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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.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The World is Ours to Explore

Oh, the places we've been.

This is officially The Thumbnail Traveler 100th blog entry. I started this blog in February of 2011, nearly three years ago. Not a huge achievement by many standards, but a really cool one for me personally. And that little by little, week by week we're actually getting more people to log on and follow our exploits is a gratifying experience.

This year has been a tumultuous one by any standard. Alternately exhilarating and crushing. Fortunately much more of the former and the latter is being held to arms length, sort of like an irate badger who would love nothing better than to sink his teeth deep into your forearm.

We've had some startling adventures over the last three years, been to several staggeringly beautiful places and experienced deeply profound cultural institutions which make you examine the world as it exists today. Our exploits have taken us from Hawaii to Croatia and many places in between. Yes, there's a much wider world to explore, but not bad for less than 36 months.

But more than the destinations themselves, it's the adventures we have while on the road. (I'm not being imperial with the we. It refers, mostly, to my wife, who is with me for my personal voyages. My business trips tend to be closer to home and singular. Other trips are with friends we have acquired over the years.)

My memory jumps back to a handful of particularly outstanding experiences, not the least of which was  my viewing the sun as it rose over the vast crater of Mount Haleakala in Hawaii ( View From Above ). Hawaii has been a source of a number of fun things, such as snorkeling on the Na Pali Coast, swimming with mantas off the Kona shore ( Night of the Mantas ), and seeing a mother whale and her calf cavorting off the coast of Maui.

We discovered Windstar Cruises, and through them had the chance to visit the gorgeous coastlines of Croatia and Italy. One of the "outstanding meals of my life" was consumed on the stern deck of the Wind Surf eating a wonderful dinner with the sun setting over the heal of the Italian boot. ( Windstar )

We got to Venice for the very first, but not the last, time.

Here on the blog I've discussed those things which had an impact and led me to have a lust for exploring the world. Being a Navy brat is, and was, an obvious fundamental. James Bond, and the whole litany of other films and television programs with globe-hopping, exotic settings. THE PINK PANTHER; I, Spy; ROMAN HOLIDAY; The Avengers. ( James Bond ) ( Doctor Who )

Equally, if not more, important to us is the absorption of local flavors and culture. Yes, we take day trips and tours and other touristy things, how can you not? But more often we're the types who prefer to find a quiet little cafe in a back alley and watch the world go by. Despite having done it a few times ourselves, I openly cringe when the large busloads of cruise ship tourists roll up to some famous site, drop their passengers off and leave with them again in an hour. We vastly prefer smaller, more intimate day trips and tours and have only packed ourselves into a Trailways-sized tour bus on three occasions, and each of the experiences was based on a cultural education, not simply riding from one landmark to another. But I acknowledge that such trips can often lead you to a future destination, even though it doesn't work that way for the vast number of participants.

(As I write this I am roughly two-thirds done with the trip report from British Columbia. I promise that by this upcoming weekend. Several grand expeditions to recount, each of them occurring on exactly those sorts of intimate and personal tours, not the big bus variety.)

But to recap the year so far, and perhaps of the couple that preceded it, seems a better fit for this, our 100th entry.

So rather than gobble on about how cool this was, or that was, or some other thing was...or how I loved some bit of chocolate, or a martini, or...well, fill in the culinary blank...it seems appropriate to let some of my photography speak for itself. It's the best record of our exploits.

Thank you for following, whether it's your first toe dip into reading The Thumbnail Traveler, or you've been with us since the start (you poor sot), you're a welcome part of our family of friends. And thank you for coming along on this little adventure we've got going.

So...where we goin' next?

Steve Barber
The Thumbnail Traveler

A gallery of some of my favorite images and memories.

Snowed in by a blizzard in Philly

The sunset festivities in Key West
Sunrise on Haleakala
One of many U.S. Airways gates
Annapolis, MD, near Christmas

Mantas off Kona

Breakfast in Calistoga

The Vatican


Sedona sunrise
St Marks Square in Venice

Valley Forge in the wintertime


Disney World

The beach in Positano, Italy
The beautiful Columbia River Gorge

The California Coastline
Back roads on Maui

The California Desert, Joshua Tree NP

The Napa Valley

Mother and her calf

Multnomah Falls

Add caption

Wine tasting 
Road Trips!!!

Ballooning over Albuquerque
Wine Regions

Tools of the Trade

Coffee and a map

Offroad Adventures, beautiful landscapes
Fashionable Destinations

Once in a lifetime visits
More wine
Respect for those who came before

Lots of flight attendant speeches about exit doors
Off to another adventure
Words I believe wholeheartedly

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