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    Exploring the Pomp and Grandiosity of the Vatican

    Although the Vatican is the smallest country, by both area and population, in the world, it certainly makes up for in its opulence. I knew the Vatican Museums was a “must-see,” so I booked my online ticket and hammered it out on my second day in Rome. And I’m glad I did. Despite reading tip after tip about how exorbitant the crowds and lines, going in the off-season allowed me to fully enjoy the museum without the chaos. Fortunately , the weather was terrible. Although I already had my ticket in hand, the lines were minimal and crowds were tolerable. I recommend purchasing your ticket ahead of time (directly through…

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    New Adventures, Blossoming Romance in the Cradle of Western Civilization

    Hi Folks! I’m biding my time in the Philadelphia airport, anxiously awaiting my flight to the farthest from home I’ve been. This is my first trip to Europe, and I’m about to board a flight to one of the oldest cities, not only in Europe, but modern civilization-Rome. After spending the last three months voraciously reading travel guides, listening to historical audiobooks and podcasts, and feverishly researching the style and etiquette of  the beautiful Italians, it is finally time for me to board.  After all the agonizing hours of wondering what color scarf to wear and how tall a heel on my boots will allow me to walk for hours…

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    Purple Hazy Clay Beds

    The desert is full of surprises, especially when you know where to find them! These clay beds outside Kanab, Utah made me feel like I was swirling in the midst of a Jimi Hendrix song circa 1967(cue phsychedelic guitar riff of “Purple Haze). Even without mind-altering enhancements, these clay beds are a far-out, surreal landscape of magenta, violet and mustard. Ombre ribbons adorn these strange, dried hills to create an art deco museum in the middle of the desert. Lucky for us, however, this museum is completely free and created by nature. Called the “chinle” formation, these vibrant clay beds are made of fine sediments left from ancient lakes, river…

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    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…

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    A Grand Weakness

    Visiting the Grand Canyon for the first time is an experience I’ll never forget. Peering out into the vast, surreal desert void makes you feel as if the whole thing could swallow you into oblivion. Yet, despite its breathtaking power and grandeur, the Grand Canyon somehow asserts an introspective and quiet vulnerability. Truly, what is the Canyon but a massive open wound in the skin of the earth? A wound revealing the tender and humble weakness of rock that once appeared indestructible.  Over millennia, with each silky passing of water and ripple, the mighty rock has given way carving the canyon deeper and even more spectacular. What exquisite weakness, indeed.…

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    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.…

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    Stop saying our National Parks are"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…

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    The Wonders and Mysteries of Pisac

    After playing tourist in Peru’s most famous-and suffocated-  sites including Machu Pichu and Cuzco, the quaint town of Pisac was like a cool breeze on a hot day. I left the crowds and chaos behind as I stepped into the tranquility of this Peruvian gem. Known for its touristy Sunday market, Pisac is much more than its vendors and crafts (although they are quite lovely.) It’s bewitching and mysterious ruins and chill, chakra-aligning energy, left an indelible imprint on my journey. Referring to both the town and the ruins, Pisac is perhaps derived from the word “Pisaca,”  the Qechua word for Partridge.  While nobody know exactly why the ruins were…

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    Laughing with the Wildflowers

    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…