Wednesday, October 23, 2002

A midnight phone call last night yielded results bright and early this morning. We have tickets! We depart on 6 November, a Wednesday, a mere week-and-a-half beyond Christina's target departure date. So much for touchdown by the fourth. I've been pitching and packing like mad, rehabbing the old knee bone (damaged meniscus from playing soccer), and trying to get a decent sense of what to expect. I mean, I'm a tough guy, right? A native New Yorker, gone Montana, gone deep to the heart of Texas. Who's worried?

At any rate, here's a map to locate Uttahranchal in India -- -- and here's one to see our state in detail: Darchula, where we are headed is in Pitholargarh, in the NE corner between Nepal and China (Tibet).

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Things are rolling now. We have visa approval and will drive to Houston within the week to complete the paperwork at the Indian Consulate there. My final stories -- features on birdwatching and geocaching -- have been filed and should be wrapped up tight and ready for publication this spring before we go. I have been looking over more maps, and trying to determine how much hiking/trekking will be available for the duration of the winter. I have at long last decided to pack a tent, and my flyrod will go in the kit, too. That means fewer T-shirts, but I can live with that. Ideally, we'll touch down by November 4.

An additional hot topic I've heard about is the demise of India's famed Gyps vultures. Nobody knows what's killing these birds, but raptor experts will be looking into that issue while we are abroad. It's my hope that I can explore this mystery. (I've already contacted Smithsonian... fingers crossed.) The catch is that without vultures all those holy cows, not to mention the Parsi people near Mumbai/Bombay (who allow the vultures to consume their dead), will be left along to roadsides to rot. In Africa, evidently, vultures consume more carrion than all mammalian scavengers combined. So if it wasn't enough that travelers tummy may very well be in my future, my main plan right now is to go and see what's going on with these vultures.

Otherwise, all is well. We had a party this weekend to prep our friends for our eventual departure. We will be missed! And we will miss Texas... words I never really expected to utter. Ganesh willing, the next of these notes will come on the eve of our departure, if not from India.