Get your wetsuit ready, it’s Gauley Season

The Toronto Star | Thursday, September 29th, 2011

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(Photo courtesy of Rivermen)

FAYETTEVILLE, WEST VIRGINIA—Most travellers buy souvenirs. Me? I bring home bumps and scrapes. Tsetse fly bites, courtesy of Kenya. Infected insect bite on my (ahem) derriere, with love from Bangladesh. Violently-violet bruises and a set of X-rays, memories of Morocco.

So I thought I should stay close to home for a change with a weekend trip to West Virginia. Every autumn, 43,000 people from all over North America descend upon the Mountain State for one reason: rafting the “Beast of the East,” the Gauley River. Read on…

Rockin’ lobster in Maine

The Toronto Star | Thursday, September 8th, 2011

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MT. DESERT ISLAND, MAINE—A charming smile helps, when trying to get onto a lobster boat. That, and a bottle of Jack Daniel’s. This winning combination is how I found myself on the Linda Sea out on the Atlantic one fine September day, clumsily trying to put elastic bands on lobsters. I’m sure John would have taken me out on his boat without the bribe of whiskey — a testament to just how charming my smile is, or rather, the good nature of the people of Mt. Desert Island. He appreciated the gift all the same. Read on…

A fresh perspective on Iran

The Toronto Star | Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

YAZD, IRAN — Mostafa passes me the hose of the water pipe and as I accept it, I give his hand the customary two taps with my finger — a sign of thanks. I take greedy drags and the water in the glass jar bubbles vigorously, the hot coals perched on top glow red. Cool, moist tobacco smoke infused with apple flavour fills my lungs. Before arriving in Iran, I was genuinely unsettled by the fact that I would be without wine for weeks (alcohol is illegal in Iran). However, it seems one vice has successfully been replaced with another. Read on…