It’s 2017!! As always, I look back and think that the year went by so quick. Probably because it was jam packed with adventure. How did you do with checking off goals from your bucket list in 2016? Though I didn’t complete everything I had set out to do (hiking the Inca Trail may have to wait another year!), there were plenty of cool experiences had around the world.
1. Kayaking with Beluga Whales in Manitoba
I traveled to chilly Churchill to see the polar bears (which I did!), but the main attraction ended up being a kayak ride surrounded by beluga whales.
Between mid-June to September one of Canada’s most incredible wildlife display happens — the beluga whales come to town. More than 50,000 of these sociable creatures patrol the Arctic in Northern Manitoba, and the Hudson Bay coastline sees the world’s largest population.
We glided along while whales swam underneath and next to me, a couple babies even came right up to the boat to inspect my GoPro.
2. Filming a Commercial for Chase
Lights, Camera, Action!! Me and my blog, Bucket List Journey, shot a video commercial (which can be found on this Travel + Leisure page) & print ads for Chase that are in the December & January issues of Travel + Leisure magazine!
We spent an unforgettable two days filming and taking photos based on my life and my blog. I felt famous for a couple of magical days, where a makeup artist fixed my face, a stylist picked my clothes and an entourage of camera crew followed my every move. I think I could get used to all that!
3. Spending the Night in Jordan’s Wadi Rum Desert
Wadi Rum is 720 square kilometers of heart stopping desert landscape, where a maze of sheer-sided sandstone and granite monoliths rise up from the valley floor. Touring Petra Archaeological Site and floating in the Dead Sea were unforgettable experiences in Jordan. But, spending the night in the UNESCO Wadi Rum Desert was beyond a bucket list experience.
I rode camels, ran down sand dunes and slept inside of a Bedouin style tent in the middle of the desert where the only noise was coming from our small camp.
4. Tidal Bore Rafting in Nova Scotia
With all the research I did before going to Nova Scotia, tidal bore rafting was something that never popped up. That’s why it’s important to talk to the locals in a destination, they can recommend adventures that you may have never heard of!
The tides are a natural phenomenon in Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy and cause 160 billion tons of water flow through the bay twice a day, which feeds into the Shubenacadie River. This surge of seawater creates a once-in-a-lifetime adventure like no other.
The rapids created by this surge turned the water into a playground for our raft. We zipped high over some waves, while others just crashed into the boat drenching us from head to toe and submerging the raft. My rain coat was only a protection from the wind because water had easily found its way inside. We laughed, screamed and held on tight.
5. Experiencing a Traditional Japanese Ryokan
A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn where the floors are typically tatami mats and the rooms are separated with sliding shōji doors. While touring Sendai with Tohoku & Tokyo we were booked for one night at Hotel Sakan, a ryokan that was over 1,000 years old!
When I opened the door to my room I may have let out a squeal. It was not what I expected from an old ryokan, it was so much more luxurious. A short table sat in the middle of the main room which was perfect for my morning cup of tea. I would have never left my room if they didn’t have a delicious restaurant and four onsen on premise, giving me a chance to relax in communal baths that are supplied by natural hot springs.
6. Snowshoeing Montana’s Glacier National Park
Many people opt to visit Glacier National Park in the Summer, when the weather is in the high 70s so they can hike the over 700 miles of trails, horseback ride along the treed paths and whitewater raft the Flathead River. But, we were here in the middle of the winter when the park is covered in a beautiful blanket of white. It was an untouched vision of natural beauty.
Call me crazy, but I was a little nervous about snowshoeing through part of the almost 1 million acres of Glacier National Park in Montana. The shoes just seemed ginormous, especially for someone who is prone to tripping over her own barefoot feet. But a day prior to my snowshoe debut, while I was learning to be a dogsledding musher in Western Montana, the guide told me that the difference between being a beginner and expert snowshoer was about five steps. Just five strides forward is all it took to become a professional. He was right.
7. Feeding the Swimming Pigs in Exuma
As soon as I heard about the swimming pigs of Exuma, I just knew I had to go and witness this anomaly for myself. So, my husband and I flew to the Bahamas to partake in one memorable afternoon with a bunch of cute porkers.
There are two island locations to accomplish this goal, one at Big Major Cay and the other on White Bay. We booked the half-day tour with Exuma Water Sports that included a piggy stop at the nearby White Bay Cay. When the boat arrived the pigs paddled out to greet us with their hungry eyes and we were armed with lots of hot dogs!
8. The Piaynemo View in Indonesia’s Raja Ampat
The world is filled with beautiful scenery, but for me, not many have been more picturesque than the view from the top of Piaynemo in Raja Ampat. Pulling up to the small dock there was a set of stairs heading straight up into the forest. These 340 steps (I counted!) were strenuous in the humid heat, but the view from the pinnacle was worth every single one.
From the peak you can see an iconic karst island seascape, small islands surrounded by a dozen shades of brilliant blue.
9. Ran a 5K Race
I know to most of you this is a piddly accomplishment, but running a 5k had been on my bucket list for a really long time, so it was a proud moment for me. I am one of those people who generally follows the rule of only running if I am being chased!
I trained for a couple months and then signed up for the Levi’s Presidio 10, a race set alongside the water of the presidio the perfect view of the Golden Gate Bridge. I finished in 37:31 and 8th in my age group. Not too shabby for my first try.
10. Attended the Lagunitas Beer Circus
My hometown in Northern California is where Lagunitas Brewing resides. This cool beer company puts on a yearly event called the Lagunitas Beer Circus that will blow your mind. It’s an adult steampunk-style circus where there’s a little burlesque, freaktacular entertainment and a lot of BEER. Many people dress up in fun costumes, and I did the same. I figured if you are going to go you may as well go big!
The experience confirmed that it is true what they say — you will “see things that you can’t un-see”.
11. Take Photos in a Photo Booth
As a kid, I always loved those cheesy photo booths at the arcade, which made me want to take some fun photos in one as an adult. Luckily, they have become all the rage at weddings and other events, so I got my chance during a friends nuptials.
My partner in crime joined in the fun…
I’m looking forward to seeing what crazy adventures 2017 will bring!