Category Archives: USA

Around the World in 72 days

By the numbers:

72 days from Reno, Nevada west to Charleston, South Carolina.

39 beds

27 flights and approx. 40,000 miles

24 trains

23 countries

10 buses

9 boats

numerous taxi’s

and…

1 camel

 

 

*photo – A bit of home in Frankfurt, Germany

 

Wanderlust

I had the sheer pleasure and honor of being one of the photographers at Wanderlust Squaw Valley yoga festival this summer.

Here are a few samplings:

Click to enlarge.

 

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Gearing up to deploy

If only I could clone myself.

Watching the horror that Hurricane Harvey dispensed and not being able to serve because our lives are so damned full (that’s another blog for later) has made me squirmy for days.

I work faster and go longer so that I can squeeze in the time to deploy before we head out for another ’round the world expedition. .

Poor Bill – Paige crazier than normal…  Well – let’s just say he’ll miss me but it might take a couple days.

Sadly, Bill has commitments that can not be changed and will not be able to deploy this time.  However, with a smile, I picture him with a cigar and a gin and tonic the night I leave – relishing in the quiet as Hurricane Paige has moved out of town.

So with that said I should be on my way Wednesday or Thursday to help with heart and soul those who have suffered from Hurricane Harvey.

If you want to deploy call your local American Red Cross office.  They need you and will quickly get you trained and send you on your way.

 

 

 

Rita has a new home…

Burning Man and all its glory zapped us this year and we were unable to get tickets.

It wasn’t for a lack of trying.

We were out of the country on the sale date so 4 helpful people in 4 different states tried to get us tickets to no avail.

The STEP sale and the OMG sale were big fat zeros too.

Reached out to Center Camp Cafe where I had volunteered the last two years and learned that I should have worked five days – five days. That would have made me eligible to earn a ticket this year. I quickly offered to put in that time this year and was rebuked.  They had been down that road only to have people flake on their commitment.  Dang that makes sense.

Stooping to beg for a ticket on Instagram and everyone else who would listen was like a tree falling in the forest with nobody there.

We didn’t get tickets but Rita is on her way. She doesn’t need a ticket – just a parking pass and that’s all in order.

Meet Fede from the UK.  He’s now the proud owner of Rita and we couldn’t be happier.

So if you see Rita on the playa – say hi to Fede and take a photo of the gravestones – we left him a blank one to fill in.

Oh yeah…. please email us the photo.

Birth of a Vision – our new RV from 2015.

Miami Beach to Haiti via Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic

It’s wedding season and nuptials on Isla Mujeres off the coast of mainland Mexico prompted us to explore a couple of nearby Caribbean countries.

The most convenient jumping off point was Miami Beach – a quick acclimation and reboot for our brains because Spanish is the primary language.

*click on a photo to see a larger view

Isla Mujeres was a stunning backdrop for a picturesque wedding.  Margaritas, scuba diving and basking in the Mexican surf and sun were the perfect recipe for a perfect wedding.

We sold our Mexican home in 2016 after 12 years of ownership and it felt so good to be back in the country.

Beach life leads to city life so we headed to Old San Juan, Puerto Rico – 2nd oldest city in the New World.

Beautiful blue cobblestone streets line this hilly town rich in Spanish colonial architecture and fantastic restaurants.

We explored the 500 year old Fort San Felipe del Moro (UNESCO World Heritage site) and Fort San Cristóbal.  

A highlight was our stay at the 400 year old El Convento Hotel.

Off to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic where the Zona Colonial is another UNESCO World Heritage site and rightfully named so.

A quick side note – UNESCO World Heritage Sites are spectacular! Use the link provided to read about them and be sure to add them to your list of “must sees” in your lifetime.

Santo Domingo was the first seat of the Spanish colonial rule in the New World and the site of the first university, cathedral, castle, monastery, and fortress (Wikipedia).

The buildings in the old town are breathtaking.  Strolling the streets you will feel as if you have traveled back in time. Clean, with flowers spilling out of planters boxes and trees reaching for the sky.

Unfortunately, just outside historic Santo Domingo garbage lines the shoreline and poverty simmers at the surface.

A 9 hour commercial bus ride took us to Haiti where poverty has boiled over and covered the country.

The bus was not crowded and seats were comfortable.  However, the toilet did not flush and overflowed from fullness onto the floor. I pulled up my pant legs so the bottoms didn’t get soaked and struggled to hold my breath from the stench. A brief moment of nausea followed by  lots of hand sanitizer told me the adventure had begun.

A couple hours into the ride the bus pulled over to a hut and hot meals were delivered to everyone on the bus.  Luckily we had packed a lunch.

The paperwork at the border was simple and seamless. We counted 8 separate security gates between the borders.  It was dry and dusty – trash everywhere.  It looked like the Middle East.

After passing through the gates there were two random stops. Armed buff men dressed in high fashion jeans, skin tight t-shirts and large gold jewelry looked in the cargo holds. A shake down or just typical? The driver and other passengers weren’t phased so apparently neither were we.

The bus ride ended in Petionville just a 15 minute ride from our final destination of Port-au-Prince. We had assumed we’d catch a cab.

HA! No cabs – what would make us think that there would be cabs???  Thank goodness the man who checked the luggage tags upon arrival (wore no uniform – we assumed he had some authority since he was checking the baggage and talked to the driver) asked us if we needed a ride. Sure!  We followed him to his car and waited as he cleared all the trash from his seats by tossing it on the ground.

The Marriott.  The only nice hotel in the area (one of three buildings taller than a couple stories in the whole city). It was gated and protected by 4 armed guards – our own little prison since we had been told to not leave the property unless we wanted to be be mugged or worse.

Extreme poverty makes ordinary people do extreme things to survive.

We hired a driver to show us the highlights. Thoughtful, caring and protective. He too, tossed his garage out the window.  Hence, a city full of garbage.

The Iron Market – gated with armed guards – a place where tourists can shop quasi safely next to the true market where 100’s of stands selling everything from pots and pans to socks displayed their wares. Shoppers we’re not but it was one of three things to do in Port-au-Prince.  We were told to follow the man in charge, closely – do not deviate, go slow and don’t do anything that may excite people.

Next was the museum – again gated and armed. A garden oasis in the middle of a concrete city.

Lastly, to the top of the mountain in Petionville where the rich people lived behind tall walls with concertina wire to a restaurant full of white people for the best view in the city.

The hillsides are blanketed in homes built on top of one another.  Floored by the homes – something which we had not seen before – I asked the driver to stop so I could get out and take photos. With a resoundingly “NO” (since we were in his care) I was given permission to photograph with the window down as the car slowed a bit.

The roads are chaos – narrow, no street signs with people and cars everywhere.  Constant motion outside the car where, often, the car is motionless and unable to move due to the congestion.

On the way to the airport we asked the driver to take us to see the Cathedral that had all but collapsed in the earthquake. It was to be another drive by.  This time with my window up.

We stopped to make a left turn and I looked down and literally right outside my window was a dead man lying on his back in a pool of blood. His motorcycle had been picked up but he and a pile of clothes laid untouched.  No cover and nothing cordoned off.  Hundreds of people sat idly on the nearby steps and a cop was quasi directing traffic but other than that life just went on as if this was an everyday occurrence.

After sitting in the same spot for a few minutes it was determined we had to go right to eventually go left.  10 minutes later we doubled back by the accident and nothing had changed.  No cover, no cordoning, no ambulance – nothing.

I don’t know if the misery of the Haitian people has always been present. But they are not recovering from the 2010 earthquake that killed 230,000 people and rendered 3 million homeless.  It seems to be lawless and un-governed where sickness, hunger and hopelessness dominate.

It was a haunting and heart breathing short 3 day trip in Port-au-Prince. In 90+ countries we have not experienced a place from the inside of a car.  What to do?  How can a country so poor evolve?

 

 

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Moonrise over the Cooper River in Charleston

Charleston is magical – especially on a warm Spring evening when the moon is starting to rise over the Cooper River.

The Waterfront Park was opened  in May 1980, just a few months after Hurricane Hugo.  Once an area of gravel parking lots and overgrown weeds (per Wikipedia). Now a tranquil area to stroll, rest and take in the charm that Charleston has to offer.

Cali-for-ni-A

Hey ya’ll.

After a much needed social media break (sans Facebook – which might become a permanent separation) – I’m back and feeling refreshed.

Bill and I took to the California roadways in the past month.

We left a snowy Lake Tahoe in Nevada to the rain soaked and blooming neighboring state – blanketed in 50 shades of green and everything else on the color wheel.

In Sacramento the water nearly lapped Highway 50 and ducks by the thousand floated in their glory.

Working our way to Point Reyes via Hwy 37 and 1 the narrow windy roads overflowed in lushness.

“Oh my gosh – look at that.” must have passed our lips 100 times – it’s a wonder that we didn’t wreck.

The ocean sparkled, colors popped, pebbles glistened and the ice plants reached for the skies.

The desert was alive with yellow and purple as far as the eye could see. Mother nature nurtured.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Inverness

Low tide at the Tomales Bay Resort Marina

Wrecked in Point Reyes

Old Man and the Sea

Dunes of Ice Plants

Glistening Pebbles

My Man

Where Ice Plants Meet the Pacific

Driftwood Art

California Cypress

Blooming Prickly Pear Cactus

Sandstone Dunes at Red Rock Canyon

Keyhole at Red Rock Canyon

They Call it Mellow Yellow

Guillermo

Cactus at Red Rock

Spring has Sprung

Catalina Island

We have big plans this year.  Stay tuned….