Bucket lists (travel)

Eight days ago, I returned from a trip to Iceland where I checked some boxes off my travel bucket list. Chief among those was a chance to see the northern lights / aurora borealis (they were oddly underwhelming in person – they looked more like thin, barely visible clouds than the bright green you see in photos – until I looked at my photos and realized I got some good ones).

The other day, I was thinking about bucket lists and, for a short moment, I thought I had put a serious dent in my bucket list over the last three years – Yellowstone, Rome, Venice, Pompeii, Florence, Iceland, the aurora… Why the sudden burst of travel? After my divorce, and after a few friends died too young, I realized I needed to do a little more to enjoy life today and to do things for myself.

I have been at my current job for over 17 years and have been working at a below-market salary (for many years it was quite significantly below market) for all those years. I have been doing that, in part, with an eye toward my future in the form of a fairly generous (particularly by today’s standards) pension and also toward the present in the form of above-market benefits. Among those benefits is very robust vacation accrual, which I rarely took in my first 10 years.

My future was accounted for, but what was I doing in the present? In 2010, I started taking advantage of my vacation time, with a 2-1/2 week trip to Japan, a place that feels like a second home to me. My next trip was 2011, to see the Kings open the season in Berlin and then to travel around France with a friend. And it was around that time that I met my now-ex, who lives in Stockholm (yes, Sweden).  For the next 3 years, my vacation time was spent almost exclusively visiting my ex or spending time with my ex here in LA. But that was okay, because I was planning a life with this person – a life that would eventually be based in Europe where, I thought, I’d be close enough to many of the places I hoped to see someday. Plus, my ex and I had some of the same places on our bucket lists and had planned to visit them some day, as well. I figured I had plenty of time to whittle down my list. But then my marriage ended and, with it, so did those plans for the future.

About a year and half later, an opportunity presented itself in the form of a conference in Rome. I had the chance to both check Rome (and a few other cities) off my bucket list and to learn something. So I took it. And I realized around that time that I could make my own opportunities. And when some friends passed away suddenly, I realized life was short. I had been working hard to ensure my future, but I needed to start considering the present. So I started checking places and travel experiences off my bucket list.

But was I really just down to just two more, one of which I anticipate knocking out next year, after just a few years of travel? As I started talking about travel I realized there were so many other places and experiences still on that list.

Among the remaining bucket list items:

  • Cambodia and the Angkor temples
  • The Galapagos Islands
  • The ancient ruins in Greece
  • Israel (with a detour to Petra, Jordan)
  • A safari in Africa
  • The Scottish Highlands
  • Stonehenge (yes, I know it’s underwhelming), Bath and other sites in England
  • Castles throughout Europe
  • The rain forests in Costa Rica
  • Snow monkeys in Japan and the Sapporo Snow Festival
  • The pyramids and Sphinx in Egypt
  • Iguazu Falls
  • Auschwitz (not so much a bucket list item as something I feel I need to see in my lifetime)
  • The national parks and national monuments in Utah

I am sure there are others and new ones will replace the ones I check off. But it looks like I have some busy years of travel still ahead…

 

 

Welcome to a little slice of my world…

Hello and welcome to my third attempt at a blog. Hopefully this platform will be a little more user-friendly than the last and hopefully I’ll stick with it this time.

What’s different this time? That’s a valid question. I have been feeling a little stagnant in my life and so I have started to take some steps to fix that.

Step 1 is just to broaden my horizons intellectually, wherever that might lead. Two years ago, I found an online graduate program in Intellectual Property Law that really interested me. Unfortunately, some really difficult things happened in my personal life (the impetus for my last attempt at blogging, although under a pseudonym) that prevented me from pursuing that program. But now I am going ahead with the application and hopefully I will get accepted.

As part of that, I decided to take some online classes to get back into the habit of studying. So I signed up for a few classes through Coursera.org, including two that relate to my interests professionally – European Business Law: Understanding the Fundamentals and English Common Law: Structure and Principles – and two that intrigued me personally – The History of Modern Israel – From an Idea to a State and
The Holocaust: The Destruction of European Jewry. The latter two stem from wanting to better understand aspects of my own heritage and the rising tide of antisemitism in the world today.

Step 3 is profit…

What about Step 2?

Okay, so I couldn’t resist digressing to an Underpants Gnomes reference.

The second thing is that I am trying to travel more and explore places I haven’t visited. I have been to 17 countries (counting the UK as one country as the linked app does, and if you count the US, a cruise stop in Ensenada, Vatican City, and that time I was at the demilitarized zone in Korea and was able to go about 10 feet across the border into North Korea) and 28 or 29 states (counting some that I have driven through, and one where I have visited multiple times but never really explored). Add in random airports I have passed through, and those counts goes up a little. I have a trip tentatively planned for later this year, so hopefully that will add at least one country to the list.

So my plan is to share interesting (at least to me) things I learn on those two journeys – whether new legal or historical tidbits, travel experiences, photos, etc. And there are the random musings I may choose to share about things that interest me (law, politics, hockey, nerdy stuff, pictures of my cats…) and the world around me.

So, if you are still reading, welcome to a little slice of my world…