A Home Away From Home

When all of the commitments and repetition of ordinary life get just too much to bear, there has always been a place that I can go to escape. Imagine yourself in a yellow car, the blazing heat of summer beaming into the sunroof (you decided a sunroof was better than air-con, and quickly realized that was a mistake) as you drive past miles of prairie land. As you get nearer your destination, the radio signal cuts out and you end the drive with nothing but the soothing silence of nature.

home away from home

This is my “Home Away From Home”, a place that I grew up as a child and continue to return to as an adult. With nothing but a trailer and a shack on an allotted piece of land, I am back to the basics. There is no electricity here, no running water, and the outhouse is as old as I am. With no WiFi and finicky cell reception, I am finally able to disconnect from everyone and everything that is going on in the city. To someone else, it might look like little more than a disheveled shelter surrounded by trees. But with my eyes, it’s a piece of my family and a part of my history. Built by my father with his bare hands, my home away from home grew up from nothing and was transformed by the people who stayed here and the memories that run through my mind as I bring myself back here year after year.

IMG_5555

Over there is the spot where a huge swing set once rested between the trees. It’s where I sat and watched with disbelief when two full-grown bears walked into the property just feet away from me before coming to my senses and rushing inside. It’s where I first felt strong and “grown-up” when I was allowed to help cut down a tree that had grown too tall and too old. It’s where I fell, dozens of times, leading to stitches on one occasion and right off a roof in another. It’s where I took my dog on long walks through the forest. It’s where a big garage-looking shelter once stood, a spot where laughter-filled parties took place around a campfire on those cold or rainy nights. It’s where I made lasting friendships with people I otherwise would never have had the privilege to meet.

IMG_0233

The swing set and the garage-shelter are gone now. There are fewer trees, as some have come down with old age. But it is still my home away from home. This is still the place that I return whenever I need to recharge and escape the monotony of city life.  As an adult I now have the courage to come out here all on my own even when I know there won’t be a soul around to help me if I need it. As much fun as I have coming here with friends, where we spend our days in the lake water or quadding through the forest, I have enjoyed my time up there alone as well. It holds a different meaning when I am there on my own, when I practice yoga on the beach, or spend the entire day reading a book in the sun and then by the fire when the night’s grown dark.

11176_10151620474456728_2053899029_n

North Buck Lake in Alberta, Canada is my home away from home. It’s a safe, comforting, place that is filled with fun, laughter, and memories that are both strong and hazy. At the end of my time spent here, as my car pulls into the city, I am the happiest and most refreshed than I have ever felt.

—————————————————————————————————


This post was written at the request of DogVacay.com as a part of their “Home Away From Home” project, where they turn to people to find out their home away from home and what that means to them. DogVacay works to find an insured dog sitter for your pet while you are away. They pride themselves on finding local, safe, happy, and comfortable environments for your furry friend.

Advertisements

Sunday Snapshot: Alberta Winter

IMG_4126

I’m a summer girl, always have been and always will be, but there is something to be said about a Canadian winter. One day everything is green and the next day there is snow up to your knees. One of my favorite things about winter is when the trees, rid of their leaves, are dusted in snow. On particularly cold and icy days, the trees will frost over and look like they do in this photo and the world transforms into a winter wonderland.

Do you have a photo you would like to share for Sunday Snapshot?
Submit it to whirlwindtravel@hotmail.com to see it here the next week!

Sunday Snapshot: My Backyard

I love my backyard. When I’m not traveling and the weather is warm, I like to sit out there by the pond, tanning in the sunshine and listening to the fountain spray water. Now, at the beginning of November, this is my view. White, everywhere. Pond entirely covered in snow up past my knees, all within a day or two of constant snow falling. Despite the cold, there’s no denying how beautiful it is when the trees have snow-covered branches. That’s a Canadian winter for you!

Do you have a photo you would like to share for Sunday Snapshot? Submit it to whirlwindtravel@hotmail.com to see it here the next week!

I Love Home But I Love Travel More

“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land;
it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land,”
– G.K. Chesterton

About five weeks ago I was on a small, cramped tourist bus in Vietnam, the beginning of a Mekong River tour. In the back row, five people were sitting and talking about their travels. For all of them, it was their first big trip away from home. Their home was the USA and they couldn’t stop talking about how nervous they were to go back there. For an hour I listened to them talk about the reasons why they were worried. One girl talked about the pressures of having to do what people expected of her. She was meant to go back home, finish up university and get a real job. One man talked about how he wasn’t sure he could handle the over-consumption that people in Western countries were caught up in. In Asia, you come face to face with poverty that you never see in places like Canada or the USA. Not to say that people there are not poor, but the poverty in some places in Asia are at a different level. It becomes normal to turn away a child of only four years old, begging for food or money or milk for their baby sister. For some, these children are annoying. For me, I can’t forget their faces. Another traveler talked about how strange it will be to go back home after six months away. He talked about how much this experience had changed him. How he had learned things and discovered things about himself that he never knew before. He had stories and memories and broader views of things he was once so certain about, and he wasn’t sure his friends and family at home would understand.

I listened to their conversation with interest. After my first trip to Europe, I remember feeling the same thing so strongly that I was dreading going home. Even when I was home, I longed to be back in Europe, experiencing new things and being on different adventures. Home was not the same. As I listened to that group of friends, who had only known each other for three days, I realized that it still doesn’t get easier.  I still dread coming home and I am still never quite perfectly content to be home. There are stories and memories that I replay over and over in my mind, places that I think about each day, friends that I met while abroad and think of now from time to time. Friends will ask about things, but after a while their eyes glaze over and it’s clear that they just don’t get it. They had to have been there, and I understand that.

It’s weird, the things that travel does to you. The way it changes you. It forces you to step out of your comfort zone. You gain friendships that last a matter of days or, if you’re lucky, a few weeks. But despite that short time, the friendships are strong and you share some of your favorite memories with these people. The world gives to you and, sometimes, you give back to the world. There are moments when I think to myself ‘I can’t believe I’m really here’ as if none of it is real. And then you come home and occasionally think to yourself that this cannot possibly be the real world. This cannot possibly be all there is. The typical lifestyle of Western culture: university, a career, a marriage, children, a home. Settled. It’s sounds horrifying to me, that I might be stuck in one place forever.

These two quotes are very true for me. The first one has not quite happened to me yet. I understand it and it has happened to me on a small scale. It felt odd to start eating Western food and iced tea again, instead of Asian noodle soup, chopsticks and fresh lemon juice. It felt odd to drive again, instead of exploring by foot. It felt odd to try to fall back into the routine of work and I’m sure, come September, it will be even harder to fall back into the routine of juggling university, work, and a social life. I mean, there are parts of coming home that are comforting. Driving my car, seeing my friends, family and pets, going to the lake on the weekends, doing my hair, and living out of a space larger than a 65L backpack. Long drives through the Alberta countryside. Oh, and my bed. And my pillow. Those are the comforts of home that I always love to come home to. In fact, travel has made me really start to appreciate my home. Although I would prefer to be traveling than at home, I find that each year I start to love it more and more. And for that, I am grateful.

I’m not sure if travel ever really stops changing a person. I’m not sure if coming home ever gets easier. I’m not sure if anyone ever stops thinking about the time they spent traveling when they should be doing something at work. Maybe it doesn’t and maybe it does. But so far, I’ve found that travel is the one thing that makes me happiest. It gives me a purpose and something to look forward to. I have a lot more to learn and more to see and I hope that this urge to travel never disappears.

“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played
out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind
can never break off from the journey,”
— Pat Conroy

Yummy Pea Salad, Perfect for Summertime!

I know this isn’t a food blog. I can’t cook or bake enough things to be able to have a food blog, not that I would really want to anyways. Instead, I enjoy going through the many adorable food blogs that other people so conveniently write for people like me. However, three summers ago I spent about two weeks in London on part of a bigger Europe trip. A cousin of mine was generous enough to let me live in his flat and visit his friends. I don’t remember much about them, apart from that they were a fun group of people. But I did remember that one of his friends made a delicious pea salad. I don’t remember what her recipe was but over the last couple of summers I’ve managed to make one of my own each year without fail. I tend to think that any recipe that takes under ten minutes and is actually good is worthy enough to be considered an easy meal while traveling, which is why this has been added to the blog! And also because I think everyone should try this salad this summer, whether you are traveling or not.

Now that I am home for the rest of my summer vacation, I decided that it was time to make some pea salad. This salad is perfect for summertime. Bursting with flavor, this salad can be made in as little as 10 minutes, or less if you’re a quick vegetable cutter, and is super convenient to toss in a bag for school, work, day trips, or camping. It’s also colorful and makes a great addition to a summer barbeque.

Summertime Pea Salad

– Peas (fresh or frozen, cooked or raw, depending on your preference. I prefer fresh and raw.)

– Red onion, chopped into small pieces

– Bell pepper, chopped into small pieces

– Cucumber, chopped into small pieces

– Garlic, chopped into small pieces

– Basil

– Feta cheese

– 1tsp of olive oil

– 1tsp of balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar (this can be substituted with any other vinegar!)

– 1tsp of freshly ground black pepper

* Chop up all of your vegetables and set aside.

* Place peas in a bowl and then add in your vegetables. Mix it all up.

* Add olive oil and vinegar. Mix it all up.

* Add basil, however much you want. Add pepper.

* Add feta cheese, however much you want. Mix it all up.

Of course, all of these ingredients are optional and can be substituted with your personal favorite vegetables, or a different cheese or no cheese at all! But who doesn’t love cheese? This pea salad is simply to make, delicious to eat and makes a great snack or addition to your meal! If you are traveling abroad and are staying in a hostel with a kitchen, head to the local market to pick up fresh vegetables, make the salad and pop it in your bag for a healthy and delicious snack in between exploring your destination! It’s that easy :)