Traveler Writer Photographer

Couple at Gullfoss Waterfall in Iceland

More than half the people in Iceland believe in elves and it’s not hard to understand why. The Icelandic landscape practically lends itself to supernatural belief with its vast volcanic plains and tall mountains that appear to harbor something more mystical. In many ways, Iceland is a lot like Hawaii where I grew up. Both volcanic islands of fire and ice (Hawaii has some ice), they each host unique landscapes, a menu of mythologies, incredibly friendly people and unique cuisine. I quickly felt the familiarity of home.

There’s magic here, power in the terrain so menacing yet serene at the same time. Jagged rocks stretch into the distance, harsh if not for the soft layer of green forming above, adding color to the cold mist that always seems to linger about. Sheep and diminutive Icelandic horses roam the lands with no natural predators, save for the occasional polar bear that sneaks in from Greenland when things freeze over.

Iceland is not a big country, and its premier city, Reykjavík, can certainly be explored in a few days. But the more one uncovers here, the more the land seems to give, and it appears Iceland is a country that can’t really be thoroughly understood in just a quick visit (the language alone is daunting), however small the country may appear.

I spent about five days in Reykjavík. The following is a recollection of where I’ve been, serving as highlights (in the order in which I experienced them) for you should you find yourself in Iceland on your own whirlwind adventure. read more »

Sunset in Decorah, IA

When thinking of great places to visit in the world, Paris, Rome, New York and London are just a few of the cities that top most lists. Rarely does one hear “Iowa” mentioned, seldom does one call out that landlocked state seen mostly from above by those traveling from coast to coast and sometimes to Chicago.

I had always romanticized the Midwest, most likely a consequence of watching one too many Westerns or my strange predilection for obscure American history, so I was more than excited when a friend invited me to stay with her on her family farm in Decorah (pop. 8109; 7.04 sq. mi.), a small town located in Northeastern Iowa. read more »

Trees at Dhamma Manda Northern California Meditation Center

A jealous sigh of “oh mah gawd, that sounds relaxing” was the common response when I told people I was heading to Kelseyville for a meditation retreat at the Northern California Vipassana Center (Dhamma Manda) over my birthday. I had to explain it would be an intense 10 days of meditating from 4:30 am to 9 pm, living without our phones, the Internet and any contact with the outside world, including access to new episodes of Game of Thrones (but thankfully also all overzealous Game of Thrones tweets and Facebook posts — the universe has a way of balancing things out). read more »

Aquatic Park Sunset with Golden Gate Bridge

It was one of those rare San Francisco days when the approach of sunset didn’t also mean the onset of obliterating coldness. The hottest days in this city yield the most magical warm evenings, luring locals to the waterfronts to take in what would otherwise be environments far too frigid for relaxation.

I opted for the Aquatic Park, a historic district at the western end of Fisherman’s Wharf, most recognizable for encompassing Ghirardelli Square. As the sun set, I moved on to Pier 39 to catch the night lights, particularly the two-story carousel located within. (I love carousels.) read more »

Dunes Beach in Half Moon Bay

When I was little, our school took us to Half Moon Bay, a coastal town 23 miles south of San Francisco along Highway 1, for the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival. All I remember was standing in a field of orange globes with a bunch of other students, each of us searching for our ideal one. All the other kids took home big pumpkins, while I selected one much smaller. Maybe it was laziness, but I like to think I found value in the less desirable pick, the diamond in the rough, the scrappy upstart of a squash… No, definitely laziness.

I took these photos during my last visit to Half Moon Bay about 25 years later. From historic Main Street to the shores of Dunes Beach to the docks around Barbara’s Fishtrap, here are some pics my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 35 mm never could’ve captured. read more »