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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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    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…