Oct 22, 2014

My Pig-Mania Coverage For Bon Appetit Magazine

Pigs always make customs officer Chris R. Richards’s blood run cold.

He can confiscate bush meat, $5,000 bird nests—even grave dirt—without much drama. But anything involving pork tends to get heated…and to skid quickly toward combustion.

“Take away their ham, and people shout, bang the table, and throw things,” says Richards, a supervisory agriculture specialist at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the Seattle field office, covering people coming into the country from Washington’s coast to the northeastern tip of Minnesota. “One Spanish lady put a hex on me that my stomach would rot out.”

He shrugs and pats his uniform’s shirtfront. “No ulcers so far.”

Read more on Bon Appetit's website!

Oct 19, 2014

Fright Night At The Old Asylum In Kamloops

British Columbia, Canada--I took a late-night tunnel tour of a former sanitarium and mental asylum with a brood of teens and 20-somethings. They couldn't even stop squealing and clutching one another, as things went bump in the night. Classic October!

Set dressing on Tranquille Farm. Image copyright www.amandacastleman.com

Oct 17, 2014

Plunging Into A Canadian Salmon Stream

I'm back in British Columbia to dive the world's most concentrated run of sockeye salmon – on assignment for BBC Travel with underwater photographer Josh Humbert. Not a bad day at work at all...

A painted turtle and scenes from British Columbia's Lake Region, the Shuswap. Images copyright www.amandacastleman.com.

Oct 9, 2014

Autumn Houseboating On Shuswap Lake, BC

Pushing the houseboat season? Nah! Nothing a fire can't fix...

Houseboaters crowd around a firepit on the shores of Shuswap Lake, BC. Image copyright www.amandacastleman.com

Sep 25, 2014

Love Hurts (Fatally) For Two Wyoming Moose

Yesterday this amorous bull chased his ladyfriend through Jackson Hole's Gros Venture campground again. Mostly blinded by an eye infection, she stumbled over a picnic table and broke her leg on a fire ring, leading rangers to euthanize her.

Some reports have blamed wildlife watchers and photographers. But having witnessed a similar love romp ten days ago, I agree with Jackson Hole Wildlife Safari's owner Jason Williams. He wrote: "The big factors here are the rut, her disability and man-made obstacles. Though a tragic accident, I don’t see much that could have been avoided, except for shutting down the campsite and removing grates and tables."

Check out his full account, images and videos here.

Sep 18, 2014

Stargaze With A Singing Astronaut

"Travelgirl Magazine" let me make bad science puns in its autumn issue!

Power down and look up this autumn, as the Dark Sky Festival returns to Jasper, Alberta, from October 17–26th.

The Canadian Rockies cradle one of the world’s largest dark sky preserves there. Peaks, ice fields and stunning lakes—often turquoise from glacial melt-water—also earned UNESCO protection 30 years ago. Now the region’s turning up its star wattage, as Colonel Chris Hadfield joins the festival line up.

The first Canadian to float freely outside the atmosphere, Hadfield spent almost five months captaining the largest spaceship ever built, the International Space Station. He shared the journey with a million Twitter followers, and his fame supernova-ed last year when he played himself offstage with a zero-gravity cover of David Bowie's Space Oddity.

Hadfield will strike a chord again in Jasper, giving the keynote speech (backed by his band, The Free Radicals). Other highlights include an outdoor symphony, deep-sky telescopes and a partial solar eclipse. After the gala, stroll—or take a carriage ride—to Pyramid Island. Trails, marked by scarlet votive candles, form a red carpet for astronomers. But nothing outshines the event’s star turn: constellations reflected on the tranquil waters of western Canada. —Amanda Castleman

Sep 14, 2014

Cutting Our Teeth On Wyoming Whitewater

I ran my first Class II+ rapids in Jackson Hole today. As soon as the raft hit the first Snake River rapid, a little girl popped a molar. Talk about the best tooth-fairy tale ever!

An autumn rapids trip with Jackson Hole Whitewater.  Image copyright www.amandacastleman.com.