Is the USA Worth Being Proud of this Fourth of July?

With so much to be ashamed of in the news lately, I think it’s important to remember: we have lots of be proud of here, too.

The USA’s nature is second to none; it is well-taken care of, respected, preserved, and enjoyed.

It’s important to recognize the pitfalls of history, and accept that this land doesn’t belong to us. (Especially important with the recent happenings on our southern border). Nonetheless, I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to have communed with this land, learned from it, and grown up in it.

Thanks, America.

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Canary Wharf, London

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An old man contemplates progress (right) while a young man in a suit hurries back to work (left). With Credit Suisse and BArclays offices stacked on top of luxury malls and shiny storefronts, Canary Wharf is a place for movers and shakers. Everyone wears a suit, and everyone is in a hurry.

This is the apex of capitalism.

I wonder what the old man is thinking.

And if the kid on the left could ever understand.

Europe’s Last Free Rivers

I’ve been spending a lot of time in Europe recently; from big cities to the mountain ranges to tiny little villages in the middle of nowhere.

As an American, one of the most striking things I noticed in Europe was the importance of water. Rivers are the lifeblood of this continent. The major cities were built around them, which makes sense, as back in the day waterways were by far the quickest and most efficient method of moving people and goods around.

The European conquest of nature extends far beyond building cities though; almost every single major river on the continent has been dammed for hydroelectric power.

As an American, and one from the West, this fusion of civilization and nature always struck me in an odd way. In the U.S., we usually separate these things. Our nation was built on the back of railroad and automobile infrastructure, which means besides the Mississippi and a few other routes, rivers have largely been left alone. We prefer coal and oil over hydropower (not necessarily a good thing). We also enjoy a deep bond with our public lands.

In the US, our wilderness is untamed and unaltered as much as we can make it so.

For me, this respect for the land and the ecosystems is just as American as the right to own guns, or eat cheeseburgers, or whatever else foreigners associate with our nation. The first time I saw trees painted to mark trails in Hungary, I was horrified. The golden words in the American wilderness are Leave No Trace.

So when I read this article on Adventure Journal about the planned damming of Europe’s last, pristine rivers in the Balkan Peninsula, my initial reaction was pretty negative.

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Catching Up on Colorado

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If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably realized I’ve been home for a bit. Home for me is Colorado, USA. Colorado’s one of the hottest states in the U.S. at the moment; one of the top places young people want to move. The migration is major, bringing both skilled and unskilled workers in large numbers to my home.

I can’t blame them; as I tell my friends and family when they ask about my travels, I’ve now seen a lot of places around the world. And the more places I see, the more convinced I am that Colorado is one of the better ones.

Here’s why I believe that:

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Book Review: To Touch the Top of the World by Erik Weihenmayer

My sister gave me “To Touch the Top of the World” as a gift, maybe ten, twelve years ago. “It’s about a blind guy that climbed Mount Everest,” she said. “Super inspiring.”

Cool, I replied, probably with a roll of my eyes, and set it aside. The book sat in my bookcase for the next decade, patiently waiting.

I picked it up the other day, in a moment of boredom, and found myself tearing through it. It is, as my sister said all those years ago, super inspiring.

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