Travels with Susan Spano

People, Places, Stuff


September 25, 2012

Tags: State Parks, Pennsylvania, rivers

The spiritually-inclined often seek out mountaintops, standing rocks, sacred springs and other places that seem to have cosmic resonance. To that list should be added confluences, I believe, because to stand at the meeting place of two great rivers is to feel, if not metaphysical vibration, then geography at your feet, those features we pass by unheeding everyday that describe the singular face of this glorious planet Earth.
Such thoughts came to mind recently when I visited Shikellamy State Park at the southern tip of Packer’s Island in central Pennsylvania. The north and west branches of the Susquehanna come together there, about halfway along the main river’s course from around Cooperstown, New York, to its delta on Chesapeake Bay: some 464 miles, making it the longest river in the U.S. non-navigable to commercial boats.
Historical plaques nearby show the site a Native American village that was home to Shikellamy, an Iroquois Confederacy leader, and the high water mark during the big Susquehanna flood of 1972. You can walk right out to a little plaza at the confluence where the sound of traffic on two bridges connecting Packer’s Island to the towns of Northumberland and Sunbury dies down to a dull hum and ducks paddle in the muddy shallows, all ignorant of the site’s geographical significance.
Of course, this started me thinking about other great confluences I’ve seen at close hand: the narrow Chroy Changvar peninsula east of downtown Phnom Penh where the Mekong and Tonle Sap Rivers join; Belgrade’s old citadel in Kalemegdan Park overlooking the intertwining Danube and Sava; and best of all, perhaps, the meeting of the Green and Colorado, deeply-inscribed in the stark desert plateau of Utah’s Canyonlands National Park. My brother and I once pitched tents at Willow Flat in the park‘s Island in the Sky sector overlooking the Green’s last lap before annihilation in the mighty Colorado.
From the first annual SPEAK UP! contest, June 23, 2018, Muhanga, Rwanda

Syracuse Archaeological Museum, Sicily

Proshyan School bathroom with water tank

Takar and Kataro are my favorite Armenia reds

School time in Armenia.

Garni Temple, Armenia

Big Sur from Soberanes Point


Artichoke Pickers by Henriette Shore

On the way to the beach

Jalama Beach, CA

Hello, little sea urchin!

Famous Jalama Beach Burger

Three by Peter Hessler

Spring time on the Big Sur Coast


Jalama Beach, CA

Motya Charioteer. Image from

Laboratory for Atmospheres, NASA

Homesick for Rome

Therme Vals in Switzerland

At Vogelsgang

National Socialist Party poster from Vogelsgang

Palm Springs

Image courtesy of Tylas at English Wikipedia

Vintage Naples Historic District

From Palm Cottage

Borobudur frieze; Buddha's life

Borobudur at sunrise

Shikellamy State Park in Pennsylvania

Tacoma Narrows Bridge

Image courtesy of Politics and Prose

Image courtesy of John Wehrheim.

Lotusland in Montecito, CA

Ganna Walska of Lotusland

Image courtesy of Flickr user ViaMoi.

Conques Church. Image courtesy of Flickr user Seligr.

Weiming Lake, Peking University. Image courtesy of Flickr user ImGump.

The Coral Casino at the Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel near Santa Barbara

Agrodome, Rotorua, New Zealand. Image courtesy of Flickr user _gem_.

Vandalized images at Painted Rock

Painted Rock, Carrizo Plain National Monument

Mesa Verde National Park. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons user BenFrantzDale.

A map of Chicago, Illinois, imprinted in 1913 from the United States Geographical Survey’s historical topographic map collection. Image courtesy of the USGS.

Image courtesy of Flickr user hattiesburgmemory.

Cristo Redentor, Rio de Janeiro. Image courtesy of Flickr user alobos flickr.

Image courtesy of Flickr user joiseyshowaa.

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Selected Works

Nonfiction, Travel, Human Interest
A new collection of travel essays by Susan Spano
Tracking Colette in Paris and Burgundy
A draught sinks Lake Powell, revealing lost wonders of Glen Canyon
Rome's Most Roman Neighborhood
Studying Mandarin in Beijing
Around the world and back to New York
Nonfiction Book
Divorce. Why do we do it? And what does it do to us? fourteen prominent writers have pondered these questions and have set down heir thoughts and personal stories, in this gathering of sometimes irreverent and always intelligent essays. "A disarmingly candid, invaluable collection." --Publishers Weekly
"Anyone who doubts that men, too, suffer in divorce should be required to read this." --Glamour Magazine "A rare, unusually focused anthology of original essays that both entertains and instructs." --Publishers Weekly

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