Aït Ben Haddou

The beautiful earthen clay architecture seen here is part of this UNESCO-designated fortified city (or kasbah or ksar).  Aït Ben Haddou in Ouarzazate province at the edge of the Atlas Mountains has been used as a set for many films including Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator and The Last Temptation of Christ, and more recently on Games of Thrones.

We went for a nighttime walk when arrived into the old city with flashlights (as there are no street lights.)  We met this guy who invited us to his home for tea, music and jokes.  We promised to return the next day to take a look at his shop.

And of course he charmed us into buying stuff.

The same type of mud bricks that comprise the original fortress are still used for building.

Tommy atop the kasbah

A view across the dusty town from the terrace of our guesthouse looking towards the fortress of Ait Ben Haddou.

Group selfie with Tommy and Lily

In order to arrive in southern Morocco and the Sahara from the cities in northern Morocco, we had to cross the snowy Atlas Mountains.  The day before, the highway crossing the mountains had been closed due to the snow.  Our bus ride took four hours longer than expected due to the wintry road conditions.  It was a harrowing ride with lots and lots of switchbacks.  Many of the Moroccan locals spent the better part of their bus rides in the mountains getting sick into plastic bags...but the views were gorgeous. 

Napping may be the best way to get through a long bus ride and to ignore the awful sounds of the retching of fellow passengers.

Sahara Desert Outside M'Hamid, Morocco

While at the Taragalte Festival, we explored a bit outside the festival location: walking around the surrounding sand dunes and checking out a sleepy village oasis.  This location is the first major oasis that a northbound caravan would encounter after traversing the Sahara Desert from the desert of northern Mali, and so it has historical importance for the desert caravans of yesteryear.  Today, invisible international borders may prevent nomads and desert travelers from making the same treks.

Boy ridin' his donkey

Crumbling adobe ruins in the village and fun with shadows

The desert at sunrise...

The endless sand dunes stretching to the horizon is a surreal environment.


Taragalte Festival, Morocco

Ismael and his nephew at the Taragalte Festival in the Moroccan Sahara.

Taragalte is a festival in the Sahara desert in the southern Morocco that celebrates the cultural heritage of desert people with a focus on music.  Musicians from the Sahara region gathered to play the stages and also played around the campfire under the stars.  Desert nomads, Tuaregs and locals from nearby villages also came to celebrate the weekend in the desert.

Locals raced their camels, (dromedaries actually), around the festival.

Main stage

These musicians were heating their drums' heads over the fire to tighten them.


Toni and Joan from Spain

Tommy illuminated by a bare bulb in the desert

Local girls

In the main camp area of Taragalte

Some tents among the dunes

A couple policemen look out from a sand dune.  The festival was fairly close to the Algerian border with Algeria.

View from the back of the main stage...the stars were so bright in the Sahara...you could practically see shooting stars streaking across the night sky anytime just by looking up for a minute.

Santa Fe Visit Last December

My brother Brian and some of his dogs in Santa Fe

Skiing some powder in the trees with my brothers at Ski Santa Fe

Soaking at San Antonio Hot Springs

The snow hike in to San Antonio...

The hike out of San Antonio in the dark

Walk in the dog park

New Mexico sunset descending down the mountain after a ski day


SF Area Coast, end of last year

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from Land's End...eternally dreamy.

Nate, a fellow native of Broken Arrow, OK, visits SF.

In the bottom of this picture, you can see a surf break beneath Land's End with a surfer on the breaking wave.  

Tired of this view yet?

Mori Point, Pacifica