The Upside of Down: How we kept our Travel Zen in 2015

2015 was a year of highs and lows for us at Zen Travellers.

 We started the year off on a healthy note with a nordic sweat session on a beautifully frozen Lake Louise, then continued the trend with some skiing in Whistler and long walk along the sea wall in Vancouver. All the while also enjoying delicious and unique YVR eats and craft beer. Yin and yang friends.
Cross Country Skiing on New Years Day at Lake Louise
Nothing beats sweating off New Year’s Eve festivities like some nordic

Scuba Diving in Cuba

Then the greatness continued with a late January trip to Cuba where I got over my SCUBA diving nerves with two blissful dives in the Bay of Pigs and drank many a cuba-libré under the warm sun.
Scuba Diving in Cuba
Can’t wait to get underwater again!

Harsing our Zen – Knee Injury at Revelstoke

Shortly thereafter though, it took a turn for a worse. While on a ski trip to the incredible Revelstoke, I hurt my knee badly and effectively ended my ski season as well as my summer hiking season.

Even worse, we had a trip to Tahoe and Aspen planned 2 weeks after the injury that we had to cancel. As much as it hurt to miss out on an amazing travel opportunity, I had to prioritize getting better. The next 6 months was a boring blur of doctors appointments, physiotherapy sessions and uninspiring turns on the stationary bike. Even though soft tissue injuries are very painful, part of the recovery involves finding a balance between keeping the injured joint in motion but not so much that it gets inflamed and painful again. It was very difficult to keep my spirits up during this time, especially since I couldn’t do a lot of my favorite activities. About all that kept us going through this time was having faith that if I worked hard enough on my rehab, we could possibly do some fun knee-friendly activities like paddling and cycling in the summer.

Light on the Knee – Biking, Paddling, & Lollapalooza

These were activities that we had always planned on doing more of, but never got around to since we were too busy pursuing our old summer standbys of hiking, scrambling and camping. My outlook began to improve when I was out on my bike in spring in Kananaskis, driving the Going to the Sun road in Glacier National Park in Montana, or paddling the Red Deer River through the badlands on a hot summer weekend. Pursuing these activities with gusto took my mind off not being able to hike or scramble and I was still able to reap the benefits of the church of nature.
Paddling the Red Deer River
Nice way to spend a hot weekend

We had also bought tickets to Lollapalooza before I was injured and were determined not to have to cancel. Armed with an inflammation reducing brace and understanding travel companions, we had a blast discovering Chicago’s wonderful food and music scene, catching up with an old friend, meeting Buddy Guy (!!!) and seeing so many wonderful live acts at the festival.

Chicago Skyline
Hard to beat Chicago’s skyline

The knee injury also had an unexpected side effect of providing us with more funds for travel since we weren’t paying for lift tickets and hotel rooms, so we began brainstorming activities and trips that I could do before my surgery scheduled in October.

Cycling in Spain and a wedding in Ottawa

 One idea that kept popping up was a cycle trip through the Penedès wine region in Spain. I had a friend in Barcelona that I was excited to see again and a cycle trip through the Penedès region could easily be organized and launched from there. We had a wonderful time seeing Barcelona through my lovely friend’s eyes and learned to love traveling by bike. As a bonus, we travel hacked our way there, booking on points.  I can’t wait to plan my next cycling adventure.
Beach in Spain
Cycling to this view is quite alright

From Spain, we made our way home slowly by stopping over in Ottawa to attend my friend’s wedding. Blessed with a perfect, sunny fall day the day before her wedding, Philip and I enjoyed a leisurely paddle and picnic on the famous Rideau Canal. Now I just need to skate on it during the winter and I’ll have done my Canadian duties.

Paddling the Rideau Canal in Ottawa
Paddling the Capital

Back to Hiking!

After Spain and Ottawa, my knee was feeling really good so I took advantage of that and hiked as much as I could. The highlight was a perfect fall trek to Taylor and O’Brien lakes to see Banff National Park’s famous golden larches.

Hiking to see golden larches
Larch madness is more fun with friends.

Shortly after, I had my surgery and was out of commission again for about a month and half. By late November, I was feeling good enough to cross country ski again and am hopeful for a great, injury-free 2016 snow season.

Cheering an injury free 2016
Here’s to an injury-free 2016!

The Highlight of 2015

Possibly the biggest highlight of 2015 was when our love of skiing took us to Montana’s Glacier National Park, a place we love to visit again and again, in early December. Drawn to the historic Izaak Walton Inn‘s 30km of ski trails and kitschy, train-themed lodging, we booked a winter weekend getaway hoping to do lots of skiing and stargazing. Unfortunately for us, there wasn’t enough snow to ski so we just ended up walking on a lot of the ski trails. Philip it turns out, had another adventure in mind when we booked the trip and proposed to me while we were out looking for shooting stars.

Zentravellers Engagement!
A new adventure begins!

So now we end 2015, a year of highs and lows, on a very high note. We have ambitious plans for for 2016 which include getting married, lots of skiing, paddling, cycling, and a hike through the Grand Canyon if we are lucky enough to get the right permits. All the while saving for our planned epic 2017 round the world honeymoon. Keeping our RTW honeymoon savings on track while also planning a wedding will be a big challenge requiring a lot of focus. We will share any learnings and strategies that we may discover here. Until then, we wish you all a very happy, prosperous and Zen-filled 2016!

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