The Masai Mara, Kenya, February, 2014 Spell it as you will, the Masai, Maasai or Masaai (and I’ve found it spelled two ways in a single document), have the best public relations team ever. From soft drinks to cell phones, we’ve all seen these tall, lanky herdsmen of the Masai Mara and Serengeti standing erect, red robes wrapped round their shoulders, sturdy stave to the side. If the Dallas Cowboys are “America’s Team” then the Masai are Africa’s symbolic tribe. If the Cowboys are “America’s Team” the Masai…

Masai Mara, Kenya, February 2014. Here I was on the African savannah for the first time. Again. My home, Las Vegas, is a city of two million people, surrounded by mountains and stitched together with freeways, highways and six lane streets. The famous Strip casts a glow on the night sky, canceling all but the brightest stars. While we rarely use them, we residents know we can find about anything open somewhere at any time. The city actually thrums. My home, Las Vegas, with two million people and…

The Masai Mara, Kenya, February 6, 2014 and revised 2-28-14. “The western black rhinoceros is extinct.” Sierra Magazine, March/April 2014. So I slipped. A woman on an airport shuttle between planes asked me what I had been doing in Africa. “Shooting wild animals,” I said, a little groggy in my thirty-sixth hour of continuous travel. That got me in hot water fast. “No, no, not actually shooting animals. Shooting pictures, taking pictures, taking photos of wild animals,” I managed to get in during one of her deep breaths…

A long list of places made short. December 24, 2013 “It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellowmen, and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death. It is doomed to wander through the world—oh, woe is me!—and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!” Jacob Marley to Ebenezer Scrooge, Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” A couple of…

Perito Moreno Glacier, Patagonia, Argentina. December 10, 2013. Crampons lashed to our boots, we took our first tentative, flat footed, steps, driving the spikes into glacial ice and stepping forward. No heel-to-toe step but full contact with our spikes biting into this massive glacier as we started a short trek to one of the few accessible spots near the front face of this residual giant cache of ancient snows. Moving at an occasional top speed of 2 meters (about six and a half feet) per day, the Perito…

At the foot of Fitz Roy mountain, Patagonia, Argentina. December 8, 2013. I’ve come to view long hikes and treks like life. The real purpose is to enjoy the trail, not to hurry to the end which will come soon enough anyway. After a three hour flight from Buenos Aires to El Calafate, we caught a three hour shuttlebus ride to El Calatan where we met our guide and porters. Once we’d redistributed our packed goods, storing those we wouldn’t be using at an accommodating hotel, we shouldered…

Las Vegas, Nevada. December 3, 2013 U R Doin’ What? I seem to be getting some of that lately, but here I go anyway. Inside my already packed duffel bag is a backpack ready to go. After trying to recruit friends to come along, the day has come, and I’m headed for Patagonia to hike, trek, camp and soak up some magnificent scenery. This started when I found a post on Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree forum. Xiao, an Australian professional photographer, was looking for someone to share the…

November 26, 2013. Patzcuaro, Mexico. Eat off the streets and you’re gonna die! Right? Well, not really. I mean, not really if you are smart about it. First, let’s establish a base. I’m not one of those extreme eaters. I don’t eat strange things to get on tv. I eat for pleasure as well as nutrition. I like good food, well prepared, and I don’t like badly prepared food anywhere. I understand good hygiene and practice it when I can. . . . local food is a key…

Highway 15, Western Mexico. April 6, 1969. I was doing about 80 on Camino Quince (Highway 15) with Culiacan somewhere behind me and Los Mochis still ahead on that Easter afternoon. Through the shimmering light as the heat from the road turned straight lines into curves, I saw him. Rather, I saw something. Something was in the center of the road, not moving. I let up on the accelerator but was still closing quickly, close enough now to make it out. Here, on a sizzling strip of black…

Veracruz, Mexico. June 1973. All the descriptions of heavy rain don’t do this one justice. Sheets, pouring, pounding, cats-and-dogs, driving, blinding all are incapable of getting to the essence of this rain. There was no place which was merely damp. Dry was impossible. Everything was suddenly and ruthlessly sodden. The streets gushed with water, the shelter under large trees became ponds, the long sloping eaves of tile roofs gave no refuge below. It was ten at night, and we were in my Ford van, having finished a nice…