Under construction

We are home and planning our next adventure because the compass never stops spinning. Check out my Future Adventures tab to see some of the possibilities! I’d love your feedback and ideas.

My hero

the distinguished Captain James Cook

It was nice to see that the city of Anchorage has honored one of history’s most intelligent, courageous, and accomplished explorers. The first European to explore Alaska (searching for the elusive Northwest Passage between Europe and Asia), Cook not only accurately defined the coastline of Alaska, but cleaned up the map of the entire Pacific Ocean. And he found a cure for scurvy, saving the lives of countless sailors. He was a hero in his own time and was granted diplomatic immunity on the seas during wartime by all three adversaries: England, France, and the brand new United States of America.

I have read that Cook had only one failing, and that was his short temper. In February 1779, on his third and final voyage to the Pacific, he lost his temper and fired into a crowd of angry natives on the Island of Hawaii. Natives clubbed him and held him under the surf until he drowned. He was only 51 years old and, no doubt, had much more to contribute to the world.

To commemorate one of the world’s greatest navigators, the 150-mile stretch of water from Anchorage to the Pacific Ocean was named for him–Cook Inlet.

The Rock

Recognize the profile of the Rock just behind the wind turbines? The mountains behind it are in Morocco.

Recognize the profile of the Rock just behind the wind turbines? The mountains behind it are in Morocco.

I missed Gibraltar. We originally planned to make it a day trip from Casares, but the weather eliminated a couple of travel days and we were having such a great time exploring the pueblos blancos (white villages) in the mountains that we elected not to drive down to the coast. But I was still hopeful that we could get at least close enough for photos on our way to our next destination, Jeréz. Not so.

We were anxious to get down the mountain from Finca Mosca before the forecasted thunderstorms hit the area. As we drove along the coast, we reached a point where we had to make the decision: Gibraltar to the south or Jeréz to the northwest? The clouds grew increasingly dense and dark as they roiled in from the Atlantic. We have some pretty intense storms in Florida, but nothing like the one brewing to our south. They say this type of weather comes into the Mediterranean from the Canary Islands off the northwest coast of Africa. I can believe it. This is the type of wild weather I’d expect from the open Atlantic. We chose to bypass Gibraltar. I know it was the right decision. The rain hit Jeréz about the time we arrived, and hovered over the city the entire week we were there.

So I didn’t get to touch the Rock, and I didn’t even get to see it up close. This is difficult for someone who loves geographical extremes and historical oddities. The Rock of Gibraltar, that crazy profile we know from the Prudential Insurance Company logo, is one of the mythical Pillars of Hercules. The other is Monte Hacho in Ceuta, across the Strait of Gibraltar in northern Africa. (Ceuta is actually a territory of Spain.) The “pillars” are only nine miles apart but stand on two different continents. Together they form the gateway from the Atlantic Ocean into the Mediterranean Sea, or, from the perspective of ancient Mediterranean civilizations, they define the end of the earth as they knew it.

Gibraltar is only 2.6 square miles in area, but due to its unique location it is prized politically. Whoever owns Gibraltar controls the passage of shipping traffic through the portal. It is a major vantage point, strategically and financially. It’s been conquered by many countries over the centuries; it’s been a British territory since 1713. Some say Britain’s possession of Gibraltar kept Spain from joining the Axis forces at the beginning of World War II. Having just emerged from a devastating civil war, Spain was not about to antagonize the British and jeopardize shipments of much need supplies through the strait.

The Spanish want Gibraltar back, badly. And why not? If they acquire Gibraltar, they’ll have both pillars – a matched set. But we know the desire to reclaim it is more than esthetic. And Britain is somewhat attached to her rock. As recently as 2002, the British residents of Gibraltar voted to reject Spanish sovereignty.

So sorry to miss this intriguing corner of the world, but so fortunate we had these views from the hilltop of Casares. It wasn’t the same as being there, but even from a distance I could sense the power of this majestic rock.

Book #2 is out!

England bookcover.001




England & Wales at the speed of life: making ourselves at home on the road.

If you enjoyed my Great Britain blogs and my Scotland book, you will love my new ebook which has been released in the iTunes Store and iBooks. I’ve added 73 blogs to the 44 originally posted, complete with stunning photographs and videos my husband took, such as the one above of Lindisfarne Castle in Northumberland. The countryside was absolutely gorgeous and inspired many of my blogs, as did the adventures we had as we learned to slow our pace and make ourselves at home on the road.

On iBooks: England & Wales at the speed of life on iTunes.apple.com

You can also find my Scotland book…

On iBooks: Scotland at the speed of life on itunes.apple.com

On Kindle: Scotland at the speed of life on Amazon

On Nook: Scotland at the speed of life at Barnes & Noble

On Kobo: Scotland at the speed of life on Kobo