My Top 10 Travel Adventures of the Decade

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Me in Venice, Italy, Nov. 2007

Me in Venice, Italy, Nov. 2007

My new passport arrived last week. It’s so clean and empty. A decade has passed since I received my first passport- yeah, I didn’t get one until I was 30 years-old – and thumbing through brought back all sorts of memories.

As 2011 comes rushing in, I have a few trips planned for the upcoming year but before I embark on those adventures, here’s a recap of my top 10 travel adventures of the decade. Care to share your grand trips of the past decade, 2000 – 2010?

9/11 Unintentional Road Trip – New England to Florida – 2001
Can’t believe this year marks the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, because that awful day is still vivid in my mind. This wasn’t a planned road trip but one that will always remain as one of my top travel adventures. Long story short, I was in New England on business that day in September. After finishing out the week of shows, a new friend and I journeyed back to Florida. For the eighth anniversary, I wrote these three blog posts so I wouldn’t forget down the road what happened. (I admit, with age my memory is fading.)

Remnant of a Twin Tower: Newseum, Washington, D.C.

Remnant of a Twin Tower: Newseum, Washington, D.C.

The Great S2S Road Trip – May 2007
Back in 2007 I thought I’d never see the West Coast again so I planned a most excellent road trip which originated in San Francisco and ended in Seattle (hence, I called it “S2S”). During my eight-day trip I drove more than 1,400 miles, met friendly folks and took in incredible scenery. I focused on wineries and the great outdoors and saw adorable seals, huge trees and quirky sculptures of Big Foot as well as sipped good and bad wine.

Big Foot Sculpture in California

Big Foot Sculpture in California

Tasting My Forbidden Fruit – Havana, Cuba – 2003
It was a month before President George W. Bush pulled the cultural visa permits allowing Americans to visit Cuba so I traveled to Havana legally with the group Cultural Exchange. The three-night trip gave me a brief taste to satisfy my fascination with the forbidden fruit. It was also my first visit to a developing country and I regret I was overly cautious.

During this trip I saw true poverty, a mockery of an oppressive government, met aggressive beggars, and was proposed to by Cuban men twice. I was also greeted by the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen.

Children in Havana, Cuba Dec. 2003

Children Posing for Photos, Havana, Cuba, Dec. 2003

Sunday School with Jimmy Carter, Plains, Ga. – Sept. 2004
Jimmy Carter is one my most favorite high-profile people in the world. I first met him back in the 1990s when I worked at Lake Yellowstone Hotel and he and his family spent a few nights with us following a week-long camping trip at Pebble Creek. They celebrated Rosalynn’s birthday at the employee pub and the chair she sat in was mounted on the wall for all to see. I later met him during a book signing in Sarasota but it was the trip to Plains to attend Sunday school with my then roommate Nicole that will always stay with me. Jimmy Carter exudes kindness and hope and I will always try carry those qualities with me.

>>Photo Coming Soon<<

A Month in Japan on Someone Else’s Yen – 2004
To this day, I’m still honored and feel privileged I was selected to represent the local Rotary International district in the Group Study Exchange program. This is where a small group of young professionals from one country are swapped out with another group in another country.

My particular journey was a four-week homestay, staying with a different family each week. In addition to learning about Japan’s culture, economics and tourist attractions, I experienced everyday Japanese life and learned communication is more than just language. Japan isn’t a place I would have considered visiting on my own but after spending a month in the care of new friends, it’s a destination I’d love to visit again.

Cleansing at a Nara Temple, Japan, Nov. 2004

Cleansing at a Nara Temple, Japan, Nov. 2004

What Was I Thinking? Kabul, Afghanistan – March 2006
Darn you, Khaled Hosseini, and your powerfully, amazing book, The Kite Runner. After reading this novel, I received a media release announcing a Global Exchange Reality Tour to Afghanistan and just had to go and experience the country for myself. The Kite Runner is not a rainbows and sunshine book, it’s gritty, deep and authentic, and had me wanting more. Hence the trip.

The trip was an eye-opener to the state of women and children yet disturbing. I won’t delve into details but you can check out the blog I kept during the trip.

Women Making Purses at Women4Women, Kaubl, Afghanistan, March 2006

Women Making Purses at Women4Women, Kaubl, Afghanistan, March 2006

Girlfriends Getaway to the Florida Keys with My Sister – July 2008
Although brief, this weekend getaway to the Keys was fun. I’m sure my sister enjoyed it since unlike our getaway to New York City in 2006, we stayed at a nice hotel and not the YMCA (in the Big Apple). During the girlfriends getaway to Key West, we ate (and drank) well and I introduced my sister to performing drag queens. On the way back to Southwest Florida, I treated her to a swim with the dolphins experience at the Dolphin Research Center – something EVERY Florida visitor (and resident) must do.

Key West Drag Queen at Aqua

Key West Drag Queen at Aqua

A Mexican Thanksgiving – Nov. 2008
I have friends old enough to retire and that’s what my friend barb did several years ago. For now, she’s settled in Mexico near Lake Chapala and during Thanksgiving 2008, I spent a week exploring her new home, specifically the towns of El Chante, Jocotepec, Ajijic, and Tlaquepaque and Guadalajara. Thanksgiving dinner included margaritas and pizza topped with chicken and corn. Yum!

Mexican Dolls Near Lake Chapala

Mexican Dolls Near Lake Chapala

Hope and Change, Inauguration of President Barack Obama – Jan. 2009
Nothing says bragging rights as attending the inauguration of the first African-American President of the United States. On election night, as I sat in front of the television with tears of happiness, I knew I needed to be part of the new day in America and began planning a trip to Washington, D.C., to attend. The weekend included a star-studded concert, a V.I.P. event, the swearing in ceremony and attendance to the Mid-Atlantic gala where I saw Vice President Biden and President Obama in person. What an awesome experience.

Me at the Inauguration of President Barack Obama, Jan. 20, 2009

Me at the Inauguration of President Barack Obama, Jan. 20, 2009

Birthday Celebration – Pacific Northwest Girlfriends Getaway – April/May 2010
As I blogged before, I was disappointed when the Icelandic volcano changed travel plans for my 40th birthday celebration but, the trip to the Pacific Northwest (Seattle, Portland and Victoria) turned out to be amazing! ZeldaMae and I ate our way through the region including a visit to the Portland Farmers Market (video), taking a chocolate tour of Seattle and eating a delish breakfast in Victoria at the Blue Fox Cafe. And since we were in the area, we traveled to Forks, Wash., for a self-guided Twilight tour (yeah, the Edward and Bella kind of tour) and saw a little boy receive his wish of being a superhero granted by The Make-A-Wish Foundation. Importantly, I got to tiptoe through fields of vibrant tulips during the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in Woodburn,

Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival, Woodburn, Ore., April 2010

Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival, Woodburn, Ore., April 2010

Honorable Mentions
Whew! What a decade! There were certainly other trips worthy of a mention including the Nov. 2007 trip to Italy with high school pal Annette, my first international trip in Jan. (or Feb.) 2001 to London, a girlfriends getaway to Boston with Val (and a trip to Atlanta), a trip to Savannah to chase ghosts and sip a cocktail in a cemetery (al la Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil) and countless business trips, road trips, quick getaways and visits home in Buffalo.

I’m looking forward to the next decade of travel whatever it shall bring.

Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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