Autumn Walks on the Prairie

A week ago, I took myself out for a walk on the prairie. Billowing, slate-gray clouds rolled across the sky, so I knew I had to hurry. It’s a lovely drive from town out to the biological preserve, and I kept the windows open to let the cold wind blow through the car as I sang along to the radio.

It was a joyful day. Spending the afternoon with just me, the wind, and dozens of leaping grasshoppers was refreshing and invigorating.

I was surprised by the fall colors in the grassland. After all, what’s an autumn without the maples and oaks that blaze the New York hills into color? But the reds, the yellows, even the oranges were there! They’re more subtle here than in the Northeast, but the prairie was so beautiful. I finally feel that after a year of living here, I’m starting to appreciate the beauty of the rolling plains.

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves!

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Traveling with boys

What’s the difference between traveling with a girlfriend or two and traveling with a bunch of dudes?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’m considering a trip through Germany with some male friends for a few weeks this winter.  I took a road trip to the Grand Canyon for a week with three guys, and really enjoyed the trip. But am I ready to take on a few weeks on a different continent without even a bit of estrogen to keep me company? This got me to thinking about some of my past travel experiences.

My good friend Bryan took this photo. Check out his photography at http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbischof/.

My experience is not extensive, but here are some things I’ve noticed about traveling with guys.

  • Men don’t care what they look like. Showers? A frivolity. Mirrors? Who needs ’em? Razors can be left at home, clothes can be smelly and wrinkled, and hats are made to cover bedhead. This isn’t always a bad thing; you can do a lot more in the morning when your comrades don’t have to shave their legs, straighten their hair, pick out an outfit, and put on mascara and eyeliner. And the less my companions care about their appearance, the better I look by comparison.
  • Guys walk fast. My friends and I hiked the Bright Angel trail while at the Grand Canyon. I sweatily trotted and panted behind as their long legs lifted them down and back up the trail. However, I didn’t stumble as often (thanks, low center of gravity!).
  • Directions. Getting directions… anything I write about this is going to be extremely stereotypical. Extremely stereotypical, and extremely true.
  • There’s less drama with men.  Ladies, I love you. You’ll have a special place in my heart forever. But the fact of the matter is, we can be catty, difficult creatures. [In my best David Attenborough impression]: The power balance between two or three women can be particularly complex; as the alpha female starts taking control, the more submissive women may become resentful and pouty, losing focus on their journey and forming a mutinous alliance against the pack leader.                                    I have a lot more trouble stating my mind and speaking up to women than I do with men. I get worried about making her feel guilty or causing a severe rift between us (a big risk to take when you’re alone with a person in a foreign country for the next two weeks). With men, things go a lot differently. If you’re pissing off a guy, he’ll let you know pretty quickly. There may be a few blow-ups between travel companions, and the confrontation is loud and direct, but it’s quickly resolved. With women, I have found that the tension remains under the surface.
  • Food is priority #1. Daily itineraries are planned around two things: food and beer. No complaints here.

What differences have you noticed between traveling with men and traveling with women?