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…

Palmyra, Syria

Palmyra (and the Endless War)

ISIS in Full Control of Syria’s Palmyra. I read the BBC headline and took a deep breath. I have been to the site of ancient Palmyra. I have walked its colonnaded streets under towering pillars. Now, as the war in Syria enters its fifth year, the renegade Islamic State of ISIS is in control of…

Cuba 2015 (255)

Waiting to Exhale

“How was Cuba?’ my friends ask me. “Ah… it was great,” I stammer. “Interesting!” I feel completely inadequate with such floundering, both as a writer and as a traveler. They give me blank stares. It isn’t like me to be unable to summarize a trip in a nutshell, to give my impressions. But Cuba defied…

Back of the Squareback

Road Trip

When I was a kid my family traveled together. We took road trips across the country in a candy apple red VW Square Back. We went far from Minnesota. There was the trip to Maine, via Quebec and Novia Scotia. There was a drive around Lake Superior. And once we drove all the way to…

Syria 2011 (977)

The Gates of Damascus

Search for the words “Syria” or “Damascus” on the web today and headlines about chemical weapons, rocket attacks, and civilians being killed in a civil war that has dragged on for four years is what you get in return. Many of my friends don’t want to think about the Syrian war anymore. It’s become old…

Tanzania 2014 (709)

Lunching with elephants

“Do you think we’ll see elephants today?” I ask Ray, our guide and driver, as we enter Tarangire National Park, which is known for its elephant herds. “I think so,” Ray says, with a slight smirk. I have been to East Africa before. When I was in college I spent a semester studying wildlife biology in…