id: 12

Worldly Biological Phenomenon

Worldly Biological Phenomenon

By Nancy Dorrans – Originally published April, 2020 – The West End News

I learned so much recently, listening to Court Whelan, Ph.D., Natural Habitat’s Director of Sustainability and Conservation Travel. Dr. Whelan reported on “the most miraculous and mysterious phenomena in nature.”

Dr. Whelan began by saying that every answer draws at least two more questions… How do they find their way, four generations apart, migrating three thousand miles one way? Why do they go where they go? What is it about that area of the world that draws them from the many corners of the United States and Canada? And, how do they arrive no worse for wear?

MIGRATION OF THE MONARCH BUTTERFLY

These small orange and black migrants have fascinated humans for thousands of years and Dr. Whelan has dedicated his career to studying them. I was entranced during his online presentation “Understanding the Amazing Monarch Butterfly Migration.” I didn’t know there was so much to it and continued to dig. I have since fluttered down an internet rabbit hole. Here’s a report on what I’ve learned so far…

The monarch butterfly navigation skills are impressive. They have several ways to find their way. First is a time compensated sun compass in which they use their eyes and antennae to navigate based on their relative position to the sun.

But what happens when it is cloudy?

They also have a magnetic sense, a compass in their wings. Where does this magnetic sense come from? They ingest a metal from their superfood milkweed that helps build the magnet.

They also rely on chemical cues; each wing has thousands of small scales that pick up these cues. “Monarch Butterflies cue on ultraviolet rays that are invisible to humans. These rays cut through even heavy clouds,” according to the NPR story, “Study Sheds Light on Butterfly Migration.”

Do all monarchs migrate?

No. From spring to late summer, monarchs go through a number of generations. The first several generations’ lifespans are only a few weeks long. The migrating generation lives four times as long as the prior generations.

How does the migratory generation live four times longer?

Dr. Court explained that the migrating generation has an internal switch. They turn off their reproduction energy and redirect this energy to repair and regenerate cells. It is like a butterfly fountain of youth!

WHAT? Can we do that? Like he said, every answer begs two more questions.

How long does their migration take?

Depending on where they are leaving from, the butterflies begin their journey to Mexico in late August or September and then arrive together around the end of October. “The Mexican holiday Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) also occurs when the monarchs appear. According to traditional belief, the monarchs are the souls of ancestors who are returning to Earth for their annual visit.” (https://journeynorth.org)

Why Mexico and what do they do there?

The monarchs congregate and hibernate in the Michoacán Mountains in central Mexico where the climate is perfect for them and the forest canopy protects them. They are on a butterfly vacation of sorts, escaping the cold winters like many other animals and tourists do.

What about recent reports of dwindling numbers?

There are some threats such as illegal logging, pesticides, and GMOs, but there is reason for optimism. Their numbers are on the rise. Eco-tourism in the Michoacán Mountains provides jobs and locals now see the financial incentive. They are planting trees to replace holes in the canopy. There is a worldwide rise in understanding the added value in protecting the monarchs.

During the question and answer period, a 6th grader asked, “Do monarchs migrate at night?” 

The most poetic answer to his question was written in 1911 by Jennie Brooks. She stayed up all night watching clusters of monarchs during their fall migration through Lawrence, Kansas:

“The night was cloudless and absolutely without wind … the butterflies slept on, and on, and on, with wings tightly folded together” until the rays of the sun fell upon them the following morning, and then … “as if touched with a magic wand, the mighty colony … wafted into the air.” (JOURNAL OF THE LEPIDOPTERISTS’ SOCIETY)

What can you do to help the monarchs?

Share what you learn. Plant local milkweed! Minimize insecticides.

Did you know you can tag and track monarchs?

Peer down a rabbit hole to learn more. These organizations: Monarch Watch, the Southwest Monarch Study, and Monarch Alert all have monarch tagging programs and are always looking for more citizen scientists. Find the program that’s best for you and get involved!

Follow the migration at www.monarchwatch.org


Nancy Dorrans is the founder of  Adventure Marketplace. An independent travel advisor based in the West End, she is currently hibernating in East Tennessee with her father, sister, and family, their beehives, two dogs, and twenty-three chickens.

id: 1389

Going On Seven Years…

Lunch in the Galapagos Islands – May, 2014

– Originally Published in The West End News, March 2020

Going On Seven Years

Celebrating and sharing successes and blessings…

By Nancy Dorrans

Adventure Marketplace was founded in the spring of 2014 to utilize my decades of travel industry experience (I went to travel school in 1980) and to offer superb personal service along with unique and adventurous itineraries. My courage, creativity, experience, adaptability, and diligence have guided me through these Adventure Marketplace years. There are so many people to thank but I don’t want this to sound like an acceptance speech from the Academy. I am grateful and want to celebrate and share my successes and blessings.

Here’s the reader’s digest view of my adventures over the last six years… Some trips were research and/or educational opportunities. The others were small private group adventures and local bus tours meticulously coordinated and/or escorted. This digest does not include the many individuals, couples, and families I advised and assisted in their efforts to get away and back home again.

Coober Pedy, Australia, Opal Mine

Kick off – 2014 April: Australia educational tour from Adelaide to Uluru (Ayres Rock) and on to Cape Tribulation… Heading north through the Flinders  Ranges towards Leigh Creek and the residence of Talc-  Alf, we worked our way towards Williams Creek and  stopped for a tromp at salt Lake Eyre… | May: Quito  Ecuador and the Galapagos… private tour for fifteen…  We hiked into a rainforest on the island of Isabela, found pink flamingos in the wetlands, blue footed boobies… and penguins too! We shared breakfast with a local highland family and slugged in the rain up to the rim of Sierra Negra Volcano… | Sept: Local bus tour to the Highland Games at Loon Mountain in Lincoln, NH

NH Highland Games
Loon Mountain

2015 Feb: First Annual Quebec Winter Carnival tour from Portland… | May: Spring weekend in NYC scouting out hotels for future groups… | Sep: Return to  the Highland Games… | Oct: Failte Ireland trade show and tour of Dublin and Belfast with a brief encounter with a man named Van… Fall Foliage day tours to the  White Mountains

Kirstenbosch Nat. Botanical Garden
Cape Town

2016 Feb: Second Annual Quebec Winter Carnival tour… | Apr: NYC Portland Community Chorus travels to sing at Carnegie Hall… | May: Southern Africa Adventure to Capetown, Joburg, Kruger, Victoria Falls, and Zimbabwe… sharing dinner with a local woman who plants peppers in her garden to protect her kale from elephants… | June: Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) Conference in Saguenay, Quebec… | Oct: France Biking/Barge adventure from Dijon, cycling through villages and vineyards… one stunning vista after another plus plenty of wine, cheese, and the colorful tile roofs in Beaune…| Dec: NYC Holiday research tour

Tröllaskagi Peninsula, Iceland

2017 Jan: Historical Women’s March in Washington, D.C. Our less stressful, more civilized tour with 53 women, one husband, and two teenage boys… | Feb: Third Annual Quebec Winter Carnival Tour… | March: Bermuda “Beyond the Beach” educational tour featuring caves, dolphins, and cycling with the Premier… | April: Springtime “Kinky Boots” NYC tour with a group of SMHC employees and friends…  | May: Namibia and Botswana… from the towering dunes of Namibia to the Kalahari Bush and Okavango Delta… Adventure Marketplace loves Africa!… | Sept: Iceland off the beaten path… steaming, boiling, bubbling mud pools, a crater lake, a hike through the Trolls Dimmuborgir village of peculiar lava formations, and the breathtakingly powerful Dettifoss waterfall… | Nov: Pro-Colombia trade show with six-day pre-adventure in the Narino region. Colombia is country full of pride, passion and purpose, utilizing tourism to help promote conservation efforts and sustainable tourism throughout their country… | Dec: NYC Holiday bus tour

2018 Feb: Fourth Annual Quebec Winter Carnival Tour… | April: Cape Cod weekend tour to the Annual Daffodil Festival on Nantucket… | May: Educational cycle tour in Portugal from Porto to Óbidos… | Oct: ATTA World Summit in Montecatini Terme, Italy… | Late Oct: Quebec City and Charlevoix bus tour…  | Nov: Vietnam and Cambodia… almost three weeks of fast paced cultural immersion https://thewestendnews.com/vietnam-cambodia-adventure

Adagio Beach Portugal

2019 Feb: Fifth Annual Quebec Winter Carnival tour…  | May: Women, Walking, and Wine small group adventure to Portugal and the Azores. Each day was stunning, different, full of adventure and spectacular seacoast views from Bispo to Cabo-Verdo Sao-Vincent… the end of the earth… | Early Sept: National Parks of Montana and Wyoming… | Late Sept: Hiking tour of Catalonia, Spain hosted by the tourist board… | Nov: European Travel Agent Forum, Poznan Poland… | Dec: NYC Rockettes Holiday Tour (sold out)

2020 Jan: Kilimanjaro Private Group climb and safari – Happy to report all seven climbers successfully reached the top of Africa…| Feb: Sixth Annual Quebec Winter Carnival tour Feb 7-9th

Looking ahead Sept: Women, Walking and Wine – Part II, Catalonia region of Spain (sold out)… | Oct: Montreal/Eastern Townships Garden Tour – Details on upcoming tours available on www.Adventure-marketplace.com.

Travel can transform lives and change perspectives, and it allows us to learn through experience. I have been blessed these last six years with adventures that have broadened my sense of place. As travelers, we become part of a global community. I strive to help my clients move outside their comfort zone and explore new destinations so they may learn more about themselves and others…

“Everyone thinks travel is about exclamation points, but travel is about the commas; the comma is where a culture and people express themselves. Commas are where we allow ourselves to breathe, to observe, and that’s the travel that I love.” – TV host Samantha Brown

Special thanks to Tony Zeli and The West End News for allowing me to share my travel stories with you each month!

id: 1370

Mountain and Forest Bathing…

Lake George New York,
Adventure Travel Trade Association Elevate Meeting- June, 2019

(originally published February 2020 in The West End News)

Mountain and Forest Bathing…

By Nancy Dorrans

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”  -John Muir

John and I agree, and we are not alone. Being outside in any season is nurturing.

According to the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy, there are many names for the medicine of being in the forest: “Shinrin-yoku or Forest bathing refers to the practice of spending time in forested areas for the purpose of enhancing health, wellness, and happiness.”

FIND YOURSELF ON A MOUNTAIN

Some say they “must” live by the ocean, but it’s the mountains and forests that tug and draw me in. I used to live in the White Mountains. Almost twenty years ago I moved to Portland for a year-round full-time job at an online adventure travel company called Away.com.

Catalonia, Sept 2019

Away’s slogan was: “Find Yourself…Someplace Else.” I worked there just over a year, but after the tragic events of 9/11 our company lost its funding. The office closed and my co-workers and I had to do just that… “Find ourselves…someplace else!”

I stayed in Portland working as a travel advisor and continued to be lured to mountains near and further away. I have hiked all 48 (4000k+) mountains in New Hampshire and some more than once. I’ve been to the mountains and bathed in the forests of Catalonia, Colombia, the Adirondacks, Tuscan hills, Vietnam, North Carolina, Alaska, Scotland, Wyoming and Montana, Ecuador, the Galapagos, Smoky, Green and Rocky Mountains, Cape Town, Table Mountain, and the Namibian Dunes…

Whitefish, MT Feb 2019

Whether I’m skiing or hiking, the mountains energize, balance, and connect me in a way that a day at the beach never has. The forests’ flora, fauna, nature, and all its wonder add to my love and appreciation for the mountains and our outside world.

WHAT’S YOUR STRONGEST ELEMENT?

The Chinese believe in the five fundamental elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. These elements are said to be the fundamental building blocks of everything in the universe. Each of us has all five elements in us. In a workshop I attended a few years ago, I learned that my two strongest elements are Fire (Enthusiasm and Passion) and Earth (Nurturing, Stability, and Security).

Loon, MT

Surprised? It makes a lot of sense to me. Each ski season I make a pilgrimage of sorts to the slopes of Loon Mountain to volunteer for New England Disabled Sports as a ski coach. I help teach people with physical and cognitive disabilities how to ski, utilizing my strong Earth and Fire elements!

Jewell Trail, 2013

With Adventure Marketplace, I feel quite blessed that as an independent business owner, travel advisor, and small group coordinator, I can combine my Fire and Earth elements with my love of the forests and mountains in my group adventures and tours! My favorite adventures are those that include mountains and off the beaten trails, paths, tracks, and wending ways…

id: 1362

Why Not Poland?

By Nancy Dorrans

(originally published January 2020 in The West End News)

If someone asked me a few months ago to tailor a trip to Poland, I would have asked… why Poland? However, this past November, I was selected to attend the debut European Travel Agent Forum in Poznan, Poland, to strengthen my travel expertise for Poland and other Central and Eastern European countries… and it did!

Hidden Dwarves in the Venice of Poland  

My adventure began in the capital city of Wrocław, (pronounced Va-RAHTZ-lawf) in the Lower Selesia Province.  Known as the Venice of Poland, Wrocław boasts 130 bridges connecting 12 islands and one of Europe’s most breath-taking market squares!

Hidden around the city there’s a tiny world waiting to be discovered. These are the hundreds of pint-sized dwarves of Wrocław.

“…each statue is actually a nod to the Orange Alternative, a peaceful anti-Soviet resistance movement born in Wrocław that used dwarves as its symbol and helped topple Poland’s oppressive communist regime in the 1980s.” –bbc.com 

We journeyed away from Wrocław to the southwest region of Lower Selesia. With over 1000 years of history, this rural and mountainous region has been part of Medieval Poland, Bohemia, Austria, Prussia, Germany and as modern Poland after 1945. 

Secrets of The Castle Ksiaz

In Wałbrzyck, we had a delicious roast duck lunch and then toured The Castle Ksiaz. Built in 1288-92 the castle has a dramatic history, over four hundred rooms and hundreds of secrets. It is referred to as the Pearl of Selisia, situated on top of a hill overlooking the Pełcznica River.

In 1941, the castle was confiscated by Nazi authorities. Tunnels were built by prisoners who were worked to death during German occupation of WWII.

St. Martin’s Day in Poznan

After three days of touring Wrocław and Lower Selesia, we traveled to the city of Poznan for our conference. We arrived in time to celebrate 30 years of Polish Independence on November 11th. This is also St. Martin’s Day, named after St. Martin of Tours, a revered European saint who was known for his kindness to strangers. 

St. Martin’s Day Croissants are traditionally savored only on St. Martin’s Day (celebrated throughout Europe). Unlike French croissants, they are crescent-shaped sweet rolls with a poppy seed-almond filling. Our group had the opportunity to help create and enjoy these celebratory delicacies before the parade.

Dizzying Last Days in Warsaw

After two full days of workshops and meetings we were whisked off to explore the cities of Łódź and Warsaw. Our guide in the city of Łódź (pronounced “woodge”) offered an animated walking tour down Piotrkowska Street and a tour of the textile Manufaktura (Museum of the Factory). A few of us enjoyed a late evening of Polish beer tasting and gallivanting. After a morning visit to the Księży Młyn and the Centre of Science & Technology, we headed to Warsaw.

In Warsaw, were treated to a Chopin concert at Frederyk Concert Hall. Fryderyk Chopin is the pride of Warsaw. A talented young woman pianist performed his most famous works from his early, the classical and the late romantic periods. I was mesmerized! 

Our last day was a bit of a blur with a guided tour around Warsaw, including Old Town, Palace of Culture and Science, the ghetto area, Copernicus Science Center, and Lazienki Royal Park, and then an evening visit to the Museum of Life under Communism, the Museum of Warsaw Uprising, and ending with a vodka tasting.

By delving into Poland’s rich culture, heritage, and gastronomical experiences, I now have firsthand experience and a clearer view.  Being there made all the difference. The experience is worth it and an incredible value! What with pierogis, crystal factories, beef cheeks, a vodka museum, castles, duck confit, spas, markets, Wrocław dwarves, underground tunnels, elaborate murals, ski resorts, wild bison, parades, goats, and St. Martin’s Croissants… 

Instead of “Why Poland?” I now ask, “Why not Poland?” This country deserves your attention. You should ask me when, where, what, and how?  Dziękuję Ci (pronounced YenCooYah). Thank you, Poland! You are an amazing, historic country full of energetic and forward-thinking people.

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