Travel and Resorts

Travel, Cruises, Resorts, Tourism

Old travel pages from 2007 and Before

The Kiwi Bucket List

Visiting New Zealand is on the bucket list of many. We all know the reasons why: The scenery is spectacular, the food and wine are world-class, and the people friendly and welcoming. But what should you do when you arrive? Here are five great things to do in New Zealand to add to your Kiwi Bucket List.

By Travel New Zealand - Saturday, November 19, 2011 - Full Story

Fort Bragg on the Northern California Coast

imageFor years Hollywood has been enamored with Fort Bragg and the northern reaches of the quintessentially craggy Mendocino Coast. It’s a great place to film. Parts of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975) with Jack Nicholson was filmed here, as was “Overboard” (1987) starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, and “The Majestic” (2001) with Jim Carrey. The 1966 hit “The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming,” which seemed a lot funnier back then, was also filmed at Fort Bragg, Noyo Harbor, and quaint and beautiful Mendocino a few miles down the road.

Relative isolation helped protect this beautiful stretch of real estate from California’s 40 million residents who would overrun this pristine old logging and fishing town three to four hours north of San Francisco if you gave them half a chance. It’s not distance alone that shields the restored Victorian homes, gorgeous harbor and phenomenal sand beaches from the outside world, but coastal mountains as well, and maddening corkscrew roads that twist and turn and bend sharply through steep forested terrain once dense with towering redwoods now toppled and long gone for the most part.

By John Treadwell Dunbar - Sunday, November 13, 2011 - Full Story

Olympic National Park, Washington

imageOne languid week basking in the sun under stellar blue skies near the coast lulled me into a false sense of expectation, though I should have seen the clouds on the horizon. There’s good reason why Olympic National Park on the Olympic Peninsula is lush and green in shades beyond comprehension. It rains too much, which is why this spectacular emerald gem thrives rich with huge, towering Douglas fir and ramrod-straight western hemlock and Sitka spruce.

Mercifully protected from the saw and ax, these trees are left to grow old, snapping and falling of their own accord over time onto rich black dirt, crushing tall ferns and massive globs of fluorescent green moss on their descent; toppling over as they were meant to, without our interference, with natural dignity, these wonderful old-growth giants as wide as a man is tall.

By John Treadwell Dunbar - Thursday, October 27, 2011 - Full Story

City of Rocks New Mexico

City of Rocks, New MexicoIt’s easy to write this place off as just another jumbled pile of boulders in the middle of nowhere until you appreciate the uniqueness of southwestern New Mexico’s City of Rocks. Mind-altering and a photographer’s delight, especially during the orange glow of early dawn, there are only 6 other places like this in the world.

Located halfway between Deming and Silver City, out on the grassy plains of the Mimbres Valley along the northern edge of the Chihuahuan desert, this sprawling fantasy land of towering monoliths, sculpted spires, twisting alleys and side streets and hidden coves have sheltered prehistoric Indians, provided sanctuary for roaming Apaches on the warpath, and enticed Spanish conquistadors and explorers for centuries. More recently 50,000 visitors, allegedly, scramble through this playful maze each year that is guaranteed to make you feel young at heart no matter how old you really are.

By John Treadwell Dunbar - Friday, October 14, 2011 - Full Story

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument Arizona

imageOn August 9, 2002, while pursuing two members of a Mexican drug cartel who fled across the border from the land of severed heads and charred bodies into the United States with apparent ease, 28-year-old Ranger Kristopher Eggle was shot at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. One of the suspects opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle striking Eggle below his protective vest, killing him.

His senseless death, and a host of other security-related problems that have plagued Organ Pipe over the years, prompted the National Park Rangers Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police to designate Organ Pipe the most dangerous park (technically a national monument) in the nation. And what a pity that is.

By John Treadwell Dunbar - Sunday, October 2, 2011 - Full Story

Virginia City and Nevada City, Montana

imageOn May 26, 1863, while the great armies of the Civil War slaughtered each other with calculated fury back East, six gold prospectors camped a dozen miles west of Montana’s Madison River beside a creek in a draw between the Gravelly Range and Tobacco Root Mountains, way out there in the middle of nowhere. Having escaped their own capture by Crow Indian warriors, and now headed for the gold camps at Bannack, one of those miners, Bill Fairweather, scooped a little dirt into Henry Edgar’s pan hoping to find some tobacco “money” in the form of gold. It payed off and what followed was nothing short of mayhem.

Within a year 10,000 - 30,000 people, depending on your source, packed into a string of nine communities along a 14-mile stretch in and around Alder Gulch and exploited one of the richest gold deposits in North America. Many got rich. Most didn’t.

By John Treadwell Dunbar - Monday, September 19, 2011 - Full Story

Capitol Reef National Park

imageAmong southern Utah’s five magnificent national parks, Capitol Reef deserves special acclaim because it’s less crowded, less commercial, holds bragging rights to red-rock scenery rivaling that of Arches, Bryce, Canyonlands or Zion, and in a day when admission fees are skyrocketing to preposterous levels, except for the official ten-mile “Scenic Drive” it’s the only national park in southern Utah that’s free, for the time being.

Rugged beyond belief and to its credit, remote, this 378-square-mile park is a long, narrow strip of stunning geology, a classic monocline, a 100-mile-long stepped-up wrinkle called the “Waterpocket Fold,” or upthrust, that stretches from the Thousand Lake Plateau north of tiny Torrey, south to the still waters of the Colorado River known today as Lake Powell by most, and Lake Foul by those who continue to mourn Glen Canyon’s senseless inundation.

By John Treadwell Dunbar - Sunday, August 28, 2011 - Full Story

Astoria, Oregon

imageStanding near Fort Stevens looking out across the big blue Pacific on the extreme northwest corner of the Oregon Coast near Astoria where the mighty Columbia River empties into the sea I thought to myself: “No wonder the Japanese lost the war.”  It was in the dark of night on June 12, 1942, when an Imperial submarine surfaced and lobbed 17 shells in the general vicinity of the fort before slinking off having inflicted no serious injury to speak of, their aim was that bad.

Things quieted down after that, for a while. The Fort Stevens I remember wasn’t at war back in 1978. A hulking mass of abandoned concrete military bunkers out in the woods near the shore, it welcomed our unfettered exploration with not a soul in sight. Back then we camped at will and enjoyed miles of empty pristine beaches where me and my gal stripped and frolicked under a hot August sun in cold rolling waves, big ones, that roared ashore in foaming predictability.

By John Treadwell Dunbar - Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - Full Story

Top 5 Unique Places to Stay in New Zealand

imageMany people head to New Zealand for the breathtaking natural beauty, the fabulous wine or the chance to learn more about Maori culture. Always creative, Kiwis are coming up with even more reasons to visit with new and interesting accommodation throughout the country. The top five unique places to stay in New Zealand are:

By Travel New Zealand - Wednesday, August 10, 2011 - Full Story

Montana’s Prettiest Painted Town

imageNestled in the foothills on the edge of broad and spacious Flint Creek Valley, surrounded by mountains laden in past times with vast deposits of silver, manganese, sapphires, and to a lesser extent gold, beautiful historic Philipsburg is an anomaly because it’s still standing. As one of twenty rowdy mining communities that once thrived within thirty miles of here only “P-burg” withstood the test of time. Battered and bruised and knocked down by devastating booms-and-busts endemic to that world of hard rock mining, Philipsburg kept getting up, dusted itself off and dug in for the long haul.

Granite, Tower, Rumsey, Black Pine and all the rest, home to thousands of scruffy men in those late 19th and early 20th century glory days, have vanished. Things quieted in their wake leaving us blank spots on a map or relics to ponder; crumbling foundations and rotting timbers and disintegrating piles of brick. These haunts of fanciful apparitions are a repository of story, gripping tales of hard-working men calloused inside and out, toiling twelve deadly hours each and every day, seven days a week under miserable conditions down there in the dark.

By John Treadwell Dunbar - Sunday, July 31, 2011 - Full Story

Quarai and the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument New Mexico

imageI’d never heard of Abo, Gran Quivira or Quarai when we visited New Mexico during a recent blustery May, and I wasn’t inclined to make that lonesome detour up the 55 to Estancia Basin that lies east and southish of the Manzano Mountains.

Dark green and low on the horizon, the Manzanos form a welcome barrier separating broad grassy plains the color of sand, and juniper-studded mesas, from Albuquerque’s urban dysfunction.

Leaving Billy the Kid’s Lincoln County in the side-view mirror, we barreled north toward those mountains and the Turquoise Trail, but as things go in this life of mine, I succumbed to a bad case of curiosity that flares up now and then like that itchy red rash I picked up off a toilet seat at the Lonesome Steer Grill and Swill outside Truth or Consequentials.

By John Treadwell Dunbar - Sunday, July 17, 2011 - Full Story

Ghost Ranch and Abiquiu, New Mexico

imageWith few to equal her stature in the world of fine art, the late Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) was one of America’s preeminent painters, producing in seven long decades an astounding legacy of roughly 900 paintings that have captivated and inspired artists and connoisseurs the world over.

While she is remembered in large measure for her close-up, occasionally abstract, renderings of flowers - the lily, the hibiscus, the poppy - much of her inspiration was derived from the landscapes of her adopted home, north-central New Mexico; specifically that aesthetically rich terrain 60 miles northwest of Santa Fe known as “O’Keeffe Country.”

Sandstone bluffs, layered and streaked, her beloved flat-topped Mt. Pedernal, adobe buildings and Spanish colonial churches, and doorways, trees and clouds, these were all source material for her unique vision.

By John Treadwell Dunbar - Sunday, July 3, 2011 - Full Story

Top Five Things You Can Only Do In New Zealand

imageTravelling in New Zealand provides visitors with the opportunity for unique experiences that you can’t have anywhere else. Kiwis, the affectionate nickname for New Zealanders, are incredibly friendly and are known around the globe for their welcoming ways. Chat with a Kiwi and before you know it, chances are, they’re walking you to your destination, you’re visiting their favourite pub or you are at their house for dinner!

Below is a list of the top five things you can only do in New Zealand.

See a Kiwi in its Natural Habitat

Seeing a kiwi bird is something that you can only do in New Zealand. The endangered bird is the country’s national symbol. Flightless and nocturnal, kiwis are the only birds that have nostrils on the end of their large beaks. While they may look quite cute, they can be fierce and are highly territorial. In Wellington, on the North Island, Zealandia has over 100 kiwis living at their eco-sanctuary. Their Zealandia by Night tour gives you a chance to see kiwis in their natural habitat foraging for food. On the South Island, Bravo Adventure Cruises’ Kiwi Spotting on Stewart Island tour also gives you a great opportunity to see kiwis in their natural environment.

By Travel New Zealand - Sunday, June 26, 2011 - Full Story

Red Lodge, Montana and the Beartooth Highway

imageWhile America’s famous journalist and travel correspondent Charles Kuralt called the Beartooth Highway “the most beautiful roadway in America,” he might have overstated his case just a bit. Granted it’s a judgment call, but for sheer beauty the Going-to-the-Sun Highway over Logan Pass in Glacier National Park leaves the Beartooth in the dust.

Never-the-less, the lofty Beartooth that rises to 10,947 feet and has been designated a National Scenic Byway can’t be denied its place among aesthetic grandeur. The chorus of accolades are well-deserved because it is beautiful, it is marvelous and other-worldly. It’s a thin-aired land of cropped tundra and green lichen among the clouds and lingering snowfields and rolling alpine grasses, and deep, deep canyons and sheer cliffs and tall mountains and roaring, sparkling rivers - away from it all.

By John Treadwell Dunbar - Monday, June 13, 2011 - Full Story

Hatching of Rare White Kiwi Bird Captivates Locals

imageThe most successful kiwi bird breeding season in the history of New Zealand’s national wildlife center has ended on an extraordinary note with the surprise hatching of an all-white kiwi bird chick.  Named “Manukura” by local native iwi Rangitane o Wairarapa, the chick, whose name appropriately means “of chiefly status,” is not an albino kiwi, but the rare progeny of kiwi bird that were transferred to Pukaha from Hauturu/Little Barrier Island last year.

The chick was the thirteenth of fourteen kiwis successfully hatched at Pukaha Mount Bruce this breeding season, by far the most successful since 2003 when the kiwi were reintroduced into the wild there.  The white chick will remain in captivity with other chicks at Pukaha for at least four to six months where, subject to its behavior and welfare, it will be able to be viewed several times a week while being weighed.

When it is old enough to protect itself, it could potentially be released into the sanctuary. However, Department of Conservation (DOC) rangers, who manage the kiwi program at Pukaha, will ensure the best interests of the bird remain a top priority.

By Travel New Zealand - Thursday, June 2, 2011 - Full Story

Port Orford, Oregon

imageThe mighty headland named Cape Blanco on the southern Oregon Coast is regarded by many Oregonians as the western-most land protrusion in the Lower-48. It certainly feels that way as one stands overwhelmed by the scenery on the very edge of the continent. The natural drama is palpable, sensual, ... potentially erotic.

It’s a place where you can lean into the wind as it blows ashore under a broad canopy of clear blue sky whose seasonal colors shift from summer’s deep blues to winter’s dark-grays when sagging clouds verging on black roll overhead with the grace of titanic spaceships invading this water-logged state in rapid slow motion.

By John Treadwell Dunbar - Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - Full Story

Helena, Montana

imageHistory buffs and visitors who appreciate turn-of-the-century architectural decadence will love Helena, Montana’s state capital of 50,000+. Affectionately called the Queen City of the Rockies, Helena exudes Old West opulence, and those rushing by to Glacier National Park up north or Yellowstone to the southeast are committing a disservice by not stopping in, if only for a brief visit.

Step into Helena and you step back in time, back to the smoky, rough-and-tumble days when the nouveau riche went to great lengths to flaunt their new-found wealth and thumb their noses at the little people who aspired to join them on Nob Hill west of town, the mansion district.

By John Treadwell Dunbar - Saturday, May 14, 2011 - Full Story

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

imageIt’s that time of the year, late April when southern Utah’s high desert beckons with a shout and red-rock cliffs streaked black like tar and convoluted canyons and eroded spires demand homage, photographically speaking.

This mind-altering terrain of 377,000 rugged acres 40 miles southwest of Moab cradled between the LaSal, Abajo and Henry Mountains and trisected by the twisting turns of the Colorado and Green rivers defies our paltry imaginations. Up close and personal the land is surprisingly verdant, and its million colorful canyons will forever alter any preconceived notion you might harbor of what a desert is supposed to look like. Brown, flat and perennially parched it is not.

By John Treadwell Dunbar - Saturday, April 30, 2011 - Full Story

Bluff, Utah

imageThough small and isolated, historic Bluff in extreme southeastern Utah was first settled by tough, persevering Mormon pioneers in 1880. Sleeping in the shadow of 300-foot sandstone bluffs along the elegant San Juan River, this quiet, polite community, like the hub of an old wagon wheel, lies at the center of stunning natural beauty that regularly draws outdoor adventurers and casual tourists in manageable numbers.

South and west of town is John Wayne country, the Navajo Nation’s incomparable Monument Valley. To the west, plunging Goosenecks canyon carved by the meandering turns of the San Juan beckons, and beyond those sharp bends are deep, inviting, long and narrow canyons named Slickhorn and Grand Gulch.

By John Treadwell Dunbar - Thursday, April 14, 2011 - Full Story

Stanley, Idaho, and the Sawtooth Mountains

imageThe American West is vanishing. Authentic old towns in attractive natural settings with strong ranch and mining heritages have succumbed in great number to theme park facelifts; refurbished cowboy and hard-rock miner motifs that pander to Hollywood’s notion of what the good old days must have looked like.

Quaint “western” makeovers of main street are invariably followed by boutiques and upscale eateries, the finest galleries and lavish lodging for the well-heeled. Affluent enclaves are close behind - the big second homes and block condominium complexes that crowd out the view and displace wildlife habitat as sprawl runs rampant like a festering case of smelly gangrene.

By John Treadwell Dunbar - Sunday, April 3, 2011 - Full Story