Paris, France. October 31, 2013. All Saints Day seems an appropriate day to do that which we do on every visit to Paris. We walk up the streets and climb the stairs to the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur at the top of Montmartre. Here we light a candle and say a prayer for our friends, present and past. Often we do this in the early evening when the remaining tourists have witnessed the sunset and left, leaving us largely alone. Ours is a different witnessing.

Dompierre-Sur-Besbre, France. October 19, 2013. All it took was two planes, two trains, a moderate walk, another train, a bus and a van to get us from the Las Vegas airport to the river port of Dompierre-Sur-Besbre, France in 19 hours flat. Not bad. For me it’s not so much the total travel time but the layovers and waits which sap my stamina. Once I’m on a plane, train, bus, boat going from Point A to Point B, I have my routine. I can settle in, relax and…

Chaume, France. October 20, 2013. Rivers are often too swift, drop through hills too quickly, shift sandbars, hurl logs, and are too liable to drought and flood to encourage reliable commerce. Canals changed all that. Here on the Loire Lateral Canal we skirt the Loire River sometimes close, sometimes several kilometers away. We navigate along level waterways for 3, 4 or 5 kilometers until the next lock, and even then the drop is moderate.

Canal Lateral Loire, north of Decize, France. October 20, 2013. We pointed our canal boat north and were sipping coffee as we made the only ripples on the still silent canal. The rain clouds hung low on the east, curtaining off the sun and casting our canal, lined by tall oak, willow and locust, into a glomming of grays, browns and silver. We were alone without another boat or person in sight. Suddenly there were competing ripples ahead in mid-canal, ruffling the smooth waters. “A duck,” I predicted….

Rome. November 3, 2012. Old Rome slips, at times, from my immediate memory. And then, on return, the memories of past times flood back, mixing with my footsteps as I wander, again, aimlessly across old stone, past ancient churches and older still Roman ruins. How many cities, exactly, of Rome have stood on this spot, claiming to be better than the previous one? How many times, exactly, has Rome been sacked, raped and ruined to rise again? But, on this day, Saturday, November 3rd, 2012, we have just…

Huron, South Dakota.  September 19 and 20, 2013. Going back to my fiftieth high school reunion was sort of like going through old boxes in my attic.  There are some delightful surprises, some moments spent trying to remember why something was important, and the discomfort of knowing some things had been waiting there for so long just to be found again and stir old memories.

Paris. February 14 through 20, 2013. Everyone has an opinion of Paris. Most have suggestions ranging from “Stay away!” to “You must visit this little unknown place on Montmartre.” This is our way: become a state of being verb. Be in Paris. Wander aimlessly with no set plan. Stop to consider the beauty, the history, the rapid changes, the timelessness of place. I’ve lost count of my visits to Paris, but it must be right around 30 and I no longer have a list. I’m free to be.

Oaxaca, Mexico.  December 22 through 25, 2011. Viva Mexico really should be Vivid Mexico.  In forty years of travel there, in different political, economic and social times and in changing fashions, the impression of Mexico is lasting, deep and vivid. Religion, food and drink, color, music, dance and art come together everywhere in Mexico but one of the great statements is made in Oaxaca for the Night of the Radishes on December 23rd, followed by the posada and celebration on December 24th.   Each last just a few short…

Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Hollywood, Irvine. June 12 and 13, 2013. If you tell casual friends here in the great Southwest that you are thinking of using public transportation, you get a look as if you might be suicidal, or worse, broke. Why get on a bus or train with complete strangers when you can join a flotilla of single passenger cars surging ahead on eight lanes of pavement? But, I bummed a ride to the bus terminal (yes, I understand the irony) on the south end of…

Hoi An, Vietnam. Early September 1999. It was, for us, a pretty normal transfer. A late flight from Hanoi to Da Nang, a gypsy cab to Hoi An until the road ran out, my walk through a series of dark and winding alleys to stumble across a wonderful little hotel, and then sending a kid on a motorbike back to pick up my wife and her bag and bring her to the hotel. Pretty easy. The cobra wine was tougher.