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Celebrating July 4th at an impromptu party held at a riverside cafe.

A local artist's gallery in beautiful old town Olinda. I bought one of the painted wooden fish.

The amazing Egassu Falls in southern Brazil near Argentina and Paraguay.

Glacier National Park
is full of beautiful spots.

We crossed into Laos from northern Thailand on this "ferry".

Ready for a delicious lunch on our boat heading down the Mekong River.

Local monks at the Internet Cafe in Luang Prabang, Laos.

The king's palace in Phon Phenh, Cambodia.

The main temple at the Angkor Wat complex.

My favorite temple, Ta Prohn where the tree roots have been left in place.

Back in Alaska for the third time!!

No dog truck at re-start so I held the starting number.

We're off!

I gave G.B. a kiss for good luck.

I was flattered to be interviewed by Joe Runyan.

At the start line in Anchorage.

UPDATE, April 2003:

It's been a very busy year travel wise and I'm looking forward to more interesting places to visit for the rest of 2003 and in 2004.

In July I went to Brazil and hooked up with some friends I had traveled with before in Borneo for a two week Amazon cruise. We flew upriver to the point where Brazil, Peru and Colombia join and boarded our wonderful boat there. There were 20 of us on board plus the crew.

This boat was our home for two weeks
on the Amazon river.

Sunsets were beautiful on the river.
The humidity made my hair curl.

We then headed downriver towards Manaus visiting many small rivers, lakes and lagoons leaving the boat to do the exploring in canoes. We visited some remote Indian villages that rarely have visitors from the outside. One day everyone went fishing and we caught many piranhas and grilled them on the top deck. They were suprisingly good to eat but you had to be careful of their teeth!

Beautiful Indian girls in a remote village
we visited by canoe.

The whole group went fishing for these pirahnas and then enjoyed eating them after they were grilled on the top deck.

On July 4th Captain Mo pulled over to a riverside cafe in a small town and we had an impromptu party with lots of local beer and dancing. The cruise ended in Manaus and after a few days exploring that interesting city, everyone went home but I stayed on in Brazil to visit Olinda in the north, and the amazing Egassu Falls way down in the southern part of Brazil near Argentina.

In August, Laura and I met in Missoula, Montana and we explored Glacier National Park, drove down through the State to beautiful Yellowstone Park and then ended up back in Seeley Lake, where I visited Cindy Gallea. Cindy was the musher I got to ride with in the ceremonial start of the 2001 Iditarod sled dog race in Alaska.

Many Glaciers Hotel
had a beautiful setting.

Yellowstone Park was breathtaking.

We took one of the amazing red vehicles
to explore the interior of the park.

Visiting with Iditarod musher
Cindy Gallea in her home town.

I had long wanted to revisit Cambodia, which I had first known briefly many years ago when I was returning to live in Europe after several years stay in Japan. I had also heard Laos was wonderful and it made sense to combine the two countries and use Bangkok as our jumping off place. I talked Sarah Jane Paxton and Constance Chesnut into joining me and off we went. After an overnight stay in Bangkok we flew to Northern Thailand to the Golden Triangle. We crossed into Laos by small boat and cleared immigration on the other side of the Mekong River. We then were taken by another small boat to the larger boat that would take us down river for two days. We ate on the boat and did our excursions from the boat but slept one night in a wonderful lodge run by the owners of the boat.

We stayed in Luang Prabang, known as the Pearl of Laos and were enchanted by that beautiful town and smiling friendly people. I went to check my email in the local internet cafe and was amused to see some monks at an adjoining computer. We flew to Vientienne for 2 days and then to Phon Phenh, Cambodia. From there it was on to Angkor Wat where we spent three days exploring that complex of temples built in the jungle. We returned to Bangkok and treated ourselves to three days in my favorite hotel in the whole world... The Oriental.

Sarah Jane and I take an elephant
ride between two temples.

Back in Bangkok for a few days
of luxury at the Oriental Hotel.

Spent Christmas at a friend's horse ranch in beautiful Santa Ynez, which is over the mountain from Santa Barbara.

Ramblin' Jack in concert
at the Western Folklore Center
in Elko, Nevada.
Went to Elko, Nevada for the Cowboy/Poet Gathering in January. Heard some good music and it was fun to visit the place that I had seen and heard about it in "The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack" film. Even took a class in how to make sourdough biscuits over an outdoor fire. Ramblin' Jack Elliott came to Elko on a train from California and gave three concerts. Julia and I hung out with him and had a really good time.

A week after I got back from Elko, Ramblin' Jack gave a concert in Los Olivos, which is near Santa Ynez. I drove up and attended his show which was great and then brought him back to my friend's horse ranch for a day of relaxation. He had driven down from his home in Marshall, California in his new truck.

End of February, for what would now become a yearly ritual, I went back up to Alaska for the 2003 Iditarod.

This time I would be G. B. Jones's Idita-Rider and had also volunteered to do some work at headquarters. I didn't know G.B. but we had exchanged several emails and I felt like he was already a friend. I finally met him just before the Musher/Idita-Rider lunch and he let me hold one of his puppies, just three weeks old. I gave him a copy of my book, though I realized he would have little time to read in the coming weeks. He very kindly invited me to sit at his table that night at the official Iditarod Banquet which is an honor. At the banquet the mushers get their starting positions. G.B. got 35, right in the middle of the pack of 63 mushers competing this year. There was very little snow in the southern part of Alaska but it was decided to hold the Ceremonial Start in Anchorage as planned, and they trucked in enough snow for the downtown Anchorage start and the trail leading out of town towards Eagle River.

I get to meet G.B. Jones in person and
he brought along one of his puppies.

G.B.'s lead dog "Sport" wanted to
ride in my place in the sled.

It was great to sit at G.B.'s table
at the official Iditarod Banquet.

G.B.'s dogs are raring to go!

Originally I had planned an overnight trip to Skwentna, one of the earlier check-points to see all the mushers and dogs, and especially G.B. come through. But snow and trail conditions caused the real start of the race (known as the re-start) to be moved to Fairbanks and Skwentna was eliminated as a check point. Part of the trail this year would be new and then in mid-Alaska the teams would join the old Iditarod trail. The Ceremonial start was exciting and noisy as usual with the dogs howling in their excitement and throngs of people there to see everyone off. Sport, G.B.'s lead dog decided to get into the sled, which was where I was to sit and told me I could lead the team instead.

I was interview by Joe Runyan, a former Iditarod Champion and famous sports writer. And then finally we were off! Then followed a mad scramble on the part of all the mushers, dogs, dog handlers, volunteers and fans to load everything up and drive 350 miles to Fairbanks. G.B.'s regular dog truck was deemed unsafe for the trip so he made the trek in a borrowed four wheel drive vehicle pulling a flat trailer. The dogs were in their boxes on the trailer. Since the borrowed vehicles had to return to Anchorage he spread out all his gear on a blue tarp the next morning at the re-start site. The dogs were tied to nearby trees. All his friends pitched in to help him sort the gear and load the sled for the long trip ahead. Since the starting numbers are usually attached to the dog truck, and G.B. didn't have one, I jokingly held his starting number in my mouth so the officials of the race could find him. I wished him luck and he was off.

When I returned to Anchorage I went to work in Zuma's email room at Anchorage headquarters. Zuma answers emails from children all over the world who write her with questions about the race.

It was a tough year for many mushers with the trail conditions very difficult and many scratched from the race before they reached Nome. A record number of dogs were dropped at the various check-points and returned to Anchorage. Check out G.B. Jones' web-site:

The famous "Zuma". As one of her helpers answering e-mail I had to think and write like a dog.

My name joins other friends and supporters of G.B. Jones on the wall of his musher cabin, which is next to the Iditarod Trail.

I will go to New Orleans for a few days mid-April and then at the end of the month I head for Spain and the Canary Islands. Other trips planned are Bali and a Spice Islands cruise in July, Botswana and Namibia in October, and Peru in December.