Each streak garnered the same reaction. The crowd grew, feed still with fingers pointing to the sky. And then a streak became a band, a dim bow across the sky above that slowly grew in intensity. We were babies bouncing under a green headband in the sky.Read More
The more wonderful people and places I encounter, the more difficult choosing causes becomes for me, and I can understand that you might as well find difficulty in extending much of yourself to this cause with so many other things begging for your support. That's why I hope it feels entirely doable to you to simply follow them on Facebook and begin your engagement there. A message, a photo, or a "like" could be just the encouragement they needed for the next step.Read More
Regardless of the reasons why it didn't happen, I know what I want: engaged students every step of the way. That investment in time must provide me immediate return, onto which I can bank that long term effects are plausible. I am building daily on a blueprint created many years ago, when a long trip provided me a clear life goal. Of course, I also must find ways to steady my mood and know I cannot control all the variables that allow a student to be an engaged one.Read More
1. I was able to seize a great opportunity to hear Al Gore speak (fo' free!) at Harvard University. Always love a chance to hear troubling data about the planet in a Southern accent. That experience turned out to be the start of many great speakers in February, including two BBC World journalists, the exiled prince of Iran, and Al Gore's former domestic policy advisor. Now to make sense of it all.Read More
On Friday evening, I was captivated by the oncoming snowstorm called Nemo that blanketed the city of Boston. From a perch overlooking the State House and the Boston Common, I could watch the sky darken and the air become increasingly opaque.Read More
Bhutan in the winter energizes the hunger for discovery that's resident in children lucky enough to be young. It would take a dark closet for decades to produce this contrast anywhere else, the specialness clear with every sip of cold mountain air or gentle exchange. I can't say this is what travel should always be, because it's only through their unique set of occurrences that yielded such an outcome. But what they have set up, from my effortless post, has a wonderful effect. Wool is nowhere near our eyes, and we are learning individual lessons from the backgrounds we brought.Read More
It's cold, and my body begs to be energized beyond the limits of my water consumption; disregarding the extreme altitude difference, abused toes, conserved clothing, or painful, chapping skin. It's the sloping of land that begs to be traversed. It's Scotland. Switzerland. Bhutan.Read More
Here's hoping border crossings are all fresh. Visiting Uruguay a few weekends ago reminded me how lucky I have been to see different countries. I wanted to reflect my appreciation for a new place with a new video technique: light leaks.Read More
One year of teaching in China and two years of Peace Corps in Malawi later, my dear friends from Semester at Sea and I finally reunited. Alexis and I flew to Burlington, Vermont within 20 hours of Garrett's homecoming, and these are the good times we enjoyed. When I'm not at work, I don't want to be continuously documenting my life in high def. That's why I played with Instagram this time around (click on the images to view in lightbox).Read More
I spent my childhood in Wabash (and took innumerable visits in the last twelve years), and this was one of my top ten favorite mornings in my hometown. Maybe it had something to do with flying above the trees with the wind in my hair. Remember, I'm a converted adrenaline junkie...when the wind is just right.
This is a promotional video for the clean-up efforts of the Wabash River Defenders.
The upcoming term in Argentina will mark my 52nd country, and every once in a while I'm perplexed that this whole world obsession and world tour started from a town of 11,000 in rural Indiana. I talk about this town often–one I haven't lived in for 12 years to the week–and it's a weekend like my last one that confirms its hold on me. I continue to have those awe-inspiring moments in a place I thought I'd adequately covered.
Clean Out The Banks! is an annual event in Wabash, Indiana conducted by a volunteer group known as the Wabash River Defenders. If you were at Paradise Spring at 7:00am last Saturday, eating free donuts and preparing to wade in the silt, you're likely a member...or a donut enthusiast.
This year's 365 participants engaged in a community event for the benefit of their environment while spending time with that environment on a beautiful day. Being a recent student on the effects of community, I was eager to witness my first River Defenders event and document it for distribution.
The river stretches 19.2 miles across Wabash County from east to west, so my fellow documentarian, Chelsea, and I didn't have to drive far to reach the many scattered clean-up crews.
Walking along the river in Lagro, we found an ATV or mountain bike track that looked like serious muddy fun. We passed by many groups of fishermen heading to the water. One of the teams had a kayak, and its slender shape reminded me of rowing sculls torpedoing down the thin and shallow river. My imagination was probably stretching the water possibilities on this Mississippi tributary, but the flanking land offered no such limitations to outdoor enjoyment.
After a couple hours of tracking teams' progress, I was extended the opportunity to admire Wabash County from above on an antique open cockpit airplane from 1927. I couldn't stop relating myself to Snoopy. It was a beautiful aircraft, and it lifted effortlessly above the forests and farms to find the snaking river.
In the past couple years, I've had some very active shoots on land, while treading water, and even underwater with wild animals. Prior to this flight, I'd never had the chance to film from the air. The 90 mph winds pulled at the camera, but I had it strapped tightly around my hand, my arm anchored to my body. It was tough to shoot around the wings and stabilize with the turbulence, but the adrenaline rush from the open cockpit helped me achieve some awesome moments on film.
I wasn't at all surprised that such a plane existed in a hangar at the Wabash airstrip. The town is full of eccentric characters who collect distinct items, create unique artwork, build hidden bars in their basements, and wrangle community support for every facet of life, culture, and sport. A trip home can be comforting in its predictability or reveal a unique opportunity unfathomable hours prior.
It was this mid-morning flight that determined the angle of my documentation, supplemented by the mini-revelations along the banks of the Wabash. I spent the majority of my childhood outdoors, but my backyard was only a small indication of what my surroundings held. I won't always have an antique airplane ride to jostle my pre-conceived expectations of a place, but this one surely helped.
I'm currently in the process of editing a promo for "Clean Out Our Banks!" and will post once live. Here's a news package from WTIU of the event.
After the Berlin trimester ended, I flew to Copenhagen to begin a wee Scandinavian tour. The best part of this week was being with friendly residents and visiting their homes. Yes, homes. Not houses, accommodations, hotels, hostels, or dorms. In both Copenhagen and Stockholm, I stayed in city homes and then visited vacation homes by the water. Both cities are impressive and relatively unknown to me, but I valued most those moments where I was experiencing someone's place of hat-hanging. Rarely did I want to venture away.
Landsort is a village on the island of Öja an hour south of Stockholm. It marks the southernmost point of the Stockholm archipelago. My new friend Kari took fellow TGS co-worker Andy and his two friends to his vacation home on the island of Öja by way of a flat-bottomed boat. The sky was gray and occasionally spitting, but we enjoyed some walks along the central road (rarely a motor in sight) and up by the lighthouse that gives the village its name.
To see more travel photography, view my Flickr collections.
Some of my students called it "the best five days of their lives." That kind of statement carries a good load coming from kids who visited the Galápagos, the Amazon rainforest, and the Bavarian Alps this year alone. At the end of the academic year, my students were given the great opportunity by the school to live out their own Amazing Race through Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Austria.
I went along for the ride.Read More
I first heard about the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in an art history course called The Medieval City. Dr. Diane Reilly made it sound rockin' - an historic route through France, the Pyrenees, and Spain that devout Catholics took to reach one of three cathedrals with the remains of an apostle, in this case St. James. Traditionally the pilgrims trekked barefoot and penny-less through the mountains and vast expanses, accepting hospitality from churches and homes on the path.
Between the 12th and 14th centuries Santiago de Compostela grew in importance and prestige, at times even eclipsing the pilgrim routes to Jerusalem and Rome. It is remarkable that tens of thousands of pilgrims chose to suffer the hazards of this route every year during the Middle Ages. A combination of the relative accessibility of the route and the miracles associated with the relics of the Saint beneath the magnificent cathedral were certainly contributing factors in its popularity. (Camino Guides)
Sheen plays the protagonist of this story, as a mild and conservative father who finds out his son died while attempting the historic trek. In an attempt to fulfill his son's goal and to process his own grief, Sheen treks the entire length, picking up comrads in a Wizard of Oz-esque fashion.
My parents watched this film at the Heartland Film Festival and felt it was one I needed to see. My mother reflected after our shared screening, "I got choked up on that car ride to the airport, when the son tells his dad he has to go because it's there. That sounds like something you've said."
We've shared many a ride reeking of the same sentiment.
A co-worker and friend from Ecuador is planning on traversing this route in September by bicycle. I've even heard murmurs at work about doing this famed trek and the powers of the introspective journey. I'm mostly fueled by visuals, which is why even though I'd learned about it in school and chatted about it with friends, it took a feature film with some of the Sheen men to make me add 'the way' to my bucket list.
“The Way” is at the very least an exquisite product placement for the Spanish Tourism Board. (Shockya)
There was rarely a time when I didn't feel the necessity to document something; it all carried the weight of potentially useful in the eyes of a one-person production crew. My schedule seemed the product of an ADHD-ridden ninja. And on those rarest of occasions, I was able to venture around the corner of my hotel home to see angles of Cuenca myself.Read More
I've decided that, these days, if I can produce a blog post a month, I'm a lucky gal. Lucky to find breaths between beloved jobs to do similar work of my own volition. Lucky to be able to reflect on experiences and milk what value can be gathered. I doubt the cafe I edited in today for four hours felt lucky to have a table occupied by a one cappuccino gal, but I'm lucky I found that space this month to process my August road trip through New England. What was meant to be a longer trek through areas of Maine and Vermont had to be cut short due to the panic surrounding Hurricane Irene. The trip had no conclusion in real time. It felt like a rush job of a trip, even more so the documentation of it, but what resulted is a video exalting the thing I studied most - the water that I feel sources so much of the grit and character of New Englanders.
I was surprisingly unfocused on my fleeting dollars being allocated to gas, the pile of money I dropped for the rental car, or my lack of accurate driving instructions or lodging reservations. The nausea I usually reserve for typical tourist activity - the expensive kind - took a vacation as well. Instead, I felt loosely propelled by the desire to consume miles of coastline and smell a breeze conceived hemispheres away.
Like gulping sweet water in the middle of the night, driving was refreshing after my nine month car-fast, a guilty binge on air, music, and speed with a known expiration. And with this limited excursion, I caught wind of what a conventional adult vacation smells like - not bad at all, in fact pleasantly normal, if infrequent and savored for its rarity.
My entire summer was a jig-saw puzzle to assemble. Trips, subleases, weddings, births, and work were spaced out just so, as to make every two-week chunk a mystery until it was present. All flights were booked dangerously close to the week of departure, some including feline carry-ons and 12 hour durations. On top of air chaos, I often didn't know where I was going to be living or how to coordinate the housing of my cat (while she was still being a vagabond in New York). Newly cat-free and with a new job supplying accommodations for nine months out of the year, I decided against having a place in New York City and got a subletter lined up immediately.
There was a lapse of time between leaving my apartment and the start of work accommodations, leaving me temporarily homeless and living out of bags - something I tend to enjoy. During one of those weeks, I decided to rent a car and witness a region I've barely visited: New England.
Until I can whip up a fantastic video, here is a photoblog courtesy of my Blackberry.
Driving out of Queens in my first rental car
Reaching Mystic, CT at dusk to witness fishermen and draw bridges
Beautiful blue light at dusk around the marina
Stalked by a skunk while exploring Mystic at night
The woodsy Harbour Inn & Cottage in Mystic, CT where I soaked in a hot tub by the marina
French toast with apple and cheddar at Kitchen Little in Mystic, CT
Too bad I skipped the eggs
Cape Cod's Chatham coast where JAWS had some scenes filmed
First bowl of clam chowder in a fitting place - Cape Cod
Sunrise off Cape Ann, the filming location and real life setting for The Perfect Storm
Seasick while whale watching, but well worth it
Gloucester had that crusty charm I was hoping to find
Beautiful skies while driving toward Hurricane Irene and New York City
Await with bated breath the real deal documentation.
If you get a little tired of waiting for my posts on Nomadderwhere - which I admit have become incredibly random and sparse - I'll give you a little supplementary material. Recently, I wrote a feature for the Matador Network entitled 'Why the obsession with time lapse video?' Have you ever wondered this yourself? What's your reasoning?
I'm reposting here some of my points, but be sure to check out the full post on MatadorTV and provide your own commentary.
Why time lapse for storytelling?
As a member of the MatadorTV triad, I appreciate the whole spectrum of travel video production, from the cinematic to the gritty. Video is an accessible vehicle for storytelling that can avoid the obstacles ever-present with language. And even though written word can facilitate a sensory experience, the combination of visual and audio elements is powerful on fleeting attention spans.
In browsing TV’s most popular posts to date, time lapse comes away a clear front-runner of stylistic and technical approaches, and these videos tend to follow a different editing pattern than most. Cuts are longer. Static shots are still dynamic. The resident audio is usually stripped from the footage and replaced by a soundtrack, and people still manage to follow a storyline and maintain focus on the evolving subject matter. Warped time appears to keep viewers engaged.
If you haven't been keeping up with MatadorTV, I suggest you check out some of the amazing recently-featured content, like this month of nature footage in Iceland, Ross Ching's time lapse of roads not traveled, and his version of 'carmageddon' with tips on how to create the effect.
Believe it or not, I did some journalistic research for this feature. For real! Home girl went to Wiki!
Why time lapse the subject matter?
Among the most popular subjects for the time lapse technique is nature, as evident by Terje’s work. This isn’t a shocker considering time lapse was made most well-known by Dr. John Ott, a photographer who documented growing plants. From the first time I watched a bud morph into a full blossom and added my own soundtrack of “whoaaa,” it seemed clear we could forever capture these natural elements and continue to amaze virtually everyone.
Of course, simply pointing the camera and tripod at any old vista won’t make for a viral, compelling, and timeless video. Ross Ching, a filmmaker in Los Angeles, stipulates, “There needs to be originality. There needs to be pioneers. There needs to be something more than beautiful shots. There needs to be a human element. There needs to be a story.”
Though this one borders on just plain fast rather than time lapse, here's my personal dabbling into the speedy film realm with my 'Nomadderwhere's 2010 in a Minute' video. My experimentations are more successful with work footage, which will soon be visible to the public.
Maybe our obsession comes from relating the natural world to our own human interaction with it at an altered speed, warping our day to day, minute to minute perceptions of being present and active with the surroundings.
On occasion, I feel the perspective time lapse affords me is akin to a mini-spiritual awakening, an out-of-body experience while armchair traveling...
Time lapse is one of the many vehicles through which filmmakers and storytellers have learned to transmit concepts from the world to the world effectively. And with the amount of attention we give these works today, it appears to be an approach that works.
Daily wake-ups as early as 4:15am, constant encouragement to produce content (or brainstorm more concepts), keeping up with another internship, e-mails, and friendships from home - this goes far beyond a full-time job. Week three on-location has been draining, frantic, but overwhelmingly delightful. No matter how plum-tuckered-out I get during production, I still find our daily activities and trials worth the sweaty days and gastro-hilarity. As Barney would remark, "The fun and learning never ends. Here's what we did (this week)!"
At Celestun Nature Reserve we jetted through mangroves and observed some flamingoes from afar. Post-nature experience, we saw our first Mexican beach for about an hour while having lunch with Alex, our accommodating and passionate host for Merida, and Jorge, driver extraordinaire.
A unanimous favorite moment on the entire trip was our training session with Lucha Libre stars. This is by no means the WWE of Mexico. Lucha Libre isn't scripted and is all about honor. We flipped and flopped with the self-proclaimed good and bad guys, received our own fighting names (mine being "Sexy Star" thanks to the resident fourteen year-old trainee in the vicinity), and honestly attempted to capture the essence of the sport.
While most film crews or documentarians like to cover Lucha Libre in a fluff or comedic piece, they were really touched that our presence was about knowing the sport and telling others about it. These guys are investment bankers (or something else) by day and honor protectors by night.
And a note to all of you wondering what makes a move complete: it's all about slapping the mat for a little drama.
While I could go on for pages describing the locations and experiences of Merida, I'll refrain and simply focus on the guy who made those moments happen. Alex isn't a tour guide but a key link in the Yucatan tourism chain. He's got mad power, connections, and responsibilities up the wazoo. On a more poetic note, Alex was an incredible resource and friend during that hot and humid week. He mentioned we opened his eyes to aspects of his own region he didn't know or had forgotten - providing him with the inspiration to do something good. Wonderful guy with a great perspective.
The Yucatan state offered things I hadn't anticipated and people I found endearing. Way to go, Merida. You overcame the blistering heat and humidity with your charm.
All photos © ProjectExplorer.org, 2010.
Welcome back to my new monthly series on Nomadderwhere, one which highlights the incredible trips one could take in that current month - thanks to a vibrant book called Journeys of a Lifetime by National Geographic. Each month I pick a couple adventures from each section in the book in order to provide you inspiration for 365 days from now. Read the brief description to whet your appetite, and click on the trip name for further information (links provided by National Geographic...of course you could be a gritty backpacker and make it on your own).
Airboat in the Everglades: Get deep into the mangrove forests of Florida's backcountry where alligators seemingly get bigger as you go deeper; you may even catch the rare Florida panther if there's a blue moon out.
Lake Nicaragua: A freshwater lake surrounded by lush forest and volcanoes? Crocodile-like reptiles submerged below the jungle canals? Swordfish sport fishing in a mystic lagoon? Am I dreaming?
The Grand Trunk Road: Peshawar to Kolkata: a road some call "the great river of life." It's a highway beaded with historical and memorable cities that combine to make an incredible, South Asian road trip.
The Pan American Highway: It's pavement that spans continents, but taking a ride in Tierra del Fuego and reach the end of the world: Ushuaia. You'll see grazing grasslands and ominous, omni-present mountains. Pretty great, huh?
El Chepe: Ride the rails through an unspoiled landscape four times larger than the Grand Canyon. Indigenous Indians of central Mexico line the way, giving you access to a brilliant Latino culture.
The TranzAlpine: Cross Arthur's Pass and witness a blizzard outside your train window on this mountainous journey through the Southern Alps of New Zealand. Sounds like it gets wild.
The Headhunters' Trail: Stay in a longhouse with Iban villages. Wade through the tea-colored waters while admiring the limestone spires. Hope you still have your head upon the trip's completion.
The Levadas of Madeira: The levadas of Portugal are a network of watercourses that hydrate the paradiasical sugarcane fields. Apparently, moseying along these canals is a camera-friendly activity.
In Search of Culture
Colonial Virginia: Even if reenactments and period acting isn't to your fancy, Christmas just may be, and Williamsburg does this holiday justice.
Ancient Egypt: Show up for the peak Nile cruising season and enjoy the history museums to make sure your time in this ancient landscape is epic.
In Gourmet Heaven
Blue Mountain Coffee: It's the best coffee in the world. It's the best time to visit Jamaica. Those are two good reasons.
Vietnamese Cuisine: Imagine a leaf of cilantro floating on a sea of seasoned broth, handmade noodles sitting below the surface like a hundred Loch Ness monsters. Are you hungry for some pho yet?
Into the Action
Surfing in Hawai'i: You're going to need a wetsuit in that chilly water, but you're also going to catch some towering waves at hot spots like Waimea beach or the Banzai pipeline on O'ahu island.
Friesland's Eleven Cities' Tour: 16,000 ice skaters jump at the proclamation of the Elfstedentocht race, which only happens on the rare occasion in Holland when the ice is 5.9 cm thick. Await the call of the race anxiously and follow the races route along the footpath beside the frozen river.
Up and Away
Skyriding over St. Lucia: This Caribbean island will make you see colors. Real colors. Absolutely vibrant hues popping through the tropical air. Zipline around the canopies of the forest, and then save some time for some fresh product at a cocoa estate.
Angkor by Helicopter: Seeing the world's largest religious monument in a way that few experience, an enlightened view from above. See what can be done with incredible planning, gray stone and a herd of trained elephants for heavy lifting.
In Their Footsteps
Hemingway in Cuba: The Malecon was Hemingway's first view of Havana after sailing from America. Go and be moved by the same places this famous writer and Nobel Laureate frequented during his time on this vivacious island.
Alex Haley's Roots: See what Alex Haley found when visiting Gambia, a main topic of his Pulitzer winning book Roots. It would involve a boat ride and a village chief...and surely an incredible cultural quest.
How's that brain? Spinning with innumerable desires to traverse continents and climates? Pull out a pen and prioritize your life by putting one or more of these trips at the top of the list. And by planning a year in advance, you'll be quite able to save, prepare, and anticipate the rigors of your adventure in every way. Check back in January for the Journeys of a Lifetime you could partake in next year!
Where are you inspired to travel to next year? Leave a comment and be my new friend.