This year I traveled by airplane 16 different times. I visited nine states, skied at eight different ski resorts, made six overnight trips in Vincent VanGo, my campervan, and left the country five times.
And once, just last week, I almost got swept up in a coup attempt in Peru.
I love this life of mine. It’s adventurous, exhausting, exciting, terrifying, and more fun than I could ever have imagined. I never know where my work will take me. In the last few years, I’ve paddled the Devils River, eaten lobster rolls in Cape Cod, stayed at a solar-powered house on a tiny island in Manihi, part of Tahiti, and rafted, with friends, through the Grand Canyon.
Holy frijoles, it’s fantastic. My work has allowed me to see places most people never get to see, and I’m beyond grateful for the opportunity.
But it’s not all glamorous. Along with the highs of skiing in Canada, hiking to a rainbow-colored mountain in Peru and jumping off a cliff into the ocean in Ireland this year, I’ve spent hours stuck in airports and awakened in hotel rooms, unsure of my location. I miss my husband, my friends, my home, my cats, and my swim team.
It’s all been worth it.
It’s Dec. 17, and I’ve got two more quick trips planned this year – a birding trip on the Texas Coast and a holiday visit to Louisiana.
Next year is already shaping up as a good one, too, with trips to Sweden, Alaska, and Costa Rica in the planning stages, along with a week-long horse drive through Colorado.
But before I move on to 2023, I want to reflect on the best experiences of 2022. With so many wild adventures – swimming through a cave in Texas, floating in a hot air balloon over Colorado, hiking in Beaver Creek, spearhunting for lionfish and gathering scallops in Florida, camping on a floating platform in southeast Texas, kayaking among otters in Monterey Bay, exploring Door County, Wisconsin, and horseback riding in Bandera, Texas – it’s hard to choose.
Without further ado, starting with simply “wonderful” and leading up to the “blow-your-socks-off,” here are my most memorable travel moments of 2022 – so far…
10. Coming within a few inches of stepping directly on a venomous copperhead snake hidden in the leaf litter of the Big Thicket of East Texas, while following a biologist leading me to a marsh filled with carnivorous plants.
9. Watching the sun set while hiking at Chimney Rock National Monument, then soaking under the stars with friends in a hot mineral pool in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.
8. Hiking through the fields of my stepmom’s family ranch outside of Roscoe, Texas, with my stepmom and friend Marcy.
7. Observing a dozen rowdy reef sharks hunt for dinner while night diving during a life-aboard scuba diving trip in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
6. Sleeping in a glass-walled cabin after a day of fly fishing and rounding up cattle by horseback at the posh Green O Resort in Montana.
5. Diving into a field of thigh-deep, untracked powder while cat skiing in Keystone, Colorado.
4. Flopping onto a blanket and listening to two of my favorite bands, the Punch Brothers and Big Richard, and then photographing them, at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado. The experience was all the better because it came just a few days after I DNF’d partway through the Texas Water Safari.
3. Spending a night at Sunshine Village in Banff, Canada, with my husband. There’s only one lodge at the resort, and once the lifts quit turning, it’s just you and the night sky, tucked into a cradle of mountains far from the nearest highway.
2. Surfing in 56-degree water in Ireland. I had so much fun I never even thought about the cold.
1. Climbing up ancient stone steps and looking down to get my first glimpse of Machu Picchu in Peru. It was so beautiful it made me cry.