Friday, March 16, 2018

Being a Cold Weenie...

is a curse.

We base our decisions on past experiences. ( I.E. A child quickly learns the harsh lesson of a hot stove top. )

So after a decade’s worth of visits to Death Valley National Park in the months of February and March, I deemed it warm enough for a month long layover from true winter. Alas, Ma Nature has a way of monkey wrenching the best of game plans. In that time frame Death Valley had below average temperatures and above average winds, dank clouds and precipitation. Bummer for me. 

While there, I was able to recruit Greg L. ( a former firefighter colleague ) to backpack the Cottonwood/Marble Canyons Loop with me. Of course, it was cooler than normal. Ice formed overnight on nearby puddles. I froze my tuchas off the two nights we camped. Of course I whined about it. ( The 28th Amendment guarantees me the right to complain. If everyday citizens can possess a weapon of mass destruction, I should have the Right to whine. )

After a while, Greg had enough. I can’t blame him. I can become the Wandering Wondering Whiner pretty easily. He said, “Jeff! You need to get over this cold weather obsession.”

I replied, “Greg, I envy people like you. I wish I could handle all the seasons. My life would be so much simpler.” 

As we started hiking ( me wearing two layers of fleece while Greg wore a cotton T-shirt ), I thought about what he said. 

Then it dawned on me, I come from a long line of Cold Weenies. It’s in my DNA.

Mike and Robin ( the best brother and sister-in-law in the World ) split their time between Palm Beach, FL and Queens, NY.

My Dad, Sid spent the entire year in South Florida. No Snowbird action for him. Sid rarely flipped on his AC even in the muggiest most sultry of Delray Beach summers. He might have been a Cold Weenie, but he was no Heat Weenie. 

Recently, Israel sent 10 competitors to the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Let’s just say the results were no “Miracle on Ice.” 

Go way back to Biblical times. Read about Moses leading his manna munching Tribes for 40 years through the Empty Quarter of the Mideast. Hebrews are the People of the Desert. No one calls the Jews the “Frozen Chosen.” 

Being a Cold Weenie is in my blood. I’m unable to click my flip-flops together three times ( with eyes closed ) and say out loud, “I’m going to live in a Igloo. I’ll bide my time making Snow Angels while naked.” It’s not going to happen. day I’ll probably settle down half the year in Colorado. The other half in Snobsdale, Arizona. This might happen sooner than later. 

From cold ( of course ) and windy Bishop, CA.

A chilly Cheers,

PS. All the photos are from the Cottonwood/Marble Canyons Hike. That’s Greg who now knows I’m a Cold Weenie. 

Final photo. There are alligators in Death Valley NP.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

I think about Everett Ruess...

 a lot each and every time I meander off in the Southwest deserts. The region is wrinkled, contorted, tortured and beautiful. It’s an equal opportunity area. Fools or those who come prepared can meet the same dismal fate. America’s SW is a harsh land.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Who’s Everett Ruess? 

Everett wandered the SW from 1931 to 1934. Then the land wasn’t fenced in. There were few National Parks or Monuments. Towns had the feel of outposts rather than bastions of civilization. Roads were rudimentary. Everett’s means of transport was his feet and a few burros. One day he went into a Utah canyon and forgot to come out. He was last seen in Escalante, Utah. His body was never discovered. He was 20 years young. Mr. Ruess is a mystery that’s never been solved.

Everett gained fame after his death. There was poetry in his letters to friends and family. There was teenage angst in others. His love of Wild Places was palpable. He was a starving artist. He was sort of a slacker. He had no problem in asking his parents for a handout. Mr and Mrs Ruess supplied the cash for him to go along his merry way. Maybe this was their way of keeping their eccentric son from becoming a family embarrassment. 

In contemporary times, Everett would reek of cannabis, have dreadlocks and reside in Telluride. He would be a Trust-a-farian. 

So why do I think of Everett? 

I too venture alone into the Southwest canyons, mesas and cliff sides. It’s a is vast landmass.  There’s plenty of rugged terrain devoid of trails. The few that are out here might have been made by game, old miners or intrepid hikers. When I spot them, I follow them not knowing where they might lead. I tiptoe into mine shafts until the light fades away. This isn’t smart. Things can go wrong out there with no one to hear your cries of “HELP!” 

At times rocks which have been stationary for eons might decide to shift. This occurred to me on a cliff a few years ago. 

If you don’t believe me ask Aron Ralston. 

Mother Nature is a beautiful thing until she decides to maim or murder you. 

I take less risks now. I’ve become much more conservative overall. A twisted ankle or a sprained knee would be a bad thing. I don’t have a desire to hike into a canyon and forget to come out. I’m not sure if people would find poetry in my blogs or beauty in my photos. I might not ever get famous! 

I promise to be careful out here. 

Cheers from colder than average Tecopa Hot Springs,

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

“Yet what is travel...

If not the art of creative homelessness?”

From “No-Man’s Lands” by Scott Huler

It’s been six months since I’ve resided in Barley the Van.

I spent four of those months overseas. I had no choice but to leave my four-wheel  Buddy behind. Barley won’t fit in an airplane’s overhead bin compartment. 

The other two months, I slept inside a thing called a bedroom. There were no wheels beneath me. I had indoor plumbing!  So this is how the other 99.8% live. 
For half a year, I’ve been living as large as a 6’3”, 239# Lying Scumbag President. It’s now time to readjust to Barley’s 66 square feet of living space. ( most of which is a Queen-sized bed. ) 

I’ll be reading by headlamp, drink my water from Nalgene bottles and cook on a Coleman stove. I’ll be showering outside with solar heated water. I’ll admit it. It’s sort of a feral existence. I can’t  dwell too much on how strange my life must seem to “normal”folks. At times, it’s even strange to me. 

I’ve now been in the Greater Death Valley Region for over a week. On my hikes, I’ve seen two jackrabbits, one Desert Bighorn and a docile Dude from Washington State. I knew he was harmless since his pick up truck sported a “Kill Your Television” bumper sticker. That’s a Peace-nik. 

It’s been quiet. A little too quiet, as I’ve noticed nothing but couples in the campgrounds. The few single travelers own dogs; which in  their World makes them a couple too. The stigma of the single man in the white van, is once again, becoming my reality. 

I might be going through the motions of solo traveling. There’s only so many times in a day, I can say out loud, “Look at that! Isn’t that beautiful?” But there’s no Significant Other on the receiving end to appreciate the scene. Nor a companion to clink drinks with at Happy Hour. 

I’ve been at this WW J thing a little short of six years. Maybe there’s an expiration date to this solo kosher Wandering? 

With all that said, ( No One writes a more honest blog than me. No One. It’s 100% Fake News Free ),  for the next three months I’ll continue on my way to remote places in the SW.  I’ll have plenty of time to wander, wonder and ponder. I’ll keep looking for a sign to show me the way.

Who knows? One day, I might drive into a campground and there will be a pink Barleian Van owned by a WW (fill in the religion) Woman. It could be a match made in heaven.

Don’t get me wrong. I still love traveling. I just might be losing my Mojo for going solo. Only time will tell. 

Cheers from chilly Death Valley National Park,

I’m posting this from Pahrump, NV. There’s more gun dealers and casinos than grocery stores. There’s no brewpubs but I can buy plenty of Bud Lite. It’s not on my list of possible places to settle down. 

It’s now politically correct to say this, it’s a shit hole. 

Friday, February 9, 2018

“The True West Differs from the East...

 in one great, pervasive, influential, and awesome way: space." 

“Blue Highways” by William Least Heat Moon

For a wee bit over three weeks, I was lying low in Flat Florida. 

Yes, I loved my quality time and Happy Hours with Mike and Robin. (AKA the best brother and sister-in-law in the World). Yes, it was wonderful to view mellow manatees, stilt-legged shore birds, pelotons of pelicans and playful porpoises. Yes, I loved the endless miles of beach walks while listening to a soothing surf. Yes, I enjoyed my ocean sunrises and sunsets. Yes, I thrilled at the Fire and Fury of witnessing a NASA rocket lift-off from Cape Canaveral. Yes, it was great to wear tank tops and baggy shorts for days on end. 

The only negative was when an alligator ripped my flesh. Well, not exactly, but it sounds a lot more heroic than being filleted by shrubbery. ( I’ll never look at those green predators the same again )

Despite this blood loss, I had a relaxed, easy going 22 days of Beach Boy bliss.

But, I found myself missing the West. I needed uphill. I craved canyons, mountains and passes. I was lusting for Zip Code sized Big Views devoid of people. I desired Space. 

The definition of the what the West is, or where it begins scores opinions from authors, explorers, the US Census Bureau and one Wandering Wondering Jew. 

Wallace Stegner described the West as “the geography of hope.”

Gertrude Stein said: 'In the United States there is more space where nobody is than where anybody is. That is what makes America what it is.”

John Wesley Powell that one-armed adventurer and long time director of the US Geological Survey believed the West began to the left of the 100th Meridian. A line separating moist from arid lands. Or another way of stating this: Mother Nature provides the water for crops vs. the necessity of irrigation.

The US Census Bureau gets right to the point. According to this Governmental body counter, the West is comprised of the Rocky Mountain Region, the Great Basin and the West Coast. They tossed Hawaii and Alaska into the pot as well. I guess they didn’t want America’s newest states to feel left out. 

For one WW J, the concept of the West is pretty simple. The better part of America begins on the hilly side of Interstate 25. This 1,068 mile north-south road doesn’t run from Canada (Eh!) to Mexico (Si!), so I conceived an imaginary four-lane in my mind for completion. ( Sort of like Borders;  just human drawn lines in so many places.) 

Jim Morrison of the Doors sang it all so well. “The West is the best.”

I’m now in Snobsdale, AZ. I’m provisioning Barley the Van for a month’s stay in Death Valley National Park. From there, I’ll visit the Mohave Desert, Joshua Tree National Park, Bishop, CA ( an eastern Sierra Nevada town on the 395 corridor), Zion and Bryce NPs, Grand Staircase/Escalante and Bear Ears National Monuments ( what’s left of them after they have been desecrated by President Short Term Thinker ) and a bevy of other beautiful places in the Southwest. 

My ETA back to Colorado is mid-May. Right in time for a blizzard of heart attack heavy wet White Death. Once there, I’ll see Family, friends and Rockies and Junior College World Series baseball. 

So...if you find yourself on the sunny side of the Southwest, feel free to look me up. I’ll have a spare box of Macs and Cheese and extra IPAs (AKA the Nectar of the Gods). I’m willing to share. My library is well stocked with history books too. Does any American really desire a future President who isn’t well read? I think not. 

The last photo is one month’s worth of Happy Hours. A fella can get mighty thirsty in the Desert.

Fun folks are always welcome at my campfire.

Here’s some extra reading if you are curious about a WW J’s typical day.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

At the End of the Old World...

In Finesterre, Spain, I looked West. From a rocky peninsula I imagined seeing a once great Nation “surrounded by water. Big water. Ocean water.” (Commander in Tweet, September 29th, 2017).

And there, I dropped a knee in silent protest. I was not disrespecting the Stars and Stripes nor all the men and women past and present who have served or are serving in our Armed Forces. (Including those who were once POW’s)

I’m protesting a Country who has temporarily (I hope) morphed from America the Beautiful to America the Badass. A Nation where a P—y Grabbing President, ignorant of our Constitution, our Ideals or History can propagate a regime of daily chaos. 

It’s now been a year of America’s Moral decline into the new Dark Ages. President “Know Nothing”  ( Google this for a quick US History Lesson ), has continued down the twisted path of bigotry and racism. His campaign message hasn’t changed. It’s right to be White. People of color, non-Christians and non-English speaking people need not apply for citizenship.

President Lying Scumbag’s recent low rent “shit hole” comment is just one faux pas in a year of verbal and physical assaults on our Nation’s Institutions. 

Here’s a short list: 

The Con Man in Chief has dismantled two Utah National Monuments. He is the first Head of State in many years to attempt to rescind former Presidents use of the 1906 Antiquities Act. Large segments of Bear Ears and Grand Staircase/Escalante have been withdrawn from full Federal Protection. The Land can now be mined or logged (short term use) IF he gets his way. Of course, the battle has just begun. Native American Tribes and numerous Conservation Organizations have filed suit against this assault on Wild Lands. Funny how often his little thought out actions end up in Court. 

When Made in America Neo Nazis paraded in Charlottesville, Virginia bearing Swastika flags and chanting racists slogans, Steve Brannon’s former Buddy was a bit lax in condemning them. Eventually he claimed there were “fine people on both sides.” I wonder how many WW II Vets would agree with the Draft Dodger’s assessment that Nazis are “fine people.” At that moment,  he besmirched the memory of the Greatest Generation. Shame on him. 

The Bigot in the White House wishes to rescind DACA, thereby creating havoc for 700,000 to 800,000 American Citizen Wannabes. The Drama King is using DACA to leverage a deal for his freaking WALL! How pathetic is that! Using people whose only crime is being brought into the US by their parents. Only a true Scumbag would use innocents to achieve an evil campaign promise. (PS. If the Wall happens, Mexico won’t be paying for it. We will be) 

Our foreign policy is based upon the Lone Ranger/John Wayne model. It’s us against the World. Another way to describe it would be “We’re Right and you are not.” (Followed by a Bronx Cheer). The US is now the only country not on board with the Paris Climate Agreement. According to our Chief Climate Change Denier, it’s a “Hoax.” This is nothing America should be proud of. 

There’s talk of moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. An impulsive decision which will create more tension in an already tense region. This will be a State Department post no one will want. Our people will be placed into the Line of Fire. (Think Beirut Embassy bombing of 1983). 

Then of course, there’s the nonsense of building the Wall. Is it a good idea to ignore recent history? IE: The Berlin Wall? Wouldn’t diplomacy be cheaper and longer lasting? 

The US is now a Rogue Nation, a Bully and a destabilizing force in World Affairs. This sucks. Respect between countries is earned, not blindly handed over because we have a “Bigger Button.” 

When two of his White Supporters made a killing field in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, TX (84 dead) his Tweets were subdued. Yet, when an Islamic extremist killed eight in NYC,  the Tweets were highly politicized. In regard to the Homegrown terrorists, there was (of course) no mention of legislating reasonable gun control measures. Why risk the ire of the NRA and all those Campaign contributions? 

This list could go on and on...but I made my point. We have a Commander of Crisis Creation in the White House. OR as we called a problem child on the Fire Department-a Shit Stirrer. 

There will be no peace of mind or inspirational speeches coming out of the White House in the next three years. It will be Management by Crisis. If there’s no Drama available then he’ll Create it.

This is what many Americans bought into : A small minded, uncompassionate,  impulsive, liar who has a limited range of knowledge. A Man-Child who has never held a real job or understood the simple concept of “NO!” 

It’s been a year of shock and awe. Many Americans (like me) wake each morning and check. “WTF is the Scumbag up to today?” We live in stressful times. 

The way I see it, there’s three solutions to this dilemma: Indictment or Impeachment or Divine Intervention. 

I’ll wrap up this post with my 2020 Presidential Campaign catch phrase.

 “Drain the Cesspool!” 

A swamp has many ecological attributes.(of course, the nincompoop doesn’t  know this).  A Cesspool is only good for one thing-a repository of Poop. 

Vote for me in 2020. I know a lot of Bigly words and history. I’m a Mensch too. 

Cheers to you in these Lying, trying times,

BTW. Welcome to Trump’s Government Shutdown. 

“The problems start from the top and have to get solved from the top,” Trump said. “The president is the leader, and he’s got to get everybody in a room and he’s got to lead.” 2013 Fox and Friends quote from the Reality TV Host turned President 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

On the National Geographic Endeavor II

On the National Geographic Endeavor II...

my fellow guests were Doctors, lawyers, CFO’s, realtors, pharmaceutical researchers, IT Wizards, Board of Director members, college professors, factory owners and than...there was Me. 

My shipmates wore age appropriate clothing. They owned grownup luggage. I on the other hemisphere sported baggy black shorts, a tank top and carried a sweat stained backpack. Once again, this Jewish Gringo sort of stood out. 

With a five-figure per guest price tag, I shouldn’t have been too surprised. My Blue Collar ways and net worth were more in tune with the Crew than the Clientele. So...I decided to be an Equal Opportunity Grinner and chant English or Espanol salutations to all.  I didn’t want the other 93 guests (mostly families and couples) or 62 crew members to make me take a long walk off a short plank. I swim as well as a barbell. 

Before boarding, I read the brochure Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic sent to all us Darwin wannabes. It promised that “in no time, the ship will feel like home.” I had my doubts. First off, my old home didn’t sway with the ocean’s currents. Secondly, I envisioned my cabin to be a tiny affair with a miniature porthole for my ocean view. I wondered if my bed would be a hammock strung out between the walls. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect. 

Well, I’ll say it now. Everything about this weeklong surf and turf trip was way beyond my lowball expectations. For a change, all the hype was justified. I hadn’t been this pampered since my Mom (May she RIP) spoon fed me chicken soup. My cabin was cleaned three times a day. (including a turning down the bed service. Yes! There was chocolate on my pillow too.) The meals were lovingly prepared. The ingredients were fresh and locally produced. The desserts added a kilo to my waistline just by looking at them. The diet starts manana. It was all so sinful.

I established a routine of waking up early to score some quiet time. At 5 am, it was just me, the coffee machine and the crew members going about their chores.(They really did swab the decks and polish the brass.) I’d then gag my way through a few pages of the NY Times to catch up on the latest news emanating from the United States of Dark Ages. (Did the Commander in Tweet really call a Continent’s worth of countries and then some  “shit holes”?) By sunrise, I’d be on the Observation Deck drinking more coffee with my graceful Frigate Bird Buddies. I highly recommend this as a way to start your day-minus reading the News. 

After breakfast the activities on the Galápagos Islands would begin. There was snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding, glass bottom boat tours, beach bumming venues and Zodiac boat rides. The few hikes were more a mellow mosey than lung burners. (The stop and go pace was challenging for me). All events included a knowledgeable guide who spoke at great lengths about the breeding habits of all Galápagos creatures great and small. 

Seeing the not-so-wild wildlife was the primary reason for my journey to these remote volcanic islands. With little effort, every photographer can score an up-close and in-their-face image of the unique residents. IE: flightless cormorants, ocean going iguanas, giant tortoises, booby birds with red or blue stomping feet and the only species of penguin found in the northern hemisphere. 

The animals are incredibly photogenic. They don’t move! It’s not rare to hear someone shout out a warning. “Don’t step on the iguana!” or “Don’t trip over that sea lion!” Personally, I think they are all stoned on some Equatorial grown drug. The whole week was similar to an episode of “Best of Animal Planet.” Once again, the reality outperformed the hype. 

Which leads us somehow to Darwin! 

Charles was sort of a rich slacker who hitched a ride on the HMS Beagle as the ship’s Naturalist. In 1835, he spent five weeks on the Islands taking wildlife samples, making observations, looking at rocks and pondering the subtle differences of finches and other animals occupying the isolated islands in this vast archipelago. Darwin was no Speed Demon when it came to putting pen to paper. It wasn’t until 1859, when his game changing “On the Origin of the Species” was published. 

On the 100th anniversary of the book’s printing, Ecuador established the Galápagos Islands National Park. Coincidence? I think not. 

I’m still up after a Quito to Fort Lauderdale Red Eye, 

No sleep for this blogger. 

I’m missing my Frigate Bird Buddies.

Spend the money and visit the Galápagos. It lives up to the hype.

Cheers from West Palm Beach with an IPA Happy Hour,


Last photo: that’s me with Obama. It’s his fault there’s Evolution. 

Friday, January 5, 2018

“I’m nervous, very nervous...

I’m not having fun. I’m nervous.” 

My Father, Sid Sambur circa 1988, The above quote was his mantra on steep and narrow Independence Pass, Colorado. I was driving. He was my passenger. 

We are all the product of our parents. 

My Dad (May he RIP) was a high strung, energetic, opinionated, small in stature, nervous Jewish man. Does this sound familiar?

So...prior to going way, way south of the US Borders, I was feeling nervous, very nervous. 

My fears were based upon Internet gossip and other sources on the country’s I would be traveling to:  Peru and Ecuador. 

The Salkantay Trek didn’t cause me any phobias. 

Cusco, Peru wasn’t too scary, once you got past the gauntlet of hucksters selling tour packages, goo-gags and massages. (“Señor! Two women for an hour massage. $50!)

The constant hassles of playing dodgeball with humans got old. I sequestered myself in my hotel room, to avoid this daily bombardment. Toward the end, I only ventured out for errands and Happy Hours. 

Onto Quito, Ecuador: A few weeks ago, I read a letter sent by my Galápagos Islands Tour Company. (National Geographic). The memo warned their guests to be extra cautious in Quito. Prior to leaving the US, I phoned the company to gather more specifics. I spoke to Mark, who was my Go To Guy when I had any questions or concerns. As usual I was to the point. “Mark, is Quito as scary as the letter describes it to be?”

He answered politely, “Mr. Sambur, a guest recently had her backpack stolen off her back, in broad daylight. Please be careful there.”

OY! OY! OY! I like my backpack. I don’t want a Bad Guy to get it. 

I arrived in Quito on New Year’s Eve. After checking into the Hilton (that’s how I roll when it’s part of the tour package), I went out for an early Happy Hour. The crowd density was beehive thick. A bit much for me. I slid off to a side street and made my way for a beer and meal. In Ecuador, people don costumes, garish wigs and many men dress in drag. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that). To this Gringo, it was more reminiscent of Halloween than another year gone by. I was back in my comfy room before nightfall.

An all night downpour quenched a lot of the NYE revelry. At Midnight a few rockets went off, a couple of Boom! Boom! Boom! and that was about it. I rolled over and fell back asleep. 

I hit the streets early on New Year’s Day. They were devoid of people, traffic and any open businesses.  (Even the Supermarkets were shuttered). A great day for me to get acquainted to Ecuador’s second biggest City of 2.6 million inhabitants. I headed towards Quito’s Historical Old Town, just like all the Gringo Tourists are directed to do. This being Low Season for Tourism, there was a dearth of fellow sightseeing Gringos. In fact, there were a lot more Policia walking their beats than people like me.

I stand out like a Peter Max DayGlo poster in a Church. I began to feel less angst. Besides, I’m bigger than most Ecuadorians! 

I decided to visit another Gringo Destination. A supersized aluminum statue of the Virgin Mary. She resides on the edge of a hill overlooking her admirers. Of course, I walked. That was scary. The stairs leading up to the prominence are rife with gangs of Gringo hating hounds. They snarled at me, chased me and invaded my personal space. Those mean mongrels made me nervous, very nervous. 

Sure, there are Locals selling pretty much everything from Selfie sticks, wool hats, Street food, watches, and items I couldn’t even identify. But! They don’t  hassle you. That’s why I’m liking Quito mas than Cusco. 

The week I’ve spent here went by fairly quickly. I managed to stay busy and engaged. I hiked to a nearby 15,000’ plus volcano, took a 10 Hour bus tour to Cotopaxi National Park and wandered the streets. Pretty entertaining stuff. 

It didn’t hurt that I’ve been in a comfy, spacious, 12th floor Hilton Hotel room. Now, I’ll be honest here. My pad is more comfortable than Barley the Van. There’s indoor plumbing, hot water, soap and even a toilet seat. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Yes, I’ve enjoyed my stay here, but I’m not going to become an expatriate Gringo. 

Quito is a dirty city. There’s garbage and graffiti everywhere. The air is use a knife and fork thick. It’s not tasty either. Often seen are blue buses belching gray-black as they ply the city streets. There’s a lot of blue buses here too. Right now the air quality is measuring “Unhealthy for sensitive groups.” Well, people have told me I’m sensitive. My eyes sting. I’m coughing. This can’t be good for humans. The World Health Organization deems Quito as having high levels of particulate matter pollution. 

Then there’s the problem of poverty. Ecuador is a poor, crowded country. There’s 16.5 million Ecuadorians residing here. For comparison shopping analysts, it’s about the size of Colorado. There’s 5.5 people living in the Rocky Mountain High State. The latest figures I found, (World Data Center)  showed a poverty rate of 23.3% in Ecuador. My Home State has an 11% poverty rate. (US Census Bureau). Last night I was saddened to see a teenage/adult couple with four children in tow. The husband/father was making a living shining shoes. His young wife was selling cigarettes. Business was not booming for either one. This is the face of poverty. 

Then there’s the matter of Civil Unrest. On my bus tour to the country, a crop’s worth of farmers decided to shut the Pan American Highway in both the North and South direction. There method? Place tires end to end, add diesel fuel and flick their Bics. They were protesting produce prices. Apparently, they strongly felt they were being shortchanged. Our bus had to detour around the noxious pyre. I never saw that on the America’s Interstates! 

Other than that, I can’t complain. People are nice, food is tasty and edible and there’s plenty of places to get a beer. Ecuador might be worth a second look. 

Manana, the Galápagos Islands on the USS Endeavor II. There will be 94 Gringo Guests and one Wandering Wondering Jew. This could prove interesting.

See you on the other side,

Last photo: Scoring the traditional overseas haircut. How do I look?