Zentraveller’s 2017 in Review

As another year of travels wraps up for us, it is always a fun activity to reflect on the highlights of a year well spent.

We rang in 2017 with some dear friends at a much-loved place that we’ve revisited many times, Whitefish, Montana. There we skied the Big Mountain, explored the nordic trails in town, and enjoyed the peace of our cabin in the woods.

Cozy cabin under the stars outside of Whitefish, MT.
Cozy cabin under the stars outside of Whitefish, MT.

From there, we hunkered down and planned our winter wonderland/vintage travel-themed wedding in the mountains. Staying on budget with a wedding in was a challenge but we managed to celebrate our love in a beautiful setting with family and friends, without giving the wedding-industrial complex too much of our travel funds.

zentraveller's wedding photo in Canmore, AB
The highlight of 2017 for both of us!

Immediately after the wedding, we jetted off to Japan for an incredible skiing, wildlife watching, and delicious dining adventure for our honeymoon. There we soaked in hot springs, charged through fresh, deep powder, and slurped as many steaming bowls of ramen as we could find.

Snow Monkeys at Jigokudani Park
The famous Snow Monkeys at Jigokudani Park were on of our favourite highlights of Japan.  

Once back in Canada, we laid low for a few months taking time to enjoy our beautiful local ski hills and cross country trails before heading to Yellowknife, NWT in April to see the amazing aurora dance across the sky. It did not disappoint.

Northern Lights in Yellowknife
The incredible Northern Lights in Yellowknife, NWT

About this time, we started fostering cats from AARCS who warmed our hearts and helped us get over the untimely death of one of our kitties. While we always have complicated feelings seeing them go onto their forever homes, we love helping them along on their journeys. In total, we saw four wonderful rescues become some lucky people’s pets. While not a travel adventure, it was one that brought us a lot of joy in 2017.

AARCs foster cats
Coffee, Cream, Penny, and Pearl – the four cuties we fostered this year!

To usher in the spring, we indulged our inner bird nerds and checked out the “Wings over the Rockies” festival in BC’s Columbia Valley. Highlights included seeing the rare Lewis Woodpecker while we kayaked on the Columbia River. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, we set  a goal to check out new festivals in 2017 and this would be one of them. I think it is safe to say we’ll be back. Maybe as part of a big year. 😉

Osprey seen while kayaking the Columbia River
Osprey seen while kayaking the Columbia River

Following our sojourn up north, we crafted our Alberta Summer Buckletlist, in order to make the most of our short but spectacular summers. While we didn’t achieve every item on the list, we hiked, paddled, and backpacked many kilometers throughout the summer and gained some serious vertical meters too.

Some of our notable highlights included:

Camping at Amethyst Lakes
We had a fantastic hiking season in Alberta this summer.  

We celebrated Canada 150 in Vernon, BC with some good friends.  There we did some more hikes, found some birds, and of course, sampled some of British Columbia’s delicious wine.

Enjoying the campfire in Vernon, BC
Nothing beats sitting around a campfire in the summer

For the fall, we did our best to see some spectacular golden larches before the snow started to fly, celebrated Mr. Zen’s 30th birthday in beautiful Invermere, BC, and made the most of an early start to winter by cross country skiing three times before the season officially began.

As 2017 comes to a close, we’ve sought out local zen by going looking for owls, racking up more kilometers on our nordic skis, and spending some cozy time catching up with friends and family.  We also participated in one of our favourite citizen-science activities, the annual Audoban Society Christmas Bird Count, where we saw almost 20 different species and even spotted some fun little golden crowned kinglets, a rare sight in the dead of winter!

Snowy Owl
One of the beautiful Snowy Owls we saw this winter

Leaving winter behind for a spell, we will ring in 2018 in Cozumel, Mexico where we hope to improve our SCUBA diving skills and explore a beautiful, lush, tropical island on bike and on foot. Following that, we will turn our minds to preparing for our great trip abroad. Indeed, we finally have a departure date nailed down for a big adventure that we have been planning for many years.

On May 1st, 2018 we will take off for a year of extended travel and our longest adventure to date. There is lots of preparation and planning in store for us but I’m sure we’ll find a Zen way to undertake it all. Wish us luck and stay tuned!

Zentravellers at the top of Northover Ridge
Ready for more adventures in 2018!
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