“More Interesting Stuff”

23 May

About 10 years ago, I took a wonderful photography workshop and one of the instructors was the former photo editor of National Geographic. One afternoon I cornered him and asked what the secret was to making great photographs. Without missing a beat as if he’d answered the question like a million times, he said, “get in front of more interesting stuff.”

Last week I was lucky to end up in a place that I have wanted to go for many years. It’s an area of the south of France called the Camargue. It’s just to the southwest of Provence, right on the Mediterranean Sea. And what is there is something that I have wanted to photograph for a very long time: white horses that run wild. While my wife was busy looking at white dresses for our daughter’s upcoming marriage, I was out in the Camargue looking for white horses.

I would have some help though, in the form of a guide who does this kind of thing for people like me and so off we went. I should tell you at the outset that the horses are not truly wild. They live outside, yes, and run free, yes, but they are owned by landowners whose massive properties make up the very rural Camargue region. So in that sense the horses are wild and you see them dotting the landscape as you drive around. But to photograph them, and to photograph them like I wanted to, takes a little bit of doing.

Enter Les Gardians, akin to the cowboys of the old west, the gardians ride Camargue horses and primarily are employed to drive cattle, including the quite famous Camargue bulls. But they can also be employed to roundup and ‘herd’ Camargue horses that roam the land.

Working generally in pairs with only a stick and their voice, the gardians know the horses well and where they roam. My guide, working with the gardians, could find a small herd of these white horses and bring them to an area that might lend itself to some “interesting stuff”.

These are horses, let’s remember, and they don’t always cooperate, so even if the gardians are doing what they know how to do so well, sometimes the horses have other ideas.

But we are patient, and eventually things start to happen.

No, it’s not quite perfect but they are starting to get the idea. And while all this is happening there’s another form of wildlife in the Camargue that I am being introduced to. The mosquito. And I mean lots and lots of mosquitos. So while Les Gardians are trying to keep the horses together, I am trying to keep the mosquitos away!

It takes a few lessons, and I have to get the hang of what is going on and where I have to stand, or kneel, to get a shot and not get run over, or worse…but eventually, like an orchestra of many moving pieces, it happens.

And it happens.

And it happens.

To me, the beauty of these animals cannot be overstated. They are powerful and gentle, exciting to watch and so rewarding to photograph.

Across several days and many horses and gardians I have much to be grateful for. First my guide Serge Krouglikoff, a former fashion photographer, who now has found a niche in retirement helping photographers like me fulfill their dreams. Certainly the gardians who all worked hard to convince the horses that I was worth hanging out with for a few hours.

And of course the wonderful white horses of the Camargue. What a trip. And, if you will allow me some shameless self promotion, I will have prints of these images and others available to hang on your wall soon, but if you want a quick fix, I’ve created a poster for just $49. You may want one for yourself, or as a gift for a horse lover you know. Just click here.

If you are new to this blog and want to get notified in the future, enter your email at the Subscribe area at the bottom. As always, I love to know what you think so leave a note in the comments and thanks for reading!


Hello, yeah, it’s been a while.

28 Apr

Since April 6, 2020 to be precise. That was the last time we wrote to you and since then, wow how the world has changed. But we are back in the saddle, as it were, and have some great travel to tell you about today, and upcoming. So strap in!

We call this Gone’splorin’ because we love an adventure and it’s great to have you along. We have just returned from almost three weeks in the incredible National Parks of the great American southwest and in this post we’ll take you to five National Parks and three State Parks.

Our mode of travel was new to us but something we’d thought about for a long time. We rented a 21′ camper van. To practice living in such a space for three weeks, Marci and I hung out in our walk-in closet for a few days. Once we got the hang of it, we flew to Salt Lake City to pick up the RV.

Our home for three weeks. A 21′ Thor Telaro Campervan.

Death Valley, California

Our first stop from Salt Lake City was 560 miles away so we did it in two days. We spent our first night in St. George, Utah and it happened to be our anniversary so we had a lovely dinner at the Painted Pony, a truly fine restaurant, headed for our first RV campground and turned in for our first night.

We hit the road bright and early and arrived at Death Valley around mid day.

You may know that Death Valley is recorded as the hottest place on earth, with a record temperature of 134°! But we were there in early April and had temps in the 80°s. The size of Connecticut, Death Valley is BIG and there is a giant variety of terrain from mountains to desert to salt flats and even a (small) pond. The highlight for me was going to be the dunes. Ever since our trip to Oman in 2018 I have been fascinated with desert dunes, so our first campsite was a mile from the Mesquite Dunes which is where we hiked to for first sunset.

Mesquite Dunes, Death Valley, California

This was planned as a trip with lots of hiking and in each park we endeavored to do some wonderful hikes. We were not up for 8 mile hikes, but anything between 2 and 4 miles was good for us. We had both needed to buy new hiking boots before the trip and after independent research and trying on many pairs, we both ended up with the same make and model. Surprisingly, the Merrell Moab 3 gave us both a perfect fit although mine were W width. These boots performed flawlessly for the entirety of the trip.

The next day we walked out to the lowest point at 330 feet below sea level! These salt flats bake in the sun and yes, it tastes like salt.

Where did the salt come from? Well, Death Valley was underwater 300 million years ago and when the earth’s crust rose and the water evaporated, the salt was left behind.

Another crazy area of Death Valley that looks completely different…

Zabriskie Point at sunrise

After three days In Death Valley it was time to head east toward our first State Park, in Nevada.

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Here we hit the beginning of the “red rocks” that would stay with us for the entire trip. While only about 15 miles long, Valley of fire is quite beautiful with a couple of really fun hikes.

And of course, the right color hiking pants.

Valley of Fire is also where we first encountered the narrow passages that are found in “slot canyons”.

We departed and headed for Kanab, Utah in search of our first real slot canyon. There’s a lot of geology to learn about but I won’t lay it on you here, only to say that slot canyons are the precursors to big canyons. Think about the Grand Canyon when it was very, very young and the Colorado River sliced downward before slicing wide. That is how something like this forms:

Peekaboo Canyon, Kanab, Utah

Once a year or so, during the monsoon season in August, flood water deluge this canyon eroding the sandstone walls and floor. You can see the lines in the walls as layers of sedimentary sandstone erodes at different rates. Its super cool.

Zion National Park

When people think of the great national parks, Zion is one that gets mentioned first. It’s famous, it’s beautiful and it’s crowded. So much so that cars are only permitted in a small area of the park. To see the park you use a shuttle system. At first I was not too happy about taking shuttles, but they are frequent, comfortable and, well, when in Rome… The main part of Zion is one big, long canyon with lots of hikes and scenic areas. We did two great hikes in Zion. The first, Emerald Pools, takes you up to a waterfall and you get so close that you should bring a bar of soap, and the other, up to and past Scout’s Lookout where the view is incredible. But first you’ll have to conquer Walter’s Wiggles.

This series of 20+ switchbacks follows another set of switchbacks that takes you high, high, high over Zion Canyon. Its a worthwhile struggle though because the reward is just beautiful.

High over Zion Canyon with the Virgin River meandering to the north.

At the end of a tough day, it’s nice to camp by the rushing river and light the campfire.

The next day in Zion we rented e-bikes instead of taking the shuttle. It’s a pretty popular thing to do and because the bikes can go where the cars can’t its wonderful and quiet to ride e-bikes in Zion. We highly recommend it.

Bryce Canyon National Park

If people mention Zion first, they say Bryce second. And while so far we’ve been pretty warm during the day with cool nights, by the time we’d climbed to over 8,000′ at Bryce Canyon, it was downright cold and there was still snow on the ground. In fact, much of Bryce was closed so we didn’t plan to spend as much time here. We got up for sunrise our first morning and Sunrise Point provided us just what we had hoped for!

Sunrise Point, Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce is famous for those stalagmite looking things called “hoodoos”. They’re everywhere and they look amazing. But its even more impressive when you get down into them as we did when we hiked the “Queen’s Garden”.

We really enjoyed hiking Bryce Canyon because it is so otherworldly.

After leaving Bryce it was time to head south toward Arizona. We aimed for two great spots just over the Utah border. The first was the famous Horseshoe Bend of the Colorado River, just south of the Glen Canyon Dam that forms Lake Powell. It’s just off the road, a big tourist spot and we weren’t sure it was going to be good. But we arrived just before sunset and found our spot at the edge of a (very) scary drop-off. I don’t think we were disappointed, do you?

Horseshoe Bend, Page, Arizona

Our next stop was on the Tribal Lands of the Navajo Nation. It is perhaps the most famous of the slot canyons called Antelope Canyon. There was a lot that we learned about the Navajo, and native Americans in general during this trip. Throughout all of our travels, whether here in the US or around the world, we try to learn about the areas we visit. Learning about culture, history, and the local lore that gives a place its “place” is a very important part of why we travel. Even though our world is more and more connected, and there is a tendency to look from Starbucks to Starbucks, our world is made up of different places, with different people, and each has their unique story. Growing up in Boston, I do not recall learning much about indigenous Americans other than that they lived in teepees (which they didn’t) and had an affection of scalps (which was primarily as bounty paid by white settlers). During our time in the Navajo Tribals lands we learned much about the process of the colonization of the American West and the treaties, laws and agreements that still are holding them back. Suffice it to say that I was not treated to the whole story as a schoolboy.

Antelope Canyon

The canyon is 28 miles long in multiple sections. It is controlled by the Navajo nation and it is very heavily visited. You will read about Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon. Both are famous and crowded. If you have read this blog before, you know I am a photographer and so I wanted to try to get access to the canyon with time and without people. That was going to be a problem. You must go with a guide, on a tour, and the tours have 20 or more people. I was not happy.

Then I heard about Canyon X. What? It sounded like a bit of a scam. It was hard to get information about Canyon X and although it seemed like it was near Antelope Canyon on the map, I just couldn’t be sure. But Canyon X offered something called a “photographer’s tour” which allowed 3 hours in the canyon, with no more than 4 people. Hmmm. As it turns out, Canyon X is actually Antelope Canyon X and is at the beginning of the 28 mile Antelope Canyon complex. Eureka! We were guided through Canyon X by “Ethel”, a 50-something Navajo woman who was warm, welcoming and informative. I was pretty excited to have the time to take photographs in this beautiful slot canyon. Here’s one of my favorites.

Antelope Canyon X, Navajo Tribal Lands, Arizona

Monument Valley

The Navajo Nation consists of 27,000 square miles in the states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah, and is the largest Native American reservation in the U.S.  From Antelope Canyon we headed roughly east util we reached Monument Valley. Made famous in old Hollywood westerns, here’s a photo from the 1939 movie “Stagecoach”.

The red rocks, the mesas and rock formations, all come together to make Monument Valley one of the most unique places on earth and we were excited to see it. We did an educational tour with Sean of Navajo Spirit Tours and saw and leaned about the cliff dwellings, how they were made, and how the early Anasazi lived. And then we toured the very well worn road through the valley.

Just above is how Monument Valley looked in 1939, here it is last week. If you listen closely, you can still hear the wagons.

I haven’t told you much about RV life. Truth be told, it got better as we went along and we got the rhythm of it. We did pamper ourselves every four nights or so by staying in a hotel room with water pressure and a big bed, but there’s a certain kind of romanticism about carrying everything with you and knowing you can go anywhere, anytime and be fully self-contained. We stayed in both organized RV resorts and bare bones areas. We cooked some, went out some and generally had a great time. At the end of the trip we both decided we’d do it again.

We were up at sunrise on our final morning n Monument Valley and took one more photograph before heading north.

East and West Mitten at sunrise, Monument Valley, Navajo Tribals Lands, Arizona

Arches and Canyonlands National Parks

We were in the home stretch with two of the very best parks left. Arches and Canyonlands are both around Moab, Utah. It’s an outdoors-person’s paradise with everything from hiking and paddling to zip lining and skydiving and four wheeling. We intended to keep our feet on the ground and spent our days in these two parks getting in a few more hikes and starting to reflect on how much we enjoyed our trip.

“Double Arch”, Arches National Park, Utah
Holding up “Balance Rock”, Arches National Park, Utah
Overlooking the Green River, Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Canyonlands National Park, Utah

If you are still with me, please let us know by leaving a short comment in the section below. I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour of our National Parks trip. If you have any compunction about following in these footsteps, we’d encourage you to do it. As Marci says, “We have a beautiful country. Get out and see it.”

Thanks for reading, see you next time!

The Great Quarantine of 2020

6 Apr

I was thinking about this today.

I was thinking about this yesterday.  And probably will tomorrow, too.  So, maybe this is more for posterity and catharsis than anything else, but a year from now I’ll want to look back and not just remember that I was thinking about it, but what I was thinking.

About a week ago my wife had to remind me to shave.  And to change out of my pajamas.  It was a bit annoying, but the point was clear.  Right now it’s important to maintain a sense of normalcy in a world that is anything but.

As I write this we are still climbing the COVID-19 hill here in the US.  Only South Korea and Singapore seem to have gotten it right.  People are doing the “social distancing” dance and most are starting to wear masks.  We are still in Wyoming after a wonderful winter of snow, skiing, friends, dinners and so much that now seems so far away.

In about 10 days we will being heading home.  It will be three of us.  My wife and I brought our NY based daughter here about 3 weeks ago.  We hit two home runs with that move: we got her out of New York, which is the hot spot of the country, and we significantly upped our cook-at-home-very-night menu as she is an amazing addition to our kitchen!

Heading home will entail a new form of transportation: an RV.  (I keep wanting his to watch the movie but nobody will…yet.). Yes indeed, our own personal, traveling isolation unit.  We will have antiseptic wipes, masks, beds, a bathroom, running water and separation from the world.  Except for getting gas.  But we think it will work.

We did have to relocate three weeks ago as our winter rental ended and we couldn’t stay there.  So we found a nice condo that we have been calling home since then.  Our days consist of being on a zoom meeting for an exercise class (them not me). being on the computer looking at the latest daily coronavirus statistics, often talking a private walk or cross-country ski and being on Facebook.

I have noticed something about Facebook.  The number of my ‘friends’ that are online at any given moment in time has about doubled.  There are lots of serious post, funny posts, political posts and scared posts.  People have a lot to say without often saying much at all.  I guess that’s pretty normal!

It has been important, and helpful, to stay connected with real friends.  Phone calls, texts, emails, zoom meeting (who ever heard of zoom before this?) are all ways that we have been able to stay in touch.  I had a nice call with a friend this morning back east and it will be good to see them when we get back, even if it is from across the street.

How have you been?  What experiences are you having?  If you are willing, please leave a note in the comments that we can all share and look back on.

Someone posted a list of things that we could be doing during our collective quarantines. One of those it to find projects.  So last week I found a project to travel the world and see all the famous places that we all know, that are now empty.  The finished project, a short video, has been viewed over 60,000 times, I just checked.

Just click here to see it.

And since you are used to seeing photographs on this blog, here is one I took right out the back door a few weeks ago.


The moon will rise every day.  The sun will rise every day.  We will get through this together.  Stay safe.  Stay healthy.  Stay together.  Stay home.  Stay in touch.


O Canada

5 Aug

I always feel a breath of fresh air when I come to Canada and this trip is that and so much more.  We are in Banff National Park.  It was Canada’s first national park and wow is it gorgeous.  Lots of photos in this post and it will kind of be a “best of” of what we’ve seen so far, which is only 2 days.

So let’s get started.  It takes a bit of doing to get here.  Up at 4:30am for a 6:30 flight to Montreal, connect to Calgary on a tight connection, get the rental car and make the 2.5 hour drive.  We arrive at Lake Louise at 3:30pm Mountain Time.  First we must learn the name game…  Banff is the national park and is also the town.  Lake Louise is a lake and also a town.  Things can get confusing.

First, the lake.  It is gorgeous, with turquoise water, ringed by huge mountains and yes, glaciers.


I don’t think any photos do it justice but suffice it to say that most people drive up, take a photo and leave.  Ridiculous.  The first thing we did was to hike the Plains of the Six Glaciers trail.


We walked to the end of the lake, about 2 km (we are in metric land), and then up up up. About halfway to the glacier Marci was in the mountains, in the snow, and in her glory.  After going up about 4 km we reached the prize…the Six Glaciers Tea House…it’s a thing, ok?

IMG_4810 2

After tea and chocolate cake we went back down down down to the shoreline of Lake Louise.


After lunch on Day 1 it was time to take a drive to find the Takakkaw Falls.  Just a short hike in and we came upon this beauty.  I happen to love waterfalls.


By 5 we had 2 hikes in and we were tired.  So it was time for cocktails, and around here sunset is at 9:30 so a lovely late dinner and we retired.

Today it was up early to visit Emerald Lake.


How about that?!  But even better, we grabbed a canoe and went exploring in to the nooks and crannies of the turquoise shoreline.


A lovely and relaxing hour on the lake and we were back on the trail for another hike.  You might think my wife is trying to kill me, and I wasn’t entirely sure until she tried to push me off the edge into a massive whirlpool long the Kicking Horse River.


Fortunately I held on, pulled myself back onto the trail and made it to a tasty lunch of Alberta beef burgers at TrufflePigs restaurant.  This afternoon another hike, this time to the Wupta Falls.


Another beautiful spot.  If you get the feeling that there are lots of mountains, glaciers, aquamarine lakes and rivers, and that the place is just gorgeous, you’d be right.

Our last full day is tomorrow and we will drive north for more beauty.  Wednesday to Vancouver and I’ll post again then.


29 Jun

I’m sure there’s not a better word that can evoke terror.  Just try walking through it.

We did. And while I will try very hard not to make this morose and hopeless, the fact it that just walking on the ground that they walked on, just entering the doorways that they entered, just stepping through the gate emblazoned with the false promise each of them read is so debilitating that its very hard to keep this light.

Maybe I’ll start with what my wife wrote on Facebook yesterday:

It happened therefore it can happen again: this is the core of what we have to say” -Primo Levy

… no words for what this place looks like or the endless horrors that occurred here. It is beyond me how people could be so unimaginably cruel to each other. Remember before the war the men and woman that killed and tortured these innocent souls had regular jobs like farmers, bakers , cooks. Being here makes you realize how easily it could happen again.

Beware of the signs, they are all around us . Knowledge is power. Teach your children, teach your friends. Get involved. Never forget.


The photographs were all taken yesterday.  It has taken me the day to put my fingers on the keys to share some thoughts.  So much goes through your mind as you walk.  How could they do this?  Why is it so big?  What did it feel like to be there?  How could I have remained hopeful?  Could I have remained hopeful?  What would I have done?


Much is either as it was, or restored to as it was.  In the barracks, the beds…


the facilities…


the places they might put you if…


But it’s when you walk the grounds and see the guard towers, the barbed wire, and imagine the constant berating by the soldiers, the lack of food and water, that’s when it hits you.




Once you come in, they will never let you leave.


And we come here to bear witness, to tell others that what happened was not inconceivable.  It was not committed by a brutal race of people.  It happened, not very long ago, for reasons that the ages will have to determine.  But it happened.

You stepped through the doorway thinking you were taking a shower.


And they did not just kill you, or let you die.  There were so many, where could they put them?  Where would they find the room?  This is how.


And then you are gone.


Budapest, through a different lens

26 Jun

For longtime readers of this space, you will find it a bit unusual that we are travelling on a ‘group trip’.  If I were telling this to you in person, I might even demonstrate the ‘half-quotes’ with a little smirk.  But for this trip it is not only appropriate, but worthwhile.  Escorted by our temple’s Cantor, we are accompanied by about 20 of its members through three important eastern European cities to learn about their histories’ from a Jewish point of view.

To some, this may not be important, and even segregationistic, but to me it is not. The story of our people interests me, the activities surrounding the murder of over six million people during the war remains something I believe we must constantly study and discuss, and there is much to learn, and re-learn.

Our journey will be limited. First Budapest, a city of great beauty, warm people and a sinister Jewish story.  Then to Krakow, Poland where we will visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, the death camp (just think about that phrase for a moment, not a tennis camp or space camp…a death camp).  I will also endeavor to find my grandmother’s home town of Działoszyce, Poland, where she lived until the age of about 16 when she departed, alone, for America in 1917. And finally to Warsaw, the location of the Warsaw ghetto uprising when a few hundred Jews, armed with some pistols, stones and courage defied the Nazi army for a few days because they just wouldn’t go down without a fight.

I promise some new photos and reflections from each location, and I will try to make each entry enjoyable to read, even if the subject matter isn’t always.

This is my second time to Budapest so rather than review the city again, I’ll refer you to this previous blog entry.  Today though, I’m in Budapest in a different way.  The first thing that came into consciousness as we walked through the old section where the synagogue still stands, is a notion that we all take for granted.  That idea that family stories, traditions, recipes, photos get passed down from generation to generation.  Like my grandfather did for me, and maybe yours for you.  But the Jews of Budapest don’t have grandfathers and grandmothers to pass down stories from.  The Jews of Budapest they are writing their own stories now.  Just one of the reasons why is the story I’ll tell you now.  It refers to what happened after the Nazis left Budapest.  By the winter of 1944, the end of the war was near (it would be over in March 1945) and the Nazis needed resources on the western front.  As they departed Budapest to redeploy, they left in charge a Hungarian force known as Arrow Cross.  It had just been a few months since the Nazis had actually established a Jewish ghetto in Budapest, the last one they created in fact, but when they left the Arrow Cross in charge there was a new sheriff in town.

It was winter and in Eastern Europe, that means cold and windy along the nearly frozen Danube.  The Arrow Cross took the opportunity to march about 20,000 Jews from the ghetto between December ’44 and January 1945 and line them up at the edge of the river, facing the water.  Now remember this was near the end of the war and supplies were getting scarce.  Among the Nazis it was well regarded that a Jew wasn’t worth the cost of a bullet, so the frugal Arrow Cross tied Jews together, two at a time, so that with one bullet they could kill one and drown the other.

In they fell into the frigid water.  First two, then two more, and two more until there were 20,000 fewer Jews.  This action was memorialized by sculptor Gyula Pauer and filmmaker Can Togay in Shoes On The Danube Bank.  Here it is as it looked today.  Standing in silence as the water rushes by it does take me back to a time I hope we never see again.MSC-D850-Budapest-June2019-9226-Edit





Paris is, well, Paris.

23 Jun

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Before I tell you how spectacular Paris is, can I have just a teeny tiny rant?  France’s national airline, Air France, lost our luggage and took three days to find and return it.  Yup, three days.  I could go on, but really, wouldn’t you rather see this?


London has it’s Eye and Paris has The Big Wheel, or le Grand Roue, which has come and gone couple of times.  This is from the tippy top in one direction and…


this is from the other direction.  In fact, the Sacre Coeur you see here, in Montmarte, is very near where our apartment was in the IXme Arrondisment.  It’s one of my favorite areas of Paris, but really, every area is my favorite area. It’s Paris.

We’ve been here since Wednesday and are leaving tomorrow for Budapest.  We have eaten, walked, shopped (especially when you have no luggage, shopping is survival, at least that’s what Mraci says) in the beautiful Paris warmth and sunshine.  It’s springtime and that means everything is in bloom and the city is alive.


Of course, Paris is a photographer’s heaven so I did take a few photos I’ll share.  We spent one entire day walking the VIme Arrondisment and found ourselves in Luxembourg Gardens in the late afternoon for the quintessential Parisian scene.


By the way, late afternoon is about 8pm.  Sunset is at just before 10 so the day just goes on and on.  Cocktails at 8:30, dinner at 10?  Works for me.

There are a few things, though, that are the same all over the world.  Get on the subway and all you see is this.


What did people ever do before cellphones?  Oh yes, read the paper or maybe even a book.  What’s a book?

Of course, when she thinks I’m not looking…


Something new in many cities around the world, and fast entering the US and these electric scooters.  They are positively everywhere!  So today I downloaded the Lime app and tried it.  They are fun!  And fast!


And yes, this guy has his suitcase with him.  I’ve seen two people at once, bags of groceries, you name it.  On these speedy little scooters.

Here’s a moment in the Tuilerie Gardens.  A guy was making bubbles and the kids were loving it.  It was good to see them playing outside.


A stroll through the Marais for falafel is always in order.  Not everyone was enjoying their day like we were!


Maybe he was just lonely.  Paris is for lovers, after all.


And finally, my favorite moment of our time here, of course, at the water’s edge!


A revoir Paris…and to you for now.  Back in a day or two.  If you have friends who would like to subscribe, please forward to them and as always, thanks for joining us!

Time to Catch Up.

13 Jun


Hello, yeah, it’s been a while. Not much, how ’bout you?

If you recognize those lyrics, you aren’t getting out enough.  I know, it has been a while.  In fact, I think we were somewhere near the Hochalpenstrasse last time we talked.

And before we get underway with our next adventure, that starts next week…  we have some catching up to do.

So, here’s your speed blog through the last couple of trips.  As you scroll down we’ll visit Viet Nam, North Carolina, Oman (where?), and Cuba…oh, and under Cuba.

Viet Nam

Most of the time you see it as Vietnam, which it isn’t, actually.  Viet Nam is the two words that refer to the people of the area (Viet) and the area itself which south (Nam) of China.  Both are Chinese words.  We spent a month in a country that I was apprehensive to go to, but came to love very quickly.


We went from the far north, with my foot touching the line of the Chinese border, all the way to the south in the Mekong Delta.  Just typing that brings back too many memories of watching Walter Cronkite, but wow is it beautiful today.


We ate delicious food.  We met wonderful, kind and gentle people.  And immersed in a lot of history.  Not all of it good.  The Vietnamese people are hard working, clever, and doing their very best to build an economy that is, well, building.


And Marci was very generous to allow me to drive around aimlessly for three days to get the perfect photo of a rice field.  What a patient partner!


North Carolina

It was just me and the horses.  No that’s not the opening of a bad porn novel, it was four really fun days in the Beaufort area of NC to photograph the wild horses of Shackleford Banks and the Rachel Carson Reserve.  If you love horses, this is your vacation.  Here are a few images from that trip that I love to look at.  I hope you do too.

Headed Your WayOn The MarchSupermodel Stare IA Closer Look II


In almost four weeks and from one end of the county to another, I’m not even going to try to do justice to the wonderful experience there.  Mountains and deserts, bedouins and a Royal Palace theater, seaside and rock slides, Oman has it all.  And a sultan that pushed out his dad in 1970 and has plowed all the oil money he discovered into building a modern society.  People at home say “where is that?” and “why would you go there?”  Here’s why.


A neighborhood mosque in Musandam, adjacent to the Straits of Hormuz.


Following the leader in the low desert.


Living in a screen saver in the high dunes of the Empty Quarter.


Marci has the entire Omani army in the palm of her hand.


And I’m just back from my third trip to Cuba.  This time I spent most of it underwater in the Jardines de la Reina, the Gardens of the Queens, some of the most pristine reef systems in the world.  Living on a dive boat for seven days.  Beautiful above…


And below.


And how do you know the reefs are so healthy?  Two ways.  The beautiful colors, and the constant presence of apex predators…and you know what that means.


And if those teeth aren’t big enough…


So there you have it.  You’re up to date.

Next week, a new adventure begins.  Watch this space and invite your friends to come along.  We’re gonna have fun.

Shades of gray.

26 Oct

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When we last left you we had made it to Austria.  The final leg had us visit the edge of the Alps with it’s soaring peaks.  We tried to drive the breathtaking Großglockner-Hochalpenstraße (say that 3 times fast!), a road that takes you high into the alps but since our Audi A3 didn’t have winter tires we were not allowed to see what was just beyond this spot.MSC-OCT2015-EUR-1917

From there is was a short ride to to Zell am See, a lakeside summer/winter resort.

Yes, she loves the mountains, even a poster!

Yes, she loves the mountains, even a poster!

and then Berchtesgaden, Germany to see Obersalzberg which was Hitler’s home away from Berlin during the war.

Marci enjoys a beer at a cafe in Berchtesgaden before heading up the Obersalzburg

Marci enjoys a beer at a cafe in Berchtesgaden before heading up the Obersalzburg

The tunnel that Hitler drove into to reach the elevator at Eagle's Nest

The tunnel that Hitler drove into to reach the elevator at Eagle’s Nest

Eagle's Nest was a tea house built by Martin Borman for Hitler's 50th birthday. It is said Hitler visited only a handful of times.

Eagle’s Nest was a tea house built by Martin Borman for Hitler’s 50th birthday. It is said Hitler visited only a handful of times.

And finally to Salzburg.  If you haven’t been, add it to your list.  The home of Mozart and “The Sound of Music”, Salzburg is another of Europe’s great cities divided by a river, but much smaller, more manageable and beautiful.  Yes, they have a bridge with locks, too 🙂


And as I sit writing this final entry, we are home.  Back in our United States of America, in so many ways a sanctuary that most of the word cannot fathom.  What we have spent the last month learning is that even those issues that seem to black and white from the comfort of our couch in Boston are indeed very complex.

The rise of the Soviet bloc after WWII brought with it a communist society that we could never live under, but we heard, first hand, about how democracy has ruined the lives of those who were cared for and now cannot fend for themselves in a country that cannot afford to take care of them.  We saw, first hand, homes of innocent Germans (were there any?) that were destroyed by Allied bombers as the war in Europe drew to a close.  And we met people who have lived with ethnic fighting, neighbor vs neighbor and countries changed names, changed borders and changed allegiances.









Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Czech Republic

Czech Republic





These are the flags of the nations we traveled though.  We were fortunate, too, to meet the people of these nations.  People that have stories.

We are reminded that the people of a country are not the government of the nation they live in.  The impact of the wars, the instability and the mistrust of hundreds and perhaps thousands of years of history can be seen on their faces.

It has been good for us to see, and be reminded that the world is not as simple as we may prefer but instead comes in many shades of gray.

Until next time…

Prague and more….

20 Oct

After the last one, I think you deserve a little light reading and viewing.  Here are some snaps from the last few days in Prague, Cesky Kumlov and our current stop, Hallstatt, Austria.

We found a Cuban bar in Prague. There we found some Cuban rum. And we found some new friends.

We found a Cuban bar in Prague. There we found some Cuban rum. And we found some new friends.

And Marci found a hat after the rum.

And Marci found a hat after the rum.

One of the loveliest views I encountered in this very lovely city.

One of the loveliest views I encountered in this very lovely city.

Another moment.

Another moment.

The old jewish cemetary in Prague was in use from the 13th century until the 18th. There are 10,000 graves chock-ablock

The old jewish cemetary in Prague was in use from the 13th century until the 18th. There are 10,000 graves chock-ablock

Prague, too, is for lovers.

Prague, too, is for lovers.

Prague street scene.

Prague street scene.

Yes, a new way to get a foot massage!

Yes, a new way to get a foot massage!

One of Prague's side canals.

One of Prague’s side canals.

The Lennon Wall in Prague

The Lennon Wall in Prague.  Shot with my iPhone.  I love my iPhone camera!

M&M at the Wall

M&M at the Wall

A view of the ancient Bavarian town of Cesky Kumlov.

A view of the ancient Bavarian town of Cesky Kumlov.

Overlooking Lake Hallstatt and the epnymous town below from up atop the Salt Mine in Austria

Overlooking Lake Hallstatt and the epnymous town below from up atop the Salt Mine in Austria

Hallstatt drops right down to the lake. Just beautiful.

Hallstatt drops right down to the lake. Just beautiful.

The picture-perfect Hallstatt town square.

The picture-perfect Hallstatt town square.

Marci happy in the mountains!

Marci happy in the mountains!

They were clearly expecting me.

They were clearly expecting me.

Up at the Salt Mines in Hallstatt

Up at the Salt Mines in Hallstatt

In Hallstatt, the catholic church has this beautiful cemetery with hand tended gardens at each gravesite. Remarkable.

In Hallstatt, the catholic church has this beautiful cemetery with hand tended gardens at each gravesite. Remarkable.

We’ll have one more post as we near the end of our glorious trip.  We love hearing from you.  Thank you!