It can be a little morbid to refer to a list of things you want to do, or places to see, before you die as a bucket list as you do them before you kick the bucket, but let’s face it. Everyone has their own list.
I want to know what’s on your list. Brady called this morning and said he wanted to go and visit Moscow for the opportunity to become a James Bond-esque spy, but I think I’ll give that a pass thank you kindly.
After all, people with names like mine are probably not overly popular in Russia given the rather spicy relationship between the Russkis and Poland!
On the flip side of that, I thought I might go through five items I have ticked off on my travel bucket list, and five items I am yet to get to, given I gave a mention before 7am today about the Iditarod.
So, what have I ticked off so far?
1. THE YUKON, CANADA
As you’ll no doubt notice in what I have ticked off, there’s a distinct North American theme. For those who know me on a personal level, they’ll vouch for the fact my love of all things Canadian, except their Prime Minister, extends beyond Shania Twain! The Yukon is an incredible place, a snowy landscape with a no-nonsense people who embrace the outdoors year-round. If I have a criticism, it would be of the diet they feed their sled dogs. Those gaseous smells cannot be healthy! Aside from the dogsledding and the wildlife tours, as well as the too many to count outdoor sports on offer, there’s also the spectacular, mindblowing Aurora Borealis. You might know them as the Northern Lights.
2. SEEING POLAR BEARS LIVE, MANITOBA, CANADA
In 2016 when I did a month of solo travelling before meeting my now-ex in California, I dropped almost two thousand dollars on a single day’s activity. Doing a polar bear safari, though, was totally worth it and I cannot recommend travelling to Churchill, the world’s polar bear capital, highly enough. Seeing these creatures in the wild is an awe-inspring feeling. Seeing them almost destroy each other by playing is incredible to watch.
3. NIAGARA FALLS, CANADA/USA
The great attraction of Niagara Falls is the distinct and unmissable contrast between the Canadian side of the Falls and the American side. When you head to the true north side, it is all so commercialised. Kids carnivals, haunted houses, roller coasters, fast food stalls and ferris wheels along with casinos. On the side of the land of the free and uber commercialism? A state park with historical displays and grounds for miles, with walking and cycling tracks. Both sides offer a ship which cruises around the bottom of the falls, while the Canadians offer the chance to go “behind the falls” in winter.
4. THE GRAND CANYON/AREA 51, ARIZONA/NEVADA
Before I get to one of the few places, things or events to have ever left me speechless, I must declare I am not a sci-fi fan. However, who doesn’t love a good government conspiracy when you’ve worked in politics? When I stayed at the Mandalay Bay, I could see straight down to the “Janet” planes. Those aircraft ferry contract workers to and from the infamous Nevada National Security Site, also known as Area 51. To stand at the boundaries of the site is eerie, seeing the amount of camouflaged technology keeping prying eyes out. Then there’s the Grand Canyon, which Steady Eddy once described as “not bad… for a hole”. The cultural activities and sites around the Canyon are most enjoyable, although choose carefully where you eat. The standard of food varies wildly across the park.
5. YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CALIFORNIA
Some may choose Yellowstone, to the west-norwest of Yosemite, but the redwoods proved too alluring… and then got cut off by ice roads! However, El Capitan was worth the trip and, while I’m obviously no greenie tree hugger, the beauty of the place and the feeling of relaxation that overcomes you with a small convenience in the middle of a forest, along with the variety of views and features makes it a must see. Mountain climbers, rock climbers, hikers, cyclists, families, adventurers, historians, everyone finds something for them there.
And what is there to go?
1. WEMBLEY STADIUM, LONDON
When it comes to sport, there is but one truly remarkable venue, which rises above all others as a place of historical and cultural significance, yet which stands as a cutting edge facility today, and that is the home of football (yes, soccer, but it’s in England, so let them have the name) in Wembley Stadium. It has hosted everything you can think of over the years and, as a focal point, the only thing which screams England more might well be Big Ben.
With a name like Topolski, you can probably guess why this sits on my list.
My maternal grandfather’s name was Angus MacKenzie Davidson. See above…
4. KEY WEST, FLORIDA
For someone whose skin is whiter than white and hates humidity, this might be an odd choice. However, my reasoning is fully 5CC mode when you ask Big Andy and Dee where our daily meetings usually turn after a while. There’s not too many dishes in the world which are named after where they were created. New York Cheesecake and Chicago Deep Dish Pizza are amongst them, but so is Key Lime Pie. A bucket list item for food purposes? Well, if you’ve seen my physique, you’ll get it!
And we have come full circle. As we chatted about on GM EP today, the Iditarod is under threat because of sponsorship declining, reductions in prizemoney and animal activism trying to destroy everyone’s good time. For the record, the dogs used for dogsledding in the Yukon go nuts when they see sleds being pulled out, and I have seen first-hand that’s because they are excited, not scared. Alaska and the Yukon have much in common, but there’s something majestic in the aura about what is known as The Frontier State in the USA. Midnight suns in summer (no!), midday moons in winter (yes!) and no end of outdoor activities to keep you entertained year round, all just a three hour flight from the mainland USA.
That’s my list, but I know there’s going to be plenty there that you will disagree with. What’s on your list? Or, what have you already seen and done?