Tag: travel

Slow Blogging Days

Due to unexpected travel blogging will be slow, that is, unless Trump unexpected leaves office for whatever reason. We will resume regular posts in a day or two, so keep checking back. Meanwhile, have some music.

Vásquez Rocks

I’m Ready for my Close-up, Mr. DeMille

On our last day in Hesperia, one of the things we decided to do was visit a lighthouse down in San Pedro.  By the time we left it was rush hour, so we took an alternate route home, in the forlorn hope of avoiding as much traffic as we could.

We ended up driving past Vásquez Rocks, so we stopped in for a brief visit.  I would have liked more time.

This area is a county park in Agua Dulce, between Antelope Valley and Santa Clarita Valley.  Vasquez Rocks is named for the last great California bandit, Tiburcio Vásquez.  The area was one of his hideouts.

In 1852, Vásquez was present at the slaying of Constable William Hardmount in a fight with Vásquez’s cousin at a fandango. Vásquez denied any involvement, but fearing arrest, he became an outlaw. Vásquez would later claim his crimes were the result of discrimination by the norteamericanos and insist that he was a defender of Mexican-American rights.

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.

Vanishing Rainforest — Sumatra, Indonesia


Wild jungle. Deserted beaches with great snorkeling or surfing. Mountain lakes. Volcanoes. Orangutans. Oh, and did I mention it’s one of the cheapest places on Earth for backpacking? Really, what more could one ask for in a destination?!?

The sad news this week from Sumatra, one of the most seismically volatile regions in the world, has left me wanting to do more to bring attention to this beautiful island and its people. Alas, what follows is but a brief introduction, but I hope that the critical importance of what happens on this, the world’s 6th-largest island, can be better understood as a result.

Take it from the folks at Lonely Planet:

Sumatra is an adventure, the kind of demanding ride that requires a dusty knapsack and tough travelling skin.

Please follow below for a tour of the north of Sumatra, what just may be my favorite place on Earth.

X-posted @ TLP

Lucerne (Photo Essay)

Lucerne is somewhere close to paradise. In the 14th Century, it helped lead central Switzerland to independence from the Hapsburgs. Today, with good reason, it is a popular tourist destination.  

Behind the town is the 7000 foot Pilatus.

Utopia 12: The Field Trip

We have a society that is moving very rapidly to the super-, super-, super-consumptive, and I’m proposing that might not be the final answer. So I’m saying, why don’t we try a leaner alternative?


The disheartening slowness of any progress toward freedom from need is mainly fruit  of a greed out of proportion to any justifiable fear of insecurity.


[…]  land conservation will succeed only if and when man creates beautiful cities  wherein he will feel it a privilege to be, live, and work.  

Science rejects the non-rational as unreal.  In doing so, she puts herself in a position  of non-competence in all those fields or things that through existing, inasmuch as  they modify the real, do not avail themselves of any computation or any methodological  inquiry.  


Life is a study of the improbable, not the statistically average.


Nothing is purer than sterility and simpler than death.                        

Amsterdam: History and Art (Photo Blog)

Amsterdam means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but to me it is the city of Rembrandt van Rijn. More on that, but first the modern city.

Pont du Gard (A Photo Blog)

Near the town of Nimes, and built either in the last century BCE or the first century CE, the aqueduct and bridge known as the Pont du Gard may be the best remaining example of the genius that was Roman engineering.


Three Small Towns In Provence (A Photo Blog)


Carpentras dates at least to Roman times.

On The Road Again…Again

Yippee, I’m getting ready to hit the road again…Is Willie Nelson popular in Europe, do you know his song, On The Road Again.  It always goes through my head since my Dad always sings it when we’re heading out.  I think I left some pictures of him and his motorcycle “Ol Blue” in an earlier essay, but its a catchy tune and its been going through my head with increasing frequency.

Laos : Communist Buddhists


Also known as “the land of a million elephants,” Laos is a tiny country in southeast Asia about which most people know less than they do about any of its neighbors (China, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar & Cambodia.)

Join me for a virtual tour of this fascinating nation with videos & pictures galore, and maybe a bit of history and politics too.

Cross-posted @  The Laughing Planet



Fast Facts:


Buddhist 67%, Christian 1.5%, other 31.5% (mostly Animism)

Current/environmental issues:

Unexploded ordnance (UXO); deforestation; soil erosion; most of the population does not have access to potable water


Single-party socialist republic.

The purple asterisks (on the map @ right) can be followed as you read south to north and then counter-clockwise if you care to calibrate along with the photos and vignettes below.

Utopia 2: First Day of School

He always wanted to explain things, but no-one cared.
So he drew.
Sometimes he would just draw and it wasn’t anything.
He wanted to carve it in stone or write it in the sky.
He would lie out on the grass and look up in the sky and it would only be the sky and the things inside him that needed saying.

And it was after that that he drew the picture.
It was a beautiful picture. He kept it under his pillow and would let no-one see it.
And he would look at it every night and think about it.
And when it was dark and his eyes were closed he could see it still.
And it was all of him and he loved it.

When he started school he brought it with him.
Not to show anyone, but just to have it with him like a friend.

It was funny about school.
He sat in a square brown desk like all the other square brown desks
and he thought it would be red.
And his room was a square brown room, like all the other rooms.
And it was tight and close. And stiff.

He hated to hold the pencil and chalk, with his arm stiff and his feet
flat on the floor, stiff, with the teacher watching and watching.

The teacher came and spoke to him.
She told him to wear a tie like all the other boys.
He said he didn’t like them and she it didn’t matter.
After that they drew. And he drew all yellow and it was the way he felt about
morning. And it was beautiful.

The teacher came and smiled at him. What’s this? She said.
“Why don’t you draw something like Ken’s drawing?
Isn’t it beautiful?”
After that his mother bought him a tie and he always drew airplanes
and rocket ships like everyone else.

And he threw the old picture away.

And when he lay out alone looking at the sky, it was big and blue;
and all of everything, but he wasn’t anymore.

He was square and brown inside and his hands were stiff.
And he was like everyone else. All the things inside him that needed
saying didn’t need it anymore.

It had stopped pushing. It was crushed.
Like everything else.

[Turned in to a high school English teacher 2 weeks prior to author’s suicide.]

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