Five months of travel: the big summary

And one post to rule them all...

When I announced that I was leaving Weight Watchers after nearly 14 great years, I got a lot of nice notes and took a lot of calls.  The consistent advice was to take advantage of the time while I could.  After all, I pretty much hadn’t stopped working since I was 12 years old.  One of the notes I received was from a man 25 years my senior who had gotten to know me well over the past 10 years.  I had always held him in incredibly high regard as did everyone who knew him.  Excerpting from his email was the following couple of lines…

“... People like you, and me at that time, have worked for years without any real break, and this allows the first extended opportunity for time off and for reflection.  It's good to know you're heading for the beach for a couple of weeks, and my suggestion based on experience is to look for more chances to do things you've always wanted to but haven't had the time.  Work will always be there…”

It really struck a chord with me, and I began to paraphrase it as “visiting the places I have no time to visit.”  In fairly short order, I found myself organizing about 5 months worth of heavy travel to places I always wanted to see, particularly places that were not very convenient to access.  I now find myself looking back over the last five months, and my memories runneth over.  Some of the more notable ones, organized chronologically, include:

Phoenix:  This is where the trip started, at the annual Google Zeitgeist.  I always feel lucky and glad to be invited as these guys are consistently doing and looking into interesting stuff.  More than that, they get an amazing line up of speakers.  And they bring their self-driving cars.

Grand Canyon & Hoover Dam:  From Phoenix, I picked up a rental convertible and started to drive, happy as if I had good sense.  First stop was the Grand Canyon, which I had never seen.  I think the movie “Vacation” had put an unfair and mocking pall on it.  One excellent morning hike later, and I was a converted believer.  Huge.  Colorful.  Incredible.  After my AM hike, I drove four hours to see the Hoover Dam, stopping on the side of the road to take advantage of the opportunity to fire a 50 caliber machine gun.  Because, well, why not.  

Pacific Coast Highway:  From the Hoover Dam (actually Las Vegas), I drove across the desert to LA to spend a weekend in a city I have truly grown to love despite the fact that I live in the NYC area.  From there, it was a drive up the spectacular Pacific Coast Highway to see a friend in Mill Valley, CA.  Along the way was the ever-amazing Big Sur area, spectacular coast lines, Carmel, and many other eye candy stops.  I wrapped up this segment with some excellent California hiking (Mt. Tam) and was able to see the last leg of the America’s Cup from the Golden Gate Bridge.  

London:  From San Francisco, I hopped the plane to London where I was connecting with two old friends from college.  We reverted back to the form of stupid college guys over a too-fun weekend.  Along the way, I watched Fulham play football with their characteristic mediocrity in a tough loss.  I was reminded by how much I still like my college friends, now dating a quarter of a century ago.  

South of Spain:  From London, one of my buddies joined me for a week bumming around the south of Spain.  We started in Grenada, and saw the amazing Alhambra which dazzled with its incredible art and engineering in a place built over a thousand years ago.  And I learned about the Golden Ratio of beauty in the process.  From Grenada, it was hiking in Sierra Nevada with its beautiful terrain and white washed villages.  We also got to Rhonda, home of the original bullfight and found ourselves at a farm that raised bulls for bullfighting.  Barbaric, but beautiful.  

Hong Kong:  From Spain, I was home for a month, flying around the states, delivering a few speeches along the way.  Before I knew it, I was on a plane and off to Hong Kong.  I just flat out loved this city with its amazing fusion of modernity, funky art, Chinese tradition and its amazing green/glass/concrete vistas.  

Bhutan:  I had a quick stopover in Bangkok where I needed to fly in order to get a flight to Bhutan.  Countless hours of hiking in the Himalayas.  Buddhist temple after buddhist temple.  Amazing moments of beauty and solitude punctuated by witnessing this amazing, happy culture.  

Bangkok:  Two day stop-over again before getting to New Zealand.  Saw some disturbingly large golden Buddhas as well as a tiny green one.  It’s a hot, teaming city that was just getting its period of civil unrest started when I was there.  Amazing and full of life place.  

New Zealand:  Always wanted to go here, and not just because of the Lord of the Rings.  Long, hard, rainy but oh-so-gorgeous 8 day bike ride down the west coast of the South Island.  Glaciers, rain forests, rugged beaches, beautiful hills.  Pushed myself biking.  Met some really excellent people.  Queenstown rocks the house.  I want to go back!  

Sydney:  My last Asia-Pac stop.  I’ve been there many, many times, and I was happy to go back.  Took several endless city hikes which destroyed my feet but dazzled my eyes.  Tried surfing for the first time in my 47 years and actually go up on a  board.  

Costa Rica/Nosara:  Had two weeks home for Christmas and then it was off to Nosara with family for a week.  Perched up on a green hillside, mostly isolated other than the eerie sounds of howler monkeys.  Tried surfing for a second time, and spent quality SUP time.  Beautiful part of the world and still pretty undeveloped.  

Chile:  Home for a week, and then off for my 20th wedding anniversary.  Spent one week on the moon (Atacama desert) and the other at the end of the Earth (Patagonia).  Lots of hiking.  Lots of pictures.  Way cool animals.  Discovered that guanaco meet is really tasty.  

And now I’m home.  Time to get started on the next chapter of my life!  

Cheers,

Dave

And it comes to an end: five days in Patagonia

It started in early September, and my travel has finally come to a close.  This past week, we spent the second half of our 20th anniversary trip in the famous Patagonia region on the Chile side.  While I had certainly heard of Patagonia, it would be a pretty big stretch to say that I knew much about it prior to the trip.  If I’m being incredibly honest, my knowledge of Patagonia did not extend much beyond the fact that it is a well known line of outdoor clothing.  For those in a similar boat, here is a quick snapshot of the region…

Most people (including me) probably know that Patagonia is on the very southern part of South America.  It straddles across two countries, Argentina and Chile.  The entire region (nearly 3 million sq km) has a population of roughly two million people with the significant majority being on the larger Argentina side.  Europeans first discovered Patagonia in the early 1500’s with Ferdinand Magellan being the explorer most associated with the area, particularly the famous Straits of Magellan.  Its geology is a combination of steppes, mountains, fjords, lakes and coast lines with a large ice pack, the third largest in the world after Antarctica and Greenland, being one of its most defining characteristics.  Our trip was to the more sparsely populated Chilean side of Patagonia, most notably around the famous Torres del Paine National Park.  

Entering Patagonia at the end of January, we had a crazy notion that it would be summer there, and we could expect some excellent shorts and tshirt weather.  This only shows that we did really terrible research prior to going down.  Climactically speaking, Patagonia is not for wimps.  While the temperatures are certainly higher during the short summer of this region, the weather is most commonly associated (at least on the Chilean side) with huge blustery winds and weather patterns that seemed to change with the frequency of a cheap ham radio.  I did not wear my shorts once and frankly I spent a lot of time wishing I had brought a much warmer hiking jacket.  All this said, the tough weather is part of what makes this region so appealing.  It’s a very rugged place.  Dainty people need not apply.  

We flew into Punta Arenas from Santiago, and I was treated to my first sighting of the Straits of Magellan.  All I could think of was “Wow!  I remember hearing about this in elementary school!”.  It doesn’t look like much, but it’s an obvious point that this little stretch of calm water was crucially important to world history and trade all the way until the creation of the Panama Canal.  From Punta Arenas (the largest city on the Chilean side with a population of roughly 150K), we had a three hour drive north to Puerto Natales, the gateway town (population 10K) to Torres del Paine.  

While in Puero Natales, we had the opportunity to spend two nights at the relatively newly built Singular Hotel.  I’m not normally one to talk about where I stay as I find it a little distasteful (translation:  jerk-like), but I have to make an exception here.  The Singular is a beautiful 50 room hotel that was built from an enormous (and obviously now shuttered) sheep processing facility.  Back in the early to mid-1900’s, the Patagonia region was a huge producer of sheep, including wool and meat.  This particular facility, known as Puerto Borrie, was the primary factory that saw most of the sheep of the region, and it was the primary driver of the local economy for many, many decades.  The folks that built the Singular held on to its history, and made a hotel that is part hotel and part museum.  It might seem a little creepy to sleep where sheep were slaughtered, but it really is a beautiful and fascinating hotel.  

While at the Singular, we had a chance to get in a nice hike where we could see a couple of condors.  We also took advantage of a daily boat ride that departs the hotel to travel up to see the Serrano glacier.  This was the closest I had gotten to seeing the blue ice close up (my last shot being in New Zealand), it was an incredibly impressive site though I’m still not totally clear on what makes glacier ice blue.  

From the Singular, we moved to another lodge that was closer to the Torres del Paine National Park.  The Torres del Paine (roughly translated as “blue towers”) has gotten justifiably famous over the years, and it is to Chile as Yosemite is to the US.  It’s jagged mountains and famous towers have become a national symbol for Chile, and it was recently cited as the 8th Wonder of the world (I have no idea who votes on this stuff, but who am I to argue).  From an activity perspective, the Torres del Paine is known primarily for its two hiking circuits of 5 days and 10 days respectively.  It is also a favorite for skilled climbers.  While it may not have the highest peaks, it’s climbs are known to be incredibly challenging.  

We were in the Torres del Paine area for three days.  We spent two of them doing day hikes in the national park, and we spent one day exploring a part of Patagonia further east known as Baguales.  We saw plenty of hikers in the Torres del Paine national park, particularly on a hike known as the French Valley (Valle del Frances).  Baguales is much less known, and it is more characterized by steppes, primarily consisting of Estancias (farms) with mountains in the backdrop — think the Sound of Music.  

We walked and hiked ourselves into submission, and I was reminded once again that I far prefer to hike up than to hike down.  Whatever knee and feet pain along with mild hypothermia suffered was more than paid back from some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever laid eyes on.  You have to go the end of the Earth to see this place, but it really is worth the trip.  

From a photography point of view, I must have 24,000 pictures of the Torres del Paine (and the Paine Massif in particular) taken from every possible angle.  However, it was on our second to last night that I was treated to an unexpected photography extravaganza with just about the most amazing sunset/cloud combination I have ever witnessed.  It was just one of those special nights when even the locals were scurrying outside to take as many pictures as they could.  

As well, we saw some excellent local wildlife, including lots and lots and lots of Guanacos (kind of a camel) and Nandu (a smallish Ostrich).  

On Saturday, we began our long journey home, leaving our lodge at 4 AM, and finally arriving back home in Connecticut on Sunday at 9 AM.  

Over the next few days, I am going to try to make sense of all of this travel in a some blog posts designed to put a nice little bow on this most incredible and eye opening five month adventure.  Until then…

Cheers,

Dave

Three and a half days in Atacama, the northern desert of Chile

Five months of travel is coming to a close.  So far, it’s been an amazing journey on every level, and the biggest question for me was how to end it with a suitable finale.  That’s a lot of pressure on a final two week trip.  The only way to put more pressure on the trip would be to use it to celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary with my wife, Sandee.  I can’t take credit for the itinerary on this trip as she planned this one all the way through.  She chose to Chile as our anniversary (and my final trip) stomping ground.  We have heard about Patagonia for many, many years, but we also heard about a less well known part of Chile from friends of ours who are ridiculously well traveled:  Atacama.  

The trip started with a 36 hour stop in Santiago (a lovely and very funky colonial city, by the way), and then kicked off in ernest with a two hour flight north to a part of Chile that starts at the Pacific Ocean and ends at the borders with Peru and Argentina and not far from Boliva.  Atacama is mostly known as a desert, and there is a small part of it that is known as the driest place on Earth.  It is effectively a sprawling plateau, with nearly all elevations at 8,000 feet, and climbing much higher than that (13-14K at the El Tatio geysers) Therefore, going in, I though Atacama would mostly be a desert experience, but the place is so much more than that.  

We landed Tuesday morning, and arrived at our lodge in San Pedro de Atacama (a cool wilderness town filled with young people wearing hiking gear) early afternoon.  For the next three and a half days, we embarked on three half day excursions and two full day excursions in an effort to see a bit of this incredibly unusual pocket of the world.  Our trips included:

1.  A half day hike in what is called the Cactus Valley (Guatin), which was our introduction to Atacama.  This hike took us down the banks of a “river” (more of a creek, really), climbing around beautiful (but sharp) Pampas grass, which provided a striking green against the otherwise brown and sand colored landscape.  The rock formations were fascinating, and the ground looked incredibly inhospitable to any attempt of life.  In fact, it was striking how little life of any sort was visible, short of the grass along the creek.  Suitable to its name, the cacti here were big, old, impressive and imposing.  

2.  A short (11 mile) mountain bike ride ride to one of the salt lakes.  The surfaces the entire way were incredibly flat and remarkably smooth, which make the ride pretty uneventful, but also strangely cool in its own right.  Again, we were struck by how little life and how little sound was present.  However, nature loves an outlier, and as we were riding, we stumbled on a decent size, round and very green tree with nothing around it as far as the eye could see.  Apparently, the underground water tables had sprung a tiny leak to the surface which allowed this solitary tree to happily survive as though it were the last form of life on Earth.  When we reached the salt lake, we took the obligatory swim in what we were told was some of the most salt-concentrated water in the world (the Chileans claim even more so than the Dead Sea).  It was vibrant blue water that felt thick as we entered it.  We were then treated to nature’s version of a zero gravity experience as it is virtually impossible to swim beneath the surface of this water.  

3.  Later that day, we went off to the Valley of the Moons, which are located in the Salt Range of mountains.  Almost all the rocks here primarily consist of salt formations that were pushed up by the two mountain ranges that run parallel to them (the Andes being one of them).  They are wild in both their makeup, as seen close up, and their incredibly unusual and varied formations.  Around the hills in the Salt Range is pure desert sand, so much so that we got to see a couple of dudes riding down the dunes in their modified snow boards.  Toward the end of the hike, nature chose to give us a true desert experience by subjecting us to brutally hard winds that blasted sand against our exposed skin — nature’s exfoliation treatment.  

4.  Our second full day we had an all-day hike that took us from Machuca to Rio Grande (no, not Texas).  This was a beautiful hike through a now deserted part of the Chilean mountain range.  We saw a few towns that were abandoned 50 years ago as the young people who would otherwise have worked these farms had all moved to larger cities.  Now, all that is left are overgrown terraces and tiny ghost towns set against the back drop of beautiful red canyons.  We were truly the only people around, and our guide hadn’t been there in a year and a half.  As a result, many of the trails he knew had been swept away by the winter rains and we were left to collectively figure out how not to get stuck on the high rocky hillsides.  Just enough excitement to keep things interesting.  

5.  Our last day was a trip to the El Tatio geysers for which Atacama is well known.  We left a little late knowing that we would miss the big early morning steam columns, but would allow us to miss the crowds.  It was a good choice.  The day before there had been an unexpected torrential rain storm that lasted the better part of 10 hours across much of Atacama (so much for the driest desert) and brought big snows to the higher areas and volcanos that surround the geysers.  As a result, the usual early morning crowd was sent away due to road closures.  We had the dumb luck of going just as the roads were opened, and we were literally the only people anywhere in the geyser fields.  Very cool and just creepy enough.  They weren’t big thundering geysers, but it was still an impressive display of one of nature’s more unusual states.  And go figure —  it rained again.  No matter, we got our hike in, and drove safely home despite a brutal hail storm.  

And of course, we saw some pretty groovy animals.  Sandee has an overwhelming fascination with flamingos (she loves animals "that don't make sense"), so seeing them was worth the price of admission by itself.  

 

Ironically, we got big rain for two straight days, but this somehow added to the surreal environs.  My only regret is that tourists aren’t allowed to see the ALMA satellite array, which surely is one of the coolest man made structures on Earth.  

Atacama truly is a pretty strange and fascinating place.  Its geology is odd enough that it was selected as the testing ground for the Mars Exploration Rover by virtue of having the surface that most closely resembled the surface of Mars.  And that is definitely the impression that Atacama delivers.  It was also amazing to witness the sudden swings of geography and climate, from unforgiving and starkly desolate desert to snow capped volcanos surrounded by water.  Like a lot of places I have visited, I left feeling that I had only slightly scratched the surface, but it was enough to give me a taste for more.  Highly recommended!  

Now off to our last leg...  Patagonia. 

Cheers,

Dave

Hiding in Costa Rica...

It’s been a while since I updated this blog, and I have no doubt that all six of my readers have been racked with loss.  I haven’t been avoiding my narcissistic instincts of self-sharing.  I just have been doing much worth writing about (at least not on a daily basis). 

After returning from my five week spin through Asia-Pacific, I found myself in the oddest of places:  home.  I spent two entire weeks at my house, albeit not my usual house.  A curious event happened while I was traveling:  Sandee (DSW) moved us to a new house.  Now, I did not know about this move before I embarked on my five week trip.  I did know that we had bought a new house, but we still had a house to sell.  I had thought we’d be in our old house when I got back, but for a variety of reasons, it made more sense to move into our new digs.  So, I left one place and returned to another.  I will admit that this was a little bit of an odd experience.  

I spent two weeks dealing with the reality of not having done any Christmas shopping, not having seen my family for five weeks and having a new house to help finish the move-in process.  Busy, busy.  

However, travel found me again.  As luck would have it, we had a long planned trip to visit Costa Rica as a family, two days after Christmas.  Therein lies the very brief review of yet another piece of my long, travel binge.  Nosara.  It’s a little(ish) town on the Nicoya peninsula in the Guanacaste province which is on the Pacific Ocean side of the country.  The Nicoya peninsula is a largely undeveloped stretch of coastland that is highlighted as one of Dan Buettner’s increasingly famous Blue Zones where people live a long time in a state of perpetual happiness because they live well/right.  

http://www.bluezones.com/live-longer/education/expeditions/nicoya-costa-rica/

Nosara is considered a relatively more developed part of the peninsula despite not having more than about 22 feet of paved roads anywhere.  For those not familiar with Nosara, it is generally characterized as being a destination for three kinds of people:

  • Yoga women (and men):  Nosara has a huge yoga training institute that draws people from all around the world.  It also draws socialites who wear cowboy hats and their best Burning Man jewelry while doing superhuman poses in any number of the burgeoning outcrop of yoga facilities that have sprung around the institute.  
  • Surfer dudes (and dudettes):  Nosara and the beaches that surround it on the peninsula have a well deserved destination as a surfing mecca that draw people from all around the world who say “dude” a lot. 
  • Hippies:  often a combination of the above two

The four of us, Sandee, two daughters, and yours truly, stayed in a house we rented that was perched high up on a hill about seven km from the main beach (Playa Guiones).  Our choice of villas created a unique, and ultimately great, vacation experience largely due to our being somewhat isolated.  It took about 40 minutes over bumpy dirt roads to get to pretty much anywhere interesting.  This locational inconvenience collided with a feeling of post-house moving exhaustion to create a unique form of locational stasis.  We were just too lazy to cope with leaving our house very much.  It had a little pool and some really pretty views, so the collective opinion of the family group was “why bother leaving.”  We were further cowed by the seemingly nearby cries of Howler Monkeys, which sounded an awful lot like velociraptors.  

In addition to being isolated in the house, we also had the world’s worst internet connection.  It took what seemed to be an hour to download the Google homepage.  As a result, mindless electronic diversions were highly limited.  The upshot of all the above was that we spent considerable time TOGETHER as a family.  Anyone with teenage daughters knows well enough not to take this for granted.  In this way alone, it was one of the best vacations I could have hoped for.  

Quality time with the girls would have been reward enough, but we did get out of the house enough to enjoy some of the activities for which the area is known.  All of said activities were far outside my span of competencies, and all required standing on a wobbly board.  In order of flailing incompetence by yours truly, I partook in the the following...

Standup paddle boarding through a mangrove.  This was my third time on SUP, and I actually felt pretty good (no falls).  This was true right up to the point where my guide suggested that I try his board, which he claimed was more stable than the one I was using.  I did know enough to know that he was lying through his teeth.  No one told me that shorter, sporty boards don’t love spastic tall men.  I proceeded to fall over and over again, until I finally started to get the hang of it.  By the end, I was feeling pretty proud, and my guide gave me a gold star for effort which I will always cherish.  

The feeling of pride was with me right up to the second day of SUP, this time in the open water off the beach.  I got on my board with my newly found sense of competence and “I got this” attitude and proceeded to fall over and over and over again.  I know it seems blindingly obvious in retrospect, but SUP on ocean water is harder than SUP on flat water.  Nonetheless, I started to get my sea legs once again by the end, and I was kind of holding my own (other than for style — I pretty much looked like the Tin Man).  

Two days of SUP practice was a welcomed practice run as I am once and for all going to take advantage of the fact that I live on a coastal town on Long Island Sound and start doing SUP regularly.  I swear it.    

For reasons beyond reasonable explanation or practical justification, I tried regular-style surfing for the second time in my life on the third day.  My first time at it in Australia, I was surprised that I was able to get five solid runs in.  My second time surfing in Costa Rica, I marveled about how really horrible I was at this.  To be fair to myself, I did actually get some decent rides in the baby surf where I was practicing.  I blame it on my high center of gravity, and I disavow anyone who contradicts this obvious truth.  I could only marvel at the people in the break further out who were doing all manner of weird maneuvers inside tubes of water.  I’m a million miles away from that, but give the old man credit for trying a second time.  And I am definitely going to surf a third time. 

I would like to point out that however poorly I'm doing it, technically I'm standing on the board.  Which makes me officially a surfer.  That being said, I think I now know how I got my fraternity pledge name.  Think Adam's Family.  You rang?

I would like to point out that however poorly I'm doing it, technically I'm standing on the board.  Which makes me officially a surfer.  That being said, I think I now know how I got my fraternity pledge name.  Think Adam's Family.  You rang?

This was my second time to Costa Rica, and I am pretty much loving this country.    

From Costa Rica, I was home for one week, before starting my LAST big trip in this five month odyssey.  

To be continued...

Day 29-31: and then it came to a close...

So this is my last travel note from my nearly five week trip through Asia Pacific.  I’m now wrapping up in Sydney, getting ready to get on a flight home (via Seoul) tomorrow early AM.  

Yesterday, for reasons that are beginning to evade me, I went on yet another horrid death march.  On this particular walk, I started once again in the Central Business District, but headed north.  Where on my last big march I walked to Bondi Beach, my goal yesterday was to walk to it’s sibling, Manly Beach.  Manly sits on the north side of Sydney harbor, facing the Tasmin Sea.  To get there, I walked over the Sydney Harbour Bridge (you can do this without doing the famous bridge climb), and I began to make my way through an area called Mossman.  Mossman is similar to the Eastern Suburbs except for the obvious point that it sits on the opposite side of the harbor.  As with my earlier hike, I did the trek by staying close to the harbor coast lines as much as possible.  I really didn’t intend to do another too-long walk, but by the time I got to Manly Beach, 16vmiles had elapsed (well over four hours with 700 feet of elevation gain).  Once again, my feet were on fire.  

One of the big points I would make about Sydney to anyone considering a visit is that it is possibly the most walkable city I have ever visited.  On yesterday’s walk, I discovered the most of the harbor coast lines are occupied by large parks that have walking trails.  This means you can hug the harbor line in the most pleasant way imaginable, including looping around one of the world’s better zoos.  In fact, in terms of walking it, I really only barely began to scratch the surface of the seemingly endless walking trails that comb through Sydney and outlying areas.  In my mind, it is one of the features that really makes this city pretty special.  As always, there was the payoff of yet more beautiful scenery including some nice views from the ferry I used to get back from Manly to Sydney center.  

The Opera House shot from the Sydney Harbour Bridge (touristy, but still breathtaking)

The Opera House shot from the Sydney Harbour Bridge (touristy, but still breathtaking)

Mossman suburbs -- just so darned charming!

Mossman suburbs -- just so darned charming!

Manly Beach at 6 PM

Manly Beach at 6 PM

Sydney Opera House (I know -- it gets tiring!) from the ferry boat.  Touristy but ARTSY!

Sydney Opera House (I know -- it gets tiring!) from the ferry boat.  Touristy but ARTSY!

Yesterday's route...

Yesterday's route...

If yesterday was about inadvertently torturing myself by walking too much.  Today was an entirely different sort of challenge:  I let myself get goaded into trying surfing for the first time by an Australian chef that used to work with WW.  He implored me over lunch to give surfing at Bondi a shot, and I had to inform him that at 47, I was far too old and rickety for any such hijinx.  He assured me with the certainty of tomorrow’s sun rising that I would get up on a surf board before the lesson was over.  

Armed with a false sense of confidence or perhaps a certain amount of resignation, I headed over to Bondi beach this morning to get my very first ever surf lesson.  My fresh-faced surfing instructor give me three simple instructions:

  1. Don’t grab the rails of the boat, but keep your palms flat and level with your lower chest
  2. Make sure to look up when you stand
  3. Don’t overthink it.  [ Don’t overthink it?  I overthink everything! ] 

She had me practice getting up about five times on the beach before we went into the water.  I assumed that I would spend the entire 90 minutes practicing on the beach, and here she was putting me right into the deep end.  And then the absolutely most bizarre thing happened.  I found myself standing on a  surfboard heading toward the beach.  Weird!  Even weirder was that it actually happened a whole bunch of times.  As did a ripe number of face plants, but those don’t count.  Honestly, I really didn’t think that this was possible for someone of my age, and she informed me that she had an 80 year old try it a few weeks ago for his first time ever.  

I really am coming to the conclusion that the old-dog-new-tricks thing is utter BS.  Why?  Because dudes, I freaking surfed.  

It goes without saying that I could not have scripted a better way to end this trip.  

Cheers,

Dave