“Where am I going next?” This is a question constantly on every travelers mind. I’m currently in the pre-planning stages of our next big trip and I always enjoy this phase. With nothing yet on the books my mind is free to wander, the entire world an array of endless possibilities. I enjoy researching travel almost as much as the trip itself; I can easily spend hours pouring over travel magazines and blogs, each picture and story adding a little more fuel to my wanderlust. Polar bear safari in Manitoba or tango in Buenos Aires? Overwater bungalow in Bora Bora or a villa in Tuscany? At this stage the world is my oyster. Steve (my partner in crime) is having a milestone birthday this year (one of those that ends in zero) so my thoughts are leaning towards somewhere big, somewhere grand, somewhere epic.
The city of New Orleans has a lot going for it- the cobblestone streets of the French Quarter, a vibrant music culture, some of the best food in the U.S. and the easy going grandeur of the Garden District attract millions of visitors each year. Just beyond the city limits lies a completely different but equally fascinating world, where gnarled cypress laced with Spanish moss frame the silent waters and where the gator is king.
Ah, few things in life offer more freedom than a few days off, four wheels and the lure of the open road.
Set back within the residential Vieux Carre section of the French Quarter, the Maison DuPuy is a historic hotel with a casually gracious sense of hospitality. Located on the corner of Rue Toulouse and Rue Burgundy (pronounced “bur-GUN-dy” as any New Orleans native will quickly point out), the Maison DuPuy is located only 2 blocks from Bourbon Street, making it close enough to party (if that’s your thing) while being just enough out of the way to be quiet and relaxed. As with the French Quarter itself, the buildings that harbor the Maison DuPuy have seen many changes. Originally an industrial area these buildings once housed the nation’s first cotton press and later a number of sheet metal shops. After years as a historic residential area in 1973 the DuPuy brothers combined five large ornate townhouses and opened the doors to the Maison DuPuy Hotel.
To say that New Orleans is an eater’s kind of town is a huge understatement. With a long history as a cultural melting pot French,Spanish and German influences mixed with Afro-Caribbean elements to create a cuisine that is wholly unique to New Orleans. This is the city that invented the cocktail (thank you by the way) and where brunch is a spectator sport. Tradition is rooted strongly here with several restaurants being in operation for over a century but the past few years have also seen a new breed of chef stretching New Orleans’ culinary boundaries with delicious result. Grab your fork, these are my picks of where to eat in New Orleans. Read More
Imagine waking up surrounded by lush tropical foliage, awakened by the sounds of the ocean. Trees heavy with exotic fruit provide you breakfast as the forest around you begins to wake up. Rainbow hued birds respond to the day’s first sunlight with their songs shortly followed by the unmistakable roar of a howler monkey. Creatures of the four-legged variety begin to stir and slowly the jungle around you comes to life. Is this Eden? No my friends, this is Bosque del Cabo.
Thoughts of Africa tend to conjure up images of the continent’s iconic wildlife; cheetahs zipping across the plains, a pride of lions stalking a herd of wildebeest, and the unmistakable silhouette of a rhino surveying his territory at sunset. Sadly that last image may soon become more of a memory that a reality due to daily threat rhinos face from poaching. Rhinos are being killed for their horns at an alarming rate, incidences of poaching have risen by more than 300% in the last four years, from 333 in 2010 to more than 1020 animals in 2014. At this rate it is estimated that the rhino population could become extinct within 20 years.
Seemingly frozen in time the Original Mast General Store has been serving the surrounding rural community since 1883. Tucked away high in the Blue Ridge Mountains the Mast General Store is the anchor of Valle Crucis and is one the National Register of Historic Places as one of the finest examples of an old country general store.
It was New Year’s morning of 2014 when I sat down to write my first words for the Casual Travelist. A short month since my Mom passed and only a few days after she was laid to rest, the pain of our family’s loss was still very raw and all too real. The month leading up to my Mom’s death were a roller coaster of highs and lows in and out of the hospital and my world outside that had stopped. I spent the weeks following in a complete haze, only focusing what was right in front of me. I wore my grief like blinders and really couldn’t think or focus about much of anything. I knew I needed to do something to start moving forward.