Thursday, July 24, 2014
There is a Longhorn standing in front of me, only I’m not in Texas. Just beyond the urban borders of Florida’s metro regions, lies the wild stuff, the un-manicured and non irrigated Florida, where the cattle roam.
Yep, you heard me. Cattle. Descendants of those abandoned by the gold seeking Conquistadors, bred with imported heat resistant varieties from Texas and India.
The winter playground for America’s Industrial blue blood, Florida boasts many grand estates that are open to the public. Perhaps best known for Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle in Orlando, Universal Studio’s Hogwart's Castle, and Ripley’s Moorish style Warden Castle in St. Augustine, the state lays claim to several less publicized castles. Built in the Gilded Age by the country’s nouveau riche who were inspired to build replicas of castles that had been erected by the very monarchies our founders sought refuge and independence from, many of these structures are recognized National Landmarks.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Loads of tourists come to the Sunshine State each year to absorb some vitamin D along the 1,350 miles of coastline. Being a peninsula, it’s surrounded by water and, being significantly marshland, is comprised of more than 4,500 islands. Then there are its 7,500 lakes. Florida sports 27 first magnitude springs, more than any other state. In fact, Florida barely qualifies as solid land sitting just above sea level.
County after county Florida is an expanse of water infused flatland riddled by sink holes and cedar hammocks, the tell-tale sign of a potential sink hole. However, there are few hills. A few mountains even.
Thursday, June 12, 2014
"Be a Marine" read the 1940 style poster archived at the entrance to the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia not far from Quantico. The female Marine depicted was holding a clip board, I noted, but if this was any indication that female Marines would be clearly and fairly depicted in the following exhibits, I'd be impressed.
Turning the corner, I see a dozen photos of female Marines, three erected beside the quote, "The Marine Corps...took a boy and made a man." A cynical voice inside me whispered, 'Figures'.
“For Sale!?” Good God, NO! It couldn’t be. Not an icon of the most blissful season of my life—what was I to do if this were true? What did it all mean?
I almost hadn’t come, dreading to resurrect the memories I had long since quite effectively buried. But, as Fate would have it, a series of mishaps had sent me back retracing bits of the path he and I had trekked a few years earlier, and there I was, and there it wasn’t.
Then I saw it. The sign.
Friday, April 18, 2014
|Coast to Crest Trail, west of the Pacific Crest Trail|
The man sitting across from me looked at his wife then turned abruptly back towards me asking, “Why are you alone?”
Stunned, I sat silently, trying to better understand the question by studying his mannerisms. I had just emerged from a week solo hiking in Death Valley and was re-hydrating in Shoshone, a small town that serves as the “Eastern Gateway” into the Valley.
“I mean,” the man continued, glancing at his wife. ”I don’t understand why a woman like you…” She kicked him under the table.
OH. That’s where he was going with this line of inquiry. Women who travel solo hear it often. I hear it in almost every destination where I stop to mingle with other travelers. From men and from women, but, mostly from the guys. Understandably, because though women travel and always have, those who do it solo, especially those who do it primarily on foot solo, are a rare breed far and few between. And, also because solo adventuring historically has been viewed a man’s thing. You know, when his cave just isn’t big enough, or when it’s just too darn close to civilization.
Friday, February 21, 2014
|Photo courtesy Creative Commons.|
Most caves keep a constant median temperature. That in large part is why humans have use them as shelter since the beginning of time. They don’t get too cold; they don’t get too warm. Not so with Crystal Caves in Nancia, Mexico.
Discovered in 2000 by miners working for the Industrias Peñoles, this cave sits above a magma pool. The stable 122 degree Fahrenheit make it inaccessible to visitors not donning refrigerated suits and cold breathing systems.
Located about 20 miles east of Benson, Arizona, along I-10 east lies the Dragoon Mountains, a geological landmark studded with massive batholiths. I-10 has several of these formations from San Diego eastward frequented by big rock enthusiasts, each with its own tale to tell. This particular site at Texas Canyon Rest Area encompasses the peaks once used by Apache resistance leaders.
Saturday, January 4, 2014
|Emerald Tree Boa, Pedro's Reptile Lagoon|
Folks in Southern California, being in close proximity to Mexico, can quite easily make the border crossing when wanting to spice things up culturally. Those living on the east coast can’t.
Hold up! Yes, they can—if Pedro’s South of the Border (SOB) in South Carolina counts.
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
For 25 years beginning in 1738, Spanish ruled Florida gave sanctuary to Africans fleeing slavery in the English colonies. Fort Mose Historic State Park in Saint Augustine commemorates the site of the first chartered settlement of free Africans in America known then as Garcia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose.
Sunday, December 29, 2013
|Car tent camping|
Saturday, December 28, 2013
Perched on the butte above the Seco del Diablo overlooking the Carrizo Badlands in the southeastern corner of the Anza Borrego Desert State Park east of San Diego are the Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves. Formed more than five million years ago, there are 22 caves and nine slot canyons in what is recognized as one of the world’s largest mud cave systems.
Unfortunately, human smuggling is still as big a business as it ever was; in fact, it’s the trafficking of involuntary victims that’s got 42,000 Customs Border Patrol officers armed against the $30 billion/year wretched racket. And every day, thousands of people walk right on past, or rather above, a site in San Diego that was once used by pirates smuggling human cargo. The Transcontinental Railroad race had lured tens of thousands Chinese to California who then competed against the surly, hard-drinking, fast-fisted Irish swinging hammers for the Central Pacific Railroad. Rising prejudice led to the adoption of the oh-so-embarrassing exclusionary acts. These bans spawned the first commercial smuggling of contraband human cargo in the U.S. and the seven "sister" caves in La Jolla provided shelter for turn of the century profiteering pirates. Today, only one cave is accessible by land. Sunny Jim’s Cave, named after a 1920 British cereal box character and military mascot, can be accessed through a tunneled stairway in the historic La Jolla Cave and Curio Shop.
Vikingsholm Castle, the 48 room summer home of Lora Josephine Knight, sits at the bottom of a steep, mile long switchback driveway dropping 500 feet to the shore of Lake Tahoe. Born into money, at sixty, and without a husband, she built a castle in the sky.
Wildflower-draped ledges overlook one of the first designated underwater preserves along six miles of California coastline thick with bull kelp forests. Aside from diving and kayaking in the treacherous surf slamming the shoreline, Salt Point State Park in Sonoma County offers 20 miles of trails through Douglas firs, redwoods and through a rare pygmy forest, as well as across windswept meadows where century-old blocks long ago quarried to cobble the streets of San Francisco have been left in stacks.
Bok Tower, east of Tampa and south of Orlando, with its huge brass door depicting images from the Book of Genesis shining like gilded gold, was built by Ladies Home Journal editor, Pulitzer Prize winner and peace activist, Edward Bok.
Fourteen miles south of San Diego and five miles north of the land where Tequila pours like honey is the surfing Mecca known as Imperial Beach, known locally as "IB."
Built primarily by Chinese immigrants in 1887, the red shingle turreted Hotel del Coronado, referred to by locals as "The Del", with panoramic views of the Pacific was the first resort in the world to offer electric lighting and oil furnace heating.