Archive | September, 2014

Like Shooting Chateaux in the Loire


Château de Chenonceau

With hundreds of châteaux dotting France’s sprawling Loire Valley, finding one is easier than shooting fish in a barrel. Choosing which of the magnificent dwellings to visit, and which to leave for another time, is a far harder task. Here’s how we managed to decide.

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Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

To Go Gently Into That Good Night?

Cigarette smoke by Thomas Herbrich

Cigarette smoke by Thomas Herbrich

I’ve been thinking a lot about death lately. It all started after reading a handful of unrelated, but interconnected, essays on the topic over the past week.

I’ll confess, death has always been a problem for me. Not in the traditional sense, though. I don’t fear it. I fear pain and discomfort, but not death. Death is an end to all of that. My problem with death is that it creates practical problems for the living.

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French Lessons Included

La Maréchalerie

A side of French lessons came with the morning meal at La Maréchalerie, a bed-and-breakfast in the Loire Valley.

We don’t often talk about lodging places here on EverywhereOnce because so often they’re just not that memorable. We generally choose basic places to sleep and shower and to use as a base to explore an area. But staying at La Maréchalerie was almost as much of an experience as touring the surrounding Loire Valley.

Our stay began with a warm welcome from our host, Danny, who immediately offered us coffee, tea or a glass of locally produced wine. One glass of wine turned into several as Danny engaged us for over an hour, taking a genuine interest in our travels as well as sharing his near encyclopedic knowledge about the region and its history. Slightly inebriated we eventually headed to our room, clutching a specially-created binder burgeoning with maps and other information for crafting an itinerary in the Loire.

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The Vagabond Tax

"Actual" stoplight camera footage.

“Actual” stoplight camera footage.

Nobody ever said that bucking convention would be easy or necessarily cost free. We always knew that travelers typically pay more for all kinds of things. But when you travel full-time like we do, those extra charges become something akin to a lifestyle tax.

Some of the penalties travelers pay are in-your-face obvious, like the two-tiered pricing systems used in many places around the world. There’s one price for local residents and a different, higher price for visitors. Other penalties are less obvious, like the way it is more expensive to rent a car at an airport than in town or the way hotel rooms are taxed more highly than just about anything else you buy.

Travelers are even sometimes targeted by law enforcement for special treatment like we were in Fort Collins, CO.

Plenty of other penalties aren’t even deliberate. They arise from the fact that our square-peg lifestyle doesn’t always fit neatly into the round hole designed for everyone else. And that’s certainly the case with one particularly annoying trap that caught us most recently. Ironically it’s something that is designed to make life easier. And for everyone else it almost certainly does. But to us it is the most hateful innovation of all time: the automated traffic toll.

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