This Adventurous Life

A young couple exploring the world…and their 30's

“What was your favorite part the trip?”  This is a question I am often asked.  When a trip is boiled down to the cause of the most happiness, excitement, peace, relaxation- or whatever was intended to be gained…the answer is found.  Regarding our recent trips this month to Kauai and the Big Island, I have a favorite for each. Continue reading…

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Take an early morning train from Roma to Napoli.  It is about 3 hours from the central train station in Rome to Piazza Garibaldi in Naples.  Purchase tickets for the Circumvesuviana while in the train station in Naples and then head downstairs to catch the next train.  They leave very frequently.  Get off the train at Pompeii Scavi, which puts you less than a quarter mile from the entrance.  Obviously, wear good walking shoes.  I am always amazed when we do a day trip and see a scowling woman wearing heels or visibly ruined intricate sandals while walking around an archeological site.  Don’t be that lady.  Reverse the order of things for your return paying attention to the last times train depart your locations.
BBC has a detailed article about the disaster of Pompeii.  In AD 79, Mount Vesuvius erupted burying the town of Pompeii under 13 to 30 feet of volcanic ash raining down for over six hours.  Historical accounts of the eruption show the town was completely unprepared.  People and animals were killed either by the heat or suffocation, and the city was essentially stopped in time.  Pompeii is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site receiving over 2,500,000 visitors each year.
You can see the structure of columns as they existed under the beautiful facades.  It was very cold and rainy when we visited, which added to the mystical atmosphere.  (My attire was not warm enough, forcing me to purchase a cheesy Italia soccer zip up outside the entrance and experience the price gouging-blah!)
The original copper statue of the dancing Faun is held in the National Museum in Naples.  I am thankful for the replica in its place helping us to see what it was really like at the House of the Faun, which was built in the 2nd Century BC.
The volcanic ash preserved Pompeii to an unbelievable extent.  Original paint colors are seen in this courtyard.
Modern day architecture and interiors would never stand up to the quality of centuries old construction seen here.  I could not believe they let us walk on these amazing mosaic floors.  Cayle and I were basically tip toeing around on some of them, I’m sure looking ridiculous.
Modern day familiarity with Russian River Brews Pliny the Younger and Pliny the Elder received their names from the first hand accounts recorded by Pliny the Younger of the Vesuvius eruption from his position across the bay.  Pliny the Elder, his uncle, died while trying to rescue victims in Pompeii.  Pliny’s letter gives the most detailed account of the event.  Pliny the Younger has been labeled the best beer in the world.
Pompeii is an easy day trip from Rome.  You feel an enormous presence surrounding you, and feel entirely connected to to the history of humanity.  You don’t want to miss it.  If the weather had been nicer we would have picnicked out in a courtyard.  If you have time, visit the National Museum in Naples where many of the larger, detailed mosaics and sculptures are preserved from Pompeii.  Fill your belly with some delicious pizza while you are at it, and only then jump back on the train for your return to Rome.

Here is a blog created by and for people who have worked on the archeological excavation and reconstruction of Pompeii if you want more information: Blogging Pompeii

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We have some catching up to do, putting it mildly.  We haven’t yet shared how we started off 2012.  We typically don’t consider Europe when we travel because, you know, you can “do” it with kids.  One of our main travel philosophies is to take advantage of our young, healthy, energetic, kidless status…a philosophy we have REALLY strayed from this year, and happily.  (but we are planning to make up for it in 2013!)
January 1, 2012 we landed in Rome to power through the city in typical tourist fashion visiting all of the amazing art, architecture, and historical sites we were tested on years ago in art history courses.  Here is a preview of our time in the capital.  Please do come back soon for specifics on this trip and stories of the many additional trips we have yet to share with you from this year.
…. enjoyed delicious food
….and shot away with our new cameras
Founded in 753 BC with its fountains, aqueducts, bridges, statues, and columns, Rome continues to be saturated with legendary beauty.  We were happy to go in the “off-season” because we can’t imagine the dense crowds that befall on the city in the summer.  This is the Arch of Constantine as seen from the Colosseum.  The Arch of Constantine was the finish line for the 1960 Summer Olympics marathon event.  
….meandered through the slim streets of the city.  
Rome’s history is incredible!  Roman architecture was first starting to be restored before the USA was even a figment of thought.  

Like I said, we have a lot of catching up to do including posts on specific experiences we had in Rome.   So, do come back soon because we will more consistently be sharing our travels with you!

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What do adventure seekers and dog lovers do in Sweden in February?  Research ethical dog sledding and book a flight to the arctic circle for some K-9 fun in the sun -and- snow.  Jukkasjårvi, Sweden, the Northern Sami area, at 68 degrees north latitude is where we got to know a few teams of huskies and a different kind of life.  This trip, I believe, will officially be the farthest north pin on our map.

First, the obligatory side trip to the Ice Hotel.  The construction of the hotel truly is an art form.  (I was reminded of placing in an ice sculpting contest in high school…good times.)
So, the insulated arctic fashion was a bit over-sized, but really very warm.  Those onesies made it feel like summer.
One of the best parts of this excursion was getting to know our husky teams and learning how to command and interact with them.  It took a balance of alpha dog authority and compassionate trust just like with our domesticated fur-babies, I guess.  These huskies are much closer genetically to wolves than our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  They LIVE for running on trails in the snow and obeying sledding commands (in Swedish, language barrier!).  This is Wilma who, along with Souran, led my team around the frozen lakes and pine forests of the area.  Oh, the eyes…
Unbelievable how they are able to sleep/lounge outside in below freezing temps completely unaffected.  Here, they are behaving stoically while Cayle chopped up their dinner with an axe because it was frozen of course.
Add this to some of the most amazing things we have ever experienced.  Dogs, beautiful frozen tundra, and thankfully a husband who doesn’t hesitate when you suggest dog sledding in the arctic circle in the cold of winter.
More pictures and stories…
The huskies are a mix of Siberian and Alaskan.  Larger huskies pull heavier weights and smaller huskies pull lighter weights.  The order of sleds and huskies are typically picked based on predicted speed.  Because I was thought to have slower huskies (the smallest team), I was behind Cayle.  This would have been a good plan except we experienced what was called by locals as a warm spell of just less than freezing.  The larger dogs had a harder time with the “heat” while the smaller dogs (my team) were unaffected and speedy.  This only caused a few minor situations =)  Clearly, running into the power line wasn’t a very serious situation.  I am a good driver, I swear! =)
Lunch break
No loss of evening entertainment.  The Northern Lights were very active during our visit.
Camera used: Sony Nex 5n
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Unable to spend an entire vacation just relaxing with our books/drinks by the ocean, Tracy and I rented motor scooters and picked a spot on a map. We set off on a mission to explore a little of a less visited corner of western Jamaica. So much fun and so memorable, motor scooters might just find a place in some of our future vacation plans.
Feeling awesome and looking ridiculous.
I am not sure our vehicles were quite built for the terrain we took them on, but they performed admirably. We survived dirt roads, sand, potholes, some brief off-roading and the dodging trucks into bushes all in one day trip.
Just as I had hoped for, we easily found our own little private beaches as picturesque as you could imagine.
Time for a snack out of the sun in a perfect little beach spot.
Happy to be off adventuring again. Jamaica, we like you.
We’ve arrived at the destination that we picked off of a random map…Little Bay Jamaica.  First order of business was to stop at this little fisherman’s bar on the beach and secure lunch and a drink. These gentleman were already through a couple bottles of liquor by lunchtime, however I think we caught them during a very friendly stage of inebriation.
We found a couple of fisherman who were more than willing to sell us a fish caught that morning and even prepare it as a little lunch for a few dollars. The “kitchen” may have been primitive but the food was delicious.
Tracy befriended this little local puppy which she named “Chef”. He was so amazingly cute and friendly that we temporarily suspended our no touching stray animals rule for travel. He was worth the risks.
This man is building fish traps by hand just like he’s been doing on this same beach for over 50 years. Nice guy and amazing to think he was here doing the same work back when my parents were driving around Jamaica on their honeymoon.
We kept thinking that Jamaica seemed quite like Africa. Both are lands of simple beauty, friendly people, infectious culture and heart-breaking poverty.
Little Bay, Jamaica is still known primarily for being a beach that Bob Marley used to visit to get away from the pressures of Kingston.  We could understand why he came, it was quiet and pretty and seemingly stuck in time.

This day trip was another reminder that is can be both easy and safe to get away from the well traveled tourist areas of any country and experience a little of the true culture and beauty so often missed in a world dominated by all-inclusive resort compounds.

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Between two winter European trips and coming home to cold, gray mid-western weather, we decided at the last minute to go warm up and relax mid-February.  Relaxing on vacation is not something we regularly do because there are too many new things to experience.  But once in awhile, like when you realize you haven’t finished a book in too many months or when you have forgotten what the sun feels like, it is necessary to unplug somewhere away from the looming thesis and ever present work to bask in the sun while slimed up with SPF.  

Enter Rockhouse, Negril, Jamaica.
Tracy originally found this resort in 2004 when we were planning our destination wedding.  It didn’t  appear in our story then, but eight years later was most welcomed into the plot.  Five days of amazing sunsets, rocky cliffs, clear ocean, yoga and exercise, meeting wonderful people, and great food…Oh and we each finished two books and started a third.
This artist has been in the same spot on the beach creating amazing wooden sculptures for decades.  
Do you see how “perched” our room was on cliffs?  Our bed was surrounded by windows showcasing the magnificent, meandering coves of the Caribbean…all of which we could climb ladders down to and swim in.
Every night during happy hour, the Rockhouse guests filled the pool patios taking in the picture perfect sunsets.  The location on the island puts the horizon at due west.
Here I am (It’s Tracy) getting ready for another sunset while cooling off in the pool.  The days were long and lovely reading under umbrellas, doing morning yoga together with Fanette Johnson, swimming in the ocean, cooling off in the pool, reading lots of books, and talking for hours.  I can see why most every guest at Rockhouse is on their 7th or 8th year returning.  A very comfortable, pristine place that wills you to relax and take deep breaths.
Does it get much better than this?  A near perfect sailboat and sunset moment. We have strikingly similar sunset photos from a trip in 2008 near St. Barth’s…but every experience is special and a separate memory that slows time for bit.
Do you see why we hardly left the resort?  (so unlike us, too!) 
Rockhouse Hotel at night as seen from the restaurant…with a very very long shutter speed.
An even longer shutter speed was needed to capture the stars over the Rockhouse pool at night. Warm nights, beautiful views, great food and a relaxed atmosphere make the cliffs south of the Negril a wonderful little corner of Jamaica.
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