the travel geek

"Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form."

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 chalk full of entertainment… literally. Having “status” on the Calgary to L.A. flight means sitting with movie stars, sports personalities, musician, directors, producers, and beautifully sculpted people with very strong opinions.

The two biggest story telling 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 but smells like hockey gear). 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 river front 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,” were 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.

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