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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In my December newsletter I said I wasn't going to write about Regina as much anymore and focus more on international locations, but after a friend of mine told me there was no "interesting history" in my city, I decided I had to write this just to prove them wrong!
Let me know in the comments if you know something I don't, or if I got something wrong! Historical facts seem to change overtime, after all!
I'm happy to present to you, on the 113 year of its existence, 100 Facts About Regina!
Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania shut its doors in 1970. A year later, in 1971, it would briefly reopen and house inmates from Holmesburg Prison after a devastating riot. After the prisoners were returned to Holmesburg, Eastern State would sit empty for over two decades. It would rot, decay and collapse. Trees and shrubs would grow into the structure and a clowder of cats would take residence. These hallowed halls would sit empty, the only noise being the chatter of startled birds and the trotter of feline paws.
The following decades would see various discussions of what to do with the building. Eventually, it was decided to preserve it and turn it into a tourist attraction. Although it officially opened for tours in 1994, attendants would have to sign a waiver and wear hardhats before entering until 2008. They had 10,000 visitors the opening year, a number of tourists not seen in the prison since 1858.
From 1829 to 1970, Eastern State Penitentiary underwent a variety of changes and transformations. This massive, sprawling, 11-acre complex was founded under the belief that solitary confinement was the cure needed to prevent criminals from committing future crimes. It was believed criminals who served in solitary confinement would turn to a higher power to reconcile with themselves for their crimes – hence feeling "penitent". To assist in this process, each cell was equipped with a slit window on the ceiling nicknamed "The Eye of God". It would be the only light source available to the inmate.
Ever since visiting the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg last summer, I've wanted to include more about First Nations culture on my blog. Being of European descent, I often feel I am culturally blind to First Nations culture, and I noticed a severe lack of it in my writing. In fact, I feel in past articles a lot of my focus has been on European history in the New World, with only a side note regarding First Nations history. Now, I am trying for there to be more equal representation in my blog.
To finish off my #BucketlistAB series, I thought this article would be the perfect place to flip the tables, and instead focus on First Nations culture, with a European side note. Sometimes it is impossible to talk about one without the other, but I tried to focus more on the First Nations people and their story in this article. Please let me know what you think in the comments below.