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Man with camel at Great Pyramid of Giza at sunset. Note how souvenir shops are not visible. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Man with camel at Great Pyramid of Giza at sunset. Note how souvenir shops are not visible. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

In our last post, we took a look at the top five travel-related Bucket List items as determined in a survey of 1,000 people by TotallyMoney.com.

The Northern Lights, a wildlife safari, the Great Wall of China, the Grand Canyon, and taking a cruise were all perfectly good choices — for baby boomers or active travelers of most any age — keeping in mind, of course, that everyone’s individual lists will be different.

A few of the second five in the Top 10 surprised me a bit — simply because they edged out others I would have expected — though they’re all understandable as highly ranked picks.

So here, with my comments and added travel info, are the five sights and activities that finished out the Bucket List Top… Continue reading

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

images (5)It’s Mardi Gras time in Louisiana, and not just in New Orleans.

A few years ago I was in Lake Charles, Louisiana, during Mardi Gras, and while the carnival festival there is more low-key than in New Orleans, it’s said to be the second largest in the state.

Along with a few other visiting travel writers, I was invited to ride on the local Convention and Visitors Bureau’s float, which led the midday parade. Best of all, we were also invited to throw out beads and candies to the folks lining the parade route.

People had camped out all morning to get a prime spot, bringing their folding chairs and coolers stocked with cold drinks, many wearing Mardi Gras colors: purple, green and gold. They also wore beads, funny hats, sequined outfits, and various Krewe T-shirts, indicating allegiance to the various social clubs that build and run the parade floats.… Continue reading

Mardi Gras — Fat Tuesday — falls on February 9 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?

A mess o' crawfish.

A mess o’ crawfish.

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

The Grande Mariner, Blount's 88-passenger ship that sails Lake Michigan and beyond. Photo from Blount Small Ship Adventures.

The Grande Mariner, Blount’s 88-passenger ship that sails Lake Michigan and beyond. Photo from Blount Small Ship Adventures.

Fifth in a Series

On our recent “Magical Lake Michigan” cruise aboard Blount Small Ship Adventures‘ 88-passenger ship Grande Mariner, we started in Illinois (Chicago), sailed to Michigan, made three stops (Holland, Beaver Island and Mackinac Island), and now were headed to Wisconsin.

The world’s fifth largest lake, Lake Michigan borders parts of four U.S. states — Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana — and only Indiana is not included on the itinerary.

Lake Michigan is the only one of the five Great Lakes not to share its waters with the province of Ontario, Canada. That made it ideal for some of the American passengers who didn’t own passports. (Though as an aside I would encourage  everyone to get one; for example, to take… Continue reading

images (3)It’s Mardi Gras time in Louisiana, and not just in New Orleans.

A few years ago I was in Lake Charles, Louisiana, during Mardi Gras, and while the carnival festival there is more low-key than in New Orleans, it’s said to be the second largest in the state.

Along with a few other visiting travel writers, I was invited to ride on the local Convention and Visitors Bureau’s float, which led the midday parade. Best of all, we were also invited to throw out beads and candies to the folks lining the parade route.

People had camped out all morning to get a prime spot, bringing their folding chairs and coolers stocked with cold drinks, many wearing Mardi Gras colors: purple, green and gold. They also wore beads, funny hats, sequined outfits, and various Krewe T-shirts, indicating allegiance to the various social clubs that build and run the parade floats.… Continue reading

One of the covered bridges in Putnam County. Photo from coveredbridgecountry.com.

One of the covered bridges in Putnam County. Photo from coveredbridgecountry.com.

Just about every writer has tried to mine his or her high school reunion story as some sort of transformative journey into the past that sheds some kind of brilliant new light on the present or future.

So much so that some magazine editors have proclaimed, “Please, no more high school reunion stories.” But that’s the beauty of a blog — I can write what I want, and you can choose whether or not to read it.

Having just attended my, ahem, longtime reunion with 46 other high school classmates (of a class of around 114, 27 are deceased, and 40 didn’t show, so the majority of those still alive did come), I’m naturally inclined to do the same, mulling over headlines like “You Can Go Home Again” or “You Can’t Go Home Again,” depending, I guess, on which… Continue reading

Longwood, an unfinished mansion in Natchez that's the largest octagonal house in America. Photo by Clark Norton.

Longwood, an unfinished mansion in Natchez that’s the largest octagonal house in America. Photo by Clark Norton.

I’d like to be able to convince you that the life of a travel writer aboard a cruise ship sailing down the Mississippi for a week was one of arduous labor, a dawn-to-midnight whirl of interviews, note-taking, picture-making, fervid sightseeing, cabin inspections, food critiques, and long hours spent at the computer chronicling it all.

And yes, that does describe many cruises I’ve taken professionally. But on this cruise, American Cruise Lines’ Queen of the Mississippi voyage down the lower Mississippi from Memphis to New Orleans, I took a different tack. I relaxed and enjoyed myself much as if I weren’t working at all.

Maybe it was being in the South, where the pace of life seems a little slower than in New York. Maybe it was the languid heat that proved such… Continue reading

Vicksburg's stately Old Court House is now a museum. Photo by Clark Norton.

Vicksburg’s stately Old Court House is now a museum. Photo by Clark Norton.

On my recent cruise down the lower Mississippi aboard American Cruise Lines’ Queen of the Mississippi — built to resemble an old-fashioned paddlewheeler —  “riverlorian” (river lore expert) Mike Jennings summed up the feelings of those who live along America’s mightiest (and muddiest?) river: “We’ve got mud in our blood.”

Jennings, who lives in Vicksburg, Mississippi, was on board to give passengers some historical and ecological perspectives on the river we were cruising down at 13 miles per hour. Over the course of a week, we would cover nearly 650 of the Mississippi’s total length of 2,350 miles, as we journeyed between Memphis and New Orleans. (The lower Mississippi actually starts somewhat farther north in Cairo, Illinois.)

The river meanders so much, Jennings said, that sometimes we would actually be traveling north despite our… Continue reading

Mayor Bowers with his Spanish-speaking dog. Photo by Clark Norton

Mayor Bowers with his Spanish-speaking dog. Photo by Clark Norton

Most memorable travel moments revolve around people as well as sights and activities — often chance encounters on the road, sometimes fleeting, other times resulting in more long-lasting friendships.

Here are a few snapshots from my recent stay in and around Roanoke, Virginia, made possible by the Roanoke Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau, which sponsored me and a number of other travel writers and photographers so that we could get an overview of the area, dubbed “Virginia’s Blue Ridge.”

In Roanoke, some of my encounters were pre-planned, others serendipitous.

My fellow writers and I were privileged to meet the mayor of the city, David Bowers, who greeted us on an overlook atop Mill Mountain, below the city’s iconic 100-foot-high illuminated star. (Read more about the star here.)

The mayor brought his “Spanish-speaking dog,” who, while not actually… 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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