Friday, April 18, 2014

Solo Trekking Sisters: Women Who Walk Alone

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

The Non Spelunker's Guide to Caving


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.

Putting the CHILL in Chillaxin'

There truly is something gloriously wonderful about light through ice. Andersen’s Snow Queen certainly thought so. And so, too, does Jennifer Lee’s Elsa in Disney’s recent release, Frozen.  Yet, those ladies’s didn’t hold an icicle to Empress Anna.



Travel | Wanderlust



Texas Canyon, Arizona

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

Cobras and Crocs South of the Border

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

Who Knew? A Discerning Tourist’s Guidebook to Lesser Known Attractions

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

Freestyling: Life of the Long Term Traveler

Car tent camping 
A few years ago I decided to take a gap year off from work and social responsibility to travel at my own pace doing what I wanted with whom I wanted wherever the wind blew me. I had been a single parent for twenty years living on a nominal income and felt I deserved it. Felt if I didn’t do it then, I’d never do it. So, I got rid of my stuff and tapped the first of many destinations into my Garmin. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Sidebar: San Diego's Mud Caves







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.

Who Knew? A Discerning Tourist’s Guidebook to Lesser Known Attractions


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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

Sidebar: Lake Tahoe's Vikingsholm Castle


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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.

Sidebar: Salt Point State Park Pavers


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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.

Sidebar: Carillon Concert Beneath the Oaks


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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.

Sidebar: Surfing the Sloughs


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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."

Sidebar: The Red Shingled Turrets of "The Del"


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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.

Sidebar: Carlsbad California Surf


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Along a stretch of shimmering black pebbled shoreline dozens of diehard winter wave rogues bob on boards in the early morning wake as harbor seals and sea lions hunt in the kelp below. Coastal fog slowly rolls back out across the Pacific as the sun rises and by mid morning, just as the surfers are dragging their boards ashore to head off to their day jobs, the sky is once again cloudless. As is often said in SoCal, it’s just another perfect day in Paradise.

Sidebar: Otter Toddler at the Aquarium of the Pacific


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Inhabitants of the giant kelp forests that grow in the frigid coastal waters from Santa Barbara’s Coal Oil Point to Half Moon Bay, Southern Otters were hunted to near extinction at the turn of the last century.

Sidebar: Catalina Island's Silver Peak Trail


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Turn of the century botanist-poet Blanche Trask took up residence on the subtropical island in 1897 and after the tourists had abandoned the then tent city of Avalon for the winter months she did what few men or women then did.

Sidebar: Galleta Meadows Sea Serpent


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Oddly fitting for the Chinese year of the water dragon, the newest addition to Dennis Avery’s (of Avery Business Supply) steel sculpture studded ranch surrounding Borrego Springs is a 350-foot serpentine "sea" dragon erected at the tail end of 2011 in the sands adjacent to the Anza Borrego State Park, east of San Diego.

Sidebar: Hearst Castle Sculpture Garden




America’s great houses represent a bygone era when the industrial revolution gave rise to nouveau riche, who not only built corporate empires, but also a string of European replica palaces.