At the same time, I’m terribly distracted by the impending NHL playoffs. One browser window is devoted to the latest family getaways in Calgary. Seven others, however, are devoted to the career statistics of Calgary Flames players I’m hoping to draft for my playoff hockey pool. (See how I snuck that in there? Sorry Kings fans!)
Then I notice a newly arrived email from Robin Esrock, a friend and fellow travel scribe who knows all about really good ideas. He undoubtedly had one when he came up with The Great Canadian Bucket List, which has been the biggest-selling travel book in the country since its launch in 2013.
“Heyza Adam,” the note begins. “I'm giving a talk in Toronto on Saturday, April 25. Last time round Rob Ford smoked crack and totally Ford-blocked me. This time I'm promoting my three new expanded regional books: Central Canada, Atlantic Canada and Western Canada (pictured above). If you know any editors/writers who might be interested, fire away!”
I’ve compiled more than my share of bucket lists, but none of them can touch Robin’s coast-to-coast compendium of more than 100 places and experiences. Still, the great thing about bucket lists is that they're all different, and comparing mine with Robin’s, or my wife’s, or that of REO Speedwagon’s frontman, is part of the fun.
Story ideas, hockey pools and bucket lists are swirling in my head when it hits me: Why not run a Great Canadian Travel Draft, where poolies pick Canuck experiences they deem bucket-list worthy? I fire off a few emails to fellow writers and bloggers who might be keen, and in a matter of minutes – OK, by 11 a.m. the next day – I’ve assembled a crack team (not in a Rob Ford sense) of GCTD participants: Myself and Esrock, as well as the talented and terrific Karan Smith, Jim Byers and Vawn Himmelsbach, all of whom host blogs that are required reading for travellers. (A few of our relevant photos appear at the end of this post.)
After my daughter Ava randomly determines the draft order – note to parents: do not let eight-year-olds throw lawn darts indoors – it kicks off with Jim’s first overall selection at exactly 11:18 a.m. EST. (He tries to take Connor McDavid, but then I explain the concept more clearly and we’re good to go):
Byers: “Cape Breton and the Cabot Trail drive. Joyful views combined with joyous music. You'll find one of the world's best drives, with a road that snakes along the Gulf of St. Lawrence and rises and falls in thick forests of deep green alongside small fishing villages and some of the world's best golf courses.”
Himmelsbach: “Hiking the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland and Labrador, where you can take in stunning views of the rugged Atlantic coastline, often in complete solitude.”
Smith: “Surfing, eating, beach walking – take your pick in Tofino, B.C., the ultimate end of the road town.”
Bisby: “Flying by float plane to Virginia Falls, NWT. The two-hour bush flight from Fort Simpson to Nahanni National Park is almost as thrilling as standing near the crest of this cascade, which is twice as tall as Niagara Falls and infinitely more picturesque.”
Esrock: “Polar Bears in Churchill. No brainer. The world's most southerly population of polar bears, fogging up your camera lens while you stand on a Tundra Buggy. Attracts wildlife nuts from around the world for the unique experience it offers, plus the chance to experience a few days of life in a remote northern town.”
That's all for now. To follow the rest of the draft please check back on Monday, and think about where you would pick...