Travel Tales PIF

Discussion in 'General Shaving Discussion' started by joamo, Jan 18, 2013.

  1. I love to get out on the road and see new sights, I just don't have that opportunity often enough. However, I do get enjoyment from hearing and reading the experiences of others, so I'm asking you to share your favorite travel stories to enter this PIF.

    This is open to B&B members worldwide and a winner will be chosen at random. The PIF winner will be selected on Friday January 25th, and receive the following:

    A Gillette travel tech in a leatherette case, case is past its prime but serviceable

    A small Art of Shaving badger brush, lightly used

    Arko stick
    20 Shark SS blades
    An empty twist-up container that can be used to make your own shave stick from a favorite soap.
    3 Bic Sensitive single blade disposable razors for carry on travel. (not shown)
  2. My wife an I woke up one Friday morning and decided that we would head up to the mountains. We drove from Columbia, SC to Knoxville, TN. We caught a Tennessee Lady Vols game and dinner with her uncle before driving back to Asheville, NC for the night. We spent Saturday morning in downtown Asheville around pack square and Hayward street, before going to the Orange Peel that night to see one of my favorite bands play. We hung around after the show and got to meet the band members and get all the drum sticks, picks, and set lists we wanted. It was an awesome weekend!!
  3. Toothpick

    Toothpick Moderator

    The year was 2009. Or as I call it...the best year ever!

    It seems like all I did that year was travel! I guess I don't have one particular story in mind but i'll just outline where i traveled too. I took a road trip with myself to TN to visit the folks for a week. On a whim me and a friend took a road trip to New York to visit her hometown and party down. About 15 of us went to Vegas for one of my friends birthdays. I went to Michigan twice with friends, once to a cottage on a nice lake during the summer, and once more during the fall to a cabin in the woods. A bunch of us did a pub crawl via the train, we traveled though 10 cities stopping along the way to quench our thirst.

    I think thats it. Tennessee, Michigan twice, Nevada (with a stop in Utah), New York, and a whole day traveling the railway. It was one heck of a year for traveling and since then have not done half as much.

    Great PIF!!!
  4. Nice PIF! My best travel experience was flying to Moscow, via Dubai. Seeing all the sights around Moscow, Red Square, the Kremlin etc, then traveling by first class carriage on the overnight train to St Petersburg with my Wife and spending a few days exploring that amazing city, Russian beer is awesome! (just thought I'd throw that in there :) )
  5. Recently drove down highway 26 from Portland, OR, to the Oregon Coast. Along the way in the depths of the forest, we happened up the world's largest Sitka spruce at a small park near the road. Truly a wonderous site!!
  6. In March of 2011, I was deployed on a peacekeeping mission to the Sinai Peninsula. On weekends, I would go party in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and other parts of Israel. I then took leave with a buddy in my unit. We started in Ireland and spent St. Patrick's Day in Dublin... talk about a blur. We then went to London for a day, to Salisbury, Portsmouth where we accidentally found Charles Dickens' house, boarded a ferry bound for Normandy, and got sloshed with some Sandhurst Cadets. We then walked on Omaha Beach, saw Pointe Du Hoc, went to the cemetery and lowered the flag during taps. Then I wooed a French girl at the train station in Caen, went to Paris, jumped on another train through Belgium, and went to our final country Holland. Then we went to Rotterdam, The Hague (for my birthday,) Amsterdam, met a ton of interesting and friendly people; then flew back to Egypt to finish our duty.

    I have also been to Venezuela, went to the Amazon, swam at the base of Angel Falls, and went hiking around in the Andes.

    Thank you for allowing me to share my story.
  7. I absolutely love being out on the road and travelling. While I've taken numerous road trips in my life, I'd say one of the more memorable ones was the time my father and I drove from Chicago to upstate New York to help my Great Uncle move. We took the trip in two days, and decided to take the more scenic routes to get there rather than take the highway straight there. It was late May or early June and the weather was absolutely gorgeous and the night skies were clear. The stars were bright, and it was a really nice drive. I had always heard stories about my Great Uncle's dream home, but I'd never seen any pictures. It was exactly as it had been described. It was off a gravel road, and up in the mountains about a half hour from a town. The house was larger and on about 100 acres of land. Old farm buildings were on the land and slowly decaying. The house was amazing, but very outdated. There was a small creek the house overlooked in addition to the endless trees and ambiance of the environment. We spent a few days there helping him and my Great Aunt pack. It was sad, because it was his dream home and I knew he didn't want to leave, but he had to because he couldn't afford it. I was extremely happy to be there and spend time with him though. He's an incredibly cool man with some great stories and wisdom. The drive back was fairly uneventful, but still really nice. I really appreciate all road trips, because I'm in college and without a car so any time I get to travel I really love it. And this PIF is wonderful. Thank you!
  8. 3 Summers ago: I was living in Brooklyn, in a somewhat lousy neighborhood called Bushwick. I lived there with 2 of my college roommates, in a 2.5 bedroom railroad apartment (it was cramped, to put it nicely). It must have been July or August, and it was about 200 degrees outside (or, like, 97). New York is pretty humid in the summer. We didnt have air conditioning (we were graduated art students, trying to be painters but working art-related jobs during the day in the city). We had two fans - one window box-type fan, and one small rotating fan.

    So, it's around midnight and no one can sleep because it's too hot in the apartment. We were smoking cigarettes and trying to get as much time in front of the fan as possible (three of us, grown men, each trying to sit in front of the box fan). Someone mentioned going to the car to use the air conditioning - I had a car at the time - but it was midnight. In brooklyn. It's not exactly a joy ride kind of place. But then it hit us (I dont remember who thought of it) - we could drive to Atlantic City, gamble in the air conditioning, and drive back in the morning.

    So we left - at 1 am - made the 2 hour drive to Atlantic City, and went straight to the Taj Mahal. I'd never been to AC before - or gambled in a casino for that matter. I drank pretty much all the heinekin they had in the place, played blackjack for 6 hours, lost $300, and then fell asleep on the beach. Then I woke up with a sunburn, and drove us back to Brooklyn. My roommate had won $1500, somehow, and payed for the gas back and bought the three of us dinner and drinks at Juniors (famous for their cheesecake - also an excellent spot for burgers/cornbeef sandwiches).

    Not a bad trip - minus the gambling losses haha.

    I'm in, thanks!
  9. I was holidaying with a friend and his family in Ireland, visitting his Irish Relatives. We were staying in a tiny little house that was 250 years old (older than the federated Australia, my home) and had previously contained a doctors surgery 80 years ago- a small room beside the kitchen, now occupied with old furniture was actually the surgery, where all sorts of operations were performed. The kitchen always remained the kitchen- hence surgery probably was 'committed' alongside the preparation of midday meals.

    Apparently the little house was haunted by an old woman- the doctor who lived there married a 14 year old girl, but shortly afterwards was killed in a collision between two horse carriages on a dark road at midnight- and his wife spent the next 70 years keeping to herself in the tiny little place.

    I never saw a ghost there however- my anecdote is somewhat more recent:

    My friends cousins whom were showing us around Ireland for two weeks were phenomenally lazy- one night rather than walk the 500 metres down the road to a fast food store, they preferred to drive. Physiologically repelled by this idea, after being driven the 500 meters to pick up fast food (and you should always perform some physical activity pre-indulging in monopoly's (mono unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (to say nothing of the saturated fats)) I bet them that I could run back home faster than they could start up the car and drive there.

    They accepted the bet, and I waited beside the car as they climbed in, and started the ignition:

    Ready?- GO!

    I took off up the dark street as fast as I could, and ran for about 250m before turning a corner and running into two policeman coming the other way. They looked at me funny, (until I realised they were just funny looking) and we stared at each other awkwardly for a few seconds...

    "G'day" I said
    "Just having a running race with a car" I panted, and took off past them again...

    They stood and watched me as I ran up the rest of the street and beat my Irish competitors.

    The police certainly aren't as lenient with 'random runners' in Australia, thats for sure :D
  10. I went travelling to Japan in December 2011 with a friend who is very pro Japanese, and is forever telling me how Japanese technology, food, and culture surpasses that of Western culture. He also, (I later discovered) greatly exaggerated his ability to understand their language (much better than ours, for sure J)

    It was his ability, or lack thereof, that caused us to stray from a set path high up in the Japanese mountains, and become lost in a forest at night with absolutely no supplies/equipment for such a venture; it was to be only a day trip.

    But, to begin at the beginning:

    After spending two weeks in Kyoto, and Ginza, to amazing cities (the latter having some of the most expensive buildings in the world within it) we began to feel inclined towards the famous Japanese countryside, and in particular, the mountains of Japan: A two hour train ride would suffice to transport us to a remote village 150 km out of Kyotos centre (the name at present of the particular mountains escape me) where a tour bus would then drive us up to a rail car station, which would complete the journey of heaving us up them mountain- or to the base of the higher mountains.
    Japanese trains are very clean and well looked after- typically rather old and rattley as well- performing their duty far longer than carriages would back home (Australia) and they are also very cold. Vents in the roof serve to direct air into the body of the carriage and ventilate them- an absolute necessity even in winter when the carriages are filled to 150% capacity, and the atmosphere within turns to BO- however, this carriage contained only two gangly pale 21 year olds, most likely the only blonde and brown haired (respectively) blue eyed males within 1000 square kilometres, and it was like sitting in a fridge.

    A very fast fridge.

    After a great ride through the very flat and green farmland of the Japanese countryside, punctuated by tiny little houses like matte lego buildings, with the air growing cooler, and turning our blood to gravy, the mountains leapt out of the landscape spontaneously, like the images in a children’s pop up book.

    At the train station there were three buses waiting for passengers- my friend decided on a particular bus (it was his turn to be the organiser/navigator/event planner for the day- a role we alternated regularly) and we sat on it for 30 mins patiently waiting for it to leave- when he realised that it was the wrong bus. Upon sitting on the correct one, the driver immediately took off for the mountains.

    Japanese train and bus drivers dress incredibly formally- whilst being the bus driver of a tiny country town this man had on a navy blue suit with a blue cap, and white cotton gloves- a suit he wore as proudly as a military uniform. Apparently being public transport personnel is an honoured position in Japan- but don’t quote me on that- I’m only repeating my friend whose facts are sometimes as dubious as his ability to speak Japanese. By the way they dressed and acted they certainly seemed chuffed with their jobs.

    The road was old, wrinkly, and grey- like a long flat elephant, and meandered pleasantly amongst trees whose height was exaggerated by the slopes on which they grew- the towered over us by 75 meters, and were phenomenally green.

    Australian native trees are white/grey, very hardy and rough, and occasionally a dull powdery green- to see so much luscious green foliage and grasses was like living in a poster for a golf course.

    The driver was very polite and helpful despite speaking no English, and we no Japanese- this was only a problem when the bus ride terminated at the base of two hills, at a fork that gave a path out and up each of them. The clouds above our heads were so dense at this point that we couldn’t see higher than 10 metres above us- there were no landmarks indicating which way we should go. The bus driver spoke to us as we exited the bus and stood outside, and pointed upwards (perhaps indicating one of the paths, though they both went in this direction). We did what most people who are embarrassed about not understanding directions do: smiled and nodded and wished he would leave and we could find out for ourselves which way to go. Nodding like ornamental dogs on a spinster’s bookshelf we waited until the bus had driven out of site before starting up one of the paths. Moments later we heard a shriek, and running up the muddy path looking like a navy officer very lost on the side of the mountain, the bus driver appeared. How on earth he knew that we had taken the wrong path I never found out- he grabbed my friend’s arm and wildly gesticulated in the opposite direction. He then sat in the bus with a big Cheshire cat smile on his face and continued to watch us as we then climbed the correct path.

    And almost immediately came across the rail car station. I was spared embarrassment of our poor direction comprehension as I was over come by excitement.

    If you’ve ever been on a rollercoaster ride, and you feel the mixed sensation of dread, excitement, and gravity, all churning like wet cement in your belly as the car climbs and climbs and climbs two little rails high up into the sky, you’ll know what its like to be in a rail car. Conversely, if you’ve ever been in a rail car, you’ll also know what it’s like to have been in a rail car. Rollercoaster’s are not as creaky, and don’t groan like dying whales as they exert themselves. For 15 minutes the rail car pulled us up a slope that at times was less than 10 degrees off of vertical, on muddy soft earth, and my friend cheerfully stated that the rails were new- the old ones had been swept off t he mountain in a storm last year. Fortunately the clouds that had been so dense as to obscure the correct path minutes before also hid the height that we were ascending to from sight.

    The car soon came to rest in the side of a building that looked like half a shed built on the edge of a cliff. Walking out of the rail station, I was amazed to see mountains continuing far above us, and a town and some temples further up! There weren’t even cars up here- there were no other points connecting this tiny town to the world lower down- either all the building materials and so on had been brought up through manual labour, or at a later date on the rail car, or a previous road no longer existed…

    Brass monkeys are not native to Japan, for the very reason that the weather was cold enough to freeze off their respective reproductive organs; I gasped in the cold air as we stepped onto the SNOWLADEN streets. I have only seen snow twice in my life- this was the second time- thus the only human response was to frolic and gamble and build a snow man (though snowmen are typically poor at gambling- despite having excellent poker faces J) before continuing into the higher strata of the Japanese atmosphere.

    We ate steaming Ramen noodles in a little café whose tables were made from enormous slabs cut from trees, and were served by a tiny little old Japanese lady that sat and watched us curiously as we ate- like a curious monkey. I had brought some little fluffy koala key rings on holiday to give out to helpful people we met- I gave her one- you woulda thought I had handed her 1 million dollars- she held our hands and called her daughter into the store to greet us and then gave us both little key rings of her own to take back with us. Bowing excessively, we continued our trek filled with hot oily and nutritious noodles.

    The only downside of the hot meal is that it mad me sweat excessively in my windproof jacket, that bottles the sweat in, drenches your clothes, and then, in preventing the wind from getting through it, effectively chills you inside it. This became more of a problem later.

    It’s worth telling the reader- if they are still with us, and I will speed up this narrative that has been fun to tell J that we arrived in the town atop the mountains at 1400, and we planned to go waling up into the mountains and return before the sun went down.

    However, snow, icy slippery slopes, phenomenal views on knife edge slopes- where on your right hand side a forest can be shrouded in the blackest night, and on your left can be bright and hot with the suns light, and numerous statues and prayer huts and waterfalls and geologic formations can distract for hours.

    Four hours, to be exact.

    The paths we walked upon went up and down as frequently as a see saw in a children’s playground, and it was only every half an hour that we rose high enough to see the horizon and the sun’s position in relation to it.

    We were so high up that the sky remains white/blue right until the very moment before the sun drops off the horizon- we had expected a great bloody sunset of orange-red-violet-purple like at home that warns you of nights imminence (like in Australia).

    So it was with some dismay that when we followed a signpost my friend insisted said “town this way” and had wandered a further 5 km upon the previous ten, that we climbed a small hillock in time to watch the sun disappear.

    We had no torches, food, minimal water, no camping gear, only jeans, beanies, jumpers and jackets, and mobile phones with no reception- utterly unprepared for being stuck on the mountain at night.

    It was then that my friend admitted he didn’t really know what the signposts meant- they were written in a form of Japanese he didn’t understand, apparently, and we had been following signposts the last few kilometres because he thought he recognised some of the characters. He had presumed the path would loop around eventually and lead us back to town- it had just carried us further and further away from it. So, in the dark, and freezing (my jacket filled with more salty water than the ocean), my adrenal glands went nuts, and we half jogged, paced our way back to something we could recognise in the minimal light.

    Unfit, and worn out by the trek to this point, my friend was waling slower and slower- I had to turn back for him every 100 metres and encourage him to hurry up- what if we miss the rail car? (Neither of us had checked what time it finished, planning on arriving back in town around 6 pm, not 10pm).
    Previously attractive landmarks like the waterfall and statues only served to remind me of how far we were still from town. I was terrified of the idea of missing the final car and being stuck on the mountain over night.

    At 0930 we emerged from the black forest (not the cake) and stumbled stiff and sore down to the edge of the town and the rail car shed.
    There was no rail car there, and although a light was on inside, it was empty. Overcome with despair, we were now stuck here (I thought) I heaved on the door and to my surprise it yielded- then a rail car driver appeared, alerted by the noise.
    “Still open?” I asked weakly.

    He smiled and nodded: “10pm” He had the same Cheshire cat smile of the bus driver that could have been his brother.

    I staggered to a coffee vending machine (that serves heated beverages) and coffee can in hand curled up on a heated seat to await the rail car that would take us home.
  11. Great stories! Keep them coming.
  12. For our anniversary my wife and I went to beautiful Carmel California for 4 days. We hoped to see where Steinbeck walked. Enjoy the scenery and atmosphere. :flowers:

    The first day she didn't feel well. So we did light sight seeing. Beautiful beaches and coastline. Watching the Otters and Seals play in the kelp beds.

    The second day she was really sick, but didn't want to leave early. She rested and with her encouragement I walked the shops and bought some trinkets hoping she was feeling better.

    The third morning we left a day early for home. Saw the doctor when we got home.

    My wife had her Gall Bladder removed and finally felt better. :a46:

    We'll go back again eventually. A truly memorable anniversary. :dots:
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2013
  13. JayEddie

    JayEddie Contributor

    One time before my wife was my wife, I took a couple of vacation days to make a long weekend. We loaded up her Tercel with the camping gear and drove up to Door County and spent 4 days camping. Lots of fresh air, and peace and quiet. We had enough time to both relax and also do the touristy shopping thing. One of the highlights was going to one of the local resorts for their fish boil/buffet. Absolutely delicious! We also attempted to fly a kite on a beach along Lake Michigan on the way home, but it was too windy and it destroyed the kite.
    I'm in. Nice PIF, Thanks!
  14. My best travelstory must be when I had the oppertunity to take my wife on a 2 weeks long vacation to Mexico! I packed a SS and Astras along with Palmolive shavingstick and a dead badger! :)
  15. In the summer of 2012 my best friend got married on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. I've only met his wife-to-be a couple of times, but we've talked on the phone a lot. She very quickly became one of my best friends. We're both named Matt, so she calls me her other husband. I was the only non-blood-family invited to their wedding. He was concerned if I wouldn't be able to make it, since up until the beginning of June I was in Poland. Two weeks before the wedding I called Budget Rent-A-Car to reserve a rental.

    I showed up to Budget at 0700 to pick up my car, only to be told it hadn't been returned yet. They offer me a Chevy Aveo, I say no. They offer me a GEO METRO, and of course I decline. They call around, and ask if a Camaro will be okay. I say yes. When they bring it around, it is bright brilliant banana yellow. As soon as I see it, I start laughing like the Joker.

    I go outside to start loading my stuff in, and my wife asks me if that car was mine. Still laughing like a hyena I say yes. She sighs and says, "As soon as I saw it I went 'Oh s**t, that has to be his.' No-one else has that luck."

    I climb in, hook up the GPS, MP3 player, and plug in the headset for my phone. I put on my sunglasses, and hit the road. I rock Dio and Iron Maiden almost the whole way, mixing it up with a little Bon Jovi going through New York. I get powerfully bored, despite the insanely brilliant car and great music. I am on the phone with my wife and my friend off-and-on. When I hit New York, he tells me that his parents got lost in Brandywine, Maryland. I ask him how, since Brandywine basically has one traffic light. He is on the verge of panic and screams at me he doesn't know. I ask why his parents don't have a GPS, and he says because they're stupid. I tell him they can get a used one at a pawn shop for less than fifty dollars, and he says they don't HAVE fifty dollars. I relent. When I hit Buffalo I grab a nice bottle of Savignon Blanc, a bottle of Chopin potato vodka, a bottle of Sailor Jerry Navy Rum, and the Canada chip for my GPS unit. Grabbing some lunch, I head across the bridge and into Canada. As I'm leaving the border I call my friend and tell him I'm lost in Brandywine. He tells me to sod off.

    When I get to the border, the nice lady working the booth asks if I have any controlled substances. I tell her about the stuff I just bought in Buffalo, as well as the bottle of absinthe and single-distilled vodka I brought back from Poland as wedding gifts. She asks to see the receipt for them, and I produce the receipt for the stuff I just bought, but tell her I bought the other stuff around six months ago and don't have it. She asks about weapons, and I tell her I have my Leatherman, and a pocket knife. She waves me through after checking my passport.

    When my friend shows up the next day, I ask how the drive was. He tells me he was nervous going through the border because he had a case of soda in the trunk and they almost searched his car. Laughing, I tell him about going through for me. He gets pissed and demands to know how I lead such a charmed life, going through with booze with no trouble at all. I tell him it's attitude. We romp around Niagara Falls for the afternoon, his wife-to-be standing close to me because I'm wearing Pinaud Clubman's ASL and smell more manly than my best friend, who's wearing AXE. He demands to know what I'm doing that his future wife wants to stand closer to me than to him. I respond, without missing a beat, that I smell like a man instead of like a high-school sophomore. He gets ready to yell, shrugs, and drops the subject. When we get back to the hotel I give him an unopened bottle of Pinaud.

    That night, we ride in the Camaro back to New York for some wings. When we're in the queue for the border-crossing, I realize I forgot my passport. I tell the American guard that I left it in the hotel back in Canada, and he lets me in, tells me how to turn around, and waves me on. I tell the Canadian guard I left my passport in my hotel, and he waves me through. My best friend is astonished that I just entered two countries without a passport. We grab, hit 100 mph going through New York, only to arrive twenty minutes after Duff's closed. We turn around and head back to Niagara, going to the Hard Rock for dinner.

    The next morning was the wedding. He had stayed in my room, and shaved that morning. He was using the 38C I had PIFed him, along with AOS sandalwood cream. He asked if he could use my Pinaud Clubman ASL, since he had left his in the room. I say sure. I hear the cap land on the sink, and grin as I hear him inhale sharply as he splashes it on, and stings him mightily. He finally comes out of the bathroom, his eyes wide, and loudly proclaims that THAT STUFF STINGS. I grin, slap him on the arm, and tell him that it may sting, but it also makes him smell like a Real Man. He laughs.

    I wear a Joseph A Bank suit with lavender shirt, lavender paisley tie and matching pocket silk. He wears a shirt, tie, and vest. I outdress him. After the wedding, simple ceremony overlooking the falls, we go to a buffet inside the hotel. I open a tab to get myself a gin & tonic, and a virgin pina colada for the new bride. Her dad asks me to get a drink for him as well, and it goes on my tab. Afterwards he goes to pay for the meal, and I ask to pay for my tab. Astonished, he asks if the drinks went on the table's tab, and I say no. Later he tells the new bride that I snuck the drinks by him, and she laughs. She tells her dad that I'm tricky, and she can never get anything by me. Later we go back to the new couple's hotel room for some drinks. I crack open the wine, and I've been drinking straight from the rum bottle for about an hour. My friend pulls me aside and apologizes for not spending that much time with me. I shake my head, saying I more than understand. He should spend time with his new wife, that I'm a big boy and can find my own trouble to get into.

    The next day we head out. My friend's parents decide to stay another couple of days, but I head back to Virginia. It takes me about nine hours to get back, but it's dead-fun the whole way.

    That was probably the most fun I think I've ever had.

    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013
  16. My most recent traveling was in August of last year. I had been planning on proposing to the my fiance for well over a year at this point and really wanted a remote, beautiful location to do so in. I decided to rent a cabin up in Smokey Mtn National Park. We made the drive from Indianapolis to the Tennessee/North Carolina border to the cabin. Wow, what a view! We had an amazing time hiking the local trails. There's about 15 or so local waterfalls withing hiking distance that we checked out. I don't have all the pics available at work, but here's a couple of the cabin and one of the 100ft+ waterfalls we hiked to.


    And most importantly, she said yes : )

    Great Pif!
  17. My now-fiancee and I went to Gatlinburg, TN for spring break in 2012. We had a decent time but really, we went on vacation together too early in our relationship. But my funny travel advice/story is this:

    When the sign on the interstate says "55 MPH" when you go into Knoxville, that does not mean "oh this part is 55 but it goes back up to normal in a bit."

    A motorcycle cop made sure that I, and a gentleman in front of me, both knew that. Sped around me and gave me a "Pull over!" gesture as he went around and pulled over another car as well. He was polite enough, Straightforward, didn't mind that my fiancee didn't have her updated registration yet. Just took down the plate number and handed me a citation. He was nice too, he told me he had cut me a pretty good break because we were from out of town and on vacation.

    Now, you may think that a "break" would be not getting a ticket, but keep in mind... I was going 73 in a 55. He wrote me up as only going 63.

    I don't drive like that normally I swear to God.
  18. Best travelling experience was going with 2 friends to Stadtlauringen, Germany. My brother was stationed about 30 minutes away in Schweinfurt, so I was able to spend a little time with him while I was there. We stayed with my friend's relatives. We took a train to Munich (my first time ever on a train), and stayed for a few days, then took a bus to Salzburg and stayed in a ski resort that happened to be open in the off season (late May). I didn't realize until we made it back to Stadtlauringen, that I left my passport in the hotel in Salzburg. Even though we were scheduled to leave in 2 days, and the next day was a postal holiday, I received the passport in time to leave as scheduled. It's a shame too, I definitely could have settled down in such a beautiful part of the world.
  19. Uprooting and moving to Germany with my girlfriend. One of my best decisions except calling her after getting her number :)
  20. Hard to put a label on which would be my favorite, but here is my most recent trip, to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and Back in September 2012...

    The Trip Plan: (aka the tl;dr version)
    Monday - Fly to PHX, visit Sedona, sleep at the Maswik Lodge on the South Rim
    Tuesday - Down the South Kaibab Trail to Bright Angel Campground
    Wednesday - Visit Ribbon Falls
    Thursday - Up the Bright Angel Trail, back to PHX
    Friday - Back home to Indiana

    Monday(distance walked - ~5.8mi):
    6am flight from Indy put us into PHX at 6:42am local time. It was a quick trip out of the airport to the rental car center and we were headed north by 7:30 or so. We would have liked to stop and drool/spend money at the Paradise Valley REI in Scottsdale, but it wasn't open that early, so we grabbed some grub and aimed for Sedona. Our only stop in Sedona this year was to be Devil's Bridge, a natural arch located NNW of Sedona. Directions in hand, we swung left on 89A and headed for Dry Creek Road. What we didn't know was FR152 up to the trailhead was, to say the least, rugged. At the entrance to FR152 was a small parking area, with a big sign that said any vehicles needed to be high clearance or 4x4. Our rented Hyundai Sonata was neither.

    So, what should have been a 1.6mi round trip walk up to the arch, turned into a 2.6mi round trip to the trail head PLUS the 1.6mi walk to the arch. Payoff, though… totally worth it. It was mid to high 80's in Sedona, and we were starting to dry out, so we hit a gas station for Gatorade and water and headed on to Oak Creek Overlook (native jewelry souvenirs for the womenfolk) and on through Flag to Tusayan. We stopped in Tusayan at "We Cook Pizza and Pasta" for an early dinner. Big thumbs up to that place, it's darn good pizza. Thanks to the extra time at Devil's Bridge, dilly-dallying at Market Plaza while buying last minute supplies, and getting checked in at the Maswik, we missed the last shuttle out to Hermit's Rest. We had hoped to visit that area a bit this year. Oh well, maybe next time. Instead, we headed to our room to get packed for the morning and to watch Monday Night Football.

    Tuesday (~7.5-8mi):
    Wonder of all wonders, the 4:00am alarm actually woke us up. We quickly dressed, finished what little prep had to wait until morning and hopped in the car to head for the Back Country Office, where we would leave the car and catch the hiker shuttle. In 2010, we missed the 5:00 shuttle @Bright Angel Lodge, but not this year. We walked up to the shuttle stop just as the 5:10 shuttle was arriving. The shuttle made a stop at the visitor's center, where we picked up a large collection of folks out to see the sunrise at Yaki Point, and then it was off to the South Kaibab Trailhead. On the trip out to the trailhead, I got the distinct pleasure of educating some foreign college kids who had never heard of Elk. There were several moving about in the early morning, and after the first "I think that was a horse" comment, I chimed in and gave them the lowdown on some of the local wildlife.

    By 5:30, we were standing at the rim, adjusting our headlamps and doing that little dance that people do when standing in shorts & a t-shirt in 40º weather. By 5:45, we were on the trail. We used the headlamps down to Ooh-Ah Point, the effort from walking keeping us comfortable. We were there by 6:15 or so, just in time for sunrise. We stopped long enough for a couple pictures and to stash the headlamps before continuing on to Cedar Ridge, O'Neill Butte and Skeleton Point. Just past Skeleton Point, we hit my favorite part of the SK, the "Reds and Whites" set of switchbacks. I have a pic from 2010, looking down on these badboys, and most people who see it have the same response, "Oh, DAMN, you did that??” Now, having done them twice, I truly feel a sense of accomplishment, knowing that so few others get there. Anyway, it was a few minutes after 8:00 when we finished the last switchback and stretched our legs out onto the Tonto Plateau.

    At the Tipoff rest stop, we took an extended pack-off break. There was a ranger coming up trail who'd stopped for a break and we chatted with him for 15 minutes or so, having a snack and chugging some fluids. Refreshed, at least a little, we geared up and headed for the Tipoff, knowing that the Black Bridge was growing near. First, though, were Panorama Point and the massive, sweeping curve prior to it. I took a picture of the curve in 2010, and have never really been able to put into words the scope of how big it is. This year, I managed to get a picture of a mule train just where it opens into the flat before the point. WooHoo! Our goal was in sight with our first look at the Black Bridge. By this time, even with my hiking poles, my knees were starting to suggest just sitting down and maybe taking a nap, but we pressed on, knowing that the Bright Angel Creek, Phantom Ranch Canteen, and a Lemmy or 2 not too far in the future. The temperature had risen, and we were now well into the category of 'warm', bordering on 'hot'. The final switchbacks were broken beneath my iron will and suddenly we were standing in front of the River Trail sign, and then the tunnel to the bridge.

    Passing through the tunnel, we began what we call the victory lap, across the bridge, down past Boat Beach, and across Bright Angel Creek to the campground entrance. A picture, taken at the campground entrance sign, marked the official end to our hike down, at approximately 10:30am. Trail karma kicked in when setting up camp, underneath the food bins was a brand new GCNP trail map and guide. Once camp was set, we made a quick jaunt back to the phone at PR to call home and let the wives know we were still alive. The remainder of the day was spent relaxing and we finished up the evening with a couple beers and some pretzels at the Canteen after it reopened from dinner.

    Wednesday (14mi):
    Wednesday's plan consisted of 1 activity, Ribbon Falls. Based on my hiking buddy's (faulty) memory, the falls were "about 5 miles" from the campground. In looking at the guide we found, 6.5 miles was the number I was figuring. The plan was to leave right after breakfast, 'tanking up' (drinking lots of water before the hike), and topping off our water bottles at the spigot outside the canteen at PR. By 7am, we were on our way North. That early in the morning, The Box was very comfortable, and the hiking was quick. We crossed the first 2 bridges quickly and dug into the meat of the hike. Emerging from The Box, we found warm sun and a cool breeze. I checked my water periodically to make sure I wasn't going through it too fast. We had a bottle of Aquatabs, and were right next to Bright Angel Creek, but would rather not have to use them. We were feeling fine, in spite of hiking down the day before, and hit the off-shoot to Ribbon Falls about 9:30.

    Rather than go up and over the big hill and head to the falls via the bridge, we scooted off on the lower trail, crossing a couple creeks before climbing up into the canyon to the falls. As with Devil's Bridge, the payoff here was well worth the hike. We met many people who were coming down the North Kaibab on their way to PR and the campground. We stayed and chatted for about an hour, taking pictures of everyone and for everyone. Finally, we decided we needed to make our way back. I had put a couple packs of trail mix in a cargo pocket, so I snarfed them down with some water, and it was time to head back. The return trip was most definitely warmer, as the mid-day sun was starting to beat down, so we picked up the pace, counting on the remaining shady areas to make the trip easier. Right at 1pm, we rolled into PR. We took a short Lemmy break before heading back to camp for an early dinner. The evening consisted of relaxing at camp waiting on the Canteen to re-open. Since we were headed up the next morning, it was a 1-beer night, talking with many of the folks we met at Ribbon Falls.

    Thursday (~9.5mi):
    Anticipation of the trip out made for restless sleep, so I was barely dozing at 4:00 when the alarm went off. We intentionally set it early to give us time to break camp and make breakfast. The lows at the bottom had been near 60º both nights, and we wanted to take advantage of that cool weather for hiking. I knew that, with the exception of The Devil’s Corkscrew, Indian Garden was a very comfortable walk, so the plan was similar to Wednesday. We would ‘tank up’, topping off our bottles at the last spigot by the river. At about 5:30, with a full belly of water, we pointed our headlamps towards the Silver Bridge, and headed out.

    Cool temperatures made for nice hiking, even considering the energy-sapping sand that makes up the trail from the bridge until it makes the turn at pipe creek. By the time we made the turn, we could stash the headlamps, as the sun was just starting to illuminate the canyon. We breezed along as the sun rose, finding pipe creek to be flowing nicely. This part of our trip was entirely in shade, with a cool breeze blowing along the creek, and in no time, we had reached The Devil’s Corkscrew. We took a short break before tackling the switchbacks, but the cool weather was too good to waste, so we kept a pretty good pace all the way up and around. I knew that the top of the ‘screw was around half way to Indian Gardens(IG), so we kicked it in gear once we rounded the bend. GCNP has had a good amount of rainfall this year, so everything was green and lush. It was truly a beautiful hike to IG. We rolled past the Tonto Trail junction and into IG right at 8:00am, on as good a pace as I think we could keep.

    IG was our first mandatory pack-off, extended break. We spent about 20 minutes at the benches near the mule corral, hydrating and having a snack of trail mix, before heading on. Our goal from IG was 1 MPH, a little over 1.5 hours to the 3-mile rest house, then 3 more hours to the rim, plus rest times. At 8:30, we headed out from IG, still in mostly shade. Between IG and the 3-mile, we made good time, at least until the switchbacks at Jacob’s Ladder. We took a short break to recover a bit in preparation for the switchbacks, and then pushed on. It was around this point that we started feeling the elevation, coming from 800ft above sea level Indiana, so we started making short stops to allow the heartbeat to drop back down to a reasonable level. Finally, the 3-mile house was in front of us (well above us, but in our line of sight), and we plowed through the final legs to the stop. Time in at the 3-mile, 9:50am.

    A 15 minute break of snacking and hydrating, and we were ready (-ish) to tackle the climb between the two rest houses. There was still a fair amount of shade, but as the sun climbed higher, that shade was diminishing. The temperature was still cool, however, and was not sucking away our energy and sweating away our hydration. This 1.5 mile stretch was very tough, climbing through 5000’, with more switchbacks. ‘Pulse Breaks’ were happening regularly at this point, and our pace felt like molasses in January. We were absolutely plodding along, 200 paces at a time. After what seemed several weeks of climbing, the 1.5-mile house was in sight, well the bathrooms for said rest house. Regardless, our next stop was nearing, so we sucked it up and marched on. Amazingly, our 11:30 target was destroyed by an 11:15 arrival. An additional surprise was how quickly we felt recovered after stopping.

    After less than 10 minutes at the 1.5-mile house, we practically jumped up to get moving again. We were still getting patches of shade, which made good stopping spots, but the 2 big turns near the 2nd tunnel were mostly in the sun. We had reached the point where you could make out people standing on the rim trail overlooks, and quickly reached the lower of the 2 tunnels. We were still pausing frequently due to the elevation, but moving quicker than I had expected. Once we reached the upper tunnel, we were minutes away from being out. Even then, I was surprised to see the sign just below the rim. We stopped to chat with some folks who were reading the sign and after a few minutes, walked up the last 30 yards or so to be officially out. The time at the trailhead was a jaw-dropping 12:20, well under our planned pace, and roughly 1:20 faster than our previous trip in early June, 2010.

    The rest of our day consisted of a quick stop for more souvenirs and an un-eventful drive back to Phoenix/Chandler. Once in Phoenix, however, we hit a place my in-laws had suggested near their condo. Dinner was at the Santan Brewery brewpub (Santan Brewing). This is a very nice place, let me tell you. I had their ‘Stuffed Bacon Cheese Burger’, and we each had a nice glass of their ‘Gordo Stout’. That food and yummy beer made for a very sleepy evening, which was ok since was to take off at 8am Friday.

    Pictures may be found here:GCNP 2012

    And here (from a nearly identical 2010 trip):GCNP 2010

Share This Page