80 Days with Aline
Aline Hopkins worked in economics, marketing and lecturing before ‘retiring’ at fifty to pursue interests which mainly included travel, photography, and some writing. Having Cumbrian ancestors, Aline was a regular visitor to Keswick and eventually moved here in 2006.
In 1992 Aline was involved in a serious accident which forced her to reassess her priorities in life.
The sudden realisation that life is short and it’s not a good idea to keep putting things off resulted in Aline putting together what is now commonly known as a ‘bucket list’. On it were things like write a book, go hot air ballooning, visit various countries and go around the world.
Aline has now visited over forty-five countries and made two around the world trips, the last one, in 2013, was in 80 days, done the ‘easy’ way – flying rather than going overland in the style of Phileas Fogg and Michael Palin.
The Decision to go…
In 2013, one of Aline’s American nephews invited her to his engagement party and feeling a bit down due to what seemed like constant rain in Keswick and the recent death of her mother, she decided she would go to the party and then keep heading west.
America and Canada
The engagement party took place at the historic Saratoga Springs racetrack, which was celebrating its 150 year anniversary. After this Aline made a short excursion into Canada with her family for some fishing and R&R. She then travelled to Chicago in order to see an exhibition of photographs by the late Vivian Maier, a nanny and keen photographer who had chronicled daily life in Chicago.
While having lunch, Aline noticed planes writing in the sky, and discovered it was the weekend of the annual Chicago Air Show. Numerous planes were performing aerobatics over the lake, some singly and some in formation, quite a spectacle.
From there she went to Rapid City and took excursions into Custer State Park, Needles State Park and the Mount Rushmore National Memorial – the faces of four former presidents carved into the rock face. Aline then joined a coach tour which stopped over in Cody for the nightly rodeo, then at a traditional ranch before going on to Yellowstone to view the hot springs, mud pools and geysers – including ‘Old Faithful’ in the caldera of what everyone now knows to be the Yellowstone supervolcano.
Next stop was Jackson, and Grand Teton National Park. The Tetons are a magnificent mountain range looming up from the Jackson Hole valley. Rafting on the Snake River gave Aline the opportunity to photograph the Tetons from a different perspective. The tour ended at Salt Lake City, where Aline was lucky enough to be able to watch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir record their weekly radio broadcast.
Aline then flew to San Francisco, where she did excursions to see the Giant Redwoods at Muir Woods, and into Yosemite National Park with its marvellous scenery and famous climbing peaks. In the city she went to see the seals at Pier 39, and discovered that taking place in the bay was the America’s Cup. America and New Zealand were in the final and when Aline left San Francisco the New Zealand team was well in the lead. But then the Americans hired Ben Ainslie………
The South Pacific and New Zealand
The Cook Islands were next on Aline’s itinerary, a place with turquoise seas, white sandy beaches, swaying palm trees and beautiful islands scattered among the coral atoll. Here Aline visited Aitutaki, One Foot Island and Rarotonga.
Heading south to New Zealand’s South Island and a change of climate, Aline found Christchurch was undergoing a lot of demolition and rebuilding following the recent earthquake there, which had had devastating consequences. She headed south and visited numerous lakes, saw snow-covered mountains, including Mount Cook – New Zealand’s highest mountain. From Queenstown she went on a trip to Milford Sound on a very rainy day, and though the clouds covered the tops of the fjord’s mountains, the waterfalls were spectacular. After a hair-raising crossing of the Haast Pass following a landslide, from Wanaka to the milder west coast, she saw the Pancake Rocks and a lot of seals. At Kaikoura Aline joined a whale watching trip and was fortunate to see a sperm whale, before going back to Christchurch having completed a circumnavigation of South Island. And by this time America had won the America’s Cup.
Next stop was Sydney, where it just happened to be the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the Australian Navy. The harbour filled up with battleships and other craft from various countries, and the tall ships were there to help celebrate the event. Aline took another whale watching trip, and this time was lucky enough to see a humpback whale with calf, doing lots of splashing and breaching. It was a very wet day and the guide said ‘you should see them when it’s hailing – they must love the feel of the rain and hail on their skin’. At the end of the week there was a large firework display.
The final place on Aline’s itinerary was Singapore. A vibrant city which has used landfill to expand outwards to include a new airport and sights such as the Gardens by the Bay. Aline enjoyed visits to the Botanical Gardens and the Jurong Bird Park before finally heading home.
All in 80 days. An exhilarating adventure. “Would love to do it again!”