Claassen Family Vacation – South Africa
When my younger brother Sam chose to spend a semester studying abroad in South Africa, I was elated. Sam is willing to try anything, and I knew South Africa wouldn’t disappoint his adventurous spirit. Selfishly, I also hoped I could sneak in a return trip to one of my favorite countries to visit him. Two weeks after returning back to the US from Lead Now, I hopped on a plane to South Africa with my parents. 40 hours later, we landed in Cape Town.
Lead Now began in South Africa last June. The immaculate rock, gorgeous weather, rapidly evolving culture, and energetic community made it one of my favorite stops on our tour. After six weeks of climbing on the eastern side of the country, near-ish to Johannesburg, I didn’t want to leave. South Africa had captured my heart, and I was eager to return and explore other parts of the country.
This was the first non climbing trip I have embarked on in many years. After the constant pressure to project near my limit for the past year, I was excited to spend some time relaxing with my family. In full-fledged tourist mode, we went on safaris, ate seafood, and took long (not so romantic) walks on the beach.
People ask what I missed the most while I was overseas the last year. I didn’t really miss the things I had craved on previous trips – my bed, homemade pancakes, English television. All I truly missed were my friends and family. I’m fortunate that my family has always had the opportunity to travel together, and it’s fun to continue those family trips even as adults (ha!). Sam and I even took over driving and navigating duties – after 23 years of family trips we finally earned our way to the front of the car!
Aside from the long travel days, two weeks with the people I love most was the perfect way to reunite after time apart. I’m proud of Sam for all that he is doing, and I’m proud of my parents for tolerating our travel bugs (which don’t seem to be waning, sorry Mom and Dad). I’m lucky to have parents who love to explore and travel themselves, and will let their children drag them down dirt roads at night through tall grasses in Africa (sorry about that one too!).
As with all families, we’re all feeling antsy to get back to our own routines. As for me, I’m eager to get back out climbing – this time on the road in the US. It’s been a while since I traveled solo, and I’m pretty stoked. A few days to recover from jetlag and then I’m off to Smith Rock!
On another note, check in to LT11.tv on Friday April 25th at 11am for a LIVE webcast I’m doing with Jon, the LT11 team, ClimbingNarc and Marmot to discuss Lead Now. We should have some good stories to share!