Thankfully the topic of my last blog entry did not set the tone for my entire summer, that being the unfortunate, yet hilarious vandalism that happened on June 25th. While the phrase “Poop Fart” continues to make an appearance in conversation amongst friends in the Backroads community, things only seemed to get better, and better making this year a summer that I’ll truly never forget.
I figure the only way to kick off this post is by means of photos to try and summarize what it’s been like to chase summer on three different continents in six months.
#10: Having the opportunity to be in Maine this summer, living in downtown Portland, with family so close by made it really convenient to be able to celebrate my grandfather’s 90th birthday and my 27th, as we share the same birthday. I had some much needed visits from friends in Boston, beach and farmer’s markets dates with cousins, and a best buddy from Boston, Julia who moved to Colorado a few years ago spent July in Portland for her fiances medical rotation. Needless to say, I was spoiled by social activity with friends and family in my free time.
#9 Fortunately, the guests over the summer were just as amazing! In my first family camping trip we presented our first of many lavish Backroads picnic spreads. Right then, I overheard one of the boys say to his cousin, “See dude, I told you there’d be crispy lettuce and fresh tomatoes.” And so the phrase stuck for the rest of the week….
Then came a private group in Maine of 19 mormon family members. The grandparents wanted to take their children and 9 grandchildren who live all over the U.S on a family vacation in Maine. I have never had a better time on a trip nor experienced such gracious guests and would’ve gladly spent the rest of my summer leading the entire family around. A high light was the surprise “show” the kids put on in the middle of Acadia National Park.
#8 During another week off in July, I was finally able to do a mini-biking trip with a soccer and biking afficionado friend, Q! I have Q to thank for helping me transition from urban single gear biking, to all day road biking last spring, when I accepted my job with Backroads. We embarked on the boat from Boston Harbor to Provincetown and planned a three day bicycle trip down Cape Cod and back home to Boston. Not only were we able to crash in Brewster at family friends’ homes, but Andrea had won a lottery at her work to stay in her boss’ cape home for the week. I was able to walk down memory lane of summer after summer in the Cape with my mom and sister, and also live it up on our last overnight with good friends, wine, and outdoor jacuzzis.
#7 Being in Maine on a trip in August and receiving a phone call about a potential schedule change. I was supposed to go to Jackson Hole for a few weeks and then back to Maine in the fall. I had fifteen minutes to be dressed and ready to bring guests to dinner. As I was applying make up with one hand and haphazardly drying my hair with the other, I let out the most unprofessional scream over speakerphone to my manager in Berkeley, indicating that I would of course accept my schedule change and be ready to lead biking trips in Crete, Greece for the fall season. Unfortunately I have no photos to capture this moment.
#6 So there I went, leaving behind the land of lobsterman, with Cretans on my mind, but all of a sudden landing in Jackson Hole to hang with the cowboys for a week and lead a family trip in the Tetons and Yellowstone National Park.
One of the best parts of the trip that I don’t have pictures of is an elk scat presentation I planned for one of our hikes. All the kids fell for it! As I was chewing on rolled and squished brownie bits, they thought I was scientifically deciding the gender of the elk by tasting it’s scat! Ha!
#6 As quick as I had to say goodbye to the cowboys of Wyoming, I was whisked away to our European headquarters in southern France to pack up a van and trailer and drive with my co-worker Devin through France, Italy and two ferries later arrive to the land of the Cretans!
# 5 Did I mention that a day after arriving in Crete, I flew from Crete to Athens to Paris to Boston and drove to Connecticut for Lauren’s epic and most fabulous wedding?
#4 Any of you who knew me in college new I was obsessed with Greece since my summer study in Thessaloniki in 2004. Leading in Crete, a rather touristy island, we were away from the daily, grave situation going on in mainland Athens. I was yet again exposed to the best bits of culture, food, dance, bike rides, beaches, and landscapes. On top of that all, I had the best group of co-workers with me who stood by one another’s side as we had to take another potent free shot of the after dinner burn-your-throat-homemade raki that was served to you in small, but frequent doses. One night after too much raki, we all ended up bringing a litter of 7 puppies that lived in the entry way to our rooms, to the bar for the night.
#3 I’ve got three words for my # 3 spot in the countdown: THE FISH SPA. The pictures below depict very well what this experience was like for me as those live fish nibble away at your dead skin. These “spas” are found on ever other city block on the island.
# 2 Nannying in Norway for a week for Fredrik (9), Henriette (12) and Christine (14). Picking the kids up from school, going to spin class, getting dinner on the table, just a normal week stop over in Oslo! I have been so lucky with this job to be able to pass through Europe via Oslo on an annual basis now since I met the Fougner and Witzoe families in 2009.
# 1 And the coveted #1 spot in the Top-10 countdown! Drum roll please….I was getting ready to go to bed for the night in Crete at a restored Venetian palace, and I quickly checked my email and to my absolute surprise found out that I’d be sent to the Lake District of Argentina in Northern Patagonia to lead mountain biking trips for December to March. In some ways it feels like I just got home from living in Buenos Aires. Talk about a full-circle kind of a year, and in addition I’ve lived “in summer” since February. Oh 2011, you have been so good to me.