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Get Away In Nature This Year, Part Two!

Following up on my February 1 blog post, which highlights tours I’m scheduled to lead with Off the Beaten Path, here are some more upcoming travel adventures to consider for a nature escape in 2021!

First off are two tours I am slated to guide in 2021 with Smithsonian Journeys:

Pueblo Culture and History Mesa Verde, Chaco Culture, Canyon de Chelly, and Pueblo of Acoma are some of the significant Southwestern sites we visit on this epic eight-day adventure.

The tour starts in Durango, Colorado and ends in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Hikes and walks are rated easy to moderate with at times uneven, unpaved and rocky trails, many of them occurring at higher elevation.

I am slated to guide with and support Smithsonian Journeys expert John Ninnemann for the May 15-22 and October 9-16, 2021 departures. John and I have a long history working together on many national parks departures over the years!

More Info:

P.S. If you want to read an outstanding book about the Southwest, grab a copy of Blood and Thunder: The  Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West by Hampton Sides.


Next is a tour I am slated to guide in 2021 with NatGeo Expeditions:

Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion National Parks visits some of the most treasured, iconic places in the national parks system.

Enjoy less traveled trails along the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, explore Zion’s towering colorful sandstone canyons, and cap it off in stunning Bryce Canyon, home to hoodoos, pinnacles, and exceptionally clear night skies when the weather cooperates.

This eight day, seven night tour starts and ends in St. George, Utah and is rated as light to moderate.

I am slated to guide with and support NatGeo expert Jeremy Schmidt for the June 5-12, 2021 departure. Jeremy and I also have a long history guiding together on this and many other national parks adventures over the years!

More Info:

Get Away In Nature This Year!

Nearly everyone has spent the past year close to home, sheltering in place, practicing social distancing, and awaiting arrival of a viable Covid-19 vaccine.

Now that the end of the pandemic is potentially within sight, many of us are ready for rejuvenating travel with friends and loved ones to some of America’s most beautiful natural settings.

I invite you to travel on an upcoming tour I am slated to be guiding, dependent on the number of passengers booking a given tour.

These departures are all with Off The Beaten Path, a company I’ve been guiding with since 2007.  Tours generally have one guide for up to eight passengers, and a second guide is brought on for up to 16 passengers.


Here’s the skinny on “OBP” trips I’m slated to guide in 2021:

Classic Canyon Medley highlights some of the U.S. Southwest’s most iconic places, including Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon South Rim, a mellow river float on the Colorado downstream from Page, Arizona, and relaxing, rejuvenating time exploring Zion National Park.

This tour starts and ends in Las Vegas and is rated as active and easy.

I am slated to be Guide 1 for both the April 11-17 and October 17-23 departures.

More info:


Exploring Glacier National Park kicks off with a Class II/III white water rafting excursion just outside the national park before settling in to Lake McDonald Lodge for two nights.

We journey over Going-To-The-Sun Road and enjoy mountain hiking near Logan Pass, and enjoy boat rides across Swiftcurrent and Josephine Lakes to access the Grinnell Glacier Trailhead. We also stay two nights at historic Many Glacier Lodge on Glacier National Park’s east side, an indelibly scenic base camp for more wildlife watching and hiking adventures.

The tour starts and ends in Whitefish, Montana and is rated as active and amibitous.

I am slated to be Guide 1 for the August 23-28 departure and Guide 2 for the July 26-31 departure.

More info:


P.S. Travel within your own group bubble in 2021. Customize one of these or other OBP tours with me as your guide-contact me at

I’d be happy to make an introduction with OBP’s travel planning team to explore available dates and help make that happen.

P.P.S.  Be sure to check back this week for blog postings listing departures I’m slated to lead with other travel companies, too!




Welcome Winter, and 2021, Too!

On December 14, 2020 I welcomed the changing of the seasons and shared a relaxing meditation welcoming winter with the Dunrovin Ranch cybercommunity.

Dunrovin Ranch in Lolo, Montana plays a vital role in connecting an increasing number of people with nature through both in-person and on-line programming.

Dunrovin’s mission to build stronger connections with nature and community has never seemed more important than now, given the uncertainty ongoing political upheavals and related unrest have generated, and an unbridled pandemic now raging in its eleventh month in the U.S.

In my 20-minute chat (recorded nearly three weeks before the events of January 6), I touch on myriad issues and challenges we’re continuing to deal with today.

I also share an uplifting, upbeat meditation helping listeners connect and ground with earth as we move more solidly, courageously and confidently into 2021.

The meditation starts at about the 8:30 mark in the broadcast and ends at about 15:00 if you want to cut right to the chase, but I encourage you to watch the entire segment if you have time to do so.

Dunrovin Ranch owner SuzAnne Miller has graciously given me permission to share this with everyone, so feel free to share and forward this video link with other nature lovers as you like!

P.S. Consider joining the Dunrovin Ranch community for “Monday Socials” with free live programming from sun up to sundown every Monday.  You can also connect with everyone via the Dunrovin Ranch and Dunrovin Birds pages on Facebook.




Persevering, Pandemic Style

“Pandemic fatigue” seems as viral and widespread as Covid-19, belying the fact that the pandemic is far from over, and it may still be several months before effective vaccines become widely available.

With fall’s (and soon winter’s) arrival, many of us are back indoors for longer periods of time now, still maintaining social distance, sheltering in place, and taking other measures to keep ourselves and loved ones safe and healthy.

It’s been a long haul and it ain’t over yet, so how do we keep our spirits, hearts and mindsets strong and resilient in such times?

In her article “Strengthen Mental Stamina Like the Pros,” New York Times writer Talya Minsberg shares that

“The drive to persevere is something some are born with, but it’s also a muscle everyone can learn to flex. In a way, everyone has become an endurance athlete of sorts during this pandemic, running a race with no finish line that daily tests the limits of their exhaustion…Some of the world’s best athletes shared what they do when they think they’d reached their last straw. How do they not only endure, but thrive in daily challenges?…One message they all had: You are stronger than you think you are, and everyone is able to adapt in ways they didn’t think possible.”

One person Minsberg interviewed was Dr. Carla Meijen, a sports psychologist and senior lecturer at St. Mary’s University in London. “A lot of it comes down to pacing, ” Meijen said. “When we think about the coronavirus, we are in it for the long run; so how do you pace yourself?”

Honoring effective routines, being pro-active, and valuing processes over results helps boost our mental stamina and ability to thrive, noted Meijen. None of us really know when the pandemic will finally be behind us, but we do have power and control over our daily habits.

And we usually do this best when we take life, and each moment, one day at a time, while balancing and honoring our needs for rest, relaxation, recharging, and exercise.

Setting mini goals, creating structure, and focusing on something new were other time tested strategies endurance athletes recommended when interviewed for this article. Together with pacing yourself, they immeasurably help strengthen the capacity to persevere, and stay positive in the face of adversity.

“You are stronger than you think you are” is powerful encouragement for navigating the storms of life, continually helping us endure, adapt and thrive, no matter where our feet are on this human journey.

In the meantime, hang in there and keep the faith, remembering that indeed this too shall eventually pass.


Small But Mighty

One of my favorite birds is the black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus). Weighing only 11 to 12 grams, or about the weight of a AAA battery, these non-migratory birds are found from the northern two thirds of the U.S. into Canada and much of Alaska.


Black-capped chickadees are supremely adaptive birds. I’ve witnessed them quietly working the grooves of lodgepole pine trees on minus 40 degree mornings not far from Old Faithful, eating insect larvae or spider eggs they’ve found, or (more likely) stashed there in advance. In winter, they may eat up to 60% of their body weight daily.


On winter nights, black-capped chickadees lower their body temperature to the low 90s from their typical metabolic temperature of 107 degrees Fahrenheit. They also shiver to keep warm, and in brutal cold spells enter a state of torpor to conserve vital energy. Perhaps the expression “tough bird” comes from the black-capped chickadee’s example!


Erik and I enjoy watching them hammering insects on nearby tree branches, or zooming close overhead when we’re lounging in the backyard. What strikes me most is their indomitable spirit; they seem unfazed, upbeat and resourceful, no matter what’s happening in their world.


The black-capped chickadee remains a spiritually and culturally significant to Crow Native Americans, who today mainly reside on or near the Crow Native American Reservation in Montana.


As a youth, the last Crow traditional tribal chief, Plenty Coups (1848-1932), had a vision of a great storm that toppled all but one tree in a vast forest. Perched on the lone surviving tree was a chickadee, long regarded by the Crow people as a good listener and able to adapt to change. As Plenty Coups shared his vision with tribal elders, they interpreted it as a sign that the Crow nation would best survive moving forward by making peace rather than warring with the U.S. government.


By the end of the 19th century, and in less than a few generations, Chief Plenty Coups and his people had shifted from being nomadic buffalo hunters to living a more individualized, agricultural based existence. Today, Chief Plenty Coups State Park near Pryor, Montana chronicles the unimaginably swift changes his people underwent and had to adapt to.


Before he died, Plenty Coups and his wife Strikes the Iron gifted part of their family homestead and farm to the state of Montana as a public park. Today it remains a vital, enduring bridge connecting different generations and cultures, highlighting the importance of building greater understanding, empathy and cooperation between others.


Small but mighty is the chickadee, living amongst and between people who may see and experience the world differently. Yet this bird reminds us we are not all that different from each other deep at heart, that adapting, working and thriving together is healthier, smarter and saner than fueling fear, hatred and division.


Slow Down and Focus, and You Just May Find Your Footing

Erik and I usually pick up the Sunday New York Times about once a month, and it takes us nearly a month to peruse it. Not that we’re slow readers, but we both like to pick up a section when we feel inspired, then it might be several days before we return to read another part.

In the August 23 Sunday edition, one article in particular stood out, “Remembering Katrina, 15 Years Later” by Talmon Joseph Smith. It chronicled how pandemics and other upheavals challenge us to deepen our connectedness and shared responsibility toward the health of the natural world, especially our individual and collective responses to those most impacted by these life-changing events.

My favorite definition for “responsibility” comes from the late Stephen Covey, He re-frames it as “response-ability,” our ability to choose how to respond to something, rather than automatically reacting to a person or event the way we habitually do so. It’s an excellent reminder, especially now, to step back from time to time, view things from a higher, less personal perspective, and consider where we are genuinely coming from in our daily actions and interactions.

What feels overwhelming for many right now is the perception that events and developments are unfolding at a rapid, dizzying pace. But even when the world feels like it’s hurtling at the speed of hyperspace, we can regain our footing by focusing on things that aren’t moving so fast.

A gentle place to start is by focusing on your breath, noticing it steadily rising and falling as you deeply inhale and exhale. Do this for several minutes, a few times a day, especially when you’re feeling disconnected, upset, distracted or overwhelmed. With consistent, focused practice, doing this can help you keep more centered, refreshed and focused throughout the day.

Another route might be to stop and step away from whatever’s happening in the moment. Head outside for several minutes without any technical devices, and stretch and yawn a few times to release any tensions, stresses and challenges. Sense and enjoy the strength, quiet beauty, power and resilience of a towering tree within your view, or of something else in nature that’s not moving at warp-speed. Imagine receiving and embodying the energy the tree exudes, then re-enter your home or workplace, feeling more peaceful and grateful for all that is good in the moment.

Slowing down and re-focusing our attention helps us respond proactively and differently to people and events. But as with anything else we wish to change for the better in our lives, it takes practice to become a more established habit.

Let’s redouble our efforts to be present and focused in the moment, to find more solid footing beneath our feet, wherever we are.

Let’s share our strategies, successes and challenges so others can benefit as well.

Let’s be easy, kind, forgiving and patient toward ourselves and others as we navigate uncharted waters.

Let’s keep showing up and doing our altruistic best, knowing we can emerge from these times with a better future for all with whom we share this planet.

And perhaps most importantly, let’s make sure our own foundation is solid. for that’s from where we relate and create on all levels.

As Tulane University geoscientist Stephen Nelson shared at the end of the New York Times piece on remembering Hurricane Katrina, “You can’t ignore what’s underneath you. Because you’re building everything on top of it.”

Saving Nature, Saving Ourselves

On the surface, you wouldn’t think that Abraham Lincoln was a generally happy man, given all that was on his plate as U.S. president from 1861-65. Yet even in the midst of The Civil War, Lincoln retained a glimmer of hope for the eventual reunification of the United States of America. Lincoln envisioned things that would help heal and bring people back together following the bloody conflict. some of them seeds eventually leading to the birth of our first national parks.

In 1864, Lincoln signed the Yosemite Land Grant into law, the first legislation setting aside land for preservation and the public’s enjoyment and use. It also protected the nearby Mariposa Big Tree Grove of sequoia trees, at that time one of the largest unlogged stands of this species remaining in California.

In the decade following Lincoln’s assassination and The Civil War, President Grant established Yellowstone as the first national park in 1872. Some years later, after the U.S. frontier was officially declared a done deal, Yosemite and neighboring Sequoia national parks were created under President Benjamin Harrison in 1890.

In 1903 President Teddy Roosevelt traveled and camped in Yosemite with conservationist John Muir. They had lengthy spirited conversations about the future importance of America’s remaining wild places as they camped under the stars, and upon Roosevelt’s return to Washington he expanded Yosemite’s boundaries to reflect its current size of over 1100 square miles.

Roosevelt created a slew of new national park and monument designations from 1901 to 1909. Establishment of the National Park Service shortly followed in 1916, creating a federal agency charged with protecting and managing the rapidly growing number of national parks. It was woefully underfunded and understaffed at its inception, and in 2020 the trend continues as the N.P.S. strives to manage and protect a staggering 420 national park units.

Who knows what Abraham Lincoln’s take would be on the state of our union today.

His recognition of nature’s enduring value and power to bring forth the better angels of our human nature inspire me to believe that all is not nor ever lost. Doing what we can today to remain hopeful and continue taking inspired action is most crucial.

When we step back and allow ourselves a more detached view of humanity’s time on earth, we more clearly see how we’ve been continually building upon the efforts and lives of others, many whose names will be forever lost to history and the ages.

Today, we’re also creating stories and legacies for others. I hope future generations will thank us for what we did for the greater good of all, rather than ruing us for allowing selfishness, greed and short-sightedness to trash the planet and their future.

Let’s intensify and redouble our efforts to protect and preserve special places, alongside our air, waters, soil and environment. We are the only species that consciously and unconsciously trashes our planet, whether it’s through environmental destruction, war, violence and other means.

There is no Planet B to move to for anyone- maybe that’s what Lincoln recognized and felt on a palpable level. It’s up to us and our nature to nurture and safeguard this thread, this connection, this fragile miraculous lifeline we maintain with the natural world.

Nurture Your Nature This Season

If you want to travel virtually behind the scenes and learn about some of our most iconic national parks, purchase my downloadable “Yellowstone and Other Stories!” a four-segment series you can have ongoing access to and enjoy with others.

National parks are unique and irreplaceable, and for most of us they are a once-in-a-lifetime destination. Many people feel uncertain about traveling right now, yet they want to stay connected and learn about national parks and other places they’d like to visit. Even if you’re not thinking about traveling at the moment, you can learn more about these iconic national parks in anticipation of a future trip!

Upon purchasing “Yellowstone, and Other Stories!” Downloadable Four-Part National Parks Series you’ll receive a PDF document containing four different links to access and view these recordings.

For just $77 U.S. you can have a front row seat for an in-depth experience of Yellowstone, Glacier and Grand Canyon national parks.

In each episode you’ll hear memorable stories of my own for that particular park.

I’ll also share other stories showing how these national parks bring people together, transcend barriers and boundaries. and illuminate the importance of education and stewardship in preserving these places for future generations.

Segment 1 Greater Yellowstone: Wild Heart of the American West
Segment 2 Greater Yellowstone: Birthplace of an American Idea
Segment 3 Glacier Country: Crown of the Continent
Segment 4 The Grand Canyon: Like No Place on Earth

Get the downloadable “Yellowstone, And Other Stories!” national parks video series for $77 here:

Yellowstone and Other Stories – Downloadable Four Part National Parks Series

After purchasing it, you’ll receive a Welcome and Getting Started PDF document to download with everything you need to access and enjoy the series.

Nurture your nature, in this and every season.

P.S. 🙂 Here are two enthusiastic testimonials to share with you…


My secondary school aged daughter had such a lovely time with this national parks series. She is disappointed that we cannot go to Montana this year. That has always been her favorite place to deeply connect to the rhythms of the planet. Time with you is allowing her to explore her Nature Self in another way. She’s come away from “Yellowstone, and Other Stories!” with an enthusiasm she hasn’t had in quite a while.

In deep gratitude,

Ashley Folsom, California


I had the great fortune of visiting Yellowstone 25 years ago, but through “Yellowstone, and Other Stories!” I realized how much I missed it! I so appreciated learning about different national parks’ geology and wildlife, plus some of Hobie’s intimate experiences with the landscape. It really brought these parks to life for me! This has been a wonderful respite that has inspired me to explore Yellowstone and other places again.

Maureen Calamia, New York

“Yellowstone, And Other Stories!” Starting July 8

If you’d like to get a glimpse behind the scenes and learn more about some of our most iconic national parks, join me for “Yellowstone and Other Stories!” starting Wednesday July 8.

This four-segment paid class will run on consecutive Wednesdays starting July 8 at 11:00 a.m. Mountain Time, and if you’re unable to make the call live, a recording of each park segment will be emailed to you afterwards.

For just $77 U.S. you can have a front row seat for an in-depth experience of Yellowstone, Glacier and Grand Canyon national parks, which are on many people’s lifetime bucket lists to visit.

In each episode you’ll hear some memorable stories of my own for that particular park. I’ll also share other stories showing how these national parks bring people together, transcend barriers and boundaries. and illuminate the importance of education and stewardship in preserving these places for future generations.

In each episode we’ll also dive into:

The history of that particular park from its early inhabitants to today;

How It Became A National Park;

Geology, Flora and Fauna;

Insider Tips and Safety Considerations;

What We Have Learned and What We Might Continue to Learn From This Place;

And more!

For $77 U.S. You’ll Receive:

Access to all four calls, which will be recorded, followed by a Q and A session available for people who are able to join the call live. The Q and A segment for each park will not be recorded to respect people’s privacy.

Here’s the Schedule for the four-part “Yellowstone, and Other Stories!” which starts on Wednesday July 8 at 11 a.m. Mountain Time:

Greater Yellowstone: Wild Heart of the American West

Wednesday July 8 from 11 a.m. to 12 noon M.S.T.

Greater Yellowstone: Birthplace of an American Idea

Wednesday July 15 from 11 a.m.-12 noon MST

Glacier Country: Crown of the Continent

Wednesday July 22 from 11 a.m.-12 noon MST

Grand Canyon Country: Like No Place On Earth

Wednesday July 29 from 11 a.m. -12 noon MST

National parks are unique and irreplaceable, and for most of us they are a once-in-a-lifetime destination. Many people feel uncertain about traveling this summer and beyond, yet they want to stay connected and learn about national parks and other places they’d like to visit. They still want nature connection and to enjoy and experience that with others.

That’s the reason and motivation for me bringing this unique opportunity to you at this time, and I hope you will join me for four consecutive Wednesdays starting July 8.

Even if you’re not thinking about traveling right now or anytime soon, you can learn more about these inconic national parks in anticipation of a future trip!

Visit this link to book your spot today: Yellowstone and Other Stories Four Part National Parks Series

Stronger Than The Story

I wasn’t familiar with Joseph Campbell’s life story and work until the six-segment PBS special “The Power of Myth” was first broadcast in 1988. Campbell (1904-1987) theorized that myths and stories are universally similar, no matter where and when people have lived. These myths and stories have helped us understand the importance and value of connection and belonging, and provided guidance and illumination when navigating life challenges, setbacks and opportunities.

Campbell highlighted another universal theme, the appearance and formidable power of “hidden hands” guiding our lives, supporting us in myriad, unexpected ways, when we trust and remain open to their presence. One of my favorite quotes from him was to “follow your bliss.” In 1999 this quote became my guiding star upon leaving an unsatisfying university teaching career. Looking back, I navigated an unorthodox and at times jumbled path that perplexed many people around me. Thankfully and ultimately, though, this trajectory has led to the deep nature connection work I enjoy and love sharing with others today.

To quote Campbell:

“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”

By following my bliss I’ve learned to trust my intuition and instincts better. I’ve developed greater discernment and less attachment toward conflicting societal expectations and demands. I’ve shed my proverbial skin quite a few times, breaking free from cul-de-sacs and dead ends to create new pathways moving forward.

A line from the song “This Is Your Life” from The Killers also comes to mind: “You gotta be stronger than the story.”

We’re all capable and worthy of changing our stories, and deeper, more consistent connection with the natural world can be a powerful catalyst for helping us do that. Now is an especially powerful time to dream big, be proactive and courageous, given the speed and scale in which many lives have been upended with the Covid-19 pandemic.

For everyone, there is no going back to “normal,” to the way things were before the pandemic arrived. That was a past moment in time, and wishing to go back there takes us out from being present.

So how do we stay present and move forward?

Embrace possibility, most importantly, that things can turn out even better than you imagine.

Believe in yourself and your capacity to keep changing, learning, and growing.

Embolden and encourage the same in others.

Recognize your hidden depths. strengths and resources and bring them forth.

Acknowledge and welcome unseen forces for good in your life and in the lives of others.

Learn from nature and you will learn more about yourself. It’s a powerful, positive way to impact your life and everyone around you.

Keep following your bliss,  and always enjoy the journey!

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