Monthly Archives: February 2016

High Falls George and the Adirondacks’ Whiteface Region

2016-02-23 16.27.23Last week, I headed up to Lake Placid, a village in upstate New York. While seeing much of Lake Placid, I also spent some time exploring the Whiteface Region of the New York State’s Adirondack Mountains.

The Whiteface Region is a delight for nature lovers and outdoor sports fans. Whether a summer, winter, or even fall trip is planned , the region has a network of trails that alternate from hiking and mountain biking, to snowshoeing and skiing. Even fishing, particularly for trout, is big here during its season. Yet for those that prefer more of a walking place, consider starting off High Falls Gorge. Located off of NY-86E in Wilmington, about 10 minutes from Lake Placid, High Falls Gorge has self-guided trails at its 22-acre nature park that brings visitors in viewing distance of waterfalls or Adirondack forestry.

Located off of NY-86 E in Wilmington, about 10 minutes from Lake Placid, High Falls Gorge runs along the Ausable River. One of the gorge’s three trails coincides with the direction of the river, where you can walk along maintained routes, bridges, and pathways to view waterfalls (in winter, their frozen look is pretty spectacular). The other two trails involve one that is accessible to strollers and wheelchairs, while the other is steeper and a bit uneven. I walked along the yellow, which leads through various steps for viewing four waterfalls and surrounding trees.

Before and after going on these trails, head inside the Gorge’s Welcome Center for a bite to eat at the River View Café. This American-style restaurant serves lunch and dinner with five styles of wings, a ton of apps, salads, lunchtime sandwiches and dinner entrees and burgers.

Also in the Whiteface Region, serious hikers can make their mark in completing certain ranges hat are like being initiated into special clubs: the 46ers and 6ers. The 46ers refers to the 46 Adirondack High Peaks, which is this amount of mountains that with elevations ranging higher or lower than 4,000 feet. To get a good start, it’s probably best to consider the 6ers. They consist of six Adirondack peaks found at Saranac Lake, which is west of Lake Placid. Plus if you have climbed all six – and provide the dates of each climb and the approximate time of reaching the summit – you’ll get an official member number, patch and sticker.

In my next post, I’ll be listing more about my jaunts around Lake Placid. Stay tuned!


Editor’s note: Lake Placid CVB invited me as a guest to Lake Placid and Adironacks region. However, my posts are entirely based on my personal opinion.

Book Review: National Geographic Guide to National Parks, Eighth Edition


National Geographic Parks

Though its release marks this book’s eighth edition, National Geographic’s Guide to National Parks of the United States is a timely one. 2016 marks the centennial of the U.S. National Parks, which Nat Geo seemed to have a bit of a hand in.

The introduction to this latest version shares a story involving Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor, National Geographic’s first editor, who fell in love with the beauty of the sequoias in California’s Sierra Nevada. His vacay inspired him to dedicate the April 1916 issue of his magazine to America’s natural wonders — and give copies out to elected officials in Washington. Apparently, D.C. got the message. That August, President Woodrow Wilson signed the act creating the National Park Service.

Now, the 2016 edition of National Geographic’s Guide to National Parks of the United States has been updated with on-location research to determine the best spots in each of the 59 national parks for views. Other additions include travel tips, itineraries, contact information, and a list of places to stay. Geographically, the guide is broken down by regions: East, Midwest, South Central, Southwest, Rocky Mountain, Pacific Southwest, Pacific Northwest, and Alaska. Plus, of course, the scenery is shown through 80 full-color maps and more than 220 photographs. It’s priced at $29.95.

For youngsters, The National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide U.S.A. Centennial Edition (ages 8-12, $14.99) offers a minor take on exploring these parks. Produced in partnership with the National Parks Trust, the book is designed to encourage readers to put down the iPad and go through photos, lists, maps and other attention grabbing pages. Plus: through the Every Kid in a Park program, every fourth grader can visit any national park for free though August 2016!



Hilton Offers Exclusive Room Rates with Direct Booking

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If you’re a member of Hilton HHonors (Hilton’s guest loyalty program), here’s some news for you. This week, Hilton Worldwide announced the launch of its “Stop Clicking Around” promotion that encourages Hilton HHonors members to book reservations directly through the program to get specialty discounts. The promotion is valid at more than Hilton’s 4,500 properties worldwide.

In a sense, it’s to encourage members to not turn to third-party travel sites to book rooms but go to Hilton HHonors. Valid methods include the program’s mobile app, reservation call centers, or through preferred corporate travel partners and approved travel agents. If Hilton is a must for you, it’s a bit of a money saver. But also look at other discounts too like AAA (or yes, going back to those, um, other search engines).

Can You Find Love While Traveling?

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Around Valentine’s Day, there are travel stories that come out about couples that have found love while on the road. Some have happy endings, others not so much.

If you think about, it’s easy to have a romance while on the road. You’re in new surroundings. If you’re open to striking up conversations with new people, like locals or fellow travelers, you can bond quickly over similar experiences, interests, and maybe itineraries. Plus, you’re on vacation.

So, yes, I think it’s possible to find genuine romance while traveling. But you can also meet someone while passing through or encounter the exact opposite. Here are some suggestions on whether a travel romance could just turn out to be a fling or the real thing.

  • Take your moments together as they come.
    It’s very easy to get caught up in what’s happening, but sometimes it’s best to keep your mind and heart in the present moment. Maybe you and the guy/girl you met are enjoying a night on the town or paired up to hang out on a beach or head to some other location. Just see how it goes. While I was on a walking tour in Berlin, my group included a young hunky South African on a yearlong gap. My friend and I invited him to join us at our table and he was very fun and sweet. He and I ended up walking together, and he got very chummy with me. When the tour was up, he lingered for a while and then gave me a kiss and walked off. My friend pointed to out to me that he seemed keen on me; I chalked up to just having fun.
  • Follow your heart, but trust your gut. Generally, most people you meet while traveling are basically good. But remember to keep your head. Along with common sense rules like watching your belongings, and even drinks, if something doesn’t feel right, pay attention. Keep an extra bill of the local currency on you in a separate place so if you need to get away safely via a cab you can. Also if his/her behavior seems off — doing one thing but saying another, being vague about himself/herself, or just emotions flying — it’s a good indicator that there’s more to him/her than willing to show. I hate to say this but I’ve found that some who’ve really put on the charm upfront (very out of the ordinary charm) were quite the opposite later on.
  • Think about where you from and what’s at home.
    Maybe you’re from one part of the globe and he/she is from the other. Most likely, you’re either both going back home after your trip is done or your locally-love interest is staying where he/she is. Or if possible would you both continue on together? When I was in Athens, I met a charming Greek guy who after helping my awkward self figured out which subway stop would get me to the Acropolis Museum. He ended hanging out with me at the museum, and our night continued on in the Plaka. He invited me over to his place afterwards, but my hesitation kicked in (plus I thought about my then-BF back home). But it was nice to be flirty, at least for one night.
  • Weigh how you’ll stay in touch.
    Facebook, even email, makes it a lot easier to keep in touch after travelers go their separate ways. So mostly likely you’ll keep in touch somehow, or initially. Circumstances can change, and people can change. With my Athenian, we became Facebook friends, and I would Facebook message him when he was online. But after a while, it felt like I was more interested in chatting with him than he was with me. But it happens. At least, you’ll have made a new friend, right?
  • If it’s right, then go for it!

    In all, traveling is the one of the best ways to judge someone’s personality. If you decide to go jaunting together for a while, here are some questions to think about. Are you both open to compromising on where to go, what to see, and how much to spend? Do either of you sulk or stay patient with each other? How do you handle conflicts together? And mostly, are you both committed to having a relationship or it is more casual? If all your answers sound right for you, then see how love unfolds and take that leap.







Icelandair Offers Stopover Buddy Program


Iceland’s Blue Lagoon

Here is a fun news item: Icelandair has launched a new service called Stopover Buddy that provides passengers with stopovers in Iceland with someone to hang out. The Stopover Buddy is for those flying to Europe, and it’s free. (But technically, you have bought an Icelandair plane ticket and you have to stay up to seven nights in Iceland at no additional airfare.)

At times, fliers heading to Europe might first stop to Iceland en route to their final destination, and find themselves with some time to kill between flights in Iceland’s Keflavik International Airport. If time permits, they often leave the airport and venture out to places like the Blue Lagoon. But if you’re flying solo, Icelandair’s Stopover Buddy program is a nice incentive. It lets you be in the company of a local guide, who doesn’t mind keeping you company. Your buddy will be an Icelandair employee.

The Stopover Buddy program works like this. Before their flight, Icelandair passengers put in an advanced request for a buddy. This temporary pal (or potentially newly-made friend) is an Icelandic native who is paired up with a passenger based on a mutual interest: nature, culture, cuisine, or just some fun sightseeing. Once this information is submitted, the Stopover Buddy will set up an itinerary based on what his/her fly-by friend wants to do. It could involve seeing a specific place or local favorite spot or even doing an activity like hiking or biking.

Sadly, your chance to find a short-term buddy in Iceland is short. Icelandair’s Stopover Buddy program is available now through April 30. Plus you have to be 18 and up to use it. And your buddy will hang out with you for one day only.

Exploring Fort Worth, Texas

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Recently I traveled to Fort Worth, Texas for two work assignments. For three days, I ventured about its different districts, exploring its culinary, historic, and cultural offerings. Although I’m going to leave most of what I did out – I’ll post the published articles once they’re online – here are some places to consider seeing or dining at.

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Horseshoe Hill Café
In the Stockyards National Historic District, this restaurant is all about cowboy cuisine – Texas food influenced by ethnicities and ingredients found in the state’s various regions – and serves up Western favorites. Its specialty is chicken fried steak. You can order the traditional version with peppered gravy to inventive twists like chili con carne and queso blanco or chili gravy and a fried egg. There are also other offerings like sides of red chile cheese enchiladas and a nice 16 oz. dry aged ribeye.

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Guided Tour of the Fort Worth Stockyards
Fort Worth’s history with the cattle industry began as being the last stop for cowboys and their steers en route to Kansas’ railheads around the mid-1860s through 1880s. Although the industry has changed much over time, the Stockyards are still a visual reminder of this period. One way to learn more about the Stockyards is through Stockyards Historic Walking Tours. Starting from the visitor center, a guide takes you along specific spots throughout the Stockyards and gives the backstory on these buildings. Tours happen daily. While at the Stockyards, see the twice a day Fort Worth Herd parade. At 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., a small set of longhorns and their handlers walk down East Exchange Avenue.

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Esperanza’s Mexican Cafe and Bakery
Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to sit down and eat here. However, I kept hearing from locals about how good this place is. So I decided to a quick run over and see what I could grab. There are two locations, but I went to its site near the Stockyards. This venue gets a lot of nods for its breakfast and lunch, but it also has a side bakery in the front featuring Mexican pastries. I grabbed what I could say a version of a jelly-filled, powder sugared donut. It was messy but tasty!

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National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame
Based in Fort Worth’s Cultural District, this museum is unique in that it solely is about cowgirls and pioneering women who promote Western heritage on many different levels. And it pays tribute to them. Some of them are known, while some might be surprises. On the lower level, there are a number of displays dedicated to Annie Oakley. A holographic Annie speaks about her days as a gunslinger, and her clothes and other items are on view. Upstairs, the hall of fame features photos of various American women of the West.

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Dine out on Near Southside’s West Magnolia Street
This section in Near Southside is a place to go for dinner or after drinks. Coffee shops, cocktail bars, and restaurants are lined along here. One night, I just walked up and down this street, and going into places that looked appealing. Desserts will always get my attention, so I went inside Stir Crazy Baked Goods, a cozy bakery along this district. Inside, there are cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and muffins in different flavors good sizes, but with prices that are easy on the wallet. Another venue that was recommended to me for more of a meal was The Bearded Lady. It has more of a pub atmosphere, with a full board of craft beers (including Texas suds). Apps are interesting like fried cactus strips, fried leek rings, and whole fried okra. Sandwiches and burgers have their say on the menu. There’s a fancy grilled cheese selection and a Build Your Own Damn ½ Lb Burger (I opted for the former; it was good.).

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Acre Distillery LLC
A recent newcomer to Fort Worth’s Downtown area, this venue is a combination of an espresso bar and distillery. In the morning hours, this place serves up caffeinated brews and light breakfast orders, particularly to nearby Texas A & M students. At night, the scene changes to more of a cocktail environment featuring in-house made gin, vodka, and two types of bourbon. These distilled spirits also get mixed up as cocktails paired with flavored moonshine infusions such as a cinnamon and can be served alongside charcuterie boards.