I had spent the last 12 hours in transit. First a red-eye flight from Portland, Oregon, then a Greyhound to Grand Rapids from Chicago. I traveled by light rail, plane, bus, and my own feet by the time I stood in front of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, looking straight up in awe.
The hotel is the epitome of grand, with architecture that dates back to the early 1900s, a singular American flag waving in the wind to beckon visitors into its doors. As soon as I stepped inside, it felt as if I had been transported back to the age of The Great Gatsby.
I rocked up in the hippie shuttle van from my last accommodation to an elegant building called The Oswego Hotel – my new home for the next two nights. At that time, I didn’t realize just how delightful my room would be, it would literally feel like a home away from home during my time in Canada.
When I walked inside the lobby, the woman who checked me in asked me what it was like riding in the hippie van around town, it looked like such a fun van and she had seen it around Victoria before. We continued to have a friendly chat about the city, where she was from in Canada, and about my trip and why I was there. Even though The Oswego Hotel is a classy establishment that would be considered chic by most, it didn’t have the pretentiousness that some nicer hotels tend to have. I loved it.
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
I wasn’t always an adventurous soul. Or perhaps I was, but my anxiety growing up masked it well and prevented it from coming out very often. I used to be scared of everything and anxiety would call the shots in my life.
I’m thinking of writing up that account of my past at some point, but long story short, I confronted that side of myself back in high school & college and decided to overcompensate with seeking out adventure in my life forevermore.
I hopped on the local bus, just a few minutes walk from the ferry station in Victoria. I proudly presented my Canadian dollars to the machine with the correct change and got my bus pass for the day to head uptown to Hotel Zed, my first stay in the city.
A short 10 or so minutes later and we were already at my stop, or at least I thought we were. I got up quickly, right as the bus started moving again, and I almost fell flat on my face to the horror of those on the full bus.
I could actually hear a synchronized sharp intake of breath by everyone on board until I caught myself as gracefully as a could with my big duffel in hand and quickly jumped off the bus like I knew exactly where I was going. Just a day in the life of me.
I made my way to the old part of SE Divison, a place that used to have mechanic shops and furniture stores line the streets only a few years ago. A decade ago, you wouldn’t recognize the SE Division you see today, a bustling area with food carts, boutique shops, quaint cafes, old-school barber shops, and good eats. In fact, some of the best eats in Portland, as I soon would learn on my Forktown Food Tour.
I’ve had a few of you ask me to write a little more about my favorite travel products and gear this year, so I figured now is as good a time as any to start. Throughout my 8 years of on-and-off travel I’ve picked up a few recommendations and pieces of gear that have particularly stood out to me.
On a stunning property next to the Gallatin River and just west of Bozeman, you’ll find the tucked away gem, Gallatin River Lodge. After Kendall and I spent our quick day around downtown Bozeman, we drove the short distance in the late afternoon to the winter hideaway and discovered one of the most beautiful spots of Southwest Montana in the process.
Think back to the late 19th Century, a time when the West was for the brave and wild-hearted, a place for adventurers. Sam Wilson was one of these classic westerners. He laid the foundation for what is now the 320 Guest Ranch in southern Montana in 1898 with his 160 acre homestead along the Gallatin River.
I’m still new to this whole snowboarding thing. I finally learned how to properly snowboard last month outside of Portland, at Mt. Hood Meadows, but other than that my experience in the snow has been close to nilch.
This is partly why I felt so honored to have heard back from Big Sky Resort during my recent trip to Montana with an offer of an all-access lift ticket to enjoy their slopes for the day. I would be able to improve my skills in the snow while experiencing the biggest skiing in America. Yes, this was going to be the best kind of adventure.
The Holiday Inn gets a bad rap for being a generic hotel chain, and before I actually stayed at a nice one, I would’ve completely agreed with the naysayers. However, after staying at the Holiday Inn Missoula Downtown, I can safely say that I was more than a little impressed with what I found at this particular location.