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In the spring of 2022, I drove from Portland, Oregon to Miami, Florida in a total of four days. It was some of the fastest cross-country driving I had ever done, but still a good dive into so many of the American states I had never seen before. Arriving in Portland a couple days prior to my drive, I had extra time to spend in the city. I was able to catch a glimpse of the city’s inviting clubs, parks, and restaurants with my family, including Mount Tabor park, a brilliant hilly park around a reservoir, and the waterfront park and the Willamette river. Overall I had a restful time in the city after a somewhat exhausting flight. With the influx of people arriving in Portland, this place has become an important terminal in the restaurant world. There is all variety of fusion of ubiquitous foods into new forms, and plenty of local produce, brewing, and fishing. A lot of IPAs are sold around here, but there are also stouts and other dark beers. On my last day in Portland, we stopped by Luc Lac, a counter-based Vietnamese restaurant, where we got some excellent banh mi sandwiches for the road.


We drove up the Columbia river valley for hours and for hundreds of miles, first leaving the pastures of the Willamette valley with its many farms, flowers, and woods before entering sharper cliffs and valleys, ascending up steep hills.

After some time, we began to enter the inner, arid regions of Oregon, still driving along the Columbia river but reaching heights where they had wind turbines built for renewable power. At this point, there was little vegetation in terms of trees, but we had passed some swamps and reservoirs that supported the river’s water supply. We entered the state of Idaho some time in the early evening. Gas prices were markedly good, and we were on the rim the majestic High Desert area, a dry, undeveloped stretch of land along the southwestern rim of Idaho. Eventually arriving in Twin Falls, Idaho, I saw the Snake River, the largest tributary of the Columbia. It was in a massive gorge going right down from the town, with a beautiful park area below the bridge.

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In the midsummer of 2016 I was in southwestern Turkey, staying in the sunny resort town of Bodrum with a friend. Going early in the morning, I was able to travel from Bodrum to the Selcuk area with unremarkable traffic, where I was able to promptly begin my sightseeing. After stopping at a cafe, we arrived at the ruins of Efes, once a lively port city called Ephesus, and center of trade and cultural exchange in a sparser corner of the Aegean. In its hay-day, it was among the larger cities in Anatolia, with cults from around the Aegean, a port at a sharp corner of the sea where its docks must have given sailors from Iberia to Egypt a sigh of relief, and several theaters and homes of the elite from across the empire. It was contemporary with Sardis and several other cities that grew to prominence in the Roman era, and with a history that firmly treads into the fog of prehistory with potential Hittite origins as Apasa. The region’s drying up was its demise as a social and economic center, but also allowed for the city to be preserved better than many others, and it’s one of the most substantial Roman ruins of the world today.

The first theatre I saw


The ruin is surrounded by many broad, sun parched hills, dotted with forest and shrubland, and streams descending into valleys, which once carried the silt that sealed Ephesus’ fate in becoming enveloped in the arid plain that now fills the old harbor area. One of the first activities you will notice is the processes of the archaeological survey and restoration of the ruins. These surveyors are hard at work, unearthing the ruins, protecting the most fragile of the ruins, and restoring the impossible puzzles of time’s weight on the world. As is the case with the terrace homes of Ephesus, the homes of the elite in the city. These are some of the best-kept Roman domi, houses used by wealthier freemen and aristocracy. These houses’ defining features are that they are multi-roomed, built around an atrium, decorated with mosaic and painting, and that they will have more amenities than the insulae most people lived in. Some of these buildings would also have central heating from a cell called a hypocaust, an underground room of stoves to heat either homes or baths. The hypocausts would sometimes be connected with other buildings via clay piping, which can be observed running through the ground as piping still does today.I began to notice the massive cat population of the ruin today, as I saw some toms in a spat. As I pass these cats, I think of the long-standing cat-friendly culture of Turkey today and always. The ticket office and gift store people took care of the cats and regularly left water and a bit of food brought in from town.

Clay piping for heating buildings


As one moves down the main avenue, one will be able to observe the centers of commerce, culture, and the everyday social environment of Ephesus. Along this way, I passed the first theatre, presumably one built later in the city’s life, or a theatre restored earlier in the process, as it was in more pristine condition than the one in the larger forum, near the former harbor and the church. The seats were very smooth and austere, just large enough to serve as benches, and they resembled a grand series of stairs more than they did the bleachers of our age of aluminum and plastic. In the city’s life, this stage served for more than just drama and comedy, but was also a general oratory center for any aspect of life that allowed people to seek public concensus, an organ, perhaps somewhat vestigial, from the republican and democratic periods of the Graeco-Roman world. I passed by the Library of Celsus, a classically designed building in the Corinthian style with magestic statues of Virtue, Wisdom, and Knowledge, personified in the angelic style of the time. These abstracts would later be sanctified by the Christians as well, and yet again personified as saints, so, if you were seeing some Roman Christian sites elsewhere in your journey where you have seen iconography of Saint Sophia, chances are there will be some recurrence in motifs, and it will immerse you in a feeling of deja vu and slight familiarity within those ancient buildings.

Main street
Library of Celsus
Statue of Episteme, personification of knowledge


Later down this avenue, I passed through the bathhouse, a center of another foundational aspect of classical living lost for a time, hygiene. The actual basin of the bath had at this point become partially filled with rubble, partially broken open, but one could make out where there had been latrines, hypocausts, and one could almost make out the cooking stalls in the buildings surrounding this bathhouse. It is very easy to become immersed in the spirit of the place, and to remember how people once lived here with abundance in an age we imagine as being a time of incredible scarcity. One can see how they became comfortable, but as you pass into the overgrown forum and the bone-dry harbor, now filled with silt, sand and dust, where once the sea connected Ephesus to the rest of the Roman country, one can also understand that life demands adaptation.

Latrines


The forum was a wide field of grass crossed with cobblestones and marble, lined with now buried shops and insulae, with a larger theatre, wide, tree-lined roads for parades and for moving the merchandise from the harbor to the markets and forums. The larger theatre must have been double the width and height of the theatre in the hillier end of town, and with much more work to be done for its restoration. In the marketside of this part of town, I saw tablets in koine Greek which must have contained familial and mercantile record, as advertising in this time was primarily image-based through painting and mosaic to accomodate for illiterate shoppers. I saw amphorae, cups, and jars, which, in another time, contained wines, fish sauces, dyes, and oils from Italy, Lebanon, the Pontus, Greece, and all over. Finally, I saw the Church of Saint Mary, built partially from the cult shrine of Artemis, which I unfortunately missed during my time in Ephesus. Here, a council in 431 AD confirmed Mary as the mother of Jesus in the written doctrine of nearly every existent Christian sect today. From the modern baptismal font placed there by the Catholic church, to the ancient mosaic nave of Roman cobblestone, its magesty is timeless. One can also determine the long and cruciform, though wide and bulky architecture of this Roman church, built before the distinction of Christians on national cultural boundaries, would have been a mark of novelty and familiarity for Christians anywhere in Rome arriving in such a classical city, with noticeable pagan and pre-Constantinian elements.

Artemis idol
Tablets depicting popular products from the market
Apse of the Church of Saint Mary
Older Baptismal font
Newer, Latin-use Baptismal font
Diagram of the different parts of the Mary Church in its time. It was neighbors with the Temple of emperor Hadrian, a temple of Artemis, a synagogue, and other centers of contemporary religions.

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Fatih from the north

For the world-class and noble city of Istanbul, there is little I can write of it that has not already been written. It has attracted travelers, whether to see the sites, make religious pilgrimage, or work and live in a city that offers the bounty of the whole world. In the summer months, it is warm and temperate, kept cool by the Bosporus, though the city can become smoky and smoggy in its worst weather conditions. The streets are winding and lively, with much of Fatih preserving buildings from the middle ages to the late Ottoman and early republican periods, and much of the waterfront used for pedestrian space, markets, parks, marinas, mosques, universities and all manner of clubs, hotels, and apartments. My own preference for street food would be any of the many cheap and accessible doner stands one will find throughout the shopping areas.

Çamlıca Tower from across the strait

Much of the popular sights are centered around Fatih, which is bound by the old city walls dating from the time of Roman emperor Constantine. The walls and even the odd aqueduct remain standing, a peculiarity and a historic site that will impress any who visit the city. To call these sites ruins is inaccurate, as the modern constructions are seamlessly built along the sides of these old avenues, or the old buildings are simply renovated, with some of them maintaining the same functions as when they were built.

Hagia Sophia Mosque

As with many old towns, a major charm to Fatih is its walkability. From the bazaar, you will be able to cover the breadth of it out to Galata and Besiktas within a day if you pace yourself with each site. The historic Golden Horn is picturesque and lined with party boats, ferries, and all sorts of commercial and private vessels, and it would be worth it for one to book a ticket on a tour boat of the Bosporus, if not to see the full Istanbul skyline from a central point and to see the span of the waterfront, the palaces, and the fortifications that line the strait.

Rustem Pasha and Suleymaniye Mosque from Galata Bridge
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In the south of Iceland, lies a vast portion of the land’s glacier and mountain systems. In many parts, there are sections of tundra and hill country from the west before the one road takes you into a serene, though somewhat drab environment of ash and gravel lowlands. The area immediately surrounding the mountains is newly exposed from receding glaciers, and the flora and fauna there are never set to grow long before debris flows from the volcanoes reset the landscape every so often. Take time to enjoy the otherworldly landscape of this barren expanse, and as you rest by the scrap memorial of the Skeiðará bridge, bent and torn apart by a flood caused by subglacial volcanic eruption, reflect on the relentlessness of nature in the face of created obstacles.



Among the first of these meandering ice-giants you will see is the Svinafellsjӧkull glacier. Carving a swath through the young volcanic mountain chain of southeast Iceland, it dips into a small lagoon of its own making. Now receding, there is an incredible ice lake before the glacier, with streams from the ice caves and crevasses pouring out. My father and I hiked up a portion of the glacier to where we could see the blue crest of the glacier. It’s a dramatic introduction to the span of glaciers that blanket the southeast of the island, and very much worth the trek to overlook the wasteland one would pass to reach this place.




Next on the eastward road, one will encounter the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. In the early spring, the sun is shown on the broken ice like crystal glass, and one will encounter glacial chunks breakoff and become icebergs as they churn within the embankment and flow out to sea. Nearby is a beach of black sand and gravel, with icebergs washing ashore. Their translucent, wet forms betray how hard the icebergs truly are, and one can almost walk out onto the floating ice at their own peril.
The ice lagoon is a testament to the beauty of the subarctic world, whose environs demand a light step to thrive in. Life here is often slow and quiet, but one mustn’t become either too placid or too hasty and instead remain focused on the moment. To see an iceberg capsize and expose its deep blue crystalline underside was a sublime moment for me. It was a glance into a parallel world as I, a man of Florida, a land of languishing heat, motion, and color, to look into the static, cold, unchanging darkness of the ice. It was a trek to Niflheim, the world of ice and mist of northern myth, in the blink of an eye.

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TotalAdventure.Travel curates and creates the most amazing experiences the world has to offer. Travel is an art – it is a way of life – as the late Anthony Bourdain taught the world.

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Good Eating In Missoula !

Prime Minister Trudeau still refused to open the Canadian border to travelers, so my hopes of driving from Washington State though British Columbia, Alberta,Saskatchewan , Manitoba and Western Ontario, before crossing back into the States at Sault Ste. Marie were shelved for a future date. The border finally opened in August. I was trying not to retrace last year’s voyage and crossed in only two spots – Billings MT and Sheridan WY.

From Portland I drove East to the Snake River.

The Snake River

The Snake River runs from the Continental Divide in Wyoming to the Columbia River. Salmon swim all the way from the Pacific Ocean to Wyoming – against a strong current and many dam ladders along the way. Ate lunch in an old Quonset Hut turned restaurant in Joseph,Oregon. The river is the border between Oregon and Idaho in these parts.

See the video in the opening Cross Country 2021 story.

RJR Ranch Stanley Idaho

After the Snake River I spent the night int he capital city of Boise. Hotels were surprisingly expensive and I ended up in a Holiday Inn Express for about $ 190. But the next night, in Stanley , I stayed with old family friends at their RJR Ranch . We cooked steaks over an open fire, while watching the sun set over the Sawtooth Mountains. RJR is a working ranch with horses and cattle. One can also fish salmon from streams that run through the the property.

Missoula Friday Night

Missoula is a rocking college town and just coming back after Covid. I socialized amongst the maskless crowds and it was fun to be out again. Last years journey was quite solitary – often eating in my hotel room, or off the hood of the car.

Entering Montana.

Montana is a wide state, spanning an entire time zone. From Missoula, I stopped in Butte for lunch , swam in the Yellowstone River and made it to Billings for the night My hotel there cost 3 times what it did last year. Not only is tourism up, but firefighters from all over the country were there to fight fires all over the West.

TotalAdventure Won $ 90 Playing Video Poker.

The next day TotalAdventure left the Rockies for the High Plains, through Sheridan,Wyoming ( and a huge steak lunch) In late day drove through Sturgis, South Dakota – where the Biker rally was about to start.

Spent the night in Pine Bluff, home of the world’s only casono that doesn’t serve drinks. Alcohol is a serious problem on the reservation and possession is outlawed.

A Tragic Place In Our History . Sioux Nation.

By late morning crossed into Nebraska and spent two nights in Omaha to get caught up on work.

The Oracle of Omaha !
Des Moines,Iowa

From Omaha it was about 7 hours to Chicago, including lunch in Des Moines. It was hard to stay awake in the repetitive scenery of rolling hill cornfields.

Chicago River

It was great to be back in Chicago after a couple of years. My last time there was in February,2018 when it was 7 below zero !

Panoramic Chicago

As a New Yorker, Chicago seems to be the only other “Real City” in the USA. Washington, Boston and SanFrancisco are runner ups.

Old Family Homestead IN Massillon Ohio

From Chicago , and a brief stop in Indiana to visit an old friend, I returned Massillon Ohio to finish research from last year. Massillon is ancestral hometown of TotalAdventure.

Enterprise Aluminum Company Exhibit At Massillon City Museum

My Grandfather , Blaine Zuver founded Enterprise Aluminum Company. Manufactured coffee makers, pots ,pans and in wartime – mess kits ,canteens and bullet casings on fighter planes.

A Beautiful Cleveland Day On The Lake Erie Waterfront.

Mount Street Beach ,Bay Head NJ

TotalAdventure then spent a week in his childhood home town – Bay Head NJ.

Malson’s BBQ -Kingsland Georgia !
Hottest Wings In The Southland !

From Bay Head , it’s a 19 hour trip back down I 95 to MiamiSpent the night in Lumberton NC. The highlight of the trip, which I have done hundreds of times, is BBQ at Malson’s in Kingsland GA, just 3 miles from the Florida line. And then – it was home to Miami ! The last 2 summers have been perfect to get to know our country from East to West and North to South. Now, we return to the World at Large !

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When it comes to Latin dating the Leading Latin Online dating services online include expanded in proportions and scope. Today there are plenty of more websites offering on line Latin or online dating sites than there initially were just a few in years past. You will find some dedicated http://resynct.appnosticworx.com/category/uncategorized/page/597/ to helping people fulfill other Latina ladies, and also many websites for finding local Latina women. Which means while there are numerous options on paper for meeting a Latin girl, really up to you to find her locally, through your own research, or by using one of the many on the web Latin dating services.

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https://static9.depositphotos.com/1048902/1117/i/950/depositphotos_11176605-stock-photo-russian-beauty.jpg

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For three weeks during the month of August 2019, I got the incredible opportunity to volunteer at the Limbe Wildlife Centre in Cameroon. The LWC initially was the Victoria Zoo until 1993 when a partnership was born between the Pandrillus Foundation and Cameroon’s Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife in an effort to protect the local biodiversity and raise awareness about conservation. The Victoria Zoo then became a wildlife center focused on wildlife rehabilitation and conservation education. The animals there were orphaned as a result of human-wildlife conflicts such as bushmeat hunting or the pet trade. These are major issues in Cameroon and throughout Africa. Animals are often killed both legally and illegally for meat in unsustainable ways, and the infants are kept as pets in unfit living conditions for wild species. When they are rescued by authorities and brought the LWC, the animals are treated by their veterinary team and the rehabilitation process starts as they are integrated into conspecific groups and monitored by their team of specialists. Their mission is based not only on rehabilitation and release, but on educating the population to change views and opinions on wildlife and conservation so that these animals will be safe in the wild for as long as possible.

LWC information on the illegal pet trade
Educative and motivational posters for visitors
Poster to educate the public on national parks

My job as a volunteer at the Centre was that of an assistant animal keeper. During my time there, I would get to assist keepers throughout the five different sections at the sanctuary: gorillas, chimpanzees, guenons and mangabeys, Papios (drills, mandrills, baboons), and quarantine. Mornings at the Centre would begin with friendly greetings, handshakes, and hugs shared with everyone nearby. Limbe is indeed the friendliest town I have ever visited.


Working giving enrichment as a volunteer; masks and gloves are very important to prevent the spreading of zoonotic diseases!

One of the Head Keepers, Jonathan or Victor would then begin the morning with a general team meeting to discuss important news, tasks for the day, and to assign sections to all keepers. Once assigned to a section, the morning consisted of feeding, providing browse, and cleaning the enclosures of all animals. This experience surely shows how each species has their own little quirks. Chimps are definitely the loudest (and debatably the messiest to clean after), the gorillas hate being stared at, and monkeys oftentimes just want to cause mischief by taking your supplies! This experience gave me an appreciation for the quirks among individuals in a species, but even more so for the distinct personality traits between individuals. We all eventually formed our opinions on favorites and developed closer bonds more with some animals than with others.

Silverback male western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and his mate

Once all of that was finished, volunteers were usually asked to help create enrichment for the day.

Enrichment is environmental stimuli (often nutritional and structural) designed to improve the wellbeing of sanctuary animals by keeping them mentally and physically engaged and stimulating natural behavior they would be doing in the wild. For enrichment, we often made “leaf packs” (snacks wrapped in leaves and twine that primates must unpack to eat), as well as re-used and washed plastic bottles filled with browse and other nutritional supplements, boxes, and other variations. Some days the chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) are given sticks to remove honey from crevices on a termite mount, to practice their tool use, or are given ice blocks with treats to try to break and melt. The idea is to induce critical thinking and problem-solving. At noon, everyone at the Centre breaks for lunch. A local Cameroonian dish is served in the meeting hall every day for volunteers and staff. This varies daily but sticks to a few main ingredients: rice and beans are popular, fish (as Limbe is a fishing town), oils, spices, and a traditional African meal fufu was very common. Fufu has multiple variations depending on what it is made with, but it is basically a dough-like food used to fill stomachs when food is scarce. The Cameroonian lunches were not my favorite part of the experience, but I was so grateful for people to share with me their food and culture.

Typical Cameroonian lunches, featuring fufu

In the afternoons, keepers were tasked with observing their animals for monitoring, which freed up time for volunteers to work on maintenance projects around the Centre with the construction team. During the time I was there, the LWC was working on building a new rehabilitation aviary for the rescued African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus) in their care. So, my afternoons mostly consisted of helping in construction and painting. Other options included harvesting browse for animals, preparing food, etc. At one point, I was even offered the opportunity to help with observations. The LWC is dedicated to being knowledgeable about the specific animals in their care and providing the best possible care, so I was able to watch a group of guenons consisting of two species, mona monkeys (Cercopithecus mona) and putty-nosed guenons (Cercopithecus nictitans), to try to problem-solve some social issues they were having. Close observation and research are the best ways to learn about animals to make adaptations to their environments or social groups for their benefit. This gave me practice for my future career in primate research and helped them prevent monkey injuries due to conflict. If you are a long-term volunteer with the LWC, you have the option to start your own research project based on the observation of animals in their care.

Red-capped mangabey (Cercocebus torquatus)
Mona monkey (Cercopithecus mona)

After work was always pleasant, returning to the volunteer house to shower, eat, and rest. Of course, it was different from my luxurious life in the US in almost every way. Shower water had to be warmed on the stove, and mosquito nets hung over the bed, but it truly brought one back to a simpler place in time.

Volunteer room
Volunteer house pets

Overall the work was hard and the days long but working at the sanctuary gave one a sense of pride in their work and a sense of meaning. Coming back to the house at the end of the night has a sense of camaraderie and belonging. All the little outside worries that exist in western society seemed to fade and no longer matter. With upbeat Cameroon music and delicious grilled chicken smell, and the extreme friendliness of locals in the air, it could truly make one rethink the meaning of home.

TotalAdventure does not currently have adventures in Cameroon, but we invite Cameroon companies to apply. TotalAdventure has some great trips to South Africa https://bit.ly/2WPNkPb

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During our stay in Cameroon, we visited Bimbia, was the largest slave trade site in all central Africa. It was quite harrowing and eerie to be there. It felt as if the site was alive with the spirits of the hundreds tortured and murdered there. Among the atrocities we witnessed was a feeding trough where people’s hands and feet were chained together, and they were made to eat with their mouths, hunched over. We saw large pillars where people were chained on top of each other and left to struggle until one remained. The survivor was then sent through the “door of no return” onto a boat to a small island. The island had no food or water and was a holding site for slaves waiting to be taken to the Americas or Europe, sometimes in abundance of two weeks.


We also learned that many tribes people came to Bimbia thinking there was a prosperous life with jobs there because many of their friends and family were taken there and never returned. Once they crossed the bridge into Bimbia, they were kidnapped, chained, and enslaved. It was a very painful place to witness firsthand, but certainly a worthwhile experience for anyone visiting central Africa.

The Gates of Bimbia
Bimbia Art
Am I not a man and a brother?
Informational Signs at Bimbia
Administrative building for accepting and processing slaves
Remains of a slave holding site

The site holds reenactments annually that involve rebuilding some areas of the site.
Pillars where people were left chained up
The door of no return
Feeding Trough
View of the island where captives were held for pickup
Freed slave statue in the village of Bimbia

TotalAdventure does not currently . have adventures in Cameroon, but we invite Cameroon companies to apply. For another exotic area in Africa, check out our trip to Ethiopia. https://totaladventure.travel/trips/203383