2014: My Year in Travel

2014 was the year I finally saw some of BC, and then left BC and saw some of Alberta. I also saw a lot of other places too, some familiar and some new. I was a self employed contractor for the whole of 2014 which meant I could take as much time off as would fit around work, and I made the most of that flexibility. I did a LOT of things in 2014 (start a couple of new contracts, pass the Certified Human Resources Professional exam, invest in some personal development courses), but my travels have definitely been the highlight. Below is a snapshot of the 15+ cities I visited over the past 12 months.

My first trip of the year was just a day in Whistler at the end of January, but was still a little bit of a big deal. I hadn’t been on the Whistler slopes since a few hours’ skiing in April 2011, and I hadn’t ever snowboarded before. Even though Whistler is so close to Vancouver that it’s practically considered a ‘local mountain’, snowboarding there was still something to check off the bucket list.

Whistler Mountain

Whistler Mountain

February arrived, as did my parents. They came to visit for 10 days, the last of which I spent with them in Seattle (technically we’re into March now). I’d been to Seattle a couple of times before and never really loved the place, but this time I took a short ferry trip to sunny Bainbridge Island. It reminded me of Bowen Island and Gibsons, very small and laid back with some fun little shops and great ice cream. That trip made me want to give Seattle another shot. Hopefully I’ll get my chance this year.

Coming into Bainbridge Island

Coming into Bainbridge Island

I’d wanted to see more of Canada ever since I moved here in January 2011, and got my chance when I was asked to go to Edmonton with work to deliver some reconciliation workshops just after my parents left. A lot of people laughed at ‘Deadmonton’ being my first experience of life outside of BC, but it wasn’t all bad. It was mostly cold and snowy, except for my one afternoon off when the sun came out and I headed out for a run around some of the different neighbourhoods. The view across the river wasn’t bad at all.

Looking out over a frozen Edmonton

Looking out over a frozen Edmonton

April’s vacation was slightly warmer and way more epic as I headed South for 5 days in New Orleans for Wrestlemania XXX. The event itself was an amazing experience (I got to watch the end of the streak live), and I absolutely fell in love with the City. 5 days wasn’t enough, New Orleans is definitely a place to go back to.

Walking through the French Quarter

Walking through the French Quarter

Wrestlemania XXX about to begin!

Wrestlemania XXX about to begin!

From New Orleans I jumped on another plane and headed straight to the California desert for Coachella Festival. It was a very different festival experience than my teenage summers in Reading, and one that I can’t wait to repeat again next year. I also visited Palm Springs and Scottsdale for the first time on this trip, as well as a return to Vegas to see Elton John at Caesar’s Palace – wow!

Coachella Festival Arena

Coachella Festival Arena

The movie-like pool at The Flamingo, Vegas

The movie-like pool at The Flamingo, Vegas

I stayed closer to home in May, with a day trip to Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast over the long weekend. My brother’s girlfriend’s parents were visiting, and they invited us to join them for a day at their gorgeous waterfront house. It was Dave’s first trip on a ferry which was also an experience. Thank you McCluskeys!

The beautiful view from the balcony

The beautiful view from the balcony

June was another month of local exploring, with a fairly spontaneous weekend on Bowen Island with my brother and his girlfriend. Bowen is one of our favourite places and we found a great apartment rental with a garden for Dave and a hot tub for us.

Hot tub time!

Hot tub time!

Snug Cove Marina, Bowen Island

Snug Cove Marina, Bowen Island

I was determined to make the most of our summer long weekends, so we booked an extra day off before Canada Day at the beginning of July and headed out to the sunny Okanagan. Our base was a small motel on Skaha Lake in Penticton, but we also explored the wineries around OK Falls and Naramata. It was our first experience of the interior and was nice to see ‘real’ Canada.

The view from the beautiful (and dog friendly) See Ya Later Ranch

The view from the beautiful (and dog friendly) See Ya Later Ranch

marmitetomaple_penticton

In 2014 I learned that if you want to pop down to the States after work for a quick dinner and be home within a couple of hours, you can make it happen. We explored the little peninsula of Point Roberts, otherwise known as ‘the bit that juts out past Tsawwassen that is actually America’. Turns out the beaches there are great for catching sunsets (but don’t let your dog eat mussels).

Sunset at Point Roberts

Sunset at Point Roberts

Going to Oregon over August long weekend has become a bit of a tradition, so we went down to Cannon Beach and Portland for the third year in a row. This time was particularly exciting because we took a very hyperactive Dave with us, who loved his walks along the beach as he had never seen so much open space before. He also got to be a city dog back in his hometown of Portland, and I got to do some tax free shopping.

Dave and I outside our Cannon Beach cottage

Dave and I outside our Cannon Beach cottage

Walking along the shores of Cannon Beach

Walking along the shores of Cannon Beach

We also squeezed a day trip to Cultus Lake into August, another family trip. The grass area by the beach was dog friendly and perfect for BBQ-ing, reading and relaxing.

Sunny Cultus Lake, BC

Sunny Cultus Lake, BC

As usual, summer lasted well into September so I took the opportunity to do some dog-friendly hiking at Joffre Lakes in Pemberton. I was intrigued by the turquoise waters and couldn’t believe we could find such stunning views so close to Vancouver.

Striking a pose on the lake

Striking a pose on the lake

My fall trip ended up being a longer one than planned as I spent two weeks with friends and family back home in the UK. Unfortunately I had to go home sooner than planned to attend a family funeral which was very, very sad, but I am glad I was able to be with my family at that time. I also did some fun things too, like day trips to Cambridge, London and Southampton and coffees, lunches, dinners and drinks with my amazing friends. I miss you all and can’t wait until I can see you next.

Home.

Home.

Trafalgar Square, London

Trafalgar Square, London

After the UK, I was back in Canada for less than three weeks before it was time to leave again. In early November I went to Mexico for the first time and loved it. We weren’t sure what to expect for our first trip south of the border so started safe by sticking close to the more touristy areas. We enjoyed a stunning hotel on the beach with a gorgeous pool and ridiculously amazing rooms, but also spent most days and nights exploring the surprisingly authentic city of Puerto Vallarta. We ate countless cheap and delicious street tacos, drank copious margaritas and even made it out to the Mexican countryside to explore some small towns and see some ancient petroglyphs. Our last two days in the surf town of Sayulita were a relaxing dream thanks to our luxury hotel on a secluded beach, somewhere I would definitely go again. I still need to write a blog post about our Mexican vacation and I will do soon, I promise!

Old Town Puerto Vallarta

Old Town Puerto Vallarta

Off-roading in El Tuito

Off-roading in El Tuito

By Christmas I was ready for another vacation again, which was perfect timing for our cabin getaway. We went back down to Washington State to stay in the same cabin as last year, with the same group. It was so nice to be back, and I really couldn’t pick my favourite part. Maybe the outdoor hot tub, the luxurious carpet, the huge leather chairs or the fact there was no wi-fi or cellphone signal? We stayed an extra day this year and it was a very, very good decision. I feel very lucky to have spent my Christmas in such great company, especially when a trip home was out of the question.

Cabin Life

Cabin Life

Team Cabin!

Team Cabin (complete with novelty hats!)

So, that was 2014 in travel. Writing this post and reminiscing back through each trip has been fun. It’s also reminded me why I have no money. 2015 will need to be a little more restrained (I just started a new job and am back to limited vacation days) but it just means I need to be more strategic about my travel plans. So far I’m thinking the Interior, Coachella and the LA coast, central Oregon, Vancouver Island and possibly New York. Here’s to another year of seeing the world!

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About MarmitetoMaple

I'm originally from the UK and have been working and living the dream in Vancouver, BC, since January 2011. I am a firm believer in travel, good cheese, volunteering and community engagement.

12 responses to “2014: My Year in Travel”

  1. Dan B says :

    Wow…I think I need to become a contractor as it seems you’ve had plenty of awesome trips. It’s funny looking back from when you first started writing the blog to now. Strange how much things have changed since you first moved to Canada. You seem very happy and settled! (You even have a dog.) Just amazing how things turn out.

    • MarmitetoMaple says :

      It has been an amazing year! The up side is I took almost 9 weeks vacation…but the down side is I didn’t get paid during any of that time which was tough. Hopefully this year will be more balanced. I can’t believe it’s now been 4 years in Vancouver, it still seems such a novelty every time I come home from vacation and I’m looking for YVR not LHR on the departure board. I definitely wouldn’t have guessed that I’d still be here and that I’d have a dog…but I guess like turns out good sometimes! 🙂

  2. theentiretyoflife says :

    I can’t believe it’s so long since you moved there, and what an incredible time you are having living there. Your various trips look absolutely amazing, a great decision to embrace the extra holiday even if it means less money x

    • MarmitetoMaple says :

      Thanks Ruth! And yes, I don’t regret any of 2014, I don’t have a lot of ‘things’ to show for me year but I have collected a LOT of experiences, which I personally think are worth much more 🙂 Happy New Year!

  3. WestcountryBumpkin says :

    As Dan said looks like you have had an immense year! I am hoping to visit canada next year, and top dos and donts?!

    • MarmitetoMaple says :

      Thanks for the comment! Yes, I’m lucky to have had a pretty awesome 2014 🙂 Unfortunately I haven’t really seen any of Canada outside of BC (it’s SO expensive to travel within Canada), but I can of course recommend Vancouver and Whistler! On my Canada list are also Tofino/West Coast of Vancouver Island, Canadian Rockies (Banff/Jasper/Lake Louise), Northern Alberta/NWT (to see the Northern Lights!), Montreal and Nova Scotia. Congrats on your decision to move out here too, and good luck with the IEC process! Looks like you’re heading to Toronto? 🙂

      • WestcountryBumpkin says :

        Thanks, I do hope to get over to the west coast, so will add your recommendations to geeky notebook that I seem to take everywhere in case I get an idea. Northern lights sounds good, and I am trying to brush up on my Secondary School French to help me out near Quebec!!

  4. MarmitetoMaple says :

    Geeky notebook sounds great! I won’t even mention my awful French, I’d be in trouble on the East Coast that’s for sure…! 🙂

  5. Paul says :

    Shame that Seattle hasn’t been good to you in the past! I live in Victoria and get down to Seattle regularly for the shopping at the Alderwood Mall (which is quite large, in north Seattle). If you haven’t been to the Space Needle downtown on a clear/sunny summer day, do try that next time – the view (on a good day) can’t be beat. Pioneer Square and Pike’s Market are novelties, and there are some excellent sports teams (Seahawks, Mariners) there. If you are there in the summer you can get Mariners (baseball) tickets for as little as $12-$15 USD per person (advice: try the garlic fries in Safeco Stadium if you go to a Mariners game – they’re the best!). Also try Pyramid Brewery across the street from Safeco Field/Qwest Stadium, and Elysium distillery, also a block away from both stadiums. If you want a beautiful view and a great beach/running path, go to Alki Beach in west Seattle. I try to run in the annual Alki Beach 5K run every August, which as around 2,000 runners each year; all proceeds go to breast cancer charities and the run can’t be beat in terms of view, with an oceanside route and the first half facing downtown Seattle. Also think about visiting Friday Harbour on San Juan Island; it is perhaps the wealthiest island town in all of the Gulf/San Juan Islands and the most picturesque. You can take the ferry there from either Sidney, BC or Anacortes, WA on Washington State Ferries for relatively cheap (walk on or take your bikes) and explore the town and the island. It’s worth it.

    • MarmitetoMaple says :

      Hi Paul, thank you for the comment and the great tips! I think my mistake was that I was thinking of Seattle as another Vancouver and I was disappointed that it wasn’t as ‘beautiful’ as Vancouver. I wasn’t thinking about all the things that Seattle does better, like culture, music, nightlife etc. Plus as you say, access to places like the San Juan Islands. Friday Harbour is on my list, and I’ll have to add Alki Beach too!

      • Paul says :

        You’re absolutely right – Seattle definitely isn’t Vancouver; different demographics (very large Asian population in Van and a very large and growing Hispanic population in Seattle), different history, different surroundings. What they do have in common is they are almost identical in size (~600,000 people in each city centre), they’re both very ‘green’, they both have extensive public ferry and light rail systems, and they’re both outdoorsy. Seattle was the birthplace of grunge and many would argue of other types of rock n’ roll (besides being the hometown of Pearl Jam, Sound Garden, Nirvana, et al., it was the hometown/birthplace of Jimi Hendrix). There are some other major differences – some would argue Seattle is actually more progressive and liberal than Vancouver in that recreational marijuana is legal in Seattle and in all of Washington State, as well as neighbouring Oregon (as opposed to BC and all of Canada, where it’s still illegal). Also, have you noticed that the fares on the Washington State Ferry are significantly cheaper than on equivalent routes/distances on BC Ferries? It’s because the WSF system receives higher taxpayer subsidies than the BC Ferries. So, ironically, the WSF system is more ‘socialized’ than the BC Ferries despite the reputation for Americans being significantly more capitalist and privatized in every industry. Just a few interesting differences!

  6. MarmitetoMaple says :

    You’re right, and now I’m looking forward to exploring Seattle again focusing on these differences. Thanks for all the great tips!

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