There is more to Bryce Canyon National Park than the brilliant orange color seeping from the hoodoos.
Balancing cairns on Queens Garden Trail.
At the Grand Canyon, you stand at the edge, peering into a gaping hole, the splendor of the canyon sweeping before you. At Badlands National Park, the unforgiving precipices exist as far as the eye can see. In Yosemite National Park, the waterfalls and cliff faces surround you.
When I travel to national parks, it is usually obvious why I’m supposed to be impressed. There is a moment of catching my breath, of blinking once again … just to make sure I’m seeing what is really in front of me.
Not so with Bryce Canyon National Park.
The afternoon we arrived in Bryce, we decided to drive to Rainbow Point, the southernmost area of the park accessible by car. I stood at the lookout, trying to be impressed. Okay … there were a few distinct rock formations with a funky orange color, but so what?
Travel writing: The act of leisurely journeying around a city, region or country mingling with the locals, finding hidden dining and sleeping establishments, and fully experiencing the intricacies of a culture unrestricted by time or money, then translating those experiences into eloquent prose so that others can find equally rewarding and memorable experiences when they, too, travel to that city, region or country.
Or not so much, according to Thomas Kohnstamm, author of Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?: A Swashbuckling Tale of High Adventures, Questionable Ethics, and Professional Hedonism.
With two months and a limited monetary advance, Kohnstamm doesn’t mask the near impossibility of covering and writing about six Brazilian states for an updated Lonely Planet guidebook. But he’s stuck in a dead-end job with a newly robbed apartment and a relationship that dances dangerously close to non-existent. What else is a guy to do but accept the few dollars dangled in front of him and hop a plane to South America?
Traveling to Las Vegas, Nevada, isn’t complete without seeing a show on the Strip. While your choice of Las Vegas shows is vast, chances are your short list includes the classics, including any of the seven Cirque du Soleil shows, Blue Man Group, the Jersey Boys and Phantom of the Opera.
Move beyond the MGM Mirage and Venetian/Palazzo entertainment, though, and you’ll uncover a show that easily rivals any of the Cirque shows in beauty and acrobatics, holds a candle to Blue Man Group for its music, and entertains like Jersey Boys and Phantom.
Remember that scene in Big where Tom Hanks made music on the oversized keyboard? Now it’s your turn!
Everyone knows that Las Vegas is about having fun, but this is where you get to be a big kid in an otherwise adult-oriented city.
Go ahead … let your inner child run free! At FAO Schwarz in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, it’s possible and recommended.
A 47-foot high trojan horse greets visitors at the store’s entrance, and three stories worth of stuffed animals, games, puzzles, candy, action figures, dolls and more amount to hours of fun inside.
Travel in a new country is a steep learning curve. Cultural nuances take shape before your eyes. Local dialects sort themselves out within a matter of days. What you found in a guidebook is good to the extent that it exists as a two-dimensional depiction of a place.
Though I only spent eight days in Peru—three days in Cusco, one day in Aguas Caliente and four days on the Inca Trail — I did pick up a few nuggets of wisdom. If you’re traveling to Peru, here are four things I learned that might help you … and one extra thought worth considering as you venture forth into the heart of the Incan Empire.
(Note: This was written Thursday, July 2.)
When I first travel to a national park, I have little choice but to be That Guy. I don’t know the lay of the land, I am unfamiliar with the famous landmarks and I yearn to learn about the biggies that make a park worthy of national park designation.
Hence my day as That Guy in Yosemite Valley. An estimated four million people visit Yosemite National Park every year, and most of them squeeze into the approximately two percent of the park that makes up the Yosemite Valley. To say that Yosemite is too crowded is an understatement. The bad news is that being That Guy requires taking my place among those four million in that two percent worth of space.
Far away from anywhere, the snake-like road of King’s Canyon National Park in California offers few amenities for the curious explorer. Due to the unusual layout of the park, in order to travel from the western portion of the park to the eastern portion, drivers have to pass through Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument. In this non–national park designated part of the drive is the Kings Canyon Lodge, a sleepy cluster of buildings that don’t at all resemble the stereotypical lodge, which offers the only place to get gas in the area.
We pulled into the parking lot. We didn’t see another car. Two tall, tubular devises sat in the middle of the lot. A sign was taped to the device:
King’s Canyon National Park, California.
It’s a far cry from Yosemite National Park in the north and even Sequoia National Park to the south. If you want to experience it, you have to work for it. Traveling to national parks like these are nearly always worth the long and arduous trip.
The road into King’s Canyon is closed through the winter, and it’s easy to understand why. The narrow, winding road balances precariously on the steep banks of the Kings River as it snakes its way back into the far reaches of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
From our campsite in the General Grant’s Grove area, it took us nearly an hour to reach Road’s End. We passed a few lonely businesses — a cave, a gas station, something posing as a sorry little lodge — and only a few cars. Road’s End consists of a large parking lot of few cars, a lone ranger station, a number of backcountry hikers getting ready for long-term adventures and a handful of hard-core day hikers.