Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018: A Year In Review

2018 started off in a big way. I found myself back in Africa, this time in East Africa for an incredible family safari with the Dillon clan through Kenya and Tanzania. We took part in a Masaai new years celebration at the uber luxurious Ngorongoro Crater Lodge. Ringing in the new years surrounded by a hundred chanting Masaai warriors and dancers. 

  After that safari I rushed back to the east coast for the birth of our first child. Born in Burlington, Vermont on January 19th, we welcomed a baby girl into the world. We named her Catalina after the island that Heidi and I met sailing around nearly a decade ago. 

  After a month of changing diapers and getting used to fatherhood I headed back to finish the Hawaii UnCruise season aboard the Safari Explorer. This would be the start of my new father schedule of working for a month and then off for a month. 

  This summer was my second season as Expedition Leader aboard the Safari Quest in Canada and Alaska. She is the smallest vessel in the fleet, and maxes out at 22 passengers. The expedition staff is comprised of just me. After a few Canada trips exploring the coast of British Columbia we began a brand new itinerary or the Quest in Alaska. The trip went in and out of Petersburg, which meant we were right in the mix of things as far as whales, glaciers, bears, and other incredible adventures. It turned out to be a wonderful itinerary and an even better crew. 

  I ended up spending a lot of time in airports and on airplanes this year. One of my favorite airports to walk through was ORD in Chicago, as the art installations there were just mesmerizing. I got bumped up to first class a few times on United thanks to my frequent flier status. My usual flights were between Vermont, Hawaii, and Alaska...although one of my favorite stops off the beaten path was a visit to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. There was some pretty amazing animals, beautiful landscapes, and great adventures around Yellowstone and Jackson Hole. 

  Some highlights from Hawaii were surfing with Ben at Honolua, leading a photography charter backside Molokini, swimming with dolphins, scuba diving for nudibranchs with Heidi, introducing Catalina to the islands for the first time, and in March we bought a place in Kihei, Maui.

   We finally got to move into our Maui place later in the year and I have to say it is an amazing feeling to own a little piece of paradise out here. It is big enough for the three of us, plus I can just scoop up Catalina and walk with her to the beach about 5 minutes away.

  I did get to spend an unusual amount of time in Vermont during the winter which led to an opportunity to hone some of my long forgotten snowboard skills. Being able to see Vermont through all the seasons, especially once Fall came and the leaves started changing colors was a fun experience as well. I managed some very fun photo sessions with the Vermont landscapes this year.

   The highlights from the Alaska season were also plentiful. I took my first ever float plane ride on a ridiculously scenic flight over LeConte glacier and the Stikine River valley. We skiffed with humpback whales who were bubble net feeding right next to us. We walked with giant icebergs left high and dry by the low tides. I kayaked around massive glaciers like Dawes and Sawyer, and led many bushwhacks deep into the most protected parts of the Tongass National Forest. It was difficult being away from the family for these extended periods but facetime comes through in a pinch. Each time I come back to Catalina I arrive with the hope that she remembers me. So far so good.

  The other very big adventure of the year came in late September as I put together the ultimate Kenya safari for some of my UnCruise friends and coworkers. We spent 14 days with our own private car and driver visiting 8 different reserves and parks. We saw the big 5, lots of cats, and even found ourselves in the middle of the famed Great Migration. Watching a giant crocodile take down one of the thousands of wildebeest rushing across the Mara River was the culmination of our trip. It was a sight to remember and an experience that no one will soon forget.

Check out the full story here
  At the very end of the year I find myself back in Hawaii aboard the Safari Explorer. I celebrated Christmas and New Years onboard trying to give these guests the most memorable experience they can have. So far so good. I'm excited to see what 2019 brings for Heidi, Catalina and I. And looking back at this year in review I can't help feeling very lucky for all the amazing experiences and people.

 Check out the full story behind bubble net feeding humpbacks.
The Fall Colors in Vermont were unreal!

 Check out this post about the animals of Amboseli National Park.

Three Generations of Tamaracks
Hawaii at Christmas Time

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