A Travellerspoint blog

Allowing Ourselves More Time

sunny 26 °C

In the blink of an eye, two months have passed since any new words have appeared on Idyllic Ambling- a direct consequence of my dedication to a new job and the constant tale of non-existent Wi-Fi. Now, after only a sentence, I have yet to regain the rhythm I can usually channel when writing.

The holiday to Alaska is barely two weeks away and the sheer excitement I feel is masking the many challenges which frequently arise in day-to-day life. It has always been instilled in my mind that when you’ve something to look forward to and focus on it can suppress anxiety you feel when your outlook is restricted to the short term or when facing a seemingly unsurpassable obstacle.

During short spurts of spontaneous weekend travel I’ve been gently reminded to walk slowly and carefully while traversing familiar and new ground alike. My hiking companion was meandering several feet behind me one evening as we followed a familiar local trail- actually I was on the trail and he was somewhat off-piste, shuffling between the sagebrush. He beckoned me away from my regulation pathway and gestured me to look underneath a sagebrush bush, close to the root. Beneath it I saw a tiny nest with three eggs resting inside. I questioned how he found this and he said he’d seen a tiny bird flutter away when we approached it. I was grateful to capture a photo before moving away quickly. I imagine the need to slow down is a common thought for many but admittedly it is hard to put into practice.

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It is easier for me to take my time and appreciate things when I travel because everything garners rumination, exploration and, sometimes unknowingly, one is simply able to spend more time satisfying their curiosities. We allow ourselves more time when we step out from underneath the umbrella of our responsibilities and travel is truly escapism, at least for me.

I love travelling for many reasons; experiencing and observing different cultures, meeting new people from all walks of life and challenging myself to unearth places or have encounters which go beyond those experienced when I’m only looking through the eyes of a tourist. Whether visiting places where I understand the language or, in contrast, cannot even decipher the alphabet, I always come away with a sense of appreciation for the place I’ve temporarily left behind. For the opportunities it has brought, the people whom I have met and the memories which will forever be engraved there.

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To end this entry, I will share a poem I wrote many years ago after hiking. It is titled One Lone Apple.

One lone apple rests gently on the ground,
Near footprints which fade to a point now found,
Rocks dance beneath an explorer’s passing,
A view across west you now begin casting.

Heavy thud bonds tools with dusted earth,
As a moment to contemplate the weight and their worth,
Plastic you feel for as thirst overcomes,
Liquid sensation relieves glaring sun.

Lowered now to gasp a crisp breeze,
Movement and mind at one with ease,
Wings spread above to calmly display,
The hunting of creatures to stalk in the day.

Dirt untouched lays solid ground ahead,
Paper implies a vanished thread,
Land to overbear much dated trail,
An explorer's scent turns oddly stale.

Tools regained a load becomes lifted,
Between curled fingers a dark richness is sifted,
Footprints are now to be compressed once more,
Dusted earth rests with a sole apple core.

Posted by Idyllic Ambling 07:01 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Orca excursion

To begin, one might wonder why I archive posts in the United Kingdom- this is to differentiate between my preparation toned, pre-cruise entries and those I write once the cruise begins. Once I start to blog about the holiday itself, it’ll be archived under ’USA’.

It isn’t difficult to begin counting down the weeks before a holiday when you receive an email prompting you to ‘check-in for your cruise’, only a mere three months in advance of departure! I can already envision myself gently coaxing the zip around my suitcase the night before I leave. I’ll open it again, of course, to make sure everything is just so in the morning. I relish the planning stages of holidays; I enjoy the cluster of multiple open windows on my computer as I price match, compare flights, view accommodations, navigate maps, read reviews and spend far too long dragging my cursor around in Google Street View. The required scheduling and booking for this venture has been taken care of on my behalf and the extent of my usual meticulous planning has been reduced to putting confirmation emails into a ‘travel’ folder (which still satisfies my need to organise). However, having already booked and knowing I’ll be experiencing something wonderful six months ahead of time is actually very welcomed- my life in America is best described as very spontaneous!

One glance at the excursion list for our cruise and I’m soon rolling up my sleeves and dusting off my computer’s mouse, intending to fully immerse myself in the possibilities. The excursion list is tailored to each port of call. In Juneau one has the option to go panning for gold, dog sledding, zip lining, whale watching, kayaking, glacier trekking or take a helicopter tour. Skagway offers a railway journey, river rafting, ATV tour, bald eagle watching, rock climbing or exploring on a jet boat. The Icy Strait offers a brewery tour or a bear and wildlife search. Lastly, Ketchikan lures visitors with a jeep and canoe safari, rainforest walk, totem pole tour, Bering Sea crab tour, seaplane spectacular or salmon and halibut fishing.

I’m sure it’ll take considerable thought before I’ve narrowed down the excursions which I deem unmissable and truly special; I would like to choose experiences which will be reminiscent of Alaska.
As readers, which ones would have you hovering over the ‘tell me more’ button?

In the meantime, I would like to share my experience of the most exciting and successful excursion I’ve taken to date.

Casting my mind back eighteen months, I can still remember the incredible excitement and anticipation on this particular morning. These feelings were surprising considering, unlike many excursions which promise wonderful exhilarating experiences and a bouquet of guarantees, this excursion was built upon hope, a possibility, if the conditions were right…
Myself and my travelling companion were not the only ones enticed by what could be a once-in-a-lifetime encounter or a long journey out into the Salish Sea, the coach destined south of Vancouver was completely full.
We were all hoping to catch a glimpse of wild orca as we set off on a whale watching tour. At the time of booking you can see which vessel has been allocated for the chosen day- I assume a large sturdy boat at the height of the tourist season, or for rough seas and lighter, smaller boats for quieter occasions and placid conditions. This day was a RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) day. Everybody was allocated a suitably sized life jacket and the group set off to the two RIBs by the dock. Once there, a kind female guide advised “if you’d like a more thrilling, fun experience where you can really feel the movement of the boat, sit at the front. If you would like a smoother, far less bumpy experience then sit at the back”. This is where a certain degree of attention must be paid to ensure you are not the last person in the queue (unless of course you’ve no preference where you are seated). We were very relieved to perch comfortably in the second row from the back. Note: having a like-minded travel companion is a benefit in this scenario.

As the boat set off we were given the brief emergency instruction in case of a RIB collapse or in the event we are overcome with sea sickness. I can liken it to the ‘in case of an emergency’ briefing on an aircraft- you give it your attention but you really hope you’re not going to have to apply anything you’ve heard. As our RIB navigated out of the harbour, the boat was briskly carried up and down by the swells and I could hear a few gasps from people seated at the very front. Soon our boat was stationary in the water, bobbing gently, as we stopped to observe a group of loud sea lions. Shortly afterwards our captain received radio contact from our sister RIB a few miles away, they had spotted a pod of orcas. It seemed only moments until we were beside the other RIB, the engines now silenced and everyone scanning the water on either side of the boat. All thoughts of sea sickness, and anxious anticipation evaporated as the orca fins came into view. We saw several different pods and our guide gestured to a diagram inside the boat where we could identify which whales we were seeing. Understandably, I couldn’t peel myself away from the window long enough to study it. Selfishly, it felt as though the orcas were there just for us when in fact it was humans and machinery encroaching on their territory. The orcas were beautiful, wild and majestic mammals. At times, we were floating and allowing the whales to swim freely at a distance. After a few minutes, the dark triangles would glide to the surface, the orcas now being far beyond our camera lenses and our RIBS slowly pursued them. The orcas swam close to the boats, in between them at times and it felt like the most wonderful display of movement in front of a very captive audience. After time was spent, mostly in silence, watching in awe, our boats eventually came to rest as the orcas swam out of sight for the final time.

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Posted by Idyllic Ambling 14:27 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Early summer plans


View Alaska on Idyllic Ambling's travel map.

It is only fitting that I should start this blog by sharing my upcoming travel plans for early summer. I have been invited by close family to join them on a wonderful ten-day holiday exploring Alaska. Our cruise ship will echo the shores of southeast Alaska, carefully navigating the narrow stretches of water between the cluster of islands before docking in Vancouver, British Columbia. This will be my first experience on a cruise and I’m very interested to see how cruise lines have adapted their amenities and on shore excursions to satisfy consumer’s growing tastes in sophistication and adventure.

Tuesday 13th June: Fairbanks Hotel
Wednesday 14th June: Alaska’s gold rush history and Fairbanks Hotel
Thursday 15th June: Morning rail journey Fairbanks to Denali followed by a Denali natural history tour. Denali Park Village
Friday 16th June: Coach from Denali to Anchorage, transferring onto the ship at Seward
Saturday 17th June: Cruise through the Yakutat Bay to Hubbard Glacier
Sunday 18th June: Juneau
Monday 19th June: Skagway
Tuesday 20th June: Icy Strait Point
Wednesday 21st June: Ketchikan
Thursday 22nd June: Cruising through the Inside Passage
Friday 23rd June: Day spent in Vancouver, British Columbia

Posted by Idyllic Ambling 13:03 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (3)

Welcome to Idyllic Ambling

Introduction

Welcome to Idyllic Ambling, I’m very pleased you’ve come across this blog. Idyllic Ambling may garner many interpretations, a favourite of mine being ‘a beautiful walk’. One might be puzzled by this chosen title but, by consciously choosing words which are not common synonyms of travel, I hope my blog is purposely easy to find when it comes to rest among thousands of indistinguishable tales of wanderlust. Trouvaille, the chosen subtitle for this blog, is a French word meaning a luckily find and in the context of my blog, it pertains to the lucky, fortunate, unexpected discoveries one finds as they travel. I hope you enjoy reading the posts whether you visit often or just occasionally.

The creation of Idyllic Ambling stems from a wonderful experience a couple of years ago, when I had an opportunity to contribute to a travel blog depicting a unique, ambitious and inspiring journey. On this occasion, I was not a traveller, I was a narrator committed to conveying a compelling and exciting story to each reader who wished to imagine they were there. Several weeks into the journey, I was fortunate enough to join the adventure, fifteen hundred miles away from where it began. Absorbing every new sight, sound and taste first-hand was delightfully unexpected and translating those days of escapism into the final written words on the blog was enthralling. This sparked a desire to have my own travel blog with aspirations to write content which arouses curiosity, evokes interest and ignites imagination.

The photo below is one of my favourites, taken in New Mexico. Navigating and reading existing blogs emphasised the importance of showcasing my photographs in small groups. In my opinion, two or three very special ones draw the eye and are much easier to appreciate. I’m confident I’ll post many pieces of writing, and colourful photos which accompany those words, in the coming months. My camera is seldom far from hand when I travel and consequently, numerous images may be required to truly draw you through the lens of my idyllic ambling. On these occasions, I’ll ensure I highlight the ones which provide the best visual summary.

A favourite quote of mine reads “we travel not to escape life but so life doesn’t escape us” -unknown.

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Posted by Idyllic Ambling 21:30 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

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