Canadian pelicans winter here and retirees flock to the area. Real estate is cheap, medical care good and the weather is unbeatable. The largest lake in Mexico, Lake Chapala is less than an hour’s drive from Guadalajara and we decided to head there for four days rather than schlep four hours to the coast and Sayulita, a beachside/surf community highly recommended by many of my friends. I was accompanying my cousin and her 16-month old twins — to provide childcare — while she covered a UN Climate Change conference in Guadalajara, and this was our little getaway before the conference. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Family Travel, Fishing, Guadalajara, Markets, Mexico, Restaurants, Traveling with babies

I’ve always loved the ring of the name “Guadalajara,” but I’ve never thought much about this teeming, second-largest Mexican city. When a conference in Chile fell through I agreed to accompany my cousin and her now 16-month old twins for another UN Climate Change Conference. Once again, I did very little research and just figured I’d wing it again in my Mary Poppins kinda way.

I speak some Spanish, although it is my third language, and I thought with jet lag as a minor issue, this would be easier than our wonderful Thailand trek last fall. I had no illusions of a restful getaway, and truth be told very few expectations beyond some sun, mezcal/tequila and mariachi music. I thought churches, parks and plazas would be my hangouts with the kids, while mom helped protect the earth. Continue reading »

1 Comment | Filed Under Culture, Family Travel, Food, Guadalajara, Markets, Museums, Music, Traveling with babies, UNESCO World Heritage Site, aquarium, art, zoo

Grover Hot Springs is one of those places I kind of don’t want to publicize. It’s so “old skool” and perfect as is, and we have enjoyed delightful hot mineral water soaks and plunges in every season. In the scorching summer sun, the cold pool is divine. In autumn, the changing colors encircle the complex and it feels nice to warm up in the hot pool. In springtime, the meadow is often wet and boggy, but wildflowers dot the landscape and snow can still be seen on the peaks in the distance. In winter, it’s just the best after a day on the slopes or cross country/snowshoe trails.

Set on a plateau in the High Sierra near the Nevada border in Alpine County, just outside of Markleeville, CA, this campground, swimming pool and hot spring public facility is popular already; particularly with cultures that cherish a good soak. Russian and Japanese conversations often waft through the air, mingling with with steam, and this visit was no different. Rosy faced corpulent men—each with their own perrier bottle—kibitzed in one corner; families frolicked—alternating between hot and cold—and others just gave in to feeling like cooked spaghetti.

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1 Comment | Filed Under Budget Travel, California, Camping, Family Travel, Lake Tahoe, Northern California, Skiing, Spa/ Resort, Swimming, Winter Fun

After eight days in Bangkok, wrangling my cousin’s twins and exploring temples and markets, we were excited to to head to the beach. The journey to Thailand had been so arduous with the babies, my cousin’s Climate Change Conference hectic, so we opted not to fly and found a local getaway where we could unwind.

Hua Hin was a popular seaside resort for Thai elite and the King’s summer residence, and now it is popular with Scandinavian and Baltic package tours. It is about a three-hour drive from Bangkok and our hotel organized a van and driver—no car seats of course. The roads were in good shape and traffic not too horrendous, but keeping the babes occupied was certainly hard. We had a giant bag of toys and board books, cheerio type snacks and all the bottle accoutrements and tried to hold them tight, but you can imagine the gymnastics involved.

We stayed at a small friendly, family resort I would highly recommend called Anantasila Villa by the Sea. The pool, rooms and public areas were beautifully appointed and inviting, and the outdoor eating area was dreamy. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Asia, Bangkok, Family Travel, Food, Markets, Spa/ Resort, Swimming, Thailand, Thailand, Traveling with babies, shopping, temples

I recently returned from what I would call a mission, helping my cousin—a single mother of twin 11-month-olds—while she covered a UN Climate Change Conference in Bangkok.

Her initial request was for a conference in Slovenia—that sounded doable—l envisioned lovely stroller walks along the Adriatic. Then quickly the interest shifted to Bogota or Quito. I thought the altitude might be an issue, but was up for the adventure. Ultimately, my cousin’s passion lay in Climate Change, and she really wanted to cover the Bangkok conference, despite the distance and topsy turvy time change effects I warned her about.

Despite my many travels and confidence with babies, before leaving I was suddenly panicked that I wouldn’t have the stamina. What had I gotten myself into? Continue reading »

3 Comments | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Culture, Family Travel, temples

It’s not often I make an effort to do touristy things with my kids, and it’s certainly less likely in my hometown of New York City. I had, however, balked last visit on an attempt to go to the top of the Empire State Building, I just could not stomach the cost and long lines. This visit, in August — the dog days of summer — I promised we would do one super touristy thing, and we opted for a trip to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

I had not been on this tour since the late ’70s and was thinking the boat ride would be pleasant and the breeze appreciated. Having booked the tickets online, I insisted the kids bring hats and water bottles and pack lightly. Of course, it’s one of the most popular attractions in the Big Apple, so the crowds and diversity represented were impressive.

Booking online saved us some hassle, as the will-call line was brisk. The boat was packed, and I almost felt like an immigrant in steerage. I was glad we had snacks and water, because they were pricey on the boat.

I have to admit, on a sunny day I was quite gobsmacked by the proximity of Lady Liberty, her majesty and the thought of generations of immigrants arriving on our shores. My younger son caught me tearing up a bit as we approached. I was mostly moved by the array of visitors from all over the country and the world.

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1 Comment | Filed Under Family Travel, Manhattan, New York, State Parks, Urban Parks

Camping sauvage, wild camping, dispersed camping, whatever you want to call it. It’s not for everyone—the lack of loos puts many off—but if you are into getting away from the zoo-like atmosphere at some campgrounds and have an all- or four-wheel drive car, it can be a spectacular option.

I first was introduced to this in France, driving a tiny tuna can, Renault-5 company car with Plasti-Chenaux—a window fixture company—written across the white car in blue and red. We camped on beaches, on farms and in public spaces often asking if it was all right with the farmer or property owner. It felt wild and crazy to this city girl, but waking up under plum trees or near the crashing waves was memorable.

Cut to many years later and after many a backpacking trip, we now—with two kids in tow—enjoy both hauling our gear on our backs and packing the car to the gills with all of our ramshackle gear and hitting the road. We have camped in the desert, in the mountains, and it is always an adventure. It’s not easy and certainly takes some effort, but with two strapping boys now able to do their share, this trip seemed extraordinarily gratifying.
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Leave a Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, California, Camping, Canoe/Kayak, Hike/Backpack, Lake Tahoe, National Forest, Northern California, Swimming, wildlife

Giant saber-toothed tigers, dire wolves and wooly mammoths right in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. The La Brea Tar Pits and Museum are really a “lost in time” attraction in two senses. You’ll see Ice Age fossils and life size replicas of prehistoric beasts, ongoing research you can watch—as paleontologists work on fossils for all to see—and plenty to enthrall dinosaur lovers and history buffs of any age.

There is also something very low-tech and appealing about the place. In the midst of glitzy L.A., where everything seems to be on overdrive, this sleepy spot has drawn parents and kids for decades. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under California, Family Travel, Museum, Southern California, Urban Parks

As winter gives way to spring and wildflowers replace snowbanks in mountain meadows, I’m having alpine dreams. Those usually take me to Switzerland and the Jungfrau region, one of my favorite places in the world, but today I’m thinking about Germany. It’s been decades since I’ve spent any real time there, for no good reason that I can think of.

So what’s the best way to see the country? Car, bike, or boat? Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Cycling, Driving Trips, Europe, Germany, Germany, Hike/Backpack

I was tantalized by articles touting the super bloom in the desert this year. In the wake of a wetter than usual winter, visions of colorful desert flowers danced in my head. When planning a brief SoCal trip to visit my sister—who recently moved to L.A. from Brooklyn—I suggested an overnight to Joshua Tree.

A visit to the National Park, more than twenty years ago, is seared in my memory. Following a glorious day of rock climbing for the first time, I proceeded to lose my camera, which I never recovered. I fantasize about that day and have created an epic tale in my head, mostly because there is no documentation that it actually happened. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, California, Eco Friendly Travel, Family Travel, National Parks, Palm Springs, Rock Climbing, national park