For me, 2011 was anything but typical. After spending Christmas on Ko Samet in the Gulf of Thailand, I watched January quietly arrive from a sixth floor balcony in Bangkok. By February I had made two short trips to Cambodia—one to Siem Reap and another to the capital. A month later I was hiking up an active volcano in the Philippines and then in May, I huffed and puffed along a winding jungle trail in Penang, Malaysia (pictured at right) to reach Muka Head and its impressive nineteenth century lighthouse. Meanwhile, in the United States, FalconGuides published Best Hikes Near New York City, my first book since going freelance two years ago.
At the start of summer I was back on the carriage roads and footpaths of New York and New Jersey, leading groups of nature-deprived urbanites for Outdoor Bound. A friend's June wedding in Kentucky was my chance to explore a fraction of the Red River Gorge Geologic Area, although I didn't make it to the state's well known natural bridge. Then in September I spent some time in Vietnam's central provinces trying to learn what I could about the pre-colonial history of the region. I was only back on the East Coast for three weeks before I dashed off to Denver for the 30th annual Great American Beer Festival, a trip that also included a day hike through the red rocks at Roxborough State Park. Finally, just before Thanksgiving, a brief magazine assignment took me to Idaho, where I got a crash course in trout fishing and stopped at the Riverport Brewing Company.
All told, I covered a lot of territory last year, and from this vantage point, 2012 doesn't look like it will involve much sitting still. I've already begun to make plans for a trip to Europe, and once the snow melts in the northeast, I'll get going on my next book, another outdoor recreation guide. In fact, as I peer into the future and consider the amount of travel I'm likely to do in the next 12 months, I have to wonder whether 2011 was really so atypical after all.