Thankful For Thanksgiving

I started my day today in stark contrast to Thanksgiving of a year ago. A solo yoga session at 8 AM eased me into my favorite holiday. After, I grabbed my day bag, hammock and surfboard, and walked the 100 meters to Playa Santa Teresa. There I pitched my hammock under the shade of palm trees and ventured into the surf for about an hour. Exiting the water I found needed rest in my hammock under the shade of palm trees and rehydrated.

Contrast that to last Thanksgiving when I was enjoying a large meal surrounded by love from family in Atlanta, GA, relaxing, and just being lazy. I did FaceTime my family earlier to share in their happiness on this day. Honestly, there is nothing better than being with those who mean the most to you and that love you no matter your faults or trials. But, other than wishing I still had my Tucker, I wouldn’t trade much of anything else to be where I am right now. Last year I was thankful for the constant love and support from the best family and friends a person could have. And also, I was thankful for having sold my condo in Santa Monica which afforded me the opportunity to embark on this around the world journey that would have me living out of a backpack and trekking through foreign lands I didn’t know. But how long would I travel for on this epic journey? My goal was eighteen months. Would I surpass that and push for two years and beyond? Or, perhaps, feeling labored and exhausted of living out of a backpack and not having solid personal relationship connections with anyone, would I only make it six months? The future would certainly foretell the time duration and the universe would dictate my ‘backpacking’ tolerance. And as I pondered my future tomorrows last Thanksgiving, I thought to myself, “Where might I be celebrating next Thanksgiving and who would be surrounding me on my favorite holiday?”

Fast forward to today. A full year has transpired. Eight countries have experienced this EpicuriousTraveler’s epic adventures. Adventures that span a cornucopia of memories like my challenge to learn Espanol in Sevilla. Climbing the tallest mountain in North Africa without any training and literally wearing every trace of clothing I still had in my pack to keep warm. Surviving death on my birthday in Iceland, digging out successfully with a butcher knife and a tire iron. Driving the impressive and beautifully scenic Slea Head Drive in Ireland and walking into the bitterly cold North Atlantic on a secluded beach. Spending four awesome days in Porto, Portugal at a wine hostel with fantastic people. Seeing a UEFA fútbol match in Lisbon. New Years Eve in London with a dear friend and taking in my first FA Cup match. Seeing the most gorgeous sunset in Granada with three strangers I had met just hours earlier. And visiting the Cemetery at Normandy and making the walk up to the top of Mont St. Michele. Just a few of the experiences too countless to labor on about. And respecting your time you will just have to trust me when i say that there are many more.

How does one properly account and give thanks for all that my eyes have seen, my ears have heard, my mind and heart embraced and nose and lips have smelled and tasted? Hopefully my writing about them will keep them firmly supplanted in my memory bank as my memory fades as I age. But most rewarding were the many friendships that have been forged for life. The people that crossed my path and that I still stay in touch with have all touched me beyond measure. Those I certainly will cherish and not fade from memory. It’s amazing to sit and recollect on a year as blessed as mine has been.

And now, on this Thanksgiving evening, I am resting comfortably in a hammock, drinking an Imperial Silver, watching the sunset on the beach. Awaiting a traditional American Thanksgiving meal to be served along with about 3 or 4 dozen others who are beginning to find their way to their reserved tables. It’s hard to put into words how to express my gratitude to God on this day of thanksgiving for all that I have experienced over the past 365 days. Not all has been fun, enlightening and adventurous. I have certainly had and still am having challenges along the way. However, the good far outweigh the challenges for the good is/was cloaked in happiness, smiles, laughs, gorgeous sunsets/sunrises, new beginnings, new friendships, new experiences and conquests, and, most importantly, love. I choose to let those be the winds in my sail that will carry me into every tomorrow rather than letting the challenges define my today.

So, this Thanksgiving, I ask you to look around at those that surround you and give thanks.  Whether you are around a dinner table full of food, in a tv room watching football, or like me, in a foreign country on a beach surrounded by strangers who are just learning your name and story. Give thanks to God, the universe, the ocean, the sky, old man Blue or who/whatever you believe in that grants you the right to your life of abundance. Take stock of today and the road you have traveled. But, most importantly, love where you are at this very momen. Your road has led you to today and where you are for a reason. Be grateful, thankful and respectful of that. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. No matter who or where you are at this moment!

Geysirs, Waterfalls, Spills and Hot Springs! And More Hot Dogs.

Day 4 –

At this point, we had not only figured out the generator and how to maximize its full use but we had also concluded that there was no reason to wake ‘early’ since you couldn’t see anything. My alarm went off around 08:30 and lo and behold it was dimly lit out. And sure enough, in front of us, about 500 meters was the impressive Mr. Skogafoss. As day broke we went for it. Climbing its 500 stairs in one go, not stopping for any rest, we were short of breath at the top. Taking in its sheer awesomeness we relished in its power and beauty. Looking out over the ocean it looked as if the clouds would break and the sun would make an appearance. Read more

Glaciers, Freezing Rain and Hot Dogs

Day 3 –

Awaking comfortably with the heat from the generator still warming our CV, the weather looked ominous as we made our way to Vestahorn. This was a recommendation of Guido and Tom who had taken a marvelous picture of it on the morning that we met them. We drove up to the building at the entrance to the park that had a cafe. It was about 8 AM so they were still closed. However, more importantly in a cabin off to the side of the main building was a bathroom. And a shower! It had been three days since I had showered so I made quick use of the very hot waters that flowed from the shower head. Sadly, Anthony didn’t shower. Even more sad was that we weren’t greeted with the same spectacular skies Tom and Guido had just a day earlier. Read more

Dying On My Birthday?

Day 2

Around 6 am we awoke half frozen as our generator had quit around 04:30. I started the CV and let it run on diesel providing us the heat we desperately needed for another 3 hours. What I would learn on this trip is that Anthony wouldn’t get out of the comfort and warmth of the Coleman sleeping bag unless he absolutely had to climb out. Daylight broke around 09:30 and we escaped the comfort of the warmth to take some pics, potty au naturale and brush our teeth. It was only a short trip up the road to our next stop, the Myvatn Geysirs and hot springs. The putrid scent of ‘smelly farts’ permeated the frigid air causing Anthony to nearly throw up. I was fine. I grew up with the smell of sulfur coming through our pipes from our well water in Nashville, TN.

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Hello Iceland!

It has been top 5 bucket list for me going on the better part of 5 years now. Adding to my desire to travel to this winter wonderland, it seemed that the past 2 years an overwhelming number of friends, or friends of friends, have traveled there. Not one has had a negative thing to say about it. My curiosity finally led me here. In mid-January nonetheless. This can be viewed as either a fortunate or unfortunate time to visit, depending upon your outlook.

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