Cover Story - Don't fence me in...

Our lovely front cover model, Melanie Morrissette, born in 1976 in Quebec, is not just a pretty face.

She is a brave and successful independent woman, coming from four generations of male smelter workers, and raised to be fearless!

Melanie studied chemistry and was the first woman in the family to work at the smelter (in the lab). At home, she rode dirt bikes, drove snowmobiles and tractors, and learned to change tires.

Eventually, she followed her boyfriend to Abbotsford. Speaking not a word of English “it was like moving to a foreign country” and the situation affected her ego; she felt like she was starting from scratch though a job at Canadian Tire helped. Melanie and her boyfriend then moved to Kelowna, where she joined a gym, loved it and in 2009 began training as a fitness and Zumba instructor.

Heartbreak followed when her boyfriend left her to be with her best friend. Needing space, she decided to live her life – her way - and the first stop in 2013, was yoga training in Thailand.

Returning to Kelowna, she established ABStract Fitness, which now thrives, enabling her travel. Travel she chooses to do alone! In the summer, she jumps on her motorbike and, with sleeping bag, she rides wherever the mood takes her. She’s since returned to Thailand, driven solo around Baha, visited Belize, Costa Rica, Panama, Bahamas, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and many places in the USA. She makes friends everywhere!

Melanie loves to travel light and frugally, so she travels with one backpack, two changes of clothing (washes one set each night), a swimsuit and beach robe that doubles as a nightie. She separates her cash, keeping it on her person for safety and doesn’t go out at night unless with new friends. Along the way, she sometimes teaches beach yoga, Zumba or Pilates. She uses public transport, occasionally renting a motorized scooter to get to the more out-of-the-way places; she researches for reasonably priced accommodation, often staying in hostels. When asked if she has ever been afraid when travelling alone, she recalls only three times; before cell phones in Bangkok trying to find the Metro at dusk; when a Bahamian bus driver followed her after he tried to shake her down for an extra fee; and snorkeling alone among reefs when she couldn’t see land.

Her travels make her appreciate what we have here: the ability to brush our teeth with running water, clean air, medical treatment, and the relative equality of women. No regrets, she loves her tiny condo with bikes in the pantry and skis in the wardrobe.

Successful entrepreneur, solo traveller, motorcyclist, star skier, rock climber, what else does she enjoy? Contrastingly, “Putting on my heels, jewellery, full make-up and glamming up for a night out!”.

Melanie really dislikes hypocrites and meeting guys who lie about their age and marital status, so she has taken herself out of the market for now. She doesn’t see herself as single for ever and maybe the right man will come along one day that will fit into Melanie’s world and complement her lifestyle.

Her next adventure is a trip to Portugal with her parents, but not backpacking this time!

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