Friday, August 28, 2009

Where in the world does 38°N take us?

An inevitable question is, "Where does the 38th parallel line take us?" From east to west, starting from the Pacific Coast (Pt. Reyes), where we finished our trek across California last September:

Japan: the line is north of Tokyo and intersects wetlands of international importance, protected by the RAMSAR treaty, before climbing into the mountains and Bandai-Asahi National Park;

Korea: The "38th Parallel" is where the DMZ, the demilitarized zone, divides North and South Korea; we will explore the interesting wildlife recovery that is on-going there where people have been excluded for 60 years and the renewal of a river through downtown Seoul;

China: the Yellow River empties into the Yellow Sea at the latitude line, (though the river is often entirely diverted before that point); we will explore Qinghai Lake, the country's largest lake, and its major environmental issues, and then cross the Taklamakan Desert along an ancient Silk Road route;

Things become very challenging for us as our route intersects with several of the "stans:" Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkmenistan (where the ancient city of Merv is exactly 180 degrees around the globe from our Mono Lake home);

Turkey: is the site of other ancient cultural sites, including some of the world's oldest that are threatened with inundation by a new dam on the Tigris River; we'll explore Cappadocia, more interior salt lakes, and Ephesus;

Greece: Ferries take us to Athens, Greece; did you know that Marathon is not only famous for the running race it inspired, but is also where the reservoir was built to provide Athens its city water? Corinth and Olympia are also on the line, and so are several lakes with intriguing environmental challenges;

Sicily and the very tip of mainland Italy, are where the line intersects the Messina Strait and an opportunity to join the annual raptor migration survey;

In southern Spain, water issues sound very familiar, mimicking the pattern in California, with long-distance diversions to serve growth in the south. The line also finds Cordoba, Extremadura, and finally

Portugal, where Europe's largest reservoir is along the line, as well as the port town of Sines; the Azores Islands are waiting way out in the Atlantic.

That's the international story. The U.S. portion comes first, this fall.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Preparing to travel the U.S.

In the next year-and-a-half we will be traveling around the world along the 38th parallel, seeking water/environment and cultural connections intersected by that latitude line. The University of California Press will publish our book, Parallel Universe:38°N: The Water Line. But first we must continue our travels, beginning from our home by Mono Lake in the Eastern Sierra Nevada. Last September 2008 we hiked, biked, and boated across California to the Pacific Coast at Point Reyes. That story will be told in Coast and Ocean magazine's next issue, coming out in mid-September. (See November 6, 2009, post) This autumn we will cross the rest of the United States, intersecting with parts of Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada. Chesapeake Bay, mountaintop removal, wetlands in Kansas, the Ogallalla aquifer, and groundwater grabs by distant cities are stories we will explore. That portion of the trip begins on September 28 and will take 5 to 6 weeks. Next year, in 2010, we will continue exploring Europe and Asia on the 38th parallel. Stay tuned! Read more about David Carle's books at