travel


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


Northern Normality 2

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 […]


A Gift from the Orient 2

We needed souvenirs for ranching men, and what better than knives? But Chinese gift-shopkeepers carried no knives. A knife, given as a gift, would signify the giver’s wish to cut off the friendship. We walked the length of the Jiuzhaigou shopping street, asking for knives at each shop.  No one had a knife, but when we walked past those same shops on our way back to the hotel, the sellers met us on the sidewalk to offer knives of all kinds.  This one isn’t sturdy enough for ranch work, or much of anything else, and we were skeptical of the […]


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?


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.


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.