February roundup: Train rides, aggressive orcas, and the solo female travel army

chicago lake street bridge

Under the Lake Street subway train in Chicago.


February was quiet in terms of my own travels. I spent the month hibernating in my homebase of Chicago. I had to postpone my planned trip to Detroit until a later date when I’ll have a vehicle available. As much as I’m a public transportation junkie, it just doesn’t seem feasible to really get to know Detroit by bus alone.

I have a couple other Midwest trips planned in the next couple of months that I’m waiting to announce until I get confirmation from my potential partners, but those will be a lot of fun. I’m also looking forward to a June trip to Toronto for TBEX, the big annual travel blogging conference where I get to indulge in conversation and shenanigans with my colleagues.

Here’s what I was reading in the world of travel in the month of February.

Featured personal link:

Travel blogging couples share funny and inspiring memories in honor of Valentine’s Day

A big thanks to the dozen travel blogging couples who contributed anecdotes and shared personal memories and tips from their journeys. I look forward to being able to see the world with my partner and experience moments like these.

February travel links of interest:

Unbrave Girl: Five Reasons Why Taking the Train in the States Isn’t Crazy

I enjoy traveling on Amtrak. It’s way more comfortable than a bus, with much more leg room, plus electrical outlets so you can plug in a laptop and work or just listen to music while you gaze out the window at the scenery. Apparently some people think taking the train in the U.S. is crazy, but Sally sets these misguided souls straight with this post. Best part about train travel: Regulation-size toiletries are permitted!

Ordinary Traveler: When Orcas Attack – Channel Islands

Christy and Scott got an up-close look at a rare killer whale attack on gray whales and then on dolphins. I can’t get enough of this stuff while watching nature shows, so seeing it in person would be amazing. Fortunately, they did not witness any actual carnivorous activity, as the orcas’ hunt was ultimately unsuccessful.

My own killer whale sighting from Alaska, summer 2012.

My own killer whale sighting from Alaska, summer 2012.


Dave’s Travel Corner: My Reflections as a Non-Muslim Wearing the Burqa in Silicon Valley

An interesting story from Elizabeth, who decided to go undercover, so to speak, to document how passersby would react to someone wearing a Muslim burqa in Silicon Valley, California. I won’t give anything away, except to say that it’s a very interesting read.

Waegook Tom: Why I Won’t Dump My Boyfriend to Travel

Here’s a great post from Mr. Waegook Tom that came out too late for me to include in the January roundup, so I’m breaking all the rules and including it here. It really hit home, especially since I was putting together my couple travel post at the time. I’ve come across more than one blog where the author admits to ending a relationship to travel the world alone. To each his/her own, but reading stuff like that always makes me sad. For me, at least, love is too hard to find to give up so frivolously.

Less Beaten Paths: Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign

Sumoflam has been to a ton of weirdly-named towns across America. Check out the post to see photographic evidence of all the visits. Among the fascinatingly titled places he has visited are: Uncertain, Texas; Boring, Oregon; Oddville, Kentucky; Hell, Michigan; and my favorite, Flippin, Arkansas.

Legal Nomads: Revisiting the Solo Female Travel Experience

This month, sad news broke of a tourist who was killed while vacationing in Turkey by herself, as reported on nbcnews.com. Many of the comments on the news article were from people who shockingly suggested that the woman brought the crime on herself by being irresponsible and traveling alone in a foreign country.

Now personally, I stopped reading the comments on YouTube videos and news articles years ago because they make me weep for humanity. But many solo female travel bloggers read those ignorant comments and decided to fire back with their own posts defending the female solo traveler.

Lots of awesome ladies wrote posts explaining why they travel alone and why they shouldn’t have to defend this method of travel. Jodi’s post at Legal Nomads, linked above, includes her own thoughts on the subject, as well as a nice roundup of some of the articles written by other female travel bloggers.

And thankfully, NBC did a follow-up article on the subject in which additional female travelers were interviewed to get their side of the story.

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About the Author

Scott Shetler is a Seattle-based journalist and blogger who seeks out offbeat attractions and awesome destinations around the world. He has been featured in Travel + Leisure, Connect Magazine, Matador Travel, and the Washington Post.

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    1. No van replacement yet Mary, but we may be fixing up my partner’s old car so that it’s capable of going beyond the Chicago city limits, which will help a lot for midwest road trips.

  1. Thanks for including my post here, Scott, and for breaking all the rules for me. I feel super special. SPECIAL! I do believe that it takes hard work to make a relationship work, especially if your dreams are different, which is where many people simply throw in the towel. BOO TO THAT.

  2. Thanks! It was great to see how many people jumped in to share their own experiences. Yes, it’s important to take precautions and be safe, but violence against women is not an “abroad” problem, it’s a problem worldwide. Appreciate the inclusions.

  3. Gotta second the opinions of the army of women scorned compared to which hell hath no fury. It’s not like anyone ever says “Wait, you have kids and you send them to public school in AMERICA? What in the world are you thinking?!?! How irresponsible!”

    Everyone focuses on the one or two incidents they heard about somewhere or other instead of looking at crime statistics and realizing that if you care about your kids you’ll flee the good ol’ US of A as quickly as your gas-guzzling SUV can take you.

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