31 Oct

Monday Moment: Inca Trail, Peru

Cresting Dead Womans Pass on the Inca Trail, Peru

Cresting Dead Womans Pass on the five day Inca Trail Trek in Peru is definitely one of the highlights of our RTW trip. We had planned our entire itinerary around being in Peru in the right season and had booked the trek months in advance to secure a spot on the very popular trail. Being at the highest point of the trek, surrounded by the Andes and centuries of history, was exhilarating. I mean just look at my face;  exhausted and happy!

 

26 Oct

Alberta: Remember To Breathe

 

This is where I live now.

Where the mountains meet the sky and then drop to the most velvety landscape I have ever seen.

Where what looks flat is actually filled with coulees, and river valleys; rolling hills and fields as far as you can see.

Where I can watch the weather from miles away and be entranced by the clouds dancing in the sky.

Where, this year, I will learn to cross country ski, ice-walk, snow-shoe, dog sled and back country hike.

Where I am learning that we never travel enough in our own back yard.

The video is from Travel Alberta’s new Remember To Breathe campaign.

Don’t you want to visit?

 

24 Oct

Monday Moment: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Copacabana Beach from Sugar Loaf Mtn, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl

With yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there

She would merengue and do the cha-cha

And while she tried to be a star, Tony always tended bar…

I know…right? If you remember Barry Manilow at all from being a child of the eighties then how could you not have this song running through your head while strolling along the famous Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro?

Oh, you’re welcome and yes, it is totally stuck in my head now too!

 

PS…don’t forget about the Giveaway from the Friday Fodder post! Just head to the OneGiantStep Facebook page and Like it for a chance to win Rowing To Latitude by Jill Fredston – talk about stepping out!

21 Oct

Friday Fodder: October 20, 2011

The interesting stuff that wiled away my time this week. Don’t blame me for your procrastination – I have enough trouble of my own!!

Sherry and Michaela kicked off the second annual MeetPlanGo event this week and by all accounts this year was even better than last year! With several friends taking part, hosting and being panel members, I just know that those soon-to-be travelers who attended are plotting their way out of their cubicles this weekend! Sherry wrote a post about choices and shows just how affordable travel can be. Watch their space for more information on how you can chuck the cubicle.

This British Airways ad takes us on a journey across time and relives the original mystery and awe of being able to fly.

Matt wrote some excellent tips on visiting Berlin. It’s a city that I definitely could see myself living in. I find it intriguing on so many levels; it seems to be looking backward and forward at the same time and has distinct neighborhoods to visit.

Thinking about travelling the world? This BootsnAll post should give you everything you need. I’m pretty sure it’ll take you all week just to get through this gigantic resource.

This Globe and Mail article about sea kayaking reminded me of a book I read last year. Rowing To Latitude is a sometimes hair-raising account of the author, Jill Fredston, and her husbands years of cold water sea kayaking in the far north. Their drive for adventure and the unknown is unparalleled as they enter into journeys that they know may not be enjoyable but will give them the sense of accomplishment they crave.

Giveaway!!! I really enjoyed the book and I want you to too! I’ll give away my copy of Rowing To Latitude to a random reader next Friday. All you have to do is Like the OneGiantStep Facebook page; just head on over and click Like. That’s it. I’ll draw a random name next Thursday evening and let you know the winner on the next Friday Fodder. Good luck!!

 

 

19 Oct

Learning About Very. Slow. Travel.

Above the Fog @ Spencer Butte

There are two great lessons that I learned while traveling around the world:

  1. Never piss off the one person in the whole world who can get you back home.
  2. Slow travel is better.

The first lesson I learned early on in our travels and heeded closely our whole time away. The second took some time to sink in.

Although we loved having an apartment in Santiago and again in Berlin, we continued along on our head-spinning itinerary for months. It was when we finally left India and entered into Thailand that we really slowed down, spending 3 weeks at a resort on Koh Phangnan only to pick up the pace again through to the end.

Why couldn’t I slow down? What compelled me to think that every, teeny, tiny Thai village was completely unique in some way so that I couldn’t just settle in one for a while and really get to know it?

I always seem to be thinking that there is something else ‘just around the corner’ or ‘in the next town’ that absolutely must be seen – it couldn’t possibly be the same as here! It’s been a chronic problem for me — never being able to completely enjoy where I am as I look forward to where we could be. I’ve done well to quell it but returning home has really made me practice.

We are now practicing Very. Slow. Travel.

We have moved to Calgary as part of our Responsibly Irresponsible plan and are learning that travel hasn’t left us at all but that, in exploring our new home and planning for our future, we are in fact just traveling at beyond-a-snails-pace.

We are still traveling in many ways:

  • I still get lost – a lot. My navigation skills have not gotten any better; I still check the map almost every time before going somewhere and it’s not uncommon for me to take an exit and then have to u-turn to head the correct way.
  • We don’t know anyone. We’ve spent the summer exploring our new home and have had no time to make new friends. Mostly it’s just J and I just like when we were on the road.
  • We don’t always know where to go to get what we need. When traveling we often didn’t know where to go to get that cup of coffee or beer that we were craving, or which hostel was the best one to get a good nights sleep, or where the correct bus station was. Now we’re searching for the best sushi place, or the grocery store that actually stocks soba noodles, or a good beer.
  • We’re travelers in our new home town. We’re out every weekend exploring the city, the prairies and the mountains; finding festivals, hikes, drives and secret hideaways as we learn, very slowly, what this corner of the world has to offer.

But we also have the benefit of staying put for a while:

  • Discovering that great coffee shop around the corner. It took trying 4 other ones first but now we have it right.
  • Having a ‘local’. Being able to walk in and have your new favorite barkeep pour your regular is comforting.
  • Cooking. I love trying new food but being able to make a roast or a big vat of pea soup is heavenly.
  • Watching the seasons change. The weather here is quite different from Victoria and I’m enjoying just watching it all unfold as one season becomes another. Of course, talk to me in another couple of months when I’m begging for winter to be over!

Of course sometimes the slow travel lesson cannot be adhered to; such as my upcoming whirlwind tour of the rum-soaked island of Jamaica. Believe me, I’ll manage, but so far I’m liking the slower pace to our journey.

[Photo Credit: Don Hankins]

 

17 Oct

Monday Moment: Vang Vieng, Laos

I felt most ‘out there’ while in Laos. While it wasn’t difficult to get around, find a place to stay or a meal, it was definitely one of the more rustic places that we visited. There were several bridges like this in Vang Vieng; not only used by pedestrians and bicycles but also by motorbikes!

We spent plenty of time back in those mountain-like karsts in the background, scooting around on our motorbike exploring the caves, waterfalls and villages.

PS…come on over to the OneGiantStep Facebook page and give us a ‘Like’!

10 Oct

Monday Moment: Cappadocia, Turkey

It’s Thanksgiving today in Canada so I thought I would share a picture of where we were on Thanksgiving during our RTW trip.

Traveling around  in Cappadocia Turkey is like traveling in a different world. The ‘fairy chimney’ geology creates a surreal scenery that is unlike any I have seen before. The underground cities and deep history tell a fascinating story of marauding invaders and innovative residents.

One way to enjoy the scenery is to view it from the air. We got up super early one morning to watch the balloons slowly, quietly rise into the sky. Stunning.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

06 Oct

On Passion And Moving Forward

passion

I have always admired passion in a person. The unwavering ability to believe in something and to feel so strongly about it that nothing else matters.

Soap-box preaching crazy heads in the town square? Passion.

Conspiracy theory touting evangelists? Passion.

Belting out a song about the ‘Mighty Fraser River’ to a small crowd in an out-of-the way bar while wearing fishing boots? Passion.

Crazy ex-girlfriend calling every night? Passion.

That’s what drew me to N. She was everything I wasn’t. Smart as a whip (don’t get me wrong…I do okay!), edgy, tall, outgoing, dating-a-musician, and just-this-side-of-crazy passionate.

We drank together, laughed together and studied together (we met in school). I was testing my new found freedom; learning who I was outside of the small town I came from and giving voice to philosophies and ideas long held in check. She thought me to be wise and full of good advice; I thought she was passionate and loved the way she embraced life in all her craziness.

She introduced me to Jason.

Not long after Jason and I started our life together we received a ‘Dear John’ letter from N. She was unhappy with the turn our friendship(s) had taken and thought it best if we no longer contacted each other.

I know! Unusual, to say the least, but in-keeping with who she is. We didn’t respond preferring, instead, to focus on building our lives together and moving forward.

Jason and I often talk about N and the influence that she has had on our lives. Without her, we wouldn’t have met. Without Jason, would I have found the courage to travel the world? To continue to step out of the conventional and live an unusual life?

It’s funny how one person can be a driving force in your life even when they are no longer in your life.

Another letter arrived a few weeks ago. It’s been ten years.

In it N says that she had been thinking of me, had plugged my name into the all-knowing Facebook and there I was! She gave me a quick update on her life in the past decade and wondered how I had fared.

And therein lies my dilemma.

I’ve never been one to dwell in the past. I am pragmatic and just don’t see the value in facing backwards when the future holds so much promise.

So…do I reply and start the often insincere catch up exchange? Or let sleeping dogs lie and keep moving forward?

Does someone who has so profoundly affected my life deserve more than for me to ignore her letter? Am I beholden to respond?

Our decision. We have decided to leave well enough alone. We will keep N in our thoughts and continue to credit her with our meeting and the passion she injected into our lives but don’t feel that opening that backward facing door is the way to continue forward.

What would you have done?

[Passion image courtesy of Juliana Coutinho]