One of our frequent contributors to clarknorton.com, my friend Mitch Stevens, is kicking off our occasional series of first-person pieces on how various baby boomers got started traveling for a living.
Mitch’s odyssey led him from summer camp in Pennsylvania to the depths of the Grand Canyon to college field trips in Wyoming and eventually to Tucson in the (mostly) sunny deserts of southern Arizona, where’s he’s been leading Sierra Club hikes for years and more recently founded his adventure travel company Southwest Discoveries.
Like the intrepid cyclists who compete in the 100-mile El Tour de Tucson race each fall, Mitch’s long-distance hikes through the canyons and across the mountains of the Southwest provide inspiration to me as I sit here at my computer giving my typing fingers a thorough workout.
So lace up your hiking boots, grab… Continue reading
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
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.
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
Due to popular demand and a shortage of books, my book 100 Things to Do in Tucson Before You Die has currently sold out at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble Online, and all local Tucson bookstores (you may find a copy or two here and there).
If you choose, you can place an order from Amazon, B&N, or your favorite bookstore. There may be delays.
Or, you can order directly from me at paypal.me/clarknorton; price of $19.35 includes sales tax and shipping. Be sure to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and shipping address. We also accept checks. Thanks!
UPDATE: The reprint is in! Books are now available and I can mail them out as soon as I receive your payment.
Thanks, everyone, for helping to make 100 Things to Do in Tucson Before… Continue reading
Asking you to relive 2016 may be asking a lot, but here at clarknorton.com we offer sheer escapism!
Well, maybe not quite — but travel can, we hope, help take your mind off other things.
So, in that spirit, we offer up Our Top Ten Blog Posts of 2016 as found on clarknorton.com and voted on, in effect, by your clicks.
Yes, this is purely a popularity contest, with no quality control whatsoever. (Kind of like an election.) And because there was a tie for the tenth spot, there’s a bonus post to check out, should you wish to seek penance for overindulging during the holidays.
Here they are in order, counting down to Number One:
Top Ten or Top Five lists (almost) always… Continue reading
Cotopaxi, a company that makes backpacks, jackets and other outdoor gear — and donates a percentage of its earnings to worthy causes around the world — has come out with an infographic in celebration of this year’s 100th anniversary of the U.S. National Park Service.
It shows the top five U.S. National Parks in terms of annual visitation, plus five “Hidden Gems” that are far less visited.
The top five visited National Parks, in order, are Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains, Arizona’s Grand Canyon, Colorado’s Rocky Mountain, California’s Yosemite, and Yellowstone, which extends over parts of three states: mostly Wyoming, but also Montana and Idaho.
I’ve visited all of the most popular ones at one time or another, but have to admit I’ve never been to any of the Hidden Gens: Washington’s North Cascades, Florida’s Dry Tortugas, South Carolina’s… Continue reading
When I moved to Tucson in late 2015, one of the first people I looked up was Mitch Stevens, who runs a tour company called Southwest Discoveries, which specializes in hiking and walking tours in some of Arizona’s most spectacular scenic areas.
While Southwest Discoveries is relatively new, Mitch is an old hand at leading hikes and tours, with an extensive background at the helm of Sierra Club outings. He’s particularly interested in drawing baby boomers to his tours, which is how we originally connected.
Mitch has lived in Arizona for decades and is a walking encyclopedia in the geology, archaeology, history, and culture of the Southwest.
Arizona’s searing summer heat levels off in Autumn, with October and November ushering in perfect hiking weather that lasts throughout the winter and into spring.
Red Rock Country
Mitch has… Continue reading
I’m in the process of cleaning out the rest of our possessions from our house in upstate New York to complete our move to Tucson, Arizona.
Our house in Tucson is maybe half the size of our house in New York, and therein lies a problem: what to do about the hundreds of books that we no longer have room for and can’t afford to move anyway?
The problem is particularly acute with one genre of books that dominate my old office: travel guidebooks.
To say that I have a sizable collection of them would be a bit of an understatement. They date back to my earliest trips abroad in the 1970’s and continued proliferating in the decades since, reaching a crescendo in the early 1990’s just before the Internet began turning print guidebooks into dinosaurs.
Still, being a baby boomer… Continue reading
Except for some brief stops at the Phoenix, Arizona, airport, I hadn’t been in the “Valley of the Sun” region for about 30 years until recently, when some friends invited us to spend a few days in their timeshare at the Sheraton Desert Oasis resort in Scottsdale, which lies north and east of Phoenix.
My memories of the area weren’t particularly positive. Our previous Phoenix visit — poorly timed for August, when it was 110 degrees in the shade — was spent futilely searching for the “there” there, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein. If there was a downtown Phoenix, we couldn’t find it back then. It just seemed to be a mass of sprawl in the desert.
Because I had imagined Scottsdale to be just another Phoenix suburb, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of… Continue reading