This is it. The last speedlink of the year. Let’s get down to it.

Kicking things off, Irma Hunkeler of Dumb Little Man takes us on an epic journey visiting alien landscapes on Earth. Here are some places right on our home planet that look like they’re, well, out of this world. From the tall ragged peaks of Tianzi Mountain in China to the “Gates of Hell” in Turkmenistan, you’ve got some rad options for your next travel adventure.

For more of a homely road trip, we turn to Mike Armstrong from Daddy Realness. He recently spent some time over in Cooperstown, New York. It’s a town synonymous with baseball, about five hours outside of Toronto. We visited New York City itself earlier this year, and Cooperstown is certainly not the same thing.

Are my fellow Vancouverites considering a trip closer to home? Rebecca Bollwitt of Miss 604 has gathered up some great information if you want to go storm watching in Ucluelet and Tofino. I’ve been told this is very much something worth experiencing. I’d been to Tofino before, but in the summer, so storm-watching is definitely on my local bucket list.

Parenting takes a lot out of you, both physically and mentally. Scott Oxarart of Reno Dads shares his experience with lower back pain and how he sought relief. I remember telling my chiropractor not only about my back pain, but also a pain at the base of my thumb, just above the wrist. He told me this type of injury is “very common among new mothers” before quickly adding “and fathers.” Dude, do you even lift?

I came across this story from Olivia Lasting of This West Coast Mommy and it really upset me. She was at the holiday concert at her kids’ school, listening to the same carols over and over again. And then the other parents started leaving early, presumably after their kid already had their turn on stage. That’s appalling. Show some respect (and support) for all the kids. The whole concert was less than an hour in total.

And finally, as my daughter finishes up her final year of preschool, an article by Meghan Moravcik Walbert of Lifehacker Offspring is particularly timely. She asks whether you should red-shirt your kindergartener. I know at least a few kids who were born in the last quarter of the year (I think we have a December 31 cutoff here). Their parents are considering whether they should “hold them back” a year so they’re not at a disadvantage. What are your thoughts on this issue?