Last spotted in San Francisco, USA on March 28, 2003, 1:23 pm
Who is he? Where is he going? Where has he been? David Barrett / Quinthar

The World's Best Picnic Spot

One of my favorite outdoor activities is to picnic. Whenever I'm hiking, driving, or basically doing anything outside the city, I'm constantly on the lookout for the best place to spread out the red-checked tablecloth, uncork a chilled bottle of wine, dice up some cheese and pepperoni, and lounge in the sun.

As I'm traveling around the world, I intend to keep up my vigilent search, and record on these pages the best places I stumble across.

While driving coast-to-coast in the South Island of New Zealand I stumbled across a beautiful landscape of wind-swept limestone boulders. The rolling grassy hills were dry and brown from the winter weather, making the grey stone appear all the more out of place, as if they simply dropped from the sky and scattered over the land. I stopped the car and hiked up a small trail into and amongst the forest of stone, climbing over, under, and through the rock in an undirected wander.
Stranraer in the day wasn't terribly exciting so I headed out to the town's one youth hostel/guest house, which is actually a small building behind a beautiful guest house set in an active farm. After checking in I quickly set out for a walk amongst the rolling hills around the farm, eventually settling upon a spot in the midst of an alfalfa field to lie down for a nap. The tall greens effectively blocked the brisk wind while the sun warmed my dark jacket, and all in all, it was a good nap.
Thanks to Silver, Jr (my trusty Nissan Micra), I was able to peer into the nooks and crannies and "get away from it all". This particular away was down a side street off a well-traveled circle route of the peninsula. I park Silver where the road jags right, climb over a barbed-wire fence and walk along the top of a long, very old rock wall keeping the quietly nibbling sheep to my left from falling off the perilous cliff to my right. The grass-topped wall continues for a long way up a gradual incline, and then turns left to follow the corner of the pasture. I hop off at the corner and continue toward the sea.
The grass is spongy, but dry, and covers the bumpy ground like a thick gymnast's mat. The hill curves down to a dangerous slope leading eventually to an even more dangerous cliff over jagged rocks, pounding against the incoming waves. Carefully I creep down as far as I dare, step by step, and find a knoll on which to sit.
The knoll is round and soft, and juts from the diagonal inclin... [more]
Though completely inconceivable, this moutaintop castle, surrounded by an idyllic park and graced with unbeatable views of the mountain, is actually home to an active prison. As such, they say it's the country's tallest mountain: though you can get up in just a few minutes, it takes years to get back down.

I had absolutely no intention of going to Cyprus when I started this trip, but I am very glad I did. Cyprus is a wonderful country with an intricate history, major elements of which are playing out as we speak. As best as I can understand, it goes something like this:

Cyprus defines the border between West and Non-West (though not necessarily "East"). Througout history it has been conquered and reconquered by Roman, Turkish, Greek, and just about every other major force in the known world (at least, known to that region) at the time. As such, figuring out who "historically" owns Cyprus is not an easy task. At the end of World War I, at least, Cyprus was owned by Turkey, though the majority of the island's population was of Greek heritage. Turkey, heavily in debt to England, offered England joint ownership of the island in exchange for debt relief.

This continued up until World War II, when Turkey sided with the Germans and England, much put off by this, decided to take ... [more]
Under Banos runs the Rio Pastaza, over which hangs a tiny swinging bridge. A short trek with local pack-mules over this bridge leads up a path with a beautiful view of the river and city. The grassy knoll in the foreground is a terribly comfortable spot to sit with a notebook and write away the afternoon, meeting and talking with travelers along the trail. Note the waterfalls emerging from the city plateau -- just a few of the countless cascades to be found in the valley.
One day I decided to walk the length of the Tulum beaches, including the various rocky shores in between. At some point I stumbled upon a very nice secluded grove of coconut trees which I envision could be host to a fantastic picnic. It's quiet except for the surf, has a good blend of sun and shade, is accessible but still off the path, and so on. Sadly, I had no checked tablecloth on which to sit, so I contined on.
The topography of these cliffs is just amazing -- tiny paths lead out to suspended islands 30' above the beach sand. Some of these islands would perfectly fit a picnic for two, assuming both were willing to tread the precarious walkways. But once on the island, there's plenty to see: squirrels and jackrabbits scamper through the underbrush, falcons hover motionless on the updraft, and nothing but waves stand between you and the sunset.
With my NextPage blanket and sleeping bag, I curled up on the front seat of my car to sleep on Friday night. The place I picked was next to the Pidgeon Point lighthouse -- basically out in the middle of nowhere on a long stretch of protected coastline. I fell asleep listening to the runble of the crashing waves, periodically washed over with the distant spotlight.

In the morning I walked out to a beautiful day, brushed my teeth, and decided that this would be a fantastic location for a picnic. It's remote but accessible, has plenty of flat ground on which to spread a blanket, and the requisite gorgeous view. Furthermore, in the summer it would be the ideal place to find a private beach in the nooks of the coastline for swimming and sunbathing.
World's Best...

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