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The Day I Climbed a 14,000 foot Volcano in Ecuador and Didn’t Die

Our day started out simply enough, enjoying a cup of coffee while watching llamas graze on the grounds of our 16th century hacienda in the Ecuadorian highlands. Originally we had planned to hike around the base of Cotopaxi, the snow-capped active volcano south of Quito as popular with day trippers as it is with hardcore mountaineers, but the park was closed as a precaution due to Ecuador’s recent earthquakes. Our  innkeeper pointed across the valley “You should hike at Pasochoa, I’ll let Flavio know”.

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The Brewhouse Inn and Suites-Modern Luxury with a Nod to Milwaukee's Past

The Brewhouse Inn and Suites-Modern Luxury with a Nod to Milwaukee’s Past

It’s no secret that Milwaukee has always been a beer town, so on a recent visit I couldn’t pass up staying at a hotel that started out at as a brewery. But this wasn’t just any brewery, this was the Pabst brewery, at one time the biggest brewery in the world; and this wasn’t just any hotel, it was the Brewhouse Inn and Suites which turned out to be one of the most unique city hotels I’ve ever stayed at.

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THE NEW YOU (15)

Why I’m Perfectly Content not Quitting My Job to Travel

It seems like every week I’m asked by friends, coworkers or readers when I’m going to quit my 9-to-5 job and do this traveling thing full time. Ditching the corporate rat race while living on a tropical island while making thousands working four hours a week, isn’t that the ultimate goal of every travel blogger? While I’m inspired by those full time travelers out there I’m well aware that most of us (particularly Americans with our meager vacation time which we don’t use all of) don’t travel that way. Truth is, I rather like the dichotomy of my life-suburban physical therapist during the week and international jetsetter on the weekends. Here’s why I’m perfectly content not quitting my job to travel the world.

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Small Town Cool in Fredericksburg, Virginia www.casualtravelist.com

Small Town Cool in Fredericksburg, Virginia

Fredericksburg has long drawn visitors for its history; as the boyhood home to George Washington and host to several Civil War battlefields where Southern grit and Northern ideals clashed. If history and antique shops are your thing there’s still plenty of that here but the past few years have brought a renewed energy to this small town. I’d been hearing a lot about Fredericksburg so on a recent weekend I paid a visit to see what all the buzz was about.

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Mashpi Lodge-Luxury in Ecuador's Cloud Forest www.casualtravelist.com

Mashpi Lodge-Luxury in Ecuador’s Cloud Forest

Winding bumpy roads snake their way through Ecuador’s chain of  Andean volcanoes. Three hours in the van watching city turn into farmland and eventually something more remote we arrived at our destination. Greeted by a large Jurassic Park style wooden gate, the doors opened and we began our descent into one of the most wild places I’ve been. Jungle in every shade of green imaginable stretched out for miles while the heavy mist sunk throughout crags of the surrounding valleys. This was the singular environment of Ecuador’s cloud forest and home to Mashpi Lodge.

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Why Milwaukee is cooler than you think www.casualtravelist.com

Why Milwaukee is a lot cooler than you think

 

Milwaukee is a town with working class roots, that made working class things and working class beer. Like many industrial cities the last few decades took a bit of a toll but Milwaukee. Industrial giants crumbled and took parts of the city with them, but they never took Milwaukee’s spirit. Laverne and Shirley schlemiel and schlemazeled their way through the city and Harley-Davidson produced an American icon here. I have extended family who live nearby who have been telling me for years what a fun town Milwaukee is and it was high time I see what the buzz is about.

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2Y7A1516

One Great Weekend: What to do in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee brings to mind images of beer barons and motorcycles, the Fonz and a couple of girls named Laverne and Shirley just looking to do it their way. This city on the shore of Lake Michigan is shedding its industrial image and showing its creative side. Milwaukee has always been a city of makers, only now instead of leather and car parts you’ll find craft breweries and independent boutiques while a new crop of innovative chefs is out to prove that Wisconsin’s culinary scene is more than just brats and cheese curds(though you should most definitely get your fill of both while in town). This city is forging a new path but stays true to its roots,here are my recommendations for what to do in Milwaukee.

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Eastern Shore

A weekend trip to Virginia’s Eastern Shore

After an unusually cool and wet spring summer’s warmer days meant one thing– it was time for a road trip. Steve’s Mom was in town and I wanted to show her a part of Virginia she hadn’t yet been to and a place that’s become a favorite of mine for a quick trip, Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Just an hour from my home in Virginia Beach this thin peninsula bordered by Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean is only connected to the rest of Virginia by the 21 mile long Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and is easily reachable from both Washington DC and Philadelphia. Flip-flops and Wellies of the footwear of choice and oyster shell roads lead out to the water. The remote beaches, small towns and pristine barrier islands of the Eastern Shore feel both of another time and place making for the perfect Mid-Atlantic weekend getaway.

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Fjallsarlon-Iceland's other Glacier Lagoon www.casualtravelist.com

Fjallsarlon-Iceland’s Other Glacier Lagoon

Black volcanic sand beaches, massive glaciers and pristine waterfalls; when it comes to natural beauty Iceland is unsurpassed. On my first day in Iceland, with a ferocious wind and biting rain outside, I sought warmth in a small cafe outside of Iceland’s famous Geyser. It was here I met a couple who was just finishing a two week trip around the Ring Road and over bowls of lamb stew we got to chatting. I asked what their most memorable stop of their trip was; they looked at each other and in near unison replied “Fjallsarlon”.

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Joining the Navy-Twenty Years Later www.casualtravelist.com

Joining the Navy-Twenty Years Later

Twenty years ago, a day after my 19th birthday my parents stood on the front porch as I entered a car with a man in uniform. My mother tearful and my father stoic, I waved goodbye as I made what turned out to be the most influential decision of my life. I left my family, friends and home behind and headed off to my first day of boot camp for the United States Navy.

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