Stories of travel to unusual places.

Who’s Living in the Plains?

My friend and colleague Rashida and I are heading into Carrizo Plain National Monument in southern California for a field class on the largest remaining segment of valley grasslands in the US. We drive alongside a riverbed where water once filled the ten-foot wide channel. Now dust-covered shrubs and trees fill the canal. As dusk […]

“Lucy in the Sky with Islands”

The Sky Islands are the mountains of the Santa Rita range, including Madera Canyon. This relatively small region in the Coronado National Forest boasts more than 240 species of birds, a wide range of succulents, including cactus, yucca and agave, and an intermix of conifers, oaks, madrones and other plants that host fascinating insects and spiders.

Unlocking the Mystery of the Ancient Bristlecone Pines

Envision being alive before Moses traversed the desert. Imagine existence before the Mayans disappeared. Consider life on Earth some 4,800 years ago. The Great Basin bristlecone pines in the forest of the White-Inyo Mountains of eastern California have survived that long. Scientists have named one of the trees, Methuselah, after the long-living character in the […]

Rockin’ the Outback

In the Land of “127 Hours” I was standing on the edge of a narrow canyon called Middle Keyhole in Zion National Park, a cold waterway behind me, a 25-foot drop ahead of me. My heart was pumping at full pace now. It had started beating faster the moment we arrived at Zion Adventure Company […]

In the Land Where Drumming Began

A drumming and dancing trip to the island of Roume in Guinea, West Africa turned up many surprises.

Walking Among the Ancients

Petra, Jordan: The descent into the valley that disguises the ancient town of Petra held no clue what historical and cultural intrigue I was about to discover. Stepping onto the path, the city of stone drew me into a corridor in the belly of “Jordan’s Grand Canyon” where striated rocks of rusty red, mauve and rose frame the walkway. I felt transported to an earlier era awash in spirits.

Unfrozen in Time—Canadian Rockies

When planning trips, especially to wild places, I avoid looking at pictures of my destination in advance. When I finally get there, the experience is vivid and full of surprises. On a week-long hiking, bicycling and boating trip in the Canadian Rockies in 2003, I marveled at exquisite mountain vistas and weird natural adaptations on every leg of the adventure.

Left Behind—Republic of Georgia

One of the troubling outcomes of the post-Soviet era of independence is the collapse of the safety net for older people.

Balinese Fishers

With just a weekend to spend in Bali, I wanted to get a taste of the culture. So I headed in the opposite direction of the tourist spots and stayed at an Indonesian-owned hotel in a fishing village.

So Girls May Thrive

Meeting Mayan women on the shores of Lake Atítlan, Guatemala, revealed sad truths about how poverty and patriarchy interlink to threaten the health of women and girls. The local nonprofit health clinic, Rxiin Tnamet, provides a lasting antidote.