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Traveler's Journal series shares tales from the four corners of the world

Traveler's Journal begins its 18th season of travel and adventure slide shows on Feb. 5.

Paul, Meg, Ryan and Anthony Pinza will share photographs and stories about a family trip to Southeast Asia.

Traveler's Journal has become a popular part of Sequim's winter "scene," providing a brief respite from gray skies while journeying with neighbors to the four corners of the world.

Dave Le Roux of the Peninsula Trails Coalition started the Traveler's Journal series to raise money to feed the volunteers who were reconstructing the bridge over the Dungeness River, at what is now Railroad Bridge Park. As the Olympic Discovery Trail has expanded east and west, so has the volunteer work and the number of volunteers to feed.

More work still needs to be done on the trail, said Chuck Preble, Peninsula Trails Coalition president, and the money raised this year again will be spent feeding volunteers who work on the trail.

After 17 years at the helm of Traveler's Journal, Le Roux handed the series over to new coordinators Dave Shreffler and Paul Pinza, who lined up an exciting and diverse group of presentations and presenters.

This year's shows feature travel by foot, bike, camel, yaks, traditional boats and other local transportation. Attendees will be treated to stories of low-budget backpacking in Asia, high adrenaline mountain climbing in Tibet, desert exploration in Egypt, bicycling off the beaten path in Colombia and Venezuela, wildlife encounters in Borneo, walking coast to coast on the longest foot path in Scotland and glimpses of what "home" means for three foreign exchange students.

The series culminates with a presentation by acclaimed professional photographer Mary Peck about her multiple journeys to the hidden Kingdom of Bhutan.

The following is a glimpse into each of this year's Traveler's Journal presentations:



Family Travel in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam

Feb. 5

The Pinza Family

Three Asian countries - Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam - offer adventure seekers more for the buck than their more popular neighbor Thailand. And these countries are completely different from one another, geographically and culturally.

Only recently opened up to full-fledged tourism, Cambodia and Laos are in the infancy of major tourism. Vietnam is about three-quarters the size of California and the 14th most populous nation in the world.

While much of their tourism industry revolves around the war, the geographic diversity and bustling cities offer a wide array of traveling possibilities.

The Pinza family will give accounts of traveling in these three rapidly changing countries, the benefits and secrets of successful family travel and suggestions as to why it is important to seek out less-traveled destinations.



Climbing in the

"Alps" of Tibet

Feb. 12

Richard Isherwood

In 2005, Isherwood gave a dramatic presentation to Traveler's Journal on his attempted first ascent of Haiza Shan (19,000 feet) in the Sichuan province of Western China.

He returns this year to show images of another high altitude adventure in the "Tibetan Alps."

He organized a climbing trip in fall 2007 to the peak of Yangmolong (19,876 feet), which is in the westernmost part of Sichuan where very few foreigners have visited.

The people in this area are ethnically Tibetan and practice Tibetan Buddhism. Sichuan was the area where a devastating earthquake occurred in May 2008 and where some Tibetan riots occurred prior to the Beijing Olympics in August.

The Sichuan area subsequently was closed to foreigners.



Egypt by Foot, Four-wheel Drive, Camel and Sailboat

Feb. 19

Dick and Pat Gritman

Bahariya, Farafra, Dakhla and Kharga - the names evoke a sense of mystery and adventure. Join Dick and Pat for an 850-mile road trip through the Western Desert to these four major oases. Travel with them on foot threading the chaotic traffic of Cairo, by bus rolling through the 'empty' miles on the western highway, in four-wheel drive vehicles bouncing across the Black and White deserts, swaying and jolting on friendly camels, basking on a luxury boat cruising the Nile, sailing in a felucca below the cataracts of Aswan and flying to the remote outpost of their ultimate destination, Abu Simbel.



Columbia and Venezuela: Bicycling Beyond

the Headlines

Feb. 26

Willie Weir

Colombia has spent many years ranked as one of the most dangerous countries on the planet. Most Americans' only exposure to Venezuela is from seeing President Hugo Chavez rant against "American imperialism." Most folks would leave both countries off their travel list, but not Willie and his wife, Kat, who have made a habit of seeking less-desirable bicycling destinations. Willie Weir returns for his fourth Traveler's Journal slide show. Willie is a columnist for Adventure Cyclist magazine, a frequent contributor to public radio station KUOW in Seattle and author of "Spokesongs: Bicycle Adventures on Three Continents."



The Wilds of Borneo:

A Family Safari

March 5

Coke Smith

The mere mention of the island known as Borneo evokes images of wild jungles filled with exotic wildlife and native peoples. World traveler and wildlife photographer Coke Smith returns to Traveler's Journal to share his stories and images from a 2008 family safari in Borneo's Sabah area. Expect to see orangutans, gibbons, langurs, leopard cats, pygmy elephants and a colorful array of birds as Coke leads us on this memorable monthlong journey through an island with an unrivaled level of species diversity.



Walking Across Scotland: Coast to Coast on the Southern Upland Way

March 12

Ron Strange

The lowland area of Scotland is to international tourists what we in the states refer to as "fly over land" - places we pass over on our way from one coast to the other. Foreign visitors bypass this part of Scotland on their way to the better-known highlands of whisky and Loch Ness monster fame, leaving this area to the indigenous Scots, Scottish tourists and North Yorkshire vacationers. Come learn why 17 days of solo hiking in this unassuming landscape - "where low hills roll on and on into the distance in a mesmerizing pattern of soft, green waves" - had such a profound effect on Ron.

Glimpses of Home:

Insights of Three Foreign Exchange Students

March 19

"Emily" Minh-Thu Do, Janu Ortega and Madeline Nolan

Here's another golden opportunity to learn about life in a foreign country from a previously untapped resource - foreign exchange students living on the peninsula. "Emily" Minh-Thu Do will take us to her home in Vietnam. Janu Ortega is graduating from Peninsula College in March 2009 and he will share glimpses of his homeland, Kenya, where he was born and raised. Madeline Nolan is a Port Angeles high school student who did an exchange year in Bolivia. Traveler's Journal is excited to give a voice to these youths in our community and to benefit from their insights about the joys and pitfalls of foreign travel.



Bhutan's Curve of Time

March 26

Mary Peck

Few people know much about Bhutan; fewer still have been there. This small Himalayan kingdom between India and Tibet long ago captured the heart and creative passion of professional photographer Mary Peck. Bhutan always has limited visitors and until the 1970s was closed to tourists. The country gradually has become known to the world because of the extraordinary protection that these restrictions have provided for the land and the culture. Over multiple trips between 1999 and 2005, Mary has spent a total of seven months photographing this remarkable place and its even more remarkable people. Join Mary as she shares her insights about the only country in the world with a policy of Gross National Happiness, a policy that establishes the well-being of the community as primary.





About the presentations

Traveler's Journal is presented by the Peninsula Trails Coalition. All money raised buys food for volunteers working on trail projects.

_ Shows start at 7 p.m. in the Sequim High School cafeteria, 601 N. Sequim Ave. Seat cushions are recommended.

_ Admission is $5. Children 18 and under are free.

_ One photo enlargement will be given away each week (except March 26) as a door prize.

_ For more information, call Dave Shreffler at 683-1734.



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