Friday Thought #93 Awesome America

So I’m afraid I’ve had a bit of a summer break, but I’m back, and despite it feeling like a very long time ago now, I would like to journey back to our American road trip this summer. We try and do at least a 10 day road trip in the States every summer, simply because we love it. It is a country with endless adventures, you could spend multiple lifetimes there and still only scratch the surface of its diversity. Coming from Europe it’s hard to get your head around a land mass that size which is all one country, over here we are so used to being able to hop on a plane and be in another country in little more than an hour. And not just a different country, but one with a totally different language, a new culture, a completely different climate. And while that is just wonderful, the grass is always greener isn’t it?! What you haven’t grown up with is always intriguing and exciting, and it kind of blows my mind that in America you can drive in a straight line for 10 hours and still be in the same state!

I just love the American open roads, the big skies, the sheer enormity of it, the emptiness. Europe is SO full, especially in the summer. You cannot pitch your tent on a public campsite and be more than 5 meters away from the tent next to you. And try driving anywhere on mainland Europe in July and August without being stuck in dreadful traffic and adding at least a couple of hours to your journey. Away from the cities, the States is simply empty. During the week it’s not uncommon to have an entire state campground to  yourself, and as for the wilderness areas, wow, uninhabited wild spaces that size are just mind boggling, and it almost makes me feel worried that I’m never going to have the time or opportunity to fully explore even a fraction of these incredible places.

So enough of my rambling, this trip saw us starting in Seattle and finishing in Portland, Oregon, in between managing to explore a bit of the Olympic Penninsula, stay on a horse ranch in rural Idaho and journey across Idaho and Oregon, taking in some incredible places, including Boise, Bend, Smith Rock, deserted campgrounds, empty lakes, and of course those endless skies.

If you ever plan a trip to the States I can’t recommend road tripping enough. It is by far the best way to see the country. We didn’t really have a set plan, just followed the weather and went wherever took our fancy. The roads are enormous and there is never any traffic, which means that rather than being a chore, the journey to a new destination is all part of the fun, in fact it’s thoroughly enjoyable! Crank up that country music and sit back and relax under those big, open skies…

Advertisements

Friday thought #78 An alternative summer break – sea kayaking in Sardinia

It has been another fantastic summer of adventures, discovery, exploration and visiting new places. A few years back we sea kayaked in Croatia and loved it so much that we just had to do it again. This time Sardinia was the chosen destination; the La Maddalena archipelago off the NE coast to be specific. We had never been before and only heard wonderful things about it. Suffice it to say that it fully lived up to all of our expectations; a real adventure, an incredible place and most importantly, quality time away from work, phones, internet and other people! These days it is so hard to switch off from everyday life and I cannot recommend sea kayaking enough as a complete break from it all.

Of course no trip is without its unexpected events… Wild waves one day left us stranded on an uninhabited island and we ended up having to use our paddles to flag down a passing yacht to hitch a ride back to the mainland…! All part of the adventure, and thank you to the French crew on ‘Le Fleur de Sel’ if you ever read this!

Seven days of paddling, snorkelling, wild camping, sunset watching and generally just being on holiday, it doesn’t take much imagination to plan an interesting alternative to the average summer break.

dscn3770

dscn3754

dscn3813

dscn3884

dscn3845

Friday thought #36 A weekend in Provence

 France is a wonderful country. It has beaches, mountains, rugged coastlines, fantastic climbing, amazing cycling, brilliant skiing, hot weather, snow, quaint countrysides… the list could go on and on! It doesn’t surprise me at all that it’s known as one of the World’s top holiday destinations.

Taking advantage of a long weekend, that wasn’t a bank holiday weekend (!) we decided on a spur of the moment trip down to the magical land of Provence. Only 3 1/2 hours drive, pretty much guaranteed sunshine, and the prospect of a few days camping, climbing, swimming, and reading books in the sunshine was mighty appealing! The month of May is the time to go, especially if you plan to do any kind of sporting activities, as from June onwards it becomes unbearably hot if you aren’t in close proximity to water at all times! Right now the temperatures are hovering around 28-30 degrees, perfect for a bit of daytime swimming and evening climbing in the cooler temperatures. We sought out some wild swimming in nearby rivers and found some shady crags to climb at, a perfect mini-break!

I can’t ask more from life than waking up to the sounds of birds singing their morning chorus, a nearby cockerel crowing his heart out, the cows gently clanging their bells, and the church bell chiming. Simple pleasures, and long may they last…

The village of Orpierres nestled in its little nook
The tiny village of Orpierres nestled in its little nook
We love everything about Provence, even the forest paths...
We love everything about Provence, even the forest paths…
My all time favourite bridge, wonky, haphazard and full of rustic charm; only to be found in rural France!
My all time favourite bridge; wonky, haphazard and full of rustic charm; only to be found in rural France!
Not a bad spot for some wild swimming
Not a bad spot for some wild swimming
And a bit more...
And a bit more…
This little chap sat with us all morning!
This little chap sat with us all morning!