Sunday, April 20, 2014

#DiscoverON: Abandoned Places Ontario

On Tuesday morning, I woke up to a foreboding text from my neighbour Nick:

“It is both beautiful and disgusting outside.”

I crawled out of bed and towards the kitchen to make coffee. Looking out the window, my gaze settled on the vines on our back fence. Overnight, they had become completely covered in a thick layer of fresh white snow. Only two days earlier I had been sitting in the backyard with friends, barbecuing and enjoying the first truly warm day of the year.

I sighed and put the kettle on to perk.

Nick, Courtney and I had planned to spend the day taking advantage of AutoShare’s #discoverON program. We were going to go hiking in Forks of the Credit Provincial Park and exploring ghost hamlets around Caledon. It just figured that the world was once again reduced to the grey misery of winter on the day that we were scheduled to drive north.

Court showed up at my apartment wrapped in layers of scarves and clinging to her coffee.

“So, what’s the plan?” she asked me, peering out from under her tuque.

“I actually don’t know,” I shrugged as we waited in the lobby for Nick to appear. Although exploring ghost towns was still part of the plan, hiking was clearly off the table. Spending the day outdoors suddenly seemed considerably less appealing than it had when we planned the trip.

“So you’re telling me that we’re driving up north, in a snowstorm and you don’t know where we’re going?” Court asked with a laugh.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

My Good Thing: Road Trips with #DiscoverON

It's only the start of April and I've already taken eight flights this year. But as much as I love jetting off to foreign destinations, I can authoritatively say that nothing will ever replace the excitement of a road trip for me.

My love of long drives started at the roots. My hometown of Cold Lake, Alberta isn't a city, really. While it may hold that legal title, it's actually three small towns (Cold Lake, Grand Centre and Medley) that amalgamated 20 years ago to become the "City" of Cold Lake.

I grew up in Cold Lake proper (now known as "Cold Lake North," although locals still stubbornly omit the "north"), which was separated from the closest town of Grand Centre ("Cold Lake South") by more than six kilometres of farmland and woods. Six kilometres may not seem that far, but black ice made what should have been a 10-minute drive treacherous during the long winters. As for the closest "real" city? That was Edmonton, which is nearly 300 kilometres away.

So when I was granted a driver's permit at 16, it was my license to freedom. Granted, for any teenager getting a driver's license signifies freedom. But in isolated northern Alberta, it meant so much more.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Frequently Asked Questions


What do you do for a living that allows you to travel all the time? 

I’m a freelance journalist and a contributing editor for Verge Magazine, a publication devoted to travel with purpose. Since Verge’s head office is in Peterborough, I telecommute for work—which means that I can work literally anywhere that has a reliable Internet connection.

You get paid to travel? That’s awesome! 

No. This is almost never the case. Yes, I work for a travel magazine, and yes, I freelance for other publications as a travel writer. But for the most part, I pay for nearly all of my trips out of pocket. However while I never get paid to travel, I’m always getting paid while I travel. I very rarely take “vacations.” Instead, my office is just mobile.

With that being said, I am occasionally invited to participate in press trips, which are paid for by tourism commissions. I also sometimes travel for work with the Go Global Expos.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

You Can Never Go Back

I love rules with a fierce veracity—they’re the guiding principles that dictate our lives—government, legal or self-imposed. But when it comes to travel, I only follow three:

1. Leave while you’re still having fun. 

2. Holidays romances should remain as such. Nothing destroys the magic of a holiday romance faster than creating unnecessary opportunities to see your lover settled into the mundane tedium of their everyday life, sorting their recycling and buying toilet paper. 
3. And above all else, you can never go back—places only exist as a moment in time. 
I broke all of these rules when I decided to return to Sydney this February. It had been less than a year since I’d been there last and as soon as I booked my tickets, I knew it was a mistake.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Deltiologically Speaking: Eilean Donan Castle

Clutching a hot coffee and screwing my face up against the cold wind, I scurried back across the empty parking lot to our rental car, tossing my bag in the backseat. It contained the only souvenirs that I'd purchase throughout my week in Scotland; a clan Cameron keychain for my brother and a postcard.

"The postcard is for my Great Aunt Mary," I explained to Jules, pulling away from Eilean Donan Castle and back onto the road. "I don't see her very often, but I try to write whenever I can."

As we drove on, towards the Isle of Skye, I told Jules about how even though Mary is now in her 80s, she still travels regularly. The last time we visited, I informed Aunt Mary about my plans to going trap shooting. In turn, she told me about how she'd been a sharpshot in her day, hunting grouse for dinner. And when she asked me about my plans to have a family or get married, I told her that exploring was my priority for the time being. She responded by nodding in approval.

"She's kind of my hero," I told him.

But as it turns out, I wasn't the only one to be holding Mary in my thoughts at Eilean Donan castle.

Last month, I received this email from Mary's son, Bob:

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