Words Overboard

Well hello there.

I haven’t written in some time.

About six months, in fact. Initially it came down to free time (I had little), and I felt okay with parking that part of my brain for a bit.

And a bit longer.

And then a bit longer still.

And then shit son, six months is a long time!

In between I took a course (which I found incredibly difficult), I moved, and my job became more challenging and required more of me. So I slowly parked other parts of my brain – the parts that enjoy making things, baking, being creative. Then I parked some of the other things I was interested in, like planning adventures both local and elsewhere. And I drifted a bit, sleepily. So when it came time to finally think about writing something, I discovered empty roads. I’d parked everything for so long, I hadn’t noticed that my well of ideas had dried up and writer’s block had strolled into town and set up camp. The jerk won’t leave. And I’m freaked out.

I lost my words.

As an introvert, words are very important to me. If someone was to ask me in person how I was feeling, I’d make an awkward noise, probably squeak out “fine” a little too loudly, and immediately shift the topic back to them so I could sprint back to my comfort zone. But emails and the like are my jam. I’ll write you a short novel about how I’m doing and also update you on the three dogs I ran into today and how their days are going (very well, thank you for asking). The ability to write, and write reasonably well, has been a defining feature of my personality. I take great comfort in the fact that people tell me to write more, that friends and colleagues ask me to review their work and make suggestions. I often remark that I feel that I’m funnier online (my brain likes to be a jackass when I’m telling a joke and muck about with the punch line in my memory). Losing my words, therefore, feels like I’ve lost a core facet of myself and has thrown me off balance.

There are other things afoot that have contributed to this, and I’m slowly working on those, but I need to get my words back. If you’re still reading this blog, bless you for checking in now and then. I’m going to go into clumsy battle with writer’s block. Watch this space to see if I win.


Fourth Blogiversary!

Four years ago (+2 days), I started this blog as a means to chronicle my backpacking adventures and let people know that I was in fact alive. When I returned, I kept it going because I have tendencies to talk…and talk…and talk about travel and I like writing so it made sense.

I had forgotten about the anniversary until tonight. Not one for checking stats (hello, SEO) I decided to look back at the four most popular posts I’ve written to date.


4. That Time I Roomed With a 75-Year-Old For a Month
In retrospect it would have made for a great reality show. At the time, I nearly lost my marbles.
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3. That Time I Made Up the History of New Zealand
I still think it’s a totally reasonable way to start a country.
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2. That Time I Decided to See How Much Coffee I Could Consume 
Also known as channeling my inner Lisa Simpson at Duff Gardens
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1. That Time Kevin and I Nearly Died Trying to Find a Plane Crash
Or, why you should always ask for a second set of directions to compare.
Read More

Thanks for still reading this fun side project. While my adventures may not always be solo these days, they’re certainly still involving the same level of clumsiness so at least some things never change.

Collecting Moments vs Memories When Travelling

Mousehole, Cornwall

I love taking pictures. That feeling when a great subject and impeccable light mash together and you’re left with what you know will be perfection – it’s heavenly. I love the quiet tranquility of spending an afternoon snapping whatever strikes my fancy. And I especially love looking back through trip photos and remembering moments I’d forgotten.

Lately, however, I’ve become more committed to living in the present, particularly when I travel. I’m often guilty of feeling the need to capture everything. Every. Single. Moment. Thoughts such as, “I’m sure three years from now I’ll be realllly happy to have this photo of my dinner” or “The font on this sign is amazing! You should remember this!” are pretty common. And in the process of collecting a memory, I’m missing out on a moment.

With an eye trained through the viewfinder, I might miss a charming interaction between a couple parked on a nearby bench. A spectacular sunset. The enjoyment of a cup of coffee and a morning paper. And I’m struggling to find a way to be not only present, but to also do future Sam a solid by snapping an appropriate amount of pictures to trigger long-buried memories.

Strategies I’ve been toying with include:


  • Phone camera only. I did this on my recent trip to LA and it was generally effective. I enjoyed a stellar sunrise and sunset, spent a boatload of time people watching, and checked things out not because they might net a great photo opp, but because I just wanted to, dammit. I took a suitable amount of “WTH?” photos that I now look at with slight bemusement, which is good too. On the downside, none of the photos are print quality, which is a bit of a bummer because I love displaying my travels.
  • Notebook only. I have a lovely little collection of notebooks that never get used, so it’s been nice to actually utilize them. Forcing myself to write, even if on an infrequent basis, is also a plus.
  • Setting limits for photos. If I take my camera out, I’m trying to set a time limit or at least restrict the amount of snaps I can take. This takes more discipline than I perhaps possess right now, but with a little work this might be the winning solution for me.

How do you find balance between capturing moments and memories when travelling?