The River of No Return

September 5th, 2017 The much anticipated departure date has arrived. Soon I will be rafting and kayaking the Salmon River in Idaho with a group of remarkable young environmental and socially-conscious entrepreneurs and visionaries. A few days before departure, a friend sent me a map of the fires and smoke in the Northwest. Idaho, like many of its neighboring states, was on fire and choking in smoke. The map looked ominous. Taking into account my sensitivity to smoke, I decided I would fly to Sun Valley and then make the decision whether to proceed or return home. September 7th, 2017 … Continue reading

Antarctica-Part V. Inspiration & Activism

Come join me for the last chapter of this odyssey. One of the Indian students who “interviewed” me asked what most moved me about the trip. Aside from the thrill of being of Antarctica, I was moved by Sir Robert Swan’s dedication over the past 30 years to the preservation of Antarctica and to raising awareness about climate change. His strategy is brilliant. He brings young change makers from all over the world to Antarctica so that they will see for themselves what is so painfully evident. I was equally moved hearing about the dreams and aspirations of the young … Continue reading

Antarctica-Part IV. Primordial Paradise

Have you ever imagined what the earth looked like in the beginning, before humans tinkered around with it? Antarctica offers us a glimpse into this primordial world. It is the last remaining truly wild place left on our planet. I can see why Sir Robert Swan, after skiing 900 miles across Antarctica over thirty years ago, vowed that he would devote his life to “saving” this majestic and wondrous place.                                 … Continue reading

Antarctica-Part III. Southward Bound

Come with me on a trip to the most remote and pristine wilderness on the planet—a frozen version of the Garden of Eden, a landmass the size of the US, Europe, and Australia, a place that has never known poverty or war, a place that is covered in ice—ice that is melting fast. The international treaty that protects Antarctica from exploitation ends in 2041—unless we can take actions that will extend the treaty for as long as humans walk the earth. Ever since Sir Robert Swan laid eyes on Antarctica after walking for 70 days to the south pole in … Continue reading

Antarctica-Part II. Buenos Aires

During a nine-hour wait in the DFW airport—lengthened by technical difficulties with our flight—I managed to attract three different people with medical problems. A man and his wife from British Columbia, seated next to me in the waiting area, began chatting with me. They had organized a running marathon on Antarctica—over ice, snow, and rocks—and had gone down there seven years in a row to oversee the event. The subject of Lyme Disease popped up because the man had suffered with the illness for nine years. Of course, I couldn’t help myself from diving right in. After the couple left … Continue reading

Antarctica—The Fateful Knock on the Door

Soon I will be leaving on a trip to Antarctica. The idea of traveling to Antarctica originated with a knock on my door—the proverbial knock of opportunity—and then the mere idea became a real possibility after a series of unusual and unforeseen circumstances. One day last fall, I finished my work seeing patients at around five in the afternoon—about an hour earlier than usual. While in the kitchen chopping vegetables in preparation for dinner, I heard a barely audible knock on the door in the laundry room. The door leads outside to the carport. No one that I know uses … Continue reading

Elephant Graduation

Day #4 at TECC—our last day with our beloved elephants. This day was extra special because we got to participate in making paper out of elephant dung and we got our certificates in mahout training. But best of all, we got to hang out with the elephants for another day. Apparently, the dung is so well digested by the beneficial bacteria in the elephants’ intestines, that it has no odor and contains no undigested food—only insoluble plant fibers—perfect for making paper. I imagine the street elephants’ dung would not qualify for making paper since they probably are forced to eat … Continue reading

Elephants Working for a Living

You might have seen Katherine’s Boon Lots Elephant Sanctuary as the ideal place for elephants to live out their lives peacefully and well-cared for. No one rides them and they don’t have to do anything to earn a living. They get all the food and medical care they need. Her sanctuary is referred to by Asian elephant experts as an elephant boutique since it is not self-sustaining and is supported by on-going donations. The harsh reality in Thailand is that elephants have to help with their expensive upkeep, given that only a small percentage of the remaining elephants in Thailand … Continue reading

Thai Elephant Conservation Center

Tuesday, December 15, 2015 It’s a short drive from our lovely hotel in Lampang to the Thai Elephant Sanctuary (TECC). When we passed under the arch announcing our arrival, it became clear we had entered the world of elephants—domesticated ones. TECC is a government-supported organization that helps foster awareness of the Asian elephant in Thailand. They offer a program that we will be participating in called a “home stay” in which simple lodging and food is provided, as well as intimate experiences with the elephants and their mahouts. We will actually accompany the mahouts in their daily routine over the … Continue reading

Exploring the Countryside in Thailand

December 14th, 2015 Leaving the the elephants at the Boon Lotts Elephant Sanctuary pulled on my heart strings. if i was a bit younger and not committed as I am to my medical practice, I would consider spending a few months here as a volunteer. Being around the elephants is not only an exciting adventure, it also feels like an unusual spiritual experience, difficult to put into words. We headed back towards northern Thailand to a town called Lampang, located a few hours south of Chiang Mai, on the Wang River. Near Lampang we will be staying several days at … Continue reading

Elephant Sanctuary

December 11, 2015 Today we drove to Sokhothai, in central Thailand, to spend time at the Boon Lotts Elephant Sanctuary (BLES), started by a young Englishwoman, Katherine Connor, whose encounter with a young elephant, named Boon Lotts, changed her life forever. Katherine had taken a year off from her work doing retail sales in London in order to travel around Asia when she was twenty-one years old. She ended up working at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center where she met Boon Lotts, a baby elephant who was very sick. She formed a deep bond with the baby who eventually died. … Continue reading

Asian Elephants

December 9th, 2015 “This is not a book of answers. This is a book of questions. More precisely, it’s about living a questioning life, a life of unknowing. If we’re ready to live such a life, without fixed ideas or answers, then we are ready to bear witness to every situation, no matter how difficult, offensive, or painful it is. Out of that process of bearing witness the right action of making peace, of healing, arises.” ——BEARING WITNESS by Bernie Glassman, Buddhist monk Today is officially the first day of our tour, even though most of our little group of … Continue reading