Year in review: 20 amazing things that happened in 2020

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Lavender farms in Oregon

A hot mess…a dumpster fire…the year of ‘pivoting’ (who else is so sick of that word?). Whatever you wanna call it, 2020 was definitely a doozie. 

Every December I usually put together a post sharing my favourite travel experiences of the year, but obvs that’s not a thing this time around because #QuarantineLife. So instead, I’ve decided to pop some champagne, and reflect on 20 great things that happened in 2020!

Masking up at the airport

1) The year kicked off with a family trip to sunny Aruba in January. We had a blast exploring the entire island, which included plenty of beach time, off-road adventures, art walks, incredible meals and even a submarine ride (!!!).

The famous Divi Divi tree on Eagle Beach

The famous Divi Divi tree on Eagle Beach

2) Oh…and did I mention we went to not one, but two islands there with FLAMINGOS?!

Aruba flamingos on Renaissance Private Island

3) I crossed a big item off my bucket list in early March–sleeping in an ice hotel! Hotel de Glace is just outside of Quebec City, where guests bundle up in a sleeping bag and stay in a room carved entirely out of ice. There’s an ice bar, ice slide, even an ice chapel! Best of all, I didn’t get cold overnight and had an incredible sleep since it was so quiet–definitely an unforgettable experience you’ll want to splurge on if you find yourself in Quebec during winter.

4) Biden won. ‘Nuff said.

5) We bought a boat! Meet Lucky Lo, a Tolly Craft (with a full kitchen, living area, bedroom and bathroom) that dates back to the 60s! We bought this retro-beauty with a few friends, and had so much fun with her over the summer. She’s docked just a five minute drive from home, and going down to the harbour for happy hour without even taking her out on the water feels like a vacation.

6) My smart, mischievous, sweet French bulldog Iggy was unfortunately diagnosed with a cancerous tumour back in April and only given a few months to live. He’s 11 and has the most incredible spirit, and hasn’t let months of chemo slow him down. Incredibly, it’s now December and he’s still doing so well! I’m so grateful that he’s managed to stay with us for all of this bonus time, and a silver lining of being stuck at home is that I’ve been able to spend every day with him and appreciate those puppy cuddles and playtime even more.

7) Despite living on the west coast, I’ve been horrible about going to the ocean even though it’s just a few hours away. That’s why I was psyched to head to the idyllic town of Seabrook, Washington in May, and dip my toes into the Pacific en route to exploring magnificent Olympic National Park. (Check out this guide for tips on how to plan a safe vacation).

Ruby Beach is one of the bet things to do in Olympic National Park

Ruby Beach, Washington

8) Another adventure we did was rent an RV for the first time ever, and drive to Crater Lake in southern Oregon. OMG guys, I promise you have never seen water this blue in your life, it’s absolutely stunning! RVs are a fab way to travel right now, since you’re totally self-contained and can easily get off the beaten path away from people. We even got to enjoy brunch on the side of the highway, with this unforgettable view:

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

RV tips and tricks for beginners

9) I became an auntie! My sister gave birth to beautiful Keira at the end of November, just in time to celebrate her first (socially-distanced) Christmas.

10) Ever since moving into a house that looked like it had barely been touched since the 70s, it’s been high on our list to do a remodel. Of course these things take time and money, and when we suddenly found ourselves with nothing but time in the spring, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work!

While it’s meant a ton of stress, decisions and serious sweat equity, it’s been so exciting to see our vision finally come to life, learn some new skills and start to really love our home. The one blessing of 2020 is that this renovation is something we never would have been able to dedicate to had our jobs been as busy as usual, so we’ve really made the most of this unexpected downtime.

11) Because apparently running a business and doing an entire house renovation wasn’t keeping me busy enough, I spontaneously decided to launch another website! The Gorge Guide focuses on sharing the best experiences in the scenic Columbia River Gorge which stretches between Oregon and Washington, highlighting the area’s fantastic wineries, waterfalls, hikes and outdoor adventures. If you ever plan on visiting the area, check out the site for all the details you’ll want to know for planning your trip.

The Grateful Vineyard is one of the best Hood River wineries

The Grateful Vineyard

12) In March, my fave fitness studios all pivoted (oops there’s that word again) to providing online content. While they’ve been hit as hard as anyone during this time, a silver lining is that it’s been such a treat to see familiar faces and get a great workout in, no matter where I am in the world.

13) While we didn’t know it at the time, I enjoyed what in retrospect was ‘one last hurrah’ with many of my fave travel writing friends. Every January we descend on New York City for a fun networking conference, which is basically a days-long party in the middle of Manhattan. Oh how I miss nights like this:

14) I discovered one convenient side effect of #WorkFromHome life: I can now wear pajama bottoms during my TV appearances. OK so I haven’t actually done that yet, but I’ve gotta admit it’s v. tempting. Anyway, while it’s stressful to be the ‘lighting technician’ and ‘set designer’ in addition to ‘producer’ and ‘on-air talent’, it’s sure nice to be able to do hits with stations anywhere in Canada without having to physically travel to their studio like in the past.

15) When forest fires smoked us out in fall (thanks, 2020) we threw in the towel on our no-fly rule and booked tickets to Baja. The whole trip was meticulously planned to be social-distancing friendly (read how we did it here), and we seemed to hit it at the exact right time before the second wave hit. We were so, so grateful to be there and the change of scenery was just what we needed.

Todos Santos, Mexico

Todos Santos, Mexico

16) The Queen’s Gambit. That is all.

17) 2020 has given me a new appreciation for how lucky I am to be a travel writer, and the experiences that (usually!) brings. TBH, most of us get a bit jaded after a while and start to suffer travel burnout, and are guilty of whining about things like rushed itineraries, bad airport food and jet lag. Well, I think it’s safe to say none of us will ever take our careers for granted again.

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

18) When you-know-what first happened, I was forced to learn how to use our espresso machine (which had been gathering dust in the office) because I didn’t feel like it was safe to do my daily coffee run. Turns out making lattes is my secret talent, and I’ve saved a s%^& load of money by becoming a homebound barista.

19) All of this downtime has given me an opportunity to catch up on things I’ve been pushing off, like the aforementioned reno, boring work tasks, etc. It’s been rather freeing to not constantly be on deadline, to get to sleep in a bit longer, to not rush around doing all of the things. Not only will I try to keep some of these habits up when things go back to normal, but hopefully I’ll be caught up on stuff that’s been hanging over me for so long.

Relaxing in Bend, Oregon

20) So far, everyone that I know has managed to stay safe and healthy, and for that I’ll be forever grateful.

Wishing you all a happy holiday, and a MUCH better 2021.

Xo Tam

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