CALIFORNIALAGUNA BEACH, CALIF. – “OK, go!” This is my cue to run down a sandy incline, launch a skimboard, land on it sideways with both feet, and glide beyond a shoreline as slick as ice. Teenage boys relish this sport. I am not a teenage boy.  But that doesn’t matter to Paulo Prietto, literally the world’s best skimboarder, who’s been coaching me for the past hour. (READ “How to catch a wave in just a weekend of trying” For a related post on fish tacos, click here.

cottontreePUNTA GORDA, BELIZE – I almost didn’t go. Even though the thought of spending Chocolate Week at Cotton Tree Lodge, sounded like a home run as a vacation adventure it was a lot of money and I was having trouble finding someone to go with me. When I called to find out how much room was still available I was told there was only one cabana left: the Jungle House. All of the other cabanas are nestled around the Cotton Tree Lodge with views of the Moho River. The Jungle House was a quarter of a mile away by itself. Um. By myself and deep in the jungle? (READ the whole story.)

eladioTOLEDO, BELIZE – After surviving a violent thunderstorm and a chorus of howler monkeys the first night we stayed in the Jungle House at Cotton Tree Lodge, near Toledo, Belize, I was ready for something a little more structured. On the schedule the next morning for Chocolate Week led by Taza Chocolate, was a trip to a local cacao farm. We would see how cacao pods are grown, meet the farmer, and have lunch with his family. I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting. I think I was imagining some kind of plantation where the trees grow in neat rows kind of like an apple orchard and that maybe afterward we’d sit around a big farm table in the kitchen and swap stories. Wrong, completely wrong. (READ the whole story.)

0816-UCEVICHE-ceviche_full_380BOCAS DEL TORO, PANAMA – “This isn’t quite what I imagined,” my friend Jenna said as we looked at the dish that had been set before us. In tall glasses lined with iceberg lettuce were bits of sea creatures, including baby octopuses. We were in Bocas del Toro, Panama. On a whim we had fled the oncoming chill of winter, seeking sun and surf. After a 24-hour journey, we had checked into a youth hostel, settled into hammocks in the open-air lounge, and listened to the rain pound on the tin roof. Relentlessly. (READ “Ceviche: All you need is raw fish, lime juice, and patience”  on To see more photos from the trip, click here.

fish-vendor1TIJUANA, MEXICO – “You are going where?” This was the response I got when I announced I was going to take a one-day adventure from San Diego to Tijuana, Mexico. I admit that with the Mexican drug war at full bloom and lots of news stories about headless corpses turning up in various places I had some trepidation about crossing the border – even if it was just a short drive from downtown San Diego. But I was going on a Monday morning in May. Besides, the main purpose of our trip was to pay a visit to the “little fishing village” of Popotla, located right next door to Fox Studios where “Titanic” was filmed. How bad could it be? (READ the whole story.)

BARDSTOWN, KY. In June I joined almost 200 people on a musical mission in Bardstown, Ky. We had traveled from every corner of the United States, as singles, in pairs, and in groups. Cars and RVs were packed with hammered dulcimers, mountain dulcimers, banjos, autoharps, and penny whistles. We would spend the next five days learning how to play these traditional Appalachian instruments, and during the evening we would listen to performances and jam. Welcome to Kentucky Music Week, where the sweet sounds of the past still echo through the rolling hills and farmland. (READ the travel story on


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