Mary Day Long


Mary Day Long

Mary Day Long is a juggler--juggling her passions for writing, photography, and travelling. Having recently finished her first novel, the travel itch is hitting her, hard. On the itinerary for '14: Florida Keys, Colombia, the Panama Canal, and a wander around the Mediterranean.

North America » United States January 12th 2011

Looking at a map of the states I have visited in any significant way, it occurs to me that I know London and Berlin better than I know huge sections of the United States. A few years ago that wouldn’t have bothered me, but lately, it begins to feel like a void in my knowledge and understanding. I’ve never set foot in Washington DC, Maine, or Nebraska. I’m unfamiliar with big chunks of the South. Hawaii and Alaska feel like distant dreams. As I contemplate 2011, and daydream about seeing New Zealand or Viet Nam, I also find myself thinking of exotic places on the Great Plains. I look at my beloved camera and my fingers start to itch at the thought of great open spaces, big skies. In terms of financial reality, 2011 might also ... read more

North America » United States » Texas » Conroe November 11th 2010

I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.—Abraham Lincoln I hate camping. Or is it, “I am the sort of person who hates camping.” Or, “I’m the type who puts up with camping only when really good photo ops are involved.”? In the past year, I’ve been harassed, railroaded, and manipulated into temporary tent-living on multiple occasions, which would be odd for someone who actually hated camping. In each case, I had a specific rationale for overriding my dislike: I did it to get those Big Bend photos, to reconnect with a European friend who has romantic notions about the American Southwest, and because My Man really needed a nature transfusion. I did it for them, I told myself—I did it even though I Hate Camping. But this last bout has made ... read more

Europe » Germany » Baden-Württemberg » Heidelberg October 1st 2010

The wheels of my roll-bag made an awful clatter on the paving stones, so I stepped out into the street and walked on, into the quiet neighborhood. It felt like I could walk for blocks without a car challenging me. I passed a cemetery, ringed with evergreens, roses, and intensely green moss. A crow cawed. A teenage girl walked past in black jeans and a skull t-shirt. She was trying hard to look disaffected, but not quite pulling it off—her hair was too well-groomed, her skin too smooth. Suburban. She glanced at me, at my frizzy hair, nose ring, and black leather jacket, but was too young to know that I could never quite pull it off either. My rucksack was making my back sweat as the sun tried to come out from behind a high ... read more

Europe » Germany » Bavaria » Nuremberg September 28th 2010

I woke up slowly from a dream that receded as fast as I ran after it, then faster. Soft light filtered through the curtains and delineated the sink, the red locker, the blue-painted door, and the floor lamp that had a paper shade in the shape of those extraterrestrial pods that take you while you sleep. The hostel was quiet for once. Warm under a thick feather comforter, I hated the idea of moving, of breaking the spell. But I had to pee. As quietly as possible I slipped out of bed, and looked out the window. As far as I could tell from the narrow airshaft/courtyard, the light looked good, the sky a pale morning blue. I made sure I had my little electronic key nub in my pocket—I checked twice because I’d really hate ... read more

Europe » Germany » Bavaria » Nuremberg September 27th 2010

“Here you are—enjoy.” The waitress set a cup of coffee and piece of cake on my table. The cake was tall with alternating layers of chocolate, whipped cream, and sour cherries: Black Forest Cherry Cake—my favorite. I sat back, to take in the whole picture before my first bite. The day was warm with a hint of autumn. From my outdoor table at the Café Vis a Vis on the Brühlsche Terrace, I faced Neustadt and the Elbe river. To the left and rear were the baroque spires and buildings of Dresden’s classic skyline. In the late-day sun, a steady stream of people walked past, or stopped to lean on the railings or sit on benches facing the river. Many of the people who passed looked at the plates or the faces of we who sat ... read more

Europe » Germany » Mecklenburg-Vorpommern » Binz September 25th 2010

It sounds like a Gold’s Gym slogan, but I think Hitler had something a little different in mind. He dreamed of a holiday camp on a beautiful island in the Baltic Sea, where 20,000 people at a time could come to relax and gear up for the inevitable rigors of world domination. He would call it Colossus, and it would be the cornerstone of the Kraft Durch Freude movement: a string of six-story buildings stretching nearly three miles along the beach near a village called Prora, on Rügen Island. The construction began in 1936, but within a few years things had gotten a little more complicated than expected, and building holiday camps went on the back burner. Colossus was never finished. In 2010, those buildings are gently mouldering in the crisp sea air. Many of the ... read more

Europe » Germany » Saxony » Dresden September 24th 2010

The baby let out a sudden piercing shriek that bounced around the train’s enclosed compartment. His father rocked him in his arms and said, “It’s okay, it’s okay—eveything’s fine.” His mother looked distressed as the shrieking continued at slightly reduced volume. She stood up and reached into the overhead rack for a contraption that looked like a torture device, but turned out to be a baby sling. Instead of slinging the baby to herself as I’d expected, she strapped him to his father, who smiled bravely and went to walk up and down the corridor of our second-class car. The mother sat back down and flipped through a magazine, looking on the verge of tears. I wanted to tell her, “It’s okay, it’s okay,” but what do I know? Maybe it’s not. So I just smiled ... read more

Europe » Germany » Hamburg » Hamburg September 19th 2010

If you didn’t grow up speaking English (or Italian), could you figure out what the word “hospital” means? Once you have a basic German vocabulary, you don’t have many problems like this. Here in Germany, if you get sick, a sickwagon will take you to a sickhouse where a sicksister will take care of you. If you eat too much greasy train station food, you’ll end up with fall-through, though that’s certainly never ever happened to me. Where on earth did the word “diarrhea” come from—and how on earth would someone new to English know it? Over breakfast this morning, I read the local scandal sheet the hotel provides for its guests. I didn’t need fluent German to be horrified that a 66-year old woman was “skalpiert” when she had a crash in her “Smart”—which ... read more

Europe » Germany » Hamburg » Hamburg September 18th 2010

If anything, I thought Hamburg would be interesting. Perhaps a bit grimy, a little sad, some kind of sordid, with all the prostitutes on the Reeperbahn, the immigrants, the slightly desperate reminders that the Beatles got their start here 50 nearly years ago. No one told me that Hamburg is absolutely beautiful. It’s a watery sort of place, to begin with—endless canals and fleets and waterways, and the harbor and the Elbe and the sea. And, in September, the rain. The sky clouds up, the clouds go dark, the rain pours. Tourists huddle with locals under any available shelter and joke about the weather, and in a few minutes it lets up. The first brave souls ventures out and when she doesn’t melt, the rest of us follow, keeping our umbrellas close at hand. In a ... read more

North America » United States » Oregon » West Coast May 27th 2009

My guidebook told me that at the Natural Bridge Viewpoint the trail at the south end of the parking lot would take me to a spectacular viewpoint. I grabbed my camera and backpack, and set out. I like “spectacular”. The trail started out fine, then it narrowed. Then it split. I stood for a moment, then decided the most likely way would be toward the sound of the ocean. Although, with these trails, the most likely way is not always the right way—I’d found they can meander in ways you’d never guess, they can go on for miles, they can dwindle to nothing, or they can exceed your wildest expectations. And the signage generally sucks. I thought I did well to actually carry my Moon travel guide with me in the car, but in this case, ... read more

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