The sad day has nearly come to say goodbye to the well travelled friend of my 20's, my slightly battered little red passport is about to take me on my last adventures before it is traded in for a shiny new one! I just hope that Passport #3 is up for the challenge of seeing me through my 30's, with camera in hand from day one I have a feeling it could rival the miles of the current edition. Projected plans for 2017 will certainly get it off to a flying start :)
There is just time, and I mean just, for one last flight across the Atlantic in October to New York City to explore some business opportunities and of course capture some images of the amazing city. There was no way I thought I would be squeezing another big trip into the 2016 calendar so I'm definitely buzzing for this one which is now only a matter of weeks away, bring on the bright lights of the Big Apple! And just to be make sure I am finishing it off in style there will be a few days left on my return to turn it around and head out to complete a photo assignment in the Swiss Alps.... so despite people telling me there are only 13 Mondays until Christmas... I'm clearly not done with 2016 yet!
In a recent panic over whether I had enough remaining months left on my passport to be allowed entry into the US it got me looking through the list of stamps I had collected, and subsequently to trying to recall anywhere I had been that didn't honour me with a stamp (always disappointing). Turns out it's been a pretty fun 10 years. In total 34 stamps, which have taken me to 16 countries, including 9 US States. Certainly no world record, but I feel very fortunate to have seen and experienced such a variety of landscapes with my wonderful friends, new and old, as well as my ever supportive family.
I very rarely have any regrets in life, however, looking back on some of the wonderful places I have visited I just wish that I had been living life through the lens as I do now because, wow, I would have some incredible photos to add to my collection. For now they remain, and always will, as the best travel memories and someday I will have to make return trips with my camera. The Far East and Australia are right up there on my 're-do' lists.
Although I was missing any desire to capture my travels in the first six years of this ten year period, I think you could safely say I've gained an 'A for effort' in my attempt to catch up over the last four years. To be exact, I hold 7,392 images in my current personal catalogue which excludes any work related collections. No wonder my IT situation is permanently challenged. It is extremely difficult to summarise my highlights from so many memories, but certainly from my committed photographic jaunts, in no particular order, here are my top five:
Grand Mosque - Abu Dhabi, UAE
New York City, USA
A dedicated photo trip in 2014 gave me the opportunity start my 're-do's through the lens'. Up first, where better to start than with the mighty New York City? To date this is in my top five all time favourite cityscape images; so much so it has remained my desktop wallpaper for the past two years, despite many attempted changes. I'm hoping my impending return trip next month will produce some images to match this classic, and I have no doubt new memories will be laid down, however, this one will stick with me for being taken on my first 'true hard-core' photographic specific trip.... and laid down the foundations to just how much dedication is required for 'the' shot. Three hours perched on a cold rock waiting for the exact light to fall all while evading the looming security guards trying to usher us along!
Valley of Fire - NV, USA
Another epic trip of 2014. An all night walk around Paris created the opportunity to capture this immense scene, it is another of my all time favourites which hangs proudly in my hallway gallery at home. Technically we never lasted the entire night on the cold and dark streets of Paris but there was a seriously decent shift laid down over the course of 48 hours. Peter, my now business partner, and I really laid down the gauntlet on this trip for the dedication factor... we are terrible for egging each other on with extreme photo plans. Never have I walked so far in my life, still can't remember more than two minutes of the EuroStar trip back to London???
Seljalandsfoss - Iceland
A relatively new favourite, which actually comes from one of this year's adventures into a whole new landscape: Iceland absolutely blew my mind, there were just miles and miles of endless photographic opportunities. It is 100% on my return radar, and if you like natural landscapes and scenery, I couldn't recommend it enough. Get a car and drive Route 1 around the island, you won't be short of sights like this waterfall just casually placed off the side of the road, it will be a slow drive with such distractions so allow plenty of time to explore.
If the above photos have summed up some favourite photographic moments, there are few recurring themes which have also shaped the past few years' adventures around the globe... it has been such a blast:
- Accomplishing two charity cycle rides through Cuba, Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua. If i had to single out a life experience, I would have to say this takes the number one spot. Challenging would well describe both of them but what a way to see a country and it's people. These are the trips I have the biggest regrets for not capturing with a photographic mindset.
- Taking in the sights of various US cities while running with my training buddy and friend Kim, Probably one of my only friends I would never have to ask if she is packing her trainers or whether it is a good plan to head out for a run in Boston, in the depths of winter when there are balls of ice falling from the sky! The answer is always 'yes'... naturally we fit well together!
- Relaxing in the pure paradise and luxury of Dubai with my wonderful Mum, we're almost residents these days!
- Snowboarding in Europe, Canada and the US-of-A; Park City in Utah became home form home for a number of years. It was worth the 24hr cross continent travel with my trusty travel companion, Kathy, to confirm that it really does have the 'best snow on earth'. Christmas Day 2009 with my good friend Shula goes down in history as possibly the most epic powder day ever, Too much fun!
There are way too many things to cover to even come close to doing this whirlwind of a time justice, and I am sure you are loosing the will to live by this point. So I will conclude in toasting to the new chapter of 2017 - 2027 - absolutely cannot wait!