12 months of travel.

Last September I took a solo trip out to Northern Arizona, stayed in Flagstaff, and went to see the Grand Canyon.

This was the first time I took a vacation alone, in my life. I visited Sedona, hiked in the mountains… it was a great trip.

The mountains and woods around Flagstaff are lovely.

View from the mountains just outside Flagstaff.

In November I went to see New Mexico with an ex-girlfriend and her daughter.

I’m sad to say we didn’t reconcile romantically, but we had a nice time together as friends.

Later in that same month I went up to NC with some friends to see The Great Smoky Mountains:

After that trip I stayed home for a few months, did stand-up at local comedy clubs, got a part in a play with Carrollwood Players…

Winter is not the best time to see the National Parks, and I was trying to stay busy.

Then Russia invaded Ukraine, so on April 3rd of this year I flew to Europe to volunteer at a church in Ukraine…

Leaving Tampa, destination Lviv!
Downtown Lviv, Ukraine.

I was in Europe for a month, part of that time I went to Germany then Poland:

A German Uboat in Kiel, Germany.

I went to Europe alone, but made many friends along the way….

Me and Pastor Prokip @ Lviv Methodist Church.
Me and Olga, enjoying a sailboat ride in Hamburg.

After I got back from Europe I worked, and got my home ready for 2 new guests….

Olga and Vlada got here in June, and a few weeks later we went to Miami to see family.

The ocean water was crystal clear…

Olga, in Sunny Isles, FL.

That art district in Miami was very cool:

The Miami trip was just a weekend thing, but later in June we did a longer roadtrip to the Northeast to see family… we even stopped at South of the Border:

Of course, we saw the sites in DC, NJ, Philly and NYC. Lotsa miles on my car, but worth it to see family.

My 3 siblings and Mom & Dad.
Pat’s Steaks in Philly!
Times Square, on a 95 degree June afternoon.
Vlada, with my sister’s pug in New Jersey.

In early August I took Olga and her daughter to Charleston for a nice weekend… to celebrate Olga’s birthday.

Charleston is a neat place, lotsa history, things to do, restaurants to try.

One night we drove out to Folly Beach and I showed Vlada how to catch ghost crabs!

All you really need is a flashlight, ghost crabs are pretty much anywhere on the Carolina beaches after the sun goes down.

Our last night in Charleston I took this pic of Olga at a nightclub.

Love this pic !!!!

This past weekend I drove out to Canaveral to watch the Artemis launch… but it was postponed due to weather.

So… that was 12 months of travel, taking pictures, meeting new people, falling in love, flirting with danger in Ukraine….

Mostly this was an unexpected year, who knew just one year ago I’d be at the Lincoln memorial with a Ukranian?

Life is funny that way.

I was stuck in a depressed rut 12 months ago, getting out and seeing the world cost me a few bucks, but the cost was nothing compared to the experiences.

I feel very fortunate to have met Olga and her daughter Vlada.

Now I have travel companions ready to go with me!

Ben Alexander

September 1, 2022