From travel

New travel column for The Community Edition

New year, new column! I present, “Waterloo Region Through a Traveller’s Eye.”

hyperlocal travel column for The Community Edition
– Waterloo Region Through a Traveller’s Eye

Throughout 2019 I’ll be writing a local travel column for The Community Edition, a print publication in the region of Waterloo. The column will feature excursions, day trips, weekend getaways or hidden gems within the urban and rural geography of our region. Each month I’ll highlight something noteworthy within each of the three cities (Cambridge, Kitchener & Waterloo), all four townships (Wellesley, Wilmot, Woolwich and North Dumfries), along with a couple weekend outings to nearby communities.

Just because you live here doesn’t mean you can’t learn from or appreciate what we have with a traveller’s eye and thrill.

– Waterloo Region Through a Traveller’s Eye

I grew up in Wellesley Township and I now like in Kitchener. But, I suffer from wanderlust so I’ve travelled to 19 different countries, almost all Canadian provinces and territories and one third of US states. I will likely add 3-5 more countries to my list by the end of 2019. I’m privileged to travel.

Hyperlocal travel

But who’s to say far-flung destinations equals the definition of travel? I believe we can travel wherever we are – travelling is a mindset and an attitude as much as the movement of our body to different timezone.

Journey with me in 2019 for some backyard travel in our Waterloo region.

Local travel has some genuine benefits; visit destinations in your own community with a traveller’s curiosity and sense of adventure and there’s a good chance you will see things from a different perspective. Guaranteed, you will find places you didn’t know existed. 

– Waterloo Region Through a Traveller’s Eye

Summer at the beaches of Lake Huron

Sunset at Bayfield Beach and Marina
Bayfield Beach at sunset ~ Copyright Juanita Metzger 2018

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.



100-mile badge, unlocked!

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?

Joshua Tree is my repeat destination, which I never thought I would do!

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!

front page of The Globe and Mail Travel section featuring an article about returning to the same destination more than once
Photo: Copyright Juanita Metzger 2017


Shift the Way You Shop

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.

Shift the Way You Shop
image credit

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.

Phoenix, Arizona. You won me.

Well, where to start with Phoenix, Arizona. I went there in early December for some sun and desert warmth. I found both and a whole lot more.

Being the localist that I am, I also explored and roamed as many local, independent corners and streets as I could. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Phoenix has a vibrant and thriving local scene, largely prompted by the initiative Local First Arizona. They’re all about buying locally, building community and supporting a vibrant local economy.

Local First Arizona
©2011 Juanita Metzger

With their Small Wonders guides, I managed to find some of the most wonderful and weird places on (and off) the map. Here’s a a small selection.

Urban Grocery at Pheonix Public Market
Phoenix Public Market ©2011 Juanita Metzger

Phoenix Public Market
Phoenix Public Market ©2011 Juanita Metzger

The Phoenix Public Market captured my interest for the better part of a Wednesday. It started out with lunch at the Urban Grocery & Wine Bar, followed by espresso at the back of the grocery/deli/bar, followed by some reading at the community bulletin board…. by which time, the outdoor market was starting to set up for the 4 – 8pm evening market. The big anticipation was all for the food trucks scheduled to arrive! They did not disappoint.

Starting with the Filipino truck, the Mondo Bowl of mung beans, rice, veggies and sauce only served to whet the appetite! It was the blackened catfish with rice, peas and salad that finished off the evening. That, and the fresh carrot bread….

Phoenix Public Market Food Trucks
©2011 Juanita Metzger

Roosevelt Row was another impressive area. Completely supported and promoted by the area merchants, there was a lot going on.

Roosevelt Row
©2011 Juanita Metzger

For more on my Phoenix explorations, also read, Shift the Way You Shop.