Swedish Fields of Gold

img096Sweden at its most beautiful is a land of strong colors – the blue of the sky, the coastal waters, and the thousands of lakes; the many shades of green in the endless forests, meadows, and fields; the traditional red of the cottages with their neat white trim. And then there are the fields of rapeseed that burst into brilliant golden bloom in May and June. They are among my favorite things about late spring and early summer in Sweden. Continue reading

Flightseeing over the Tantalus Mountains

IMG_1977IMG_1937 The self-proclaimed “Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada,” the town of Squamish, British Columbia – located approximately halfway between Vancouver and Whistler – has just about everything any lover of adventure and the great outdoors could possibly want. During a four-night stay last summer, I had time to for a diverse array of activities, from hiking the Stawamus Chief, the granite monolith that is Squamish’s most famous geographical feature, and mountain biking the trails around town, to kayaking on a tranquil lake and whitewater rafting on the wild Elaho River. Along with these adventures on land and water, I also took to the skies on a flightseeing trip over the rugged Tantalus Mountains looming over the Squamish Valley. Continue reading

Golden Cliffs of Damaraland

IMG_1318-002Damaraland, Namibia, is a subtly magical place. Vast and often barren, it’s also full of unexpected surprises, from hidden waterholes where desert-adapted elephants come to drink, to dramatic changes in landscape that appear almost without warning. One such surprise was Damaraland Adventurer Camp, probably my favorite of the camps we stayed at during my five-day safari to Etosha National Park and Damaraland with Wilderness Safaris last October.

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Tracking Leopards in Namibia

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It’s late afternoon at the Okonjima Game Reserve, home of the AfriCat Foundation, one of Namibia’s leading wildlife conservation organizations, and I’m in a jeep bouncing along a rutted track, scanning the bush as safari guide Previous Tsvigu follows the faint blips his tracking device has picked up from one of the reserve’s collared wild cats. Continue reading

Highland Echoes: Walking the Battlefield at Culloden, Scotland

IMG_2872I walked the battlefield at Culloden in the golden light of an autumn afternoon. With my love of British history, this was one of the places in Scotland that I had really wanted to see – the place where Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobite supporters made their last stand in April of 1746, the final chapter in the religious upheaval that had plagued Britain for over a century. Continue reading

Iguanas of the Galapagos Islands

IMG_3243I first visited the Galápagos Islands in 1994 as part of a college semester studying ecology and environmental issues in Ecuador. We spent a week in the islands, cruising from one amazing spot to another aboard a 16-passenger yacht. To this day, I remember it as one of the best weeks of my life.

Fourteen years later I had the opportunity to visit the Galápagos again, this time as a tour manager for an American Museum of Natural History Expeditions trip. I was excited to return but also a bit apprehensive. What if the islands didn’t live up to my memories? What if the pressures of a growing population, introduced species, and other environmental problems had caused noticeable, irreparable damage? Continue reading

Soaring Glass Ceiling in Naples’ Galleria Umberto I

IMG_5846Several years ago I had the opportunity to visit Naples, Italy, as the tour manager for a Smithsonian Journeys program called “In the Shadow of Vesuvius.” I arrived in Italy a day early and had time to wander around Naples on my own before the group arrived. I found the city to be a lively and eclectic mix of the old and the new. On an architectural level, one of the places that caught my photographer’s eye was the Galleria Umberto I, a soaring arcade built in the 1880s as part of Naples’ urban revival after a cholera epidemic. I didn’t have a lens with a wide enough angle to capture the entire scene, but I was able to capture these images of the glass-roofed central dome and side passages. Continue reading

To Write or Not to Write: There Is No Question

writing clipartI can hardly remember a time when writing wasn’t a part of my life. Perhaps it began in the third grade, when a friend and I wrote a series of plays about a family of walking, talking — and ice skating — paper bags. Together with the friends we drafted to play the parts, we performed our masterpieces in the backyard to an audience of parents and — to our enormous delight — our teacher, Ms. Donahue. In sixth grade, we got more ambitious, penning a Jekyll-and-Hyde type of tale called The Double Disappearance of Mr. Jeffrey Johannesburg. This time, we were thrilled to be granted permission to perform in the amphitheater-like music room at school, with our classmates and other students in attendance.
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Rainbow over Cows and Stirling Castle

I was driving along a country road in central Scotland, approaching Stirling, with the city’s castle looming in the distance on top of a steep cliff. As I admired the dramatic view, a rainbow appeared directly ahead of me, bathing the castle in pastel hues. I immediately found a place to pull over so I could get out of the car and take a photo. As luck would have it, the place I found to park was adjacent to a field in which a herd of black cattle was grazing. I positioned the cows in the foreground of my photo to add another dimension to the the scene and make the image more interesting.

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