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The Expert in Baby Boomer Travel

Clark Norton

Travel Copywriter

A Greek ferry leaving Piraeus for the islands. Photo by Clark Norton

Fear of ship travel can be one aspect of hodophobia. Photo by Clark Norton

When my family and I lived on City Island, New York, a little island in the Bronx that’s the farthest northeast point in New York City,  our next door neighbor  — a born and bred City Island resident then in her 60s or 70s — made a startling confession: she had only once in her life ventured into Manhattan, and that was to visit a friend in the hospital there.

If you walked a short distance down the street from the little complex of cottages where we lived, you could enjoy a panoramic view of the Manhattan skyline. I was shocked to learn that that alone had not lured her into New York’s best-known borough — much less the cultural opportunities, the restaurants, and all the sights that people traveled to Manhattan from around… Continue reading

Winnemucca Lake, Alpine County, California. Photo by Catharine Norton

What, a place in California where there are hardly any people — and yet is so strikingly beautiful that it’s been called the Switzerland of California?

OK, I’ll ‘fess up — I’m the one who called it the Switzerland of California, as I hiked recently along a mountain trail bordering meadows blanketed with wildflowers and sporting gorgeous views of 11,000-foot peaks that still displayed pockets of snow in early August.

And its very name — Alpine County — certainly evokes Switzerland as well, as does its semi-official nickname, the “California Alps.”

The area was first explored by non-native Americans when John C. Fremont and his scout, Kit Carson, passed through in  1844. Soon after came contingents of Mormon settlers and gold prospectors, and much later still vacationers and second-home owners.

Alpine County isn’t very large — it’s the eighth smallest… Continue reading

If it’s Tuesday, this must be the Rue de Bouchers in Brussels. Photo from Shutterstock.

Today’s guest post, by Canadian resident Robert Waite, argues that baby boomers should slow down a bit in pursuing bucket list items and spend more quality time in a destination to absorb the culture and life of the people there.

As Bob told me, his piece is meant to stir debate,  and I found myself debating his points within my own mind —  which is exactly what a good piece of journalism should provoke.

I’ll share my opinions on this topic in a later post, but for now I’ll yield the floor to Bob:

By Robert Waite

Those of us of a certain age might recall the film “If It’s Tuesday, This Must be Belgium,” a 1969 United Artists release that poked fun at American tourists for their penchant for rushing from European… Continue reading

Woodstock Memorial at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. Richie Havens' name appears first. Photo by Clark Norton

A Woodstock Memorial commemmorates the festival at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, located on the concert site. Photo by Clark Norton

It was the cultural touchstone of my generation — three days of peace, love, and, of course, music, mud, and skinny-dipping.

Somewhere between 400,000 and 500,000 young people somehow made their way to Max Yasgur’s farm in New York’s Catskills, drawn by almost mysterious forces that seemed to transcend even the lure of hearing Jimi, Janis, Joan Baez, Joe Cocker, Country Joe and the Fish, and Jefferson Airplane perform at the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair, as it was formally known.

Fifty years later, the joke goes, at least ten times that many aging baby boomers swear they were at Woodstock, too — perhaps aided by memories of watching the movie and listening to the soundtracks while engulfed in a smoky haze appropriate to the occasion.

I… Continue reading

Rome’s Trevi Fountain, 1970

When we last left Sandy Coghlan, an Aussie baby boomer who has written up her 1969-70 European travels in her new book, Yesterday: A Baby Boomer’s Rite of Passage, she was in Monaco enjoying the somewhat casual changing of the guard in front of Prince Rainier’s and Princess Grace’s fairytale palace.

If you haven’t read Part I of excerpts from her travel diary, you can go there now. As with Part I, I’ve added some of my own notes to provide context. Sandy has included her vintage photos and a few postcards from her travels.

We pick up the narrative in Rome, where she has gone to work as an au pair, looking after five children under the age of seven. (She confesses she got the job by saying she was the oldest of five children and had lots of experience looking after her… Continue reading

Today I have the pleasure of introducing guest poster Sandy Coghlan, an Aussie Boomer who has written a diary-style book, Yesterday: A Baby Boomer’s Rite of Passage, about her sojourn in Europe in the magical mystery tour days of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Back then, it was literally cheaper to travel on the Continent than it was to stay home — especially if you were willing to catch a few winks on some overnight ferries, crash with friends or in inexpensive hostels, and maybe do some hitchhiking that didn’t always take you where you planned to go. (And many young travelers did just that.)

I enjoyed Sandy’s account in part because — despite our differences in nationality, gender, and travel experience —  it reminded me of my own first adventures in Europe nearly 50 (gasp!) years ago: memorable moments of discovery and revelation, and perhaps even more… Continue reading

The expedition ship MV Cascadia sailed the Haida Gwaii islands. Photo by Robert Waite.

In Part II of Robert Waite’s chronicle of his trip to remote Haida Gwaii — an archipelago off the west coast of Canada, in British Columbia — he takes us aboard the MV Cascadia, a small  expedition vessel that holds a maximum of 24 passengers.

Along with comfortable accommodations and amenities, the Cascadia provided plenty of opportunities for visiting the islands, formerly known as the Queen Charlottes, where the biological diversity is the richest on earth and Haida tribal culture is making a comeback.

If you haven’t read Part I of this two-part series, I suggest you go there now and you’ll have the full context for reading about this extraordinary journey.

By Robert Waite

Once aboard the Cascadia, much of our seven-day voyage was determined by weather and tides.

Tides on the east… Continue reading

Haida Gwaii’s mist-covered islands are sheer magic. Photo by Robert Waite.

In this post, Part I of a two-part series, guest contributor and baby boomer Robert Waite chronicles his journey to little-visited Haida Gwaii, previously known as the Queen Charlotte islands, off the coast of British Columbia.

Part I offers an introduction to the tumultuous history and compelling culture of the islands, while part II will detail his voyage through them aboard the MV Cascadia, a small expedition ship that allows for shallow landings and coastal kayaking trips while balancing comfortable accommodations with environmental protection.

Getting to explore Haida Gwaii personally is a far cry from the distant views afforded from Alaska-bound cruise ships as they pass Haida Gwaii sailing along the Inside Passage, often in the dead of night. Like me, if you’ve made that trip, you may have wondered what you were missing on those islands. Now we… Continue reading

Here’s a nice infographic from Ireland Walk Hike Bike, serving as a reminder for foodies (or anyone who likes to eat) looking for some of Europe’s tastiest and most scenic and culturally rich regions.

It’s by no means comprehensive — France doesn’t make an appearance — but who needs a reminder that French food is some of the best on the planet?

Ireland may be better known for Guinness than the food that goes with it, but I can certainly vouch for the seafood on Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula, where I once spent a week on a hiking trip eating nothing but fish for my main course three meals a day. I hadn’t initially intended to do that, but after a couple of days it became a challenge of sorts that I couldn’t resist — and I was glad I didn’t.

Tuscany, of course, is famous for its food,… Continue reading

Where in Asia would you find this location of Nathan's Famous hot dogs? Answer: Malaysia. Photo from Nathan's Famous.

Where in Asia would you find this location of Nathan’s Famous hot dogs? Answer: Malaysia. Photo from Nathan’s Famous.

Hope everyone had a happy Fourth!

Here are the answers to the July 4th Independence Day Travel Quiz from my previous post. (If you haven’t taken the quiz yet and want to, I’d suggest returning there first.) Some of these questions were tricky, others merely difficult, and a few were relatively easy, especially with True or False questions offering just two choices. The multiple choice questions seemed to give people the most trouble, based on feedback I received. Thanks for joining in, whether Baby Boomers or younger!

1. True or false: As one of the 13 original colonies, Vermont was the only one that refused to ratify the Declaration of Independence.

Answer: False. Vermont was not one of the original 13 colonies.

2. Which U.S. president was born on… Continue reading

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According to government and private surveys:

  • Leading-edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) and seniors account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel today.
  • Roughly half the consumer spending money in the U.S.--more than $2 trillion--is in the hands of leading-edge baby boomers and seniors.
  • Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) travel more than any other age group.
  • When asked what they would most like to spend their money on, baby boomers answered “travel” more than any other category, including improving their health or finances.

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