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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.

Monday, March 28, 2016


“In wisdom gathered over time 
I have found that every experience 
is a form of exploration.” 
                                                                                     ― Ansel Adams

As we grow older, presumably more wise -- though in my case not only is the jury still out, but they're at an extended cocktail hour -- our tastes and preferences change. In most cases, they reflect a desire to take it easier, to stop running quite so hard.

The Mojave Desert, between LA and Las Vegas
In my younger days I tended to "count coup" on a destination. Go there, do something, and head out for the next destination. It does give you the chance to see a lot, and do a lot. The diagrams of my trips would look something like a hopscotch micro-map for an Amazing Race season: six destinations in two weeks. Rarely did I stay in one place more than a few days -- there was simply too much else I wanted to see.

So, too, were many of those destinations cities. New York, London, Paris, DC, Vancouver, Miami, Rome, etc. Concentrated urban centers by definition offer the quickest bang for the buck when it came to things to do, or places to see. And, to be honest, I love those with character. Cities which offer an experience like nowhere else. Las Vegas, New Orleans, Amsterdam, Venice.

Boulder, CO, wedged up against the Rocky Mountains
But gradually things change. Part of this, of course, is that I've already been to many of the world's great cities, with only a handful left of "must-do" destinations of the urban variety: Shanghai, Rio, Hong Kong, Quebec, Capetown. 

In the United States Chicago remains the sole major urban center I have a burning desire to explore.

But as I grow older I find myself drawn to the more natural settings. The place sufficiently away from civilization that, in a few cases, might be inconvenient or even life-threatening if something were to go wrong.

In the Maritime Alps, north of Cannes
(An example of this occurred a few years ago when my wife became dangerously ill from stomach flu while we were in the Monument Valley. At 2AM. The nearest 24 hour clinic was 35 miles down a solitary highway in the deepest and most pitch-black of nights. She's fine now, by the way. Unfortunately it hit me a day later...)

Part of this, of course, is that I live in a huge metropolitan area. So naturally the tendency is to find somewhere as unlike Los Angeles as possible while traveling.

So what I try to do is combine a visit to a great urban center with drives and other trips out into the surrounding wilderness (if there is one). Finding those geological and natural settings give me a greater sense of a place, not just a city or town where the landscapes end at the edge of the street. 

To truly get a feel for a destination, any destination, takes getting out of the airport, out of the city, and exploring the countryside. Exploring the beauty and geology of a place. 

And in that way really get a little bit more understanding of it.

Down the coast from Perth, Western Australia

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