Finding magical places on the long road from Alberta to Texas

Not having a definitive travel plan can pay off when you unexpectedly find the remarkable – amid the people and the landscape

Finding magical places on the long road from Alberta to TexasYou would not want to go on an RV trip with me. Plans are inevitably last minute and unpredictable. An innocuous road sign may result in a quick U-turn – and a two-day detour to places unknown. In early fall, we packed our modest motor home and slowly, circuitously ambled from Red Deer, Alberta southward…

Padre Island: peace, tranquility and fabulous fishing

In shoulder season on the Gulf of Mexico coast in Texas, you can catch your fill of fish, enjoy the locals – or you can just sit back and relax

Padre Island: peace, tranquility and fabulous fishingPadre Island is a long spit of sand dunes guarding mainland Texas from the destructive tornadoes and winter storms that pound in from the Gulf of Mexico. Between this narrow barrier island and the mainland lies Laguna Madre, a shallow hyper-saline sea renowned for sensitive sea grass – and world-class kite surfing, birding and fishing.…

Down on the bayou: Cajun hospitality and gators

We floated through vast groves of bald cypress trees draped in Spanish moss, while malevolent-looking gators sunned on logs

Down on the bayou: Cajun hospitality and gatorsThe news from Louisiana is often hurricanes, burst levees and the dangerous streets of New Orleans. What we’ve discovered down south has been unreserved hospitality. A few years ago, on our first trip through the Bayou State, the weather turned cold. We became stranded in the town of Natchitoches, blindsided by a gale of sleet.…

Helen Keller’s birthplace stirs the senses

Museum honours ‘America’s First Lady of Courage’

Helen Keller’s birthplace stirs the sensesTUSCUMBIA, Alabama - The irony is striking. I’m free to tour the childhood home that was for a while her prison, though happily also the site of her liberation. I can hear birds she couldn’t hear, from somewhere in the magnolias and mimosas she couldn’t see. I can trace in an hour the life that…

Alabama museum pays tribute to the father of the blues

Visit the Alabama birthplace of W.C. Handy

Alabama museum pays tribute to the father of the bluesIt may be in St. Louis, Memphis and New York that W.C. Handy popularized the blues. But it’s in Florence, Alabama, that his musical journey began. Dubbed “The Father of the Blues,” Handy was born in 1873 in this city whose population is closing in on 40,000. The family’s two-room cabin, built of white poplar…

Put down your tech and Travel Like This

Put down your tech and Travel Like ThisTake our advice, and travel like this. We live in the golden age of travel. Never have so many world destinations been more accessible and more affordable. Budget-minded travellers can find affordable alternatives to hotels through internet-based services, like VRBO and AirBnB. Uber and Lyft have cut the price of ground transportation. And discount airlines…

Make your own music and memories in Big Pink

The famous house in southeastern New York state was once used by The Band. Now it's available to the public for overnight stays

Make your own music and memories in Big PinkIf you’re a fan of The Band, I have great news for you. You may be aware that this summer marks the 50th anniversary of the release of Music From Big Pink, the group’s first album. But you may not know that the remote house the musicians and their mentor Bob Dylan gathered in to record…

Using laughter to revive a struggling community

The National Comedy Center will open its doors on Aug. 1 in Jamestown, N.Y., the birthplace of Lucille Ball

Using laughter to revive a struggling communityIn a Western New York city of about 30,000 residents, a first-of-its-kind attraction dedicated to the art, history and social significance of comedy is set to open. The National Comedy Center will open its doors in Jamestown, N.Y., on Aug 1. More than US$50 million have already been spent in building the brand-spanking-new facility. It’s…

Tips to planning your first trip to Las Vegas

"Sin City" is nothing like in the movies

Tips to planning your first trip to Las VegasIt has been called, “Disneyland for adults,” which is quite an interesting statement once one asks the question: What constitutes an adult? Somewhere, between McCarran International Airport and the Las Vegas strip, otherwise quiet, stoic, Midwestern grown-ups become wide-eyed children-in-adults bodies, looking for a quick win at the poker table and a weekend-long series of…