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.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


In keeping with our Italian voyage this week on The Thumbnail Traveler's web and social media sites, and as is perhaps appropriate for Halloween - where the tradition of Carnavale is at its height - today's destination is the beautiful jewel of the Adriatic, Venice.

Shop window with Carnavale-themed gifts and collectibles
Piazza San Marco

Dining alfresco on the Grand Canal

Venice is a city of love 

Monday, October 30, 2017


Trying something new this week. A single destination all week long on the blog and social media: 


It's a spectacular country with a long history, spectacular scenery, incredible food, 
and wonderful people.

We'll be expiring all of them., all this week on the 
Thumbnail Traveler blog, Instagram and Twitter feeds.

So, let's start the week off. Today's destination is Rome, the Eternal City. Here on the blog we start off with a quartet of shots depicting this most intriguing of destinations.

Stazione Termini - Rome Train Station

Piazza Navonna at night

Quaint Italian Ristorante

The Vatican Museum

The Colisseum

Friday, October 27, 2017


It's Friday. After a long, hard, and very hot week (at least here in Southern California).

Time for a martini.

This week's special is from Quattro at Whistler, in the beautiful Canadian ski resort of Whistler, BC. Nothing like a nice martini after a day on the slopes. No. I don't ski, but I'll take the martini anyway.

(Have a fantastic weekend, and don't forget to check out the sample chapter 
from my book Chasing Martinis.)

Thursday, October 26, 2017


Puerto Rico has been in the news of late for all of the wrong reasons.

This wonderful outpost of America in the Caribbean has been having fanatical problems, which were capped off in dramatic fashion by the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria on September 20th of this year. In one night this paradise was virtually knocked back to the 19th century as power failed throughout the island, bringing additional suffering to the 3.4 million American citizens who live there.

President Trump's response in support of our fellow citizens was less than underwhelming, despite his own publicity to the contrary. It was yet another embarrassing moment for the new president, though he has yet to seem to understand that in any functional way.

A month before he was riding to the state of Texas on a proverbial white charger, playing the hero and showing what a great guy he is. As long as you vote the way he wants you to, that is.

What happened to our brethren in Puerto Rico is unacceptable, and black eye for all of us as a nation and a republic. Too many of my countrymen cannot understand that.

And for that we are all the lesser.

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves." - Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Driving along Las Vegas' famed Strip.

It's changed a bit since the original Rat Pack were here. Sinatra, Martin, Davis Jr, Lawford and Bishop. Legends of their time, and all time if you consider.

This was their playground. Their territory.

And it was an iconic time. A time which eventually gave way to corporations and planned entertainment. Towering buildings and towering egos.

Vegas then is not the Vegas now. For good and for bad.

(A fascinating comparison of the changes in Las Vegas - and of the changes in film style over the decades - is to watch Ocean's 11, and Ocean's Eleven back to back. Sinatra versus Clooney.)

My first exposure to Las Vegas was when I was ten years of age. During my first major road trip, a drive across country with my father. There are a number of very cool stories associated with that adventure, but one which I never really discussed with anyone was a fleeting glimpse of the Strip across the desert floor. 

At the time, 1971, I-40 was still incomplete through eastern California, requiring a bypass up across Hoover Dam to avoid the worst sections of what was left of Route 66. Plus, I think Dad wanted to see the dam and show it to me as well. Dad and I stopped to tour the dam, and then continued our route, bypassing Las Vegas ten or so miles to the south on Highway 146 - well within sight of the casinos - before tagging I-15 and heading down into California. 

It was only a short flash of Vegas, but I knew about it through repeated viewings of Ocean's 11 over the years, and wanted to visit that place even at a very young age.

My second glance happened just a couple of years later, on our return move to the Washington, DC, area. We passed through Vegas directly this time, stopping at a gas station on Las Vegas Boulevard...the Strip itself. I deeply wanted go and look at the casinos beckoning to me from just across the street, but was again turned down by my parents, who quite rightly felt that a casino was not a good place for a kid to explore.

It wasn't until I was in college, seven years later, that I got a chance to really visit Las Vegas. I stayed at the MGM Grand. The original one, now called Bally's. This was just a few years before the tragic fire which claimed 85 lives. I was there as part of a competitive ballroom dance group to attend an event at the MGM. 

It was a fun and memorable trip, in which we cheered sunrise with Tequila Sunrises. Ah, youth.

But in the years after that I got to know Las Vegas before the megacasino revolution started in 1989 by Steve Wynn's Mirage. I am fortunate to have seen (and visited) the legendary hotel casinos in the first Ocean's film. The Sands. The Desert Inn. The Sahara. The Riviera. All destroyed to make way for the leviathan complexes which dot the Strip today. The Sahara and Riviera both survived all into the 21st century. The Sahara still stands as the SLS Las Vegas. The rest are gone.

Their brethren The Dunes, The Aladdin, Hacienda, Thunderbird, 
the Frontier, and the legendary Stardust. 

All, well, stardust now.

It's a cool little part of me that remembers those days. A small bit of history that is gone, but not forgotten. A little bit of bygone charm, wistful memories if you're gray enough.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


This simple shot is of the sun's rays, at sunset, reflecting off the bright metal surface 
of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

The black background was simply the camera's response to the brilliance of the light coming off the monument. A spectacular moment.

Friday, October 20, 2017


On the beautiful Caribbean island of St Martin, before the hurricane.

A rowboat sits along a picturesque bay.

Quiet moments in a hectic world.

Thursday, October 19, 2017


Made this shot years ago while on the road. Palm Springs. "The Morning Ritual."

Oddly enough, I have more of a ritual when I'm traveling than I do at home. There is a sequence, a step-by-step process of showering, shaving, etc, which I do on the road that I don't necessarily do while at home. It's a familiarity, even if my surroundings aren't familiar. It's a way of staying on track.

It wasn't anything planned out. It just sort of developed over years of travel, until one day I woke and discovered I was doing things the same way every morning. 

Once I'm done with the familiar, I can explore the new and different. But I start with the basics and work my way out.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Morning cup of coffee at the Belmont Brewing Company. the "BBC", 
in Belmont Shore - a part of our home town of Long Beach.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Okay, so I'm using what may have been the world's worst automotive tag line for today's entry. 

(Datsun, now Nissan, used this campaign in the late '70s. At the time I'm sure they were delighted with the puns involved. I'm normally a real fan of puns, but puns don't convince me to buy a car. BMW's "The Ultimate Driving Machine" does. Acura's "Precision Crafted Performance" does. The late and lamented Pontiac's "Now the excitement really begins".

(Yeah. "We are driven" is more like a shrug than an enticement.)

Which is well beside the point. Today's image is from a road trip. As any frequent visitor will acknowledge, I'm a fan of road trips. Just finished a big one a few months ago.

So as we head into the fall travel season I'm planning a visit to one of my favorite road destinations: Joshua Tree National Park. More on that later.

But for now, an image from a previous visit.

Joshua Tree National Park. From the road.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Thursday, October 12, 2017


With climate change being a pretty much de facto occurrence, 2017 is the year nature is showing her fury. Massive hurricanes have devastated large parts of the United States and Caribbean, and here in California wildfires are destroying thousands of acres of beautiful countryside.

Our hearts go out to those impacted by this destruction, and our hopes your lives can be returned to some sort of normalcy soon.

As we watch the horror in the Napa Valley, news comes that Calistoga, one of our favorite places in the world, is under evacuation. And Safari West, a huge wildlife preserve west of there, is holding its own and that the animals are safe for the moment.

Our thoughts are with you all.

(Photos are Calistoga and Safari West, respectively.)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Every once in a while, for reasons I cannot fathom, older images suddenly appear on the desktop.

Like this one. Haven't thought about the Metropolitan Museum of Art in months, yet this image of a visitor and Monet painting was sitting on the computer this morning.

So. I'll put it to good use.

"Giverny Dreams"

Monday, October 9, 2017


It struck me this morning that despite dozens and dozens of entries pertaining to New York City, I had yet to post a shot of One World Trade Center, aka Freedom Tower.

So, rectifying that omission. 

Ladies and Gentlemen: One World Trade Center, looking south along West Street.

Freedom Tower.

Saturday, October 7, 2017


Road trips are often adventures into local towns and local cuisine.

Friday night I was at the James Beard Foundation fundraiser in downtown Los Angeles, and was talking about this sort of thing with one of the vendors there (Tabasco Foods booth). Being from New York he had traveled quite a bit but this was his first time here in La La Land. Accordingly he had asked for a recommendation about a 'really L.A.' place to eat.

And that's the key. Find yourself someplace local, someplace unique.

Because, after all, do you really want to travel all the way somewhere, 
just to eat at a restaurant you have back home?

Burrito and fries - The Belmont Brewing Company, Long Beach

Friday, October 6, 2017