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.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Afloat–Kayaks in Rockport, Mass.

Kayaks ready for a spin in Rockport Harbor, Massachusetts.
Kayaks ready for a spin in Rockport Harbor, Massachusetts.

On one of my favorite kayak trips from Rockport, on the Massachusetts coast, is to the Dry Salvages, a group of giant rocks off the coast of Cape Ann.  It’s fun to paddle out there and even more fun when grey and harbor seals pop up next to your kayak to check you out.

I later learned that the Dry Salvages inspired T.S. Eliot’s “The Dry Salvages,” the third poem in his sequence Four Quartets. Eliot spent his summers on Cape Ann in Gloucester and the the poet’s estate has just acquired the Eliot family’s summer house by the sea there which the family sold many years ago. The estate plans to use it to promote Eliot’s life and works to his American readers. Hopefully that means lovers of literature and old houses may have a chance to take a tour.  Read about it in this article in The Guardian.

T.S. Eliot in Gloucester
T.S. Eliot in Gloucester

The Dry Salvages obviously pose a danger for ships and many have crashed on them, hence the name.  And, during the death and destruction of World War II, Eliot found used them as a symbol.

“the menace and caress of wave that breaks on water/ The distant rote in the granite teeth,/ And the wailing warning from the approaching headland…”

But, on a sunny day, in a brightly colored kayak, with seals around, the Dry Salvages seem a lot less dismal.

I’ve used this image in an earlier blog post.  Obviously, Cape Ann is one of my favorite spots. In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Afloat.”

Weekly Photo Challenge – Blur: Kids Playing in Guatemala

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Blur.” I usually throw out the blurry pix because they’re not blurry on purpose, just bad camera settings.  But a little blur gives a great sense of action or takes your eye to the background or the foreground of the picture as in these photos of kids playing in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.

tag in guatemalaSONY DSC

#boycottindiana What’s the individual traveler’s responsibility?

images-2What a week for the Hoosiers! Thanks to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which appears designed to allow businesses to refuse service to LGBT people, and the verbal bumbling of Governor Mike Pence, Indiana hasn’t had this much attention since Bobby Knight’s chair-throwing days at Indiana University. In fact, the issue prompted David Letterman to say he’d prefer to have Bobby Knight as Indiana governor. Unknown-3

I’ve watched with amusement as the right wingers in the Indiana state legislature and other areas of Hoosier life have back-pedaled and beeped like as garbage truck backing up, “Who us? No way do we mean to discriminate against the LGBT community. No, no, you misunderstand.”

Tell me what you think

And, in what is surely an April Fool’s joke, the Arkansas legislature has shown spectacular inability to learn from the mistakes of others by  passing a similar bill, despite the dustup in Indiana. Also amusing: cities and states are capitalizing on Indiana’s infamy, encouraging Indiana businesses to set up shop in their jurisdictions where they’re business- and gay-friendly. Similarly, many government entities have declared Indiana off limits for employee travel. Businesses and sports organizations are making it known that such attitudes are bad for business, business being a huge priority in Indiana— maybe even trumping “Christian” family values.

It’s funny to watch Indiana bureaucrats bumbling, but discrimination isn’t funny. For me it brings up a serious question: I’m planning to go to Indiana in a few weeks to visit friends. Should I go? Surely an individual should take a stand and be as moral as say, Emily’s List or the state of Virginia, or the mayor of Palm Beach and just say “no.” It makes me wonder what is the responsibility of individuals to protest discriminatory policies and “vote with their feet” by not going. I see I’m not the only one with this question as #banindiana and #boycottindiana are trending on Twitter.

I used to live in Indianapolis, a LONG time ago, so I know that everyone in Indiana isn’t a bigot. I have no doubt that the state will rectify its RFRA mistake by the time I get there, though Mike Pence can kiss any thought about a presidential run goodbye. Good. And the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Bureau folks are working overtime to recover from this PR fiasco. Their web site is covered with rainbows, “All Are Welcome in Indy” banners, and they’re rolling out the rainbow carpet with a guide to LGBT Indy. Still, I’m curious what you think is the individual traveler’s obligation to stand up for what’s right? Tell me what you think.

Fresh: NYU Graduation

This week’s photo challenge is “Fresh” which makes me think of college graduation, which is a fresh start, full of fresh young faces and enthusiasm for the future.

"I'll make a brand new start of it in old New York," from Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York." Part of the graduation festivities at New York University, which is held at Yankee Stadium.
“I’ll make a brand new start of it in old New York….” from Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” Part of the graduation festivities at New York University, held at Yankee Stadium.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Symmetry of the Brooklyn Bridge

SONY DSCIn response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Symmetry.”

Opened in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge is an engineering marvel, partly due to its system of suspension cables.  Its 3600 miles of steel wire weave a very symmetrical spider web around you as you cross.  See my previous post about A LITERARY AND CULINARY TRIP ACROSS THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE, NEW YORK CITY.

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

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