travel


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.


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, […]


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 […]


Hi Jolly Who?

A sign pointing the way to Hi Jolly Monument caught my eye in Quartzsite, Arizona, so I checked Google and found that yes, I wanted to see Hi Jolly Monument.  Hi Jolly, AKA Hadji Ali, was a camel driver recruited from Syria to help run Jefferson Davis’ experimental transportation project.  Who knew that the US imported 74 camels to haul freight across the “Great American Desert in the 1850s?” If only the Civil War hadn’t trampled the effort, the Southwest might be crawling with camels today, and camels are cool! At least some of the Corps’ camels were freed to […]


How Do These Holes Happen?

I hadn’t expected anything like this when we hiked to one of the highlights recommended in Big Bend National Park.  Tinaja is Spanish for pond, so I’d assumed oasis which would naturally be a big draw in arid Big Bend.  The formations were even cooler though, especially when a fox trotted into the canyon and left a deposit in my path.  (Apparently he was delivering a message: get outta my yard!) On seeing the tinajas, the holes’ symmetry made me wonder if people had somehow bored them.  But who would have taken so much trouble, and why? A month later […]


Javelina Tough

A prickly pear with scalloped notches made me wonder if desert critters manage to eat around the thorns.  I know cactus is nourishing because my great-grandfather sometimes resorted to feeding his cattle by burning thorns off.  Rabbits, I hear, do eat around the thorns, but Javelina munch thorns and all–without wincing. Javelinas are peccaries, not pigs.  They’re named for javelins because their canines are that sharp.  They also smell like skunks.  Fortunately they don’t generally mess with people unless a mother thinks she needs to defend her young.  They feel differently about dogs. All in all, I was happy to […]