“The mountains are calling and I must go”, John Muir wrote in a letter to his sister in 1873, and after being in the Sierra Nevada mountains for the last few weeks, I can understand how he felt.
By mid-June, Chris and his hiking bubble had completed 25% of the trail, ending the “desert” portion of the trail. Starting June 14, he hiked out of Kennedy Meadows South, and began traversing the southern Sierra mountains. This part of the trail included the longest stretch of the trail with no access to resupply points, and no cell coverage. I camped with him at Cottonwood Meadow Campground, up in the Alabama Hills just west of Death Valley and the little town of Lone Pine on 395, and brought him a giant Subway sandwich and enough dry foods for eight days of hiking. Which makes a really heavy pack! When he left the next morning, he began the trek to get to the top of Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the continental US.
Upon the advice of some friends, we looked into a repositioning cruise to start our world trip. As luck would have it, we found one leaving around the same time that we wanted to travel, going from LA to Sydney, Australia. So we figured we’d start our journey there and eventually work our way back.
After staying with family for three days in California, we boarded the Carnival Legend in Long Beach and immediately set sail for Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. We enjoyed a day of walking around the Malecon and downtown areas, stopping for cervezas and ceviche when we got too hot.
Then out to sea for a week. We skirted tropical storm Norbert, and crossed the equator. Eventually we landed in Tahiti, the capital of French Polynesia. We teamed up with another couple, Kirk and Tricia, and rented a taxi for the day and had a great 7 hour tour. Lots of Captain Cook history, beautiful surf spots, and tropical vistas. The next day we docked at Moorea, an island just 14 miles away, and enjoyed a lovely second day in Paradise (French Polynesia). We took a small minibus tour and visited some Polynesian temple sites, a look out at the harbor, and a fruit juice plantation. Then we got dropped off at the local beach and enjoyed the crystal clear water. And our last day in French Polynesia was at Bora Bora. Instead of a tour, we decided to just relax at the Hotel Intercontinental beach and gaze at their fabulous over-the-water-bungalows. And sample tasty tropical rum drinks. Amazing.
Back to the boat, and another few days at sea, crossing the international date line- we completely skipped the 15th of September! We docked at Suva, Fiji, on a day when they were having elections for the first time since a military coup. Luckily we were able to still do a short tour, to a village, an eco resort, and a waterfall. Most of the downtown capital city was closed for elections, but we got a feel for the place.
After International Pirates Day (a very fun party on the boat), we landed at Noumea, New Caledonia. Part of France, they are supposed to get independence in 2 1/2 years… but 1/3 of the world’s nickel comes from Noumea, so I wonder how that is going to go. We visited their extremely cool architectural cultural center, and visited a lookout and a church, had some food, and enjoyed our day there. In the capital they had a monument to the US for their help in World War II. We sampled their local beer (Number 1!) and then it was time to get back on the boat.
We enjoyed our cruise very much. We took dance classes each day, attended a few art classes (bought two paintings at an auction!), used the gym, swam in the the pools, and ate our weight in all kinds of food. It was certainly a relaxing way to get to Australia. I’m glad we chose that as a way to start our journey.