Back on the road

This week, I’m starting a four-week road trip from Austin, Texas, to Antelope Canyon Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona.

It will be my longest trip in nearly a year.

After three years of nearly non-stop travel, I felt a need to catch my breath. I was road-weary.

I rented an apartment in Columbus, my first “permanent” residence since 2014. I emptied my storage locker and found things I forgot I owned. I even bought a car.

Most importantly, I reconnected with family and friends. And thought about what is next.

My new plan is to take a few shorter trips each year, maybe three or four, each perhaps a few weeks long.

I’ll start this winter in the Southwest for the third straight year.

In the fall, I will tour the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu. (Please see the 2018 itinerary here.) More trips may be added to the 2018 schedule.

Now seems like an appropriate time to answer the three questions I am asked most about my recent three-year adventure:

Shetland Islands, Scotland

Q. Were you afraid to travel in Europe?

A. No. While many Americans don’t like to acknowledge the statistics, one is at least twenty times more likely to die by gunfire in the United States than in western Europe. On the other hand, Europe experiences more terrorist bombings.

So, take your pick.

Regardless, I enjoy traveling in less populated areas where mass attacks rarely occur. I am no more afraid to travel in Europe than in the United States

Q. Didn’t you get lonely traveling alone?

A. Yes, but I didn’t want it to be an obstacle to having experiences. The advantage of solo travel is that you can do whatever you want on your own schedule. The disadvantage is that you have no one with whom to share the moments.

Allie at olive-oil mill, Büyükkonok, Cyprus

On occasion, friends have tagged along with me for a few days at a time. Most special was the week my daughter joined me in Cyprus.

And I’ve been fortunate to make a few new friends along the way. I’ve maintained contact with fellow Americans who were tour-mates in Sicily and the Caribbean, an English couple I met at a B&B overlooking a deer park in Scotland, a folk singer I met at the Edinburgh Festival, and trad musicians who invited me to join them in the pubs of County Donegal three nights running.

Social media has helped make staying in touch with family and friends, both old and new, easier.

Balestrand, Norway

Surprisingly, during my travels, I saw my kids more often than when I resided full-time in Columbus. They live and work in Chicago, which I use as a hub for flying to and from Europe. I simply added weeks before and after each trip in order to spend time with them.

Q. What is the favorite place you visited in Europe?

A. Different people enjoy different aspects of travel–art, history, food, scenery, shopping. I immersed myself in all of it. Well, except for the shopping.

However, beyond the must-see castles, cathedrals and museums, I prefer small villages and remote landscapes.

Mürren, Switzerland

So my answer is a tie between five stunningly beautiful and mostly pristine areas:

  • North coast of Northern Ireland
  • West coast of Norway (fjord country)
  • Anywhere in Iceland outside of Reykjavik
  • Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland
  • Shetland Islands of Scotland

I hope to add some new favorites to the list this year.

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10 Responses to Back on the road

  1. Steve says:

    Well, have fun. Don’t drink the water. Anywhere.

  2. Bill Young says:

    Kirk, good luck on your new adventure. I really enjoy following you along on your trips throughout the world. Your photos are fantastic. You have a knack for capturing the essence of an area. As always, best of luck and safe travels. Neil

  3. Val Chornyak says:

    I haven’t read all of this but happy to “hear from you.”

  4. Sal says:

    Kirk, great to hear from you and a belated Happy 2018.
    Bill Young has said it all so well. Wishing you the best of times and hope we have a chance down the road to see each other once again. Sal

  5. John Bauman says:

    …so you’re right on schedule, west bound and down, loaded up and rollin’. See you when you hit town again!

  6. Lee Kliesch says:

    So pleased to hear news from you and to know where you are, more or less. Will look forward to stories and pictures. It’s definitely the time to be absent from Ohio.

  7. anne robertson says:

    Lovely to hear all your thoughts on travelling in Europe and beyond. Remember there are still many places in Scotland undiscovered by you like more of the West Coast, Glasgow and ‘doon the water’ on the Clyde, if you ever come back this way. It was so enjoyable meeting you at the B & B with the deer park but we are Scottish not English i.e. if you are thinking about us.
    Your next adventures sound just great again and I am glad you have a base of your own to return to now. I feel very restless myself and am quite envious of all your escapades. Keep it up. Anne & Derek Robertson

    • kirkphillips says:

      Great to hear from you, Anne. I hope to get back to Scotland soon. My apologies regarding the nationality. For some reason, I thought you were Scottish by birth, but lived in England. Or the other way around? I’ll blame it on the pints!

  8. ames224 says:

    So excited for all your upcoming journeys! Must see you soon to tell you about my upcoming trip to New Zealand/Fiji! 🙂

  9. Bruce Hyslop says:

    Henceforth you shall be Tripper Kirk, something like Trapper John on Mash.

    May the road rise up to meet and greet you . . . be safe.

    Bruce

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