Author Archives: smspangler

About smspangler

Freelance writer, editor, and photographer of myriad aviation topics and the exploration of America's small towns.

Biplane Point of View: Rio, Wisconsin

In the mid 1960s, Richard Bach captured a unique view of small towns as he barnstormed the Midwest in his 1929 Parks-Detroit P-2 biplane. He wove them into the narrative of Nothing by Chance, A Gypsy Pilot’s Adventures in Modern … Continue reading

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Waylaid by Colorful Creatures in Sebastopol

Riding into any American small town always reminds me of home because the landscape is essentially the same. A few newer, larger houses of usually nondescript architecture stand guard on the outskirts of town. As you approach the town center, … Continue reading

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Religious Light & Reality at National Parks

Snuggled up indoors, the polar vortex condensed home humidity into narrow frozen frames at the bottom corners of our new double-pane windows. Watching sunset’s pastel colors play across a crystalline canvas stirred warm weather memories. No matter the season or … Continue reading

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Paddling to the Milky Way at Voyageurs National Park

An hour before a cloudless September sunset, Kyle and I pitched our tents at the Ash River Campground and waited for his brother, Braden, so we could begin our five-day, father-son adventure at Voyageurs National Park. A Minnesota DNR pocket … Continue reading

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Dee Wright Observatory: An Interactive Rock Pile

Heading east, the McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass National Scenic Byway is an asphalt scar that wends its way over the Cascade Mountains and through the Willamette National Forest that surrounds a lava dome like male pattern baldness. Deep in the Cascade’s … Continue reading

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Shunpike Customs & Currency

There were few essential documents needed for Shunpike Canada. First was a passport. 9/11 terminated the convenience of crossing the border both ways with just the second required document, a driver’s license, which was the only proof of citizenship needed … Continue reading

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Passage: Speed X Time = Distance

In The Mind of the Traveler: from Gilgamesh to Global Tourism, Eric J. Leed wrote that every journey is an unalterable sequence of three: Departure, Passage, and Arrival. Travelers pay closer attention to the first and last steps because they … Continue reading

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Shunpike Canada: Anxious & Eager Excitement

Of the five fundamental interrogatives, Why is the most important—and the most vexing. Who and What and When and Where are, for the most part, objectively straightforward. But Why, Why is subjective, one person’s perspective on the reasons or rationalizations … Continue reading

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A Shunpiker’s Guide for Serendiculous Enjoyment

Sometimes a single word is all it takes to focus a fuzzy philosophy and make its underlying principles logically clear. Finding that word is the challenge. Some search for it their entire lives. I found mine on my way to … Continue reading

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A Water Tower Oasis in Arid Ash Fork, Arizona

Following Route 66 west across the barren, baked brown Arizona landscape in the early morning oven of August 8, 2016, Ed and I were looking forward to nearly a hundred miles of the original two-lane Mother Road just past Ash … Continue reading

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