But I Can’t Draw

I can’t draw to save my life”

“”I credit myself with zero artistic ability

I simply cannot draw

These are all comments left by *you*, my readers, when I’ve been waxing lyrical about the fun and benefits of creating storymaps for recording holiday travel memories, rather than taking what has, to date, been the more traditional route of filling travel journals with walls of words.

Image showing a step by step storymap

Story Map creation of my trip to Kakadu in the Northern Territory, Australia (Click on the image to read the whole post)


The majority of *you* feel quite convinced you can’t draw for toffee“.

Which is strange, since every one of us in our childhood created beautiful fun filed drawings of our family…

5 year drawing of his family

copyright Asa (age 4 on the left, age 5 on the right)

and the house we lived in…

Drawing by a 5 year old of his house

copyright Asa (age 5)

all of which were much admired, were complimented upon and invariably took pride of place on the fridge door until either another masterpiece superseded it or it became dog eared from loving glances as people got the milk out!

We all know we used to draw (despite our doing our best to ignore the fact).
But it’s a little harder to ignore when you come across some anthropological research into the unfolding of children’s artistic activity that confirms:
“across space and time, all children exhibit the same evolution in visual logic as they grow”; they have a “shared and growing complexity in visual language that happens in a predictable order” so

“doodling is native to us
quote Sunni Brown

The development of childrens artistic activityIn other words, to communicate visually is inherent in us as a species – we all did it as a child because drawing is in our nature and at that point in our lives it was still totally uninfluenced by any wayward “well-meaning” nurturing that was yet to pull the portcullis down.

Sadly, by the time we get to High School all assignments take on an alphanumeric form, forcing aside and asunder any instinctive visual language skills; and as with any skill left to languish, our development and competency wanes and although the reality is that we haven’t been practicing, we erroneously believe that doodle drawing is only for those who are “artistic” – Ignoring the fact that the only reason someone is proficiently artistic is simply because they’ve maintained their practice and developed a skill as a consequence of that.

The Doodle Revolution

However, there is good news on the horizon

I’ve been noticing a steady movement forming by visual language proponents who happily are bringing visual literacy back into the main stream

In 2008 Dan Roam started a series of books:

  • Dan Roam “The Back of the NapkinSolving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures” 2008
  • Dan Roam “Unfolding the Napkin: The Hands-On Method for Solving Complex Problems with Simple Pictures” 2009
  • Dan Roam “Blah Blah Blah: What to do When Words Don’t Work” 2011

The few basic lines we need to draw anything by Dan Roam

Where he illustrates how only the most rudimentary of line types are necessary to express ideas visually – with no artistic skill required.

Then in 2011 Sunni Brown presented this succinct 5 minute TED talk (which has been viewed over a million times) called:

Doodlers Unite

Click here if you can’t see the video above!

In 2012 Mike Rohde brought out The SketchNote Handbook

The 5 basic shapes you need to draw anything

Again showing – quote Mike Rohde:
“Once you realize how the objects around you are made from these 5 elements [circle, square, triangle, line & dot], it becomes easier to draw all sorts of things.”

visual facilitation on a white boardAnd Rachel Smith, who specialises in visual facilitation, presented a TEDx talk telling the story how at school she was reprimanded for taking illustrative notes in class despite the fact that that was the most natural way for her to make sense of the information being presented.

Today she makes her living creating visual notes, relishing the value of combining pictures with words, which help lodge information to memory whether in class, recording business meetings or encapsulating conferences.

She asked her TEDx audience mid way in her presentation:

“What do you think is the most common objection I get when I start to teach people how to do visual notetaking?”

Click on the video and listen for just one minute for her answer!

Click here if you can’t see the video above!

“But I can’t draw”

If you listen beyond that, she goes on to demonstrate a step by step guide to get you on the road to incorporate visual language into your everyday world:

  1. Choosing tools that you’re comfortable with
  2. Developing an internal library of visual symbols for use on cue, akin to the familiarity we have with our alphanumerics.
  3. And learning to pick out key points – whether that be notating a talk, or in my case, highlighting one’s holiday adventures.

She also shows line by line how to create a simple ‘star man’ to claim your first visual thinking person symbol.

Step by step guide how to draw a Star Man

Rachel Smith’s Step by Step Guide for How to Draw a Star Man


In 2013 Michael Nobbs brought out Drawing Your Life

Everyone can draw quote by Michael Nobbs


And in 2014 Sunni Brown published The Doodle Revolution


Click here if you can’t see the video above

In which she presents a visual alphabet made up of – you guessed it – simple lines, curves and shapes for communicating ideas, thoughts, and memories using visual language.

Can you draw these lines and shapes?

The Doodle Revolution visual alphabet

Or how about giving these stick figures a try!

How to draw stick figures

For more Ed Emerley How to Draw inspiration click on this image


Sketch-noting, doodling and/or story maps are not an artistic skill
They’re thinking skills that are articulated visually.

You Can’t Draw? I Don’t Believe You.

To finish off, here’s a great 3 minute video by Doug Neill from Verbal to Visual created in 2015 ~
Spelling out the difference between:

  • writing, which is a combination of straight and curved lines and
  • drawing, which is… ummmm… a combination of straight and curved lines.


Click here if you can’t see the video above

And because his next video, creating a page of icons has so many fun travel related symbols demonstrated, which is so relevant to us here… I couldn’t resist sharing that too!


What do you think?

Is this doodle drawing lark maybe not as scary as you thought?

Tell me in the comments below :)

What to do in Whistler if you Don’t Ski

“You’re going to Whistler, in the winter?
But you don’t ski (or snowboard for that matter)!
What are you going to do there?”

Some places are so inextricably linked to an activity it becomes hard to see the place outside of its neatly labelled box – particularly when the raison d’être of the place in question has been fuelled by five bids over fifty years, culminating in a Winter Olympics finally being held there in 2010.

But there’s a lesson to be learnt here –
Just as there is more to Paris than Romance and there’s certainly more to Munich than Beer – Yes, there is more to Whistler than Skiing!

Before 1960, when a group of Vancouver businessmen came to the region with their dream of bringing the winter games to the then called London Mountain – renamed Whistler in 1965 for its resident ‘whistling’ alpine marmots – the draw card had been Alex and Myrtle Philip’s Rainbow Lodge on the shores of Alta Lake as a summer fishing destination.

Photo of Myrtle Philips standing outside Rainbow Lodge

Myrtle Philips established Rainbow Lodge in the 1920’s
In 2010 Whistler hosted the winter Olympic Games

Today – It’s a very different place.
Whislter-Blackcomb is the largest ski resort in North America with 8,000 skiable acres

1. Take a Peek on the Peak 2 Peak

Even if you’re not into snow sports, it makes sense to start off your time in Whistler by having a taste of what most people come here for ~
After all, its not only the skiers and snowboarders who can have the fun of taking a gondola up the mountain and riding 4.4 km (2.73 miles), 436 metres (1,430 feet) above the valley floor between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains on the world record breaking Peak 2 Peak Gondola ~

Riding the Whistler gondola up the mountain

While you may feel a little out of place squeezing into a Gondola full of snowboarders – It’s entertaining not only for the scenery, but also listening-in to snowboard-speak conversations!

You can buy a non-skiing day pass and then take the Whistler gondola from the village. After a 25 minute ride, there’s a short walk across the snow to the Peak 2 Peak Station.

The Peak 2 Peak is an awe-inspiring engineering feat breaking 3 world records for –

  • The longest unsupported span in the world (3.024 km/ 1.88 miles)
  • The tallest lift of its kind (436m/(1,430 feet)
  • Links the largest continuous lift network
Peak to Peak gondola ride

Spanning 4.4km the Peak 2 Peak takes you 436 metres above the valley floor


While there is a steady flow of gondolas coming in and departing, there are only two glass bottomed gondolas (look out for the separate queue for these) which come in every 11 minutes, the time it takes to cross the span.

You can go backwards and forwards between the two mountains, and get on and off on either side, as many times as you like!

Travel journal drawings of the Peak to Peak

Extract from my travel journal

2. Have Lunch Up On the Mountain

Even though you’re not skiing doesn’t mean to say you can’t hang around to soak up the atmosphere by dining on the mountain –

While there’s a wide choice of food outlets, rather than grab a snack why not sit back and enjoy a full table service dining experience at either Christine’s on Blackcomb, or Steeps on Whistler.

Having gone Peak to Peak across and back on the gondola I found myself on the Whistler side, so came out of the cold and into the welcoming Roundhouse Lodge which was buzzing with skiers and snowboarders exchanging stories from their morning’s adventures. The air felt mildly steamy from wet and damp snow-sports clothing drying out in the warmth and the flat footed way of walking in rigid ski boots made everyone look stiff from their mountainside exertions.

Eating lunch at Steeps Restaurant

Coming off the slopes for lunch at Steeps Restuarant


3. Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre –

Whistler’s First Nation
Excerpt from my visual travel journal

Extract from my travel journal

Visiting from Australia, a country that like Canada has a modern history, I was keen to draw back the curtain of this recently developed resort to see what had gone before.

Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre

Getting an insight into the lives of the First Nation people

The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre is a short walk from the main village.

Twisting cedar bark to make string


Whistler is situated on ground that forms the border between the Squamish people, whose territory runs down to the coast, and the Lil’wat people who occupy the inland mountains.

The Cultural Centre is therefore run by members from both groups –

There is a daily greeting ceremony involving traditional song and drum beating followed by a tour that includes going out into a long house to see cedar bark soaked and then twirled to create string –
The fun here is that it is an interactive demonstration, where you too get the opportunity to create some –
I made mine (shown on the left as I twirled it) into a little bracelet.

There’s also a lovely café here, and a retail gallery with many indigenous arts and crafts for sale.

What to do in Whistler if you don't ski

4. Walking Nature Trails

Leaving the Cultural Centre I chose to walk back to the village via the Fitzsimmons Accessible Nature Trail – It’s 800m long, so you’re only ever a stone’s throw from civilisation but it’s so quiet and peaceful you feel as though you’re way off out in the wilderness.

Enjoying this ancient cedar wood tranquillity I come across a sign…

“Look Up”

A sign in the woods telling me to look up and see bear claw marks in the bark of the tree I am standing beside

“Look Up! A bear has used this tree as a scratching post.”


I was pleased it was winter and they were all busy hibernating!

However, this wasn’t the only trail –
There’s a 40km paved Valley Trail for walkers and bikers, which connects the outer suburbs to the village hub.
A great piece of infrastructure planning.

River of Golden Dream bridge in Whistler

I was staying out at Alpine Meadows and was able to walk to Rainbow Park – the birth place of Whistler – crossing the River of Golden Dreams along the way.

Travel journal extract

Extract from my story-map travel journal

5. Ziplining

Just because you don’t want to ski doesn’t mean to say you’re not up for a little thrill seeking – pushing the envelope and taking yourself that little bit beyond your comfort zone makes you know you’re alive – And is just what holidays are all about!

I was therefore excited by the prospect of doing a Ziptrek Ziplining tour so (nervously) put my hand up to have a go.
I planned on starting out gently doing the Intro version – the Bear tour for beginners – the one that said
“The perfect tour for first-time zipliners”

I’m not quite sure how I therefore managed to find myself on the Eagle Tour – The one that said:
“This breathtaking tour features five different ziplines, including a 2000-foot, awe-inspiring monster that drops 20 storeys! This tour is perfect for anyone who has ziplined before or just wants a heart-pounding, mind-expanding adventure experience.”

Hold on! But I haven’t ziplined before, and dropping 20 storeys is not what I have in mind as “fun”.

But serendipity has a wonderful way of wheedling its way into travel plans and if anyone is thinking should I?/shouldn’t I? go for the more experienced run – even as a first-timer…


You’ll be so thrilled you stepped up to the challenge!
You’ll love it 😀

If you can’t see the video above – Click here for the link



There’s a comprehensive list of winter activities on the Tourism Whistler website but here’s 10 more ideas of what to do in Whistler if you don’t ski, which caught my eye:

Have you visited a holiday destination renowned for one thing, but then peeled back the facade to reveal more to the place than at first glance?

Do tell and share in the comments below

The One Thing All Travellers Will Forget…

…and my Top 3 Travel Tips
to be sure you will remember!

Passport Check Tickets Check


“Passport?” – CHECK



And you’re off

Leaving on a jet plane

For months you’ve been dreaming of…
  • faraway places and luring landscapes
  • sparkling sunshine and gentle breezes
  • escaping to a world a million miles away
For weeks you’ve been researching top travel tips and planning on…
  • where to stay
  • what to see and do
  • who to fly with and
  • how to optimally pack the perfect wardrobe
At last, you’re experiencing your travelling dream…
  • viewing magical vistas and iconic features
  • your senses buzzing with fresh smells, soft sounds and the tantalizing tastes of local cuisines
  • you feel that long anticipated sensation of being ALIVE

before you know it, you’re back in a taxi pulling up outside your front gate.

And you're home

In the pouring rain you pile out onto the glistening pavement and haul your bag back up the garden path to the front door where you fumble for familiar keys, and the door slams behind you.

The after-holiday blues starts to seep through you –
Have you even been away?

Have you forgotten something?

I often think how funny it is that we spend so long dreaming, planning and finally experiencing we focus little attention on the longest lasting part of the trip – potentially the rest of your life – on the travel memories.

I’m sure when you return to work on the Monday you’ll manage to recount many a funny tale to entertain and share with your colleagues –
But in a couple of years those tales will start to go a little grey and fuzzy around the edges –
And in 5 years? Where was it you went?!


Memories fade

It is a fact –
Memories fade.
And sadly, if some form of action isn’t taken, it is the one thing all travellers will ultimately forget.

But, who wants to give up precious holiday time to do something that has no dopamine hit in sight for another how ever many years?

Let me share a quick story –
Just the other day I purposefully went to my bookshelf when my hand fell upon something quite different and I came away with…

Some doodley scribbles from my time in Canada…

Ziplining and Skiing doodlesAs I pulled out the concertina pages, it was such a blast to be suddenly ziplining my way through the snowy Canadian pine forests and skiing the Whistler-Blackcomb slopes from the top of 7th Heaven ski lift – I have to say playing with a few coloured pencils at odd moments while I was away was really not that much of a hardship, and well – my first dopamine hit had just kicked in!

I think sadly, many people feel the only way to record a trip is writing in a traditional travel journal – where like homework, you shut yourself away each night to get it done –

This is not my way of doing things –
And hopefully after reading this, neither will it be yours.

My Top 3 Travel Tips for Remembering your Trip… Forever

1. Start

As Woody Allen said – “Eighty percent of success is showing up” – so as soon as possible after leaving home – once through airport security is ideal – break the ice and make your first mark.

Do not have any high-falutin aspirations, which could either deter you from showing up at all, or set the bar too high making you feel you can’t keep it up.
Buy yourself a drink, and as you relax back in your seat to take in your first taste of holidays, use the bottom of your beverage of choice to make a coffee ring, a wine stain, whatever – to mark the page of your travel notebook.

Hey Presto – Your adventure has begun and your first holiday memory has been recorded.

This may even set the trend – a holiday recounted in a trail of beverage marks taken at the bevy of cafés and bars frequented along the way.

Waste no time in making your first mark

2. Don’t only rely on photos…

There is interesting evidence that indicates that blindly snapping away and relying on your camera to record the sights makes you remember less of that scene – Convinced you have safely secured the shot for posterity, your brain fails to be fully present in the moment and you miss out on making that all important emotional connection.

I can vouch for this scenario from my trip to Venice where over every bridge and down every alley there was such a mouth-wateringly beautiful vista I was compelled to try and capture every little bit to take home with me –
The reality being, I now couldn’t tell you where any one of those images was actually taken, nor how I truly felt when standing in the scene before it –

Venice Memories

However, the little doodle I made shortly after buying a bag of hot chestnuts in the street market (top right image) carries me instantly back to that moment in time and triggers my brain to recreate the entire scene –

But photos are so easy, I hear you say and if not photos, what then?

We all have different ways of taking in our world and expressing it, but it has been proven that text in conjunction with diagrams is the most effective way for conveying information –

Be a rebel and consider throwing your school learnt ways out of the window and have a go at story-mapping.

Anyone – even a 4 year old – can draw a stick-man so using this shorthand notation of pictograms, along with a few written details, plus the odd quirky receipt reflecting the local lingo (as well giving you the name of the café and the date) ~
What better way to get your grey matter sparking and those cherished memories highlighted… forever.

Story map pictogram diagram

3. Stop – It’s all in the detail

Have you ever re-discovered a pressed flower in a book, which the moment it’s touched transposes you back in full technicolour glory, to that meadow where it was picked?
There were no words with it, no lengthy descriptions, no photographs – Just a single tactile object re-connecting you to a moment in time otherwise forgotten.

Quote Paverse We Remember Moments

It is not the big picture descriptions that create the best memory joggers, but rather the details you’ve focussed on within the frame.

On my last holiday to Scotland, I was coming from Australia where most trees are eucalypts, which remain covered in silvery green leaves all year round – I was therefore totally captivated by the variety of woodland trees there.

Its all in the detail

Rather than record my walks through the woods in general terms I focused on details that caught my eye – Such as the lichen growing on bare wintry branches, the first of the catkins struggling against the cold hoping for spring, and the last remaining rusty red autumn leaves hanging on to sculptural ancient oak trees.
It is from these vignettes that the whole picture comes vividly back to life.

While my first tip stressed the importance to start, my third tip is stressing the importance that you stop (at least once each day) to be truly present in the moment while you soak up and consciously connect to the smallest of details in your foreign surrounds.

Emotional connections are the best of memory joggers.

Experience has taught me that memories fade quote


So on your next trip be sure you are not one of the travellers who will forget:

  1. Start (80% of success is turning up)
  2. Don’t only rely on photos (try a Story Map)
  3. Stop (It’s all in the detail )

How do you ensure you remember the highlights of your holiday?

Do share in the comments below :)

A Travelling Tale… or, How I Finally Got to Whistler

It should have been a simple trip –

I was first going to spend a week in Nelson, taking a return flight to Castlegar (mid way between Calgary and Vancouver); then return to Vancouver where the Whistler Shuttle (who guarantee that from Vancouver Airport you’ll be on your way within the hour of landing), would not only take me to Whistler, but would drop me off at my accommodation door.

But… let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

1. In the Beginning – There was an Airplane

Travel journal entry about flying from Vancouver to Castlegar

My travel journal entry for my flight to Castlegar




“Calling all passengers on flight AC8248 to Castlegar.

We are now boarding through Gate 4.
However, please be aware there is a 50:50 chance that due to poor visibility we will not be able to land, in which case we will be returning here to Vancouver.”




It’s not often you hear a flight called where the destination is potentially going to be the same as its departure.
Good thing I believe a sprinkling of serendipity is all part of travel, so embarked with anticipation.

Canadian Rockies

In fact, the flight was smooth and beautiful, and fruitful.

We floated over snow capped mountains and deep deep valleys where those rogue clouds looked like sticky candy floss.

But as we approached Castlegar – which due to the mountainous terrain is considered to have one of the most challenging approaches of any North American commercial airport with ‘no possibility of a straight-in approach’ – the candy floss clouds dissolved and we made our final descent down the narrow valley where you could virtually touch the passing tree tops that hugged the vertical sides… and we happily turned on cue to miss the mountain range perpendicularly ahead of us.


2. In the Middle – There was a Greyhound

After a superb week in Nelson (blog posts of fat tire biking and snow-shoeing at Whitewater to follow) I was ready to leave Castlegar, which I discovered during my stay is colloquially referred to as ‘Cancelgar’.
I arrived at the small airport at 9am to the announcement that not only was my flight cancelled, but flights from the previous two days had also been cancelled due to poor visibility; while there was another flight due at 1pm, with the previous two days’ record, was it that promising?

The alternatives were limited – 
There was a single daily Greyhound bus that (miraculously?) left in less than an hour but would take 12 hours, compared to the flip of a coin possibility that the lunchtime plane, scheduled to take just an hour may (or may not) jet in.

I vied for the “certainty” of the Greyhound – at least that way (so I thought)…  I’d be at my destination by nightfall.

A cab was called, and I raced to the Greyhound office purchasing a one-way ticket.

Moments later the bus from Calgary pulled in, bags were loaded into its undercarriage and I clambered aboard eyeing either side of the aisle for a place to sit –
At the very back (by the toilet) there was a girl spread across two seats dozing –
“Sorry.. but…”

The frayed fabric on the seats did not bode well if this was a reflection as to the state of the mechanics…

Worn out Greyhound bus in BC

And two hours into the 12-hour trip it lived up to its appearance.

Making our way up a mountainous pass the bus ground to a halt on a steep single lane incline.

After a few intermittent bunny hop efforts of cranking her up, and letting her cool down, we reached a safer spot to pull off the Highway and assess the situation – Which was that we weren’t going to be going anywhere soon – And… we were out of cell phone range.

The driver donned his regulation fluoro yellow safety vest and disembarked to flag down a vehicle to take our carrier pigeon message back to the previous base where, a short while before, standing in the queue for the only loo at the small office, the driver had hassled us to abandon our mission with:
“All aboard – We’ll be at the next stop in no time”

A while later a reconnaissance party from the last base appeared through the fog to do a first hand reconnoiter.

Broken down Grehound bus on the side of the road in the mist

The driver repeated the message given to our carrier pigeon that
“We’ve broken down and require a replacement coach to take the stranded passengers to the next stop.”

The reconnaissance team got back into their cosy 4WD and returned to base with the update.

It was beginning to feel a little like an episode from “Lost”.
A group of unrelated unconnected people suddenly finding themselves connected by a common event.

A man who related how his wife was on her death bed so was desperate to get to her side, managed to muster another three passengers (prepared to fork out the additional $125 each to share a taxi) and so passed ‘Go’ and moved on to the next stop.

Greyhound bus broken down has a taxi come to rescue passengers


A loud mouth from the middle section of the bus who repeatedly shouted profanities at the driver for the inconvenience and refused to shut it despite repeated requests from fellow passengers that there were children on board was cajoled out by (it evolved) an ex SAS man – He enticed the ‘sh*t head’ to go with him to hitch a lift, escorting the disturbance out of the bus and up the highway, where when a car stopped, he said:
“You take it – I’ll follow in the next one”.

He returned to the bus alone.

A mother with two children, rugged them up against the cold and got off for some playtime in the snow.

A couple of young women asked the driver how long we’d be here?
On the assumption the replacement bus would come from a base further up the track (after the reconnaissance team relayed the request from the base further down the track) he estimated “at least a few hours”.
They descended the steps and headed off into the woodland to explore the snowy forest footpaths.

Travel journalling en route

I updated my travel journal.

Then, rather than stay cooped up, I too took to the woods following the snowy footprints of other destitute passengers who had gone before.
It was otherwise a silent, uninhabited landscape.
It felt a little ominous.
There was a low lying murky mist – the sticky candy floss clouds seen from a different perspective – wafting through the dark conifers blocking the sun from fully penetrating.
But as the path rose higher, I emerged out into a sparkling fresh white landscape a world away from the gloomy reality sealed in below.

Waling in the wilds of the Canadian Rockies

Three hours later, the summoned replacement vehicle appeared over the horizon, and after five hours marooned on the side of the highway, the journey continued on to Kelowna.

Where, as a consolation for the endured inconvenience we were offered a plate of the greasiest noodles flecked with khaki coloured tinned peas and ochre coloured corn kernels, with a bottle of water.

Travel Journal of a broken down Greyhound bus


At 10 pm, just as we were supposed to be arriving at our destination, we were instead boarding our ‘connecting’ bus to take us through the night to Vancouver.

But half an hour hour into this segment there was yet another hold up –

A man who had decided to use the toilet as his seat, with the door open, was reported to the driver –
The driver stopped, and came back to inspect the problem.
The man agreed to move himself further up the bus, but then took to sitting in the middle of the aisle.

The driver donned his regulation fluoro yellow safety vest and called the Police.
We waited (and waited) for them to respond.

Still protesting his innocence, the Police cordially escorted the perpetrator off the bus.

Another unexpected holdup


The motor once again droned.
Fleeting glimpses of lit up settlements flashed past.
I whiled away the wee hours of the night with occasional head nodding and much leg twitching as my feet ferreted around under the seat in front trying to find an illusive horizontal position that all diurnal creatures crave when forced to sit bolt upright past midnight.

3. In the End – There was a Shining Shuttle Bus

It was still dark when we finally pulled into the Greyhound station at Vancouver.

Vancouver city skline at first light
As the dawn began to break I hailed a yellow taxi cab and headed down town to a newly appointed shuttle-bus pick up point (as I wasn’t going to be at the airport as I’d said). In the hotel foyer, a Starbucks was serving aromatic cups of coffee to the early morning city slickers; some rushing to their office, some holding breakfast meetings and some donned in tight fitting running gear with white ear plugs draped around their necks grabbing a caffeine boost as part of their latest health kick.

I sunk into a plush low level sofa and relished the comfort of a delicious drink and a palatable plate of food.

My Whistler Shuttle Bus pulled in on cue – appearing like a knight in shining armour the driver rescued me from my 24 hour ordeal.

Driving over Vancouver BridgeSkipping the early morning rush hour traffic we were out and over the bridge in a flash and heading up the Sea to Sky Highway 99.

The scenery of Howe Sound was positively dreamy – With tantalizing views across the water to distant snowy mountain tops – my destination.

Sea to Sky Highway views from the shuttle bus window

Photos of views taken from the shuttle bus (while on the move!)



We glided into Whistler and I was taken to my door…

Drawing of the Whistler Shuttle

The Whistler Shuttle took me to my door


Where… I collapsed into a soft cosy bed for a catch-up nap, ready for my wonderful week in Whistler :)

Click here, if you want to know What to do in Whistler if you Don’t Ski

Have you had a simple journey turn into a convoluted adventure?

I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!


It’s All in the Detail – Travel Photo Roulette *97

Have you heard of Travel Photo Roulette?

Because we have a new WINNER for this round!
(Scroll down to see the winning entry!)

It’s a friendly fun game between travel bloggers who put up fabulous travel photos over the course of a week, focusing on a theme, where the prize for the winner is to host and select the theme for the following round.

And guess what?

I won the previous Travel Photo Roulette Round #96, hosted on Jess’ site Ice Cream and Perma Frost, with the following photo – where her theme was:


“On my recent visit to Scotland we woke on this cold January morning to a crisp white hoar frost coating the hedgerows and the top of our stone wall and gate.”

Hoar frost on the top of a gate in Scptland


As the host for round #97, the theme for…

Travel Photo Roulette #97 is…

You often hear it said – It’s all in the detail!

And to my mind, that is where the true travel story of where you are and what you’re experiencing is being told –
While big open vistas inspire and enthral us with their magnitude, it’s the little details of daily life that form the backbone of cultures and demarcate the charming regional idiosyncrasies we encounter and so form our memories.

By noticing the local craftsmanship of a dry stone wall, the embellishment on a piece of traditional fabric, or quite simply what lays beneath your feet as you walk upon the forest floor…

rainforest seeds

These are the details that enrich our journey

So what intricacies have you observed on your travels?
What little nuances have caught your eye and grabbed your attention that you can show and share with us here?

Whether it be a detail that tells the story to a bigger picture
Or a piece of minutia that drew you in to take a closer look –
How detailed or micro you go is up to you…

Sculpture found on the top of a mountain at Cairnsmore  Yellow desert wildflower on red soil Stradbroke Island, Queensland, Australia

Fat tire biking at Whitewater  Fern Tree, Australia City Hall, Charters Towers

 I’m so looking forward to seeing your
photographic eye for


This round is now closed – But what a ride!

I had fourteen entries highlighting holiday details from the USA including Alaska and Hawaii; Canada, Egypt, Italy, Spain, India, Australia, Thailand and four detailing Mexico.
Details of flowers, embroidered fabric, reflections of nature, Mayan monuments, butterfly’s wings in macro, fashion accessories, architectural details of windows, doorways, Thai temples and Totems, which all fulfilled the brief of enriching our life’s journey…

And the Winner is….

3.) Josie ~ House Sitting Travel

Reflections of trees in water

Judge’s Comment:
As my eye skimmed across the painterly surface my focus fell upon fallen floating leaves seemingly suspended by yellow sunshine –
And it was this detail that then quietly and gently drew me in to fathomless depths of timeless tranquillity.
Focusing on Details can transpose you to a state of mindfulness, and this photo certainly took me on that journey.

The Entries

1.) Suzanne ~ Boomeresque

My “Detail” photo is a close up of an orange hibiscus I found along a busy street in the Waikiki section of Honolulu, Hawaii. It was just after a light rain and I loved the way the droplets were like little magnifying glasses

………. ***** ……….

 2.) Juergen ~ Dare2Go

This round’s topic was difficult for me from the point of view that I didn’t really know which direction to take; I have a large number of very detailed nature shots, mostly plants or rocks, but also an equally large number of photos depicting architectural details. In the end I settled for something different: a display of traditional hand-embroidered women’s tops for sale at the annual artisans fair in Uruapan in Mexico. I loved the colours and intricacy of these blouses – each requires countless hours of work. Despite that you see many women going about their daily business in these tops. Read more about Uruapan in Michoacan (not far from Patzcuaro) here

Detail Mexican embroidery

 ………. ***** ……….

3.) Josie ~ House Sitting Travel

Entitled “October Reflections ll,” my detail photo was taken on a still, sunny fall day while hiking on the NCR trail in Maryland, U.S. Here is a list of the details I love about it:

1. The surface of the lazy river was so cooperative and quiet.
2. The deep blue sky shown through the trees making a nice balance of jewel tones, plus an impressionistic wiggly corner.
3. The reds and yellow reflected leaf colors spread around in a pretty collection of real and abstract bunches.
4. Floating colored leaves on the water’s surface pop.
5. Boulders on the river’s bottom glow green.

Reflections of trees in water

………. ***** ……….


4.) Bethaney ~ Flashpacker Family

Taking a bite out of Chitchen Itza –
This was taken at Chitchen Itza in Mexico. I came around the corner and was amazed how this shot just lined up perfectly. Like the snake’s head was taking a bite out of the pyramid.

Chitchen Itza in Mexico

 ………. ***** ……….

 5.) Jade ~ Our Oyster

Here is a macro shot of a butterfly’s wing that we took at the Butterfly Conservation House in Niagara Falls, Canada.

[Editor’s Note: You need to click on the image for this one to see its true detail]


 ………. ***** ……….

 6.) Carole ~ Berkeley and Beyond

On my first visit to Egypt a few years ago, I spotted this woman in a burka and was surprised to see her chic silver high heels and matching purse–not to mention cell phone and bottle of water. She looked just like a lady you’d see on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills except she was wearing a black tent over it all. And it was really hot.

Woman in a burka and high heels, bag and mobile phone

 ………. ***** ……….

 7.) Noel ~  Travel Photo Discovery

I just did a post on doors and portals while exploring the magnificent city of Verona, Italy. I’ll be submitting the 2nd to the last image with the yellow walls and Venetian style windows and a face on top to boot!

Window detail with a face

 ………. ***** ……….

 8.) Rachel ~  Andalucia Explorer

A narrow backstreet in Cordoba, Spain and tucked between some uninspring modern houses was this little nook. I love the detail of this painted bright blue border around the old wrought ironwork and the tiny window that would be almost unnoticeable without its adornments.

Detail of a window above a door

 ………. ***** ……….

9.) Jeremy ~ Living the Dream

When it comes to detail, I can’t think of any place better than the palaces of India. It seems like every room becomes more ornate and intricate than the next and is really quite impressive. One of my favorite details was the Peacock Door at the City Palace in Jaipur. The photo really does not do this one justice!

Peacock Door at the City Palace in Jaipur

 ………. ***** ……….

10.) James ~ The Life Outdoors

Gum-tree moon, Morton National Park [Australia]: As friends and I settled down to enjoy a glass of wine at our campsite after getting the children to bed, a full, yellow moon rose above the horizon. I wandered through the bush and found these leaves silhouetted against its wondrous glow. Through this detail both the moon and the trees appeared in a new light – literally!

Moon and eucalypt leaves silouetted

 ………. ***** ……….

 11.) Irene ~ More Time to Travel

This metal grillwork caught my eye at Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita in Riviera Maya [Mexico] —both for the exquisite craftsmanship but also for the beauty of the sky behind it.

Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita in Riviera Maya

 ………. ***** ……….

12.) Donna ~ Nomad Women

This shot is part of the front wall of one section of a colonial hacienda in a neighborhood called Santa Maria del Obraje in San Miguel de Allende, in central Mexico. I have been parking nose-in in front of this wall twice a week for over a year and I never really looked at it until a few weeks ago. I was staring, kind of mindlessly, out my windshield when this scene just came into focus for the first time. It was just before noon and the bright Mexican sun was casting stark shadows. I love the lines in this, and the slim trail of bougainvillea vine seemed to balance the composition perfectly. Thank God I had my camera with me.

Terra cotta coloured wall in Mexico with a shelf

………. ***** ……….

13.) Brent ~ Brent’s Favorite Photos

I loved the ornate detail and repeating pattern of the temples of Thailand.
[Wat Ratchabophit]

Thailand Wat Ratchabophit detail

………. ***** ……….

14.) Jess ~ Ice Cream and Permafrost

This is a detail from the Raven totem pole at Sitka National Historical Park in Alaska.

I like looking at these poles up close because that lets you see the little bits of craftsmanship that come together to make something magnificent – here there’s the tool marks in the eye, the grain of the wood, and the way the paint is still bright but starting to weather.

Raven totem pole Sitka National Historical Park Alaska

 ………. ***** ……….


Travel Photo Roulette Rules/Guidelines

  1. One submission per blog ie sites with 2+ authors get one entry.
  2. Post processing is fine in this round.
  3. Abstract submissions are interesting – As long as I can comprehend the connection.
  4. Keep your images medium-sized eg 800 pixels wide is good.
  5. If you win, you will host the next round (runs for 7 days) and so choose the next theme – Remember to keep phrases general so all bloggers can participate. Specific items like “Eiffel Tower” should be avoided for open-ended topics like “monuments”, or for a little more focus try “monuments at night”. Phrases can be generic ‘signs’, or abstract ‘religion’ – Themes can be repeated after a year.
  6. Keep it PG-13 – or at least safe for work
  7. New photos, or old photos from your archives are fine, as long as not previously entered in a TPR round.
  9. Since this is a competition for travel and photography bloggers, you must have a travel/photography blog to enter. Sorry!
  10. And last but not the least, talk about Photo Roulette! and spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, Stumbleupon…
    Its way too good to keep to ourselves! Oh, and don’t forget to use the hashtag #PhotoRoulette.

How to Submit a Photo

Just leave a comment with a link to your image below!
And tell me a little about what compelled you to zoom in on this detail ~
If you have a post that elaborates leave that link too so I can include it.

I’ll be adding the submitted pictures into this post throughout the week, so please check back to see them all and tell me which you think has an eye for DETAIL 😉

The contest ran for 7 days,
ending on Sunday March 22nd 2015
When I announced the winner, who hosts the next round

Want to see more awesome photos from previous rounds over the four years travel photo roulette has been running?  Here’s a list of…

Previous winners…

  1. Nov 2010 Living the Dream Animals
  2. Nov 2010 Skinny Backpacker Road Signs
  3. Nov 2010 Dream a Little Dream Street Art
  4. Dec 2010 Flashpacker HQ Festival
  5. Dec 2010 Over Yonderlust Landmarks
  6. Dec 2010 Don’t Ever Look Back Beaches
  7. Jan 2011 ThePlanetD Portraits
  8. Jan 2011 Travel with a Mate Motion
  9. Jan 2011 Johnny Vagabond Water
  10. Feb 2011 Ken Kaminesky Urban
  11. Feb 2011 Travels of Adam Friday Night
  12. Mar 2011 Itchy Feet Chronicles The Journey
  13. Mar 2011 Brendan’s Adventures  Changing Seasons
  14. Apr 2011 Shutterfeet Storytelling
  15. Apr 2011 10 Times One Piousness
  16. Apr 2011 Beached Eskimo Learning
  17. May 2011 Travel Junkies Architecture
  18. Jun 2011 Destination World Transportation
  19. Jun 2011 Living the Dream Paradise
  20. Jun 2011 Vagabond Quest Clothes
  21. Jul 2011 The Unframed World Symmetry
  22. Jul 2011 Beached Eskimo Home
  23. Jul 2011 BackPackerBanter Inspiration
  24. Aug 2011 WanderingTrader Darkness
  25. Aug 2011 Finding the Universe Tranquillity
  26. Sep 2011 Fearful Adventurer Food
  27. Sep 2011 Adventures of a GoodMan City
  28. Oct 2011 Globe-Trekking.com Reflection
  29. Oct 2011 Scene With A Hart Framing
  30. Nov 2011 Vagabond Quest Silhouettes
  31. Nov 2011 Hecktic Travels Music
  32. Dec 2011 Globetrotter Girls Love
  33. Dec 2011 Man on the lam Humor
  34. Jan 2012 My Walkabout Winter
  35. Jan 2012 The Art of Slow Travel Blue
  36. Feb 2012 Ten times One Depth of the Field
  37. Not hosted anymore
  38. Mar 2012 Nomadbiba Sunshine
  39. Mar 2012 Travel With Kat Local Character
  40. Apr 2012 The Travel Bunny Street Scene
  41. Apr 2012 Adventure Crow Spirit of the Country
  42. May 2012 Food Travel Bliss Evening
  43. May 2012 Matt Gibson Adventure
  44. May 2012 Flashpacker HQ Once In A Lifetime
  45. Jul 2012 Skinny Backpacker Surreal
  46. Aug 2012 2away Smile
  47. Aug 2012 Bridges and Balloons Excellent Splendour of the Universe
  48. Sep 2012 The GypsyNester What the ?!
  49. Oct 2012 Runaway Juno Sweet
  50. Nov 2012 GQ Trippin Play
  51. Nov 2012 Life’s Little Victories Friendship
  52. Dec 2012 Breakaway Backpacker Face
  53. Jan 2013 Fly, Icarus, Fly Serendipity
  54. Feb 2013 Travel Transmissions Lost in Thought
  55. Feb 2013 Wanderlusters The Natural World
  56. Mar 2013 Travel Junkies Patterns
  57. Apr 2013 Living the Dream Your First Time
  58. May 2013 Getting Stamped The Sun Goes Down
  59. Jun 2013 The GypsyNester Cheesy Tourist Diversions
  60. Jun 2013 Boomeresque Revolution
  61. Jul 2013 Breakaway Backpacker Colorful
  62. Aug 2013 Around This World Mountains
  63. Aug 2013 Passports and Pamplemousse Hands at Work
  64. Sep 2013 TurtlesTravel Dance
  65. Sep 2013 Keep calm and travel The Sea
  66. Sep 2013 Travel Photo Discovery The Market
  67. Oct 2013 Am I Nearly There Yet? Travel Fails
  68. Oct 2013 The GypsyNester Weird Regional Foods
  69. Nov 2013 Sophie’s World Trees
  70. Nov 2013 SHOuTography Party
  71. Dec 2013 Adventures of a Goodman Ruin
  72. Dec 2013 Have Blog Will Travel Light
  73. Jan 2014 This World Rocks Crowds
  74. Jan 2014 Travel Past 50 Competition
  75. Feb 2014 The Working Traveller Working
  76. Mar 2014 Travels with Carole Umbrellas
  77. Apr 2014 Independent Travel Help Quirky
  78. Apr 2014 Quit Job Travel World Statues
  79. May 2014 Nomad is Beautiful People Sleeping
  80. May 2014 Backpack Me Mouthwatering
  81. Jun 2014 20 Years Hence The Face of A Nation
  82. Jul 2014 Two for the Road Into the Wild
  83. Jul 2014 TurtlesTravel Summer!
  84. Aug 2014 Adventures Around Asia Candid
  85. Aug 2014 Travel with Kevin and Ruth Hiking
  86. Sept 2014 Till The Money Runs Out Transport
  87. Sept 2014 The Crowded Planet Wild World
  88. Sept 2014 ZigZag On Earth The 4 Element
  89. Oct 2014 Travel Addicts Heritage
  90. Oct 2014 Living the Dream Your Grand Adventure
  91. Oct 2014 Getting Stamped Inspire
  92. Nov 2014 Flashpacker HQ Viewpoint
  93. Jan 2015 Adventures of a GoodMan WOW!
  94. Jan 2015  ZigZag On Earth Roads and Tracks
  95. Feb 2015 Where’s The Gos? Street Art
  96. Mar 2015 Ice Cream and Perma Frost Frozen
  97. Mar 2015 Journey Jottings Detail