Greater Krueger National Park

Greater Krueger National Park
An image from a recent trip to South Africa. Clcik on the image for more on this trip.

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

History & Travel

The cliche is that history is always written by the victors.  A follow-on could easily be that it is always rewritten shortly thereafter  by revisionists.  After a few rounds of vision and revision it can get pretty confusing as to what really happened let alone what it actually means in our lives today.  History can be interesting or boring depending on the author and the events, but it is always relevant to our world of today and so is our understanding of it.  Just to make things interesting the two things are frequently different.  Things happen one way and we often interpret them to mean something else.  We do the same thing with our own lives so it is understandable that we would do it with history.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Vacations are Important

When was the last time that you took a vacation?  Not just an afternoon or a weekend, but an honest to goodness multiple day vacation someplace other than the backyard.  OK, money is tight, work is hard to come by, and vacations can be expensive.  All true, but the alternative may be bad for your health, your psyche, and maybe even your pocket book.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Border Warning

One of my favorite places to "go walkabout" is precisely the area of Arizona that is having trouble with illegal border crossings - what the Border Patrol refers to as the "Tucson Sector."  This is the part of the world made famous by Coronado, Cochise, John Slaughter, Geronimo, the Earp brothers, Black Jack Pershing, Pancho Villa and Robert Krentz.  It has a fascinating history that includes a lot of dramatic cross border activity dating back to before the Spanish arrived on the scene centuries ago.  If you have ever been there you can easily understand the challenge to the authorities charged with protecting it.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cruising as a Destination

If you do not know about the travel deals that are being offered by the various cruise lines you are not hooked into the internet.  Our email system reliably delivers several offers virtually every day of the week.  Two for one is the standard offer, but there are even better deals out there if you are interested in squeezing the very last penny.  Obviously the economic downturn is hurting the industry and they are doing everything that they can think of to keep their operations afloat.  One of our cruise friends noted that taking a cruise is almost cheaper than staying at home.  I am not prepared to go that far, but some of the offers are remarkable.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The role of Commander-in-Chief

The resignation of Stanley McChrystal is on my mind a lot these days.  I don't really want it there, but it intrudes anyway.  I watch a couple of hours of what passes as evening news most days and there I hear a lot of the current conventional wisdom regarding this event.  I do not hear much "analysis" with which I agree.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

An early summer's morning...

I try to go for a walk everyday for a variety of reasons.  First, Thomas Jefferson admonished me to "walk very far" for reasons of general health.  Second, Timothy Salthouse believes that it will help me think better.  Third, I enjoy being outside in interesting places - beautiful if possible. 

A typical day sees me absorb two or three cups of coffee and then head out - wherever I happen to be that particular morning.  Sometimes it is in a city that is just waking up with no crowds between me and the street art and sometimes it is a rural setting with a young buck adjusting to his new set of antlers.  If my schedule permits I try to get in a couple of miles and because I usually take my camera along this generally occupies an hour or so of my day.

I try to think about specific challenges for part of the walk, but I also devote a lot of the time to thinking about what I am seeing.  Sometimes the two lines of thought cross and ideas begin to take form.  That is always exciting, but even if it does not happen I find the time useful and enjoyable. 

I usually walk alone and would not take my cell phone with me even if I owned one.  The idea is to be alone and uninterrupted with my thoughts for at least part of that particular day.  That day is a once in a lifetime experience - there will, of course, be other days, but that particular morning will never return.  I want to enjoy it, savor it, cherish it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Restaurant Recommendations for Travelers in the Western United States

We can all agree that meals on the road can be an issue as to both quality and value.  Obviously we are all different and have different culinary preferences so it is challenging to attempt to pass along any worthwhile recommendations, but I am going to try anyway...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Making Travel Dollars Go Further

Today, with gas in the western United States running at between $2.85 and $3.95 per gallon, road trips are expensive for most of us and gas prices will almost certainly go up as summer approaches.  A second drain on the family travel budget is lodging.  Chain lodging is currently running from about $50 to $120 per night with some establishments charging more depending on location and/or the day of the week.  (A prestigious bed and breakfast can charge astronomicaly.)  A third expense that is hard to avoid is the cost of food.  Breakfast is currently running between $9 and $12 for eggs, bacon, potatoes, toast and coffee.  Lunch can cost just about anything but $10 to $15 is probably a good median price for a sandwich and a drink at a nice place.  The price of dinner varies dramatically from $10 at a fast food place to $100 at one of the "hot" spots.

Based on these prices a ten day trip for two which averages 300 miles of driving a day in a family automobile will incur basic out-of-pocket costs between $1500 and $4,200.

Gas:  $310 to $435  (3,000 miles at 28 miles per gallon)
Lodging:  $500 to $1,200 (two people)
Food:  $600 to $2,500 (two people)

Obviously, these are not the only costs that will be incurred (tickets, snacks, drinks, gratuities, souvenirs, sundries, etc,) nor do they cover long term maintenance for the vehicle (wear & tear, oil changes, tires, etc) involved in the trip.

If you have an income that can afford the high life then there is no problem - go for it, but if you are like most of us you want to spend your money as wisely as possible.  How do you accomplish that without ruining the trip?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Trip through some Western Parks

Sometimes we want to arrange a trip for someone with a serious mobility challenge. We recently did just that for a family member who was temporarily unable to walk any great distance. The trip started and ended in northern California and encompassed a number of important scenic areas in California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. We traveled by automobile the entire way and were severely limited on time. We wanted to pack in the maximum punch in the shortest time. If you are contemplating this kind of thing and have the luxury of time we strongly recommend that you take longer for the trip, particularly if a wheelchair is involved. The important thing to realize is that these kinds of trips are possible even if your guest has physical limitations. The message is that you have to be careful, but you should not let a mobility challenge confine someone unnecessarily.