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Running Around: New experiences, old comforts mark time-off journey

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Joanne Barron
Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

During my vacation this year, I got to do one thing I've always wanted to do, almost got to see another, did a lot of what I have done a lot of already and entirely missed out on something else.

Although I've been to New York City several times, I never got to stop and buy a hot dog from a vendor along the street. I was determined to do so this time, though I had just had lunch. I made my husband and friends stop to wait for me as I talked to the vendor, persuaded him to smile nicely for the camera and made my husband eat half of the hot dog.

The half-day New York bus trip was offered through our resort in the Poconos, frequented by the thing I almost got to see — a bear.

A sign near our little house warned vacationers to be aware of bears.

After seeing the sign, I said to my husband, “I hope we see a bear!”

He said, “Yeah, I know you think they're cute, but they can be dangerous.”

Some of the natives we talked to disagreed. One told us, “If you see one, just slowly back up and walk away. No big deal.”

Although we didn't get to see the animal, we did see evidence of his visit — two nearby trash bins knocked over and dented, with garbage scattered everywhere.

“It was a bear!” I shouted excitedly. The reply from my husband was, “Yeah,” as he looked cautiously through the trees.

Much of the trip was spent wine-tasting at five local wineries over the course of the week — an activity that my husband and our friends have enjoyed several times together. We ended up buying many bottles of wine, which we then had a hard time fitting in the car for the drive home.

We had plans to go zip-lining, but when we showed up at the park, the parking lot was nearly empty.

I was expecting a programmed animal statue to say, “The park is closed for repairs. Sorry folks! Ha-ha,” like the moose at Walley World in “National Lampoon's Vacation.”

Although we did find a worker, she looked at us as if we were crazy and said to us in a teenage, valley-girl voice, “We only zip-line, like, on the weekends.”

So, we headed out to the car once again, which thankfully found its way to another winery.

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or

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