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Rare Air Episode 23 and November 2017 desktop calendar

Scroll way down for an original desktop calendar for November.

Wow. Two months ago, when I was preparing to post the next Rare Air episode, sharing more documentation from the beautiful day we spent on June 17, 2016, at Waterlemon Cay, I obviously had no idea that within a few days, Hurricane Irma would be reducing Saint John to a “wasteland.” That is the word used by The Washington Post’s Anthony Faiola in his Sept. 12 story describing the destruction of many popular island destinations we visited in 2016 – some of which we returned to this past July.

Unfortunately for us, when we circled back to the parking lot at the Annaberg Sugar Mill this year, it was raining cats and dogs. We sat in our Jeep and ate our lunch in the hopes of riding the storm out, but 40 minutes or so later, we gave up. Deciding to drive to the island’s West End in the hope of finding better weather – the plan paid off, and we were able to experience some unforgettable snorkeling at Hanson Bay. As a result, for the present, all I have to share from Waterlemon Cay comes from 2016. We still hope to return someday soon, but until then, I hope this will whet your appetite. Read more

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Rare Air Episode 22 and September 2017 desktop calendar

Scroll way down for an original desktop calendar for September.

One year and six “Rare Air” episodes ago, I posted an in-depth entry where I shared the full itinerary for our first-ever trip to Saint John. It has my hand-written notes compiled before our departure, and the places that made our short list for destinations as Beth read entries to me from island resident Pam Griffin’s book, “St. John Feet, Fins and Four Wheel Drive.” One of the most anticipated spots was Waterlemon Cay. Due to it having a short hike, it is one of the treks we made where the kids were allowed to stay behind at our villa. Pam’s description of the pristine setting and the “great snorkeling” were the main draws, and the intrigue of venturing out and around a small island or “cay” where we’d be able to rest on its sandy beach before swimming back drew us right in.

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Rare Air Episode 21 and July 2017 desktop calendar

An original desktop calendar for July appears at the bottom of this post.

In my earliest visions for “Rare Air,” I had a general sense of wanting to share nature with others in the loving spirit of some sage advice my late father-in-law Bill Kiefert gave me often, reminding me to stop and smell the flowers. This simple and essential idea goes a long way in defining what I am aspiring to do here… and yet, today I’m aware of a deeper lesson. Read more

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Rare Air Episode 19 and March 2017 desktop calendar

An original desktop calendar for March appears at the bottom of this post.

For my brave parents and for Beth’s, moving to Florida was a dream that became reality back in the 1970s. While many among their generation of northerners in Wisconsin and Illinois shared their aspirations for the warmer climate – and for adventures that connected with the wild more directly than anything happening in those homelands – only the rare few made the leap of faith to re-cast themselves and their children as Floridians. Read more

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Rare Air Episode 18 and January 2017 desktop calendar

An original desktop calendar for January appears at the bottom of this post.

For Beth and me, our conjoined “life before kids” began in about 1989… and before leaving Central Florida for Southern California on New Year’s Day, 1998, we toured the Sunshine State from top to bottom. Just before Amelia arrived in 2001, we returned to the Southeast. Since staking our claim in the Blue Ridge Mountains and welcoming Riley in 2003, we and our kids have continued to experience Florida as tourists. Read more

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Rare Air Episode 17: Saint John – Underwater

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June 11 is the date we planned to arrive in Saint John, U.S. Virgin Islands, before staying on for another nine nights. In the months leading up to that, I spent a lot of time daydreaming about those moments we’d be spending in paradise. My inner photobug also drove me to great lengths to gear up for the trip, as I got serious about capturing more captivating moments to feed into new Rare Air chapters. Read more

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Rare Air Episode 16: Saint John, U.S. Virgin Islands

Scroll way down for an original desktop calendar for September.

Thank you for joining me here to ring in the autumn of 2016 and sample some of the experiences gathered earlier this year in Saint John, U.S. Virgin Islands. I have referred to it as our vacation of vacations, giving you a sense of how much fun you’ll have when you go. The day I shot the footage appearing in Rare Air episode 16 is one I will never forget. Read more

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August 2016 desktop calendar


Featured Image: 2016 photo from the ferry ride leaving Saint John, U.S. Virgin Islands. Read more

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Rare Air Episode 15: Tongue Point, Washington, Part Three


Scroll on down for an original desktop calendar for July.

Our friends Richard and Heidi Campbell of Boone were other big inspirations for this trip. A couple of years earlier, they and their kids had spent many months settled in Christchurch, New Zealand, and afterward, they shared a photo album with us from their travels. I can still recall the powerful envy I felt seeing them in those heavenly natural locations, where geography defies the imagination, and everywhere one sees water, the heart’s desire is magnetically attracted to be right there. Among those images were tumultuous landscapes pacified by blue and white waves, and something about the tidal pools struck especially deep chords in me.

Of all the National Parks listed in my Stone Road Press guide book, Olympic is the one that seemed to match the picturesque grandeur of New Zealand most closely. That perception locked-up my initial vote… but as our plans took shape and time marched forward to the trip, I was absolutely intrigued by the idea that we were going to the Northwestern-most point of the continental United States. Read more

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Rare Air Episode 14: Tongue Point, Washington, Part Two

Scroll down for an original desktop calendar for May.

Looking back, it seems like fate drew us to Washington State and Olympic National Park in 2014. It all started when we were in Isle of Palms, which is near Charleston, South Carolina, the week after Christmas in 2012. That was the year of our family’s first National Parks tour; all of that had happened earlier that summer. With the kids, we’d decided that we would schedule our next National Parks tour for 2014, and one place we were intending to go was Glacier National Park. While loitering in Barnes and Noble that December, I purchased a new book: “Your Guide to the National Parks” from Michael Joseph Oswald and Stone Road Press (2012).

I found Glacier very quickly in the book, and worked outward from there, imagining how we might spend up to a few weeks visiting that international treasure and others in its area. Soon enough, Read more

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