Posts with the category ‘North America’


Spring Sights, Sounds and Smells, Coming Soon to a Garden Near You

April 13, 2018

For those awaiting the arrival of spring, the place to be is the Biltmore House & Gardens in Asheville, North Carolina. Over ten square miles you will find lush green hills dotted with still-bare trees whose branches are tipped in white, pink and purple. This vista of life rejuvenating convinced me that winter may finally be coming to an end. The six Biltmore gardens sit below America’s largest private residence, the place George and Edith Vanderbilt called home in the early 20th century. In early April, tulips create a riot of color barely restrained within the garden’s stone walls.  From this point of view, the… Read More…


In Bend, Oregon Stone Sculptures Go Flying Out of Creator’s Yard

December 27, 2017

Artist Greg Gifford of Bend, Oregon, sees inspiration where others might overlook it. He finds it on the ground. A decade ago, a hobby for stacking rocks turned into the retired school teacher’s creative second career. “The materials are really cheap,” Gifford said, adding another incentive to using this material over something else for his creations. Gifford first started playing with stones while camping on the beach in Baja with his wife Jan. Mornings they would fish or kayak and in the afternoons they would windsurf. In between, he would make rock stacks, seeking the most challenging, oddly-shaped rocks to see if he could make… Read More…


Around the World, the Holiday Season Transforms With Sugar, Lights and Love

December 12, 2017

The great thing about holidays is the transformation of the ordinary.  Christmas pageants transform ordinary folks into Bethlehem villagers. Lights transform homes into dazzling displays. Butter, flour and powdered sugar are transformed into something delectable (and even thematic). It is a time of transformation after all, especially for Christians who celebrate the incarnation of God through the birth of Jesus. Over the years, I’ve collected photos of the various ways people around the world decorate and celebrate from Ethiopia to England.   So I was especially pleased to see in my inbox today, these holiday-themed photos from hotels in the U.S.A. who are turning the… Read More…


Holiday Gifts For Travelers and Those Who Love Them

November 29, 2017

Let’s face it, travel is disruptive, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Whether it’s an interruption in sleep schedule, exercise program or family time, there’s a gadget, app or destination that tackles the issue head on. That’s something to keep in mind if a frequent traveler is on your holiday shopping list. Sound Oasis sleep mask Forget the raccoon-disguise that mashes your eyelashes against your lids and slides sideways in any position other than lying flat. Sound Oasis, makes a variety of sleep masks that do more than help you sleep in uncomfortable settings like planes and buses. Their products are billed as sleep… Read More…


National Park Service Scenes Splash Across Northern California

August 26, 2017

Doris Dalbec is making use of the wheelchair her recently-deceased husband no longer needs; rolling herself back and forth from paint-laden table to the side of the visitors center at Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California. Oh, she can walk alright, but there’s a lot of up and down and side to side action when creating a mural 36 feet across and eight feet high. On the day I meet her, Dalbec was joined by Wanda Kirkpatrick and Nan Marie Stewart, three of many local painters who “leave ego aside” and work collaboratively on one enormous work of art. They are members of… Read More…


A Ride Through The Sky Even the Wright Brothers Couldn’t Imagine

August 10, 2017

Before the Wright Brothers, mastered the air, they were accomplished bike builders and competitive cyclists. All this was brought to my attention this Spring when, on assignment for Air & Space magazine, I traveled for seven days by bike exploring the history of aviation in and around Dayton, the Wright’s hometown. You can read the full story here. Now, little more than a century later, we barely think twice about getting on an airplane on one side of the world and arriving on the other. The same cannot be said about biking in the sky. That is why I have a clear recollection of the… Read More…


WestJet Denies Close Call Caught on Camera at St. Maarten

March 9, 2017

Air travelers to St. Maarten expect a thrilling view approaching Princess Juliana International Airport. But thrills turned terrifying for passengers and observers of WestJet Flight 2652 from Toronto on Tuesday. When the Boeing 737 descended through the clouds it went well below the minimum descent altitude. The scene of the jet skimming the surface of Maho Bay was captured by aviation photographer Christine Garner,  shooting from the roof of a nearby building. She said she thought the plane was going to crash. “When this plane came out of the cloud, I was so shocked,” she said. “The surprising thing was he was lower than me. Normally they pass… Read More…


New Mexico Mountain Gives Bunny Hill Skiers a View

March 1, 2016

“Don’t look down. Look up and enjoy the view,” Seth Hardy said – not just once but all day long. The ski instructor and former junior Olympian was working hard in an effort to get his student off the baby slopes and onto Rocky Mountain trails ten thousand feet in the sky. Seth worked with me for two days this February at the Red River Ski Area near Taos, New Mexico and his wise words were easier for me to hear than to heed. Avoiding looking down at the slippery slope below my skis seemed too scary. I am a fun-lover but not a thrill-seeker. The big… Read More…


Rolling Down the River; World’s Best Waterfront Bike Rides

December 24, 2015

Somewhere between the too-slow pace of walking and the everything-passes-by-in-a-blur of driving, I think riding a bike is just right. Some places are more conducive to bicycles than others, Beijing and Hanoi are for the suicidal pedaler, too much traffic, not enough respect for the two-wheeler. Seoul and Santa Monica, on the other hand are two of many cities where in a manageable distance one can go from city center to scenic waterside trail.  An additional plus in Seoul is free daily bike rentals for visitors.  That’s right, I don’t know how long it will last but the rental is absolutely free with helmets and locks included. How hospitable… Read More…


Alabama Shore Shows Diversity of U.S. Culture

November 13, 2015

On a recent trip to France, I had breakfast with Sofia Vandaele, General Manager of the newly remodeled and absolutely gorgeous Hilton Paris Opera. Sofia is Belgian and fluent in seven languages. It never ceases to amaze Americans – many of whom know only English – just how many different tongues the people in other countries speak. Sofia is very smart, not to mention charming which explains why she is one of the world’s youngest hotel managers. Big hat tip to a woman like that and who can also carry on a conversation in seven languages. Still, anyone who has visited Europe knows many countries are… Read More…


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