November 16, 2015 |
There is a moment during travel when relaxation kicks into gear. For us, it came in increments, beginning the moment we arrived in Honolulu. Straight out of our gate, we were steps from the outdoors and soft breezes that carried the scent of native flowers. Tourism is the basis of the economy on the Hawaiian Islands, and everyone we met had an unusually warm and welcoming attitude, in the spirit of "aloha. " We had been to touristy towns before, but not even in the Magic Kingdom were the people as mellow as they were kind and helpful.
November 9, 2015 |
My nephew's Peace Corps assignment in Zambia gave us the impetus needed to plan a three-week adventure in Africa. Once there, in northeast Zambia, we visited several villages, complete with mud brick huts with thatched roofs, wandering chickens, curious children, and friendly adults. We were treated to three honorary dinners featuring a village chicken, greens, and the starchy Zambian staple nshima, made from maize flour. The guest of honor was directed to eat the chicken gizzard before starting the meal.
November 2, 2015 |
As last summer was ending, our silver Tacoma climbed through the Cascade Mountains with four adults and a jon boat in tow. Moss-colored peaks, like giant green gumdrops, corralled us through the highway toward our Adirondack vacation. My cousins and husband visualized a respite from suburban South Jersey - fishing, dining, shopping, and relaxing. But I'd been apprehensive about this wilderness week. I'd prepped myself with camping videos on YouTube and researched survival products.
October 30, 2015 |
Carrie Brownstein, one-third of pivotal punk band Sleater-Kinney and star of the comedy series Portlandia , has just released her memoir, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl . The book showcases the drive, passion, and anxiety of creating music that was polarizing - for the listeners, between bandmates, and, for Brownstein, internally. Her writing is lyrical and her story forthright. This fusion of style and content reveals a dark, introspective voice from someone who thrashes around on stage in her band and elicits hysterical fits of laughter on camera.
October 22, 2015 |
Sharon Katz was raised on the privileged side of apartheid, in a white, Jewish, liberal South African family. By 15, she was sneaking into black townships, befriending actors and musicians. "I was living in this white world, and now I had my eyes opened to how black South Africans were feeling. " Nonhlanhla Wanda grew up scared. Apartheid kept South Africa's races - blacks, whites, Indians, and "coloured" (mixed-race) - apart with separate schools, hospitals, parks, and neighborhoods.
October 19, 2015 |
Periodically, I receive from my university alumni office brochures advertising exotic trips to far-off destinations. I usually browse through them and then throw them in the trash. But then I saw one advertising a cruise celebrating the centennial anniversary of the opening of the Panama Canal. Rather than a massive cruise ship, the trip was on a luxury yacht-size vessel with only 36 staterooms accommodating 72 passengers. I knew that trip was worth experiencing, so I promptly called the travel agent, who informed me only one stateroom was available.
October 12, 2015 |
My buddy Mike once said to me, "Look, I'm fat. But that doesn't make me a gourmet. " He was talking about beer. He was at my house, and I was holding forth on whatever I was pouring, and he was calling me out. He claimed I didn't know anything about beer, including how to pour one. But I really like beer. So when my wife dragged me (memo to self: Change dragged in final version) to a destination wedding in northern Vermont, only one name sprang to mind: Heady Topper. Heady Topper is the unicorn of beers.
October 5, 2015 |
Promise that after you read this, you won't tell all your closest friends and relatives about this amazing place, where crowds and traffic are almost nonexistent. Lake Winnipesaukee is a bucolic, serene, and truly happy haven where life's worries evaporate in the fresh air (no need for air-conditioning). For the last 18 years, we have visited this New Hampshire wonderland, as well as the White Mountains and Lake Ossipee region. This summer's two-week vacation combined the best of every experience we've had on Winnipesaukee.
September 29, 2015 |
To the adoring crowds who came out to catch a glimpse of him - and they numbered in the millions - Pope Francis was that smiling man in white robes: a sometimes fleeting image passing along the streets of Havana, on Constitution Avenue in Washington, through New York's Central Park, and up the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. A symbol of joy and hope, his values can sometimes be expressed very simply, and they were. "Love is the expression of faith," read a banner bearing his image on the Ben Franklin Parkway.
September 28, 2015 |
I didn't plan my trip to Ecuador to coincide with Pope Francis' visit there in early July. It took me by surprise - and it was wonderful. Our Ecuadorean tour guide, however, wasn't so sure. He was very worried about our need to travel in and out of the capital city of Quito. He told us about the preparations: many street closures, limited car traffic, the huge police presence, the massive efforts to bring people in on buses. One of the most impressive, if outrageous, declarations said to have been made by Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa in advance of the pope's visit was to downgrade the potential of a volcanic eruption.