Viewing entries in
international

Comment

Jess Bonde: Chasing the midnight sun

Chasing the midnight sun….

The end of April found us driving to Chester, England. This is where our van journey commences and Jess and I made one of the more defining purchases of our trip. Victor Whiskey, a 1995 LT35 VW, was filled with as much character as we were adventure. The rest of April, May and most of June found us cruising through Europe and North through Denmark and Sweden. We crossed the border into Norway at the small mountain town, Åre.

Driving the E6 North following the Westerly coastline of Norway, we were instantly struck with the mountain magnitude in which Norway starkly contrasts the neighbouring Sweden.  Driving along the fjords, Jess and I knew we had found what we’d been hoping for in our travels; sheer cliff faces plummeting into deep blue and turquoise seas. We had four days to cruise to Bodø, where we were to ferry to Lofoten. We made our way North, stopping at pullovers outside small fishing towns, finding isolated beaches to spend the night. Catching fish from the roof of Victor, cooking over campfires and beers on beanbags on our sun-deck, set the scene for our most anticipated destination. Apart from the occasional urge to pull over for a long-board down some of the seductively smooth and windy mountain roads we cruised without delay. 

Sitting in our kayaks at 2am, drifting until we reached a point in the fjord where the water was so utterly still we ceased to make ripples, made for a good time to reflect on the past couple of months. We had planned a 6am kayak trip through Reinefjorden. However, at midnight, after looking at the water and the sky from our chosen camping spot we decided not to wait.  We launched and began paddling through to Kjerkfjorden, where the sun was still present, setting the sheer cliff faces aglow with an orange and pink haze. After the sun disappeared we paddle back towards Forsfjorden where we reached the sea kayakers dream of complete stillness, glassy waters and waterfalls. We realised that our whole trip so far, starting in Southern France at the very start of summer and heading North through Belgium, Germany and Sweden were all in preparation for our time in Lofoten. We had been chasing the midnight sun. Our nights became shorter and our days longer until we had no known ‘night-time’ at all. We have become somewhat nocturnal I guess. With the sky starting to turn golden and begin its setting at 10pm- merging into sunrise, with the final shift from golden, pastel skies into the crisp blue of morning at 4am, who would risk sleeping through that?!

Our time up in Lofoten rolls into a blur of hiking and fishing. Apart from the endless sun and forever being awed by the mountains, fjords and surrounding nature, the people were also a highlight. Whether it was in the local village or the summit of a mountain, all people we seemed to meet were undeniably open and friendly. Possibly due to the minimal population base or due to the mountain air, everyone appeared to genuinely have the time and desire to stop and chat, conversations that went far beyond small talk, which can be challenging mid way up a difficult climb, I can tell you! This created yet another reason to fall irrevocably in love with the place.

Prior to our arrival in Lofoten we were both feeling a touch anxious. We had built up the wonders of this place so much in our minds that we feared our expectations might have got the better of us. We need not have worried. As unforgettable as we imagined Lofoten to be, it was so much more! We suffered mild delirium, which happened shortly after our arrival; this occurred primarily due to sleep deprivation caused by our need to stay up all day and night to soak in the wonders of the place as well as the general sleep inhibiting light.  Our pituitary glands were on overdrive! Surviving on minimal sleep paid off, as we both felt extremely satisfied with every un-wasted moment of our experience chasing the midnight sun.  

Follow: https://instagram.com/j_bonde

Comment

Comment

Jelena & Siu On: The Travelleurs

It happened one night after my partner Siu On and I, Jelena, had been watching a rock climbing movie about the history of climbing in Yosemite Valley. As the end credits finished rolling, Jack Kerouac’s poignant words flash on the screen and sealed our fate; we looked at each other with not a word passing between us, and we knew it was time to stop talking about the things we were dreaming about doing, and actually do them.

 At the time Siu On and I had just returned from a six month holiday traveling around the world, and I had returned to my job as a Government Procurement Policy Officer, writing mundane newsletter articles and Procurement Manuals five days a week, and secretly planning dream holiday adventures in my head. Siu On had finished up two years of a Masters Degree and was now in Australia on a working holiday visa, mowing lawns whilst we were trying to figure out how we could escape falling into the trap of career-marriage-mortgage thats so prevalent in our society. Apart from the usual four week once a year vacation leave, or the times where I would panic like a trapped animal and quit my job to figure myself outwith traveling, only to return to the 9-5 prison when the money ran out, did I ever really live a life I felt was truly fulfilling.

 We were one of the so-called weekend warriors, whose tribe members would leave the constraints of the city and working week behind to pursue outdoor adventures in their chosen sport. For Siu On and I this was rock climbing, and wed make the six hour round trip after work every Friday down to our favorite area, Margaret River, to hit the wall hard and climb until our hands couldnt form fists. We loved those weekends where we lived dirty and simply, and all we did was climb with a group of like minded people. Siu On and I would spend our week nights waxing lyrical on how we could live this lifestyle full time without the need to do jobs we hate, or have our family and friends worry about our strange life choices. However, Kerouacs words that night, cut deep, really deep. We were at a crossroads in our lives where we only had two choices; to follow the herd or to go against it. That night we choose to go against it and plot our escape.

 Unlike what you see in the movies, our escape wasnt an immediate pack up our things and hit the road type of scenario; instead it was meticulously planned with an emphasis on biding our time, minimizing possessions and being frugal with our spending. No matter how you put it, penny pinching isnt sexy, but for us it was necessary. With our plan in hand, we ticked off the to doitems including handing our resignations at our respective jobs and selling off countless possessions. Fast forward four months from the day that we said our final goodbyes and reversed out of the driveway of my parentshome, and we have covered almost the entire southern part of mainland Australia, including West and South Australia, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory and now New South Wales. Our great Australian road trip has allowed us to see more of Australia than most Australians have in their life time, with highlights including remote camping on the limestone cliffs of South Australia, seeing snow for the first time in a long time in New South Wales, and rock climbing as much as we like and when we like.

 Although its not all sunshine and roses as weve had our fair share of money woes, loneliness and car troubles; however, its the lure of the unknown, the endless possibilities and new experiences that is keeping us going. We have been blessed with the kindness of strangers offering us housing, food and advice; and have met amazing people ranging from the wise grey nomads to outlandish European backpackers. All of the experiences we have been having has also helped shape our dreams for our future, with Siu Ons adventure photography business (Auyeung Photography) and my first steps into a serious writing and photography career. However, I know that I couldnt be happier living this life right now than any other, and everyday we revel in that one question that brings us so much joy and excitement: What will we do today?

 “Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.”

— Jack Kerouac

 Links

Website: http://www.thetravelleur.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thetravelleur

Instagram: @thetravelleur

Comment

1 Comment

Berg and Ocean: How we started our Vanlife

Lennart & Julian are two mates from Germany who are on an amazing Vanlife Adventure in North America. Thanks for sharing guys.

How we started the Vanlife Thing

Buying a van, fitting it out and traveling through North-America - a once in a lifetime road trip. That was our dream before we took a plane and left Germany. Our story is about making plans come true. Read, how we came to our rolling home by getting a passenger van and converting it to a camper.

Finding a Car in a Country you have never been before

Our project started in Denver, Colorado. Luckily, we were able to stay in an apartment for the first couple of weeks from which some friends of us just moved out. Pretty early, we found out that a lot of used stuff gets bought and sold on Craigslist. So, what we did was a lot of searching the internet. On one hand we checked Craigslist daily. On the other hand we checked websites of local dealers.

We decided to look for a Ford Econoline. These vans are pretty common in North-America. A Volkswagen Vanagon could have been the ultimate vanlife vehicle for us. But we decided not to get one for several reasons:

It is already outfitted
It's small compared to Econoline (E-Series)
It’s way easier to get spare parts for E-Series in North-America
we grew up with VW camper vans and wanted to experience a real american car :)

Two weeks after our flight to Denver we checked out a van at Denver Fleet, a car dealer who had advertised a van on Craigslist. It was the first and the last van we inspected in person. It was an extended 15-passenger van with windows. We did a test drive, talked to the dealer and discussed with him what our plans are.

In the end we bought it and became proud owners of a Ford E-350. We left the seats at the dealer and started to plan the conversion into a rolling home.

About fitting out a Van

Because of the fact that we bought a passenger van there was no need to built in any insulation. That saved us time and work.

As foundation for our upgrade we built a flooring made of OSB. That gave us the option to build up the whole construction on a wooden base. As a consequence we did not have to put a single screw into the body of the van. A back conversion to a regular passenger van is possible without any remains.

After the flooring we built the bed and cabinets. The whole interior is made of OSB as well. It is cheaper compared to plywood and we like the rough look of it. Furthermore we didn’t have to treat the wood with paint or varnish.

The bed frame is very versatile. It has four independent moving parts. As a result we can convert the bed to a bench in the front, a bench in the back and we can lift the head section if we want to. Also, we can access our storage under the bed easily.

Furthermore we have a second board battery and an inverter to run our electrical equipment on 110 Volts. For example, we can dry our ski boots overnight and off the grid.

As soon as we hit the road and lived in our van we figured out that we needed some improvements. Our stove had to be set up with all it’s hoses and connectors every time we wanted to use it. The cutlery and dishes were flying around in different boxes. We decided to build an all in one kitchen.

The portable Camp Kitchen

Our kitchen is made of pretty lightweight and thin plywood. It is pretty portable and fits under our bed. We can pull it out at the back of the van. It’s possible to place it right behind the van or everywhere else.

The kitchen holds cutlery, a pan, pots, a month’s supply of spaghetti, pesto, spices, all kinds of cans and other groceries. It also features a custom compartment for our coffee utensils like beans, coffee machine and a grinder.

Another device of our van interior is a nice tiny sink. We made of a salad bowl which we found at a grocery store. It catches the water of our water tank and even has a drain. We are now able to clean our dishes easily.

09_camp_kitchen_sink_wetsuits.jpg

We have a lot of storage in our van. Nevertheless we were sure that we needed more. Each of us has two pairs of skis and a whole bunch of winter equipment. In summer we want to go surfing. Where would we put some surf boards? We needed a roof rack.

Our custom made Roof Rack

We tried to get a nice roof rack for our van. Luckily, we stayed for a while at a friend in Oregon. He handcrafts training carts for sled dogs and they are made of steel.

So, we had the chance to weld our own custom made roof rack. It will fit our surf boards, a cargo box when we want to add one and also doubles as a platform for videography.

This is truly the trip of our lifes, we’re doing all of this with much blood, sweat and tears. If you like our project, we would be more than happy if you spread the word about it.

Follow Berg and Ocean: Facebook, @bergandocean instagram, Berg and Ocean Website

1 Comment

Elisa: France & other destinations

Comment

Elisa: France & other destinations

"It does not take everything to make a world, you need happiness and nothing else"says french poet Paul Eluard. I try to keep those words in mind like a post-it on my forehead. It makes life and everything more simple to me.

I've spent most of my childhood and teenage years on a 9 meters- sailing boat in Hendaye, in the South-West of France at the Spanish frontier. From the marina, if you take binoculars, you can see what people have for dinner on the other side of the channel. You can almost pretend that you eat Spanish tapas and drink sangria with strangers everyday haha. Thanks to my grand-father, I've learnt how to live with the basic minimum and realised that the basic minimum was more than enough to make me happy. When your home is in motion, the world suddenly becomes your living room. That's probably why I like spending most of my free time in my 'Nautilus' van. It's a Hyundai H100 from 1994, very small, small enough to make you feel big. With my best soul, we try to leave as often as we can, at least every week, all around France and Europe, to escape and to dream in real. 

I've always liked to feel not at home and feel like being a stranger to someone, because I feel a better person when I lose my points of reference. Being far from home asks you to be stronger and to rely on people you don't know. To be honest, I'm not able to do that at home cause I'm a very solitary person. I appreciate being hidden in a corner of my secret garden during weeks. I like to write, to read and I love to contemplate the landscapes, watch people without them seeing me and witness the world I live in. I like to write about all that. However, during roadtrips, I see things differently. I go to meet people that I wouldn't have met if we had stayed in our comfort zone in France. For example, in 2013, I've travelled on the route 66 with two friends of mine. We left with underpants in our backpacks and skateboards under our feet. We met unique people along the road from Chicago to Los Angeles, across 7 states. Last year, we left again on the Pacific coast and travelled more than 4000 km from Seattle to L.A! According to Brigitte fontaine, French composer-songwriter-player and singer of avant-garde music "We've got no place except in the middle of the world which is obviously all around".That's what I feel.

Thanks to my job as a freelance journalist- writer, I can travel as much as I want. Although I call Biarritz my home and I share a co-working space with four other girls. I can work from anywhere on earth. I'm passionate about writing, poetry, analogue photography and travels. This is the perfect balance that makes my life ideal.

Follow Elisa: @elisarouta instagram ,Twitter Linked in Elisa's Website and work

Thanks a lot to both of you,

Good vibes from Biarritz,

Comment

Share Your Adventure: Tahoe Runaway

3 Comments

Share Your Adventure: Tahoe Runaway

Hi ROAR network and friends! It's Jeff and Angela - a vagabond couple from Reno/Lake Tahoe. We are so lucky that when (we aren't on the road) that Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada Mountains are our backyard and playground.

Jeff’s a fly-fishing nut

And Angela is a stand-up paddle-boarding aficionado.

photo3.JPG

One of our favorite things in the world is our 1974 Toyota Chinook pop-up camper.

Our home on wheels lets us ramble around the U.S. doing the things we love –flyfishing, skiing, stand-up paddle-boarding, mountain biking, cooking by the campfire and generally spending as much time as possible outside and in nature. It's good to unplug!

We both love photography and to document our travels so we can share them with our friends, family, and other travel geeks all over.

We've also done a bunch of international travel. Last year we traveled 8 months in a full circle around the world! We visited 20 countries and explored something like 85 cities!!

Our trip started in Europe where we rode trains, ate gelato, drank champagne, explored local markets and caused as much trouble as we could.

After Europe we were ready to rough-it a little. So we hopped over to Nepal and then worked our way down India. We made our way from the Himalayas, to desert Bazaars, and finally to the beaches of Southern India. It was beautiful and challenging and we loved every minute!

We spent the next 4 months in South East Asia living the beach bum lifestyle.  Enjoying the pristine beaches and jungles in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Indonesia. 

After learning to cook traditional Thai curries, riding scooters through monkey forests, scuba diving in Raja Ampat and surfing in Bali we thought we would maybe never come home!

But of course after many months we started to itch for some mountain air.  Nothing beats the crystal clear water Lake Tahoe back home. 

This summer we are trying our hand at “vanlife” in our Chinook. We plan to cruise through the Canadian wilderness and some amazing National Parks. After our stint on the road we are heading out to Black Rock City for another year at Burning Man! This always marks the end of summer for us, then 48 hours after Burning Man we are hopping over the pond to Europe/Morocco for another backpacking extravaganza.  

Follow along with us on our blog Passports-and-Champagne.com or on Instagram @tahoe_runaway and @jeff_edwards 

Thanks for letting us share our story with you! See you on the road somewhere!

Angela & Jeff

3 Comments