The seed was planted early on…

It’s back to school week!! I don’t even have children (thank god) and I am excited. A couple of my nieces are in kindergarten, one is in grade THREE and my nephew is in pre-school… where did the time go?

IMG_7017I’ve said many times I grew up a little differently than most kids. My parents divorced (for the better, they are now good friends) when I was about 5 and I moved with my mom to this tiny town and eventually moved to an even tinier place called Keats Island. I would take a small boat over to town to attend school, day in and day out. It made for random stories that I look back on fondly. I could even say I miss island life. Being from a coastal city, I remember our gym classes weren’t the “norm”… we would actually have to go outside and RUN 2km each class. We had this forest that wrapped around our school and we would run daily. We would go on snowboarding trips, beach days and even big treks to the big city (Vancouver) for a day of rock climbing.

In about grade 5 or 6 (I can’t remember I had the same teacher both years) we would have Greenpeace come in and talk to our class about the importance of the environment and my teacher would explain to us the meaning of respecting nature and all living things. Ms. Russell was her name. She knew I lived on an island and, more often than not, I would have some weird story about the commute to school. She would do roll call and right before we started class she would ask me about my ride in. Some days there was nothing to report, others, like in the fall or spring, I would tell the class stories of riding the tiny little 20 passenger ferry when pods of orcas would come right up to the windows and peer in the boat. I would talk about the dolphins that played in the wake or that one time the ferry caught on fire (under my mom’s and my seat) or when the ferry hit a “dead head” log sticking out of the water and I went flying the length of the boat, thinking I broke my wrist… see? Different/weird upbringing. I wouldn’t have changed it for the world now that I look back on it.

Trust your JourneyShe would be teaching us geography in class and asking us the capitals of countries and I would jump out of my seat to answer, eagerly waving my arm in the air. Normally I was a pretty quiet kid, but my obsession with traveling started in that class, in Ms. Russell’s class! I would dream of these far away places in other countries; the languages they would speak, the food I could try. I felt, even in Grade 5/6, I needed to see the world. I have only had ONE dream in my life that I hope to accomplish before my time is up and that is to travel to Nepal and set my eyes on Mt. Everest. I didn’t say climb it… I would like to just see it. 🙂

Ms. Russell took us on our first ever climbing experience to Cliffhanger Climbing in Vancouver. (I can’t believe I remember this far back!) I remember my instructor, a shorter girl with spiky hair who many, many years later both her and I learned we knew each other way back when. We became friends and played in a band together and toured North America. (Small world, eh?) Ms. Russell taught me to reach for the stars, to go forth and see the world and experience new things. The best education was to see the world and experience everything it could offer.

She told us of this place she used to kayak on vacation, it was called the “Bay of Fundy” in Nova Scotia. I’ve never been but you bet your ass that place has been on my list of places to see since I was 10 years old.

lookout at Canyonlands National Park
Lookout at Canyonlands National Park.

Ms. Russell, thank you for inspiring me to see and feel the world, to experience it on my own and with others. The best education you can give yourself is to immerse yourself in what you are truly passionate about. I am passionate about travel (we already knew this). I now get to travel the world, taking photos and collecting tattoos along the way!

I’m considering writing that book you always told me I should write. I hope you are well. 🙂

– Devon.


It’s All About The Chase.

I love a good road trip. I enjoy discovering new places and going on adventures to places I’ve never been. I’m not one for the details. To be honest, that part kinda bores me. But for Devon, the fun is in the details. She loves the planning. She enjoys the task. I just want to get in the car and go.

Right now, Devon is planning an epic road trip for September of next year. She says we’ll be traveling through fourteen states, and I’ll need my license as I’ll be helping with the driving duties. What she hasn’t told me yet is the destination. There’s always one place on a road trip that either her or myself have always wanted to go. Yes, we go to several places and see many sights, but ultimately, there’s one thing off our bucket list that we check out. She’s stringing me along on this one with a few pathetic hints. Telling me a few of the states we’ll be going through only tells me that we’ll be going through the south west. Nothing else.

As I wait for the details to unfold, I can reflect on some of the things we’ve done & some of the places we’ve gone.

Sunset at Venice Beach.
Sunset at Venice Beach.
I remember my first trip vividly. I had never been on a plane, and I had never been on vacation. Thanks to Devon I was about to check both off my list in November of 2008 when we went to Los Angeles. The flight itself is only two and a half hours, no biggie. I got to sit in a window seat on the flight down. To see the earth from that view was spectacular. Humans look like ants, and the mountains look like goosebumps.

When we got to LA my cousin Doug met us and volunteered to be our tour guide. He was awesome, and we couldn’t have asked for a better guide. Devon let me do all of the touristy things that I could find. We did it all. Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood sign, the Whiskey a Go-Go, Sunset Strip, Mel’s Drive-In, Pink’s. I mean we did it all. We even managed to fit in a turn around trip to Vegas. We had a blast. One of the greatest trips I’ve ever been on.

Jade at the salt dome in Canyonlands.
Jade at the salt dome in Canyonlands.
The first time I went to Moab, UT sticks out in my mind as well. Until you’ve gone to the desert yourself and seen the beautiful rock formations in person, you can’t say a bad thing about it. To experience the barren landscape and see the dry expanse, only then can to truly marvel at the beauty of the land that you once took for granted, the place you call home. Moab is blanketed with Entrada sandstone. The crazy orange hues seemingly blur into one shade, yet if you look close enough, they pop individually and begin to share their story. The desert is not for everyone, it’s unforgiving, but Devon and I enjoy some of the greatest hikes there, at least twice a year. Our two favourite parks in Moab are Arches National Park & Canyonlands National Park. If you find yourself in the area, do yourself a favour and check it out.

Epic sunburns, especially Stephen's.
Epic sunburns, especially Stephen’s.
Another one of our trips that I truly enjoyed was driving down to San Francisco. One of the funnest trips in a great city. A city filled with fun & history. We stayed at a Travelodge out near the airport. We ended up saving a bundle by staying there. Not a bad little place either, they even serve a continental breakfast. We drove our car down to the piers and parked it for the day. We filled the whole day with a walking tour of the city. That’s right, you heard me, we walked the entire city. If you have the time to do this yourself, do it. However, don’t make the mistake that we did and go without sunscreen. It was overcast and Stephen, Devon & myself did not even think about lathering up with sunblock. Did we ever get red & crispy. We walked the entire city and packed in as many sights as we could. Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Alcatraz, Coit Tower, Lombard street (the crookedest street in the world), Deloris Park, Mission Deloris (which is stunning), Market street, downtown San Fran (including a parade for Greek days), yes, we managed to do it all. We squeezed every drop out of the city that we could. Our feet hurt, our faces were burnt but it was worth it. I don’t think I would ever want to experience San Francisco a different way. That day was perfect.

We’ve been on a handful more adventures since those trips, but for the life of me, I cannot figure out what Devon has in store for us. She keeps poking me, thinking I’ll magically know what she means. But alas, I do not. I have no idea and it’s killing me. But I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I’ll keep guessing and Devon will keep toying with me.

Greatest game of cat & mouse ever.

– Jade