High old time (Part 1)

Qorqor PEA few days before arriving in Peru, I began taking acetazolamide pills as a precaution against altitude sickness.

Some people are not affected by high altitude, but I didn’t want to risk enjoying my trek to Machu Picchu in order to find out if I was one of them.

Other measures that were suggested included acclimating over several days, staying hydrated, taking ibuprofen tablets, drinking the local coca tea and chewing coca leaves. I followed all recommendations. Continue reading

Posted in Peru | 5 Comments

In the animal kingdom

Sea lion, GalápagosI had every intention of following Galápagos National Park’s simple rule: Maintain at least six feet of distance from the wildlife.

However, the animals were not as compliant.

Blue-footed boobies waddled right up to my hiking shoes. Sea lions grazed me playfully when I snorkeled. Brown pelicans stood side by side with me, as together we watched the fishmongers in the harbor.

Even giant tortoises lifted their great heads and ambled in my direction, as if they recognized me from long ago.

In Ohio, wild animals run for cover when humans appear; in the Galápagos Islands, they yawn.

Continue reading

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Rocks of ages

White House, Canyon de Chelly

The history of the American Southwest is written in stone.

It is written in silver ore and petrified wood. In lava flows and cinder fields. On the walls of canyons and caves. In the ruins of pueblos.

It is written on tombstones. And on Spider Rock and Petroglyph Rock and Newspaper Rock. And most intentionally on Inscription Rock.

The Navajo say, “We will be like a rock a river has to go around.”

Instead, the river cut through the rock at Canyon de Chelly (duh-SHAY) National Monument, gouging deep channels over millions of years. Continue reading

Posted in United States | 4 Comments

Bright lights, dark sky

The lights dart across the Texas desert, pulsing, merging and then disappearing.

Some people believe they are UFOs; others, the ghosts of Spanish conquistadors.

A cowboy first reported seeing them in 1883. He thought they were campfires of the Apache.

Other theories as to the origin of the mysterious lights include swamp gas, St. Elmo’s fire and the glint of minerals in the moonlight. Continue reading

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Prost, y’all

Enchanted Rock TX

On Enchanted Rock

Beef. It’s what’s for dinner in Texas.

Unless you’re in Hill Country, where it might be bratwurst.

In the mid-1800s, tens of thousands of German immigrants settled in central and southwest Texas, which, at the time, was its own country. Some of the settlers were sponsored by a group of German nobles who aimed to colonize the Republic of Texas and develop trade.

Their scheme was disrupted by a lack of funds, the war with Mexico and the statehood of Texas. The German homesteaders stayed anyway. Continue reading

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Back on the road

This week, I’m starting a four-week road trip from Austin, Texas, to Antelope Canyon Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona.

It will be my longest trip in nearly a year.

After three years of nearly non-stop travel, I felt a need to catch my breath. I was road-weary.

I rented an apartment in Columbus, my first “permanent” residence since 2014. I emptied my storage locker and found things I forgot I owned. I even bought a car.

Most importantly, I reconnected with family and friends. And thought about what is next. Continue reading

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Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Santa Fe NM

Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

Three historic trails lead to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

One arrives from Mexico City–El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (the Royal Road of the Interior Land). For centuries, Native North Americans used the sixteen-hundred-mile trade route.

In 1598 Spanish settlers first followed El Camino Real north. It was traveled continuously until 1882.

Another trail enters Santa Fe from the west. Approximately seven-hundred-miles long, the Old Spanish Trail connected Santa Fe with settlements in California. Blazed as early as the 1500s, the Old Spanish Trail was used by Native Americans, explorers, trappers and traders until 1848.

A third route, the namesake Santa Fe Trail, connected Santa Fe with the eastern United States, specifically Franklin, Missouri. The nine-hundred-mile trail was established in 1821 to take advantage of new trade opportunities with Mexico, which had just broken away from Spain. It saw use until around 1880.

Three cultures intersected at the crossroads of Santa Fe–Native-, Hispanic- and Anglo-American. It seemed an appropriate trail’s end for my tour as well. Continue reading

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