20 Highlights of My 20s

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9. Road Trip to Victoria and Hiking the West Coast Trail and Juan de Fuca Trail

Summers in Canada are wonderful and I made the most of July/August in 2010 when I completed a road trip with buddies from Calgary to Vancouver Island and then hiked the West Coast and Juan de Fuca Trails. We started the trip by piling into my buddy Mitch’s truck in Calgary and made it to the stunning Shuswaps, where we had a couple of fun sunny days on the water. From there, we continued to Summerland for more lake fun and a solid night of drinking fine wines with a buddy who lives on a vineyard and helps run the Thornhaven Estates Winery.

We then took the ferry across to Victoria and I met up with Lara for four days of hiking the 47 km Juan de Fuca trail and then Lyndsey for a week on the 75 km West Coast Trail. The weather was relatively good for both hikes and the entire experience was phenomenal. British Columbia is one of the most beautiful places in the world and I really enjoyed being able to share so many wonderful memories with my Canadian friends before returning back overseas, making it a definite highlight of my 20s.

10. Airborne Adrenaline Experiences

I did several memorable adrenaline activities in my 20s including bungee jumping, sky diving, and paragliding.

My two bungee jumps were in Africa and were both equally nerve-racking. The first was off the Victoria Falls Bridge in Zimbabwe, a 111 meter jump off the bridge connecting Zambia and Zimbabwe. The jump went well and I survived, but I’m not sure I’d say I loved the experience. As I dangled nearly 100 meters below the bridge after my jump, I began spinning quickly and all I remember seeing was cliff, river, cliff, river, cliff, river, cliff, river and being extremely dizzy once I was finally retrieved and brought up to the bridge.

The second bungee jump was off the Bloukrans Bridge in South Africa, and was a much more enjoyable experience. It was higher than Vic Falls, at 216 meters, but since it was my second jump I knew what I was in for and thankfully the cord was not twisted so I did not have to endure the same dizzying experience as I had in Zimbabwe.

After my two successful bungee jumps I knew I had to try sky-diving and I finally had the opportunity to do so in Abel Tasman, New Zealand. They had the option to jump from a variety of altitudes and of course I had to choose the highest available at the time, a 15,000 foot jump that provided over a minute of free fall. I absolutely loved my tandem skydive and found it almost relaxing rather than scary. In addition, I jumped on a beautiful blue bird day so the scenery was absolutely gorgeous and I will never forget my bird’s eye view of Abel Tasman.

My final memorable flying experience was paragliding in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. Paragliding was probably my favourite way to ‘fly’ and it is something I could see potentially taking up as a hobby one day. Not only was it fun, but the scenery was spectacular in the Swiss Alps making the entire paragliding experience phenomenal.

11. Scuba Diving

The best hobby I took up in my 20s was likely scuba diving. When I obtained my PADI Open Water certification in Koh Tao in January 2007, it was like discovering a whole new world. Not only is the experience of being weightless underwater incredibly liberating, but seeing the amazing underwater ecosystems that exist in our oceans was absolutely enlightening for me.

Subsequent to obtaining my open water license I have had the privilege of diving in Indonesia, Nicaragua (where I obtained my PADI Advanced certification), and Mauritius. Although not technically scuba diving, I was also able to dive with Great White Sharks in South Africa, which was cold, scary, and exhilarating all at the same time. Another highlight was on my 24th birthday when I went on a drift dive in Flores, Indonesia, where I came within inches of several massive manta rays. It was a phenomenal experience and one that always gets me eager to jump back in the water for more.

12. F1 Races in Singapore

Every once in a while I enjoy treating myself to a day in the life of the rich and famous. One such day was when I got a room at the Marina Bay Sands hotel and tickets to the F1 Night Race in Singapore. The hotel was nice, but not in itself overly memorable. The highlight for me was definitely the infinity pool on the roof. The F1 race was also very cool to see and I could not believe the roar of the cars as they zipped past. The highlight of the race was when Kovalainen’s car burst into flames on the last lap and he continued driving to the straight where he got out of the car and put out the fire himself. It was a hard fought race between Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso, with Alonso and Ferrari taking the checkered flag.

I was also able to go to an F1 race in Abu Dhabi in 2011, but I do not think anything will ever compare to my first F1 race experience in Singapore which is what makes the night race and Marina Bay Sands a highlight.

13. Oktoberfest

I made it to Oktoberfest 4 times in my 20s and each time it was a wonderful, but different experience. I met a number of great people and drank a liter after liter of Bavarian beer. ‘nuff said.

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