I come from an adventurous family. I know this because on school expeditions my Dad was regularly teased by my mother as being Mr “Just one more site!” Let’s just say it was not entirely uncommon for him to persuade the coach driver to add in a little extra stop along the way, nor was I surprised to find myself legging it back to the bus on a classics trip in Delphi because we’d both wanted to climb just that bit higher. The year they retired Mum and Dad went on a serious trip of a lifetime to New Zealand and Dad’ last holiday had him scaling mountains in northern Spain.
(South Devon where I grew up – on days like this you wonder how we ever got further than the nearest beach!)
While H and I aren’t planning any major expeditions just yet, we have both been lucky enough to travel a bit as children and in the pre-our-children days. My parents took my sister and I to Greece, to France a couple of times and on the most amazing trip across Canada, and H and his family have explored huge swathes of Europe and some sizeable chunks of the USA. Our first holiday together was to Rome, we put together a trip to New York and Boston on a whim, having seen a picture of the Empire State Building in a craft shop window we walked into the travel agent next door and booked the flights and although I’ll gloss over our trips to Florida which always seem to end up with me in the hospital, Paris, Venice and Southern Spain more than made up for it.
Suffice to say we have some plans. And the bucket list starts with…
1. The Pacific Northwest
Top of the list for a few years now, I want to start at Portland and drive north, through Seattle and up and on into Canada. The coastline around the Olympic peninsula looks incredible, and so completely unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, I want to go to really see it and touch the rocks and feel the wind whipping in over the sea and know that the next land in that direction is Japan; it’s just a smidge wider than the English Channel. And when we’d tired of beaches (could that ever happen), Oregon and Washington state have spectacular mountains, and forests with trees that reach to the sky. It’s everything we love the best at home but super-sized.
In Canada we would be crossing the path of my childhood trip but the area around Vancouver is just so beautiful and I’d love to introduce H to somewhere that I’ve been that he hasn’t. I’d have to include a trip out to Vancouver Island to relive memories of fire roasted salmon on the beach and then travel further inland to see some more of the Rockies, though whether I’d go across the Capilano suspension bridge again and with three children I’m not so sure – I remember it being very wobbly, holding on very tight and being rather worried about the possibility of my glasses leaping off my face and disappearing over the edge. And if we’re really making it a trip where all dreams come true then I’d want to be int he Rockies at the right time of year to see, or rather hear Thunder-snow; I love snow and I love watching thunderstorms so the two together intrigues me.
It would be the trip of a lifetime and I suspect the way I’m planning it we’d need to go for at least six months just to fit everything in.
(this is North Devon – an equally dramatic coastline!)
2. An island entire of itself
I don’t actually have a set destination for number 2 on my list, because there a quite a few places around the world that would fit the bill, it’s more the experience that I want. I want to go to an island that is practically uninhabited or totally uninhabited and is small enough to walk around in a day. I don’t live in a terribly populated part of the country but there are always people within shouting distance and I’m a little curious to know what it would be like to be truly alone. Alone, but not stranded, I’d want a boat to go sailing in and we’re not talking about Bear Grylls style hunt-a-caman-and-drink-your-own-wee kind of an island, more like anywhere from RM Ballantyne’s A Coral Island upwards. I think I can go so far as to specify that it should be warm, and sandy, not populated mostly by midges, free from snakes and spiders, with a bay suitable for swimming and sailing. Part of me is tempted to say that we’d have hammocks to sleep in under the stars, and part of the appeal would be the darkness at night, but for the sake of H, who is entirely unconvinced about camping unless it involves hockey festivals, I’d be looking for something a bit higher up the accommodation ladder, complete with a bathroom where you can sit in the bath and look out over the ocean, I’ve always wanted to go somewhere where you could do that.
H says I should try the Seychelles (warm, sandy, luxurious), I’ve always been rather fascinated by Pitcairn (slightly colder, every so slightly less accessible but with all the history of being populated by the descendants of Fletcher Christian and the rest of the Bounty muntineers), and I’m sure that somewhere out there is out perfect island adventure, we just have to go looking for it.
3. Volcanos and the stars
And for my final choice, after much deliberation, I’m going to go with one of H’s contributions to our joint list and say Hawaii. I know the stereotype for a Hawaiian holiday is sun, surf and cocktails, and I’m sure we could fit that in the schedule somewhere, and we’d definitely want to do some sailing to see some of the spectacular coast, but the chief fascination comes from two things: stars and volcanos.
I’ve never seen a volcano up close and when you stop to think about it it rather blows your mind; watching the earth’s molten core bubble away just under the surface can only make you all the more aware of how precarious our existence is, and in awe at the make up of our planet that allows life to exist and flourish. And fro one planet to all the others, Hawaii is the site of the Mauna Kea Observatory, up on the top of a mountain on Big Island. Hawaii is one of the best places on Earth for astronomy; it’s got nice dark skies, it’s near the equator and the mountains mean you can get above whatever cloud and humidity there is. H and I both love to watch the stars, and we know how much fun it is to find a clear night at Dad’s house and sit watching little twinkles of light pop into the sky the more and more you look at it. The idea of being somewhere that makes the beautiful Devon night sky look like a cloudy night in central London is just so very very tempting.
Looking back on my list it seems that the recipe for a perfect holiday for me is sun, sea, and mountains; it sounds pretty good to me.
This is my entry to Transun’s #TransunLights competition to win a trip to see the Northern Lights. I’m quietly fascinated with all things weather and I would love to see the Northern Lights in person and Norway and the arctic very nearly made the list (one day I want to be above the arctic circle in the summer to see a day with no night!). When I was seventeen I sailed in the Tall Ships Race from Aberdeen to Trondheim (about half way up Norway), well I say sailed, there was absolutely no wind and our lovely concrete hulled gaff ketch was making the sort of gentle progress that puts your flight home in jeopardy so we (along with most of the rest of the fleet) retired, turned the engine on and went to explore a few fijords along the way. I must have spent every night watch hoping for a glimpse of the lights but I don’t think we were far enough north and we never saw even a flash. I fell in love with that part of the world in an instant, it is utterly breathtaking, and so I very much hope that the wind of fortune is with me this time.