Swimming With Humpback Whales

jpeg single whale

“The principal gift whales offer humanity is that they are the only animals that can impress us enough to persuade us to change our minds about the importance of the wild world.” – Roger Payne, Among Whales   When I saw a flash of white on my left, my heart jumped into overdrive. I was […]

Simply Grand: Rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon

One of the best views of the river is from the path leading up to the Anasazi granary ruins. Copyright Donnelle Oxley

I’m sitting just inside the lobby of Las Vegas’ Paris Hotel to escape the sweltering heat that seems to radiate from the sidewalks and buildings as well as the sun. I would like to cover my ears to block out the sounds of slot machines, sirens, traffic, and raised voices. I feel as if I’ve […]

Peru: So Many Mysteries, So Little Time

Machu Picchu, Peru’s “Lost City of the Incas,” made my life list when I was in junior high school. Now, at the end of my sixth decade, I’ve focused more intently on my “must see” goals — Egypt’s pyramids, Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, China’s Great Wall, the Rwandan mountain gorillas, etc. With the turmoil in the […]

Exploring Alaska’s Glacier Country by Small Ship

Alaska: kayaking to glacier. Copyright Donnelle Oxley

  The underwater microphone beneath our skiff picked up the whoosh of bubbles and the sound of whales chattering like children at recess. But we knew the humpbacks circling under us were on serious business—the pursuit of dinner. As if at a conductor’s signal, all sound from the hydrophone ceased and Pavarotti began his solo. […]

Close Encounters in the Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Islands. Copyright Donnelle Oxley

Like most nature lovers, I have dreamed of close encounters with wildlife that don’t make me feel like a stalker. A Dr. Doolittle experience–short on actual conversation, of course, but long on trust and peaceful acceptance. Last spring I found a place where this is a reality–the Galapagos, an isolated 28,000-square-mile archipelago straddling the equator […]

West Virginia’s New River Gorge National River

West Virginia's New River Bridge

If you’re a Baby Boomer (born 1946-1964), mention of the New River brings to mind intense whitewater adventures under Spartan conditions. If you didn’t experience it, you heard about it from friends who rafted or kayaked the Lower New in the 60s and 70s. They talked of paddling Class III-V rapids, eating soggy baloney sandwiches […]

Nature’s Roller Coasters

West Virginia's Gauley River, Pillow Rock. Copyright Donnelle Oxley

Nature makes the best roller coasters. Rafting is wet, wild and exhilarating—and no two rides on a whitewater river are ever the same. Today’s upscale outfitters won’t guarantee that anyone will stay dry—or even stay in the raft—but they do promise indulgences at the end of the day. In the 1970s whitewater rafting was a […]