As I sit gazing out at the amazing view from our balcony across Vista Heights (see picture), I thought you might be interested in how we chose the desitinations and activities for our trip.
We agreed early on that we would set off in late summer 2011 but took some time to set out our itinerary. Karen had first go - after all it was her idea. The stimulus for the trip was to get a greater understanding of the culture of her students at the Business School. Eurasia, India, China - great I thought and bought all of the books.
We skimmed the books and poured over the internet. Karen researched the beauty of the areas, quality of accommodation and things to do whilst I focused on beer, food, temperatures and average rainfall. Oh dear, not practical - if we travelled in a straight line it could be wet and cold (good for beer, bad for people) and if we tried to fit in our desired destinations we would be bouncing around the world in a completely illogical way whilst passing the majority of our savings to the major airlines of the world.
Ok, we agreed, let's follow the sun then and catch-up with friends that have abandoned us (you know who you are) by moving to the far ends of the earth. Canada, America and Australasia would be the must visit places with our Northern Hemisphere colonial cousins being the first to welcome us with street parties and red carpet receptions. We booked the first few weeks hotels / hostels and sent emails to our friends - the Barkers are coming so make sure we have the best room in the house (kept at a constant temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit) and put the Krug on ice. But what were we going to do when not imposing ourselves on others?
This is where I came into my own. Whilst morally strong (or opinionated if you prefer) I have always been a bit of a physical coward - for instance I'm terrified of heights and have never fancied driving on the other side of the road with Karen as my map reader.
Therefore it would be madness to have suggested that we start our trip by driving a small vehicle around the Canadian Rockies for the express purposes of walking mountains several thousand metres high and taking terrifying gondola trips to stare down vast drops on said mountains.
Later on we will not be going up mountains (near Whistler say) in the British Columbia coastal range and will definitely not be walking across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco after having driven to Yosemite to walk up a few lumps of rock somewhat higher than the Malvern Hills.
Finally, when we travel down New Zealand, we will not visit the top of a large volcano on the North Island before making our way to the Mountain regions in the South Island. No chance - after all the scenery may be breathtaking but so (quite literally) is falling from a great height.
tomorrow I will be picking up the Verso from Calgary airport and we will be off to Canmore (gateway to the Rockie Mountains), then heading to Edmonton (lovely and flat) before we move onto Jasper (more mountains) and then Banff (even more mountains).
If my tiny vehicle survives amongst the endless hordes of giant pick-ups and RVs (NO-ONE drives a small car here) expect to see lots of pictures of me crying as I hold onto the most solid objects I can find during any time when I am higher than the top level of a small step ladder above sea level.
Take care everyone - stay safe, stay low. Stuart