Category North America

Photo Friday: Walking California’s Point Reyes National Seashore

Walking along the Point Reyes National Seashore

I took this picture of a couple of avid walkers of a certain age along the Tomales Point Trail on the Point Reyes National Seashore in West Marin.

This spectacular stretch of wild coastline offers one of the world’s great day walks from historic Pierce Point Ranch to the end of Tomales Point with its stunning views over both the Pacific Ocean and the entrance to Tomales Bay, which is right on the San Andreas fault line above San Francisco. Along the way you will see waves crashing along cliffs and windswept beaches and small herds of native tule elk grazing on the lush green hillsides. In springtime, entire hillsides are blanketed with California poppies, wild iris and mustard flowers while overhead hawks and kestrels ride the wind currents looking for small animals.

This landscape could so easily have been destroyed if it were not for a broad ranging group of conservationists, farmers, ranchers, widows, politicians and volunteers who fought a hard-won battle between 1950 to 1970 to p...

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The Best Authentic Dude Ranch in Wyoming

Letting the horses out of the coral at HF Bar Ranch

Letting the horses out of the coral at HF Bar Ranch

The HF Bar Ranch, 9000 acres spread beneath the pines and aspen of the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming, is the second oldest dude ranch in America. Offering a classic dude ranch experience that has filled the hearts and souls of thousands of families since it started taking guests back in the early 1900s, it wins the award as the best authentic dude ranch in Wyoming.

Jodi Foster comes every year to chill.  US Supreme Court Justice, Harry Blackman, wrote a letter when he was in his 80s to say his summer experiences here changed the course of his life. Wrangler Stephan, who’s been making the trek from Luxembourg with his family since he was seven, isn’t planning to leave any time soon and you can see why as he drives off in his Chevy pickup.

What are dude ranches?

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Six Best Adventures on Kauai’s Na Pali Coast

Six Ways to Experience Kauai's Spectacular Na Pali Coast

 

Kauai is the northernmost and oldest island in the Hawaiian chain. It is draped in emerald valleys of tropical rainforests, sharp mountain spires and jagged cliffs often sporting dramatic waterfalls. And Kauai’s Na Pali Coast offers one of Hawaii’s most iconic landscapes, 26 kilometers of sheer fluted cliffs, some up to 1200 meters high, dropping straight into the Pacific Ocean. Na Pali, means ‘the cliffs’ in the Hawaiian language, and they are the must-do adventure when you are visiting the ‘Garden Isle’. This coastline is completely wild…there’s no development, no phone reception and no roads. The roads end at the northern and southern entrances to Na Pali so you must explore it via boat, on foot or from the air. Along the way depending on the seasons you may also see spinner dolphins, bottle-nose dolphins, whales, green turtles and even monk seals.

Last year one of my daughters and I kayaked along the coastline in what must be one of the world’s great one-day kayaking trips, often nicknamed the ‘Everest of kayaking trips’!  We also enjoyed a 13 kilometer round-trip day hike along the coast and up to the Hanakapai’ai waterfall.

There are, in fact, six different adventures you can enjoy along the Na Pali coast. Here is the lowdown on how to do it.

Sailing

The best sailing experience...

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Photo Friday: Gardener and chef at Tennessee’s Blackberry Farm

Chef and master gardener at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee

I took this photo one fine spring afternoon at Blackberry Farm, the multi-award-winning Relais et Chateaux property in the hills of Tennessee. Sous chef Adam Cooke has come to collect some herbs for the evening meal.  Garden manager Jeff Ross hands him some white flower buds and spiraling stems or scapes of Russian hard-neck red garlic suggesting the kitchen sautés them in butter as a tasty side dish. It is amusing to reflect on the color of their skin…Adam pale from working in the kitchen, Jeff dark from hours under the sun. Still they make a terrific team contributing equally to the superb meals prepared in the resort’s restaurants.

Everything old is new again.  As consumers seek alternatives to modern, homogenized hybrid vegetables that have been bred for shelf life and machine harvesting (everything except honest flavor),  places like Blackberry Farm in Tennessee are bringing the past back to life.

To this end, master gardener, John Coykendall, and garden manager, Jeff Ro...

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Exploring Alaska’s Largest Wilderness: Wrangell St Elias National Park

The Bagley Ice Field is the largest non-polar icefield in North America

The 52,000 square kilometer Wrangell-St.Elias National Park is bigger than Switzerland. It has an active volcano, the largest sub-polar ice field in North America, 150 glaciers, and the tallest coastal mountains in the world with nine of the 16 highest peaks in the United States, four of which are over 4,800 meters including Mount St Elias, the biggest vertical rock face on the planet.  There are way more grizzly bears, moose, Dall sheep, bald eagles and salmon than humans. Together with Canada’s adjacent Kluane National Park, this area is the largest protected wilderness area on earth.

I have come here to explore “The Alaska factor.” Here everything is bigger, larger, greater – and tougher than it looks.

It is a spectacular five hours drive from Anchorage just to get to the park’s main entrance.

Before becoming a ...

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US National Constitution Center: the American Museum of Democracy

National-Constitution-Center-mfp 2

A spotlight picks out an actor, arms outstretched.

I am sitting with my American-born, Australian-raised daughter in a theater-in-the-round at the fascinating US National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

We the People

“We the People… Who are we and what makes us a people?” She continues, “The American Revolution saw a home-grown army of shopkeepers and farmers take on the massed forces of the most powerful nation on earth.”

Rousing music fills the hall, dramatic images of 250 years of a revolutionary story are projected on the floor, on a screen around the perimeter, even on our faces.

More evocative words and images show how the definition of citizenship expanded to include women and African Americans and how the constitution has shaped the United States and other countries around the world.

“The most powerful vision of human freedom ever expressed and it begins with three words…We the people.”

The show ends as it began, with a question, “What will we do with the f...

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