Haarlem, The Netherlands, 2021

Cheese shop

I want to live next door to this place. We were stopping over in Haarlem for a few days to break up the long flight from Tanzania coming home. Barbara likes to sign us up for food tours in the various places we visit and this one was a “food to go” theme. The cheese shop stop was torture, because I wanted some of so many, and we were not going to be around long enough to sample much.

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Malaysia, Borneo, 2014

Batang Ai River

Several hours driving from Sarawak, Malaysia on Borneo (the island is also home to Brunei and a portion of Indonesia), we arrived at the Batang Ai Dam and transferred our things to our boat. We spent the next four days with these two boatmen and our guide traveling by river, deep into the jungle, staying at indigenous “longhouses.” Along the way we picked up the younger boatman’s wife, so that’s six of us in this boat. And all our stuff. And all our food and drink. The river would get so shallow sometimes, the guide had to get out to keep from scrapping bottom; then I would have to get out, then the boatman’s wife, then one or both boatmen, pushing and pulling instead of poling or paddling. I think I waded half the miles we covered. Barbara could not get out. The day before heading out for this excursion, she tripped on a root and fractured her ankle when we were hiking in another national park. She could barely hobble along and missed the two hikes I was able to do, spotting two orangutans in the wild. At least it was something large and orange, but high in treetops, so I’m making an assumption.

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Death Valley, CA, 2006

Devil’s Golf Course

My wife, Barbara, is a golfer. So are many of our neighbors. I am not. These Dog Days of summer in the Deep South, the midday temperatures routinely reach the mid 90’s, not counting the heat index. So, when they say they are going out to play golf, I think of this place. “The Devil’s Golf Course” is a section of Death Valley not far from Badwater, the lowest point in North America. This rough ground may look like a plowed field to someone who has walked through one, but these “clods” do not crush underfoot. It’s sun-baked as hard as stone and the ridges can be as sharp as a knife’s edge, and even walking carefully one could slice into a rubber soled shoe. And if you fall down….

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Washington, DC, 2018

Jefferson Memorial

I was in DC for a conference, with an afternoon to kill, and thought I’d catch up on my monuments. As a young soldier stationed there in the 60’s, if we had out of town guests (Mom and Dad), we visited the Washington Monument and the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, but there have been many monuments added since, filling the spaces in-between, some of which I had not yet seen. Taxi to the Vietnam Memorial, the Wall, the Three Soldiers, Women’s Memorial, walk up to the Lincoln, across to the Korean, on to MLK, then FDR, and finally, Jefferson. They are all impressive presentations, and I really enjoyed the leisurely walk, taking time to read all the inscriptions/quotes. But even so, Jefferson continues to be my favorite for aesthetic and philosophical reasons. Wherever you fall on the revisionist history of Jefferson, you have to admit the Declaration of Independence was audacious!

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