Many of my friends and colleagues assume that I only travel to far-flung locales. In fact, I'm all about discovery, whether it's along an alley I never strolled along in New York City or a neighborhood that's just a day trip away from Manhattan. That's why I decided to take bus to Kingston, New York, a mere two hours away. So close but a town I never had the opportunity to visit. Though I only spent two days, I could've easily have enjoyed the myriad coffee shops, restaurants, bars and street art for far longer. Below are just a few of the art-centric discoveries I made recently in Kingston, a city that's broken up into three sections -- Downtown, Midtown and Uptown -- that together make up a more than two-mile walkable expanse. Among the must-dos: stay at The Forsyth B&B, where the owner, Tamara Ehlin, is warm, welcoming, and can cook and bake up a storm, and present it all in an elegant manner, no less. You never know what will come out of the kitchen. There's no need to look for another accommodation when The Forsyth B&B has availability. To not stay here is to miss out on Tamara's elaborate breakfasts that included apple cider, yogurt with homemade granola and freshly cut pears, cheddar/scallion scones, and sweet potato hash with eggs any style. Another must is dinner at Wilde Beest, a locavore-centric, minimalist eatery with a slim menu that radiates creativity. I'm no fan of kale, yet I ordered the "I'm Kale" appetizer that came with crumbled kale, pickled peaches, golden raisins, fried millet, porcini mushroom powder and cashew dressing. I could've had seconds. And, in Kingston, I may have found my favorite coffee shop of all time: Rough Draft Bar & Books. Sitting at the corner of an intersection where each of the four buildings dates back centuries, this establishment is a coffee shop, bookstore, cafe and wine bar. As a writer who spends my time working in coffee shops, you couldn't have asked for a better, more atmospheric place to spend an hour or a day. I was lucky to grab a stool at the picture window and watch snowflakes fall as I gazed at the holidays lights strung about this area. Finally, I'm very finicky about bars. They can't be too loud or too bright or too pretentious. Crown, a just-opened romantic lounge in a centuries-old stone building, provides a perfect intimate environment to sip a fine wine or a well crafted, seasonal cocktail.
Sunday, December 30, 2018
Sunday, December 23, 2018
Injuries and illnesses can occur anywhere, whether at home, or traveling domestically or far afield. I carry a very complete first-aid kit with me when I'm traveling that duplicates many of the items I have readily available in my house. Whether you cut yourself in the kitchen when slicing carrots -- and, if you're on anti-clotting medication this would be especially problematic; or you're a woman who develops a vaginal infection while traveling in China, for example, where you might have difficulty easily finding a pharmacy who will understand what you need, especially if you're in a rural locale; or you're sitting beside a campfire making S'mores only to have the smoke irritate your eyes, the supplies (below) should provide relief. This list does not include the more typical items, such as gauze, adhesive bandages, a thermometer, and ACE-type elastic bandages, which are, of course, also important. Each of the supplies (below) are divided by symptom and body system to make it easier for you to determine what you need.
Eye, Ear, Nose, Throat, Teeth
- OcuFresh Eye Wash
- GenTeal, Blink Tears or other lubricating eye drops
- EarPlanes - for unclogging ears on the plane
- Saline nasal spray
- Bonine - for motion sickness
- MiraLax - for constipation
- Pepto Bismol chewable tabs - for diarrhea and to prevent traveler's diarrhea
- Electrolyte replacement powder - for diarrhea
- Peppermint Tummy drops - for stomach upset
Bites, Stings, Rashes
- Benadryl cream - for itching
- IvyBlock - prevents poison ivy rash
- Calamine lotion -- for rash/itching
- Tecnu - poison ivy skin cleanser
- After Bite -- for itching after a "bug" bite
Cuts and Bruises
- Betadine or other antiseptic wipes
- Bacitracin topical antibiotic cream
- Blister kit with moleskin
- QuikClot - to stop bleeding fast
- Spenco 2nd Skin squares/pads - for a blister
- Diflucan (single oral dose) - prescription
- Monistat vaginal cream
Thursday, December 20, 2018
Whether you're traveling or simply want a practical and stylish bag to carry all your vitals on a day to day basis, you'll now have the option of purchasing my original 7-in-1 micro bag in black, or my new cross-body canvas bag that comes in three different colors/patterns. Check out this video (below) where you'll see how both of these bags function, and how their minimalist silhouette assures that they don't shout out: "I'm carrying valuables." For more information on how to buy these bags, check out my virtual store -- for the 7-in-1 bag click here and for the new cross-body bag, click here.
Monday, December 17, 2018
I'm happy to announce that I now have a fashionable but practical man's multi-pocket vest in my collection. This is a sneak peak at this Made in America item that's constructed of a blend of cotton and poly. And, unlike typical men's travel vests, this one can be worn under a suit jacket for business meetings or trade shows when you need to look good and also keep all your vitals close at hand. Of course, it can also be worn with jeans and a casual shirt if you're traveling domestically or far-afield where it's vital that everything from train tickets to your passport are secure. The six zippers are all on the outside of the jacket and each pocket provides enough room for everything from your cell phone to a small notebook. We're taking pre-orders on this item and anyone who's interested and wants to know more can contact me directly.
Sunday, December 16, 2018
Even savvy travelers have misconceptions about Greenland: it's hardly a cultural bastion, it's at the end of the earth, activities revolve solely around the polar ice cab and dog sledding. All untrue! But one of the most remarkable things about Greenland is its wee capital, Nuuk, that brims with contemporary art, design, and architecture. Yet, with soaring mountains within striking distance of Nuuk that sits at the mouth of a picturesque fjord, the capital is oh-so close to numerous nature-based activities. Now, there's a new tour operator in town, Greenland Escape, that offers knowledgeable and fun guides who provide sustainable experiences in Nuuk and far afield for the whole family. This is the article on Greenland Escape that I recently wrote for Forbes.
Sunday, December 9, 2018
Art aficionados who delight in the contemporary will delight in Chattanooga, a city sprinkled with the cool and the creative whether it’s the Sculpture Fields at Montague Park with its three-dozen-some, often avant-garde, pieces; the Hunter Museum of American Art with an extensive array of paintings housed in its glass and steel confection; outdoor murals on myriad facades in downtown; experimental installations along a few of the city's alleyways; or newly-opened hotels that pepper the interior and exterior with some curious works. These are a few discoveries I made on my most recent trip to this vibrant city.
Saturday, December 8, 2018
Whether you’re planning to picnic along a hiking trail, camp in the wilderness, stay in a hostel that has cooking facilities, or simply bring your lunch to work, easy-to-pack dishware and cutlery is a must. But, imagine my surprise when I was introduced to a stylish, eco-friendly mess kit produced by the Seattle-based company UCO. Their new Bamboo Elements Mess Kit is mostly (90%) natural, made of bamboo fiber plus a little corn starch! The kit includes a lid that doubles as a plate, plus a bowl that, when “locked” together, forms a leak-proof container for carrying along food items. And the shock cord that secures these and the cutlery -- a four-in-one Switch Spork utensil (fork, knife, spoon or extended-length spoon or fork for stirring a pot of stew or spearing a hot dog on the bbq, for example -- doubles as a clothes line, of sorts, so that the just-washed dishware can be hung out to dry. The holes in the cutlery are not for aesthetics; rather, they can be used to clip them to your bag, slip the tether through them and hang them to dry, or cinch them and other utensils together when transporting them. I always love gear that performs well and looks good, too.
Sunday, December 2, 2018
If you’re not hiking, cycling or Nordic skiing at night, you might think you have no need for a headlamp. But, I often bring along one on my trips that don’t doing involve any of these or other adventurous activities. Whether I’m staying at a rural accommodation or an urban inn, a headlamp comes in handy. Just a few weeks ago, I was staying in Guildford, Connecticut that’s hardly a wilderness retreat. Yet, my inn was a 10-minute walk from the town green, a 10-minute almost completely dark walk at night where the street lamps were mostly nonexistent. I carried my UCO Hundred, a small headlamp that measures barely 2” x 2” x 2” and weighs in at two ounces. The light is ultra bright and has three settings with the high beam producing 100 lumens that was bright enough to light up the sidewalk almost 200 feet ahead of me. This lamp not only allowed me to avoid any sidewalk obstacles but it also made me visible to drivers who crossed my path at intersections.
Sunday, November 18, 2018
A mere 15-minute flight from St. Maarten -- and a landing on the world’s shortest commercial running -- brings visitors to the wee isle of Saba, a diver’s and hikers paradise. The almost 3,000-foot-high Mt. Scenery is, by far, the most popular destination for hikers. Climbing the more than 1,000 steps to the top, hikers will pass through a cloud forest that makes the last section quite slippery. But, on a good day, the views of Saba's villages and the nearby islands are phenomenal.
The island’s most noted artist is Heleen Cornet who camped on Mt. Scenery to sketch her many evocative forest works. Aside from these treasures, it took Cornet two years to paint this dramatic mural in the Sacred Heart Church in The Bottom, the capital of Saba. The scene melds religious with Caribbean themes and even includes the faces of local children as the cherubs.