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.
"Have you ever been to Medicine Hat?" Abby Czibere from the Visitor Centre asks. I feel bad when I tell her no, unless you count stopping to fill up and grab fast food. In short order, I realize that's a big mistake as there's a vibrant food and arts scene and beautiful riverside parks to explore in this city of 65,000 people.
The Hat (the city's nickname; its residents are Hatters) has experienced a renaissance in recent years thanks to innovative entrepreneurs. Trendy eateries, indie coffee shops, and craft breweries have opened, attracting like-minded businesses, while enticing young people to stick around after college. Even the museums add to the up and coming feeling with their unique exhibits and events. Smell the smells of war at Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre, or attend a concert in a massive kiln at MedAlta Potteries (Tongue on the Post Music Festival).
Stonehenge, Saskatchewan, is just a little over two hours southwest of Regina, just past the town of Assiniboia. I've explored this area of the province before on previous trips, but I've never been to Stonehenge. In fact, my journey started out as a trip to Castle Butte, but after seeing a nearby marker for Stonehenge on a map, that quickly became my primary destination.
I've driven this area a few times looking for abandoned buildings. Normally I'd keep an eye out for them, but I knew most of them were a little further south. Before I got that far, I took the turn off to Ogema.
If you've ever passed through Medicine Hat, or you're spending a few days in the area, you've probably wondered what to do there. To most people outside the city, Medicine Hat might seem like a sleepy little prairie town in the Canadian Badlands; but for those who live in Hell's Basement, they'll tell you that this city is one of the most exciting places you can explore in all of Alberta.
I've gone to Medicine Hat three times in the past two years, and while I'm no expert on this thriving city, I know where the hidden gems are. If someone I know is passing through the area, I tell them they need to visit Medicine Hat. To help explain why, I put an article together for anyone else interested in visiting the Hat.
If you're spending 24 hours in Medicine Hat, you'll need somewhere to sleep. Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is a little under an hour away and a great place to camp. Camping in Cypress gives you the choice to explore the park, the city, and everywhere in between.