Every year, I name my top travel moments, whether they be my favorite memories, the most “wtf” events, or somewhere blissfully in between. I’ve thought about including this post in with a few more yearly round ups I plan on incorporating into this blog, but I kind of like keeping this as a separate entity. Of all the posts that I love looking back on with nostalgia, these are some of my favorites.
Now, I’m going to start this off by saying that 2018 was nuts, just like pretty much every year I’ve had in the past decade. Not only did this year help me grow and expand in unthinkable professional business-related ways, it threw some major perspective curve balls my way. Because here’s the thing, I love throwing myself to the wolves knowing that I’ll come out on top. I love taking chances, not knowing what’s going to come next or out of my efforts. I love not knowing where I’m going to live or what ‘s around the corner. I asked for this, this helps me grow.
For example, Alberta. This was the year I moved to Medicine Hat, Alberta. To be honest, despite originally being from Saskatchewan (the next province over), when I got an e-mail in May that a rock radio station here wanted to interview me for a promotions director gig, I had to look at a map to figure out where the hell Medicine Hat is.
Well, (spoiler alert) I got the job and subsequently moved to almost-middle-of-nowhere Alberta and, honestly, it’s been interesting here so far and I have to say it has impressed me. For example, the downtown is super cute (think Gilmore Girls), the coulee’s make for great photo opportunities, there is quite a burgeoning arts and DIY scene, the sunsets in December are fabulous, and it’s close to a lot of nature spots. I’m only going to be living in Medicine Hat until mid-May, but while I’m here I’ve vowed to check out as much of my backyard as possible.
Speaking of work, March 2018 was the month I nabbed a gig as a Virtual Assistant for a top travel blogger. As you may recall from this post where I mentioned I never fully realized my goal of becoming a VA, landing a gig like this was a motivator when I first began my blogging journey. It’s all a step forward to location independence while simultaneously doing work (and working with people) that inspires me.
My Favorite Travel Moments of 2018
Attending TravelCon in Austin, Texas
In September I had the privilege of attending the inaugural TravelCon conference in the one and only Lone Star State. I went to the conference solo, not personally knowing anybody else who was going to be there, and ended up having the time of my life while meeting so many amazing, like-minded people.
I got to sit in on panels hosted by my favorite bloggers, I partied the nights away at some great Austin bars, I learned a lot about how to up my game as a (and I effing hate this term) content creator, and I even had one of those stumble-into-the-hostel-at-7-am-wearing-somebody-else’s-shirt moments. Not to mention the city of Austin itself, because I fell head-over-heels for this mid-Texas town.
Within a half hour of being in Austin I was already hanging out with bloggers while simultaneously stuffing my face with mac and cheese, bbq, tacos, apple crisp, and iced tea (I’m full just thinking of that), and I had a blast checking out all the cute shops and art. When I got back from Austin a few people reached out to me with the belief that Austin was just another tumbleweeds-across-the-road kind of town, and I was so happy to be able to say differently.
The next TravelCon is this June in Boston, Massachusetts, and while I was last in Boston in 2015, my ticket has been purchased!
Re-visiting Montreal for Pouzza Fest
Back in May, literally right before I was to move to Medicine Hat, I went on a mostly friend-seeing adventure to Montreal and Toronto (for those new here, I lived in Toronto for seven years). The timing of the trip was inspired by the popular punk music festival Pouzza (one part poutine, one part pizza) in Montreal and, I’m not gonna lie, this trip was quite eye-opening.
First of all, the trip made me remember how much I dig Montreal. I love the bars, I love the vintage shops, I love the food scene, and I love the vibe. However, the trip also made me realize how much I no longer feel a part of the punk scene (which is like, kind of shocking). Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of punk music, and some of the bands at Pouzza were really good, I just wasn’t super into the whole deal.
I struggled to find the energy to go to all the shows, preferring just hanging out at bars or catching shows that I knew I would truly enjoy. This was all exacerbated by the fact that I’ve really moved away from drinking copious amounts of alcohol in recent years, and Pouzza is very much a party festival (that’s not to say I didn’t get some partying in, but I can actually pinpoint the few times I got drunk in 2018).
As far as musical tastes and festival vibes go, I’m much more into a Riot Fest / Desert Daze kind of experience. To each their own.
I didn’t take many photos in Montreal this time around, so here’s an over-saturated picture of me in 2016.
The Great Alberta Cow Incident of 2018
If you follow me on Instagram, you know this story.
One cloudy September day, I left my Medicine Hat apartment looking for pretty nature, and so I hopped in my car and headed in the direction of Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. In the spirit of adventure, I decided to go deeper into the park than I had ever been previously and, in the spirit of adventure, this meant turning down what I would more or less consider a paved turkey trail.
To get on to the trail, I had to cross some Texas gates, which tipped me off immediately to the cow situation that lay ahead. Meaning, there were cows everywhere. Cows in the ditches, cows on the road, cow blood splattering the asphalt.
After driving about 30 minutes down this road, I eventually came to a valley. Giant pine trees started looming over the road on both sides, the shoulder dropped away, and the pavement began to twist downward towards a lake. Then, after such a turn, I noticed a herd of cows right in the middle of the road, and there was no going around them.
I slowed down and got close in the hopes that I would intimidate the cows enough to move. They didn’t, and as I slowed to a stop so as to not hit a cow, my automatic car did the unthinkable and stalled. Right in the middle of the herd of cows.
Being in drive, the car started to roll forwards, and so when I tried to turn my car back on, it just clicked and stayed off. My car began to roll forward, I began to panic, and my brakes were not doing a thing.
Coming up for a brief second of air from my panic, I realized that the reason my car wouldn’t turn back on because it was still in drive, so I quickly lurched the car into park and pulled the emergency brake. Sweat began to break out on my brow and I considered vomiting.
This time when I tried the ignition, the car started. Then, as if by some voodoo force, the cows decided to divide themselves into two herds, one on each side of the road (I’m trying to get biblical here, think the Red Sea), and allowed me to pass, all while looking at me as if I was a huge idiot.
This was a highly stressful moment, but I’m happy to say I made it home safe and sound that day. Turns out the fuel pump in my car needed to be replaced. Go figure.
Playing in Banff National Park
So remember that whole working-for-Ordinary-Traveler thing I mentioned earlier, well after working together for months, Christy and I finally got to meet in person this November when she invited me on a press trip to Banff, Alberta. I mean, it was right in my new home province; it was kind of a no-brainer to accept.
The trip was 5 days long, and they were spent hiking, having high tea, relaxing at the spa, taking photos, watching sunrises and sunsets, playing in the snow, and meeting the lovely hotel workers at both Fairmont Banff Springs and Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
It was awesome, and you can read all about it over on OrdinaryTraveler.com.
The “In Joy Meant For You” Retreat
So, after I quit my job at Warner Music and traipsed around Europe for a few months, I found myself back where I grew up for a while. So, partially due to my proximity and partially due to my online skills, I joined the team at my mom’s business, Orenda Healing Counselling and Wellness, as a Marketing Director. My mom is a professional counsellor, but her business is more than 1-1 traditional counselling. It’s group meditation nights, card readings, soul realignment sessions, reiki appointments, chakra workshops and, as of last April, women’s self-care retreats.
Being able to help my mom plan and execute the first ever In Joy Meant For You women’s retreat was a great experience, and I met so many fabulous women over the weekend. I wrote all about the retreat in a separate post, but to summarize the retreat helped me to relax, dig deeper to find where my happiness and peace is sourced, and to realize that I need to create more space for self-care in my life — in a personalized way.
If you’re thinking to yourself, “Well hey, i’d like to come to a retreat like that”, then you’re in luck. We’ve already begun planning the next retreat, happening April 25 – 28 of 2019 in Lumsden, Saskatchewan.
What are some of your favorite travel memories of 2018? Let me know in the comments!