Pony Party: Travel

Something different this week.  The NYT always has some interesting stories in its travel section, and I’m going to post quotes & links to some of the more…adventurous…of them.

For example, there’s whitewater rafting down the Nile:

WHEN I showed up to go white-water rafting in Uganda, Josh, the Canadian rafting guide who stood barefoot in board shorts and looked like a hardier, hairier version of Brad Pitt, greeted me with a simple question: Wild or mild?

My advice, if you’re ever going to do this, is to choose wisely. Because the next thing I knew, I was upside down in an infuriated patch of the Nile River, a ceiling of white water above me, all those tranquil birds and flowers along the banks a violently disappeared memory and Josh screaming, “Dude! Watch out for the rocks!”


We plunged. The curl of a wave lifted our boat straight out of the water and flipped us upside down like an egg in a skillet. But instead of immediately popping back up, a bunch of us got trapped under the raft, with the rapids pushing it down on top of us. It was terrifying, because there was no way out. I kicked. I thrashed. I felt as though I swallowed a gallon of river water. I started thinking of that scene at the end of “Titanic” in which Leonardo DiCaprio drowns. And then, pop, the raft shot away, and I broke through a fury of white water and feverishly gulped for air. That’s when I noticed everything was a little fuzzy, which leads me to casualty No. 2, my right contact lens. Gone. I spent the rest of the trip squinting through one eye.


The slide show:  http://www.nytimes.com/slidesh…

Please note: everything I’m linking to here has a sidebar with extra pics & slide shows for more vivid photos.  (Can’t post the photos here: they are proprietary of the NYT.)

Pony Party is an open thread.  Please do not rec the party.

Have you ever been to Canyon de Chelly in Arizona?  Yeah, me too.  I loved it (although I lost a lens cap there, lol).

The sky was a cloudless blue, and I was on my way, with my childhood friend Esther Chak, to Canyon de Chelly, a geologic maze of towering red cliffs and deep-cut gorges dotted with pictographs and ruins of ancient cliffside villages. Lying in the heart of the 21st-century Navajo Nation, it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in North America, a window into both an ancient world and a modern one.


At the base of Spider Rock, a sheer-walled 800-foot sandstone pinnacle that shoots up out of Canyon de Chelly near its intersection with Bat and Monument Canyons, Mr. Aragon motioned to a shallow cave just behind us. There on the wall above our heads was a series of cave paintings, white pictographs probably made sometime between A.D. 1 and 1300 by the Anasazi, the ancient predecessors of the Hopi and other Pueblo people.


Hundreds of feet up, the superbly preserved ruins of multistory villages and ceremonial sites were tucked away on rock ledges and alcoves that appeared all but impossible to get to. The ancients, it seems, were pretty amazing climbers.


Now, as we traveled across the landscape on horseback, we saw many a modern hogan, some built with plywood or aluminum. Mr. Aragon pointed out wooden sweat lodges, recently used, and explained the uses of desert plants and trees, from yucca to pine and sagebrush, for food, medicine, herbs, dyes.


and the slide show:  http://www.nytimes.com/slidesh…

And then there’s Alaska:

AS I lifted my kayak paddle out of the waters of Thomas Bay in Southeast Alaska, I paused for a moment to listen to the soft susurration of rain on the surface of the water. Gossamer veils of fog lay over the dark spruce and hemlock hills that disappeared in the mist above me. In the background, the roar of Cascade Creek provided a constant backbeat, a reminder that this part of Alaska really is a rain forest, getting more than 100 inches of rain annually.

It’s a good climate for ducks, and later, back at our cabin perched on the pebbled beach of the bay, I watched a line of waterfowl paddle by, diving under the water then coming up with fish in their beaks. Tilting their heads back, they slid their catch down their long necks.


As we walked along the beach, a pair of bald eagles flew out of the trees and over the bay. The sleek head of a seal bobbed to the surface to get a better look at us. According to a book of hiking trails I had picked up in Petersburg, the first mile of the trail was rated “easiest,” and we happily made our way along, first on a softly padded trail that led past moss- and lichen-covered tree trunks, and then on a series of boardwalks installed by the Forest Service.


and the slide show:  http://www.nytimes.com/slidesh…

And then there’s wild wild West Texas:

A VISIT to Guadalupe Mountains National Park is a vivid reminder that not all of the West was won and an illustration of why that’s a very good thing. The untamed West in all its cranky, craggy, dusty, arid majesty seems to have been frozen in amber in this park, a windswept wedge of 86,000 acres of West Texas mountain desert on the border with New Mexico. For the latter-day pioneer willing to find and make peace with this remote and inhospitable place, the rewards stimulate the senses and challenge the imagination.

The park is a repository of Texas superlatives that even most Texans are not aware of: the state’s highest point, Guadalupe Peak, at a challenging but climbable 8,749 feet; what is commonly referred to as its most beautiful single spot, postcard-picturesque McKittrick Canyon; and one of the most striking geological formations anywhere, an imposing slab of limestone known (like its more famous granite cousin at Yosemite National Park) as El Capitan.


Like most geological oddities, the Guadalupes are a convergence, rising about where the Rockies peter out and the Chihuahuan Desert begins. This may be most dramatically observed from the trail up Guadalupe Peak, four miles of long switchbacks offering hot-air-balloon views of the desert terrain below and beyond. Under a spring sun muted by high-floating, wispy clouds, the mountains and valleys looked to us like jungle fatigues – faded olive and brown and black. In the distance to the west I could see salt flats, which shimmered like a foamy sea, so that the peaks in the foreground took on the appearance of icebergs.


I found a rock, sat and tried to locate my bearings, and then apprehended that I was now looking down at clouds and soaring hawks and at immense El Capitan. Other, smaller birds were whizzing past my ears with a high-pitched whistle. A Zen buzz crawled over me. I took in the 360-degree view and savored a special travel moment. In an era when “authenticity” has been made a marketed commodity, I’d found the raw goods. Mr. Lujan wasn’t hyping. This wasn’t some semblance of the old West. This was the West, just as it had been as long ago as I wanted to imagine.


and yet another slide show:  http://www.nytimes.com/slidesh…

Please add your own pics/stories of adventurous travel in the comments.  Hell, even nonadventurous travel stories would be welcome.  I mean, some of my favorite travel “adventures” involve a cafe, vin ordinaire, and waiting for a train.


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  1. As an indoor kitty,  Pepper had to make do with what he had.
    moar funny pictures

  2. Ninja Levitashun Skilz  ACTIVATED
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  3. moar funny pictures

    • Edger on November 5, 2009 at 17:15

    So I walk in this morning and ask for a “double scotch and a large day off please”, and I get this…….

    Is it just me?

    Or is the world broken today?

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