Tag Archives: Travel

People of the Mounds: Exploring Ancient Cultures

My first impression of the massive ancient earthworks at Poverty Point is not a good one.

I’m driving on Highway 577 east of Epps in Northeast Louisiana and don’t realize I’ve just driven past the site’s six curved ridges until I look at a diagram later. The highway plows right through the rings, but they’ve been so worn down by farming and natural erosion through the millennia that what must once have been an impressive sight now (to the untrained eye, anyway) appears to be little more than an empty field.

But when I get a chance to see the rings and the mounds up close and learn about their construction, I quickly change my mind.

Read the rest of the story online at Louisiana Life.

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Seattle sidetrip: Hiking in North Cascades National Park

I HEAR THEM as soon as I get out of the car. Waterfalls. Across the valley are 7000ft saw-toothed mountains, flecked with melting glaciers. The roar of those long streams of meltwater carries for miles.

After an hour of dodging potholes on a partially unimproved Forest Service road, I’m damn happy to be standing up straight, about to get my pack on my back and get up into the mountains.

Read the rest of the story online at Matador Trips.

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Tourist Season

Naples (Florida, not Italy) is ground-zero for the recession. I spent last week there, and driving past foreclosed homes, abandoned construction projects and half-empty strip malls. It’s clear this is one hard-hit city in a hard-hit state.

The other curious thing about Naples is that there’s something known as “season,” which is when the snow-birds come down from the Northern states in winter and Naples becomes overrun with old people. Entire traffic patterns change. Restaurants and beaches are more crowded. It’s apparently such a noticeable difference that several times people remarked, “Wow, this street is so empty when it’s not season” or “Man, it’s going to be busy here come season.”

So early September is apparently a  great time to hit up south Florida. My hotel at Cocoa Beach was mostly empty. The beaches on both coasts were also sparsely populated. It seems like just about everywhere has a down time, a period every year when only the locals are out and about and you don’t have to fight for a parking space. Now that’s my kind of trip.

Mostly-empty Cocoa Beach

Other than that, there’s really no reason to go Naples, Florida. Sure, the white sand beaches are nice, but there’s nothing at all unique there–just box stores and chain restaurants and subdivisions. For me, though, my best buddy showing me around was reason enough. Oh, and her stepdad cooks one helluva medium-rare steak.

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Best parks in Seattle

Seattle has some incredible parks, which is why I find it so hard to get any work when I’m visiting the Emerald City. If you have similar problems when you travel, consider meeting rooms for hire, to get your clients (and you!) away from distractions and to a quiet, conducive work space. In fact, the Warwick Hotel, just downtown, has meeting rooms available, putting you in easy reach of these parks by bus or car–or even on foot. This way, you can get your work done in a professional setting before venturing out to explore.

1. Washington Park and Arboretum

This park is expansive, covering 230 acres northeast of Downtown, so my favorite way to take it in is to combine cycling and walking. I love speeding down the Arboretum’s green hills and hiking the trails at the park’s northern end, which snake through forests and marshy islands.

There are a few hidden swimming and picnicking spots, but I also like having a snack while watching the kayakers on Lake Washington paddling through the lilypads around the I-5 overpasses.

Getting there: Rent a bike at Recycled Cycles, head across the Montlake Bridge and through the parking lot of the Museum of History and Industry. A trailhead starts here, but you’ll have to walk your bike through the marsh trails.

Avoid biking on Arboretum Drive, as you’ll snarl traffic and piss off a lot of drivers. Instead, there are paved roads throughout the park that are closed to vehicles.

Read the rest online at Matador Trips.

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Cascade Pass time lapse

Sam and I backpacked the Sahale Arm above Cascade Pass in the North Cascades a few weeks ago. On our way down the mountain on day 2, we made coffee and had breakfast at the pass while some impressive fog rolled in. I took this video over a 35 minute period. You can see the wind rattling the camera–the whole scene was pretty epic to behold. Watch as we get eaten by fog as Andrew Bird serenades, from his fantastic (and appropriately named) album, Weather Systems.

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Flight attendants, prepare for landing

When I fly into Sea-Tac Airport, I like to be in a window seat. I generally am an aisle-seat person because I like to stretch out and see what’s going on in the other rows and be able to stand up immediately once the plane lands.

But I make an exception for Sea-Tac. As the plane begins to descend, the almost-straight-line of the Cascade’s volcanoes come into view from above the clouds. There’s Mt. St. Helens, its once impressive dome blown half to pieces during its last eruption. There’s Mt. Baker or Mt. Adams–I get them confused–and then, unmistakably, there’s the gleaming white fist of Mt. Rainier. “The Mountain.”

I love The Mountain. I miss it when the never-ending cloud cover blocks it from view. I go to great lengths to catch a glimpse of it on clear days. I have vague aspirations to circumnavigate it on the Wonderland Trail and to climb to the top of its crater.

I’ve seen The Mountain during sunset from Queen Anne Hill. I’ve watched it puff pancake-shaped clouds like Alice’s caterpillar. I’ve watched it disappear into self-made snowstorms. But the best view of The Mountain is, undeniably, from the window seat of an airplane, flying just above its peak. It’s the best way to appreciate its hulking mass towering over the other mountains and its somewhat unassuming attitude.

I can’t think of a better way to be welcomed to the Pacific Northwest.

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Take one down, pass it around: world travels lead to a unique collection

When Harland Johnson opens the door to his showroom, thousands of tiny bottles materialize, arranged just so on the white shelves at the room’s perimeter. He has 23,658 as of this writing.

Johnson estimates that his miniature liquor bottle collection is one of the most extensive in the world. “I know of four other collections that exceed 20,000,” he says, but notes that not everyone discloses their numbers. The world’s largest collection belongs to The Mini Bottle Gallery, a museum of 53,000 bottles in Oslo.

Johnson keeps his collection in a showroom carved out of his Madisonville home’s large garage. He built a wall to enclose the space, installed more lighting, added air conditioning and put down thick carpet to protect the bottles from clumsy hands. Whiskey, rum, tequila, vodka, cognac, gin, scotch, liqueurs and even some wines line the shelves Johnson made in his workshop.

Read the rest of the story online at InsideNorthside.com

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