Tuesday, July 31, 2007

New! Tales From the Road

As many of you know, I'm writing a weekly roundup of outstanding travel stories for the up-and-coming online travel magazine BraveNewTraveler.com.

Today's edition of "Tales From the Road" features stories from El Salvador, Mongolia, Iraq and the the depths of the Congo. I had a great time finding each one of these stories and hope you get a chance to read them. Nothing helps us to learn about the world like honest, perceptive travelogues, and they're entertaining, too!

Here's the link to the current edition of "Tales From the Road."


Friday, July 27, 2007

Kyoto Journal: Pico Iyer Interview

Pico Iyer is the most eloquent of travel writers, a master of precise, polished prose. His classic book "Video Nights in Kathmandu" is one of my favorite reads; it's not one of his most sophisticated works, but it's certainly one of his most enthusiastic.

Iyer was born in India, educated in Britain and raised in America. He now lives - mostly - in Nara, Japan.

Today I was thrilled to find an interview with Iyer at the website of The Kyoto Journal. Here's the link: "Pico Iyer is Lost." It's worth 10 minutes of your time.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

On Assignment: Cheyenne Frontier Days

"Praise God that rodeo is as good as it is today!"

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Backcountry Fly-Fishing in the Rockies

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Out of Yellowstone, Into the Wind River Range

I've only got 5 minutes in the Rawhide Coffee shop in Cody, Wyoming so this will be a quick blog post.

Fishing in Yellowstone was outstanding, unbelievable, standing waist-deep in the Lamar River, catching wild cutthroat trout by the dozen, buffalo and deer all around, no other people, just grizzly bears.

Met up with Jon again this afternoon - and we've decided to head into the Wind River range for a few days to hike and try for some Golden Trout, the most beautiful kind of trout, a rare species that lives in isolated mountain lakes high in the Wind Rivers and the Sierras.

Time's up; I'm out.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Three Trout: First Day in Montana

Three Trout: My First Day in Montana


Steaks are grilling on the campfire, the Montana night sky is white with stars and we’ve got a pipe and a bottle of wine. I’m typing on my laptop and trying to keep smoke from my eyes.

Yesterday we drove from Colorado through Wyoming and pulled into a campsite outside Livingston at two am. I lay out my sleeping bag on pine duff while Kessler and George drank Olympia beers.


In downtown Livingston there’s a great little coffee shop called Coffee Crossing, near the Murray Hotel. We drank black coffee and ate bagels. The girl behind the counter was from Queens.


A hot July morning, wind gusting down the wide valley. The Yellowstone River was full of snowmelt, clear and fast.

On the second cast I caught a Rainbow trout. It took a bead-head nymph at the tail of a riffle, jumped once and gasped for air when I lifted it from the water.

An hour later I clambered onto a fallen tree and dropped a streamer straight down into the submerged root system. A fish struck immediately, a Brown trout this time, 10 inches long. This time I held it from the river long enough to take a photo.

There were birds everywhere – duck families and flocks of geese, robins and doves. People came floating past from time to time too, in canoes and rafts and drift-boats. Most of them waved.


We broke for lunch at the Coffee Crossing. I wrote a column for BraveNewTraveler.com and the girl from Queens gave me a free refill while Kessler got drunk on Moose Drool beer at the Murray Hotel.


In late afternoon light we drove south through the valley towards Yellowstone to Tom Miner creek.

“Park at the bridge and fish down to the beaver ponds,” said Aaron at the Be-Bar Ranch.

So we did.

The creek was only just big enough to hold trout, shallow, fast and dark. I fished an Elk Hair Caddis and little trout rose up for it on nearly every cast. They were cutthroats, wild and hard striking, and we jumped a buck deer by the beaver ponds downstream.

Almost midnight now on this first day in Montana. The steaks are finished. Trout will still be there tomorrow, Rainbows and Cutthroats and Browns.

Off to Yellowstone....


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Desolation Ocean Roadtrip: Wyoming


(with a stop to photograph the DICK CHENEY Federal Building in Casper, Wyoming)


I’m sitting in the backseat of Jon Langer’s jeep using the cool metal of my fly rod case as an armrest, headed North out of Boulder through Wyoming to Livingston, Montana.

Dry, hot brown hills, straight railroad.

On Talk of the Nation radio, a caller: “If we cut and run, like we did in Vietnam…”


A small green inchworm humps across the thin black edge of Nick’s iPod. “Whadda you guys wanna listen to? Manitoba? Anyone want some jerky?” Jon reaches for the jerky, swerving.

“Don’t crash Langer.”



“Get used to ‘em Timmy. Oh, but you got the good side of the car.”

I look to my left, and see the foot hills of the front range, haze.


Applebees, Taco Bell, Fusion Food and Spirits, Radisson, Buick - Pontiac, Jeep, Rocky Mountain Kawasaki, Payday Loans Turn Here!

Are you HOT?

Midas. Starbucks. Mattress King. Safeway food and drug. And a 7-11 undergoing a makeover, morphing into a Kwikee Mart.

Jon – “This area sucks I’m never, ever coming here. It’s like New Jersey.”

Nick – “This looks just like Long Island.”

Jon – “It always shocked me, when I lived in Montana, driving down here and seeing all the lights, all the people.”

Nick – What's in Wyoming?

Jon - “Fucking nothing.”


Nick - “Careful there Langer, you’ll spill the mate all over yourself.”

Jon - “Ooo, now we’re entering the county with the highest foreclosure rate in the country! Lot’s of really crappy big $300,000 homes and adjustable rate mortgages.”

We pass a sign with a rip-off of the Walmart smile - face logo – “Home Ownership – Now Only $800 a Month!”

Jon (sarcastic) – “Yeah, and this isn’t a trailer park.”


We pause for roadwork. Across the street are a liquor store, a Mobil station and a McDonalds, sitting in a row.

We cross the St. Vrain river.

Massive earth moving machines raise dust on the field. A tractor trailer passes us, hauling 5 large engines, tubes and wires.

Past a development of swollen houses, each with a horse paddock, surreal huge white picket fences.

Jon - “All this should be windmills and solar panels.”



Cop car comes out of the median, pulls behind us, passes and goes off at 90 mph.

Jon - “God I hate cops in Wyoming. They make me so scared.”

Cheyenne: A Lays Potato Chips truck parked in the lot of a LOVE gas station.

We pass another cop, lights flashing, someone pulled over.

“Colorado plates,” says Jon.

We pass another cop.
And the F.E. Warren Air Force Base.

Jon - “There’s this one county in Wyoming that outlawed bears. You can kill a bear anytime. It’s your civic duty.”

We pass the Little Bear Inn.

Jon - “They’re all about bear iconography out here, they just don’t like the bears.”

We stop in Chugwater for famous Chugwater Chili, (he gourmet spice of western life). “The recipe was patented right here in town” said the pleasant lady at Horton’s gas n’ go. We get the chili to go. It comes in a specially made tray.

Casper, Wyoming:

Pretty sweet little downtown, coffee shops and the attractive Dick Cheney Federal Building.

“You’re always welcome at Lou Taubert Ranch Outfitters.”

Lou Taubert – “Some of the best trout fishing in the world, right here on the North Platte. Going to Montana? Take the Beartooth Highway.”


Past Casper – Nick driving, we smoke, the sun piercing bands of light through pale thunderheads, dull and empty landscape – Nick crests a curve, listening to Medeski - so much space spread out below – scale stretched.

Nick - “Man, people must go crazy driving these roads.”

Jon – “For real, I would come up here and spend a week driving around Wyoming for meetings, and it really made me feel bad about myself. I mean, life is hard here, and it shows on people.”


Monday, July 09, 2007

Indian Peaks Wilderness

Eating steak and eggs for breakfast with old friends on a sunny morning at 11,500' by the headwaters of a Rocky Mountain creek is pretty much as good as it gets. Three days in the high country, fly-fishing, glissading down glaciers, jumping naked into deep blue lakes and racing thunderstorms across the continental divide.

I'm only back in Boulder for a few hours - just enough time to throw clothes in the wash, stock up on water treatment pills and hit the road again, this time for Montana, where I'll do more fly-fishing and see some buffalo.

Interviews with David Miller, Editor of MatadorTravel.com, and Rolf Potts, Emperor of Vagabonds, will be out soon at Brave New Traveler.

If you want to do some great backcountry camping in the Rockies, check out the Middle St. Vrain wilderness zone in Indian Peaks, just over the Southern edge of Rocky Mountain National Park. We camped by Envy Lake just over the saddle from Gibraltar Lakes in the shadow of the Elk Tooth.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

You Sabai Cooking School

You Sabai cooking school is on a hill-top overlooking a village adjacent to the steep green mountains of a National Park in Northern Thailand. Yao and Krit, the Thai couple who founded You Sabai last year, are wonderful hosts, and Pun Pun organic farm is just down the path through an orange orchard.

Meals at You Sabai were a highlight of the month I spent living in Mae Jo village outside Chiang Mai. When I wrote a Secret Destination article about the organic eductation centers in Mae Jo for MatadorTravel.com, I did so with the hope that more engaged and considerate travelers would make it to You Sabai for a taste of Yao's mango sticky rice and pineapple flavored curry.

Last week, things worked out for Ross and Ben, the founders of Matador, to meet Yao and Krit at their new restaurant in Chiang Mai and drive the 40 miles North to eat at You Sabai. Of course Ross and Ben had a blast. Ross's blog about the experience is at this link:

"I am as carnivorous as they come, so if you hear me give props to vegetarian restaurant, you know it’s good."

For anyone who missed my article on the organic farms, natural building centers and sustainability villages in Mae Jo, it's at the link below.

"From the Ground Up: Planting Seeds in Northern Thailand"

Here is the link to You Sabai - definitely have a look if you'll be in SE Asia, want to get off the beaten path and are thinking about taking a short cooking course.

You Sabai Cooking School and Guesthouse


I'm leaving Boulder, Colorado tomorrow to do some fly-fishing up in the high country, on Monday I leave for Montana to check out some buffalo and I just scored press-passes to "The Daddy of 'Em All."

Yee-haw, livin' on a pray-aaaaaarrrr!

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Montauk to Boulder

Boulder, Colorado feels like heaven. I arrived late at night and walked outside the next morning into that dry Rocky Mountain sunshine - what a feeling - sunflowers blooming in gardens, pretty girls with long tan legs riding by on bikes down roads that lead to the high mountains.

I just had the pleasure of interviewing David Miller, editor of MatadorTravel.com. We talked watersheds and travel writing. It was great.

And last weekend was simply wonderful - friends from Williams meeting on a beach at the end of Long Island, 3 long, slow days of body-surfing, good food and pick-up beach football games.

Life is hard.

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

"A Generational Mission"

I've got two articles I hope you read today.

The first is by by Al Gore. Here's an excerpt:

"WE — the human species — have arrived at a moment of decision. It is unprecedented and even laughable for us to imagine that we could actually make a conscious choice as a species, but that is nevertheless the challenge that is before us.

On Sept. 21, 1987, President Ronald Reagan said, “In our obsession with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all the members of humanity. Perhaps we need some outside, universal threat to recognize this common bond. I occasionally think how quickly our differences would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world.”

We — all of us — now face a universal threat. Though it is not from outside this world, it is nevertheless cosmic in scale."

The second article is by, ahem, me. I've got a new Secret Destination Guide up at MatadorTravel.com about a trio of educational communities in Northern Thailand where the quality of life is exceptional and the harmful impact of human activity is minimal.

If Al Gore's article inspires you to take action and confront the central moral question of our generation - and it should - my article will point you towards places where people are taking real steps to heal themselves and the planet.

Here's an excerpt from "Planting Seeds in Northern Thailand."

"Pun Pun and Panya are a response to the excesses of a particularly American economic paradigm. The ethic behind the communities is an implicit rejection of rush hour commutes, cramped cubicles and maxed out credit cards.

People come – they build and learn and laugh – and they return home inspired, muscles toned from lifting bricks, bodies aglow from eating healthy food, minds relaxed from sunrise yoga and sunset swims."

Here's a link to the full-text of Al Gore's article at NYTimes.com (free registration required).

"Moving Beyond Kyoto"

Here's a link to my new article at MatadorTravel.com.

"Planting Seeds in Northern Thailand".

(photos by Hadar Nestel)

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