Jeep Life Expedition Europe (part 5)
When entering Switzerland by car, don’t forget to buy your Motorway Vignette. It is required to have this sticker if you drive on Swiss motorways. We tried to buy one at the border crossing, but it was unmanned. Fortunately, the first gas station had them for sale. The clerk noticed we were from USA and thought we must be from Colorado… Another one of those days when there is so much beautiful scenery to absorb, it gets a bit overwhelming. Some incredible mountain horizons, green lush valleys, and crystal clear lakes and rivers. And let’s not forget the swiss cheese. From our sidewalk cafe fondue splurge to the blocks bought from the market, there was rarely a moment one of us didn’t have some cheese in their mouth.. or in Tia’s case, mouth and leg. For now, we are just taking it all in, breathing the fresh air, and feeling perfectly relaxed.
Iceland Adventure, Five Weeks in a Jeep (week 4)
Cathy flies WOW Air from USA to Iceland to spend an adventurous week Eldo-exploring with us. This required a quick trip into the big capital city of Reykjavik and of course a stop at the famed Blue Lagoon Spa. A bit of social culture shock for us after four weeks of remote northern Iceland exploration. Elizabeth got Eldo clean and looking her best for Cathy’s visit. Our broken windshield gets worse thanks to the heat from a candle, but we decide to wait until returning to mainland Europe to fix it. All in a days drive we see seals, arctic fox, Icelandic horses, beautiful waterfalls, and blue sky fjords. Chocolate chip pancakes and Road Nachos are on the menu, as well as a hot shower splurge. A lot more to see in Cathy’s Icelandic Adventure… part two. Coming soon!!
Boondock Camp at Haunted Spanish Castle (time lapse)
While checking our maps, somewhere south of Bilbao Spain, we decided that a 350 mile eastern detour to Andorra was going to be today’s itinerary. Our usual choice to stay off motorways and toll roads turned this into two solid days of driving. Still hours from the Andorran border, the sun setting, we see high on a hillside, the silhouette of a castle. A quick turn into the small gritty village of Quicena and a few miles of bumpy dirt trails and paved switchbacks we somehow arrive at the base of the castle. It is abandoned and in ruins. There is nobody else around. It’s eerie silence is only broken by the wings of bats swirling overhead and a few dog barks rising from the valley. We park Eldo just off the narrow road on a flat rock outcrop and walk 100 more yards to the castle. We explore the ruins as the magnificent huge sun sets over Quicena and Huesca. There is a presence here but we don’t feel unwelcome. Montearagon Castle, was constructed in the eleventh century by King Sancho Ramirez as both a fortress and monastery. Ramirez was killed by a stray arrow while walking the walls during the siege of then Muslim Huesca. We climb the ancient stairwells, sit in the thick reinforced wall openings, gaze out over the now darkening valleys, and breath in the cool night desert air. We decide to spend the night here. Back at Camp Eldo, we open a bottle of Spanish red wine, tap glasses and toast to the hope of a safe and quiet sleep. We make an offering to untold number of those who may have lived and died here and sacrifice a glass worth of the good wine into the dry red dirt. We rise early the next morning, just as the sun begins to back light the castle ruins. We set up for breakfast even though the morning mist clings on. It’s a ritual performed on countless mornings when we have safe camp. Our beloved Quincy table comes out of the spare wheel well, the worn camp chairs come down from the roof, and the dusty rug gets placed on the ground. We inventory our fresh foods and decide what needs to be eaten. The kitchen gear comes out, the coffee beans are hand ground while the water boils. It’s not long before the chill of the morning gives way to hot fresh coffee and the morning fog gives way to the rays of sunlight. We are on a Spanish hillside that’s seen an eon of sunrises and sunsets. We are living one morning of our life at a castle that has witnessed centuries of lives come and go. We are tens of thousands of miles from where we started, and yet, right at home at our table. Cooking, talking, laughing, sitting, grooming, dreaming, planning, being…. and realizing the significance of the simple rituals that tie all our days and all our lives together. Just another day on the road….