A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about autumn

On Travel Philosophy

Delving Deep into the Art of Travel, An Autumnal Romp Through A Western Landscape, Misfits

semi-overcast 53 °F

Argentina Travel Philosophy

I was thumbing through my brand new Argentina Travel Guide the other day. I suppose it was going all right. I was looking at various towns and locales, trying to memorize the interesting tidbits each place offered. I hoped to piece together enough interesting locations for my upcoming trip. I was “making a plan.” Something about it didn’t sit right. I wasn’t interested in reading this humongous fact book, and I felt overwhelmed by the task. That’s when I set the book down. I had reached yet another epiphany.

I don’t know much about Argentina. My attempt to memorize a travel guide isn’t going to help me understand it any better. I’d rather enter the country without a clue, making each experience that much more thrilling.

This bit of logic sent me deep into the bones of travel philosophy. The fact is, the planet has been thoroughly explored. It is mapped, photographed, and documented. Argentina is no exception. However, my ignorance is a beautiful concept. No matter where I travel to when I’m in the country, it will be new experience. And I will feel that surging high of excitement at each “new discovery.” This can be as simple as a pleasant park in Buenos Aires, or as involved as my first glimpse of Mt. Fitzroy.

While I’m at it, why plan anything at all? I’m going to bring a map. I’m going to start in Ushuaia, and somehow I’m hopeful that I will end up in Buenos Aires by January 30. What I experience in between is the great unknown. This is how I want it.

Now, this might mean I may not get a place to sleep every night, or food on a regular basis, and I might have to wait a week before I can catch a ride on a bus to my next town. That’s the way it goes. That’s all part of the fun.

I’m inclined to admire the wisdom of Lin Yutang who wrote, “A true traveler is always a vagabond, with the joys, temptations and sense of adventure of the vagabond. Either travel is ‘vagabonding’ or it is no travel at all. The essence of travel is to have no duties, no fixed hours, no mail, no inquisitive neighbors, and no destination. A good traveler is one who does not know where he is going.”

Last Ride on the Columbia
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Before I leave the country, I still have some business to take care of in this one. Namely, finishing the River season, and positioning the ship down to Los Angeles, California.

The Columbia has been good to me this year, but I’m ready to move on to other adventures. In nine days, I’ll be unemployed. This thought doesn’t scare me; I’ve been unemployed before, and will be again. At heart, I’m a writer, a rambler and a photographer. I just don’t make any monetary gains with my passions. I’m ready for a change, though. If anybody has any ideas what I should do for my next occupation, I’d be interested in hearing what you have to say. I’m certain something will work out, I’m just curious to see what that will be.

Autumnal Romp
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The thigh high grass was wet from the rain that had fallen the night before. The autumn wind is like smoke. It carries a tang of something soothing, sweet, and earthy decay. The sky was mostly cloudy, but large patches of pale blue sky were forming above me. It appeared the rain had passed, at least for now. I follow a mule deer trail as it rises along the steep grassy bluff to where the black basalt outcrops break through the earth. High atop the rock eyre, I pause for a moment to admire the view. The Palouse River is far below stretching wide between the steep canyon walls. This is the confluence, where the Palouse and Snake Rivers join in Southeast Washington.
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I move on; walking easily among the wind swept grasses and bobbing prairie sunflowers. The only part of the flower left on the stalk is the center, which has turned a dark Dijon beige. In the distance, the bluff rises higher to more basalt outcrops. I’m happy. I love early morning autumn jaunts through beautiful landscapes. Who doesn’t?
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I reach the first of the section of columns, and I know I have found what I am looking for. It’s peaceful here. It’s far away from the ship, and the view is spectacular. I put down my backpack, and start composing pictures. I take a few shots, but I’m waiting for the light to get better.
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In the meanwhile, I sit on top of the highest rock column. The column has layered horizontal sections of basalt piled on top of one another. Wind and water have eroded it over the eons into a beautiful sculptured piece of stone. If this rock were to crumble, I would plummet off the face of the cliff reforming myself into a twisted pile of broken bones upon impact. I’m not worried about that just now, as the view is excellent. The wind is buffeting my back, letting me know that its there to support me. I drink some water. I eat a granola bar, and a kiwi. Life is good.
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I love the landscapes of this region. If it weren’t for the fabricated infrastructure that dots the land, I’d think I was in Mongolia.

Palouse Falls
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Later in the morning, I find myself perched high above Palouse Falls. I love this waterfall, and I love the park that contains it. It’s one of my favorite in all of Washington.

The wind is amazing. It whips the waterfall spray, dragging it high above the waterfall on a strong updraft. The cloud swirls in the air, forming the symbol for the number nine (my lucky number) for the briefest of moments. I smile. I love noticing quiet details.
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The wind gusts pluck leaves from trees on the rim of the canyon and carry them far out into the gaping void. They never get a chance to touch the ground. They fall for twenty feet before twirling upward in the draft high overhead. They disappear in the distance, and I am envious.

I love autumn.

Photos That Didn’t Belong
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In a given week, I’ll take many photos that I enjoy, but don’t fit the scheme of what I’m writing about. Since I’m nearing the end of a work period, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite misfits that didn’t find a home.

Author’s Note: The line, “The autumn wind is like smoke” is taken from Lin Yutang’s classic, The Importance of Living. I love that line, but I felt quotations would have been distracting in context. I give him his deserved credit here. Thanks.

Posted by Rhombus 08:31 Archived in USA Tagged landscapes rivers hiking travel autumn argentina photography washington palouse philosopy Comments (1)

An Autumn Wind

The End Of Summer, The Start of Autumn, Favorite Pictures of the Week

sunny 75 °F

An Autumn Wind
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Yesterday was… It’s hard to describe yesterday. I will try. It was hot, dusty and exceedingly bright. One had to squint to try to alleviate the discomfort. Squinting all day makes you tense and irritable. It was hard on the eyes. A listless pall of negativity surrounded the ship. I felt it. This was heavy and draining. It affected everyone. I saw many stifled yawns. I saw many frowns. I felt mildly annoyed all day.

Evening came on, without much improvement. I had stowed the flags, I was standing watch at the gangway enjoying the cool darkening of the skies. From somewhere unknown, an unexpected wind arrived. It hammered into us. I’ve felt the slap of the wind before, but it has been awhile since it has punched me. This was no love tap; this was a well balanced punch with a strong follow through. This wind blew for forty-five minutes without letting up. This was an impressive wall of nearly invisible energy.

I turned and faced into the melee. Cool, moist air engulfed my mouth, my nose and lungs. It whipped through my hair, tousling my beard. Then the wind began scouring our decks. Our garbage cans went sailing, empty gas cans tumbled across the lido. Three kayaks toppled from their racks onto the deck. Our mooring lines stretched taut under the strain, and our deck mats flipped upside down asunder.

The deck crew assumed headless chicken stances, and ran around the boat securing all loose ends in order of importance. It took awhile, but eventually we secured our decks. When I stepped inside, the ship seemed so calm and peaceful compared to the tumult raging outside. I went back out into the wind. It was awesome.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but this gale cleaned that dying breath of the last day of summer right out of us. Amongst the crew, moods visibly improved (myself included). I felt more alive, much happier, and more buoyant.
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As quickly as it came, the wind dissipated and vanished. The waters were calmed down; the stars reappeared above. You would never believe that a straight-line wind had ripped though.

This morning, I awoke fresh. I could feel the difference from yesterday to today. The morning light seems brighter. The air is fresh. It’s chilly out, whereas yesterday it was sticky. The autumn has arrived. Our second mate noticed it last night during the gale saying, “Holy crap. Is that the end of summer?”

I started my day with the following passage:

“Foolish. Of course! To give up a steady job in order to gratify a few vague daydreams. To leave a life of comfort for one of constant danger, discomfort and insolvency. Surely that is the height of foolishness. I reasoned with myself. How in the first place could I ever find the money to do it? But I was young, argued that other restless self, and a lad of twenty-one can always find a way to realize his desire.

And the desire grew and grew until it rang in my ears like a trumpet call.”

Dennis Puleston ~ Blue Water Vagabond.

I came to the park equipped with coffee cup, muffin, yogurt, orange, phone, books and slack line. I chatted with my brother Karl, talking of many good things. Our conversation covered comfort, breakfast nooks, Limo, our brother Eric, paradigms, the wind, and autumn. We complimented each other on our prospective journeys and appreciation for all the good things in our lives, and ended on a good vibe.

I breathed that fresh cool air; I ate my breakfast in the shady company of trees. After many minutes, I set up my slack line and found my balance.

This is good. This is how I like to start my day.

I'll end this entry with my favorite pictures of the week. Enjoy!
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Posted by Rhombus 01:37 Archived in USA Tagged night rivers friends autumn moon photography washington wind Comments (0)

Two Hours In Portland

An Aimless Jaunt Into a Downtown Park

rain 57 °F

I had a couple of hours on my hands while this morning, and I thought I would take advantage by going ashore to go for a mini -exploration of the city of Portland, Oregon. To fully explore a dynamic multi-layered city such as Portland could take months or years to do it properly. I had only two hours. I decided on an aimless approach, wandering north into downtown, more or less wanting to see what I could see.
I walked north along the Willamette River, watching the river traffic, flocks of birds, joggers, walkers, bums, bikers, and scenery. I turned west into the downtown area via Salmon Ave, and made it about a block before I saw a beautiful green park that piqued my curiosity.
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The park was three square city blocks, neatly contained in a perfect grid of concrete thoroughfares. Inside the grid, a pleasing natural space was composed of towering trees, green grass, a plethora of wrought iron benches, and two statues. Everything was covered in a thin layer of bright yellow leaves that had fallen from the towering trees. The leaves had a steam rolled flatten look, softened with water and compressed.
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The park had a few statues in strategic locations, one commemorating veterans and their battles, an elk, and one saluting the pioneer spirit. I like statues. I like art that is meant to last for a long time. I always thought it would be cool to carve up a huge rock in a random spot in the woods-scratching in symbols, and numbers (which would be meaningless) for future generations to ponder. It would be my lasting symbol of my unique brand of weirdness. Picture the Maois of Easter Island. Plus, I like the idea of annoying archeologists long after I’m gone.
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A heavy mist began to fall, and the few people around picked up their pace and walked faster to their destination. I didn’t have one, so I walked slower, and tried to find appealing compositions. I like rain, and it deepened the mood nicely: A wet autumn afternoon in an oasis of green. The city was ever present, but city parks aren’t meant to be deep wilderness. To me, they are a place for recreation, relaxation and respite. Parks are a reminder to city folks that nature has an important role in our lives. Who doesn’t feel better after spending some time in a city park? My primary way of judging a city is by its green space and parks.
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It felt good to get off of the boat and act like a normal person again. There isn’t a lot of room to roam on a boat, and I enjoyed stretching my legs on the earth. To celebrate my “grand day out” I bought mocha, a bagel, and a cinnamon roll to eat later on the boat. A small gesture towards recapturing my freedoms, but welcome all the same.
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I was looking for a good quote about city parks, and I found this one. It doesn’t really go with my theme, but it made me laugh.

“I hate small towns because once you've seen the cannon in the park there's nothing else to do.” ~ Lenny Bruce

Posted by Rhombus 15:50 Archived in USA Tagged parks walking autumn photography portland Comments (0)

The Life of a Leaf

Honoring the Last Leaf of Autumn

semi-overcast 50 °F

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The leaf, long before it fell, was a bud, a lush green protuberance on a maple tree. A pleasant life; swaying in the breeze, warm in the summer sun, a good view. Then came late September and early fall-colder temperatures, frosty nights, and loss of fluid. It dried, died and fell. Before doing so, the leaf read the secret writing on the Philosophers Stone and turned golden orange. The Leaf blossomed for a brief period, no more than two weeks of vibrancy. The leaf fell with his mates on a cool autumn afternoon. Humongous slabs of gray purple clouds loomed overhead with pale blue air surrounding them; islands in a sea of autumn sky. The wind which finally dislodged it was gusty all day, showing strength and ebbing, until it finally plucked it free. I didn’t see it fall. In my experience, the leaves that fall in late autumn descend with grace, making the most of their one and only flight. It made a perfect landing, gently and upright, on the tufts of green grass. It was perched higher than some of the other leaves-poor flyers, those. Waiting patiently, it was rewarded for the last time; catching the sunlight just right to highlight the vessels and veins, completing the cycle of life to death.

Posted by Rhombus 05:59 Archived in USA Tagged leaves autumn photography Comments (0)

Michigan's Autumn Splendor

A Celebration Of Autumn: The Foliage, The Sounds and The Tastes Of My Favorite Season

sunny 63 °F

The northern forests have once again succumbed to charms of autumn, and so have I. Autumn is the equivalent of a grand finale in a fireworks show for leaf producing trees. In fact, the whole region has been in the grip of autumn since late September. It starts slowly, the hot temperatures of summer begin to temper and cool, especially at night. The cooler air temperatures begin a chain reaction in the hardwood trees; their life flow of sap slows and stops. With no more nutrients flowing through to the leaves, they turn color and die. Utah Phillips, that great American storyteller and folk hero, used to tell us about a whiskey called Autumn Leaf, “You’d take a snort, turn color and fall.” It’s not an immediate process; the “fall” often takes several weeks depending on temperatures, rainfall, wind strength and type of tree.
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Autumn is the Yang to Spring’s Ying. A subtle reminder that all that lives will eventually die. But what a send off! What a great final show. If you knew the end was near how would you want to go out? The forest has collectively chosen to go out with a bang. It makes an awe-inspiring farewell, a celebration of life in vibrant colors, textural sounds, earthy smells, and ripe tastes before death. Autumn is a good reminder to pay attention to all of your senses, as each will find a satisfying meal.
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The visual feast of the vibrant varieties of autumn leaves is what I think of most when I think about Fall. In Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula, the multitude of hardwood forests, mostly maple, oak, birch and aspen make for a pleasing display for the eyes. For roughly the last two weeks, I’ve spent at least part of my day wandering about the fields and forests, taking in the variety of colors. I especially like red leaves, as they aren’t as common as yellow and orange were this year. I don’t know if leaves vary their color from year to year, or if certain trees always turn the same color. A dendrologist could probably answer that question.
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This year, the trees on the edge of the old farmer’s fields hit their apex of color before the main forest. It made for some likeable compositions, and I was lost for hours at a time composing the trees with my camera.
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I was walking along the banks of the Traprock River, when I happened upon one of the more beautiful phenomena that I’ve seen this year. Leaves were falling from the trees directly into the water, and in doing so, became small color full leaf shaped canoes. The stream moved them at a variety of speeds through the dark tannin, root beer colored water. Some of the leaves floated by underneath, some on top, others joined other leaves to make a raft, then abruptly would spin away and change partners like a square dance. I was mesmerized. I could’ve watched this “dance” all day.
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The sounds of fall are much like a symphony composed of many different movements, using different techniques to coax sound from leaves. I like listening to the leaves land as they fall from the tree. It’s not long before a thick blanket of dry leaves collects on the forest floor and with each new leaf that falls onto it, a soft crunch can be heard.

Leaves are more or less a wind instrument. The gusty winds of autumn use the crispy leaves like giant maracas, shaking them for a time, then letting them settle down once again. The wind makes soft noise through the forest as well, a pleasant white noise to which the rustling leaves play over the top of.

By late fall, most of the leaves have fallen, and the thick carpet of tinder dry brittle leaves becomes a terrific cacophony of crunch. Walking through the forest is pleasurable, a nonstop din of crunchiness that overpowers all else. The only sounds the ear can concentrate upon are your footsteps. I like to shake it up, and shuffle my feet, then jump up and stomp, kicking a couple of times, and taking exaggerated steps to keep the rhythm going. Yes, autumn jaunts in the woods are good for the soul.
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Autumn also has its own array of earthy aromas. A fresh pile of dead leaves smell great. I love the smell of hot brown pine needles that have been baking in the afternoon sun for several hours. The tannin-filled rivers smell acidic and earthy, but not unpleasant. They smell as a river should. Perhaps my favorite smell is that of the freshly baked apple pie cooling on the counter. This makes me think about the tastes of Autumn.
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My favorite taste of fall, is that of the apple. Apples fresh off the tree are delicious, and can be used in a variety of ways. I like baking apple pie with my apples that I pick. Is there anything better than a fresh piece of warm apple pie, with its gelled apples and cinnamon, sandwiched in a flakey tender crust? I think not. My aunt and uncle have an apple orchard, from which they use the apples to make cider, possibly the world’s finest. It’s so very fresh and pure, that my sister once said, “It’s like drinking an apple.” My mom makes applesauce out of some of the apples, mostly the late august yellow variety. When the yellow apples are ripe, it’s a good sign that autumn isn’t far away.
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Through the ages, many civilizations held festivals in a salute to the harvest of fall. I think the autumnal equinox should be celebrated. To do it properly, a long walk through the forest would be a good start. Let your senses do what they do best, and enjoy the whole scene with each of them. Follow that with a fresh piece of apple pie with good cup of coffee, to get a taste of autumn. Then a bonfire under the inky black star filled skies, listening to the fire pop and crackle, accompanying the wind rustling the leaves of the forest. This would make a fitting end to a day spent in celebration of autumn, my favorite season.
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Posted by Rhombus 10:12 Archived in USA Tagged leaves fall autumn forests color Comments (0)

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