Weekly Photo Challenge: On the Way in New York City

This glowing being looms over a New York policeman on Broadway
This glowing being looms over a New York policeman on Broadway. She’s on a giant advertising billboard and the cop next to her gives perspective.

It’s easy to rush through New York City on your way to the next show, museum, restaurant… the list goes on.  Yet, the best things in travel are seldom planned.  Serendipity is the best tour guide in the Big Apple where it’s crucial to stop along the way and notice the people, street art and all the crazy things going on.  They’re free!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Broken in Haiti

In Haiti, children make toys out of just about anything they can find.
In Haiti, children make toys out of just about anything they can find.

Just about everything is broken in Haiti.  Consequently, children fashion toys and activities out of whatever broken items are lying around, stuff most of us would throw away.  This little guy used the stick to make the hoop roll along as he ran.  Here, he was taking a break, resting on his giant floppy sandals.



Weekly Photo Challenge: Enveloped….By Dogs

Don't fall into this melee of hunting hounds at the Chateau de Cheverny in France--you'll be enveloped.
Don’t fall into this melee of hunting hounds at the Chateau de Cheverny in France–you’ll be enveloped.

The Chateau of Cheverny in France’s Loire Valley is positively awash is hunting dogs.  Don’t walk in this giant pen, you’ll be “enveloped,” by anywhere from 70 to 100 hounds.  They’re half English foxhound and half French Poitou and, though there are riotous number of dogs in one place, they all appear to be well groomed and happy, like most Frenchmen.

The stately hunting palace was built between 1604 to 1634 and is


one of the gems of chateau country.  It’s been in the same family for six centuries and the current viscount and his family still live on the third floor of the chateau.  They share their the chateau’s gardens, fabulous decor and amazing architecture with visitors.  Still, if you’re a dog lover, you’ll pass all that by and head for the hounds.

Travel For Bookworms: Off The Beaten Page Wins a Mark Twain Award from Midwest Travel Writers

I was in the Finger Lakes Region of New York last week for a meeting  of the Midwest Travel Writers Association, an organization of Midwest-based professionals specializing in travel journalism and promotion. We had the opportunity to explore the many things there are to do there–much more about that in future posts.

marktwainscanI’m happy to announce that I received the group’s Mark Twain Award for travel book for Off The Beaten Page: The Best Trips for Lit Lovers, Book Clubs and Girls on Getaways.  The Mark Twain Awards are given each spring to members for excellence in travel writing and photography. I feel very honored to receive the award from this  group of excellent and well-traveled writers. Judges called the Off The Beaten Page, “Quirky and surprising. A nice twist on several nonfiction genres of guidebooks.”

For those of you who don’t know about Off The Beaten Page, hey, BeatenPage_12 4get with it– it’s available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IPG (the publisher/distributor) and you can order it from any independent bookstore and it makes a great gift. The book was inspired by “field trips” with my own book clubs, and offers a literary look at fifteen U.S. destinations—including the Twin Cities—as seen through the works of famous writers. ideal for anyone eager to mix their love of travel and quality time with friends or family with their desire for meaningful cultural experiences.

Off the Beaten Page includes:

– Ideas for simple literary field trips close to home
– Practical advice for planning stress-free group travel
– Thoughtful essays describing each destination’s literary heritage and attractions
 – Suggested three-day itineraries that include plenty of lit-inspired excursions—such as Santa Monica through the eyes of noir crime master Raymond Chandler; a Devil in the White City view of Chicago in the Gilded Age; and an exploration of Edith Wharton’s elite Newport, Rhode Island; and look at Minneapolis/St. Paul through the eyes of authors such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Tim O’Brien—while blending in “beyond the book” experiences such as Broadway shows, Segway tours, and kayaking.   

Library Journal called Off The Beaten Page, “A bookworm’s dream,” saying, “This title is an inspiring, unique read. Book clubs and the literary-minded will love it for the travel ideas, book lists, and delightful commentary on each city’s history. Highly recommended.”

The purpose of this blog is to keep sharing ideas for literary travel, with a lot of other travel and reading ideas thrown in. Plus, I love to share readers’ ideas and their own literary travel experiences so please send ’em in.  And stay tuned for my Finger Lakes travel ideas.

Weekly Photo Challenge-Intricate: The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis

Interior of the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica in Missouri.
Interior of the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica in Missouri.

I never expected to see a cathedral like this in St. Louis, Missouri.  Completed in 1914 this spectacular building would be a natural in some European capital, but a surprise in the heart of the U.S. From a distance, the walls and ceiling of this cathedral look painted.  With a closer look you see that they are covered in 41.5 million glass pieces in more than 7,000 colors. Covering 83,000 square feet, it is the largest mosaic collection in the world.  More than intricate, it’s staggering.  These photos are just a sample.




Lonely Planet Travel Books for Kids Can Help Your Family Avoid a Case of MCS, “Maximum Cultural Saturation”

Unknown-3As a planner of family vacations, it took me a long time to reconcile my list of all the great things I wanted to show and teach my sons with the list of what might really interest them.

That was especially tough when it came to cities. At one point, as we dragged our kids through the British Museum, one of the boys declared that he had “reached maximum cultural saturation.” He just couldn’t visit one more museum, cathedral or fancy garden. Truth be told, the adults felt the same way.

Lonely Planet (the people who publish all those guidebooks for 5008-Not_For_Parents__New_York__North_American_Edition_222913_Largeadults) offers a terrific series of “Not-For-Parents” guidebooks that can help avoid a case of MCS on your next family vacation. The company sent me several copies to review and I’m now ready to gather up a few kids and take a trip.

One of my favorite things about travel is anticipating the trip. It’s a holdover from when I was a kids my mom took me to the library to load up on books that took place in the areas where we were going. Reading ahead of time offers a preview of coming attractions— what the food is like, historic things that happened there, what the buildings look like, animals you might see— things like that.

The series is a perfect way to to encourage such anticipation and to help children and families get the most from their trips. The books, as the company says, “open up a world of intriguing stories and fascinating facts about the people, places, history and culture of the world’s most exciting cities,” but they do it in a way that’s energetic and appealing, even for adults.

The three books I have cover “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know” about Europe, Paris and New York. They feature the inside scoop on each city with bright colors, crazy pictures and cartoons, and a combination of information that ranges from history and fashion, to scenes from movies and gross food that people may eat there—like snails in Paris. In the New York book, you’ll find Andy Warhol, rats and musicians in the subways, a look at Ellis Island and favorite NYC sports teams, and a lot of other fun stuff.

imagesSo, no more MCS. And, even if you’re not planning a major trip, these books make great summer reading and armchair travel for kids.

Lonely Planet also offers a helpful page on How to Travel Like a Kid that adults will want to read, just to remind themselves how to keep family trips kid friendly.

Explore Jack London State Park With My New Article

images-3I have a new article, The Wild Still Calls,  in this month’s issue of a fun magazine, “Live Happy.”   It’s about Jack London State Park and how the volunteers there are keeping the park and the memory of author Jack London alive.

London, author of The Call of the Wild, White Fang and many other adventure stories, was the most famous author of his time.  Most people don’t know he was also a world traveler, sustainable farmer and oyster pirate. His own life was as adventurous as his stories.

Travel to the places you read about. Read about the places you travel.


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