Death Valley, California. Hotter than Hades

Death Valley National Park is all about extremes, in more ways than one

Death Valley, California. Hotter than HadesSans reservation, we arrived at Furnace Creek Campground, 268 feet below sea level. The park ranger informed us unequivocally that the campground was FULL. ‘You’ll have to turn around.’ Feigning a U-turn, I drove in - and immediately found a vacant, primo spot. I sauntered back to the entrance booth and slapped down my 22…

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.…

In the heart of the world’s largest non-polar icefield

All was ice, white curving fingers spilling from mountain valleys. Dark lines of ground rock defined each icy highway

In the heart of the world’s largest non-polar icefieldKLUANE NATIONAL PARK AND RESERVE, Yukon – I’ve been a geography nut since I was a kid. My noggin is full of useless facts. In pre-metric days, I memorized details of the world’s highest and lowest: Mount Everest, 29,028 feet; Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, 35,814 feet. As a proud Canadian, I knew that…

Of sour toes, midnight golf, and birds singing for sex and war

Historic, colourful, quaint and sleep-deprived Dawson City; and up the perilous, muddy Dempster Highway

Of sour toes, midnight golf, and birds singing for sex and warUpon our return from six weeks exploring Canada’s north, friends enquired, “So what was your favourite place?” And each time, gazing distantly while recalling the amazing scenery, people and places we encountered, I answered: “Haven’t a clue.” But Dawson City, Yukon, is a good start. I love Dawson. Unlike cruise-ship destinations on the nearby Alaska…

A soft egg in the Nahanni National Park Reserve

Discovering Virginia Falls, a remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site – and learning a little German

A soft egg in the Nahanni National Park ReserveON THE ALASKA HIGHWAY – In German, weichei means soft egg. It defines a person’s character. In Canada, we call them wimps. Charly Kudlacek is from Frankfurt in the German state of Hesse and, as eggs go, is hard-boiled. We met Charly and his wife Marion in a remote campground at Summit Lake on the…

Turks and Caicos – the road less travelled, but it could be ours

Would it really benefit Canada to get into bed with these types – even if the bed was a hammock swaying in a tropical breeze?

Turks and Caicos – the road less travelled, but it could be oursI once had political aspirations. It was the early 1980s. A federal election was brewing. At the same time, a tiny chain of British islands in the Caribbean – Turks and Caicos Islands – had expressed interest in forming an association with Canada. What a great idea: Canada’s own warm winter destination. No more currency…

Riding in Riccione and the unsurpassable beauty of Tuscany

The beauty and hospitality of Italy soon becomes apparent whether astride a bicycle or driving down its twisting, narrow country roads

Riding in Riccione and the unsurpassable beauty of TuscanyThe Most Serene Republic of San Marino is located in the middle of Italy. At 62 square km, it's one of the smallest nations in the world. Although only a few dozen kilometres from Italy’s Adriatic Coast, San Marino’s summit is almost 800 metres above sea level. And crowning this mountainous micro-state is the medieval…

Overwhelmed in Rome, overfed in Matera

Basking in the splendour, charm and hospitality of southern Italy, particularly when you wander off the beaten track

Overwhelmed in Rome, overfed in MateraOn a lonely country road near Ostuni, in the province of Puglia – the heel of Italy’s boot – I stopped to photograph a field of poppies in an olive grove. After a few happy snaps, I jumped back in the car and motored on. Fifteen minutes later, I reached for my daypack and realized…