.
Armed with our bathing suits, headlamps, and water shoes, my friend and I followed our guide, Pako Loa, through some of the most beautiful caves. We waded through shallow areas, swam through the deep ones, meditated as Pako sang us an ancient Mixtec prayer, and felt little fishies nibble on our legs.
In the caves, it was so quiet we could hear the blood pounding in our ears, and it was so dark that there was no differentiation between eyes open or closed.
Once again, this incredible experience wouldn’t have been so without Pako Loa at the helm. The people you meet while traveling mean everything. He was also more than excited to take photos of us on our tour.
An Introduction to Breathwork in Oceanside, California
Other than moving and traveling, if I had to pick one thing that most impacted my life in 2019, I have to say that it would be discovering breathwork.
Breathwork is essentially controlling the breath and breathing in a certain pattern in order to change your mental, emotional, or physical state. During breathwork, I have had intense visions, experienced the deepest of meditations, and have come out of the sessions feeling more in tune with myself than ever before.
And yes, I had my first taste of this in Oceanside, California. My friends — Christy and Scott — live in Oceanside and are both trained holotropic breathwork leaders. I’ve since done breathwork another time at a Saskatchewan-based retreat I went to in October, and I know for a fact this will be something I take with me through life.
Wading Upstream through The Narrows at Zion National Park
It’s hard to pick a favorite hike at the gorgeous Zion National Park, but if I had to pick, it would be The Narrows.
The Narrows is less of a path and more of a river flowing between two sky-high sheets of rock. Hiking this trail means hiking upstream, sometimes risking a flash flood, and praying that you keep your balance.
Due to there being a flash flood warning that day, my brother and I were unable to rent special gear for this hike — including hiking poles and boots. Garrett was a little sturdier on his feet than I, as I felt as though I could have easily tipped right over and floated on down the river at many points of this hike.
That said, the uncertainty of it all made The Narrows an ultimate adventure, even if our skivvies were soaked in the process!
Having Lunch at Lower Calf Creek Falls in Grand Staircase Escalante
It was our second last day hiking through Utah, and my brother Garrett and I knew we were only up for one more major hike. Having already done Zion, Bryce Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Valley of Fire on this trip, we headed to Grand Staircase Escalante, one of the vastest government-protected areas in the region.
The hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls was a 5-hour return trip (most of it spent wading through sand), and so armed with water bottles and a mission to see one of the prettiest waterfalls in the country, we started the trek.
The hike was amazing — we saw fish swimming in ponds, huge rocks towering above our heads, wildlife scampering away, and topography of all sorts. But although walking two and a half hours through sand felt like a pretty big accomplishment, nothing felt quite as good as when we reached the falls.
Our trail gave way to a huge clearing, in which there were a few fellow hikers resting beside trees and gazing up at the towering falls and crystal clear pool of water in front of us.
Famished, Garrett and I pulled sandwiches from our backpacks and had a bit of a picnic in front of the falls, just like everyone else was doing.
The experience was nothing sort of magic and the falls are easily my top lunch spot of all time.
Thanks for reading my top experiences of last year! 2019 was a whirlwind of adventure, and I couldn’t be more grateful for it all.
What were some of your favorite travel experiences of 2019? Spill!