Program 325: The Desert Wisdom of Terry Tempest Williams; Sahara by Motorbike

Release Date: 05-11-2013

On Air Description

On the next Travel with Rick Steves, naturalist Terry Tempest Williams reflects on a mystery her late mother left behind.  She also tells us why her dedication to the rugged beauty of the Utah wilderness where she lives, requires her to speak out on its behalf.

And a tour guide from Italy describes how he gets away from it all, riding a motorbike across the vast expanses of the Sahara desert in North Africa.

Find wisdom in the desert, on this week's Travel with Rick Steves.

Notes to Stations

If your station plans to conduct additional fundraising during Travel with Rick Steves, in addition to the fundraising modules we provide, you can contact producer Tim Tattan for suggested cutaway cues during any week's edition of the show. You can phone him at 425-608-4234. This will allow you additional fundraising time, with clean ins and outs, while retaining most of the weekly program's content.


  • Naturalist Terry Tempest Williams, author of When Women Were Birds (Picador)
  • Riccardo Panareo, tour guide based in Gradara, Italy

Related Links


  • Describes experience in southern Utah as "nothing short of magical. Within 24 hours, I drove through land that appeared as other-worldly moonscape, hiked through Elephant Canyon with the most unique pillar rock features I've been in, shimmied through a slot canyon in a thunderstorm (yikes!), bathed beneath the desert sky, got sandblasted out with a horizontal sand storm, and then snowed on!  A very intimate welcome to the land of the ancient ones, whose spirits seemed present in all of this." (Sally in Lavelle, Pennsylvania)
  • Caller traveled and camped for 15 days with Tuaregs in southern Algeria four years ago. "It was a remarkable experience." (Jeff in Brownsburg, Indiana) 
  • "My husband enjoys motorcycle adventures. How do you stay in touch with your wife while in remote places?" (e-mail from Margi in Pleasanton, California)

Incidental Music

  • Edward Flower and Joel Brown, guitars, “The Death of Queen Jane,” CBC Stereo Morning Sampler (collection) / Dorian
  • Tulku, "Anni Rose," Elevation (sampler collection) / Triloka
  • Dee Dee Warwick, "Ring of Bright Water," I Want To Be With You: The Mercury-Blue Note Sessions / Hip-O
  • Mark Isham, "Mr. Moto's Penguin," Vapor Drawings / Windham Hill
  • * Carol Thompson harp, Billy McComiskey button accordion, "Continental Waltz in D major, for Irish harp," The Dorian Stereo Morning Sampler (collection) / Dorian
  • Chamber Music Northwest, "Quartet for the End of Time: IV-Interlude (Messiaen)," Olivier Messien: Quartet for the End of Time; Bela Bartok: Contrasts / Delos
  • Paul Winter, "Gates of the Mountains," Prayer for the Wild Things / Living Music
  • "'Ken Burns' Lewis and Clark' soundtrack, 'Beech Song' (the Corps of Discovery)," Lewis and Clark - A Film by Ken Burns: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery / Columbia-Legacy
  • Tulku, "Life Force (Kupuri)," Transcendence / Worldly-Triloka
  • * Baly Othmani and Steve Shehan, "Tannamert n'yalla," Assarouf / Worldly-Triloka
  • Dahmane el Harrachi, "Ya Rayah," Couscous Beat (collection) / Nascente
  • Hector Zazou, "Hapolot Kenym," Sahara Blue / Tristar Music
  • Hossam Shaker and Ensemble, "Lama Bada Yata Sama," The Rough Guide to the Music of North Africa (collection) / World Music Network
  • Rachid Taha, "Ya Rayah," Cairo to Casablanca (collection) / Putumayo
  • Hector Zazou, Ryuichi Sakamoto, “Harar el les Gallas,” Sahara Blue / Tristar Music
  • Baly Othmani and Steve Shehan, "Assarouf," Assarouf / Worldly-Triloka

Dated References

  • Although we don't explicitly say so on the show, today's interview with Terry Tempest Williams is designed to air on or close to Mother's Day weekend.
  • At 15:10, Terry says her father is 79 years old. She later adds at 20:43 that her father would agree with Rick's first impression of the Great Salt Lake as a polluted "cesspool."
  • Rick says, at 20:21, that he recently drove past the Great Salt Lake.
  • Terry notes at 23:38 that Utah has 22 million acres managed by the Bureau of Land Management, and that there is a request before Congress to add 9.2 million acres to be designated protected wilderness, as part of pending legislation called the Red Rocks Wilderness Act. She adds she hopes Canyonlands National Park can be expanded to one million acres. At 24:13, she notes that Governor Herbert "would love to see these federal lands sold off to the highest bidder," but says he would keep the five national parks intact.
  • Terry says at 25:11 that Utah is the only U.S. state slated for tar sands development for oil, and that a nuclear power plant is being planned to be built along the Green River.
  • At 30:07, Terry notes that Utah prairie dogs are threatened, but that political interests, lead by ranchers and golf courses, keep them from being added to the endangered species list.
  • Riccardo Panareo notes at 50:08 that wood for making fires is getting harder and harder to find in the Sahara.