In The Rearview – A Look Back at 2013

It’s a funny little evolution we’ve noted this year, of the number one question people ask of us.

It has gone from:  “When are you going to stop?”   to   “Do you think you will ever stop?”

It’s a slight change really – perhaps insignificant to many – but it is a very important change to us. Gone is the assumption that our travels are aimless, that we are irresponsibly flitting about the world and set to crash back into “real life” at some point. People who know us well, whether in real life or as faithful readers, know that this is our reality. This is our life, this is our business, and we love every second of it (even when we hate it).

Will we ever stop? Maybe. But in the foreseeable future…not a chance. And in case you need an explanation as to how we can possibly enjoy this life of perpetual nomadism, of living out of a bag with only a few pairs of underwear on rotation and with little plan as to where our heads will rest week-after-week, we’re here today to give you a look back at our favourite moments in the last twelve months.

 

Our retreat to Guatemala

We had a very difficult start to the year with the loss of my Grandmother, which was blessedly quick, but extremely painful for all of us left behind. From her funeral we flew south and were soothed in the comforting, colorful arms of easy-going Guatemala. It was exactly what we needed, offering reprieve from both the cold of the North American winter and from our own grief.

Guatemala

Favourite moments: our day at Semuc Champay, hiking the Pacaya volcano and all the time spent in lovely Antigua.

 

Floating in Finland

There are a few times in every year when we embark on an adventurous activity that has me questioning my sanity. I am not typically a thrill-seeker, yet I find myself saying yes to such activities, giving little thought to it until I am faced with it. This was one of those times.

And it’s only in the months following that I fully appreciate the uniqueness and gratification from such an experience. (Most likely because the memories of being scared have passed and now I’d jump back in and do it again.)

Other great moments in Finland: playing with huskies and swimming in an icy lake.

Playing tour guide

We had an exceptional year, without question, and the best part about it was my Mom. With my Aunt, she made her first overseas trip to visit us in Turkey and Greece, and to be able to introduce her my favourite country and our way of life was more remarkable then I can say. I hope to do it again.

Family at Ephesus

Favourite moments: the highlights of our Turkey travels, our quick jaunt to Greece and the many shades of blue we encountered.

 

A history lesson

Pete and I both fully underestimated the impact that our time exploring Quebec would have on us. We’ve spent so much time in other parts of the world that we’ve neglected some of our own, but we partially righted that wrong with some time exploring Montréal and Quebec City, the birthplace of modern-day Canada.

Old Town Québec

Favourite moments: Flying through Montréal on scooter, and discovering where traveling shoes go to rest.

 

Discovering Poland

We can’t pinpoint an exact day or activity during our five weeks of exploring Poland when we became so enamoured, we just loved all of it.

Poland

Favourite moments: Eating ourselves into a pierogi coma, lovin’ on Warsaw, and trampin’ through the Tatra Mountains.

 

Holy shit. We were in Greenland!

There was one moment, after our first day in kayaks and our first night sleeping in the Greenland wilderness, when Pete turned to me and incredulously stated: “We’re in muthaf*#$%ing Greenland.” I don’t think the realization of that ever fully settled in while we were there, it was one of those trips in which the full impact is still being discovered.

Trip of a lifetime, indeed.

Favourite moments: Our eye-opening day in Kulusuk, and the spectacular end to our kayak journey.

 

Big Ben

After Greenland we needed to sit still. Sleep. Be warm. And a wonderful house-sit in Scotland provided us with exactly what we needed. Leave it to Pete, however, to not stay quiet for long, and instead choose to climb the highest peak in the UK, for one of his favourite excursions of the year.

Ben Nevis Summit

 

Nous aimons Paris

Have I mentioned that I have the best husband ever? Probably a few times, and he deserves every accolade, especially after he surprised me with a trip to Paris for our 12th anniversary!

Eiffel Tower Smooch

Favourite moments: A trip along the Seine, snapping up all the iconic sights, and many other moments that are not blog-appropriate. 🙂

 

Some serious therapy

Still to come on this blog are some highlights of our time in Chiang Mai, Thailand, which in all honesty felt like a tranquil paradise compared to where we had just left. And no experience in 2013 was quite like our day at the Elephant Nature Park.

It is purely therapeutic to spend a day with these gentle giants – feeding them, washing them, stroking them – just enjoying their massive presence, hearing their sad stories, but knowing that they are now in a beautiful place where they can be free. It had such an impact on us that we sponsored an elephant for 2014 on behalf of our families (a Christmas present!) and hope to stay connected to the Park for years to come. That place is simply magical.

Elephant Nature Park Thailand

 

And then, home.

We aren’t much for celebrating Christmas, but when we knew we had to come home for a project in January (details to come soon!), we decided to return earlier to celebrate with our families for the first time in five years.

And while we are still reveling in the joy of being with them and reconnecting after more than a year away, the most memorable moment for both of us was meeting our new nephew Kaden for the first time. He definitely won’t remember it, but we sure will.

Christmas with the Hecks

 

In typical Hecktic-style, our plans for 2014 are limited thus far. We’re excited to soon be heading out on the road to explore our home province like we never have before (seriously…if we escape this road trip with no broken bones, it will be a small miracle), and after that our plans are unconfirmed. We wouldn’t be “us” if we had it all figured out. 🙂

 

41 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • December 30 2013

    That picture of you in Paris is EPIC! I have visions of you taking it with a self-timer….and needing to tweak it a few dozen times…ha ha! 😉

    • January 1 2014

      There might have been a few “takes” for that one. Neither of us minded much. 🙂

  • December 30 2013

    What an adventure-filled year you had! And I like that you ended it with family and your baby nephew after the loss of your grandmother at the beginning of the year.

    • January 1 2014

      Huh, I never thought of it that way! But you’re right, it was really nice. 🙂

  • December 30 2013

    What an amazing year!!

    I love the photo of you two in Paris, and the one of you with the elephants!
    Amanda recently posted..Visiting the Cliffs of Moher

    • January 1 2014

      It was a pretty great year. Will be hard to top! But, we’ll do our best. 🙂

  • December 30 2013

    I can only agree with all my previous speakes, the Paris photos is so cute and could definitely make a really good advertisement for Paris 🙂 Have a happy new year!

  • December 30 2013

    What a great year of travel. I’m especially envious of your trip to Greenland. That photo of you in front of the elephants looks like you’re in front of a fake background!
    Andrea recently posted..South Eastern Europe and More in 2013

    • January 1 2014

      Yes, Greenland was definitely a highlight. We want to go again!!

  • December 30 2013

    What a wonderful year! Loved meeting you both, you really are an inspiration!
    x

    • January 1 2014

      Thank you Helen! It was so lovely to meet you!

  • Mariella (Bridgekeeping Traveller)
    December 30 2013

    Hugs and kisses to both of you, and may you be guided wisely by fate and your guardian angels in 2014 in all your endeavours! xx

    • January 1 2014

      Thank you so much Mariella! Hope to see you again in the new year!

  • December 31 2013

    Great Job putting this post together…really like the photos. Enjoyed meeting you in Chiang Mai…hope you have a wonderful 2014.

    • January 1 2014

      It was so great to meet you Larry, even if your story did make me nauseous – ha!! Best to you in 2014.

  • Laura
    December 31 2013

    Seriously that Greenland kayak trip is so epic! So sweet that you get to end adventure-filled 2013 at home with the family. Happy New Year to you guys!

    • January 1 2014

      Happy new year to you Laura!

  • Joy
    December 31 2013

    That photo of Montreal is my favourite, or it was until the one with your nephew. Great writing and beautiful photography. Your blog is so much fun to follow.

    Travel on!

    • January 1 2014

      Thanks Joy! We will do our best to keep going. 🙂

  • December 31 2013

    Love your Paris photo – very sweet and very beautiful. Seems like you guys had a fantastic year. Wishing you more adventure, romance and even greater moments for 2014! Even if unsure about the near traveling future, as long it is published, we’ll be sure to read it 🙂 Good luck!
    Lunaguava recently posted..13 Uninspirational Travel Quotes

    • January 1 2014

      Thanks so much, and the same to you!

  • December 31 2013

    Aw the Paris pic is so sweet. But that kayaking in Greenland! Wow, we are avid kayakers so that would be something we’d love to do! Looks like quite a year, cheers to an excitingn 2014!

    • January 1 2014

      We can’t recommend our trip with Greenland Tours enough. If you are avid kayakers – you would LOVE it. 🙂

  • January 2 2014

    What an epic year you guys had. That Floating in Finland video is my favorite. Have a blast 2014
    Jeff recently posted..5 Tips for Credit Card Management and On-Time Payments

  • January 2 2014

    What an incredible year you’ve had! Greenland looks so beautiful and you’re video and the one from Finland look amazing – although I don’t envy that icy swim!

    • January 3 2014

      It was a real THRILL! And we’d do it again in a heartbeat! 🙂 (with the help of some vodka!)

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
    January 3 2014

    Loved this look back! We still get bombarded with questions of when we are going home (though we have not been on the road for nearly so long as you guys!), but that is slowly starting to become a question that strangers ask us rather than friends and family who seem to get that we’ll keep wandering for as long as we can.

    Would have loved it if we could have met up while you guys were in Asia, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be… maybe we’ll be luckier in 2014! All the best and I look forward to following along on as your adventure continues!

    • January 3 2014

      The questions will lessen, and change, as you go on! Our crazy lifestyles might even be becoming more “normal”. 🙂

      Hope to cross paths with you in the new year!

  • January 3 2014

    You’ve traveled to so many places in 2013 I had forgotten about Guatemala! 😉 You’ve definitely made me want to hit Poland for a second time, though. And made me very anxious about the weather in Iceland (going there in June, hoping for some sun).

    • January 3 2014

      Guatemala seems like SO long ago! Will keep our fingers crossed for you in Iceland. 🙂

  • January 4 2014

    You’ve gotten me really curious about Poland. It was never at the top of my list but after hearing how much you guys loved it….
    Laurel recently posted..10 Life Lessons Learned from Travels in 2013

    • January 4 2014

      Hey, we weren’t wrong about Slovenia, right? 🙂

  • Franca
    January 4 2014

    What a year you two had! Guatemala sounds a very interesting country to visit. Last year (not at Christmas though) we went to ENP too, we stayed there for a month volunteering at the dog shelter, it was an amazing experience indeed.
    Happy New Year full of more and more travelling!

    • January 4 2014

      Volunteering there would have been an amazing experience! Happy New Year!

  • Chanel @ La Viajera Morena
    January 5 2014

    It looks like you had a wonderful year. Cannot wait to continue reading about your adventures in 2014 and EXCELLENT photos! 🙂

  • Ele
    January 5 2014

    Great post and some awesome pictures. People are continuously asking me when I will stop travelling…just the other day my mum asked IF I ever will stop. Subtle difference but noticeable.
    Love your blog, safe and happy travels 🙂

  • Pratibha
    January 8 2014

    You guys seen the ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ yet? I was thinking of your coverage of Greenland during the movie 😉

    Good luck and safe travels through 2014 and beyond.

  • What a busy year! I am sorry to hear about your grandmother though. I hope this year is very fulfilling for you guys. I love reading about your adventures!
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..INTERVIEW: Jeff Greenwald, World’s 1st Travel Blogger & Founder of Ethical Traveler

  • January 26 2014

    Such a full year you had! Congratulations, the photos look amazing, you had all sorts of amazing adventures. An equally colorful year in 2014!
    Iulia – CaribbeanTravel recently posted..Sampling the Menu: Best of Caribbean Cuisine

  • February 2 2014

    Love that shot of Quebec City! I was there this summer as well and just fell in love with it. I also enjoyed your Greenland video…so cool.
    MikesRoadTrip recently posted..Cherry Springs; a celestial state park

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