Gadling’s 2011 New Year’s travel resolutions

It’s that time of year again. A time when we all make certain promises to ourselves, in an attempt to make our lives more organized, our bodies stronger or leaner. We vow to spend more time with loved ones, give back to others, or ditch that cubicle job. And some of us…well, we just want to keep on traveling, any way we can manage to finagle it.

In the spirit of New Year’s, I asked my fellow Gadling contributors about their travel resolutions for the coming year, and came up with some of my own. Our goals are all over the map (no pun intended), but a common theme emerged. Despite our love of exotic adventures, most of us want to spend more time exploring in our own backyard (that would be the United States). That, and invent musical underwear.

Leigh Caldwell

  • Go on my first cruise.
  • Spend a weekend somewhere without Internet access, and, if I survive that…
  • Celebrate the Fourth of July with my family in Banner Elk, North Carolina, home of the quintessential small-town Independence Day. There’s a three-legged race, a rubber ducky race down a mountain stream, and a parade filled with crepe paper, balloons, and every kid and dog in town.

McLean Robbins

  • Quit my “day job” so I can do this full-time.

[Photo credit: Flickr user nlmAdestiny]Laurel Miller

  • Get back in shape after a two-year battle with Oroya Fever (contracted in Ecuador), and climb a volcano in Bolivia.
  • Finally start exploring my adopted state of Washington, especially the Olympic Peninsula.
  • Visit India for the first time; see if it’s possible to subsist on street food without getting dysentery.
  • Learn to wear DEET at all times when traveling in countries that harbor nearly-impossible-to-diagnose diseases like Oroya Fever.

Sean MacLachlan

  • Get back to Ethiopia.
  • Explore Green Spain (the north part of the country).
  • Show my son a non-Western culture.
  • Invent an underwear stereo that plays cheap jazz music when subjected to a TSA patdown.

Mike Barish

  • Drive cross country.
  • See the Grand Canyon (finally).
  • Finally learn how not to overpack.
  • And, for the fifth year in a row, I resolve to learn how to play the keytar (2011 has got to be the year!).

Darren Murph

  • Bound and determined to visit my 50th state, Alaska.
  • Dead-set on relocating a childhood friend of mine back to North Carolina, and then taking him on a road trip of some sort.

Meg Nesterov

  • Visit more places where I know people.
  • Be in more travel pictures and get my husband out from behind the
  • camera occasionally.
  • Take at least one guidebook-free and paperless trip. Okay, maybe one map.
  • Take better notes. I might think I’ll always remember the name of that fun-looking restaurant or weird sign I want to translate, but it’s easy to forget when you’re taking in so many new things.
  • See more of Turkey while I still live here. I spend so much time traveling to nearby countries, I have to be sure to see the landscape of Cappadocia and eat the food in Gaziantep before I go back to the U.S..

Grant Martin, Editor-in-Chief

  • Travel a bit less and work a bit more [Sure, Grant!].

Annie Scott Riley

  • Travel less alone, and more with my husband.

Alex Robertson Textor

  • More open-jaw travel, flying into one destination and traveling by land to another before returning home. It’s my favorite way to see a new or familiar territory–gradually and without any backtracking. I need to do it more often.
  • More thematic consistency in my travels. Instead of scrambling to meet whatever assignment comes my way, I want my travels in the next year to be focused on a region or two, and on a number of overarching questions or issues. I’m still collecting ideas: Remote European mountain villages? Neglected second-tier cities? The Caucasus?
  • Northern Cyprus. Have been wanting to visit since I was a kid. 2011’s the year.

David Farley

  • To take back the name “Globetrotters” from the Harlem basketball team.
  • To introduce eggnog and lutefisk to southeast Asia.
  • To eat fewer vegetables.

[Photo credits: volcano, Laurel Miller; Grand Canyon, Flickr user Joe Y Jiang; Cappadocia, Flickr user Curious Expeditions; lutefisk, Flickr user Divine Harvester]

Photo of the Day (7.4.10)

Happy birthday, America. What better way to celebrate this great day than with some fireworks? While we’ve seen plenty of stellar fireworks photos over the years, we’ve got to hand it to Flickr user ohad*, who captured this quirky shot during a visit to Delray Beach, Florida. True, the fireworks in question were for New Year’s. But no matter, the feel of the image is great – the slow shutter speed makes this burst look like it was some kind of glowing palm tree.

Take any great fireworks shots during this year’s holiday weekend? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

Five great Fourth of July destinations

Arguably the most American holiday of all (sorry, Thanksgiving!) the Fourth of July occupies an undeniably special place in the hearts of millions. Remarkably, the enthusiasm of so many for the holiday seemingly floats independently of patriotism. It’s a family holiday, a time for picnics and fireworks and the sheer enjoyment of hot summer temperatures. The following are a few places where the Fourth of July can be celebrated with some attention to history, or, if you prefer, hot dogs and fireworks.

1. Bristol, RI. Bristol Fourth of July Celebration.

Since 1785, Bristol, Rhode Island has continuously held a Fourth of July Parade, the nation’s longest-running. Bristol does it up for several days around July 4, with a visit by the USS Squall, concerts, a drum corps show, a parade, a fireworks display, and a ball. This is the Fourth of July at its New England best, small-scale and dripping with historical significance.

2. Philadelphia, PA. Wawa Welcome America! Festival.

On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted in Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love has pride of place in the history of the emergence of the United States as an independent nation. The Welcome America! Festival is one of the country’s biggest, an 11-day celebration featuring a food festival, a photography exhibit, a block party, fireworks, a parade, and a Bell Tapping Ceremony, in which descendants of signers of the Declaration of Independence ceremonially tap the Liberty Bell.

3. Brooklyn, NY. Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest.

The Fourth of July and hot dogs are inextricably linked, and Nathan’s hot dog eating contest on Coney Island in Brooklyn, held on the Fourth of July, only intensifies the association. The event’s nexus of competition and gluttony is enjoyable and mind-blowing to watch. For those who cannot make it to Brooklyn, don’t fear. ESPN will broadcast the competition.

4. South Lake Tahoe, CA. Star Spangled Fourth – Lights on the Lake.

The largest synchronized fireworks display west of the Mississippi River is held on the south shore of Lake Tahoe on the evening of July 4. The size of the Lights on the Lake fireworks display itself is a big deal, and the lake’s enormous reflective surface adds significantly to the effect. Fireworks are set off from a small island located in the center of Lake Tahoe. Local radio stations KRLT and KOWL even soundtrack the fireworks display.

5. Washington, DC. General Pageantry in the Nation’s Capital.

The nation’s capital may be the most obvious choice for an Independence Day getaway, but it is indeed a great place to celebrate the holiday. In addition to a parade, fireworks, and concerts at the US Capitol and Washington Monument, there are special events scheduled at the National Archives and the White House Visitor Center.

(Image: Flickr/Ed Yourdon)

Photo of the Day (7.4.09)

Happy Fourth of July everyone! I know you were probably expecting a photo of fireworks, but this photo really spoke to me as a natural firework in the sky. I’m not a huge fan of fireworks anyway — at least not in the physical sense. I am, however, a huge proponent of emotional fireworks, and photos like this set those off for me. The world is a beautiful, wondrous place. And we should appreciate the freedom (it’s Independence Day) and luxury (we live in the United States of America) to travel the world and snap photos like this one.

Today’s Photo of the Day comes to us from one of my favorite Gadling photographers, localsurfer. This one was taken on a journey down the Rufiji River in Tanzania on a quest for surf. There are hippoes in that water!

If you have some great travel shots you’d like to share, be sure to upload them to the Gadling pool on Flickr. We might just pick one as our Photo of the Day!

Gadlinks for Friday 7.3.09

It’s Aloha Friday! Time for another virtual trip across the travel blogosphere. Shall we?

Surf’s up here in Hawaii. ‘Til Monday, have an epic weekend. I know I will!

More Gadlinks here.