Skip to main content


Selinunte is on the south coast of Sicily, maybe 40 Km west of Agrigento. Like most destinations on the island, getting to it is a run through pretty unremarkable country. We always think that beautiful destinations are like climbing mountains. The closer to your goal, the more beautiful the surroundings. The truth is, most of these places are surrounded by the unspeakably ugly, the byproduct of people profiting from beauty.

Selinunte is a long gone Greek city. A bitter rival of Segesta, the more photogenic ruin up north. You'd probably hate this place. The ruins themselves are pretty, um, ruinous. Close to the ground, shall we say. A couple of renovated temples, but mostly piles of bigger temples laid low by time, earthquakes and Saracens. Add to that, minimal services, bad lighting and a kind of seedy neglect and you have a recipe for a sad scenic destination. I can say with great certainty, it was our favorite stop in the Greek ruin department.

There's a joke about native New Yorkers. You can always tell them apart from tourists in Manhattan because they're the ones who are looking down at the sidewalk while the tourists are looking up at the buildings and stepping in dog shit. Carolyn and I tend to look down when we travel. Grass, rocks, trash, the details of where you are that are different from where we come from fascinate us.  Selinunte is a slice of archeological/historical heaven for people like us. It's one of the largest archeological sites in Europe and it's empty. The archeologists went home. Their digs are filled with sheep. Bits of the past crunch under your feet as you walk around.  They really do! I found the handle of a Greek vase on the ground. Probably 2000 years old. Just there. It felt like I found a Picasso in the attic. There it was. It was laying in an abandoned dig. It had been raining for days before. It was the rare time when it would be on the ground before the sheep ground it to powder. I picked it up - the first time it had been used for its intended purpose in two millennia. A piece of garbage, really. But still, it had the power to punch through thousands of years and remind me that a person, long dead, had crafted it, had believed in Zeus with the passion to raise temples large enough to shame our mega-churches. Someone who loved, lost and turned to dust as we all do.

Maybe this gets a little closer to why every time we describe this trip to people, it sounds like it was a disaster of a vacation, but we feel more moved by it with each passing day. This was a vacation under the skin.


Popular posts from this blog

Hawaii Part I

This is a year of great portent for Carolyn and me. All kinds of things lined up. It's our 30th anniversary! Actually, it's the 30th anniversary of our first date which turned into a sleepover which turned into nightly sleepovers which turned into moving in together which turned into buying a house together which turned into buying another house together and breaking out in cats, which is pretty much where we are now. Exactly in the middle of those 30 years we got married. It was sometime in July, we have it written down somewhere. That's not to say we take the marriage lightly. It means a great deal to us, though for some reason, we aren't getting the spouse's discount on rental cars that I thought came with the package. Anyway, 15 years of being bound in matrimony this year too. It's also Carolyn's 65th birthday, which is maybe the biggest deal. Oh, and there's a solar eclipse in August. If you're big on numerology and signs from the Heavens, this…

After this Winter - Some thoughts on losing my way

Last weekend I dug my bibs out of the closet, suited up and did the Mudslinger mountain bike race again. Some confusion after the race got me thinking about paths, wayfinding, and getting lost. It also got me thinking about politics.

This was the 30th annual Mudslinger which means we share an anniversary! A couple actually. Carolyn and I have been together 30 years and I started racing mountain bikes 30 years ago. My race prep this year consisted mainly of gassing up the car the day before driving down to the race. I think I've ridden outside four times since Christmas. Still, I wasn't going to miss this one. I did the second Mudslinger in 1988 and quite a few after that until I stopped racing in 1996. I've done it at least six more times since I started racing again in 2008.

I finished pretty far back in the field but ahead of a few dozen racers. I wasn't the only one having trouble getting the base miles in. More importantly, I had fun. It was a beautiful sunn…

Some thoughts on the road's end

I didn't get many Christmas cards out this year. Didn't do a letter either. I'm sorry about that. Here's what happened.

Less than a week before Christmas, my in-laws reached a crisis point that signaled the end of their independent lives and the beginning of ongoing nursing care. I want to recount the journey to that crisis point. I apologize for the length of this. I need to get it out of my head. I need to document this because my in-laws are wonderful people who have reached the end of their independent lives and I want you to know what it was like.

The crisis had been building for some time. We knew something was going to happen to push this forward. Indeed, Merle and Catherine are where we wanted them to be but their journey there was so abrupt and terrible sounding, it actually made people laugh when I recounted it. We tried to get ahead of what was coming but the desire to let Merle and Catherine continue to live at home combined with their determination to stay…