It’s that time of year again, when I inadequately summarize the year that was with a line of statistics. Here it goes: In 2018, I traveled for 129 days and set foot in nine countries: the United States, Portugal, Ireland, England, France, Morocco, Spain, Germany, and Switzerland.
Compared to 2017, which was 302 days in 14 countries, 2018 was relatively stationary. I devoted the bulk of my time to home, mostly in cafes and libraries to edit photos and do the other kinds of work that goes along with what I do.
Without further ado, here are 15 photos from 2018:
In January, on Martin Luther King Jr Day, four friends and I did a day-hike on the Appalachian Trail in southwest Virginia, visiting the Audie Murphy monument. Audie Murphy, America’s most decorated veteran of WWII, died near this spot in a 1971 plane crash.
In March, my parents were visiting the area and we made a trip to the Mile-High Swinging Bridge on Grandfather Mountain near Linville, North Carolina. Though I live only a little over an hour away, it was my first time to see this locally famous attraction.
On April 12 I left Tennessee and flew to New York City, where after three days I would embark on a transatlantic cruise to Southampton, England. I enjoyed the brief time in New York, including a visit to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.
The first stop on the 12-night transatlantic cruise was in Ponta Delgada, Azores. That’s my ship in the background, the Norwegian Breakaway. In the foreground is a group of tourists boarding a whale watching tour.
The cruise also stopped for a day in Le Havre, France. This shot was taken as my ship reversed out of the harbor. One of the things I enjoy about cruises is watching how relatively agile these huge vessels are.
After disembarking in Southampton, I spent a few days with friends there and in Chatham, then a couple nights in London, where beside the Thames people played with fire. I’m not just talking about Brexit.
I had taken the cruise to Europe because I planned to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain. But once in England I didn’t feel ready — mentally or in terms of pre-walk research — to go to Spain just yet. So I found a cheap Ryanair flight to Fez, Morocco, where I photographed a bit, got acquainted with a country I had never visited, and read more about walking and pilgrimage.
The photo above was taken in Tangier. Just a few minutes walk away from this cafe was an unexpected treasure: the Tangier American Legation Museum. Here I teared up one afternoon, imagining the sound of Abraham Lincoln’s last breaths, as I read letters of condolences from neighboring consulates reacting to the devastating news of his assassination.
Three weeks after arriving in Morocco, I was in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France, standing on a bridge watching this sunset, soon to begin the nearly 500-mile walk from here to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. I will write more about the Camino de Santiago on this site in the future. I will also, I hope, write a book about it.
Forty-five days after leaving Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port — the above picture is from Day Two of the walk, exiting the village of Linzoáin — I reached Santiago de Compostela. I loved every day of the journey.
Before dawn on Day 45, two Spanish pilgrims that I had met several days earlier left a note of encouragement for me on a trail marker. This is what I loved most about the Camino de Santiago: the people met along the way, and the sense of community.
From the Camino de Santiago, I transported myself, again with the cheap help of Ryanair, to the party island of Ibiza. I loved this, too.
From Ibiza I flew to Stuttgart, where a friend provided me a place to stay for a week and allowed me to move very little. I enjoyed staying put in Stuttgart most of the time, working on the laptop and making short walks around the city, including to a hill called the Birkenkopf.
Next it was to Bern, where another friend put me up for a week, and where I fell in love with this Swiss city. On the first day I met these four wonderful sisters who were about to walk out into the flow of the Aare River, which would carry them downstream toward the city center of Bern. I left Switzerland, and Europe, on August 19.
On October 1, President Trump came to Johnson City, Tennessee to do one of his signature MAGA rallies. He was the first sitting President to visit Johnson City since Gerald Ford did it in 1976. My perspective on Trump is that he is a barely mitigated disaster, but I was happy for the opportunity to photograph a slice of America on this big day in a small town.
Two months after Trump, a more unifying figure, Santa, came to town, riding atop a fire engine during the Johnson City Christmas parade.
Thanks to all of you who were a part of my life this year. Wishing you a good 2019!