Thursday, September 21, 2017

Iceland - September 13-20 2017

We went to Iceland again! We were there in 2000 and decided to go back this year. Sherry was on a bike trip in France and booked on Iceland Air to come home. Since Iceland Air lets you layover in Iceland for as long as you want, Mike hopped on a plane to join up.

Lots and lots of photos in this album and this album. If you want to skip the text and just browse the photos, these are the best places to look.

Day 1 - Mike arrived at 6am and Sherry was not due until midnight. Lots of driving back and forth to the airport and the Airbnb. We stayed a little north east of Reykjavik where the red marker is shown. A little suburban enclave of tranquility and infinite hot water.

Day 2 took us on the "Golden Circle". The traditional stars of the circle are: ├×ingvellir, Gullfoss and Geysir which we saw. However, our favorite spot was probably Fludir because of the mushroom farm and the "Secret Lagoon" hot spring.

Day 3 - we drove down towards Vic and the black sand beaches that are there. We took our sweet time, and arrived not too much before dark.

We stayed in some modern-ish shotgun prefab suites near the beach.

Day 4 we did not drive very far, and just stayed in the black sand beach area. We woke up early to get down to the beach before the tourist buses arrived.

Day 5 - we woke up early today, too, to get to the closed off beach before anyone else arrived. We hopped the fence and went down by the ocean to experience the surf right near the cliffs. Here is our early morning route.

After our beach hopping, we drove out to Hofn.

Day 6 was a driving day. From Hofn all the way back to Keflavik

Day 7 we were housebound by heavy winds and lots of rain. The flight was scheduled to leave around 2pm and the airport was a short drive away. We had a really nice Airbnb so we just lounged around, read books and drank waaay too much coffee.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Oregon Eclipse - Path of totality - August 2017

The plan was to go visit Mike's parents in Pasco, Washington and then go down to Oregon to see the total eclipse. By coincidence, Casey and Dorothy were going to be passing through Washington State in their 1982 VW Vanagon Westfalia, so we had a family reunion in the making.

Mike and Sherry arrived in Pasco on August 17th just a few hours before Casey and Dorothy rolled in. We all spent three days in Pasco working on the van and generally hanging out. Hunter would not arrive until a few days later. Sherry rode down to Oregon with Casey and Dorothy on the 19th (the day before the eclipse) while Mike waited a bit for Hunter to arrive at the Pasco airport. Mike and Hunter then joined the rest of the family in Oregon.

View from Dick and Judy's house just before sunset

Casey and Sherry hanging out on the deck

Dick and Judy posing with the Westy

Dick and Judy, again with the Westy

Dick, Judy, Sherry, Dorothy and Casey and, as always, the Westy

Hunter and Judy out to dinner. 

Sherry's hummingbird action shot in Pasco

We drove down from Pasco to "Off the Grid Eclipse, Inc." which is about 3 hours normally
Our encampment in Oregon. One Westy, two tents. The car we borrowed from Judy and Dick is out of the frame

A few porta-johns, and a lot of flat cut grass. 

This is the campsite at the time of total eclipse. Looks like a sunset, only all the way around.

The eclipse went from around 10am until noon. After a nice lunch of Spicy Pork Bibimbap sandwiches (thanks, Casey) we rolled back to Pasco. Unfortunately, there was an accident on the only bridge over the Columbia river and we got totally slammed in traffic. It took closer to 7 hours to get home, compared to the 3 hours to get down to Oregon. We looked at this Cruise America RV for about three hours. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway by bicycle - June 2017

The plan for this trip was to ride bicycles from Front Royal, Virginia down past Asheville, North Carolina in eight days. The route followed Skyline Drive down to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We stayed in campgrounds, Airbnb houses and a few hotels.

The dates and places were:

6/23Front RoyalBig Meadows51
6/24Big MeadowsReeds Gap67.7
6/25Reeds GapPeaks of Otter71.9
6/26Peaks of OtterTuggle Gap79.7
6/27Tuggle GapLaurel Springs82.7
6/28Laurel SpringsLittle Switzerland86
6/29Little SwitzerlandPisgah Inn74.6
6/30Pisgah InnEnd60.4

There was a total of 12 people on the ride:

1 Phil Ayliff 7 Dick Loudis
2 Cindy Ayliff 8 Terre Simpson
3 Bart Rhoades 9 Saul Pilchen
4 Mike Evanoff 10 Barbara Ahrens
5 Jessica Tinianow 11 Laura Clauser
6 Jon Broome 12 Claude Cavender

Phil organized the whole tour and, when I say organized, I mean full-on CPA organization.

The following photos are in no particular order. I stole most of them from other people.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Coast to Coast and Edinburgh Part 2 - Happiness

So, upon waking up sick, sore and facing the prospect of another day of hiking through sheep fields to get to a small town with not much in it, we realized that we were only three hours from Edinburgh. This was a clear choice. Mike had never been to Scotland, and it had been a long time for Sherry. 

Sherry found an Airbnb just outside of Edinburgh. It was a 30-minute walk to the "Royal Mile" or a 15 minute bus ride. The red marker on the map below was where we stayed. 

In Scotland, Sherry is as tall as mike. 

Road Trip! 

We rented a car at a pretty sketchy "Easyrent" place near the airport. We got a lot of good information about Edinburgh from the very patient Uber driver who took us there. The directions to the rental location were far from clear, and he had to make a few phone calls to get us to the exact location. We then headed north towards Inverness, stopping along the way for a few sights. 

First stop - The Kelpies sculptures in Falkirk

Stop #2 - The Blair Athol distillery

Stop #3 - Inverness

We took a boat trip on Loch Ness. We started at the north end near Inverness, went south to Urquhart Castle, and back again. It was a lovely day, and the castle was very photogenic. Loch Ness is one of a series of narrow lakes linked by rivers and man-made canals which create a natural waterway. There are several forts along the way to defend this transportation route. 

After Inverness, we spent just another day or so in Edinburgh and then took the train to the train to the airport (Heathrow) and came back home again. Mike had lost a total of about 12 pounds from the hiking and the illness. Sherry was fine. 

We have a lot of other photos of Edinburgh and the Coast-to-Coast that you can see at this link.