Monday, December 31, 2007

My new "Bucket" List

Patty here…

Instead of the requisite New Year's Resolutions post, I decided to regale you with an article I read in the January 2008 Smithsonian magazine called “28 Places to See Before You Die.”

The opening paragraph goes like this:

We are all of us resigned to death: it’s life we aren’t resigned to,” novelist Graham Greene once wrote. A growing number of Americans of all ages are embracing that idea by renewing a resolve to live life to its fullest. Exhibit A is the recent popularity of “life lists”—itineraries of things to do and places to go before taking the ultimate trip to the Great Beyond.

Here’s the Smithsonian’s list:

1. Mesa Verde (cliff houses of the Pueblo Indians/Colorado)
2. Pompeii (Italy)
3. Tikal (ancient Mayan city, Guatemala)
4. Petra (Jordan)
5. Pyramids of Giza (Egypt)
6. Taj Mahal (India)
7. Easter Island (2000 miles off the coast of South America)
8. The Great Wall (China)
9. Aurora Borealis (Alaska or anywhere above 60 degrees latitude)
10. Serengeti (Tanzania, East Africa)
11. Iguazu Falls (on the border of Brazil and Argentina)
12. Machu Picchu (lost city of the Incas, Peru)
13. The Louvre (Paris, France)
14. Zen Garden of Kyoto (Japan)
15. Uffizi Gallery (Florence, Italy)
16. Fallingwater (the Frank Lloyd Wright falls in Pennsylvania)
17. Yangtze River (China)
18. Antarctica
19. Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania, East Africa)
20. Grand Canyon (Arizona, U.S.A.)
21. Pagan (Myanmar, formerly Burma)
22. Parthenon (Athens, Greece)
23. Angkor Wat (Cambodia)
24. Ephesus (west coast of Turkey)
25. Venice (Italy)
26. Amazon Rain Forest (spans 8 South American countries)
27. Great Barrier Reef (Australia)
28. Galápagos Islands (off the coast of Ecuador)

I’ve been to nine of the places on the list; they’re marked in red in case you’re interested.

Iguazu Falls

When I was young, I spent all of my free time and disposable income roaming exotic places. However, traveling is more difficult than it used to be: crowds, long waits, security concerns. Maybe that’s why in recent years I’ve limited my treks to book tours and the occasional sailing trip. I recently received an invitation to visit the Galápagos Islands but declined because I was too busy. My friends are back now. They just sent me a photograph of the two of them sidled next to a giant tortoise, which left me wondering if I should dig out the old passport again.

The ancient theater at Ephesus where my recitation of Percy Bysshe Shelley's sonnet Ozymandias could be clearly heard from center stage to the nose-bleed section.

I'd love to visit all of those places on the Smithsonian's list. Sadly, even if I start booking tickets today, I probably won't have time to see every one before I kick the bucket. So, if you’ve traveled to any of the areas I haven’t seen, please tell me if it was worth the trip. And while you’re at it, tell me which of your most inspiring travel destinations is missing from the list.

Aurora Borealis

Happy Monday!

Happy New Year!



  1. from Jacqueline

    As you know from some of my posts, that "bucket list" is never far from my thoughts - I have books on things to see and do before you die. I would like to go to Cuba before I become and American citizen, though I am sure the fact that I've been to Cuba might be taken poorly. I yearn to go to Kenya, though there's a travel advisory regarding the country at the moment given the riots - the sort of thing that didn't bother me when I was younger, but now I want to actually live long enough to wade through a bit more of the list. I want to go to New Zealand, Argentina, Antarctica, Iceland (I've already seen the Aurora Borealis several times, but Iceland has always fascinated me), and I'd like to go back to some places, too - lots more time in Paris would be nice, as would a trip or five to the smaller islands of the Caribbean (I love islands, any islands, anywhere). In the meantime, I am hoping that this might be the QM2 year - will keep you posted.

    Great post for New Year's Eve, Patty - let's imagine a good one filled with joy, peace and abundance!

    Happy New Year!

  2. I'm an island aficionado, too!!! I love them...all of them. Tahiti is my favorite so far. I've been to Argentina and touched down briefly at the airport in Iceland but would love to go to New Zealand and Australia.

  3. Patty, I can vouch for seven more on your list (Mesa Verde, Pompeii, Kyoto, the Grand Canyon, Angkor Wat, Venice and the Great Barrier Reef). And the one thing they all have in common is the ability to make you feel small and insignificant. That's a good reminder.

    Happy New Year to all my Naked Friends.

  4. I'll be happy to drive you.


  5. Serengeti, my foot!

    You've omitted the restored McDonald's #1 in Des Plaines, Illinois.

  6. Fun post!

    I must say, the Louvre is not my favorite Parisian museum. You have to go, and it's best to go several times, otherwise it's utterly overwhelming. For museums in Paris, I'd start with the Musee Carnavalet, and then the Rodin Museum; they rock. But to really experience Paris, all you need to do is hang out in a cafe on the Left Bank for a few hours - everything they say about Paris's cafe society is absolutely true.

    I have been to Venice, and it's definitely worth the trip. In my opinion, the best way to arrive is by train. You walk out of the station and right into the heart of it all. I wouldn't stay for more than two or three days - it's a small city, and that's plenty of time to see everything.

    I'm a little surprised that the Roman Forum isn't on the list. I don't love Rome, and the Coluseum didn't knock my socks off, stand in the Forum and imagine the carryings-on of Caesar and his pals is awe-inspiring.

    Places I want to visit: New Zealand, Iceland, Greenland, Denmark, and the Greek Islands.

    Happy New Year, everyone!

  7. Patty, you've done some amazing things, and visited some amazing places. So have so many of you. I' really appreciate that you write about it all so well here on the blog.

    I'm still thinking about things I want to do in the future. New Years is normally my creative reset button after the frantic months leading up to Christmas, when I haven't had a moment to myself.

    My first resolution is to paint a Puffin, and then paint him some friends to keep him company for as long as I can - until life gets in the way again.

    After the last month, Health is a VIP priority for us this coming year, again. So is writing, painting, travelling outside the box - Dartmoor Tors here we come. Something new that we haven't seen in the flesh before - and will be taking our painting boxes to to capture it in the canvas.

    I'm still building a bucket list. I've done so many amazing things, met some wonderful people, and travelled to amazing places this last ten years - things that I never thought in a million years that I'd do - and have yet to catch my breath to think up more.

    Hope everyone has a wonderful New Year's Eve, and crosses into new creativity with fresh vigor and applomb.


    PS: Anyone wanna come over and help me eat a humongous Pavlova trifle? Strawberries, Merangue, Sugar free cheescake mousse, and whipped cream... I got an idea I'll be bringing half of it home from our party tonight. Urk.

  8. I've been to the Grand Canyon and the Taj. Both are mighty fine, but I actually liked the red fort NEXT to the Taj better than the thing itself. You could feel the remnant of people's lives there much better, if that makes any sense.

    I'd like to go to Cuba, too. And have promised my Aunt Julie that if I ever make a million bucks, I'm taking her on safari. If that ever happens, it will probably be long after Kenya mellows out again.

  9. A good list, Patty.

    I haven't travelled as much as I'd like but as the kids get older I hope to hit the trail soon.


  10. In my younger years I travelled quite a bit. My most memorable spot was a picnic high up in the Rocky Mountains in Utah. I thought I could touch heaven if I had one more glass of champagne. When I need a lift from the everyday madness of life, I conjure up that day and feel it all over again. Pure Bliss.
    Now when I get the itch to see the world, I turn on the travel channel from the comfort of my living roon and p.j.'s. Since I have a great imagination, I can insert myself into the image of Venice or Paris...having been there before. I am too old to find my way through strange airports, train stations and too cranky to finisse my way around beligerant cabbies. So, the couch is a fine way to see the rest of the world, either from the travel channel or from a great book. I can even time travel in the later.
    Wishing all the Naked Ones a most prosperous and healthy 2008. PENS DOWN....for now.

  11. Ahh, the Grand Canyon. I visited there on a whirlwind "how far can we drive along it in one day" enthusiasm just after we were married. Got there via the Meteor Crater and the Painted Desert. I remember sitting at the edge of a native American ruin, on a rock facing the desert, in the wind and the silence. It was such a sad place for me. I 'felt' one long scream from the stones, and a yearning for something or someone from long ago, from the direction I was facing. It was one of the strangest experiences I ever had, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. :-D


  12. I realized as I wrote this post that I'd never been to any of the U.S. places listed. All of your adventures sound faboo. I came really close to going to Cuba a few years ago. I even had my tickets bought. At the last minute I chickened out because I was told the IRS would audit my taxes forever. Maybe we should all take a NakedAuthors BucketTour around the world together.

  13. At the very least, we should have the annual Naked Authors Field Trip - what do you all say to that, perhaps the first stop should be that McDonalds, eh, Paul?

  14. I must be the rook, pulling a major oh-fer here. I don't think that my small adventures would be terribly inspiring, but whether richly historical, I always enjoy exploration, especially when I can capture a glimpse of how people lived and felt and thought, even as little as fifty or a hundred years ago.

    Once upon a time, one of my favorite places was a CCC created state park. It was in the middle of nowhere, but you could still see where the men who were displaced by the Great Depression had carved graveled hiking paths out of the rolling hillsides along the lake (complete with the stones carved and hand set lining the paths), the stone lodge that they had built, and even the sandstone cabins in one remote corner that they had constructed and lived in.

    One could hike entirely around the lower of the pair of lakes, even see one-time handcrafted waterfalls where a long forgotten stream had silted or it's water source been diverted. Trees and bushes had grown so close to the path that in the summer it was like walking through a quiet green tunnel in utter solitude. One never knew what wildlife might be encountered around the next corner; geese, a raccoon, a heron, a mother duck and her flock, or a graceful whitetail deer strolling along minding her own business.

    I knew that many of these faceless, long forgotten men had been peers of my grandfather. Working hard in the hot sun, to send a little money home to their families. The place had a certain magic of it's own.

    Then, the state decided to "modernize". A bulldozer gashed a path through the park, exposing raw soil, curves and corners erased, and tarry blacktop was laid down--so that bicyclists might fly through the trees unimpeded. Most of the CCC trail was obliterated, the remnants left to fall into neglect.

    I was heartbroken. The place had lost all of it's charm. After this discovery, I went back once...but my heart was broken. I have not ventured there again.

    Hmmm...perhaps in another fifty years of the forest reclaiming it's own, someone else will fall in love with that old park. We can only dream.

  15. Oh yes, Happy New Year, NakedAuthors. To new beginnings!

  16. Love the Mickie D's field trip idea, Our J. So sorry they ruined your park, Jeff. We should never mess with Mother Nature. Hope it makes a come back.