Beware the iPhoto/Flickr Bug

If you sync your iPhoto with Flickr, you should read this.

I recently found out the hard way that this sync has a known defect—if you delete even a single photo from your Apple iPhoto that’s included in a Flickr photo album, it will wipe out the entire Flickr album (or most of it).

This happened to me when I was trying to be a responsible data owner and move my 15,000+ photos onto a backup disk. Suddenly, my Flickr albums disappeared before my eyes.

I had backed up my pictures, thank goodness, but at first I thought I’d also lost all my captions. Traveling is my main hobby, and I’m somewhat obsessive about knowing where I’ve been (down to the name of the temple in that tiny village in Thailand, for example). So the idea that all those details, not to mention hours of writing the captions, had been destroyed was horrifying.

I went through several weeks of despair and unproductive Apple Store visits until I discovered on my own that most of the captions are actually saved in iPhoto—either in the Flickr folder or in the Info that’s embedded in each iPhoto photograph.

Then began a lengthy process of rebuilding my 30+ albums: Moving all the photos from iPhoto to my desktop, re-uploading them to Flickr, and copying and pasting all the captions back in.

Though it took a lot of work to get my albums back and running, I did enjoy immersing myself back in my past adventures, from herding cattle in rural Nebraska to ziplining in New Zealand. I’m pasting a few of the memories I relived here.

Wetland near Houston, 2012

Wetland near Houston, Texas, 2012

Deadwood, South Dakota, 2011

Deadwood, South Dakota, 2011

Tubing the Shenandoah River, 2013

Tubing the Shenandoah River, West Virginia, 2013

Sunset in Seoul, Korea, 2012

Sunset in Seoul, Korea, 2012

Biking Isla Holbox, Mexico, 2011

Biking Isla Holbox, Mexico, 2011

Climate change artwork in Copenhagen, 2009

Climate change artwork in Copenhagen, 2009

The Blue Mosque, Istanbul, 2012

The Blue Mosque, Istanbul, 2012

Oh, and I have unsynced my Flickr and iPhoto, including on my iPhone. From now on, I’ll still upload my photos to iPhoto, but when I want to do a Flickr album, I’ll move copies of the pictures to the harddrive and save them there too.

I’ll probably also save a Word document with my captions as a backup. If anyone else has advice on this front, let me know!

Now, on to planning my next adventure… :)

Alaska: Bears, Berries, and Mountain Beauty

After I visited Alaska as part of a journalism fellowship in 2008, I admit I hadn’t given the state much more thought. Not to say I didn’t have an incredible time during my two weeks at a scientific research station in the remote Arctic, a place most people never see. I hiked the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, saw muskoxen in the wild, and swam in the Arctic Ocean.


But I’m one of those “once and done” people—there’s so many places to see in the world, I’m hyper-focused on getting to as many as I possibly can. So I rarely repeat, with the exception of Paris (I have family there, and well, it’s Paris) and sentimental spots like Ocean City, Maryland.

But I was extremely lucky to get another chance to explore Alaska when my clever boyfriend won an organized trip there. And not just any organized trip–a pricey seven-day journey that we would never be able to afford.

And man am I glad I rediscovered Alaska. Like last time, I flew into Fairbanks, but then traveled south instead of north, going through Denali National Park, Talkeetna, Girdwood, Prince William Sound, and then Anchorage. At each place, the scenery is truly knock-your-socks-off, and it’s relatively easy to see wildlife, whether you’re in the backcountry or just biking along downtown Anchorage.

My picture album has a lot more details of what I saw, so I won’t repeat it here, but suffice it to say I’m definitely making an exception to my repeat rule with Alaska and going back a third time—after all, I haven’t seen the Inside Passage and the cool towns of Seward and Homer. Who knows when that will be, but it’s officially on my bucket list!

I usually close out my blog posts with a hint of my next trip, but I don’t have anything major planned at the moment. I am going to Minnesota next month, which will mean I have only three states left to visit: North Dakota, Iowa, and Hawaii. I’d love to visit the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota—we’ll see if I can make that trip happen sometime in 2015!

Exploring Copenhagen and Brussels

In June I went to Copenhagen to cover the 2014 Euroscience Open Forum, where many of Europe’s foremost scientists get together to share their discoveries. I’d been to the Danish capital once before, in December 2009, to cover a major UN climate conference. The memories that stand out from that trip are navigating a giant and confusing convention center, trudging up seven floors to my rented room in improper footwear, twilight at 3:30 p.m., and lots of cold and snow.

So I have to say I liked Copenhagen better in summer, when it stays light until past 11. I stayed in a residential neighborhood just a short bus ride from downtown, and this time my conference was in the former grounds of the Carlsberg Brewery, which is a tourist attraction in its own right.  Carlsberg doesn’t brew that beer on site anymore, but they do have a microbrewery, which I visited one night (and tried their product, Jacobsen). I got some great NatGeo stories from the conference, including new findings on the mysterious bog mummies of Northern Europe, and had a little bit of free time to explore.

copenhagen bike tourFor instance I took a bike tour through the city, which stopped at some of the highlights like Nyhavn (a 17th-century port where the fairytale writer Hans Christian Anderson lived), the famous Little Mermaid statue, and the Christiansborg Palace, the “White House” of Denmark (see above).

The food didn’t disappoint, either—I had some fabulous fish, and the pastries… Let’s just say I would never eat breakfast at home if I lived in Denmark! Every coffee shop has this incredible array of baked goods, not the anemic and slightly stale offerings you get at our coffee chains. copenhagen coffee After my conference ended I flew to Brussels for the weekend, which I’d never visited during all my adventures in Western Europe. I happened to be there during one of the World Cup games, which had turned downtown into a fracas full of young people with the Belgian flag painted on their cheeks. Probably my favorite activity was wandering in all of the chocolate shops.

Belgium chocolate shop

Even if I was stuffed to the gills I couldn’t resist just wandering through the shops, breathing in the sweetness and admiring the wares. I bought more chocolate than was probably necessary (I found myself justifying the need for more every few hours), but it was worth it. I took another bike tour in Brussels, which took me out of downtown and to some of the other parts of the city, including the very business-like neighborhood where the EU does its business, and a famous place that sells French fries, or frites (verdict, a little too thick for me).

I also loved the Magritte Museum. I didn’t know much about the surrealist painter before I visited, but I was fascinated by his history—his mom drowned herself when he was young—and how that influenced how he looked at the world. Some of his paintings were so absurdist but welcoming at the same time, like you wouldn’t mind stepping into that odd world and leaving the current one, if only for a little while. I suppose that’s why he made his paintings—to escape the reality of the world where he had lost his mother. (See my complete album on Flickr here.)

Brussels at night

Now that I’ve been to Belgium, I’d like to visit more of Eastern Europe—Croatia, maybe—and Norway and Finland. There is always a trip to plan! In a few weeks I’m heading to Alaska to go on a National Geographic tour. Very much looking forward to that! I’ve been to Alaska before, for a journalism fellowship, but I went north of Fairbanks, to the Arctic. This time I’ll be flying into Fairbanks and then going south, to explore Denali, Anchorage, and Prince William Sound. I’m sure I’ll have many a story after that trip!

‘Til next time!

Texas and New Mexico, From High to Low

The response I usually get when I tell people I’m going to hike in Texas is, “There are mountains in Texas?” Yes, and they’re quite the lookers—imagine the deserts of Utah mashed with the Rocky Mountains and you get the idea.


McKittrick Canyon, Guadalupe National Park


In May I spent a week camping in far western Texas, mostly in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, one of the lesser known national parks and the only one in Texas other than Big Bend NP (which I visited in 2012). Guadalupe is nice and remote—nearest town, 30 miles or so—with lots of hiking and no easy way to just “drive through.” So if you go, you gotta be committed to walking. And walk we did—all the way to the top of Texas, in fact, 3,000 feet of elevation gain to 8,751 feet. The trek was long—nine hours—but beautiful, with lots of Indian paintbrush and pretty mountain views to keep us going.

We also went underground to Carlsbad Caverns NP in nearby New Mexico, which has an incredible network of caves, including the biggest cave room in the world. Walking through the Hall of Giants pretty much dwarfed any other cave I’ve ever been in. I admit though, after a few hours down there you’re itching to be back in the desert sun.


We also saw some good critters (my definition of a successful trip) including a western diamondback rattlesnake, horned lizards (mating, no less!), a Texas giant centipede, lots of beetles, ground squirrels, and Maggie the famous painting bear (the latter at a zoo in New Mexico). :)

Another highlight was exploring the rock art of Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site, where native peoples have left their artistic mark over the millennia. Here I’m in the middle of rock scrambling in search of ancient masks!


Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site

I’m heading for the other end of the travel spectrum this week when I go to Copenhagen for the Euroscience Open Forum; I’ll write again when I get back.

Here are some more photos from my Texas and New Mexico trip:


2014 Winter Adventures

I’ve heard a lot of complaining about the interminable winter, but I’ve actually loved it—no oppressive heat, no mosquitoes constantly attacking my legs, and plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures.

This year I hit two new ski spots, Bretton Woods in New Hampshire and Canaan Valley in West Virginia. Bretton Woods was awesome; I especially liked the preponderance of blues, including in their glades (seems most glades I’ve encountered are blacks and extremely challenging). I got to practice moguling a bit and dealing with rough terrain, as well as speeding down fresh corduroy. :) Canaan Valley was more challenging, but I could hardly complain because the snow was incredible—fresh and powdery and mostly not too deep, like floating on a cloud.

We also went snowshoeing (Bretton Woods) and cross-country skiing (near Canaan Valley)—I’d forgotten how challenging cross-country can be when navigating down hills, since the skis don’t have edges. There were a few falls but otherwise we left sore and happy.

Here are some pictures from winter 2014.

cabin picture

A cabin in Blackwater Falls State Park. Photo by Christine Dell’Amore

Now, on to spring!

Puerto Rico Pictures

In November Brian and I escaped chilly fall for a week of summer weather in Puerto Rico, which neither of us had ever visited. No beach bums here—we squeezed every ounce out of our vacation, from kayaking bioluminescent waters to hiking waterfalls in the country’s highest cloud forests to swimming with sea turtles on a tiny island off Puerto Rico.

And that’s just the outdoor stuff: We got some culture time in by visiting the historic forts of Old San Juan (part of the U.S. Park Service system) and the Museum of Art of Puerto Rico.

Coqui frog in Puerto Rico

Coqui frog in Puerto Rico

Add some fresh pina coladas and amazing coffee and it was an incredible trip. Here’s a Flickr set with some highlights:

Springtime in Rome and France

It’s clothes-stickingly humid in Washington, so no better time to remember some highlights of my (cool) spring trip to Europe.

Brian and I started out in Rome, where we had just four days to pack in the highlights: Coliseum, Forum, Vatican, Pantheon, and of course eating lots of yummy Italian delicacies.

The opening at the top of the Pantheon

The opening at the top of the Pantheon

I’m proud to say we covered most Roman-tourist ground, eating the obligatory pizza, pasta, wine, and probably the best gelato I’ve ever had (heavenly pistachio).

Roman gelato!

Roman gelato!


Roman pizza!

Roman pizza!

I particularly enjoyed touring the Coliseum—it’s so well preserved you can picture the gladiators, exotic animals, and all those spectators with their picnic lunches. A few fun facts: The word “arena” means sand in Latin, since the Romans would cover the wooden floor of the Coliseum with sand to soak up the ever-present blood. (I felt bad for the poor giraffes, tigers, bears and other critters sacrificed by the dozen.)

If you were a particularly skilled gladiator, you could be selected as the Emperor’s personal bodyguard. Also cool: Roman citizens were given free tickets to events at the Coliseum, which often served as a sort of PR stunts for emperors.

The Sistine Chapel was also worthy of its incredible reputation. We spent a lot of time resting our weary feet and studying “The Last Judgment.” My favorite section was where Michaelangelo had painted one of his critics with donkey ears and snakes covering his privates!

Spiral staircase at the Vatican

Spiral staircase at the Vatican

St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica

The weather was beautiful and we found Rome easy to get around—for about 30 Euros you can get a Roma Pass, which gives you total access to transportation like buses and metro as well as entrance to two museums without waiting. (Unfortunately it didn’t work at the Vatican Museums, where we waited at least an hour and half to get in.)

Next stop was Paris. I’ve never been in springtime, but alas the weather was pretty much chilly and rainy. Even so it’s hard to put a damper on the City of Light, and we enjoyed brisk visits to the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and the Catacombs. We also roamed a good bit of the Louvre and the Musee D’Orsay, the latter being the the repository for most of the Impressionist masters.

View from the Eiffel Tower

View from the Eiffel Tower

I was happy to see some Cezanne works painted from Aix-en-Provence, the city where I studied abroad. Speaking of Aix, I got to visit for a few hours on my last day (stopped there on a TGV train from Toulouse). I remembered my old apartment and haunts, and was surprised to discover that the walk to my university through the windy streets was nowhere near the uphill slog I remember! Maybe because that was before I really exercised.



At my old university in Aix

At my old university in Aix

Organic lavender in Aix

Organic lavender in Aix

We also spent some time in Toulouse in southwestern France and Marseille, the city where my Dad lived until he came to the States at the age of 8. He showed us the apartment where he lived and the beach where he went after school in the summer. (Going to the beach sounded like a much more awesome afterschool activity than playing Mario Bros, which is what I usually did!)  We only saw the touristy areas of Marseille, but I thought it was pretty, and the Mediterranean was gorgeous.

Marseille and the Med

Marseille and the Med

Enjoy the pictures!

Fellowship to Western Michigan: Sturgeon and Beer!

Earlier this month I took part in an Institutes of Journalism & Natural Resources expedition along the Kalamazoo River in western Michigan. IJNR hosts a few fellowships a year in various places around the U.S. that face environmental challenges.

The 2013 Kalamazoo River fellows. Photograph by Talli Nauman.

The 2013 Kalamazoo River fellows. Photograph by Talli Nauman.

For this trip, we focused on the Kalamazoo River, the site of a 2010 oil spill and a victim of heavy PCB contamination due to the paper mills that once lined the river and polluted the waters. The river is still so polluted that pregnant women can’t eat a single fish out of some parts.

It wasn’t all bad news, though.

The fellows also learned about a reintroduction program for the prehistoric lake sturgeon (which has its skeleton on the outside of its body!), and visited a streamside rearing facility where scientists are growing baby sturgeon to release them into the river.

Canoeing the Kalamazoo River.

Canoeing the Kalamazoo River.

The beach on Lake Michigan in Saugatuck—looks like the ocean!

The beach on Lake Michigan in Saugatuck—looks like the ocean!

One night we had dinner and beer at Arcadia Ales, a brewery in Battle Creek that’s also part of a new program called Brewers for Clean Water. I wrote posts on these projects for National Geographic’s Water Currents blog.

Check them out:

Rebirth of Lake Sturgeon: Freshwater Species of the Week

Breweries Raising Their Glasses to Clean Water

Speaking of blogs, Weird & Wild, the National Geographic blog I founded a few years ago, is doing great and getting lots of regular traffic. I’ve got three contributors, which enables me to keep the blog fresh with odd content almost every day. I’m glad that readers seem to share my love of the bizarre!

I’m going to Italy (Rome) and a few cities in France soon—will update with some hopefully gorgeous pictures of those countries when I get back. Ciao!

Oprah Selects South Pole as a Favorite Read of 2012

I got a lovely vacation surprise while in the wilds of Texas last week—I found out O Magazine has featured my book South Pole in their Favorite Reads of 2012 in the photography book category! I had no idea the article was in the works, and neither did my publisher, Assouline. I’m happy that the book has gotten so much recognition, and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn so much about Antarctic history.

The article isn’t online, but I here are some shots of the magazine:

First Trip to South Korea

Last month I went to Jeju Island, South Korea, to report on the World Conservation Congress. I’d been to Asia once before—on a trip to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand—but I’d never thought about going to Korea. So I really didn’t know what to expect (and, I’m ashamed to say, I hadn’t seen the Gangham style video before I left!)

I’m glad that my introduction to Korea was on Jeju, a small volcanic island about an hour’s flight south of Seoul. For one thing, it was gorgeous—people call it the Korean Hawaii, with its pretty coastlines and craggy coasts. It also has some awesome natural wonders, including Asia’s longest asia tube, Manjanggul (below)—which I walked a mile of—and some volcanic craters that you can hike. The above picture is of Jeongbang Waterfall.

The convention center was the nicest I’ve worked in, with a view of the coast; a cafeteria with hearty, homemade Korean food; and a culture market, which gave visitors an idea of where they were. I enjoyed trying on some Korean garb (below) at the culture market.

Most of the people I met were very gracious—especially when I left my iPhone at a 7-Eleven. I’d snapped a picture of some curious-looking coffee drinks, then absentmindedly left it on the table. I didn’t realize it was missing until I was at the conference center, and miraculously a woman at the registration desk called my hostel owner, asked him to walk across the street to the 7-Eleven, and get the phone from the employee, who had found it and kept it. I’m not sure if that would have happened anywhere else!

I had one day to spend in Seoul, which reminded me of New York. I saw some of the royal palaces (including Gyeongbokgung Palace, below) and explored a few of the street markets. I was happy to see that South Koreans are as obsessed with coffee shops as I am, although I have to say that a sweet potato latte is probably the grossest coffee drink I’ve ever had!

My next long trip is stateside—to Texas, where I’m excited about camping at Big Bend National Park, one of the country’s least visited parks.