Traveler profile: Interview with Nancy D. Brown
A resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, Nancy D. Brown is a lover of all things travel-related. She has combined her passion for travel with her professional writing career.
When did you first start traveling?
While it may not have been far from my home, I remember camping under the stars of Mount Diablo in Northern California for a week when I was in the fifth grade. It was a horse camp; so naturally, I got to travel with my horse. That’s when the travel bug bit and I’ve been traveling ever since – often on horseback.
What kind of travel do you prefer (e.g. luxury, budget, backpacking, train travel, etc.) – and has that changed over time?
As a boomer traveler, my days of sleeping on the ground are far behind me. As a professional hotel reviewer, I have graduated to luxury, adventure travel. Some people judge resorts by the stars they receive, my husband rates my hotel rooms by how many pillows are on the bed. Personally, I prefer outstanding service and high thread count.
How do you like to travel – alone, with a spouse/partner, other family members, with friends or as part of a tour group?
As a travel writer, 90% of my travel is without my spouse, as we both still work full-time. As a boomer traveler, I love traveling with my family (husband, teenagers & dog) and with girlfriends on equestrian rides. My personal favorite was the “Klicks for Chicks” four-day, luxury, female-only endurance ride at Triple Creek Ranch in Darby, Montana. That was a fantastic get away for horse lovers and mother/daughter equestrians!
Besides travel, what are your passions?
Horses and traveling the world from the back of a horse are my passion. Riding a horse, while talking with the local people, is one of the best ways I know to experience a place from the ground up.
Have your passions played a role in the choice of travel destination?
Certainly my love of horses has played a huge role in my travel destinations. There’s nothing that excites me more than discovering a new dude ranch or a taking a horseback riding shore excursion from a cruise ship. One of my bucket list items was to ride a Fjord horse in Norway. I was able to go horseback riding in Bergen before embarking on a Hurtigruten cruise along Norway’s coastal waters and fjords.
Do you consider travel a necessity or a luxury? What are you prepared to sacrifice so you can travel?
I do consider travel a necessity; it’s my drug of choice; my carrot at the end of the stick. I very much look forward to my next fix (I mean trip!) As you may have noticed from my photos, I don’t wear much make up, I don’t color my hair or paint my nails and I think I have the same hairstyle from grade school. I much prefer horses and travel over Harrods and Tiffany’s.
What are you prepared to pay extra for when you travel?
Needless to say, if there is an opportunity to go horseback riding on my travels, I will pay the extra cost. Horses are an expensive hobby. It is much more affordable to pay for a trail ride than monthly board, shoeing and vet bills. Trust me, I speak from experience.
What has been the most fascinating destination you have visited from a cultural perspective?
With my Norwegian heritage, I’d have to say that Norway has been my most fascinating destination. I loved hearing traditional Sámi joik (song) and seeing the reindeer.
What place in the world surprised you? Was the experience better or worse than expected?
I was in Anchorage, covering the Iditarod and I had the opportunity to go on a dog sled ride in Fairbanks and see the aurora borealis (or the Northern Lights.) As a California native, Alaska was much colder than I had expected, but I was dressed properly and my experiences were magical.
Is there somewhere you return to year after year? Why?
Before my husband and I got serious about funding two college educations for our children, we loved king salmon fishing on the Yetna River in Alaska. The lodge we discovered is only accessible by float plane or boat; it is very remote – what a trip.
Tell us where your top three travel experiences occurred and what made them stand out.
My top three travel experiences involve a bear, a fish and a cow.
I had the privilege of seeing the Kermode Spirit Bear, a pure white black bear, near Princess Royal Island in Canada. I flew into King Pacific Lodge, a luxury barge based on the north coast of British Columbia, only accessible by air. They have excellent food and fantastic wildlife.
I mentioned that I am a fisherwoman? One of my best fishing adventures took place in British Columbia, Canada at the West Coast Fishing Club. Situated on Langara Island, in Haida Gwaii, The Clubhouse is only accessible by air. I’m noticing a pattern here. This place has the best food, endless views and some of the best salmon and halibut fishing that I have experienced.
Several years ago I was hiking in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in Entlebuch, Switzerland when I came face to face with a very friendly cow. Why do I love cows from Switzerland? Let me count the ways; their milk makes Swiss cheese, their milk makes Swiss milk chocolate and their cow bells make the best sounds when one is hiking in the Swiss Alps.
Where in your own hometown do you encourage people to visit?
I live outside of San Francisco, California. I am only a tank away from Carmel, Lake Tahoe and more wine regions than you’ll have time to visit. I specialize in “Insider Tips for Things to See and Do” on my website, so you’ll have plenty of tried and true recommendations for every boomer’s budget.
Final Question: Do you have a favorite movie (or song, television program, book) that inspires travel?
While I have yet to visit Africa, I just finished reviewing AFRICA Eye to Eye with the Unknown. The 3 disc set will be released by BBC Earth on DVD and Blu Ray this month. The photography is amazing. I would love to see a black rhino before they are all gone.
Photos courtesy of Nancy D. Brown