This year I made 13 round-trip airplane flights and buzzed down highways during 10 road trips, all while chasing travel stories.
I stepped foot in six foreign countries – Panama, Costa Rica, the Marshall Islands, Thailand, Ecuador, and Mexico. That’s one more than last year’s tally of five foreign countries, even though I had to cancel two big overseas trips due to my trashed knee.
I stepped foot in six states, too, and slid through the snow at four different ski areas.
Next year’s shaping up as a busy one, too.
Without further ado, here are my best travel experiences of the year…
10. Skiing in the back country of San Juan National Forest near Durango. I swooped through chest-deep powder and felt strong and capable. (Then two weeks later, I took an awkward spill on a groomed slope in Idaho and trashed my knee. Argh!)
9. Hobbling through West Texas, one of my favorite places. I stayed a few nights at Cibolo Creek Ranch, then went on to experience Big Bend National Park a different way – on crutches.
8. Zooming around Bangkok in a tuk-tuk, exploring temples, neighborhoods, and bars.
7. Watching endangered Attwater Prairie Chickens “boom,” showing off for the opposite sex with an elaborate mating dance, at a preserve along the Texas coast.
6. Clinging to the back of a pickup truck as it rumbled behind a herd of buffalo during the annual roundup at Custer National Park in South Dakota.
5. Meeting members of the Embero Tribe living in a small village inside Darien National Park in Panama.
4. Exploring the Marshall Islands, where the U.S. military tested nuclear bombs in the 1930s and ‘40s.
3. Scuba diving with sea lion pups around Isla Espiritu Santo in the Gulf of California.
2. Snorkeling with penguins and sea lions in the Galapagos Islands.
1. Watching grizzly bears sit on a waterfall and eat salmon at Katmai National Park in Alaska.