Walking through the Valley of Fire

I’m honored that I got to bear witness to such beauty.

Recently, DH and I took a trip to Las Vegas, and I couldn’t get out of the city fast enough. Vegas can be fascinating. I’ve seen some amazing shows there, and I do love the dancing fountain, but ultimately it is autism hell as far as I’m concerned, with all the lights, noise, crowds, chaos, unpredictable drunks and the blatant sexual trafficking. But Nevada has a lot to offer to those with a more mellow and nature-oriented disposition. One such place is Valley of Fire State Park. Yes, please. So off we went.

If you go nowhere else in this state, go there. I adore National Parks, and I was stunned, frankly, that this was “just” a state park, because it was so jaw-droppingly spectacular. But I can’t blame Nevada for wanting to hold on to it rather than passing it off to the feds. It’s a treasure.

There is so much to see in the Valley of Fire that I strongly urge you to go hiking there as much as you possibly can. I’m glad I had the foresight to wear hiking boots with good ankle support and take along a hiking stick. Without those, I probably would have pooped out halfway through and then spent the rest of my life kicking myself for what I missed. Water is also a must. Bring lots of it.

I’m glad we went in March, because I can’t imagine what the heat must be like in July. They say it can get up to 120°F. Needless to say, hiking at that time is not recommended. This is part of the Mojave Desert, after all, and, as with water, there’s very little shade to be had.

No matter what time of year you choose to visit, though, start in the early morning, because there is a lot to see, and beating the crowds makes your experience all the more appealing. Pack food, though, because this park is 40,000 acres, and if you really want to do it justice, you’ll be there a while. There are no readily available restaurants.

Despite your early morning start, it’s also highly recommended that you be present about an hour before sunset, because that’s the time when the rocks glow like fire. I suspect you could visit this park again and again and never see the same things twice.

A little history about Nevada’s first and largest state park is warranted before we start our journey: about 150 million years ago, this land was covered in sand dunes which have since turned into red sandstone formations. Even earlier than that, the land was covered by sea, and the whitish limestone that you see among the red sandstone comes from that period. There is evidence that humans that we now call the Gypsum people first occupied the area 11,000 years ago. The ancestral Puebloan people lived nearby from AD 500-1100, but then left the area due to a harsh drought. Later, the Southern Paiute people moved in, and are still there to this day. Mormon settlers arrived in 1865. The area became a state park in 1934.

Sadly, DH and I got a later start than I had hoped, and there is a significant bottleneck at the park entrance where you pay your fee, so we did not have time to hike out to what is perhaps the park’s most iconic view, that of the Fire Wave. I had hoped to fly a kite out there. I checked in advance, and while drones are not allowed, kites are acceptable. That would have made for some gorgeous photos!

One thing that always surprises me about the people who visit epic parks like this one is that relatively few of them take advantage of the expertise of the park rangers. Ask questions. Make a travel plan. That’s what they’re there for! And nerd that I am, I always love wandering about in the informational displays at the visitor’s center.

When we arrived at the center, I sidled up to the front desk and said, “We have x amount of time, and we were hoping to see this, this, and this. Will that be possible?” That’s when she broke the news that I could see everything I wanted to within that timeframe except for the Fire Wave. Bummer. But if I hadn’t asked and had tried for it, not only would I have had to turn back before seeing it, but I’d have missed the White Domes Loop, too, which is also amazing. So, thanks, ranger! I wish I had thought to get your name.

The park is known for its desert tortoises and Gila monsters, as well as its kit foxes, quail, jackrabbits and bighorn sheep. I would have liked to have seen any one of those, but the place seemed devoid of life on that day, unless you count the invasive humans, the occasional creosote bush, mesquite, wild rhubarb, and evening primrose. I am rather pleased that I didn’t come upon any rattlesnakes, though. They make their home here, too.

Another thing the park is known for is its petroglyphs. I adore petroglyphs, so I made a point of seeing as many as I could while there. I’m guessing that I saw hundreds of them. So many, in fact, that I’m breaking that out into a separate blog post. So you can look forward to that next time, if you, too, enjoy earth’s most ancient public art.

The first place we stopped in the park, even before the visitor’s center, was Atlatl Rock, which is all about the petroglyphs, so let’s put a pin in that one until next time. After that came the visitor’s center, and then we hiked out to Mouse’s Tank. It’s a 0.75 mile trail out and back. The name alone would have intrigued me enough, but the story behind it is even better.

Mouse’s Tank is named for a Southern Paiute Indian named Little Mouse, who hid out in this area after having been accused of killing two prospectors and getting up to some other lawless shenanigans back in the 1890’s. As we hiked toward Mouse’s Tank, I could just imagine him hiding in the many nooks and crannies along the way.  He’d have been nearly impossible to find. His only challenge would have been water. Because of this, he stuck close by the natural water tank that is now named for him. It is believed that a manhunt managed to track him down and kill him rather quickly for that very reason.

When we gazed down into the tank, I have to say that my impression of this fetid pool was less than stellar. One would have to be pretty desperate to drink from this muddy puddle. It’s probably teeming with bacteria and parasites. I’m surprised that Little Mouse didn’t die of diarrhea before the posse got ahold of him. But it was cool to gaze down there and imagine the thirsty desperado that most of us only get to see in old spaghetti westerns.

Another cool thing about that hike is that you have to walk through Petroglyph Canyon to get there. (I tell you, I was in petroglyph heaven!) Consider that little tidbit pinned for my next post as well. But here are some non-petroglyph photos from the hike.

Like seeing dragons in the clouds, I kept imagining things in these otherworldly formations. Can you see the one of two adults, side by side, one of whom is holding a baby, or is it just me?

From Mouse’s Tank, we drove northward. My lip kind of quivered as we drove past the parking area for the Fire Wave trailhead. It was jam-packed with cars, so we might not have been able to go there anyway, and if we had, we’d have been jockeying with about a hundred other people for good view and a decent photograph. I’d rather go there during whatever is considered to be low season, and have the place to myself. Yet another thing for the bucket list.

Instead, we headed toward the end of the road, to the White Domes Loop, which I had been secretly assuming would be a consolation prize. Silly me. That loop is 1.1 miles long, and unlike Mouse’s Tank, which is barely a challenge except for the sandy trail beneath the unrelenting sun, this next place really was a hike. It presents you with 108 feet of elevation change, and lots of scrambling up rocks and stepping over rubble. But it was worth it. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Each section of the trail is wildly different from the last. At one point you go through a cool (in temperature as well as in vibe) slot canyon.

The different rock formations you encounter on this hike are stunning. There are caves and windows along the way. You become dazzled by the stripes and curves. You revel in the light and shadows.

At one point, you stumble upon the remains of an old movie set for a movie called The Professionals, starring Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Jack Palance, and Ralph Bellamy. I have got to see this movie now. Just watching the trailer makes me realize that I stood on some of the very spots where Burt Lancaster stood. (Swoon!)

According to Wikipedia and the park signs themselves, that’s not the only movie that has been shot here. Viva Las Vegas, Electric Horseman, Total Recall, and even an episode of Star Trek Generations used this park as its backdrop. Captain Kirk was cinematically buried at the Silica Dome. (I wonder where William Shatner will wind up?)

That Hollywood was drawn to this place doesn’t surprise me. How could any director pass up such spectacular scenery? But I do feel for all the crew members who probably had to schlep the camera equipment and lighting out on their backs.

Oddly enough, the thing I thought about most while wandering through this gorgeous arid landscape was the wind and water that has shaped it over millennia. At one point I lay back on a slope and imagined exotic sea creatures from the Cretaceous Period swimming overhead where the birds of prey now fly. The Niobraran Sea that covered this area may be long gone, but its legacy remains. What we see today is a shadow of the drama that nature played out here, but the results are like nothing else you’ll ever see.

I’m honored that I got to bear witness to such beauty. What a gift. Sometimes I feel like the luckiest person on earth.

I’ll leave you now with some more stunning images from the park and its environs. Enjoy!

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Bits and Bobs about Hawaii

Interesting things that didn’t fit into my other Hawaiian posts.

There’s so much that intrigued me about Hawaii that I had to take copious notes during my visit. Not that I’m complaining. These notes will enrich my memories. But some of the tidbits of information didn’t fit naturally into my other posts about the Aloha State, so today I’m going to just throw a bunch of thought noodles at you and see which ones actually stick. There won’t be any particular order or story arc. This will sort of look like Hawaii after it has been in a blender. Here’s hoping it’s still pretty. Thank you for your indulgence.

My first impression of the island of Kauai is… chickens. Chickens everywhere. Here a chicken, there a chicken… Based on some lazy research and even lazier math, I estimate that there are about 6 chickens per capita on this island. That’s a lot of poultry. Most of them looked really healthy, and many of the roosters are absolutely gorgeous, so more power to them, I say. I just wish they had a stricter concept of when dawn is. You could hear them crow at 2 in the morning. Even so, I found it pleasant to share the island with them for a time.

A tour guide demonstrated something to me that I had never contemplated. Most of us know that chickens bob their heads when they walk. But I never noticed that hey don’t bob their heads when they run. It was fun watching the guide chase a chicken across a field to prove his point. I’ll always remember that.

Chickens notwithstanding, I believe that the most destructive invasive species in all of Hawaii are the feral pigs. They cause major damage to property and property values, agriculture, and ecosystems. There are so many pigs on the islands that you won’t find an estimate of how many pigs there are anywhere on the internet. (Believe me, I tried.) In fairness, it would be hard to keep track. A pair of pigs and their offspring can produce 15,000 more pigs over the course of 5 years. Imagine that level of expansion when you’re on an island. (I did find an estimate of the number of feral pigs in the entire US, and it’s over 6 million, and growing. At this rate we won’t be around long enough to see the full impact of global warming.)

In Hawaiian, the word for fire is ahi. So Ahi tuna got its name because of its bright red meat. That means that the fish did not get a name until some Hawaiian first sliced it open. (I’m glad I didn’t get my name that way.) But I’m a little surprised that they didn’t come up with something that describes the creature itself, because it’s beautiful to behold. That says a lot about priorities.

I find waves so hypnotic that I actually slept soundly in Hawaii, which is something that eludes me in most other places. And the unrelenting wind means there’s no need for AC while you sleep, and somehow that makes me happy. There’s nothing quite like fresh air and ocean waves.

There are no lions or tigers or bears in Hawaii, and you could go your whole life without encountering a poisonous snake. You’d think that would mean that hiking in this state is relatively carefree, but no. The island still has plenty of surprises for you.

It’s not a good idea to stray from the established path. For instance, that field of soft, welcoming ferns covering the ground to your left may actually be a dense mat that is more than 20 feet deep. You step into that, you may very well plunge to your death. These mats can also conceal lava tubes and jagged lava rock, so your death won’t be a pretty one.

But falling off hiking trails is fairly common in Hawaii. The terrain is steep, and gets slippery and muddy, and yet the things you would land on if you slip can be as sharp as glass. Never hike alone in Hawaii. Unless you’re really experienced, you might want to avoid hiking on all but the simplest trails.

Another danger that you might not expect is the Guinea Grass. It was first brought to Hawaii to feed the cows, which had also been brought in. Guinea Grass makes great feed as long as it’s kept relatively short as it apparently is in Africa. But, unchecked, this grass can get up to 15 feet high, and when it gets that tall, the cows won’t touch it. The taller it gets, the more tiny razor-like spikes it gets on the edges of its blades, and this can cause a cow’s tongue to bleed. So the Guinea Grass has pretty much taken over, with very little to stop it. And if you walk into this stuff, you’ll leave it feeling as though you’ve rolled naked in fiberglass. That, and it’s a fantastic contributor to wildfires. When not burning, it chokes out native plants.

We went to black sand beaches and “normal” beaches during our trip. But Hawaii also has one of only four green sand beaches in the world. Sadly the hike to get there is 4 miles, round trip and is often strenuous. My hikes are getting shorter and easier these days. You can’t do everything.

There are very few little free libraries found in Hawaii. (Believe me, I looked. And the map of registered ones at littlefreelibrary.org bears me out.) I did try to track down a registered one on a busy tourist street in Hanalei, but it wasn’t where it was said to be, and when we asked around, people looked at us as if we had two heads. I have no idea why, but these wonderful community resources just haven’t seemed to take off in this state yet. I hope they do eventually, because I can think of nothing more delightful and relaxing than reading a good book on a Hawaiian beach. But then, the locals are probably working three jobs just to be able to afford to live there, so they may not have time for reading.

Here are some pictures of a couple of the little libraries we did see. There is a nice big one in front of the Kapa’a Public Library. (Isn’t a little free library in front of a library kind of like gilding the lily?)

I tried something new on this trip. I call it “planned spontaneity.” It worked really well. Yes, we made reservations for the things we really wanted to do if they were required. But we also left some time in there to follow the suggestions we got along the way, check out the things we stumbled upon, and also to just chill out. Many of those times, to be honest, were the best ones for me. I used to plan every trip within an inch of its life, and then I married Dear Husband and saw how much he liked to do that stuff, so I took a back seat for a while. But that’s not really fair. I know I hated it when I had to do all the trip planning and reservations alone. So now I’m trying to make it so we both take part, but that we also leave some things up to fate and happenstance. It’s a delicate dance, but it’s worth it.

It’s “shave” ice, not “shaved”. And it is wonderful. Many places will put shaved ice over a scoop of ice cream for you. We tried that first, and I thought I’d be sick from the sugar. I don’t eat much sugar anymore, so this was quite the shock to the system. But shave ice is nice on a hot day.

If you want to make your kids giggle and your waitress roll her eyes for about the thousandth time this year, order a “pipi pupu”. That’s a beef appetizer in Hawaiian. But please give your waitress a generous tip for forcing her to hear the joke yet again.

In Kauai, two nice little side stops are Kilauea Lighthouse and Christ Memorial Episcopal Church. Both are beautiful in different ways. I highly recommend them.

Flying from one island to another is extremely convenient. We flew from Kauai to the Honolulu Airport, changed planes, and then flew over beautiful Molokai to land in Kona, Hawaii. But on our approach to Honolulu we took a sharp left turn to head landward, and we were hit with the worst turbulence I’ve ever felt my life. It seemed like we dropped 60 feet in less than a second. It’s the first time I’ve ever thought was going to die in an airplane. I even remember thinking, “This is it.” Getting to our destination was worth it, I suppose, but I think I might have a cocktail next time.

The Honolulu Airport is like nothing I’ve ever seen. It’s wide open to the elements. It feels like a Disney attraction, but with planes. And it is predicted that the Kona Airport will be covered in lava sometime in the next 100 years. They actually had to carve the runways out of lava beds there. Hawaii caused me to view real estate as something that is highly transient for the first time in my life. If Kauai is chickens, then the Big Island is lava. Lots and lots of lava.   

We also stopped at a farmer’s market in Hilo, and saw produce that looked like it came from another planet. We bought an avocado the size of my head. But it wasn’t a Hass, so it actually tasted like nothing. That was a bit disappointing. We also bought white pineapple, which is something I’d never heard of. It was extremely expensive, because they don’t produce many, and that’s probably why I’d never heard of it. There  aren’t really enough to send to the mainland. Think pineapple without the acid. Sweet as spun sugar. Everyone should try it! We also tried an organic mountain apple, which was kind of thick skinned and slightly mushy and therefore meh. And nothing in this farmer’s market had an actual price on it. I’m sure they see the tourists coming a mile away.

We ate at a restaurant called Harbor House in Kona. It had no walls. That gave us a great view of the marina. And it was fun to have the birds flying all around us. Until they pooped. Everywhere. But poop notwithstanding, the food is pretty good (and poop-less), and hey, it’s an experience!

The older I get, the more I look at experiences in terms of the memories they create. Hawaii added so many wonderful memories to my collection. The older you get, the more you accumulate. I’m sitting on a dragonpile (I should copyright that word) of precious memories, brought to me by travel. And I’m not alone in this.

By rights, the well-traveled elderly should be considered the most fascinating people in the world. You just have to ask the right questions and take the time to experience the answers. If you listen closely, you might hear the waves crashing in their words, and maybe the sound of Don Ho singing Tiny Bubbles will drift gently toward you as if on an island breeze.

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Waimea Canyon in Kauai

The most beautiful place in the state.

I’ve only been to two of the Hawaiian Islands (The Big Island and Kauai), but I’d be rendered speechless if there was any place in this entire state that was more beautiful than Waimea Canyon, especially at its northern end, where you can gaze at the all-but-inaccessible Napali Coast. If you go to Kauai and don’t spend at least half a day here, you are a failure as a traveler as far as I’m concerned.

Seriously. Shame on you. Go to your room and think about what you’ve done.

This canyon is a mile wide, 10 miles long, and somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 feet deep, depending on what source you believe. It looks like the Grand Canyon’s little sister. It’s smaller, yes, but it’s lush and green and vibrant with life. I think I’d have a much easier time surviving in Waimea than in that harsh and rugged valley in Arizona, no matter how iconic it may be. Like the rest of Kauai, there are no snakes and there’s plenty of shade and vegetation.

Moot point, though. While there are plenty of hiking opportunities in this area, you might want to remember that if you hike 2000 feet down to see a waterfall, you’ll have to hike 2000 feet back up. Those days, for me, are decades in the past.

Fortunately, the canyon rim is accessible by car, and there are plenty of overlooks that allow you to revel in the beauty without breaking a sweat. We stopped at five of them, and also visited the museum, where you pay the park’s admission fee. (It would probably be easy to sneak past this fee, but we wanted to pay it if it means the canyon will be well taken care of. A ten-dollar contribution to protect something so priceless is a sound investment as far as I’m concerned.)

Below, you’ll see photos that we took on our visit, and after that are some links that you can check out if you want to learn more about Waimea Canyon and the Napali Coast. Many of the pictures on those web pages are spectacular. Enjoy!





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Reveling in Sunshine

When I lived in Florida, I used to take sunshine for granted. As a matter of fact, I kind of looked upon it as a creator of sweat, sunburn and humidity, and avoided it whenever possible. Mine was a closed-in, air-conditioned existence.

Not so in Washington State. Here, I glory in the sunshine whenever it’s available. (I haven’t gone completely native. I still tend to get hindered by the rain, but I go outdoors every sunny chance I get.) About half the year, I even eat dinner on my back porch.

Recently it actually got up to 70 degrees for a whole day, and I had the opportunity to go hiking with a friend, and afterward we just sat on a lakeside park bench and soaked up the sun. It was glorious.  It was transforming. It was the perfect way to spend the day. Bliss. Simple. Free. It still makes me smile, just thinking about it.

Don’t you just love it when you feel glad to be alive? The sun’s rays and a friend with a sunny disposition. What gifts.

Come on, Spring! Hit me with all the goodness! I can take it!


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Why Does Food Taste Better Al Fresco?

I just got back from a fantastic trip to Southeastern Utah, in which I shared my sister and brother-in-law’s motor home, and we did quite a bit of outdoor dining. It reminded me of something that has been reinforced again and again and again during my travels: food always tastes better when it’s eaten outside. Why is that?

(This is by no means a scientific essay. If you’re looking for something that’s peer reviewed, you may want to look elsewhere. But as usual, I do have my opinions.)

I suspect that one’s attitude greatly enhances one’s taste buds. Generally, when I’m eating outdoors, I’m surrounded by people that I love, and the scenery is usually spectacular. (You don’t often hear of people picnicking in the town dump, do you?)

Also, when vacationing or just having a picnic lunch in the park across the street, there’s an opportunity to set stress aside. That has to enhance one’s appetite. I know that when I’ve been forced to eat in highly-charged situations, I’ve often felt sick to my stomach. So it stands to reason that the opposite would be true in times of relaxation.

And then there’s the effort factor. If you’re eating outside, chances are that you’ve gotten a little more exercise in than usual. In other words, you’ve “worked up an appetite.” (Well done, you!)

And cooking over a campfire or a grill tends to take a little more planning. It’s not like you’re popping a TV dinner into a microwave. So by dint of the extra preparation, you have really earned this meal. Even with the simplest of foods, that feeling of satisfaction is a good psychological sauce, indeed.

I’ve also noticed that food seems to taste better even in outdoor cafés. While traveling in Croatia, for example, more often than not we supped at tables located in quaint little alleyways filled with potted plants. I think I gained 10 pounds on that trip. And I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

steak on the barby

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Amanda’s Awful Adventure

In the delightful little town of Yachats, Oregon (pronounced YA-Hots) you will stumble upon the beginning of the Amanda Trail. This got me curious. Who was Amanda, and why did she merit a 3.7 mile trail from Yachats to the top of Cape Perpetua, the highest point on the Oregon coast?

When I inquired at the visitor center, I was told that Amanda was an Indian who used to live here, and halfway along the trail was a statue to honor her and her people. Having seen nothing but lily-white faces since I’d arrived, I suspected that Amanda needed a great deal of honoring, indeed.

But I’m 51 and out of shape, so the thought of climbing to the highest point on the Oregon coast gave me pause. No. That’s not true. It didn’t give me pause. It gave me a huge case of Oh Hell No.

But then the lady at the visitor center told me that the part of the trail from Yachats to the statue wasn’t so bad. It was rated “moderate”. It didn’t become “difficult” until you went from the statue up to the cape. Moderate didn’t sound too hard. I figured I could handle moderate. So off I went.

After illegally parking in someone’s driveway, thus shaving off about half of my walk, I set out, intrepid hiker that I am. And got lost. Karma. After backtracking and picking up the trailhead (well, the trail middle, technically) I set out through the woods.

And the view of the coast from here was stunning. I’m not used to being alone in the woods and yet hearing the waves crashing on the beach, but I liked it quite a bit. I tried not to think of bears, or, worse yet, humans of the serial killing variety. I just concentrated on enjoying the scenery.

But moderate, my butt. After climbing over some roots that were thicker than I am, and scrambling up several steep slopes, I began to wonder if this was intentional. If you want to honor the Native Americans here, it seems, you have to be pretty freakin’ determined.

At one point I slipped on the loamy soil and came down hard on my tailbone, knocking the wind out of me. As I sat there recovering, I wondered how long it would take for someone to find my body up here. It is, after all, shoulder season.

But now I was feeling kind of stubborn. I was going to see this statue, even if it killed me. I went around a bend in the trail and came upon a bear statue. Bears. Great. The statue was well done, but seemed out of place here. Like a human invasion in a deserted landscape. And all around it were elk hoof prints. Onward.

Next, I came upon a laminated sign nailed to a post. “The Amanda Statue contains a satellite tracking device that will alert authorities as to it’s (sic) location if the statue is moved. Due to ongoing vandalism to the statue, visual surveillance has been added.”

Sigh. It says a lot about man’s unbelievable level of greed that one would trek all the way up here, over hill, over dale, over big ol’ honkin’ roots, to steal what one can only assume is a heavy statue. Or maybe greed isn’t the motivator. Maybe some people want the past to be forgotten. Now I was really intrigued.

Finally (Thank you, Lord) I entered a grotto, and could see the statue in the distance. But before I approached, I stopped to read the informational sign. And what I read broke my heart.

It spoke of forcing tribes that had lived here for hundreds of years off their land. It spoke of treaties violated. It spoke of starvation and violence and abuse. It spoke of Indian agents hunting “squaws” and “bucks”. And it told the story of Amanda De-Cuys.

Amanda lived with her husband, a white settler, 50 miles off the reservation. She was old and blind, and had a young daughter. The agents ripped her from the arms of her family and marched her back up the coast, barefoot, over jagged volcanic rock, for 10 days. Her feet bled so much, it was said, that you could track her by the blood trail. No one knows what became of her after that.

Tears in my eyes, I then went and sat before the statue. I felt ashamed for complaining on my way up this comparatively simple trail. How soft we have become.

I tried to imagine what Amanda would say if she saw me now.

“Your people stole our land, starved us, tortured us, ripped our families apart, dragged me blind and bleeding over rocks for 10 days, and all I got was this lousy statue.”

Funny. You don’t see that on any of the t-shirts in the quaint little shops on the Oregon tourist trail. And still, I went back, embarrassed at how relieved I was to return to my hotel room and support the local economy, and disgusted by the fact that I might still consider retiring here some day.

A big thanks to StoryCorps for inspiring this blog and my first book. http://amzn.to/2cCHgUu

Epic Journey

If you read no other blog besides this one (I’m so freakin’ modest), you absolutely must check out that of Paul Salopek on the National Geographic website. He is the man who is taking the Out of Eden Walk, a seven year, 21,000 mile journey from the cradle of civilization in Ethiopia to the tip of South America. Currently he’s walking through Anatolia in Turkey, and his blog entry makes you feel as though you’re experiencing the tastes and sights firsthand.

A seven year commitment to anything in this era of twitter and divorce and all things instant is to be commended, but to do it on foot, all year round, in the harshest of weather… I can’t even be bothered to walk across the street to the mailbox when it’s raining out. I can’t imagine offering myself up for being footsore, tired, exposed, lonely, and vulnerable for seven weeks, let alone seven years. And this is a Pulitzer prize winning writer. It’s not as if he were desperate for work. Amazing. I want to meet this guy!

Following his journey will teach you much about culture, geography, hunger, climate change, politics, history, and war. It will cause you to think globally. I can’t imagine a more epic way to start the new year.


[Image credit: NationalGeographic.com]