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
Venice has always been one of my favorite cities. If there’s a more beautiful city in the world, I haven’t found it. And millions of other people would say the same.
And therein lies the problem: Millions of people visiting (and tromping through) one of the most fragile cities on the planet — at the rate of 80,000 per day in summer, far outnumbering Venice’s own residents.
After all, the city is built on a lagoon, canals snake through its heart, and its centuries-old palazzos, churches, and art treasures are subject to erosion, flooding, and tsunamis of tourists as well.
It’s been called a “poster child for overtourism” — meaning, simply, too many tourists for its own good, compounded by massive infusions of cruise ship passengers and other day-trippers. It’s remarkable that any gondolier worth his stripes can maneuver his full craft through the gondola-traffic-choked canals and still… Continue reading
OK, this is a bit of shameless self-promotion, but I’m happy to say that Cruising the World: From Gondolas to Megaships — has won Gold in the Coffee Table Book category of the 2021 Independent Press Award competition.
The book represents the finest images from prize-winning travel photographer Dennis Cox’s decades of documenting cruise ships — and a host of other passenger carrying vessels — from around the world (77 countries on seven continents!).
I enjoyed writing the text for the book because in the process I learned a lot about the history of cruising, as well as the sheer magnitude of what goes into running megaships (love ’em or hate ’em) and smaller ocean-going cruise ships — along with the incredible variety of riverboats, sailing ships, freighters, ferries, dhows, sampans, junks, paddle wheelers, barges, trajineras, expedition vessels, feluccas, gulets, and, of course, gondolas, that traverse the world’s waterways.
Cruise… Continue reading
In this post, contributing writer Robert Waite tackles the eternal problem of where not to go next — not because he didn’t love going there the first time, but because….well, there are lots of different reasons, and I’ll let him explain. He also offers advice for readers who would like to go.
By Robert Waite
As vaccines continue to roll out, thoughts once again turn to travel. For baby-boomers, it has been a lost year, subtracted from whatever travel-time we have left.
In my last post for clarknorton.com, I discussed seven places to which I would love to return, to linger longer. In this post, I give you seven places I’ve been to, loved, but will likely never see again, for various reasons.
Each deserves your consideration, post-COVID. Here goes:
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
For those planning their post-COVID travels, or who just like a good read, our roving contributing writer Robert Waite sets foot this time in the fabulous Mayan ruins of Tikal and Yaxha, which flourished two millennia ago in the jungles of what is now Guatemala.
It was the New York of its day, a massive complex complete with “skyscraper” temples, plazas, and palaces. When it seems safe to go, you may well want to add it to your future travel plans.
By Robert Waite
Tikal, Guatemala – Anyone who still buys into the myth that the Americas needed to be discovered by Columbus to be “civilized” has not wandered among the pyramids or across the expansive plazas of Tikal.
Beginning around 350 B.C. and stretching into the 5th century A.D., at a time… 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
Bob says that he and his wife, Karen, had purposely decided to travel to Laos and Cambodia in January of this year — “because January is somewhat cooler and a lot drier than, say, July. As it happened, that was just as COVID-19 was beginning to wend its way out of Wuhan.”
And so, just in time, Bob finally made it to Angkor Wat, one of the top destinations on his life list and the featured topic of Part I of his two-part series about the memorable sights and activities in the area around Siem Reap, Cambodia. Here are Bob’s reflections on visiting one of the… Continue reading
Here is the third installment in contributing writer Robert Waite’s literary tour of what I call “countries that I really want to visit but haven’t yet.”
I came tantalizingly close to the latter a few years ago while on a cruise that stopped in Corfu, Greece, just 22 miles (35 kilometres) from Albania. Ferry boats heading to Albania beckoned, but the cruise ship — during just a four-hour stop in Corfu — would not wait.
Longtime readers of this blog might also recall that I’m something… 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