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2010 has been a fantastic year.

And if I could summarize it with just one word, it would be this: travel.

Las Vegas not once, but twice. Twice to DohaQatar, too. Colorado, Kansas and Chicago. Summer through Spain and Morocco, in Paris, LondonEdinburgh, and Toronto, and across Ireland. Phew!

Along the way, I ate, I drank, I laughed and I loved.

And then, come the fall, I returned to school, to the kitchen, to chase down a dream.

Yes, 2010 was a pretty good year. And while I doubt 2011 will look anything like it, I’m hopeful it will be as exciting — replete with new sights, new sounds, new tastes, new adventures.

Onward.

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I love road trips. And so, when presented with the option of flying home from Denver or driving back to Chicago through the vast, rolling landscape of middle America, I knew what I would do.

After nine days nestled amongst the pine trees on the mighty Mount Columbia, we set off for the Windy City. Our trip would take us through no less than four states, with an overnight in Wichita. (Incidentally, if ever you find yourself in Wichita, treat yourself to a meal at Hog Wild Pit Bar-B-Q. You won’t regret it — at least not until 3 a.m.)

Along the way, we passed the boyhood homes of John WayneRonald Reagan, and Harry S. Truman. We were also often offered salvation:


Through most of Kansas, Missouri and Iowa, I could have sworn I was driving across Saskatchewan. And yet, something about the landscape was entirely foreign. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Was the repeated offers to repent? The McCain-Palin bumper stickers? The highways honouring Dwight D. Eisenhower?

Regardless, the two days passed quickly and were most enjoyable. I chalk it up to the company — but the well-maintained highways and agreeable speed limits certainly helped…

Everything has an end, even holidays amongst pine trees in beautiful Buena Vista, Colorado.

Our departure was bittersweet: to leave such an idyllic place, bidding farewell to such good friends (old and new), was tough; however, knowing a two-day road trip through America’s heartland awaited us and the splendid Chicago would greet us at its end made it much less so.

I consider myself very fortunate. I have my health, and a healthy mind. But most of all, I have the most extraordinary friends.

If I ever needed to be reminded of this fact, I was quite recently when two very dear friends of mine invited me down to their cabin in Buena Vista, Colorado, two hours southwest of Denver. Joining us was another dear friend, all the way from London, England, as well as a further five who all currently call Chicago home.

For nine days, we ate (so much meat!) and drank and laughed and played (Wii Mario Kart!). It was lovely, especially when the backdrop to our revelry was the Collegiate Peaks.

Even a prairie boy like me, reared on flat land and an infinite horizon, was entranced by our surroundings. Hard not to be, really, when one is admiring the view from the comfort of a hot tub, beer in hand…