Author: Carolyn BoyleDate of Trip: June 2016 This review describes a nine-night vacation in western Oregon. For the first five nights of the trip, we used Portland, OR, as a base for day trips to wineries in the Willamette Valley, the Columbia River Gorge/Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens (Washington) and the northern Oregon coast. For the last four nights, we drove a circular route from Portland to Crater Lake National Volcanic Monument, Oregon Caves NM, Redwood State and National Parks (California) and back to Portland. This review is primarily a journal of how we spent each day, including suggested resources and web links to tourist information web sites and maps. SIGHTS SEEN Willamette Valley, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Mount Hood Scenic Loop, Pacific Coast Scenic Byway—Oregon, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Crater Lake National Volcanic Monument, Oregon Caves National Monument, Redwood State and National Parks ABOUT US John and I (Carolyn) are … [Read more...] about Scenic Drives in Western Oregon: Wines, Waterfalls, Volcanoes, Caves and Redwoods
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What’s it like to go on a Disney cruise? I’ll tell you. But first I should disclose that I’m not indifferent about Disney. As you might gather from some of my previous pieces (here, here, and here), I’m kind of a fangirl nerd about most of what Disney produces. I grew up in Southern California, so my parents took me to Disneyland often. The night before we’d leave, there was always that delicious, uncontainable feeling that made sleep impossible. I suspect I’m not alone in having felt that as a kid. (I might be more alone in still feeling that way now as an adult.) So when my husband and I decided to burn vacation days by taking our three-year-old daughter on a Disney cruise for four nights, I was kid-on-Christmas-Eve excited. And I thought I had a sense of what to expect on a Disney cruise. Once onboard, though, I realized I wasn’t quite prepared for the full spectrum of what it’s like to travel via Disney Cruise Line. Before our cruise, … [Read more...] about What to Expect on a Disney Cruise: A First-Timer’s Guide
by Nicholas J. KlenskeEurope has a lengthy history of literary prominence and stature. Paris has the Hunchback of Notre Dame, England its Sherlock Holmes and Prague the literary legend of Kafka. But Brussels’ literary scene, on the other hand, is a complete joke.No really- it’s literally quite funny. What Brussels lacks in Shakespeare, Joyce or Pope, it makes up in floppy-eared dogs, mustachioed Vikings, shadow chasing cowboys, an adventurous boy with an easily excitable sailor sidekick and, well lots of little blue Smurfs. The History of Comics in BrusselsFrom a country roughly the size of New Jersey comes an unprecedented amount of comic creativity–a level that has defined the genre from the industry’s golden age to its present day renaissance. At the center of the Belgian comic culture is Brussels, the self-proclaimed comic strip capital of the world. From such international icons as Herge’s Tintin and Peyo’s Smurfs to … [Read more...] about A Comical History of Brussels
Let me take you back to January 1989. InsideFlyer was a mere three years old at that time and already I was being besieged by readers asking me to tell them which frequent flyer programs were truly the best. And I did tell them. But I soon realized that I was examining the value of these programs through my own eyes–and perhaps I had different values than what other members might be looking for. The value of a program is different when you have 32,000 miles vs. when you have 320,000 miles. Value is different when you live in Dallas than it is when you live in Salem, Ore. And of course, value is much different when you use your miles to personally upgrade internationally than when you use them to give to family members. All these values, and all these programs, each delivering their own sense of value to members. So I started asking our readers which programs they considered the most valuable for them and started comparing the results. I was ecstatic that we had convinced 864 … [Read more...] about Freddie Awards
"Here be dragons" read the ancient maps wherever a blank corner seemed big enough to hold the fabled creatures. And for most of us, the dragons still roar. Sure, we know all about the incredible shrinking world. We know that there are only 6 degrees of separation between a Tibetan yak herder and Kevin Bacon, that the one can call the other on a cell phone. We read National Geographic monthly, Time weekly, and watch the world news nightly. Sitting there in the living room with a glass of wine in hand, we feel we know the world-until we actually consider packing the bags and hiking from Zanskar to Ladakh. Then butterflies flutter in our stomachs and dragons roar in our brains. Yes, the world is bigger than our favorite section of the Appalachian Trail. When we strike off for lands we've never seen, things take us by surprise. But that's the way it should be because those surprises breed a fascination that lasts a lifetime. To help you on your journey, we asked seven well-traveled … [Read more...] about International Hikes: The World Awaits
Thru-hikers are a varied bunch, but there’s one thing they all agree on: Don’t carry an ounce more than you need. So it was more than a little unusual when thru-hiker Thomas “Jabba” Gathman stopped in Staunton, Virginia, in March 2016 and picked up a pair of size-13 boots that weighed more than 4 pounds—and which he had no intention of wearing.Gathman was in the midst of a winter thru-hike, which made the extra weight even more arduous. Then it got harder. Gathman slipped and sprained his ankle while trying to make up the day he’d spent waiting for the boots to arrive in Staunton. “That weight began to really grate on me,” he recalls with a laugh. “I started fantasizing about tossing my own boots—size 10s—and slipping into shoes three sizes too big.”Gathman persevered, carrying the boots for more than 300 miles to Damascus, Virginia. There, he handed them off to another hiker, who strapped them to his pack, too. … [Read more...] about Paul Evans Never Hiked the Appalachian Trail. But His Boots Did.
Backpacking with relatives can present emotional challenges, particularly for the philosophically inclined camper. I am such a camper, and I encountered some difficult moments on a recent trip into the backcountry. During the lightning storm on the way in, for example, when I found myself shivering and huddling under a tree while allegedly loving family members chortled at my distress; at 3 a.m. on our first night, at which point I woke with a splitting headache, upset stomach, and a glum suspicion that my older brother had intentionally poisoned me with giardia-infested hot chocolate; the slightly awkward instant earlier, during the otherwise peaceful and happy circle around the campfire, when—after I had recounted to my niece and nephews how Comanches had perfected torture to an art form in this very country, maybe even at this very campsite, and how that particular tribe of Native Americans could strip off a man’s skin, layer by layer, vein by vein, until all that was … [Read more...] about My F*&^ing Family
Tourists don't visit the children's court in Mendoza, Argentina. Why would they? The three-story, cement-block building sits in the heart of a centuries-old colonial town that offers sightseers plenty of historic, whitewashed landmarks. But well-tended rose gardens surround the courthouse, and if on your tour through Mendoza you glimpsed them, you might ignore the building and snap a photo. If you had official business inside, however, you might ignore the flowers and see only the building. It looks just like a courthouse should: intimidating.Rewind to December 14, 2007, when Jordan Romero entered the court, along with his dad, Paul, and Karen Lundgren, Paul's longtime partner. They are not tourists. They are climbers. And they hope to summit 22,841-foot Aconcagua. But unlike other mountaineers–who arrive in Mendoza, pay the $300 permit fee, and head to basecamp–Jordan has an extra challenge to overcome. Park regulations prohibit climbers younger than 14 years old. Jordan … [Read more...] about Higher Education: Should 13-Year-Old Jordan Romero Climb Everest?
"Does this pack make me look fat?" Sarah Sexton is playing it for laughs as she tightens the hipbelt on her backpack. Now that she mentions it, the cinched nylon webbing does create a visible belly roll. I keep that observation to myself. “Yeah, and how about my thighs?” chuckles Dan Shattuck as he hikes the hem of his shorts to expose a generous—though muscled—quad and hamstring. He does an abbreviated runway strut for emphasis. “Are they flabby?” Modesty is an early victim on most backpacking trips, but the group I’m hiking with in Texas’s Big Bend National Park has taken over-sharing to the extreme. We’re way beyond hat hair and funky feet and off into discussing taboos like thigh rub, secret food binges, and body image. If it’s connected to being, ahem, weight-challenged, it’s fair game. What else should one expect from an outfitted adventure billed as “Fatpacking”? Five of us have trudged to pine-shaded … [Read more...] about Lighten Up: Lose Weight Hiking
We camped on a high pass, mountains as far as we could see.To the north, glacier-crusted, 24,790-foot Minya Konka cut into the horizon like a diamond. To the west, the endless mountains of the peak-spiked, 12,000-foot Tibetan plateau broke the skyline. To the east, a wet mattress of white clouds floated over the rice fields of central Sichuan, China. And to the south: uncountable unclimbed peaks.Our 14,100-foot pass, Tsemed Kha La, was cold, windy, and scabbed with snow. We erected our tent at dusk and within minutes a fog of ice closed in. By morning, two inches of rime coated the Tibetan prayer flag poles atop the pass. We drank hot milk from titanium cups and stared south at the closest series of peaks. Just a couple of miles away, they looked about 16,000 feet high. My partner, Joel Charles, could see the serrated ridgeline I was eyeing and wanted nothing to do with it. “That’s all yours,” he said, nodding at the arête. “I’ll take the S-shaped … [Read more...] about The Path to Shangri-La: Eastern Tibet’s Unclimbed Peaks