The “Other Las Vegas”

Las Vegas, New Mexico is located about 65 miles east of Santa Fe and light years from the “real” Las Vegas. I spent several days there a few years ago and it still lingers in my memory as a unique and quirky place. Some of the places I visited, and locals I met might—or might not—still be there, but chances are the town’s quirkiness and characters remain. ͠

There was a time if you stopped by the Hillcrest Restaurant on Grand Avenue in Las Vegas, New Mexico about six in the morning, you’d probably see Clyde Pickett having breakfast at the counter.
When I met him, Clyde was a retired Las Vegas cowboy, still riding and roping in rodeo events and occasionally helping local ranchers brand their little dogies and ship them to market.
When he wasn’t in the saddle, Clyde did something very un-cowboy-like. He made baskets, using up the remnants of his old nylon lariats, artistically coiling them and tagging them with a little card that read “When some things die they go to a casket. When this rope “died,” it became a basket!”

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Wisconsin Cheese Stands Alone

A few years ago, California’s dairy farmers taunted Wisconsin with predictions that not only would their (allegedly) happy cows produce more milk, but they would also produce more cheese than the dairy state within a matter of months.

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On Friday, Get the Fish

If traditional hour-long waits and out-the-door lines are clues, no Wisconsin road trip is complete without indulging in the quintessential Friday night fish fry.

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Italy – Secrets And A Wanderer’s Dream

My love affair with all things Italian first blossomed when I was in college.

My roommate, a bubbly Italian from a tightly-knit neighborhood in Racine, Wisconsin invited me to meet her parents, immigrants from a tiny town in the hills of Tuscany.

Her family was a joyful and noisy bunch, welcoming me like a favorite child, stuffing me with homemade pastas and rich tomato sauce, crusty breads and decadent sweets.

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Saskatchewan – Tracking a Trophy in the Wilds

The Misaw Lake Lodge brochure promised it all.

Trophy northern pike and lake trout, a chance at elusive Arctic grayling, a protected wilderness of peaceful beauty and a guest limit of just sixteen at a Saskatchewan fly-in lodge bumping up against the 60th Parallel, so far north that the last road ends 125 miles south.

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A Cape Cod Race Against A Kennedy

image1-2I ran a race against Senator Ted Kennedy and beat him. And it had nothing at all to do with politics.

Pictures of the Kennedys aboard their sleek sailboats off the Cape Cod coast were ubiquitous: wind-blown hair, carefree smiles, gleaming white teeth. The Kennedys were known for their sailing prowess, and when it comes to sailboat races, they were avid competitors.

In a best-travel-memory race that pitted me, albeit unofficially, against a Kennedy, I took part in the biggest of the year in Cape Cod sailing circles, a three-day affair held each Memorial Day weekend.

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A Folk Game Lives On

“During winter months when the water is low, I wade through river and creek beds around here. That’s when I find the best flint rocks,” explains Paul Davis as he and I chat at his favorite hangout deep in the lush rolling hills of southern Kentucky.

Paul was born and raised in Tompkinsville, Kentucky, population around 2,600, little more than a stone’s throw north of the Tennessee state line. Just about any day of the week you’ll find him at the Monroe County Super Dome, a place that isn’t quite super and doesn’t have a dome. It is a sports arena of sorts, but not what you’d expect.

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Culebra Island

Trekking Beaches and Making Friends on Laid-back Culebra Island

Culebra is a tiny island, a mere speck on some maps, a dot off the east end of Puerto Rico that is barely visible from aloft when you fly from San Juan to other Caribbean islands.

I’ve probably not noticed it dozens of times as I’ve traversed the Caribbean, but recently I read a New York Times account about its spectacular beaches and offbeat population, and convinced my skeptical husband that Culebra (pronounced coo-LAY-bra) was worth a visit.

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In Search of Nirvana On the Island of Java

Frankly, I had expected more than this from Buddha.

I was teetering at the top of the Eighth Wonder of the World.  My journey to Indonesia had been long and the heat of the Javanese plains was oppressive.

I expected at least a subtle arc of light when our fingers touched, a brief flash of enlightenment, perhaps the ultimate, a swift peek at Nirvana.

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Historian with a Mission Brings Ancient Turkey to Life

The pewter gray sky, awash with early morning mist, did nothing to dampen our spirits as we left the sprawling city of Antalya on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast.

Our search for antiquity would take us northwest into the imposing Taurus Mountains, through fragrant pine forests, steeply upward along twisting switchbacks, then nose-diving in sharp descents and flattening into broad fertile valleys on our trek toward the Aegean Sea.

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