We chugged up, up, up into the Harz Mountains, northern Germany’s highest range. The train’s black, coal-powered engine, dating to the 1950s, billowed steam over its five cars, all blood-red and polished, with matching upholstered seats. Sitting in the first car, we watched pines click by.
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Past Flagstaff and Sunset Crater, while I wiggle cramped toes and pinyons grow scragglier with each mile, my teenager, Ava, asks, “Will they ever shut up?”
I glance in the rearview mirror, to the truck’s backseat, filled with double-stacked cat carriers. Fluffy gray Gracie glares with disdain. Sometimes cuddly, sometimes growly, tortoiseshell Minerva hisses. “You’d think they’d have grown hoarse by now.”
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Walking a cobbled lane, we hunt for the letter C as we explore Breb, a village in Romania’s Maramures region. Our farm-stay host, Ione, suggested the route. So far, blue Cs have been scarce. On our right, a woven fence -think linear basket- encloses a farmhouse yard. We hear gruff barks, and through fence slats spot a humongous, chained, muddy dog.
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Banish your family’s summer doldrums by heading to Phoenix, Arizona, where the blue skies seem limitless. There’s so much to do in the Valley of the Sun that your kids will beg to stay longer. Here are 10 surefire let’s-have-fun family activities in the Phoenix area—and don’t forget to pack your sunscreen!
A lounge chair nestled beneath a swaying palm tree and umbrella clad drinks close by are enticements that beckon many to the Dominican Republic. However, it was a Carnival mask that my two daughters and I were seeking. Because we had arrived in June –well past the Caribbean island’s month long February street party –I knew that our search could be challenging. For more, click download button above!
Swoosh, swash, my tennis shoes sing as I hike against the current, gurgling water swirling around my ankles. Cottonwoods tower overhead. Their leaves tinkling like wind chimes in the breeze. The concert hall of Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness, a verdant swath on the Gailuro Mountains’ northwest flank, resonates with lush melodies. For more, click download button above!
I focus on the sheer rock wall visible between my well-worn leather hiking boots, key in on the reddish brown veins crisscrossing the cliff’s face. My boots lightly touch stone as I dangle in a sitting position 130 feet above the boulder-strewn beach. Behind me, out of site, because I am too scared to look, is the Bay of Fundy, off Cape Enrage, New Brunswick. My daughter, Lyda, hangs next to me. She bounces from one point on the cliff to the next. For more, click download button above!
The travel bug grabbed hold of me when I was a kid growing up in the South. Every chance we could, my parents and I set off in the family’s 1967 Cadillac Coup DeVille and explored back roads, big cities, and long stretches of sandy beaches. Being the youngest, with both my brother and sister away at college, I had the huge gold Caddie’s backseat to myself and watched the miles blur past in between Dairy Queen stops, on our quest to see which one made the biggest chocolate dipped cone (outside of Decatur, Alabama). We were transplants from “Up North”—Oregon to be exact—and the segregated South was like a foreign country to us, with their “Yes, Sir’s, No Mam’s, Y’alls,” said with an accent as thick as fried chicken’s crunchy crust. For more, click download button above!
Pigs paw, snort, and snarl as they bed-down for the night against the sides of a Laos village home-stay hut. The only separation between our heads and the free-roaming herd are palm frown walls and a single row of upended and half-buried BeerLao bottles ringing the hut’s base. On top of the pigs’ cantankerous preparations, the village shaman’s drum beat, calling ancestral spirits to mend a toddler’s broken arm and cure a man’s cancer. Turning over, searching for a patch of yet discovered softness on the hard sleeping platform, I watch shadows move like scampering beetles across the overhead rafters as the moon slips in and out of monsoon clouds. I’m exhausted but unwilling to let sleep steal any of this adventure. For more, click download button above!
“On belay.” Alexis Finley, a professional guide with Pangaea Mountain Guides says, signaling it’s time to move.
OMG! I think, staring up at one of the craggy rock faces of Windy Point in the Santa Catalina Mountains. I’d shoved my fear of heights aside to rappel the wall and now I must stuff them deeper in order to take my feet from the ground and find a toe-hold on the cliff. For more, click download button above!