I've decided to keep ongoing updates just so people can follow along and see what's happening with me and my blog. This is the first of those updates, so I hope it isn't too boring.
Today at midnight our very first Facebook contest ended. I have yet to go through 44 posts to see who won, but I've been keeping a rough count and I think I know the top five winners. When I started the contest, I had just under 300 likes. Ending the contest, I have 6 and a half thousand. The past two weeks have seen incredible growth in my blog and in the support for it, and I only hope I can continue to offer somewhat interesting articles for you to read.
Moving on, lately I have been trying to improve the usability of my website. I'm getting anywhere from 50 to 200 hits on it a day, so I want to make sure it's as user friendly as possible. One of the big issues I've encountered are the large images. Some people love them, some hate them. I tried implementing a button on my site to hide and show said images, but nobody really understood it and it was confusing so I took it out. I have noticed my site isn't doing very good on mobile because of the heavy bandwidth due to the images, so I may scale them back, or I may find some new solution. I'm still thinking on that.
I've also decided to move into my own place next month, which does mean saving up for trips around the world becomes a little more difficult. I decided to try and counter this by adding advertisements on the bottom of my blog articles. I don't like advertisements, but I like traveling. I only hope they don't take anything away from my site and aren't too distracting. They are for you, in a sense, after all. So far, I have made a total of 46 cents off them, which was because of myself testing to see if they actually worked (but don't tell Google that, or they'll lynch me).
I've also added a feature to my site to track how much of an articles are actually being read. I understand the 26 minute long article about Paris probably won't be read in detail over your lunch break, but I just want to know exactly how much of my articles are being read. Two days into tracking, I've learned only 20 - 60% of the articles are being read. This is disappointing, but I understand my posts are very long. I am thinking of a way of making the articles shorter. Maybe I'll paginate them, or maybe I'll split them into smaller articles. I'm not sure yet. (But only reading 60% of my blog post means they're 40% away from seeing any ads, which isn't good for making money!)
On the media side of things, I have asked a local radio and television company in the city, Global Regina, if they would have me on TV. So far, they have not replied. I also asked the local newspaper company, the Leader Post, if they wanted to do an article about me. Zip from them. I emailed Contiki Travels and asked if they would help sponsor me, but again nothing. I will keep trying, and hopefully get into the media somehow. I really feel once I can break into the old media, my blog will really start to grow.
I have been in discussions with several other bloggers around the world, and while some are very busy and can only do an interview, some of the talks are coming together quiet well. I realize the taste for foreign lands is unquenchable and unfortunately I've covered all the distant places I've gone to, so I hope I can find some way to satisfy my readers.
But, really the biggest news update is how great this blog is coming together. I put in countless hours each week working on it, making tweaks, preparing scheduled posts, doing research, finding, cropping and editing pictures, and I really do feel you guys appreciate it. I used to be very frequent on Instagram about my travels and that's kind of fallen to the wayside. I've had several Instagram followers "track me down" to ask what's going on. This is really special. It really means a lot to me that you guys enjoy my posts enough to miss me when I'm away.
That's all for this update. All I can say is thank you, and I'm excited to see what's next for Kenton de Jong Travel.
Goodbye for now.
And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.
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Nestled between the impressive Mount Royal and the majestic St. Lawrence River is Montreal, a city known for its festivals, abstract art, history and mosaic of countless cultures. Montreal is the second largest city in Canada, with a population floating around four million people. While the city is a dynamic mix of Canada's two primary cultures – French and English – there are areas of the city that are culturally specific, such as Little Italy, Greektown and Chinatown. Known for its artistic and liberal mindedness, Montreal also boasts the largest community of homosexuals in North America in their very own "Gay Village".
Being nearly 375 years old, Montreal was pivotal to the creation of New France and Canada and at a time held control over every waterway from the St. Lawrence down to the Gulf of Mexico. Having such incredible influence over the western part of the New World, Montreal hosted the "Great Peace of Montreal" in 1701, which started sixteen years of peace between the French and over 40 different First Nation tribes in North America.
Since its early days, Montreal has been one of the most influential cities in Canada. Montreal housed "internment camps" during World War I, became an ideal location for Americans looking for alcohol during Prohibition, and was the official residence of the Luxembourg royal family during World War II. Montreal held host to the incredible Expo 67, showcasing some of the most incredible architecture of that decade. The seventies saw serious political reformation in Montreal, with many Americans arriving, fleeing the Vietnam Draft. The late seventies paralyzed the city as a terrorist organization, the Front de libération du Québec, detonated explosives throughout the city and kidnapped and killed political figures. These actions forced the Prime Minster to enact the "War Measures Act" and deploy the military into the city to apprehend the terrorists. The eighties and nineties saw two referendums in the province of Quebec to separate from Canada, with Montreal playing a major role in both decisions. The last referendum in 1995 ended with 51% percent of Quebecers wanting to remain part of Canada and 49% wanting to separate.
When it comes to Saskatchewan, your next adventure can be around any corner. As you venture off the main highways, signage is scarce and directions such as "if you've passed the gate with the buffalo skulls, you've gone too far" are all too common. Communities grow smaller, people grow warmer and the list of things on your Saskatchewan Bucket List seems to only get longer.
My adventure to Leader started a few months ago when Christine over at Cruisin' Christine shared a list of Leader bus tours on Facebook. Some of the tours were in June, but one was in September. The September tour caught my eye because it was a two-day tour and I had to ask myself what we would do for two days in Leader. Leader has a three digit population, so I was perplexed on what the tour would comprise.
I was so perplexed that I decided contacted Leader Tourism and booked the tour to find out.
As I stood in the courtyard of Fort Henry, I heard screams emanating from within. Fort Henry was constructed to protect the Kingston Royal Dockyard from the invading American forces during the War of 1812. The threat was so real that the capital of Canada – which was then Kingston – was moved to Quebec to protect it. The docks are all that stood between the United States and the St. Lawrence River and both countries were all too familiar with how easily it would turn the tides of battle.
As the screams from inside Fort Henry faded, I turned to the man beside me. He had come with his family. We got talking, trying to calm our nerves as bloodied clowns and undead mimes began wandering out from inside the fort.