Travel

Narratives of my various adventures.

Shredding the Sand at Great Sand Dune National Park, Colorado

Lovely readers, today I’m bringing you a guest post from my friends over at Explore the USA. I’ve been ramping up my travel writing lately, but one area I am woefully unversed in is adventure sports and hiking! Explore the USA houses a great many articles on can’t miss US wilderness areas and the fun to be hard at them for those with a fearless mindset. I hope you enjoy this article on one of the newest adventure sports: sandboarding!

Come winter time, Colorado and its snowy towns nestled in the Rocky Mountains are a mecca for snowboarding, skiing, and even sledding fanatics. However, those winter sports don’t end once the snow melts; it just takes a different form in a different spot. Colorado is quickly becoming a hot spot for the so-called “next big thing” in adventure sports: sandboarding. Much like snowboarding, sandboarding involves shredding massive powdering mounds, but utilizes sand as its medium instead of snow. Like the winter sport, sandboarding is also paired with its close cousins, sand skiing and sand sledding.

One might expect sandboarding to be more popular in the more hot and arid regions of Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and maybe even parts of Texas. It is, certainly, but Colorado has the perfect playground for this particular sport nestled within its borders. Thanks to thousands of years of wind sweeping over the San Luis Valley, the major sand dunes in Great Sand Dune National Park have soared as high as 750 feet against the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in south-central Colorado. For some hikers, it is a beautiful and unexpected landscape to see in Colorado, but for the sandboarder, they are some of the most premium peaks, just ripe for the shredding.

Sadly, there are no lifts for sandboarders, meaning how many runs one can squeeze in depends on the fitness level of the boarder. However, it is an adventure of a lifetime for those that find themselves bored during the winter sports’ off-season.

A day of sandboarding starts with the right equipment and the right conditions. Sandboards are made special for the sport, made from fiberglass like their snow cousins, but of a particular shape and size in order to easily slide through the sand without digging in. Most of the campgrounds in Great Sand Dunes National Park provide sandboard rental for those that want to give it a go for the day. Those that want to pick up a sandboard of their very own can find them sold in shops like nearby Kristi Mountain Sports in Alamosa.

Getting the gear ready is the easy part, though. The reason this particular national park is so popular for sandboarding is because the sport requires the sand to be at least a little damp. So while states down south may have more sand, it is often too dry and soft to allow the board to slide. Since Colorado gets reasonable amounts of rain, the sand is often perfect for boarding. In Great Dunes National Park, any area of the dune field is open for sandboarding, providing people do it away from vegetation for their own safety. Visitors merely need to pick out a sand dune and scramble their way to the top. After conquering the bunny hill, visitors are sure to have a thirst for bigger and better challenges, which the park can and will deliver.

Those looking for the biggest challenge will find it in the form of the 300-foot slope past the Castle Creek Picnic Area. It’s a long walk, but those with four-wheel-drive can access it via the Medano Pass Primitive Road.

Sandboarding sounds easy enough and more than exciting enough for the serious adrenaline junkie; however, visitors to Great Sand Dunes National Park are urged to take care. Snow is soft and usually powdery enough to not be so bad to wipe out on, but sand is as abrasive as tiny crushed rocks. Combined with breezy summer wear, those who take too many risks on it are likely to go home with slightly less skin.

Slightly less skin? No wonder my adventures usually involve trying out unknown foods on my plate rather than sand dune slopes! But I must admit, sandboarding really does sound fun. If you’d like to see more of Explore the USA’s articles on outdoor exploration in Colorado, start out here to journey up one of Rocky Mountain National Park’s steepest and most breathtaking trails: Click me!

And you know I can’t leave an article pictureless on this site, so here’s one of me at the Jockey’s Ridge sand dunes on the Outer Banks two summers ago. Let’s just say a famous flight took off from those dunes back in 1903; sand dunes have been inspiring inventiveness for a long time!

Me with the sunset to my back.

Me with the sunset to my back.

 

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather

Breakfast Highlights of the Eixample

This is the first of several posts I’m planning on our Barcelona trip last month. The city was amazing in many ways and just what we needed to recharge for 2015. I thought bookending the series with posts on the best of our Barcelona dining experiences might be a tasty call. Agreed?

So let’s start with the Eixample, the only region of the city center that was planned in advance. Eixample is Catalan for expansion. The grid of streets is simple to navigate, and each intersection is bordered by buildings looking in on the action.

2014_Barcelona_166

I loved that set-up, though it does make for longer blocks than you might think. The Eixample is also home to most of the city’s famous buildings designed by the Modernist architect Antonin Gaudi and his compatriots. This beauty, la Pedrera, was two blocks from our hotel and the first site that caught my eye as we dragged our suitcases up Passeig de Gracia from the Placa de Cataluyna bus stop.

We're not in Kansas anymore. Thank God.

We’re not in Kansas anymore. Thank God.

But the food, Becca! You said this was about the food!

Read more →

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather

Sacred Introvert Glastonbury Travel Experience

I don’t normally post the press releases that I get, especially the travel ones because they are priced far above what I’d ever consider, much less what most of my readers would, I’m sure. But I found the idea of this travel opportunity enchanting–and I’m only 40% introvert!  So if you, too, love the concept of a mindful, relaxing vacation to Glastonbury and you’ve got the cash, check it out!
The rest of this post is taken directly from the Sacred Introvert website, where you can purchase tickets. Click here. You have until March 16, 2015 to sign up.

Sacred Introvert Retreat Tour to Glastonbury England, The Great Kingdom of Wessex and Beyond…

“The First Travel Experience for Introverts by Introverts.”

May 1st – 10th 2015

About

The Sacred Introvert Retreat Tour to Glastonbury England, the Great Kingdom of Wessex and beyond takes in many majestic places, some more well known and some off the beaten path. But all at a pace and space an introvert will appreciate. Traveling in our own private and retreat1comfortable motor coach we will always bear the introvert perspective in mind leaving ample time to have your own experience wherever we go. There is no rushing from place to place and no tour guide barking over your thoughts.  In addition to days out every other day is a “local” day. A day where you can just recharge in the peaceful and green surroundings of the Glastonbury Abbey Retreat. Set in 36 acres of parkland the retreat is home to ponds, orchards, wildlife, their own bee colony, a museum and the ruins of the 7th century Abbey. This is your home for 10 days.

Glastonbury itself is a lively market town replete with bookstores, cafes, curio shops and market days. It is known not only for a yearly music festival but more so as a pilgrimage spot with powerful earth energies and a strong connection to the legends of King Arthur and the Holy Grail. On a local day you can opt for a trek up to the top of the Glastonbury Tor (conical hill). Known at Ynys yr Afalon by the Celtic Britons, the tor is believed by some to be the the mystical Isle of Avalon and the place King Arthur went for his final rest. Sit atop in the roofless ruin of St. Michael’s Church and take in the vista that stretches for miles on a clear day. Or choose to relax in the lush and fragrant Chalice Well Gardens home of the “Red Spring”. The iron rich water is taken as a healing treatment by people who come from all over just to drink it fresh from the source.

The Chalice Well itself is also said to be the place where the Holy Grail is hidden, another reason people claim the water runs red hued. You can walk the labyrinth at St. John’s Church or amble up Wearyall Hill; another mysterious spot where  Joseph of Arimathea reputedly struck his staff in the ground declaring we are “Weary all” and out of it a tree, the Glastonbury Holy Thorn, sprouted.

The White Spring, housed in a Victorian stone building opposite the Red Spring, is cool, wet, dark and magical. Many locals bathe in the White Spring. You can too if you if you choose to test the icy waters.

The 11th century St. Margaret’s Church and Almshouse are housed on quaint manicured grounds and are open for private reflection and respite. Or seek out “Gog and Magog”, two ancient Oaks side by side across the vale called “Paradise” along a wooded path below the Tor. There are also a number of grade listed buildings in Glastonbury that are available for your inspection. Some of note are the Rural Life Museum, the Medieval Tribunal, the Abbot’s Kitchen (on the grounds of the Abbey Retreat) and the George and Pilgrims Inn.

The local bus system is easy to navigate and available if you are feeling adventurous and want to explore a neighboring town at your own pace. But you may choose to spend your local days on the grounds of our home at the Abbey. The retreat exterior has a decidedly “Downton Abbey” feel but the grounds and 7th century ruined Abbey could take a few days on its own to get to know well.

We will also have informal group yoga and mediation opportunities each local day. On “days out” our itinerary will be varied but will consist of a leisurely combination of the highlights listed in detail. On days out the kitchen will provide us with a customized sack lunch to take along for al fresco picnics in the verdant landscape.   Every attendee of the Sacred Introvert Retreat Tour gets their own private room. There are NO single supplement fees. The rooms at the Abbey are English bed and breakfast style meaning there are wash basins in the rooms but bathrooms are shared. This is common for most B&B accommodations outside of cities in the UK (and Europe) and very easy to navigate. The ratio of rooms to baths at the Abbey is 2 rooms to one bath. We also have a very limited number of double rooms for companions traveling together who would prefer to share. The rooms are simple with no televisions or phones and set up for reflection and introspection with no distractions. There are also quiet and comfortable common rooms with many corners to curl up and be private in public or to meet a fellow introvert traveler for tea and a chat.

All meals and beverages (non alcoholic) are included in the Sacred Introvert Retreat Tour and are freshly prepared each day in the Abbey’s kitchen with locally sourced ingredients. All dietary requirements will be addressed with food available for every palate and preference. You are not required to eat every meal at the Abbey and can choose to venture out into town and try the local fare. (meals, beverages and snacks outside the Abbey are NOT included in your Retreat Tour price) Meals will be served at specific times during our stay and will be indicated in your orientation package upon arrival.

The beauty of the Sacred Introvert Retreat Tour is you are never required to participate in anything. This is your time. If you choose to stay “home” on a day out you are respected and honored for your choice. The goal of the Sacred Introvert Retreat Tour is to provide the setting for “Quality Intimacy” with the self, with others and with nature. The opportunity for authentic connections with like minded individuals, unique surroundings and natural landscapes with the comfort of your own private room to retreat to whenever you want will provide the space for that quality intimacy.

Location


Glastonbury Abbey

Glastonbury, England

Lisa Avebury

Your Guide


circleseeker.com
Lisa Avebury is a introvert and a traveler who has been visiting Glastonbury England since 1995 having lived there briefly in 1998. Her dream of sharing travel experiences is a passion fueled by the knowledge of what a transformative experience travel can be. She envisions Sacred Introvert Retreat Tours growing to include new destinations and special places specifically designed for introvert adventurers. Lisa lives in Los Angeles and has been offering healing work, workshops and wellness consulting services since 1995.

Evening Events


  • Night Walk Up the Tor Don’t forget to pack a torch (that’s flashlight for Americans!) for our night walk up the Tor. Stargazing in dark skies and hopefully we’ll spot a badger or two.
  • Pub Night at the George and Pilgrims Inn Built in the 15th Century and reputedly haunted the first drink is on Sacred Introvert.
  • Bonfire Night A perfect time for quiet introspection as we experience the Abbey Retreat gardens at night around a roaring fire.
  • The Introvert Paradox First offered by Lisa Avebury in 2013, this interactive talk explores many facets of life as an introvert and how we can offer our unique talents and special gifts to the world.

Highlights

  • Private group tour to the inner ring of Stonehenge. Access is restricted to the general public. We will be visiting as a group for alone time after hours within the enigmatic ancient ring. Along the way to Stonehenge we will pass for a stop at Woodhenge and Durrington Walls. Both sites are part of the ancient landscape that make up the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.
  • Noted as the largest stone circle in Europe, bigger in circumference then Stonehenge, and surrounded by rolling green countryside and friendly sheep the Avebury Stone Circle contains the small village of Avebury in it’s center. Ample time will be given for personal walks and reflections among the stones along with the Tolkein Trees. These trees are rumored to be the author’s inspiration for the walking trees in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit books.
  • Less then one mile from Avebury we will visit the West Kennet Long Barrow. This chambered neolithic tomb predates Stonehenge by 400 years. On our way back we will take in the mysterious Silbury Hill, a prehistoric chalk mound built by the ancients for what we still don’t have a clue!
  • The City of Wells is often referred to as “The Smallest City in England” due to having one of the most majestic cathedrals to be found anywhere on this planet. This picturesque walkable market town is also home to the reputed oldest purely residential street in the world the “Vicar’s Close”. Ample time will be allotted for strolls along the moat that circles the Bishop’s Palace and for seeking out the many carved figures that live on the cathedral walls.
  • Cited as one of the world’s most beautiful small cities our visit to Bath includes a tour through the ancient Roman Baths with extra time to spend as you like visiting Bath Abbey or just strolling the sweeping street known as the Royal Crescent with its grand Georgian architecture.
  • Named the second greatest natural wonder in Britain the three mile long Cheddar Gorge is Britain’s version of a grand canyon. Take in the beautiful vistas as we motor through the gorge and stop in the village for a sample of Cheddar’s famous namesake.
  • The Stanton Drew Stone Circle is off the beaten path yet it is the second largest stone circle in Britain next to Avebury. The tiny village of Stanton Drew is chock full of 13th to 15th century grade listed buildings. Not to be missed is the local pub “The Druids Arms”. In their garden is a group of three large ancient standings stones known as “The Cove”. An excellent spot for a pint and a ponder.
  • Following in the footsteps of ancient Britons along what is known as the oldest road “The Ridgeway” we will be heading to the “Vale of the White Horse”. Made up of three ancient sites we will be meandering through Wayland’s Smithy Long Barrow, the Uffington White Horse andUffington Castle.  This is a day to wear good walking shoes – and the sweeping views will make it all worthwhile.

Sacred Introvert Retreat Tour to Glastonbury England, the Great Kingdom of Wessex and Beyond…

“The First Travel Experience for Introverts by Introverts.”

Dates: May 1- 10 2015

Duration: 9 nights/10 days

Location: Glastonbury England, the Kingdom of Wessex and beyond.

Airport: Bristol or London (airfare and ground transportation is NOT included in price of tour)

Walking: Moderate

Retreat Tour Investment: $3795 USD

Closing date for bookings: March 16th, 2015

Deposit: $900. USD ( Deposit is non-refundable. Trip insurance required – visit here for info.)

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather