Iceland was one of those trips I set my mind to and willed company to follow. Thankfully, my brother was up for a very different kind of trip than his usual beach or city visit. And his daughter, my 8 year-old (now 9) niece. And finally my colleague and co-advisor from TGS. Somehow, our crew came together… different age groups, some strangers at first, novice and experienced travelers… and what transpired was truly enjoyable.Read More
I owe my desire to romp in the Scottish Highlands to one Mr. Bear Grylls. Watching him parachute into the rolling terrain and crunch through icy grass got me all sorts of giddy to do those things myself. So when I heard we were darting around the Highlands via bus tour during Scotland's best weather month, I was thrilled to finally see for myself the land I desperately wish was my back yard. But here's the thing: buses make me sleepy. And when you've just spent two months shooting across the globe, traveling on a budget, and getting battered by flus and Delhi belly, there's no hope for your energy level reaching anything above a half-conscious zombie state. I tried to fight it with coffee and music, but the eyelids refused to remain lifted. I missed half the landscapes, half the photo opportunities, half the historical tales told by our amazing guide, half the Deep Scottish Love one acquires from being in the Highlands, and this made me feel like an awful ambassador to STA and to the USA.
I feel like Aussies have the stamina to travel like this for long periods of time, but when I cannot stay awake for an entire destination, I know I'm not meant to cover lots of ground in little time. I once spent 30 days seeing 15 countries in Europe...and then had to take another month to recover from the trip. I refuse to take for granted the travel opportunities I get, but when your body is working against you, saying, "You cannot appreciate this place like you want to because I'M TIRED," you learn the way you're meant to travel.
Of course, the World Traveler Internship is no regular vacation. I knew it was going to be a wild and action-packed experience that would rock me to my core. I tried to rest as much as possible throughout the journey to always remain on my A game, but the World is so awe-inspiring and over-stimulating that it can easily cripple the mind and body with exhaustion. Though I prefer staying in one place for a longer period of time, I loved the act of going out into the World, documenting my experiences, and creating passion-fueled material to inspire other travelers. It's an awesome job, but you have to be a toughie to do it.
All that anticipation for the Highlands, and I slept through the best parts. Asking around, I discovered a bus tour like ours is the most economical way to get around the Highlands in a time-efficient manner. Apparently, the trains are very expensive and buses aren't what you hope they'd be. Though a three day bus tour is perfect for someone on the go, I did not want to be a passing breeze through the mountains.
I now know that natural, rolling terrain is as beautiful as I imagined, and one day I'm returning during the summer months with a tent, a skillet, and some friends in trekking boots. We drove by unbelievable campsites, surrounded completely by green, mammoth Earth mounds that made my mouth salivate. Some day I'll know the Highlands and the extent of their serenity. I'll know that Deep Scottish Love from the bottom of my soul. And before I go, I'll be resting up for sho.
Day One's lack of roughness was rectified last night, Day/Night Two, with a wee hour rain storm that had me waking every hour to see if I was lying in a pile of water. Without stakes to pull my fly away from the tent walls, it was somewhat of a waiting game, but all was successful by morning, and I awoke once more with that fresh feeling one can only get after sleeping outdoors.
After one successful night of "bush" camping, I decided to turn it up a smidgeon and incorporate some more factors to toughen up my travelin' image. And since food is essential to life, travel, and survival in the wilderness, I took on a segment called "Bush" Camp Cuisine. Here are important things to remember when eating outdoors:
Never put food in your tent. I once had a monkey approach my tent with crazy eyes as he watched me eat a banana. I threw it at him and zipped up fast.
Avoid high maintenance foods that require lots of preparation. Remember those hobo meals of hamburger meat and veggies in aluminum foil from summer camp? That's just a little slice, dice, and season. Delish.
Meals that require lots of condiments to be good are a pain. No one wants to be the guy who carries the Costco sized ketchup and dijon mustard up the mountain...and risk their tents to ant armies.
It's easiest to avoid foods that need refrigeration. Sadly, Italian gelato just doesn't pack well for an afternoon hike.
Help yourself by using light-weight camping flatware and utensils; a clean pocket knife works wonders instead of bringing your best steak knives.
Try not to drink lots of liquids or libations as midnight bathroom breaks could be lethal. I once pitched a tent fifteen feet off the ground in an open camp. At night hippos and elephants would walk under the tent's platform and graze, and I decided against imbibing at the bar that night in order to avoid the awful situation of a bathroom break amongst territorial African mammoths.
Day Three may be exponentially more challenging with the constant rainfall and thunderstorms in Indianapolis today. Chances are my move to open the solid flaps in my tent to get fresh air in there has brought in the floods. The babbling brook (a.k.a. the storm drain in the backyard) will be a torrent tonight and may carry me away from my spot near the tulips.
Wouldn't that be sad...if these rains kept you all from learning how I pack for a bush camp experience or even an unspeakable lesson in "bush" squatting? Let's keep our tough and callused fingers crossed. Day Three...TBD.
I'm sleeping in my backyard. Why? Because I've been a nancy for months. Last year I slept in bus stations hunched over my bags with 100 other women and kids. Exercise was sought by running for trains and trekking in inappropriate sports wear at 16,000 feet. Where did that grit and toughness go? This week, I'm breaking out of the suburban mold for my future this summer as a travelin' intern. This is my attempt to roughen up like my days in the African bush...minus the wild buffalo staring contests...add the potential for coyote encounters...multiply the opportunities to use proper facilities...divide the free time to be distributed either pumping iron at the club or nannying down the street. Wild, huh.
Last night, I rolled into my beautiful Coleman with three thick sleeping bags from Grandma's closet and an oversize stuffed dog for a pillow...just like the sleeping accommodations on safari. I brought out all my essentials on that long hike to my tent: my travel book, the biggest jacket I could find, and one of my most trusted travel tools...MELATONIN.
This is serious. If I were to bring just a few things on the road, that short list would include this natural sleep enhancer for its amazing ability to induce authentic and fulfilling sleep against the odds of bush sounds, jetlag, and snoring hostel dorm sleepers. Maletonin, go getcha some.
Anyway, after throwing on my George Costanza Gore-tex and fluffy down socks, I snuggled up with my Bryson, knowing fully well there was nothing "rough" about this experience, other than hearing barking dogs and lawn mowers before the alarm goes off in the morning. And with a quick brushing of the teeth, without water mind you...and spitting in my Mom's flowers, I was fresh and revitalized from an evening amidst nature.
It was an interesting experiment. Made me want to take backyard "bush" camping to new levels.
And so I will tonight on day two. This time I'm covering some interesting topics, such as cooking in the "bush" and maybe more.