It’s been 30 years since the Chernobyl disaster changed the world. Its effects are still felt in the surrounding areas. I was born 4 years after the disaster but I have always known its name. I was aware of the disaster but had never really understood the causes, effects, or results. Over the years, I had seen many of the Buzzfeed or Dailymail collections of photos from the Chernobyl exclusion zone but a Chernobyl tour had never crossed my mind. Yet, in November 2015, I arrived in Ukraine for a two-day tour of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone with ChernobylWEL.COMe.
2016 was a great year for me and travel. I have declared 2016 the Year of the Pyramids. I saw the temple pyramids of Mexico as well as the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. I managed to visit 5 US states I had never been to as well as crossed 3 national parks off my list. My job allows me to travel so I spent much of my month on the road. It varies but on average I am on the road 3 nights a week. When I started looking how many flights I took this year, I couldn’t believe it. I started and ended my year of international travel in Canada and my travel year in New York. Here is my favorite 16 adventures from 2016 travel.
Four days, 1,400 km (847 miles), and 8 stops. I step off the plane in Dublin, Ireland. I have a very short time frame and a whole adventure ahead of me. The Republic of Ireland and Nothern Ireland are my last stop on a month long trip that has taken me through Egypt and Eastern Europe. I both excited and nervous about this road trip. I have never driven on the right side of the road. This fact has just gotten real as I walk out of customs and head over to baggage claim. I grab my bag and head over to the rental car counters. It doesn’t take but a glance to find my trip sponsor’s counter. There is one other person at the Budget Car Rental Ireland counter. It doesn’t take the attendant but a couple of minutes to check them out and give them directions. Within five mins of getting my bag, I have my car and am off to find my rental car.
Kayla and I emerge from the forest and arrive at my car. We look at each other. Joe still hadn’t caught up with us. I unlock my car and pull out my phone. Kayla keeps glancing at the trailhead as I turn my phone on. Finally, it turns on. No signal, that isn’t a surprise given we are in the North Cascades Mountains in North Cascade National Park in northern Washington. Kayla looks at her watch. “It’s 5:30,” she states. “Sunset isn’t until at least 9,” I respond. We have over three hours of sunlight. “He should have realized we were going to make it to the top by now, right,” her voice wobbles. I hesitate for a moment, but respond, “Yea, he should have caught us on the way down.” With that statement, the nagging feeling that I have had the whole way down comes back.
I am up before dawn and packing my bags. Surprisingly, it was just after 9 am and I had beaten the sun up. I double checked my hostel room and headed upstairs for breakfast. I had some of my favorite local Icelandic yogurt while I did a quick weather check. The weather report was clear but I had learned over the last six days that the weather could change in an instant. I walked out of my hostel and into the bitter Icelandic cold. The sky was just starting to get light as I gassed up my car for the next stage of my Icelandic Winter Road Trip. I had a little over two hours drive ahead to get to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.