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Accomplished/Done List vs. Bucket List

The bucket list is a seemingly common practice or thing people do to help them layout all of the things that they want to do before they die or “kick or the bucket”, with the goal of crossing off all or majority of things.

A bucket lists can be a cool thing to do for it helps you track and plan your goals and build your desire for adventure and to experience all that life has to throw at you. When it comes to adventuring, it can help you keep a list of all the places you want to go to, helping you to plan out your travels.

I used to pay quite a bit of attention to bucket lists, carefully sculpting it and adding things to it and I convinced myself that it was helping me grab a fuller understanding of life. However, as the years passed I began to realize that a bucket list is kind of overrated and wasn’t giving me the satisfaction I was looking for.

As I kept adding things to it and the list grew I became overwhelmed of all of the things I hadn’t done and even though I was relatively young, I felt a pressure of time.  I became saddened, if you will to view all of the things that I haven’t done. Then one night, when I was walking around a city with a friend and we were discussing bucket lists, I realized that instead of making a bucket list, I would do something a little different.

fI decided that a bucket list was overrated and that to gain the perspective I was looking for I would ditch the bucket list and start a “What I Have Done” list. A list that would include all of the moments, small or big, that made me feel alive in a special way such as stood on a mountain above the clouds, experienced a first kiss, write a song, went to Ireland, spent a night exploring a city with friends, and played my ukulele on a beach under the Northern Lights.

 

With this list over a bucket list, I would focus on all of things I have done versus paying more attention to what I haven’t done, decreases regret and increasing a peace.  This list also helped me to be more spontaneous with my adventures. Instead of trying to plan for certain ones, I was able to plan more freely, because I wasn’t focused on the all of the places I would like to go in the future. I was more focused and the journey’s that presented me with an opportunity to take.

I think that the coolest effect on me that this list had, was it helped me to really take in each and every moment and notice everything magic about each moment. I never knew when a moment would pop up that I would want to record so I found myself beginning to truly feel every moment more and more and appreciate each moment for what it was.  The simplest moments became more special, and Life became more beautiful to me.

I was focused less on racing to accomplish everything in a bucket list and focused more on just being in the moment. It pushed me to journal more, learn more, Love more, and travel more.

Now I am not saying, don’t make a bucket list, because they are fun and help you to dream and make awesome goals. I guess what I am trying to say is instead of paying attention to all of things you haven’t done in life so far, all of the places you haven’t visited, focus on what you have done and where you have been.  Feel every moment, draw closer, explore more, realize the miracle of a sunrise, cherish the moments that make you smile, notice everything, live like you are dreaming. It is kind of nice to look back on a journal of the things you have done or experienced and the people that have had an impact on your life.

Reasons to Explore: Find Peace (A 10 Mile Hike)

Adventuring is something that my parents introduced me to when I was younger through family trips. Today, I have found that I have gained a better appreciation for going on adventures. There are many reasons why traveling and exploring the planet have become a passion and a hobby of mine over the years. As I continue to build my exploring resume and visit new places I begin to realize and discover what it is about exploring that captures me and gives me a desire to go to distant lands and into the wilderness.

Escape Reality

Let’s face it. As spectacularly wonderful as Life can be, it can also be crazy, stressful, overwhelming, and pressuring, and a, at times, seemingly chaotic world home doesn’t help.

Sometimes the best way to help deal with the struggles of reality, whether they are big or small, and give your mind some time to regroup, is too escape reality all together. I find that travelling and exploring the planet, near or far from home, can help you do just that and find peace in the wild of Life.

Getting out into the world and breaking from your normal routine can be a medicine for your soul and mind unlike any other for it allows you to take a break from the stressors of daily life. Therefore freeing yourself and help you to learn and grow as a person and feel Life in a unique way.

This was especially apparent during the recent and current COVID-19 pandemic, even though there were tight travel restrictions. On the rare occasion in the last few months I was able to get to somewhere else, of course following guidelines. Getting out of dodge was huge in helping myself deal with all of the fears, stress, and panic, brought on by the pandemic and the poor way it was handled by the news media.

It led me to really appreciate and cherish exploring even more than I already did, due to the peace it brought me and to experience how easily it can be taken away.

Into the Wilderness…

For me the kinds of trips that bring the most peace are the ones that take me out into nature and away from bigger cities. The trips were I find comfort and enjoyment in sleeping on the ground in a tent or in my car.

There is something special and tranquil about the wilderness and being in nature that helps one recharge themselves and relax their mind and learn. It was the exact type of trip I was looking for to help give my mind break from all of the stressors brought on by the pandemic and to escape reality.

So, when restrictions to travel in Michigan became rolled back a buddy of mine named Landon and me took this opportunity to head into the wilderness of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to get out of dodge for a bit. Of course doing it safely and following social distancing and COVID-19 prevention guidelines.

It was a spontaneous trip where we left on a Friday night after we both got out of work and drove into the night, heading for a rest stop about 30 minutes outside of Munising and Pictured Rocks, where we would get a few hours of rest. The highlight of this drive definitely came when we crossed the bridge at sunset and drove west along Highway 2 on the shores of Lake Michigan.

I only wish we would have stopped to take a picture, but a picture would not have done the sight justice.

As we drove along 2 separated from the water by a few yards of sand, the Sun had almost completely disappeared on the horizon lighting up the sky in a layers of vibrant color. From the horizon up it was yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, and finishing of with a shade of dark blue.

To make the sight more majestic, the brightest of the stars in our sky were coming out and Venus and the Moon were seemingly dancing with each other in the orange layer of the sky. I couldn’t help but smile in the sight as I listened to the perfect tunes to match the view.

While we would only be spending Saturday up there we made the most it. By 7:30am where we already hitting the road to our first and only hike of the day.

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The 10 to 12 mile stretch of the North Country Scenic trail the runs through the forests along the shoreline of Pictured Rocks called Lakeshore Trail. It is a trail I had done once before about two years ago, and ever since I have had this itch to trek it again. Out of all of the trails I have hiked, this one is my favorite.

To see the colors of the forest, cliffs, and Lake Superior in the spring Sun, was nothing short of breathtaking and worth the wait. It felt freeing to walk this trail once again, a trail that provides you with views that make you feel like you are on the edge of the world. Walking along the mighty and naturally painted cliffs that stand guard over the pristine turquoise waters of Lake Superior.

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In the sections away from the shore and deeper into the forest we were greeted with young, spring forest floor growth and flowers making their way into the world. Because of this, I feel as if this hike is better made in the spring, for the temperature is perfect and the forest is brilliant with color. Just make sure you go early enough in the spring to beat the bugs.

After our hike we then headed to the mountain bike course on top of a large hill that over looked Lake Superior in Munising. We tore up the trail and its obstacles and features for a few hours before we decided to head back home.

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Take Time to Journey

The relief that this short and spontaneous trip brought to my mind in the face of the stressors and anxiety that life was throwing my way, throwing all of our ways, was a reminder that nature and traveling is such a fascinating part of Life. It was also a reminder of the wonders of the wilderness, the lessons it can teach you, and peace it can bring.

Showing me once again how precious this planet is and that it truly is the perfect place to experience the gift we call Life. We need to ensure it stays that way for future generations to come.

IMG_4500My message to you though is that if Life ever begins to overwhelm you know that it is okay to feel overwhelmed, stressed, and/or anxious and then know that this world is so full of adventure and fun. So take time for yourself to explore it.

Let your batteries recharge, find answers to your stressors, connect with yourself, nature, and those you come in contact with on your journeys, and just take time to breathe.  The world is here for us to enjoy and explore it, so take time to do just that.

Those little moments of pure magic, excitement, adventure, and happiness in Life that things like exploring can bring you, make getting through the times of stress and anxiety that much easier and remind you just how special Life is. The world is a stellar place to be because you’re here.

Song for thought: “Gonna Get Through This” by: Mike Mains & The Branches

Happy exploring!

– Dustin

A Message for Humanity: We Are Here, Together

In the light of what is going on in the world today regarding the pandemic I have decided to take a step away from writing posts on exploring the planet to discuss the matters at hand.

Today, a certain darkness has fallen on us, one that is shrouded in shadowed mystery that is seemingly dimming the light of hope. Not one nation, separated from others by a made up border, but the entirety of the human population. While we are all in this together I feel that we are all experiencing and emotionally reacting to this ordeal differently.

Some of us have left our places of work and begun to work from home and some of us are facing the storm head on by continuing to go to work to help keep society going. Some of us are now without out work and trying to make ends meet and some of us are staying at home as much as possible in a comfortable shelter with loved ones.

Some of us are staying connected to friends and family and hanging out in small groups when safe and possible, and some of us are alone unable to see or haven’t seen friends and family.

Some of us are sick, know someone who is sick, or has lost someone to the disease.

Some are scared, angry, confused, sad, lonely, content, thankful for what we have, depressed, missing friends and family, stressed, optimistic, stir crazy, and some, like my three year old Goddaughter, have no clue that anything crazy is even happening.

During times like these it is okay to feel like all of these things for we are all only human, unique and perfectly imperfect. We shouldn’t be upset with or call out someone who is handling this different than the next. What we each need to have for one another is patience, empathy, sympathy, respect, and understanding.

We need to know that for ourselves it is okay to feel or be burdened by all or any mix of emotions like the ones listed above, but know that you are not alone in this world and you are so strong.

For majority of us on this wonderful planet, the events that are taking place are new andcomes as a storm we have never sailed through. This includes our political, business, and medical leaders and while it may be tough, we also need to have patience and respect for them as well, no matter what side or political party you align yourself with. They are in charge of leading hundreds, to thousands, to hundreds of millions of people and through this storm of unprecedentedness, uncertainty, and unknown.

I feel it is patience and hope that will be our best defense against the storm. No matter how dark the storm may get we will always have hope for we have each other and it is in each one of us that the light of hope lies. One day, I do not know when it will come, the darkness will subside and we will be able to dance in the light again.

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Until then though we need to become a little softer and Love a little harder, we need to move past our religious, societal, and global divisions and unite in togetherness, for we are stronger when all 8 billion of us work together. We must each take moments for ourselves to look up to the stars, breathe, wonder, and dream, and know that hope is always there.

It is through togetherness and Love that our true power lies as we are being watched over from a closely far away place beyond the stars. For Freddie Mercury said it best when he sang powerfully: “Why can’t we give Love, give Love, give Love, give Love, give Love, give Love, give Love, give Love, give Love?”

This storm too shall pass and things will return to normal one day again, know that and hold onto that, for you have a light the world cherishes and you need to keep it shining, no matter how understandably scared you may find yourself feeling.

We are all in this together, but each one of us faces our own unique journey through this darkness shrouded in mystery. We are here now, and have the wonderful gift of choosing what to do with the time we have, our most precious resource, which begs the awesome question…What shall we do with it? I pray passionately and deeply for all.

Song for thought:All That’s Left Is Love” by Angels & Airwaves

– Dustin

Traveling with Anxiety

I have debated about writing this blog post for quite some time, but a recent short conversation I had with someone gave me the push, reason, or inspiration I needed to actually write.  Mainly because I began to view this post more as a way to help those who have the same mental disorder(s) that I have or a similar one.

Traveling and exploring the planet, as I have mentioned in previous posts, is one of my favorite things to do in life and I would consider it to be a passion of mine.  I may not be the world explorer that others are, but I don’t feel you need to go far or often for traveling and exploring to be a passion of yours.  You just have to truly have a Love for it and go about it with Love.

While I have a passion for exploring, I also have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), something I was diagnosed with when I was eight years old (I am 25 going on 26 today).  As a side effect, if you will, of GAD I also on a regular basis deal with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety, and depression, you know…all that fun stuff.

All of these things can at times make traveling tough and/or very difficult for me, despite my passion for it.  Granted there are times when exploring brings me a certain peace from it all, but for majority of the time they always linger like a dark cloud.  Providing me with irrational fears and worry or making rational ones seem much worse or like there is no escape from them.  Sometimes the irrational ones are so overpowering that rational fears flee from my mind.

For example, during my first true camping trip with friends we stayed at a site that I picked out, roughly 25 minutes to the South of the town of Munising in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  It was basically in the middle of nowhere, but it was a great campground, although it didn’t have showers like we thought it did (We thought the water fountain symbol on the website was the shower symbol, not our best moment).

When we got our camp set up, my buddy was concerned about bears, which was very logical because we were in the backwoods and one was just hit by a car less than a mile from our site.  I wasn’t worried about bears at all though; instead my mind was filled with intense fears of ticks, not showering for the three day trip, my friends not liking the site, my friends not ever wanting to camp with me again, getting dehydrated, not being closer to Munising, and so on.

Of course I didn’t physically or verbally express my fears, but they were there causing turmoil in my head.  Things that aren’t really a big deal become huge deals, as my mind spirals.  Whenever I jump on a trip, I expect fears to come and I know they are waiting for me and it can make traveling difficult and more exhausting then it should be.

Discovering a Light in Travel Companions

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Fire on the beach with friends

One of the big things that helps me get past anxiety that occurs when I travel is those who I travel with.  Sometimes they help me indirectly and don’t even realize they are helping me find a peace.

There are times that I travel with friends who know about my anxiety and help me get through it, by providing encouragement and reassurance that things are going to be okay.  When anxiety comes calling, they talk me through it and help me to take my mind off of it and focus on the journey ahead.

For example, my friend Allie, who I have gone on many adventures with in the past, also has similar anxiety issues that I face and so we were able to help each other through anxious thoughts.  Odds were that if one of us was getting an anxious thought, so was the other.  For me, this bond that I shared with a friend helped me to get past my fearful feelings when we would go on explorations with one another.

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Allie, me, and the Northern Lights (Photo by: Megan Dubay)

Majority of the times that I find my friends provide a light in the storm clouds of anxiety and depression during journeys is indirectly and without them even realizing the impact they are having.  Just by being there and seeing how much fun they are having takes my mind away from the fear and into the moment at hand.

This is common throughout my life outside of exploring, there is something about being with friends and family and sharing special moments with them that frees my mind.

My friend Bobby who I have gone on pretty much all of my trips with the past few years, except for Ireland and Scotland, has played such a huge role in helping me deal with anxiety.  Simply because of his fearless and take life as it comes at you spirit.  It pushes me to keep up with him and do things my fears tell me not to do or ditch my fears altogether.

During that camping trip I mentioned earlier he was one of the friends I was with and seeing how he took the situation with confident stride, no worry, and viewed it as just part of the story, helped me to push away those fears and jump on the same outlook as him.  Today, after all of our trips together, I am finding myself being pushed more and more toward this outlook and the outlook becoming more predominant than my anxieties.

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Bobby and me on top of Mauna Kea

The human connection is a powerful one and my anxieties have taught me that it is one to cherish, for the impact one person can have on another simply by being there and sharing the moment is pretty stellar.

Pushing Past and Finding Peace

Exploring with GAD can be difficult and make moments of expeditions less enjoyable as your brain betrays you and feeds you fears and darkness, but the important thing to remember is that you are not your anxiety, your anxiety is part of who you are.

In the past there have been moments for me on trips where anxiety has benefited me, such as by helping me solve problems, like when I had to reschedule a flight to Hawaii the day we were supposed to leave because our original one got cancelled.  It helps me to be more empathetic and understanding to the world around me and those that I travel with.

Granted, there have been so many times where I have just wished for it to go away so I could enjoy the fullness of a trip, but I find that the more time I spend wishing it would go away the worse it becomes.

So, I try to accept that it is a part of who I am and that I am not going to let it stop me from going on great adventures and live like I am dreaming, but this isn’t always easy and I am not saying that it is.  What I am saying is that if anxiety or depression is something that haunts you, you can overcome it and truly enjoy and feel every moment for what it is.

I know it is not easy, trust me, for the thoughts feel so real like daggers in the night.

I want to tell you though that when I travel and I get past my fears and get past my anxious thoughts and get into the expedition of an area of the planet away from home I reach a peace and a feeling of being alive unlike any other.  Simply, viewing each experience as a story to tell.

I also want to tell you that you can feel this same feeling, just start by focusing on where you are, the people you are with, and have faith and I swear to you, you will feel this peace I am describing.  There is a great big world out there waiting for you to explore.

When you push past the anxiety, depression, or feeling of doubt you will realize that you are so much stronger than your anxiety says you are.  It won’t be easy and it may take time, but keep your head up and keep your feet moving, for you are not alone and I know you can do this.  You are strong and awesome, and the world is waiting for you.

Song for thought: “Everything’s Magic” by Angels & Airwaves

Travel with Love

– Dustin

Lessons from Exploring: Be Spontaneous

One of the coolest parts of life is taking trips to explore the planet no matter how far from home you may find yourself going or where you go to; a vast wilderness full of mountains and carefully sculpted landscapes or a city, big or small. 

Most of the time, at least for me, trips are planned  at least months in advance mainly so my travel companions and me can make sure we get a some sort of lodging for our adventure.  Often, we decide to go on trip, figure out where to go, and then locate our base campsite or hotel that will be our temporary home.  Next we figure out what we will need and gather any gear that we will need to make the journey the best we can.

Sometimes though, our trips are not thought out months in advance.  Sometimes we don’t even have the goal of going somewhere months in advance.  Sometimes, the opportunity for adventure presents itself and we can’t help but take it.  While planning and organizing a well before it actually happens is a great strategy, gives us something to look forward to, and allows us to make sure we are prepared, I find there is a certain beauty in the spontaneous that you don’t get with a planned trip.

The Stars are the Limit

During any trip, anything seems possible, but when you take a spontaneous journey you might find yourself open to do anything for you don’t have any plans for the trip to stick to.  With a planned trip one often will figure what they want to do each day and have some sort of a game plan or schedule involved that you may try to stick to.

Now, I am not saying this is a bad thing by no means for it is good to have structure, but when you take a trip on a leap there is a magic in not have anything planned because you simply didn’t have time to plan what you wanted to do.  

You wing it and while this may sound intimidating it is also uniquely exciting.  Because you don’t have a plan or a set schedule you may find yourself unknowingly open for anything and come across opportunities you may have missed with a set plan.  A chance for discovery.

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Me taking in the view with Indian Head Rock in the Distance

For example, I go up to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula at least once a year and every trip is always somewhat planned except for this one time when I went on a whim and decided to travel up there the day before I left.  There was a certain freedom in this for I didn’t have time to set a schedule and just went with it and took any path that opened itself to me.

In this, I discovered new things about one of my favorite places on the planet, jumped out of my comfort zone because I didn’t know what to expect, and there was a nice freedom of not having a schedule to stick to.

The stars are the limit for any trip you take, but when you jump on the ship of spontaneity you can crack open a whole new world of possibility and adventure.

A Different Kind of Excitement

Going on a trip is always exciting no matter how you plan or organize it with the most exciting part being those first few steps away from home when the trip finally begins.  When you plan a trip with no time to plan or without planning at all, it welcomes in a different kind of excitement.

One experience that comes to mind from my travel experiences was my week long expedition to the Big Island of Hawai’i in the summer of 2018 that I took with a couple of friends.  Usually one would plan a trip like that well ahead of time or at least have an idea you would like to go to Hawai’i well before you decide to go. 

However, my friends and me, who never had any plans to go to Hawai’i and didn’t have it near the top of our destination list, decided to go there and booked the flights and hotels for it all in less than 24 hours, just 26 days before our flight left.  Luckily, our employers were awesome and gave us all the time off in that short of notice.  

It was the unexpectedness of it all and the quick realization that we were going somewhere amazing we didn’t plan on going that made me feel alive in an incredible way.  Since we booked the trip in such a short time and our schedules were busy until we left, we didn’t really plan anything for it.  Sure had things we knew we wanted to do, like go to the top of Mauna Kea to see the observatories, drink out of a fruit, and go to the Green Sand beach, but we didn’t plan which day we would go on each adventure.

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A beach of Green Sand

For me this made the trip more relaxed and that much more exciting because we were planning it as we went so we really didn’t know what was right around the corner.  Despite the lack of planning we still managed to do everything we wanted to and then some and it made for the coolest trip, which is an understatement.  The whole experience felt like a dream and I think the limited planning helped with that.

The excitement of having nowhere to be and no schedule of time to go by was relaxing and added fuel to our drive of adventure.

No Expectations

With Spontaneous trips you may also find yourself having a smaller chance of being disappointed because you have no idea what to expect and you don’t really build up any expectations for a journey.  

Sometimes when you take time to plan a trip and research a location you can build up expectations for that location that could be unrealistic or just very high and this has the potential to lead a trip to be not as fun as it actually was.

Just last year on the day before New Year’s Eve my buddies Landon and Bobby and me decided on the way home from a hockey game that we would go to Cleveland, Ohio for New Year’s Eve and Day to go biking at a giant indoor BMX/mountain biking course and experience New Year’s Eve in a big city we had never been to before, at least Bobby and me.

Outside of the rush of planning and leaving for this trip so soon, I didn’t know what to expect from this trip and the city of Cleveland and didn’t assume anything, I was just along for the ride.  

While this may not have been the most action packed trip, aside from the biking, which was intense and a complete blast, I left and came home with no disappointment because I didn’t have time to develop any standards or expectations for this trip.  The experience itself was awesome and it was so surreal to have said on our way down that less than 24 hours ago, Cleveland wasn’t even in our heads for somewhere to go to celebrate the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020.

Keep Your Eyes Open

Again, I am not saying don’t ever plan ahead for a trip for this is a very good thing to do and Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance (5 P’s of traveling), especially if you are doing something like a week-long backpacking excursion to the southern rim of Utah, please take many months to plan and organize for that.

What I am trying to say is always keep your eyes and heart open for adventure and be ready for you never know when the time to jump in a car or plane with your best friends and hit the open road may come.

Know that it is okay to leave for an expedition to a new or familiar place and not have everything planned, winging it can lead you to unexpected and unforgettable experiences that will give you stories to tell for the rest of your life.  Just be sure to keep your feet, have faith, and enjoy each and every moment.

Spontaneous adventures will give you such a cool feeling, almost like you are invincible and infinite and teach you so much about yourself. So, don’t be afraid to take them, even though it can be scary, when an opportunity comes. Sometimes you have to do something that seems crazy to start something amazing.  Sometimes you just have to… 

“Leap, and the net will appear.” – John Burroughs

Song for thought: “Belong” by Cash Cash and Dashboard Confessional

Travel with Love

– Dustin

A Winter Weekend in Canada

Last weekend, I headed up to Canada with a couple of friends (Bobby and Landon – Asharu) for our annual winter trip that would consist of a weekend of exploring the Canadian wilderness, catching an OHL (Ontario Hockey League) hockey game, and going skiing.  Here is how this winter trip all went down.

Day 1 – Thursday, January 16th

After we got out of work the three of us began our journey from Saginaw, MI all the way up to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada a little after 6:00 pm.  The first chunk of the drive up to the Mackinac Bridge went smooth and we stopped in Mackinaw City to view the bridge as it stood like a tall beacon, lit up with lights in the frozen waters and cold winter night.  It was a truly wondrous sight.  I had crossed the bridge before at night a few times before, but this was the first time I had seen it lit up the way it was with lights going down from the towers and along the main cables.  The dark sky, snow covered ground, and semi-ice covered water only added to the magic.

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After we crossed the bridge the next section of the drive through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Canada came with sections of snow covered roads and on and off snow flurries, none of which hindered our driving a whole lot.  Pretty soon though we were crossing the border and entering Canada, a place Bobby and Landon had never been to before.  We could view the Soo Locks as we crossed the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge that carried us over the St. Marys River and into a new country.

We finally made it to our hotel, where we would be staying the next three nights, at about 10:30 pm and it happened to be right across the street from the hockey arena (GFL Memorial Gardens) that we would be catching the OHL game at on Friday.  After taking a quick night drive around the city, we headed in for the night to try and catch some sleep.

Day 2 – Friday, January 17th

This day we would explore the wilderness of Canada, making sure to fill up on continental breakfast before heading out.  We would be traveling north along King’s Highway 17 and the primary route of the Trans-Canada Highway, stopping at various trails and lookouts along the way, as we enjoyed the scenery of the drive.  The scenery along was worth taking the drive as it was filled with snow covered forests and mountainous hills and cliffs that decorated the landscape with color and movie-like views.

The first place we stopped at was called Chippewa Falls, which is part of the Chippewa River.  We followed the snow-covered trail to the main view point of the falls and rive, which were partially ice covered, with frozen rocks and trees in and around the river and falls.  We continued along the river following game and natural trails in the forest coming to one last viewing point, which can be viewed in the second picture in the small slideshow below.  It was one of the views that was so simple, but yet dreamlike and peaceful.  During this hike my eyelashes also began to freeze, which was interesting.

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After this, we continued to drive north along coast stopping at various viewing points that overlooked Lake Superior and the giant hills and cliffs in the region.  The drive alone though was almost enough just because of the scenery and the snow covered lands.  We made it about 35 km (approx. 21 miles) outside of Wawa, Ontario, Canada, before deciding to begin the journey back to Sault Ste. Marie to ensure we would have enough time to grab some dinner and make it to the hockey game on time.

We grabbed dinner at this place called Muio’s, which was a small restaurant in Sault Ste. Marie and definitely somewhere I would recommend going if you find yourself in this city one day.  Their pizza was excellent.  After dinner was the hockey game and I

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was super pumped for this because our hometown OHL team the Saginaw Spirit was in town to play the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and our seats were right behind the Spirit bench.  The stadium was packed and the energy was high as these two division rivals faced off and the game stayed close until the Spirit pulled away in the final minutes defeating the Greyhounds 5-2.  Spirit forward Ryan Suzuki also got a hat trick that game, which is three goals.  It was a great first full day of our trip and we went to bed looking forward to skiing in Canada the next day.

Day 3 – Saturday, January 18th

Before we would head off to the slopes, we decided to play some pond hockey at a local outdoor rink and due to the snowfall and cold winds, we were the only ones crazy enough to play through the weather.  We quickly shoveled off a small section of the rink, just big enough that we could work with and then played through the cold and the snowfall.  It was surreal to be able to play pond hockey in Canada.  We played for about an hour, before heading back to the hotel to get geared up for skiing.

As we headed out into the snowstorm once again to make it to Searchmont (Ski Resort), we grabbed a bite to eat at this place called the Pita Pit, which was really good, and then began our venture to the ski hill that was about 45 minutes away to the north.  The snow was coming down pretty hard and consistently.  This made the drive somewhat treacherous, but at the same time beautiful as the road took us through more forests lands decorated with large hills and towering cliffs.  We were also in a Jeep that had four-wheel drive, which was beneficial.

Although the path the road took looked pretty sketchy at times, Landon drove like a champ and we made it to Searchmont in about an hour and we were so pumped, because the three of us had desired to go skiing here for over a year.  Let’s just say that it lived up to its hype.  It was an impressive ski hill that was a step up from the places I had been to in Michigan.  The main chair lift alone led to around four to six different runs to take with jumps, trails through the woods, a cliff-like section, and other awesome features, so one could ride that chair life all day and not get bored.

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The only issue that came was that it kept snowing, which made drifts pile up on different sections of the runs making skiing a bit more difficult, but we didn’t let it stop us as we skied until it got dark out and then kept going.  We didn’t leave the hill until about after 8:00 pm and thanks to Canada’s superb snowplowing work, the journey back to Sault Ste. Marie was a breeze.  We grabbed a late night meal when we got back at a place called The Burger Don.  While the food was good and atmosphere of the restaurant was nice, what stood out to me was the story our waiter told us about how he ended up in Sault Ste. Marie.

He was originally from the Philippines and while working on a cruise ship he met a girl from Sault Ste. Marie, who would eventually become his wife, as he moved from the tropics of the Philippines to Sault Ste. Marie to be with her.  Don’t be afraid to talk the locals and fellow travelers when you go places, you never know the incredible and poetic stories they have to tell of their adventure through Life itself.

This night marked the end of our trip to Canada, for the next morning we would say goodbye to Canada and head back to Saginaw and reality.

Reflection

I have been to Canada many times before, but the experiences that this gave us were pretty special, rivaling the time I got to touch the Stanley Cup at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto and watch fireworks over Niagara Falls with my family many years ago.  This journey, for me, was another reminder on how awesome and beautiful a place Canada is.  The hospitality and kindness of the Canadians matches the wonder of this country’s landscapes and their efforts to protect the planet are refreshing.

It was also a great time taking two of my friends to a country and area of the world that had never been to before, that I have been in the past.  From the excitement of the drive up, to the hiking, hockey game, and skiing, this trip was filled with great moments that I’m sure the three of us will be talking about many years from now.

This trip was a reminder on how even though travelling can sometimes be nerve-wracking or a little scary it can help you learn more about yourself and help you come to peace with things in life.  Exploring the planet with awesome travel companions, even a short road trip from home, can teach you things about life, one another, and yourself, and while it may be hard to sometimes grasp, teach you to simply have faith and get ready for whatever adventure you set your eyes on.  Till next time…

Happy Exploring

– Dustin