Posts with the category ‘Nature / Wildlife / Outdoors’


My Growing Affection for All That Flies

May 1, 2017

For the past two decades I’ve had a passion for things that fly and that’s as it should be considering writing about aviation is how I make my living. How birds arrived on my radar screen is not so clear, but on a trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama, I took a bike tour of Gulf State Park with Ted Floyd, the editor of the magazine of the American Birding Association. As we pedaled along I was captivated by a beautiful grey blue northern mockingbird and a loggerhead shrike that was perched at the top of a long dead tree. Shortly after that, a bald eagle flew… Read More…


Iceland Bared, Three Ways to See What It’s Made Of

October 22, 2016

“If you get lost in the forest in Iceland, just stand up,” or so the joke goes. Iceland has many natural wonders, but forests are not among them. You are much more likely to get lost among the volcanic rocks which pile atop each other over vast distances. Covered by snow in winter, lichen in fall and awash in purple Lupina in the summer, the bones of the face of Iceland have a seasonal sameness. I’ve visited Iceland five times in as many years, including a visit in July for this story for The New York Times. But after a conference here this week, I took two days and… Read More…


A Day at the Beach, a Pinch at Dinner on Hong Kong’s Lamma Island

May 29, 2016

On a steamy but sunny Sunday in Hong Kong, I packed a swimsuit, an umbrella (to ward off rain) and a hotel hand towel, in the thoughtfully-provided nylon carry bag left in my room at the East Hotel and headed for the ferry to spend a day on Lamma Island. This is not just a place to go swimming, it is a hilly walk through fecund forests where every break in the trees yields another spectacular view of small, colorful structures tumbling down the hills and flag-bearing fishing boats bobbing on the water. Just twenty minutes across the water from super-bustling Hong Kong, it is the antithesis of Asia urban, a… Read More…


My Terrible/Wonderful Typically Australian Day

April 23, 2016

No irregular rider goes out on a horse without expecting sore muscles the next day. The price seems well worth it, however, because there’s nothing to compare with the get-back-to-nature nature of horseback riding and doubly so when the destination is Victoria’s St. Andrews Beach, a wild stretch of dunes and energetic surf on the Mornington Peninsula. Early one recent morning, I saddled up for a ride with a group and guide at Gunnamatta Trail Rides. We were given a safety briefing and helmets and then I was assisted into the saddle of a tranquil horse named Banjo. With me atop, he obediently he took his place in a line of horses… Read More…


A Train Called the Lunatic Express

March 31, 2016

When I remember Kenya, I will think of trains. Not because I saw so many of them on my recent visit and not because I traveled in one. But the Kenya the world knows today would not exist except for a rail line that, during its design and construction, was considered such a bad idea it was dubbed the Lunatic Line. Maybe it was crazy and maybe it was not. There are arguments on either side. All of which you can explore at Nairobi’s Railway Museum. I was lucky enough to have an interview with the museum curator, Elias Randiga, an excellent storyteller who kept me spellbound as… Read More…


New Mexico Mountain Gives Bunny Hill Skiers a View

March 1, 2016

“Don’t look down. Look up and enjoy the view,” Seth Hardy said – not just once but all day long. The ski instructor and former junior Olympian was working hard in an effort to get his student off the baby slopes and onto Rocky Mountain trails ten thousand feet in the sky. Seth worked with me for two days this February at the Red River Ski Area near Taos, New Mexico and his wise words were easier for me to hear than to heed. Avoiding looking down at the slippery slope below my skis seemed too scary. I am a fun-lover but not a thrill-seeker. The big… Read More…


Outta My Comfort Zone and Into the Ice in Finland

January 21, 2016

In Miami, where I grew up, swimming in the ocean was akin to stepping into the tub; no discernable difference in temperature between the water and the air and that’s just how I like it. So no one was more surprised then I to be bounding across the snow in Helsinki wearing nothing more than a swimsuit and a towel and headed to a hole in the ice on the Gulf of Finland. And yes, I was planning to swim. To understand what lunacy prompted me do do such a thing, I need to wind back the story a few hours. The plan was to take a hike, what tour… Read More…


Alabama Shore Shows Diversity of U.S. Culture

November 13, 2015

On a recent trip to France, I had breakfast with Sofia Vandaele, General Manager of the newly remodeled and absolutely gorgeous Hilton Paris Opera. Sofia is Belgian and fluent in seven languages. It never ceases to amaze Americans – many of whom know only English – just how many different tongues the people in other countries speak. Sofia is very smart, not to mention charming which explains why she is one of the world’s youngest hotel managers. Big hat tip to a woman like that and who can also carry on a conversation in seven languages. Still, anyone who has visited Europe knows many countries are… Read More…


Wildlife From Both Sides of the Glass

June 17, 2015

In 2005, I had a big bay window installed over my kitchen sink. Since I spend hours standing there, I reasoned I might as well look at something. I thought I was providing myself with a view of the garden, but it is the wildlife I’ve seen that has made that window worth every penny I paid for it. During the particularly harsh Connecticut winter just past, a Cooper’s Hawk downed a mid-size bird on the blanket of snow covering my back lawn and proceeded to spend 25 minutes consuming its catch. The hawk left his version of dirty dishes for me to clean up, while he cleaned his feathers from atop a nearby tree…. Read More…


Evolution of Darwin From Thrill-seeking to Thought Provoking Destination

February 16, 2015

Its no secret; Australia is a country infested with things that will kill you. Or as humorist and Australiaphile Bill Bryson put it in his brilliant book, In a Sunburned Country, “If you are not stung or pronged to death in some unexpected manner, you may be fatally chomped by sharks or crocodiles,”. Even so, I was not prepared for just how much the residents of Darwin on Australia’s north coast would take pride take that dubious reputation. In a twist on the adage, “What doesn’t kill you makes you strong,” Darwin’s tourist-attracting theme seems to be, “If it can kill you you can see it here up close.” All… Read More…


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