2022 Year in Review

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2022 saw us return to international travel, while still continuing with our quest to explore more of Canada. During the pandemic, our “home away from home” was beautiful British Colombia (BC) on the west coast of Canada. Between basing ourselves at a ski resort in the mountains and road trippping for two summers on the west coast, we knew we wanted to explore the east coast of Canada in 2022.

With borders opening at the end of 2021, we kicked off 2022 with a fantastic family trip to the Yucatan in Mexico. We got away just before omnicron shut things down again and when we returned, schools moved online so we spontaneously booked a trip west for some skiing. We were lucky enough to head out West for more skiing in March. Summer 2022 had the girls headed to France and the boys headed to Quebec for some mountain biking. We reunited on the east coast of Canada and spent 5 weeks road tripping around Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

Aside from travels, we had a great year at work and school, hosted some international students, dog sat for 4 months and did lots of mountain biking, and the kids once again went to summer camp.

This year we enjoyed a lovely snowy Christmas at home with family and while it feels weird to have two weeks off work and not be travelling, it gives me this chance to reflect and look back on the year. And we have big plans for 2023 – more about that later! I love writing these “year in review” posts – you can check out past posts from 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016.

Favourite Hike

The Skyline Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park (Nova Scotia) definitely stands out. Unfortunately Paul missed it due to a bike crash the week before, that had him resting. The Cape Breton coastline is breathtaking and sunset on the Skyline trail is spectacular. Like so many things – the secret is out about this must do activity, but the four of us had so much fun enjoying the views and taking many Instagram-worthy photos.

Favourite Campsite

We stayed in so many wonderful campsites on the east coast, but the one that stands out the most is Brimstone Head campground on Fogo Island, Newfoundland. You will hear me raving about this gem of an island later on. The campground is run by the local Lions Club and is right on this beautiful bay with gorgeous views (you can see it to the left of me). It is also notorious as one of the four corners of the flat Earth.

Best Wildlife Experiences

We had three stand out wildlife experiences. The first was seeing flamingos up close on an excursion in the Yucatan in Mexico. We were also treated with flocks of flamingos flying over our villa each evening. In Newfoundland, we had an amazing whale watching tour with Trinity Eco-Tours and we were able to get up close and personal with puffins in Elliston, Nfld.

Favourite Mode of Transport

Scooters have taken over European cities and while they are controversial, Ella and I loved using them to get around Paris this summer.

Coolest Natural Phenomenon

The Bay of Fundy in eastern Canada has the world’s largest tides at up to 50 feet. There were many times on our east coast roadtrip where we walked the mud flats at low tide. It was interesting to learn why these tides occur and the fossils that also can be found here. The classic spot to enjoy walking on the ocean floor is at Hopewell Rocks – a great place to see the scale of this tidal phenomenon.

Most Iconic Destination

The most iconic desination of the year has to be the Eiffel Tower in Paris – even after multiple visits, it still remains such a stand out European icon. We also visited one of the most photographed places in Canada – Peggy’s Cove lighthouse in Nova Scotia (with our borrowed dog!)

Favourite Place we Stayed

We spent Christmas 2021 in the Yucatan (Mexico) in a beach house we rented with family. It was located about an hour from the charming city of Merida in a beach town that caters mostly to locals, called Sisal. Our group travelled from three different locations to be together for Christmas and the Airbnb we found was incredible and such great value. We loved lazy days by the pool or calm Caribbean ocean, watching sunsets from the rooftop, seeing flamingos fly over and eating copious amounts of Mexican tostados.

Most Unique Activity

Photo courtesy of Nova Scotia Tourism

There are many ways to experience the spectacular Bay of Fundy tides, but Tidal Bore Rafting on the Shubenacadie River with Tidal Bore Adventures has to be the most fun. As the massive tide comes in or goes out, you chase the tidal bore on a Zodiac Рa rip roaring fun time that makes white water rafting feel tame. We also had time to float down the river and bathe in the river clay.

Most Thrilling Activity

The boys indulge in extreme mountain biking regularly, but for Ella and I our most thrilling experience of the year was paragliding over Lac Annecy in France. Luckily neither of us are afraid of heights and it was a super fun way to experience the gorgeous lake and mountains of the area.

My Proudest Moments

  1. Training and running a 16 km trail race in France with my sister-in-law.
  2. My first solo backpacking trip – 3 days/2 nights – Skoki Loop, Lake Louise

Favourite Eats

Clockwise from top left

  1. Wild blueberries – we got to feast on wild blueberries throughout our east coast roadtrip, but they were particularly plentiful in Newfoundland. We picked buckets and buckets and couldn’t walk by a laden berry bush without stopping for a snack.
  2. Lobster Roll – our favourite way to enjoy lobster
  3. Lobster Dinner – the kids enjoyed learning how to eat a whole lobster
  4. French food – no explanation needed!
  5. Donair – this is a famous Halifax snack food that we felt we had to try but it wasn’t a winner for our family.

Most Beautiful City

Annecy, France – this city set on Lac Annecy and surrounded my mountains is gorgeous. It is easy to see see why it is such a popular city in the Alps, an outdoor mecca and why Salomon was founded here. We had such a great time visiting my brother and his family who were on a 3-month house swap nearby.

Travel Fails

Miles’ birthday is in July and we always seem to find ourselves somewhere different for his birthday. This year we were on a multi-day backpacking trip in Cape Chignecto Provincial Park in Nova Scotia. The first night we had the most insane amount of rain I have ever experienced camping and one of our tents completely flooded, soaking all of our sleeping gear. We ended up opting to hike out and abandon the trip, which was a total bummer, but the right decision.

Favourite Place we Return To

Golden, BC has become a second home for us and we were lucky enough to visit twice in 2022. Omnicron gave us an excuse to bunker down spontaneously there in January and we returned in March. My brother owns a place at Kicking Horse and we take full advantage of their generosity! This is a place we want to eventually put down roots in.

Favourite Island

Usually when we pick favourite islands, they contain white sand beaches and turquoise waters, but not so for this year’s pick. This year we visited and fell in love with Newfoundland – a place we had wanted to visit for a long time. We spent two weeks roadtripping across the island, which was only long enough to convince us that this wouldn’t be our only visit. The highlights were Gros Morne National Park and Fogo Island.

My favourite island-on-an-island from the year was Fogo Island, a very special place off the northeast coast of Newfoundland. This once remote island relied on fishing until the cod moratorium and is now making the transition to tourism and cultural pursuits.

What’s Next for 2023?

The pandemic put the brakes on our planned 1-year roadtrip to Central America, but we are excited to be doing a 6-month backpacking trip in 2023. And that trip will start in Central America!

Ella is participating in an exchange program and in the Fall we hosted her exchange partner from France, Cassou. We had so much fun showing Cassou Ontario and our Canadian life. In February, Ella will travel and stay with Cassou and her family in Nantes, France. When Ella went to high school we committed to her that we would stay put for her high school years, something that was very important to her. However, with her being abroad, it is the perfect time for us to take an extended international trip.

The trip itinerary starts February 1 and includes:

  • Skiing in BC, Canada
  • Guatemala
  • Colombia
  • fly to France and pick up Ella mid-April
  • Morocco
  • Greece (Crete and Naxos)
  • Balkans Roadtrip (Albania, North Macedonia, Sebia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Montenegro)
  • Dolomites, Italy – including 1 week on the Alta Via 2 hut to hut hiking
  • fly home end of June, via Portugal

I am taking a leave from my teaching job for the 6 months, but Paul will be working 25 hours a week. We have intentionally planned the trip to travel slow so Paul can have time to work. However, this has also meant that we have done a lot more advanced planning. I love the researching and planning stage of a trip, but I also miss just setting off with a guidebook and a loose plan.

If you have tips for any of the places we are visiting, I would love to hear them!

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