What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

The Meteora March July 17, 2018

Filed under: Tales of Travel — meganorussell @ 11:30 am
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I love climbing things. There’s something about using your own two legs to hike up something that makes you feel accomplished and insubstantial all at the same time.

When we were in Greece not so very long ago, we decided to visit the beautiful monasteries of Meteora—


—positioned on spires of stone. Monks moved up onto the rocks for seclusion. Some even going so far as to build themselves homes in the sides of rocks.

Of course the world being what it is, seclusion has been replaced by tourism, but the monasteries are amazing and well worth the visit.

The trick is you have to climb to most of them. And not like a flight or two of stairs. Like a lot, a LOT, of stairs.

Theoretically, you’re supposed to be able to hike between all of the monasteries and visit them in one day…we didn’t do that. (more…)


No Selfie Sticks Allowed September 5, 2015

This summer, I’ve been privileged enough to live and work right outside of Denali National Park. It’s beautiful and amazing, and because of the company I work for, I get six free bus rides into the park.  So at least every other week, I ride the bus into the park with the tourists to see the animals and hopefully catch a glimpse of the mountain. I usually jump off and backcountry hike with my husband, but we’re always on the bus for the rules section.

A lot of the rules make sense, such as be quiet at wildlife sightings. And don’t eat at the rest stops. I mean, people still don’t follow the rules, but it’s easy to see where they come from. But this year there’s been a new rule. Don’t shove your selfie stick out the window at wildlife sightings.


I mean, I get the rule. But did someone really shove a selfie stick out the window at a wild animal? Did the animal bite the selfie stick? I need to know what happened! And I can’t find a damn person who knows the origin of the rule!

And it’s not just Denali that’s killing the selfie stick. Disney has recently banned selfie sticks due to safety concerns in the park. Did someone try to selfie on Splash Mountain? Did some idiot almost become the thousandth ghost at the Haunted Mansion?

I need to know the reason for the rule! It’s driving me crazy!


A Monumental Moose July 29, 2015

Filed under: Animal Antics — meganorussell @ 10:00 am
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Remember that time my husband got a bunch of strangers chased by a moose? Oh you don’t? That’s fine, I do. ‘Cause it was yesterday.

There was a big storm predicted for the area, so rather than go on one of our epic adventures we decided to stay closer to home. It’ll be fine, we thought. Much safer, we thought.

We did a little hike where we found a cute little pika and were turned back by a closure for bear activity. And then we went down to the good old lake trail. The one where the elderly tourist go because it’s safe. On our way down, the people going up kept telling us excitedly about how there was a moose at the bottom. We kept responding with how we would be very careful, trying to emphasize to the tourists that moose can be cool, but they can also kill you. A mama moose is the most dangerous animal in Denali Park after all.

We were almost to the bottom when we saw the little moose cross the trail. We backed off to a respectable distance and waited for the mama to follow so we could continue on our way. We kept hiking around the loop. We saw two beavers pulling trees through the lake and then, low and behold, we saw that same mama moose in the water, just chompin’ away at the weird grass at the bottom of the lake.

We had to keep circling the lake to get out, and the plan was to pass quickly and quietly behind the mama and the baby.

But when we got to the other side of the lake, there was a lady videoing the mama and the baby. So then my husband had to get a better picture. This picture: (more…)


Stomp Out the Habit June 8, 2015

It’s me again. Megan’s husband. I’m here with a public service announcement. Already this summer, there have been at least three moose stompings in the boundaries of Denali National Park by the same cow moose. And yet, you know the true problem? People become idiots when they have cameras hanging around their necks. I should know. I have a camera and have charged toward wildlife before. Granted, it was a caribou and was running the opposite direction before I ran forward by just a couple of feet to get on a rise to take a few photos. Here’s one that I got last year (sorry if you’ve seen this photo from me before)!


But I digress. The main reason for my soapbox this morning is this: if you have been warned against approaching an animal and that they can and will charge you if they are feeling harassed (which I guarantee you all who were at this location had been), don’t approach the damn animal to get a better shot! Ok, who knows? Maybe not all of these people were approaching wildlife. I’ve just seen too many tourists getting out of their cars and approaching moose to think that these stompings weren’t due to stupidity on tourists parts.

In short, please be careful when approaching wildlife. If it looks like it could kill you, it probably can. Stay… in… your car! That is all.


A Matter of Terms January 19, 2015

Filed under: Tales of Humanity's Imperfections — meganorussell @ 8:30 pm
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When I was working at the Astors Beechwood Mansion doing living history tours, we had a lively, retired naval officer who sold tickets at the door. He was a lovely man. He shared his coffee. Brought donuts. And might have been a little bit racist. (more…)


The Asian Invasion September 1, 2014

Filed under: Hi-Ho the Glamorous Life — meganorussell @ 8:30 pm
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Last Saturday we had a lovely, gorgeous, uneventful hike. And then the Asians came.

Now, don’t think I’m awful. It’s just a part of the season here in Denali. We start with Australians shouting “Oy, oy, oy!” at us and end with Asians of all sorts coming with or without translators with hilarious results. (more…)