Mike, that is, not me. I have a loooong way to go before I hit 60. His momentous event won't occur until 2015, however I'm already hard at work planning out a doozy of an adventure.
Many years ago we set a precedent of preferring a grand adventure over a grand fuss for our Big-0 birthdays. When I turned 40, for example, we did a four day motorcycle ride along the California coastline. Highlights included Big Sur, Carmel's famous 17-mile drive, the winding, scenic roads of Carmel Valley, and an absolutely amazing ride on Nacimiento-Fergusson Road that took us up and over the Santa Lucia mountains and into Fort-Hunter Liggett military base.
When Mike turned 50, I planned a four day motorcycle ride through the Sierra's and up into Tahoe. Highlights of that trip including riding through Yosemite National Park, over Tioga Pass, around Lake Tahoe, into historic Virginia City, Nevada, and then back home via scenic 395, which took us through Mammoth Lakes, Bishop and the Mojave Desert.
|Note the map taped to my gas tank . . .|
I generally led our rides, while Mike rode sweep.
The idea for the walking portion of this trip is an offshoot of the incredible hiking/walking trek we did through Switzerland's Alpine Pass in 2011. We utilized the services of a tour company called Sherpa Walking Holidays (SWH). SWH did an excellent job providing us with very detailed maps and walking guides, arranging our lodging, and handling the daily transfer of our luggage from lodge to lodge via train. We then traversed the distance by foot, 102 miles in all. We averaged between 12-14 miles a day, generally gaining, then losing, many 1000's of feet of elevation as we crossed over mountain passes that ranged between 8000 and 9750 feet in altitude. It was both spectacular and tough, with both Mike and I experiencing bouts of pretty bad altitude sickness on two separate days. (Click here to see the photo book I made of our Switzerland trip.)
As much as we wanted to do another European walking trip, we agreed that we'd prefer a slightly less altitude-heavy trip this time around. The trips we're currently eyeing, one along the West Highland Way in Scotland, the other crossing between England's two famous coastlines, involve lots of high mileage days, which we like, but much less in the way of altitude, which we love. Combined, the two trips add up to close to 300 miles of walking, sometimes as much as 24 miles in a day. Keeping in mind we're a bit nutsy about these kind of things, I have to admit I get excited just thinking about it, even a whole year in advance.
(Curious about the exact walking itineraries we're looking at? Click here for the West Highland Way itinerary, and click here for the Coast to Coast itinerary)It also means that we'd be able to eat like fiends while in Britain, and probably still lose a good amount of weight, then have the pleasure of putting it all back on while in Paris. Pretty much a win-win all around.
So as of now, we're thinking of structuring the trip as follows:
- Fly from USA to Glasgow, Scotland, for a few days of sightseeing before traveling by train and bus to the start of eight day West Highland Way walk
- Take the train to Edinburgh at tour end for a few days of sightseeing
- Take the train from Edinburgh back down to London for another few days of sightseeing before traveling to the start of 15 day Coast to Coast walk
- Travel to Paris at tour end, and rent an apartment for two-four weeks
- Fly home from Paris
Mike would turn 60 in the midst of the 15 day guided Coast to Coast tour, ensuring a fun celebration with our fellow walkers. Although we could certainly complete the walk on our own, the cost difference between SWH's unguided vs guided options is reasonable, and after two weeks on being our own, I think we'd welcome being part of a group for a bit before we go it alone again in Paris.
We're still going back and forth on exactly how long to spend in Paris, with Mike leaning toward four weeks, and me leaning toward two. I suspect his preference will win out, which is fine. I mean, am I really going to complain about spending a whole month in Paris? I think not.
At this point, there really aren't any barriers to taking this from planning to implementation, other than waiting for SWH to get their 2015 dates and pricing information loaded. Once I have that information, I can start looking for Paris rentals. In the interim, there's lots of work to do here on continuing to improve my rudimentary French!