Away from Home 33 Weeks This Year
We were away from home – a lot – in 2015! Much of it was planned vacation trips but almost 5 months of the time we were away from Toronto in Vancouver dealing with a serious family issue. Even when we were in Vancouver, we managed to get away and explore whenever we could.
While we really missed not going to Italy and Europe in 2015, we saw a vast amount of North America and the Caribbean in 2015. In the 33 weeks we were away from home in 2015, we visited 18 countries, 22 U.S. states and 5 Canadian provinces. It was the year of road trips and we road tripped over 20,000 km (12,000 miles). Throughout our travels we created 79 new blogs and took over 50,000 photos. Chronicling our journeys in the blog and on social media, went from an occasional personal accounting to writing to maybe entertain and educate a wider audience.
Come follow us on our 2015 travelling year in review ….
Escaping Toronto When It Is Cold
It was a particularly cold winter in early 2015 and we really needed to escape – as often as we could! Our 2015 travelling year in review would not be complete without a look at our travel down south!
We were able to usher in the new year visiting Vancouver. While it was not a south vacation, Vancouver in December and January generally stays above freezing and there was no snow on the ground.
Several weeks at home in Toronto when we returned was enough. We are lucky to have a great friend Rob who offered us his condo in February. Little did he know that we would search for the lowest air fare and that would get us in Nassau, Bahamas for the whole month of February. It was great to have a home base that was fully equipped, although we did head out to try Bahamian local foods. Bahamas in February is warm but not unbearably hot. When we weren’t exploring the area to find new things to do – like the Bahamian art gallery – we spent a lot of time snorkelling along the shore.
While we were already in paradise in Nassau, we decided to take a quick island hop to Exuma for a romantic Valentine’s week. Most of the time we lazed on the beach or in the spa, but we did haul our scuba gear with us so that we could scuba in the clear Exuma waters and one day we did an excursion to see swimming pigs and iguanas.
Returning to Toronto in March, we had 2 weeks to re-pack our bags for a 26 day cruise leaving from Miami. On Boxing Day, we had purchased an initial 12 day cruise to the islands of the Eastern Caribbean when they offered great Canadian incentives. When the cruise line sent a second great offer for a back to back 14 day cruise to the Western Caribbean, it didn’t take us long to say “yes”. This trip would add 18 countries on our 2015 travelling year in review!
The Eastern Caribbean offered a great number of new islands that we had never visited before and an eclectic set of excursions to both explore the islands and have some fun (e.g. an 8 hour bus tour of Granada, a 4×4 jeep tour in St Lucia, sailboat racing in St. Maarten, ATV island exploration in St. Barts, kayaking in Antigua)
We agreed to add on the Western Caribbean cruise when we saw that we would get to taste test a number of South and Central America destinations that we on our “list” – the Mayan world of Guatamala, eco diversity in Costa Rica, scuba diving on the Mayan Riveriera, a tour along the Panama canal to Panama City and the streets of Cartagena. While a cruise does not give you an in-depth view of a country, it did help us to see what areas we may be interested in returning to.
Road Trip To Eastern Canada
We arrived home from our cruise in late April and the snow was finally gone in Toronto. Little did we know that our road trip to Eastern Canada would put us in snow again! Nova Scotia would be the furthest east we would go in our 2015 travelling year in review!
We did a leisurely trip to Nova Scotia with stops in Ottawa, Quebec City and St. Johns NB. While we were in Wolfville NS for the graduation of one of our 3 children, it had been many decades since I was last in Nova Scotia so we took the time to do a little exploring. We enjoyed the iconic images of Eastern Canada and we visited many sites to see the truly amazing ebb and flow of the Bay of Fundy tides.
Cottage Country Break
The May 24 holiday in Ontario really opens up the cottage country season. Roads in all directions get jammed on Fridays and Sundays as city dwellers head out into the lake regions that surround Toronto. Our 2015 travelling year in review needed to include not only weekend trips like this but time we spent enjoying Toronto!
While we have debated over and over the lure of owning cottage property, we have settled on renting occasionally or just enjoying a break at a cottage country resort. In early June when we got offered an extra long weekend at a friend’s cottage in exchange for some gardening help, we packed to enjoy the early cottage season. It was interesting to visit the locks of the Trent Canal after having seen the mother of all locks in Panama!
Who Goes To Bahamas in July?
We visit Bahamas in July! June and July saw us in Vancouver on the first of many trips we would take to deal with a family medical problem. Stressed and knowing we would be heading back to Vancouver in August, we again headed to our friend Rob’s condo in Nassau for two weeks. This Bahamas escape would give us a bit of a pause before a very busy fall travelling schedule.
Most of the time we were trying to recover our energy and optimism but on this trip Rob was not letting us mope to much. At night we explored the wide variety of places to eat in Nassau.
To burn off our nighttime dinner prowls we spent lots of time snorkelling in the warm waters. It was hotter in Nassau in July than it had been in February, but when you can roll into the water whenever you want, the heat was not a problem at all!
Road Trips Across the Country – Toronto to Vancouver
This would be the year of the road trip. In our 2015 travelling year in review we would tally up the miles to travel from the far east coast in the spring and then to the far west coast in the fall !
When we knew that we would be in Vancouver for an extended visit in the fall, we decided we would drive out to have our own car available. After much analysis, we decided to do our cross country road trips through the U.S. and not through Canada. The road trip to Vancouver in August took us on a more northern route along I-90 in the U.S. It was an easy drive and with a leisurely pace we took time to explore Mount Rushmore and the Riverfront Park in Spokane WA before we hit the west coast.
When we hit the road in December to return to Toronto, we again plotted a route in the U.S. to try to avoid as much winter as possible. The first 3 days were a little harder with snow and mountains, but we got lucky on the second half of the drive and made it home in 5 days!
Vancouver Was a Great Base to Explore the West Coast
All 3 of our children would gladly settle in Vancouver to live. We had not really been Vancouver converts before this year. But visits in January, June, July and an extended 4 month stay in the False Creek neighbourhood in the fall made us Vancouver fans! In our 2015 travelling year in review, travel from Vancouver accounted for a large part of our experiences!
While we were in Vancouver to deal with family issues, we took advantage of our time as much as possible. We explored the areas north of Vancouver to see mountains, rivers and islands.
When we needed a Sunday drive, we often headed out to Fort Langley and the Fraser Valley for a drive, to one of our favourite outdoor patios or for a winery visit. When we needed a weekend away, Harrison offered both eagles and hot springs. If you went looking, you might even find a Sasquatch!
We had gone whale watching in Monterey in 2014 but that didn’t stop us from booking a whale watching trip from Steveston outside of Vancouver. We returned to Steveston several times to walk the quaint fishing village and stock up on fresh fish! When we returned to Toronto we would certainly miss the seafood!
We even managed to take a few vacation trips from Vancouver. The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta had been on our “list” for ages but for the last few years we have been in Italy for the fall. We managed to book a long weekend and were thoroughly enraptured by the hot air balloon bonanza. While most of our time was spent at the balloon park, we did take some time to drive along the picturesque Turquoise Trail and did a quick sampling of Santa Fe.
When we started back to Toronto in October, we got called back to Vancouver. In a very long and circuitous route back, we returned to Spokane to catch the Chinese Lantern Festival and sampled several of the U.S. National Parks (Yellowstone, Grand Canyon North and South Rims and Yosemite). The National Parks offered stunning natural beauty – quite the opposite of the glitter of Las Vegas.
In 2014 we travelled for a month down the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and had a great time on the west coast of the U.S. Our 5+ months in Vancouver in 2015 showed us a much broader view of the west coast in the fall. While we did get the grey and rain as November rolled in, we became good west coast citizens and hardly let the weather keep us from exploring the city or from getting out on our bikes. We still have things on our Vancouver “to do list” but we know we will be back!
Being away from home for over 33 weeks in a year provided us with a lot of fun, new destinations and awesome experiences but when we finally made it back to Toronto in mid-December, we were glad to be home. It had been an awesome 2015 travelling year in review, but there is a lot to be said for the comforts of being home!
For a few weeks we settled into the familiar settings and nested. But then the wanderlust began and out came “the list”. Where would we go in 2016? Stay tuned ….
Did you enjoy our trip through 2015? Want more info? Just check out the blogs!