What's On Your List?
What I’m talking about here is doing the things you dream of while you still can. As I have reached the autumn of my life (though I am still working), the urgency to squeeze in as many adventures as possible is conspicuous. International travel came to a standstill a week after my dive trip to Grand Cayman in early 2020, and now in August of 2021 the situation is shifting slightly, but wobbly.
Am I super stoked that I have all 7 Continents under my belt? You bet. From polar bears in Svalbard to the Big Five in Africa and penguins in Antarctica, my travel plans center on the wildlife. As a solo traveler it’s a bit easier to get to the right places at the right times for optimal chances of wildlife experiences. That includes flights. My 5-week trip to Australia, Singapore, and Borneo, Malaysia, had me on 15 flights – sipping champagne cocktails and sleeping on lay-flat beds in business class on every long-haul flight. Because ‘travel hacking’. But that is another story, another post perhaps (“How I flew RT in Qatar Business Class from New York to Nairobi for $63. plus a bunch of flyer miles”).
By the time one reaches into their 60s and 70s, my guess is that their ‘dream bucket list’ has changed more than a few times, if even they had a list way back when life was a delightful tangled web of family, work, and casual pursuits. I actually never thought about a list – just experiences, activities, and places I’d like to visit.
The dream bucket list – reality or fantasy? For instance, does that experience lie within your power? For me, it’s not unreasonable to once again find myself transfixed by the beauty of the Masai Mara in Kenya and meters from the golden (or jade-colored) eyes of a leopard, or drenched by the sultry heat and humidity of the Borneo Rainforest while tracking wild orangutan. Conversely, I have tabled my plot to become a world-class figure skater. Sad face.
A few years ago I stood on the shore of Jones Beach here on Long Island thrilling to the sight and sound of the Air Force Thunderbird Jets. I commented to my friend, “I want to either fly in a Thunderbird… or… swim with humpback whales. Key word ‘either’.
Some Things Only Happen Once
As I’ve gotten older, the memories of special times and experiences occupy more moments in my mind – glad that I stepped out of that comfort zone from time to time, and thankful for the opportunity to have seen so many amazing places on this planet.
When I think back to specific trips and places, certain moments sit on top, like the cherry atop a glorious ice cream sundae. Might be that the entire trip was unusual, or that a single moment or experience was rare. Here are a few photos, with no explanation (pains me, for each image has a story), of those trips or moments.
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
“Oh, the places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss
Keywords: african safari, borneo orangutan, borneo rainforest, bucket lists, long island photographer, long island portrait studio, mountain gorillas, national geographic contest winner, swim with whales, travel hacking, wildlife photography
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