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Author: Debbie Stone

Journey Through the Depths of Mordor

“It’s the last push,” shouts our guide, Connor, with annoyingly, over-the-top enthusiasm. I don’t believe him. And neither does anyone else in our group of six hikers. We’ve all learned by now that Connor’s using what I refer to as “guide speak” – the rah-rah efforts that guides employ to motivate their groups to keep moving when the going gets tough. Basically, if you think it’s the final push, you’ll muster up the energy to make it to the finish line, convinced that it’s just around the bend or over that hill. You want to trust the guide, you...

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Explore a Mystical Lunar Landscape at Craters of the Moon

I’m in an otherworldly place that looks like somewhere the lunar lander would have been roaming around on a research mission. Pitch-black lava fragments are scattered amid a sea of cinders, mini volcanoes rise up from the barren terrain and dark, forbidding craters combine to create an eerie and starkly beautiful environment. Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is a unique landscape that was shaped during a series of major eruptive periods between 15,000 and 2000 years ago. One of four national parks in Idaho, it encompasses over 1,100 square miles, which is about the size of...

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Get Ready to Be Mesmerized by Monument Valley

John Wayne was right on the mark when he described Monument Valley as, “God’s Treasure.” The iconic actor was taken with the stark beauty of this majestic place when he first laid eyes on it while filming the movie, Stagecoach, back in the late 1930s. Directed by the venerable John Ford, the film made The Duke a star and the western, a respected film genre. Hollywood helped shine the light on this distinctive landscape and it became one of the most recognizable images in the country. Monument Valley Park (known also by its Navajo or Diné name, Tsé Bii’...

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History Meets Hip and Happening in Albuquerque

From my perch in the sky, the view is sublime. The iconic Sandia Mountains appear as sentinels of the high desert and the rugged lava escarpments provide a Mars-like topography. Below, the Rio Grande snakes through the expansive landscape, while matchbox size houses and buildings look like Lego constructions. I’m floating high above this stunning panorama in a Rainbow Ryders hot air balloon. Our pilot in command is Troy Bradley, an experienced balloonist with almost 8,000 balloon piloting hours. He also holds 64 World Records in the sport and has claimed the title of New Mexico State Hot Air...

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Amp Up the Adventure in Hells Canyon

“Let’s paddle,” says our guide Barry in a calm, relaxed tone. We obey, albeit a bit distractedly because we’re busy chatting with one another. Then we hear that telltale roar – the one that signals some mighty big rapids are ahead. Soon, we see them in all their frenzied glory. And now Barry urgently yells, “Paddle hard, everyone!” We immediately dig into the churning whitewater, whooping with unbridled enthusiasm. The noise is deafening, but somehow Barry makes himself heard, bellowing at the top of his voice, “Charge!” It’s all hands on deck now, as we head into a massive...

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Oʻahu, One Island, Many Adventures

Soaring high above Oʻahu, Hawaii from my comfy perch in a Blue Hawaiian helicopter, I marveled at the diversity of the island. From craggy cliffs and mountains to dramatic coastlines, verdant valleys and lush rainforests, this special slice of paradise has it all. And a helicopter ride is one of the best ways to appreciate such vast natural beauty. On a Blue Hawaiian Helicopters O‘ahu Complete Island tour, you’ll experience the full range of landscape, from the turquoise reefs of Waikiki and iconic Diamond Head to pristine Hanauma Bay and white sand Waimanalo Beach. You’ll get to see Mokoli’i...

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Embark on a Wellness Journey at Hilton Head Health

They come for a variety of reasons. Many hope to get in better physical shape; others want to learn how to eat more nutritiously. Then there are those who wish to de-stress and recharge their batteries. They are women and men, mothers and fathers, who over the years have put their health on hold to achieve professional or academic success, provide and tend to the needs of their families and care for aging parents. The one common thread among all, however, is the desire to focus solely on themselves, far from the distractions and demands of their everyday lives....

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River Cruise Showcases Chicago’s Gems

Ah, Chicago! Famous for its colorful history, vibrant culture, sports teams, food and yes, climate, this Midwest hub is a magnet for visitors. They come to tour its venerable museums, take in a show at one of the many renowned theaters and performance venues, cheer on the Cubs, White Sox, Bulls and Bears, munch on a slice of Chicago style deep dish pizza, shop till they drop on the Magnificent Mile and stroll along picturesque Lake Michigan (unless it’s mid-winter when Mother Nature does its best to live up to the town’s nickname, “The Windy City!”). Chicago is also...

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Colorado Springs Offers Endless Adventure

I’m a sucker for a room with a view. It doesn’t matter if it’s water, mountains or a cityscape. I’m not picky. But, some views deserve extra special recognition, like the one at The Garden of the Gods Resort and Club in Colorado Springs. All the guest rooms and suites offer breathtaking vistas of snow-capped Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods landmark, with its dramatic red rock formations. The panorama is drool-worthy and you may not want to leave your spacious, well-appointed abode – ever! Rest assured, though, it’s not only the rooms that have a view...

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Immerse Yourself in O’Keeffe Country

Georgia O’Keeffe is synonymous with New Mexico. The famed artist spent the last forty years of her life living in the Land of Enchantment. She painted its dramatic landscapes and iconic formations in her own unique style. O’Keeffe is regarded as one of the most significant artists of the 20th century, and her work is treasured worldwide. People from all across the globe travel to New Mexico to see the place that offered her so much inspiration. For many, the trip is a pilgrimage, made in homage to the great American modernist. A major destination for visitors is the...

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Futuristic Gardens by the Bay is a Feast for the Senses

You might think you’ve stepped onto another planet at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay. The park, a well-known attraction in the city, takes the traditional conservatory concept up more than just a notch or two. With its Supertrees, suspended walkway and ginormous domed glass greenhouses, the place is a horticulture wonderland with a futuristic vibe. The Gardens is a must-see destination for travelers to Singapore. It’s a showpiece of innovation and artistry that presents the plant kingdom in a fresh, new way. This “green jewel” simultaneously entertains while educates visitors about plants from around the world, ranging from species...

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Nambia’s Epic Deserts and Dunes Offer Adventure and Wildlife

Everyone touts the Big Five in Africa –the lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo. They’re the photogenic celebrities of the savannah that travelers yearn to see on safari. And as each is sighted, you can almost hear the sound of a check mark being made on the proverbial bucket list. But, there’s another group of creatures who fly way below the radar, yet deserve attention for their own star-studded qualities. The Little Five of the Namib Desert consists of the lizard, snake, gecko, chameleon and spider. These creatures live in the world’s oldest desert, covering an area of around...

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