My only education of Germany was from history class in high school, so my main narrative on it was that it was the “bad guy” in both world wars. I hadn’t met any Germans at that point, I didn’t like the German food I’d had, the language seemed too extreme for me, and people seemed too black-and-white in their thinking, whereas I lived more in the gray. So, I figured I’d take a pass on Germany and learn about the rest of Europe.
I didn’t hate Germany, I just didn’t like it very much.
When I was younger and I heard the name “Luxembourg,” I couldn’t help but wonder more about it. “What is this small country?” “Why hadn’t I heard of it often in my history classes?” “What was its story?” To me it was a mystery. So, when I was in neighboring Germany, I bought a ticket directly into the cloudy haze that was Luxembourg.
I stuffed my sleeping bag and toiletries bag in my pack and trained from Stuttgart to Koblenz and then hopped on the train directly to Luxembourg City. It was, first and foremost, the nicest train I’d ever been on. Crisp, clean, efficient, quiet, large window, bright, comfortable, updated schedule on the screen that was simple to understand. Other trains are nice, but this basic transportation train into Luxembourg was far-and-away the best I’ve yet ridden on.
After writing a post about 10 of my favorite large U.S. city parks, I thought I’d put together a list of some of my favorites from other countries. These are parks that I’ve visited outside the USA, that are all larger than 100 acres, and that are absolutely delightful. Here are the second 5:
When I packed for my trip to Europe, I sat two vital items aside on my bed. These weren’t necessary for me to get anywhere, nor did they make sure I was properly adorned. They were strictly for my personal comfort. Climbing harness. Climbing shoes.
Six years ago, I pulled into the Cracker Barrel parking lot in Clermont, Florida to meet my maternal grandfather for the first time. He was taller than I expected and had a high hairline (damnit), but was otherwise fairly normal. I also learned, over the course of our conversation, that he was of French heritage. I was surprised, never knowing that I had any French “blood.” Sometime later, my mother found old family-tree documents from her mother’s side that told us of more French affiliation in our veins.
Like mosquitoes attacking you in the woods after a hard rain, the rigors and responsibilities I’d accumulated over the years were stinging me from every direction and on just about every part of my body. I knew I needed a break. I escaped to North Cascades National Park for a solo overnight.
The ranger gave me a site he said he personally loved and I made my way to peel apart the layers of my defenses to rediscover who I was beyond the tasks that had too oft come to define me. When I arrived at the site, it was epic: a mixture of tranquility, loneliness, and natural cacophony.
After writing a post about 10 of my favorite large U.S. city parks, I thought I’d put together a list of some of my favorites from other countries. These are parks that I’ve visited outside the USA, that are all larger than 100 acres, and that are absolutely delightful. Here are the first 5:
Backpacks are one of those integral pieces of gear that can make or break an adventure. Whether you're looking to spend a few hours on the trail or even a few months on an epic thru-hike, your pack needs to be comfortable. In order for it to be comfortable, it needs to fit right. That's why taking the necessary time before your trip to ensure that you have the pack that is right for you is imperative. Otherwise your weekend backpacking trip might just turn into an experience you'll remember for all the wrong reasons.
Over the past year, I have had the pleasure of doing a number of different trips using Osprey's Exos 58 backpack. My longest trip was a 120-mile loop in the Wind River Range of the amazing state of Wyoming. The pack held up great and is extremely comfortable for long days on the trail.
See a detailed video review here: Osprey Exos 58 backpack review.
The Airspeed suspension provided the perfect amount of tension while allowing free-flowing air to cool and dry off my back as I perspired. Our most demanding trek during this trip was a 17-mile section of hard-hitting trail. The trek included summiting two peaks and mistaking an elk path for the main trail…this led to a few miles of unbelievably nasty terrain and about a half-mile of wandering around looking for the trail after our trusted elk path dissipated into some dangerous rock formations. Needless to say, we learned our lesson!
If you’ve ever traveled overnight more than a couple days away from your home, you know how difficult and stressful it can be to interact with the world in the same way that you do when you’re home. There are oodles of reasons for this, but there are also some easy—but vital—steps you can take to mitigate those when you travel (whether it’s to visit family on the opposite coast or to backpack around Asia). All you have to do is focus on the simple things: