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swing starts tend to be the hardest part on this emotional arch. slow kicks. turn into running curves. into striding strokes. until a rhythm forms. extending. the bottom lasts but a brief moment. pendulate. before momentum swings us through. and exposes higher heights. where peeking vistas fleetingly come into view. floating. in that perfect peak. atop the ever swinging moody arch.

To explain my month’s absence, here are photographic slices of my latest journey:

I’ve been to Hel and back! Literally. Biked 35km through Hel, Poland

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Stormed the largest available castle

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Celebrated a beautiful union

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And experienced some local flavors:

Owl sporting gypsies

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Religious parades

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Sun-splashed alley cafes

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and goat fur trader.

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The trip then turned from summery Eastern Europe to a water-themed Icelandic adventure. That started with sea ice

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Flowed into epic rainy hikes

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Gushed into rivers and waterfalls

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After waterfall

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To unnamed waterfall caves — complete with a snow/ice floor

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Days of camping on crumbling cliffs

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With a sample of pampering

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Sulfuric hot springs

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That gave rise to white-out driving

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And a snorkleing moment where, through the linkage of friends, we bridged the gap between the North American and European continental shelf

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No matter how many times I venture out — either solo or with new/old friends — my heart is filled. And yet left a bit thirsty. For there is always more to discover!

Plan: Land in one place. Grab a Eurorail Pass. Explore multiple countries over a two week span. Reality: Renewing my love for a nomadic lifestyle on a trip filled with family, friends (old and new), and flavorful food.

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This was not my first European adventure. In fact I used to live there. But something about the last two weeks felt more engaging than previous times I’ve run on the rails. More alive. Hard to articulate the journey’s fusion of the perfect traveling partner; luck; and discoveries, but I think this acrobatic neck flag in front of the Eiffel Tower sums it up nicely. Overall the days were packed full of sights, laughter, minor hiccups, and kilometer after kilometer of all types of landscapes. From mountains to sea. City to countryside. Old world and new. We saw it all. A two week journey is just enough time to taste the culture and leave my vagabond soul ready for the next backpack expedition.

 

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Writing of culture, I won’t bombard the world with every picture of the fine cuisine that I devoured, but I do want to mention a few highlights. Like this sweet dessert crepe — poached pear drenched in dark chocolate over a wheat crepe — we had after our savory lunch crepes in Versailles.

My European adventure began to feel like a tasting tour with all of the delicious treats and dishes I kept stuffing down. Pretzel bread and strudels. Crepes filled with various sweet or savory goodness. Breads of different shapes, sizes, textures, and fillings. Tapas and pincho delicacies. And the cheeses. Oh goodness the cheeses. They awakened some long lost cheese lover I had been hiding from myself all these years. Never been much of a foodie, but after this latest culinary European exploration I may have to become one.

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Nothing to do but wait. These last few days have been one stop and start after the next. A test in patience. Have I ever mentioned I am not a fan of tests? Especially ones where there’s no way to prepare. Or submit extra credit to stay in the higher scoring bracket. These tests exhaust my core and then take a little more. Centering myself the best way I can, by putting up a sheer veil and hiding from my responsibilities. Like any good adult does in these situations. At least my waiting game will be over soon enough. For now I’ll keep listening to the ticks of time slowly click away.