Archive | November, 2012

A Drive Through Capitol Reef

Capitol Reef National Park, Landscape

From Cedar City we made our way to Capitol Reef National Park in south-central Utah. The park includes an eight-mile paved scenic drive that passes amazing formations, like “The Castle”:

Capitol Reef National Park Castle, Landscape

But to really experience Capitol Reef’s awesomeness, you need to leave the asphalt and explore its hundreds of miles of lesser-developed roads.

Capitol Reef National Park Canyon Roads

Capitol Reef National Park Roads

A Walk Through Wall Street

Bryce Canyon National Park Wall Street


A photographer walks through the towering columns in the “Wall Street” section of Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

Subverting Schengen

Louvre at night, Paris

Thanks for spending springtime in Paris. Now get the hell out!

As our U.S. travels near completion our attention is increasingly drawn overseas. One of the things we’re not looking forward to about international travel is the need to jump through hoops to comply with various world visa restrictions. It’s an entirely absurd complication. We understand that sovereign nations don’t want hordes of foreigners flooding across their borders and stealing their women, um, jobs or – worse yet – living large off generous social safety net programs. What we can’t understand is why people like us who foreswear the right to work locally or receive any foreign benefits aren’t welcomed with open arms. All we want to do is visit your country, eat in your restaurants, patronize your shops, and sleep with your women in your hotels. Said another way, all we want to do is to import money into your nation’s economy. Keeping us out, or limiting our stay, makes absolutely no sense. We should say at the outset that we understand “Fortress America” to be one of the world’s worst offenders in this regard, although as U.S. citizens it hasn’t impacted us directly.

That will all change when we head off to Europe. There we’ll be allowed to stay a total of just 90 days. And unlike many places where you can reset the clock on your visa by simply stepping over a border, a large number of European governments require you to leave for another full 90 days before you are eligible to return. We could certainly make that work if each European country gave you three months to explore its riches, but they don’t. Because of something known as the Schengen Agreement that 90 day limit applies collectively to 27 European nations. If you spend your 90 days whiling away the winter on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, you can forget about spending springtime in Paris, or Germany, or Denmark, or just about anywhere that most folks associate with Europe.

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Giving Thanks for Today

Ozzie and Harriet

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

For some strange reason I found myself thinking about super powers the other day. Not about how cool it would be to have one but mostly about how useless they’d be in the real world. Without a horde of super villains to fight against, what practical good is super strength anyway? For the most part comic book abilities seem better suited to creating mischief than doing anything productive or interesting. The one exception I happened upon was time travel. Not necessarily even to mess with stuff. You don’t need the ability to change the past or profit from a preview of tomorrow’s headlines to make time travel totally awesome. Simply being able to observe the universe unfold over a period longer than a human lifespan makes it a power worth having.

It would be fascinating enough to walk the streets of 22nd century America but what about in the year 3012? Imagine plucking someone from the Middle Ages and dropping them in Times Square. What a mind-blowing experience. The differences between today and the next millennium are likely to be even more dramatic given the accelerating pace of change. I imagine a future of increasing global harmony and prosperity and one where everyday technologies seem magical by today’s standards.

And yet we don’t know for certain what tomorrow holds. It’s possible that future generations will look back and see that the beginning of the 21st century marked the pinnacle of human achievement. It may be that there aren’t even any future generations to ponder such things. We may find that tomorrow is not such a great place to visit, let alone to live.

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The Play is the Thing

Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah, Landscape, Canyon, Hoodoos

Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

We rolled into Cedar City, Utah, simply looking for a spot to overnight while exploring the surrounding desert landscape. What we found was a vibrant college town complete with Texas-topping barbeque and a production of Hamlet besting anything we experienced in twenty years of Manhattan Shakespeare productions. Pretty impressive for a city of just 29,000.

Located in the southwestern corner of Utah, Cedar City is sometimes called the Gateway to the Parks. From here you can reach Zion, Bryce, Great Basin, Capitol Reef, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Lake Powell and even the Grand Canyon all within a several hour scenic drive. But our purpose for coming was to visit Cedar Breaks National Monument, just 22 miles from the city’s center.

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