2015: A Year of Travel

Los Angeles/Hollywood


2015 started with Los Angeles, Hollywood to be precise. It’s a longer flight than San Francisco but chock-full of entertainment… literally. Having “status” on the Calgary to L.A. flight means sitting with movie stars, sports personalities, musicians, directors, producers, and beautifully sculpted people with very strong opinions.

The two biggest storytelling moments of the year include sitting with Kristen Dunst (who I now judge because she wears coyote fur) and Jason Momoa (gorgeous with a great smile). There is also the story of a very young *unnamed* movie star who pulled the do you know who I am card at U.S. Customs and Immigration and then got completely torn apart/detained by a really grouchy border patrol agent. That story is probably best left offline.

The “Stories from Hollywood” tag details the star/personalities encounters from 10-months in Hollywood. General L.A. posts are here.



March and April brought Paris and Ghent… and months and months spent resurrecting a language from the deep recesses of my brain. I learned after travelling to Colombia that it’s useful to solidify a language before arrival so you’re not struggling when it really matters.

As such, in preparation for this trip, I spent months doing lessons on Rosetta Stone at 5am before work, conjugating verbs in cafes, translating computer terms because I switched all my devices to French, and dissecting all that packaging on food that Canadians ignore.

But there’s more: I had to write travel permission letters in French, practice common phrases that would help us get through customs and a variety of situations, and learn how to talk about food allergies. I’ve also spent the last month coaching my daughter on how to say common phrases.

Was it helpful? In Belgium is was really helpful. In Paris, the people are too snobby to let us lowly English speakers try to speak French. You can read about the Paris journeys here. The Ghent journeys are here.

Western Canada


Weekends in the first half of 2015 were spent in various swimming pools around Western Canada sucking in chlorinated air and driving around looking for food and forgotten swim essentials.

The only trip blogged about was the one to Saskatoon, a Canadian city that I’d never been to. Here I discovered hipster sushi, a tower of mushrooms, and a cute little riverfront city with a population of less than a quarter-million people.

The Summer of Chaos

This summer was rather atypical from others… because it started rather suddenly and early (in Schaumburg), was unpredictable, and incorporated an array of various California and Canadian cities.

To get a taste of Los Angeles outside of Hollywood, we stayed in Marina del Rey and in Venice Beach where the air is fresher, the people mellower, and the traffic completely terrible. How many cities in the world consistently take 1-hour to travel 5-miles… and in the end require driving in repeated circles to find parking? It’s appalling.

The time for La Niña was spent surfing, doing improv comedy, sipping lattes, sitting in laundromats, and eating lots of vegan food. There were also weekend trips to Palm Springs, Ventura, Long Beach, and a day spent in San Francisco.

Because of the months of volatility, the summer earned the nickname the Summer of Chaos.

Route 66


To celebrate the imminent end of my project, and because I wasn’t really ready to end my time in SoCal, at the beginning of August I somehow found myself in a little red convertible driving along Route 66 from California to Arizona. This weekend on the road marked the end of the California Mission Journeys and the beginning of the Route 66 journeys.

Nova Scotia


The end of the summer brought me home, twice. It’s been a very long time since I’ve spent a part of the summer in Nova Scotia… decades actually. Here we slept a lot, got to know the house cats (including Leo the Kitten), soak in the heat, visit some historical sites, and tour as many harbours as we could find in the Annapolis Valley. The N.S. Harbours tag details the journeys.



The biggest (and most disruptive) shift for me this year was leaving California to work in Toronto.

It’s been a long time since I’ve worked in my home country… a country where I don’t need a work visa or a global tax accountant to do all my financial calculations for me. I’m also extremely happy to be able to contribute to a TFSA again without having to justify every contribution to the IRS. And, I’m working in the East… a place where there are real seasons!

Toronto is an unexpected surprise. It’s a city full of delightful food, great art, interesting history, rich culture, and grouchy, grumpy, pushy, cocky people. I swear it is worse than any other city I’ve worked in. The coffee is meh and the commute exhausting, so I sleep a lot and my blog has suffered (though there are tons of unfinished posts waiting to finish the last mile); but because of the great food, my Yelping has increased 10-fold.

Also, starting in Toronto marks the beginnings of “the period of sickness,” where we spent most of November and December huddled in comforters, wearing bio masks, learning to despise all things “chicken” (pox, soup, broth), drinking tea, and yearning to be outdoors. I’m hoping that this means January is: out like a lion and in like a lamb.

All this aside, I don’t know the future for me working in Toronto. Toronto has a young tech industry that’s not ready for the innovative, disruptive, and harsh truths that fuel the more successful technical cities. It’s already 2016 and people are still talking about maintaining the status quo (like in 2005); we should be talking about game changers like quantum computing, holistic but ambient technical experiences, and how to challenge technologists so they are thinking in the future and not maintaining what other people have already done. My brain belongs elsewhere.


2016 looks volatile in terms of travel. Nothing is planned though I’ve miscalculated my allowed vacation time by a significant amount and need to adjust before it disappears.

There’s talk of a girl’s weekend in Iceland… Ireland (again)… and lots of weekends filled with synchro meets in small Western Canadian towns with terrible food and coffee.

9 comments on “2015: A Year of TravelAdd yours →

  1. There’s a show on BNN TV in Toronto called “The Disruptors”. It discusses things like how the cell phone has replaced the computer, the land line, the TV, and a lot of other things. And how Uber is disrupting the Taxi business.

    1. Exactly my point. They’re talking about cellphones and Uber… and that’s all REALLY old news; in the industry, Uber is considered an established big company. I even blogged about Uber disrupting in 2013 (albeit subtly)… 3-years ago. The problem is, Canadian regulation has kept Uber away for years. So, as it now enters Canada and Canadians think it is new, it is already well established in the US. In fact, other companies are disrupting Uber (like Lyft — also old news).

      Again, my point. Feels like the show is way behind the 8-ball.

  2. In fact… Toronto is considered the “corporate headquarters” for Canada. But, it is so mired down with “support” companies (e.g. contract/consulting firms) that it can’t innovate or move quickly. It is also a city that is booming so it won’t be forced to change.

    The only city in Canada that has been presented with the opportunity to evolve to the next level is: Calgary. The tanking of oil/gas has forced a mass exodus from the city and to survive it needs to become “Lean” and to disrupt. There are start-ups popping up all over the city because of Alberta’s small company grants. Calgary’s mayor is smart and is encouraging these changes.

    Unfortunately, in Calgary, the old, pork fat, maintain the status quo, management level still exists in some companies — usually ones with external contracting firms who do the development work (and have the mandate to “do whatever it takes to grow/stay.” ) The good news is these are the first “luxuries” cut in times of economic stress.

    Recently, I’ve seen some incredibly positive change at the ground level in Calgary; courageous things that I would have never expected. It should be interesting to see what happens in the next 5-years in this city.

  3. Stereotypical Canadian tourist musings about us. How can anybody be surprised that T.O. has fantastic food, art, culture and history in this century? I sensed a problem when I read your post about the Blue Jays and it was rife with mistakes. Too many cut and pasted Wikipedia articles about T.O. without any real insight. We have had a massive influx of immigrants from every corner of the world since at least the 60’s mixing, adding and creating to our mosiac. The flip side is more people being pushed out to the more affordable suburbs. The next time you meet a grumpy “Torontonian” ask them where they live. I am willing to bet they commute 1.5 hours from Brampton, Mississauga etc. Please explore the city more and stay away from the boring tourist traps( distillery district). You mentioned St Lawrence Market well why not visit the much less known but infinately better Summerhill Market? You like our PATH? Try out a real path along our ravine system. I suggest you read [link removed] for more insight. The [link removed] article is especially helpful to tourists. While there look up places for great coffee.

    1. Hi Ed. Welcome back from the grave. I think you need to have a conversation with some of the people who live in your city… about proper internet etiquette. Tell them that being a troll and posting under someone else’s name has never been cool. Also, get your details right. I’ve never mentioned the St. Lawrence Market or the PATH… and I like visiting tourist places because *drumroll* I am a tourist.

      But seriously…

      Whoever you really are… you lurking, cowardly person who won’t leave their real name… let me tell you a little bit about my site before I block your IP address. I post what I want, when I want. I use my site to help me get to know the city I am working in and to stay sane while spending a sick amount of time in airports.

      I could be posting stories about the lovely people in Toronto who shove me in elevators, about falling down and damaging my wrist because someone pushed their way through a revolving door while I was still in it (and didn’t apologize), about an elderly person slipping and none of the dozens of people on the street stopping to help her up, about the people I see crying in the unfriendly hell that is transit. But I don’t. I keep these things off my site. What I will point out that I have never seen this level of hate/rage in ANY other city… and I’ve lived in places like San Francisco where a commute from East Bay to Silicon Valley can be up to 2.5-hours each way… Vancouver too. My air commute to Vancouver was shorter then that of the people coming in from the suburbs. I have friends from London who have moved to Canada because a 1.5 hour commute sounds heavenly.

      Your post reads to me like a link bait spammer with a bit of added drama thrown in. So, please go away. And, if you don’t like that: too bad.

    2. PS — One more thing: all those “stereotypical tourist postings” postings don’t bring trolls out of the woodwork like a personal opinion post does. So, one post with an opinion about Toronto and you’re suddenly up in my grill…!? Seems contradictory to the “have insight” message, doesn’t it?

      What are you really upset about? The fact that I have an opinion about Toronto and it’s not the one that you want?

      Go away, troll.

  4. I’ve lived in Toronto my whole life. Born and bred. In the past few years I’ve noticed a change in Torontonians towards the rude side. I can’t remember the last time I saw someone hold a door open. It’s a shame really. Toronto used to be such a nice city.

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