Days 1-3: Bangkok It took exactly 28 hours to travel from my door in Orinda, California, to my hotel in in Bangkok, Thailand. My finacee, Lauren, and I had decided to take a trip to Thailand and Vietnam because we both had some time off during the summer of 2015. We flew out of San Francisco, via Singapore Airlines, at 1:20 AM in the early morning hours of June 24. After brief stops in Hong Kong and Singapore, we finally landed in Bangkok.
For his 60th birthday, my father, who has always loved hiking, mountaineering, and the outdoors, decided he wanted to go on an adventure with his family. He settled on rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon as his expedition of choice. Unfortunately, Grand Canyon trips tend to fill up as early as two years in advance, and we weren't able to book one. Instead, we decided to raft the Colorado through Cataract Canyon. Cataract Canyon is in Canyonlands National Park, above the Grand Canyon, and has even bigger whitewater.
After my trip to Svalbard, I flew south to Bergen, Norway. There I met Lauren and much of her family: her parents, sister, aunt, and grandparents. Our group of eight would travel together over the next two weeks, through five countries and seven cities.
“The bleakest barest most inhospitable godforsaken dead end of nowhere.” So Lee Scoresby describes Svalbard, an archipelago in the far north, in Philip Pullman's excellent novel The Golden Compass. Nonetheless, visiting Svalbard has been a dream of mine since childhood, a dream that was partly inspired by that book.
The winter of 2013 started off well for skiers on the West Coast. A wet November dumped plenty of snow to get some skiing in over Thanksgiving, and an even better December made conditions around the holiday season and New Year's excellent. Unfortunately, those first two months of the season were followed by the driest January on record and an equally uninspiring first half of February.