Personal Interests Updated - Page 2





Hitchhiking with my surfboard and backpackpack.  I got a ride on the back of a propane truck within 10 minutes.  People in Nicaragua are so great.  Because Nicaragua is one of my favorite countries, I have included multiple pictures of it on this site.

Tenting directly on the beach just above the swash zone.  The board and palm tree complete the picture.

At the end of a surf day...the picture says it all. Sigh!

Esopus Creek, New York

Outer Banks, NC


Moose River, Adirondacks

Whitewater Kayaking

Class IV drop and I am down in a small hole.  Not a good Start.  Actually, it turned out to be a very easy run.

Over the past couple of years, I have been putting my play kayaks in the ocean and riding the surf waves.  The picture is a video still, so it is small.  Kayak surfing is a bit dangerous, as the waves tend to flip you forward onto your head - unless you run it at an angle.  The fact that the boat is shorter than the wave from trough to crest means that it can't be run straight.  If you get flipped over, it is imperative to have a strong and immediate role.  Getting in and out through the surf can be challenging.  I have some great video of surfing big ocean waves that I will upload at some point.

This was the beginning of a very long class IV drop.  After completely scouting the run, I figured I could do it without too much trouble - boy was I wrong.  About halfway through the run, I got sucked backward into a very big keeper hole.  My low volume boat is sticky in holes.  A creeker kayak would have been better.  As I am side surfing out of the hole, a creek boater comes barreling down on me with tremendous speed.  The kayaker wants to blast the hole, thus needs speed.  He hits me so hard that it knocks me out of the hole and upside-down.  I have not missed my role in two years, but I could not get up again.  Firstly, I was stunned from the direct hit, secondly I was bouncing my head and body onto rocks like a washboard, and thirdly I was out of breath.  I pulled my skirt and popped up in a very nasty spot with about half of the rapids to go.  Another hole was coming up, and without the buoyancy of my boat, I did not want to go in it.  Kayakers are always safer in their boat.  I tell all my beginner kayak students that after capsizing always ride the rapids out to the end and never put their feet down on the river bottom  because of foot entrapments.  Well, all rules were off.  I swam and lunged my way to the shore.  I made the shore while looking down into a five foot drop over a ledge and into a huge hole...but, my single gloved handhold was slipping.  Oddly, I was hinking about the movies, when the good guy is able to escape a villain by going over a waterfall and down a raging stream.  They survive in the movies.  Don't they?  My grip fails and as I am about to go, my foot catches the bottom and gives me purchase.  So much for foot entrapments. Hey, I made it out.

Titicaca, Bolivia

Myanmar (Burma)

Colca Canyon, Peru


Inle Lake, Myanmar

Irrawaddy River, Myanmar

Yenisey River, Siberia (Russia)


Pacific Ocean, Guatemala


San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua


I was surfing in a very remote part of Guatemala. The waves were not so good - very choppy.  It is important to read signs before going into the water. Learning the hard way is not so much fun.  I could read "Corrientes Peligrosas" or "Dangerous Currents" on the sign, but had no idea what "Alfaque" meant in Spanish.  In retrospect, the sound of the word in Spanish, without knowing the meaning, should have warned me. I decided to go out anyway.  Well, "Alfaque" must mean rip current.  At first I paddle against the current and then decided better.  As a physical geographer, I understand how rip currents work.  Basically, there is a break in the sand or rocks offshore that allows the "lagooned" water that is trapped near the shore to be pulled out very fast when the tide is going out.  The key is not to fight the current, as it is impossible to win.  If you should ever find yourself in a rip, understand that the current is like a river flowing out to sea. Just get to the edge of the "river" by swimming parallel to the shore and then head in.  Of course you will be scared to death, but the advice is good.

Ouch! That wave is about to destroy me.  I fell off the front of my board as the wave steepened beneath me and I am about to pay the price.

That rock behind me looks like a giant shark fin.  Fortunately, I did not see any sharks while surfing; but one of the locals from the Chicken Shack surf camp did get punctured by a ray barb.

Blarney Castle, Irelend


Zizcov TV Tower Prague, Czech Republic

Saint Basil's Cathedral, Moscow, Russia


Visiting World Icons

OK, I kissed the Blarney Stone - so did 1000 other people that same day. The stone was set into the parapet of Blarney Castle in 1446.  It is pretty - nice and polished by creasing lips - albeit a bit plain.  Unfortunately, I was not given much time to examine it before being whisked off to make way for the next kisser.  I think it was a bluestone.  I've never had much trouble gabbing.  It seems hard for a professor to stay silent on most anything. However, now I can walk away with complete confidence that the gift of gab will be forever mine!  So the story goes...MacCarthy, the builder of Blarney Castle, had a lawsuit against him.  He was most likely guilty of of some wrongdoing. So, like any desperate, rich, landbarron he appealed to the goddess Clíodhna, queen of the Banshees, for help. She told him that on the way to court he should kiss the first stone he found.  After making out with some random stone, he was able to plead his case to the court with great eloquence.  Most likely he was lying, nevertheless he won! Thereby, the Blarney Stone is said to bestow "the ability to deceive without offending". The stone was later incorporated into the parapet of the castle, where it has become one of the great icons of Ireland.

Yes, those are giant babies climbing the tower!  How cool yet odd!

Saint Basil's Cathedral is a spectacular splash of color, culture, and history against the backdrop of the infamous Red Square.  The building's design, shaped as a flame of a bonfire rises into the sky. It is a Russian Orthodox cathedral erected in the center of Moscow in 1555–1561 to commemorate territorial conquest and victory for Russians. Today, the cathedral is part of the Moscow Kremlin and Red Square UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Yenisei River, Siberia


  Water Sports

The vast Yenisei River is the largest river system flowing to the Arctic Ocean, and at 3,445 miles is the fifth longest river in the world.  The middle section, where I was working in a field camp, is largely controlled by some of the largest hydroelectric dams in the world.  The dams attracted industry and the need for a workforce in isolated Siberia.  A steady stream of migration from the populated west following the trans-Siberian railroad and, in-part, gulag labor filled this need during Soviet times.  Industrial contamination remains a serious problem on the Yenisei in an area that is hard to monitor due to its remoteness.   While walking along the banks of the river, studying massive bank failures due to damming, I found many human artifacts such as stone tools, illustrating the long standing important role that the Yenisei played to ancient nomadic people.  If you are wondering, the water was not that cold!

Polling upstream in a canoe-like boat near Da Nang Vietnam.  It is always easier to get about by boat than to walk.  Although it is not always easy to find a boat and then convince the owner that you will not sink it.



Panama City, Panama


Exploring in Less Traveled Destinations

Bombed out Church.

Slums of Panama City.  I walked through the slum and found that many people were chronically sick.  I identified the problem as a polluted wellhead.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Bratislava, Slovakia

Loch Ness Scotland

Visiting World Icons

Famous canals of the Netherlands and the equally infamous Red-Light District of Amsterdam

The UFO bridge spanning the Danube River in Bratislava.  The bride which resembles a flying saucer was built by the Soviet Union.  Note the Soviet style housing in the background. The UFO bridge is a unique example of a single-pylon cable-stay structure.  Although construction was finishes in1972, the flying saucer-shaped café, restaurant, and nightclub only recently opened.  A very shaking elevator takes you to the top in ~ 45 seconds.

Castle overlooking Loch Ness in Scotland.  After a couple of pints and I am sure that I saw Nessy.



Enjoying Good Local Food and Drink

For me street food tends to be the best tasting and sweetest deal.  If your stomach can handle it, then bon appetit.  I had a nice snack on the streets of Bangkok, Thailand eating silk worms and grasshoppers.  The grasshopper were salty and crunchy and tasty, but the silkworms were not my favorite.

Somoto Canyon, Nicaragua

Somoto Canyon,

  Canyon Trekking

Somoto Canyon was unexplored (at least by outsiders) until a group of scientists from the Czech Republic "discovered" it in 2004.  I was lucky enough explore it in 2005.  The canyon was formed about 5 to 13 million years ago during the Miocene period.  Recent interest in the Canyon as a tourist attraction has  lead to increased environmental concerns.

While Somoto Canyon is beautiful, it has its dangers.  I was burying my backpack so that I could explore the canyon without locals relieving me of my tent and whatnot, when I slipped on a sharp rock and cut my foot very deeply.  While traveling, I always carry flesh-sewing gut and needles, because I can be accident prone. Typically, I just stitch myself back together again.  Unfortunately, this cut was in a bad spot and would just pop the threads as I applied pressure to the foot.  Because the canyon was so incredible, I managed, even with a hurt foot, to swim/hike to its terminus.  After bandaging my foot up and completing the hike, I  made it out to the Pan-American Highway and hitched a ride to the nearest town with supplies.

Atacama, Peru

Sand Surfing

I mostly just fell and rolled down the sand face for several thousand feet.  Boy, was I dizzy and banged up.  I have a video, but I am too embarrassed to post it.  The dude filming me laughs hysterically throughout the entire video.  Each time my head sunk into the sand and I started another summersault the laughter grew.  So much for concern.  If anything, I am persistent and did make a couple successful runs.

more to come!