About Me and My Scenic Byway

Update: As of July 1, 2012 we've left Salt Lake City for Pioneertown, CA - another big adventure on My Scenic Byway...

My Scenic Byway
In 2010 as we drove across the United States on our move from east to west, I was reminded of the magnificence of this big, beautiful country. Gazing at the ever changing scenery and endless road signs that we passed, I recalled the "Scenic Byway" signs you see across parts of America. A scenic byway is a road recognized for its archaeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational and scenic qualities. I thought about this description, and how my life - all of our lives - is like one enormous Scenic Byway. Life is, after all, one big road trip, and every day in our lives we pass by and experience these things - archaeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, scenic. And we have a choice. We can drive on through our lives as fast as we can, not bothering to notice the sites and the signs and the scenes of the byway, more focused on the destination than the journey. Or we can choose to be present and revel in this big road trip that is life. I choose the latter. Eyes wide open, gazing around and marveling at the beauty that is everywhere all the time. Capturing moments. Sharing experiences. Living. This is My Scenic Byway.

Near Palm Springs, CA.

What is this?
This blog was started as a travel blog, to capture and share my new life in the Mountain and Western regions of the United States, as well as other global travel adventures past and present. I have traveled a lot in my life in the US and around the world - for work and for personal reasons.  I have always cherished these travel experiences and have enjoyed writing about and photographing my travels. With my first real camera in hand, and more time freed up to write, I decided to take up the challenge of maintaining a blog - a creative outlet where I could focus and document the things I see and experience on my travels, especially as a newcomer to the Western US, and share these Scenes with fellow travelers who might enjoy reading, or benefit from, the travel related information and experiences.

Self portrait - Tbilisi, Georgia
The Past
Leaving the east coast and moving west was a momentous change for me as I had lived all my life until 2010 on the east coast of the US. I was raised in Pennsylvania - a small, beautiful, rural area close to Gettysburg and Amish country. My family did a fair amount of domestic travel when I was young, but the biggest adventure of my youth came when I was 17 and I spent a summer in Mombasa, Kenya as an AFS exchange student. That experience changed me. I realized there was a big world out there and I could never again be satisfied to just stay in one place. I love home. But home must always be interrupted by travel. There is just too much to see and experience in this beautiful world.

At the airport.
That love of travel and exploration continued when I attended Mount Holyoke college in Massachusetts,  earning a degree in African Studies, and returning to Kenya to study at the University of Nairobi. Those times I spent in East Africa in my youth (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania) created some of my most fun, memorable, and life changing moments.

I essentially grew up and started my life as an adult in Washington, DC, moving there immediately after college with a gang of friends and pretty much staying for 20 years. My professional career has involved renewable energy and international development and my work has required a lot of travel over the years. I have been fortunate to spend quite a lot of time in places such as Morocco, Zambia, Liberia, Brazil, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Republic of Georgia. I continue my international development work, including travel, now as a telecommuter from my home office where you can find me most days, when we aren't on the road.

Why SLC? Why Pioneertown?
Why not? I wanted a real change - something really different from my life in DC. And I am getting that. We lived in SLC for two years and I loved every minute of it. Everyone was nice, everything was easy, the city is a very cool place (something I don't think a lot of people realize), the area is gorgeous and an outdoors person's dream, and it is convenient to a lot of other great places to see in the west. I blogged often about places and things in SLC and Utah, and trips we took to nearby sites and places.

Now we've taken the next step off the mad merry-go-round. We've moved to Pioneertown, CA and we are building a house out here off the grid. Population: 350 (according to only info I could find on line from 2006). Location: high Mojave Desert (elevation over 4,000 feet) not far from Joshua Tree. History: 1940s old West motion picture set (Roy Rogers was involved). This is a big part of our Byway these days, so look for more and more postings about first time home building and off-grid living, as well as our adventures visiting all the awesome sights in southern California.

See you on the Byway

Pioneertown, 2012
Exploring Death Valley, 2011
Hiking southern Utah, 2010