Taos, New Mexico

Taos is a small town of about 5,700 people in the high desert of northern New Mexico. It’s home to artists, ranchers, naturalists, vagrants and the oldest inhabited indigenous community in the U.S.—the Taos Pueblo, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, a National Historic Landmark and thousand-year-old residence of the Tiwa-speaking Puebloan people.

Not many people have heard of Taos—including many in the surrounding region—but it’s probably better that way. No major highways run near it (driving through a maze of winding roads it’s about four hours south of Denver and two-and-a-halfish hours north of Albuquerque), it has no major economic influence, it’s about 7,000 feet above sea level and it’s surrounded by expansive mountain ranges, including the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the 13,000-foot Wheeler Peak, the highest point in New Mexico. It’s a miniature somewhere in the middle of a massive and mysterious nowhere.

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Two-week trip to the Balkans? Count me in

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(Not the actual lagoon, but close)

World Nomads is currently running a travel writing contest for a two-week trip to the Balkans. Comes with free flights, €1000 for a 10-day tour, apparel, a train pass and mentoring with travel writer Tim Neville of Outside Magazine.

I’ve entered in past WM competitions, with no success…but maybe this year will be different? Either way, go here to read my story on the contest them of “a place I’ll never forget” – in this case, the place I call the shaman’s lagoon, in Haiti.

Applications close on March 21 and winners are announced April 12.

Colorado

Over the past two months, I found myself headed out of Chicago every two weeks, first to see family in Boston, then for a long weekend in Venice Beach, and finally, to visit my brother and his girlfriend at their new place in Colorado, about an hour north of Denver.

It was my first time in the Centennial State, but between the mountains, big open plains and faint smell of cow, it definitely won’t be my last.

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Babson Boulders

BABSON BOULDERS NEVER TRY NEVER WIN

As a native Midwesterner, New England has always seemed full of secrets to me. But none as surreal as the Babson Boulders, a seemingly random collection of massive boulders with inspirational all-caps etchings scattered around the forest of an abandoned inland settlement in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

I first learned about the boulders six or seven years ago, when someone recommended the site to me after hearing about it from someone else who heard about it from someone else. That’s my kind of provenance.

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The Iceland Ring Road: Part II

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I took an eight-day drive with my wife and partner Sarah around Iceland’s famous and rugged Ring Road. In the last post, I explained how we did it. In this one, I explain what we saw and ate along the way.

Against popular currents we took a counterclockwise route around Iceland’s 830-mile Ring Road, starting and ending in Reykjavik. Because we only had eight days and a 2wd car, we limited our exploration to:

  • South Iceland (Day 1-2)
  • East Iceland (Day 3-4)
  • North Iceland (Day 5-6)
  • West Iceland (Day 7-8)

This left out areas like the Westfjords and the Highlands, but those can be for next time. As the Jewish people say, next year in the Snæfellsnes peninsula.

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“I’m tryin’ to backroads it to Walmart!”

After spending two weeks in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, for the first half of July, I’m officially back in Chicago. At least, my body is. My psyche is still in the desert somewhere. On one hand, it feels like I was gone for a long time. On the other, it feels like I never left Chicago; this small Edgewater apartment, this noisy block where the cars bottom out on the speed bumps, this stupid cat who recently started snoring for some stupid reason.

I wrote a few extended meditations in the desert, but haven’t logged my various stray observations and favorite pictures and so forth. So, here we are—stray observations and some pictures. Enjoy.

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