Category: Travel

Girls’ weekend in PDX

Multnomah Falls

There were only two and a half days, and that included the going and coming. We took a look and almost said too much for too little. But really, how can you measure the value of a break from your daily routine, going where your whim directs, gardens, farmers markets, dusty bookstores, donuts, the fresh scent of a pine forest and waterfall mist on your face? All of it folded together, leaf upon leaf, a book of vibrant living.

Really, it would be best described as so much for so little. 

Teakettle Junction

Anyone who’s been here will understand the relief I felt when I saw this sign. Only 6 more miles (30 minutes or so) of bone-shattering dirt road to go to get to the Racetrack where rocks move on their own.

The tradition is to either bring a teakettle with a message inscribed on it or to write a letter and put it in a kettle.

80 years young

Drive to the most remote part of Death Valley and you’ll be find an impressive Joshua Tree forest. (Not the best photo in the collection, I admit, but these are too cool not to post.)

Technically these are yucca, which is not a tree. We can blame the Mormons for the misnomer. Apparently, the tree’s unique shape reminded Mormon settlers crossing the Mojave Desert in the mid-19th century of a Biblical story in which Joshua reaches his hands up to the sky in prayer.

They only grow about 1.5-3 inches per year. Judging by the size (15-20 feet in many cases), these are very old. Not nearly as dramatic as the Redwood forest, but a good reminder that the wonders of DVNP are subtle and reserved for those who search for it.

Flower Porn

If you go to Death Valley looking for flowers, you’ll generally be disappointed. (The fabled “super blooms” only happen in rare years when rainfall is above average.)

There were almost no flowers this year, except for cactus flowers, which totally captivate me. They almost look fake they are so bright and bizarre perched atop the spiny paddle-like bodies.


-Ali Alizadeh

I escaped from the city
barefooted. I escaped from the fires

naked, except for the bag
of ancient books

slung over my back.
I ran into the desert. The horsemen

chased. Their torches
had coloured the tenements.

I ran for months. Finally
on a glorious night

I stopped. The raiders had given up
on me. I was alone

with the moon and the sand-dunes.
I looked down at my feet.

They were skinned.
I looked at my trace: red footprints

dark on the glowing plain.
I thought about my tribe

butchered as sacrificial beasts.
I remembered their smiles

before the flames. On the holy night
I knelt before the moon

and wept. In the desert
tears are elixir. From their pool

a fountain bubbled. I cleaned my scars
in the water. The books

weighed on my body. I took them out
and one by one

dipped them into the spring.
All knowledge, all art, and all history

drowned before my eyes. Freed
from the clutch of paper

words’ ink dissolved in the lake.
I then drank. I was saved.