Travel Haiku from Tropical Islands



For that fateful day

When my world turned upside down

Oh, that was just you



Farmer’s market

Sign: “Legalize NOW!”

Who knew Rastafarians

Were also Jewish?




I think this must mean

I almost won yet again

Play Here Win Here Fail



1940s, 1950s?

Oats, I never knew

You were so old school in dress

Is Quick more current?




You are beautiful

In New York, we just eat you

I’ll hold off while here




The terrorists came

They left their mark, and then some

Threats, using mirrors




So many darn rules

And yet, with all that, it seems

Gangs themselves are coo’




How is this legal?

My words fall upon deaf ears





It’s just not polite

To give someone the stank eye

Adjust your ‘tude, dude




A cute skunk mascot

25 years of feces

Poop jokes never fail



Trunk Bay

Work on your image

Only Photoshop will save

A wasteland like you


*Please excuse the (mostly) poor (largely) camera phone photos

**All photos were taken in the U.S. Virgin Islands

***Yes, haiku is the plural of haiku


Explore the Elements


What are these random photos doing together, you’re wondering? Funny you should ask, because Explore the Elements is a contest being held by Thomas Cook–and if you look closely, you’ll see four elements loosely interpreted in all of my travel photos presented before the grand jury today. Hey, I could have used standard landscape photos to post about earth, fire, water, and air–but the judges specifically asked for unique interpretations. So here goes. Enjoy!


When I think of earth, I think of it not only as an element, but of our Earth as just a small speck in the grand scheme of the universe. Here is my photo from Joshua Tree National Park, in California–with a night shot of the here and now along with hundreds of stars. It’s that looking beyond in this very desert that has always made me feel very, very small.



While one would think everyone submitted fire photos, it turns out that not everyone has one–but everyone has a beautiful “fiery” orange sunset! In this shot of my photo of a Tibetan refugee in her one-room family home in Nepal, we realize just how important fire still is. The years of hard work etched on her face, the look in her eyes, the crouching position as she gets ready to grab the boiling water–it all revolves around fire and the concept of still doing everything by hand. While we have microwaves, ovens, toasters, waffle makers, George Foreman grills (does anyone still use those?), fire is the only method available to cook in these remote, electricity-less homes. Here she is boiling water to make yak butter tea. Yes, I sort of regret having tasted it. I originally shot this scene in black and white, because it helped my eye focus on the two most important aspects of the photo: Her and her fire.



I had so many lovely earth-meets-water-meets sky photos I wanted to post, but when I think of air, my mind goes to breathing, mountain bikers/snowboarders, and birds. Who hasn’t wanted to fly? Well, besides those who have a fear of flying, I mean. It’s incredible that only one type of animal on our entire planet has the ability to see from above, and personally, I wouldn’t mind being a bird for a day. While working on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, I photographed this beautiful pelican just after taking off from the water (see the falling water droplets?). What I wouldn’t give to glide through the air and see the world from above like this creature.




Yes, I’ve been lucky enough to work on beaches around the world, photographing underwater life, weddings, and other things I’d rather not lay claim to (pet photography, anyone?). But it was during a recent work trip to West Africa that I worked with an NGO to photograph water well installments and maintenance, and met people who had little access to water. This little boy made a lasting impression, and surely the joy of being able to splash water all around for the first time in his life was a special moment for me to capture on film.


My many thanks to Savannah Grace for nominating me to enter this contest in the first place! She’s a lovely and talented young lady who is also dedicated to co-hosting #travelpics (the travel photography chat on Twitter) with me each and every Monday.

To take part in the contest, I’m to nominate five other travel photobloggers. So…

Alex Elliott, a talented photographer based in Scotland

Poonam Parihar, a friend and photographer from India and New Jersey

Alex Harford, a UK-based creative photographer

Joseph Cyr, an Arizona and South Korea expert

Jessica Painter, an adventurer living in Egypt



The U.S. Virgin Islands vs. the Rest of America: Similarities and Differences

Many people don’t realize that the U.S. Virgin Islands exist, and are very much American. In fact, there are so many similarities between living here on St. Thomas and living in almost any other state, I oftentimes wake up thinking I’m in Brooklyn. See what I mean:

– Just like in Maine, approximately 89% of roadkill here is iguana.

– Just like nowhere else in America, people here believe they’re right all the time. In holding firm with that opinion, they fight about everything—then usually laugh it off minutes later. They fight about dominoes, poker, billiards, parking, directions, taxis, picnics, girls, etc.

– Just like in Missouri, there’s terrible snorkeling here and on St. John.

– Just like in the states, my friends here are super nice to me. Case in point: This conversation.

Friend: (After going through family members) “…so what is your mom like?”

Me: “Well…(yadda yadda yadda) …and we look nothing alike. You’d never guess my mom and I were related.”

Friend: “So your mom is hot?”


Friend: “Do not hit me. If you hit me I will sexually assault you.”

(This is their way of flirting. I tried to tell the local guys that this doesn’t quite fly in the states, but it fell upon deaf ears.

– Just like in remote Alaska, the police really care about your vehicle. The most common wrongdoing one is pulled over for is expired registration tags. Actually, besides illegal parking, that’s the ONLY thing I see people pulled over for. In the meantime, you’re allowed to drive with missing headlights, drive with missing mirrors, drive with missing taillights, drive with shattered windows, drive with no windows, drive with shattered windshields, drive drunk, drive high…you get the idea. Yup, you can drive drunk here. Makes me feel real safe.

– Just like in New Jersey, pollution here makes weddings difficult to photograph. There are often pelicans flying into the photo, ridiculous sunshine, huge waves, breaching sting rays, running roosters, and jumping fish that try to ruin my shots.

– Just like in the states, this stop sign on Water Island is perfectly legal.

– Just like in Connecticut, I’m able to go to the beach at night and see my feet and colorful shells at the bottom, all crystal clear in the midnight water.

– Just like in New York, there is an astounding variety of food here. There’s rice and beans, stew pork, stew chicken, plantains, and yeah. That’s pretty much most of it. There is no Thai food, Indian food, Lebanese food, Vietnamese food, or much variety here at all. A trained chef here said the most adventuresome food he’d ever eaten was foie gras. Really?

– *Just like in the states, I do yoga here on cliffs.

*Note: I do not do yoga, so don’t bother correcting my form.

– Just like driving in Nebraska, your ears pop here on almost any 15-minute drive. It’s THAT mountainous. On a terribly environmentally unfriendly side note, one of the work SUVs I drive here gets 10 miles per gallon.

– Just like in Oklahoma, it’s easy to go for a 1-hour hike and get views like this.


Yes, life here is tough. I’m off to work a bit and then to pick up a friend visiting from snowy New York. Until next time, ta-ta.