A Magical Night Under the Arizona Stars

      A journey of 335 million miles begins at 6,875 feet. It does for me, anyway, as I stand on an Arizona mountaintop on a dazzling March night counting Jupiter’s moons. I am at the Kitt Peak National Observatory, home of the world’s largest collection of research telescopes — 26 in all — [...]

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Where ARE you from? Handling Anti-Americanism When You Travel

“Americans are so rude.” I received this bulletin some years ago, at a wedding feast in a hillside ristorante in Trieste, Italy, from a supremely self-assured Austrian journalist. Pots overflowing with purple and red flowers hung from an awning framing the Adriatic Sea. “The first question Americans always ask,” she continued, recovering her expelled breath [...]

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The Lodges of Alta, Utah: Elevated Paradise for Skiers

The ski resort of Alta, Utah, basks in well-deserved accolades for burly terrain, massive snowfalls and a stoic devotion to a throwback vibe (chairlifts only, no snowboarding allowed). But skiers who hit the mountain on day trips from nearby destination resorts are missing a seductive element of the Alta experience: the five inns strung like [...]

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Camping, with kids, in Hatteras, NC

There are ways to add excitement to a camping trip with kids. I choose three: Go to a campground I haven’t visited in 20 years in the blind hope that it hasn’t changed; don’t make reservations; and leave the house seven hours before sunset for a 6 1 / 2-hour road trip, declaring to anyone who’s [...]

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In Puerto Rico, the Kid’s are Alright

I see her as I step out from among the sea grape trees and onto the golden sands: tanned, blond and bikini-clad, she is walking toward me. And she possesses the one characteristic I’m yearning to see in a woman on the beach: a little kid. I’m in Rincon, on the west coast of Puerto Rico, [...]

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Rio de Janeiro: Brazil’s tourist magnet now has less to fear

By most accounts, I should be very afraid. I’m walking — alone — down a steep, winding passageway in one of Rio de Janeiro’s notorious slums, the Vidigal favela. If I extended my arms, winglike, I would touch, on both sides, homes made of mismatched cement, plywood, tin and tile. In the rare gaps between [...]

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In Sun Valley, Idaho, light crowds and glorious skiing

The hum at the Cornerstone Bar and Grill is reaching a fevered pitch. Bernie the bartender is sliding iridescent cocktails across the bar — a backlit slab of opaque plastic that gives both drink and drinker an added glow. I don’t even know what I ordered, but it’s green, contains gin and goes well with [...]

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Silverton: Skiing and snowboarding steeps and powder

My autumn daydreams, like those of any committed skier, settle on some variation of: abundant snow, radical terrain and enough onlookers to cheer my audacious feats but not so many that they poach my lines. Or, in geographic terms: Silverton Mountain, Colo. Spread over thousands of acres of former mining claims high in the San [...]

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Surfing BVIs: Tortola waves are big and plenty (shhh!)

Nobody goes on vacation to get beaten up by a fireman. So lissen up! If you’re looking for a place to surf, forget Tortola. Too inconsistent. Too rocky. Nothing to see here, folks. Head to Barbados, or Puerto Rico. Sure, people surf in Tortola, the largest and most populous of the British Virgin Islands. But [...]

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Pisco in Peru: Sipping by beach, rivers and mountains

Pisco-Sipping and Other Pleasures in The Land of the Incas Never refuse a free drink. A sound policy, but my commitment is wavering as a Peruvian Woody Allen look-alike (same physique, head shape and beady, bemused gaze) leads me around an oddly appointed brandy cellar, doling out shots of liquor from centuries-old clay casks. “Here,” [...]

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