Adventures in a Kombi

“Everyone just pretend to be normal.” Little Miss Sunshine


You know that film Little Miss Sunshine? The one with the dysfunctional family travelling across the countryside in a Kombi Van to get to a beauty pageant in time! That film made me cry with laughter because it reminded me of my travels in a Kombi Van with my brother Ross, 30 years earlier. He picked me up from JFK Airport in New York (after I’d been travelling for three months in Europe) and we headed north. Our goal was to travel for a few weeks in eastern Canada, after which he’d drop me in Wisconsin – so I could spend a couple of weeks visiting a friend – and he’d continue on to Vancouver. We visited Halifax, Peggy’s Cove, Cape Breton Island, Quebec City, Montreal, Niagara Falls, Chicago and Madison; but it wasn’t so much the places, as the experiences along the way, that made this trip so damn memorable.

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My top 12 moments of 2016

“Departure of a year welcomes so many new memories” Munia Khan

Slumber safari experience at Werribee Zoo

Slumber safari experience at Werribee Zoo

This blog was inspired by my friend Jules Wilkinson, who today posted on Facebook her ‘Top 18 things of 2016’. She later commented: “I worry that the ‘2016 sucked’ narrative is not letting people value the year they had on its own terms. I hope it was a good one for you and 2017 is even more sparkly!”

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An unexpected visit to the set of Supernatural

“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.” Henry David Thoreau

2015 has been a memorable and exciting year. I spent quality time with my friends and family. I met fantastic people through my new Airbnb business and on my travels overseas. But, without a doubt, the highlight of my 2015 was finding the Supernatural set in Vancouver.

As readers of my blog would know, I’m a frequent visitor to Vancouver. I have family there, I adore the city and, in the last three years, I’ve also attended an annual Supernatural convention (see my blog Supernatural: it’s more than a television show).

I fell in love with this little show 11 years ago, but I really only became immersed in its fandom after I happened upon filming in 2011 (Supernatural, Twitter and the reluctant groupie). Back then, I had no idea about fan conventions, or the incredible online community, or the way the stars of the show interacted with fans. But now, I can honestly say that Supernatural has changed my life. It has given me new friendships that I cherish; experiences outside my comfort zone; travel to new and interesting destinations; and, most importantly, so much joy and laughter – bucket loads of it.

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Vancouver: Cabin Lake

“It is a great art to saunter.” Henry David Thoreau

On my most recent trip to Vancouver, I managed to fit in a couple of short hikes including Cabin Lake on Black Mountain. Although I wouldn’t necessarily call this hike ‘a saunter’ – due to the steep ascent via switchbacks – it was relatively easy compared to hikes I’ve done on previous trips.

We parked at the Cypress Bowl downhill skiing area and then headed passed the chairlifts to the trailhead. My friends Jamie and Nathan had their dog Ellie along for the walk and we took our time, getting to the lake in about 45 minutes.

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Vancouver: by boat

“There’s nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as messing about in boats.” Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

This year, while in Vancouver, I got to see some of my favourite places from a completely different viewpoint. My sister-in-law, Karen, and her brother, Dean, had purchased a sport utility boat (which Karen described as something between a speed boat and a fishing boat). So, one sunny afternoon, we boarded the boat and set ‘sail’ for English Bay, Burrard Inlet and Vancouver Bay.

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Vancouver: Horseshoe Bay

“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.” Pascal Mercier, Writer

My brother and his family have lived in Horseshoe Bay in Canada since the late 1980s … and I’ve landed on their doorstep on numerous occasions over the last 30 years. Sometimes I’ve arrived tired and broke – after extended travel in Africa, Europe or South America – or I’ve used Horseshoe Bay as a base to travel further afield in Alaska or the Canadian Rockies. This is my home away from home, a place where I’m always welcome, a place that I often long for, and a place that I love.

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“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”
Omar Khayyam, Poet

In August, I packed my bags and headed back to Vancouver, Canada. It was three weeks of catching up with my family in Horseshoe Bay, going to the Supernatural convention at the Sheraton Wall Centre, discovering more beautiful sights in and around the city, and hanging out with lots of friends.

It was also a break from practically everything – my work, my editing, my writing, my blog – because I needed to take time out from a difficult and emotional year. The only thing I continued to pursue was my photography, which goes hand-in-hand with travel and is, I guess, my first love. I really can’t stop taking photographs; it’s how I see the world, even when I don’t have my camera.

The great thing about travel – at least for me anyway – is that it never fails to rejuvenate me; to get me loving life again. This happens even when I find the journey challenging – such as my trip to South America three years ago when I experienced culture shock, home-sickness, and suffered from the altitude while hiking the Inca Trail.

I feel so much more alive when I travel.

I live more in the moment when I travel.

Three weeks travelling feels like three months.

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