Slab City’s Salvation Mountain

Activated in 1942, Camp Dunlap — just 85 miles southeast of Palm Springs — was a Marine Corps training facility during World War II. When the base was subsequently decommissioned, the land was returned to Imperial County, California, and only concrete slabs remained. Today it’s known as Slab City — a strange haven for squatters and off-the grid living. It’s also home to two unconventional art installations: Slab City’s Salvation Mountain and East Jesus.

A year ago, I’d never heard of Slab City, Salvation Mountain, or East Jesus. Yet again, Instagram was the instigator. It was the reason I first laid eyes on Salvation Mountain. And from the very first glance at images of the cool and colorful creation I thought to myself: “Must. Go. There.” 

Last Wednesday, that’s just what I did! Continue reading “Slab City’s Salvation Mountain”

Seven German Words To Tickle Your Fancy

German has a rep for being one of the harsher sounding languages. It’s a language that can make “butterfly” sound menacing. (Schmetterling! Argh!) But through two decades spent trying to tackle zee German language, I’ve encountered heaps of words that are fun, funny, or just a bit goofy. Hence, I’ve composed a list of seven German words that I think will tickle your fancy!

Don’t be afraid to unleash your Inner German!

That’s what I tell those who attend my Beginner German For Travelers class as I try to get them to pronounce some über-guttural word. Fahrvergnügen, anyone?

Fahrvergnügen is the pleasure of driving. Well what about Sprachvergnügen — the pleasure of language? Without further ado, and in the interest of Sprachvergnügen, let’s take a look at those seven German words, beginning with the dreaded:

Continue reading “Seven German Words To Tickle Your Fancy”

Getting “Hammered” at Porto’s Festival of Saint John

Porto’s Festival of Saint John

Perhaps you recall my recent mentioning of fish heads? Or of fish-head hats? Of smoking sardines or curly green wigs? Of jubilant crowds to parades floating past while the beats and their throats formed the songs that were sung on the streets with some lyrics I could not work out but so ever enjoyed? 

Does any of this ring a bell?

Ding ding?

Lisbon’s Feast of Saint Anthony

Quite serendipitously, I stumbled upon Lisbon’s Feast of Saint Anthony in late Spring of this year, to be precise. It was my first dabble into the Portuguese festival experience. And it was pretty bomb.

So when I learned — mid-way through our Rick Steves’ Heart of Portugal tour — that we’d be arriving in Porto the night of its patron-saint’s festivities, I could hardly believe my luck.

“You mean I get to partake in more merrymaking, à la portugais?” Sweet! But I didn’t believe Porto’s fête de Saint John could ever quite top Lisbon’s festal homage to its holiest Tony.

But then, it wouldn’t be the first time I was wrong.

Continue reading “Getting “Hammered” at Porto’s Festival of Saint John”

Left His Fish Tank to Swim in the Ocean, Naked

“I won’t tell you how to get from point A to point B but I will tell you about what happened to me between point A and point B,” Andrew explains in the “About Me” section of his website: beatthegrind.com. He travels the world, with the self-appointed mission of avoiding his comfort zone en route.

In other words: he’s left his fish tank to swim in the ocean. That’s how he words it in the biography section of his Instagram account, @beatthegrind, anyway. And a quick glance at his gallery of photos — with images from Mostar to Melbourne, from Myanmar to Mexico City — seems to confirm the claim.

Could it be true, then? Has Andrew really figured out how to “beat the grind?”

Wit, Depth & Daring

I personally first came across @beatthegrind, aka Andrew Schultz, on Instagram. What made me a follower? He’s an adventurer and a good photographer, for sure. But there are plenty of adventurous folks who take nice pictures on IG. Therefore I’d say it was something extra. 

If pressed in a hostage situation to give a more concrete answer, I’d say it was his Continue reading “Left His Fish Tank to Swim in the Ocean, Naked”