2013 Travel Highlights


Monday, December 30th, 2013 — 9:04pm PST
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One of the best parts about my job as an author, freelance writer, WordPress theme developer and founder of this blog is that I can work from just about anywhere in the world. Over the last three years alone I have taken my trusty laptop to three continents and have continued to write about life, history, and events in Vancouver from wherever I land. In 2013, John and I didn’t get outside of North America but we did explore much more of our backyard together.

Iowa

Here are just a few of my travel highlights from the last twelve months:

Austin, Texas

Our first big trip of 2013 was unforgettable as we finally made it to Austin, Texas for SXSW, which is the largest music event and largest interactive event of its kind in the world along with a film component. We attended only a few sessions, including one about 3D Printing with our friend and travel companion John Biehler, we met intriguing personalities like Fred Armisen and Flula, and we supported the first Five Hole For Food charity hockey game played outside of Canada.

HootHockey at SXSW HootHockey at SXSW

Safeco Field, Seattle

In April I arranged a behind-the-scenes tour of Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners. We’ve been going to Seattle for opening weekend for the last few years and I wanted to find out more about the ballpark, which underwent some significant renovations prior to the 2013 season. They had moved their outfield wall by about 4 feet and the biggest change was from the left field power alley area to the straightaway center (the fence across the field from home plate) where the wall is as much as 17 feet closer to home plate. Now instead of jutting out quickly to 341 feet, the wall juts out to 337 feet. It was fascinating to learn more and to also visit The Baseball Museum of the Pacific Northwest, which is also inside Safeco.

Safeco Field Tour Safeco Field Tour: April 2013

Vancouver Island Wine Trail

After a quick floatplane flight over to Nanaimo I began a wine tour of central Vancouver Island in May with other local travel media. We stopped into Merridale Cider, Averill Creek Winery, and more in the Cobble Hill area before heading up to the Comox Valley for more food and wine tastings. Our group also met with Gaetane Palardy of Island Gourmet Trails and I learned more about the great things growing and brewing in the region.

Merridale Estate Cidery Merridale Estate Cidery

Averill Creek Winery

The Other Vancouver

Whenever we travel south of the border and mention that we’re from Vancouver our statement is usually followed by, “Washington or BC?”. By June, I had contacted the Vancouver, Washington tourism authority to get some travel tips and I planned a long weekend away with John to explore this “other Vancouver”. What we found was an abundance of history at places like The Grant House, the land bridge, and Fort Vancouver.

The Grant House Land Bridge

Vancouver, WA (June 2013)

Along the way we enjoyed our second road match with the Vancouver Whitecaps in Seattle and took a remarkably moving detour to Mount Saint Helens.

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

Mt. Saint Helens (June 2013)

Maquoketa Caves, Iowa

Our annual trip to visit John’s family in Iowa came in July this year as temperatures soared and the scent of sweet corn filled the air. While the purpose of the trip is to visit with family, we usually end up on an adventure together and this year it was to the Maquoketa Caves. As someone who hates small, confined spaces, I had a hard time getting through the first one (although it was so big they called it “Dance Hall”) but I faced my fears and we enjoyed a fantastic morning in this lush forest hidden along the rolling prairie.

Maquoketa Caves State Park Iowa

California with Disney

In August I was welcomed to the “Disney Family” as I took my first press trip to San Francisco, Calistoga, and Anaheim with the company. We toured Alcatraz, visited the Walt Disney Family Museum at the Presidio, and tinkered for hours at The Exploratorium before heading to Napa.

Golden Gate Bridge

Welcome cookies [PIC] We got a look inside the @Disneyland Dream Suite today - pretty fantastic #DisneylandCA

My travel companion was my niece, a season Disneyland aficionado who helped me put together my Vancouver to Disneyland Guide following the trip.

Ottawa and Gatineau

I’m not sure how he did it but Marc Smith got us upgraded to business class (I did hear some sweet talk) when we were invited to Ottawa with Ford in September. It was a whirlwind trip that involved a one-day adventure in Ottawa and the surrounding townships in Quebec as we drove a Ford Fiesta to various culinary locations. At each stop we collected food items and at the end of the day they were donated to a local cause.

Ford Fiesta Adventure in Ottawa/Gatineau

Ford Fiesta Adventure in Ottawa/Gatineau Ford Fiesta Adventure in Ottawa/Gatineau

Parksville, BC

When the leaves began to change in October we welcomed John’s parents back to Canada for their 50th wedding anniversary. They hadn’t visited us here (we usually go to Iowa) in quite some time and we wanted to immerse them in the Pacific Northwest sights, sounds, and culinary adventures. We packed up and took the ferry over to Tigh-Na-Mara for two nights and we also went for a walk at the legendary Cathedral Grove.

Cathedral Grove at MacMillan Park Tigh-Na-Mara

Tigh-Na-Mara

Local Travel

Other destinations we enjoyed in 2013 include Harrison Hot Springs, Osoyoos for the Oyster Festival, Whistler for the Araxi Longtable, a girls weekend in Whistler, and Salt Spring Island.

Ruckle Provincial Park

I also got to wade through a cranberry bog in Fort Langley and do a ride-along with the News1130 air patrol to take some aerial photos. The adventures just kept on coming!

Honda Shout-Out

This past year Honda Canada lent us several of their vehicles for our road trips including an Acura RDX, Honda Accord Sport, the Acura MDX, Honda CR-V, and the ever-popular Civic. We’ve loved the comfort, power, and technology on each but I have to say the Honda Accord Sport was probably my favourite of all — if I had to pick just one!

[PIC] Our @HondaCanada Civic has been a sweet ride for our #Van2Van road trip. Honda Accord Sport Sedan

Acura MDX at Tigh-Na-Mara in Parksville Riding in an Acura MDX this week from Acura Canada

While I’m unsure what might come up on the road ahead, I know that I have a fantastic partner and willingness to open the door whenever opportunity knocks. Follow my travels and everyday adventures on Twitter and Instagram.

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3 comments

  1. Megan says:

    Looks like you had a great year! Hope 2014 is only better.

  2. Holly says:

    Wow! that’s a pretty great year of travel! And I have to admit, a few of those places are on my list as well, like surprisingly, Austin is somewhere i’d love to go! I’ve read your blog here and there, but mostly looked to it for your amazingly intensive event listings. But now that i’m digging a little deeper, i’m really enjoying your lifestyle posts. i myself, am a inspiring writer/blogger/creative and reading your blog really inspires me. keep up the great work!!

  3. crankshaft says:

    This is a superb post. Thanks a lot.

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