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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!