About Me

My photo
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, December 29, 2014

2014 Year in Review

"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
There were a few new things: my first flight on an Airbus A-380. Still ugly as sin on the outside, but nicely appointed and comfortable on the inside. The much more trim looking 777 was also a first for us. Virgin Australia has done a brilliant job of creating an uber-chic and relaxing environment.

But airline travel was not my only mode of conveyance. A tremendous variety of automobiles
Business Class Cabin - Qantas A-380
 got me around large swaths of territory in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, adding two new countries and three American states to my list of adventures.

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
Later in the year we made a two-week jaunt over to Hawaii and spent time in one of our favorite places on Earth: Hanalei Bay. The beauty and tranquility of Kauai's north shore never fails to win me over in a major way. I'm not certain I would want to retire there, but it's easily at the top of my list of Best Places on Earth.

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. 

Monument Valley
Work requirements saw a tremendous leap in my domestic travel, with trips two or three times a month throughout the Western United States. To a wide diversity of locations and environments: Dallas; Missoula; Las Vegas; Seattle; Albuquerque; the middle of South Dakota; Portland; Honolulu; Phoenix; The Bay Area; Reno; Austin; Minneapolis; San Diego -- and in many cases hundreds of miles along the highways and byways in between many of these spots.

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

Laguna Beach
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

No comments:

Post a Comment