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

19 August 2017

Taking a canoe out on Lake Wilipyro

It's a scene you don't see in Arizona, thickets of forested woods with hidden lakes and cabins that have their own dirt paths that lead to fishing docks.

But in the backcountry roads of Wisconsin, you'll find this to be commonplace, yet each place is unique and serene all wrapped together with a perfect Christmas bow.

In the early morning light I hear loons waking up the forest with their loud calls as I unhook the straps on the canoe, brush away giant midwestern spiders with a broom, and gently ease the boat into the water.
I slowly paddle out, breaking up the morning serenity along the lake with each stroke as I make my way around Lake Wilipyro.
I can't recall the last time I'd been in a canoe (could it be 2011 when I was in Peru?) but after a few strokes of the paddle I get my bearing and weight adjusted and start to move with ease around the lake. The fish are jumping, dragonflies are buzzing around me and keeping me company as I look for larger animals along the shoreline.

Perhaps today will be the day to spot a grazing moose, or if I'm extremely lucky, a family of bears.

18 August 2017

the sunsets of the Guanacaste province

After every adventure filled day in Costa Rica, I would look forward to chilling in the hammock on the deck of my little villa and watch the sunset over the Guanacaste Province.
Tropical birds would gleefully sing in the ancient tree next to me. Howler monkeys would scream their haunting calls along the forest ceiling. Large iguanas would usually make an appearance, and one evening I even saw a strange creature that resembled a mix between a hedgehog and an anteater. I wish I could remember what that animal's name was....(maybe an armadillo?)
What I do recall though is that these were some of the best and most peaceful evenings, memories that I never want to shake off.

10 August 2017

Palacio de Bellas Artes

A random conversation being had in Spanglish leads to me overhearing about a place called "Palacio de Bellas Artes", located somewhere in the historic district of Mexico City.

My only problem was that everywhere in this massive city (one of the ten largest cities in the entire world) seems to be a historic district.

I take a chance and have my cabbie take me to a district where I think this place may be, and I start wandering the streets....I turn a corner and find the building staring at me in ominous fashion...
The artwork and photography displayed inside once again amazes me. More from Diego Rivera and Freda Kahlo, plus many, many other Mexican artists. There is so much beauty inside that I can barely contain my excitement as I try and take it all in.
Come with me on a trip fantastic through the artwork on display during my time in Palacio de Bella Artes.

You won't be disappointed.

09 August 2017

The Boriquen room

The place you sleep can make or break your Holiday, which is why research is critical before you travel, especially when venturing to a new country.

If you are going to the Guanacaste province region of Costa Rica, and you enjoy mountain solitude, a room that is more cabin than hotel, and a place that has wide open spaces in between visiting travelers, the Boriquen Mountain Resort may be the place for you.
Be forewarned though, there is no wifi in the rooms, only in the common areas, and no room service either. If those things are important to you, this is most likely not your cup of tea.
However, if you enjoy luxury accommodations in a beautiful mountain space close to all kinds of adventures, I can't recommend it highly enough.

08 August 2017

Central Park Sunday

Sunday morning.

Mother's Day.

I sit on a brick bridge watching ducks tread the waters of Central Park as a man gently plays a saxophone for change.
The parks slowly fills with joggers and couples with the morning paper in hand, looking for a bench to sit and finish their coffee and read. I mention it as this activity is becoming a rarity.

Parents caution their little ones not to venture into the dense foliage as they feel the park is not safe. The homeless I see in the public bathrooms are nothing but nice to me as they wash their faces and ready themselves for the day.
A Buddhist monk stops to give me a peace bracelet. I thank him and offer a small donation in return.
 This simple act of kindness lightens my heart in the best way possible.

04 August 2017

The sculpture gardens of Minneapolis

If you find yourself in the downtown area of Minneapolis with some free time to kill, might I suggest making your way to the Sculpture Gardens. You may just be pleasantly surprised with what you find, and the money that you'll save (it's free).
Minneapolis has a bike rental system like most metropolis's where you can get super cheap transportation. Two dollars later I'm riding through downtown over to the park. The clouds almost seem touchable up here in the North land as they pass over the rising steeples of the Lutheran churches.
I find a bike docking station and make my way to the park. I'm met with a giant colored giraffe and the quintessentially iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry.
The art is quirky, fun and thought provoking all rolled into one artistic burrito. It's the perfect place for families to enjoy the day outside as well as couples in love, the weird and wonderful alike.

I fit in like a lonely princess trying on the perfect glass slipper.
If you are in the area, perhaps you should try the park on for yourself and see what fits you....

02 August 2017

Rincon de la Vieja

I've dreamed of being on the edge of a volcano, staring into the abyss that leads to the center of our earth. Rising smoke and golden molten lava.

Rincon de la Vieja in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica seemed to be my chance to make this dream a reality. As I arrive to the park's entrance, the first sign I see dashes those hopes....."volcano trail closed due to unstable activity..."

Bummed for sure, but my guide tells me of another trail that leads to an amazing waterfall, and we will still see the volcano along the route. I'm all in for this alternate adventure. As we get our tickets their is a table display containing jars of various poisonous snakes that have been caught in the park. 

My adrenaline skyrockets as we start our hike.
My shirt becomes a sweaty and soaked mess minutes into the hike as the humidity is no joke here in Costa Rica. I hydrate and carry on as my guide points out the wildlife in the trees. We make out way past aloe and agave plants, then come to an open meadow where the smoke from the volcano is rising in the distance like a slow moving marching band.

After a few miles, we start to descend into a canyon. We both slip on the rocks and smile as we take it slowly the rest of the way to the water. No reason to hurry and twist an ankle in the jungle.

I hear the deafening roar of the waterfall well before I see it. Once we arrive the cascading spray cools our skin in refreshing fashion as the clear blue water hypnotizes my senses. One old man is bravely stripping down and skinny dipping in the cool water.
We decide to hike around to get closer to the waterfall itself. We carefully cross the river over moss covered rocks, then make our way through the lush jungle to get behind and under the waterfall. As we near, I slip and feel a sharp pain in my groin. A protruding stick impales me and almost takes out my right testicle. Luckily though I am only bleeding on my upper leg, and the injury doesn't prevent me from hiking back out.
My guide tells me that sixty percent of the people that try this hike do not complete it, so I feel a great sense of accomplishment.

Pura Vida my friends.

28 July 2017

Mount Shasta

It was easily over four hours from the bay area up to the pristine mountains of Mount Shasta in northern California. Years before a friend of mine had shown me a picture of them hiking here, and that was all she wrote. I took a mental note and planned for the day that I would one day witness the beauty with my own eyes.
I pull into my cabin by the lake, and unpack my groceries of fresh fruit and whiskey, break out the ice and relax on the porch. I only want to be here now, no other place to be. In this moment, with just you and me.
Oh yes, just be here now.

27 July 2017

La Casa Azul de Frida Kahlo

This adventure started from the television show "American Pickers", of all places, in which a person had some old furniture that appeared to have belonged to the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

This got my curiosity going, as I was heading to Mexico City in a couple of weeks. I found that her home was now a museum, and one the the top places to see in Mexico City. I wanted to learn more about this artist.
On an early weekday morning my cabdriver drops me off in front of Casa Azul. The vibrant blue walls surrounding the home already have a large line outside, and it is nearly one hour before the place opens. I find that I have plenty of time to relax and reflect as I'll be waiting a few more hours in this line before finally entering Frida's home.
After the madness at the entrance, a calm is found inside amongst the gardens. I start exploring the life of Frida and her husband, Diego Rivera.
The pain of Frida's life from her constant battle with polio and her devastating bus accident as a teenager are on vivid display through her self portraits and artwork.
Her tumultuous relationship with Diego is also on display, as they had married twice, both having multiple affairs, including one in which Diego was sleeping with Frida's sister. The intense love and loss is on full display in Frida and Diego's art.
You also learn about their relationship with Russian author Trotsky, whom was given asylum in Mexico after being banned from Russia. Their relationship with the USA and the world regarding communism, fascism, capitalism and democracy are all eye opening tales that cause one to look at the world from a different angle, a new perspective.

Which I think is one of the greatest gifts that travel and exploration can give.

22 July 2017

Minnehaha Falls

This story started with a single picture, as so many of these tales do, of a waterfall just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

It seemed to be a good start for my northward travels into the woods of Wisconsin. As I park and try to locate the trail, I find a small white house with a picket fence surrounding it. The home of  John H. Stevens, the birthplace of Minneapolis and Hennepin County.
A little further on down I see a foreboding face overshadowing the lush greenery of the park. The mighty Indian's face calls to me.

It is the start of the path to the Falls, one that Longfellow called the "song of Hiawatha".
If you had enough time and energy, you could follow this trail all the way from it's starting point of the mighty Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico, and see the life that has sprung from the mighty river.

I only have time though to get a quick bite to eat at a local restaurant next to the Falls. The Sea Salt Eatery has a wide variety of succulent seafood dishes, which is a pleasant surprise for a place in the park.

I choose the scallop tacos which hit the spot on this humid morning, then make way back onto the road....

20 July 2017

New York City

I was extremely anxious about traveling to New York City by myself, although I wasn't quite sure why. I've been to many places as a solo wanderer, but the intensity and magnificence of this particular city had me on edge.
The last time I was in the big apple was in 2008 with my brother and his wife's family. It was a cathartic time as we were still in the grieving and healing stage of my sister's death only a year before.
As I woke up though and started walking the streets, the beautiful familiarity of this city encompassed me like a warm scarf. I tingled with electricity from the vibrancy of this city, and my anxiety quickly dissipated into the morning air.
I felt the immense power of being here by myself, akin to the stories of lone souls that come here looking to achieve their dreams, in whatever shape and form that may be.

Which I believe is the true power of this great city.

08 July 2017

museo nacional de antropologia

A giant Mexican flag is slowly flapping in the soft breeze as I make my way toward the entrance to Museo Nacional De Antropologia. After a little confusion due to the language barrier about where I needed to store my backpack, I hand my ticket to the lady officer and enter this all encompassing museum covering the history of Mexico.
Hall after hall showcase different time periods and civilizations of the regions of Mexico. It is a fascinating walk, and one that will continually surprise you.
One of my favorite areas was a screen that took an x-ray image of your face as your stood facing the wall, then projected your image for you to try and find among the many faces. Can you locate me?
Artwork, stone statues, ancient craftwork, etc...it all can be found in the beautiful National Anthropology Museum of Mexico City.

Don't miss it.

07 July 2017

the NYC library

It's fairly early in the morning for a Saturday in New York City. I zip up my hoodie, wonder about my choice to only wear shorts as the rain starts to fall. I step out onto the streets, take in the subway smells and the taxi traffic, and make my way to the public library.
The great lions named Patience and Fortitude greet me at the steps of the mighty building. I believe this will be my first time traveling to hang out in a library, but oh what a library it is!
The architecture of the halls feel more like a museum, and the great artwork hanging on the walls add this feeling.

I could go into great detail here about the research I did, the exhibits on display while there, the amazing history of the building itself; from it's construction, the generous donors, and the people of New York itself that helped make this institution what it is today.
But my goal is not to labor in my experience here, it is only to inspire you readers to get out there and explore the wonders of this place for yourself.

04 July 2017

Bluegrass Underground

The bands had finished their warm ups, and it was time to let us in to the stage area to get our seats. It was first come, first serve, and I was nervous about getting a rotten seat as there was quite a few people ahead of me in line. I thought about sitting on the rocks that were stage right, but then thought better of it and made my way down to the front...
One of many luxuries of solo traveling is you only need one seat for concerts. People have a natural tendency to give others space and not crowd perceived personal areas. This works to my advantage as two front row couples have left a single chair open between them, front row and center.

I excitedly grab it and get to know my neighbors before the show begins. The couple to my right drove down from Michigan. It was a birthday gift from the girlfriend.

The older couple on my left are from the South. She immediately questions me, wondering if I'm a "northerner?". We don't talk much after that comment.

Soon the lights go down in the cave, and Bluegrass Underground is about to begin. First up is Haas Kowert Tice
335 feet below the surface of the earth, the fiddles and banjos fly, the familiar plucking of strings and down home lyrics fill the cavern. Next up is Town Mountain, and they figuratively bring the house to it's knees, especially with their classic rendition of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm on fire".
Without a doubt, if you love bluegrass music, seeing it a cave in the South is a must.

03 July 2017

the Cumberland Caverns

I haven't spent much time in the Southern part of the United States, in fact, I've never stepped foot in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, or North Carolina.

Three main reasons why : racism from the Civil War, nasty swamp snakes, and scary hillbillies.

Yet I'm trying to internally change my attitudes about this area. Tennessee is helping me with this, and although I do still find many of the stereotypes of the South to be true, I'm also seeing the truth about "Southern charm" and how it's effects are slowly creeping into me and leaving a positive impact.
I hit the back highways outside of Nashville, and enjoy my two hour drive through the country. I'm on my way to the Cumberland Caverns just outside the town of McMinnville. It's the second longest cave in Tennessee and full of moonshine and mining history.
As we enter, you can see the remains of the bootleggers that worked in the cave during prohibition. The network of caves here cover over twenty six miles, and this allowed the men to transport liquor from one county to the other without detection. McMinnville to this day is a dry county.
The cave is wide enough that a road runs through most of it, allowing vehicles to drive inside. We come across running natural springs, and all manner of stalagmites and stalactites.

The cave is enormous. I'm always amazed being under the surface of our planet, as it truly is a completely different world.

We come to a giant ballroom, and get to listen to the bluegrass bands warming up before their Bluegrass Underground show later in the afternoon. It's the true reason for my visit, and I have tingles on my arms seeing the venue.
The mighty chandelier that is hanging above is estimated to be worth over $485,0000 dollars, and was brought to the USA from Austria in the 1800's. To learn more about how this happened and many other fascinating stories, you must visit Cumberland Caverns for yourself.

02 July 2017

Pirate Tower

Could his long lost love be locked away in a tower, just like in the fairy tales of olde? With just a sprinkle of imagination and a childlike wonder for adventure, he goes on a quest to find out...
A tiny clearing is found in between the maddeningly small streets lined with homes of financial giants. He steps lightly, as he doesn't want to wake the sleeping beasts. Brightly colored flowers open their pistils and stamens, pointing him in the right direction.
He comes to the edge of the ocean, watching sea creatures scurry along the moss covered rocks, clinging tightly as the waves crash down upon them.

Some lose the battle and are swept back out into the Pacific. He crawls along the rocky precipice with stealth precision. In the breeze he hears the faint call for help from an angelic voice.

"I'm up here...."
The Tower looms before him, yet their are no stairs to climb, nor a door to enter. The voice calling to him is maddening, like the never ending waves crashing all around.

"How will I reach my long lost love?"
A tiny opening is found, large enough that only his hand can fit through. He bravely reaches inside. The softest caress brushes his callused and aged fingers, letting him know she is inside, waiting eternally for him....

to find the key.

01 July 2017

Ziplining in Pura Vida

We were all huddled underneath a tree as the winds were howling around us and the rain was coming from seemingly every direction. I was watching the zip line wire swing crazily back and forth in the storm.

"Are we really going to zip line in this weather?"

"Si. Pura Vida muchacho!"

Hey, if they feel it's safe, then what is to stop me?
The sound of the cable as you glide over the Costa Rican jungle invigorates me with a rush of adrenaline. I see previously hidden waterfalls come into view. Back and forth we go, crisscrossing the massive gorge as we make our way down the ten point zip line course.
I end up mud spattered and starving after the zip line adventure, and gorge myself on locally grown beans and other Central American dishes.

The rain slowly dissipates and the sun warms my skin in the Costa Rican afternoon.