You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘adventure’ tag.
It’s hard to believe that the Tour du Mont Blanc is supposed to be one of the most popular multi-day treks in Europe. No one I talk to has ever heard of it! Maybe I’m not running in the proper circles. I don’t know many people that own trekking poles.
Anyway, this ten day hike was a chance to catch up with one of my oldest and dearest friends and her lovely husband and to see some awe-inspiring scenery to boot. We met in Switzerland and set out for ~144kms through three countries. We stayed in mountain refuges – fully functional dorm accommodation with night-time meal included. Hiking on the West coast of Canada (where I grew up) is a different breed altogether. Up in the alps one feels quite civilized. You can shower almost every night! We also stopped though a few towns along the way so we were able to pick up supplies as needed, and to celebrate milestones and new countries with a pint, or a wee bit of fois gras.
This is quite a tramp and it doesn’t take all that long to get into the swing of things even if you’re not that much of a long distance hiker. One of my favourite moments occurred on the second day in. I think we were en route to the Grand Col Ferret (2537m) which marks the border between Switzerland and Italy. We were slugging up yet another summit, sweat and sunscreen pouring into our eyes, sun blaring down on us, packs digging into our backs. My good friend Diana casually looks at me, and with a resigned but somewhat enthusiastic smile says, “mhh, and to think…we could have been sailing in the Mediterranean right now!”
I’m fairly certain I stopped dead. “Pardon me??” …confused laughter escaping my parched and sun-burnt lips.
Answering with a casual chuckle and a shrug of the shoulders, “oh yeah, didn’t we tell you? If we hadn’t done this hike we were going to charter a boat and sail around the Med for two weeks.”
As my jaw dropped, she added proudly: “Jeff and I are both Skippers.” Broad smile. My uncontrollable laughter was a reaction to the altitude, I’m sure.
The Mediterranean aside, this was a fantastic journey and although it was many weeks later that any of could fully enjoy cheese or sausage (after eating them every day on the trail), the scenery was enough to put one in one’s place.
We worked really hard through heat, rain, wind and even snow…. and we met some great people too. It was an amazing experience but I won’t hesitate to volunteer as a deck hand on our next vacation together.
As I write this, I sit on the side of the Alaska Highway. I’ve just driven through the small town of Dawson Creek and glimpsed the “Mile Zero” post that marks the beginning of the epic highway built during WWII.
I’ve filled the car with inexpensive Albertan gas from the last Shell I passed. Engaged in pleasant smalltalk with the gas station attendant – as he removed bugs from my windscreen – I inquired as to where I could get a nice cup of coffee. He paused a moment, looked contemplative, and then earnestly suggested the place down the road. I’m now enjoying the suggested brew and can’t help smiling to myself. Esso gas station coffee isn’t necessarily “nice” but it does the trick. I guess. It was kind of the fellow to point out that the coffee at the competing station is way better than their own.
Yeah, you know, when in Rome….??
Well, I am listening to classic rock…
although I do draw the line at country music.
Up here in the northern reaches of Alberta and British Columbia, life is simple and pleasant – straightforward, if you will. The coffee is served two ways: black, or double double. Easy.
I’ve pulled over, on this straight stretch of pavement because I wanted to get a picture of the “Moose Crossing” sign on the side of the highway. Doesn’t this image just scream Canada? A stark contrast to the “Wombat Crossing” sign I took pictures of, oh so many moons ago. On my way back to the car I glanced over to the side of the road and guess what? There, amongst the trees, stood a real moose!! Wow, are these signs accurate!
He wasn’t exactly crossing the road, but he had that look about him that suggested he was ready to travel. He was eying up the south side of the highway, and it wasn’t lost on me: he had plans to make moves.
Anyway, I’ve also pulled over, on this straight stretch of pavement, because I’m having a moment. That kind of moment I find myself having every so often, where I have trouble wrapping my head around exactly where I am. I can’t begin to count the number of times I wake up and don’t know, often for many long minutes, where I am. Sometimes this happens in broad daylight as well…like now. A hazard of travel, I reckon! Its not so much that I don’t know where I am, it’s just hard to absorb that I was somewhere so very different and so very far away only a few weeks ago.
On the other hand, it kinda feels like I never left.
Well this is another part of the adventure, isn’t it? I can’t imagine I would be drinking coffee from Esso and taking pics of moose in any other country besides here….
I’m back, and it’s going to be a fantastic summer!
The Daintree Forest is the oldest rain forest in the world: 175 million years – that’s pretty old! This is incredible and humbling. As I write, I’m sitting in the shade of trees and vines similar to the ones dinosaurs walked under! How ultimately inspiring…
I find myself in Wet Tropical North Queensland in a place called Tribulation Bay and I have more-or-less spanned the entire East Coast in two weeks. This in no small feat! We are staying in a beautiful hostel consisting of A-frames and huts that follow a windy path down to the beach. It’s a tropical paradise.
Upon arrival we are told not to feed the wild cassowaries – cool! These are such prehistoric-looking birds; it’s not hard to imagine them as late-edition dinosaurs….sort of like crocodiles…turtles….Mick Jagger….
Originally the plan to head north was going to be an individual adventure, but due to beautiful timing, an intriguing acquaintance from the past would take up residence as my next travel companion. Aisha and I met briefly (and unremarkably – we don’t remember each other much at all) in Edinburgh years ago. We were reunited in Brisbane through our mutual friend Alice. Alice is amazing, and therefore her friends are amazing too! This was bound to be fun!
Some of our highlights:
- Cairns: Arriving at 1am in the morning to a nightclub that posed as a hostel, and meeting our roommates who had been in the city for nine days yet hadn’t been to the esplanade (the waterfront – four blocks form said hostel)….keep in mind: we’re smack-dab on the great barrier reef…
After one of them told us his entire life story he proceeded to kiss a small jade Buddha while whispering softly: “I LOVE you.” He then passed out…
…we switched hostels early the next morning.
- Sailing on the boat out to the Great Barrier Reef we were deafened by Enya’s ‘Orinoco Flow’… not only as we left port, but also on our return….sail away, sail away… we figure they were trying to create atmosphere?
…As I climbed aboard the catamaran after scuba diving, I was greeted by loud and frantic jazz; this was surely a bonus.
- White wine on the white sand beaches that surround Cape Tribulation… played a game of pool amongst the leafy rainforest.
- Looking for crocodiles on the Daintree River as the old-school pulley boat brought us over to the world heritage site. We held conflicting feelings of relief and disappointment when we didn’t spot any.
- Townsville locals showed us amazing hospitality. We had some great laughs, and they shared with us their idea of a good time (a story to be shared over beer).
- Magnetic Island proved, once again, that it is truly magnetic. Sunny beaches and tramping through the national park land that makes up ¾ of the island was complemented by blatant and unwavering sunshine.
- We found ourselves looking forward to arriving “home” after only two weeks. This was a pleasant surprise….we had had enough time away to appreciate Brisbane and all of its comforts.
- The two of us filled our two weeks so full of good times that I have found inspiration enough to write page upon page about the adventures.… for practical purposes I must limit myself; posting only a bulleted list – cool!!
There is absolutely nothing unremarkable about the experiences Aisha and I shared on this adventure into the tropics. We met some interesting people and saw some unforgettable sights. Aisha and I had so much to talk about; the awesome scenery was simply a backdrop.
Good conversation makes the world go ‘round!
I had the pleasure of bonding with another friend who has been through huge change recently. Geez, there are a lot of us out there!? Life is truly jam-packed with change…maybe we can look at it as transformation instead?
The old forest we visited holds a beautiful history. Amongst a landscape that has existed for 175 million years there is the deception of a sense of permanence – but we all know that the notion of permanence is simply that: a notion.
Theme Songs of the Day:
Ageless Beauty – The Stars, from the album Set Yourself on Fire (the acoustic version is my favourite, but I couldn’t find a good copy of it)
Creature Fear – Bon Iver, from the album For Emma, Forever Ago