breathtakebyways


About breathtakebyways

Ann Williams’ travel articles have appeared in publications all over the country including The Washington Post, Roads to Adventure, and Jack and Jill. Between researching and writing books, she specializes in creative lectures.

Celebrity Vendor

Kevin Costner introduced himself to me as I waited in line for the train to Machu Picchu.  He was amazingly well disguised as a Peruvian jewelry vendor, but he couldn’t resist leaking the plan for his upcoming sequel. He and Julia Roberts were going to start filming Dancing With Llamas the following week.  That was about five years ago, so I expect it will be showing anytime now.


Critter Fix

Inches from my head was a critter scratching, skittering, gnawing, hellbent on creeping me out and doing a fine job of it. I wondered if it was looking for a secret passage through the propane tanks, storming the storage compartment under our bed, or using the headboard as a jungle gym. Wherever the intruder was, it was not the nature I’d come to commune with. Other pests we’ve picked up  over the years have been more considerate-except that mouse that built a nest on our pickup’s engine and started a family overnight. The festive looking light strings I noticed under […]


Civil War and Plague Isolation Survivor 2

When the American Civil War broke out, Jacob Evans joined the northern army, hoping to help save the Union. He was a teenager when he marched off with his regiment. They were rugged men battling fleas and lice in huts made of logs and dirt.  Worse, when officers weren’t savvy enough to order the latrines to be dug downstream, sewage leached into the men’s drinking water. Many of the soldiers came from isolated farms and had little immunity against diseases we now immunize for. One sick soldier could wipe out a camp in short order. Ninety-five men died of disease […]


Camping in a Shoot Out

We noticed some people target shooting as we looked for a camping spot in  Arizona’s Table Mesa BLM Recreation Area.  Unlike other BLM camping we’ve used, these primitive campsites were grouped which seemed a good idea to prevent bullet riddled campers.  I could almost smell the testosterone wafting off rough and ready campsites and wicked rigs.  Between that and the steady barrage of gunfire, we weren’t sure we’d stay long.  If our poor dog had had a vote, we wouldn’t have stayed at all. The sunset was killer, but the firing continued far into the night.  Bullets rattled in bursts, […]


Colorado Mother of the Year

In 1884 Tom and Alice Glover drove up Colorado’s Grand Valley in a covered wagon to start a new ranch along the banks of Parachute Creek. Alice held their baby daughter Queenie. When they arrived, Tom pitched a tent for the family to live in that summer. Once the camp was set, he found a couple cowboys to help him build a ranch. While the men were building, Alice was on her own to make the camp a home. On wash day she carried water from the creek to heat in a kettle over a fire. She made her own […]


Lost in the City of Rocks

New Mexico’s City of Rocks State Park sounds vaguely interesting.  Not true; it’s a Don’t-Miss! Ancient volcanic showers of pumice and ash melded into a slab of rock that then eroded into a labyrinth of channels like streets and allies, tunnels, and caves. Many of the passages called to my inner child. If only my knees weren’t so cranky, I’d crawl in and explore. I longed for a few grandkids to help me enjoy it vicariously. In the distance an evocative peak invited a creatively framed photo, preferably involving a hoodoo. Sure enough, as we left the “city” I spotted […]


Walking Earth’s Mantle

One of only two places where mere mortals can walk on the Earth’s mantle, Tablelands in Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland is momentous. The mantle is the layer of semi-molten rock beneath the Earth’s crust, so…not a good walking place. Geologists across the globe are eternally grateful for the epic subterranean event that shoved a fair-sized chunk to the surface in Newfoundland, allowing us to get better acquainted with that globe. Having driven thousands of miles to get there, Steve and I were accustomed to raising eyebrows when we said we’d come from Colorado. The Tablelands crowd was different. Our […]


Tucson RRRocks!..?

I love rocks. I’m not a geologist or much of an investor, but I seldom discourage my inner child from hauling home earthly finds. Strange then that after less than an hour of perusing acres and acres of magnificent specimens at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, I wanted out…now. I can’t say exactly what caused me to react that way except it was too much. Months later I wonder if my distress came from seeing dazzling masterpieces, miraculously forged over millions of years, so crammed together as to become commonplace. Oh look, another massive treasure crystal extravaganza, yawn. Some […]


Trailside Shopping Ops

Cottonwood campground in Big Bend National Park, Texas, has many usual campground attractions and way more.  We watched coyotes trot casually across our backyard.  Roadrunners scurried a few steps, cranked their tails up and down, scurried, cranked, scurried, cranked. Then a neighbor alerted us of spectacular nature trail sunsets–and shopping.  Not just any shopping, illicit border infiltration shopping! Before we got to the nature trail to peruse the wares, we discovered another shopping outlet on a scenic overlook.  As we took in the view, Steve noticed a man across the Rio Grande who climbed into a boat and rowed our […]


Rowboat to Mexico

Red flags lofted at the suggestion of a side trip to Mexico, so I asked the Information Desk staffer in Big Bend National Park. “You are safer here than in your home town,” she claimed.  (Apparently she considers the Mexican village of Boquillas part of Big Bend.) The next surprise was the Port of Entry, a nice official building on a dirt path leading to the Rio Grande River–no road, no bridge, no Immigration officials, just a friendly Parks employee who prompted us to check and see if our passports were expired or we’d picked up another family member’s by […]