Mesa Verde

After the rafting trip we were eager to visit several of the outstanding National Parks in the region. After doing our laundry at Marble Canyon, where we reconnected with our car, we drove east to Four Corners (to snap the obligatory photo at the junction of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado).  A couple hours further east, we arrived at Mesa Verde National Park.

Mara views the Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde
Mara views the Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde

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Grand Canyon, days 5-6-7

In which we explore three beautiful slot canyons with waterfalls, learn how to make a “butt dam”, break Pam’s toe, survive Lava Falls, and fly by helicopter and plane back to our starting point. [Photos]

JP readies the boats as the morning sun paints the canyon walls behind; Camp 4.
JP readies the boats as the morning sun paints the canyon walls behind; Camp 4.

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Grand Canyon, days 1-2

The “main event” for our southwest vacation was a rafting trip on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. I’d done this trip before, with the same rafting company (Hatch River Expeditions), exactly twenty years ago. It’s such an awe-inspiring experience that I’ve longed for years to share it with Pam and the kids. [Photos]

Our lead boat rounds the Nankoweap peninsula.
Our lead boat (left of center, in the water) rounds the Nankoweap peninsula.

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Southwest canyon trip

In stark contrast to my recent posts from the verdant New Hampshire summer (or its recent snowy winter), I’m embarking on a series of posts summarizing our outstanding 17-day trip to the American southwest. After a couple days in the broiling sun and steamy nightlife of Las Vegas, we spent a week rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, a reprise of a trip with my father and uncle twenty years earlier. We then toured some of the other outstanding parks of the region: Mesa Verde, Grand Canyon North Rim, Zion, and Bryce Canyon, before heading east to celebrate my 50th birthday with family in South Carolina. [I’m back-dating each post to the last date covered by the post.]

Pam and the kids walk along the Strip in Las Vegas.
Pam and the kids walk along the Strip in Las Vegas.

Thankfully we only had one day in Las Vegas, because the temperature hit 100 degrees and was forecast to reach 112 in the next few days. It’s the nights that matter in Vegas, anyway. We explored the craziness of the Strip – jammed with drunk pedestrians and hawkers of every vice imaginable – and strolled through a few casinos without pausing to play. Vegas represents excess in seemingly every regard, from gambling to its outrageously flagrant waste of water in the middle of a desert. For us, the highlights included a visit to a tasty Brazilian barbecue and an incredible David Copperfield magic show. We jammed everything into a rental car and headed east.

Andy examines the bew bridge bypassing Hoover Dam.
Andy examines the bew bridge, bypassing Hoover Dam.


We were due to meet Hatch River Expeditions on Sunday morning at the Cliff Dweller’s Lodge near Lee’s Ferry, which is the only place to launch boats for a run of the Grand Canyon. So we took the long way ’round the Canyon, over Hoover Dam and its new bypass bridge then through the forested areas south of the Grand Canyon and west of Flagstaff. Pretty drive!

Sunday morning I woke at sunrise to poke around the scrubby desert wash near Cliff Dweller’s, enjoying the opportunity to photograph this radically different terrain in the warm sunrise light. See more photos. In the next post: the Grand Canyon!

A dry and salty wash near Cliff Dweller's Lodge.
A dry and salty wash near Cliff Dweller’s Lodge.

The early bird gets the balloon

I’m glad I’m an early riser.  At 6am on this beautiful mid-May Sunday morning, therefore, I grabbed a mug of tea and my camera bag and headed west into the cool, slightly foggy Vermont.  A few minutes later I pulled into the tiny Post Mills Airport just as the first balloons were about to launch, as part of the Experimental Balloon and Airship Meet.  What a treat! Deep blue sky, a slight breeze, and happy faces all around as more than two dozen balloons were unfurled, inflated, and launched into the Vermont morning, slowly drifting east.  I topped it all off with a wonderful pancake breakfast from Revels North. Great start to a beautiful day!

For photos visit SmugMug.

Photo of balloons launching

The greatest survival story ever

image of book cover
Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, by Alfred Lansing.

Although I started this blog as a place to describe my travels, sometimes I enjoy armchair travel as well. I recently had the chance to re-read Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, which has to be one of the world’s most incredible survival stories of all time.  All the more so because it is a true story, chronicling the adventures of Ernest Shackleton and his men in their Antarctic expedition of 1914-1917. Launched almost exactly 100 years ago, their goal was to complete the first trans-continental crossing of the Antarctic from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea, just a few years after the first human visit to the South Pole. As it happens, they never landed on Antarctica, being trapped in the ice of the Weddell Sea upon arrival, then over-wintering on the ice while their ship was slowly crushed.  In an astonishing quirk of timing, a modern ship was trapped a few weeks ago by ice in the same sea — requiring its tourist occupants to be evacuated by helicopter to another ship (as of last week, the ship is free but not yet out of trouble).

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A quick week in India

Photo of Charminar building, Hyderabad.
Charminar market area, Hyderabad.

I’ve just returned from a quick six-day trip in India, visiting Delhi, Hyderabad, and Bangalore (each for two days) in support of our research on the use of mHealth technologies in India. I met collaborators at IIT Delhi, explored new research collaborations at MediCiti near Hyderabad, and presented a paper at the NetHealth workshop in Bangalore.

Children at a government-supported child-care center in the village of Rajballaram, near Hyderabad.
Children at a government-supported child-care center in the village of Rajballaram, near Hyderabad.

But I also had some time to get out and explore, by poking around the streets of New Delhi on Sunday afternoon, exploring the historic sites of Hyderabad, and visiting my favorite places in Bangalore.  Although I enjoy snapping photos of the monuments and historic sites, I have to admit that it’s the people that I enjoy so much.  I’ve collected about a hundred good shots in one slideshow, and (with great difficulty) whittled it down to a top-20 slideshow for those who just want a quick peek.

So long, 2013

Andy, David, John, Mara Kotz, and Pam Jenkins
Andy, David, John, Mara Kotz, and Pam Jenkins

Last year was a busy and exciting year for us. Mara graduated from Crossroads and began 9th grade at Hanover High School (HHS), while Andy entered 7th grade at Crossroads and John entered 11th grade at HHS. David continued as Associate Dean at Dartmouth and Pam took a year off from medicine. We traveled quite a bit: we began the year in Bangalore, India, spent a February week along the continental divide in Costa Rica (photo above), and spent lots of time outdoors in both New Hampshire and South Carolina. I hope you enjoy the year-end slideshow of highlights, including some of my favorite photos from 2013.

Regards and best wishes for the new year,
David Kotz

New Bedford

The Lagoda, a half-size model of a historic whaling vessel.
The Lagoda, a half-size model of a historic whaling vessel.

I spent a quiet weekend in New Bedford, Massachusetts, which is along the coast next to the town of Dartmouth and across the straight from Martha’s Vineyard.  I was there to attend a wedding, but had time to discover the fascinating history behind this town, now striving to become a tourist destination after what was no doubt decades of decline following the booming industrial whaling years in the nineteenth century.  My hotel was directly opposite the pier where modern fishing boats are docked, and just a few blocks from the New Bedford Whaling Museum.  Outstanding museum! At right is the Lagoda, a half-scale model of a historic whaling vessel, built inside the museum. Below is a photo of the docks at sunset.  I posted a few more photos in my smugmug.

Fishing ships docked at the New Bedford pier.
Fishing ships docked at the New Bedford pier.