Eighteen – USA Road Trip P1

London – Salt Lake City

Sabrina and I set off for Chicago only 7 hours after we initially planned compliments to our efforts the day before. I think this was the first time Sabs had a significant amount of time off work so excitement was in the air. I had to keep reminding her that I was fine to drive on the highways given they are essentially straight roads but as soon as we entered into civilization it would be all over for us… I only had 2 questionable moments.

After a stress-free border crossing and our last coffee from Tims we established that by the end of the trip the car was going to be putrid, I would know every country song known to man and I would attempt to teach Sabrina all the words to Tribute. We arrived late that night in Chicago and stayed in a cozy hostel just on the outside of town. We had to keep majority of our movements pretty low key and away from any form of social media so our buddy Nic didn’t realise the main reason I was meeting him in Utah was to reunite him and Sabrina. For those of you who don’t know their story essentially think about your greatest friendship, add in the movie Stepbrothers, a few vodka Palm Bays and 4 years of separation. As I was fishing for information about his trip Nic mentioned to me how bummed he was that he couldn’t make it to Ontario to see her during his trip. I was excited to surprise him!

We essentially had one day in Chicago. We sussed out a few museums, ate deep dish pizza, made many puns about it being a windy city and walked around the park. Soon enough it was time for us to buckle up and get going again. We were on a pretty tight schedule.

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Between Chicago and Salt Lake City we stopped in Ogallala Nebraska and Denver Colorado. In Ogallala we ate Rocky Mountain Oysters, which for those of you playing at home are not oysters at all. Our server was hesitant to tell us that they were actually bull testicles. We figured they were deep fried and served with ranch. What more could you want? They were pretty damn good. Similar texture to calamari and the taste was comparable to veal. If you put them in a bread roll with homefries you have yourself one tasty buttie!

I was a little bit sad that we didn’t have more time in Colarado, it is somewhere I really want to explore. We got into Denver at around 7pm and needed to be out the next day by 4am to Reach Nic at the airport. We spent our night in a bar crafting the world’s greatest sign with a few pints of beer. We were blown away by how amazing we were at arts and crafts. As were leaving one gentleman asked us if our friend was French because we drew the Eiffel tower:

“Hey, what have you been creating all night”
“Oh this is a sign for our buddy, we are surprising him at the airport tomorrow”
“Is he French?”
“Uhh no, what makes you think that?”
“You have drawn the Eiffel Tower right there”
“… That’s the CN Tower”
We held back our tears and died a little bit inside… Screw him! Our drawings were an optical gift sent from the gods. His eyes just weren’t ready for our contributions to modern day art.

At 4am we attempted to sneak out of our Airbnb without waking up the entire household. It was a shame we were actually locked in our room. As I was about to make a break for the window our hazy eyed host opened the door and said “Shit, I thought I fixed this” I cannot tell you how happy we were the get the hell out of there it was a Criminal Minds episode in the making!

We had another 6 or so hours fueled by caffeinated bathwater, beef jerky and a playlist full of power ballads to get us to Salt Lake City. This was my favourite leg of our journey.

Seventeen – Back in London

I had a full week of alcohol-fuelled antics planned with Sabrina during my first week in Canada. The cherry on top would be my third Western homecoming. I remember London being a real student town. There was always a party somewhere and the late night norm would be a bunch of drunks getting kicked out of venues and waiting out the front of shwarma places or smashing back Little Caesars Hot and Ready. How things had changed.

I was so surprised that downtown had almost turned into a ghost town; I was really disappointed with the youth of today. Who seriously takes their studying so seriously that they don’t smash it back with a pint or 6 every night?
It was pretty clear that without mine and Sabrina’s contribution the world was going to end. So we did our part for the environment and bathed in beer and pizza for a week. By night number three I was being treated like a regular and had made bunch of new friends. Among other things, some of my drinking highlights included trading my favorite black top for what could be the coolest T-shirt ever made by engineering students, conversations with clowns and a magical break in planned by students hoping to get their hands on a giant keg which was in fact a fiberglass wine barrel.

When I was in Ireland I contacted quite a number of gyms and clinics located in London and managed to have quite a few interested in me. Unfortunately, just as I predicted, because I didn’t have the right visa requirements I was unable to secure work. It was the same story with a bar work and majority of the openings I came across. I accepted the fact that I would have to be home before Christmas to work.

As I was a ‘Lady of Leisure’ I had quite a bit of spare time during the day when Sabrina was at work. I joined up at a gym as my body was beginning to feel the impact of what was now a solid month of beer, late nights and shit food. I needed to move for my sanity. I also spent a lot of time cooking and I realised how much I missed it…. Whoever gets to eat my food at Christmas this year – You’re welcome! The rest of my time was spent hanging out with Sabrina’s animals and organising our road trip to the States and Nic’s Salt lake City ambush.

We had this great plan to kick off our trip at 9am on the Sunday after Homecoming. At 4:30 that afternoon we rolled into Sabrina’s car and set off on our journey… we were off to a good start.

Sixteen – I Made it to Canada!

I was excited to touch foot on Canadian soil. In order to save some cash I opted for the cheapest flight I could find… it included a 19-hour layover in St Johns.

I had this great big elaborate plan to drop my bags at the airport, rent a car and go explore the local area. However, given that I was sitting in money transfer limbo and there was nowhere to leave my bags I was suck at the airport. Instead of getting out and aboot I found a couch right out the front of Tims, plugged my laptop in and began my 19 hour Friends marathon. I would occasionally ask strangers to watch my stuff as I replenished my body with caffeine and Timbits. It was at this moment I knew I was going to roll out of Canada… again.

As much as I tried to put on my ‘leave me alone I haven’t showered’ face on I was approached by a stranger and we started talking. I discovered he actually worked at the airport at the Tim Hortons  I was drinking out of business.   After 7 hours I was still watching Friends…. but this time I had on my “seriously leave me the fuck alone” face. I started to get that feeling that someone was watching me so I had a cheeky side glance and there he was… Old Mate Timbit sitting next to me creepily waiting for me to spark up a conversation. He was on his break – it was the most awkward 30 minutes of my life but I was too tired to give a crap and waaaaay to into the Thanksgiving episode of friends that was on.

In order to save myself the embarrassment of being in that exact same spot what old mate finished I decided to move closer to my terminal. I only had a few more hours to go. Surprisingly the cold tiles and open space of the terminal was quite homely.

I was so happy when I landed in Toronto I cant remember what time it was but I know it was pretty early in the morning. I was staying in town that night with Sabrina and her friend Jacquie. Sabs told me I would be able to check in early and get some sleep as they were a good 10 hours away. As it turns out the woman couldn’t find my name on the hotel booking so I dumped my bags and jumped back on the waiting train. This time I got outside, explored a 20km round trip of Downtown, said ‘fuck it’ and found a bar.

So after a good 24 hours in transit, no shower, minimal sleep and the whole being day drunk thing I was pretty fried when Sabrina and Jacquie got to the hotel. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get though the night but when I saw Sabs I was so happy and full of energy the only thing I needed was a shower and another beer.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to share this next bit however I feel it could be a solid bit of advice for anyone trying to get out of a sticky situation plus its pretty entertaining.

We went out to a club which was all a bit much for me given I had just spent two weeks in divey bars with  town drunks, great cider and ridiculously good music. The lights, the people, the lines for the toilet… it was all jut a bit much for me. We danced for a bit, fought off wandering hands and the moment I saw an opportunity I sat the fuck down. Unfortunately I sat down next to Robbie –  I probably played the wrong card when I started making out with him but hell… I had a chair and I was wrecked. I began to get bored and he started to get annoying by this stage I just wanted to sit, finish my beer and get the hell out of there. After a solid 20 minutes of him practically begging me to go to the apparent ‘after party’ I told him that it was really important that I stick to my program, given that I was a recovering sex addict and I was learning how to say ‘No’ to people. He was speechless and THAT was my window…. BYE FELICIA!

After a long argument with the hotel elevator it was pointed out to me that I was actually scanning my card on an advertisement … not the actual scanner. I got 4 replacement cards that night because none of them worked. I am very grateful for the pizza delivery guy who took pity on me.

Fifteen – The Rest of Ireland

Holy crap I cant believe its been a whole month since I have posted here! I have a lot of catching up to share with everyone so lets take it back to my last week in Ireland

Between Donegal and Dublin we embraced our inner geeks and set out for a few Game of Thrones attractions via the Giants Causeway. We had one night in Belfast and a pretty big day of driving before we said goodbye to our beast and had our last two nights on the dodgy side of Dublin. The order that we did everything is a bit fuzzy so I will try my best to recap for you.

 

Giants Causeway
In one word – Wow!

I have said this a few times in the blog but Mother Nature is one hell of a lady. I would have loved to run along the coastline here, I was so happy. Kate snapped a great photo of me its my new favorite. I could have easily spent the entire day climbing on the pillars and exploring the area however we were on a schedule and we needed to get going.

During the entire trip Kate and I joked about finding swords and having a battle on Carrick-a-Rede and at the Dark Hedges in true GOT style. So naturally at the causeway gift store I bypassed all the hand crafted knickknacks and touristy crap and opted for the coolest sword a child could ask their parents for. Kate purchased one too – shit was about to get real.

 

Carrick-a-Rede Bridge

It was closed because of the wind and there was a huge group of tourists that walked at a snails pace. I was not impressed. Still I managed to grab photo I cant really argue with that. Kate and I were really excited to leave.

We stayed in  Belfast that night I wish we spent more time there.   We got in pretty late and were only there for one night. Kate and I went for a wander around at about 7pm and it was a ghost town… it was actually kinda eerie. We emptied our wallets at a tapas restaurant, which was totally worth it. We feasted on two of my favourite things – Meat and meat then washed it back with ice cold Sangria. The rest of the night was very low key we walked around for a little bit more and decided to call it a night we had a pretty big day ahead of us.

We were up before sunrise because we wanted to catch it at the Dark Hedges. Unfortunately it was really cloudy and we didn’t get the shots we were after. It was still freaking awesome. Between dodging cars and trying to set up the camera on a tree stump we managed to get some decent shots. It was a really good morning

 

I was surprised our car made the journey towards the end she was really struggling. I think we were really lucky to get it back to the rental place in one piece. I was even more surprised that we got it back in one piece. The roads in Ireland were a circus we only had one incident where we had to swerve to miss this looney flying around a sharp corner. Thankfully there was minimal damage and the rental place seemed to miss it.

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Our last two nights in Dublin were spent in a hostel in a not so nice part of town. We were right next to the equivalent of Centrelink and there were some very questionable individuals out and about. On the first night we headed to this pub around the corner and ate the best stew I’ve ever eaten and to top it off our server was a real hoot to speak to. He was very passionate about politics and had a really thick accent. It was very entertaining. After a few pints we called it quits and decided to catch some Zs… or so we thought.

There was this dick head who was in serious need of getting one of those teapot things and draining his sinuses. He was snoring for the entire night on a level that would give an F1 a run for its money. No body (except for him) got any sleep that night. I was pretty grumpy when I woke up but nothing a decent breakfast and a cup of coffee wouldn’t fix.

We found a this gem of a café during our first stay in Dublin, It was very Brunswick Street and the coffee was on point. We ventured down there for one last feed before we got stuck into some hard core touristy shit. After breakfast we went to Trinity College Kate paid for a tour and I just walked around… I couldn’t justify spending beer money. The campus was a lot smaller than I thought but it was nice. I found a Starbucks nearby ordered a coffee and called home as I waited for Kate to finish up. After that we saw a little bit more of the city but then decided we were in desperate need of a siesta.

Our flight out the next morning was pretty early so we needed to leave for the airport at 4am so out game plan was to dump our bags in the luggage storage, stay out as long as we could and then come home and binge watch Netflix in the common room until we passed out. We ate steak and Guinness pie at a place called Ginger Boy and my life was made. I ticked off every item of food I wanted to eat in Ireland. It was a real accomplishment. From there we headed to a comedy show I unfortunately had broken my seal and was singled out I knew it was coming and I actually contemplated what would be more humiliating pissing my pants or being heckled. After the show I was chatting to a local comedian and he gave me some solid advice. To avoid being singled out just say you work with sick children – they will leave you alone.

As soon as we made it back to the hostel the both of us passed out. I was woken by a girl who was in our dorm fleeing the wrath of the F1 snoring she commended us on our pre planning, jumped on our bandwagon and went to sleep.

On the bus to the airport I was really sad, I couldn’t believe my time in Ireland was coming to an end. It went so quickly. I loved travelling with Kate, we collected a bunch of great memories and thanks to her dynamite photography skills we were able to capture them.

I don’t know if she realized the height of my alcoholism… I regret nothing!

I was sad to say goodbye to Ireland however I was less than 24 hours away from Canada and that made me so freaking excited for my next chapter

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Fourteen – Co Donegal

Our  journey from Galway to Donegal was certainly my favourite. It was a long  day of driving but totally worth it about 13 hours in total. We started with an early morning wake up, toasted sandwich and a stroll around Connemara National Park. Again, we were blessed with some really good weather. Kate was all over where we were gong to hats off to her. There were stacks of places i had absolutely no idea about until we pulled up  and went exploring.

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Next on our list was the Gleniff Horseshoe. This was a 6mile long road  ripe with green fields, huge rock formations, beautiful bodies of water and abandoned farms and structures.  We lost track of time here  so when we realised how far behind schedule we were it was heads down bum up and  pedal to the medal (within reason because the roads were ridiculously narrow). As the sky was still clear we made the decision to add a few more hours of driving and head down to Slieve League. We messaged our Airbnb host and said we would arrive around 6pm and then headed to another set of seaside cliffs.

We stopped off at this adorable coffee place along the way. It resembled a tiny caravan pod parked on the side of the road and delivered Melbourne worthy coffee. We were in heaven.Within 15 minutes we were almost at the cliffs when we were ambushed by a French couple. They literally ran out in front of our car and begged us for a lift.  They spoke very little english but we could tell they were very grateful. As soon as we got to Slieve League i understood why…. they probably had an extra 1okm uphill to walk before they would reached their car and by then it would have been pitch black.  We dropped them off and they thanked us it was quite entertaining.

I instantly saw the stop of the cliff and i said “i wanna go there” so i did. I wanted to spend as much time as possible up there so i said ciao to Kate and  moved as quickly as i could. The feeling  i had sitting on the cliff edge was very similar to that i received onto of Kilimanjaro. It was energising and emotional and bloody scary.  I had the biggest smile on my face because a few weeks back i was standing on the top of the world and now i was sitting on the edge. I couldn’t help but wander what else this trip has in store for me.  I don’t know how long i stayed up there for i so badly just wanted to pitch a tent and camp out or keep walking until it got dark.  I am extremely grateful that Kate got her creep on and took a bunch of photos of me at the top. We both have snapped a couple of good ‘cover worthy’ pics of each other. I can’t wait to see them!

As the sun started to set we realised that we would be driving in the darkness on those god damn Irish roads. We messaged out host Kathleen and said we would be another 2 hours delayed as it was currently about 630pm. It took me about 45 minutes before i  figured out how to keep the high beams on. I really missed my getz on those roads. Our car was a fat beast who struggled to get out of first gear.

We finally arrived in the middle of nowhere to our home for the next two nights. Kathleen’s Place was adorable. She greeted us outside like we were her own children and took us in. The bed was the most amazing thing i have ever slept in and for the first time in about a week we had water pressure…. Praise Jesus hallelujah.

Now you may be wondering why we were staying in the middle of nowhere close to the tip of Northern Ireland. Our plan was to try and catch the Northern lights as they can be spotted from there however the readings were too low on both nights. It was pretty devastating however we made light of the situation by watching snippets of the Simpsons and promised that we would catch them at some point together.

Day Two in Donegal saw as venture into Derry. I liked it here there wasn’t much to do as we didn’t do much research and had restricted time on our parking so we walked around for a bit checked out the local mall and then jumped back in the car. We had the plan to drive to Malin Head to catch the lights that night so we drove there during the day to come familiar with the roads etc…. It was really windy but we saw another breathtaking view of Ireland and its landscapes. It was a bit sad that we didn’t see Aurora Borealis , we kept an eye on the radar every 10 minutes or so. As i said before the readings were too low. However instead we watched friends re runs and drank tea…. I was still a winner!

Fun fact: we couldn’t find a large thermos ANYWHERE in Ireland.

 

 

 

Thirteen – Co Galway

I LOVED GALWAY

I am beginning to lose track of days and what we did along the way. Galway was particularity more difficult to remember as i was a little bit drunk both nights we were there. The city was busy and full of character i felt at home instantly.  I met so many great people and kissed a few Irish boys (sorry dad!). I also found a husband for mum, he is pictured below. It was a lot of fun.

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I can’t remember what we did on our drive from Clare to Galway i may have to come back here to edit. I do know that Kate was starting to loose her shit in anticipation for the grand final the next day. We had been keeping tabs on the doggies spam filling up our Facebook feeds and were getting nervous for the big game. Our first task when we got into Galway was to find a pub that could either play it live or record and replay it for us.  We found two and decided to go with the Skef as it had a better atmosphere. We spoke to the manager and he told us it wouldn’t be a problem, they would record it and then we would be in at 8am to watch the game.

We were in another hostel in Galway. This time however we were in a shared dorm. I think there may have been 11 people in the room.  We had the same conversation with an older lady about 3 times she was lovely and slight dementia aside she had some balls. She was pretty cool. There were no problems in that room it was pretty chilled.

Our first night we went on a  pub-crawl which was great to meet people. We met an American named Alex who was travelling around and doing quite a few work away programs. I have added them to my to do list! We also met a few more Aussies who were on exchange, a few guys from NZ and thats all i can remember. At our second pub i got my classic Ella on and went for a wonder. I ended up at the bar talking to this old guy who was part of some marathon club. He was wearing a jacket with a plethora of badges from a few ultras I’m familiar with. So naturally i had to give him a pat on the back. I struggled to get a word in because he was so freaking funny. He and his mate had a race on the next day and were absolutely hammered with zero fucks to be had. Classic Ireland. My pitcher was ready so I said goodbye i had to lean over to get it from the bar and as i did so his mate advanced to give me a kiss on the cheek…. there was an old creepy man kiss in the way of my beer so i just went with it. I was not ready for what happened next, instead of a peck on the cheek he bit my ear. It wasn’t a cheeky nibble either. It was savage and absolutely hilarious.  Kate and Alex did a quick check for blood we were in the clear… no Tetanus!

The pub-crawl ended at a pretty dodgy ‘club’  we were not fans. Kate ended up going however Alex and I continued on. It was pretty late so most places were closing up. We heard live music coming from inside a building and approached the security guard:

“Excuse me sir, is this establishment closed,”
“Yes, we are closed”
“Even for thirsty tourists from Australia and America”
*security guard opens door*

I was a bit seedy when i woke up the next morning. I ended up getting locked out on the roof of the hostel. One of those stupid doors that only opens from the inside. As it turns out i was actually on the roof of the hostel next to ours which would explain why my key didn’t work in the first place. But not to worry it was Grand Final Day! In fact, it was a double Grand Final Day as we had the Gaelic Football Replay between Dublin and Mayo that night. Spirits were very high.

We walked into the Skef at 8am and waited for the manager to get in as he was the only one who knew wtf was going on. As we were waiting  i heard the familiar sound of an Australian accent asking about the replay. I jumped out of my seat, ran up to the couple and said “Friends! Please come join our party!” I creepily face them both a hug and then we were all instant best friends. Another guy eventually came in but he was a ninja and disappeared without a trace when the game was over.

It was now about 8:20am and the manager came over to the tv to set up the game. We were all not ready for him to turn on live coverage of the game showing the results. There was a great big communal “WHAT THE FUCK TURN IT OFF!!!” he couldn’t understand why it was such a big deal. He was very apologetic and we were all almost at the point of tears. Not to worry, going by the end score we assumed it would be a good game to watch so we waited for the replay to come on. It never did. They didn’t record it. We were cut up and the manager looked a little bit afraid of us all together. Thankfully the other pub that we scouted the day before had the recording so we picked up our heads and moved on. It would have been so much better if we didn’t already know the outcome. Regardless it was still a great game and a great morning.

Once the game was over Janae and Grant invited us to watch the Gaelic game with them at a different pub around the corner. It was agreed that we would go home, have a nap  and meet up in the afternoon. 3pm came around and we finally got our finals atmosphere. The game didn’t start until 7pm and the bar was packed by 5.30. We met a bunch of crazy dublin fans which were hilarious we needed up hanging out with them for most of the night. Dublin won, by a small margin and sadly majority of the supports were Mayo fans so when the boys in blue got up  the reaction of the crowd was priceless. There we were with crazy Dubliners going mental infant of us and then in every other direction dead silence.

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Kate got shitty with me on this night because i misheard her “I’m going to the toilet” and instead heard “I’m going home” so i was like okaayy and then wondered off doing my usual thing. I had an amazing chicken shnitty and woke up a bunch of people back home because i felt like just having a chat so sorry to everyone i called!  I didn’t find out until the next day that she couldn’t find me and left. I felt horrible. But once we cleared the air we were back to normal. I admire that.

I got a little bit homesick in Galway. I spoke with Sheree for a bit and then i saw a bunch of photos of all my sitters on holiday together and i just wanted to be with them. I am really looking forward to giving them great big bear hugs and share my stories!

Twelve Co Clare

We were blessed with fantastic weather for a day full of activities.

Blarney castle and the grounds there were beautiful. Kate and I made our way around the poison garden with Irish Coffees in hand and being tourists. This garden was fascinating they had an array of different plants with different properties that can actually do a bit of damage to someone. My personal favorite was the ‘common box’ I got the giggles every time I saw it. Its supposed to confuse witches  and prevent them from entering your property however its safe to assume ye old ‘common box’ was  confusing  for most men as well.

Other plants featured in the garden included White Oleander, Cannabis, Mandrake Root, Nightshade and Tobacco.  Sadly the cannabis was fenced off. I heard an older lady say to her friend that her grand daughter would love this because she’s a pothead.

We headed up to the castle once our coffees were finished to get the gift of the gab. We went on a self-guided tour of the castle. I was surprised to find out that castles were actually dark, cold and depressing places. All the fun happened in the palace! We ascended what seemed like a never-ending spiral staircase to get to the stone. I tell you what, that stone is a lot further down than it looks. I didn’t think about the amount of lips that have touched the stone. Instead, it was another experience to tick of the ‘things to do before you die’ list.

We the proceeded to walk around the grounds and we stumbled across the wishing steps. Legends say that if you can get down and back up the steps with your eyes closed and thinking only about your greatest desire your wish will come true. In all fairness walking blind up and down slippery uneven stone steps probably wasn’t the best thing for us to do considering both Kate and I have messed up knees however…. in the words of Jordan Cox  “mamma wants that trophy” My trophy being a Canadian/Irish husband who is a musician, plays rugby and has a puppy!

… Its going to happen people!

After Blarney we took a rather lengthy detour to the happiest place on earth for donkeys. The donkey sanctuary is a farm that rescues animals from cruel environments etc.. i don’t know how impressed Kate was with it however she did admit to me that it was pretty cool. They were so happy and friendly I even managed to get a good selfie. I felt like a kid in a candy store I was so excited.

Next on our list was the Cliffs of Moher. These weren’t as fun as the donkeys but still  i was happy to see them. It was extremely windy and if you were lucky you would get an ocean spray. I got two of these… purely by choice it looked like fun to walk through.  I was blown away (no pun intended) by the landscape. Green rolling hills suddenly transform into angry sharp cliffs with a drop off down into the deep blue waters. Its beautiful. I would have liked to run the trail along the cliff edges but we didn’t have the time. I am envious of locals who have that path on their doorstep.

Our accommodation in Clare was in a small festival town called Lisdoonvarna. We had timed our trip so that we would catch some of the annual match making festival  so the both of us were so excited to check it out. We certainly did not expect for it to be dead. Because it was mid week there wasn’t much on, not many people were out and about  and there was only one pub open for food. We ate there both nights.It was common for us to catch the guy who was working in the hostel cursing and asking where the fuck everybody was. We had a private room in the hostel. It was exactly what we paid for but neither of us really cared. I was however, craving some decent water pressure!

Day two in Clare i was quite sick. I ended up going down to the local doctors to get some medication. Actually now that i think about it i think we did the cliffs on this day… doesn’t change my thoughts about them. I am pretty sure the highlight of my day was the cracker nap i had and the 2 litres of water i smashed. I have been really bad with drinking water on this trip. Normally I’m 2-3 litres down in a day. Lately I’ve been lucky to get 2 -3 cups. That has to change.

Our next stop wasn’t that far away so we decided it would be good to get a sleep in and just chill out for a bit