Category Archives: travel tuesdays

A Post out for a Walk, Strolling through Tempe


This is part one of a three-part post.

As becomes necessary no matter where I’m residing, the time arose for a walk around my current Tempe, AZ neighborhood.

Weather conditions: sunny with clouds nowhere to be found, warm enough for a T-shirt with capris.

Time: Mid-afternoon on a Saturday.

Accompaniment: “A Way with Words“, an NPR podcast.

Length/duration: No need to record.

Inspiration: Need for mobility and watching back-to-back episodes of the BBC show Stephen Fry in America.

One of my archi-floral snaps

My original intent was to explore the space design, or the architecture, landscape design, density, and infrastructure, whenever I ramble around my current neighborhood. It soon paired with nature– to the extent that of the 38 photos snapped, a majority are of birds and flora.


Soon, however, something invisible began toddling around in my mind. It was like Arnold J. Toynbee wrote: “A city that outdistances man’s walking powers is a trap for man.” Where were the coeds normally seen skateboarding and biking and roller blading and roller skating down these college campus streets? For that matter, where the heck was anyone to be seen simply ambulating?


A comment from a fellow blogger (who penned a kewl post on pedestrians here) and a native to the Phoenix area came to mind: “People aren’t used to WALKING around here,” the native man wrote in a recent email in which he gave me directions to the light rail. An architect who joined me for a coffee yesterday also referred to it: “It’s not really a walkable city, is it?” Creating the New Urbanist tenant of walkability in subdivisions is one high on the list of many American developers today. The connection between it and denizens’ desire for it don’t inherently link. The realities are like those between walking for the joy of ambulatory meditation and doing it for cardio benefits. Consider it in the way Robert Louis Stevenson wrote in his essay, “Walking Tours“: “He will not believe that the flavour is more delicate in the smaller dose.”

“A walking tour should be gone upon alone, because freedom is of the essence; because you should be able to stop and go on, and follow this way or that, as the freak takes you; and because you must have your own pace, and neither trot alongside a champion walker, nor mince in time with a girl. And then you must be open to all impressions and let your thoughts take colour from what you see. You should be as a pipe for any wind to play upon.”

That people seem to have lost the desire merely to get lost in the details of their locale isn’t native to the Phoenix Valley, of course. Over the years, in stages based as much on “walkable” communities vs weather, I’ve noticed myself not walking so much as when I lived in Chicago. It’s easy in Sarasota, FL to forget anything without four wheels, far stranger to see anyone on two legs. Then it was back to lots of walking whilst living in India or China. More recently, the practice was visible occasionally, I noticed, in suburban Dayton, OH, and there I relied on neighborhood walks for a variety of reasons.

God love seasonally challenged people in Ohio


On my walk this wasn’t what claimed my mental attention. Instead something to notice was the looks people gave me. Perhaps I don’t look local enough. I also was carrying my shoddy but trusty palm-sized digital camera, snapping away at little details. Two people who pulled up to their abode as I was ambling by clearly took longer to unload their SUV while pondering my purpose.


Another woman, also exiting her SUV in the driveway of her 1950s square, ranch-style cinderblock home, did respond pleasantly to my hello, but her countenance echoed the same: the sight of a person out for a mere stroll is rare around here.


Ah, well, I’ve walked to a cafe, walked half of downtown Phoenix before visiting its art museum, and walked from strip mall to strip mall here in the Valley. I shall continue to walk, as I’m without a bike, a board, blades, or anything else that’s wheeled. I do it to let the mind wonder. In that sense, it’s like writing. By doing each, we come to realize what we’re thinking.

Lost Your Passport While Abroad? Panic Not


Usually the Writer Abroad blog contains robust, compelling content, but this guest post by Ripley Daniels should be stricken for its travel info so faulty it’s almost libelous. I’m scanning my brain to recall a time when a bigger bunch of nonsense about travel has presented itself.

The post of complaint is about replacing passports lost/stolen when traveling. Half of its content is flat out wrong. I know this because of having to replace mine in Mumbai in 2010.

WriterAbroad does contain other, less error-filled posts, especially with useful content for writers


First, my purse containing my drivers license (and my blimmin’ RayBans and Waterman pen) was stolen while living in China. My passport, however, remained safely at home. It was enough for me to travel to Mumbai a couple months later. Two weeks after arriving there my next purse containing my passport (and my bloody treasured iPhone) was stolen. A photocopy of that passport remained safely within my backpack on my person.  That photocopy was of my ID page and my visa stamp– a trick learned from fellow expats upon moving to China almost two years prior to these events. (Thank gracious I’d never encountered this in previous trips to India, Costa Rica, and Italy.) It alone was sufficient for the US Embassy in Mumbai to procure my permanent replacement passport– within a week.


The quandary this theft cost was more than personal; it did cause me to have to run around and around the labyrinthine foreign services/visa offices of Mumbai for another ten days. India has a policy of tossing out people who’ve lost their passport. (Not a suggested display of its Incredible India tourism campaign.) This simply would not stand for me, just two weeks into a three-month travel visa. The difference between my photocopied travel visa stamp, and my new passport, which lacked evidence of any Indian visa, also caused a delay at the airport at my trip’s conclusion. That delay, however lasted all of about 30 seconds.


Photo credit

This absolutely true anecdote illustrates what’s wrong with steps 3, 4, and 6 of Daniels’ post. Daniels suggests in step 3 “You will need to have a valid U.S. Birth Certificate or a U.S. Naturalization Certificate and a form of identification, i.e. driver’s license, state ID, US Government ID or a Military ID.” This has been proven erroneous by the fact that I did not indeed possess any of those forms of ID and was still successful in obtaining another proper passport.

In step 4 Daniels stimulates fear that travelers have instant access to their birth certificates– even if it means having someone at home to FedEx it to the country of visit. Let’s not plunge into the fear factor, alright? What traveler goes abroad with her birth certificate, and who on earth would want it FedExed to another country?

Step 6 indicates that the passport the embassy grants is one of “limited validity.” Again, untrue. The embassy clerks handed me a shiny new, 10-year passport (saddened as I was, however, to lose the stamps I’d collected in my then-recent global journey). The thing has presented absolutely no troubles whatsoever in the countries visited since India.

Now, despite the fact I’m lambasting Daniels’ Writer Abroad guest post, the post does indeed serve a purpose: it encourages travelers to consider the possibility of the disappearing passport. I would implore the blogger, however, to go a step further and at least mention the value of photocopying passport pages. That will inherently expedite the replacement process and can serve as an ID for many (though not all) purposes travelers have until their replacement arrives (hotels, shopping, banking, in-country travel).

Travel well– and photocopy your passport after gaining each exciting new country visa.


On a related note, with in mind, I’ve often wondered how much that American passport fetched on the black market. What kind of squirrel made its way (safely?) into my own country at my peril?

Writers Abroad Convene on SheWrites


Participants in this month’s National Travel Writers Month have a goal to submit, submit, and submit. But what if we don’t know all that many places to submit our work to? One place I’m submitting to comes from a recommendation from SheWrites Global Writers group moderator Tracy Slater made a few months ago. She told me about a contest through Travelers Tales, a publisher of several books that may possibly of interest to many of you too.

In our monthly global writers chat (8 PM EST, Tuesday, 10 Jan.), this is the kind of thing we talk about. We share information about travel writing anthologies, magazines, web sites, and contests. We discuss the peculiarities of submitting to particular places. We exchange editorial contacts. Or, as happened to me in last week’s Submission Mission chat, we might even find someone to critique our cover letters.

No matter what kind of writer we are, we all have things in common. No matter where we live, we all have things to share and we all seek information that fellow members share. That information flows more expeditiously in our monthly Global Writers chat. By sharing information in our casual chats we get where we want to be faster than we would by searching through hundreds of SheWrites profiles or web sites, stacks of Poets & Writers or pages of Writers Market.

Save yourselves countless hours. Attend the chat. My previous SheWrites featured blog post listed some of our upcoming conversational topics. Here are some more we’ll be discussing:

  • Most useful tips/resources for publicizing our work as global or travel writers
  • Ideas for building an intellectual/writers community around you when you live in or write about a culture whose native language is not the one in which you write.
  • Tips for building relationships in the travel writing community (with editors, other writers, PR firms, tourism boards)
  • Tips for breaking into print publications on paid assignments.

We might also cheer each other through NaTraWriMo and talk about our experiences with Travelers Tales. Bring your own tales and topics to the chat at 8 PM EST, Tuesday, 10 Jan..