Fourth Adventure Collection Photo Contest Winner Announced
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The fourth winner of the Adventures of a Lifetime photo competition sponsored by Adventure Collection has been selected!
Laura Parent’s dramatic photo of travelers hiking along a ridge trail on an island in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez was chosen from among more than 100 entries. The competition’s final five candidates were selected by popular vote. The winner from among these five was chosen by a distinguished panel of travel writers, editors and photographers, including Conde Nast Traveler consumer news editor Wendy Perrin, Los Angeles Times Travel Editor Catharine Hamm, WorldHum.com co-founder and editor Jim Benning, acclaimed photographer Robert Holmes, and myself.
Parent’s grand prize is a trip for two to Austria and the Czech Republic with Backroads. Congratulations, Laura!
I recently talked with Parent about her prize-winning photo and her passion for adventure travel.
Can you describe the situation – location, month, time of day; kind of camera – of your spectacular photo?
This was taken on a small island called Isla San Francisco in the Sea of Cortez. It’s just north of the town of La Paz, Baja California, Mexico. Using my Nikon D50, I shot this photo in the late afternoon in January, 2008.
What was your goal in taking this shot?
I wanted to convey a sense of adventure. The colors of Baja are rich in this photo. I love the composition and the vanishing line. To me, there is a comfort conveyed in the warm colors and the sense of group which is contrasted to the edginess of the rugged landscape and the high precipice.
Do you always take photos when you travel?
Pretty much, but not always with my SLR. I have fun with point-and-shoots and video cameras too. And my camera phone of course. My dad taught me how to shoot on an old 35mm manual film camera when I was about 17. One of these days I’m going to resurrect that camera.
What are some other destinations that you have found especially good for photography?
Africa, Alaska, the American West, New Orleans, and New York City.
Was this your first trip to Mexico’s Sea of Cortez?
No. I don’t remember the first time I heard the words “Sea of Cortez” — but they have enchanted me ever since. Somewhere around age 19, I read a book about a woman who paddled the length of it. Books like that used to be incredibly inspiring to me. Years later, through a friend, I found out about a company that operated down there and I got the job working on one of their boats. So, I was lucky enough to go to Baja more than once.
What are your favorite places to visit and activities to do there?
Two of my favorite towns and great places for more adventure-oriented travelers are La Paz and Loreto. They are beautiful, authentic Mexican towns with good tourist amenities, kayak trips, scuba diving, deep sea fishing, etc. Cabo San Lucas, on the other hand, is a busy resort town which feels more like an extension of southern California.
What is it that you especially like or find especially moving about the region?
Baja California is a land of contrast. You have this rugged, desolate, 900-mile-long desert peninsula next to the cool, rich, bountiful Sea of Cortez. The marine life there is amazing, with many species of whales, dolphins, porpoises, sea lions, fish, rays. I even swam with a whale shark in the Bay of La Paz, one of my most thrilling memories. It’s a beautiful place.
What other adventurous trips have you taken?
An African safari, trips to Hawaii, Costa Rica, Panama, Europe, Ecuador. When I was younger I did a long backpacking trip in Wyoming with NOLS. I’ve done a lot of sailing trips too since I’ve been a professional sailor and mariner for most of the past 10 years — from schooners, to race boats, to private yachts, to pulling boats with no engines.
Your prize is a trip for two to Austria and the Czech Republic with Backroads. What is it that especially excites and attracts you about this trip and these destinations?
I love exploring new places, especially old, historic cities, so Prague has been on my list for a while. I’ve been interested in visiting Austria ever since I played Mozart and The Blue Danube as a young piano player. So how better to explore this region than on an overland trip! I’ll be able to explore the big cities but also villages and castles while traveling through the scenery of the Alps. I’m so excited!
What other places are on your must-visit list?
Paris, South Africa, Egypt, Ukraine, Croatia, Japan, China, India, New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia, Machu Picchu, Argentina, Antarctica. There are more. It seems like a lot, but it’s do-able.
What’s the pleasure and purpose of adventure travel for you?
Travel was something that was introduced to me through my family. My parents used to pack up our family van every summer along with my brothers, my sister, and me for long road trips around the US. We would visit all the historic, scenic, and quirky places along the way. I didn’t realize at the time, of course, but those trips were quite an education and helped inspire who I became.
The adventurous part stemmed from some other place within me. Particularly around age 19, I had a lot to prove to myself. I was quite convinced that I was going to climb Mt. Everest and sail around the world before I turned 25. Let’s just say that I’ve toned down the thrill-seeking, but I guess everything is relative. It’s a fun way of discovering the world!