This year, we visited an awful lot of islands. Iceland (and now twice!), O’ahu, Great Britain, Ireland, the San Juan Islands in Washington State. Here’s a brief and conflated recap of the most recent island adventures. With photos!
After an unseasonably warm and dramatic walk along the Látrabjarg bird cliff (Europe’s westernmost point), David and I stopped at the weird little outpost at Hnjotur, the Egill Ólafsson Museum. Here, a compact museum houses the fruits of Ólafsson’s apparent lifelong obsession with collecting: IBM mainframes, bits of ships, the varied implements involved in the the endless local struggle to procure protein; stark Protestant objects, coffins; bare furniture shiny with hard use; dessicated specimens of fish; geological specimens; pale quilts thin with years; an unsettling number of brutal proto-medical contraptions aimed at keeping farmers alive in this northern, lonely place.
In what is either a bold and surreal or a foolhardy and grim travel choice, we have elected to return to Iceland. What would be foolish about that, you might say? If you were me, you might be especially thrilled because Iceland is fast becoming my favorite place ever. But, here’s the thing: we’re going to go in December.
Even on a small brochure map, the Loire Valley seems a bit wide-flung, but David and I are well-seasoned road travelers who tend to wipe through a lot of miles in an hour or day. So when we planned out our trip to the Loire Valley this summer, we assumed we’d hit the highlights: salty Muscadet on the coast (maybe some bruised-looking sea clouds for good measure); a dabble of honeyed Vouvray; a dalliance with the sere perfection of Sancerre on the eastern end. As it turned out, we never got more than 20 miles away from our inn near Saumur during our whole wine trip.
Emerging from my dazed over-stimulated WOW after several weeks, I can finally process the caliber of the stuff I saw floating around Europe for a month with David. First up is Djúpavík, an almost intolerably photogenic and surreal abandoned fishing village in far northwestern Iceland. To get there you drive along the Arctic Ocean on a tiny road and you feel like you’ve discovered something no one else has ever seen.
This used to be my front door. It’s in Edgbaston, a neighborhood in Birmingham, UK. Birmingham is difficult for me because I like it okay but it does not like me. For one thing, when I lived there, it rained every day. Did I mention that? It is actually not an exaggeration. I got over that, but then when I finally made it back for a “hey, Brum, what’s up?” visit this past June, it pulled a fast one on me.
Editor’s note: This was originally intended as a response to a question on UK’s version of Yahoo! Answers. You can see the original post here. In it, a user asks about getting over a paralyzing fear of flying. I saw a mention of it on my aviation list on Twitter, though I cannot find the original Tweet now. I started answering, and, well, it got incredibly long. I’m posting it here, as poorly-written as it is, in case it can be of some use to someone, ever.
In this post I share some of the tools I used, the things I focused on and the plans I made to help me get through my fear of flying. The message? It’s not easy, there is no magic answer, but it can be done!
Union Station (Amtrak), Portland, Ore., May 26 Everything has started lopsided, with the little tragedies and surges that underly the best and the worst journeys we take. Is David’s lost wallet an Ill omen or a charm? David doesn’t lose wallets. But his is most certainly missing, and now he is missing; I am sitting [...]
Using tips from veteran flight attendant blogger Heather Poole (@heather_poole) as outlined in The New York Times, along with a few tricks I kind of made up as I went along, I pulled off what I think is a significant coup: I am going to travel around Europe, for nearly a month, through several countries, with nothing but a carry-on and a shoulder bag.
Emerging, slowly, from the kind of sensual shock a month in Europe can do to a visually- and culturally-obsessed human like myself. Iceland, Ireland, France, England.
Trying to capture what I can and show it to you. It might be dull, but I hope it will be occasionally pretty. Join me?
From the archive, a few random posts that you might not have seen before.