The desire to explore the world on my own is unnervingly inescapable, chasing me down in unexpected moments. And so, amidst a world of “be carefuls” that are generously granted to me, as though this world is more dangerous than beautiful for a small woman by herself, I routinely step out solo. Whether for an hour or a week, standing alone on top of the world … Continue reading Be Careful: Traveling Alone as a Woman
When we step off the Zodiac, it feels as though each of Nanortalik’s 1400 residents has come out to greet us. Children run and wave and flirt, giggling, tempting their new visitors to come and play. My roommates are swept away by two small boys to tour their school and play soccer. Young men nod at us. Older men and women smile openly and say, “Welcome … Continue reading Nanortalik: Welcome to Greenland!
I have just returned from hiking 45 miles in 3 days along the Laugavegur Trail in Iceland, when National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions deliver me to the warm waters of the Blue Lagoon, one of Iceland’s largest tourist attractions. My right foot has a pain in the arch that stretches up into my ankle and calf. My hamstrings feel stiff after sitting for too long, my … Continue reading The Powers of the Blue Lagoon
As I step out of the Zodiac and onto the rocky beach, I am acutely aware that over 1,000 years ago, a crew of Norsemen—loyally following their exiled leader, Erik the Red—stepped onto this very beach. I pause and look around at the beckoning green hills that stretch beyond the lower fields and wonder what fears they may have held tight in their hearts and … Continue reading The Viking Ruins of Brattahlid: From a Teacher’s Perspective.
“Heartbreak may be the very essence of being human, of being on the journey from here to there, and of coming to care deeply for what we find along the way.” ~David Whyte The heart of a girl with wanderlust is a messy place. Never content with stillness, in constant battle with unmitigated yearning, I am always wrestling with restlessness, looking for the balance between … Continue reading The Messiness of Wandering
A few weeks ago I lay in my sleeping bag, under the stars, on the playa of Oregon’s Alvord Desert. In the distance, purple lightning lit up the stretched skies while the moon rose over the nearer horizon. With the taste of bourbon on my lips and the smell of dust in the still air, I listened to my friend’s mandolin catch the wind, haunting its … Continue reading Memorizing the Denmark Strait
“How was our day?” I ask my dinner companion, an older, distinguished retired doctor. He rolls his eyes and sighs. “I’ve been on numerous National Geographic trips, and I can undoubtedly say I saw nothing unforgettable today. I stayed for an hour and returned back to the ship, entirely bored.” He is talking about our first short excursion off our National Geographic/Lindblad Exploration expedition ship, … Continue reading Flatey Island, Iceland: Unforgettable Moments.
Standing at the copier, I hear her practical, navy blue pumps coming around the corner. She forces a smile, which feels more like a smirk, and says, “Cute dress.” But her tone drips some sort of latent judgment that implies otherwise. I give her as genuine of a smile possible and nod a thank you. “A couple more years and you will be too old … Continue reading La Belle Francaise (or, How Parisian Women Taught Me to be Beautiful at 40)
Getting to Prince Edward Island is not easy. Even from our northern New England home, it is still a 12 hour drive. And of course, as we prepared to haul up there with our three children, our transmission died in our minivan, and we ended up trekking in our 1992 Subaru wagon with no air conditioning. The drive alone was an adventure! But once we … Continue reading Prince Edward Island’s Sweeping Landscape
I was in Las Vegas for the very first time for a conference, and found myself completely overwhelmed by the blinking lights, drunken visitors, labyrinthian casinos, public smoking, and perfume-drenched air. Over the course of the five days, I could feel myself suffocating. In fact, one afternoon I got lost in the casino that I had to navigate to get to my hotel room, and … Continue reading Valley of Fire, Nevada
My ten year old son and I decided to run away together for a long weekend, hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. This was our first experience in high altitudes, and while he battled nausea the first day, I battled the desire to lie down in the middle of any trail and take a nap–we were quite a team! But with snowy summer peaks surrounding us, … Continue reading Rocky Mountain National Park
While driving from one friend’s house in Oregon to another’s in Wyoming, it only made sense to make a stop in the Grand Tetons. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and was astounded by the high costs to stay in Jackson Hole, so called up Leisure Sports and rented a tent, sleeping bags, chairs, stove, lantern, and pads for a fraction of the price of … Continue reading Camping in the Tetons
Our tandem kayak is a giant tub of a boat, difficult to manage and incredibly heavy. But it was free, and it carries both of us, so without looking a gift horse in the mouth, my husband and I step into the cold Atlantic, gentle waves sloshing up around our calves, climb in, and venture off the furthest Eastern coast in Souris, Prince Edward Island. It … Continue reading Gentle Giants of PEI
As more stories of heartache arrived on the news every day from New York and New Jersey, my husband and I drove south to help with Sandy victims & recovery efforts. I’ve been asked how we got involved–or how it came about, and I’m afraid my answer may be disappointing–there is no complex or deep reason. It’s rather simple, actually: There were people suffering six hours away … Continue reading Rockaway Aftermath
With rum that pulses in veins to the rhythm of cha cha bands— men caressing guitar strings, muting trumpets, and swaying their hips— it is easy to forget the call of democracy. No ocean breeze penetrates the age old heat that is trapped by walls of stone in a town square. Vibrant blues, greens, and oranges take our attentions captive so that we do not recognize … Continue reading Havana in Verse
Cuba. I am in Cuba sitting on a bizarrely large bed made up of two double beds pushed together (thanking whoever the room gods are that I don’t have a roommate) in a room that overlooks the city skyline of Havana. The air outside is humid, and while I know I should be tucked in, putting myself to sleep, contagious Latino excitement fills the air. Today is … Continue reading Introduction to Cuba
When my fifteen year old son and I are crossing a busy highway ramp to climb over guard rails that come up to my crotch and skitter down a fire-ant ridden trail that runs along a steep embankment much like a goat trail, there is nothing to do but laugh. I might get hit by a car. Somebody might see my underwear. I might get … Continue reading Tragedy or Comedy: You Pick.
My grandmother used to have gauzy curtains that I would wrap myself up in and look out the window. I could see the outlines of things and tell where she was in the back yard, but reality was fuzzy. I could see what was out there, but not make out all the details. Those dreamy, impressionistic moments shifted my balance a little and clarity was … Continue reading Don’t Bank on It.
I collapsed into the cab, wet, cold, and exhausted, prepared to pay anything asked of me just to get home. I had left school nearly two hours prior and hadn’t gotten more than a few miles down the road and couldn’t find my way back to my house on the buses, so just said to hell with it and grabbed a cab outside Alejuela’s City … Continue reading When It Rains It Pours
Exhaustion has won the emotional battle tonight. An entire world away, in New Hampshire this morning, my son and I lugged 4 suitcases, 3 backpacks, a box of school books, a large bag, and a guitar through the airport only to find that 3 of the suitcases were a few pounds over the limit. To avoid exorbitant fees, we opened up all of our luggage … Continue reading Dead Butterflies Dipped in Wax (Or: It Hurts But Will Be Okay)
A few months ago, as we hiked for three days through the jungle of Guatemala with two Mayan men who didn’t speak English, I told my friend Heather, “I like traveling with you. You have a nice big comfort zone that doesn’t make you difficult when bats fly into our faces or tarantula eyes light up at night.” She laughed and retorted, “I’m not sure … Continue reading We All Have Comfort Zones