My first monthly update got some pretty good reviews and everybody seemed to enjoy it, so I thought I would do another one. A lot has changed this past month, and there's a lot of changes yet to come.
First of all, we officially reached 10,000 likes on Facebook! Whoo-hoo! This is unbelievable! Compared to some Facebook pages, 10,000 doesn't seem like that much, but knowing that that many people care about my travels and read my posts mean the world to me. When my account was jammed up around 60 likes back in December I was getting pretty bummed out. Here I was, every other day pumping out long, detailed travel entries, knowing the only people who were going to read them were my close family and friends. It was frustrating because I was putting so much work into my posts, and so few people seemed to care. Now thousands care. It's unbelievable! When I go at weeks end and see that my blog was been red 600 times, I am ecstatic! There's nothing better in this world than knowing people are going out of their way to read your blog posts. So, once again, thank you everybody for your support.
The second big thing that happened, happened on March 1st. That was the day I took possession of my apartment and I didn't even realize it happened: for some reason Google disabled my Adsense account. I appealed to them to reenable it but it was denied it. They didn't have to tell me why my account is disabled, and they chose not to. I'm left assuming it was because I advertised on Facebook which brought traffic to my site, which in turn artificially inflated the money I earned via advertising. If anybody cares, in the whole month of February I made $7.87, which is $92 shy of the lowest limit Google will pay.
Since then I've been exploring alternative advertising methods. One option was RevenueHits. RevenueHits claims they aren't as good as Adsense, but they're good enough. They weren't good enough for me. I put their ads on my site to see what they looked like, and they were misleading ("Your Flash Player Is Out of Date"), unrelated ("Download Here!") and sometimes straight obnoxious (like the "popunder" one that opens a new tab when the user visits a site). I like money just as much as you, but I like respect more. I respect my readers, and I want you to respect me back. Those ads were misleading and I didn't trust them enough to show them to you. I don't care if they're one of the highest revenue making advertising companies after Adsense. I don't write for money. I write because I love to write, and I love knowing you love what I write.
I then looked at Taboola, which is a fairly common advertising site that shows other popular articles around the web. Have you ever seen those "Skinny Pills Taking Storm!" ads going around? That's Taboola. I inquired into getting an account with them, but I needed 48,000 more monthly visitors to be considered. That's not gonna happen anytime soon! I emailed a couple others. One of them, SkimLinks, seems promising but takes days to get back to me. Disqus (we will talk more about them below) also has a similar program, but you need to have a certain number of visitors to use their ads, which I don't have.
I ended up going with InfoLinks, a company that puts links onto a website's keywords. Their ads can be seen by hovering over the links with your mouse. Today is the first full day of me having them online. They have other ads too, like ads that come in on the sides and ads that pop up when you come to the site. Other ones are keyword banners. I'm not sure how I feel about those, but we will give InfoLinks a chance for now.
On a more personal note, I've been busy moving into my new place, which is why new posts have been absent for so long. I want to assure everybody I am still alive and I'm still blogging. This "quiet time" has led to about a half dozen dislikes on my Facebook page. I know you guys want new content. And I have more content coming; I just didn't have Internet to post it.
I've also added Disqus comments to my blog. I like generating conversation and I see Disqus comments becoming more and more popular on websites. They seem to have even become more popular than Facebook comments. I thought I would give them a shot. So far, nobody has commented on anything. But maybe somebody will on this one!
There are other odds and ends I could talk about -- like the local newspaper telling me they "weren't interested" in doing a piece about my blog -- but I think I'll end it here. There are some other really big things coming up, but I would rather announce them at the time of them happening than announce them now and not have them fall through.
So, until next time, goodbye, and keep on traveling!
(Maybe I should use that line more often. Is it too late for a catchphrase?)
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.
Are you looking to explore the world? I recommend:
I recently had the opportunity to test drive a 2017 Ford Explorer. I grew up learning how to drive a Ford Windstar so I figured an Explorer shouldn't be that much different. Sure, one is an SUV the other is a van, but a Ford's a Ford, right? Well, not exactly. From the moment I sat down, I knew it would be a very different experience from what I was used to.
There were things about the Explorer I liked, and some that I didn't, but it was overall a very nice vehicle. It drove smoothly, turned nicely and handled grid roads very well. I found the brakes to be a little touchy, but by the time the week ended, I mastered how to brake without awkwardly lurching myself forward.
Beyond the learning curve with the brakes, here are my positive and negative experiences with the 2017 Ford Explorer:
Last summer my family and I tried fishing up in Northern Saskatchewan. We had a great weekend, but we caught nothing. I wasn't too disappointed though, as I have never actually caught a fish. After 25 years of fishing and failing, I have officially given up on the sport.
That is until I was invited to visit Medicine Hat, Alberta and go sturgeon fishing on the South Saskatchewan River. I was hesitant, but I said yes. I really didn't want to spend eight hours out on the water just to come home empty-handed, but I figured to give it one more shot.
My guide for the day, Brent Thorimbert, picked me up at my hotel around 8:30 a.m. and drove us to a valley located just outside of Medicine Hat. We got out on the water about 9 a.m. and arrived at our fishing spot twenty minutes later. Brent explained that sturgeon fish are "bottom feeders" so they swim along the bottom of the riverbed and eat up bugs and small fish. Our fishing lines were weighted for this very reason. The bait should sit on the riverbed and would get sucked up by an unsuspecting sturgeon.
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.