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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

The Ghost of Christmas 2010

I think I traveled to more places in 2010 than I have in any year before. It was a memorable year filled with some amazing adventures – I got my first tattoo, I returned to Africa and New York City, and I’ve written my first book – so I’m challenged with what to put on the Christmas card for this holiday season. Out of my travels, I’m most proud of my book, so I instantly wanted to put it on my Christmas card. Yet, it’s too difficult to explain a full book with just one Christmas card picture. So, I passed on that idea.
I loved my time in New York City and could easily put it on my Christmas card, but I already used that for 2009, as I explained in the Ghosts of Travels Past, so I had to pass on that idea. I also had to pass on putting my trip to Las Vegas and my first tattoo on the card, since I didn’t want to give any of my older family members heart attacks. I love them all dearly and would be horribly guilt-ridden, as selfish as that may sound, if any of the passed away because I showed off my new tattoo on this year’s Christmas card. Plus, it seemed just a bit tackier than I cared to be.
So, all that was left was my trip to Rwanda, Africa. As I’ve discussed in previous stories, it wasn’t exactly the best trip – we had more problems and issues with that tour than any other place I’ve ever been. Our hosts didn’t provide what they promised, nor did the follow through with a promised return trip to make up for the mistakes of the first one. But, that’s neither here nor there. I had euphoric moments while in Rwanda and I could easily zero in on them for this year’s Chritmas card:

The most eye-grabbing of the four photos is the gorilla. Despite the incredibly difficult hike our group experienced, it was worth it to spend an hour with the gorillas in the Virunga Mountains. It was simply one of those cliche once-in-a-lifetime encounters, and one the one thing that made the return trip to Africa worthwhile.
The next photo that most people will notice is the one of me with actor Don Cheadle. But, that’s in part because of the reference I make to him in my Christmas message on the left side of the card. Although, if it weren’t for that message, I think my grandparents, who haven’t been to the movies in decades, would probably ask why I took my picture with that black man; it was, of course, for the Kwita Izina and World Environment Day celebration! This, too, was an incredible experience, and one that will be impossible, much like my trip to Antarctica, to duplicate.
I placed two other photos on my Christmas card, and they’re simply to show off the amazing scenery that makes Rwanda so spectacular to behold. The one in the bottom left was at the trailhead of our trek to the gorillas, and the one in the top left was a random photo I took out the window of our speeding jeep as we drove to the impressive Nyungwe Forest Lodge. I love both photos and was drawn to put them in this year’s card simply to show my family and friends that Africa isn’t all desert and drought, but instead, also, a stunningly beautiful landscape.
When I look at this card I don’t just think of my trip to Rwanda. Instead, I think of all of the memorable moments I had in traveling the world in 2010. I saw a great many things, some that others only dream of, and feel incredibly fortunate to have had those opportunities. It was an amazing year that I fully admit that I will not attempt to top.
Still, I consistently catch myself daydreaming about the Ghost of Travels Future. I have a lot of places I’d like to see in 2011, and the list seems to only get longer. Where will I start? Well, that’s another story for another time. For now, let’s just say that I had a great 2010, as I hope everyone else did, too, and wish to continue it on into 2011.

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