I don’t have time to wax poetically about how the redwoods are beautiful and majestic (they are both), or to elaborate on the history of the region, from the First Nations who lived within this rich ecosystem to the clear-cutting loggers who devastated it—or even the first-round conservationists who worked to protect what remains. Wikipedia can help us though: In 1850, old-growth redwood forest covered more than 2,000,000 acres (8,100 km2) of the California coast. The northern portion of that area, originally inhabited by Native Americans, attracted many lumbermen and others turned gold miners when a minor gold rush brought them to the region. Failing in efforts to strike it rich in gold, these men turned toward harvesting the giant trees[4] for booming development in San Francisco and other places on the West Coast. After many decades of unobstructed clear-cut logging, serious efforts toward conservation began. By the 1920s the work of the Save-the-Redwoods League, founded in 1918 to preserve remaining old-growth…Continue Reading
While in Ho Chi Minh City we visited the War Remnants Museum which focuses on the Vietnam War and the result of chemical warfare, specifically the use of a chemical called Agent Orange. I strongly recommend this museum. It only costs about $2 to enter. They have an impressive collection of tanks, planes, helicopters and artillery outside of the museum. Inside you will view unforgettable and disturbing photographs. If you are American you might feel somewhat attacked while visiting this museum. It is important to remember who eyes and perspective the museum is told from and that in every war no one ever likes their enemy, (otherwise there probably wouldn’t be wars).  
We decided to spend a day in a city called Yazd, after our thoroughly enjoyable 6 days in Esfahan. We’ll have some posts from Esfahan eventually, but right now it feels like a lot to digest. We made a good friend there, and had a few other interesting experiences. Yazd is nothing like anywhere we’ve been in Iran to date. Situated on the edge of the desert, the Old City is a maze  of crumbling mudbrick alleyways. The heat hit us like a wall when got off the air-conditioned bus. It was 37 degrees Celsius at about 10:30 at night, and the warm, dry wind that rushed through the open windows of our taxi into town reminded Laura of Saudi Arabia. Our hotel is a bit expensive (at $40 per night), but the food is good, they have wifi, and the setting is charming. It’s built in an old Yazdi…Continue Reading
We had one of our best single days in Diyarbakır, thanks to the generosity and eagerness of one man to share his city and culture with two total strangers. We met Muzaffer while walking down the street, in what seemed at first like just another friendly “where are you from?” It’s a common enough thing for strangers to stop us on the street and ask. It’s also a part of most of our commercial transactions, as normal as making change or leaving a Lira or two as a tip. “Where are you from?” “Canada,” we’ll say, and usually it ends there. Sometimes someone might go out on a limb, testing their knowledge of geography. “Toronto?” they might ask, hesitantly. “Vancouver?” Almost no one has ever heard of Calgary. So when Muzaffer stopped us, we assumed the exchange would be along those lines. Instead we found ourselves deep in conversation, talking religion,…Continue Reading
This is the first part of a six-part series on our camel trek in the Moroccan Sahara. The additional entries will be posted each day over the next week. After that, you can see all six here. May 13, 2010 As I write this we’re only about two hours into our great Sahara adventure and it’s already the highlight of our Morocco trip. We’re in the back of a grand taxi—one of Morocco’s intercity shared taxis—speeding toward the small village of Tamegroute, where we will hopefully meet our desert guide and hop into a 4WD to head into the dunes. After scouring the overpriced tours available in Marrakesh, we decided to simply head to the desert on our own in the hopes of arranging something on the ground. That has proven to be a good decision. In Marrakesh we found several travel agents, who practiced varying-intensity versions of the hard…Continue Reading
Editor’s Note: The photos on this blog are the work of each post other, unless noted otherwise. My lovely wife Laura shot all these ones. She deserves the mad props. Our introduction to Morocco went rather smooth considering we had spent the previous night lounging around the Milano airport unable to sleep.  Stumbling up to the train ticket office, Chris piped up in French, “Parlez vous anglais?”   From that moment I knew I would be very much lost for language, not knowing any appropriate phrases in French or Moroccan Arabic. As the train chugged along we desperately struggled to keep our eyes open. The landscape unfolded like the Alberta prairie. I could see for kilometres in every direction. The sky was open and wide. Field after field made the landscape patchwork quilt I am so familiar with back home. The occasional olive orchard passed, but mostly it looked like wheat…Continue Reading