Hi again, I’m back this week to talk about a topic that is constantly raised by my friends, family and of course my Instagram community. Basically, what are … THE COOLEST DAMN THINGS I’VE DONE IN MY TRAVELS!!
I think I look cool?
I say this all the time but I’m not sure many people believe me; I work incredibly hard! When normal people are at the pub on a Friday night or enjoying a Sunday lie in or catching up with friends I am no doubt crashed out in an airport somewhere or working at my desk until midnight on the weekend tying up my paperwork. I work hard! But I also have the coolest job in the world and part and parcel with that are cool experiences.
Learning to ski
I sometimes worry that I am desensitizing myself to cool things and that one day nothing will impress me anymore. I guess it comes down to having had such a compressed two years which has seen me jam more travel and adventure in than most people have in a lifetime. But then I’ll find myself wide eyed with excitement packed into a Gondola in the pitch dark in Canada during their dark skies festival and I’ll remember to stop and smell the roses.
The Canadian Rocky Mountains
So, I want to talk about some of the experiences I’ve had in 2014 that have resonated with me. Things that I would have never considered doing in my past life! Who knows, you might even get some hints for your next holiday!
The biggest life changer for me, believe it or not, has been snow! For many Australian’s, especially those of us lucky enough to live on the coast, we don’t really spare a sideways thought to real winter or winter sports. What a shame! Learning to ski last year was one of the most enjoyable experiences I had and I was so lucky to work with a handful of ski resorts both overseas and here in Australia.
And it’s not just skiing, there is ice skating and dog sledding and snow shoeing and just the fun of building snow men and sliding down a hill on your butt. Learning to get around in thick, frozen, slippery snow in your thirties is quite a challenge but I swear I have never smiled as much as I have done on skis last year. Snow is hard to photograph with any originality and I do find that my imagery and engagement suffer a little when I’m on a winter campaign but I say bring on more snow 2015!!
Loving all the winter things!
Since we’re talking about winter that brings me to a couple of other experiences I had last year in winter, although I imagine they’re amazing anytime of the year. The first was a helicopter ride over the Rocky Mountains in Alberta Canada. Although you don’t have to see them in a helicopter, they are stunning from any perspective. From someone that was raised by the sea in Australia I had never really seen mountains until I went to Canada. I’ve since seen amazing ranges in my own backyard and other destinations overseas but nothing will ever compare to this first Alberta trip. The mountains move you, and they need to be seen in your lifetime.
Yamnuska Wolf dog Sanctuary
On the topic of Alberta I will also mention the Yamnuska Wolf dog Sanctuary, although this is just an example of the many animal sanctuaries I have visited in the past twelve months. I love animals so much and I especially love to learn about the indigenous animals of the destinations I visit. Meeting people passionate about conservation gives you more than the chance to interact with unique animals; it also gives you a chance to learn more about the destination you’re in. All throughout Australia, in Canada and Africa and even Dubai I have met some of the best people and taken some of my favorite shots in animal sanctuaries.
Glacial areas on the south island of New Zealand
And believe it or not I have ANOTHER winter recommendation – glaciers! I didn’t even know what a glacier was until last year (FYI, they are a thick body of ice that are so heavy they move under their own weight, and they look cool!) I have seen glaciers in Canada, Iceland and New Zealand and heard about long ago glaciers in many other places. I don’t know what it is about them but seeing them, walking on them and even landing on one in a helicopter have been some great memories for me.
Bear spotting, Finland
Something else that I experienced last year that was just completely random and I had never heard of before was bear spotting in Finland. There are lots of operators but the premise is basically the same. You have an early dinner, trek to a cabin in the woods and spend the night peeking through clever camouflaged holes to see wild bears. Since Finland experiences the midnight sun it’s also more or less broad daylight throughout the evening. Your guide keeps up a steady supply of coffee and chocolate and there are bunk beds if you need to crash for an hour. This was a revelation to me, what makes you feel more alive than surreptitiously watching such an amazing beast?
Balloon in the desert, Dubai
And to jump completely from one end of the spectrum to the other, I also loved the desert last year! I’ve been to the desert before of course, being an ambassador for the Northern Territory of Australia has its perks, but I’ve never really stopped and appreciated it. This year in Dubai I did. I got to go hot air ballooning, dune bashing, and animal spotting and also squeezed in a sunrise with friends. One morning we actually spotted a camel spider from afar (HUGE) but by the time the boys ran over he had burrowed into the sand. (I was quivering in my 4WD imagining those things burrowed under the sand I intended to walk over!)
The vastness of the desert
So that’s really it, some of the many experiences I’ve had recently and those that made me FEEL. To really feel alive and a part of this amazing planet is a truly blessed sensation. And when I’m staring down the barrel of a 12-hour computer day I only have to look at my photos and remember why I do this. To travel is to live.
Sunrise with friends, there are always friends