This month’s Bordeaux in 365 Bottles is a bit ironic seeing how I haven’t even set foot in France a single day in September. Tim, now living in England about 20 minutes away from Cambridge, picked me and Emma up and we left for England on August 27. I’ve really missed my friends, strolling around beautiful Bordeaux and just having a regular routine. This is the longest stretch I have ever been away from home and I am beyond ready to stop living out of a suitcase for a bit.
Emma visited her 17th country.
A year ago at this time, Emma’s vet told us she probably had weeks to months to live after diagnosing her with liver cancer and two tumors: one on her spinal chord and a massive 17 centimeter sized cancerous tumor on her liver. It’s honestly a miracle she made it through her surgery and a year on is still pretty feisty.
So we try to enjoy this time we still have with her as Emma grows older. Earlier in the year, she visited Andorra with us. And she added her 16th and 17th countries recently: England and Wales. Unfortunately, England and Wales just aren’t as dog friendly as other places in Europe so it probably wasn’t the most fun trip for her. But we know she enjoys just being with us – BOTH of us.
Emma did get to go on a cruise out to see seals, explore an abbey and go to a food festival in Wales. Otherwise, she’s been hanging out at her dad’s house in England and hoping to get the neighborhood cats to play with her.
My dad fell and broke his hip.
Possibly the worst feeling in the world is when you’re in a remote place and a moment of wifi delivers a cryptic text message that your dad has fallen out of tree and been taken to the hospital with possible broken things. That was the scenario as I was engrossed in a conversation with a local tourism representative at a somewhat hippie resort on Orcas Island, off the coast of Washington.
I felt completely helpless as I excused myself and went outside to try and get in touch with my mom. My dad had badly broken his back when I was just a few months old and all the worst case scenarios went through my mind as the tears flowed.
It wasn’t funny at the time, but it kind of is now that everything is okay. The resort my press trip group was at is a clothing optional one, and marijuana is legal in Washington. The food at the restaurant at this resort was incredible, with everything grown locally in the garden and the fish and shellfish fresh from local fisherman. Beyond that, I already felt like I was in one of those comedies where the lead actor shows up not knowing the resort is eccentric.
As I’m crying and on the phone, a guy interrupts to tell me he’s overhead my conversation and asks if I’d like a joint to help relax.
In the moment, I just said no thank you and went about my phone conversation. Looking back, it was a scene straight out of a hilarious movie. Oh, Washington. Talk about giving me the biggest dose of reverse culture shock yet.
I was set to leave Seattle the next morning and head to Iceland. When I could check in with my mom again later that evening, I learned my dad would be having surgery and be in the hospital for at least a few days. I decided to go ahead with my press trip in Iceland, then fly back to the US again to help out while he recovered.
I cancelled some other things I had on my schedule, and was more grateful than ever to work for myself and be able to fly back at a moment’s notice.
His physical therapist and the doctor have both said it’s remarkable how well he’s doing. But a hip break is a big bummer, because even when you’re in great health and physical condition, it leaves you pretty limited with what you can do for a good couple of weeks. It will be about three months until he’s really healed.
I feel torn leaving when I know my parents could continue to use my help for at least another two weeks while my dad is only allowed to put no more than 20% of his weight on his leg, but I also have to get back to work.
I rendered my hand useless for a few days because I tried to help a sheep.
Yes, that’s right. A sheep.
Tim was driving and we passed a sheep I noticed in the fence. I mentioned I thought she was stuck, but we were on a sort of highway. The next morning, we drove by again and I was certain the very same sheep was still stuck in the fence.
Tim pulled over in to a pull out a little ways up the highway. It was pouring rain and there wasn’t a shoulder, so we were also getting the spray from the passing traffic. He ran down and was trying to help her for a few minutes unsuccessfully, and then I joined in.
The sheep was definitely stuck. She had the ground trampled where she had been frantically trying all night to get her head out of the fence.
Tim hung over the barbed wire and tried to pull her from behind while I turned her head sideways to shove it back through the fence. Man, sheep are strong! She knew we were trying to help her, but she threw her head back and caught my pointer finger of my right hand in between the fence and her head.
One more try and I got her head through. Tim was left with a muddy, torn shirt. And I was near tears at the pain in my hand. I couldn’t even pick things up for the first few days, and I’m right handed.
First and last time I try to help a sheep…
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Seeing how I haven’t spent a single day at home in over a month, I’m frankly impressed with myself that I’ve managed to write anything at all. I don’t honestly know how the nomadic bloggers do it. I can’t get in the writing groove just anywhere.
But my experience sleeping in a bubble in Iceland, even though I had the one rainy night of my trip and didn’t get to see the Northern Lights from it, was so awesome that the story just poured out. It was truly a unique experience, and we’ve most definitely stayed in some incredibly unique accommodations around the world.
Now I can add plastic inflatable snow globe to that list.
One good thing about suffering jet lag is that you’re up way before the sun and catch sunrises like this one we watched from our balcony at @fridayharborhouse. We were already blown away by the stunning beauty of the San Juan Islands, but this scene was the clincher. If these islands aren’t on your radar, they should be!
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I suffer jet lag horribly when I travel from east to west, and despite the fact that I was absolutely exhausted, I was still only sleeping about 4 hours each night. The up side of the San Juan Islands being nine hours behind France and apparently what my body clock is set to, was that I was up long before any sunrise happened.
The most spectacular one I saw was from my balcony at Friday Harbor House overlooking Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.
What I’m Drinking This Month
There wasn’t any Bordeaux wine over the past month, but I certainly had a fair share of Washington wines on my International Food, Wine and Travel Writers trip to Whidbey, Camano and the San Juan Islands. I’ll be writing all about the trip, and more importantly where to eat and drink there, very soon.
We visited Spoiled Dog Winery on Whidbey Island, a small boutique winery on a farm and sampled six wines from their line of wines.
Since we had such a packed schedule, we didn’t get to visit Lopez Island. But the wines of Lopez Island Vineyards came to us and we tried three of their wines, two of which were their estate wines with the grapes grown on Lopez Island.
We also stopped by San Juan Vineyards for a wine tasting and to say hello to the resident camel, Mona. Some of the wines are named for Mona, including one of my favorites of our five wine tasting.
And we tried a few other Washington wines from various areas, one Oregon wine (hey, it’s still the Pacific North West) and one from Catalunya, Spain.
Aside from the variety of wines, we also tried a bunch of Washington ciders, spirits and cocktails. Let me just say that Whidbey Island Distillery is an awesome surprise and their spirits are incredible. It’s a must visit when on Whidbey Island.
Bottle Count: 352
I’m en-route home to Bordeaux today, but I don’t get to stay very long. On Tuesday I’m off to Italy, which is my first return trip there since I moved to France in June of 2016.
I’ll be spending a week split between Rome and Venice on assignment with a brand called Monograms and iAmbassador. I’m very interested to experience Italy with Monograms, who brands themselves the “un-tour”. Anyone who has been following us for a while knows we’re not fans of a group package multi-day tour, and what enticed me to accept this assignment with Monograms is that they’re somewhere between travel agent and tour operator. Monograms has all the resources like handling the logistics of transportation between destinations, booking your hotels, a slew of activity options and a local destination expert, but my 7-day trip is still an independent trip.
I worked with Monograms to select activities in both Rome and Venice that meet my interests, and of course, will be things I know Luxe Adventure Traveler readers are interested in. I’m super excited to finally take a pizza making class, something I never did in the 7 years I lived in Italy and explore more of underground Rome. In Venice, I never did much of the touristy stuff just because we lived so close by and then my final six months living there was a complete blur.
I’ll be traveling with several other bloggers for the Rome portion of my trip, some of whom are friends and can’t wait to see again and others whom I’ve known online for years but somehow our world’s had yet to collide in person. In Venice, I’ll experience the independent travel option with Monograms and have free time on my own.
After the Italy trip, I’m off to Limousin in my region, Nouvelle Aquitaine. The trip started out because I learned about 40 wolves that live in their natural habitat at a wold park in my region, but I’ll also discover some famous trades (other than wine) in my region like the porcelain of Limoges, the fine leather gloves of Saint-Junien and Aubusson tapestries.
And then I plan to plant myself at home in Bordeaux, enjoy the city I’ve missed so much and recuperate a bit from a fairly grueling nearly two months straight of hopping around on several continents.