A Day in Napoli…

After sleeping in as late as I could, without missing breakfast, I got out and did a bit of wandering today. My hotel is in the historic center of the city, so there is a lot to take in, including Greek walls, Roman baths and more 16th-18th century architecture than can be counted! I did not go into the Archaeological Museum – that will be one of the excursions our team takes during one of our weekends. It is probably my favorite museum in the world, no offense MOMA.

I got swept up in a local Pride Parade/March, this evening, just as I was finishing dinner. The singing and cheering was all in Napulitan, so I didn’t understand much, but the spirit was definitely universal!!

There is no lacking for good eats here – Pizzeria Vesi is my go-to when in Napoli. It is indescribably good. Gelato can be found on every street and up every alley. Just peek into the case and make sure there aren’t any ice crystals built up in the tub. Freezer-burnt gelato isn’t the best. For a pastry-like treat, I recommend Leopoldo Infante! The “Delizia Limone” is very good: not too sweet, not too dense. I ate half this evening, and will have the other half in the morning with a cappuccino.

Speaking of tomorrow morning, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the bus to the airport stops right in front of my hotel, so that’s easy. We are all meeting at a small snack bar, in front of the airport tomorrow at 11;30. Everyone has been checking in via WhatsApp. Quite a diverse group, with folks from, well, almost everywhere. I’m really excited to get started.

Pompeii, here I come!

Ciao, Napoli!

Greetings from the amazing city of Napoli! I’ve made it safe, and sound to Italy, and am remembering how disorienting East-Bound jet lag can be. This will be a very brief post, as I can barely keep my eyes open.

I will just say that it is so good to be back. I love this ancient city, with all of it’s rush, noise and smells. The best pizza in the world can be found here, along with some of the nicest people. Tomorrow, my plan is to sleep in a bit, find a market to buy all the liquids I didn’t pack on the plane, and visit some old haunts. I’ll keep you posted.

Il Vesuvio

I’m back…

It’s been a long few years of quarantines, furloughs, booster shots and hours spent searching for the perfect face-mask. I’ve basically gone feral. Well, after all that I am finally going to venture out of my cave, hop a plane, and journey back to “The Continent.” Yep, I’m going to get into a metal tube full of strangers (masked or not) and fly, for 15 hours, to Italy! It has been 12 long years since I’ve been to my beloved city of Pompeii — far too long. Like others in the past, this will be a “working” vacation: I’m volunteering for three weeks, with ArchaeoSpain on their Archaeology of Death project. For more information on their work with this, here is a great write-up of the research from their last season: https://dornsife.usc.edu/news/stories/3550/students-discover-preserved-pompeii-skeleton/.

Mixed in with the workdays will be time for fun (the work itself is thrilling), making new friends, exploring and, of course, eating. I’ll keep a running inventory here of what I see, do and eat.

Feel free to follow along.

Archaeologists uneasy as Trump shrinks Bears Ears monument lands

PDF version A US government plan to slash protections for one of North America’s richest and best-preserved archaeological landscapes has prompted a wave of concern among researchers. On 4 December, US President Donald Trump announced that he had cut the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah from 547,000 hectares to 82,000. That removes protections for thousands of Native American cultural sites, some as many as 13,000 years old. The president’s action leaves the national monument, created last year by h

Source: Archaeologists uneasy as Trump shrinks Bears Ears monument lands

6 Things President Trump Got Wrong When Decimating America’s National Monuments – Center for American Progress

6 Things President Trump Got Wrong When Decimating America’s National Monuments By Jenny Rowland and Kate Kelly Posted on December 5, 2017, 1:20 pm President Trump signs the hat of Bruce Adams, chairman of the San Juan County Commission, after signing a proclamation to shrink the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Salt Lake City, December 4, 2017. AP/Rick BowmerPresident Trump signs the hat of Bruce Adams, chairman of the San Juan County Commission, after signing a procla

Source: 6 Things President Trump Got Wrong When Decimating America’s National Monuments – Center for American Progress

AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s curious case for shrinking monuments

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump made a curious case for stripping federal protections from vast stretches of two of America’s national monument lands. For one, he said his decision will give Native Americans back their “rightful voice over the sacred land.” But they already have specified rights on the land, thanks to the national monument designation under the Antiquities Act, and fear losing those rights under his decision. That’s why they’re fighting his action in court.

Source: AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s curious case for shrinking monuments

Take Action and sign up for updates | Protect Bears Ears

Take Action! Click here to Tweet and #StandWithBearsEars: @realDonaldTrump’s illegal attack on Bears Ears National Monument is a slap in the face to Tribal Nations and leaves tens of thousands of cultural sites at risk. #MonumentsForAll Make a Contribution! Your generous contribution today will help the Native American Rights Fund keep fighting for justice against the outrageous attack on Bears Ears National Monument. Click here to donate.

Source: Take Action and sign up for updates | Protect Bears Ears

Recent Events…

It wasn’t a government “land grab.” It wasn’t Washington DC waltzing in and taking the land, forcing people from their homes.  The lands in question, Bears Ears National Monument (Ceder Mesa and the surrounding area) and the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument were already Federal Land. No state land was taken/stolen.  In the case of the GSENM, several SITLA (school trust lands owned by the state) parcels were traded to the Federal Government, by the State of Utah, in exchange for large blocks of valuable, resource-rich land outside the monument boundaries.  Again, NOTHING was stolen/taken/absconded with.

The establishment of the Monuments was done with the intention to protect and preserve areas possessing unique natural, and cultural qualities. What the monument status did was add layers of protection to sensitive, irreplaceable paleontological, and archaeological sites – fossil beds, dinosaur tracks, rock art, prehistoric burials, villages, ceremonial features and sacred landscapes.  Monument status would help in preserving pristine wildlife habitat, riparian areas, delicate desert vegetation systems and unbroken, spectacular viewscapes – if managed/funded adequately enough to do so.

I’ve spent years working and recreating in these places – hiking, camping, climbing, wandering, conducting archaeological survey and site documentation. I spent a season working as a BLM backcountry ranger at Kane Gulch.  I’ve seen what unrestricted development, unrestricted grazing, mining, drilling, ORV traffic and, yes, even unrestricted recreation (mountain biking, horseback riding, climbing route development, even foot travel) can do to these surprisingly delicate places.  They all leave a lasting footprint, some bigger than others.

Yes, National Monument status means more visitors. Kane Gulch Ranger Station, now in the middle of Bears Ears National Monument, saw a HUGE increase in visitors this year – over 13k just this spring alone.  The rangers speculate this was due not only to the new Monument designation but to the controversy brought on by Zinke’s recent visit and the rumors of eliminating or significantly downsizing the Monument.  They actually had visitors express a need to see it “before it was gone.”  Cedar Mesa had been seeing an increase in visitors every year beginning in 2006 when the BLM opened a new, brick and mortar visitor center/ranger station at the Kane Gulch trailhead. Prior to that, the “Ranger Station” consisted of an old, 20′ camp trailer.  The refrigerator served as the filing cabinet for backcountry permits and extra maps, and the oven housed the backstock of stickers and flyers.  Now, with unlimited virtual access to places like Moon House, Perfect Kiva and The Procession Panel, more and more people are physically seeking out these locations to post selfies and, well, I digress…

What is potentially at stake with Trump’s recent “downsizing/rescinding” of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments isn’t just the shrinking of Monument boundaries.  This action could open up archaeologically and paleontologically rich/sensitive areas to surface mining, oil and gas drilling, unrestricted vehicle impacts, real estate development, increased looting/pothunting.  The “new” Bears Ears National Monument would NOT include Dark Canyon, Grand Gulch or Fish & Owl Canyons.  Originally they were protected from development by their Primitive Area or Wilderness Study Area status. What their status would be after Trump’s “downsizing” is uncertain.  These places were included in the 2016 Monument boundary because of their sacredness to several Native American tribes. They were included for protection because of the irreplaceable archaeological treasures found therein. They were included to protect pristine wildlife habitat and riparian areas, ie. their “wilderness quality.”  That will all be in question, if Trump has his way.

I find hope in the fact that what Trump is trying to do is illegal. There are several organizations planning to file or have filed lawsuits to stop this, including a coalition of the Navajo Nation, Pueblo of Zuni and the Hopi, Ute Indian and Ute Mountain Ute Tribes, suing on behalf of the Bears Ears, and the Wilderness Society, the Grand Canyon Trust, the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians and Western Watersheds Project, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and Natural Resources Defense Council on behalf of the Grand Staircase-Escalante.   Yvon Chouinard, owner of gear/apparel company Patagonia is planning a lawsuit on behalf of Bears Ears.

Right now, I’m in “wait and see” mode.  I’m hoping that someone with the power to do so will say that rescinding the Monuments is, indeed, illegal and can’t be done. Or, barring that, the lawsuits will tie the action up for years, until a new, stable administration that truly values our national heritage and Public Lands takes over.

“It is also vandalism wantonly to destroy or to permit the destruction of what is beautiful in nature, whether it be a cliff, a forest, or a species of mammal or bird…” Theodore Roosevelt.

The Best Budget Thru-Hiking Gear – Backpacker

The Best Budget Thru-Hiking GearThrifty options that get the job done. Scott Yorko Feb 3, 2017 258 SHARESThinking about your next thru hike? Plan and execute the hike of your dreams with Backpacker’s Thru Hiking 101 online course today!Sometimes, your dreams are just bigger than your budget. The good news: You don’t need expensive or top-of-the-line gear to hike a long trail. Get going with these strong budget picks.

Source: The Best Budget Thru-Hiking Gear – Backpacker

3 lb Ultralight Day Hiking Checklist – stay safe, be light, have fun! – Adventure Alan

3 lb Ultralight Day Hiking Checklist – stay safe, be light, have fun!Day hiking is supposed to be fun. And part of the fun is a light pack for easy walking. Unfortunately, most day hiking checklists are way too heavy. If you add up the weight of their suggested gear, your “daypack” may approach the weight of a backpack for a multi-day trip in the backcountry. But on the other hand, you DO want all the right gear to be safe! So what to do? This ultralight day hiking checklist will help you select the right gear to keep your daypack light, a spring in your step, but still keep you safe and happy. Better yet, it has a lot of inexpensive gear so you won’t go broke in the process!Lead photo, Buckskin Gulch Utah: One of the longest and deepest slot canyons in the world. It’s a fabulous 21 mile, semi-technical canyoneering day hike where a light pack makes a huge difference in having fun!Problems with Most Day Hiking Checklists

Source: 3 lb Ultralight Day Hiking Checklist – stay safe, be light, have fun! – Adventure Alan