2012: A Year in Photography

2012 was a busy travel year for me. I visited all seven continents, 18 countries and flew over 150,000 miles. I was exhausted for much of the year, but on the upside, I came away with some amazing photos. I made some great strides as a photographer in 2012. I improved my mastery of Lightroom and have worked on going out of my way to get better shots. My gear didn’t change much during the year. I purchased a new carbon fiber tripod in March and replaced the 18-200mm lens I had been using since 2007. I also celebrated my 5-year anniversary of publishing my daily photo and released my iPhone Travel Photography app.

It was a good year for photography and I plan on making 2013 even better!
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2012: A Year of Travel by the Numbers

2012 Year in TravelAs 2012 comes to a close, I thought I would give an overview of my last year of travel. Rather than giving a month-by-month summary of everything, the math major in me thought it would be interesting to look at the numbers I racked up this year.

This was an especially intensive year of traveling for me. So much so that I have no desire to do it again. It has fundamentally changed how I’m going to go about traveling in the future. I have put on more miles in 2012 than I have in several of the previous 5 years combined.

Without further ado, here is the numerical summary of my 2012!

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December 2012 Question and Answer

Gibraltar Mail BoxIt is that time of the month where I answer those burning questions that world has been dying to ask. This month I have something special. I received a question which seemed very simple at first, but as I began answering it, I realized that the explanation would take up all the space for this month’s Q&A. Nonetheless, I think that the question this month is so important that it deserves it’s own post.

6 year old Claire asks: Why haven’t you gone to the North Pole? Then you could see Santa.

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My Most Memorable Hotels of 2012

Hotel Room of the year: Airport Holiday Inn, Newark

For the second year in a row, I’m posting the list of my most memorable hotels of the past year.

As before, this list isn’t necessarily a list of the “best” hotels. I don’t go out of my way to find hotels to review and I’m not a hotel reviewer. I don’t have a checklist that I go through in each location. My list ranges from luxury hotels to youth hostels. I would recommend all of the properties listed, but often for very different reasons. I stayed at least one night in every one of the locations listed. Simply visiting a hotel is not sufficient to get put on the list no matter how cool the hotel might be.

My choices when I look for accommodations are almost always pragmatic. I don’t really care about luxury rooms and usually just want something clean with good internet. Some of these were paid for by myself and some of them were comped. The vast majority of comped rooms I got did not make this list.

Without further ado, here are my most memorable hotesl of 2012!

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The Quest For The Perfect Bag

UPDATE: I have posted an update listing which bag I purchased and how it has held up after 9 months of travel.

My bag situation in 2011
My bag situation in 2011
Whether it is a suitcase, a backpack, a duffle-bag or a rollaway, the bag is probably the quintessential item for travel. No matter where you go or how you travel, you have stuff and that stuff has to go in something if you want to be able to transport it. Even hobos would use a bindlestiff when tramping from town to town.

That being said, after almost 6-years of traveling, I have never been satisfied with any bag I have used. You would think that I’ve settled on the perfect bag after all this time, but I haven’t and it is an endless source of frustration for me.

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Landscape of Grand Pré

UNESCO World Heritage Site #190: Landscape of Grand Pré
Landscape of Grand Pré: My 190th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription the Landscape of Grand Pré:

Situated in the southern Minas Basin of Nova Scotia, the Grand Pré marshland and archaeological sites constitute a cultural landscape bearing testimony to the development of agricultural farmland using dykes and the aboiteau wooden sluice system, started by the Acadians in the 17th century and further developed and maintained by the Planters and present-day inhabitants. Over 1,300 ha, the cultural landscape encompasses a large expanse of polder farmland and archaeological elements of the towns of Grand Pré and Hortonville, which were built by the Acadians and their successors. The landscape is an exceptional example of the adaptation of the first European settlers to the conditions of the North American Atlantic coast. The site – marked by one of the most extreme tidal ranges in the world, averaging 11.6 m – is also inscribed as a memorial to Acadian way of life and deportation, which started in 1755, known as the Grand Dérangement.

If I you didn’t know the story before hand, you could pass by Grand Pré without every knowing its significance. At first glance, it is nothing more than farm land that happens to be on the banks of the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. However, there are several things about the site which make it significant.

1) It is the ancestral homeland of the Acadian people. The Acadians were French speaking people who lived in Nova Scotia (which they called Acadie or Acadia). During the French/Indian War (aka the Seven Year’s War) they were asked by the British who controlled Nova Scotia to take an oath of loyalty. Even though they were French speaking, they didn’t consider themselves French and claimed neutrality during the conflict. The British eventually deported the population of Acadians who were set all over the world. Their descendants include the Acadians in New Brunswick and the Cajuns in Louisiana.

2) Grand Pré later became famous as the setting of Longfellow’s famous poem Evangeline. Even though it was fictional, the poem cemented Grand Pré as the focal point for the Acadian diaspora as well as turning it into a tourist destination. Today the poem is still celebrated with an Evangeline statue and an Evangeline trail.

3) The agricultural challenges of growing crops next to the Bay of Fundy, with the world’s highest tides, required a great deal of ingenuity. The farmers of Grand Pré created a system of dikes which allowed them to expand the cultivatable area of the region. Those dikes and drainage controls are still in place today.

It is an interesting and subtle area. It will not jump out at you like other World Heritage sites like the Great Pyramids, but there is plenty here to discover if you are willing to look.

Grand Pré can easily be visited via a day trip from Halifax. The visitors center at Grand Pré National Historic Site is open every day on the summer months.


The Landscape of Grand Pré is a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site in Canada. It was inscribed into the list in 2012 and is a part of a national historic site established to commemorate Nova Scotia’s Grand Pre area. This particular cultural landscape served as the center of the Acadian settlement in 1682 until 1755. It was also significantly linked to the British deportation of the Acadians during the time of the French and Indian War.

Hence, it has a lot of historical ties that especially knowing that the area was originally a marshland, too. The native Mi’kmaq people also once inhabited the lands wherein the UNESCO site is located in. There was a series of land reclamation that was undertaken from the 17th to the 18th century. Aside from being recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, it is also believed to be the best example of a North American historic polder. It is also considered as one of the National Historic Sites in Canada.

About the Landscape of Grand Pré

The Landscape of Grand Pré is located along the shore of Minas Basin. It is a tidal marshland that was initially settled in 1680. It also served as the first capital for the Acadian settlement in the area. Over time, Grand Pre became known as the bread basket of Acadia. By the mid-18th century, there are several Acadian communities that were built in the surrounding areas.

The entire Acadian settlement was destroyed by fire during the Queen Anne’s War. After the war, the Annapolis Royal was named as the capital for the Acadians wherein they were also forced to sign an allegiance to the British crown, something of which the Acadians refused to do. There were a few others who were compelled to sign for fear of losing their religion while others were scare about the possible repercussions on their allies.

The French wanted to gain control of the Acadian settlements during the King George’s War. However, during this time, the British were defeated by the local Acadians and Canadians in the former’s effort to gain control of the Bay of Fundy region. In the time of the French and Indian War, the Acadians were deported as part of the British crown’s ploy to deter any military threat from the Acadians. A few Acadians manage to escape and persisted with the armed resistance against the British crown.

The Landscape of Grand Pré is therefore highly storied; the site is considered a national historic monument in Canada because of the extent of the struggle and war that took place in an effort to regain control of the land.

There are 9 different sites in total that are recognized into this collective UNESCO World Heritage Site. These sites are valued for their ecological importance, history, and its showcase of human activity in the said area. The cultural and historical significance of the Landscape of Grand Pré is also manifested by the fact that it is recognized within Canada as a national and historic monument. In fact, the Grand Pre Heritage Conservation District was recognized into the Heritage Property Act in 1999. This consists of the area covered by the UNESCO site, in an effort to preserve and conserve the landscape.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Canada.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Sep 21, 2017 @ 8:40 am