roadtrip

Chasing Lights

Chasing Lights

Without a doubt, one of our most magical memories together was watching the night sky light up with the swirling and snaking green tendrils of the aurora. It was a sight that cemented our love for Iceland and ensured that we'd return time and again. We've often said to each other that if ever a favorable aurora forecast (more on that later) coincided with cheap airfare, we'd hop back over for a quick weekend jaunt. It's been over 5 years since, with a single summer visit to Iceland in between (although Ann will gladly remind me of her layover without me). And then it happened. Kp 4-5. $270 roundtrip. It was time to return to the land of Ice and Fire. 

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Pan-American Roadtrip

Pan-American Roadtrip

That very afternoon, Chewie plowed–in one six-hour-long breath­–a heroic 500km on the Pan-American Highway (Ruta 5) from Santiago to Vicuña. We arrived at Alfa Aldea, a sort of basic but charming hostel in the back of a vineyard, with… a giant telescope. And that’s part of the reason we came here: The Elqui Valley, mostly known for growing Pisco grapes, has for whatever reason also collected a critical mass of entrepreneurial stargazers. Having hardly dropped off our bags, we jumped into a guided, outdoor tour of the Southern Skies. The many, many photos (yet to be deciphered) on Chewie’s camera will be a testament to his newfound enthusiasm for stargazing.

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Northern Ireland in 72 hours or less

Northern Ireland in 72 hours or less

We decided to try to walk some of it off by exploring the Mourne Wall along the nearby mountains, or slieves. Built over eighteen years in the early 1900s, The Wall spans 22 miles and averages about 4ft tall and 2-3ft wide, and was constructed, we were told, for the express purpose of preventing the sheep and cattle from sullying the enclosed water reservoir. The ubiquitous presence of walls in Ireland that demarcated every parcel of land was something that surprised us, especially when compared to Iceland where the concept of common land meant wide open spaces and free-roaming sheep. As Ann pranced up Slieve Binnian, I took a breather and sat on a portion of the Wall, where it became apparent to me that "the grass is always greener on the other side" is most definitely true, especially when there are sheep involved. 

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In search of Carcassonne, and some other castles

In search of Carcassonne, and some other castles

Looking out from the top of the keep, we were also struck by how the farms, churches, and roads below actually looked like the pieces from the board game. Somewhere in the distance we thought we caught a glimpse of a patch of red, so we decided to go and check it out. After driving around aimlessly for half an hour through muddy farm roads, we found what we've been looking for – a poppy field!

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Provence, Deuxième Partie

Provence, Deuxième Partie

On our last free day, we had to go pay our respects to Jacques Cousteau, the father of modern SCUBA diving. In 1946 he famously tried to plumb the depths of the freshwater spring at Fontaine de Vaucluse, and had almost drowned in a carbon monoxide accident. There's a long, single one-way street that loops in and out of Fontaine, which we unfortunately had to circle three times before finding a parking spot. The trouble was worth it: sheltered from the dry heat on several sides by sheer hills, the delightful little town sits on a most dazzling emerald river emerging from a limestone cavern. 

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