Sunday, 30 June 2013


Today I am posting in honour of the best country in the world: CANADA!!! Yes, I am biased since I love this country immensely. Tomorrow is July 1st. Canada's 146th birthday and my favourite holiday of the year. I love birthdays (especially mine) so I love to participate in the activities that are around town and wish everyone a "Happy Canada Day". 

Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Canada
Map of Canada's 10 provinces and 3 territories

Canada is the world's second largest country and shares the longest continuous border with the neighbouring USA. Canada also has the world's longest coastline. Pretty awesome eh?

Map credit: Canada Info

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Cold Hard Cash

In the first-world nations, where spending money, acquiring goods and instant gratification is blindly accepted as a way off life, some may find it a daunting task to (gasp) put money aside to purchase something. Consumerism is rampant in our society. Glossy ads, slick commercials and stunning models inundate our lives by the minute boldly promising us better and happier lives, all for no money down.  Credit cards, deferred payments and lines of credit dull us into thinking we can and should have it all, even when can not afford it. We believe the lie. I believed the lie. I believed it all. At times I still believe it. However, I am changing. I spot  the lies easier. A work-in-progress, I am seeing that if I am to take this epic trip then I need to stop. I need to stop accepting the lie. To do the opposite of what of what commercialism expects. To some, reading this is obvious and easy to attain, if they are not already doing so. For myself, not so much. Now, I am not inept. That is for certain. But I do struggle. I struggle with instant gratification and a trip of this magnitude requires planning and work. Therein lies my conundrum.  Remember that I enjoy, almost to a fault, socializing and going out with my friends and that, my readers, costs money. As one of my besties says "every time you leave home it costs money".   So how do I  manage to enjoy the parts of life that cost money and still manage to save for my dream?  Am I not as determined as those who have gone RTW before me? Am I only a dreamer as opposed to a doer? Is it not in the cards for me? NO!! A resounding NO!! I am determined. I am a doer. And who the h*ll cares if it is in the cards or not as I am making the choice, not the cards!!

Yet I struggle. I do. So what is a girl to do? Well one thing I do know is that whichever route or methods a person chooses it must be one that works for them. Person A may do one thing and succeed but person B does the same and falls short. Do what works for you!!  Sounds easy but isn't always. I know that I need some leeway to able to enjoy the times with my friends yet still be able to put money aside. There is one way. That is Cold Hard Cash! Not credit, not a bank balance but cold hard cash! I have found that using (and saving) cash has an interesting effect on my view of spending. When I have cash I don't want to spend it because it is gone after that. This is very different from using a debit card. Take it straight out of your bank account and you do not see the remaining balance. Spend $37 of your $60 in your wallet and you easily see you have only $23 remaining. I often end up thinking twice. Additionally, when I use up only  the cash I  have allotted for that activity or event I can not spend anymore. Nifty little psychological trick.   

The other side of cold hard cash is using it as an incentive to save. When this was bestowed to me and I purposefully use the word "bestow" as I believe it was given to me as a gift to use and value, I realized this was a significant way for me to reign in my spending without feeling like I was missing out on activities and things I enjoyed. In fact is is almost like a game. I pick and choose the things I want to do and budget accordingly, in cash. I try to spend less or manoeuvre a savings of some sort. That  savings then goes into a container to be saved for an item I need for my RTW trip or other treat that I want. I can watch it grow and I learn ways to have fun on a budget. I can write down how I saved the money and the amount along with my list of items and goals.  It illicits creativity in me and a bit of a miserly streak. Do you want to give it a try and use cold hard cash? Just find a container, envelope, baggie or the like. Whenever you save  some cash, no matter the amount drop it into your container. Remember to keep it somewhere secretive. Try under your mattress, the back of a closet, the freezer or a locked drawer. Then find ways to save - bring lunch from home, use points for a movie, suggest a potluck instead of going for dinner, don't order dessert (or just order dessert and skip the main course)! Found a loonie? Put it towards cold hard cash! Someone gave you a gift card to your favourite coffee place? Put the money you did not use into cold hard cash! The possibilities are endless. When you have accrued enough for something you want then take the money from cold hard cash and enjoy! If you think it will work for you give it a go. I have been doing this for a month and so far so good. I hope to buy my silk sleeping bag liner and my pack lock soon! Here's to cold hard cash and consuming less and wisely! 

Sunday, 23 June 2013


Baku, located on the Caspian Sea, is the capital of Azerbaijan. A population of this port city is approximately 2 million and is a major player in the tourism industry.

With a long history this city is a mix of old and modern. 

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons (taken by Elkhan Jafarov)

Sunday, 16 June 2013


The Camino de Santiago de Campostela - "The Way of St James". A long name for a long pilgrimage. Referred to simply as "The Camino"  this age old pilgrimage begins at the Pyrenees Mountains in southwestern France and winds its way across the landscape of northern Spain on it's most popular route. Twisting its way through green fields, bustling city streets and rocky outcrops it terminates at the cathedral of Santiago de Campostela, clear across the country in Galicia, Spain. Although there are many routes along The Camino, the most familiar route takes pilgrims roughly a month to traverse the trail. Dotting the way are "refugios" or refuges for weary pilgrims to lay their heads.

Camino de Santiago

When I first learned of The Camino I was instantly intrigued. Why would one want to do such a trek? Could I do such a trek? There are oodles of reasons that thousands upon thousands make this journey. Some for religious reasons, others to see if they can do it and even more to find themselves on the way. My reason? Simply to see if I can do it....and bragging rights: "I walked across the north of Spain...oh yeah."  Well not entirely but would be cool to make that proclamation. So in several years, once my RTW trip has been completed my next adventurous goal is The Way of St James. The question is - are you coming with me?

Photo credit: Ron Albers (Flickr)

Sunday, 9 June 2013


Here I am visiting the city I grew up in, Thunder Bay, ON. I have chosen to post one of my own photos of this city that served as my home for many years and provided me with some amazing people who are my family and friends. Even though Vancouver is now my home, both physically and emotionally, I return periodically to connect with those who call this northwestern Ontario city home. 

Thunder Bay, located on the shores of Lake Superior was incorporated as a city in January 1970. A young city the result of the amalgamation of the north's Port Arthur and the south's Fort William. 

I snapped this photo today at Hillcrest Park. When I recall my childhood town the above image of "Nanabijou", the Sleeping Giant comes to mind. Appearing to be an enormous giant resting, this natural landmark is synonymous with this city. 

Sunday, 2 June 2013


Sulawesi is one of the larger islands that make up the country of Indonesia and is the eleventh largest in the world.  In south Sulawesi one may come across the traditional Tongkonan ancestral houses of the Toraja people.  

Traditional Tongkonan Houses of the Toraja people in south Sulawesi, Indonesia

These marvelous houses, built with up swept gables, are built north to south and maintain a significant cultural for the Toraja peoples.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons, user 22Kartika