This year brought with it WAY less travel than I was used to, which was a welcome change (though I must confess, I've been craving Amsterdam for months now!). But we managed to get around a little bit. My top ten of the places we've seen in the last twelve months, in order of occurrence:
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Growing up in Nova Scotia, I'm no stranger to oceans, or bridges, but this was the first time I've set foot (well, toe), into the pacific ocean. You always hear about the Golden Gate and how fabulous it is, but all I could think when I boarded our tour boat was 'come on - a bridge? It can't be that big of a deal'. I was humbled. Also, all bridges should be bright red.
One of San Fran's cutest galleries, Minna quickly became my 'ooh! I love it!' spot during a launch party I planned in January. The exhibit of the day was fascinating. My boss thought I would be horrified by the wall to wall naked ladies in their favourite shoes, but I loved it! The colours were stunning, the food was delightful, and the bar staff (save a mildly disorganized event planner) saved my sanity. And they make a mean martini, too.
This was my first introduction to the Apple techno-cult, keynote-lineups-around-the-block, new Apple gadgets dangling from convention centre rafters mayhem that is Macworld. There on business, I got to go behind the scenes and see the giant blacked out Apple tent (the black drapes around the booth go down ONLY when the keynote is over), stand less than 50 steps from Steve Jobs, and meet Apple-lovers old and young. Not sure I would do it again (crazy! missed sleeping!) but it was definitely an experience...
Gatineau Park, January 2008
One of our favourite things to do once the snow hits is to grab a nalgene full of wine, some cheese, bread and chocolate and head on up with our skis into the hills across the river. A short 6Km ski into the woods and we are ready to step inside a chalet to join 30 strangers for music, firelight and deliciousness. Follow this up with a 6K downhill ski back to the car and you've got a perfect night.
CBC Studios, Ottawa Morning Show
In February I was lucky enough to appear (if voice on-air can count as 'appearing' anywhere) on the CBC Radio Morning Show in Ottawa to talk about the launch of Cheap Eats Ottawa and my favourite eat-on-the-cheap places, including one of my still-favourites, Dick's Drive In And Dairy Dip. While I love the name, I really love them for their homemade veggie burgers and perfect rootbeer floats.
Desperately needing to get away from work, and hoping Vancouver could potentially be our "we can't live in Ottawa FOR-ever" place, we headed to Vancouver for the May long weekend to wrap our heads around things. There I met up with Internet friends, climbed up on snowy mountains in hardly any clothes at all (ballet flats! tank tops!) and figured out just how much I love (a) car sharing and (b) the Mini Cooper S. Why does Vrtucar have no cool cars? Just lame ones. boo.
Our New House
After seeing about 5000 crappy apartments, one beautiful apartment that was just WAY too small for us (serious, Lyon @ McLeod. BEAUTIFUL.), we stumbled on a house we were sure we would hate but fell in love with instead. Its giant studio, 100 year old basement, gas stove, and backyard *just* big enough for a ping pong table are among many of the features we loved. What we don't love? The owners might be coming back in July. *sob*
Two friends of ours bought a farm this year, and while I was there to help them move in, it didn't really feel 'wow - this place is amazing' until my second visit (the time where I didn't have to lift heavy boxes!). This lush piece of property out in the vicinity of carp/dunrobin/arnprior is quickly becoming one of my favourite places to be put to work (stripping cedar posts, cutting barnboards, patting horses), to play fetch with puppies (Hi Raleigh!) and get the heck out of the city.
Backstage, Southam Hall
You have no idea just how big the stage at Southam Hall is until you walk behind the lights, baffles, props, risers, music stands and GIANT organs. Let me just say, it is very big. And to sit on the edge of the stage staring out at more than 2000 empty lush red seats is not only humbling, it's downright stage fright inducing. I don't know how performers do that every night. I would be shaking in my shoes.
Mom & Dad's New House, Nova Scotia
When my parents bought a lot in rural Nova Scotia, it didn't seem all that real. When they moved away from my sister and I, and moved in with family in Halifax, it just seemed like an extended vacation. But now that I am here, lying on the spare room bed in their new house, it seems real. And it seems very very much like a place we'll all be able to call our home away from home (the 8-burner gas stove and soapstone island help a lot). Now that it's real, I can't imagine it being any different than how it is.