Reflections on 2016: Ontario, Trails & New Friends
While I may have not been jet setting across Europe like last year, I can’t complain. 2016 reflections bring me joy and pride in the fact that I’m finally exploring my own backyard. I’ve covered quite a bit of south-central Ontario. And boy, have I been surprised.
To be honest I haven’t checked off all of my goals for 2016, but I’ve done a lot and see even more than I anticipated. While some initial goals became less important, others seem to procreate more ideas. But one thing is for sure, I’m working hard towards living life to the fullest. By making the most of my weekends off, and maximizing my vacation time, I’ve made a whole-hearted attempt to do what makes me happy.
I may not have hiked as much as I would have liked. But I certainly did a fair bit of hiking. With over 20 hikes under my belt this year I managed to narrow down my favourite 2016 hikes. This was tough, considering how great each hike was. They were all full of epic views, or cool waterfalls and amazing landscapes.
Not only did I not step foot out of Canada, I didn’t even leave Ontario. But honestly, Ontario is chalked full of amazing cities, towns, and sights. I started off my mini escapes with a few days in Tobermory in May. Wow, Tobermory and the surrounding area of the Bruce Peninsula blew me away! I’d recommend this area for any traveller, local or international. The Bruce Peninsula is home to stunning coastal views, crazy cool natural wonders like Flowerpot Island and the Grotto, and awesome hiking trails.
I love city life, but am always charmed by small town charm. And Ontario is full of charming small towns, from Elora to Fergus and up to the Muskoka’s Gravenhurst to Bala. Some have waterfalls or hiking trails, and most have great local shops and delicious grub.
I also went chasing waterfalls in Grey County when I spent a few days in Owen Sound. And who doesn’t love waterfalls? Ontario is full of waterfalls, and Grey County is home to some real beauties! I saw a few more of Hamilton’s over 100 waterfalls too when I visited fellow travel blogger Lindsay of I’ve Been Bit. Then I stumbled upon a wealth of waterfalls in the Muskokas. While I only visited a few so far, I’m excited to go chasing waterfalls in the Muskokas, Ontario’s cottage country, next year!
I was stoked to spend quite a bit of time exploring Toronto this year too! Over a few separate trips I fell in love with the city I grew up in, all over again! I spent an awesome Canada Day weekend with fireworks, an intro to a few new neighbourhoods, and a wander down Graffiti Alley. Then I took a few days to celebrate my birthday in the city, both solo and meeting up with a few friends. I found even more amazing street art, went to my first Cat Café, and spent a wonderful day exploring the Toronto Islands. And just this month I went in search of the Toronto Christmas spirit. It may have been frigid, but the warmth of Christmas markets, Christmas trees and decorations, made it all worthwhile.
Truth is, my little jar of Joy is only half full, but that’s not from a lack of joy. And I attribute a lot of that joy to spending so much time outdoors this year. It’s truly incredible how spending time surrounded by nature, breathing in the fresh air, and getting active on the trails really can make a huge impact on your mood and perspective. I encourage everyone to make getting outdoors one of their goals for 2017!
Joy, fun and new adventures also came in the form of new friends. All my life I’ve been a bit of an outsider, odd-ball, and never really fit in with many of my friends and peers. I always had different goals, interests and passions than most people I knew. But this year brought three amazing ladies into my life that I feel get me! We love to hike, a couple are fellow travel bloggers, and we all make travel a priority.
I also have found a lot of joy through blogging and writing this year. I’ve been writing more, learning and developing my blogging skills more and even got a new gig. At the beginning of this year I became a contributing writer for The Budget-Minded Traveler.
And for now…
I still don’t have any international travel planned, and might not until 2018. But that’s okay. I have a ton of ideas and plans to further explore the wonders of Ontario and maybe even more of Canada in 2017. I mean, it is our big birthday!! And if this year is any forecast to the next, than I know it will be another great year.
As 2016 rolls to an end, I reflect on something that has become my mantra. Life is too short. It’s too short, so I choose happiness every morning I wake. It’s too short to not say YES to adventures! Life is too short and so I am grateful everyday for my health, my family, and my friends. And I’m grateful for my attitude!
PS…I’m also thankful for each and every one of you! My readers, who have continued to grow, to be supportive. And I wish you all the best in 2017 and beyond!
What are your 2016 reflections?