Recap of the Best Year of My Life

If I measure 2016 by the one yardstick that matters to me, how much I travelled, it was the best year of my life. That’s hard to reconcile with how horrible the year was to the world in general, but it’s my truth.

This was a rare year of my life where there was enough money to do what I wanted to do. I prioritised paying for the big stuff, like making sure I had a roof over my head, could get from point A to point B, and that I stayed healthy. I savoured the little stuff I could afford. I refused to be a glass half empty person and bemoan that I couldn’t do X, Y, or Z because of a tight budget and instead celebrated that I was wherever I was at that moment.

I covered so much ground this year that you might have forgotten where I started. So here’s my 2016 travel retrospective.

January started in Mazatlán, Mexico. It was the second year of my life starting there and the novelty hadn’t worn off! I spent many hours cantering on a beautiful tropical beach, a weekly ritual that made me feel like the richest and luckiest woman in the world.

The lagoon at the Isla de la Piedra botanical gardens.

The lagoon in Mazatlán’s Bosque de la Ciudad.

February brought me to Mérida, in the Mexican state of Yucatán, on a scouting mission in anticipation of possibly moving there!

I saw ancient Mayan ruins!

The Mayan ruins at Uxmal.

The Mayan ruins at Uxmal.

March had me discovering the wonderful botanical gardens right in my backyard on Isla de la Piedra.

The lake at the heart of Isla de la Piedra's botanical gardens.

The lake at the heart of Isla de la Piedra’s botanical gardens.

April found me seeing Monument Valley

Monument Valley

Monument Valley

…and exploring Arches National Park

Landscape Arch, Arches National Park

Landscape Arch, Arches National Park

…and the town of Moab, Utah.

May took me to Cody, Wyoming

downtown Cody, WY

downtown Cody, WY

…with plenty of time to explore the Center of the West

Sacagawea at Center of the West

Sacagawea at Center of the West

… and a Japanese internment camp

Heart Mountain Interpretive Center

Heart Mountain Interpretive Center

… before going home to Haven…

Sunset at Haven, May, 2016

Sunset at Haven, May, 2016

… before getting on a plane and technically visiting my last Canadian province.

2016-map-1

So June took me to London, England (really!)…

London from the St. Paul's Cathedral

London from St. Paul’s Cathedral

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… and to Bulgaria!

Malak Izvor, Bulgaria

Malak Izvor, Bulgaria

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July took me on two trips to Sofia, Bulgaria.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia

August took me to Plovdiv

Plovdiv from Nebet Hill

Plovdiv from Nebet Hill

… and across Bulgaria in a Chevy to Nessebar

Old Nessebar, Bulgaria

Old Nessebar, Bulgaria

…to Soviet ruins

Buzludzha

Buzludzha

Veliko Tarnovo

Tsaravets Fortress, Veliko Tarnovo

Tsaravets Fortress, Veliko Tarnovo

…the scenic town of Teteven

Teteven

Teteven

Prohodna (Eyes of God Cave)

Prohodna (Eyes of God Cave)

Prohodna (Eyes of God Cave)

…the Etropole Waterfall

Etropole Waterfall

Etropole Waterfall

…and a the magnificent 15th century Glozhene Monastery.

inside the Glozhene Monastery

inside the Glozhene Monastery

September saw me quit Bulgaria for Serbia and finish the month in Belgrade.

Zemun, Belgrade, Serbia

Zemun, Belgrade, Serbia

October found me in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sarajevo, BiH

Sarajevo, BiH

Kotor, Montenegro

Old Kotor, Montenegro

Old Kotor, Montenegro

…blipping through Albania

an Albanian fortress

an Albanian fortress

…staying out too late in Prizen, Kosovo

Prizren, Kosovo

Prizren, Kosovo

…not being impressed by Skopje, Macedonia

Archaeological Museum, Skopje

Archaeological Museum, Skopje

2016-map-4

…ambling through Barcelona, Spain

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

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… then through Alicante

Alicante, Spain

Alicante, Spain

… before settling in Almería for seven weeks.

The port of Almería

The port of Almería

November was spent in lovely Almería learning to live in the real Spain.

Pedestrian street in downtown Almería

Pedestrian street in downtown Almería

December saw me in Málaga for a few days…

Málaga from the top of the itinerant Ferris wheel.

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…before jetting off to end the year and ring in 2017 in Amsterdam, Netherlands!

Quintessential Amsterdam scene

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What a journey 2016 was, from getting more and more comfortable in Mexico to becoming a seasoned European traveler!

But the most amazing thing that happened? I was offered my key to Mexico. So my 2017 is well plotted. But before I return to the blistering tropical heat of the Yucatán, England, Quebec, and Haven beckon. So clichéd as the saying is, the best really is yet to come.

Happy New Year to all of you lovely readers!

One Day Left

It has been a very full day and tomorrow will be even worse.

I got up and did a small work assignment, then attempted to file my taxes. Attempted because CRA, in its infinite wisdom, decided to revamp its website in the middle of June when businesses have till the end of the month to file their returns. So the return is ready and I have to wait till my last day in London to send it. Hopefully, there won’t be any hiccups.

Then, I did the first dry run of packing my electronics bag. By the time I added my toiletries bag and the French press, I had to concede I didn’t have enough room, so I had to make some tough concessions after already having pared my electronics list to the bone. But I finally got both bags to close without difficulty even if they are quite full.

I then puttered around, putting things away and cleaning while I waited for Charles to come help me with a few things. This included moving things around in the cabin and putting away part of the swing so that he only needed to help me move in the frame. When he and Caroline showed up, I went on the roof, then Charles spent some time throwing things up to me to weight down a new tarp. The roof has actually not been leaking in some time now, even after several huge storms, so the tarp is just insurance and peace of mind.

Tomorrow’s to-do list in somewhat chronological order:

-laundry, including my bedding
-make a run to the post office in the hope that the two missing things for my trip have arrived at the 11th hour…
-do a deep clean of the rig, including the fridge
-put away the water and sewer hoses
-winterize
-bring things to C&C’s for storage
-remove the battery from my truck and put it in storage at C&C’s
-put away the exterior internet cable and antenna
-mow the lawn (easier when there’s no water hoses or antenna cables or swing in the way)
-finalise my packing
-collapse at C&C’s with my luggage to spend the night

On to Лондон!

Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road. – Jack Kerouac

I’m Always Surprised When I Find Stuff in Assiniboia

Shopping options in Assiniboia are rather dismal. I never plan on being able to find anything I’m looking for, but sometimes I get surprised. So when I went to town today to run a bunch of errands, I did have at the back of my mind four things that I wish I’d worked harder at getting for my trip, but I wasn’t going to make an effort to look for. I came home with three of the four!

Shopper’s Drugmart had the most unexpected item, a set of luggage locks, and they are better quality for less than the cheapest ones I’d found on Amazon. I’ve been going back and forth on whether or not to get some since they seem rather useless, but I thought I might sleep better on public transportation if there’s a minuscule added layer of security to my bags.

The Bargain!Shop had the second item, I decent pair of earbuds with an inline mic. They’re nowhere as sturdy feeling as the pair I’m using now, but they were super inexpensive and will mean I have a backup. The sound quality appears comparable.

Finally, Slice Athletic Wear is going out of business. I’d never been in the store and rarely go to that end of town, but I passed it on my way down 13 to take the 36 to Willow Bunch and thought they might have a fleece jacket since I’m not 100% satisfied with either one of my current options. Nope, but I did find a much better pair of black leggings than the ones I was about to leave with, which I knew I’d curse my whole time away, for a fraction of what I would have paid for decent leggings online, especially including shipping.

It was a very fruitful run to town. I also dealt with insurance matters for my truck, got my equity cheque from the Co-Op ($41), and had lunch. Then, I drove to Willow Bunch for an event at the museum that will be the subject of its own post later. Now, I have to get back to work!

Four Days Left Till I Leave Indefinitely

The weekend was a blur of good music, even better food (Caroline made a mean venison stir fry with pesto pasta on Sunday night), and WORK.

I have a bit more work to do by tomorrow night, and then I’m calling it off as I really need to focus on my enormous to-do list.

So today, Monday, I’m finishing up work and volunteer projects.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, is going to be my last running around day. I have to go to Assiniboia to pick up my Co-Op equity cheque, get a few things I’m missing for my toiletries bag, deal with the insurance on the truck, and then go to Willow Bunch for an event at the museum. Then, Charles is going to come over to help tarp the roof, put away the swing, and spread mouse poison in the RV (I have a roommate). And then, I might have to finish a work project.

Wednesday, I get my taxes done, do a deep clean in Miranda, do a final load of laundry,and put away the water hose. This is going to be my last night in my own bed in who knows how long.

Thursday, I’m closing up the property, winterizing Miranda, bringing things to C&C’s for storage, putting away the booster, doing a final walkthrough, finalising my packing, etc. I’ll sleep at C&C’s Thursday night.

It sounds all very neat when laid out like that, but there really is a lot left to do, especially to close up the property even though I’ve only been here less than two months.

Now, I really need to get to work. I’m paying for quitting too early on Saturday…