• I Made These Cultural Blunders in Italy….(So you don’t have to!)

    Like many Americans traveling to Italy, my imagination of Italy and Italians ran wild with romantic images of pin-stripe suit and gold jewelry-clad men, beautiful, feisty stilletto-heeled women, cozy trattorias with slow, romantic accordion music playing in the background and mountains of fresh pasta. Of course, these are highly stereotypical ideals and not met in reality (except, of course, the mountains of pasta!) Yet, even if you read all the non-stereotype perpetuating literature you can get your hands on, nothing can fully prepare you for being in a new culture entirely. Part of the fun is challenging your own expectations, throwing away your romanticizations, and learning the nitty-gritty details of…

  • Confession of Love: Townes Van Zandt

    When all the world seems mad and upsidedown, truth is obscured and I find my heart turning bitter, I know it’s time to seek out some morsel of art, beauty, or goodness. This week I found my hearth in the rusty rhythms and stories of a folk legend too many have never heard of- the late Townes Van Zandt. His voice is the dusk of Americana. Singer of bandit lullabies, lonesome trails, and wistful loves, Townes Van Zandt’s mournful melodies could uncover that place in your soul buried deep in the soil.  His voice was raw as chickory and smooth as a river stone. His simple, yet intricate picking style…

  • Four Ways To Really LOVE Your National Parks

    Admittedly, my last post was a bit was of rant. Living and working near a national park, I see firsthand the catastrophic level of use and abuse these wondrous lands receive. And it makes me irate. (For those unfamiliar with the issue, check it out here and here). Yet, rather than drivel on about the hegemonic industrial-consumer paradigm that is the basis of the problem (it is), I will spare you and offer up a few solutions. Cultivated out of experience and observation, this is my short list of actions individuals can take now to connect on a deeper level to their national parks to ultimately become their fierce protector.…

  • Stop saying our National Parks being “loved to death”

    It’s a common trope I hear these days that our National Parks are “being loved to death.” (Looking at you New York Times). While much of the conversation is accurate and valid-that our parks are seeing record, unsustainable number of visitors, budget strains, and unmanageable waste calling it “love” misses the mark and the larger, systemic problem at hand. If what is happening in our National Parks is “love,” it’s the love akin to swiping right. Love would imply stewardship, responsibility and deep, mutual connected-ness. Yet, we collect parks like Tinder matches, as we stamp our passports and vie for fleeting likes and followers, with our parks playing the pretty…

  • Laughing with the Wildflowers at Cedar Break’s Anuual Wildflower Festival

    They say the Earth laughs in flowers, and, with names like Orange Sneezeweed, Sulphur Buckwheat, Mountain Coyote, it’s no wonder why.  At Cedar Breaks National Monument, July is quite the jolly jubilee, indeed, as it erupts in plumes of wildflowers of every color. Cedar Breaks is a hidden gem of a monument. Only one hour away from the scorching heat of the red rock desert, it sits over 10,000 ft. in elevation and gives visitors a brisk alpine breath of fresh air. This was the monument’s thirteenth annual Wildflower Festival, and photographing the event enlivened my heart and soul.     The intense, regal color of scarlet paintbrush, to the…

  • It isn't "brave" to travel solo as a woman. It's normal.

    When I decided to venture solo off to the mystical land of Peru, some friends and family members expressed  concerns, a few expressed astonishment and a lot of folks reminded me to “be careful.” While I certainly appreciate the consideration, I think the overzealous warnings from loved ones can be a bit misguided.  Here is why: Despite being the fool-hearty adventurous type, I have often considered myself rather timid and awkward. I’m possessed of an inner dialogue that years for adventure and wildness, simultaneously crippled by anxious rumination about whether or not I possess the  heartiness to go out and seek it. Perhaps the timid voice is simply an internalized…