Things that might have seemed insignificant at the time, but things you look back on and realise that in some small way they changed you, or at least effected who you are.
I remember seeing a picture some years back and it was a set of lonely footprints in the snow. I don’t recall the caption or its intended meaning. But for me it represented a path chosen that differed from that of the masses.
The issue I had prior to this trip was that we had done just about everything I had ever wanted to do. I asked the kids if they wanted to anything and as usual Charlie proclaimed he wants to bungee jump and Abi reflected on something amazing we had already done. Realistically I knew this summer had to be different. By now catching a train between two well-travelled cities just wasn’t going to cut it any more. We had to do something different, something which reignited the passion within us- Something which stopped us and made us smile.
For the first time I sat with the kids and we discussed not what they wanted to do, but what they didn’t want to do. What we had done in the past that for them was too much, how their very resilience to life had been tested beyond its limits. They were unanimous in their answer – Travelling; But not a few hours on some Middle Eastern airline, more importantly – Epic train journeys. The problem, I explained, was that the countries over which we travelled were so vast it was often impossible to not travel so much.
When Charlie asked me what I wanted to do differently it was an easy answer. I wanted Jack there. It breaks my heart seeing my son left behind because his mother and I cannot find a compromise. And so this year I was determined this trip would be different. No epic train Journeys and Jack was to be a part of it.
Both have proven to be major issues and hours upon hours have been spent addressing practical issues and trying to find something which works. And as I sit four weeks prior to travel it seems likely Jack will be joining us in the final two weeks of the trip and the epic train journeys will be no more.
The itinerary is almost going to press and is like no other we have done before.
In Nepal we will be trekking completely off the beaten path through villages untouched by tourism and Westerners. We had planned to hire a motor cycle but have ditched it in place of walking. No travel booked, no accommodation, just me and the kids , our belongings, a map and a smile. As we walk, skirting the highest mountain range on earth we will cross tranquil mountains seeped in pure serenity. We will get lost amongst fields of mustard amongst jaw dropping scenery and will find ourselves in villages all but forgotten.
Crossing the border to India we hit up Sikkim and the Himalayan skyline where we will watch the sun set over some of the highest peaks on earth. We will travel on Jeep deep into some of the most beautiful and untouched Himalayan landscape there is before heading across Northern India to the Tibetan exile of Mcleod Ganj. After a few days hippy style we head off the radar for a while taking up some of the world’s highest passes where ultimately we will end up battling altitude in one of the highest inhabited places on earth. We will cycle the highest passable road on the planet and will be closer to the summit of Everest than sea level – Over 99% of the world will be beneath us as we race through some of the most inhospitable landscape known to man.
We then skirt Pakistan and head to the Emirates where we travel the desert and ultimately Masdar, the city deemed by many to be the future, with a bit of Dubai and Abu Dhabi thrown in for good measure.
Currently the final leg of the journey will be either Egypt and Israel, or if Jack can make it, Turkey.
This trip will offer up things few adults have ever experienced and things even fewer kids have done. Charlie will be throwing himself off the highest bungee jump in the world, I will base jump the Annapurna massive and Abi will be zorbing down a slope some 4000m above sea level. We will all be throwing our guts up out of the window of the Manali – Leh bus and I will no doubt have to purchase oxygen on the dodgy. But we look toward a summer of adventure, a summer of fun, a summer of laughter and smiles, a summer to remember and the summer holiday of a lifetime.