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.


Camel Caravan

When our tour guide asked whether anyone in our group preferred a truck trek in lieu of the planned camel tour, I said: “We came for the camels!” I was so excited I dubbed it “Hump Day,” but the camels didn’t seem as happy. The memory of their grumbling still makes me smile hysterically. The handlers made interesting noises as well. They urged the camels forward with an odd kiss/whistle, and when a rider wanted the camel to kneel, he made a gagging sound. The toughest part of the ride, I was told, is in leaning back and holding tight […]


Egyptian Donkey Ride 4

A donkey ride in the Valley of the Kings helped sell Mom and I on the tour we booked to see Egypt.  We both grew up riding horses on the family ranch, but neither of us has ridden much in the last 40 years or so.  Also, donkeys are small and quick and can easily turn out from under a rider.  Between those issues and that fact that Mom is under doctor’s orders not to re-break the collar-bone she shattered last year, I couldn’t help being leery about this ride. Our bus delivered us to New Gourna Village where we mounted up on the street with traffic passing by.  The donkeys were tall enough that […]


Dam Vendors

Pushy souvenir vendors can be a pain around popular tourist attractions, but on the Nile, they take an entertaining tack.  As our river cruise ship slowed to approach the locks between Aswan and Luxor, a bundle sailed over the heads of passengers sitting on the sun deck and splashed into the swimming pool.  Then a voice from the river, four decks below, shouted, “Hello?  Excuse me…” Peering over the rail, we found two men waiting in a row boat with piles of goods they hoped would tempt us.  More row boats made haste to join the first in bombarding us with tablecloths, towels, and garish gallabiyahs.  The ladies […]


Batty Bird

As I cooled my trail-weary feet in a mountain stream, I noticed a small creature flitting above the water about tree top height. A glut of recently hatched gnats no doubt inspired the critter’s erratic hover.  The flier was bat-sized, a little small for a bird, and its flight was bat-like as well.  Yet the evening seemed too early for bats.  I watched for several minutes trying to distinguish bat or bird and finally got the right angle to see that the head was bird-like. Shortly after that, as I sat beside our camper, something flew just over my head and apparently clung briefly to the side of […]


Speaking of Writing

I’ve been beating the bushes for almost three years searching for audiences willing to listen to me practice my sea talks.  Last week I drove to Denver to talk to two people because it’s better than talking to a mirror. So I was seriously blown away to be invited–out of the blue–to speak to a writers’ conference! The attendees (hopefully more than two) are even willing to listen to an excerpt of one of my presentations. I can’t wait to hear what else I have to say. Here’s the link in case you’re interested in attending or can’t quite believe it either: http://pueblowestwriters.wixsite.com/pwwg/conference-information.


Knitting Connections

This post is borrowed from my daughter Shawna Williams who lived in China for three years.  To read more of her exploits click on this link:  https://americaninchengdu.wordpress.com/ August 20, 2010 I’ve discovered that a good way to strike up conversations with Chinese strangers is to knit in public. I think this is because Chinese people assume that knitting is a Chinese thing, so they figure that a knitting foreigner must be picking up local habits. On a recent four-day trip from Chengdu to Beijing via Shanxi Province, a man in a bus station mimed knitting and gave me a thumbs-up, and a few […]


Stubborn Trees

Some trees just don’t know when to quit.   I have admired the tenacity of trees growing on rock cliffs and the walls of buildings.  We sometimes camp beside one that leans far out over a creek that undercut the bank that supported that side of the root system.  Tender new roots probe into the tiniest cracks then slowly bulk up to cleave rock and crumble cement.  Even metal pipes are no match for thirsty roots.  We can’t beat them, and the world will work way better if we join them already.  Sign me: Tree Hugger.   


Discovering Meaning II—Sotol

Mind boggling, the truths archeologists can tease out of an ancient glob. First inhabitants of Seminole Canyon in Texas used bulbs from a yucca-like plant called sotol to cook up portable, storable cakes. Raw sotol bulbs are soapy and painfully gut cleansing. Those problems were overcome by covering them with prickly pear leaves and hot coals to bake, letting them sit for a time before grinding them into meal, adding water and forming them into cakes to be seared on a hot rock. This painstaking process produced a  cake with a dirt/yam fusion flavor. Obviously food options were scarce in the west […]


Crustacean Liberation Cruise 2

“See the lady in the pink shirt? I think she’s from Colorado. She’s got a blog and everything.” I was actually wearing green, so I overheard Emily Ford, the event organizer, pointing a faux me out to her setup team. A retired Water Resources Director and lobbyist from Houston, was also awed that I’d come 1000 miles to the Texas gulf to rescue crabs from derelict traps. Well, excuse me, but Abandoned Lost and Discarded Fishing Gear (ALDFG) kills countless sea creatures every year including dolphins, whales, turtles, seals, and yeah, crabs. Why wouldn’t I want to help? An unexpected bonus came in my being assigned […]