Another year comes to an end. As I’m ready to flip the last page of the calendar, it’s tempting to look back and reflect on our adventures of the past year.
Our 2017 travel story began in Nevada Valley of Fire State Park. Frankly speaking, it was Christmas 2016 but I count adventures from Christmas to Christmas. I remember sitting in our RV and listening to the wind howling through the red rocks and to a rain drumroll. The biblical storm passed through usually dry Nevada desert and colored rock formations dark crimson.
For the New Year, we moved to Prescott, Arizona and stayed next to small man-made Lake Watson. The lake is encircled by rounded large granite boulders and has picturesque tiny islands.
We did not anticipate much travel in 2017 since Alex was looking for a new job and all plans were put on hold. Luckily, he landed the new one and kept the old one too. Congratulation, Alex!
In July, we flew to the southernmost tip of Vancouver Island where the most English city in Canada is located. In Victoria, we spent the craziest day ever. In the morning, we strolled through old town cobblestone streets and climbed Craigdarroch Castle tower. For lunch, we took seaplane ride and cruised over Victoria downtown and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
At sunset, we were wandering in enchanted Butchart Gardens and reveled in the beauty of the grounds.
In September, we landed in London. I will never forget how we towed suitcases through old subway stations with endless stairs and narrow passages. I still can hear in my head – “Mind the Gap”. Try spending a few days riding the London underground and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
My favorite London picture – reflection of the San Paul cathedral in One New Change building.
Another memorable moment – we drove our rented car to the middle of the busy street in London and tried to figure out what side is right. We got it eventually, crossed bucolic countryside and arrived at the gate of the real Downton Abbey – Highclere Castle. I ooh-ed and ahh-ed as we passed through the lush park to the house, then into the Library with red carpet and carved shelves full of leather-bound books. It’s odd to be in a place you’ve never been that seems so familiar. Such is the magic of film.
One of the lowest moments of the year was hearing the announcement that all trains from Paddington station to Oxford were canceled. We looked at each other with the question “What now?” (translated into polite). So, a car was rented and our Cotswold tour joined at the tiny village of Snowshill. I still don’t know how we got there through the maze of narrow country roads, constantly drifting off the road to the left. But the view of enchanted villages was worth the trouble.
The most educational part of the trip was Greenwich. I learned so much about longitude problem, zero meridian, clockmaking and the carpenter who invented the marine chronometer that I can pass a marine navigator exam now. The best panoramic view of London was from Royal Observatory.
Big cities are almost always best seen from a high vantage point. Our choice was the tallest London skyscraper, The Shard. It was getting dark, so we saw the best of the late evening sky and the twinkling lights as a cloudy day slowly morphed into clear night illuminated by magnificent lights of the great City.
We got lucky with the London weather, the only day it was raining was spent in the National Gallery. Trafalgar Square was slippery and reminded ice ring to me. Alex barely caught me right in time, otherwise, the picture below would have appeared from a completely different angle.
End of November – a brief trip to Alabama Hills, escaping from hot and extremely dry Santa Ana winds also known as “devil winds” that roamed Southern California. I enjoyed chilly air at Whitney Portal trying to capture the beauty of running streams.
I will never get bored of watching sunrises, every time a different show. Even if the colors are not so impressive, every time a sunrise brings a sense of peace and hope.
The countless boulders combined with the jagged mountains of the Eastern Sierras make it incredibly hard to stop taking pictures and just enjoy the landscape.
At last, we have just returned from a trip to Death Valley. But this will be the first chapter of 2018 story which we hope will be also quite grand.