It’s been a while since I updated the blog with my latest adventures. I’m happy to announce the blog will be back in action starting next week.
There will be posts about a very Texas Fourth of July, a One-Day Walking Tour of London, and a Cycling Tour of Goa, India plus much more.
While I’m working on the latest updates, feel free to look back at some of the most popular posts on the blog from the last few years:
Pyramiden, Spitsbergen — An abandoned Russian mining town, population: 2.
Grace Cathedral, San Francisco — Classic architecture with a modern message.
Christchurch, New Zealand — Art-rich restoration after a devastating earthquake.
Gliding — Free falling over Central Texas.
Castle Rock, Antarctica — Hiking in one of the most remote places in the world.
For the first time in my young life, it’s time to renew my passport. Hard to believe it’s been that long. In one sense, it’s a reminder of how times have changed. 10 years ago wasn’t the first time I travelled outside the U.S., but back in those days you didn’t need anything at all to go from the U.S. to Canada as a kid in the backseat. All the same, it’s fun to think that 10 years ago was the first time I travelled overseas to a new country.
After so many years of safeguarding my passport, it’s weird to be dropping it in the mail and hoping for the best to get a renewal. But I won’t complain about the relatively simple process. I’m realizing for the first time just how expensive passports are, though. There are a lot of reasons why only 46% of Americans have a passport, but the cost is a valid one for many. At $165 for a new passport and $140 for a renewal, I can see why even those Americans living along our borders may not have gotten around to that quick jaunt to Mexico or Canada.
At the very least the process is relatively painless. Renewals can be done through the mail and passport photos are available at a lot of post offices and pharmacies these days. This may be the end of a chapter, but I’m looking forward to beating my current record of 6 international visits per 10 years next time around.
On the last day of the trip, we pulled back into port in Longyearbyen early in the day. We spent an hour or two at UNIS, the University Centre in Svalbard. Several groups presented their final projects from the week and we also heard a few of the UNIS faculty members talk about UNIS and their research. Following the presentations, we took a mini field trip to the UNIS carbon dioxide sequestration site.
In addition to all the rocks we saw, there were also tons of glaciers in Svalbard.
One day, we stopped in the nearly abandoned Russian mining town of Pyramiden. Named after pyramid-shaped mountains nearby, the town used to bustle with more than 1000 permanent residents. But it was abandoned in 1998, a few years after a terrible plane crash in Longyearbyen killed 141 on their way to the settlement.