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Author: debbie-stone

For a Small Town, St. Simons Island is Big on Appeal

When a destination continues to receive recognition and glowing accolades in major publications, it piques my curiosity. Such was the case with St. Simons Island, one of Georgia’s Golden Isles. USA Today named this slice of paradise one of the “Best Coastal Small Towns,” while Travel + Leisure distinguished it as “America’s Favorite Beach Town.” Located on the southern part of Georgia’s scenic coastline, St. Simons has been attracting vacationers in the know for generations. This enchanting island boasts breathtaking views, sandy beaches and beautiful marshlands, along with a temperate climate and unhurried charm. And if that’s not enough, add...

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Discover a Southern Jewel: Oxford, Mississippi

Visitors entering Oxford, Mississippi’s historic Square will come nose-to-nose with its famed Courthouse. The stately white building stands in the heart of town, creating a scene that looks like it came right out of one of John Grisham’s legal thrillers. The well-known author is actually one of many writers who lived in Oxford, a town with an impressive literary heritage and more published writers per capita than most big-time American cities. As a state, Mississippi boasts such distinguished wordsmiths as Richard Ford, Willie Morris, Eudora Welty, Donna Tartt, Jesmyn Ward, Larry Brown and Curtis Wilkie. Perhaps the most acclaimed,...

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Fall Under the Spell of the Nation’s Oldest City, St. Augustine

Greedily I drank from the Fountain of Youth and patiently waited, but, alas, the wrinkles and crow’s feet remained etched on my face. The magical spring that was said to restore the youth of anyone who drinks or bathes in its waters didn’t have the powers of transformation I had hoped it would, but I could see how such a belief would motivate Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon back in 1513. Imagine what it would be like to have the wisdom that comes with age and the vibrant exuberance that represents youth? No need for creams and lotions,...

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It’s All About authenticity in the ‘Original’ Las Vegas

It’s Vegas, Baby! But, if you’re looking for cheesy Elvis impersonators, glitzy shows or swanky casinos lining the streets, you’re not in the right place. This is Las Vegas, New Mexico, or what the locals like to call the “original” Las Vegas. Here, scenic beauty, rich history, eclectic architecture and a burgeoning art community combine to create one of Northern New Mexico’s most fascinating destinations. It’s a hidden gem that’s slowly being discovered by visitors who seek authenticity in their travels as they take a trip back through time. In this land of legend and lore, you’ll find a...

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Let the Good Times Roll in Lafayette, Louisiana!

“Laissez les bon temps rouler!” is an expression you’ll hear often throughout the parishes in southern Louisiana. Translated it means, “Let the good times roll.” More than a sentiment, it’s a true representation of the joie de vivre spirit that is Cajun culture. Lafayette, the state’s fourth largest city, is considered the center of Acadiana, the heart of Cajun Country. With its colorful heritage, rich culinary influences and infectious music, this town is all about showing visitors a “two-steppin’, toe-tappin’, taste-temptin’ good time!” I have always had a fascination with Cajun culture and decided that a trip to Lafayette...

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The Hills are Alive with Culinary Treasures

The act of toasting in Austria is a custom with its own set of rules. As a visitor to this land of sophistication and unassuming elegance, it’s important to know the correct protocol. You must make eye contact with each and every person at the table, loosely hold your wine glass by the stem and solidly clink on a slight diagonal plane to achieve the ideal ring. And, remember to never cross paths with someone else’s toast, as this would be considered rude. Following these guidelines is trickier than you might imagine, particularly the aspect of eye contact. Austrians...

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Elevate Your Vacation to New Levels with a Heli-Hiking Adventure

He seemed like such a nice guy. That was the group’s initial impression of our hiking guide, Paul, a mellow, Canuck with a wry sense of humor. He appeared calm and assuring as he gathered us around to talk about our first hike of the day. Moments before, the helicopter had gently set us down in front of Howser Towers, an impressive set of peaks in the Bugaboos, a range within the Columbia Mountains of British Columbia. The name “Bugaboo” actually means a hoax in Old English. Story has it that when folks came up here looking for gold,...

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Mountains, Monasteries and More in the Mystical ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’

A revered lama and leading astrologer, Master Wengdi of the Paga Monastery in Bhutan, told me that I’m a fire monkey, born under a metal sign that imbues me with confidence and energy. Driven to success, I often gravitate towards leadership roles where I can exercise control and call upon my ability to draw people to me. But, I can be competitive and stubborn (true), allowing my strong will and needs to overwhelm me, sometimes making decisions based on emotion and not logic (also true). To help balance the forces within me, Master Wengdi recommended that I practice patience...

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Discover the beauty of Appalachia on a Smoky Mountains hiking trip

The humidity was so thick you could cut it with a knife, even a plastic one would easily do the job. At this point I was trudging up a trail, sweating profusely, swatting at annoying gnats, and solely focused on my discomfort. Ian, our guide, suddenly stopped the group and asked that we listen to the sounds around us for a moment. At first, I confess I was a bit annoyed, as I simply wanted to get to our destination as quickly as possible. But then, I had one of those “aha” moments, when I slowly became aware of...

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Mayberry Meets Manhattan in Bentonville, Arkansas

Telling friends and family I was going to Bentonville, Arkansas, was, based on their reactions, akin to informing them I was going to Siberia. I received baffled looks, followed by questions like, “Why?” “Whatever for?”–and my favorite, “You’re doing this on purpose?” I tried explaining the reasons for my trip: the primary one being to visit the renowned Crystal Bridges Museum, but still the confusion and puzzlement persisted. I admit Arkansas had never been one of those must-go-to destinations for me, most likely because I didn’t know much about our country’s 25th state. I envisioned the place to be...

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The Allure of Off-Season Travel on Cape Cod and Nantucket

Cape Cod There’s nothing like strolling on a pristine ocean beach with nary a soul in sight and only the occasional gull or plover to share the space. Far off in the distance, a pair of whales spout, while nearby, several seals play peekaboo in the water. The air is fresh and crisp, and Mother Nature’s good mood means ample sunshine. It’s April on Cape Cod and the crowds have yet to make their way to this captivating destination. Come Memorial Day, however, they will be here en masse, staking claim to their spots in the sand, lining up...

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Surprises Abound in OKC

It’s the initial ascent that provides the buildup to the exhilaration you’ll soon experience. At the precipice, you look down and your heart starts thumping because you know what’s going to happen next. You scream when the first shock of cold water hits, and then, before you can get another word out, you’re careening down a wild wave train. Your raft bounces, hits a few obstacles and spins you around, forcing you to manipulate the rapids in a rear-facing position. The only thing to do is obey your guide’s commands, dig deep with your paddle and say a prayer...

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