They are Dean Nicholson, Steve Wallis, Rick Steves and Gary Bembridge. We have some things in common and some quite different. Just in case you’ve never met them, let me introduce each of them.
I’ll start with Dean Nicholson. Dean was born in Dunbar, Scotland in 1992. That makes him 52 years younger than me. We both travel by bicycle. His companion is Nala, a stray kitten he adopted near the border of Bosnia. From 1998 until 2010 I travelled with Keesha, my American Eskimo miniature. Dean’s photography is remarkable, but the need to backtrack to retrieve his camera after each sequence effectively doubles the distance he pedals.
Both of us have spent our travelling nights just about anywhere: park benches, picnic shelters, abandoned factories and roadside rest areas. I’ve also slept in a parked Sikorsky S-55 helicopter, on a trampoline and in a canoe floating in a jungle-like river with no place to land.
Steve Wallis, Dean and I have a lot in common, especially ‘boondocking’ – overnighting just about anywhere except formal campsites. Steve started boondocking by necessity during his early days on Vancouver Island. It’s now his YouTube schtick. Unlike him, I’ve never slept in a culvert, on a traffic rotary or in the median of a busy highway, or under a shower curtain.
Cultured traveller Rick Steves is quite unlike Dean and Steve. He’s a genteel tourist. He sips fine wines, has Epicurean culinary tastes and frequents Michelin five-star establishments. (Dean, Steve and I are known to cook our dinner in a can over a fire of wood scraps and lick our fingers instead of using a serviette) His mode of transportation tends to be gondola, tour bus, tuk-tuk or first-class railcar. Like Rick, I too have been known to sample the finer things of life, but on board a cruise ship.
Steves spends four months every year in Europe. I’ve been in Europe only seven times. My longest overseas stay was 13 months. Books about what Steves knows about fine art, history and European culture could fill the wall of a library. Books about what I don’t know about those topics would take up the same amount of shelf space.
Finally, something about Gary Bembridge. His feet are usually on the deck of a cruise ship. Accompanied shore excursions aren’t his thing. He rubs shoulders with the ship’s galley crew, bridge and specialty dining areas; he knows the best and worst shipboard accommodations and what travel seasons to avoid.
Unlike Dean and Steve, he sometimes has dedicated photographers and file footage to cover his shipboard experiences. He’s been on a cruise every month for 20 years = 240 consecutive months. He’s obviously way ahead of me on the number of cruises. I’ve only been on four, plus a trip from Genoa to Boston on a Yugoslavian freighter. However, I top him in one field: I’ve had a flight in some sort of aircraft for 294 consecutive months. Alas, that series came to an end in November 2019. I’d have to live to age 106 to get to an unbroken series of 295, starting again from zero.