Was in a bookshop today and saw one of those 1000 X to Y Before You Die books. You know the ones, Places to See, Wines to Drink, Products to Boycott, Hotels to Feel Smug In, that sort of thing.
So seeing as I’ve done some pretty cool things in the past few months, and in my life, even if I say so myself here is my Top 10 Things I Have Done (So Far) Before I’m Dead:
10. Had dinner and been to the house of an astronaut (twice). OK, so it’s the same guy, Jeff Hoffman, but I’ve been to his house in Houston and Paris and been out to dinner with him both times. He’s been up 5 times, including going up with his space spanners to fix the Hubble Telescope back in 1993. Basically, my mum went to school with his wife, that’s how we know him. It’s a very cool thing to tell people, but I kinda wish it had involved more of actually being in space myself rather than talking to somebody who’s done it, if you know what I mean.
9. Seen both sunset and sunrise over the Grand Canyon. Yup, the big one. The BBC got into the Before You Die thing and The Grand Canyon was the Number One place to see. Well, I don’t wish to sound ungrateful but I wasn’t overly impressed. Well, OK, I was. You are, after all, stood on the edge of a 10 mile wide, 1 mile deep, 250 mile long hole. But then that’s all you do. You stand there. Admittedly I could have stayed a little longer and hiked down it, although that would of course entailed hiking back up it which is not so much fun. But I didn’t, I stood there and stared. For well over an hour I promise. Both in the evening to watch the sun go down and again at 515 in the morning to watch it come back up again (I didn’t sleep very well in my tent).
8. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower so drunk I couldn’t remember having done it in the morning. True story. Don’t judge me.
7. Seen the Milky Way. Stars, lots of stars, like a cloud of stars. Seen it twice, both times freezing my bits off, unable to sleep. First time at -20c at 4300m in Bolivia, second time -3c at 2500m in Yellowstone Park. Suitably extreme I feel.
6. When we did the Machu Picchu 4 day “hike”, day 1 was cycling down a mountain. There were 9 of us, 3 Canadians and 6 people in my group. The Canadians seemed OK, all big and outdoorsy, but nice enough. That was until we got onto the bikes and one of them shot off and got all showy, doing little kicks to get rocks out of the way and that sort of showy-off stuff we Brits frown on. Got talking to one of his friends later and turns out he’s the Downhill Freestyle Mountain Bike World Champion. Seriously, he does this, and was a thoroughly nice chap! And I went cycling with him!
5. Seen a 2-metre-long whale’s penis. Well, what do you want? Pictures?
4. Hitchhiked in the back of a pickup truck. There’s more info and a picture of this in my Tierra del Fuego post, but it was one of the highlights of my trip so far. Nothing beats the feeling of a climbing into bed, dusty and cold after a day trucking across the southernmost landmass in the world. Was fantastic.
3. Stroked a tiger. It was Grrrrrrreat! Sorry.
2. Been fishing for salmon in Alaska. Again, lots more salmon-related stuff in earlier posts, but being out there in a 14ft skiff with newly-found family-members, in Alaska, with a fishing rod and beer in my hand, was great moment. Made all the greater by the eagle. In fact the eagle is one of the coolest things I have ever seen.
1. But it doesn’t beat…
..What you think I’m going to be able to pick one event from all the fantastic things I’ve seen and done just to bundle it up into a neat Number One in a list? Ain’t gonna happen. 10 months, 20,000 miles, 8 countries, that’s your number One right there ;o)