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Author: Debbie Stone

Taos: The Soul of the Southwest

Nestled at the edge where the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico spread westward toward the sage brushed mesas and plains is a land of wide expanse and open skies. Here you’ll find the enchanting high desert town of Taos, a historic art colony and world-class outdoor recreation mecca. Visitors to Taos often remark on the magnetic-like pull the town seems to possess, drawing them back time and time again. They fall under the spell of the jagged peaks and sun-drenched landscape, and the almost spiritual vibes that this magical destination with its age-old traditions emits. History...

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A Walk on the Wild Side in Wales

For many trekkers, hiking the entire Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine is a bucket list accomplishment. It’s one of three long distance walks in the famed Triple Crown; the other two being the Pacific Crest and the Continental Divide Trails. Outside of the US, there’s a number of walks with similar bragging rights. Among them is the Wales Coast Path, an 870-mile route, spanning eight geographical areas, from Chepstow, Monmouthshire in the south to Queensferry, Flintshire in the north. Wales has the distinction of being the largest country in the world with a continuous trail around its entire...

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Cruise from the Emerald Isle to the Land of Fire and Ice in Ultimate Comfort

I am easily enamored with all things Irish and my affinity with the country and its people is apparent as soon as I step on the soil of this magical, mystical isle. I adopt O’Stone as my new last name, attempt to speak with a lilting brogue, drink Guinness for breakfast and can belt out the words to “Molly Malone” with the best of them, albeit off-key. Sadly, my strong Germanic genes and Yank accent are dead giveaways, making my transformation to an Irish lass highly improbable. But, hey, you got to give me credit for trying! Although I’ve...

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Stop and Smell the Tulips When you Take a “Slow Boat” Through Holland

My typical vacation often involves being on the go from morning until night, as I engage in a frenzy of activities aimed at seeing all the notable sights of a particular destination. I feel the need to do everything since I don’t know if I’ll have the chance to make a return visit to the place. The pace is tiring and I sometimes find myself needing a vacation from my vacation when I get back home. This time, however, I vowed things would be different. After extensive research, I chose to do a barge cruise in Holland with European...

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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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