Anglo Adventure

Travel with a sense of humor


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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.

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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


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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

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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.

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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


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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


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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


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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