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.
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.
The Island of the Dolls is in Xochimilco, a borough south of Mexico City. While it would be faster to take a car from Mexico City to Xochimilco, the traffic is dense and the roads are very congested. Instead, if you're going there, I'd recommend taking metro, which is easy and the cheapest in the world. What you gain in comfort, however, you lose in speed, as the train ride takes about 2 hours.
Mexico City and Xochimilco both sit in the Valley of Mexico. Until about a millennium ago, the whole region around Mexico City was surrounded by a massive body of water. Over the centuries due to both climate change and interference by humans, most of this water has dried up, for the exception of Xochimilco. With networks of canals crisscrossing the borough, car transportation is difficult and water transportation is essential. I'm sure there were motorized boats somewhere in the waters of Xochimilco, but I never saw any. Instead, canoes and rafts are common on the water. However, the most popular vessel is a trajinera – a colourful gonadal-like boat that is pushed along the water with a wooden pole.
Xochimilco is known worldwide for their Floating Gardens market, which are essentially canoes floating down the canals, selling wares to tourists on trajineras. These include things like food, drinks, silver rings, trinkets, ponchos and sombreros. Occasionally other trajineras full of Mariachi bands will approach tourists and offer to play beside them on the water.
Part 12 of my cross Canada series takes us to the smallest province in Canada, Prince Edward Island. However, don't let the name confuse you: PEI is actually 232 islands!
PEI also happens to have smallest population of any province in Canada, with only 146,300 people as of 2014. This means this province has less people than my hometown Regina!
Being so small, however, it was difficult to find images on Instagram. That isn't to say there's nothing there worth seeing! Quiet the quandary, actually. PEI has a few very unique locations that drive their tourism. One of them is the gorgeous themed village of Avonlea, named after the village in the hit novel "Anne of Green Gables" published in 1908. This story, and the subsequent stories, follows Anne, a red-haired "fiery" orphan who grows up on PEI. The story is an international bestseller, and is strangely very popular in Japan (or so I've been told)!