Warning: this post is photo-heavy!
When my cousin Griet and her husband Wim visited us in Sebastopol, California two months ago, we picked a long weekend in May to go on a trip together while Mark and I are in Belgium for four weeks. The destination was to be determined: Normandy in France or Friesland, in the north of the Netherlands. The two of us had never been to either place. The coast of Normandy would more than likely remind us of the one in California, so we were happy the decision fell on Friesland, with its famous Waddeneilanden, five islands in the Waddenzee or Wadden Sea. This area (which also stretches into Germany and Denmark) is a World Heritage Site with a character and outlook that changes with the tides. At low tide, people in excellent physical condition can attempt a walk to some of the islands with a guide, certain times of the year.
Old and new in one photo
Each time Mark and I complete a house sit (or a few weeks later :-)), I write a little overview of our experiences. Our conclusions of previous sits in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Florida and California can be read here. I am almost a month late with this one – blame the extremely busy times we have had on the East Coast visiting friends, family, doctors and dealing with a bunch of unexpected developments in combination with our usual jobs – but I think most of you will still remember sweet Lola from Sebastopol!
Lola loves balls
Comfy in the car
Pinnacle Gulch Walk
Taylor Mountain hike
Pinnacle Gulch Beach
Not so sure about those cows
Pinnacle Gulch Beach
When Mark and I were cruising full-time on our 35’ catamaran Irie, we made yearly visits to Massachusetts for family and health reasons. Mark was usually the designated driver in his mom’s SUV. For short stints, I would drive, either to get to an appointment myself or to help his mom out. As a visitor to the US, my Belgian driver’s license was sufficient. I did purchase an international driver’s license eventually, only to learn that is doesn’t mean anything. It must be used in combination with a valid license of one’s home country and its main goal is to offer a translation in different languages, like English, which is not one of my native tongues. I happily handed the car keys to Mark in any situation, because, frankly, I hate driving in the US, especially on highways. Particularly driving into Boston is a major hassle, full of annoyances and crazy drivers.
My Belgian driver’s license from 1997
In 2015, we “moved” to the States, bought a Toyota Prius and started a lifestyle as house and pet sitters. Now, we were part of the system and part of the road gang. For the first time in my life, I experienced a prolonged feeling of anxiety and distrust. I’d cross an ocean any time. We were never scared or in danger on the Pacific, but on a US highway… I often fear for our lives. Drivers in general are unpredictable, easily distracted (by their phone or other activities), oblivious to their surroundings, and rarely follow the rules – if they even realize or remember these rules. Contrary to Belgian road etiquette, drivers here don’t like to move over to the right lane of freeways, but happily crawl along in the middle lanes. Tailgaters don’t have the patience to let you get out of the way safely. Cars pass anywhere, on any side, at any time. Drivers are often unaware of bikes and pedestrians in towns. And, did you know that indicating is optional? At least, that’s what it looks like when cars enter the highway, change lanes, turn corners or pull into parking spots. Especially as a pedestrian, this can be deceiving and dangerous.
Driving Carol’s SUV
Every first Wednesday of the month, the IWSG (Insecure Writer’s Support Group) encourages writers to share their fears, thoughts, progress, struggles, excitement, encouragement or anything really about their writing. A different question is posed each month, as a writing prompt for IWSG members. Answering it is optional. For May, that question is “What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?”
This amazing, supportive group of writers was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Today, the co-hosts are Michelle Wallace, Nancy Gideon, Tamara Narayan, Feather Stone and Liesbet Collaert. That’s me! 🙂 May is a big month for some of the members, namely the twelve finalists of this year’s IWSG anthology contest. The genre was “fantasy” and the published result, Hero Lost – Mysteries of Death and Life, has just been released on May 2nd. It is available in print and e-book. Congratulations to everyone involved!
My favorite subjects to write about are personal experiences and travel stories. I have had plenty of adventures all over the world, so there is no lack of inspiration and content, the words come easy, and little research is required. I don’t like doing research. Although, with the internet at our fingertips, it sure is much easier than when I was working on high school projects in the early 90s. When I write articles for sailing or travel magazines, I sometimes have to double-check locations and facts online, but that can hardly be called weird or cool.
Mount Cook, New Zealand