Majoring in green travel ideas

Hotel_Skyler_Syracuse

Travel is not exactly known for being easy on the planet but a vacation getaway doesn’t necessarily have to hurt your carbon consciousness. On Earth Day, I rush to read the New York Times Green Travel issue for ideas, many common sense, on how to make that happen.

Case in point, Kate Galbraith’s well-researched article “How to Travel the Earth and Protect It, too.”

Galbraith suggests sustainable ideas on where to go, how to get there, where to stay and eat, and what to do by citing environmental experts at 350.org, Grist.org, Sierra Club, WWF, National Geographic and the Clean Transportation Council.

And, surprise, surprise – an eco-friendly upstate shoutout goes to the Hotel Skyler in Syracuse, one of only a handful of LEED certified hotels in the U.S.. This former temple and theatre refurbished into a cutting-edge eco-luxury pad beats a Motel 6 any day.

Check out more emissions-free articles here:
10 Ways to Be a Greener Traveler, Even if You Love to Fly
In Los Angeles, Ditching the Car for an Eco-Friendly Trip
Five Hotels and Tours for the Eco-Conscious Traveler

Hiking the Ski Bowl trail in North Creek

North Creek, Ski Bowl trails,

The hamlet of North Creek, surrounded by the foothills of the Adirondack Park, is famous for its railroad, country stores and downhill skiing. But, there are also dozens of easy hiking paths varied enough for mother and daughter (and a little black French poodle) to enjoy on a sunny afternoon.

I took mine on an 1-hour loop starting from the parking lot at the North Creek Town Park off Dump Road. It was too late in the day to hike the 9.8 mile Schaefer Trail, to the top of the Gore Mountain Fire Tower, so we skirted around an expansive trail system called Ski Bowl.

The trails are technically single track and (I think) only open to mountain bikers. But, being the only people there that day, Mom and I took our chances and hiked the beautiful network in peace. The gently graded routes roamed alongside sandy meadows, ridges and streams.

We paused briefly for views of the valley from the chair lift exit point and a high ridge overlooking Roaring Brook. The opportunity provided us with just the right amount of woodland solace.

Ski Bowl trail North Creek

Ski Bowl trail North Creek

Ski Bowl trail North Creek

Ski Bowl trail North Creek

Ski bowl trail North Creek

Mutti and Renee North Creek

Griots Republic: urban black magazine for travelers

Griot Republic

Tantra communities in India, meditations laboratories in Brazil, sexual tourism in Tanzania – there’s a new online travel magazine and Volume 1, Issue 4 is all about sex!

Griots Republic describes itself as “an urban black travel magazine” but that doesn’t mean this pasty-white conservative can’t pursue a few chapters of African diaspora. After all, this 96-page issue tackles stereotypes, taboos and gender inequalities across all countries.

The word Griot means West African historian and storyteller.

This morning alone, I got an eye-opening lesson on erotica through the ancient illustrations of ceramic pottery from Peru, followed up with a romantic Thailand retreat by an woman who calls herself a Sensual Shaman and, finally, a few minutes watching documentary-style vignettes profile celebrities like adult star-turned-professional travel photographer, Heather Hunter.

Naughty adventures can be transformative for many; doing something as discreet as sharing tea with a stranger in Italy to having forbidden pleasure with a Maasai warrior in Mombasa. But, if this topic is still too provocative for you, know that there are a variety of exciting themes debuting every month. March was a destination issue all about Ireland and February focused on millennials of urban travel.

Griots Republic

CHAD_MCKELVEY

Thank you to the satellite truck operator, Chad McKelvey of Kindred Films, for talking up his wife’s wanderlust for adventure and latest entrepreneur creation. Who knew that something meaningful would come out of shooting the Trump rally in Syracuse yesterday?

Uterus outta know this guy!

Bill Baird

When I didn’t get the call from CBS on Monday to cover Hillary at Cohoes high school, I was upset. When I did get the call from Lois Shapiro-Canter (former NOW president) to cover Bill at Skidmore College, I was deliriously happy. I’ll swap Bill for Hillary any day.

Bill Baird, that is.

You see women’s access to health care is at risk. Donald Trump wants to criminalize abortion. Bills have passed to strip federal money from Planned Parenthood. And states have passed nearly as many anti-choice laws in the past five years as they did in the 15 preceding. I know this because of Bill Baird.

Since before I was born, Baird has been the “father” of the birth control and abortion-rights movement. In 1972, he won the landmark United States Supreme Court case that established the right of unmarried people to possess contraception on the same basis as married couples. In 1976 and 1979, he won two more United States Supreme Court cases that give teenagers the right to obtain an abortion without parental consent.

Having appeared on The Today Show, Good Morning America, Face The Nation, CBS Sunday Morning, along with dozens of radio shows and newspaper articles, I was expecting a packed Gannett Auditorium of diverse thinkers, proactive college students and local media outlets. Moreover, given the GOP frontrunner’s inflammatory remarks about ‘punishing’ women who have abortions and the recent bogus assault on Planned Parenthood, what morning news story could be better?

The NCCA, crappy weather and gas prices, apparently…

So, here I write, not about travel or hiking, but offer a glimpse into my camera viewfinder of an empowering figure that too few people know about. And, maybe, that’s because Baird doesn’t fit the profile of a stereotypical women’s rights activist.

He’s not a woman, he’s not gay, he’s not black and he’s not a minority of any kind. At 84 years, he’s the consummate American hero, flaws and all, still on a steadfast plight to help women. He’s stubborn but strategic, cunning but creative, enraged but empathic.

On stage, he shared a big chunk of his personal bitterness for allies that have misunderstood and maligned his contributions. His tactics have not been without controversy and he makes no bones about forgiving (but never forgetting) the challenges he’s faced: fire bombings, prison time, divorce and financial bankruptcy.

His heart-wrenching stories are told with humor and unflinching honesty and regardless how you feel about the message, you can’t help but admire his commitment. But, don’t take my word for it. Please watch this select soundbite and let his logic resonate with you, like it did me: https://vimeo.com/162009933

Graham Mountain: Ghosts of early television

Graham Mountain

Jeep Trail on Balsam Lake Mountain

Graham Mountain Relay Station

Graham Mountain

Graham Mountain

Bushwhacking can be such a pain in my aspirant but Graham Mountain proved otherwise. The overused herd path was beat down like a drum, more established than most official, marked trails. We never doubted for a second that we might be heading in the wrong direction, which is typical for bushwhacks in the Catskills. Moreover, half the journey followed an old jeep trail from DEC parking area on Mill Brook Road.

The trek was overall quite beautiful. Short breezes shook frost crystals from glittering branches making the soft pelting sound like a relaxing rainstorm.

The dreamscape was interrupted only briefly when an obnoxious RAM truck with colossal redneck wheels bulldozed past us. A large, virtuous cross swung widely from the windshield mirror as three camouflage-wearing hunters scowled from inside. (Not even a bear encounter is scarier.)

At the top of the seventh Catskill highest was a dilapidated cement block building with rusting steel beams, the remains of a 1960’s broadcast microwave repeater station. George probed the inside ruins of the shack, everything in disrepair and buried by dirt and time.

Railroad baron Jay Gould once owned this mountain. Today, granting permission from the property caretaker is a polite gesture before climbing. Gather up random garbage like empty water bottles and loose paper along the trail in appreciation for the privilege.

For more information about the relay station, check out this blog entry written in 2014: Departing from the Script

Views looking North from Graham Mountain.

Views looking North from Graham Mountain.

Exploring the Albany County Rail Trail

Albany County Rail Trail

Albany County Rail Trail

Albany County Rail Trail

Rail Trail Map

Corroded classics, vintage porcelain telephone insulators, engraved bridge plaques; there’s so much more to the newly completed Albany County Rail Trail than leafless trees. As we walked, we imaged the clamor of early explosives and rock drilling from the days when the D&H railroad was first constructed. Today, it’s a public, recreational highlight but reminders of the Industrial Age are everywhere.

George and I walked the first paved portion from the trailhead parking lot near the Port of Albany to a convenient store in Delmar. We admired seeing the front half of the tall chapel spire of the old, vacant Kenwood Covent building, once home to the Doane Stuart School. We enjoyed listening to the swells and sprays of the Normans Kill Creek waterfalls. We marveled at the lattice work under the busy I-87 and 9W highway bridges.

By the way, make note of the confluence that divides and flows around a small island – really cool!

Closer to Delmar, we caught glimpses of a telecommunications tower, and unlike hiking in the deep woods, we never lost cell phone reception. Social media updaters will like that. The FORT Facebook page will appreciate photos of your favorite parts of this trail.

Before curiosity sparks, note the many yellow posted signs on a particularly rural stretch of the trail. All it took was the inviting quack of three wood ducks to trick us into trespassing for shots of spring fauna. Oops, so sorry Mr. who-ever-you-are landowner.

Shortly after crossing a narrow bridge over Delaware Ave the pavement ends at Delmar’s Veterans Memorial Park. Recalling reconstruction, this phase of completion took what felt like… forever. Correct me if I’m wrong but I think I watched crews work their magic on this abandoned bridge for almost five years. Obviously, it was worth the effort.

Before reversing direction, treat your efforts to a large chocolate ice cream cone at nearby Stewarts (trail runs right behind it) and relax at a picnic table.

Rather bike or rollerblade it? Hey, no problem. It’s paved perfectly smooth and wide enough to share with walkers, joggers, even parents pushing strollers.

Vintage E-type Jaguar

For more photos, enjoy my FLICKR ALBUM:
Rail Trail Project