Stefanie in Plaza Macondo, Comonfort

How long do you need to sit doing nothing before you become extinct? This ancient rock heap in front of me holds that secret deep inside beneath the earth’s crust. Palo Huerfano, as the caldera in these Picacho Mountains is called, has a 12 million year history of dormancy according to geologists. That would seem to qualify as “extinct” because even in geological terms that’s a good long while.

I remember when Mount St. Helen’s blew back in 1980. At the time, I was working at a retreat center in the North Cascades above Lake Chelan. The volcanic eruption was…


It’s a strange feeling to know you are somewhere near Paradise. I read the sign, “John Prine Ave.” as we passed through Drakesboro and knew it was true. The vanished town from the song was near. I never made a hard plan to visit Paradise but now we had our chance.

When you cross the Green River on the parkway north of Drakesboro there’s no easy access to the site of the old homeplace of the Prine family. We just happened to be winding down roads to the south of that site when we stumbled on a street named after…


A while back, some twenty but less than thirty years ago, I went to visit friends back in my old home town of Bellingham, Washington and two of them took me to the Cascade Mountains for a little climbing adventure. This was my one and only encounter with the whole outfit of mountain gear; ice axe, rope and crampons. My buddies David and Karl had the chops to lead and I tagged along, happily following their instruction.

We hiked up the Ruth Creek Trail through the Mt. Baker Forest and then started up towards Ruth Mountain. We hit glacier and…


“She’s doing it!”

Photo by Aleksandr Mansurov on Unsplash

An undeniable feature of travel is confrontation with the unexpected. What we usually have in mind in that regard is the pleasant surprise. The flip side is that the unexpected is not always pleasurable. The nature of the travel plan allows the individual traveler the option of circumscribing that discomfort. We all make a travel plan based on a sliding scale somewhere between “cushy spa” and “wing-it adventure”.

Most travelers opt for a middle road, expecting the unexpected but controlling for frustration and confusion. …


This pig and his friends are here for a reason…

Scientists have discovered that it pays to grow up in marginally unsanitary conditions in order to tune your immune system properly. Children in western countries who grow up coddled and sheltered from every pollen grain or cat hair are understandably hypersensitive to such minor irritants as adults.

Somewhere in this observation about the source of our currently epidemic levels of allergic reaction is a hard fact: Those dirty little snot-nosed kids you always complained about are all healthy, happy, strapping adults now. Except, of course, for that bully in my grade school class. He’s in jail. His freedom was denied…


Photo by Tomáš Malík on Unsplash

We plunged the car off the road and onto the “piste”, really nothing more than a well worn track in the sand. The trick was staying on it. Especially in the dark. Because losing the piste meant risking softer sand on either side. That meant trouble.

Stefanie and I had signed up for this trip to the desert to ride camels but didn’t understand the full details of the contract. We knew we would be getting on top of camels. We didn’t know we would get much more on top of that.

We made these plans on the fly. A…


The Werner Chapel ruins. Bacharach, Germany

Mention the word “romantic” and the mind goes straight to flowers and chocolate and “rom-com” movies. “Wuthering Heights or titles from the movie archive like “Splendor in the Grass” come to mind. But the boy-girl “romance” thing just touches on the fringe of the subject. I’ve been revisiting the Romantic Movement recently, spurred on by a visit to the ruins of the Werner Chapel in Bacharach, Germany.


San Miguel Viejo

The sun has put down a nice placid sky for the evening, with a slice of smoky gray laying low above the distant mountains. This is the season of burning fields, land purposely put to the torch to burn off dry grasses and underbrush.

Black-charred fields multiply each day in the open areas around San Miguel de Allende and each evening brings new columns of smoke rising behind the city. The ground is set for renewal and the color of anticipation is black.

We set out for San Miguel Viejo earlier this morning, walking to where we thought we could…


Years ago my wife and I decided we’d like to read Don Quixote to each other on one of our regular drives to our house in Mexico. We had done this previously with the book “Cold Mountain” and that worked out pretty well except we were reading whole chapters before trading off. That’s quite a workout for the old voice box if you’ve ever tried it. I guess I’m not used to talking that much.

The Don Quixote exercise worked out better because it has nice short chapters. It’s weird how reading aloud makes you feel like you’re doing the…


I watch a time lapse flight tracker animation with a stunned sense of incomprehension. How is it possible that each of these icons that congeal and slide across my screen represent individual planes filled with individual people filled with the monolithic desire to travel? I watch this buzzing swarm amazed at the sheer level of engineering complexity and wonder how this came to be. How did we come to demand this scale of people-moving technology? Why do we need to travel?

What we have right here is apparently insufficient to what we need over there. Pretty basic. It’s in our…

Travel a Good Ways

Trying to get at travel stories for those who enjoy the…

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