Travels Through a Song


bklp_09We all travel for different reasons and some of us have different goals. I for one would like to set foot on all seven continents and, generally, see as much as I can. Fifty countries is the number I’m currently approaching, though I would have no problem seeing another fifty. While I’m mostly drawn to locales off the beaten path, I can also be found in areas dripping with day-trippers.

During these travels, I have had a song playing in my head, which I first heard long before I ever started traveling. Released in 1976, 2112 was Rush’s defining moment. Instead of bowing to record company pressures to release more radio friendly fare, they released an album that opens with a twenty-minute, dystopian title track. Neil Peart, drummer and lyricist, wanted the songs that followed to be more light-hearted, beginning with “A Passage to Bangkok,” a tongue-in-cheek reference to drug use in the 1970s.

Beyond this, it’s a song filled with exotic locals. In order, we have Bogota, Jamaica, Acapulco, Morocco, Bangkok, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Kathmandu. Along with being a soundtrack, this song has also become an indirect goal. I’ve now been to Morocco, Bangkok, Kathmandu, and soon Bogota. I’d love to go to either Jamaica or Lebanon, though admittedly I’m in no hurry to see Acapulco. Afghanistan probably won’t happen in this lifetime, though not for lack of interest. There are some areas I may never get to see due to unrest and my American passport, but that won’t stop the desire. Or the air guitar.

Four Ounce Cups



I have long been a fan of the French press. I was introduced to it in grad school where one of my office mates had one on her desk and I was taken by its simplicity (and good brewing). After years of using a French press myself, I only recently came across an oddity about them. I was frequenting a coffee shop in Athens this summer while my wife was away at a conference and happened to notice what I thought was a single cup French press. I thought this would be great for making my morning cup of coffee. My wife doesn’t drink coffee and I’d still have my larger press if I had guests over. Not wanting to worry about how to get the press home, I noted down its information and started searching for it online after our return from our summer travels. Thing is, it’s listed as a 4 cup press.

This led me to do a little research and discover that “cups” in coffee presses are 4 ounces, so that this smaller 17 oz coffee press is intended to make 4 cups. In fact, the large press I’ve been using to make 2 cups of coffee is marketed as an 8 cup press. I’m not brewing espresso here, I’m brewing coffee that I will add just a little creamer to, so why a 4 ounce cup? A little more digging found a site stating that “Many presses measure cups in 4 oz (about 125 ml), also called a Tasse.”** Tasse!?! More searching comes up with two definitions of “tasse”:

Clearly neither of these is referring to coffee. Then, as is often the case, it’s Wikipedia to the rescue: “A tasse à café, French for coffee cup, is a cup, generally of white porcelain and of around 120 ml (4 fl oz), in which coffee is served.” And here I thought the “French” in French press was just a misnomer to get us Americans to buy something we thought was cultured. I do have to wonder, however, how many times a “4 cup” French press has been ordered and returned by a baffled consumer. C’est la guerre.


Copper Canyon 2.0

It’s been six years since my travels to Copper Canyon, Mexico on a tour that no longer runs. I’ve re-edited the photos and removed some meandering text. Normally I don’t rewrite my site besides making corrections, but I knew at the time I was just trying to fill in space and have lived with that guilt for far too long:

Colombia Bound

South America


So our Colombia trip is now a go in December. Here’s the general itinerary:

  • Start in Bogota, with visits to Villa de Leyva and the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá, an underground Roman Catholic church built within the tunnels of a salt mine.
  • Then up to Santa Marta and Taganga, our base for exploring Tayrona National Park.
  • Have a few free days in Cartagena (still not entirely sure what we’re doing then), so recommendations are welcome.
  • Finally, a last few days in Medellin, where we are planning a day trip our to Guatape and El Peñon rock. It’s 650 steps up, so I guess it’s time to start training.