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Archives - The U.S. and the Americas

911 Memorial

February 1993. I was at home in lower Manhattan with my first child - just a few months old - when the local news station interrupted regular programming to report that an attempted bombing had taken place in the basement parking garage of one of the twin towers. We couldn't have imagined then that this event would foreshadow a much more devastating event 8 years later. And now, 10 years beyond September 11, 2001, the 9/11 Memorial has opened to visitors wishing to remember. The Memorial is austere. Two pools occupy the footprints of the original towers. Cold, clear water flows down the pools' marble walls into a small pool at each center; the water disappears into these black holes, seemingly back to the earth, only to be recycled to the top to begin the process again.

A Rite of Passage American Roadtrip and Saving Graces

My friends and I wanted beaches, campsites, woods, mountains, and the million other wonders waiting to be discovered away from home, and there was only one answer - a cross-country road trip. We reached the Badlands, right around sunset. Any doubt I had about continuing our trip, already wildly out of control, died in the beauty of the place. Our country is gorgeous, and this place I call home deserves a fair chance at winning my affection. Read More...

Volunteering in Haiti

We arrived at the Port au Prince airport and proceeded through customs without incident. As we made our way through the streets of Port au Prince, the sights unfolding before our eyes confirmed the destruction and devastation we had all seen in worldwide news coverage. Rubble everywhere, refuse filling canals and streets, and what remained of the Presidential Palace.

Field of Dreams, New Mexico's Valles Caldera

My group of hiking gals has gone far and wide in search of great hiking trails – in Utah, Colorado, California, and abroad to France, Spain, Germany and Corsica, even to Reunion Island off Madagascar in the midst of a Dengue fever epidemic. We knew that a tremendous opportunity existed right in our backyard, in the Valles Caldera, a huge 89,000 acre preserve in New Mexico’s Jemez mountain range.

Sicily and Shreveport, LA

by Melissa Cicci As we read the names and birthplaces on the headstones, we came upon family after family who’d come from just a few small comuni (towns) in the provinces of Palermo and Trapani, in western Sicily. Towns that must have mourned the emigration of so many. Over and over again, the headstones read the place names: Caccamo, Cefalù, Contessa Entellina, Poggioreale. Salaparuta. Often, and not surprising for the time, many of the headstones bore the names of young children.

Urban Walks - East Village to Gramercy Park

New York is an infinitely walkable city. Despite Manhattan island’s relatively small size, many New Yorkers can’t claim to have explored all of this borough, let alone the other four (Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island) that together with Manhattan comprise greater New York. On a recent balmy fall evening, a friend and I walked – or more accurately, strolled – from the far East Village to her apartment building on Gramercy Park South. Along the way, we passed 19th century row houses, flat-fronted brownstones and Victorian-era Queen Annes. These last always make me think of old London and Mary Poppins. Read More...

Urban Walks - West 20th Street, Manhattan

Discovering the tiniest slice of Manhattan is not unlike Horton discovering the Who. An entire world can exist on a relatively microscopic speck of this 13 mile-long island. Sometimes a single block will yield unexpected appeal and be rich in history. Such was the case recently when two friends and I headed west on 20th Street. Destination: the High Line, the long-derelict elevated rail line that has been re-imagined as an urban park. On this mid-May day, the humidity hovered around 80 percent and the skies threatened rain.

Where the Sidewalk Ends - Key West

On a winter evening, a strong and salty breeze swirls dry leaves from the ubiquitous gumbo limbo tree along the quiet streets. Soft porch lamps hint at life inside restored bungalows, eyebrow houses and towering two-story Victorians with double porches. The Key West cemetery beckons in the half-light. Crypts and coffins rise above the ground – and the water level. One particular memorial pulls me back again and again.

A Passion for the Grand Canyon

Each year, nearly five million people visit the Grand Canyon. But few experience its stark beauty – and solitude – like one extraordinary man. A native of Würzburg, Germany, Gerd Nunner may have logged more miles on foot in the Canyon than any man since its discovery by Spanish explorers in the 16th century. Beginning in 2001, Gerd has crossed the Colorado River (at the Canyon’s base) 164 times and completed 25 rim-to-rim-to rims (in a single day traveling from the top of one rim to the top of the other - and back - a distance of roughly 44 miles).
Gerd has been living and hiking in the U.S. since 1990, the last 14 years in Santa Fe, New Mexico. To better understand Gerd’s motives – and passion – I sat down to talk with him about where it all began, and his singular ambition.

Serendipity South of the Border

by Carolyn Clark Beedle
A friend picked me up for the two-hour drive from the airport on the Gulf side, through the Sierra de la Laguna mountains, to Todos Santos, located on the southern tip of the Baja peninsula's Pacific coast. At just south of the Tropic of Cancer, Baja in February is a perfect 80- something degrees, and though the peninsula is mostly desert, there are coastal breezes and a greenbelt caused by local pozas. We arrived at our destination after passing through town, bouncing down the rutted washboard road through the greenbelt and making a counter intuitive left turn to the Las Tunas neighborhood north of town.

Spectacular Nature at Treebones Yurt Resort in Big Sur, California

“A yurt resort in Big Sur, CA…you want me to meet you where?” When the call came with that invitation, the opportunity was too intriguing to pass up. This is nature at its most spectacular. To get to the Big Sur area on the California coast now is a challenge to even the heartiest traveler. Rainstorms have washed away portions of coastal Highway 1 requiring detours of all kinds.

Treebones Resort, located at the far south end of Big Sur, is 25 miles north of San Simeon and completely self contained. For those who crave nature but aren’t quite the tent camping type, this is just the place. Other guests during our stay included Silicon Valley hikers, families with students on break from college visit tours, and a few foreign visitors who found this unique resort.

A Beach Cruiser and Florida's Scenic Byway 30A

Along this stretch of highway on Florida's panhandle, new beach-side homes and resorts blend harmoniously with earlier, and more modest, beach bungalows, mid-century motels and seafood shacks. What sets the area apart, at least architecturally speaking, is that unlike much of Florida there isn’t a high-rise in sight. The U.S. Congress in 2008 recognized 30A as a scenic byway, under the National Scenic Byways Program. Beyond the byway and the housing is a gorgeous swath of white sand beach, coastal dune lakes, and the Gulf of Mexico. The result of all this blending is an appealing, but quirky destination that brings regulars back season after season. And there's no better way to explore this scenic byway than on a beach cruiser.

Bridging History, Tragedy and Celebration

A hidden strait less than two miles wide challenged Miwok and Ohlone tribesmen in canoes, Spanish conquistadors, American explorers and adventurers in schooners and frigates. Where exactly did it lie amidst the fog; what might be discovered on surrounding shores; how best to navigate its legendary rough waters? In the late 18th century, the European world discovered this sparkling treasure through explorations by Portola and Ayala, and like anything of value, it has been heavily guarded over time. Spanish, Mexican and American military installations ringed the entrance and fortified the islands found within. Captain John C. Fremont first named it "Chrysopylae," meaning "golden gate," in 1846.

Soon the prospect of wealth from real gold brought droves of miners and settlers through, and overland travel around the perimeter took weeks. As early as 1820, there were ferries filled with water, travelers, and commerce crossing the opening of the San Francisco Bay. Read More...

Canyons and Vines in Southwestern Colorado

Colorado is known for its natural beauty – jagged peaks, clear alpine lakes, and lush river valleys. Amidst the beauty and desolation of the southwestern region, a visitor can find unexpected pockets of culture, both ancient and modern. On a recent day trip, I stumbled upon just such finds and was left feeling like a modern-day pioneer.

On Ambergris Caye, Belize

Local fishermanpreview
The barrier island of Ambergris Caye lies off the northeastern coast of Belize, separating the mainland from the Caribbean Sea. Every leg of the journey to Ambergris feels like a giant step further away from daily life and its stresses. Most international flights land in Belize City. From there, a 12-seat Cessna Caravan makes the short hop to San Pedro, the main town on the Caye. The airport's grassy landing strip ends at a small whitewashed terminal. Playing children and dogs are shooed off the runway to make way for landing and departing planes.

A Taste of Charleston, South Carolina

Humid days and sultry nights, rich history, and foods flavored with both taste and heritage are the most recognizable ways to describe this southern city by the sea. Cobblestone streets evoke images of the eighteenth century and new restaurants and wine bars draw modern crowds. Beneath the touristy surface there is a cosmopolitan feel without the stress of an industrial urban metropolis. Street traffic is minimal, everything is within walking distance, and when in need, rickshaws are readily available. Steeped in history, Charleston is a vibrant and ever-changing American city. Read More...

Emerging Art in New York

Sand and beaches, fragrances and Paris, art and New York…these are indelible relationships. As a venue for the visual, tactile and aural experience, New York is a global art center. One could argue the city itself is art, collaboratively designed by residents over two centuries and constantly beckoning new talent.

Weekend in San Francisco, City of Dreamers

San Francisco, urban chameleon, city of artists, musicians, wanderers and writers, chefs, scientists, diners and dreamers, has a long and colorful past and a kaleidoscopic present. 49 square miles, a metropolis filled with complex lives, sensational stories and beautiful vistas you’ll stumble across amidst inescapable crisp sea breezes.

An Unexpected Spa Retreat in Mexico

Mexico preview
My sister asked me if I would like to join her for a week-long spa package at the Hotel Spa Ixtapan, in Ixtapan de la Sal, Mexico. This would be a real departure from my usual adventure travel - backpacking into the Escalante wilderness, hiking town to town in Europe carrying everything in a day pack - but my 70+ year-old knees were starting to rebel. Maybe it was time for a little pampering.

Shopping in Metepec, Mexico

The day was warm and sunny so we kept to the shady side of the street whenever possible. Time was short. Those wanting to shop had to hustle and a cold Coca-Cola was about all that could be managed. A starkly stylized wrought iron crucifix, in a shop filled with intriguing crafts done by a family of talented artisans, drew me in. Rationalizing that it would fit in my suitcase with clothing stuffed around it, I succumbed.

Winter in the Gros Ventre Wilderness, Wyoming

Directly east of Jackson, Wyoming is the Gros Ventre Wilderness. Located in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, the Gros Ventre is a mystical wilderness of fertile riverbed, big pines, cottonwoods and ranging herds of elk, moose, mule deer and bighorn sheep. Twenty peaks rise 10,000 feet over the valley and 200 miles of trails run throughout the area. Along the valley floor the Gros Ventre River, a tributary of the Snake, follows an alternating path through narrow canyons and a broad, cottonwood-lined bottom.

At the Heart of Mexico's Copper Canyon

I can’t remember where I was exactly. All I recall is that I was riding in a Suburban taxi on the way out of one of the three major canyons that comprise Mexico’s Copper Canyon. It was either Batopilas or Urique and I was feeling light headed as the taxi navigated slowly up the steep switchbacks.

Holiday in the Abacos

thumb bahamas
On the flight from West Palm Beach to Marsh Harbour, Abaco, Bahamas, I was seated next to an experienced Bahamian visitor who was incredulous when I explained that we planned to eat only the fish we caught for our main meals during our 10-day stay on Scotland Cay.

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