Archives for September, 2013

Preserve the Parks

My very first travels, ever, were family vacations. Every summer, my parents would pile all of my brothers and sisters into our van and then head west for weeks on end. I learned quickly that “travel” meant three things—enduring Nebraska, visiting national parks, and surviving on Nature Valley granola bars. I remember so well how…

Back in January, I tracked down my great-great-great grandfather at the ScotlandsPeople Centre. This month, I traveled to the other side of Scotland and saw the land of my maternal ancestors. I walked the same streets of Glasgow that they walked, went to their church of Paisley Abbey (check out the view), visited their last…

Glasgow Music

Every city has its sound—Manhattan’s taxi commotion and Sydney ferries, or Cairo’s car horns and New Orleans’ trumpets in the streets—though try and define it too much and you’ll miss the music of the place. To be a good traveler, you really only have to listen. I’ve been listening to Glasgow since the eighties—ever since…

It too me thirteen years to travel back to Knoydart, but took less than thirteen seconds for me to fall in love with the place all over again. I owe my entire discovery of this rare corner of Scotland to Jackie Robertson who picked me up hitchhiking so long ago and showed me the loch…

Return to Knoydart

Thirteen years ago (this month), I traveled to Scotland for the first time. I was a student and I was quite seriously broke—I remember well my empty refrigerator and the simple zeros in my bank balance until one fine September day when my housing deposit return showed up in the mail. I cashed the £250…

Hiking in Skye

There are two secrets to happy hiking in Scotland: waterproof clothing and lots of time. Show up in the Highlands with a plan to reach such-and-such peak on such-and-such day, and Scotland will laugh in your face and spit rain at you. Better to draw a big circle around a set of calendar days and…

I never tasted crushed popcorn dust atop sweet and salty corn soup or whisky foam or caramelized grapefruit—until I came to Skye. Arriving in Scotland, I expected haggis and herring, potatoes and porridge—but when I licked my first spoon of morning porridge at Kinloch Lodge, I was hit with the most wonderful brown sugar and…

Sabbath on Skye

On Sunday, everything is pretty much closed in Skye. Well, almost everything—at lunch I managed to grab a haggis sandwich in one village, and another pub let me use their Wi-Fi on the condition that I bought a drink—but otherwise, come Sunday, it seems the entire Isle of Mists shutters their windows in strict observance…

The Storm

Nobody is more weather-obsessed than the islanders of the Outer Hebrides—of this I am certain. From the moment I first landed in Barra, every person I have met has first shook my hand, then told me their name and delivered a 48-hour forecast. “We’re in for a wee blow tomorrow,” said one man in a…

In New York City, your waiter is always an actor—In Scotland, they’re all musicians, or better yet—pipers. By night, David Provan (age 18) serves guests at Langass Lodge on the Isle of North Uist (yust). By day, he studies (and plays) the bagpipe at the University of the Highlands and Islands, which has a campus…

I am always drawn to islands—the more windswept and remote, the better. Thus I always dreamt of visiting Na h-Eileanan Siar, or the Western Isles of Scotland (also known as the Outer Hebrides). Thanks to travel brochures and back issues of our very own National Geographic, I imagined the isles were a separate world of…

Flying to Barra

“Boarding pass?” I dug the card from my bag and handed it to the woman at the shop in the Glasgow Airport—her nametag said “Lauren”, her straight brown hair fell to her shoulders, and her nose was pierced with a barely-there gold stud. “Where you flying to?” she wondered aloud, but I only stared back…

The world turns and seasons change—summer has passed and led us into gentler autumn with its changing leaves and more rigid schedule. The kids are back in school, and work is revving back up again, but there is no such thing as a bad time to go wandering. Next month, National Geographic will release their…

Andrew in Alberta

After nearly two full weeks on the road, I bring you the fully-finished, half-hour long TV show highlighting my very recent travels in Alberta. My aim in making this video was to capture all the things I love best about Alberta: the sheer size of the place, the awesome nature and vast wilderness, the animals…