The Grunion

Shortly after finishing her second year of animal science and pre-vet studies at Cal Poly Pomona, Julia traded the comforts of her Long Beach home for a humble dormitory in the city of Chiang Mai. There, she joined a team of volunteers offering veterinary services to animals in need.

Just like the once renowned Miss Universe Pageant, I don’t think Long Beach ever appreciated the mystical “Spruce Goose” the way it should have. I’ve often pondered the fate of the behemoth wooden aircraft and finally decided I had to pay a visit to its (relatively) new home in McMinnville, Ore.

Ashland, Oregon, has always been something of an enigma to me. There’s no major industry, no seaport, no international airport and the population is only about 20,000 people.

Nostalgia is a powerful emotion for travelers. When I was a kid, folks reminisced about the good old days before airplanes. Life was slower and people enjoyed the comfort, convenience and culture of riding on a train. Nowadays, trains are largely ignored by the masses, but for diehard fans, the thrill of a powerful locomotive or a sleek Pullman car is still a big deal.

After much planning and anticipation, I finally arrived at Machu Picchu, the legendary lost city of the Incas. I was psyched-up and ready to go when a guide met me for an early morning trek to one of the most celebrated tourist destinations in South America. Could this adventure possibly meet my expectations?

Many folks have a “bucket list” of places they want to visit before they die. For years, the number one destination on my list was Machu Picchu, the recently discovered ruins of the Inca Empire in the Andes Mountains of Peru. The history and lore of this site has fascinated me for years, and I traveled through the Sacred Valley of the Incas to get there.

Of all areas in California, few celebrate their historical roots more than nearby Santa Barbara. The architecture, cuisine, arts, culture and mild climate are powerful magnets for the rich and famous. It’s no wonder a long list of celebrities live, or have lived, in or near this prime real estate.

Las Vegas, Nevada, seems to change its image every time I go there. On my twenty-first birthday, I went there to drink and gamble. Later I went to see spectacular shows, and then to attend conventions. The attraction seemed to change with each new decade and I was curious to see what they offer today.

Some of my most memorable travels have been excursions to South America. There is such a diversity of terrain, climate, culture and customs that each locale offers a unique experience. In particular, stories I heard about Cuzco, Peru piqued my curiosity. At 11,152 feet above sea level, the h…

To me, the Everglades region of Southwest Florida has always emitted vibes of adventure. The image in my mind was a dank swamp where nothing lived in the putrid waters except creepy crawly things. So the time finally came when I felt compelled to either substantiate my long held preconception or perhaps discover the truth.

Will Rogers was one of America’s most beloved celebrities during the 20th Century and the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore, Oklahoma  is truly impressive, but after becoming world famous, Rogers settled right here in Southern California. I recently visited his 186 acre estate at the …

The sun was bright as I walked up and down Queen Street in Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island. A cool rain had blown past and the crisp air wafting off of the Gulf of St. Lawrence was fresh and pure. No pollutants here. The busy city ambiance stands in contrast to the island’s farming personality.

Thanks to a gentle summer breeze and bright sun reflecting off the water, Lake Coeur d’Alene was not just tolerable, but refreshing. The cozy little city of Coeur d’Alene is only 30 miles east of Spokane, Washington and it oozes with class and an upscale ambiance that defines its Idaho panhandle locale. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but wonder how this blue paradise got its sexy French-sounding name.

The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia, California is a place I’ve heard about for years. Having been to numerous botanical gardens in my travels, I put off visiting this one until just recently, assuming it would be the same as all the others. I was wrong — it surprised me with some unique amenities that similar garden attractions are lacking.

Imagine yourself on the ocean floor looking up to the surface, more than four stories above your head. That will give you a sense of the “awe” you feel at the Bay of Fundy. Its tidal range – almost 50 feet – is known as the highest in the world.

Santa Fe, New Mexico was a strategic destination in days of the Old West, the terminus of the historic Santa Fe Trail going west from Independence, Missouri. Today, everything about this little town of less than 70,000 souls is a story waiting to be told.

Tippi Hedren spoke to the Long Beach Rotary Club in July, 1993. She passionately described the plight of wild animals in captivity and her efforts to rescue them from an unnatural life. Impressed by her talk, I made a trip to the Shambala Preserve. Recalling the thrill of my first visit, more than two decades ago, I was curious to see what had changed.

I took a four hour ferry boat ride from Picton, on South Island, across Cook Strait to North Island. The ferry landed at Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. It’s a very modern and walkable city, and I enjoyed strolling around to see the sights.

Unusual events always offer a destination for an adventurous traveler. Take for example, the Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee in the small Northern California town of Angels Camp. I’ve always been curious about what happens at this event, so a few years ago, I found out.

Were you ever curious about what it was like to live in California 150 years ago? Fortunately, we still have wonderful remnants of that historical period. Close to home, we have Rancho Los Cerritos and Rancho Los Alamitos, but Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park in Carlsbad, California is also an excellent example.

There’s something extraordinary about New Zealand – not just its beauty, culture, diversity and adventure – no, to me New Zealand is “serenity” on steroids. This island nation in the South Pacific offers something for everyone, but in a quiet, unpretentious manner

Picture living on a beautiful island only a short boat ride away. It’s a great fantasy to get away to such an island. I’ve always had a romantic fascination with islands. There’s just something about the seclusion, exclusivity and solitude that creates a mystique with broad appeal. But Alcatraz? 

Most curious travelers spend lots of time in museums. With good reason too: Museums preserve the best specimens of history, place, art and science. Let me introduce you to some of my favorite museums—they’re all praiseworthy, although not universally celebrated.

It’s not the southernmost vacation destination on the globe. Not counting Antarctica, that honor would go to a few settlements at the southern tip of South America or perhaps the South Island of New Zealand. But still, Tasmania is way down there — and worth a visit.  

Continuing up California’s Highway 1 on the northern section of California’s Central Coast from Piedras Blancas to Big Sur, the terrain becomes a little more rugged than the southern section. Sightings of those ubiquitous Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro convertibles remain constant, however.

We often hear California referred to quite disparagingly as “weird” by jealous outsiders. But there is at least one city in the U.S. that likes the idea of being weird — Austin, Texas.

Visiting the interior of Australia, known as the Outback, is more than a vacation. It’s a challenging environment, and you don’t go there without a purpose.

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Like to visit model homes? Open houses? Curious about how other people live? Or once lived? Traveling offers many opportunities to tour homes of the rich and famous — even the infamous.

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The renowned author Samuel Langhorne Clemens — aka Mark Twain — gave us a memorable account of an idyllic childhood in stories about Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. His stories live on today in our minds — and in Hannibal, Mo.

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The Catalina Island paradise is so close there is no excuse for not making the trip. If you’ve already been, maybe it’s time to go again.

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It’s a long way to Rio de Janeiro — a 14-hour flight from Los Angeles and you will lose five hours in the process.

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Driving through Arizona, reminds you of the glossy magazine, Arizona Highways. The state has done an admirable job of maintaining its signature roadways.

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