The Best in Photos-2017
As I mentioned in my Year in Review post, this year’s travels were neither exotic nor far flung. But I did visit two new American states, a new Canadian province and territory, a brand new Canadian city I had wanted to visit for years, and had return visits to two American cities I hadn’t been to in years (all of this on an extremely small amount of vacation time due to having gotten a new job and losing many days). So without further ado, here are my ten favorite photos from the past year in no particular order.
The grounds of Taliesin West (Scottsdale, Arizona)
This photo reminds me of an artist’s palette since there are so many color hues represented. Even though when visiting a Frank Lloyd Wright house, there’s so much to photograph and marvel at, it was this section of the property that most enamored me. I also find it so quintessentially “Southwest,” with the bright blue sky, the flowering bushes both in full bloom (in early March, mind you), and of course my all-time favorite, the cactus. Whoever said there’s no color in the desert has clearly never visited Taliesin West. Oh, the house itself isn’t half bad either.
Vancouver Harbour (Vancouver, Canada)
Numerous people told us how lucky we were weather-wise during our brief time spent in Western Canada’s largest city. I mean, just look at the skies in this photo. We spent a decent amount of time milling about the harbourfront (our hotel wasn’t too far and our Alaskan cruise departed from there as well). What I like most about this photo is that it captures the essence of Vancouver-float planes lolling in the harbour until take off, the floating petrol station (I just marveled at this), and then the beautiful mountains off in the distance.
Montezuma Castle (Arizona)
Okay, so there’s nothing noteworthy or unique about this photo. Rather, it’s the subject that makes it so special. It’s always been my absolute dream to visit the Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park. But since they’re located in rural western Colorado (i.e. near to absolutely nothing), it was a lot easier to visit Montezuma Castle in Arizona on our way back from Sedona. If you were to take a quick look at the castle today, you’d just see ruins. But stop and think that what you’re looking at pre-dates Christopher Columbus’ infamous voyage, the Pilgrims, and many other events we consider extremely old. I still am amazed that when my grandparents were children ( less than a century ago), National Park rangers were still giving guided tours UP and INSIDE the ruins using ladders to reach them!
Ship vs. Dawes Glacier (Endicott Arm, Alaska)
You think a cruise ship is massive and it is. But then you see a glacier, and you realize man didn’t create this but rather the elements of Mother Nature did. Although it was undoubtedly one of the most expensive port adventures I ever did, I’m really glad I opted for the smaller boat excursion through Endicott Arm. Although our cruise ship did sail the length of Endicott Arm, you get a much different experience when you’re not nine decks above the glacier trying to photograph it. Case in point, I love the framing of this photo-the stern of the ship pitted against Dawes Glacier, almost as if they’re going to spar at any moment.
Emerald Lake (Yukon Territory, Canada)
For years I have wanted to visit Canada’s Banff National Park. The scenery looks beyond spectacular, almost unworldly. But as it’s in the far reaches of Western Canada (i.e. I would need at least a week to do it justice when taking into account the time spent getting there), I haven’t made it there (yet). But when I learned I could visit the Yukon Territory on a day trip from the Alaskan port city of Skagway, it seemed something worth doing, something different. Initially I was excited to visit the Yukon because it seemed like a unique name dropper, “oh yeah, I’ve been there…” Not to mention it was brimming with history. But then I saw pictures of its incredible scenery like Emerald Lake and you wonder, how is any of this real?
Totem Bight State Historic Site (Ketchikan, Alaska)
Having learned about totem poles back in elementary school, I was especially eager to see some real ones during my Alaska cruise. I ended up booking an excursion in Ketchikan that would allow time for both a nature walk through a famous state park and also visit a historic site that was home to 14 Native American totem poles. I never realized just how beautiful they are between the colors and of course the intricately carved designs. I like this photo the most because even though it hides the towering height of the totem pole, you can see the extreme level of detail that goes into creating one.
West Village Street Scene (New York, New York)
Believe it or not, prior to my trip to New York last summer, I had only ever been to Lower Manhattan a smattering of times. As for the Village, the setting of countless American television shows and movies, never. So I was extremely happy to base myself there and explore much of it in-depth. The West Village was particularly enchanting with its scores of stunning brownstones and idyllic streets, many of which were quiet and deserted, something you don’t always equate with New York City. It’s definitely more of an authentic side of New York, not to mention historic too.
Brooklyn Bridge (New York, New York)
Don’t get me wrong, small bridges like Paris’ Pont Neuf (New Bridge) or Venice’s Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs) are beautiful, but they’re tiny so of course it’s easy to be enamored of their historic charm. But that’s why the Brooklyn Bridge is so incredible to behold, because not only does it have a unique look to it (it opened 17 years BEFORE the turn of the last century) but it’s also massive. On my trip to New York City back in September, I decided that finally walking across the Brooklyn Bridge was something I just HAD to do (after saying I wanted to do it for years). I ran out of time and energy on our second full day and decided I’d try on our final morning (I know, no better time than leaving it to literally the last minute). But it was the best decision ever-the weather was perfect (I mean seriously, look at those stunning blue skies) and the crowds were minimal due to it being an early morning on a holiday. And the engineering that went into constructing it? Well, that’s another whole story of sheer amazement.
Streets scenes in the Quartier Petit-Champlain (Quebec City, Canada)
If you google Quebec City Christmas, pictures of the Quartier Petit-Champlain will undoubtedly be the first dozen (or dozens) of results you’ll see. This particular neighborhood in the city’s Old Town is THAT emblematic of the Christmas season and is one of the main reasons Quebec City is always being featured on a list of places you should visit at Christmas. The buildings are charming and historic (in a way they reminded me of a movie set, they just looked so perfect) not to mention everything is decked out in brilliant holiday decor. This area definitely reminded me of Charleston and Prague, a spot where I just couldn’t stop snapping pictures.
The site of where it all began (Chicago, Illinois)
Until October, I hadn’t been to Chicago since 2011 and in a traveler’s years, that’s almost a lifetime. So a visit was not only overdue, but I also wanted to make sure this time I properly photographed the city, at least in the neighborhoods where I would be visiting (so the Magnificent Mile and the Loop). This trip I ended up going on a walking tour (yes, walking, not food tour) and while it was more physically tiring than I would have liked (no chances to sit down at all on the three hour tour, plus no food) it did give me the chance to take some spectacular shots, including this one. For most people (myself included) when they think of Chicago, they think of its start as a meatpacking district and then of course the Great Fire, and its fame in the 20th century as the architectural capital of the world. But it had much humbler origins and ones that dated even further back to when it was a remote fur trading post in the early part of the 19th century. Hard to imagine when you see the Chicago of today, but it started down there all the same.
Which of my top 10 photos is your favorite?
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