There is a rapture on the lonely shore;
There is society, where none intrudes.
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more...

-Lord Byron

Definition of Walkabout :

a short period of wandering as an occasional interruption of regular work
Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts

23 June 2017

Chapultepec Park

I'd been in Mexico City about one hour, readying myself to start exploring this new destination. I like to start out slowly so that I can familiarize myself with the lay of the streets and my new surroundings.

Chapultepec park is across the street from my hotel, and seems to be the perfect place to get acclimated.
Being one of the largest parks in the western hemisphere, I have no goal of trying to see it all, I only want to get familiar with the people and culture of Mexico City. Cobblestone paths take me past statues of heroes and great political figures that helped shaped Mexico's history and future.
The park has Aztec history, castles, monuments and museums, merry-go rounds and giant fallen trees to climb upon. Beautiful flower gardens and lakes for couples to take a ride on in a boat.

Families are enjoying the day everywhere you look.
It is the perfect place to start exploring a new city.

21 June 2017

Horseback riding & secret Costa Rican waterfalls

I wake up to the smell of falling rain. It's my first full day up in the mountains of Guanacaste province in Costa Rica. I'm hoping to go horseback riding as well as get in some hiking, yet the weather is not looking like its going to cooperate.

A small truck appears out of the rain and the driver asks me if I'm ready. If they are willing to venture out in this weather, so am I....

As we get to the stables, the wind picks up and the rain is coming at us in sideways fashion. It's not cold though, and the fast moving storm clouds create an unreal atmosphere. I climb up on my trusty steed, and ready myself to get muddy.
The green hills around us spark the imagination of jungle creatures. We climb the rolling hills until we eventually summit. My fellow riders leave me at this point to do some ziplining but our guide and myself carry on.

We are going to find secret waterfalls.
Families of monkeys follow us from high up in the trees above. The rain has turned the trail into a slick waterslide, and I brace myself as our horses slip and slide down the trail. Eventually we tie the horses up to a hitching post and continue on foot.

A butterfly with the most stunning azure blue color on its wings follows me along the trail, eventually resting on my pant leg.

My guide tells me this is a good luck sign.
We come to two different waterfalls, both amazing in their own right. The best part is that it is only the two of us here. The quiet jungle sounds and falling water are the perfect morning symphony for my ears.
Our morning ends just as the rain starts to let up. We make our way back to the top of the mountain, and rest for a spell before our next adventure begins.

20 June 2017

more Seu Jorge please

Walking down 7th avenue, a light rain starts to fall. As I'm waiting for the light to turn green, a chap next to me says, 

"Seu Jorge?"

I turn and smile and acknowledge that I am indeed going to the show.

"Your red beanie gave you away my friend."
I'm not one to usually dress up in costume when going to concerts, but after having seen Seu Jorge last year in Denver, I knew that Team Zissou would be worn this time around.

I continue down the streets of Minneapolis until the Pantages Theater is seen, the bright lights of the marquee shining like a lighthouse in a storm.
 Like most theaters in the midwest, the Pantages is ornately gorgeous inside. I marvel at the intricate artwork until the lights go down.

Seu tells the story of how his own Father passed away three days after David Bowie died. During this time his ex-wife pushes him toward a tour of the songs he so memorably brought to life in the movie The Life Aquatic.
Which is how our lives became intertwined over these last few months. I find no coincidence that I hear this story the night before Father's Day, and it seems to add something special as I let my own Dad know how much I love and miss him.

Which is what the movie was really all about.

I hum and whistle the songs in the Minnesota night as I walk back home in the rain, a smile repeatedly finds it's way onto my aged face.

13 June 2017

Berkeley

Berkeley is a microcosm of New York City, in my opinion. Each block is a world unto itself, wrapped in it's own beliefs and ignorant of what is happening beyonds its own sidewalk borders.
Only the homeless cross the unseen lines that separate the city from itself, refugees in their own country. Yet their is a love and unselfishness that floats in the pungent air.
The more I see this country being ripped apart by politics and hatred, I find redemption and solace in a place such as Berkeley.

An island in a sea of garbage filled with zombies that walk crooked lines and spew garbled nonsense.

12 June 2017

The Boriquen

In the early morning I look down the empty road that leads to the Guanacasta beach in Costa Rica with a smile. It's been a lovely few days here, but the time has come to head up into the jungle and the Boriquen Mountain Resort.
I grab some Tecate's from the local market, then load into my van transportation for the one hour drive. The driver speak little English, so my morning is enjoyed in silence as we make our way up the winding roads.

I arrive at the resort before 9am, and find my room won't be ready until early afternoon. No worries though, as it gives me plenty of time to explore my new surroundings for the next few days. I start by climbing the steep road to the top of the resort. The lush jungle is alive with the sounds of the creatures within.
I spot a tropical bird high up in the trees, perhaps a parrot but I'm not really sure. Soon thereafter the monkeys start to show themselves. I stay for a bit, watching the puffy clouds roll across the lush landscape, then head back down.
I find a trail below the restaurant down by the pools and spa. A crystal clear river runs against the trail, the babbling of water flowing over rocks is the only sound. I find a butterfly following me, hitching a ride on my shorts.

It's a good luck sign.

I come to an ancient petroglyph marking high up on a stone, then a little further I find a natural hot spring with steam rising and filling the jungle with it's breath.

I make my way back to the lobby area to find my room is ready. It's more of a cottage than a room, set up on the hillside.

A deck with a hammock calls my name....
in the Garden of Eden known as Boriquen.

07 June 2017

The Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens

It was mid afternoon in January, and I was driving around the hills of Santa Barbara with the windows down and the ocean breeze was transporting my mind to happier places.

I eventually find the Botanical Gardens I was told about. Five and a half miles of hiking trails that take you through the varied landscapes that California has to offer.

Yet it's the sunlight that transposes this place into a magical wonder on this day. Soft warmth cascades down, from the redwood trees to the Japanese gardens.
Back then I was still reeling from the reality of our new President, as was most of California. The peace here helps to keep me calm in this new Trump era.
I focus on the light between the trees, the sun that forever shines and always rises to signal the beginning of a new day. It's constant revolution around our planet helps to keep me centered in an uncertain future.
I can always find a peaceful homecoming in Nature.

06 June 2017

a small town chalk festival

The older one gets, the more you realize just how small your childhood town is, especially when you return home.

The idyllic Main Street of Bountiful, Utah, on a beautiful Spring day in May becomes home to the Chalk Festival.
It showcases local talents from the schools in the area as they draw in chalk their artistic ideas and visions onto the sidewalks along Main Street. I am lucky enough to spend time with my nieces as we walk up and down the street and look at what has been created.
As we walk, I reminisce back to my own youth, biking around town, stopping by the local candy store, the newspaper office, the bookstore.

We hold hands while waiting for our local smoothies, and sit in the shade of a pine tree in the park. I marvel at how much each of them has grown in the six months since I saw them last. I cherish their tiny, curious voices and wide eyes.

05 June 2017

Prisoner

I settle into my seat at the Greek Theater in Griffith Park just as the opening act walks onto the stage. I overhear the girls behind me remark "is that Karen Elson, Jack White's ex?"
What I saw was a beautiful red head, not someone's ex-wife, nor a former British supermodel. What I heard were heartbreaking lyrics, a tortured soul singing about her pain, and the magic that comes from baring your soul.
Goosebumps start as Ryan Adams comes onto the stage. This will have been my third time seeing him perform live, but after the first song I could tell that for me, he has never sounded better vocally, and the band was in tight form.
Perhaps it was because he was playing in his hometown, or perhaps it was just that he is in a good place in life, but no matter the reason, his Prisoner tour to showcase his newest album is a tour de force.
The night compromised of a 23 song set list that had such classic songs as Magnolia Mountain, Gimme something good, and Firecracker, as well as a new version of When the Stars Go Blue, plenty of tracks from the new album, and a final acoustic performance of Come Pick Me Up sung as a duet with Kate Elson.
If you have the chance, get out to see Ryan Adams this summer, as you won't regret it.

03 June 2017

Raul Gonzalez

On my first day in Mexico City, I unpack my bags then head across the street to a park. I want to stretch my legs and get a feel for my new destination. 

I find a free art display on the iron gates that surround the park, displaying the macro photography of an artist by the name of Raul Gonzalez.
Stunning visual displays of his work start my trip off on the right foot, yet upon my return home I can not locate any information about this artist.

Perhaps it is best for him to remain unknown and mysterious, with only these images to remind me of the beauty of my first day in Mexico City.

02 June 2017

Printers Alley

Back in the early days of Nashville, the printing and publishing industry was thriving in the downtown area. Between 3rd and 4th avenues and stretching from Union to Church streets, Printers Alley was born.
Today the work of this industry is only a remembrance in the signs and victorian architecture that still remain. It still has that Bourbon street feel though as you walk along the bars and restaurants. 
I find open art galleries and street singers during my wandering that delight my fancy in the cool Spring of the evening. Hearty beers and crazy women celebrating upcoming wedding nuptials seem to be on Nashville's menu tonight.

I disappear into an old bank building, find a bar stocked with library shelves of old books stacked from floor to ceiling.

I order a moscow mule, then another, finally melting away to the sounds of country music.

28 May 2017

The Ritual of the Voladores

As I'm walking around the Chapultepec Park in Mexico City, I look up to see the most bizarre sight....men hanging upside down spinning around a pole while a flute is being played.

I see this again and again throughout my travels in Mexico, and finally learn that this is an ancient tradition of the Totanac people.
A long time ago, there was a severe drought in the region. The elders decided that a ceremony should be performed to ask the Gods to return the rain and bring fertility to the soil.

From this ceremony of old comes the practice that is continued today, as the people are thankful to the God Xipe Totec, God of agriculture and fertility, for the rain and land that he has continued to provide for the people that reside and flourish here.

25 May 2017

Oils! Oils! Oils!

I'm the son of an immigrant. My mother came to this country from Australia when she was eighteen years old with the same hopes and dreams as most immigrants...the search for a better life.

I've never been to her home country, but I've always recognized that in me are Aussie roots. One way I've connected to my ancestry is through the music of Midnight Oil.
A band that is pro human rights, staunch environmentalists, equality for women, and currently anti-Trump. They took a fifteen year hiatus while the lead singer, Peter Garrett, pursued a career in politics in Australia so that he could make a positive difference in his country from his strong beliefs.

But now the band is back on a world wide tour, and damn if I wasn't lucky enough to see them at the historic Webster Hall in New York City.
The power inside this arena seemed to come from the electricity in the air. Everything was super charged with excitement, all anxiously awaiting to see if the band was the same after such a long absence.
As soon as they took the stage, any naysayers were silenced, as the Oils lit up the hall, rocking and sounding better than ever.

The chants of  "Oils!Oils!Oils!" reverberated in my ears long after the show ended. Peter's swaying body, flailing arms and piercing voice echoes in my head to this day.
It was epic.

23 May 2017

Kayaking the Colorado river

My kayaking adventure with Evolution Expeditions entailed eight miles of awesomeness down the Colorado river. Due to the construction of the Hoover Dam, the river only flows when the dam releases water downstream, so we found that kayaking would be more work than anticipated.

It was time to work those arm muscles, and paddle down through some of the most amazing desert scenery.
Our guide gives us history lessons as we go, from the early explorers of this land to the massive undertaking that went into building the Hoover Dam. We see remnants of Native American culture and early pioneers.
A little over halfway and we come to the Emerald Cave, named from the crystal clear green waters that are found.
The last few miles take every last bit of energy I have to complete, yet when I see the docking area at Willow Beach, Arizona, I'm filled with a rush of adrenaline and accomplishment in finishing this epic adventure.

16 May 2017

My hike to the Colorado river (prelude)

5am in Vegas, and the party was still going strong in the streets. I quietly sip coffee and wait for the Evolution Expeditions van to swing by and pick me up.

Today is the day I will kayak eight plus miles of the Colorado river.

We arrive just after 6am to the trail head. We have to hike through the Nevada desert for three miles to get to our launch point on the river. We stay warm and alert by searching for tarantula's that make their home in the holes of the rock.

As the sun begins its rise and lights the mountain peaks above, my adrenaline starts to skyrocket.
The trail goes from open desert to narrow slot canyon quickly. We find ourselves scrambling over boulders, squeezing through narrow passages, and climbing up steep hillsides.
Our guide, John, and I quickly become friends as we hike along. We have similar interests and philosophies about life and nature.

As the sun fully rises in the sky we arrive at the shores of the mighty Colorado. The waters are still as the current is controlled by the Hoover Dam. Yet we find that it is not quite time to start kayaking, as their is a surprise adventure that is in store for us first.....
but that story comes in part two.

20 April 2017

The Durango Railroad

Trains are my favorite way to see the world. You get the old world nostalgia seeing the steam rise from the locomotive. Walking past the connected cars as you look for the stairs that will lead you to your seat.

Hearing that final "All Aboard!" call as The Durango & Silverton narrow gauge railroad gets ready to leave the station.
The cars jostle rhythmically back and forth as we make our way up the mountains. Town fades into the distance, farms roll past my window, the ground starts to show the snow from winter.

I get lost in thought as the conductor tells stories of Durango's past.
Higher and higher we rise, and you can open the window to feel the cold slap your skin as you look down the at the sheer cliff's edge. We make hairpin turns as we carve through the mountainside. It's awe inspiring.
We come to the half way point and exit the train so that the engineer can maneuver the train in reverse to turn us around. As we walk in the snow along the river bank, you notice the greenish brown color of the water.

We learn it is from the mines that are still in the canyon, leeching out the toxic remains into the water. It's a sad reminder of the environmental cost of mining.
The train is finally ready for us to head on back. I take one last look at the mighty engine, it's robust machinery and strong back metal frame.
Train 473 is ready to ride the rails once again, bringing safe passage to it's occupants back to the city of Durango.

12 April 2017

Sigur Ros

I had never even heard of the band Sigur Ros before, but I know my instincts well enough by now to listen when I hear the words....
"Go".
I find myself at the top of Berkeley's Greek Theatre, listening to lyrics in Icelandic, having no idea what they mean, but feeling the power of this group's music come through loud and clear.

They were phenomenal!
I can't recommend them enough, and if you have the chance, go see them live. It won't matter that you can't understand what they are singing about, the lead singer's falsetto voice, the light show, the ethereal and hypnotic feeling of the music, and the playing of guitar's with a bow string will be more than enough for you to fall in love with Sigur Ros.


11 April 2017

Guanacaste

Costa Rica would be the first country I would attempt to enter after being denied entry in Montreal. That bitter feeling combined with high anxiety levels were on full display as I approached passport control.

Nothing felt as sweet as hearing the click of the stamp coming down, and the big smile on the officer's face as he stated "Welcome to Costa, pura vida!".
It's dark, almost midnight, as my taxicab drives through the countryside to my hotel in Guanacaste. I've no idea what type of area I'll be in until morning. I check into the unassuming hotel and fall asleep quickly, dreaming of what will come in the morning.

I arise to the salty ocean smell, yet I can't see the water. At breakfast, I ask a young man which way to the beach. He smiles warmly and points down the road.

I start walking. I'm not in a hotel zone with throngs of tourists, nor a busy beachside city. It's a laid back and quiet little town with hostels and hotels hidden in the lush jungle, a store here and many a local's home there.

I come to the beach.
There are no annoying people bombarding you to buy wares or hook you up with things you don't want to do. Everyone is just enjoying themselves. I wander around from sunrise to sunset, sleep in the sand, find a shack to eat ceviche when hungry, a bar to quench my thirst.
Guanacaste province is the perfect starting place in Costa Rica. Let the sailboats gently rock in the morning sun as one falls in love with this country.
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