In 2013, more than 30,000 unique visitors read this blog. That may not sound like a big number to some but I’m thrilled for each and every one of you! I hope you’re enjoying a small glimpse into some wonderful places there are to visit in this region, state, country and world.
Here now is a recap of a few memorable press trips from this year along with video productions I was lucky enough to be a part of. Many thanks and I hope you continue the ride with me in 2014.
2013 had a wet and wonderful start. In January, I went scuba diving off the coast of Honduras and spend the night at a World Heritage Site called Dunbar Rock Villa. My accompanying scuba buddies included professional diving instructors from across the country, one in particular – Tina, who helped me navigate a submerged shipwreck called The Jado Trader, a colossal freighter that has, through the years, transformed into one of the richest artificial reefs in the Caribbean.
Diving near Guanaja Island offered a world of volcanic caverns, tall pinnacles and swim-throughs with curious octopus, moray eel and rare tropical fish willing to pose briefly for my underwater GoPro. The ubiquitous lionfish, an invasive predator that reproduces every 4 days, is taking over the reef but spearing is allowing so our guide’s young son did the honors.
In June, I was on the road for a week shooting an inspiring documentary with Albany’s own congenital quad-amputee John Robinson and quadriplegic Doug Hamlin, both biking the entire length of the National Heritage or Erie Canal Corridor 350 miles from Buffalo to Albany. The pair biked on mostly bumpy terrain about 25 miles a day for three weeks straight pushing through pelting rain, sweltering heat, flat tires and sore muscles. There families accompanied them, though many of them couldn’t keep up with the duo! I documented dozens of historic villages along the canal towpath including old locks, abandoned aqueducts and rural pastures.
In July, I took to bathing in the buff (well, not me personally) in the fast-moving River Isar that flows through the heart of Munich, Germany. Rather, on a press trip through Germany, thousands of hearty Bavarians were chilling sans suit in the cold water or basking on blankets sipping Doppelbocks with friends. I was mesmerized by the gnarly sport of wave surfing done on a stretch of river known as the Eisbach. After a restful three-night stay at a young hostel in Munich, we changed gears and took Nude bathers by the river in Munich.
The trip wrapped in Stuttgart with only 10 hours to explore the memorable Porsche museum and a fish market at Schorndorf Square. Fortunately, I stayed with family relatives, first cousins Gabi and Christof and Helmut and Suzi for an extended stay in beautiful Stuttgart, a region that literally has no unemployment and revels in their rich heritage. They offered up visits to attractive old towns with half-timbered buildings and medieval towers, monasteries and Baroque churches.
Before Germany, I took a quick excursion to San Diego where, after a long day of shooting a Math convention in Mission Valley, I escaped to the newly rehabbed historic Gaslamp Quarter Archway for al fresco dining on bustling city streets and shopping on the waterfront.
To cap off another busy travel year, I just returned on December 10th from a holiday sojourn to San Antonio, Texas. A freaky Midwest storm caused bitter cold walks along the River Walk but the Scoville Scale started to heat up dining on warm tamales and Mexican hot chocolate at the CIA, Culinary Institute of America at the Pearl Parkway. The trip included a visually stunning art walk in Southtown, embracing history at the city’s first mission – The Alamo and petting pigs at a historical farmstead within the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park.
The most sobering experience was a memorable visit to the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg. The gallery includes hundreds of hours of oral histories, rare memorabilia and combat artifacts and displays (a Japanese mini-submarine and American bombers, fighters and tanks) and World War II reenactments. Even a pacifist would appreciate the sacrifice and service of the stories and collections told at this museum.