Going To Extremes

By Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer

Photo by Ira Meyer


he travel issue is always a mix of disparate stories, attesting to the wide, diverse world we live in. But this month is particularly all over the place. 

It starts with Ira Meyer, the professional photographer who took the breathtaking image of the aurora borealis on our cover. Meyer has a love for the far reaches of the globe. His career was forged on a trip to Alaska, and while he has traveled extensively, his true love affair is with the polar regions. Meyer has spent the last decade documenting the environment and wildlife of Antarctica and the Arctic region, moving from pole to pole to explore their simultaneous majesty and fragility. He discusses his journey and inspiration (and the shot that landed him on the cover of National Geographic) in a fascinating interview.

Meyer’s frozen landscapes are worlds apart from the massive clay and salt pans of the Namib Desert in southern Africa — arid plains that stretch for miles, surrounded by some of the highest sand dunes in the world and captured so elegantly by Chuck Graham in Travel. At first glance, the North and South Poles and Deadvlei couldn’t be more different: water and earth, snow and sun, mountains of ice versus seas of sand. And yet both environments share an ability to awe with their stark, remote beauty, a wild and almost alien nature to their extreme realms.

Contrast this against the bright and bustling shores of New England, where the human touch is manifested in everything from churches and libraries to Gilded Age mansions to charming lighthouses and harbors — all of which are inextricably linked with American history. Grab a lobster roll and dig in to About Town with Leslie Westbrook, where you’ll enjoy people and places and fun little anecdotes that recall an era gone by. Time hasn’t stopped on Massachusetts or its nearby isles . . . but this is a place that remembers where it came from.

And then there’s Hong Kong, which always seems one step ahead of everywhere else. This metropolis on the east side of the Pearl River Delta hasn’t forgotten its history, certainly, but its temples and traditions and important personages are definitely along for the ultra-modern city’s ride straight into the future. The vision is an optimistic one, where past, present and whatever comes next all coexist in mutual harmony. The Pearl of the Orient values its art, food and culture as much as its skyscrapers and trading centers, to which its many museums, murals, parks and festivals attest. Kathy Leong explores Hong Kong’s artsy sensibility in Culture.

This issue spans our fantastic planet and goes to extremes: hot and cold, snow and sand, densely populated and nearly untouched, a repository of history and a city always looking towards the future. There’s no end to the experiences available — especially for those willing and able to go to the ends of the Earth.


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