A Year in Cities, 2014

Last year's post detailed my emergency same-day passport renewal in order to make a holiday trip to Kenya. In the end it all worked out. This year saw another passport emergency, and it didn't work out. Such are the vagaries of travel(ers). Thelma and I were to go to a friend's wedding in Spain--Menorca by way of Barcelona--but the night before departing Thelma realized her passport wasn't in its usual place. We were in the process of moving, so while both our apartment and a storage unit were scoured, the passport was gone, and our Sunday flight meant even the Atlanta Passport agency wouldn't be able to help. We cancelled the trip and mourned the loss of our only chance to go abroad this year. Then we drove to Savannah and eloped.

 In a coffeehouse, natch,

In a coffeehouse, natch,

So, the list. As always, smaller places are excluded save for those in which I spent a longer amount of time. Bold type indicates a new-to-me place.

  • Washington, D.C. (I live here now!)
  • Atlanta, Georgia (I used to live here and still visit often because my wife lives there!)
  • Savannah, Georgia (the Menorca of the American Southeast!)
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado (friends!)
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (friends!)
  • Santa Fe, New Mexico (a wedding, i.e. friends!)
  • Daytona Beach, Florida (family!)
  • Mobile, Alabama (family!)
  • Greenville / Simpsonville, South Carolina (family!)
  • Charlotte, North Carolina (family!)

Despite what I see once again as meager list, I'm sure I've taken more flights this year than any other. This is thanks to moving house. A month after getting married, you see, I left my wife in Atlanta and moved to DC for a new job: I'm now the creative projects director at George Mason University's Mercatus Center.

n.b. Every couple should start marriage by dividing up their earthly goods, physically separating, and seeing each other one weekend a month.

The voucher for the cancelled ticket to Spain does offer the promise of a well-traveled 2015.  Friends beckon from faraway places, and thanks to cheap gas, that voucher will stretch much further than Spain. The choices are tantalizing: South Africa? Turkey? England? Thailand? Iceland? Hollywoodland? Neither Thelma nor I have ever been to South America.

The choices reveal a hard truth: a decision to go one place is a decision against any other. And as least year proved, where you don't go can matter a lot.

On Safari in Masai Mara

As noted, I spent my Christmas holiday in Kenya. The highlight of the trip was a two-day safari in Masai Mara, my first.* We stayed at the Sarova Mara Game Camp, and our guide, Ken, was excellent.

*During my year in Rwanda I camped at Akagera National Park several times; there's some wildlife to be seen but not the kind or amount usually associated with a true safari.

We were also lucky. Each of our drives presented animals aplenty, and of the vaunted big five game, we missed only the rhinoceros. We even witnessed a kill--in this case a cheetah taking down a hapless antelope--a jewel missing in most safari-goer's crowns.

Below is a video (Vimeo or YouTube, pick your platform) I made of the trip. The video combines footage I shot with my D7000 as well as my iPhone 5, which served quite well an ersatz GoPro (The high frame rate capabilities of the 5s would've been awesome for this.). Considering it's verboten to leave the vehicle in the park, I was pleased with the variety of shots I got.  Take a look.

SPECIAL BLOG BONUS: At bottom check out a slideshow of the best stills.

A Year in Cities, 2013

This year's list would've been slightly abbreviated had it not been for last minute trip to the Atlanta Passport Agency. Thelma's and my year-end trip to Kenya had been planned for months, but I didn't notice until a few days prior to departure that my my passport was three months from expiry. Because I am a big dummy, I didn't check Kenya's entry requirements until a day or two later, whereupon I had the sickening realization I wouldn't make it into the country without a renewal. Luckily the Atlanta Passport Agency is only a mile or two away from where I live, so I scheduled the earliest available appointment, which was a day before departure. Thankfully this government office works quickly (this was my second encounter after having pages added last year), and I had my new passport in hand four hours after submitting the paperwork. As always, smaller places are excluded save for those in which I spent a longer amount of time. Asterisks indicate a city of residency, while bold type indicates a new-to-me place.

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  • Atlanta, GA* (a renewed lease in Inman Park)
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Greenville / Simpsonville, South Carolina
  • New York City, New York
  • Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
  • Elsworth, Kansas
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Nairobi, Kenya
  • Diani Beach/ Mombasa, Kenya (where I am at the moment)

[/wpcol_1half] [wpcol_1half_end id="" class="" style=""] passport [/wpcol_1half_end] I felt decently well-traveled this year, but as I look at this list I find it wanting. The trips to Kansas and St. Thomas were for weddings, and my two trips to New York City were for work. Numerous weekends were spent with family in Greenville and Charlotte. Though I'll take travel with any pretext, it'd have been nice to have a few more pure traveling holidays. Nonetheless my current trip to Kenya has been wonderful, even to the extent of rekindling a latent desire to live abroad again.

I'm now on my third passport, and as I look at my worn and now riddled second I wonder whether the new one will be reached for as often. Each passport is a decennial marker,  a measure with which one can determine a certain kind of progress and momentum. Here on the first day of the new year, my thoughts venture ten times further than they're supposed to.