Spring is almost here. Plans are made. The only thing between me and new mountains is a family vacation to Cuba.
Seven High Peaks conquered, thirty-nine more to go. And an ambitious schedule to achieve them put in place. Lots of work done, so much more to go!
But first, CUBA!
Lauren and my sister, Erika, first visited Hotel Don Lino in Holguin, Cuba a few years back. Since then, it has become our go-to vacation spot. Not only is it decently priced, but we’ve met so many great travelers and locals here that it has become like a mini family reunion each February. This year was no exception, except this time we were bringing my family along for the trip. It’s been a long time coming to have my parents and Erika & her hubby, Andre(w), take a real family vacation together. We’ve done Niagara Falls, Parc Safari and tons of day trips when we were younger and even a couple trips to visit family in Alberta. But this was different. This vacation came with no weddings, no commitments, no plans other than sitting on a beach drinking, eating and enjoying life in the sun.
It’s funny how seven days with no responsibilities can simultaneously move so slowly, yet so fast. Every day brought great weather, food (not good food, just sustenance – Cuba’s biggest downfall for most tourists) and some great family time. We were able to introduce my family to our familia Cubana: Tony, his wife Lilly and their daughter Alison. Erika and Lauren befriended Tony on their initial trip and we stay in touch with him throughout the year. It’s been four consecutive years and Tony and his family have become our own as well. The pig I’m roasting in the photos above are at Tony’s family home. This pig roast was their gift to us and man was it delicious. We all took turns rotating the spit over the fire, polishing off beers and the freshest pineapple ever while we waited.
Cuba never disappoints me. We had a great day & dinner in town with Tony & family, an awesome afternoon at the beach down the road. I read a great book, The Trial by Franz Kafka, which is still tickling my brain weeks later. We’d finally gotten the tropical island family vacation I’d always wanted. My parents got a well deserved break from the every day shenanigans of life. Most importantly, we made a small difference in a lot of local Cuban folks’ lives with the items we’d brought with us: eyeglasses, medical supplies, extra shoes and clothes – the list goes on. Alas, it was time to come home. I can’t lie, there is a Wendy’s Baconator in my very near future. Travel days are not my best friend. What is it about traveling that makes most human beings reach their absolute pinnacle for how to be obnoxious? I just don’t get it. The highlight of the uneventful return trip home was when Lauren beat me to the obvious Mitch Hedberg joke about the Cuban escalator being broken.
After a great week in the sand and sun, returning home to the final leg of Winter was something I was dreading. I’d spent a part of my week putting together a very ambitious schedule that will hopefully allow me to finish the 46 High Peaks by the end of 2020. This requires at least one trip per month from the Spring til the Fall each year with multiple mountains on most trips. I’m hoping to not have to push my finish in to 2021, but we’ll see what happens. I made a few plans for a couple special hikes that I’ll keep to myself for now.
Since returning, I’ve bought a sweet tent and sleeping bags for Lauren and I. We’re gonna get our Joe & Jane Wilderness on like champions this summer. Although, I have no idea how to pitch a tent. HA! I bet a video of me trying to set it up for the first time could go viral with some sort of headline like “Man inexplicably twists himself up in tent, falls on poles, dies.” But we’ll save that for another time. I’ve landed back home, planned as best I can and now the time my first Winter High Peak attempt is here.