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.
As a traveler, particularly internationally, I am deeply disturbed by the new immigration policies singularly enacted by the new American President. It is highly likely that as a result of his edit, I will resist the urge to travel overseas for fear of returning to this saddened land after staring, humiliated, into the eyes of the rest of the world.
We have committed a self-inflicted wound by electing a despot, an aspiring unitary President, who prefers to rule by edict and fiat. The very sort of dictator we, long ago, declared our independence from.
By nature, Americans abhor the rule of a monarch or emperor. Well, until they don't, as was proven last fall. I cannot even blame the incoming President. He's doing exactly what he told people he would do. They preferred to ignore his statements and vote for him in the hopes he would "moderate". They have their answer, and by willfully electing this person those who voted for him, or did not choose to vote in the election, have permitted this to occur. What happens now is on them, but it erodes us all in the process. Perhaps even destroys us.
This is not a diatribe of a voter who lost an election. I would be unhappy but sanguine, as I was when Reagan, Bush and Bush were elected. At least the Republic would stand.
I am not so sure any more.
One of the most famous and revered American possessions is the famed Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. Gifted to the United States by France to honor our ideals and emergence as a true republic in the age of despotism.
Liberty, as the woman depicted by the statue is often referred, holds aloft a beacon of hope to the nations of the world. In her other hand is a tablet representing the rule of law.
Inside the museum at the base of the statue a plaque reprints a poem entitled THE NEW COLOSSUS, which reads: Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
The statue and its ideals were rededicated only 20 years ago by President Ronald Reagan, stating as he did so "We are the keepers of the flame of liberty; we hold it high for the world to see."
As you are no doubt aware, our new President has enacted, unilaterally by executive fiat, a series of changes to America's immigration policy to specifically discriminate against a specific religion and its peoples. And through the shrapnel such an edict creates, hurt and impacted millions of innocent people who have done nothing wrong other than to be of a group disfavored by the President.
It is, on the face of it, brutally unAmerican and unpatriotic. The rise of nationalism is predicated upon the insistence we are better than everyone else. Sadly, the actions some would take to prove the claim prove the lie of the assertion. We are not better. We are as afraid and bigoted as those we claim to judge. And when fear is the result of terrorism, the terrorist -- by definition -- have won.
Many, many Americans are embarrassed and deeply wounded by the current administration's disdain and disregard for the very ideals we present to the world as demonstrating our, well, "American-ness". We aspire to lofty goals, and while we constantly fall short of them it has always been in the American character to keep reaching, keep seeking.
Sadly, some of us have given up on that idealism. That pride in America. That very aspiration which dictates we swear allegiance to the flag and Republic, and not to the people in power, particularly the President.
We built our self-image upon our ideals.
At least until Trump.
Perhaps we ought to consider regifting the statue to Canada. A nation who with their words and actions seem now to embrace Liberty's dictates far more effectively than we Americans.
As news reporter and anchorman Dan Rather once stated in a time of previous national crisis:
As with most islands, if you drive far enough you're likely to find the end of the road. Kauai's Na Pali Coast is far too rugged (and beautiful) to permit a road completing the circumnavigation of the island.
This is where the northern road comes to an end: Ke'e Beach.
It's a spectacular place, and a beautiful beach. Hiking trails take you up into the shear cliffs of the Na Pali.
Now...if you can only find a parking place.
(Sorry, that's a joke only the people who have been to Ke'e will understand. You drive for miles through what seems to be a very isolated road, ending up in a parking area packed - i mean packed - with cars. The trick is to get there very, very early.)
One of my favorite things to do while traveling is finding farmer's markets, flea markets, art shows and other street fair activities. It's a fun way to learn about the local culture, interact with people and generally have a good time people watching.
This is Waiheke Island, which sits twenty or so kilometers miles away from Auckland. The ferries from the main island will often teem with daytrippers getting away from the city life, and enjoying things like Waiheke's shopping, beaches and the very popular Ostend Market, where they say you can find "everything under the sun" -- kind of a fun pun considering a good portion of the show is outdoors.
Which reminds me it's Thursday, which means our OWN local farmer's market runs this evening.
This is, perhaps, a bit self-indulgent, but this quote is my own. It serves me well.
The quote came to me while I was on the road through a particularly flat post-volcanic section of Idaho. In the distance I could see mountains rising from the flatness, and it occurred to me that I'm always driven by what is up ahead, in the distance. It's where my travels take me and it's where I want to go.
The photograph is of the main road through Joshua Tree National Park.
the Waikiki Parc, our favorite spot to stay for visits to Oahu.
We were gifted with two nights at the Halekulani for our honeymoon. The hotel is listed
among the very best in the world, and deservedly so. We stay at the Parc for budgetary
reasons and, frankly, the view. As you can see, it's tremendous.
Just the thing for wishful thinking on a cold winter day.
It's Monday. Today's moment of serenity brought to you from the Columbia River Gorge which straddles the border of Oregon and the State of Washington. The shot was taken from the historic Vista House overlooking the Gorge.
The drive up the Columbia River from Portland is beautiful, with numerous stops along the way for historic sites and spectacular waterfalls, including the famous Multnomah Falls on the Oregon side of the river. Well worth the day trip out of the city.
And if you have an extra couple of hours, the sternwheeler tourin Cascade Locks is a relaxing and enjoyable time spent out on the water.
No particular reason for this location, but this is the cemetery in El Paso known as Boot Hill. Boot Hill is a famous term in the Old West, where townspeople and others would be laid to rest for eternity. As you can see, El Paso's version has a few residents...
The Friday Martini gave way to a volleyball game in Laguna. Guess I was California dreaming without realizing it. Yes, even those of us lucky enough to live here can wintertime dream about California summers.
So here's the Friday Martini a day late. And keeping with the Summertime in Winter theme, this is from the Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant in Lahaina, Maui.
I've driven all over the Western Hemisphere, under all sorts of conditions. This is a sign you see in a lot of places, indicating there are curves ahead. Usually they mean just a handful of curves on a moderately winding road.
In San Francisco the sign may be taken literally if you're facing Lombard Street.
600-ish feet in length, paved with bricks and featuring 8 curves along a
one-way (downhill) road with a better than 25% grade.
"Curves ahead." In this case the sign is an understatement.
Drive carefully, and test your brakes before turning in.