Fort Robinson Lodge, Crawford, United States – Photo by:Thomas Fields

The Flight Deck

Our weekly travel dispatch from the Internet Wasteland


The Trailblazer: “Myers first laid eyes on the Great Plains in June 1991, when he was driving from Minnesota to Wyoming for a summer job washing dishes. The 21-year-old college student had only seen pictures of the Rockies and couldn’t wait to experience the real thing. He rolled westward, full of anticipation. But when he crossed the Missouri River in South Dakota, he was awestruck by another sight altogether.

The land had changed from flat and manicured farm fields to wild and glorious prairie. Green hills swelled like ocean waves. Distant buttes stood like fortresses. A steady wind whistled through the grass. He pulled off the highway so he could stop and take in the scenery.

“The moment blew me away because I had no prior knowledge to draw on,” Myers recalls. “The true picture of the plains exists nowhere in popular culture. And that’s why it can feel like another planet. I was filled with so much energy. I wanted to walk to the horizon.” But as Myers would later learn, you can’t hike to the horizon on the Great Plains. There are no long trails, no large public spaces where hikers can get off the road and learn what it’s like to walk through waist-high grass as thick as a horse’s mane, or ponder the great blue immensity of a plains sky. It’s a landscape that’s both wide open and shut down.”

For hikers, the sense of adventure comes from touring through epic landscapes, seeing sights so beautiful they take your breath away and forgetting about the chaotic world we live in (some might call it an Internet Wasteland).  But there are so many steps that allowed them to walk, camp and gaze at those sights, many which were undertaken long before they set out for their adventure. So how do you create a route from scratch? Or can you? Backpacker: Could the Great Plains Trail Become America’s Next Great Long Path?

Rebel Expat (Rexpat?): “I’m not so naive as to think that by riding a bicycle — as an American working temporarily in Africa — I can even remotely connect with or understand the life of someone surviving on two or three dollars a day. At the very least, I’m able to interact with those in my environment and hopefully dispel the stereotype of the expat who rarely leaves his gated, walled and residential compound, except to drive to his fortified place of business and a few upscale, specialty shops.” An uplifting story of how a teacher found his voice…. or eh… legs in a country that is still working towards breaking away from stereotypes. Mark Dickinson for the Expeditioner: Pedaling Around Expat Expectations in Zimbabwe

Lessons from a lifetime of travel: “‘Don’t take your mobile phone – and avoid bandits’: Dervla Murphy’s lessons from a lifetime of adventure” (Need we say more?)

World on the Horizon: If you can make it to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, they have an interesting exhibition on: First Major Swahili Coast Art Show Reveals a Diverse World of Cultural Exchange and Influence


The Business of Travel

Remembering the Last King of Scotland: “Atrocities committed under ex-President Idi Amin’s brutal eight-year rule and by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) are to be documented. “We want to put the record straight,” Uganda Tourism Board Chief Executive Stephen Asiimwe told the BBC. The Uganda war museum, which has yet to be built, will also showcase pre-colonial and colonial history.” Sometimes to move forward, you have to confront the past. When that past is terror and brutality on a scale few can imagine, what do you do? Uganda is taking the approach to confront it head on, and attempt to bring light to a terrible tragedy, in hopes that it paves a much better way forward. Uganda hopes to attract tourists with a war museum showcasing some of the darkest moments from its history.

The Airlines eats itself: “Now the airline’s pricing system has become so labyrinthine – there are so many options, incentives and disincentives – that it has become seriously hard work for customers to work out whether they are getting good value. Instead of rewarding them, some of the litany of extras feel as though they are designed to punish the frugal flier.” Interesting take from the Telegraph on a trend that has spread rapidly around the airline industry on the back of one of its innovators. But has the innovator become a victim of its own success? Or has it lost the original plot in optional pricing, to create value for customers, which can ultimately make the company more successful? Its obsession with making fares seem cheap has ruined what made Ryanair great

Chef’s Street Table: Despite everything that has been written and shown about the street food culture, cities still have trouble grasping, promoting and even including workers that make up a portion of their economy. Well, as you can imagine, a study has been done to determine what these governments miss when they dismiss the culture…. and it’s a lot. “In developing countries, informal workers make up 50 to 80 percent of the urban workforce.” Keeping them locked out of prosperity is bad for everyone, according to a new report

+ The original report can be found here

An Inconvenient Truth: We often talk about climate change in abstract terms, like the changes to our environment aren’t changing the landscape of coastlines, food stocks and economics today. For people where the impact of climate change is starkest, this presumption is both dangerous and unavoidable. This can be most felt in a country like Senegal, which relies on fish from the coast to create industry and sustenance for a country coming to grips with depleting food stocks on land and sea.

“Big catches are becoming increasingly rare in Saint-Louis. Stocks in this major fishing hub on the border of Senegal and Mauritania had been dwindling in the past 10 years, but 2017 was a disaster. Stocks collapsed by 82 percent in that year alone.

While it’s not clear what caused the precipitous drop last year, a combination of climate change, increased competition, fishing territory disputes with Mauritania, and industrial foreign fleets illegally fishing off the coast have led to the overall decline. Rising sea levels and warmer water temperatures have caused fish to either fall in number or migrate north. As a result, malnutrition is rampant in many parts of the country—the World Food Program estimates 17 percent of Senegal’s population suffers from food insecurity.” Pacific Standard: Warming oceans and rising sea levels are harming fish stocks in the west African country, the effects of which are mostly felt by the region’s women.


Ready. Set. Listen.

Long-Distance Running As a Way to Travel with Mike Sewell | Budget Minded Traveller

If you have stories about literal trailblazers, street food or rexpats, feel free to forward them to info@planesplustrains.com. If you are a blogger, vlogger or even a dog walker and you want us to highlight your content in further dispatches, feel free to send us a message as well.

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