About Me…Carol Vasel and my Adventures in Flip Flops…

     This is not a typical travel blog but more of an adventure blog. I’ve loved to explore since I was a kid, frequently coming home mud streaked and filled with stories of neighborhood escapades. Still today, after a good day of exploring in my yard or out in the world, I will arrive home dirt covered, scraped up and happy from checking out new paths. 

Half the Fun is Getting There

     Anyone can travel and go places. You will get from A to B with little to no risk or mishaps. But there is not much chance to truly explore. Half the fun is in the journey. My itinerary is packed and we rarely spend two nights in the same place…to try and drive to see as much as possible. It can be exhausting, but worth it, based on how much we can cram into one day…or one week. I found if you travel with a big travel company or crowded tour, you will get to see all the big sights in the shiny brochure, but it is predictable and plain. It gets the job done. There are no side trips, no “let’s see what’s over there?” There is no stopping unexpectedly for ruins, wildlife, castles, or whatever you want to see. Not to toot my own horn, as they say, but I have found I am good at planning travel. I’m good at planning in a way that I can usually jam much more than most people into a day. On my trips, I plan extensively, but you never know what will happen. Everyone I have traveled with has commented, “You should do this for a living, I’ve never traveled like this before.”  And more often than not, trips involve hidden hot springs, awe inspiring views, breweries, unique accommodations, finding an out of the way hidden gem in nature and my flip flops. 

Yoga Mat Power Flippies

     Once I discovered flip flops that are made from old yoga mats, I rarely wear any other shoes, sooo comfy. I found after wearing my yoga-squish flippies for so long, that when I wear regular shoes, I feel like my dog when forced into shoes. My feet feel heavy and clunky, moving all herky jerky, forcing me to trip randomly.  So I am “that person” you see on hikes to waterfalls and to the bottom of canyons that is not wearing “appropriate footwear” but trust me, I’m safer in the flippies. Unless prohibited or it’s below freezing. 

Caminito del Rey Trail and the Carminito shoes

Is This Even a Road…Should I be Driving Here?

          I am not one of those adventure types that jump from airplanes or race around on motorcycles…that’s my closest friend Angie. But somehow, even my “ordinary” travel plans seem to always turn into little adventures. One phrase is said out loud at least once during every one of my vacations…

“Is this even a road, should I be driving here?”

     I will be driving along on a well mapped, meticulously planned trip and suddenly it happens… we are in the middle of a lava field in Iceland on a deeply pitted narrow path seemingly too small for a vehicle, the sides of the car surrounded by tall black rocks. 

     “Is this even a road?”

     We are driving through Seville, Spain and follow the gps, turning down a building-lined road, so narrow we have to fold down the side mirrors to avoid scraping them against the building. We do a 14 point turn to get off that street and not hit a building, pulling out right into a town square, complete with brick pavers, a large public fountain and women pushing baby buggies.

     “Wait, is this even a road?”

     We find our car that we parked on a road about a block from our hotel in Morocco, in the morning completely surrounded by a public market, packed with fruit stands and hundreds of shoppers and no clear route to drive out.

     “Is this even a road?”

     Sometimes it really does just happen…but sometimes it is a result of…”I wonder what’s over here?” Or “Maybe we should see what down this way.”

     Not only does it happen every trip, it seems to be a good descriptor for my life in general. 

Traveling Cures All – Almost

         I was diagnosed with TMJD about 16 years ago and have had varying degrees of daily headache/ neck and shoulder pain since. The pain is exacerbated by stress and had recently been much worse. I had lost my dad after a long battle with cancer.  My extreme pain was overwhelming. I had been a special education resource teacher for 16 years and then taught at a school for students with behavioral challenges for 2 years. Most of the time, to “get through” the school year, I began taking photography classes and planning “photography field trips,” I called them…little vacations to take pictures of beautiful places and save my sanity.

    Thinking a travel fix was the answer to my woes, I spent every school break traveling…go go go. I road tripped again, mostly with Angie, but sometimes alone, and sometimes with other friends…through Costa Rica, Canada, Iceland, Portugal, Spain, Morocco, France, Andorra, Gibraltar and a number of road trip through the southwest and coastal areas of the U.S. It seemed though, that the pain was winning. Even travel, my beloved escape, was becoming a challenge. I needed to push life’s reset button. I quit teaching. I needed to take time to travel and to heal physically and emotionally. It is not always easy to travel with chronic pain, but I have a lot of tricks to help me power through. (Although there are days that are a struggle and items need to get lopped off the itinerary.) I have been to 49 states, 15 countries and 327 breweries and counting.

Window views at Rock of Dunamase

Adventure Awaits

    “Is this even a road…,” began as a funny coincidence, in that it happened on every trip…losing the road…but the more I reflect on those words…the more I feel they describe my path in life…Is this really a road…should I be driving here…?  These are my sometimes ridiculous stories of losing the road and carving my path.

Sidenote: All of the adventures I have shared on isthisevenaroad.com are of past travels only. Due to coronavirus, I am not currently traveling, but staying home and creating safe virtual vacations for my readers. Fortunately, I have a lot of stories to share about my experiences in our beautiful world. Thank you for reading.🙂 Stay safe.