Sunday, April 3, 2011

RIP Matt Baldwin

We're all looking up at you, Baldwin. Wishing you were still down here with us. We'll miss you always.

JBudd & CBudd

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mama, We're Coming Home

It's official.... The time has come for the Grand Adventure to conclude. Just over a week left! We'll be landing in Portland on Monday, the 23rd, just in time for turkey and stuffing. Many of you have been asking, so here are the details:

November 23, 2009
Iceland Air Flight FI451
London to Reykjavik

November 23, 2009
Iceland Air Flight FI681
Reykjavik to Seattle

November 23, 2009
Horizon Air QX2047
Departs: Seattle (SEA) on Mon, Nov 23 at 7:00 pm
Arrives: Portland, OR (PDX) on Mon, Nov 23 at 7:50 pm

In an effort to answer the other questions we keep getting: our house is still rented out to tenants through January, with the possibility of extending it further after that. This could be very helpful depending on the job situations, as no mortgage means no problems, right? We will likely be staying with Jeremy's parents until then. We have been kicking around the idea of renting something small and fun (like a loft in the Pearl District - we hear they are a steal these days) in the meantime. Call it an extension of the adventures.

It will probably take us some time to get cell phones dialed in again, so connecting over email will still be our best bet: and Or you can call us at the house at 503-697-7388. I think I have two phone numbers memorized, so call us, we won't be calling you. :)

Once we're settled in and past the jet lag we'll start the job search, so if you hear of anything, let us know. Jeremy is planning to be the guy that cuts down your Christmas tree for you....he won't stop talking about how fun it would be to work at a tree farm for the season! Maybe I'll stay inside and sell hot chocolate and wreaths.

Other than that we are VERY excited about seeing everyone and getting caught up on all that we've missed over the last year. See you all very soon!!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Mashed Potato Fairies

Well, it would seem I spoke too soon and/or jinxed our string of good luck by declaring it publicly, because it all went south, and quickly. After leaving lovely Croatia, we spent a few quick days in Montenegro, driving through the beautiful Kotor fjord and then settling in the green expanse of the Durmitor National Park for a few nights. There we were able to do some great hikes that afforded insane views over the Tara River canyon as well as fit in a slow, easygoing, albeit fun raft trip. Not quite the thrilling, white knuckled trip our guidebook promised, but I guess we'll have to come back in May for that experience.

We bombed through the SW corner of Serbia, free-camped for one quick night on a random street in Skopje, Macedonia, and then arrived in Greece. This is where it all fell apart. Greece had it out for us! First we ran out of gas. Jer had been somewhat desperately searching for a gas station, none of which had appeared for over 50 miles, and so we hit the skids. No problem, we have a gas can with a few spare liters that should buy us about 50km. Well that lasted about 10km instead, and again we found ourselves stranded on the highway. Luckily there was a small construction site just a short ways up the highway, where Jer was able to coax one of the guys to run him to the gas station and back. This meant he got to ride in the owner's brand new Audi wagon (the car Jeremy has been drooling over since we arrived in Europe). He said they hit 200km (that's about 120mph) and it felt like butter.

We went limping into a gas station in some unknown town in northern Greece, popped the hatch, and discovered the problem. One of the fuel lines had cracked and was dumping gas as we drove. We found a small garage that could fix the problem for us in the morning. Unfortunately this meant bedding down in a somewhat frightening campground in this town that we still don't know the name of. A hot shower would at least wash our woes away....nope, keep dreaming. Is it too much to ask for a nice warm shower after a hellish day? Why yes, yes it is. And first you'll have to kill 8 good sized spiders on the shower floor before dousing yourself with ice water.

The garage was able to replace the fuel line in a few short hours, and with a mere 120 euro missing (which seemed very reasonable), we were off again. But only temporarily. We came to a screeching halt once again, this time because the water light started flashing and then the temperature gauge immediately hit crucial levels. Pop the hatch again, and this time we find a radiator hose sheered off. It was old and brittle and had just had enough. A road assistance van pulled over and I watched as Jer and the guy played a game of charades to work through the issue, since the guy spoke zero English, and well, our Greek is limited to reading the alphabet letters (and then only the ones in caps!). Together they were able to cut the dead end off the hose and by warming it with a lighter and stretching it profusely, get it to fit back onto the such and such part. Yeah, I know, I shouldn't be the one reporting on car stuff, so bear with me.

This same scenario played out another 3 times, and each time it was increasingly difficult for Jer to get the hose to stretch and refit. He was covered in black diesel grime and sweat, and up to the gills with frustration and despair. Not only that, our water tank was depleted from refilling the radiator, so if this happened again before we could find water, we were really going to be in trouble. Can you say S-T-R-E-S-S-I-N!!

We finally landed in Athens and at this point we were just desperate to find a campground for the night and worry about the fixes the next day. It was getting late and all tourist information booths were closed at that point. Between our two guidebooks (we pilfered a second one back at a Venician campground) and the GPS, (which is loaded with lodging options and is usually how we find a campground), we could not come up with a single thing. In a huge city like Athens! We drove around and around 2 different places that were listed but didn't seem to exist at all. We paid tolls to get off an exit, drive around aimlessly, and then pay the toll again to re-enter the highway. We finally decided to try our luck by heading into the busy part of the city to find an internet cafe to look up a place to stay, only to break down just before a very busy intersection. Guess how many people pulled over to help us? Nada. Nada single one.

We hadn't eaten or had any water for ourselves to drink since breakfast, so the glow of that McDonald's sign was like a gift from the heavens. Feeling a little refreshed, we found an internet cafe. We easily mapped one of the campgrounds we'd been searching for when Jer decided to run back out to the van to grab the GPS so we could plug in the coordinates and find this effing place once and for all. We hadn't been away for more than 10 minutes at that point. He comes back and says we need to go. The van has been broken into and our laptop was gone. The quiet, calm way he relayed this info was actually kinda creepy. I think he was just out of reserves at that point and had nothing left to even get mad.

Someone had used a screwdriver or something similar to jam the driver's side lock because it was unlocked when Jeremy went back and we haven't been able to unlock it with the key since. That's still on the list to get fixed. It seems to have been a mad dash to grab whatever they could find because as far as we can tell, only the laptop was taken. Our ipods, our hard drive with all our pictures (WHEW!), the GPS, all still there. Granted they were hidden away and would've taken some searching, but all the doors and hinges were open so it seemed like they went through things, at least briefly. The biggest punch to the stomach was that in that 10 minutes of internet time, I read an email from my boss, breaking the news that my job wouldn't be available for me to go back to. Yep, my dream job that you've all heard me rave about time and again, working for the most amazing people and doing work I actually enjoyed....the perfect fit I've always searched for. Yep, no more. It was all just too much to take in and we were both stunned, exhausted, and totally bummed out. We didn't even talk about it much. The day had just zapped us into empty little shells with Filet o' fish in our bellies.

This all happened on a Friday, and we were stuck in Athens until at least Monday when the garages would re-open. Let me say that Athens is not a city worth more than a day out of your life, and maybe not even then. I'd say skip it all together and fly straight to the islands if you want to visit. The Acropolis/Parthenon was a sight I've always been dying to see but turned out to be very expensive, and shockingly unimpressive. Maybe we've been ruined by the amazing ruins of Rome or Cambodia, but really?? This is the famed Acropolis?? IF you can see it through all the scaffolding....

We tried everything to get out of the doldrums. Treated ourselves to movies, saw our first live futbol game at the Olympic stadium, drowned ourselves in tallboy Mythos beers and countless gyros (the real deal Greek tzaziki is unbeatable). We'd be lifted for a short period and then fall right back down into our bummed out status. This was most disturbing of all because it's so unlike us. We were like a couple of zombies meandering around. We just couldn't manage to cheer up and roll with the punches this time.

Luckily, the VW dealership was able to get a connector part for us for next to nothing, and Jeremy was able to reattach the existing hose. We mad-dashed outta Athens shortly after, catching a ferry to the island of Santorini. We landed and rolled into a primitive campsite a few meters in from the black sand beach on the SE side of the island in Perissa. It was closing for the season in two days but the lady welcomed us to stay as long as we wanted and left the power, and hot (albeit salt water - that was interesting) showers on for us. Things were looking up already. That was, until we checked our email, only to have the same news from Jeremy's company. Skanska is looking at a hiring freeze at best, but more likely to downsize, so bringing Jeremy back on board wouldn't be in the cards until this time next year. On top of that we got news that the company we bought the van from doesn't have funds to buy it back like planned (AGAIN, due to the economy. At this point I'd like to send a shout out to GW and his cronies for the lovely situation they put us in). We'll have to sell it through her on consignment, rather than to her for her own resale. It should sell with no problem, but not until Spring when the season starts up again. Man, when it rains, it pours! I've come to think that's better though - get it all over with at the same time instead of a long, painful, drawn out barrage of bad news.

So, since the funds from selling the van was the chunk of change we were planning to go home with, coupled with our new-found (okay, not so new-found, just permanently-found) umemployed status, we are more than a little stressed about what life will be like when we land home. We are therefore cutting out about a month of the trip, and heading home in time for Thanksgiving. It's a strange dichotomy of emotions at this point, as we're very excited to get home and see everyone, get back to life as we knew it, etc. But at the same time, we've cut out several places (among them Egypt/Jordan, which was my toppity-top destination spot of all), are fast-tracking the drive back to Holland, and are now heading back from this adventure to possibly very stressful and less than ideal circumstances. We won't be able to move back into our house for a few months and will probably be crashing with Jeremy's parents until then. I guess we always said we'd be starting over like we were fresh out of college....just didn't know how literally that would translate!

Thankfully though, just when we thought we couldn't drag our knuckles through the doldrums for one more minute, we stumbled into the Blues Bar in Perissa and met Tony, the Greek/Canadian bartender and owner who literally never wipes the shit eating grin off his face for a minute, not even when it's 5am and he's praying we'll all just get the hell outta his bar. Then there were the British angels: Mike and Julie, and Clive and Elaine, who were all so gregarious and optimistic that it was contagious down to our bones. A few days later the Marin County firefighters rolled in, led by John the big teddy bear. It felt like everyone was a big, happy family, and every single night for a week straight, we'd all congregate at the Blues Bar and hang out until the wee hours. The crew helped us to put things back in perspective. We'd already acknowledged what great luck we'd had all along, and I'd even said I'd been feeling like we were "due" for something unfortunate to happen. It was just our time. We left Santorini revived and refreshed and feeling like ourselves again. Turns out a little beach and boozing time was just what the doctor ordered.

Though the computer held some important documentation (copies of downloaded credit card and bank statements, copies of our tenants' leases, and our huge budgeting spreadsheet), none of it was life threatening to lose. We did have some subsequent fraudulent charges to our bank account that were reversed, but besides a nasty email from our previous tenant, it doesn't seem the thieves have done anything with her personal information. What we miss most is the sentimental information like our travel documentation of where we've been and stayed, videos from our bull fighting experience, and videos we'd created as we were in the midst of putting together a Cribs style video about Floyd the van (which was going to be hilarious!) Ah well. I also had several VERY funny, witty, and extremely well written blogs, FULL of hilarious stories and interesting tidbits waiting to be posted as well. My best work to date, for sure. Maybe they'll get recreated someday. On that note, without the computer, we probably won't be blogging anymore after this. We will continue with the posts and pictures once we're home though, so keep tuning in. We still have so many stories to share, both for your reading enjoyment and our memories, but we can't afford the time and cost of doing it all in internet cafes anymore. We'll keep you posted as to actual landing dates and times, and will VERY much be looking forward to catching up with everyone!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Father Figure

Though we'll likely be the last people we know to take the plunge, spitting out a Mini-Budd or two (that one's for you, Bucholz) is still in the not-too-distant future for us. It's no secret that I have my reservations, however, from the alien being kicking around inside me (not to mention the frighteningly large belly that develops), to the sleepless nights (I LOVE my sleep), to a few years down the road when the cute little baby turns into the toddler monster and I want to send him/her/it back to where it came from. Each time I express one of these concerns, Jer responds with a calm, “Don't worry, honey, I'll get up in the middle of the night with it. I'll change all the poopy diapers. I'll....... “ His calm helps dispel some of my fears, and there's never been any doubt that he will make an amazing daddio. However, my confidence in his fatherly abilities has taken a serious nosedive recently. Who knew he would be such a neglectful, murderous father instead??

After solidly denying my half serious, half joking comments about how we need a little kittie or doggo to accompany us in Floyd, we instead settled on a small plant from Ikea. Our newest addition was clearly and undeniably an effeminate French man, and was aptly named Pierre. I have the blackest of black thumbs and am determined to turn my thumbs green. Pierre was the perfect test run for this. If I can keep a plant alive and thriving in a tiny little van, I surely can do it in a house with actual oxygen circling through it. Right?

Yes, I just referred to Pierre in past tense. That is because HIS FATHER chose to leave him out on the curb at the Paris airport. FOR GOOD. We set him out there to soak up a little sun, and while Mommy was napping (okay I guess that doesn't bode exceptionally well for my motherly skills either), Daddy decided to drive away and leave poor little Pierre to fend for himself. For the rest of his undoubtedly short, sun-crisped life.

I was seriously upset and guilt-ridden about how we'd left our one and only son in the sun on a curb at an international airport. In order to recover from our grief, we headed back to Ikea (they are everywhere in Europe) and added Gonzales to our family instead. As you can imagine, he was clearly a sassy little Spanish guy, ready to shake things up. He also thrived under unusual van conditions (clearly due to my greening thumb), until we did a hike in the such and such mountains outside Mogadouro, Portugal. Once again, little Gonzales was transferred outside, this time to the top of Floyd, to catch a tan. My warnings of “Don't neglect your son this time” did no good for poor Gonzales' fate. Sure enough, we landed back at our campsite later that night, as a family of two rather than three. Actually, I mean a family of three, rather than four. Please don't tell Floyd I said that – it would really hurt his feelings.

So, once again we are childless. And sadly enough, I don't have a single picture of either Pierre or Gonzales to commemorate their brief time with us. I guess I didn't realize how short-lived and fleeting it would be. In all seriousness, it was rather surprising and amusing to realize the level of guilt I felt over the fate of these poor, innocent spawn that we so mercilessly left to bake in the sun (without a bit of sunscreen, I might add.) Are we fit to be parents after all? Can I really trust Jeremy to get up in the middle of the night to change poopy diapers while I, pills popped and earplugs inserted, snooze soundly away? Or should we just resign ourselves now to cats and nieces? Oh great, now Nate and Eleissa won't even let us babysit, I'm sure of it.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Running? With the Bulls

The slam of Ricardo and Yolanda's car door next to us woke me up, at 8:00. SHIT!!! The bulls are released at 8:00 and we're at least 20 minutes from getting there, even if we haul ass. I ran over to Jonathan and Courtney's tent - “Dude, it's 8:00!!! I slept through my alarm!!! FUCK!!!” “Uggggg...” was the response I got. Well, back to bed I go. Talk about pissed. And not only pissed, but I was feeling terribly guilty about being the one with the wake up call and sleeping through it. And it was the last day of the festival so it's not like we could just do it tomorrow. Plus, Rick and a few other guys from Holland had left us a note to please wake them up when we got up in the morning to go running. DAMMIT!!!
I had totally blown it. I can honestly say that this is the one thing that I truly regret on our trip so far. I had the chance to run with the bulls and I chose to party all night long instead. I'm an idiot. I really hated myself that day.

But as pissed as I was, I apparently wasn't going to let it ruin my day. While (my) Courtney laid in the van, hungover, watching The Hangover on the laptop, Jonathan, Kevin and I were at the bar doing tequila shots and drinking beers. I guess it helped to numb the pain a bit. We couldn't let the trip to Pamplona go to waste, so we opted for the next best, most authentic event of the festival – the final night of the bull fights. Honestly, this was not something that either Courtney or I really wanted to see, but we weren't going to judge before we saw it. As it turns out, it was quite gruesome and hard to watch at some points, but at the same time quite graceful and you could see the great tradition of which the sport was born. To the bull fight, we can now say “Been there. Done that.” Don't have to do it again. It actually gives Courtney nightmares sometimes.

So we made the best of our last night in town. We still had a few cocktails but managed to tone it down a little. Jonathan and Courtney bombed out of town at around midnight to go meet up with a friend in France and Kev stuck around to “pursue other ventures”. We passed out for a long snooze after two hard days of liver abuse. Other entertainment highlights from Pamplona included touring the beautiful Airstream trailer of Bill the Brit (plusher than plush could be) and sitting, wondering curiously, with beer in hand, why the three guys across the way were going full force into their workout routine that would probably have made me puke on my best day. One armed push ups, upside down push ups, bending steel, lifting cars, knocking over trees... We hung out with the guys later on and they were actually really cool, we just all agreed that nope, not on our holiday.

So now I'll probably end up like Billy Crystal, running with the bulls when I'm 50, coming home with a new a-hole. Overall Pamplona was awesome, but could have been the probable highlight of the entire trip if only I wasn't such a dumb ass. I guess it was especially cool since it wasn't even on the itinerary until a few days before we rolled into town. I'll try hard not to regret too much the things that almost weren't even possible anyways. I'm looking on the bright side.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bitter Sweet

It's classic Courtney and Jer travel planning. Not until we are on the way to Bilbao do we realize that (say it really fast like you're really excited about it) “Hey, after the concert we can bomb down to Pamplona and catch the end of the San Fermin Festival (aka the Running of the Bulls). Theeeen we can bomb down to Barcelona and catch the Tour de France. We can paint a big Livestrong logo on the side of Floyd since he's the perfect shade of yellow and go kick it with Lance. Sweet!” Knock knock. Who's there? Reality checking in. You already missed the Spanish legs of the Tour. Better luck “next time”. “Next time”... an unfortunate recurrence in this story.

So out of Bilbao we go heading to Pamplona. With the GPS set on “no toll roads” we have a wonderful tour through the Spanish hill towns. It was surely a slower go than taking the highways, but so much more enjoyable. We passed through some of the cutest little villages, often only at 20 km per hour with the steep hills, and by some of the most picturesque sunflower and wheat fields you could imagine.

Rolling into the campsite outside of Pamplona that evening we were greeted by crowds of sangria soaked festival goers, bus loads full of travel-Europe-on-a-bus-in-a-drunken-haze ala spring break twenty-somethings and plenty of Euro-pop, oonce'ing its way out of the stereo at the bar. Apparently we arrived at the right time. San Fermin runs for one week, and we got there on day five. We got in a bit late that night so we had some dinner and relaxed before bed.

The next morning we were up bright and early, ready to catch the 7:15 bus into town. We made our way into the bull ring, as opposed to trying to cram our way along the path that the bulls run through town, and got to some empty seats in the upper deck. A bit short on the requisite all white outfits with red belt and bandanna around the neck, we stood out a little in the crowd. Sorry, my white pants were at the dry cleaners. They had a big screen that would scroll through all of the stats for the bulls that were running that day – Vandalico, 550 kg... Oficial, 535 kg... Incapaz, 615 kg... Suenomio, 635 kg!!! Courtney and I had talked the night before about whether or not I would actually run with the bulls. My answer was yes, I would love to be a part of this amazing experience, but knowing absolutely nothing about it, maybe we should watch from the bull ring the first day. Now that we're there and seeing the size of those mothers... holy crap. So aside from the frightening tale of the tape that they had scrolling on the jumbotron, there was a band down in the bull ring entertaining the audience as well as several bands in the crowd that would burst out in song every few minutes. The crowd was always chanting and singing along, so festive and everyone was in such a great mood. No doubt largely enhanced by the vast quantities of sangria that are consumed on a minute-by-minute basis.

To start the events off, there is a traditional chant that all of the runners do, praying to San Fermin for their health and assuredly their hides as well. A giant bottle rocket is shot off to signal that the bulls have been released from their pen and that you need to start movin' your ass. Then another rocket goes off to signal that all of the bulls are actually out of the pen and that you're about to get trampled. They have a flying camera on a wire, akin to those you find in NFL stadiums, that follows the path of the run all the way into the bull ring and that is beamed onto the big screen so everyone in the stadium gets to watch the action. About a minute and a half later the first runners trickle into the ring, then they start to flood in, then the six bulls run into and directly out of the ring, led and followed by the tender-bulls that are used to guide the ornery (ie non-castrated) bulls on their journey to the ring. A third rocket goes off signaling that the bulls have entered the ring and then quickly a fourth and final rocket goes off to signal that all of the bulls are safely out of the bullring. Man that was exciting! Let's go home.

Not quite. Now comes the entertainment for those of us who were sitting patiently in the bullring through all of this running excitement. First off, Juan Madden gets in the control booth and starts going wild with the instant replay. All of the prime gorings and tramplings from the run are reviewed, in slow mo, forward, back, highlighted with a little bubble where each guy took a hoof to the nuts or a horn to the rib cage. This is on par with good old American trash TV. Once they've finally run through all of the good footage, the live entertainment starts. One at a time, while all of the runners are still in the bull ring, they let another bull loose to play with everyone. This guys is smaller, has corked horns but is still feisty. Here's the chance for all of the runners who felt that they didn't get a big enough thrill on the run to see what they've got against a live bull. It's not so much that they do their best matador wannabe moves, rather they run by the bull and smack him on the butt or get in front of him and try and juke him out as he charges. The pros will run and dive over the bulls for a good cheer. After five minutes or so they trot a giant, calm herder-bull into the ring and he rounds up the wild one. This goes on six times and after an hour or so the show is over.

As a new bull is released into the ring, all of the crazy folks will lie down in front of the doorway so that the bull jumps over the pile of people. Usually the pile gets so big that bulls only make it about half way across the pile and have to jump off the people mid-pile. There was one guy who was kind of the all-star of the show this day. An obviously western guy with big blond dreads rolling down his back. He stood out because of the hair, and because he wasn't in uniform, so you would always spot him when he got close to the bulls. One time he got a little too close and the bull ended up with his backpack hanging off of a horn. That brought a big cheer from the crowd. He got it back eventually and continued to test his fate as the bulls kept coming. One time he got kind of tangled up with the bull and kind of had to hold onto its head and horns to keep from getting gored. Now this, if done on purpose, is a big no-no. There is definitely a certain etiquette to interacting with the bulls, and touching their heads is highly frowned upon. But then again, if it's the only thing you can do to not get totally trampled then go for it. But some folks in the ring didn't think that Dreads was playing nice and went after him throwing haymakers. I don't think they landed any, and things got broken up pretty quickly. The most entertaining part of the interaction was when the cops then dragged the angry Spaniard who was ready to fight over the wall and out of the bull ring like a ragdoll. That got the biggest cheer of the day.

One of the funniest things to watch was when the bulls would clear the wall. Now the runners who are seeking refuge would jump over the wall of the bullring, out of harms way. The walls would often get lined with people who didn't want to look scared and actually jump over the wall, but didn't want to get in the middle of the ring to tangle with the bulls. The bulls would often drop a horn and run along the wall, forcing all of those taking a rest to flee in an instant. It was like a mini wave. Hilarious. After all six bulls had their chance to run around with the guys in the ring, we made our way out to the streets of Pamplona. We wandered the streets for a while, up and down the path that everyone runs and just took in the sights of old town Pamplona. An obvious highlight from our walk was the helping of warm churros and thick, chocolate dipping drink that we munched on. Mmmm... churros... A little shopping and a bit more wandering and we were back to the campsite by mid day. Time to do laundry.

A little while later we got some new neighbors – Jonathan, Courtney and Kevin – travelers from OZ and NZ – coming to Pamplona to see what all of the excitement is about. Well, Kev had been to Pamplona earlier that week but he was back to pursue his aspirations with the pretty bar maid at the campsite. Go Kev! We hung out all day and after several bottles of sangria, several bottles of wine and a few beers we were heading back into town to party. Downtown was so lively and everywhere you went there were people chanting, singing and loving the overall merriment of the evening. Every beer seemed to be at least a litre, so things got fuzzy quickly. What was very clear to all of us now is that the boys were going to run with the bulls tomorrow. The Courtneys weren't quite game, but they were down with grabbing a ringside seat and taking lots of photos of us hopefully not getting a new hole. I was much less apprehensive about running too, since I now had some buddies to do it with. All we had to do was wake up at 5:00 am, IN TWO HOURS, so that we can make it to town on the 5:30 bus and get there in time to get onto the path before the officials lock it down. Let's just say we should have stayed up all night.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

More From Our Back Door

There were of course your ancient ruined houses speckling the hillsides and the resident goats crossing the path in hopes of a handout. As we neared our halfway point about three hours in, we made our way down a side trail to the riverbed. Cool, clear and ready for a swim if only it were a bit warmer that day. The trail went on much further but we opted to do a 180 and head back to the van. Amazingly, the landscape was so beautifully varied that the walk home offered up totally new scenery, just by turning around.

The natural beauty of the Ruta de Cares brought with it some other truly unique and entertaining sights to behold.

I told Courtney at one point along our hike that I'm sure we'd see some fashionable Spanish lady walking this trail in heels. Well, here she is.

And something we didn't expect to see - a unicycler. A frickin' unicycler!

La Paz and Picos de Europa definitely gave us the back-to-nature feeling that we were looking for. It's been interesting to see the phases we go through – feeling naturey, feeling like the city, feeling like “doin' stuff”. We have definitely found that it's a pretty even balance, with a bit of lean towards the natural goodness. It's the hippie in us. Thanks for all the Berkeley-esque influence Mom and Dad.