I put together a video edit of some of the video's from Chamonix.
I have not written a blog post since Burford. So I felt like with the trip coming to an end soon I should try to right another and summarize what the last 100 days have been like for me.
After Burford we went to Paris, which was one of the best cities on the trip. The food was amazing, the city was cool, and other than spending an hour and a half shopping for jeans we didn't do much in the way of shopping. My dad locked us out of our apartment and I wrote a blog post for this but didn't post it because by the time I finished it we were already on the plane to Rome. I think one many of the highlights of Paris was when me and my dad went out to do some night photography all around the city.
After Paris was Apt, France which was a very productive stop for me. I took three tests and got good grades on all of them. Apt was a perfect place to get a lot of work done because we had a lot of crappy weather while we were there. On the good days we got out of the house to see the amazing hilltop towns in the area. On one of the last days in Apt we went to Chamonix to drop off our ski equipment which was cool to see the town during fall.
After Apt was Rome, which in my opinion was up near the top of the best cities we have visited. We did all of the major attractions and even saw the Pope speak (even though we couldn't understand him). The food in Rome was great and we had very nice lodging. In Rome we did more shopping because we needed to get things for the trip to Tanzania. We left Rome right before midnight on our way to Ethiopia.
Since Burford my allergies were terrible and my head would not stop hurting. We figured out that the most likely explanation was that I had a sinus infection and we had to get on a plane in 3 hours, so we ran to a pharmacy to grab some medicine.
When we got into Ethiopia I didn't feel that good and right after we stepped off of the plane there was an ebola checkpoint. While we were waiting in line I knew that I didn't have ebola but I didn't want to get pulled over for just having a fever. I made it through and we walked to the United Club to wait for our next flight.
When we made it to Tanzania we went through another ebola screening, customs, and a vaccine check. When we finally made it out of the airport I was boiling hot, sweaty, and tired. We met our safari guide and got on our way to try and get to one of the national parks to see some animals before the sun went down. The poverty of the area was insane and my mind was completely blown. The houses were tiny and you could tell that there was no running water. Right when we pulled out of the airport we saw our first animal, a cow. When we got around the national park we saw our first safari animal, a herd of giraffes. After driving through the national park for a while and seeing baboons, countless numbers of birds, zebras, wildebeest, warthogs and many more animals we turned around and headed to our camp. When we got to our camp we were amazed as it was the nicest place that I had ever stayed at. It was the night after an overnight fight so I slept like a log only to be woken up at 5:30 in the morning to get an early start.
We went into the Ngorongoro Crater and after about an hour in the park we found two female lions attacking a buffalo with their cubs. The fight was brutal, we could hear the buffalo grunting and its skin ripping. We watched until the fight was over, and then decided to have breakfast on hippo beach, where we ate and watched the hippos. About 20 minutes into our lunch a couple of elephants wandered over and decided to come and drink about 200 feet from where we were sitting. After breakfast we saw a rhino and countless other animals. If you want a complete list of the animals we saw take a look look at the safari checkpoint page.
The next day we had another early wakeup call because we were driving about 7 hours to our next camp in the Serengeti. We saw a very cool bird building a nest and some giraffe but other than that there wasn't much to see until we got into the wetter part of the serengeti. We saw a cheetah with her cub, and a hippo out of water. Both of those things are very rare, because cheetahs are endangered and hippos aren’t usually spotted out of the water during the day.
When we got to the tented camp I was blown away, because the place must have taken a week just to set up. If I go through all of the animals that we saw from the tented camp then this post will never end, so if you have not already seen it then go to the checkpoint page for the safari and it will tell you everything.
The main things that we saw were a leopard, lions hunting, and some lion cubs sitting on a rock, some elephants and buffalo wandered through our camp at night. After three days at the tented camp we headed north to La Mayi.
The second day of the La Mayi camp was my birthday. I decided that I wanted to get a reasonably early start to the game drive so we could see as much as possible. We left around 6 o’clock when we left the camp we saw a couple of giraffes walking on a ridge with the sun rising behind it, which was awesome. After I saw a leopard sitting on a rock through the camera about a quarter mile to half a mile away. This was very cool because in the past our guide Phillip had seen everything, the four of us rarely saw anything before he did. After getting right up next to the leopard with the sun lighting her up we drove and saw a big group of about 20 lions. They were lounging on the rocks surrounding a little field, we drove right into the middle of the field and were surrounded by sleeping lions. Next we went and had breakfast on on a little ridge overlooking the Mara river. We then saw some hippos and crocs.
After we went to look for a rhino but to no prevail, we turned around and drove home for lunch. After lunch and a little break we went out for another game drive. We didn't see much other than an amazing sunset and some baboons. Philip was driving very fast and I kept looking behind us to see if there was something chasing us. Then after about 10 minutes he stopped the car and said, "welcome to your new home." There was a little table with snacks and drinks set out on a rock, we sat on a rock and watched the sun dip below the horizon while sipping a Coke. I was just waiting for a couple of cameramen to pop out and tell us that they were shooting a commercial for Coke. We got back to the camp and had dinner, and I was treated to another surprise; a cake and a Tanzanian happy birthday song. All of the people in the camp eat at one big table, and about 2 days earlier the same thing happened at the tented safari camp. The staff of the camp walked out and started singing happy birthday and dancing around the table in a line. The funny thing was that I immediately thought that the cake was for me but they got the wrong date. They brought the cake to a woman on the other side of the table from me and I thought, they got the wrong person too? No, the woman on the other side of the table had her birthday two days before mine. The funny thing was that she was at the La Mayi camp with me for my birthday.
The next day was sad, we had to say goodbye to the Serengeti and Phillip. Phillip was a great guide, he had a couple guidebooks in the car with him but I think they were more for the people that he was guiding than for him. He knew almost every animal we saw even the birds without looking at the guidebook.
After Tanzania we went to South Africa. Our days in the small town of Kommetjie were occupied by school, surfing and a couple games of capture the flag. It was a very relaxing couple of weeks. The only thing that we didn't like about it was the severe poverty. The townships are just a five minute drive from beautiful beach front properties. Townships are big areas of immense poverty, the local people are crammed into the townships while people are living in houses worth millions of dollars 10 miles away.
After South Africa was Montalcino, Italy. We flew overnight from Cape Town to Istanbul then from Istanbul to Rome. When we got to our house in Montalcino we were happy, because it was the perfect place to spend Christmas. I was a little bummed because we would not be enjoying a white Christmas like we normally do. We also spent my dads birthday and my sisters birthday exploring the area. The area consisted of awesome hill towns. I spent a lot of time working because I wanted to finish one of my classes before we got to Chamonix.
After Montalcino was Poland. We stayed in a town called Krakow; the food was great and the town was very cool. Most of the towns in Poland were heavily bombed in World War II, but Krakow was spared. I was dreading this stop because the main reason that we came to Krakow was to see Auschwitz and Birkenau. Auschwitz was better than Birkenau because Auschwitz was a concentration camp for most of the war. The barracks were turned into museums so you could not see where people lived. The worst part was walking through the gas chamber and furnace room. Birkenau was a death camp and it was awful. We were there in the middle of winter, I was there freezing in four layers, they had one. The barracks were awful, people crammed in like they were junk. When we were leaving Birkenau, I was crossing the street and almost got hit by a car. If you ever find yourself in Poland, the polish drivers don't stop, or even slow for people crossing the street.
After Poland was Prague. To get to Prague we took an overnight train, it was a very cool experience but the sleep was not great, and the night before we were up late because there was a New Year’s party in our hotel. When we got to Prague we were all tired and just wanted to be at our hotel, but we had to get there first. We tried to find a taxi but taxis are sparse in Prague at 5:30 in the morning. We walked from the train station to an internet cafe, bought a coffee and figured out a way home. This would have been a big deal if we were in the beginning of the trip but now we were used to it. We found our way to the hotel and were informed that our rooms were not ready. So we went for a walk, we walked around the city in the rain and found one of the best things ever. They are called Trde Lnks and are basically a role of fire baked dough with a ton of cinnamon on them, they were amazing. After getting into the hotel we fell into bed and slept for a while. We only had one real day in Prague and we spent it on an audio walking tour around the city.
After Prague was Chamonix! We had already been to Chamonix before but we were super excited to ski. When we got into Geneva we got a ride to Chamonix via Mountain Drop-Offs and I was so tired that I actually slept on the drive. I had managed to take my semester tests in the hotel rooms of Poland and Prague, I was super excited to be done with one class. When we were dropped off at our house in Chamonix it was go time. We managed to get our skis and boots, get our pass, get our ski bag and work out some stuff with the house all in about 2 and a half hours. I was super excited to ski and the next morning we got to. It was awesome, the mountains here are so big compared to back in Idaho. When we got our first snow of the stay I was super excited to ski, but about 3 runs into the day my ski broke. The company that we rented from was super cool about it and said that they would give us a discounted rate to rent a pair of skis for me. It was about 100 dollars to rent a pair for 4 weeks, I got a pair of Dynastars and the next day we were going out with a guide/ski instructor. I didn't like the skis as much as I thought I would so that day we went and exchanged the ski for a pair of Black Crows, which is a popular ski brand in Europe but not in the US. I LOVED the skis. We skied the rest of the stay exploring the mountains around the area. I skied almost everyday, the only days I didn’t ski were because my knee was acting up and we couldn’t see anything outside of our house. The mountains there are so different, there are so many rocks and cliffs to drop, it was an awesome stay.
After Chamonix was Auckland. Getting from Chamonix to Auckland, New Zealand is easier said than done. it took about 36 hours of travel, two 10 hour overnight flights, and one 2 hour flight. After the 2 hour flight we got screwed by Cathay Pacific! They canceled our flight so we got bumped to a Virgin Atlantic flight but were stuck with middle seats. Once we got to Hong Kong we had a 4 hour layover so we spent our time in the United Club. When it was time to leave we walked down to the gate to find out that they gave away our seats. Apparently they didn't think that 4 hours would be enough time to get from one gate to another. I could have hopped on one foot and still gotten there in time. Me and my sister were put in an exit row and my mom and dad got stuck with middle seats again. When we finally made it to Auckland we stayed awake for as long as we could then collapsed into bed. The next day was our only day to see the city, so we spent most of the day shopping.
After Auckland was Queenstown. We had a 2 hour flight from Auckland to Queenstown, it was about 5:30 in the morning and the airport was empty except for the 100+ people at the Jet Star counter, which of course was the company that we were going to fly. The problem was a system wide IT failure so the people working there had to right write everything down. We finally took off at about 10:30, our flight was scheduled to take off at around 7:00. When we got to Queenstown we were immediately in awe, we joked that it looked kinda like Chamonix would in the summer, minus the lake. We found our awesome house and settled in. Fast forward about 2 weeks, I am waiting in line to jump off of a 140 foot bridge. I kept telling myself that it was going to be awesome but for some reason I kept getting more nervous. Then I saw my dad jump and I was thinking, well now I have to jump! When I got up to the platform, I peered over the edge only to figure out that a drop looks a lot bigger when there is no barrier to protect you. I got up to the edge and jumped. My eyes were open the whole way down, just taking it all in, and it really was awesome.
The last 100 days have been awesome and I hope that next 80 days will be just as good.
So far we have stayed just under a month in Burford, and it has flown by. When we were planning the trip I thought that there was no way that I would won't to settle down for a month this soon in the trip, especially in Burford. When we first got into Burford I was excited to have my own room that I knew I would have for a month, but I thought that the emotion would soon change to me wanting to leave Burford and get moving on the trip. I think that the thought of me missing home was amplified during these past few weeks just because staying in one place for a month has made me realize how much I miss having my own room. I am excited to get moving again and see Paris, but I will have a hard time leaving the first month.
Almost every morning we go on A hike around Burford, every time we pass some shop or something that is in the middle of nowhere, its crazy in the US if something was like 20 minutes outside of your town you wouldn't go to it you would just go to something that is in your town. I can't believe that these shops survive, I think that the only way that they do stay alive is that they have been around for so long that they are just a part of the peoples life that it doesn't seem weird to drive or walk over 10 minutes to get dinner or lunch. The shops must have been handed down from generation to generation so that they do not have to pay any mortgage, because I can't imagine them making enough money to pay mortgage, taxes and pay for the expenses to operate. Two days ago I think my theory was proved true, it was a Sunday morning and we were on the same walk we had been doing for the past couple of days. It was a nice day out and we got to a inn called the Swan Inn and it was crowded cars parked all around it people eating next to the river and everyone just enjoying themselves. It was interesting to see the difference in the days, the past couple days that we had done this walk no one had been at these shops or at the Inn but in one day that had all changed.
So far in the UK and Ireland we have had awesome weather, but still if you stay in Ireland and the UK for more than 28 days and counting your bound to have some rain. It is interesting to see how if it is a nice day here every person in their right mind is outside. Even if it is not amazing weather, everyone is outside, if you compare that to Boise where it is good weather at least half of the year. When it is a nice day in Boise most people are like ok cool a nice day, but if it is nice day in Burford or England its almost like you have won the lottery.
I just have to mention the sunsets because for most of the days the sunsets have been amazing. The thing that I think is amazing is how bright they are.
Yesterday we got into Burford around 2 not having eaten since around 8, we were all hungry and ready to get into our house, but there was no signal so we couldn't get the lock box combo. So we went to get lunch in the town, we finally found a place ate and got the lock box combo. So we walked back to the house and tried to find the lock box but it wasn't near the main door, we spent 10 minutes trying to find it and I finally found it by hitting my knee on it. When we got into the house we immediately liked it. Its awesome to finally settle down and unpack my bag completely.
When I think of visiting London I think of walking around Big Ben and parliament, walking around the crowded streets and running around in the parks, now that I am in London I have done all of these things except instead of walking I am limping. This all started when I was putting my dinner on my plate and it slipped off the counter falling sideways, landing on my toe. My toe saved the plate but it was extremely painful, later after the pain subsided a little I took off my sock to find that my toe was blue. After a night of mostly pain and little sleep, I awoke to finish packing and get in a crammed car and drive five hours to London. Once in London we got to our apartment to find it dirty. After returning the car getting lunch and shopping for a little bit we got back home to find that the people who came to clean it did almost nothing. I do not want you to think that our stay in London started out bad because it didn't, we still had fun around the city it was just a taste of the future.
I am writing this sitting in a internet cafe in a small town just off a lake, called The Lake, in the lake district in England, which is by far the most like Idaho than any of the places we have stayed in before. The lake is like a shallow Payette lake, the town is just like McCall, if McCall had double decker tour busses trying to get through it without killing anyone. The mountains come right down to the water on the other side of the lake and are very green. The drive we had looked like the beginning of the drive to Sun Valley, a big highway with rolling hills and on a good day you can see for miles. Our house itself is like Bilbo Baggins house, without the circular door. Every time I walk into the bathroom I hit my head on the door frame, the first time I did this was at midnight and I almost fell down the stairs. Our house is off one of the two roads that make up the whole town, it took us twenty minutes to find the house because the website that we booked it on failed to mention that the entrance to the house, was in a bush. So far, the UK is pretty nice we haven't seen much of it but one of the things that I think is very nice is that the road markers are in miles. The food in the UK has been good we haven't really had a bad meal, and we have been eating dinners out most of the time. Lunches have pretty much have been at Pret (British, healthyish Subway) which is pretty good. Edinburgh was cool, we went to the underground city and spent an hour hearing ghost stories, the best meal we had in Edinburgh was, in my opinion, was at an Indian restaurant called Indian Lounge, I’m not sure if it was just the fact that we ate there at 10:00 or if it was the fact that we met a really nice couple from the US sitting at the table next to us.
Right now, we are staying in a house in a tiny town looking out on the ocean, our house is a 15 minute walk to the ocean and a 5 minute walk into town. Staying here, going to bars for dinner because they are the only restaurants in the town has been interesting, what I have seen that if it is a good bar then the bartender or the owner will know everyone even kids. The bars have nice tables and booths, and the first time I ordered a soda, I said, "what drinks do you have?" the waiter answered "alcoholic?". I think it is interesting to see the difference between the bars in the US and the bars in Europe, the kids can go to bars and watch TV there, its crazy. I am betting that the bigger cities have modern bars, but the smaller towns still have little bars where the setting is totally different.
Ireland was the first stop outside of the country and it has lived up to be more than what I thought it would be, all the castles and the rolling green hillsides. About an hour and a half after we landed, running on only caffeine and sugar, we went to the Cliffs of Moher, which was way better than what I expected. After, we went to our house, which is on a farm and hung out for the rest of the day while it was raining. Yesterday was my moms birthday, and she wanted to go see our first castle of the trip. We got to walk around pretty much the whole thing and I thought it was awesome. Next we went to a garden and looked around there for a bit then went and drove into town for dinner.
So far we have spent two days in DC and I have really enjoyed them, me and my sister were joking around saying that DC is hogging everything and it is kind of true. So far we have seen the Air and Space museum, The Capital and The Library of Congress. Personally, I think the Capital and the air and space museum were the coolest just because their was more interesting stuff to see their in my mind. The Library of Congress was amazing but I personally found both the air and space museum and the capital more interesting.
The first couple of days on the trip have been fun and hard. We miss everything about our old lives, but being on the trip is awesome. We are at my grandmas house right now and its nice to be surrounded by family that we don't see a lot. I am super excited to get out of the country and see Ireland; It's been very hot in Chicago and Springfield, so I am ready for some cold and rainy weather. The hard thing is not that I miss my home a lot, right now it still feels like a vacation, but it is the idea of not seeing Boise and my friends for 10 months that freaks me out.
When I think about leaving for any trip I always think, oh there is still a lot of time until we leave, at the beginning of summer I was thinking I still have a whole summer left. Now we are in the single digits and we are making the final preparations. I hope the family will be ready to get on that plane from Boise to St. Louis.
Video made from videos from summer of 2013 winter of 2013-14 and from summer of 2014.
Three days ago I packed my bag for the very first time, and I realized, whoa I'm going to have to do laundry like every 4 days. Don't get me wrong the pack can hold a ton, but because I want the pack to be as light as possible while still having enough stuff for me to live with for the next 10 months. The key thing about packing I think is not thinking about how nice it would be to have something but if you are only going to use a thing for one purpose don't bring it. You don't have the room to take a bunch of clothing items with you that you will only use as one thing. For example, I have a swimsuit that look like nice dress shorts,this won't work for girls of course, but for guys, they are great. You need things that have more than one purpose.
June 1st was my dads last day at his job; he is stepping down from the C.E.O of Balihoo. This day marked the day that I knew, oh this isn't just an idea, its something we actually are going to do. This trip started out as a dream and then grew, and now we are counting down the days until we leave Boise. When I think about next year I am just guessing I have no idea what the worst days will be like or what the best will be like.
Thinking about an idea with massive magnitude is time-consuming and most likely will never get done. It takes constant changing, planning and preparation for an idea like this to get off the ground. We started talking about the lap in summer of 2012. The thought was kind of dream like until we started to book places and tell our friends. At that point we started to realize that the lap was actually going to happen. Every day we think what would this day be like if we were on the tour. In January, we started doing vaccines, which wasn't a big deal for me but it was a bigger deal for Lea because she is slightly afraid of vaccines, but now we are done with our vaccines and almost done with most of the preparation, so now it is on to the next chapter of our life.