The Thing with Feathers

Some new images from my recent trip to Hondouras. I’ll have some upcoming posts about the trip, but in the meantime these are from the folks at Macaw Mountain, a bird rehabilitation and rescue facilty in Copan, Hondouras. They take in injured and abandoned birds, and have a robust program that has allowed free-flying Macaws – the sacred bird of the Maya – to once again soar over the spectacular ruins of Copan, one of the most beautiful of the Mayan cities. The colors and beauty of these birds cannot be overstated, but to see them in flight over the centuries-old ruins – time suddenly stands still, and the past seems very close.

You can check out their website here if you are interested, and if you travel to that area be sure to pay them a visit.

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A Place in the Sun

Still sharing some photos from my recent trip to Utila. Getting there is a bit of an adventure. You fly a regular plane from the US to San Pedro Sula, Honduras…

 

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…with an epic view of the coastal reef system as you come in.

Then you change plane in SPS’s tiny airport and fly a tiny plane to La Cieba, where you wait in an even tinier airport…

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…for an even tinier plane. I swear to god I saw someone lift the hood on this plane and check the oil, like it was a ’76 Toyota pickup truck. There were only 9 passengers and our luggage was stacked on the rear seats. At one point as we taxied down the runway the co-pilot had her arm hanging out the window, like we were just taking a drive. With the jungle looming behind it felt very Tales of the Gold Monkey.

That last flight is only 15 minutes and drops you off at the postage-stamp Utila airport. The pilot hands you your bag and you wander off – no security, unless you count the cows staring at you from an adjacent field – and pop out of the jungly backcountry to Utila town just in time for sunset.

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Worth the flights to be sure 🙂

 

 

 

 

The Return

Do you ever spend so much time prepping and planning for a trip that when you come home there’s this weird vacuum in your existence and you can’t quite figure out what to do with yourself? That was me last week.

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However! I am now back to reality and finally starting to post some stuff from my trip to the Florida Keys. I didn’t get many pictures of the kayaking portion – the outfitter rushed us a lot, as they were trying to finish early to get on to another trip in Costa Rica – but the bike portion was spectacular. I’m already pondering doing just the kayak segment again next year, but as a series of day kayaks to make it a little easier – and to avoid the heart-stopping traverse of the 7 mile bridge (which I did my first day, and don’t ever need to do again – yikes!) If I do I will start at the south end of the Bahia Honda bridge, which is truly spectacular and where the scenery starts to get really great.

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Happy Monday, and check back for more photos this week. There’s loads 🙂

 

 

Packing List

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I’m starting to pack for my upcoming Keys kayaking/cycling trip. As I have to carry everything for the first 5 days (the kayak portion) on my kayak, and the first two days of the cycling bit on my back, I’m having to pare down really tightly. I’m usually a light packer, but I’m veering into cut-the-toothbrush-in-half territory (which reminds me, I haven’t packed my toothbrush…)

I’m not a fan of buying a ton of new stuff for trips, if for no reason than you don’t know how it will hold up until you’ve tested it, but for this trip I bought two Outdoor Products one-liter water bottles (these are similar, and slightly cheaper) and a headlamp for wandering around camp at night, trying not to be eaten by crocodiles. Or tripping over my own feet, which is slightly more likely.

Also on the pack list: my Cressi mask, the only mask I’ve ever had that fits my hamster-shaped face and doesn’t leak, my gopro with the dive housing and camera (I may only take the Canon camera on the biking segment) and a bright green hair scrunchie, just in case the 90’s return while I’m traveling. I am ashamed to admit how many hair scrunchies I actually own.

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Not pictured: lots and lots and LOTS of sunscreen.

And it all has to fit in two daypacks… oh boy. Time to power-fold…

Countdown to the Keys

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Entering the last few days of prep for my upcoming adventure trek in the Florida Keys! I don’t think I’ve ever planned a trip that is so much like an expedition before, even with the help of the folks of Burnham Guides, who have been kindness itself in helping me plan my trip. I am actually doing the first half of my journey with them in a small group outing, for reasons both of safety and just making the trip more manageable. I’ll have more updates as the week progresses, but for now the basics are: Six days of kayaking and camping from Marathon Key to Key West, then picking up my bike from storage and heading back north. All things being equal, by three days later I will be at mile marker 80 and will have traversed almost the entire Keys chain under human power. My tan should be spectacular.

While you’re waiting for trip updates, I just realized I forgot to mention our first PODCAST is up! It’s about the Ghost Ship of the Northumberland Strait in Nova Scotia, and you can access it on our podcast page. You should be able to download it as well, but as it’s our first stab at the podcast thing let us know if you have issues and we’ll correct them.

More to come, including our first webisode and me hopefully not being eaten by a giant marine predator while kayaking. Stay tuned!

St. Simon’s Sunset

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Back from St. Simon’s Island! We had a great 2-day shoot there and are currently in post working on our first webisode of The Haunted Seas. We initially intended to tell the story of the haunted lighthouse, but we heard so many great tales and met so many interesting people that we wound up with three stories – not just the lighthouse but “Mary the Wanderer” and the mystery of Igbo Landing. Full webisode is coming soon!

Photo above is the sunset off the landing near the Lighthouse, looking towards the St. Simon’s Pier. Below, some of the ancient live oaks near the keeper’s cottage at the lighthouse.

You can also see a short video we made for Instagram here.

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Writewritewrite (and edit)

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Doing a large amount of writing is both the most exciting and the most boring thing imaginable.

Right now it is a slow time for the commercial production I do, which means I’m taking the opportunity to work on some longer-format projects that I have been meaning to do for a while, and occasionally deep-cleaning a closet just for the sake of variety. Because writing, as I’ve said, is not always exciting stuff. I love the research, the excuse to read and reference and take notes for hours – I feel like I’m in the research montage of every heist movie ever at that point – but the actual chained-to-the-desk writing part can be a bit tedious, especially if the weather’s nice and you hit a segment of writer’s block.

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Fortunately I have some fairly exciting things that I’m writing about, which I thought I’d catch everyone up on today. You can picture me surrounded by maps and charts and cups of coffee and my favorite pens and endless notebooks as you read. My cat should probably be trying to sprawl across my laptop at the same time. Life’s tough for a writer.

You could also picture me swearing under my breath as I peruse the online thesaurus for yet another synonym for “amazing” and trying to re-find a tab I just closed and mopping up the coffee my cat spilled, which is probably more realistic. But it’s your mental picture so you get to choose.

So… projects!

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My biggest upcoming project is a combination webseries/podcast called The Haunted Seas, about ghost stories, legends, and hauntings involving the ocean. We’re aiming for 2 pocasts and one webisode a month right now, and I’ve just finished writing the first podcast, about the Ghost Ship of the Northumberland Strait, a fiery phantom that plies the channel between Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. We record it tomorrow, and it should be live in time for next week’s blog update. Then late next week I go to St. Simon’s Island in South Georgia to shoot our first webisode, about the haunting of the St. Simon’s Lighthouse.

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not actually the St. Simon’s Lighthouse. This is the Tybee Light in Savannah.

In between writing sessions for these, I’m working on two e-books: one is a guide to spiritual and meditation retreats in the Southeastern US, and one is a guide to Georgia golf courses. If I can find a spiritual retreat in Georgia that involved silent meditation AND golfing, I will have hit the mother lode. There’s some sort of joke to be made about the crowds at a golf tournament being practically a silent meditation anyway, but I just… can’t… find it.

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When I absolutely cannot take the desk anymore, and the cat’s spilled all the coffee, I get to go outside (assuming it’s not raining) and train for my other upcoming project, which is a 240 mile combination kayak/bicycle trip through the Florida Keys, which I’m attempting – probably solo, as none of my friends are sufficiently insane to go – in April or possibly May. Starting in Key Largo, I’ll paddle to Key West, and then ride my bike back to the starting point. I’m calling it “The Turtle Traverse”, because “There and Back Again” is already taken, and because I’m planning to make a donation to The Turtle Hospital in Marathon at the end of the trip.

So that’s it for projects! Stay tuned for updates on these and any other Constant Holiday crazy I can come up with. And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram, where I try to post at least one photo or video daily.

Now I need more coffee.