Category: Uncategorized (Page 3 of 5)

Call of the Unknown and the Roots of Adventure

“I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.”
― Jack London

Most people who love to explore the outdoors are aware of some story about nature and tragedy. Into Thin Air by John Krakauer tells the well-known tale of the 1996 disaster on Mt. Everest, when a storm swept the mountain and killed twelve people, including experienced guides. The 2010 movie 127 Hours depicts the true story of Aron Ralston, a legendary Colorado climber, who became trapped in Blue John Canyon when a boulder crushed his arm. He narrowly escaped 6 days later, starved, and having had to cut his own arm off. The White Spider by Heinrich Harrer follows the historical struggles of the men who fought to conquer Eiger in the Bernese Alps. Within this book is the account of Toni Kurtz, a young climber who died on the mountain in 1936 while hanging, trapped from a rope a mere 60 meters from his rescuers. The list goes on, and on. For every story of triumph in nature there is always a poignant, tragic reminder that human life is fragile, and nature can take that spark as unfeelingly as ever.

So, why is it, in a world of Western comforts, complete with a universe of fictional worlds to explore from the safety of our homes, that people still go out to face the forces of the natural world? Why risk death to summit a mountain, or see the depths of an otherworldly canyon in the middle of the wilderness? In the past, when exploration was tantamount to national pride, the sacrifice of George Mallory perhaps made more sense, but in the modern world, in which nearly every corner of the Earth seems to have been explored, even this motivation has lost its relevancy. Yet, we keep exploring, and putting our lives on the line. Why? Why, when the planet has been mapped and we all know what can happen when we fail?

I believe that exploration is part of us, a siren call that led us from the heart of Africa to the rest of the planet. There is no other multi-celled organism that is as common and widespread as humans, and we cannot say that our modern technology is behind our ability to spread and adapt. Long, long before Columbus ever set out on his fateful journey to the “Indies,” North and South America were fully colonized by humans. There were intricate civilizations and a myriad of different cultures there; most of these women and men were descended from the brave people that dared to face the freezing weather of the north in order to cross the land-bridge between modern-day Alaska and Russia. Likewise, before Europeans struggled against the wind and waves of the Pacific, the ancestors of the Polynesian people faced the true unknown and ventured out into the water. Wave after wave, generation after generation, we humans have explored. We have put our lives on the line for uncharted vistas.

So, while people that still live by this code can be confounding, I think it is good to know that the spirit of the original humans lives on in us. We have thrived because we spread, we innovated, we adapted, and we explored. Perhaps continuing to tout the flag of our ancestors will help us, improve our happiness, and keep our minds open. Yes, the world has been mapped and named, but for each of us, Earth is a massive expanse of new people and places. Exploration is just as important as ever. It binds us to the real world, connects us to new cultures and perspectives, and keeps us feeling alive.


hello, neighbor.

greetings and salutations, dear readers!


kartchner caverns, benson, az: CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? GOOD.

my name is katie, and i plan to be a regular contributor around these parts. i’m an almost arizona native with a penchant for movie theater popcorn and photography.


kaleidoscope, lowell observatory, flagstaff, az: a universe within a universe

what you can expect from me:

local flavor (events, food and other fun stuff)
art and architecture (artitecture?)
weird blog and hash tags


mission san xavier del bac, tucson, az

and much more! so stick around and explore with me.


Working on Things for Night Born

Hey all!

As I said last time, I will not be adding a full blown blog post today. But I would like to point out a few things, that have been going on here over the past couple weeks.

First, I have added some pages to the top of the the blog, and one of these includes links to my other photography blogs as well as my Redbubble store (which focuses on travel stickers).

I am also working on getting some of my best friends (all awesome travelers) on board with the blog. This will allow Night Born to tap into lots of different areas of expertise, and vary the voice of posts here.

IMG_2818 copy

MIA Again

Sorry all! I have been very busy traveling this summer. I was just in Haiti for 10 days, and then right after that I attempted to summit Pico Duarte in the Dominican Republic. I am also working on spiffing this blog up and adding pages. So, I am working on a few things, but it won’t be until August 1st that I get my next post on the Inner Herbrides up.

In the meantime, check out my new Facebook page! I am posting all of my pictures there, as well as some thoughts on travel and the things I see when I am out and about in the world.


MIA May 15th

I normally try to post twice a month, but this May 15th I am getting married. So, I don’t have anything up this time around (and potentially not on June 1st either, but I will see). In the mean time, please enjoy my travel photography Tumblr.

Happy New Years: Here’s Praying for Lots of Exploration in 2016

Happy new years everyone! I pray that this year will be a great year for all of us! Try to stay positive, do good, and explore whenever you can!

New post coming on January 15th. 🙂

(c) ABR

(c) ABR

On Traveling and Contentment

(c) AB Raschke

(c) AB Raschke

I’ve been quiet on here for a while now, almost a month. I have sat down to write on multiple occasions, but I just couldn’t force anything out. A big part of me feels like I shouldn’t have to force something out, although I understand the reality of writing on a regular basis, but at the same time, this blog is a hobby, and I don’t want it to feel like homework. However, my silence and/or artist block is part of a larger trend in my life, and it is something that I feel inspired to discuss.

In August I took a second job, which was a questionable decision considering that I am currently a PhD student, and a TA, which is already a full time job, maybe more. But it was a major opportunity, and something that I was excited about, so I went for it, and luckily it has been a great experience. That being said, all the work has left me exhausted, and if I am being honest, burnt out. Burnt out to the point that I have almost no motivation to do a lot of the things that I love, including travel. I should probably mention that my wanderlust was also severely curtailed within the last year due to health complications that I am still struggling with now.

(c) AB Raschke

(c) AB Raschke

In any case, all of these things have led me to spending my weekends at home, doing a lot of what I do during the week… working and wasting time on social media. Life has become comfortable in some ways. The process of traveling is so draining, but it has also become monotonous. For a good while, I was content with things, however, and I really felt too tired to put much effort into doing anything other than getting the minimum amount of required work done each day. Lately, I am realizing that my contentment was more due to exhaustion than actually being happy with the direction that my life was taking.

Until last weekend, I hadn’t explored anywhere new since my trip to Puerto Rico. Of course, I don’t expect to be jetting across the globe every month, but I live in Arizona, a state that is full of natural beauty and cultural sites that are worth experiencing. There is little excuse for me to not get out and see new things, if that is what I love to do. But I wasn’t. I had a million excuses, and sometimes I didn’t even bother to make an excuse, it just wasn’t something that I was going to put the energy into doing.

(c) AB Raschke

(c) AB Raschke

All of these exhaustion and monotony has caught up with me lately though. I have been melancholy and increasingly sad for the past few weeks. There are a variety of things going on in my life that could cause this, but I think part of my current emotional state is due to this lack of exploration on my part. Seeing new places and learning new things certainly opens your mind and refreshes your thought processes. More so, as I so powerfully experienced in Japan, I think that there is an element of spirituality to it as well.

For almost as long as we have existed, humans have explored new landscapes, and set out into the unknown. I believe it is an integral part of what makes our species unique, and it can do so much to help us grow as individuals. Traveling, even if it is just to some new spot in your hometown, is a doorway to connecting with new people, and reconnecting with nature too. It can refresh us in so many ways, and I am learning through experience that life can feel stagnant for some of us if we don’t continue to go outside our bubble. So, let’s all keep getting out there and explore our little pockets of the planet, I think we will all be much happier for it.

Dominica and Hurricane Erika: Help Needed

Scott's Head (c) AB Raschke

Scott’s Head (c) AB Raschke

I just want to pause the normal programming here, and alert everyone to the fact that Dominica was hit very hard by Hurricane Erika at the end of August. This would be a tragedy anywhere, but Dominica has a very small economy, and it will be quite a challenge for them to repair all of the damage that has been done. Besides the infrastructural destruction that has been done, at least 20 people are known to be dead from the storm as of September 7th, as I write this. More are missing. The people of Dominica are suffering from the sorrow of lost loved ones, the destruction of their homes, and changed landscapes that may never be the same again. It will be a lasting scar for this little country that so few American’s know about.

We can’t help heal the emotional trauma that this disaster has imparted on Dominicans, but we can help with the relief effort. If you have the means, please consider donating to a reputable organization like the Red Cross in Dominica (link here for donating). If you don’t have the means, please help raise awareness for Dominica- not only for the disaster itself, but for this island as a travel destination as well. As mentioned in one of my links below, it would be a very hard hit for Dominca’s tourism industry to collapse due to the storm. I have several blog entries about this little island paradise for anyone interested (Morne Trios Piton, Roseau). It would be great for us to support our neighbor in any way that we can.

Here are some links with information on the storm and the aftermath in Dominica for anyone interested in learning more:

Dominica Asks for Aid

Dominica is Down But Not Out After Erika

Dominica and Hurricane Erika


Off Traveling- No Post, But Have Some Pictures!

I am currently in Puerto Rico, doing a Spanish immersion. So, I will not be posting my normal blog post this July 15th. Instead, please enjoy a link to my travel photography Tumblr:

There will be more pictures posted there soon, but right now there is lots from Japan for everyone to enjoy. 🙂

Tips From a Shy Girl Traveling to Japan

(c) AB Raschke

(c) AB Raschke

(1) Talk to people. My number one tip (and the most difficult for me) when traveling to Japan for the first time is to talk to people. Learn a few words in Japanese, and bring a phrasebook or dictionary with you so that you can learn more as you go, and as you figure out what things would be good to say to people. Most people in Japan won’t speak much English, although more of them can read some of it from their school days. Those who do speak English will tend to be very helpful and friendly. In either case, Japanese people seemed to be me to be widely friendly, polite, and patient with me as I struggled to communicate with them via the few Japanese words that I knew.

(c) AB Raschke

(c) AB Raschke

(2) Look out for signs and read them carefully. There are a lot of different rules in the places that you will visit, and I can guarantee you that there will be signs to guide you. For instance, in some places, you need to take off your shoes and put them in certain areas, visitors may not be allowed in some temples, and even though taking pictures is usually encouraged, in some places it isn’t allowed. For the most part, signs will be posted in easy-to-see areas, and in English. However, sometimes they can be small, and if you aren’t paying attention, you will miss them. I missed a sign asking tourists not to come into a certain temple, and I ended up getting chased out and feeling quite embarrassed, so it is best to not miss signs.

(3) Utilize the amazing train system as much as you can; see if a JR Railpass will get you where you want to go. Japan has the most amazing train system of anywhere that I have been! There were a couple occasions where we had to get a taxi, but I think I could count those on one hand. They making getting around in major cities

(c) AB Raschke

(c) AB Raschke

like Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto a breeze (although they can get busy), and the high-speed rail can get you from city to city quickly and with ease. For our trip, we paid about $400 for two weeks worth of JR Railpass, and this was well worth the cost. While this only covers JR lines, they are just about everywhere in the big tourist spots, and they own the bullet trains. You don’t need to rent a car if you do this, which I would guess would be more expensive anyway, and definitely way more stressful. Navigation in Japan was hard enough on foot, without having to worry about traffic. Some train stations can be a little confusing, but if you get too lost, you should be able to find someone who will help you. If you want to get a good seat on the bullet train, it is also a good idea to get reserved seats, which can be done in the station- usually the day of.

(c) AB Raschke

(c) AB Raschke

(4) Be prepared to use cash for most things. Of course, Japan does have and utilize credit cards, but overall, it is still a cash economy and people prefer it. As a tourist, using cash is absolutely essential, especially because many of the wonderful things that you will want to buy will come from little stalls or carts, and these people will not typically have methods for using credit cards. Most of my souvenirs came from just such shops, and some of the best food I had also came from carts. Luckily, crime in Japan is extremely low, so carrying cash is typically safe.

(5) If you have any specific needs in terms of food, do some research before leaving. Overall, I think Japan has some of the best food in the world, because I love udon, sushi, and rice. But as with any country, the selection can feel limited if you are looking for specific things. If you are a picky eater, like some people in my family, it would be good to learn about some of the common Japanese restaurants that have food you might like. If you are like me and

(c) AB Raschke

(c) AB Raschke

need to keep your blood sugar up for medical reasons, and thus need to avoid getting too hungry, do a little research on restaurant hours in Japan. I found this to be a bit confusing, as places seemed to close early in the evening, and weren’t open till later around lunch. I wish I could explain how this works, but even after being there for two weeks, I can’t say that I fully understood it. Keep snacks on you, and make use of convenience stores- they have a ton of great stuff and more of a selection than a lot of ours do. Vegetarian shouldn’t be too hard, but again, do a little research ahead of time, so you know what certain things are.

(6) Most important: have a great time! Relax! Japan is an amazing place full of amazing people. Sure, you will get mixed up and be chased out of temples by angry monks now and again, but overall, people will want to help you out, especially if you are polite and courteous. Remember that Japan has a lot of tradition, and go respecting that.

I should be posting again on the 15th, but I will also be in Puerto Rico at that time. So, I may get delayed.

(c) AB Raschke

(c) AB Raschke

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