Anglo Adventure

Travel with a sense of humor


5 Comments

Could Skijoring be the Next Olympic Sport?

quebec-sport-winter-carnival-olympics

Who invented this sport? Had to have been a drunk college kid. Copyright: HalmCreative2014

Big news: skijoring, my favorite sport-that’s-not-a-sport is campaigning to make a comeback as a demonstration sport for the next Winter Olympics.

In 2011, I came across skijoring at Quebec’s Winter Carnival. I watched transfixed as crazy Canadians skied over slopes from the back of galloping horses, again and again.

Skijoring can be found where winter really sucks: Canada, Russia, Norway, Montana. It’s been around for awhile (before 1928), but I have a feeling it’s the next hip sport, here to replace interpretive broom dancing, naked bike riding, and bike polo or whatever else we’ve got going on.

There aren’t many official rules. Hitch your cross country skis to something and go.

The unofficial skijoring list: 

  • a pack of giant schnauzers,
  • a pick-up truck,
  • a snowmobile,
  • a well-trained Yeti,
  • a comet (also known as spacejoring),
  • one-thousand running lemmings (turns quickly into cliff diving),
  • a Yak (that’s real),
  • a trolly (SanFranjoring)
  • a swordfish
  • a pair of eager-to-please llamas
  • Poseidon, the God of the Sea (Seajoring)
Skijoring. The next big thing in Olympic Sports.

Joring in style. Copyright: HalmCreative2014

What’s your favorite winter-sport-that’s-not-a sport? Comment below!

Ps. I extended the giveaway! You can still comment on this post for a chance to win Alena Dillon’s very fun book I Thought We Agreed To Pee In The Ocean. Will be announcing/contacting the winner on Tuesday.


3 Comments

My Impossible-to-Escape Turkey Day Tradition

Turkey Day, Seattle

This is what November looks like here. Isn’t it pretty?

I did it. I finally made a turkey. Ok, my husband did most of, ok all of the gross stuff like stuffing it with apples and herbs to make it aromatic and piercing the thigh with a meat thermometer every hour. I participated by inspecting the meat to make sure we weren’t giving all of our friends food poisoning.

I know what you’re thinking…Thanksgiving is a couple days away.

Being nomads, we’ve never done a true Thanksgiving. We spent our first Thanksgiving married in a Shari’s Diner eating half-frozen turkey sandwiches with blobs of cranberry sauce on the side. I cried.

I vowed never to let that happen again, so for the next few years we found a fancy restaurant and dined there. Still didn’t feel right. No football, no drunk cousins, no Cool Whip? Something about the white-linen tablecloth made me feel awkward making a mashed-potato volcano. Too fancy, no family. And I cry again.

Thankfully, a friend took me in the next year, when The Husband was in Quebec and I was in Seattle. No crying and I am still grateful. Be supportive to your Thanksgiving strays, they’ll remember it.

Canadian Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Poutine

Poutine and plastic fork. Even Elwood realized it wasn’t Thanksgiving.

Then came the Quebec year. Thanksgiving isn’t a big to-do in Quebec like it is here.

First, their Thanksgiving (L’action de Grace) takes place before Halloween. That’s strange. It’s like eating dessert before dinner. And most people, at least in Quebec see Thanksgiving as a day off to cover their pools and construct their carports. Most people I knew didn’t even eat turkey.

That’s right: Thanksgiving in Belle Province is pretty much relegated to a labor-day type of holiday. Which is fine, they have plenty of awesome holidays and at the time, I thought I could use a break from American-style gorging. Continue reading


8 Comments

Is this what a nervous breakdown looks like?

A tree photo

Things money can’t buy

I just kind-of quit my job. Well, I ended a contract assignment at a major company. 

Still…

The people were perfectly nice, the hours were decent and they paid me a sic salary for a writer. They even had a cafe with a healthy take on the McMuffin: spinach, egg whites, whole-wheat english muffin. A McMuffin that is actually good for you. Freakin’ beautiful.

Pretty perfect right? You probably want to punch me in the nose. I almost want to punch myself in the nose. But the truth is, the job fit like a bad shoe. It felt ok when I tried it on. And then blisters started popping up everywhere. One day, it became unbearable. Continue reading

friendship-expat-humor-travel-blog


6 Comments

The Art of Making Friends in New Places

For me, travel isn’t about running my hands over the walls of the Taj Mahal or zip lining through a canopy of trees in Costa Rica.

It’s the people I have met and yet to meet. It’s the friendships that have yet to unfurl.

Friends 4ever.

friends-friendships-quebec

While flying from Detroit to Quebec to work on a travel guidebook, I befriended a four-year-old. I know.  What could we possibly have in common?

Trick question. We both love pink and purple, paging through the SkyMall and making wide-eyed puppets out of paperbags. Continue reading


8 Comments

I Would Like to Thank…

This album is dedicated to all the people who told me I’d never amount to nothin’ –Notorious

The 2013 guide to Montreal and Quebec that I helped author for Fodor’s Travel comes out in March and is available for pre-sale right now.

Some write fake Oscar speeches; I fantasize about crafting clever book dedications. I plan to dedicate future novel to my enormous family for well…everything, the Husband for his patience and encouragement and the Dog who keeps my feet warm as I write. And to my Grandma, for her endless advice.

Unfortunately, I don’t get to *actually* dedicate or thank anyone in the travel book because that would be unfair to the other writers, editors, and photographers who worked on it. Besides, I am a writing phantom taking the form of Eugene Fodor, a fascinating Hungarian wayfarer.

Miss Misery

cloud-painting-art-institute-chicago

This is one of the first paintings I ever connected to. I always thought it was icebergs, but it’s clouds. -Art Institute, Chicago

Should I ever write a novel, I would be tempted to throw it into the faces of those who spurned me early on when I was just a kid. I probably wouldn’t do it, because bitter ain’t the right shade for me, but it’s fun to think about.

One of my favorite writer bloggers  recently wrote an eloquent piece about a teacher who helped influence his writing career. I have a few of those too – wonderful people, who pulled me aside and told me that despite my horrific spelling, I had a knack with words.

I’ve also had the opposite. Miss Bruner, my 7th grade art teacher deserves a failing grade. A teacher should encourage, not manage expectations. Let kids’ dreams bounce above their heads like big red balloons. When the time comes, they’ll clutch some and let others fly. Give them that choice.

Miss Bruner hobbled up and down classroom aisles with a cane. She’d pull your drawing out from your hands, exam it from behind little glasses that sat at the end of her nose and snicker. When we had to sketch George Washington (impossible!), I erased entirely through his eye. I am no Manet. Did Miss Bruner encourage me to learn from this mistake and be more careful next time? No.  She put my rendition of George Washington over her own face and peeped through the hole as if it were a mask.

Ok, so maybe I screwed up the portrait. Maybe she was joking, maybe the George Washington incident was part of her teacher schtick.

But later that semester, when I expressed an interest in going to Venice to view art, she barked:

“How are YOU going to go to Venice? It costs a lot of MONEY, Am-an-da.”  Continue reading


9 Comments

If You Were Tiny and Trapped in a Blender…

You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and thrown into a blender. Your mass is reduced so that your density is the same as usual. The blades start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?**

This is the kind of conversation I love to speculate about, the kind that occurs after midnight with a gaggle of friends and a few bottles of wine. The kind that veers left then spins around so we can’t remember where it started. The kind that ends with a demonstration. It always like fireworks, one person’s words bursting forth and then another’s, the conversation rapidly intensifying until the subject has been exhausted.

Am I wearing high heels?

Is someone on the other side of the blender?

Does a blender’s blades go all the way to the top?

Is there water on the bottom?

If a single person took out their smartphone and looked it up, the fun would be over. Smartphones and search engines have destroyed our ability not only to reason, but to banter for long periods of time.

I am not a modern-day luddite. I don’t want to destroy technology. I just want screens to be locked in cages at dinner or in art museums or when I am with a group of people and we’re experiencing a moment together.

Why I gave up my phone

smartphones, google interview questions, travel cellphones

The burner is the way of the future. Excuse the hideousness of this photo. Neon green isn’t my color.

When I moved back and forth from Canada, I disposed of a lot of stuff: bags of clothes, old laptops, etc. La vie of the nomad. Continue reading


5 Comments

Wild & Free: Adventures in Eagle-Watching

Wild and free is the way I want my life…nature’s way for me without pain and strife ~ Curtis Mayfield

quebec winter carnival, expat blog, washington state winter

I am convinced all black specks are eagles. See it?

Like most sane people, I have complaints about winter. It’s cold. It’s dark. I want to do nothing, but consume morsels of dark chocolate and glasses of wine while in a nest of blankets.

But when the alarm rings at 5:50 am, I get ready to face the day. A decent jacket, good attitude, and eight cups of coffee help.

maple leaf, Canada expat blog, travel writing

So do moments like this.

My fondness for winter started in Quebec. I had to make the best of the worst weather. I danced under an ice palace at Winter Carnival, tumbled down small hills on cross-country skis, and rolled popsicle sticks in maple syrup taffy. I miss real winter, miss the rumblings of snow plows at night and the crunch of ice under my boots.

I didn’t think I would ever miss these things. Maybe what I really miss are mid-day field trips and singing French songs on a bus with the rest of the second-language students.

Nothing lasts forever, but I can’t help but to feel a touch of Cube Fever after being so wild and free.

Here’s how I am dealing with the first winter as a re-patriot:

Winter in Washington State

Washington travel images, fir trees, Seattle travel

I half expected this tree to touch my hair to compare notes.

After a Wii Mario jamboree that lasted until 1:00 in the morning, I woke up early to photograph eagles in Skagit, two hours north from my house in Seattle. I had errands to do that day – taxes and such, but The Sister convinced me it was a good idea. Continue reading


6 Comments

Dear Media, We Need to Talk

Video on how media should cover a mass murder

I am not the person to write about What Happened last Friday. I am a travel blogger and when I am not traveling, I am trying to make people laugh. Expect what follows to be slightly off topic and serious.  One travel’s greatest gifts is the ability to look at your own country through a long lens – see its beauty, as well as its flaws.

The USA gets a lot right. And a lot wrong.

I will not use the location or the keywords associated with What Happened because it is not my intention to use it to bolster my blog readership and I am absolutely disgusted by anyone who would do so.

I would like to tell reporters who shoddily covered What Happened exactly What I think of them.

Let me just say: I love the news. Previously, I worked as a journalist at several small newspapers. I think most journalists are honorable, heroic, worthy of medals for risking their lives to cover wars and conflicts in far off places while the rest of the world reads the stories from safe at home.

I think the world needs more good journalists to build bridges across the sky, to places and people we’d never know otherwise. I am a strong proponent of freedom of speech. I am vehemently anti-censorship.

HOWEVER, coverage of What Happened has been irresponsible and dangerous on multiple levels. Continue reading


4 Comments

The Art of Saying Goodbye

expat-tips-moving-tips-travel-blogs

Elwood wondering about the next time he’ll see his friends from Quebec

Goodbye is part of life, especially for travel writers and expats. I said goodbye to a very good group of people recently. As someone who has made three big moves in six years, I should be accustomed to this.

I am not. Especially because I know I probably won’t see these people again.

The Very Good People I speak of are a refugee family from Libya (originally Somalia) who I helped transition here. I showed them bus routes and where to find jobs and taught them simple English phrases. They cooked dinner every Sunday. Heaping piles of rice and pasta with sides of bananas and salads. Never a question if I would stay and eat. They assumed and set up a plate and ushered me to the kitchen.

I worked with the family for a few months. As I watched them pack, (offering to help, but not knowing what to do), I noticed they still didn’t switch their clocks over for daylight savings. I should have explained daylight savings to them. I should have showed them where to buy rain boots and jackets. I could have done a better job as their appointed American mentor. Continue reading


Leave a comment

To All the Nomads

This made me cry. Ps. I really need to learn to surf

Happy Halloween, everyone! It’s one of my favorite holidays because I love candy, characters, and knocking on complete strangers’ doors. Ok, I am not in costume because last year, in Quebec I spent $80 on a black tutu because $80 and $40 sounded similar to me in French. This year, I decided to watch a free animatronic skeleton rock show instead of spending more money on a costume.

The black tutu has to last. Black Swan is so last year. Future costumes include: Courtney Love in her best/worst (depends on who you’re talking to), fashion stage to Gothic Lolita (not as gross as it sounds, actually so cool I want this idea to live in relative secrecy so I can use it next year), to a ballerina superhero I have yet to create.

Halloween puts me in a strangely sentimental mood. The video above reminded me of all the reasons I love going places.

The Nomad’s not afraid of making waves or catching waves or being uncomfortable. Why should I be? He speaks about finding his community (skaters!) wherever he goes. He speaks about having a life rich in experiences. He reminds me of so many people I have met in passing, ones I have to carry in my heart as I move from place to place. As a writer on the Matador Network pointed out, the Nomad’s not coming from the perspective of a rich American going to ‘find himself’ during a gap-year in Latin America, funded by blazer-and-khaki clad rich dad.

He’s doing it because it’s who he is and needs to, despite all the obstacles. He reminds me that if he can do it, so can I.

Reasons I travel

  • That moment stepping off a plane when even the air feels different. I live for that and will sacrifice comfort to feel it.
  • Meeting someone for the first time, far away and realizing all the things you have in common. You don’t speak the same language, but you can smile and mimic your way through anything. It’s usually more hilarious than awkward.
  • I enjoy human connections. I have friends and not just the Facebook variety who come from near and far and span across all ages. This has been more of a valuable education than college; it has given me insight into how people really think and feel. MOST importantly perhaps, travel has taught me that just because someone is from a developing country, doesn’t mean he or she is poor and needs my pity. A person can be rich in family and experiences and connections, things we miss because we’re busy climbing corporate ladders.
  • Sure, I can look at an iPhone screen, but it’s nothing like a hug or shoulder squeeze or sharing food or looking into someone’s eyes.
  • Seeing dorsal fins pop up from choppy waves (my last Sunday). Watching pink clouds slide across the sky (everyday).
  • I would have missed this Seattle sunset:

travel writing tips, why to travel

And this tree:

travel blog, seattle travel, beautiful tree

And this Copenhagen street at night:

travel blog, travel writing, Denmark travel

And this Quebec City sunrise:

Quebec City Sunrise

I have only begun to see the world, to catch my own waves. I can’t wait to venture further into the ocean. Comment below with why you travel. And Happy Halloween!