Why Solo Travel is Good for the Soul – Part 1

If you talk to any of my friends or family, they might tell you I’m a little bit….in the moment at times. I see this as part of what makes me Heather and am completely in love with it. (And yes, you have permission to be in love with yourself. I promise, you won’t regret it.) I follow my heart, wherever it leads me. I don’t label this characteristic as good or bad because I find that it guides me to wherever I am meant to be. If you have been following my blog, you know this year has been extremely difficult. I started Exhale Gratitude as a way to cope with everything that was going on and also as part of my year of self-discovery.

One of the decisions I made during this time was to do more traveling. Everybody keeps telling me to go while I’m young and I keep putting it off for whatever reasons I can come up with. And now, I am making it happen. It makes me excited and a little nervous, but mostly incredibly happy.

My first trip to kick off this little venture was to……Canada. Yes, you did read that correctly! I decided to take a trip to our friends in the North and visit the lovely little town of Nelson, located in British Columbia. I decided on Nelson after looking on Airbnb and finding a place to stay on a sailboat. Staying on a boat was not something I had done before and I thought waking up on the water surrounded by beauty would be a nice getaway. (Not to mention that between a full time and part-time job this would be my first day off in 36 days. Excited doesn’t even begin to describe it.)

Away I went on a Thursday afternoon in July, the day before the 3rd to be exact. I couldn’t think of a better way to begin my trip than by listening to the audio book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. You might think that’s dorky, but I found it delightful. So, with Liz recounting her journey of solo travel and a bottle of water at my side (it was insanely hot that day, close to 100° from what I remember), I headed to Canada.

Box Canyon Dam and Pend Oreille River

I traveled via the North Pend Oreille (pronounced PAWN-DER-AY, as I quickly learned upon moving here) Scenic Byway and what a lovely sight it was. After living in Washington for almost 2 years, I have seen quite a bit of beauty, but had only begun to touch on the surface of what this state has to offer. The byway follows the Pend Oreille River and is surrounded by the Colville National Forest. Breathtaking views is an understatement.

Sweet Creek Falls

Sweet Creek Falls

I stood overlooking Box Canyon Dam and realized how I am one tiny speck in this vast beauty surrounding us. I was grateful. I pulled off to visit Sweet Creek Falls and made the short trek to the waterfalls. While standing there, in complete silence, I was in awe. The water flowing through the falls was there long before we were, and will continue to flow long after we are gone. Nature just knows what to do. I drove along the Pend Oreille River and was almost in happy tears. I could not believe how lucky I was. Despite the pain and loss I’ve felt this year, this journey was a reminder of the abundant blessings that still fill my life.

I drove through the border and entered Canada. (Word of advice: Pepper spray is considered a weapon and it will be confiscated.)  I was actually excited to switch my car over to kilometers! Nelson was precisely as I had pictured it. Quaint and cozy, with a small town feel. I parked my car next to Kootenay Lake and walked to the Prestige Lakeside Resort. My host was meeting me on the marina right off of the resort. I had time for a little snack so I ordered the Smoked Salmon Flatbread and took in views of the lake while I waited.

My gorgeous view

My gorgeous view

My host was welcoming and gracious. It wasn’t very windy that day so there wasn’t much sailing, but we did chat over a beer. While talking to my host, I remembered that this was my favorite reason to travel. I absolutely loved making connections with people, no matter where they were from. It turns out my host had a pretty interesting story, and now I have a Canadian friend! (Even if he did convince me to jump in the freezing cold lake, which he ensured me was “quite warm.”)

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Kootenay Lake

To wrap up my evening in Nelson, I had a delightful martini at the Library Lounge, located in the Hume Hotel, followed by fish and chips at a local place nearby. I headed back to the boat and was taken aback, not only by the amazing star-filled sky above me, but also by the quiet and beauty surrounding me. I felt so at peace and remember thinking how great it was to feel that way again. It had been much too long. I thought, after everything that had come my way this year, I was still here. For me, that was enough. I truly hope everybody has the chance to experience the abundance of joy and love that fills you when you view the world with a grateful heart. It is beyond words. I awoke in the morning to the gentle rocking of the water and did some writing before leaving the marina. I was off to start my day and had about 6 hours before I had to head home!

"Rocks of Doom" on the left as I title them

“Rocks of Doom” on the left as I title them

My itinerary for the day was pretty much planned out. Thanks to my fantastic host! I started off with coffee and a breakfast sandwich at Oso Negro. (Will definitely stop there again next time I am back!) Then, after wandering the shops for a bit, I was heading to hike Pulpit Rock. I was told by my host that this was a “glamour hike.” Therefore, I did not put on appropriate footwear. Glamour hike? Ha! For the Canadians perhaps. It was about 90 degrees outside and this 1.6 km (roughly 1 mile) trek was very steep. Never in my life had I been so happy to see the 1.5 km sign. I was almost done! I finally made it to the top and the incredible view made it all worth it. After heading back down, I enjoyed a delicious lunch at Rel-ish Bistro, followed by ice cream for dessert. It was time to head home. Though my outing to Nelson was short, I was definitely in need of time to recharge. Sometimes, a different perspective is all it takes to remind us of what we have right in front of us.

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View from the top of Pulpit Rock

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