Confessions & Randoms

Happy Monday everyone! I hope that everyone had a great weekend and that spring is starting to show in your neck of the woods. In the Bay Area, it finally stopped raining and on Saturday it actually got above 70! I was very happy and celebrated by taking a nap (inside). I know it doesn't make sense, but I left the windows open, so I don't feel too guilty about it! 

Before I get to the confessions, here are a few random thoughts churning around the old noggin. 

Today I have a plumber coming to fix a leak under my kitchen sink. It is going to cost me more than my last vacation, which makes me cringe big time, and reminds me of the joys (!!) of being a homeowner. This is one of those things I want my personal assistant to take care of and I will just write a check. It will not be a happy check, but at least I don't have to deal with the guys in my house and things possibly going worse than I already imagine. Just tell me when it's over please! 

On the reading front, I have really been enjoying thrillers lately. I think my brain capacity has diminished recently and it is just so much easier to listen to a fluffy thriller than anything more substantial. The last one that I read and enjoyed was None of This is True by Lisa Jewell. I also just finished Kill Show, which came highly recommended by Lisa and Engie, and it did not disappoint. Due to my lowered brain function, I have also been getting back into podcasts. I just cannot concentrate enough for much more at this moment. Some of my favorites lately have been The Adventure Sports Podcast and All The Hacks

I went skiing with my Dad last week and it was a great day. We got snow on Wednesday and we skied on Thursday and it was sunny and nice with great fresh snow! The only thing that was a bit of a bummer was that my ski boots, which I have had since high school (that is a long time!!) broke in the middle of a run, so we had to rent boots. However, that did not stop us from having a great time. Lately I have only been skiing maybe once a year and this was the perfect day for my one day this year! 

Lovely day on the slopes

Today, something big is happening in my life (aside from the plumber) and I will talk more about it next week. However, I am both looking forward to it and dreading it in equal measures. Stay tuned to find out what the heck I am talking about! And now, onto a few confessions...

I am not very good at spelling. Yes, I read a lot and I know a lot of big words, but sometimes I still can't remember if "protein" is "I before E" or not. By the way, why IS the E before the I in protein? It does not make any sense. Also, if I can write it down and look it it, my spelling is better, but if I have to spell it out loud to someone, I am slow and I have to look inside my head at a whiteboard in order to get the letters out of my mouth. I think in general I am more of a visual learner and will remember things much better if I read them or write them down than if I hear them (over the phone for example). 

I sometimes hoard food. No, I am not like the chicken girl in Girl, Interrupted, but I do like to have something on hand in case I get hungry. I also do like to buy things on sale, so if it is a two-for-one, I will buy two of them. I also shop at Costco, although I am trying not to do that as much, as there are certain things you just don't need a two year supply of (although I will continue to buy the five dozen egg pack and the two pound bag of coffee). I bought a huge bag of protein powder a couple of years ago, and I finally just had to throw it away (gasp!!!) as it was a little sweet for me, and I barely used it. 

I eat expired food. I do not like throwing food away. I will eat expired food in most cases (obviously not rotten eggs or moldy veggies or anything) and have some spices that date back to the teens (does curry spice REALLY go bad?) that I finally just threw away. Plus there are some arguments about "sell-by" vs "use-by" vs "freshest by" dates. If it smells fine, I will usually go for it. This really disgusts some of my friends and family members. 

I schedule a lot of my text messages. Since I get up super early (usually around 4 am), and this is also when my brain is working at its best, I often reply to texts or send texts to people then. However, I am loving the schedule feature, and will usually set the text to go out around 8 am instead of the hour of the dead that I am actually sending it. There are a couple exceptions to this, such as when I know the person keeps their phone on silent at night, or if I know they get up super early too (Hi Mom!). The other thing I do, so I won't forget, is schedule texts like birthdays or anniversaries when I think of it. Otherwise the day will pass before I know it and I hate being the person to wish someone happy birthday a day late. 

I have never cleaned (or used) my fireplace. Some people like to sit in front of a crackling fire at night. Some people love the routine of starting a fire. I am not one of them. I bought a house with a fireplace and I have never used it. Therefore I have never cleaned it. I grew up in a house with a woodstove, which was our only source of heat, and making a fire (and chopping and carrying wood) is a chore to me. I also do not like smelling like smoke, even when camping. I can make a fire in a jiff if needed for survival, but it is likely I am not going to just do it for fun. 

Your turn! What random things are happening in your life? Do you ever schedule your text messages? Do you have (or use) a fireplace in your house? 


A Lifetime of Blogging

Lately I have been going through some of my old posts. I had an idea that I was going to relabel some of them and try to tidy things up a bit. But then I realized it was a huge undertaking and would probably not really be that helpful to anyone but me, so I binned it. However, it did make me think about my blogging journey and I thought I would have you all join in with me in talking about your own journeys too! Please feel free to answer any or all of the questions including links if you like! If you do not have a blog, feel free to tell me when you started reading blogs and what kind of blog you like reading the best! 

When did you start blogging and why? I started blogging in 2006 while traveling. I had been writing a mass email at the time, explaining where I was and what I was doing but found it easier to post it online and that way people could come and look at it when they wanted and it would all be in the same place. However, blogging was fairly new to me and my friends and family and I did not really get many comments for a long time! 

Egypt 2010

What was your first blog post about? Here is my first post (excuse the naivete and bad formatting! I swear, I got more polished eventually) It was about a bus ride from hell that went from Laos to Vietnam. It was a long ride, it was hot, our bus broke down...but here is the silver lining, according to 2006 me: After the breakdown there were really no problems except that I saw a bucket of pigs feet soaking in water right near the toilets and I thought how glad I am that I am a vegetarian... (FYI: I am no longer a vegetarian).

What is your most used label and why? I am going to cheat on my own question and answer the top three. Feel free to do the same. Lists (314 times), Travel (243), Running (233). And why? Lists is so general and crosses a lot of other categories. Travel makes me glad, since this is the travel spot, not the running spot or the food spot. Running has been around for long enough that it makes a podium spot, I guess! 

What is your most viewed post? And why do you think this is the case? Stephany is going to get a kick out of this, but my top post is actually a guest post that she wrote about theme parks in Orlando. I am guessing it is because it has the word Disney in it. The second most popular is a post I wrote about strange signs you find when abroad. I am guessing it was popular because I used the word $ex in one of the captions... Mr. Lovely's 10 reasons why Nepal is better than India was also a big hit. 

Do you answer comments on your blog? If so, what method do you use (email, post on blog, etc.)? I do answer comments! I used to always respond via email because if the commenter put in their email, blogger would send the comment to my email and I could just reply to the person via direct email. It seems that is not really the case as much, and so a lot of people don't have their email linked, so I just reply on the blog itself. However, I find that harder, since the person has to go back and check rather than knowing I responded, so I do try to email people back if I have their info. NOTE: If you are anonymous, please state your name in the comment so I know who you are (unless you don't want me to). 

Do you go back to see if a blog post that you commented on got replies? If so, how do you keep track? Yes, I do go back, although it is much more helpful if I get an email letting me know that there is a response. Probably only a handful of the people I follow have this though. So my current method is to keep the tab open to the comment and then check it later to see if there is a response, although this is not really a very efficient method. I will be interested to hear if people have tips or tricks for this. 

What blog that you still read now have you read the longest? This won't come as a surprise to most of you, but I have to give a shoutout to my OG Lisa. A down to earth Mom of two living in MN and working in the finance industry, she gets it done! Also, she commented on my site when nobody else did, regularly! I have a lot of one comment posts from the beginning and it is almost guaranteed it is her. She is thoughtful and responsive and she taught me that it is okay to go out on a limb and support another blogger as they get started, even if you are the only one. Thanks Lisa! (P.S. there are so many other great people out there, and I just can't stress how important ALL of these connections are!)  

Do you post on other forms of social media regularly? If so, where? I am very poor at most other social media forms. I have accounts, but rarely post! I don't get the same sense of connection from most of them and I also find myself wasting time on them when I do log on (as in looking at posts on FB of the children of a girl I met while traveling in Australia in 2006 who I have not kept in touch with). 

If you talk about people in your real life, do you use their real names? I may have at the beginning, when nobody read my "online journal" but as I started to gain traction, I made code names for most people. Perhaps it's overkill, especially with all of the things that we all post online these days, but I still want to respect other people's privacy as much as possible. 

If you could get paid to blog no matter what you are writing about, what would your focus/theme be? I would probably write about travel, but I would hopefully have to be traveling in order to get fodder! However, even if it was just about past travels, it would probably still be fun. 

Your turn! 

When did you start blogging and why? 
What was your first blog post about? 
What is your most used label and why? 
What is your most viewed post? And why do you think this is the case?
Do you answer comments on your blog? If so, what method do you use (email, post on blog)? 
Do you go back to see if a blog post that you commented on got replies? If so, how do you keep track? 
What blog that you still read now have you read the longest?
Do you post on other forms of social media regularly? If so, where?
If you talk about people in your real life, do you use their real names? 
If you could get paid to blog no matter what you are writing about, what would your focus/theme be? 

Please feel free to answer any or all of the questions including links if you like! If you do not have a blog, feel free to tell me when you started reading blogs and what kind of blog you like reading the best! Or if you are a private writer or journal keeper, what do you normally write about? 


Things I Do Not Buy

I noticed the other day that although I have not bought toilet paper since March of 2022 (a 24 pack), I still have seven rolls left in my overflow stash. This could be partially because I bought a bidet in September 2022, which has drastically cut down on my TP use! The other thing is that I am at work four or five days a week for eight or ten hours, so many of my potty trips are at work. However, I was quite surprised to find that it had been that long when I looked back at my Amazon history. I do suspect that I probably had several left over before I bought the last pack, but I am surprised to still have some left! Question: How many rolls of TP do you go through each month? 

Sign in hospital bathroom. Hands? Really?

The other thing I rarely use is paper towels. I bought a Costco pack of 12 rolls when I moved into my house in May 2015 and I (a) still have two rolls left and (b) have given away at least six of them if not more. I just do not use paper towels! If someone comes over for dinner I will use them but otherwise, I use a rag to wipe the floor or the counter (a clean one!) and if I am eating dinner alone, I just use a dishrag as a napkin too. I have a set of older dishcloths that I use for those kinds of things, and a set of new ones that hang on the sink for wiping dishes or whatnot. Question: Do you use a lot of paper towels, napkins, cloth napkins, or dish towels? 

I have actually never used Doordash or Uber Eats. Once at work, I had to order for a group, so I have a Doordash account, but I have never had food delivered to my house. I tend to cook at home and am happy to eat oatmeal for dinner if I have not had a chance to go shopping, or I have a commercial district with restaurants and a grocery store about a half a mile from my house so I can just walk to get food. A coworker of mine ordered Chipotle through Doordash and he said that it cost like $40 with the delivery, food and tip, and I cannot imagine spending that much on Chipotle. You do you and all, but that is not where I want to focus my spending personally. Question: What is the weirdest thing you have ordered for delivery? 

After having several purges and getting rid of many books, I set the goal to not buy anymore until I had read (and given away) the ones on my shelf that I had not yet read. Confession: I still have a couple on my shelf that I have not yet read, but except for those two, I am reading 100% library books now. In the past 10 years, I have bought very few books. I did go to Powell's in Portland about five years ago and I used a gift card that was given to me to buy a few travel books. However, I am now down to only about 20 books on my shelf, which are mostly books from my childhood, and I do not have any plans to buy more books any time soon! Question: Do you still buy books? 

Powell's is awesome. 

I love going out to eat as much as anyone else, but there are a couple of things that I never order at a restaurant. The first is spaghetti. Don't get me wrong; if I am at an Italian restaurant and they make their own pasta, I will go to town on some ravioli or tortellini, but I will likely not order spaghetti. The other thing is roast chicken. If I am going to pay for meat at a restaurant, I feel like it should be one that I don't or can't cook. Fois gras? Yes please. Duck? Sign me up! Rabbit stew? You betcha! Roast chicken? Nah, I can make that at home. Question: Is there something that you rarely or never order at a restaurant? 

Exception to the rule: chicken and waffles!

Years ago, I realized that it is so much easier when hiking or traveling to just bring smaller tampons with me. I should have swapped long before that, but at that point, I finally made the switch to applicator-less tampons. I hated using the plastic tampons due to environmental issues and the ones without an applicator are not really any different. I do wish that I would have heard about or tried the Diva cup earlier, as I think that would have also been a good way to not have to use/carry so many feminine products on long hikes! Question: Have you tried the Diva Cup (or equivalent)? If so, what are your thoughts? 

List of questions: 
How many rolls of TP do you go through each month? 
Do you use a lot of paper towels, napkins, cloth napkins, or dish towels? 
What is the weirdest thing you have ordered for delivery? 
Do you still buy books?
Is there something that you rarely or never order at a restaurant? 
Have you tried the Diva Cup (or equivalent)? If so, what are your thoughts? 

Feel free to answer one or all of the questions above, or tell me what things do you NOT buy? 


Winter in the Bay Area

While it is not unusual for January to be rainy in the Bay Area, last month felt like it was raining almost all of the time. Maybe this was because I needed to patch and paint my front porch and the patch needed at least 24 hours to dry properly and I wanted a few clear days to do the paint job. We patched it on December 16th and I did not have a chance to paint it until late January. So in my mind there was not a stretch of clear days in that period. I actually looked it up, and here is what I found. 

A lot of cloudy days! (grey = cloudy)

But maybe not as much rain as I thought? (I painted on the 28th)

However, having said that, there were several times that I had a marvelous walk or hike and did not get rained on at all! The day of the crosstown trail hike was perfect, and last Tuesday I went out for my normal after work run along the bay, which is generally about six miles, and it was so nice I did double the mileage! I went all the way from my office to Hoppers Hands / Fort Point, where I watched the surfers catch some waves under the Golden Gate Bridge. It was so beautiful and it made me remember why I like running, but I was definitely a little sore a couple of days later!! It was completely worth it though. 

Headed out to Fort Point from Crissy Field.

FYI, here is what it looked like two Tuesdays before this! 

I got completely drenched on this run!

I would say that my least favorite weather when doing outdoor activities is probably rain. When you are backpacking, being wet all day and setting up your tent in the rain is really not that fun. Trying to get warm while also not getting your only dry item (your sleeping bag - hopefully!) wet is not that fun. Having to put wet clothes back on the next day and start hiking is not that fun. Going out for a run when it is raining is hard mentally. In fact, I don't mind running in the rain too much, but I prefer it if it is not raining when I start running; it is just hard mentally to step outside knowing you are immediately going to get wet. Commuting to work by bicycle is also not that fun. 

Headed to work.

I know this is probably easy for me to say, since I do not live in a place where it is -30 F in the winter, but for outdoor activities, I would rather have snow or (slight) cold than rain. Obviously I do not want to freeze my butt off, but I can put on an extra layer at least. I hate being wet. 

The silver lining is that this January the lows have not been that low. Usually we get down into the just below freezing or just above freezing area, but we have had pretty steady temperatures lately and I often don't even have to put on the heater. Don't get me wrong, I do have to wear socks and an extra sweater, but the winter has been fairly mild. The blue bars in the chart below are the actual lows, whereas the blue line is the average lows. Check out the 31st; the low and the high were almost the same!

The arrow points to the day I had the great run (almost 70 degrees!)

Last week the predictions for the next 6 or 7 days was rain, and for Sunday and Monday (yesterday and today) it was supposed to be a bomb cyclone or an atmospheric river or some hoo-ha. So dramatic. They even had signs on the freeway saying not to travel both days and a tornado warning. The city of San Jose even declared a state of emergency due to flooding. 

So yesterday I was planning to go out for a run but it was pouring when I would normally start, so I decided to put it off. However, it was basically 100% chance of rain, with not even one hour that was not supposed to rain. But, around 7:30 it sounded like it was slowing down a little, so I decided to chance it and I did not get rained on until about midway through my run! I got about 45 minutes of basically no rain. The last half was wet but I did what I wanted, I started with no rain! Also, at the end of the run, I saw my third ugly Tesla truck!! I saw one in Monterey, then another last week in Danville, and this one was in Oakland. I guess they are hitting the streets! 

Pretty ugly eh? 

The bomb cyclone never manifested, but we did have some really heavy wind and I was out of power for about two hours in the middle of the day. Luckily, I had charged my phone so I just made myself a cup of tea (yay for gas), did the dishes and tidied up the house while listening to my audiobook. So basically exactly what I would have done anyway. 

So now that it is February, and Punxsutawney Phil has predicted an early spring, here's hoping that means less rain for this month!! I guess that also means I will have less excuses to not go outside and go running or biking? Time to get my butt in gear! 

Speaking of rain, I heard a joke! If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring? 


How is your winter going so far? Do you think we are overreacting to the weather? Have you seen the new Tesla yet and/or do you like it? 


The Not So Successful Side Hustle: An Update

You may recall that I recently started an unsuccessful side hustle. I never claimed to be an entrepreneur and I definitely am not much of a salesperson, but last year I thought I would try my hand in selling some stuff online. The last time I posted, I was just trying eBay, but I asked for your opinions on FB Marketplace and you all said to do it, so I did. 

I won't say that it started off easy. First of all, I was afraid. I don't really love people knowing my details and FB shows your name and could possibly involve your address. I am not a huge fan of people coming over to my house, unless it is specifically scheduled, and I do not really want people inside my house. However, I decided to do a Shonda Rhimes and call this "the year of yes" and just get comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

The first thing I listed was a stationary bike. I immediately got three replies, all offering me the exact amount I had listed it for. Hurray!! Or should I say, hurray? My Spidey senses went up, I looked at the profiles of the buyers and all of them were created in 2023 and had no personal info. I blocked and reported all three. My first adversary, slayed! After that, weeks went by with no further inquiries. 

I decided to try something a little more simple, cheaper and that did not need two people to lift it. I listed an end table, had an inquiry the next day, and had a pleasant conversation with the buyer over messenger. However, our times were not jiving, so face to face pick up was going to be difficult. I decided at that moment to offer to leave it on the porch and she could get it when she could and just leave me money. I figured if she wanted it that bad, she could just take it. However, she was super sweet, came and got it and left me money and then communicated (gasp!) that she had done so. I was converted! 

After that I listed a bunch of other things and after about six months, I have mixed feelings. Firstly, there are a ton of flakey people. So many people ask if the item is available and even if I reply right away, they ghost me after that. I have had people ask questions about details that are in the description (and I always include dimensions, info about stains, chips, tears etc.). I want to tell them to read the bloody description and stop wasting my time, but I usually don't. I have had people fully commit, ask me to hold the item, set up a time and then ghost me. I have had people set up a time and then come an hour early! People are strange. 

However, I have had some good ones and I thought I would give a seller's perspective on the perfect buyer. 

(1) The perfect buyer does not use the auto inquiry "Hi, is this available?" (often used even when the items are plural, by the way). 

(2) The perfect buyer has personality and says something like, "Hello [insert seller's name here], I was wondering if this was still available. If so, I would be able to come and get it today." ***side note, are there a lot of sellers who don't take down their listing even if they have sold the item? There must be, because I get A LOT of  "is this still available" inquiries. It's still listed! Yes it is still available!***

(3) The perfect buyer sets up a time to get the item as soon as possible. An actual time, not "tomorrow" or "later today" or my favorite, "after 9 pm." (they clearly don't know me). The perfect buyer then messages their ETA when they leave, when they are 5 mins away and when they are outside. I love these people! LOVE THEM. 

(4) The perfect buyer does not set up a time, come to my house and THEN ask if they can get the item for half off. The perfect buyer haggles in advance, settles on a price and then sets up a meeting time. 

(5) The perfect buyer pays cash, in exact amounts, but I will not be mad if they want to use Venmo. 

(6) The perfect buyer sends a photo of the item later, happy in its new home. 🧡 

So clearly everyone is different, and I am sure the buyers out there have some horror stories about the sellers (and I want to hear them!) but it seems like sometimes common courtesy is just lacking. I actually went down a wormhole of this reddit thread and wow, there really are some way worse horror stories than I have had! 

But wait, let me tell you about the saga of the suitcases. I have a set of suitcases; there are three of them, they are hard sided, they have four spinning wheels. They are nice suitcases. I only used the smallest of the three a couple of times, but I decided I was a backpack person and they sat in the garage for years. I listed them for about half of what I got them for, even though they are essentially unused. Since I listed these cases, I probably have had almost a thousand clicks on them. And for some reason, everyone who is interested in the suitcases has some issue or other. 

The accursed luggage. 

The first guy seemed like a creeper as he did not ask any questions about the cases, but just asked for my address right away, so I ignored him after that.

This lady told me she wasn't a flake, which made me suspicious.  Also that looks like a copy-paste. Hm. 

Several other people set up times and then ghosted me. Here is an example. (before this first clip, I told her I would be available from 12 pm to 1 pm). 

At 12:57, no word. So I messaged her. 

After this, she gave me another thumbs up and then the next day, did not show, did not message, nothing. 

Here is another good one. This lady messages me on Tuesday afternoon and says: Hi do all the wheels work smoothly? I just had to return a luggage set to a lady on market place. The wheels ended up being all wonky and not wheeling properly. I’m leave for a long trip Thursday and need something durable. 

So I am thinking that she sounds like one of the ladies I used to serve at Nordstrom; they would buy shoes but as they were buying them would complain about shoes and you knew, you JUST knew that they were going to wear them once and then return them (which goes against your commission if they do) after wearing them. Also, their party or whatever would be the next day and they would complain about how they just can't find anything perfect (and you would be thinking that it doesn't seem strange to you!) yet! 

BUT I message her and tell her that the wheels work great but I am only available Tuesday evening, not Wednesday. She goes on to then ask me my address (why!) and I give her the general area, thinking that we have a sale. Then she asks for $25 less than the listed price, which by the way is about 25% less, and when I counter, she doesn't agree, but just asks if we can set up pickup for tomorrow, and I reiterate that I am not available Wednesday and then... she ghosts me. Mind you, this exchange took place over six hours. So she texted me at the last minute (for her vacation) and then draws out the conversation and then doesn't want to come and get it as soon as possible!? I don't get it. 

On the other hand, if you ever DO want to get into a side hustle, for some reason around here, plants are the way to go. Remember I talked about emptying out my plant room? Well, I was going to just put them all out on the curb with a "free" sign, but I thought what the heck, I will give FB a shot. I listed about 15 indoor plants and over the next day, I sold about 9 of them and made almost $200! Listen, I listed them cheap, including the pots, but I was going to give them away for free, so I was super happy. Drinks are on me! Plus, if you recall, many of these were propagated by me, so aside from the pot and the time, they didn't really cost me much to begin with! 

Plants for sale!! 

Do I know how to make a short story long, or what!?!? Thank you for listening, and thanks to those of you who commented on my original post and prodded me to just give it a shot. 

Do you have buyer or seller horror stories? Are people in your area as flakey as the ones here? But most importantly, why are the suitcase people so weird!?!?!? I need hypotheses! 


A Few of Elisabeth's Thoughts On Travel

As you know, I love to travel! I am always curious about how other people plan, how they started their travel journey, where they have been and what they liked. I think that talking to others is a great way to get ideas for future trips and also a great way to form connections with other people. I also love to ask questions and am a very curious person, although I think that some people are not as impressed by it as others!! Luckily, my guest is not only an avid traveler, but she also doesn't mind me picking her brain and is happy to answer my questions with gusto! 

She probably does not need much of an introduction, so I will get right to it: please welcome my guest for today, Elisabeth. I was drawn to her because she loves to travel, is friendly and easy to talk to, is frank about her feelings, is a staunch thrift store shopper, and is just an all around good person. But enough out of me, let's get to the Q and A already! (Also, you can find my answers to Elisabeth's questions over on her site today!) 

For the readers who don't know you, please tell us where you are from, a little bit about who you are and one thing that even those who know you may not know about you. 

I have lived my whole life on the Eastern side of Canada. I was born in New Brunswick, moved to Nova Scotia as a toddler, moved back to New Brunswick as a teen, and then moved back to Nova Scotia as an adult! Aside from the winters, I am a Maritimer at heart. 

Baby Elisabeth

I’m married to an incredible man named John (here's some backstory on our entrepreneurial history together) - and we have two children; a 12-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son.

I had to think for a while about what surprising fact I might not have shared before (this may hint that I’m an oversharer). Most people know I hate water on my face, have a crazily sensitive back, and am a direct descendant of William Wallace (aka Braveheart). What I don’t think anyone knows is that, in another family setting, I likely wouldn’t be writing these words today. Because of some high risk factors my mother had been warned not to have any more children after her third…seven years later she found out she was pregnant with me. My parents were shocked and the doctors were not amused. They told my mother in no uncertain terms she needed to terminate the pregnancy because they were certain I would have life limiting challenges. That wasn’t a decision my parents could support ethically, so my mom spent the rest of her pregnancy assuming I was going to have severe mental and physical limitations.

(Another lesser-known fact: a month after I was born, I won a local beautiful baby contest. My parents still have the trophy.) (K: I get that; you were a cute baby!) 

If I were to come and visit you for a three day weekend, where would you take me and why? 

This collage belongs on a travel website!

First, I’d say: 
Oh goodie! You will LOVE Nova Scotia. Then I’d get down to organizing an itinerary.

Day One: We’d start the day at our local farmer’s market to grab a fresh breakfast and coffee while listening to local musicians play outside. Then we’d hike the waterfront/dykeland trail all the way to Grand Pré (a Unesco World Heritage Site). We’d walk back to town (an 8 km round trip) for a well-earned lunch at my favourite local eatery: the Naked Crepe. We’d wander around the various stores in downtown Wolfville for several hours and pop into my favourite cafe for a warm drink and some baked goods before driving out to Scott’s Bay for an evening of beachcombing, complete with a bonfire, seaside picnic, and incredible views of the setting sun.

Day Two: We’d hike Cape Split (one of the most famous trails in all of Nova Scotia; about 13 km return), picnicking at the summit. Then we’d make our way to Blomidon Provincial Park to take in the soaring bright red cliffs, and trek through the mud to the water's edge. On our way home we’d stop at Medford Beach, which is located just fifteen minutes from my town but it looks like another planet. We’d explore all the formations before heading home to clean up and then I’d make a home cooked supper (Chicken Mango Curry, rice, and cornbread). 

Day Three: We’d start at Peggy’s Cove - perhaps my favourite spot in all of Nova Scotia - followed by a trip to the South Shore. We’d spent a few hours walking around Lunenburg and Mahone Bay (quaint little towns full of colourful shops), followed by a stop at a local white-sand beach.

Cape Sable

If we had a bonus day, I’d hire someone to take us out to Cape Sable - an island just off the coast of Nova Scotia with one of the tallest lighthouses in the country (103 ft.) and a whole lot of sheep. It’s breathtaking and you would love it. (K: That all sounds perfect, plus I see you added some hiking; thanks! Also I can't wait to try your curry and cornbread! Also I am so glad that Peggy's Cove made the list.) 

What was the first place you remember traveling to, who were you with and what did you do? 

I’m going to cheat and answer this three ways. 

The first place I traveled regularly was our family cottage. It had no electricity or running water and it was the most magical place on earth. We’d go for 3.5-4 weeks each summer and be completely off grid. I LOVED it. My siblings were a lot older, so in later years it was just me with my parents, but early in life it would have been our whole family of 6. I’ve been there every year since birth, so that doesn’t really feel like the answer you’re looking for?

The next travel adventure was taking a 2.5 hour ferry from Digby, Nova Scotia to Saint John, New Brunswick to visit my maternal grandmother. These trips were SO exciting and I always went with just my mom. 

The last memory I'll share is when I was 11 - the first time I left Canada. We drove to South Carolina for my sister’s wedding and I thought it was the most exciting thing I’d ever done in my life. Everything looked different. Miles instead of kilometers on speed signs, gallons instead of liters of milk at the grocery store. I was enraptured. I turned 12 on the day she got married <3 (K: I bet that was fun; my first experience in real life with km and l was when I was in my 20s!) 

If the above was not by plane, tell us a little about the first place you went to by plane. Do you remember how you felt about flying for the first time? 

I flew to St. John’s Newfoundland when I was 19 for a conference where I presented research from my Honour’s thesis. I don’t really remember how I felt; likely very embarrassed that I was the only one who had never flown and nervous I would mess it up somehow. (K: my first international flight was alone and my parents came with me to the gate! Remember those days?) 

What travel experience has been your favorite so far? And tell us one place we should go to if we go there ourselves. 

I don’t know if I can answer this? I have loved Paris and Rome the most, but I wouldn’t want to go there alone. I always prefer to travel with someone (preferably John), but if I had to explore a place alone, I’d likely pick NYC. (K: I love NYC and could wander the streets for hours and never get bored)

I will give you $10,000 but you have to spend it on travel to somewhere you have never been before. Tell me where you would go and what you would do. 

Either the Amalfi Coast - it just looks so beautiful - or Scotland. I know the latter is an odd choice, but I’ve always wanted to go for some reason; maybe because my family roots are strongly tied to that region? I also really want to go back to Iceland, but technically I've already been there...albeit just on an extended layover. (K: I have Iceland on my short list and can verify that you would love Scotland!) 

What is your opinion on traveling abroad with children? Is there an age that is too young? Are there certain places you would go or any you would steer clear of?

Elisabeth and fam in New York

How do I put this delicately? If I had the choice, I would always travel without kids at this point. John and I have done: Sydney, Australia (not to be confused with Sydney, Nova Scotia), the Dominican Republic, Paris, and Rome solo while my parents watched the kids. It didn’t feel like we could ask my aging parents to keep managing that responsibility, hence taking the kids to Barcelona. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I would rather be going just with John.

All that said, we did take our daughter to Denmark when she was a toddler. We have some great memories but it was also pretty miserable since her sleeping and eating was thrown completely out of whack. I’m a bit nervous about Barcelona and definitely would prefer to only travel with my kids (internationally at least) once they’re both teens.

Baby A in Denmark

Other people have very different feelings about traveling with kids. 

On the other hand, we have done a LOT of road trips with our kids and keep them very engaged with local adventuring. I never went outside the country before I was 12, so the things our kids have experienced already in life far outpaces my own. (K: they may not know it now, but these travels will shape them so much, and in so many good ways!) 

Tell us about something weird or scary that happened to you while traveling.

Hmmm. I’m drawing a blank here…I guess I could mention the time we booked the wrong dates for accommodations on the Cabot Trail. Once we realized our mistake, there was literally only one place left we could find an availability. There was a reason it was still available. The door to our motel room was wide open to the outside when we arrived, there were dead bugs all over the floor, and in the morning I realized my feet were getting wet. Turns out a pipe broke flooding our entire room! When John went to tell them at the check-in desk about what had happened, they didn’t seem the least bit surprised. We did not stay for the included breakfast but our daughter loves to retell this story so it has a happyish ending since it provided a lasting family memory. (K: Yikes! I once had a room in India with a poo-scented shower and dead mosquito guts on the walls and it was a horrible night of sleep, but I guess the worst experiences make for the best stories sometimes!) 

One state I have never been to is South Carolina and I know your sister lives there! If I went there for the weekend, what would you suggest I do? 

Charleston is lovely; walking across the Ravenel Bridge, strolling through the battery and looking at all the cool architecture makes for a great active adventure. The beach at Sullivan’s Island is lovely on a sunny day.

In Columbia - where she lives - the Riverbanks Zoo is wonderful if you have kids in tow. I’m not a zoo person, but this is my favourite of any I’ve visited. I also really love their new riverwalk; it snakes along a river and the whole (long!) path is lined with tall black lamp posts. It looks like something out of Narnia. 

Columbia River Walk

I’d also highly recommend befriending my sister and having her family take you out on Lake Murray for some tubing, a delicious picnic, before rounding out the evening by watching the sun set over the water. (K: Sign me up! I love new friends and tubing and picnic sounds great!)

Tell us about your travel planning process. Do you and your husband share tasks or does one of you do more planning? How far in advance do you plan? Do you stay in AirBnBs or hotels or BnBs, etc.!!? 

John books the flights and hotels. He consults me for the broad things - dates, general locations - but does all the rest of this process. We generally stay in hotels. He gets points by staying at many chains, and we make use of the bar fridges to store snack/breakfast items. We generally book plane tickets 4-5 months in advance, book accommodations 2-3 months in advance, and I start planning 2 months before we head out.

generally handle most of the itinerary. First I pull together a (very) rough draft of places from my initial research. Then I like to use search strings like “Best Free Things to Do in X” and “Hidden Gems in X.” I’ll read a dozen “Hidden Gems” articles, see what overlaps between them, and write down places I think would be especially interesting for us. Then I research each spot and pin them to a Google map if they seem to warrant a visit. 

Once the map is complete, I look for patterns and try to group our activities within a set radius each day (for example, for our Toronto/NYC family road trip in 2022, we spent our first full day in New York in midtown, the second day in Lower Manhattan/Brooklyn, and the final day in uptown). (K: I love using Google map pins! I did this with the Alaska trip and it made things so much easier!) 

What is your perfect day when you are "on the road"? 

Waking up refreshed, but early so we get to our first stop early to avoid lines. (The weather would be perfect of course; not too hot, not too cold.) We’d grab a coffee along the way, and maybe a local pastry or breakfast smoothie. After touring the first place, we’d meander for several hours, looking at local architecture or visiting some of those “hidden gems” I've discovered in my research. John would take lots of incredible photos. We’d enjoy a leisurely lunch and then head to another “main stop” before strolling around until we see a little market or store where we’d pick up supplies for a simple picnic enjoyed in front of a famous monument or square where we’d watch the sun go down and enjoy the magical transformation of a city/town/lake at night. (K: This sounds like a great day to me!) 

Do you have any follow up questions for Elisabeth? Who is the travel planner in your household? What place(s) would you go to if you had $10,000?