I was going to write a (half-joking) post about how "old" 28 years old sounds, but then Suldog just wrote a series of posts about celebrating his 50th (Happy Birthday again). The spirit and enthusiasm that he has about turning 50 is truly inspiring. I hope that I can be more like that as the years go by.
So instead of sarcastic blog about finding random grey hairs and deciding that "kids' music nowadays is terrible", I present you with the first installment of "28 amazing..." posts. Not sure how many I'll write, but today's will be:
28 Amazing Places I've Been
In no order at all - just some of the fantastic places I've seen in the last 28 years of life...
1. Ella Lake, Ontario Canada
More than anywhere else in the world, it's home.
2. Manitoulin Island, Ontario
One of the most beautiful places in the country; there are white sand beaches, incredible stretches of rugged coastline, flowers lining the streets - incredibly relaxing and peaceful.
3. Pelee Island, Ontario
Remember the camping trip Jeremy and I took last summer? All you have to do is look at the pictures to get an idea of how amazing it is. We will definitely be going back there.
4. Sydney, Nova Scotia
I was very young both times I've been there (visiting my nana), but I have these sweet, jumbled memories of smelling the ocean, and a harbour, finding smoothed bits of glass that looked like polished rocks and sitting on a hill full of flowers. It's a place I hope to visit again one day.
5. New York City
What can you say about New York... from the second I saw it, I was in love. This city has the most incredible vibe, and the people we met were very friendly and welcoming (despite the stereotype). The theatre, the jazz clubs, the restaurants, the parks - it's all amazing and you'll never run out of things to do.
"This one time, at band camp..." Okay, well actually, it was a band trip. We went during our second year of high school and had an incredible time. Lots of things to see and do, and if you're lucky, you'll met a guy named Biff, just like we did. He and his fellow cadets from Valley Force Military School seranaded a group of us at 3am in the Courtyard Marriot. I don't remember the song, but I do remember how charmed we all were.
7. Washington, D.C.
"Where in the hell are we?!" is the phrase that comes to mind whenever I think of D.C.. That, and walking a LOT. We got lost constantly, which is apparently the right thing to do there, because everytime we did, we found something really cool (FDR memorial at midnight, Lincoln Memorial at 2am, and The Farm (CIA training grounds) in the middle of the night... somewhere. (I'd tell you, but then, well, you know...)
8. Pittsboro, North Carolina
A tiny place compared to most on this list (except Ella Lake of course), this town is near Raleigh and was home to a work colleague who went out of her way to make me feel welcome during more than one work trip. Driving up to this town, the first thing you'll see is the courthouse, with a roundabout going around it. I felt like I was in a John Grisham novel. The people are lovely, and it's one of those lush Southern towns where "y'all come back now" is said with utter sincerity. I'll definitely go back.
9. Seattle, Washington
Another great American city that I was lucky enough to visit for 3 days with my family. Between the Space Needle, Pike's Market, and Puget Sound, we all had a great time sightseeing there. I would love to go back now that I'm old enough to drink coffee - that way I can visit their fabulous coffee houses.
10. Mt. Rushmore State Park
I didn't expect this famous landmark to be as impressive as it was... at 14 years old, I was blown away by the size of the carvings and the beauty of the park surrounding them. At night, they set off fireworks, and I couldn't help but wish that Canadians had a landmark to do something similar with.
11. Corvallis, Oregon
Another business trip, courtesy of Stream, this time I was off to visit Hewlett Packard's digital projection and imaging headquarters (in fact, that is where inkjet printing was invented). After 19 hours of hellish, scary travel (including 2 plane rides, one of which was through a thick cloud that left the outside world completely grey, a ride from Portland to Corvallis in a rented car through a monsoon (okay, exaggerating, but it was crazy rain and dark, and very frightening to a girl who was certainly not used to interstate highways), and finally getting lost 3 times on the way to the hotel. I put my suitcase down in the hotel room and burst into tears. Fortunately, the rest of the trip was fabulous, and I was treated to pretty river views and the great establishments you can only find in a small college town.
12. Newport, Oregon
On our last day visiting HP, I went to Newport with a motley group of travelers from literally all over the world. I was the only Canadian, and was in a car being driven by an Indian, with an Australian riding shotgun (and regularly shouting "DUDE! We're NOT in India! STOP at the red lights!!"), while I sat in the back and prayed for a safe journey with a Korean and a Chinese guy. Newport was completely amazing - an oceanside port town with sea lions barking all over the place, really interesting shops, and some great restaurants. I didn't find any, but apparently every October, local artists "plant" glass blown bulbs in the sandy beaches for people to find. (Check out this link to see more)
13. Victoria Island, British Columbia
Whale watching, a ferry across from mainland Canada, and a walk in a forest of the hugest trees I've ever seen - this place was pretty incredible. We had a great time wandering around until my little brother got stung by a group of cranky wasps (who didn't like him sitting on their nest as he posed for a picture).
14. Vancouver, British Columbia
Some people don't like this city, but we stayed in an incredible hotel (the Westin Bayshore) right beside Stanley Park, and across the road from a picturesque harbour. Being a resort hotel, there was live entertainment, a huge outdoor round pool with swim-up bar (which at 14 I believed to be the highest of cool). Stanley Park and the other sights in Vancouver were great - hopefully I'll get to return again someday.
15. Jasper, Alberta
It's actually funny that I like Jasper as much as I do - it's a teeny town, just like the one I grew up in, very rural, but also very pretty. With the Rockies all around, the views are really amazing - you feel like you're inside a picture.
16. Edmonton, Alberta
I saw my very first NHL game in that city. Need I say more? Not only is there great hockey, but the West Edmonton Mall is worth the trip all by itself. World's Biggest Mall, complete with Olympic ice rink, theme park (with roller coasters), and a zillion stores, is a pretty incredible experience. I also really like the suburbs of Edmonton - they seem very clean and quiet (from what I remember of my Aunt's neighborhood).
17. Calgary, Alberta
Another band trip. On a completely different topic, the Calgary trip is what started all of our old high school gang hanging out (leading to Kim & Steve getting married and having their adorable little boy). We saw an NHL playoff game in the Saddledome (we girls were literally in the nosebleed seats), explored the city on the Light Rail System (fantastic transportation), and headed just out of town to see the mountains. I'd actually consider living there except for the crazy weather they get. (a blizzard in May when we were there)
18. Maligne Lake, Alberta
The largest lake in Jasper National Park - with water so turquoise that it doesn't seem real. I've never seen water that colour before. Imagine a glacier-fed lake in the Rocky Mountains, and the most picture-perfect scenery possible and you get a bit of an idea about how incredible it is.
19. London, Ontario
You didn't think I'd leave this out, did you? The first place I moved to when I left my parent's house, and the place I've missed every day since leaving it, London is a great place to live. Lots of big, old houses, and huge trees, close to Toronto, close to the Great Lakes, it's also got the advantage of being in a great school district (that hopefully I'll work for one day). Oh right - and my best friends live there, among many other people we can't wait to see again.
20. Yellowstone Park, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho (we were in Montana's bit)
Definitely lives up to the hype - this place is incredible. Upon arrival, a park warden handed us a pamphlet warning us not to approach any buffalo because people have been gored in the past. Of course, my 12 year old brother took this as a sign to jump out of our van to moo at the first one that blocked the road. After my mother calmed down, we headed to Old Faithful, where we saw the hot springs and geysers. Another tourist trap, but completely worth it.
21. The Columbia Ice Fields
A giant glacier in Alberta, Canada that has hundreds of green streams flowing from it. Apparently some of the ice there is 400 years old (well at least until global warming gets it), and you can take tours up on the ice.
22. Coeur D'Alene, Idaho
We only stayed for one night here, during a family holiday that took us across the northern United States. It was the 4th of July though - and we were treated to pretty amazing fireworks along the river, along with (what seemed like) thousands of other people.
23. Montreal, Quebec
Ahh Montreal! This city is full of culture and music, and I had a wonderful time there. It's been 10 years since I've been there, and I still remember the old-world feeling of the downtown area. Definitely a worthwhile place to visit.
24. Ottawa, Ontario
I've been there several times, and don't usually get excited about going, but once I get there, I always have a great time. The downtown market is the best - flowers, fresh fruit and vegetables, and all sorts of great deals on clothes, etc. It's especially nice getting a pint and sitting in the patio of one of the bars, while watching the world walk by.
25. Clearwater, Florida
Going to Florida is always a treat, but it's not really a novelty after your visit is over. The first time I ever went to Florida, was the Christmas holidays when I was 11. My grandparents had a trailer that we stayed at for several days while exploring the state. As much as I loved Disney World and Sea World, and all of those places, my favourite thing about that trip was the white-sand beach - collecting shells and trying to swim in the Gulf even though it was December (and freezing).
26. The Muskokas, Ontario
To those of you who are not familiar with The Muskokas, it is a county in central Ontario where the lakes are very clean, the surroundings gorgeous, wildlife and fishing everywhere, where you can find decadent celebrity get-aways in tiny lakeside towns. Jeremy's family spends a week every summer at Lumina Resort, an incredible place on the Lake of Bays. Just like my memories of The Lake, his happiest childhood memories are from there. Maybe we'll live in the Muskokas one day...
27. Grand Bend, Ontario
Last summer, we met up with our friend Dylan and his girlfriend at The Pinery, a very popular camping destination with thousands of campsites all along the shore of Lake Huron. The beaches are amazing (that was the beach when we all sat under the fish blanket), and there are huge sand dunes all over the place that were fun to play in. We love camping, so we expected to have a good time, but I was surprised at how much we enjoyed staying there. Definitely a good camping destination next summer.
28. London, England
Guess I have to end with where I am now. I really do think this is an amazing place, a feeling that grows when I look at things the way my mom is going to in just 10 days. I'm glad that those bad things have happened since we moved here aren't blocking my ability to appreciate this city.
And so ends my little tour of amazing places. I hope I didn't' sound too much like a tour guide... One of the things I'm most grateful for in my life is all of the the opportunities I've had to travel. Mostly thanks to my parents, who took my brother and I all over North America.
What I really like about this list is that it's going to get longer:
Paris, here I come!!