Big Bend view

A Muddy Adventure in Big Bend National Park

November 26, 2013 | USA | 2 Comments

Big Bend National Park is an anomaly really. Buried in remote southwest Texas and forming the border with Mexico for nearly 250 miles, it’s simultaneously one of the largest and least-visited national parks in the United States. While somewhere like Yellowstone sees three million people per year through its gates, Big Bend is nine times the size yet gets less than ten percent of the visitors.

The reason, I guess, is that it just isn’t really on the way to anywhere. We were staying in Alpine, the only town of any size in the vicinity… and even that only had 6000 residents and was around a hundred miles away.

Populated this part of the country is not… and that, of course, is exactly why we went there.

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Roswell, You’re A Really Freaking Weird Little Town

November 21, 2013 | USA | 10 Comments

We hadn’t planned to go to Roswell on our US road trip, but when we realised it would only add a couple of hours to our drive from White Sands, Lauren pestered the hell out of me until I gave in… I mean, I happily agreed to make the detour. I mean, it’s not every day you get to visit the site of an alleged UFO crash landing, right?

No, no it isn’t.

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White Sands - dune

Sleds And Sunsets At White Sands (And Why You Really Need to Go There)

October 30, 2013 | USA | 3 Comments

Like much of the rest of New Mexico, I knew little about White Sands National Monument before I visited it. I had no idea, for instance, that it’s actually part of a US government missile testing range. I wasn’t aware that it’s a relic from the last ice age when a vast lake covered the entire region, or that back in 2007 local residents actually campaigned to have White Sands removed from a list of tentative World Heritage sites.

I was also completely unaware that it would end up being the most fun – and most beautiful – place I visited on this entire Southwest road trip.

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Hiking the canyon: A day without wings

October 16, 2013 | USA | 6 Comments

For a change we got it right.

It wasn’t by any great stroke of planning genius, of course. It’s just that with our visas rapidly running out, our road trip through America’s southwest had to be finished by the middle of September. We ended up visiting around half a dozen US National Parks and Monuments… and had we left it another couple of weeks, they’d all have been closed.

Every single one of them would have had a barricade at the entrance and a line of disgruntled tourists stretching back almost to the people in DC that are responsible for the whole mess. Whatever the politics of the situation (and god knows I’m not opening that can of worms), the damage that’s being done to the US tourism economy at the moment is really quite remarkable.

Thankfully, however, we snuck in before the bickering politicians finally threw their toys out of the cot. Our first national park of the trip? None other than the Grand Canyon.

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Monument Valley viewpoint.jpg

Monument Valley: Have Rental, Will Travel

October 7, 2013 | Travel, USA | 12 Comments

After two and a half months basking in a Pacific Northwest summer and reconnecting with New York, our US visas were about to expire. We weren’t done with the country at all, but for now, the country was almost done with us.

With a couple of weeks left, it was time for something different, time to leave the cities behind and head out on the open highway. We hadn’t set foot in a National Park so far on this trip, and given how much I loved Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Glacier last year, that seemed a major oversight. Yup, it was road trip time.

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Pig sculpture

The Friday Photo #182 – What’s with the animal sculptures?

October 4, 2013 | The Friday Photo, Travel, USA

I never thought that the moose statue I saw in Troutdale’s main street would have competition for the best sculpted metal animal I saw on this trip…

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Crickets in Big Bend

The Friday Photo #181 – Sorry to interrupt…

September 27, 2013 | The Friday Photo, Travel, USA | 2 Comments

One of the highlights of a day spent hiking around Big Bend National Park a couple of weeks ago was the Lost Mine trail, a five mile round trip in the Chisos mountains. With stunning views and hardly anybody else on the path, there was plenty of opportunity to stop and admire the scenery.

I’d heard crickets chirping all the way up and down the mountain, and wondered why they seemed to be so incredibly loud… until I happened to glance off the trail at one point to see these two sheepishly (cricketly?) peering back at me.

Sorry to interrupt, guys. As you were.

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Manhattan at nightfall

Returning to New York

September 16, 2013 | Travel, USA | 4 Comments

There’s just something about New York. A buzz, a hustle, a palpable energy radiating from the people around you. They walk faster, talk louder, do everything with a sense of determined purpose. The tired stereotype suggests that New Yorkers are rude, but I’ve never found that. They’re just in a hurry, and don’t often slow down for your benefit. Or, for that matter, anybody else’s

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