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.


The Haunting of John Wilkes’ Grave 2

John Wilkes Booth’s grave seems a likely top attraction for Baltimore’s Green Mount Cemetery.  The staff is happy to mark the location on a map, and that took us to the family plot, but even so, there was no finding J.W.  What we did find was actually more interesting–pennies.  I noticed a fair collection on an unmarked stone at the corner of the plot.  More were balanced amongst the raised “Booth” lettering on a central stone.  The more we looked, the more pennies we found infiltrating the plot. Where do they come from…and why?  It’s not hard to guess, but can anyone know for certain?


Blueberry Hill Thrills

Steve and I tried and tried to find our thrill on Blueberry Hill in Valdez, Alaska.  Turns out there’s a mosquito version of that song which goes on to extol “drinking our fill.”  The human chorus chimes in “kill, kill, kill!” Deet, don’t leave home without it.


Treeline

As a girl I learned about treeline or timberline, a high altitude border somewhere between 11,000 to 12,000 feet on the mountain where conditions get so harsh that trees can’t grow.  A little over a year ago we visited Acadia National Park in Maine, and a ranger talked about Mt. Desert — so named because trees don’t grow on top of it.  Mt. Desert can’t be more than a hundred feet above sea level.  How can it have a treeline? Since then I’ve been noticing tree lines everywhere.  Some run along the top of a hogback leaving one side of […]


Where To Hear Tunes

What city is the live music capital of the US? Austin? Really? How does Austin out croon Nashville, Branson, and Vegas? Willy, Waylon, and the Boys I guess. Luckenbach is right down the road.


Where to Go, Go to Guys 2

We asked half a dozen professional Themopolisians where we should go to watch the eclipse, but much as they tried, we got little help.  In the nick of time I pointed out the town’s road maintenance yard and reminded Steve that an Alaskan road maintenance guy had given great advice in another situation. Sure enough, he sent us to a perfect hillside overlooking the valley, no one around but a few horses, a herd of antelope, and a couple of highly compatible locals.  When totality commenced we could hear people cheering up and down the valley.  How could we have […]


Berries and Bears

I’ve always loved finding sweet ripe serviceberries (pronounced sarvice) while hiking in the mountains.  The Waterton Park guide called them Saskatoon berries which has an even funner ring to it. Our campsite was overrun with them, so when our dog spotted a bear rummaging around right under our window, I was only surprised that the bear didn’t stay longer.  


Bowhead Blessing 1

I wanted baleen bad, but I didn’t want to go to jail over it — especially in the middle of giving a whale lecture. So when Steve and I set out for Anchorage, I called NOAA and asked how I could carry a piece of a protected species around the world without risking handcuffs. No problem, actually. If a member of a Native Alaskan tribe inscribes the baleen with artwork, it is no longer taboo. Better yet, the agent I talked to, had a few illegal pieces that were cluttering up the NOAA office, and he was happy to gift […]


Blossom Clock

Flaming pink fireweed earned its name by being one of the first plants to colonize scorched earth.  The flower is also a virtual hourglass for its season.  In spring, the lowest buds on the stalk begin to blossom and blooming progresses up until the topmost debut in fall. Everywhere we go in Alaska we see fireweed.  Near Haines Junction the roadsides looked like there’d been a massive Pepto Bismol spill.  The timekeepers are now climbing past their midpoint, constantly reminding us to step lively if we want to hit the high spots and get out while the getting’s good.


Retro Cool

I bought this helmet (clearance priced) in 1975 when patriotism wasn’t cool. Steve and I have worn it for 42 years, off and on, and the only comment I remember about the design was a neighbor calling me a hippie –until last summer. Half a dozen ATV riders on Taylor Park trails thought it was very cool, an Easy Rider throwback!  No one made me an offer though, so I’m still wearing it. Have a groovy birthday USA.


Moving On

A fellow Newfoundland Ferryboater commented on the miles that Steve claimed we’d put on our trailer. I said that Steve is the kind of guy that likes to get there…and there, and there, and there.  The man’s wife upped the smart comment bar by saying: “He thinks he’s a shark and has to keep moving or die.”