Yay! Two days delayed but we’re finally on the road again, on a family camping road trip in Europe. After 3 months of NOT being able to drive due to the strict coronavirus lockdown here in Spain, we were ready to hit the road. . . Again!
Naturally there’s a lot of concern about traveling/camping, especially since we are not completely out of the Covid-19 woods yet. Afterall, social distancing is gonna be a bit tricky in campsites and on the road.
And, imagine, we have 21 days to go up to Poland and another 21 back down. That’s a lot of potential contact with other travelers from all over Europe. Who knows how careful anyone else is?
But to go, we must!
To manage the risk, we plan to avoid big population densities at least as best we can. So, we’ll camp “in nature” and small towns to minimize contact with other travelers and still heed the call of the road.
No, we’re not gonna go all-out “wild” or free camping anywhere there’s flat-enough land! The boys are not ready for that. Heck, we (parents) are NOWHERE NEAR ready for that!
So, instead of big-city, tourist-y destinations as we have done in the past two years, we aim to make camping itself at off-the-beaten path locations our destinations.
Today, the first leg of our trip to the Sierra de Francia is the longest at six hours away.
It took two hours to load the car, our butts included. It helped to have pre-loaded the trunk and stage the rest in the living room the night before.
Travel start time: 2 pm. Late.
Unhurried. That’s how we like to roll with it this time around. But this late departure time was stretching it a bit because the campsite might be closed when we arrive. Pitching the tent and cooking dinner in the dark is no fun either.
On the road northbound from Jerez, the landscape changes from the sunflower fields and the white-chalky earth of palomino grapes of Cadiz province to the dry and brown grasslands of Extremadura. More and more greenery adds to the scene, especially as we climb the first set of mountains and cross over a couple of rivers.
Around the final hour we reroute from the Google-recommended route which is to go up and then back down.
We take a smaller, “unknown road” according to Google, road with a more direct route but a bit longer. It’s an off-the-beaten path along farm fields of La Granja.
After taking left at Abadia you’d ride along groves of anciano olive trees on short winding roads. About half an hour of twists and turns on mountain roads without guard rails onwards and upwards to Sotoserrano. Still not as bad as the zig-zaggy road nearby that is a destination in itself for the next time.
Final destination: Camping El Burro Blanco (The White Donkey) at Mirador del Castanar. Thank God, Allah and the Big Smiling Buddha, it’s open!
Taking unfamiliar roads get you to do things that you wouldn’t normally do like making an 12-point U-turn on a narrow mountain road because Google and this happy househusband got confused. Or simply getting off Google map is some sort of self liberation.
Sometimes you just had to do it. “Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone”, someone once said.
Please excuse the typos and grammar inconsistencies. I’m dojng this quickly from my phone when the kids are not aeound. Big Smile!