President Trump’s April 26th Executive Order requires a review of national monuments dating back to 1996. Our time to influence this review is coming to an end. Bears Ears National Monument comments are closed on May 26, all others on July 10th. This is a closing opportunity to tell our government our values.
Some of you feel helpless in today's political climate. Will this really make a difference?
All comments go on public record. The Department of Interior must take into account the balance of "yeas" to "neys". If the department's decision goes against our wishes the process will almost certainly lock up in legal battles. The result of those battles will be heavily influenced by our input. Leaving comments and opinions creates a vital paper trail for the courts.
What if I'm a Trump supporter and want to stay loyal to my leader?
Trump's order puts national monuments under review, which means he's asking: How much do you care? The best way you can support your president is to give him an honest answer to his question.
Big oil is answering the question. They are submitting these forms right now. Corporations view the world in terms of growth and profit. That's simply the nature of the beast. A shark is designed to eat without regard for the seal's feelings. A corporation wants to grow without regard for the value of tranquility, recreation, or natural beauty. If we value these things as individuals we must exercise our political power to protect them.
What if you came home to find someone carving out a piece of your lawn for a project that would pay you zero money? That's exactly the nature of this looming threat. National monuments are your land. You can't grab your shotgun, but you can fill out this form.
But.. They probably just want a teeny tiny slice of land.
The promise of protecting national monuments is a promise of forever. That's how the Antiquities Act was designed. That promise is broken if a piece of land is forfeited. With this precedent it will become easier to lose more and more of our land to industry exploitation.
We can put flags on our cars, and sing the national anthem with pride at the big game; but there is nothing more patriotic than defending the land. It's where the rubber meets the road.
For every Republican, Democrat, or Independent there must be a serene place that we cherish: A favorite fishing spot where we bond with good friends, that epic hike which provided new perspective, or the camping trip that crowns the memory of a great romance.
Some of my life's best moments happened on land which is now in danger. Join me to protect these spaces. Now is the time to act.
Send THIS FORM (with an adjustable letter provided by an action committee)
Or fill out THIS FORM (from the official government site)
Make your voice heard. Defend your land.
P.S. Here is my letter to the Secretary of the Interior:
Protect Our National Monuments
Dear Secretary Zinke,
I officially oppose any concession of Bears Ears or our other national monuments. I believe Teddy R. would agree that the promise to protect these lands is a promise of forever. A forfeit of even an acre breaks that promise and sets a dangerous precedent to carve out more and more of our protected land.
These spaces have been valuable to my mental well being and enjoyment of life, and have inspired thousands who have seen them on our show Road Less Traveled.
These historic sites represent a crucial part of our American heritage – they protect Native American sacred ground, preserve areas of historic and scientific value, and drive local economies with opportunities for recreation and tourism.
The authority given by the Antiquities Act is well-tested and clear, and the process by which each of these 27 monuments was designated included significant local input in conjunction with a broad view of our shared national interests. President Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act in 1906 to protect our shared American landscape from corporate looting.
I urge you to protect and preserve our nation’s national monuments from any changes.
New travelers often make the same error as young bucks: They put too much value on the count. Months later, what is left from that quick night with Jennifer or blazing through Italy in five days? Both were better than staying home, but an opportunity lost to go deeper.
The era of social media and cheap HD cameras has exacerbated this old traveler pitfall. Destinations are now edited down to highlight reels. Production teams, eager to push out content, fall into the same ruts that steer the banana-pancake backpackers: Laos becomes a drunken float tour and waterfalls, the Philippines is about a party in Boracay and paddling kayaks around Coron; Italy is about hiking Cinque Terre and eating pasta.
This content is not without virtue. It inspires folks to travel, which is intrinsically a good thing. However, it inadvertently encourages the idea of checklists: You gotta do this. You have to go here.
People don't care about numbers as much as we estimate*, and numbers don't build a sense of self-worth as much as we hope. Investing time in a culture or a person creates connection. Connection opens the mind by exposing us to different perspectives. Connection creates a sensation of belonging and inclusion. Connection fosters understanding and love. This is the essence of travel.
St. Augustine famously said "The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page."
The world is more like a library. Those who do not travel read only one book. Those who speed travel are only reading the back covers.
The wealth of emotions, the complexity of the human experience, and the novel perspectives can only be reaped deep in the pages.
* With the exception of social media numbers, which is a currency that continues to gain value.
One night 500 Californians were killed and thrown into the ocean. There were smashed and drowned by a fifty meter wall of water as it tumbled violently down a series of valleys. Bodies were recovered as far south as Mexico. The catastrophic collapse of the St. Francis Dam was the second biggest tragedy in state history, and the epic downfall of California's favorite son: William Mulholland.
Despite the dramatic story and stunning setting this spot is rarely visited. Southern California's grand disaster has become a traveler's secret spot. Here are my recommendations if you'd like to discover it:
1. Hike Up the Abandoned Road: Take San Francisquito Canyon Road about a hundred meters north of San Francisquito Motorway. On the east side of the street you'll see this abandoned road barricaded off. Walk towards the lush forest growing where the old lake water pushed against the dam. Emerging from the forest there will be piles of rubble to your left and a small hill to your right. These are both worth exploring.
2. Scramble over the Rubble to the Left: Climbing over big chunks of the old dam notice metal pipes and other curiosities poking out of the ruins. Once you surmount the first pile you'll find a serene little creek and pool on the other side. It's a good spot for a tiny picnic. I took a dip on my first visit, but saw an unidentified snake slither off in the deep. There may also be more concrete with metal attachments underwater, so I'd advice against leaping in unless you thoroughly explore the depth.
3. Climb up the Ridge to the Right: After scrambling around the rubble to the left of the road, go back and scale that ridge on the other side. It has very clear remains of the dike which was a 3 meter extension of the old dam. From the top it's easy to see the exact placement of the doomed structure. Also, looking north, you get this gorgeous view of the forest, dramatically lush in contrast to the dry hills around. Notice your parked car off in the distance by the new road.
4. Head for the Big Rock in the Distance: From the ridge, looking across the rubble of the old dam, a prominent rock is visible. To get there drive down San Francisquito Motorway about 1.3 miles until a fireroad appears on the left. From there it's a fairly easy climb up to a T junction. Go left on the narrower trail which will lead straight to that rock. From the top one can see the remains of the entire old dam and trace the path of the water as it plowed down the valley before hooking a right around Castaic Junction, following the Santa Clara River Valley to the Pacific Ocean.
5. Extend your Exploration: To make a full day of the St. Francis Dam story, follow the water course down towards Ventura.
Before going, read the dramatic story of the St. Francis Dam and the rise and fall of Mulholland. It's a doozy of a tale which will make this adventure all the more impactful.
What are your favorite drugs? Chances are they match up closely with The Aztecs'. Pulque (An alcohol beverage) and chocolate (caffeine and theobromine) were consumed throughout Pre-Hispanic Central America to connect with the divine.**
The fertility goddess Mayahuel (the Dionysus of Mexico) is still well-represented today with the addition of beer and mescal in the national palate.
But Mayahuel's matriarchal status is in danger. A new substance arrived with the Europeans. Like them, it has gone on to conquer.
Mexicans are now the world's most avid consumers of soft drinks. Diabetes kills more people every 2 years than the drug war has in the last decade. The government, detecting an epidemic, introduced a sin tax on such beverages in 2014. The effort is proving to be an effective counterbalance to a product that gives the brain a bigger dopamine kick than cocaine.
On the summit of a jagged cliff, a temple to the alcohol gods stands exalted high above the town of Tepoztlán. Beside it, a small refreshment stand dishes out drinks to thirsty hikers. Pulque is nowhere to be found and ice cold beer is off the menu; but rows of plastic cups are filled with brown and yellow soda, fizzing like a chorus of praise to the sticky-sweet usurper.
**All cultures in history have roughly two socially acceptable drugs. These two drugs often changed. Coffee was illegal during large stretches of time in the Ottoman Empire and Sweden. Alcohol was blacklisted in the U.S. for 13 years, but you could buy opium over the counter for most of the 19th century.
1. Drop Everything for a Good Time (The Philippines): With 300$ and three days preperation a Road Less Traveled beauty pageant was organized. The secret ingredient was a mayor and people who were willing to prioritize something fun. In many other countries this would have been mired in red tape, but in the P.I. they know that peak experiences are a precious commodity in life.
2. Practice What You Preach (India): India has the most fertile spiritual soil in the world. There exist sadhus who left everything, counting on providence for every meal; monks who dedicate their entire lives to meditation; and black magic practitioners who would have killed me if the conditions were right. I'm not standing behind these choices, but you have to admire someone who does as they say.
3. Talk to Strangers (Ireland): On the way to my hotel in Dublin an older gentleman came around the corner and began speaking as if we were old pals.
"You'll never believe what the lady at the bar said to me," he began.
"What did she say," I replied with a smile.
From there an amusing five minute chat unfolded. We had a good crack.
Recent studies demonstrate we all prefer interaction, but we are afraid to bother others. Therefore heaps of interesting people sit silently together in public spaces, all retreating into phones for mild stimulation. What a shame. Connection is what truly makes us happy in life. If you don't believe it ask yer man in Ireland.
4. Be Hospitable (Serbia, Jordan, Romania): In Novi Sad, Serbia a friend of a friend gave me his apartment keys within 5 minutes of meeting, saying he'd sleep at his girlfriend's.
In Jordan a bus driver suggested the hotels by the Dead Sea were overpriced, but his buddy would host me for free. His friend, a roadside tea vendor with kids, gave up his one and only bed, refusing my offer of money.
In Romania I struck up conversation with a family on a train. They insisted I get off at their stop for a home cooked dinner. After the meal they took heirlooms off the shelves of their modest apartment, insisting they be brought to my parents and sister.
The hospitality experienced on the road is one big reason everyone should travel. It taught me that kindness to strangers is a great virtue. It's something people never forget, carry with them, and often pass on to others.
5. Be Brave (Sarawak): There is an area which was once home to brave hunters (Penan) who would stalk the forests with spears and poison darts. They were recently displaced for a hydroelectric project. The government relocation homes looked decent, but they were truly in the middle of nowhere, with zero facilities around. Moreover, they were almost empty. The Penan came to their new homes and left them.
Where did they go? An old chicken coop, adjacent to a school where their kids could learn the ways of the modern world. The world which had blindsided them. Their choice, sacrificing comfort and pride to give their children opportunity, was a beautiful act of the human spirit. These Penan are not facing savage boars in the jungle anymore, but they maintain indomitable bravery. We all suffer setbacks in life, often at the whim of an uncaring system or unjust people. No one knows this better than Sarawak's indigenous tribes. They teach us that no matter how crappy your hand of cards, you must not fold, but play them as best you can with your chin up high.
People often ask me how to get a job as a travel show host. Although there is a lot more work involved than most realize, I'm very grateful to have my position and voice. Becoming the host of a travel show was a pinnacle moment. I felt like my whole life had funneled towards that destiny.
When opportunity came knocking I didn't think, "I hope I get it." Instead, I realized, "I am this guy." I had accrued a life full of decisions that shaped me into the ideal candidate. Although there are many ways to cook an omelet, these are some of those decisions I made and the path I took:
If yo want to become a travel show host I wish you the best on that journey. Keep in mind that most people I've met in LA who came to "become famous" are long gone. If you want to host a travel show simply because you "want to travel and get paid for it", you only have a piece of the puzzle. You've got to have a "why" and you'll only find it by living the life, discovering yourself, and cultivating a higher purpose before you begin to broadcast.
Don't give naked answers. This was the advice of my friend Max Sperber. To be fair he garnered the wisdom from a book, but he put his own nuance on the explanation, as I will now do.
In a previous post I recommend asking better questions to dive deeper into knowledge and connection. But what if you're being asked something mundane? You can still adjust the depth of the conversation with this trick. If you want to engage with the querier, don't give a naked answer.
A naked, or stripped down, answer is straight to the point and superficial.
Now try this:
Now let me ask you this:. Where are you from? What do you do?
Earlier this month, on the beaches of Sri Lanka, an Indian man asked me this: "If you were to summarize all the collective wisdom and experience you've gathered in life into one thought, what would it be?"
Wow. I decided not to overthink and blurted out the first thing that came to mind. "Most people in the world (including myself) want to do good. They want to connect. But we are all terribly blinded in the snowstorms of fear."
Now I'm passed this question on to others.
The lady at my Yogyakarta homestay quoted the Roman Virgil "Fortune favors the bold."
Another said, "Live your life. Enjoy the experience of existence."
One of the many things I learned at Burning Man is that by eschewing perfunctory questions (which are frowned upon) we have to search for more unique ones. "What's your job?" will get a well polished answer. To ask "Who are the kinds of people you most respect?" would immediately plunge the listener into contemplation, create appreciation for a well crafted inquiry, and produce a genuine bit of knowledge. The conversations I had in Black Rock dove immediately into the profound and vulnerable. They brought out real insight gained from a wealth of life experience different than mine. They created a stronger bond between the discoursers.
How would you answer the above question? And what is a question you employ to get a better answer?
To my great embarrassment I get a message like this every once in a while:
This was a big mistake made on the second season of RLT, and ultimately my fault. I was up late writing the voiceover for our first Philippines episode, looking for a clever way to compare Manny Paquiao with other rags to riches boxers. Googling "Mexican boxers" I found a list which came from an obscure blog and I copied three of the names over. Unfortunately Roberto Duran, a famous Panamanian boxer, was on this list.
The mistake has been fixed for all deliveries of the show to new networks. But TLC and Discovery World HD, which airs the program from Mexico down to the Tierra Del Fuego, still run the old version with the error. I apologize to at least one Panamanian every month.
In the same season I made another gaff. We were filming in a mall in Jakarta without official permission. Security was tight. I spoke to camera, distracted by approaching guards, and said "... just like Karnak in Luxor, Egypt or Machu Picchu in Brazil..."
I'd spent 4 days hiking to Machu Picchu in Peru. I have a great memory from that time. A park ranger popped out of the dark as I was setting up a tent on Inti Punku. He told me it was forbidden to camp there. I tried to bribe him, but he refused. He told me to hike all the way down to the river. It was almost dark and the mosquitos were out in full force. I begged him to let me sleep closer. He generously offered the use of his guard shack while he worked. He woke me up in the morning, we had coffee together, and I was in Machu Picchu 2 hours before the tourists arrived.
Yet, when we filmed in this mall my brain misfired and spit out the word "Brazil" in place of "Peru." No one from the cameraman to the editors caught my mistake. Luckily I saw this error month later and we fixed it. I have not yet apologized to a Peruvian. Either the network is running the corrected episode or they are super chill about it.
There have been some mistakes in editing. I once introduced Tokyo's most urban neighborhood by saying, "This is Shinjuku!" in voiceover. Shinjuku is like Blade Runner. The editors put a shot of a rural village on the screen at that exact moment. Like two bamboo shacks in a field. To be fair they have never been to Japan and the video file was accidentally in the folder labeled "Shinjuku". This mistake was caught before the episode got on TV. However, if it did air, 99% of viewers would think I was an idiot. Only 1% would detect an editing error. This is why I went ballistic when I saw the mistake and wrote an email to the editors in all CAPS.
I am keenly aware that these kinds of errors can erode the audience's confidence in me as a host. No one wants to be misled. I pride myself on presenting ideas that inform, inspire, and occasionally challenge stagnant opinions. My goal is to create material which is accessible to the person who has never left their hometown, but I am always conscious that all of you know something I don't. I'm aware some of you are seasoned travelers, expats, or locals who are familiar with our locations like the back of your hand.
I strive for your respect, I appreciate your comments, and I am deeply grateful to those of you who follow my journeys. One day, if I meet Mr. Duran in Panama, Peru, or a rice paddy in Tokyo I'll hope to shake the hand of a boxing legend.
I woke up this morning to news from home I didn't expect. Transitioning from shock I began to comfort friends at home about the new Trump era we are about to enter. Clearly few of us knew how much anger was simmering under the lid of America.
The election is over so my first advice is this: Amor Fati. Embrace the stoic perspective of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius and philosopher Seneca. We suffer trying to resist or deny the unchangeable. This is the new reality, we must operate within it. Let's begin with some empowering perspective.
1. The system was already corrupted: Last night, on the eve of the election, I watched the Netflix documentary 13. Moments before going to sleep I was enraged to tears for what our country has done to the African American population (and is now transitioning to do to immigrants). Bill Clinton, who I voted for, is as culpable as Nixon or Reagan. Corporate influence and the growing prison industrial complex have been running out of control. Neither candidate was poised to stop it.
2. Hillary would have likely continued hawkish policies overseas: According to a recent report the United States dropped 25,144 bombs on six countries last year. None of these bloody shenanigans have benefited the average American. Will Trump be less aggressive than Hillary? Putin seems to think so.
peaking of Putin, many countries surrounding Russia are chewing their nails over our next president's lack of defense support. However, there is a solid argument that NATO's encroachment of Russia has exacerbating the threat it was designed to contain. There has been escalating armament on both sides of Russia's borders recently. Hillary did not look to change this trend. Trump might. Let's see what happens.
3. Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better: After Rome fell the western world dropped into the Dark Ages. It was a time of fear, superstition, ignorance, and brutality. A huge step back for humanity. YUGE. It lasted almost 1,000 years. That's four times longer than the United States has existed. Then winter finally broke into a glorious spring known as the Renaissance. Science and innovation flourished like never before, leading to the modern age we all enjoy. Sometimes history takes a step back before taking an enormous step forward.
The next four years may see big regresses for certain issues I cherish. Rights for women, minorities, and the LGBT community could suffer. We don't know this for sure, but it seems likely. However, the bounce back might see growth that blows way past what the current political ceiling allows.
We now know the majority was determined to shatter the old structure by voting for an outsider. The democratic party took a miscalculated risk by backing an establishment candidate and inhibiting their alternative choice. Both parties are now crystal clear that the game has changed. For progressives this means that in the upcoming years we'll have more candidates who better represent us.
4. Progressives needed an ice-bucket wake up moment: Who would really choose anger, fear, and isolation over love, hope, and connection? Who would rather sit alone in their living room fuming at Fox News than dancing under the stars and hugging people at festival?
Negativity and division are winning the day because many people don't feel like they are invited to the love party or they don't know how to get there. That means we need to design better maps and warmer welcomes.
A small example came to my mind this morning. PLUR centered music festivals and intentional communities like Burning Man are perhaps the most transformational places on earth right now. At Lightning in a Bottle this year I heard someone refer to these things as "the new church." A church in which no one goes to hell and we can collectively raise our consciousness and vibration.
Let's look at the marketing for these events. What do you see in their media? Youth and beauty. Fantastically attractive women dancing in bizarre and erotic outfits. Statistically most of America is overweight. They dress in t-shirts and jeans. Will they feel like they would fit in to this good time?
Let's talk about ticket prices. Most cost around 300$. Burning man is 400$, but unless you have a coordinated camp you'll pay double to a hawker. Does the average red state voter have the funds to go to to a place where they are uncertain to be welcomed?
I'm a big fan of the crazy outfits and a bon vivant appreciator of beauty, but how can we get more outsiders to "come to Jesus." I have friends who aspire to be influencers in the festival scene. This is a question which now, more than ever, needs to be considered.
5. It's a call to action for doubling down in our spheres of influence: This entire presidential campaign has bled an enormous amount of my energy out. I wasted hundreds of hours looking at news, reading articles, and worrying about things that were out of my control. Now I have an opportunity to put all that energy back into my circle of influence. Anything I can affect is in the circle. Anything I can't affect is out of the circle.
Anyone who is upset about the election could do the same. Amor Fati. Don't waste one more second bemoaning things you can't control. Put every shred of vitality into what you can. Minimize time wasters like browsing nonsense websites or binge watching Netflix.
If we are going to rebound into a new Renaissance of inclusion, compassion, and understanding we need the Lockes, Newtons, and Galileos to be ready. In the next four years how can you become a better man or woman? How can you expand your circle to have a voice that reaches farther and wider? How can we communicate to those afraid of a changing world, "Don't worry. Take my hand. You will be part of this." How can we help each other to ascend?
I'm Jonathan Legg
I went to college, but I still graduated a closed minded young man. The road, however, has been my greatest teacher.. challenging stagnant beliefs, disarming prejudices, and facilitating understanding and appreciation for people different from me. I hope the content on this blog and my shows can bring a sliver of that juju to you.