Posts

5 Reasons Why You Don’t Need a Car to Survive in Spain

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When I moved back home to Texas in 2015 after having spent three years living and working in Spain, the reverse culture shock I experienced was sharp— and it was mainly because I didn’t own a car . To get to work, I had to walk half an hour to the closest bus stop and hope that I didn’t miss a bus that only came by once every 30 minutes. Walking through sprawling neighborhoods of single-story homes to ride a bus to get to an office park on the other side of town felt so inefficient to me having just left Spain, where most people live in mid-rise apartments or condos above ground-level shops, restaurants, and offices. Getting groceries, going to the doctor, and grabbing something to eat or some coffee all meant I had to either hop in my parents’ car or face up to an hourlong walk—one way—from my parents’ house in the suburbs just to run a simple errand. It was frustrating to return to the U.S. and feel such a lack of agency after spending my first three

7 Ways to Travel after the Pandemic

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Note: If you previously signed up to get email notifications whenever I publish a new blog post, this is the first one you’re receiving from  Follow.it , which I’m now using since Feedburner retired their email subscriptions feature. In the U.S., half of the population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in just half a year—a monumental feat after a year of unemployment, isolation, and death. Many people are resuming trips to see family and friends or just to get out of the house for a change. Other countries are loosening public safety measures and allowing limited international tourism once again. Yet the pandemic is by no means over. So far, only a quarter of people on the planet have received a dose of the vaccine (disproportionately in Western countries), and outbreaks driven by the delta variant could quickly overwhelm health systems again, but the end is certainly in sight. If you haven’t already taken advantage of the protection

Fort Verde State Historic Park: A Reminder of Arizona’s Indian Wars

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Commanding Officer’s Quarters Stand in the breezeway of a charming, 150-year-old home, complete with period furniture and decorations, and you’ll finally get a chance to cool off from the Arizona heat. But you’ll be chilled when you realize why there’s a fort standing in the middle of Arizona, hundreds of miles from the nearest border.  Fort Verde State Historic Park  is the remnant of a military outpost built during the final campaigns of the Indian Wars. Administration building As Anglo settlers began to pour into the fertile Verde Valley region, the U.S. Army was tasked with protecting them from raids by Yavapai and Western Apache people defending their ancestral land. So Camp Verde was set up in 1865, later becoming the permanent Fort Verde in 1871. Years of battles between U.S. troops and Yavapai and Apache fighters culminated in the

Finding Petroglyphs in the Woods at Arizona’s V Bar V Heritage Site

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Petroglyphs When I checked in at the Montezuma Well unit of Montezuma Castle National Monument , a volunteer ranger handed me a sparse, black-and-white paper map of the surrounding region and pointed out some places he recommended. One destination was an old ranch in central Arizona where he assured me I could find some petroglyphs out in the woods. Seems legit , I thought. I had already dragged my poor, formerly bright-white Toyota Corolla across one dirt road to get here, so what was one more?

Why Montezuma Castle National Monument’s Name Gets It All Wrong

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Right off an interstate highway in central Arizona, a national monument protects prehistoric multi-story apartments nestled inside a limestone cliff, old canals that once fed water to crops in the desert, and even a pond where five unique species have evolved. But everything about the name of this park is just…totally, totally wrong. Montezuma Castle? More like Sinagua Cliff Dwellings When clueless Anglo settlers moved into the Verde Valley in the late 1800s and encountered these dwellings, they used the name of an Aztec ruler whose empire stretched across southern Mexico 1,300 miles away. Montezuma’s name, unfortunately, has stuck. “Sinagua” would be more accurate. It’s the term archaeologists apply to the Indigenous people who lived in central and northern Arizona between around 500 and 1500 CE. The Spanish words for “without water” or “waterless” have been used to refer to these people because they made do with little rainfall, diverting preci

How to Time Travel at Petrified Forest National Park

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What’s the national park you’ve visited the most in the U.S.? Maybe Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, or Yosemite? I have family in Indiana, went to college in Arkansas, and now live in Phoenix, so you might think the park I’ve been to the most is Indiana Dunes, Hot Springs, or Saguaro—and yet I’ve only been to one of those parks (Hot Springs) a single time! Instead, I’ve passed through Petrified Forest National Park in northern Arizona no fewer than four times in my life, and I’m itching to get back there soon. Blue Mesa Trail Although it could be dismissed as just another drive-through experience along historic Route 66 from Chicago to L.A., Petrified Forest is so much more. Yes, this national park guards an amazing collection of petrified wood from millions of years ago, but it also contains stunning badlands, hiking opportunities, and ways to encounter recent (and not-s

Photo Post: Homolovi State Park in Winslow, Arizona

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What remains of a multi-room complex “Is this it?” I thought while walking back to my car. Compared to the Ancestral Puebloan dwellings I had visited the day before at nearby Wupatki National Monument , the low stone walls at Homolovi State Park didn’t do much to convince me that a complex of more than a thousand rooms once stood on this patch of northern Arizona. High Desert Housing But unlike Wupatki, it was clear that this lonely grassland once teemed with the residents of those thousand-plus rooms. Potsherds were everywhere!