Take your students on a Virtual Field Trip!

Starting at humankind’s birthplace in Ethiopia and ending at the southern tip of South America, National Geographic Fellow Paul Salopek is walking 21,000 miles for the next 7 years. His journey is called Out of Eden Walk, and you and your students can chat LIVE with Paul, who will be in Jordan, on Friday December 6, 2013 at 1 p.m. ET (6 p.m. UTC). Joining Paul on our first … Continue reading Take your students on a Virtual Field Trip!

Colorado River: Adventure, Learning, and Advocacy

At 15, I had the opportunity to join a three week rafting trip down the Colorado River, under the crimson canopy of the Arizona sky and through the majestic red castles of the Grand Canyon. I jumped off 60 foot cliffs, slept next to white scorpions, photographed black condors from a few feet away, and watched in terror as one of our adrenaline-hungry rafters handled a rattle snake. It’s hard to describe in words the river’s emotional, spiritual, and intellectual stimulation. 
Left: Grand Canyon,” in pen and ink, 18” x12”, by Cedar Attanasio.
Last Sunday, I relived my trip by watching Grand Canyon Adventure, which has amazing rafting footage, vividly depicted in 3D Imax. The movie features great commentary by Wade Davis and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who narrate the rafting adventure with information on the Colorado River and its exploitation for hydropower and agriculture. I needed Davis and Kennedy’s commentaries, because rafting the Grand Canyon–only a short section of the Colorado River’s 1,500 mile path–didn’t teach me everything that I needed to know about freshwater rivers. 
All travels inform the spirit and the mind in some way, but for the geographer, they also serve as nodes of understanding, starting points in a wider web of cultural and biological systems that can only be understood through study (which usually means the abstraction of studying maps or reading books, both of which are summarized or paraphrased expressions of what exists in the field). 

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Five for Friday: Five ways to get OUTSIDE and HAVE FUN

Biketouring.jpg                                Riding a bicycle across America?

This summer I’m going to be riding a bike from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine. Why? Well… first off, why not?  Second, I want to see the country from a bicycle- – which is to say: I want to really see the country, not just from a TV screen or from an airplane. How much gas is this going to take me? Barring the plane trip to my starting destination and the road trip home… NOT A WHOLE LOT. Can you think of ways to travel that have a relatively small impact on the earth?


To do this bike trip, of course, requires a LOT of gear, so I was thinking about heading to REI this afternoon to look at some pannier bags for my bicycle. While discussing this with my editor, we reflected on how it’s pretty hip to dress like you are a serious outdoor enthusiast, while not actually being an outdoor enthusiast. This fashion style shall henceforth be referred to as “wilderness chic.” I say, if you are sporting your North Face jacket but haven’t gotten out to a local park to do some hiking yet, this spring is your chance to ‘walk the walk’ and ‘talk the talk.’


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