The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Seagulls

They’re loud, greedy, invasive, polluting and aggressive. They eat anything that moves and a lot of things that don’t. Hate them if you will, but seagulls are 100% badass. Here are the secrets to their astounding success. 1. Communicate. Loudly. Oh, I know what you’re thinking. “They screech and they squawk; you call that communicating?” Actually, yes. We may not be sure what they’re saying, but clearly […]

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Don't leave home without your binos.

Nikon Monarch Binoculars: Replacing the Eye Cup

A couple of years ago, I damaged the right eye cup of my beloved Nikon Monarch birding binoculars. Ever since, I have been unable to adjust between naked-eye viewing (eyecup extended) and eyeglass viewing (eyecup retracted.) It was a pain in the butt—I switch between contacts and glasses all the time. Finally I got tired of procrastinating about it and decided to fix it, and […]

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Sea otter.

River Otter vs Sea Otter: You Otter Know

Apparently river otters never got the memo about staying in the rivers. I’m a compulsive explainer. Wait, let me explain: I have worked as an interpretive naturalist for a very long time, and I really love what I do. So when I’m out for a walk, just minding my own business enjoying the fall colours, and something fantastic happens, I tend to kick into explainer […]

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Near Oranjestad, Aruba

Aruba: Getting Around Is Half The Fun

Aruba is not like the rest of the Caribbean. One of the great things about traveling by cruise ship is that you can team up with as many people as you like to explore the ports… or you can say goodbye at the gangway and head out all by yourselves. Arriving at the beautiful harbour of Oranjestad, Aruba, we decided that it was time for […]

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Autumn Mist Morning

When you walk the same  route every week of the year, you become finely attuned to the passing of the seasons. I spend at least part of every day wishing I had my camera with me—walking by scene after scene, trying to emblazon it on my memory, resolving that next time I’ll have my Nikon. I have been very slow to accept that decent photography […]

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The Death of the Digital SLR Camera?

With the advent of truly decent cell-phone cameras, digital SLRs are gathering dust around the globe. The Financial Post this weekend features an article forecasting the demise of the digital single lens reflex (dSLR) camera, and with it, the fortunes of the venerable camera giants Canon and Nikon. Sales are heading south, apparently, with a 10-15% decline worldwide; Nikon’s shares are down a whopping 33% […]

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Lower Dewey Lake, Skagway

Going Off-Broadway in Skagway, Alaska

A walk down Broadway, Skagway’s main street, is a bit like visiting Universal Studios. Carefully crafted wooden sidewalks are lined with a-little-too-rustic frontier-style wooden store fronts and “saloons”. Most of them seem to be purveying either jewelry or glow-in-the-dark t-shirts, although you can pick up a pretty sweet ulu knife at more than one shop. I don’t mean to sound cynical—it is a beautiful town, […]

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Shawn told us a bit about the local history.

Cruising to Prosperity: Icy Strait Point, Alaska

A down-on-its-luck fishing village reinvents itself. A few years ago I went to visit a friend in a small coastal town in BC, and she described the place as “a little drinking village with a fishing problem.” That description could fit an awful lot of places on the coast, and it’s interesting to see how these towns, faced with sagging fishing and logging revenues, struggle […]

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At sea, Alaska

At Sea Again, Cruising

  I never get tired of being at sea. It occurred to me today that this is probably our 35th cruise in five years. I never would have chosen cruising as a holiday style—I’ve always been an independent, off-the-beaten-path kind of explorer. But the work I do on cruise ships is so immensely satisfying, and the ports of call so endlessly varied, that we have […]

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Salmon, Ketchikan River

The Salmon Stream, Mortality And Me

They tell me I can cross an Alaskan river on the backs of salmon and not get my feet wet. Here today, I can almost believe it. Today, I’m in Ketchikan, Alaska and it’s not raining. This is not a small thing. I have seen Ketchikan in gentle drizzle and I’ve seen it under sheets and sheets of pouring rain. But I can’t recall when […]

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