I’ve used my passport twice.
The first time was for a trip to San Francisco to visit Alcatraz. The second time was to spend a week in Vegas for my 35th birthday.
Following hashtags on Instagram is how I’ve traveled the world.
I’m a big believer in trusting the timing of life. I don’t have a strong urge to travel very far right now. So I don’t.
Still, this morning as I was making coffee, I felt a slight pang of FOMO.
As I write this, it’s Canada Day long weekend. People are fleeing home to go camping. I don’t camp. I’m a hotel suite kind of girl.
The last few summers, I’ve spent the long weekend at a cabin in the woods. I borrow the place from a friend whenever it’s available. This year, I’m spending the weekend at home in the city because I’m working on a project and need proper wifi.
It’s not a hardship, I love my house. I live alone so I can work uninterrupted.
But when you see everyone posting photos of their long weekend adventures, you kinda want to do it too, right?
“I’ve taken so many road trips in the last 2 years. You should see all MY photos” — my ego screams.
Driving is my favorite activity and every chance I get, I drive somewhere. My friends and family now assume I’m on the road all the time.
I sat at the kitchen table drinking coffee and scrolled through the photos on my phone.
I decided I need a healthier perspective.
These are some photos I’ve taken using my iPhone from road trips around Western Canada, my home.
Looking for solace close to home
In my mind, an exotic location is the South of France. Expensive, exclusive, far away from home.
Banff National Park. A place swarming with people who have traveled far and wide to see the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
This place is less than two hours drive from my house. Thank goodness, because hotel prices in the summer are ridiculous.
My family liked to camp here in the summer. I spent my early teen years sulking on this mountain. Trying to make sense of myself.
As an adult, I’ve come here to nurse a broken heart, to wish for better days, and also to celebrate success.
Some days are without color
The drive may start out sunny and warm. But you can end up in a freezing-cold mountain village that is still closed for the winter. Obviously, it’s not a ski resort.
3 hours drive from my house, this area is just north of the United States border.
When the wind blows, I get a message saying
“Welcome to the U.S!”
I had never been here before. This place was on fire last summer.
Revisiting your hometown
Going back to your roots can bring up all sorts of weird feelings. At least it does for me.
Spring of 2018, I drove 10 hours north to attend my aunt’s funeral. I turned the drive into a week-long trip to visit my place of birth.
I found my first childhood home and drove down the back alley. The view from my bedroom window is exactly the same. This wide-open farm field.
I used to wonder what else life had to offer me beyond the borders of this little town.
The answer: A lot!
I moved twice as a child and found it difficult to adjust. But I’m glad I didn’t remain here. I expected to feel a connection to the area but I didn’t.
Indulge in a cheesy moment or two
I grew up on the Canadian Prairies. We are not known for our beaches. Much to my surprise and delight, there is a gorgeous white sand beach in the middle of Canada.
Grand Beach, Manitoba. I wish I had saved the screenshot from Google Maps. As I stood there, I was right in the middle of my country.
I had to draw the cheesy ‘heart in the sand’ for the ‘gram.
Have a secret
This is en-route to the cabin. I spend a lot of time here. Secretly.
Last year alone, I stayed for 10 weeks. No one knows where it is. You can’t see the property from the road. I drive past the entrance every time.
There is no wifi so I have to drive to a nearby RV resort whenever I need the Internet.
Now that’s rustic.
I feel a surge of pride whenever I see Canada’s flag.
Father (sometimes) knows best
I took a day trip last week to visit these Japanese gardens. My dad told me about this place.
It was heaven.
Until I tripped on a crack in the pavement while looking at some trees. I can walk in 5-inch heels but not in flip-flops apparently.
In a haze of glory
Last summer, I was traveling east to Saskatchewan for a family event and the smoke from various forest fires was so thick. Which is odd considering there is hardly a forest to be found in that area.
All my prairie photos from this trip have a haze filter.
We joke that Saskatchewan is so flat you can watch your dog run away for a week.
How to stay humble — stand beside a mountain
As I stood there, I felt very small. Like at any moment I could be crushed.
Long before I discovered the Golden Gate Bridge, The Dunvegan Bridge was my universe. The longest vehicle suspension bridge in Alberta.
Of course, it seemed a lot bigger to me when I was 5.
I drove across the bridge for the first time as an adult, last year. They call this area the Peace Country due to the Peace River.
This was early May and nothing was blooming yet but it is as pretty as I remember.
Pull over and scream into nature
I don’t care to take smiling selfies while on road trips. These excursions are meant for my resting-bitch face. Self-reflection, safe in nature.
Sometimes you feel like “This is f*cking awesome!”
A village of 800, I visit every year to eat lunch and stare at the scenery. The food is exceptional here.
I usually set up a home base in a neighboring community. Last fall, I decided to stay in the village for a few nights at this guesthouse.
I had a Victorian-style suite. It was a fairy-tale.
Because I used to visit this area during my days as a 20-year-old starving artist.
It’s important to remind yourself how far you’ve come in life. Even when you feel like you’ve accomplished nothing.
Find your nirvana
Part of Metro Vancouver, I was introduced to this place in my early 20s. I came here to play my violin for tourists in the summertime, back in the day.
Being a prairie girl, I didn’t see the ocean very often. But now, I can’t imagine my life without this place.
I’ve played for weddings on this beach. I’ve walked in the rain, wondering what the hell to do with my life. I’ve had touching conversations with strangers.
I once had a former schoolmate who bullied me in middle school contact me after she saw me play my violin on the pier. Her daughter kept on talking about “the lady who was playing the violin.”
Nowadays, I rent a beach house up on the hill and stare out over this view. I feel safe to dream big here. And yet at the same time, I want nothing more than to spend eternity wandering the beach at low tide in the sunshine.
Back to reality
After my trip to San Francisco, I was so inspired that I ended up moving into a townhouse with four large bay windows.
I have a massive canvas print of the Golden Gate Bridge hanging on my wall. Clusters of scenic photos from my road trips can be found all over my house. Each picture serves as a reminder of those uplifting moments in special places.
I make the effort to recreate that special energy in my home on the foothills.
I live near the city reservoir and sailing club. This weekend, while I’m at home working, I can always take a walk and pretend I’m about to yacht it up in Saint-Tropez.
Wherever you are, there is beauty. When life goes dark, nature still exists.
The lowest point in my life happened in the dead of winter. I sat in the snow, freezing, wishing everything would just end. But I got so cold I had to go back inside.
I sit in the sun now when I have a dark moment.
It’s a good reminder that life is rooting for you if you let it.