Of all the trips I have taken this year, the one that stands out the most was my longest and most ambitious trip. In June trekEpic (trekepic.org) sent me a contract to be field guide and medic on a trek across the English countryside. Earlier that year my girlfriend, Kim, was hired as a guide with them.
trekEpic is a non-profit with a marvelous goal: to take young adults on overseas trekking adventures. Tied in with an emotional growth curriculum (ww.communityactivator.com), these treks offer young adults a break from the typical college experience and an opportunity to challenge themselves. What’s more, the only cost to participants is airfare. They must apply and be approved for the scholarships, but holy cow. Free.
On August 1, Kim and I boarded a plane from Spokane bound for Manchester, United Kingdom (via Seattle, via Amsterdam). The flights were uneventful, the arrival was grueling. One of the trekkers, Jess, flying in from Phoenix was delayed something like 12 hours. About seven hours into waiting (and 20 into not sleeping), Kim and I dozed off in a corner of the lobby of the terminal 2 Radisson Blu. The concierge found us and politely cleared his throat. “You’re welcome to wait here as long as you like, but I can not have you sleeping in my lobby.” I muttered an incoherent apology.
Painfully, we got up and wandered around the airport. We stumbled into some kind of restaurant and doggedly ate fish’n’chips and drank Coca-Cola. The day was interminable.
Because Jess’ flights were so screwed up, we missed our first train. The ticket clerk (whose manager happened to be in a different room or on break) very kindly bent the rules for us. He fabricated some sort of “valid” reason for why we had missed our booked train, and re-booked us on a later one. Sternly though, the clerk warned us, if we missed that one we would have no other choice but to buy new tickets.
Jess arrived, we boarded our train, and made it to Ulverston. That night we stayed in Swarthmoor Hall (http://www.quaker.org.uk/swarthmoor-hall-holiday-accommodation), birthplace of the Quaker religion. Our group of trekkers (whom had been there for hours already) collected us at the station where we walked the short distance to Swarthmoor.
The grounds of Swarthmoor were impeccable. The buildings and staff were unbelievably accommodating. Our meal (which had already been laid out for us) consisted of quiche, a table salad, fruit, a cheese plate, tea, and a host of other delights. We gobbled down our food, showered up, and retired to our room for the night.
Oh, and as if getting an all-expenses paid contract to the English countryside for the month of August doesn’t already sound totally charmed, Kim and I were put in the same room that night!
There’s nothing quite like snuggling with your honey in a centuries old building in a new country after traveling for over 36 hours. Quite rapidly, the sweet fog of sleep covered our heads and we were out cold until morning.