A Summer By The Numbers

It’s been roughly a week since I returned home from an epic summer adventure that had me flying through numerous time zones, visiting multiple countries, and spending most of my time expecting to wake up from some fantastic dream. And while I’ve tried over the past 4 months to document my travels and the effect they’ve had on me, I can’t help but feel that I’ve not nearly described the experiences well enough. No matter how much I try to describe a perfect moment where time seems to slow, and every breath seems to draw far more than oxygen into my lungs, I know that my words lack the ability to truly convey the things I’ve been lucky enough to see and do. Perhaps in time, after I’ve managed some distance between what was and what is, and after I’ve fully processed the spaces between the two, I’ll be able to sit down and fully explain how much this summer has meant to me, how much it has affected me, and how much it makes me want to never stop traveling.

For now, I’m going to simply try to document some of the easier-to-document things about my adventures, because I find this helps me get a better sense of what just happened. It’s far too easy for me to assume that what I’ve just experienced is part of the every day, to dismiss what I’ve actually been lucky enough to see and do with a flippant everybody does this. I know this is not the case, and I don’t want to ever forget or normalize the wonder and awe that I experience when I get to do what I get to do. It’s an incredible privilege that I’ve been able to experience the world in a way that most people never will.

And so dear readers, I present to you my summer by the numbers (with commentary, of course):

  • Day the adventure began: May 9, 2016
    Day the adventure ended: August 28, 2016
    Total time between start and end dates: 112 days
    Total days away: 90 this summer, 101 this year
  • Total kilometers traveled by air: 88,906 this summer, 93,779 this year
    Number of times around the earth: 2.22 this summer, 2.34 this year
    Number of flights: 29 this summer1, 35 this year
    Number of unique airports: 202
  • Biggest plane: Boeing 787, holding somewhere between 242 and 335 passengers (not exactly sure how many were on board)
    Smallest plane: twin-engine 18 seater (at one point I was the only passenger)
  • Longest time spent on 1 plane: 17.5 hours (sweet baby Jesus, never again)
    Shortest time spent on 1 plane: <1 hour
    Craziest thing experienced on a plane: blood-curdling scream from a random passenger who awoke from night terrors
  • Number of times spent in business class: 1 (and it was glorious)
    Number of glasses of wine consumed in business class: 1 (but it was apparently bottomless)
  • Number of times I traveled with only carry-on luggage: 26
    Number of times I checked luggage: 3
    Number of times my luggage was lost: 0 (a miracle)
  • Number of countries traveled: 6 (China, Scotland, France, Spain, Malawi, Canada)
    Number of countries landed: 8 (China, Ireland, Scotland, France, Spain, Ethiopia, Malawi, Canada)
    Number of continents traveled: 4 (Asia, Europe, Africa, North America)
    Number of visas required: 2 (China, Malawi)
  • Number of time zones experienced: 8 (China, Scotland, France/Spain, Malawi, Newfoundland, Labrador, Alberta, Ontario)
    Number of time zones covered during travel: 21 (including home)
  • Number of beds slept in: 17 (including my own)
    Number of hotels: 7
  • Mountains experienced from a distance: China, Malawi, Spain, Alberta, Labrador
    Number of mountains hiked: 4 (Black Mountain, Grizzly Ridge, Moose Mountain, Mount Chester)
    Number of new animal sightings: 10
  • Number of coffees consumed in China: 0 (say whaaaaaaa?)
    Number of coffees consumed in Europe: ALL THE COFFEES
    Number of coffees consumed in Malawi: ALL THE COFFEES
  • New foods tried: nsima, fish head soup (complete with fish eyes), various curries and vegetable stews, random street meat and street food in China
    New scotches tried: 10

Honestly, even after writing all of this down, I still can’t seem to process everything that I’ve just experienced. Suffice it to say that this summer was like no other I’ve ever had. I met so many new and amazing people. I was moved by the sights and sounds of cultures and landscapes that I was able to see for the first time. I got to share in the simplest and quietest of moments with people I love beyond words. And I got to learn about the world in a way that only experience and travel can provide.

And as I sit here trying still to understand the magnitude of this summer, I’m reminded of the many times I sat in silence staring as the sun descended below whatever horizon around the world I was lucky enough to be watching, knowing that my words probably will never express how incredibly grateful I feel, but knowing this failure will never diminish the intense gratitude, honour and privilege I feel having been able to have lived this experience.

I truly am a lucky bastard.

1 From YYZ to PEK to ZYTL to PEK to YYZ to EIDW to EDI to CDG to BCN to EIDW to YYZ to ADD to LLW to BLZ to ADD to EIDW to YYZ to YYT to YYR to YDP to YNP to YHO to YSO to YMN to YRG to YYR to YHZ to YYZ to YYC and back to YYZ again


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