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.

Philosophy Page

The Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska

In the famous words of a presidential candidate, "Who am I? And why am I here?"

Two excellent questions. Oftentimes we find ourselves reading material by complete strangers on the internet, and far too frequently we don't ask ourselves these two very basic questions about the writer: Who are they; and why are they here?

St Barth
My name is Steven Barber, I live in the terrific seaside city of Long Beach, California, which nestles comfortably in the southeastern  crook of LA County, next to Orange County. It's considered to be one of the most cosmopolitan and diverse cities in America, with a personality of its own even in the presence of its two giant neighbors LA and The OC. (In fact it's commonly referred to as the only part of LA County OC people are willing to visit. Other than Universal Studios, I would guess.)

But this is about me, not the city in which I live.

I am married to a beautiful jazz singer named Cris Barber. She is the center of my universe and is equally supportive of the things I want to do in life. We both love to travel, and in fact it forms the very core of our approach to life. We solidly believe that the world is something to be explored and experienced, and that few other activities give you the sense of reward, personal satisfaction and even personal growth that visiting faraway (and some not so faraway) places can offer.
Japan as a kid

Entering the Yukon
I grew up as a Navy brat, laying the foundation for my wandering ways I guess. My parents set the bar quite high in that regard: travel was seen as a foundational element of our lives and part of the fabric of our growing up. By the time I was eighteen and ready to head off to college I had lived in ten houses, two countries and places as diverse as Rhode Island, Japan, Washington, DC, and Hawaii. I attended five elementary schools (grades K-6), two high schools (9-12) but startlingly only one middle school (7-8). It took years for my wife to convince me we didn't need to pack up and move every couple of years once we were married. (In fact, we are in our 17th year living in our house -- more than double the length of time I'd ever lived in any other place in my life.)

The Beatles' Walk, London
So travel has been in my blood since day one. By nearly every yardstick I've done quite a bit, but by nearly every yardstick I have quite a bit more to accomplish. Next Spring I will cross the Equator for the first time in my life, represented by the appearance of so many South of the Equator "Yet to Does" on my Life List. I want to cruise the Amazon and the Antarctic coastline. I want to take an African Safari. Visit the Southern Alps. Swim in the Indian Ocean and above the Great Barrier Reef (these last two are on our itinerary next Spring). (Update 2017. Been there. Done that.)

Eiffel Tower, first trip to Europe
But, as noted, I've accomplished a lot. I've spent nights in 33* American states and four Canadian provinces, been to six* foreign countries in the Caribbean, and explored eight in Europe. Japan was very early in my life, but it gets counted just the same. It stands as the only Asian nation I've visited, a major omission which we intend to correct over the next few years. 

(*Update: 48 states; 7 Caribbean destinations, three countries in Central and South America, and now 9 in Europe.)

With dolphins in Mexico
Tundra Buggy Tours
There's an old Steve Martin movie, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, which often comes to mind as we're planning our next voyages. We've taken each at various times, and tossed in a few ships along the way. I've been fortunate enough to have sailed on six passenger ships as well as on a "Tiger" cruise from Hawaii to San Diego aboard the USS Horne, a Navy guided missile cruiser. Two of the passenger ships were to get from point to point ion the 1960s -- Japan to Long Beach aboard the Navy troop transport (and sometimes family transport) U.S.S. Patrick, and Honolulu to San Francisco aboard the legendary white Matson line ship the S.S. Lurline. The true cruise ships have been through the Panama Canal, along Mexico's West Coast, in the Caribbean and from Venice around the boot of Italy to Rome's western coast port.

We've taken quite a few trains, most of them high speed rail. To the right you can see the magnificent view from the Eurostar as it travels beneath the English Channel. It was exciting and yet very...dark.

Freezing in an Alaskan fjord

The Colosseum in Rome
I love well done museums and have been extremely fortunate to have seen Impressionist art live and in-person at the D'Orsay in Paris, The Metropolitan in New York, The Smithsonian in DC and LACMA here in Los Angeles. I have never been to Chicago or to the Chicago Art Institute. (See that under the same "Need to Rectify" category as Asia.)

Despite bouts with severe acrophobia I've continued to allow my wife to drag me up to high places, both natural (Grand Canyon, the Na Pali Coast, the Central California coastline) and man made (The Empire State Bldg, Seattle's Space Needle, the Stratosphere Tower in Vegas, the Eiffel Tower, hot air balloons over Albuquerque and others).

It just occurs to me I don't like lists and that's precisely what I'm doing above. Eh, facts is facts, right?

The Grand Canyon
Hot Air Ballooning in NM
So, to get back to the point, I've managed to do quite a bit. I've met some fantastically interesting people -- some of them written about in the blog, others thanked profusely in private. Drunk quite a few of the local flavors. Sometimes a bit too much. (We won't discuss the rum party on the patio at the Sunset Cafe in Grand Case...but the evidence is in my failing focal skills with my camera that evening.)

It's all about living...and seeing. And doing. We have a lot of toys in our lives, but if given the choice between the toys and the experiences I'd grab the experience chit each and every time. 

I share some of these things on the blog because I hope they're interesting. I hope they're of some value. In a recent post my friend Susan K Perry, who is an accomplished writer/blogger/novelist commented  "I think I'll save myself the hassle of travel and let you guys do it for me." -- to which I responded that my intent here is to whet your appetite, not quench your thirst. 


A cold, sunny day in our nation's Capital

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