Mother Nature outdoes herself on so many of the trails we walk: trees, flowers, rock formations, waterfalls, stunning skies, sometimes even snacks. Her gifts warm my heart, but much as they tempt, I generally pass them by. I hope she and her other guests aren’t offended that I’m more comfortable sharing from a distance.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
“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 […]
My favorite bowl game took place in the Amazon River basin in Peru. The ball was round, and the “crowd” didn’t speak much English, but they gave us the best seats in the house. We only heard about the game because our jungle guide mentioned it as we returned from an excursion to see monkeys, caimans, and medicinal plants–complete with instructions for making cocaine. The game might have been better if the field had been longer since the players generally kicked the ball from one end to the other. We didn’t get to see much tricky dribbling. We also didn’t get to see anyone score. […]
Rode an ATV to tea Fresh from meeting Sam Magee. Grand digs and heirloom china too, All because “we like you”? We like you too and we might stay But oh, the winter’s cruel they say. So dark and cold that fissures crack, Grit and grunt to fill them back. La, the stories locals tell Of artfully rebranding Hell. Engage the neurons, thrill and train Before the darkness drills your brain. Wouldst thou learn a sexy skill? Tassel twirling o’er the hill. Weaving, pickiin’, tossing ax, Write a memoir, make up facts. Ice worms dancing in the road? Sober […]
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 […]
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.
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 […]