I enjoyed a great year of travel, not only doing the vanlife thing while exploring around British Columbia but also a return to international travel with trips to France and Mexico. According to Google, I have visited 76 cities and over 28,000 km! I wanted to share my top 20 travel moments from 2022 to hopefully inspire readers to consider some ideas for your travel shortlists. I've added links to the posts that link to the photos for those wanting more information.
January sunshine and my birthday had me heading into the Fraser Valley to spend a couple of nights camping at Rolley Provincial Park for my first attempt at winter camping with Wanda. It was clear but crisp and I was awake pretty early and decided to head out on trail walk. There are few experiences that feed my soul more than being in amongst the trees.
I then carried on and treated myself to a couple of days soaking in the waters at the beautiful Harrison Hot Springs Resort to celebrate my birthday. I indulged myself with massages, good food and beverages but mainly I soaked, read, took short walks and basically chilled out. It's a rare treat to give myself permission to do nothing
In the Spring, Mady and I set off on our first international trip since the pandemic. We had planned this trip to France back in March 2020 and cancelled it two days before the world shut down. I've laughed at the fact that I have been to Paris multiple times but had never actually been to the Eiffel Tower. We agreed that we were going this time and prebooked our tickets to the top! Wouldn't you know that the day we were to go up there was a problem and we weren't able to go beyond the second level? I was disappointed but also impressed with how quickly and efficiently I was reimbursed (before the end of the day!)
A highlight was the day trip we took to from Paris to Giverny where we spent an incredible day wandering around Monet's house and gardens. I have always been attracted to impressionist art and Monet's lily pond paintings have been favourites. What a feeling to be standing inside Monet's art.
We visited the Palaces and gardens of Versailles which we found both extravagant and excessive. There is simply too much ornamentation to take in but standing in the famous Hall of Mirrors was a pinch-me moment.
Lyon stole our hearts with its medieval architecture and amazing food. We thoroughly enjoyed searching out and exploring the traboules.
We based ourselves in the city of Arles so we could explore around Provence. We loved our little flat right in Van Gogh's city and spent several evenings hanging around the famous Café de Nuit trying to catch them when there was still some of the daily paella available.... it never was.
We spent a day exploring the Carmargue area where we had the chance to spend some time on the beach and see some of the famous horses and bulls of the area.
A memory I will cherish is dancing on the bridge in Avignon. As a music teacher, I taught this song to many school children over the years. Mady, as the ever-indulgent ATB, humoured me.
We like visiting wineries, distilleries, and breweries. When we realized how close Arles was to Chateauneuf du Pape, we organized a day trip to check out some of the wineries in the area. I had to fight my claustrophobic tendencies but touring the wine caves was fabulous day and the views are stunning.
Another day trip took us to St. Rémy de Provence where we followed the Van Gogh walk to the hospital where he spent most of the final year of his life. Again, I really enjoyed recognizing the places I had seen in his art. Spending time in the tiny bedroom he occupied, it's hard not to reflect on how hard he struggled against his demons.
Les Baux en Provence fascinated me with its fortress location high on top of a plateau. The town with its narrow streets and unique shops had something interesting in all directions.
Carcasonne was another location that I had had on my shortlist for a very long time. I had done a research project on the city back in Grade 8 and it had stuck with me. The Cité was better than I could ever imagined.
And as much as I loved exploring the Cité, the highlight of Carcassonne was the amazing food tour we took with Carcasonne Food Tours.
After returning from France, I headed over to Vancouver Island to pick up Wanda who had been getting a makeover. Since I was there, I decided to spend some time at one of my favourite campsites at Rathtrevor Provincial Park, where I did some trail walks and got my forest fix.
The following week, I set out on a road trip around British Columbia. I headed north without a real plan except I wanted to follow the Gold Rush Trail and be in Barkerville, an old gold town now living museum, by July 01. A real thrill for me was seeing the various wildlife. This particular deer hung out at my campsite in Cayoosh Creek for the good part of an afternoon.
I eventually made it to Barkerville and spent several days exploring the town and the surroundings. July 1st is Canada Day but since Barkerville runs on Gold Rush time, they celebrate Dominion Day. The theatre show reopened for the first time after Covid and I thoroughly enjoyed the performance from my front-row seat. It brought back many memories of the time I performed there in my teens. However, what really brought those memories home was the deluge of rain Dominion Day morning.
After having my fill of Barkerville, I decided I would head south towards dryer weather and was delighted by discovering the X'atsul Heritage Village. I was the only visitor at the time and had a wonderful conversation with the caretaker who shared really interesting information about her ancestors lived their traditional life prior to first contact.
As I travelled around the Shuswap area of central British Columbia, I enjoyed the spectacular mountain scenery and lakes but I was once again in wine country, so I used my Harvest Hosts membership to stay in several wineries. My favourite, by far, was the Celista winery in Celista, BC. Not only did I enjoy a lovely tasting experience but the views were spectacular. I was delighted when the family's children came out to play on the coaches once the winery closed for the night.
Another Harvest Host site in Salmon Arm was DeMille's Farm Market that has something for everyone from the expected farm market to the unexpected liquor store, food truck, gift shop, and animal petting farm.
I had plans to catch up with a dear friend, so I headed to the little town of Enderby. I was completely charmed by the town.
I was thoroughly enjoying my travels but needed to head home for some family stuff but I still had time to stop and enjoy some stunning BC scenery along the way. I spent an afternoon at the Yellow Lake Dam Reservoir.
After dealing with the family stuff I was soon back on the road, heading for the Sunshine Coast. I stayed in the Robert's Creek area and explored the South Coast for about a week. My absolute favourite trails in the area were in Cliff Gilker Park where I walked the trails and bridges. I also dipped myself in the cool creek when the heat of the day got to me.
After a week on the South Coast, I headed north to visit a friend who lives on the North Coast. Before catching the ferry, I took the Skookumchuk Trail to see the reversing tides and whirlpools. As much as the whirlpools in the Narrows are the big draw, I enjoyed the lake more.
There are few things as beautiful as the ferry routes along British Columbia's coast. The short ride between the South and North Coasts are no exception. I had a fabulous day for the crossing and didn't mind the wind at all!
In early September it was time to celebrate a milestone birthday for Mady and so we headed for a week in a fancy all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. While it certainly wasn't our usual style, we settled in pretty well and spent a great deal of time lazily floating in the pool.
We did leave the resort a couple of times. The first excursion we took was to Akumel where we swam with the turtles and visited a couple of cenotes. It was amazing to see the sea turtles close up and I was impressed with the guide's efforts to ensure none of us got too close to the turtles and emphasized the protection of the sea grasses
As a geography nerd, I thoroughly enjoyed the open cenotes. The water was cool and refreshing and the pools were located in beautiful areas within the trees.
The second excursion took us to the Mayan temple of Cobá. Cobá is not fully excavated and is less popular with tourists but I enjoyed the less-touristy atmosphere. I found it to be a fascinating visit.
After we visited the ruins, we enjoyed a fabulous demonstration of the Mayan ball game and rituals while enjoying a traditional meal.
The final trip of the year came in November when Mady's daughter arrived in BC and we decided to explore a bit of the stunning Vancouver Island town of Tofino and the surroundings. We stopped to do trail walks at several parks along the way including one in the old-growth forest area known as Cathedral Grove. These massive trees must be seen to be believed!
As we arrived at Cox Bay the sun was setting and treated us to a spectacular sunset. We pulled into our campsite and headed straight to the beach to see it.
We went into the town where we enjoyed checking out the town, surrounding trails and the local craft brewery.
We also walked the Wild Pacific Coast trail in nearby Ucluelet. This easy trail has many spectacular viewpoints.
Whew, I had a great year of travel! Let's see what's ahead for 2023! Thanks for meandering with me over the past year. I have enjoyed sharing my travels with you and seeing the blog grow. Let me know your 2023 travel plans in the comments section. Help the blog continue to grow by sharing the link with a travelling friend or on your social media. If you have found yourself visiting frequently, consider becoming a member/subscriber to get notified of new content, access to our members' forum, and a monthly newsletter.