Tag Archives: Canada

Five Years of Travel

Greetings! And welcome to my newly revamped little corner of the world. This is a place I share my adventures, my stories, my photography, my books in progress, (I really am writing books…..) and whatever else crosses my path on this wonderful journey we call life. I admit, I haven’t been the most reliable blogger, but it took me a few months to settle some of my life down before I could get on with this new phase. I have spent several weeks organizing my Lightroom library, trying my best to forge a friendship with my MacBook, trying to figure out where the heck I’ve been, and relocating yet again (am in Northern Arizona until end of November right before I leave for Italy but thats a whole other blog post…..)  For those of you who are new, welcome! And for you faithful who have patiently waited for me to rev it up again….welcome back.

I plan on posting a new blog every Wednesday morning, about 9am MST. I have a lengthy list of subjects as I have learned (and continue to learn and save those little pearls!) about how to travel far and cheap, (did you know you can fly from Denver to Paris one way for less than $200?) minimalist packing and how it works well, many many destinations, my year journey to plan and prepare to go abroad for three months next year (yes, on my own. Yes, backpack only….. yes I’m planning on writing a book while I’m gone as well so stay tuned) So? Please add your name to my email list for reminders on new posts, leave a comment with suggestions or your thoughts on any given subject, I’m sure this will be entertaining, and hopefully educational on some level.

I absolutely love to travel, anywhere and at anytime. It is my true passion. There is nothing I love more than going someplace new. I keep it simple, pack light, and bring a journal and a camera. I have many adventures to share and even more in the planning phase. Alas, that gainful employment is necessary, but it also affords me to take off (after much  sacrificing, saving, cutting back, and throwing odd dollars and change in a jar). I started basically traveling for a living with my profession, that being a Family Nurse Practitioner. I work in Family Practice which is very demanding, and I prefer to go to places where I can treat the poor and homeless. It has sent me to some very interesting places. About five years ago I started working this way, and about four years ago I started truly downsizing. At this point, my belongings are in a storage unit, I gave up my rented home, and gave away my car. I basically live out of a little more than a suitcase, hence; my blog name.

I love planes, trains, long car trips being the driver, walking,  buses, trams and trolleys. I have had major trips abroad, I have taken day trips in my car, and everything  in between. I was reminded recently, (when I was whining about wanting to get up and go again) that I am a very well traveled person. Am I really? I started a list, started gathering photos off of Lightroom (thousands and thousands) and realized that during the past five years of traveling with my vocation, mini side trips, well planned tours, sporadic long weekends, and not needing much of an excuse to take off and go……the list of places is long. Surprisingly long. So as I sit here writing about it today and having a VERY difficult time picking out photos, I feel completely thankful. I also feel extremely excited, as the feet are getting restless again……

So this is what this week’s blog is about. Five years of travel. There are individual blogs planned for the major destinations (San Francisco, U.S. East Coast, Budapest, Prague, London, the South, and a blog post dedicated to the different doors of the world that I seem to be obsessed with plus more I’m sure) Keep in mind, I work full time, sometimes VERY full time, but I have truly mastered the art of capitalizing on cheap flights, holiday days off of work, creative planning, minimal packing, and just not making excuses and just GOING. So get a tasty cold beverage, find a comfy place to sit, and get a taste of the past five years. It has been quite the journey! (and if I can do it, being a single mom, working very full time, living on a very tight budget……then I truly believe that anyone can…..you just have to WANT to!)

So strap yourselves in, and here’s a thumbnail of some of the adventures I’ve had over the past five years. Some planned. Some not. Had to save for some, and others just filled up the car, made a sandwich, grabbed my camera and went.

PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY, CALIFORNIA

I have gotten to drive the Pacific Coast Highway three times…..This is definitely a “have to” for anyone and everyone. It’s endless, gorgeously breathtaking, and a peaceful way to spend a few days. There is no wrong place to stop. It’s all fascinating.

SCOTLAND

I experienced Scotland with my mum, including pubs, kilts, William Wallace, Celebration of the Haggis (delish!) and spending the afternoon at a Scottish Sheep Farm.

WINE COUNTRY, NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

Wine Country in Northern Cali….what can you say? It’s everything that you’ve heard. Miles of winding roads and vineyards as far as the eye can see.

WALES

Experienced a taste of Wales, and this is one quirky place! The language, the street signs are an adventure in itself. This is one country I would love to thoroughly explore. Put it on the list!

VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA

I had a four day weekend and a total of $500 to spend. Total. (Airfare, Accomodation, food and extras) and went to Victoria, British Columbia. Rode in a little puddle jumper airplane, walked for miles, ate great food, and took too many photos to count. Fascinating place. Highly recommend. Thanks to a $188 flight, AirBnB, and Groupon, the total weekend cost me $496 total. Gotta love minimalist traveling! 

SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NAT’L PARKS

Had the opportunity to visit Sequoia National Park twice. The giant Sequoia trees are literally majestic, extreme, and fascinating. I got to go there once with my son which made it really awesome. I drove straight through the park and experienced life above the clouds at Kings Canyon National Park.

MULTNOMAH FALLS, OREGON

I got to drive up to Portland and see Multnomah Falls. This place is pure magic and you feel the strength and incredible beauty of Mother Nature as you stand in front of this magnificent sight.

NORTHERN CALI

I spent the longest time I’ve ever spent at one assignment in Ukiah, California, a total of 16 months which translates into 500 consecutive nights in a hotel room. It was worth it as I experienced coastal sights that took your breath away, lighthouses, and towns that I fell in love with including Ft Bragg and Glass Beach and Mendocino.

SAN FRANCISCO 

I was an hour and a half from San Francisco so I got to go there a couple of times. Fresh sourdough bread, the Golden Gate Bridge and trolley cars.

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UNITED KINGDOM

London with my mum along with Chester, York, Stratford Upon Avon, Windsor (where both Her Majesty the Queen and the leader of Ireland were at the time, so there were flags everywhere) and Bath. And I got to see my beloved Peter Pan statue in Hyde Park.

IPSWICH, SUFFOLK, ENGLAND

Mum and I got to go back to our hometown of Ipswich, England.

MENDOCINO, CALI

Mendocino deserves another mention. Northern Cali.

CAPITOLA AND THE DEPOT INN

My favorite Bed and Breakfast: Depot Hill and Capitola

RANDOM FINDS

Random drives to find some “pretty”.

YELLOWSTONE NAT’L PARK

Drove through Yellowstone National Park on the way to work assignment in NewTown, North Dakota.

EAST COAST

Experienced the East Coast when I was on assignment in Middletown, CT.

ZION UTAH

Zion in Utah

MONTERREY CALIFORNIA 

Monterrey California was very cool. Eating seafood out of paper as you walked. Everything was pretty. And when I saw the interesting mileage sign? This is the day I decided I should experience Dubrovnik, Croatia. Which I added to my three month Euro trip next year.

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BUDAPEST, HUNGARY

I needed to go someplace and I needed someplace that 1) required a passport and 2) was as cheap as possible. So I headed off to Hungary! My sister decided to come with which was an extra and unexpected blessing! Will have its very own blog post as just far too much happened!!

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC 

2nd leg of that impromptu sister trip was Prague, Czech Republic. We both decided we could live here. Again, a specific blog about this fascinating place! Can’t wait to go back!

CHARLESTON AND SAVANNAH 

The South, Charleston, Hilton Head and Savannah and yes, I broke my arm…..

There were definitely more side trips, but I’m sure you get the picture. I have traveled far and wide with what I had at the time and the list turned out to be surprisingly long. Very humbling.

This was kind of like a list. There will be more specific posts coming I promise, at least 12 are in the works as I type this.
I have pretty extreme plans coming up for the next 12 months. I plan on working hard, saving all I can and making all of this happen. So please stay tuned. I will be posting one time per month about my year plan to travel Europe next year for three months with a backpack. A lot goes into doing something like this at my age, so I am starting now. I also have a trip planned in December and another in April. I realized I can’t wait anymore. Time isn’t waiting for me.

So my time is now.

Thank you so much for spending your moments with me! Please leave a comment so I can know you stopped by.

Until next week……..as always…….be kind.

Cheers,

Polley93

 

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Victoria, BC, Canada

Greetings! And welcome back to my weekly rambling blog. If your eyes are reading these words, then I truly thank you for spending some moments with me here today. If you like what you read or experience here, please give my blog a “like” or spend a few moments and post a comment so I know you were here and I thank you in advance for that.

This “nook” of mine covers three main topics: Travel and my random adventures, Life in general (experiences, travel, my stories of sorts, life hacks, photography etc), and Minimalism. For today, it is back to my favorite thing; Travel and photographing new places. If it were up to me I would continually travel to anyplace, anytime and for any reason. But gainful employment kind of puts a damper on that, so I am learning ways to work around that ole time clock, make the plan, buy the ticket, and figure out details later. This is exactly what happened with this trip. And I will forewarn you, there will be a load of photos……

Restless Feet…..

Those of you who know me know that I have a serious case of restless feet and am always looking for the next adventure. At this particular time, I was seriously struggling with work, life, just everything in general. My answer is and always will be going someplace new with a camera. I had limited funds, about $500 that I could spend without guilt. I’m in Northern California at the present time, and started thinking about where I could go. I first looked at the calendar, there was some random Friday off for an Indian celebration day and asked my boss for that previous Thursday off as well, she agreed. So wha la! I had four days, and $500 to create some kind of an adventure. Where oh where to go. I was thinking with limited funds I was looking at driving somewhere, but as I hunted about online, the bill started adding up. So, I figured check the airlines, maybe somewhere has a deal. And if there’s a deal? I’m just the girl to find it. Several sites have sites designed for free spirits such as myself as you can look for flights on price alone. And what do you know…….. found a round trip flight from San Francisco airport to Vancouver Canada, fitting my dates, leaving early, I have a passport, and without thinking too much, five minutes and $180 later, I had a booked seat.

$320 Left……With a List of Things to Pay For……

The priciest piece of any travel is accommodation. I have definitely learned alternative staying spaces beyond the proverbial hotel. So many other options for sure. Since I am a solo traveler for the most part, my typical routine is to get up way early and come back to the place I’m staying post dinner in time for a bath, some review of all the photos I took for the day, and a journal entry before bed. So I looked for AirB&B’s and found two that would work for me. One night in Vancouver and two in Victoria. Total of $120, leaving me about $200 for four days.

I find when I travel cheap, I don’t need to eat a lot. Some energy bars, a refillable bottle of water, a few pieces of fruit and coffee in the morning do me just fine. I’m good with one solid meal and just healthy snacks for the duration. Saves money that way, and for this trip? I had to pinch my pennies. I did pack some healthy protein bars, and a box of crackers in my backpack. Did I mention that I went backpack only? I have an “Osprey” 40L  backpack, and that was the only thing I packed and took for the four days I was gone.

Groupon is my friend and I searched the site for inexpensive things to do in both Vancouver and Victoria, I got an all day hop on, hop off bus, a fish and chip lunch at Fisherman’s Warf, another fish dinner, and a lunch in Vancouver. Total? $70 leaving me $130 of my original $500 budget.

The kicker here is that you have to somehow get to Victoria from Vancouver over the water. Yes, there are ferries, but the more I read, it is time-consuming and pretty confusing. Lo and behold, I found (what I thought) was a cheap transport from Vancouver International Airport to Victoria via Helicopter. (yes, another groupon!) Have never flew on a helicopter  before and the price was right for $100 round trip, so I figured why not? Ohhhhhh brother was I in for a surprise! In fact, the whole weekend was one whole surprise.

So? I had a whopping $30 to spend. Read on……and travel with me……..

That is NOT a Helicopter!!

Made it to Vancouver. Found the shuttle and went to Harbor Air (or something like that) and went to register for my first Helicopter ride. I was just a tad bit nervous to be honest. And that went to MACH TEN when the very kind lady stated “Oh no dear, these aren’t helicopters, You’ll be flying in the last aircraft parked on the dock” as she pointed…..that way. I finished check in and went outside to see what the heck she was talking about. She was talking about THIS…..

Uhhhhh…..ok. I didn’t have much time to think about it. I took off in 15 minutes. I grabbed a free cup of coffee. Took a short walk outside to collect myself. And headed down the “gangplank”. A total of four seats and a pilot. The “safety” instructions were presented on an iPad that looked like the original version ever created. No one else seemed to be bothered, all three other passengers. So I belted myself in, took a breath, as the engines revved themselves up.

I was very surprised. It was smoother than a normal plane. The views were INCREDIBLE as you don’t fly very high and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Still yet another thing scratched off the ole bucket list.

IMG_0186Land we did, smooth as satin, and I was in Victoria! It was cool fresh air, crystal blue skies and an entire day to just walk around and explore. I knew this day was going to be kind of slow since I would be with a backpack all day, but it was just fine. I was in no hurry at all. Here are some things I found on my first day.

I found my AirB&B, in a beautiful neighborhood that was a joy to walk through with friendly people, picturesque streets and only about a 15 minute walk to downtown. The AirB&B I stayed at was run by a lovely young couple who were so accommodating I felt very spoiled. I knew it was meant to be when the main theme for their home was Star Wars! The room was comfy and cozy which was awesome. And close to a corner market where I went and bought some cheese, a roll, a banana and an orange for the next day, (so far keeping with my budget just fine)

Day #2 was the biggie in Victoria. I did not carry a backpack, just an over the shoulder carry all for my cameras, snacks etc. I took off really early in the morning, and walked downtown. My hop on hop off bus and fish and chip lunch were on the agenda today. All prepaid thanks to my BFF Groupon.

ChinaTown

This is the 2nd largest ChinaTown location in North America, only behind San Francisco. I found it absolutely fascinating, friendly, simple and real.

And there was an abundant supply of freshness; everywhere.

Feeling Like You Are In a Postcard

So many beautiful sites. From architecture and history, to neighborhoods with all of their own personality and charm, to the endless water that is different depending on where you go. I rode the hop on hop off bus three consecutive times as I simply could not get enough.

Finding the Unique and Quirky Side

Fish and Chips on the Warf

Fisherman’s Warf was a wonderful place just to walk around and definitely have some fish and chips while sitting outside watching the boats and the water. Live music on the corner and lined with houseboats with vibrant colors.

Random

Just some shots of things I found either quirky, beautiful, unique.

Some more…..

Some more……

I saw a castle……

I got a great deal on an official afternoon English Tea. Apparently there is a lot of competition for the buses etc and so I got a $35 English tea for $7.50, and it was one of the highlights of the entire day!

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My two very packed full of activities was over. I slept well, got up super early for my “flight” back to Vancouver. One side note…….there was a delay due to “whales on the runway”……and no, I’m not kidding!

I had a very short stint in Vancouver, and to be honest, didn’t experience much of the city. I took a wrong turn on my walking after riding the subway to what I ‘thought’ was the correct stop. Instead of exploring, I got tired and sat under a tree with two homeless gentlemen and talked for over two hours. They ended up wanting to “treat me to lunch” at the Salvation Army. So I went. And ended up being “Macaroni and Cheese Girl” for the afternoon serving up the homeless in Vancouver……

But that’s a story for another time. Here are the two photos I took there……

The top one is my AirB&B, I stayed on the top floor of an Antique Shoppe, and the bottom is the infamous Steam Clock.

All in all it was a beautiful weekend, a beautiful place, and I only went over my budget by $22 for a cab ride back to the airport. I would highly suggest Victoria. It was very British.

Final Thought

IMG_0226Life truly is a beautiful place if you choose to find the beautiful in every day things. No, I don’t get to take off on planes all the time, but when I can, I do. In the meantime, I encourage you to notice the sunshine, appreciate the raindrops, respect the trees, and don’t pick the flowers….just love them where they are planted.

Let me say, that I appreciate your time. It is the one thing we can never get back so when its spent, it is simply gone. So thank you for spending some of your moments here with me.

Until next time……be kind…….always,

Polley93

aka Tink

12 Months of Adventure

Greetings! And welcome to my blog of randomness. I have been working hard on this “nook” of mine, to give it a bit of a facelift, and to create a format with weekly postings (finally!) It is long overdue, and no more start and stops, do-overs, and mini blog comas. My life has been full these past few months, and as many of us do, I had this on the list for the infamous “new year”. But honestly? That is just a glorified and fancy way to label “procrastination” so I decided to start now. So, as always, I appreciate you stopping by. Grab a beverage of your choice, sit in a comfy chair, and read on……..

There has been much going on and much to share. I have a very lengthy list of subjects, Minimalism, Solo travel, Travel hacks and ways to go to amazing places very cost effectively, how to pack small, light, even carry on only, how to find air deals,  and many trips etc to cover, so let’s just call this the start of something good, or at least better than it has been in the past.

After I “reasonably” learned how to get around this new MacBook (on my “want” list for years have had it now for months but only now got the courage to dive in……oh brother!) and got Lightroom “reasonably” functioning, I sat down and started making a list of blog subjects. The first one, (and I literally stopped at that) was the places I have gone over the past 12 months or so. I didn’t realize how many places I have been until I started scrolling through photos and making a list that ended up to be very lengthy. I work full-time, as a Family Nurse Practitioner working at a rural clinic up here in Northern California for the time being, so it’s not like I have a ton of time, but I have become a master at “squeezing” an additional day or two off hooked to a holiday weekend, living extremely frugal, saving as much as possible so that I can get on a plane or getting in a car just as much as I possibly can. Those that know me know that I am no stranger to getting in a car to travel umpteen hours just to be in a forest, sit along a coastline, take a few photos, and drive umpteen hours back……..I have been known to sleep in my car!

So this first blog post (first of many I might add) is just a smorgasbord of my very amateur photography in places I have been fortunate enough to experience over the past 12 calendar months. Its been random, and most of it very unplanned. My Adventures range from packing a sandwich and a full tank of gas to anywhere, to a trip to get a passport stamp with the location in Canada being simply due to the cheapest air ticket I could find, to adding a couple of days in San Francisco to a Medical conference just because, to a well thought out and planned excursion to Europe to two cities I have never been to. Each of these will have a blog post just for that one place or experience, but this is just a broad overview of it all.

The above makes it sound like I am rolling in money and let me assure you that I am most definitely not. I have lived my life as a single mother with many challenges that all have been overcome. I struggle just like we all do. I gave up my rented house in Tucson, Arizona, gave my car to my son, stored what I own, and took a job where I travel to remote locations to serve the poorer rural areas. I live in hotel rooms, and very simply.  live on a 100% cash basis. No credit whatsoever. So even though you are about to go on a “cliff notes” of sorts of my adventures, please keep in mind that it took me sacrifice, and planning to make any of this happen. In short, I haven’t made a bunch of excuses, I just found a way. I have restless feet, a serious and incurable case of wanderlust, and travel and finding new experiences and adventure is definitely my passion.

So, let’s begin……..

Started off in the beautiful southern Arizona desert……You either love it, or you hate it, but to me? There is nothing quite like it. I find it peaceful, beautiful, and raw.

I try to go to Sedona and Flagstaff Az as much as possible…… Sedona is like stepping into a postcard, and Flagstaff is like stepping back into a simpler time. I love them both.

I pit stop in San Diego California as much as possible…..simply love that town! The beaches, the food, the USS Navy presence, and the bazillion memories I have made there.

Conference in San Francisco that I added a couple of days to…..brought my daughter along and my brother was working out there which made it all the more fun. SF is simply awesome for a short visit, lots to do, eclectic architecture, and clam chowder to die for.

Ventured up the entire California Coastline…… The Pacific Coast Highway has got to ve one of the most majestic drives in this whole country. It’s simply breathtaking. This is but a small taste as I could go on and on and on about the six days I took to drive up that entire coast. I have been fortunate enough to have been able to do it twice now. And I would most certainly do it again.

Started living amongst the California Vineyards……who knew? Incredibly fortunate to be able to live in an area that I would never in a million years be able to afford to do it on my own. It is majestic, peaceful, wineries everywhere, skies that are endless, surrounded by forests and a coastline just an hour away. Truly magical here.

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Experienced a little European Dutch right in the heart of California….one of the coolest little secrets I found. Sovang, California. Just a few pages out of a Dutch history book. With architecture, food, wine, and traditions.

Found Lighthouses……my favorite.

Went to Victoria, British Columbia on a whim due to a $180 round trip airfare. I figured the rest out as I went. Stayed in an airBnB, flew in a puddle jumper airplane, went with a backpack only, walked everywhere. It was quite the adventure.

Denver…..beautiful city with beautiful seasons…….and family!

Portland…. or the outskirts of Portland I should say. When the rain takes a just a little break it really is a gorgeous place.

Sequoia National Park……times two….This was one of my all time favorite places. To stand amidst the giant trees is something you just have to experience. No picture or story can do it justice. It’s like taking a step back in time. It is very silent, and spiritual. I was blessed to be able to meet my son there and its a weekend I will not soon forget.

Kings Canyon National Park…….driving above the clouds…..literally.

Mendocino, California, This is a storybook kind of place. The coastline is breathtaking, there is a water cave to find, if you are there at the right time you can see miles and miles of Lillies. It’s small, but worth a visit for sure.

Northern Calif Coastline, Glass Beach…..This area was a landfill about a century ago. I guess Mother Nature didn’t appreciate the garbage being placed in her ocean, so she took the glass…..smoothed it out, and gently placed it back on the beach. This small beach is literally covered in small smooth colored shards of smooth glass. I found it amazing.

Budapest, Hungary, Wow! Who knew? I found literally a flash sale with a traveling company at the beginning of the year. RT airfare via Swiss Air from SF through Zürich, Switzerland to Budapest, then a bus to Prague. All accommodations. Daily breakfast. Four extra excursions (city tours, outlying villages, and another country, Slovakia!! For a total of…….wait for it…….$1450. I kid you not. This beautiful city and total experience  needs a post of its own. And once I can figure out how to get all the photos from my Canon camera to this Mac…..I will do just that. Until then, these are iPhone photos, which aren’t half bad.

Prague, Czech Republic. Stage II of my random Europe excursion. I felt like I was in a story book. The architecture alone literally took your breath away. I found it friendly and a true adventure! As above, trying to figure out the photo thing and this will be an upcoming stand alone blog post……it certainly deserves it.

Wow……just wow. As I sit here I am truly humbled. I find it amazing that any of this was even possible and when I look back at it all, I realize why it was all possible. Because I quit making excuses.

I quit saying I don’t have the time.

I quit saying I don’t have the money.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

I quit being picky about where to go and I just went. Sometimes it was $5, an afternoon, and a box of crackers keeping me company on the passenger seat. Sometimes it was scrimping and saving every week to make a bigger excursion possible. But whatever I was capable of doing, wherever I was capable of going, I just went. To anywhere. I encourage any of you reading this to do the same if you want to experience whatever, wherever for whatever reason you choose. You just have to do it.

Next year is a year in the making. Up to this point, I have plans to go to Savanna, Charleston and Hilton Head in March with sister for birthday week. We have committed to going somewhere for a week every year together. Time is fleeing and no more waiting. It is pretty amazing that we met a wonderful couple in Prague that lives in Hilton Head and we have plans for some beers and a Catch up as they went on to Poland. Love how paths cross and new friends are found no matter where you go.

Well! Success! Blog has been rebooted! I so appreciate you if you eyes have reached this far. If you have liked what you have read/seen, please leave a comment or some kind of sign that you were here, I already appreciate you so much!

I will be posting new blog entries every Sunday. No particular order. If there is a place, an excursion that has been mentioned, or a subject you are particularly fond of or curious about, please let me know and I can put it at the top of the ever-growing list.

Until next week, stay curious, and be kind…….always,

Polley93

aka Tink