Thanks to the hundreds of people who stopped by my booth at the Tucson Festival of Books over the weekend!
It’s the nation’s third largest book fest, attracting more than 100,000 visitors per year from around the U.S. and beyond.
The festival lineup features dozens of writers, publishers and other literary types appearing on various panel discussions, as well as hundreds of booths stocked with books for sale, informative events and demonstrations, and fun book- and science-related activities geared for kids, among other attractions.
My grandson, Conrad, age 2, was thrilled to meet the costumed character of Pete the Cat, his favorite literary figure. (Pete the Cat is known for his slogan, “It’s all good,” even in the face of adversities such as stepping in piles of strawberries or seeing duck friends… Continue reading
Today we have a guest post from my friend Mitch Stevens, who leads hikes and adventure trips throughout the Southwest for the Sierra Club and as founder of Southwest Discoveries.
Mitch recounts a recent rafting trip along Utah’s Green River through spectacular Dinosaur National Monument. This family-oriented trip is perfect for multi-generational travel with grandkids. (And what kid doesn’t like dinosaurs?).
By Mitch Stevens
We hiked through a narrow defile carved through red sandstone. The foliage in the canyon was lush: Boxelder, grapevines, Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir trees all thrived in the moist environment. A clear stream murmured near the trail, contributing to the serenity.
We rounded a bend in the canyon and heard falling water in the distance. Soon our group came upon the source of the sound, a breathtaking waterfall tumbling 200 feet down a sheer… Continue reading
We’ve finally had a touch of winter here in Tucson, where temperatures reached into the high 80s in early February and it felt like summer back east.
At the end of February, while cooling rains pelted the parched city, snow fell atop 9,147-foot Mt. Lemmon in the Catalina Mountains just north of Tucson. Mt Lemmon is the site of the southernmost ski area in the United States. (Temperatures at the summit can turn 30 degrees colder than those in the city, which sits some 7,000 feet below.)
That’s good news for Tucson hikers and anyone who values the surprisingly rich life of the desert. With refreshing spring rains, dry creek beds turn into gushing waterfalls, wildflowers bloom and hikers and picnickers flock to newly lush surroundings.
Have you ever wondered how folks land those seasonal jobs in national parks or other beautiful and fascinating places around the U.S. — maybe running a campground in the Grand Tetons, leading guided tours in a state historical park, staffing a shop at a summer beach resort, even working as a wine taster at a vineyard?
Many retirees and other baby boomers manage to do just that — and still have time to travel where their fancy takes them in the off seasons. No longer tied down to permanent jobs and willing to strike out in pursuit of adventurous experiences, they’re often fulfilling dreams of working in natural surroundings, meeting new people, and even making some extra money on the side.
But chances are, even if you’re intrigued by this semi-nomadic lifestyle, you have no way… Continue reading
When my wife, Catharine, and I moved to Tucson 2 1/2 years ago, we happily traded the snowy winters of upstate New York for the warmth of the desert. But — much more importantly for us — we also moved to within a short drive of our son, daughter-in-law, and our new grandson.
Now we’re able to see them multiple times a week (mostly at their invitation!) and Catharine, now retired from her career as a magazine editor, is doing yeoman duty as a babysitter and enjoying every moment of it, with the possible exception of an occasional tantrum. (But that’s OK, she can usually calm me down with a chocolate croissant or some clam dip.)
For baby boomers, many of whom are now retired or nearing retirement — usually with more flexibility in time and often… Continue reading
Chinese New Year (also known as Spring Festival), starts on February 16 this year and continues for 15 days.
It’s the most important festival time of the year in China — when millions of Chinese travel to their home villages and cities to be with family or friends for holiday reunions.
This is the Year of the Dog, which is one of the 12 rotating Chinese Zodiac signs.
Those born in the Year of the Dog are thought to be loyal, industrious, and courageous.
Chinese New Year is now celebrated by parades featuring dragon and lion dances and fireworks, family gatherings and feasts, and, on the 15th and final day, a Lantern Festival featuring illuminated red lanterns.
According to legend, Chinese New Year traditions stem from thousands of years ago… Continue reading
Mardi Gras — Fat Tuesday — falls on February 13 this year, and is celebrated in America most notably in Louisiana.
In my limited Mardi Gras experience, I’ve noticed that Louisianans like to dance to Cajun music, dress up and ride in Mardi Gras parades, catch beads, drink copious amounts of liquid refreshments, and eat crawfish.
I love seafood, but when I was presented with a heaping platter of boiled crawfish in Lake Charles, Louisiana, a few Mardi Gras celebrations ago, I was a little intimidated.
While crawfish look like little lobsters, they’re way too small to crack in the same way. So how do you eat them without making a fool of yourself in front of the locals?
If you find yourself in a similar situation, here’s what I was taught by a local expert (and it works!):
1. Pick up one fully boiled crawfish.… Continue reading
Is it time to hang up your backpack when you reach your 50s and 60s or even your 70s?
Certainly not — not if you don’t want to.
Sometimes carrying your traveling gear on your back can be easier than wheeling a suitcase through city streets as well as in the country.
So even if the term “backpackers” conjures up visions of 20-somethings bearing heavy loads of camping supplies and sleeping bags strapped on their backs, heading out onto forest trails or tramping around Europe or Australia, this article by Jenn Miller at Jen Reviews may change your mind.
Jenn provides a clearly written, comprehensive guide on how to pack for a backpacking trip, filled with practical tips and advice that will save you time, space, and help make your trip even more enjoyable.
Besides general packing… Continue reading
When my daughter, Lia, and her partner, Mike, traipsed into the wilds of North Carolina last August for an unobstructed view of the total eclipse of the sun, they also ventured into the rising realm of Astro Tourism — along with thousands of other Americans who journeyed near and far to find the ideal locales to witness that extraordinary celestial event.
Having just had cataract surgery, I wasn’t among them, alas, and here in Tucson the sky barely darkened during our partial eclipse, which was hundreds of miles south of the band of totality that swept across the U.S.
I was able to view the “super blue blood moon” eclipse on January 31, a lunar event that had not occurred in the United States since 1866. But that was visible right here in my front yard, and all it required was walking a few… Continue reading
How many days in advance should you book a cruise to get the best price?
In part that depends on your destination, according to the website Cruisewatch.com, which uses artificial intelligence to study trends in worldwide cruising. In this case, says a Cruisewatch press release, they undertook a “massive study [that] examined 18,983 sailings by region with departures in 2017.”
They also conducted an “intensive analysis of over 18 million data points” (which are, of course, too numerous to detail in a press release or just about anywhere for that matter, but we are nonetheless grateful for modern technology).
Cruisewatch says the massive study found a “surprising trend: as the date of departure approaches, cruise prices fluctuate to a greater extent.” Some regions, they note, show as much as a 71… Continue reading