2020: A Year in Review

I debated not doing a “year in review” post this year for obvious reasons… but I believe that reflection is an important part of growth and that even in a year of sadness, grief, depression, and loss, there are moments… and people worth celebrating. While this blog is a place for me to catalogue my travels, it is more than simply sharing vacation photos. For me travel is how I stay connected to friends and family all over the world. Travel is what gives me hope and inspiration for my daily life. It is how I heal and learn and grow. So even in a year that most of us would like to forget ever happened… I choose to remember the opportunities I had in the past 12 months to make memories and see new places with those I love. I may not have left my home country… and barely even left my home province, but I know that I’m lucky to call this part of the world home. If I had to be stuck anywhere, I’m glad it was here.

1. Vancouver Staycation (January)

Grouse Mountain

The year started off so celebratory with a 30th birthday staycation for my friend Mindy. Our plans to get out of town fell through so we put all that money into the most epic and luxurious night in downtown Vancouver at the Fairmont Pacific Rim… our favourite hotel in the city! We stayed in an ocean view suite with a king bed and two bathrooms… including welcome cocktails, sparkling wine, and chocolate covered strawberries. We got massages at the Willow Stream Spa and went for dinner at Nightingale. The following day we had brunch at the Botanist, got our makeup done at Mac, and took the gondola up Grouse Mountain to snowshoe the Light Walk and have dinner at The Observatory overlooking the city. It was expensive but worth every penny, especially with the way that the rest of the year turned out. I’m so glad that I got the opportunity to make these memories with Mindy and celebrate the incredible friend she has been to me for the past 12 years!

2. Ottawa, ON (February)

My one and only flight of the year (and trip outside BC) was to Ottawa to meet up with my brother and his family for the family day weekend. Neither me nor my brother, Colin, had ever visited our nation’s capital and thought this would be a great excuse to get together and check out the annual Winterlude Festival. We lucked out with the weather and were able to check off a major Canadian bucket list item… skating on the world’s largest outdoor skating rink – the Rideau Canal. It was so magical and I was especially proud of myself for dressing appropriately for the freezing temperatures. We also got the chance to tour the House of Commons at Parliament Hill and pop over to Gatineau, Quebec for some winter activities like snow tubing. But above all the highlight was getting to spend time with my 2-year-old niece Ronen who I miss desperately. Getting to make some memories with her this year was more special than I can express in words.

3. Sechelt, BC (February)

Our final pre-pandemic getaway of 2020 was to our favourite spot on the Sunshines Coast. We’ve stayed at this cozy cabin before and love the quiet location on the water and most importantly the hot tub. We had a textbook perfect weekend celebrating our second anniversary before the world shut down.

4. Sechelt, BC (June)

After spending 3 months locked down we were hopeful that BC would lift its travel restrictions by summer-time and we were thrilled to get the green light to travel back to our favourite cabin (yet again!) in Sechelt in time to celebrate Markus’s birthday with friends Joy & Henrik. We took the week off work so we were able to travel mid-week to avoid any crowds. We hiked to the Skookumchuk Narrows to watch the spectacular whirlpools and were in for a special treat when we saw a pod of porpoises playfully joining the kayakers in the waves. We even took our first dip in the ocean for the season. The start of summer brought with it hope of more social interactions and outdoor activities to rejuvenate our spirits after months of isolation.

5. Kelowna, BC (July)

It’s no secret that the Okanagan Valley has a special place in my heart and no BC summer is complete without a visit to wine country. We pre-scheduled patio tastings at some of our favourite wineries like Quail’s Gate and Tantalus and spent an afternoon kayaking and swimming in the lake. We also did some damage to our bank accounts purchasing bottles from every winery we stopped at, including a special 2008 bottle from Kalala Organic Estate Winery which we saved to open on a special occasion, which to our jubilation turned out to be the Biden/Harris victory in the US election. Best news of 2020 by far!

6. Vancouver Island, BC (August)

The majority of my travels to Vancouver Island have been to the city of Victoria but due to COVID-19, I have been looking for less populated and more outdoor focused places to spend my vacation time. So, this summer, my travel buddy Mindy and I decided to do some exploring and hiking outside Victoria. From a picture perfect cider tasting and picnic at Sea Cider Farms to hiking up Old Baldy Mountain for a swinging photo shoot, it was so energizing to be outside having adventures again! We took a dip in Shawingan Lake, enjoyed ice cream, and read books on the beach. Summer in BC at its finest.

7. Yarrow, BC (September, BC)

Some might scratch their heads at my choice to visit Yarrow this summer, but I spent a lot of time there as a kid and have many fond memories. So this year, I brought my girl Erica along to check out the Chilliwack Sunflower Festival as well as spend some time at Cultus Lake. We hit up some Fraser Valley wineries on the way, even purchasing a charcuterie board for a sunset picnic by the lake and hiked the popular Teapot Hill where we had the best time spotting all the little teapots along the trail. The destination in this case was less important than the opportunity to get outside (a major 2020 theme) and spend quality time with Erica.

8. Galiano Island, BC (September)

I was so excited this year that my birthday was finally on a Friday but that also due to the pandemic and the associated changes to my work schedule, I would actually be able to take my birthday off work for the first time maybe ever. We booked an oceanside cabin on Galiano island, which is one of my favourite places on earth. I was SO looking forward to showing Markus around and taking him on a hike up Mt Galiano to see my favourite view. I made such wonderful plans, but unfortunately, we got majorly 2020’d. We hit some unexpected traffic on the way to the ferry on my birthday morning, ended up missing the ferry and spent the next 8 hours taking 4 ferries to Galiano and missing our dinner reservation. To say I was disappointed, would be a colossal understatement. Did I forget to mention that while all this was happening, the raging wildfires in the US had also blown their smoke up to Canada, completing blocking out the sun? Yep, the perfect weather forecast we had expected was suddenly gone, and with nothing to do on a sleepy, remote island but explore outdoors, we probably knocked a few weeks off our life expectancy in smoke inhalation. Our one saving grace was that we managed to score a highly coveted reservation at Pilgrimme, a coast, farm-to-table restaurant with an 11-course menu that changes nightly and features all local ingredients. It was the culinary highlight of the year, and quite possibly one of my favourite meals ever! The 6 wine pairings didn’t hurt either. Special shout out to Markus for doing absolutely everything he could to keep me calm and make me feel special. He is seriously a saint for dealing with my meltdowns this year.

9. Victoria, BC (October)

Dallas Road

I didn’t know this quick weekend trip to Victoria would be the last of 2020 while it was happening. We were looking forward to an epic trip to Tofino in December with the same friends… but, in true 2020 style, the pandemic had other plans. Back in October, before the most recent round of restrictions, we spent two beautiful, sunny, very cold days eating, drinking and walking 35,000 steps with our friends Stefi and Ken who recently relocated to the island. They showed us some of their favourite neighbourhoods and restaurants – where we bundled up to sit on the patio. It was a great time of catching up with good people, which is one thing I’m definitely taking away from this year. I have a lot of good people in my life.

Final thoughts…

So here we are… on December 31st. I’m all dressed up with nowhere to go. I bought a fancy bottle of champagne and unlike the many epic New Year’s Eve parties I’ve attended in cities all over the world, this year I will be on my couch. I will login to zoom like I do every day for work and celebrate the end of this horrible year. I know that the world won’t magically go back to normal tomorrow just because 2020 is over. But, I do think we will have more hope. We endured something traumatic together and there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. I hope that next New Year’s Eve I’ll be hugging my family… and that I’ll have an occasion to wear real pants again. Actually, scratch that, I might wear loungewear forever. Happy New Year friends – we deserve it!

2020: By the Numbers

Countries Visited: 0 (for the first time in my life)

States Visited: 0 (not even Washington)

Provinces Visited: 2 – British Columbia / Ontario

Plane Rides Taken: 2 one way flights (I count a flight as a flight regardless of how many segments or layovers it has).

Ferries Taken: 10 (Let’s just call this the year of the ferry)

Airports Visited: 2 (YVR, YOW)

Kilometres Flown in 2020: 7,120

Beds Slept In: 11. Of those, 8 were Airbnb rentals, 1 was a hotel, 1 was staying with family, and one was my own bed!

Trips Cancelled: 6 – Morocco (April) / Bali (June) / New Orleans (June) / Squamish (November) / Tofino (December) / Hawaii (December)

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