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Welcome to the online blog for traveler/writer/photographer Steven Barber. Come in. Relax. Take off your shoes and socks -- or any other article of clothing, this is the internet. Have a look around. I hope to intrigue, amuse, entertain, and maybe provoke you just a little. I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Importance of Urgency - Part 1

"I think the locations themselves are sometimes the bigger star than perhaps we realized." 
            -- Phil Keoghan, THE AMAZING RACE

I have remarked, on numerous occasions, on the importance of doing things now rather than putting them off. We all have and set our own priorities in life, and travel is one of mine. It's a passion I share with my wife.

We both maintain life lists of places and things we need to go to and do. My to-do list still includes a cruise through the Amazon and a visit to Antarctica. My wife's first and foremost goal is to go on an African safari with a side-trip to see the great apes.

(I also need to get up to the arctic to fulfill a lifelong dream of setting foot in each of the world's four oceans. I have done so in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian, and only need the Arctic to complete the "set". Obviously to be done in the summertime.)

In the last few years we've moved into overdrive in accomplishing our goals in travel. Part of this is having years ago fully embraced tv presenter Phil Keoghan's NO OPPORTUNITY WASTED approach to living, which requires you to set in motion specific steps to accomplish your goals -- this as opposed to "someday" or "I wish" or "When we're able" approaches. Keoghan states in his book, "Do It Now". And for good reason.

As anyone who regularly reads this column knows from your own, personal experiences, life can be unforgivably fragile. It tosses challenges and grenades at us with equal vigor, so we need to appreciate the good times along with the bad -- and keep perspective on the bad times when they come along.

A little under three years ago we were dealt such a blow. Close friends know what it was, but I won't
go into details. It was a shock of a medical nature. And while everything is, for the moment, under control it woke us up to the reality that things can change in a heartbeat.

So, we reasoned, what are we waiting for? We do not have kids -- the five year plan became the ten year plan, which is now in its thirtieth year...so the ship has sailed on young'uns. We have good financial resources, and more control over our lives and lifestyle than do many people in this world.

So we went a little crazy, but crazy in a good way. In the last few years -- even predating the medical thing -- we have planned and accomplished a good number of the "Life List" goals we set out for ourselves. When I go back over one such compilation I did many years ago I have to note we've done well over half.

And now things are, out of necessity, winding down a bit. Several things have happened which have required us to step back from the twice-yearly budget bombs and take a sober look at what we want to accomplish next. The last three months have been difficult for us -- my wife and I -- and have shown the need for us to be a little more rational about our approach to the life lists. Don't get me wrong, we're still going to cruise the Amazon, see Antarctica and go on a safari -- but not necessarily in the next year or two.

Destinations Unknown
In the less than a month we embark on the last currently-planned "Big Trip". It's a two week cruise which, in the middle, transits the Panama Canal. It follows in the trend of the last four years' explorations to parts (for us) unknown and relatively exotic. Transiting the canal has been one of my lifelong ambitions. I'm fascinated by huge engineering projects, and the canal is one of the largest in history. And it puts aside yet one more Life List goal for me.

Which puts me in a mood to look back and recollect some of our adventures of the last decade and a half, and lock down some thoughts on the importance of travel in a well-balanced lifestyle. It doesn't need to be global, it just needs to get you out of your comfort zone and into something new and different. It's about education and exposure to other cultures and experiences.

One of my favorite personal philosophical mantras -- and yes, I have more than one --  is "What intrigues me most are those things in the distance, on the horizon. That is where I want to go; what I want to see next."

Contemplating the Future
It's a quest, in many ways, to find adventure and expand horizons to something new. 

This quest has taken us to some very wide ends of the world, hitting perhaps a dozen adventures which will forever stay with us in our memories. I truly feel adventure should be shared, and I am fortunate to have a partner who is as passionate about travel as I am.

If you are a true Traveler -- capital T -- you have multiple destinations in mind at all times. If you are a follower of the previously mentioned No Opportunity Wasted, you have some form of plan in place to reach those destinations.

Monet's Garden, 2001
In our years together the adventures (and budgets) have grown from relatively modest beginnings. In our first year of dating we visited Las Vegas, New York, Newport, RI, Annapolis and Washington DC. Those last four were a whirlwind trip designed to introduce the woman who had just become my fiancee to the rest of my family. It was my soon-to-be-wife's first time on the Eastern Seaboard and we made the most of it.

In the intervening years between 1986 and roughly 2000, our destinations were fun and adventurous, but pretty much low budgets and close quarters. (My family lives in the DC area, so that and New York became the de facto East Coast destinations, while San Francisco and Las Vegas were pretty much it for the West Coast. Add an infrequent Hawaii to the list and that covers the vast majority of our 20th Century travels.)

In 2000 that changed with our first trip to Europe. France. Paris -- the first of our Life List destinations. 

(To be continued)

Off the Beaten Path

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