News from the Trail

Road Tripping Drove Me Crazy

In a good way

I discovered cruise control on this trip and I’m not exaggerating when I say it has done wonders for my driving. Okay, I started driving in July 2018, so I’d probably improve no matter what after doing 3 to 8 hours of driving each day for 6 days, but still.

Starting in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I went up to Denver to pick up a friend who drove to Salt Lake City via Moab with me. Then I had two 6 1/2 hour solo driving days and one slightly lonely night of camping until Oakland, California.

The entire time, three thoughts kept running through my head. One, “where can I be spontaneous and find something I wasn’t looking for?” Two, “where am I sleeping tonight and can it be free?” And three, “where can I find the cheapest gas??” Well, the most spontaneous I got was going to a lunch spot in Reno and ending up with a bowl of rice, sea food, cucumber, sea weed, and mango. I’m not going to say it tasted bad, but I drank a lot of water with it and had to throw away the last bit because I was so full.

Most of the trip, I found free campsites. My friend showed me this website that shows a ton of free campsites around the country (and some in other countries too). A lot of the campsites they show are more for campers or RVs and sometimes just rest stops or parking lots, but there are plenty other gems in there like this one I found near Austin, Nevada.

We found all three campsites we used from that website and they were all A+ (toilets, flat ground, accessible, nice views).

As for cheap gas, the further west I got, the more expensive gas prices got. However, the small towns in Nevada generally had more expensive prices than somewhere like Reno. Google maps also gives a ball park idea of prices and Siri can also tell you average gas prices of different cities (for when you’re driving alone and can’t look at your phone).

Just Like That, It’s All Water Under the Bridge

So long for now, Iceland

It’s been almost a week since I’ve left Iceland and I cannot believe how quickly it all went. It feels like just yesterday I was getting pelted with rain and wind while attempting to cycle up hills… Good times. To sum up, I wanted to do a bit of an overview of the route I ended up doing and since visuals are always helpful:

Screen Shot 2018-07-21 at 8.09.38 PM.png

So, if I had managed to cycle the entire route, I would have travelled approximately 208 miles/335 km and climbed 4,022 ft/ 1,226 meters in six days. Since I did not cycle the entire way, my estimated total is actually something around 142 miles/ 228 km and 2,367 ft/ 721 meters in six days. Slightly less impressive, but I’ll take it. Of course, that does include carrying all the food, camping gear, clothes, and toiletries on the bike and on a bike, that weight adds up.

Funniest part of the trip was when I tried to get off my bike on the side of the road, lost my balance, and just tipped over because of how heavy the panniers were. Of course, the whole bike tipped over on top of me too. I inwardly hope some driver passing by did a spit-take or something seeing this cyclist all decked out in waterproof gear randomly tipping over.

Overall though, I’d say it was a success. It was cold, wet, and mentally exhausting, but a success nonetheless. If I had a chance to go back and do it differently, I might have tried to go up the west coast instead, because I heard the weather is sometimes better in that area and it might have been less touristy, but we live and learn.

That’s all for now. Who knows when I’ll get traveling again or where I’ll be going, but hopefully it’ll be soon!


The Best Place to Have a Cool Adventure is Iceland

Keeping it chill

As much as adventuring and traveling alone has it’s peaceful and enlightening moments, I have to admit it does have its downsides. For one, I’ve have a lot of time to think about what I’ve left behind in Scotland. The past year, I have made some amazing friends and met people I will never forget. While I hope to stay connected with many of them in this exciting world of technology, it is far from being able to send a quick facebook message and meet up 30 minutes later for a spontaneous sea dip. I miss that. I think it’ll be a long time before I stop missing the community I found in St. Andrews. Traveling alone is such an extreme difference, it’s hard not to miss it even more.

Don’t get me wrong, I love traveling alone – you meet way more new people and get to do exactly what you want without having to compromise. Just today, I’ve met an English guy named Terry who spends 6 months out of every year traveling and a German girl named Carol who also studied English and is now a marketing manager. On the other hand, when I’m by myself in my tent, it’s cold, and the wind is shaking the tent like crazy, it can be hard to remember there’s a world outside the tent where you’re not all alone.

In other news, it took me two hours to cycle just under 10 miles today because of headwind. Some horses looked at me like I was from mars then started running along the fence with me. So far, I’ve had at least seven people say in some way or another either, they’re impressed I’m cycling by myself in Iceland or I’m crazy for cycling by myself in Iceland. I’m inclined to go with the latter.

Letting Weather Rule the Day

It’s hard to beat reigning wind

I have to confess that I cheated today (and it’s only the first day!). I got my bike all fitted out from Reykjavik bike tours and as I started cycling, it started raining.

It took me approximately 4 hours to ride 12 miles and I wasn’t even close to where I’d planned to camp for the first night. My waterproof trousers were drenched and when I stood up my shoes made that squashy sound like when you step in mud. I was on flat ground, cycling on the lowest gear, and still struggling because of the headwind. Then add in the hills and I was a goner. The thing that kept me from full tantrum mode though was the little ray of sunlight that created a full rainbow right in front of me.

At the top of a hill I’d been pushing my bike up, a guy with a pickup truck flashed his turn signal and a little further up he pulled over. I struggled back onto my bike and fought my way through the head wind and rain to the truck. Ten minutes drive and one hill later, the guy pointed to the side of the road and said ‘that’s where you’d be 2 hours from now if you’d kept riding.’ We drove another 15 minutes until actually getting to Selfoss.

The Flight From the UK to Iceland Wasn’t That Long

After all, Ireland is only one “C” away from Iceland

Okay so I know I didn’t fly out of Ireland and it is very different from Scotland, but I had to do it for the pun. Geographically, it’s pretty close and I couldn’t help myself. Today begins what I am sure will be a cool (pun intended) adventure if nothing else. Traveling alone, I find I meet way more people and cycling alone will be an adventure in itself for sure. Already, I’ve met a musician moving from Detroit to Berlin and hitched two rides with different people. Today, I will get my bike and pray the rain doesn’t come in to heavy.That’s all for now!IMG_7224

It’s Hard to Bear All the Wildlife in Alaska

…And it’s all very amoosing

The picture I have here are leaves from a lupine flower. Someone told me that people call the water droplets that form on them lupine diamonds – I like that something as ordinary as a water droplet can become as precious as a diamond.

What I would like to do with this entry is to spend a lot of time on it. To read through my 23 pages of writing from my trip and put together a really nice, consolidated piece that I can edit and re-edit before sending it off into the world. After finishing that, I’d like to spend more time tweezing out all of the different stories I can find from my trip. However, I only have so much time (one day exactly) until I am whisking myself off to my next four-week adventure filled with magic and children so I wanted to send out at least some sort of tip-of-the-hat to Alaska into the world before I left.

If there is anything I learned on the trip, it is that there will never be enough time to do every tourist attraction or see every single monument. I learned that rushing from one view to the next in hopes of catching the next spectacular sight takes away from anything that could be actually enjoyable. Everyone has seen a picture of a train or a bear; capturing that picture is not worth it if it means you see everything through a camera lens. No amount of people on Facebook envying your trip will make it any more enjoyable for you.

What I love about traveling is when I start to slow down, see the people of the area, and just wander with a smile on my face. I get to meet these incredibly interesting and kind hearted people whose stories I am sure I will remember far longer than I will any grand mountain or animal sighting. It is those moments where I stop and realize how lucky I am to be where I am in the world that make traveling feel like such a treat. The funny thing is, is that those things really do not require traveling – I can meet interesting people everywhere if I am willing to listen and I can always be grateful for where I am on this world. So here’s to hoping I can live like I am traveling a little bit more every day because I am always going somewhere.

The Time Is Really Flying

And I didn’t even throw my watch out the window

It seems like I could have just arrived in Scotland for my first year of university just last month yet here I am and its been a full nine months of hard work, new experiences, and a lot of good times. The featured picture is taken in Barcelona from my trip to Spain and along with working for my pun I figured any picture I put up of some big cool looking monument, you could probably find a better picture of it on the internet, but this moment, seeing all the birds and the ephemeral joy this guy seemed to have feeding them – it was what I was looking for in my trip. I climbed cliffs, wandered through new cities, got back into speaking Spanish, and ate more food than I ever have in my life. My trip went from doing my first outdoor rock climbing in all kinds of weather (including one freak hail storm) on the Eastern coast of Spain near Reus, to exploring Barcelona, Valencia, and Madrid discovering both the positives and the negatives to traveling alone and then off to Portugal for a few days with an old friend for catching up, wine, and good food. Although the trip was entirely exhausting and parts of it pushed me further out of my comfort zone than I might have liked, if I had the choice to go back and do it differently, I don’t think there is a thing I would change. Now the semester is coming to an end with the last exams, then London and the summer and there are a lot of mixed feelings about leaving this place but until the very moment my bags are packed and I am getting on the plane, I’m trying to live in blissful ignorance.

Saw a Lot of Ducks and It Quacked Me Up

Okay but actually, on my walk back from successfully turning in an essay these ducks surrounded me it was really fun, stunning, and mildly terrifying.
On other news, this semester is flying by outrageously fast with spring break coming up then coming back with only four more weeks of classes then revision period and exams. But with spring break in less than a week, I am ecstatic about my plans for Spain with climbing with the Mountaineering society (in hopes that I don’t fall to far behind) then a week of exploring Barcelona, Valencia, and Madrid on my own and meeting a friend in Portugal. With tours booked, wandering expected, and camera ready I am directing my little flying carpet on another adventure I cannot wait for.

Went to the Hall's Dance

It was a ball

This past weekend University Hall had its ball and if you hadn’t already guessed, it was Great Gatsby 20’s themed. We had the ball at Fernie Castle (the featured photo is the castle but the picture was from the Fernie Castle website) which, although we didn’t get this view of it at night, was lovely. Jazz band, Ceilidh dancing, and a DJ topped off with a brilliant intermission of fireworks filled our night of classy dresses and tuxedos. The only thing missing from our Gatsby party was Gatsby himself but I guess we can’t have everything!


To Edinburgh for the Royal Treatment

And found the punniest shop there

Too many fun puns to choose from! Fun fact, the Scottish flower is a thistle, if you didn’t already know. There is also a stretch of street in old town in Edinburgh called the Royal Mile filled with great tourist attractions and shops along the mile walk.

Both puns were too fun not to include along with:

IMG_2406Why the long faces?

Anyway these glorious puns do in fact have a purpose which is to introduce my adventure into Edinburgh with good friends. On Saturday the 24th, two of my good friends and I coordinated the 2 hour bus ride into Edinburgh to spend the day exploring. The city and all its splendor was beautifully swarmed with tourists and selfie sticks. Other than the brisk cold most of the day, I loved every bit of it. I was reminded of San Francisco’s tourism in recognizing the locals from the tourists, moving fast with purpose instead of looking up and wandering. Consequently, I found it difficult to imagine walking by huge, monumental structures everyday and brushing it off as normal but I guess someone might say the same about California.

Along with walking from Holyrood palace (there’s a pun in there somewhere) to the Edinburgh castle, we had the joy of eating sushi and visiting the six floors of optical illusion at World of Illusion and Camera Obscura, shrinking, growing, loosing body parts and confusing others, and overall having a blast.

Although I wish I could say something more witty or thoughtful about the city, traveling with friends seems to have more “in the moment” enjoyments instead of ones that can be described in words.

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