It is hard to trace back where my wanderlust got started. It isn’t as clear as a friend, family member or mentor introducing me to the traveling world. What I have concluded however is it made its beginnings where most of my life changes happened, at my very liberal, open minded, arts elementary school. It was there in London, Ontario, at Lester B. Pearson the School for the Arts, where we would take magazines, rip out and cut pages to collage out of the images in our art class. We had the choice of all the magazines we could dream of but I always found myself reaching for the National Geographic magazine. I would read the pages in amazement before cutting them out, taking some pictures home for myself as well. It was there that my dream of one day being a photographer for NatGeo was formed. So one day in the future I could not only take pictures like those I saw but also see those amazing landscapes, animals and people. Well clearly my photography career did not materialize like little grade 4 Taylor had dreamed. But I am now out here searching for places of the sort, taking pretty mediocre pictures with my smartphone and more than satisfied (on the photography end). But this is not single handedly what got me started on wandering to the wonders of the world.
Throughout my life, I was involved in a variety of sports but no sport took me as far and wide as track and field. From a young age I joined a club, competing all over the province, once a year for nationals traveling to the different provinces of Canada. In the summer for 2008 nationals were held out west in British Columbia. I was fortunate enough that my family supported me in my athletic endeavor, and my mom, dad, grandparents and cousin headed out to beautiful British Columbia with me. I was blown away as is anyone who see mountains with their own eyes for the first time in their life. I couldn’t get enough the week we were there, secretly swearing to myself that I would be back one day.
In the interim, track and field would be my gateway drug to world exploration. This sport has shaped who I am today and without it and the support of my country I wouldn’t have been able to compete in Barcelona and the Isle of Man. In both these international competitions abroad, I was fortunate enough to travel an extra week with my mom after the national team had left, allowing for both of us see Europe for the first time. We explored only a few cities on those short trips and the culture shock was phenomenal, broadening my horizons, leaving me wanting more for the next 4 years throughout my time in university. Fast forward to Fall 2016, I am in my 5th and final year of university. Thanks to the support of my collegiate track coaches, I was able to fulfill another promise I had made to my younger self; spending a semester abroad in France. I spent 3 months this time in the summer, prior to school, not only city exploring but focusing my attention on dragging my backpack through the mountains and trails of different European countries. While residing in Bordeaux for the following 3 months I took non-stop excursions to see all that I could.
Backtrack to summer 2014, the summer after my sophomore year of university. I went to Kent State University in Ohio, still continuing my track and field career. During the summer months we had off of competition, we were still expected to train at home. So being in contact with a coach from Canada, I changed my training location from London, Ontario that summer to Vancouver, British Columbia. I felt slightly bad at the conclusion of the summer because I had had full intentions of running the majority of the time while hiking only when the opportunity arose. That ended up being completely backward…I couldn’t get enough of the mountains! Every chance I got, I was off joining another hike with a group of strangers who had a similar enthusiasm and passion. That summer was a turning point in my life. Never having been camping or hiking before and not having many friends or family that had much experience, I prepared and researched the whole year leading up to my departure. I bought all the equipment myself for the first time and figured out how to use it. Thinking I was a bit crazy and not having let her down in that thought, my mom asked me “How do you know you won’t be buying all this stuff then go out there and end up hating backpacking?”. I had no great explanation beside exclaiming that I just knew. Deep down inside of me I had this feeling it was something I must do and I knew my gut wouldn’t lead me astray if I finally started to really listen to it. And of course it did not.
After living on BC campus for 10 weeks of summer 2014, I made myself the promise again, (this has become a prevalent trend) that one day I would be back, and when I was, that day would be for good. That day was suppose to be this summer. In the following 3 years, I drafted the scenic route I would take back and the places I would apply for work. After the last competition of my life this past May, I was on the road only a week later. I packed up and headed to the East coast starting my trip in Maine at the Atlantic. From there I drove across America, picking up and dropping off friends along the way. Seeing the beautiful national parks of America for the first time in Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon and Washington was breathtaking. I picked up Frederick in Lake Tahoe on the 4th of July and we headed up the 101 into Canada from there. In his last couple days of gripping to the side of the car for fear of my crazy driving, I guess he hadn’t had enough of the adrenalin rush and suggested the idea of a continental road trip.
Anyone who knows me knows not to suggest an idea unless they are 100% ready to follow through with it. Because once I say I am in….I take off running with the plan and don’t turn back. So here we are a month later back together in central Canada at my home. I temporarily put my dream on hold of working and living in British Columbia to have the adventure of a lifetime, outfitting this car to live in it indefinitely until we have reach our economic or end destination in South America. I could not be more excited to follow the ebb and flow and twists and turns that life takes you. Life is always an adventure. You can never really plan for it no matter how hard you try.
I like to live by the wise words of my dear friend, Deb Keith. Whatever comes..let it come, whatever goes..let it go. And right now I must keep going.