Oklahoma City National Memorial

States I Might Have Flown Over

“What are you going to do in Oklahoma?” people asked. “Why are you going to Arkansas?” To go someplace just to see it seems like a luxury, frivolous. But to go to places in the middle of the country, in the south, a place usually flown over to get elsewhere, a place that liberal Northerners pooh-pooh–that…

Patagonia-2016 (1362)

Penguins

“I want to see some penguins,” my sister Kathi insisted, “Patagonia is as close as I’ll probably get Antarctica.” We were planning a trip with our mother. The three of us hadn’t traveled overseas together since Kathi and I were kids—in the summer of 1970 we drove across Western Europe in a candy-apple-red Volkswagen Square…

Patagonia-2016 (685)

Ten things I love about Argentinians

I’d been to Argentina before and I fell in love with Argentina and Argentinians. But on this recent return trip I figured out why. 1. They pronounce the “ll” sound as “sh” instead of “y” as it is anywhere else in the Spanish speaking world. The result is soft and hypnotizing. Como te shiama? 2.…

Syria 2011 (193)

Aleppo Pepper

I look into the cupboard and see the jar I want, the half-worn word Aleppo written on it, in my handwriting. The dish I’m making calls for Aleppo pepper, a dried chili pepper used commonly in Middle Eastern cooking. I grab it and think of Aiman, my friend and former guide in Syria, who is…

India-2010 (217)

Night Train to Varanasi

“You must pay for the taxi!” the taxi driver yelled at us from behind, “1000 rupees!” Dad and I looked at each other, the hotel had paid him, hadn’t they? India was full of touts, men who will swindle you for money. After only a few days in Delhi we had developed a Don’t fuck…

Washington smoke, near Ritzsville

Paradise Burning

I just returned from my annual weekend at Lake Coeur d’Alene. It’s the highlight of my summer. Several of my closest friends converge on a friend’s family’s lake cabin for a weekend to celebrate friendship and the end of summer. But this year it was slightly different. As we drove across the state from Seattle…

Don George and Isabel Allende

What I learned at Book Passage

I went to the Book Passage Travel Writers Conference again this year. In the two year’s since I went the first time I’ve done a lot more writing, taken classes, and I feel like I’m a better writer. I thought maybe I’d feel more like a senior this time and less like a freshman. But…

Tusker

Tusker

“Elephant!” our driver Ray shouts, slamming on the brakes. My sister, father and I scan the dry brush of the hillside from the back of the Land Rover. Directly above us, a bull elephant stands, partially obscured, tail swatting, ears flapping, skin as dry and wrinkled as African earth. He thrashes, ripping bushes and small…

Infinity of blue

Home, This Must Be the Place

  Home – is where I want to be but I guess I’m already there.…if someone asks, this where I’ll be… Talking Heads, This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)   When my sister asked me if I wanted to go on a Puget Sound cruise I laughed. “I live here, why would I do…

Ft. Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired

Remembering Charleston

My friend Kiki and I arrived in Charleston a sunny, steamy Saturday morning, after flying a red-eye from Seattle. We ate a brunch of mimosas and gravy biscuits, asking our server where the best barbeque in town was. Carolinians take their barbeque very seriously and we got schooled in the difference between North and South Carolina…