Thailand Travels

Thailand Travels
Elephant Ride in Thailand

Thursday, October 11, 2012

An Upper View of Michigan

          Being a troll (one who lives below the bridge) it's easily forgotten that another world exists beyond the Macinaw Bridge, a world of unadulterated scenery that goes on forever. Miles of trees, lakes and land, with water and land creatures abounding. How can you not marvel at wild turkeys along the roadside or be watchful of deer sharing your road? Each season brings a new panorama. The brilliant white of winter, rich golds of autumn and vibrant greens of summer make this pallette readily one of natures' best work. Somehow spring gets lost in the lingering of winter's hold.
     This is a place of lumbering and mining. Ore boats ply the waters during navigation season. Visitors and locals alike partake in the ever-present fishing, hunting and snowmobile activities. Traffic moves at a different pace. Hearty souls hike trails. There is more to this land. Ask any Yooper (yes they are proud of that title) about their home. One could easily exist on their diet of smoked fish and pasties. The pastie (a meat and veggie pie), harkens to the coal mining days and is a regular on local menus. You either love or hate these treats. Friday night fish fries are another culinary staple. Bingo and casinos satisfy the gamblers' desires.
     This land is far from provincial. The northern universities equal any of their southern counterparts. Marquette is a bustling college town meeting the needs of students and faculty. Culture beyond the bridge exists. Ask any symphony attendee. Cable and T.V. is a click away with the remote.
     Beyond all this is the idea of a neighbor 'being there'. Perhaps they may not be steps away but there is a feeling that they would step up whenever the need arose. Can you even imagine going to the local library, choosing a book with only your signature? Little things, but worth savoring. Small town local museums tout their history. Artists capture on canvas amazing visions.
     This may seem like an idealized view of the area, but it is more truth than fiction. Of course snowdrifts, black flies and impassable roads exist, but only stand on the edge of a lakeshore as the sun dips below the horizon and hear the call of an eagle or loon to know that something special exists in this land. A time to step back, soak it in and file it away for another time.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Journey of Superlatives

Every traveler can recall at least one memorable event or sight that remains long after the bags are unpacked.  After all, isn't that what travel is all about? But how many can say that every day brought something so unusual and unique as to call forth all the superlatives one can conjour.
The South American journey from the Galapagos Islands to Machu Pichu in Peru perfectly fit that category. Unspoiled ecosystems with creatures of land, sea and air were the order of the day in the Galapagos.
The natural world unfolded with views unseen anywhere else. Imagine being able to watch a sea lion nursing her young and being totally unfazed by your presence. Giant turtles claimed the roadway as their own, in no particular hurry to let you pass. Penguins watched your dinghy floating by with not a bit of fear. The sometimes challenging terain soon let you know this was no 'let's make it easy for the tourists' agenda, but rather remaining as natures' erruptions had left it. A long alphabetic list would be needed to capture in memory the many creatures residing there.
The agrarian lifestyle of the Ecuadorians abounded. A patchwork quilt of crops dotted the landscape. They make good use of the Equatorial climate. Native dress and tourism go hand in hand.
The clash of two historic cultures seemed to be the order of the day in Peru. The Inca way of life had been so impacted with the arrival of the Spaniards. Viewing the archetectural genius of the Incas it seemed hard to believe that mere mortals could erect such temples to the sky. Their short-lived civilization is still shrouded in mystery. Archeologists today are constantly unraveling the unknown. The unique way they mastered the challenging landscape with terraces and aqueducts boggles the mind.
The Spaniards did their best to bend the will of the Incas. In many ways they did, but still the Incas were able to circumvent some efforts. In towns one can see the blending of Incan remains and European influence, especially in the ornate cathedrals. You're caught short of breath in an altitude where there are clouds below you. Luckily, the camera lens catches it all, for otherwise, who would believe you?
The Road Scholar organization is to be commended for this comprehensive program. Knowledgable caring guides and noted lecturers melded together to create this truly 'a journey of superlatives'.