2021 Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers

Like many of you, I didn’t go anywhere for over 18 months as I braved through the restrictions, lockdowns, and closures that summed up much of 2020. I didn’t think much of traveling last year and didn’t do a holiday/end-of-year gift guide. During my time at home, and now that I’ve started traveling again (my first trip of the year was a cruise on the Carnival Mardi Gras in August 2021), I’m starting to think about the little things that help make travel easier and my time at home more reflective of the joy that I have for travel. The 2021 Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers has been divided into three sections – a general travel section, a foodie travel section, and a technology section. All of these items are things that I own or are on my personal wish […]

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Magical Mono Lake Tufa Tower Formations

Famous for its dramatic and bizarre rock formations, known as the tufa towers, Mono Lake is a stunning nature reserve in California. As a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, birdwatchers, and photographers, the lake offers visitors peace and serenity, right along with its unique landscape and outdoor recreation. If you’ve spent some time in Yosemite and have been awed by all the impressive natural wonders there, then you’ll certainly want to take a quick trip over to Mono County to marvel at the tufa tower formations.  We visited Mono Lake and the tufa towers as part of a paid partnership with Globus Journeys. I visited Mono Lake as part of a paid partnership project with Globus Journeys and iambassador. Globus offers a new type of group tour – Choice Touring – which has been designed to give participants advantages of a group tour while still […]

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An Unforgettable Wild-West Experience: Bodie Ghost Town

If you’re thinking of visiting Bodie Ghost Town, you are in for a treat! The town is one of the best-preserved, historic towns from the era of the wild, wild west. Whether you’re visiting nearby Mono Lake for a look at the tufa or exploring the world-famous Yosemite National Park, a day trip to Bodie State Historic Park is worth adding to your itinerary. I visited Bodie as part of a paid partnership project with Globus Journeys and iambassador. Globus offers a new type of group tour – Choice Touring – which has been designed to give participants advantages of a group tour while still allowing for individual independence and flexibility. Our 9-day tour, California Dream’: Northern California by Design, started and ended in San Francisco. In between, we visited Sausalito, Sonoma, Sacramento, Lake Taho, Mammoth Lakes, and Yosemite National […]

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15 Underrated U.S. Cities That Shouldn’t Be Missed

Here are 15 cities, full of things to do, see, and eat, that may be overlooked when you are sitting around planning a vacation or weekend getaway. And that’s a real shame, because, in the emerging pandemic travel era, these destinations may be just what the doctor ordered. We’ve included small towns from across the United States, along with larger cities that seem to get passed by (and shouldn’t). These are destinations full of outdoor activities, scenic drives, vibrant art scenes, rich history, fine dining, museums, and lots of wonderful attractions. I have a few more underrated – or perhaps merely overlooked – cities that are on my to-visit list. We recently went to San Luis Obispo, read about our stay there, and it’s possible to get to one more before the end of the year. It’s so great to […]

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Hotel Cerro: Enjoy Your Stay at This Luxury Hotel in San Luis Obispo

Situated 11 miles from the stunning Pacific Ocean coastline and in the heart of California’s Central Coast wine country, San Luis Obispo is a natural magnet for visitors to Central California. Throw in a few hundred years of history, reflected in the city’s rich and intriguing architecture, the influence of California Polytechnic State University, and a healthy Mediterranean-type climate, it’s no wonder that San Luis Obispo is often referred to as “The Happiest Place in America.” Located in the center of historic downtown San Luis Obispo, the brick-faced Hotel Cerro provides a convenient location for exploring the coast or interior of Central California. This luxury boutique hotel is a few minutes’ walk from many of the attractions of the city – trendy bars and restaurants – along with boutiques and gift shops that provide all the retail therapy you need. […]

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Things to Do in San Juan, Puerto Rico

With a mix of rich history, unique culture, fascinating Colonial Spanish architecture, and stunning natural beauty, surrounded by a breathtaking coastline, there are so many things to do in San Juan, Puerto Rico, that it’s hard to know where to start. San Juan is just a two-and-a-half-hour flight from southern Florida, making it an easy getaway destination for a long weekend as well as a popular port of call on cruise ship itineraries. Prior to the arrival of Columbus in 1493, this island paradise was populated by the indigenous Taino, but when the Spanish Conquistadores arrived, their destiny changed forever. Over the following four centuries, despite numerous attempts by English, Dutch, and various French privateers to take over this strategically placed island, Puerto Rico remained in Spanish hands. Then, as a result of the Spanish-American War, it was ceded to the […]

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Secret Seattle Now Available

Secret Seattle: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure is almost ready to fly on the press. It is available for pre-order on Amazon (here) and from the publisher, Reedy Press, here. The official release date is September 15th, 2021, and shortly after that, it will be available directly from me and on the Secret Seattle website. This is my first book. I wrote it in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. What a crazy idea, as closure and lockdown policies seem to change almost daily. The secrets in this book were rewritten many times as beloved businesses went out of business or pivoted in ways that didn’t work for the book. And now that it’s set for release, it seems like things are changing rapidly once again. Although it was a crazy idea, I’m so very glad that […]

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Sail Into Fun: New Carnival Mardi Gras Ship [Review]

Carnival Cruise Line’s new Mardi Gras pays homage to its first cruise ship, the TSS Mardi Gras which was launched in 1972 and retired in 1993. The new Mardi Gras is the first in the new Excel class ship with a passenger capacity of 5,282 passengers making it the largest cruise ship in the Carnival fleet.  I sailed on the first Mardi Gras voyage, a seven-day itinerary out of Port Canaveral (Orlando) with ports of call in San Juan in Puerto Rico, Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic, and Nassau in the Bahamas. We sailed with reduce capacity (70%). Walking on it had that new ship smell and made a favorable first impression. Come along for a look at the ship, her features and amenities, and this special debut sailing. The Ship The ship’s look features a distinct exterior design […]

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Paris Pantheon: Finding Where the Bodies Are Buried

Paris is known for its charming architectural attractions, rich history, bold romantic overtones, exquisite food, and more. On my first visit to France, I visited the Paris Pantheon, a neoclassical church in the Latin Quarter of Paris, and it quickly became one of my favorite places in the city. The Pantheon in Paris was modeled after the Pantheon in Rome and has a domed top similar to the one on Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London. Although the Pantheon was originally an abbey, it now primarily serves as a burial place for famous French heroes, leaders, artists, and writers. The imposing structure is made of stone and marble supported by 22 Corinthian-inspired pillars. The building’s entrance is headlined by the inscription “AUX GRANDS HOMMES LA PATRIE RECONNAISSANTE” (To great men, the grateful homeland). The interior of the building is decorated with sculptures […]

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The History of the Bikini: Fashion & War

For many women, the selection of the perfect bikini begins long before it’s time to hit the beach during vacation. It may very well be the first to-do item on a vacation preparation list. And for far too many women, there is no greater vacation angst than finding the right swimsuit – whether that’s a modern bikini, two-piece suit, or some other type of women’s swimwear. Learn about the history of the bikini. History of the Modern Day Bikini Archaeologists date the existence of a skimpy swimsuit back to 1600 BC., but the modern world was shocked by the debut of a new swimsuit made of mere inches of fabric. The bikini’s birthdate is considered to be July 5th, 1946. Two competing French designers, Jacques Heim and Louis Reard, are credited with creating a new style of swimwear and changing […]

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