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.


  1. This sounds so exciting. What is your projected time frame on all this?

  2. Our deadline with the publisher is August 1, 2011, but we plan to travel the U.S. this fall, Europe in the spring, and Asia next fall. Plenty of extra time built in, in case we need it for some reason. Dave