"Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, Adventure."
-- J.K. Rowling
By any yardstick, 2014 has been, for me, an astonishing year for travel -- and I considered myself pretty well traveled already...
First, I'd like to offer a strong "Thank you" to every one of my readers who have come along with me along the way. It hasn't been an easy year in some ways, but in others it's been truly amazing.
The statistics alone are startling: More than 65,000 miles on 9 different airlines. According to my FF mileage reports, nearly 90 flights. Business Class, Coach and First. Business and Personal. 24 domestic airports and five international.
|Honolulu from above
A handful of delays, and a couple violent weather incidents. (Landings, mostly. Las Vegas -- a monsoon; and Auckland -- tropical storm -- top the list.) But for the most part an amazingly smooth series of flights. There were several cancellations, but not a single missed connection in the mix. That's a pretty solid record for my airline friends.
|Storm blowing into Port Douglas, QLD
But airline travel was not my only mode of conveyance. A tremendous variety of automobiles
|Business Class Cabin - Qantas A-380
And speaking of adventures, 2014 was a year full of them -- both good and not so much.
By far the most significant was the retirement of not one, but two of three N.O.W. LIFE LIST 2014 goals: snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, and dipping my feet in the Indian Ocean. Add in side-trips to two wine areas, the Blue Mountains, Perth and Auckland, New Zealand and you can readily understand why our May trip Down Under was not only the highlight of the year, but probably one of the best adventures in the last thirty years.
|Bridge to Hanalei Bay
But it didn't stop there.
You might have noted I wrote "two of three" when referring to my 2014 Life List. The third was a visit to the awe-inspiring Monument Valley, one of the most astonishingly beautiful desert locales in the American midwest. It's justifiably famous for the views it offers, and easily puts man in his place in the universe.
Other personal trips included jaunts to San Diego and Las Vegas; an attempt to visit the fog-enshrouded Bryce Canyon; Maui; and a complete circumnavigation of The Grand Canyon -- without a single sighting of the Canyon itself.
Yes, there were some negatives. Being ill on my second day in Monument Valley was no fun, nor were the at-times unavoidable airline delays of hours and hours in airport terminals -- two of which resulted in rough weather at our destination, compounding the inconvenience.
(As I noted in comments above, the two most memorable were A- an eight hour delay in Melbourne which resulted in landing during a tropical storm in Auckland, and, B- its stateside twin of a four hour delay in Phoenix, with a monsoonal landing in Las Vegas. I'm not a fan of storm-related landings, and these were two of the most energetic.)
In summary, 2014 tested my mettle as a traveler, and I enjoyed (almost) every minute of it. (The intermittent health and operational hiccups along the way were unfortunate but unavoidable. C'est la vie.)
As we close in on the end of 2014, I offer a twin toast to the old year and the new.
May good adventures find you, and liven up your life. Cheers.
Some highlights from 2014, a year On the Road (and in the air):
|Leaving Long Beach
|Wall Drug Store, South Dakota
|View from the new Vegas High Roller
|Sunrise in the Bay Area
|Live band in Austin
|The Great Barrier Reef
|Selfie at the Reef
|The Sydney Opera House
|Stormy skies over Melbourne
|The Vegas Strip
|Seeing the Indian Ocean for the first time
|Skies over Montana
|Into Monument Valley
|Road to Hana
|The Hanalei Valley, Kauai
|The New Zealand rainforest
|The View from Below