One of my favorite trips ever was to the Galapagos Islands, via a small cruise ship, much like the one contributing writer Robert Waite took in his compelling narrative below. The fellow pictured above, a marine iguana with a face only a mother (or mate) could love, is one of countless friendly creatures my wife and I encountered during our eight-island cruise. But I’ll leave it to Bob to chronicle his own experiences, which complete his trilogy on traveling to Ecuador, including visits to the colonial-era capital, Quito, and the Amazon.
By Robert Waite
Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos – Want to feel young again, even if you are in your sixth or seventh decade? Head to the Santa Cruz highlands, where you will be a veritable spring chicken compared to the Galapagos giant tortoises ambling about.
Many tortoises reach 100 years of age or more, and one —… Continue reading
Ecuador, a relatively small nation (about the size of Nevada), packs a wallop for its size — offering a remarkably diverse set of natural and cultural attractions.
I’ve been lucky enough to travel to all four of its main regions: The Andes (including the colonial-era city of Quito); the Amazon basin; the Pacific coast, anchored by the city of Guayaquil; and the Galapagos Islands, 600 miles out in the ocean. All are memorable.
In this informative and engaging piece, contributing writer Robert Waite continues his recent journey through Ecuador by taking us to Yasuni National Park and the Napo Wildlife Center deep in the Amazon rainforest. Here’s his report:
By Robert Waite
Yasuni Park, Ecuador – There are two indigenous tribes located in Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest, the Tagaeri and the Taromenane, who have had virtually no contact with the outside world.
I say “virtually” because there have been… Continue reading
Here are some of the travel books I’ve been reading the past few months, any of which would make a nice gift for the hodophile among your family, friends, colleagues — or for yourself, of course.
They’re selected to get those travel juices flowing again (if they aren’t already).
The Road Trip Survival Guide
By Rob Taylor (Tiller Press, 2021)
Even as the Covid epidemic was dealing severe blows to airline, cruise, and international travel, domestic road trips were zooming in popularity in 2020-21, making this practical yet enjoyably written guide a timely read.
Penned in a folksy style, Rob Taylor encourages readers to “explore at their own speed” and modify his suggestions as needed to fit their own circumstances.
That said, just about any road-tripper (novice or experienced) can find loads of tips within these pages. Divided into five sections — Planning, Packing, Road Trip Food, Safety, and… Continue reading
In Part I of Two Boomers, One Bike, Ken and Francie Gass — married 43 years and both celebrating 70-something birthdays in 2021 — detailed the training, equipment, and teamwork required to complete a six-week cross-country trip on a tandem bicycle.
The trip tested their fitness, stamina, and trust in each other.
While their bike (which they dubbed the Momentous Green Goddess) was well equipped to survive an arduous road trip across the Southern Tier of the U.S., the intrepid couple still faced an obstacle course of steep hills, bumpy roads, strong crosswinds and headwinds, and saddle sores as they pedaled from San Diego, California, to St. Augustine, Florida.
Here’s Part II of their epic journey:
By Ken and Francie Gass
When my wife and I completed a 40-mile bike ride down the Jersey Shore from Ocean City to Cape May, NJ, one morning some years ago, we were quite pleased with our accomplishment.
Then we met up with my old boyhood chum, Ken Gass, and his wife, Francie, who stopped in Tucson earlier this year while biking their way across the United States, and found that 40-mile morning workouts were easy days for them — they would average almost twice that, day after day for six weeks, pedaling from San Diego to St. Augustine.
And they were doing it on one bike, which presented its own share of challenges and rewards. Here is Part I of their entertaining and instructive tale of adventure, grit, and how to keep a marriage together on a bicycle built for two:
By Ken and Francie Gass
For 44 days — from the end of… Continue reading
In the midst of a world pandemic — and, in the United States, the culmination of a bitterly divided, exhausting election season — I can offer a few words of advice: Take a hike.
Hiking is an ideal way to get out of your cooped-up house into the fresh air and, certainly for less-crowded trails, is well suited to social distancing.
It’s a healthy activity and usually fun as well. (Some tougher trails aren’t always fun, but tackling — and conquering — them can be highly satisfying.)
But hiking right — meaning minimizing any risk of injury or other problem that may occur — requires adequate preparation and thought.
Guest writer Rebecca Brown lays out the key things to keep in mind for three different types of hikers: day hikers, overnighters, and multi-day hikers.
So lace up your boots, fill your water bottles, and don your backpack — but first,… Continue reading
Here’s something I hadn’t thought much about — but probably should have.
In case of emergency on a remote hiking trail, or on a lonely highway, or anywhere that your cell phone doesn’t get service, what do you do?
Guest poster Harding Bush of Global Rescue has a suggestion: satellite communications. And you can get it for not all that much money.
I do have satellite TV — but that wouldn’t help much if I encountered some Rutger Hauer (RIP) or Javier Bardem character out on that lonely highway. (If you haven’t seen The Hitcher or No Country for Old Men, check them out).
And, one hopes, I could reach AAA, a park ranger, a rescue service — or my favorite ER doc who makes remote trail calls. Well, hope springs eternal. But you get the idea.
By Harding Bush
Traveling near or far? Going with friends, family or… Continue reading
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a periodic series on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism providers across the globe.
Back in the late 1960s, when I was still mostly fantasizing about globetrotting, I picked up a paperback book called Bargain Paradises of the World.
Although all the pictures were in black and white and the information inside was perhaps overly colorful, it was the kind of book that got my travel juices flowing.
One particular “paradise” that caught my eye was Ceylon, the tear-drop-shaped Indian Ocean island nation that has been known as Sri Lanka since 1972.
My fantasy Ceylon — which had been colonized by Britain until 1948 and was known in the West mostly for its tea exports — was pictured by Bargain Paradises as an idyllic place where… Continue reading
I have no idea why I came to trust Dave.
The man loved snakes, scorpions, and spiders. I hate spiders — and I’m not too keen on snakes or scorpions.
But this was the rain forest, where Dave seemed at home, and where, to me, everything seemed strange and foreboding.
I watched as a line of ants, dwarfed by the leaves they were hauling, marched past my feet.
I listened as distant howler monkeys made eerie noises like the wind wailing through the trees.
I cringed as a bright yellow spider made its resolute journey across the shoulder of one of my companions. Dave’s face lit up as he snatched the spider and held it in his palm, showing it off like a trophy.
“Completely harmless!” he announced. Anne, the young woman who provided the shoulder, merely shuddered.… Continue reading
Here’s part II of contributing writer Robert Waite’s riveting account from his trip to Rwanda, following up on his previous post about tracking endangered mountain gorillas in that tiny central African country.
In this post, Bob and his wife, Karen, discover a national park teeming with wildlife (including amorous hippos), a sobering genocide museum, an oddly shaped palace, a “killer” lake, and the “joys” of experiencing a “Rwandan massage.”
By Robert Waite
Kigali, Rwanda – Most people, if they are aware of Rwanda at all, likely only know two things: 1) It is an excellent place to observe the mountain gorilla in its natural habitat and, 2) The country experienced a horrific genocide in the 1990’s. The former inspired the film “Gorillas in the Mist”; the latter, “Hotel Rwanda”. Neither movie had a happy ending.… Continue reading