Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Taking the Online Offline in 2010

I'm sick of "year-end wrapup" posts. And here it is January 4 and I'm writing one. I feel like a tool.

But I was inspired by one of the dozens I read over the past week, so much that I wanted to copy it. It's here: 11 Traveler Meetings in 2010, written by travel blogger Ekua who, incidentally, I met in 2010.

I like it because the travel blogging community is almost exclusively a virtual community. We email and gchat and skype and come to know these avatars of real people, which usually aren't 100% representations of those people. To actually meet them feels subversive, and very satisfying.

Here's how my year in the real world went.

A Matador intern in my hometown--small world? I met Cathey Franke at one of my all-time favorite hang-out-and-work coffeeshops, Madhatters in Southtown. It was a great start to a year of meetups.

It was cold in Austin towards the end of SXSW. I drove up from San Antonio in the gray rain to the Hyatt Regency, where then-Matador Nights editor Tom Gates was staying on an annual music-industry junket. Matador Sports intern Lindi Horton was there too, and Tom found us with a big smile and a big hug. Then he bought us breakfast while a bat flew around the massive 10-story lobby. It was awesome.

Early May was spent driving up to Maine the slow way, which included an overnight in Brooklyn and a long-overdue handshake with my partner in Matador Trips crime, Carlo Alcos. I got to crash at his place near Prospect Park, and as a super added bonus there was another way-delayed meetup with Julie Schwietert Collazo, her husband Francisco, and 7-month-old Mariel. A year and a half after staying in their Mexico City apartment for five weeks, we finally got a face to face.

Early July
Out West on an epic summer roadtrip. After a day on deserted central Nevadan highways without A/C, I pulled into Mammoth Lakes, where the amazing Trips intern Sarah Park overlooked my stink and generously put me up for the night. A beautiful welcome to the Golden State.

Middle July
Next was San Francisco, which is kinda like Matador headquarters--homebase for CEO Ross Borden. We met up in the Mission for tacos, and I got to hear some incredible stories from his trip to Madagascar. A few days later, there was an even grander Matador gathering at Bissap Baobab, attended by long-time Matador editor Juliane, talented contributors Valerie (check out Houston Har Gow and 5 Reasons Why I Want to Travel To Taiwan Right Now) and Lauren (check out My Hometown in 500 Words: Oakland, CA and 5 Views of a Lesser-Known Morocco), and Matador aficionados Naomi and Ekua. Huge!

Late July
The journey's northern terminus was Seattle, where MatadorTV captain Joshywashington hangs his hat. Meeting him and his awesome wife Bridget for a beer at the Garage was the perfect bookend to the trip.

Tim Patterson was my first editor at Trips. He's been all over the map in past years but is now landed in his home village of Craftsbury Commons, VT, an easy detour off the route from Maine to Burlington. I met him there and got an extensive tour of Sterling College, where he works, his under-construction home, which is going to have the sickest sunset view ever, and his parents' 100 acres. A couple nights later, we shared some craft brew at the Farmhouse and impromptu jams at Nectar's in Burlington.

2011, bring it on!