Monday, December 5, 2016

while there in the valley, after the storm (Jordan)

Looking down into Wadi Dana from Dana Village in Dana Biosphere and Nature Reserve, southwestern Jordan
December 2016
"We were penned in verminous houses of cold stone; lacking fuel, lacking food; storm-bound in streets like sewers, amid blizzards of sleep and an icy wind: while there in the valley was sunshine among spring grass, deep with flowers, upon flux in milk and air so warm that men went uncloaked."
-TE Lawrence, from Seven Pillars of Wisdom, describing Wadi Dana.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

crossing borders

Crossing the Red River with Lake Texhoma in the distance
Oklahoma/Texas State Line
September 2016

What a spectacular send-off this morning as I make my way to Orlando to meet the crew and guests for TCS World Travel's Around the World by Private Jet Expedition. I'll join two other expedition staff and 80 guests for an eight-country journey around the world - ending back in Orlando 23 days later. This expedition marks TCS's 250th jet trip. Stay tuned as the destinations are unveiled one at a time.

Somewhere in Texas

Monday, September 26, 2016

time to go home

Lake Coeur d'Alene
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
September 2016
Fall arrives to this part of the world without much fanfare. A warm autumn wind whips the water into a frenzy. Clouds move like passing freight trains bound for more distant places - parting at just the right moment for a blazing sun to cast copper shadows at days end. The pine trees sigh as the temperature cools. How do I bottle this and bring it home to my cast iron forest still battling hot days and jungle heat despite what the calendar says? Where I live, its a waiting game. Every living thing is seemingly lifeless and immobile - refusing to move until summer moves on - waiting for that freight train of clouds to pass through delivering the cool breezes and damp skies that will bring life back to the prairies. Summer is now an unwelcome guest who has overstayed his visit. It's time to go home.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

world rhino day 2016

In celebration of World Rhino Day 2016 here is one of my favorite rhinoceros encounters (well, one which did not include having to run for my life...twice) taken in Kenya while working as a citizen scientist for Earthwatch. 

My god these are magnificent beasts - and it is hard to imagine that they will most likely no longer exist in the wild in my lifetime. This is a real tragedy. Click here, World Rhino Day 2016, to follow the WRD celebrations around the world and meet the protective organizations in need of contributions. #poaching #rhino #extinctionisforever #Earthwatch #citizenscientist

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

the bandit of settlers creek

Australian Shepherd
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
16 September, 2016

This is Bandit - a very serious Australian shepherd that guards the farmstead at Settlers Creek outside of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. His business is not so much with humans as it is with the deer, elk, bear and porcupines that might trespass his territory at any moment. I was allowed a two-second pat on the head and nothing more! "Can't you see I've got a job to do"! Hey, I'll take my dog fix any way I can get it when I am traveling.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Saturday, April 2, 2016

uluru finally

Ayers Rock - Uluru
Red Centre, Northern Territory, Australia
April 2016
A major bucket-list moment - I have waited years to get here. And none too soon! As beautiful as she is from a distance - she is most spectacular up close. As ancient and magical as the legends would suggest. Both Uluru and the nearby Kata Tjuta formation (the Olgas) are of sacred to the Pitjantjatjara Anangu people.

Interesting to note that this sacred red rock and the sacred pink granite mountains of the Wichitas in Oklahoma are the same age (550 million years old) and about the same height above sea level (2600 and 2800 feet respectively).

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

how to pull off dinner in a cave in china

Reed Flute Cave
Guilin, China
March 2016
How to pull off dinner in a cave: 23 chefs and 100+ catering staff. An incredible night at the iconic Reed Flute Cave in Guilin, China. Records of travelers visiting the caves go back 2500 years. Normally reserved for state visits, National Geographic Expeditions was the first private group to get approval for a private evening event in 40 years. In the background, members of the Guangxi Symphony prepare to take the stage.

Monday, March 7, 2016

li river cruise - guilin china

Li River
Guilin, China
March 2016
We spent an incredible day today cruising through the other-worldly karst formations on the Li River near Guilin, China. This is stop number 7 of 8 on the National Geographic Wonders of the Natural World by private jet tour. Next up: Japan.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

mangrove magic in the primordial muck

The Mangrove Boardwalk
Near Cairns International Airport
Cairns, Australia

Take a wander into these wetlands and you enter an other-worldly place; be it the snap-crackle-pop sounds that mysteriously emanate from the primordial muck or the heavily adapted and eerie life forms scuttling and scurrying among the shadows. Toadfish, graspid crabs, telescopium whelks, littornid snails, fiddler crabs and the requisite mosquitoes and spiders all make their home here.

Find a place where the sun cracks through these dense mangrove forests, giving light to this dark underworld, and you will discover an ecosystem of complicated but immense beauty. Upstream, where the mangroves give way to the rainforest, a cacophony of bird song punctuates the soft morning light - parrots, cockatoos, lorikeets, lapwings and wood pigeons all lend their distant reverie to the magic of this place.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

do not tread - hiking adventures in the daintree rainforest

Daintree Rainforest

What better place to hike than a trail that winds through a 165-million-year-old rainforest - said to be the oldest on the planet. The bird and frog and insect chorus is deliciously maddening and primeval. The plant life is insane - so many things still thriving and vining and still producing otherworldly fruit - fruit that dinosaurs once ate.

Mossman River 

The Mossman River with its tumbled granite monoliths and pristine waters makes the most spectacular swimming holes - called billabongs down here, down under. I want to explore everyone single one of them. I want to map them and photograph them and swim in them all. And the forest's 90 percent humidity and plus 90 degree temps make the prospect of a dip in the river all the more inviting.

Amythestine Python

This morning I'm cutting a fast clip along the Fig Tree Rapids trail before work begins when I am suddenly stopped in my tracks by several snakes crossing the trail. At closer observation (once the glasses are pushed back upon the nose and the humidity cleared) these several become three, then two - until I realize this singular bundle of taught muscle and rolling rib cage is pushing 12 feet in length all by itself. This gorgeous Amythestine python does not budge. Alternatives that allow me to pass do not pass his mind for even a second. He is the guardian of the end of the trail gate - and I am not allowed in.

My motto: do not go where you are not wanted. I will try again tomorrow. It is the journey, not the destination after all. Seconds later on the rebound I would encounter an apparition, a forest ghost of haunting beauty - white gossamer wings shimmering in the forest air and fluttering up toward the heavens. Eventually the white tail feathers are revealed to belong to a buff-breasted paradise kingfisher.  Who has ever even heard of such thing? And fetching up on a lower fig tree limb looking like the exquisite offspring of a kingfisher and a bird of paradise flycatcher. In birder's terms - its a major get -and I give my most humble thanks to my reptilian friend. After all, not all our guides necessarily appear in human form. Pay attention and nature will reward. Show up and nature will deliver.

Friday, January 8, 2016

hugging the shores - cairns esplanade - australia

Seine Fishing in the Coral Sea from the Cairns' esplanade
An urban hike on the Cairns Esplanade at the crack of dawn before going to work. This dude wades past the crocodile warning and stinger signs to cast his net. A few seconds after snapping this shot, a shark fin breaks the surface of the murky water headed straight for the fisherman. Australia has made a land lubber out of me for certain! I am hugging the shore and sticking to hikes!

Coral Sea at sunrise
Waiting on the Sun - Cairns Esplanade

Tide Moving Out - Cairns Espanade

Australian Pelicans on the Cairns Esplanade

Low Tide - Cairns Esplanade

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

moon waxing gibbous among the company of wild things

Four Mile Beach at Dawn
Port Douglas, Australia
January 2016
A predawn moon waning gibbous, serenaded by a cacophony of wild things on a magical stretch of North Queensland rainforest beach.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

gone walkabout

Daintree Forest at Mossman Gorge
Mossman, Northern Queensland, Australia
January 2016

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016 greetings from down under

Sunrise - Four Mile Beach - Coral Sea
Port Douglas, Australia
01 January, 2016
The new year dawns bright and shiny in northern Queensland, where the Daintree rainforest meets the Coral Sea. It's already 2016 here and the sun and clouds are providing all the fireworks needed to celebrate the beginning of a new year.

Greetings from 2016 and Happy New Year to all!!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

instagram 2015 best nine

2015 Instagram Best Nine Photos

There's an end-of-the-year meme going around that generates your nine most popular photos posted to instagram. These aren't my nine most popular - but they are my nine most favorite. They represent an otherworldly, incredible travel year to more than 26 countries - 10 which were lifers!

The photos, from left to right represent: Amman, Jordan; Quartz Mountain, Oklahoma; Kandalama, Sri Lanka, St. Petersburg, Russia; Toronto, Canada (Pan Am Games Opening Ceremony); Kona, Hawaii, Cape May, New Jersey; and Pico Bonito, Honduras. Although Australia was the last country I traveled to in 2015 (still here as I write) - travels to Honduras in early December brought me to my 120th country (not that I am a lister!). 

And since I am fairly certain no one reads my blog anymore - I might as well go ahead and post my travels from 2015 - because they were pretty mind-blowing:

San Antonio, Texas (Alamo Bowl)
Palau (#110)
South Korea
Seychelles (#111)
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Cartagena, Colombia (#112)
Lake Tahoe, California
Tucson, Arizona

Joshua Tree National Park
Sydney, Australia

Madagascar (#113)
Kona, Hawaii

Honolulu, Hawaii
Toronto, Canada
Rome, Italy
Lisbon, Portugal
La Coruna, Spain
Bilbao, Spain
Bordeaux, France

London, England
Amman, Jordan
Beirut, Lebanon (#114)

Toronto, Canada (Pan Am Games)
a five-week assignment

Alaskan Cruise
Beijing, China

Dubai, United Arab Emirates
St. Petersburg, Russia
Kona, Hawaii

Tonga (#115)
Adelaide, Australia
Sri Lanka (#116)
Maldives (#117)
Bali (#118)
Papua New Guinea
Fiji (#119)

London, England (Rugby World Cup)
Yangon & Bagan, Myanmar

Honduras (#120)
Port Douglas, Australia

crocodile warning

At sunrise today, the winds departed, the rain softened, the ocean calmed and the tide receded to its lowest point, making it possible to wade into the mangrove estuary at the end of the beach. The only problem with a low tide is that it enables the beach walker, the tidal voyeur, and the perpetually curious to unknowingly pass the crocodile warning signs placed nearer to the high tide mark. Oops! 


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