I spent a weekend in late October touring two battlefields of the American Civil War with my wife and in-laws. We left Washington on a sunny Saturday morning and drove to Gettysburg. Fought from July 1 to July 3 of 1863, is often considered the turning point of the war. Robert E. Lee brought his Army of Northern Virginia, composed of about 75,000 men, to meet George G. Meade's Army of the Potomac, with about 104,000 men. Over the course of three days, the armies suffered combined casualties approaching 50,000, with almost 8,000 killed. The battle has been immortalized in popular culture through Michael Shaara's excellent novel The Killer Angels, the movie Gettysburg, and Ken Burns's documentary. And in November of 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered quite possibly the best-known speech in the history of American rhetoric to dedicate the battlefield cemetery. But the site of the battle is a beautiful and hallowed place, and it's impossible to get a true sense of the scope of these events.
Lying between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians, the Shenandoah Valley is a stunning place brimming with natural beauty, historic towns, wineries, and breweries. I visited twice during October 2017, on two different fall weekends.
Days 1-3: Bangkok It took exactly 28 hours to travel from my door in Orinda, California, to my hotel in in Bangkok, Thailand. My finacee, Lauren, and I had decided to take a trip to Thailand and Vietnam because we both had some time off during the summer of 2015. We flew out of San Francisco, via Singapore Airlines, at 1:20 AM in the early morning hours of June 24. After brief stops in Hong Kong and Singapore, we finally landed in Bangkok.
For his 60th birthday, my father, who has always loved hiking, mountaineering, and the outdoors, decided he wanted to go on an adventure with his family. He settled on rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon as his expedition of choice. Unfortunately, Grand Canyon trips tend to fill up as early as two years in advance, and we weren't able to book one. Instead, we decided to raft the Colorado through Cataract Canyon. Cataract Canyon is in Canyonlands National Park, above the Grand Canyon, and has even bigger whitewater.
After my trip to Svalbard, I flew south to Bergen, Norway. There I met Lauren and much of her family: her parents, sister, aunt, and grandparents. Our group of eight would travel together over the next two weeks, through five countries and seven cities.
“The bleakest barest most inhospitable godforsaken dead end of nowhere.” So Lee Scoresby describes Svalbard, an archipelago in the far north, in Philip Pullman's excellent novel The Golden Compass. Nonetheless, visiting Svalbard has been a dream of mine since childhood, a dream that was partly inspired by that book.
The winter of 2013 started off well for skiers on the West Coast. A wet November dumped plenty of snow to get some skiing in over Thanksgiving, and an even better December made conditions around the holiday season and New Year's excellent. Unfortunately, those first two months of the season were followed by the driest January on record and an equally uninspiring first half of February.
If you live on the west coast of the United States, India is about as far away as you can get. It really doesn't matter whether you fly east or west, the distance and travel time will be about the same. Before 2012, I had never been to Asia, but that year I made trips across the Pacific to Cambodia and Timor-Leste. But when I traveled to India with my girlfriend, Lauren, and her family in December, it would be the furthest from home I'd ever been.
After my second year of law school, I spent half of my summer working at a big law firm in New York City and half working at Earthjustice, an environmental law firm, in its Juneau, Alaska, office. I flew to Juneau in late July and sublet a room in Douglas, a small town on an island just west of downtown Juneau.
During the spring quarter of my second year of law school, I participated in the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic. I did some work on the government response to the Occupy Movement, armed conflict in India, and disappearances in Turkey. But most of my time was spent working on a report about the effectiveness of agencies tasked with monitoring working conditions in Cambodian garment factories.