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State parks

The Cape May-Lewes Ferry Crosses Delaware Bay.

The Cape May-Lewes Ferry Crosses Delaware Bay.

In a previous post last summer,  I wrote about how my wife, Catharine, and I liked to ride the Cape May-Lewes Ferry — which crosses Delaware Bay to connect northern Delaware and southern New Jersey — just for fun when visiting the Jersey Shore.

Unlike most passengers, who are actually trying to get somewhere — holding 100 cars and other vehicles, the ferry provides a relaxing alternative to traffic-choked I-95 when traveling up or down the East Coast — Catharine and I just enjoy being out on the water. So we’ve taken the 34-mile, nearly three-hour round-trip voyage from Cape May, New Jersey, across the bay to Lewes, Delaware, and back strictly as a day trip.

It’s essentially a “cruise to nowhere,” and on a beautiful sunny day it’s a delight to sit up on deck and just watch the… Continue reading

This dragons' head is one of sculptor Ricardo Breceda's most riveting works. Photo by Catharine Norton.

This dragon’s head is one of sculptor Ricardo Breceda’s most riveting works. Photo by Catharine Norton.

During our recent visit to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in southern California, my wife, Catharine, and I and four of our closest friends went searching for spring wildflowers, cactus blooms, and palm oases, and hoped to spot some of the park’s iconic bighorn sheep on our hikes.

We were successful on all fronts except for catching a glimpse of the elusive bighorn sheep, which probably spotted us first and decided to retreat into the park’s rugged canyons and mountains.

But we did see something that I wasn’t expecting at all: one of the greatest displays of public art I’ve ever encountered in the U.S., occupying the desert flat lands outside the town of Borrego Springs, which lie adjacent to the most traveled areas of the park.

As our friends from California… Continue reading

Flowering ocatillos add splashes of red to the desert landscape. Photo by Catharine Norton.

Flowering ocatillos add splashes of red to the desert landscape. Photo by Catharine Norton.

Though hardly a household name outside its region, southern California’s  Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the Golden State’s largest, spanning some 600,000 acres of the Colorado Desert about two hours’ drive northeast of San Diego.

Anza-Borrego has rugged canyons, badlands, mesas, nature trails, campgrounds, oases, cacti gardens, Native American rock art, and wildlife, all surrounded by rugged mountain ranges, the latter of which are virtually all road-free wilderness areas.

My wife, Catharine, and I just spent several days there with friends from California — hiking, rock scrambling, seeking out springtime blossoms, four-wheel driving over sandy, bumpy “roads” leading to remote outposts of  desert boulders and vegetation, and searching in vain for signs of desert bighorn sheep, the elusive animals that take to Anza-Borrego’s  mountainous, rocky terrain. (“Borrego”… Continue reading

Beavertail cacti bloom in Kanab Creek, Grand Canyon National Park. Photo by Mitch Stevens.

Beavertail cacti bloom in Kanab Creek, Grand Canyon National Park. Photo by Mitch Stevens.

In the spirit of the holiday season — and getting into shape after indulging in all those holiday parties — I’m running a guest post from my fellow Tucson, Arizona, resident Mitch Stevens, founder of Southwest Discoveries.

Mitch or one of his trained guides at Southwest Discoveries will take you on a personalized hiking tour in the Tucson region or around Arizona, including the Grand Canyon and Sonoran Desert.  His market is primarily baby boomers and multi-generational hiking groups, which is how Mitch and I originally connected.

Appropriately, Mitch writes about the benefits of going hiking (which I can now do in the winter, having recently relocated from upstate New York to sunny Tucson — following in the footsteps, as it were, of countless other baby boomers heading south and west).

So I’ll hand… Continue reading

You can bicycle along this canal with VBT. Photo from VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations.

You can bicycle along this canal with VBT. Photo from VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations.

It was news to me, but National Grandparents Day is on Sunday, September 13th. 

According to Family Travel Association:

  • 50 million U.S. households are now led by grandparents, forecasting a continued travel boom by this large group of baby boomers.
  • Today’s grandparents are far more active than their parents were, spending lots of time planning trips around specific activities.
  • As a result, multi-generational adventure travel is up 30% year after year. (Multi-generational travel is the fastest growing segment of the travel industry and tops the list of travel trends, according to the Virtuoso Luxe Report.) 
  • More grandparents are traveling with just the grandchildren, leaving the greandkids’ parents’ behind.  
  • 22% of all grandparents traveled with just their grandchildren in the past year.

Here are a few suggestions for multi-generational travel, whether it’s… Continue reading

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. Photo by Catharine Norton

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. Photo by Catharine Norton

Fourth in a Series

On the fourth day of my recent “Magical Lake Michigan:”cruise aboard the Grande Mariner with Blount Small Ship Adventures, we reached the top of Lake Michigan in early evening.

Dinner, normally served at 6:30 p.m., was delayed a bit while we sailed under the five-mile long Mackinac Bridge, which spans the Straits of Mackinac and connects the Upper and Lower peninsulas of Michigan.

The bridge was opened to traffic in 1957 and is considered an engineering marvel, costing $100 million to build. It’s the fifth largest suspension bridge in the world and the largest in the Western Hemisphere. Four million vehicles cross the bridge annually.

We were heading for Mackinac Island, just beyond the bridge, following our earlier stop at Beaver Island. Docking there in early evening, we would have much of the next… Continue reading

Aerial shot of Virginia Beach. Photo from the Virginia Beach CVB.

Aerial shot of Virginia Beach. Photo from the Virginia Beach CVB.

Prior to my recent visit to Virginia Beach, Virginia, I hadn’t been there in decades. The last time I was there, back in the early ’80s, I was participating in a brainstorming session for an NPR radio series and we were holed up for an entire weekend in a hotel room with tantalizing views of the beach outside, but with no way to even get a whiff of fresh air.

Why they bothered to fly us all the way to Virginia Beach and ensconce us in a waterfront hotel, I’ll never know. The series, which was about the “Future,” never even got made.

It was torture, because the beach at Virginia Beach is truly beautiful, the boardwalk and waterside seafood restaurants beckon, and there are any number of activities to enjoy — including historical sights, parks, and a… Continue reading

A treehouse hotel in Hocking Hills. Photo from ExploreHockingHills.com

A treehouse hotel in Hocking Hills. Photo from ExploreHockingHills.com

When it comes to my own bucket list of destinations, Ohio has never been high on my list.

Having grown up in the Midwest, I’ve driven through the Buckeye state many times, mainly to get to other places. I spent a weekend in Cincinnati once, found a great breakfast spot near Toledo, and know that Cleveland has a great clinic and improving baseball team, but most of my impressions of Ohio are of flat views from Interstate 80.

So when I learned that a spot in Ohio had made Buzzfeed.com’s list of “22 Stunning Under-the-Radar Destinations to Add to Your Bucket List in 2014” — the only place in the U.S. to make the list — I took notice.

Along with other global under-the-radar destinations like Jericoacoara, Brazil; Ladakh, India; Ipiales, Colombia; Kampong Thom, Cambodia; and the Lofoten Islands, Norway, comes… 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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