1,000 Places to See Before I Die

I've been armchair travelling around the world this year, courtesy of my Page-A-Day calendar. I feel blessed to report that I have been to a good third of the locales listed on these pages - Lake Constance and Lake Como, the Bugaboos, Agra, Cape Breton, Milford Sound, Durbar Square in Kathmandu, Fiji, the Grand Palace in Bangkok, etc., etc.  It's really quite affirming to realize that perhaps I have been a place or two on this planet.

Yet, as with knowledge, world travel has a way of hitting you over the head with its sheer enormity.  The more I've travelled, the more I realize how little I've travelled.  I've been to One Tree Hill of U2 fame, but I've never seen the trees of Yellowstone.

Today's calendar image is Halong Bay, Vietnam.  In a word?  Stunning.  I want to go there now.   Have you ever had a visceral reaction to a destination image thereby inspiring you to travel there?  Movies can do that to people but sometimes a simple little calendar image can, too.  I got tired of being awed and amazed by travel brochure images of the Bugaboos, which happened to be in my own backyard.  So I made Holy Hub drive 90 minutes down a dirt road and off the beaten path in order to see these mountain spires in person.  I think it was worth the trip - he still grumbles about the heat, the dust, the detour.

Too many places, not enough time.  But I'm determined to get out there in this world and experience a few of these majestic places for myself.  Sometime, somehow, someway. 

What's on my hit list?  Mostly mountains.  I monumentally love, love, love mountains.  We've seen a range or two or ten in our lifetime - the Rockies, the Alps, the Himalayas, the Karakoram, the Hindu Kush, the Southern Alps of New Zealand - and we now lived flanked by the Olympics to the West and the Cascades to the East.  I'm convinced mountains will factor into the images that flash across my mind in those penultimate moments of life -  Valley of the 10 Peaks, Mt. Rainier, The Matterhorn, Mt. Pilatus, The Three Sisters, Nanga Parbat - all these mountains take up a huge amount of space in my heart.  But there remain, seriously, so many more I must, must see, trek, touch and bow to in reverence in an up close and personal kinda way.   

Patagonia, the Dolomites, the Pyrenees, Bhutan, the Drakensberg in South Africa, the Pamirs, the Armenian Highlands (home to Mountain Ararat and Noah's lost Ark), and yes, even a few ranges considerably more local like the Tetons, are all on my must see, do list. 

Which leads me to my next category - National Parks.  I've been enjoying catching bits and pieces of Ken Burns' PBS documentary - "The National Parks: America's Best Idea"  - he's so right, they are.  I was inspired by the adventurous escapades of Edward and Margaret Gehrke, who made it a point in the 20s and 30s to travel to all of America's National Parks.  While I don't feel inspired to see all of the 400 or so parks in the system, I would like to at least see Yosemite, Yellowstone, the main section of the Grand Canyon, and pretty much every single National Park in Utah.

My next category is Islands.  We've vaycayed on more than a dozen gorgeous and memorable islands in the South Pacific, Caribbean Sea and Indian Ocean, but there are some elusive islands I still must paddle to ~ like Easter Island, the Galapagos, the Marquesas in French Polynesia, the Greek Isles, Aruba, Malta, the Andaman Islands, the Queen Charlotte Islands, Tasmania, Madagascar, Iceland and the Hebrides, if only because the latter sounds exotic. Reading books like The Motion of the Ocean: 1 Small Boat, 2 Average Lovers and a Woman's Search for the Meaning of Wife by Janna Cawrse Esarey struck a wanderlust chord within me to want to set sail for the high and low seas in search of sun, sand and ocean spray.

I haven't even touched on Mystical and Whoo-whoo Places.  We've been to some sacred sites and ancient ruins, but we have yet to see the biggies like Egypt and Stonehenge or the Camino de Santiago or Machu Picchu or even the birthplace of Bono.

There are oodles of other categories that I haven't mentioned - coastlines and scenic road trips and historical cities - but the aforementioned are what really float my travelling boat.

How can you tell the bug has bitten me again?