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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, January 14, 2013

New Year, New Thinking

Every once in a while I allude to my NOW list -- the list of things I want to accomplish in life, and these items comprise my current "top of".

If you're a steady reader of this blog, you're already familiar with the N.O.W. philosophy as created by Phil Keoghan, the host of the CBS tv series The Amazing Race. If you're not familiar with it, think of it as a planned-out Bucket List of accomplishments in addition to activities. 

(For the record for the umpty-umpth time, I dislike the term "bucket list" -- it has the ring of finality and urgency to it that isn't quite right. It reeks of "gotta get this done before I die", which to me is a very negative approach. I far prefer "I have to do this in order to have lived" instead.)

At The South Sawyer Glacier, Alaska
So, despite my frustration with Keoghan and his producers over the criminal acts of a team in the most recent season of TAR -- and no, I have no intention of letting it go -- I still maintain my NOW list and still continue with its planning and execution. One of the keys of a successful NOW list is the continual examination of it to make sure it's still relevant to your life. There are things that change as we get older, have new experiences and change our priorities. What once might have been important to us might have slipped enough to be replaced by another priority. As we grow, we change. What is important to us in our twenties may become meaningless in out forties.

So, as I do pretty much every year, I take a look at what I considered significant and at the top of my list, to see if it merits inclusion or has slipped enough to drop for the top priorities. This doesn't mean I no longer want to do them, but it does mean something else may have become more important to me.

So, offered here, is my revised 2013 No Opportunity Wasted List for Life, with a few thoughts and comments as to why they have been added or dropped from the top..well, thirteen. You guys know I can't count. (The parenthetical comments reflect which specific NOW challenges are covered by that activity.)

Swimming with Dolphins in Mexico
Revised NOW List - 2013

1 - Small ship trip up the Amazon -- or down, if coming from Peru

This is kept on the list for a very important reason: traveling up (or down) the Amazon appeals to the sense of adventure I try to impart in all of my trips. The Amazon still holds a strong mystique in a world grown entirely too familiar and everyday. 

2 - Snorkel or SNUBA the Great Barrier Reef

It is no secret the world's natural areas are under assault. Polar ice is melting, vast forests are being cut down, and the Earth is warming at a rate faster than historic record suggests it should. This is having a profoundly negative impact on our natural world, and the threat is evident in many of the world's great reefs. The Great Barrier Reef, so large and complex it can be seen from space, is not immune to this. I desperately want to see it before it is destroyed.

3 - Sleep under the stars in Wadi Rum (Get Lost)

This is new to the list, though shouldn't be. I've made my fascination with deserts known in a number of previous posts. Wadi Rum is one of the most spectacular. When I read that one of the adventures offered there was a night out under the stars it just seemed to be a natural for me. 

Monet's Garden, Giverny
4 - Cruise to Antarctica, walk amongst penguins (Break New Ground)

Okay, who doesn't dream of visiting the ends of the Earth?

5 - Lose 75 lbs by December 2013 (Test Your Limits)

I am acutely aware that my current weight is limiting me. Not just from a health standpoint, which it is, but also from an experiential one. It's not that I want to go rock climbing or bungee jumping…I simply want to see a trail and explore without concern that I will exhaust myself before getting back. Or, worse, become unable to do the sorts of things on this list. So, heath has become a top priority for me in the new year. It will be a true test of my limits, since I'm a real foodie...

6 - Photograph both sunrise and sunset in Yosemite NP

Something so simple, and something so near. I live four hours from Yosemite, yet have never been there. It's one of the most beautiful scenics in the country, yet I haven't photographed it. Got to change that.

A Warm Day in the Yukon
7 - Take a hot air balloon ride (Face Your Fear, Leap of Faith)

I suffer from acrophobia, to a degree that ranges from slightly nervous to highly anxious -- and no predictability as to which reaction is going to show up at any given moment. I've stood at the rim of the Grand Canyon with an only slightly elevated pulse rate, but backed well away from the edge at the top of New York's skyscrapers. No problem on the London Eye, but sweaty palms at the top of Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas. So, in order to face my fear I have vowed to take a hot air balloon with my wife. Years ago we had actually booked the trip -- in Sedona -- but weather prevented my checking this little doozy off my NOW list.

8 - Get a book of my photography and travels published (Shed/Express Yourself)

I'm just egotistical enough to think this is worthwhile.

9 - Drive the length of Route 66, end to end

Think CARS on steroids. I love the Mother Road, and have driven portions of it several times. But never end to end. Need to plan this and do it.

10 - Take an African Safari

This has been on the list for years, and lacks only funding for its accomplishment. In all likelihood we'll be able to carry this off in the next three years.

11 - Cruise Loch Ness

Okay, this one came up as a side trip from a planned cruise later this year. The cruise ends in Edinburgh. In the planning of that trip, it occurred to me that for years, as a boy, I was fascinated by the supernatural. Nessie was one focus of that fascination (just loved the thought of monsters roaming the Earth..well, except when it came to bedtime, that is). Since we'll be in the neighborhood, I've talked my wife into a day trip from Edinburgh in order to check this one off the list.

12 - Ride a boat through the islands of Phang Nga Bay

Abbey Road
This is one of several "otherworldly" landscapes I have to see in my life. This one goes first.

13 - Visit Stonehenge

Speaking of otherworldly and supernatural, Stonehenge gets marks for both. Sadly, the tourists (of which I will be one, someday) have limited the interaction with the stones themselves. Thirty years ago my ambition would have been to touch one. Now, it's simply to see them at sunset (or sunrise.

Several items dropped:

Walk the Havasupai horseshoe over the Grand Canyon - This was dropped because of the unreasonable cost and regulations involved. There are plenty of other challenges for my acrophobia, so this gets dumped.

Hell...Cayman Islands
Dipping my feet in the Indian Ocean - Why just my feet? I'd like to swim in the Indian Ocean. But it's no longer one of the top fifteen.

Eat at a 3 Michelin rosette restaurant - Yes, I'm a foodie and this would be a wonderful experience. But is it worth inclusion on my NOW list? No…but if it comes up, I'll be there.

Stay at every major casino property in Las Vegas - Since the definition and identities of "major casino" are completely up in the air, this one goes for being too hazy an ambition.

Drink a glass of wine in every major wine region - See above "casino for this one, too. I *do* want to have glasses of wine in the major districts, but this one will be a slow and steady accomplishment, rather than a "get it done NOW" one.

Spend a couple of nights north of the Arctic Circle - Still want to do this. No current opportunity, and this one isn't on the highest priority

Spend the night in an ice hotel - Again, if offered, yes. Seek it out as a single experience? Not so much any more.

Northern Canada, near the Hudson Bay
Attend a performance in the Sydney Opera House - Yes, if in the area. I have a lot of other reasons to go to Australia, this is a side trip, not a destination.

Drive the Great Ocean Road - Same thing as Sydney. I love the idea of a drive down the Great Ocean Road. I'll do it when other things take me to Australia.

See the Great Pyramids - This may surprise some people to see this has fallen from the uppermost perch. It's certainly on what you would call my bucket list, but less so on my list of current projects. For one, I have to express some unease about the political climate in Egypt at the moment. I greatly agree with where they are trying to go as a culture, but the arguing factions do little make me feel welcome or safe. So, until it is stabilized, this one goes on the backburner.

Okay. That's it for 2013, though I reserve the right to change the list again at a whim -- or an accomplishment.

Sunset Dinner at Sea on the Mediterranean

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