I’ve been spending a lot of time in Europe recently; from big cities to the mountain ranges to tiny little villages in the middle of nowhere.
As an American, one of the most striking things I noticed in Europe was the importance of water. Rivers are the lifeblood of this continent. The major cities were built around them, which makes sense, as back in the day waterways were by far the quickest and most efficient method of moving people and goods around.
The European conquest of nature extends far beyond building cities though; almost every single major river on the continent has been dammed for hydroelectric power.
As an American, and one from the West, this fusion of civilization and nature always struck me in an odd way. In the U.S., we usually separate these things. Our nation was built on the back of railroad and automobile infrastructure, which means besides the Mississippi and a few other routes, rivers have largely been left alone. We prefer coal and oil over hydropower (not necessarily a good thing). We also enjoy a deep bond with our public lands.
In the US, our wilderness is untamed and unaltered as much as we can make it so.
For me, this respect for the land and the ecosystems is just as American as the right to own guns, or eat cheeseburgers, or whatever else foreigners associate with our nation. The first time I saw trees painted to mark trails in Hungary, I was horrified. The golden words in the American wilderness are Leave No Trace.
So when I read this article on Adventure Journal about the planned damming of Europe’s last, pristine rivers in the Balkan Peninsula, my initial reaction was pretty negative.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably realized I’ve been home for a bit. Home for me is Colorado, USA. Colorado’s one of the hottest states in the U.S. at the moment; one of the top places young people want to move. The migration is major, bringing both skilled and unskilled workers in large numbers to my home.
I can’t blame them; as I tell my friends and family when they ask about my travels, I’ve now seen a lot of places around the world. And the more places I see, the more convinced I am that Colorado is one of the better ones.
Here’s why I believe that:
A reader left a comment on my 2017 in Places post:
“The more you travel, the more you will find that it is the people you meet along the way that matter most… Keep on travelling!!”
I couldn’t agree more. I’d like to share just one small story from this year about some people I met on the road. You saw them last week, at the tail end of my 2017 in Photos post, and you see them again, above.
They are Patty and Jeed. I met them on Koh Lanta, a Thai island, at the end of 2015.
Seventeen of my favorite pictures from 2017 — a year that took me to four continents, six states, and eight countries.
For my 16 favorite photos from last year, check out 2016 in Photos.
Prefer words? 2017 in Places Continue reading
Another year, another few stories to tell.
One of my favorite posts I wrote last year was 2016 in Places, a meditation on a year of movement.
I started that post with this sentence:
“As I go into 2017, I’m faced with a big choice: do I choose to keep chasing places, for another little while, or is it time to settle down and devote myself to enhancing my relationships with people?”
As you’ll see, I ended up choosing places. Places gave me a lot this year. I leave 2017 with a greater breadth of stories and experiences. But my feeling is 2018 will be defined by people. We will see.
For now, here’s what happened to me in 2017.