This article is from my monthly Hyperlocal Travel column in The Community Edition (August 2019).
Overtourism sucks. So what to do when you need to travel to a city like Amsterdam?
For the good of the Joshua Trees and the land, close the park, since clearly, some humans can't act responsibly.
New year, new column! I present, "Waterloo Region Through a Traveller's Eye."
As children, my two sisters and I lived for the annual summer “family beach day” on Lake Huon, one of three Great Lakes we can flee to in south western Ontario. Aunts, uncles and a rowdy contingent of cousins made it an extended family affair.
Being rural farm families, our parents pre-planned the much anticipated excursion date, typically, the first Sunday in August. With one chance for a beach day each summer, we packed the car with coolers of hamburgers and hotdogs on ice, BBQ grills, bathing suits, every inflatable toy imaginable leaving barely enough room for passengers.
“But, don’t you remember shivering in the wind, wrapped in towels?” my middle sister asked recently. I do remember, all too well. Beach day was never, ever cancelled due to less than ideal weather.
We went to the beach, regardless of the weather.
Now, in my adult life and fully in charge of my own schedule, I relish the freedom of a last minute weekend at the beach when the forecast boasts sun, hot temperatures, the promise of a world-famous sunset and not a hint of rain.
The beaches of Lake Huron are the best place to relive summer memories, without the regrettable weather.
I wrote a guide to Lake Huron Beaches for The Globe and Mail, which appeared in the Pursuits section of the paper on Saturday August 4, 2018.
I did it! Back in 2016 I set a goal that I would hike 100 miles in Joshua Tree National Park. I completed that mission today with a quick trot to the top of Ryan Mountain, a 3-mile hike.
At the top, my travel companion presented me with a congratulatory summit sketch to recognize my accomplishment.
As you can see, it was a fine day atop Ryan Mountain with clear views of San Jacinto Peak to the southwest, San Gorgonio Mountain to the north west, Juniper Flats and the California Riding and Hiking Trail.
There’s always a cool refreshing breeze at the summit of Ryan Mountain to dry the sweat from the climb. I always take breaks on the way to the top to notice the rock piles, wild flowers and small wildlife. There are a few Joshua Trees beside the trail and one of my favourite things is to listen to the whistle of the wind through the needles. Careful you don’t get poked in the ear, the needles are sharp!
Back at the JTNP Visitor Centre, I received my official 100-mile sticker. Thank goodness they still had some two years after the Centennial Hiking Challenge wrapped up. Disappointment would have been an understatement if I didn’t get my stickers. I was weirdly attached to getting the final one for my set.
So, now that I’ve completed my 100 miles… what next?? I have in mind that I want to climb all the named peaks in my guidebook. I’ve done quite a few already – the easy ones I feel confident doing on my own. It’s all the big ones – Pinto Mountain, Quail Mountain, Eagle Peak – that are left. I think I’ll need some help with these.
What hiking goals have you accomplished lately?
In the past five years, I’ve traveled to Joshua Tree, California five times.
Yes, that’s right, five times in five years. With another trip planned for early 2018. This fact surprises even me since I’ve always said I wouldn’t return to the same destination more than once. because there are so many places to see in the world: ‘Why waste time going back when there are so many more places to see in the world?!?!’
“Back to Joshua Tree again?” friends and family ask every year.
So, I can completely identify with David Gillett’s article in The Globe and Mail this weekend, “There and back again.” Gillett writes about his multiple trips to England’s Lake District.
He acknowledges that some people travel to check sites and locations off their bucket list and proclaim they’ve, “done England!” or “seen everything in Newfoundland!” leaving no reason to return.
But for some travellers, Gillett acknowledges being “pulled back by some unseen gravitational force time and again to a particular place.”
That’s how I feel about Joshua Tree and I’ve got some new insight from a fellow traveller and travel writer about why this happens to some of us.
Although, I have to say, it is hurting my country count… just a little bit!
Stop over planning your travels. I dare you to take a weekend away, without an itinerary!
I discovered the Centennial Hiking Challenge in Joshua Tree National Park and work my way toward hiking 100 miles!
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was recently in Phoenix, Arizona. While there are many think I don’t like about this sprawling desert city, there was also much to love. The least of which is a healthy local scene of independent local business. Arizona was whacked pretty hard in the 2008 recession and is still reeling. For sale signs and empty lots galore.
Here’s one thing I do love about Phoenix. This local campaign called “Shift the Way you Shop” encourages residents to shift 10% of their spending to local shops, foods, and services. Pretty do-able.
What I really love is that they launched the campaign with a HUGE wrap on the Metro Valley LRT!!! Brilliant. They also worked with an advertising company to launch a mobile app that points the user to local shops and restaurants around each of the LRT stops. How brilliant is that.
We could certainly do this in Waterloo Region with our new LRT on the way and planning in the works ‘as we speak’!
Find more at Shift ARizona.