A blank canvas, acrylic paints and plenty of mojitos. American sporting artist and former Jimmy Buffett band member Vaughn Cochran called a summit of fellow painters at Blackfly Lodge on Abaco Island in Summer 2016.
Alphonse Island, a sandy knoll located 900 miles east of the African mainland and a hair south of the Equator, is hopelessly encircled by what many would argue to be the richest and most challenging saltwater fishery on the planet. It's also the base camp of saltwater explorer Keith Rose-Innes.
Perhaps nowhere else on the planet could fishing incite heated international debate. But in the Bahamas, where silver scales translate to serious capital, the first-ever proposal of recreational fishing regulations has incited a volatile reaction among domestic and international stakeholders.
"She pulled the lit cigar from her teeth and held it aloft as if raising the sacrament, smoke levitating to midday sun like the birth of wildfire in bone-dry grass. The sun was too high for fish to rise. The river cut a cool artery through the thirsty landscape."
The debate over what constitutes a native versus non-native species is enough to drive a person mad. Road tripping from Virginia to Idaho, I consulted with various subject matter experts to better understand the issue.
On Idaho's South Fork of the Snake River, anglers and ranchers all benefit from more than 30 miles of undeveloped riverfront property. In an area filling with vacation developments, how did this expanse of prime, scenic riverfront escape? The Land and Water Conservation Fund.
"The blueprint of country spread before him, encrypted interstate conduits enmeshed in a transcontinental snarl of pavement—how to select a single paved strand without wanting to see the rest was beyond him."
"In the course of a lifetime, I have heard the voices and met the ghosts who guard the sacred places. Although forceful in their presence and insistent in their will, they have never told me what not to do. But sometimes, when I stray from what is important and what is real, they tell me who I am." --Rene Harrop, Trout Hunter (2004)
I SPENT A DAY IN THE FIELD with Rob, an Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG) game warden in the southeast corner of the state. We tracked trapper activity in the Targhee National Forest and found some intriguing things. However, I found myself considering another topic throughout the day. I found myself thinking about how American wildlife--owned by the people held in trust by the states--is managed across private and public lands.
THIS ISN'T A DAY AT CHURCHILL DOWNS or Foxfield. Here's the deal: four teams with three horses compete upon a dirt horse track. Each team consists of one jockey, a catcher (mugger), and two holders. Horses are ridden completely bareback, controlled with a bridle and crop.
THERE ARE THREE LEIGH CANYONS in the Teton Range, and if you know which one you’re heading to, things are pretty simple. If you don’t, you might end up in Wyoming when you’re supposed to be in Idaho and vice versa. It happens more than you’d think.
THE SEAM WHERE OCEAN MEETS MOUNTAIN, that fine line where sure rock gives way to nebulous sea, is indisputably marvelous. But geological magnificence is the everyday along British Columbia's Sea-to-Sky Highway, which winds north from Vancouver along Howe Sound, a far-reaching arm of the Pacific. Here in the Coast Mountains, some of the world's largest temperate-latitude glaciers are found.
ALASKA IN FEBRUARY is an immersion in white, a glacial veil cut with basalt mountain peaks and ink strokes of black spruce on barren taiga. To be awake here in thirty below is to suspect you’re one step from leaving this world for the next. I’ve come here from Outside (as they call the Lower 48) to visit an old forester, to see what he's doing way up here, beyond the world, but still in it . . .
"All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist." --Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughter-House Five (1969)
AS AN AMERICAN TOURIST, there is one and only one thing I will state about Dresden: its reconstruction is simply miraculous. Centuries before World War II, the city was referred to as "Florence on the Elbe," a hub for intellectual exchange and a site for housing some of the greatest works of art and treasures to be found on the European continent.
IF MIDDLE EARTH EXISTS, it is here at the Bastei rock formation along the border of eastern Germany and Czech Bohemia. Towering up to 640 feet over the Elbe River in the heart of Saxon Switzerland National Park, spires break through soil like giants' hands reaching for sky.
STANDING AT THE FOOT of a fifty-foot tall raven totem pole will put the fear of God in you. At least for me, it does. In the heart of the University of British Columbia's gorgeous ocean-side campus sits the Museum of Anthropology, filled with traditional arts from Canadian First Nations peoples, as well as items from indigenous cultures around the globe.
IN OCTOBER, the South Fork of the Snake is a theater for bipolar weather systems. Light fills the sky to the east; a menacing snowstorm creeps from the west. Skeletal cottonwoods on the banks pop against a backdrop of navy mountain like spindly props spotlighted on a blackened stage. The oars dip into the inkwell of water.
THE GREATER YELLOWSTONE ECOSYSTEM teems with wide-ranging wildlife, such as wolves, grizzlies and wolverines. Most of the humans living here range so broadly that assigning them to one tidily defined state is like containing a mountain lion to a cage . . .
DEVILS TOWER IS ONE STOP just off the I-90, a link in a schizophrenic chain that offers a Yellowstone-bound pilgrim the cheese curd general stores of Wisconsin, the S.P.A.M. museum in Minnesota, the Mitchell Corn Palace in South Dakota, before giving way to sites of fasting and visions—the Badlands, the Black Hills, Devil’s Tower, the Little Bighorn Battlefield—places where Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, and Custer, all the big guns, big men, had it out the high prairie . . .
A ROAD TRIP FROM JACKSON, Wyoming to Sturgis, South Dakota doesn't take that long if you keep the truck at a steady 80 miles per hour. Which is exactly what we've done to make it to the 2014 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally by nightfall.
He and a friend started walking northward, hitching a ride for the first leg of the journey. They were dropped at the intersection where the road led to what was then the League of Nations mandate territory of South-West Africa, which is today, Nambia. Many cars were driving on the main road to Cape Town, but not one turned North. At the wasteland crossroads, there stood only a thorny bush and a tattered billboard, upon which someone had written a message: “My name is John and I am from Australia. I have waited for a ride for two days.” John was nowhere to be seen.