North America Recommendations and Raves
If you go up that way, try to get to New Brunswick and climb their highest peak, Mt. Carleton. It's off the beaten path and is a really nice, but gentle, hike with a great view of the surrounding wilderness.
I spent a great week in McCarthy Alaska last week. I recommend staying at the Kennicott River Lodge and Hostel
If you stay during the week you have the place to yourself. I was there from Tues and left Friday. On Friday, Brad was fully booked. I got one of the hostel cabins all to myself for just $28 a night. This includes a hot shower and a large kitchen to use. But the best part is having a cabin on the river with an awesome view.
McCarthy now has a well maintained road and it took me less than 2 hours from Chitna to get there. I was there for the Summer Solstice and they had a bonfire party at one of the glaciers. I drove and brought my bike which came in handy for biking up to the historical Kennicott mines 5 miles away. There are shuttles every 30 min for $5 each way. McCarthy is at the southern entrance to the largest US park St. Elias-Wrangell. This is my favorite park because its much bigger than Denali but has only a few visitors.
Directions from Anchorage - head northeast to Glenallen (4 hrs) and stop for gas; then down towards Valdez but turn left at the St. Elias turnoff. You can stop in Chitna for the last bit of gas before heading off to McCarthy. It took me a total of 8 hours from Anchorage.
~ There is more to life than increasing its speed ~ Ghandi
TEXAS- Terlingua, a small town with great people and scenery
CALIFORNIA- Death Valley - sound ominous but it is beautiful
Georgia- Mtns in North, Little grand canyon, Cumberland Island, Stone Mountain - huge granite mountain with carving on side - laser show during summer
MAINE- Acadia of course but also the seaside towns
PACIFIC NORTHWEST- Coupeville, WA , Seattle's Pike Place Market, Portland
IDAHO- Northern handle great hiking and scenery, southern part has dunefields I believe
WESTERN MONTANA- Awesome Scenery, BIG SKY - you'll understand when you see it
There is a ton more but those are my fav's.
-Visit National and State Parks most are very good
Maligne Canyon HI Hostel in Jasper, Alberta
This is one of the best gem getaways for those looking to have a microcosm completely to themselves. The hostel is absolutly lovely. Shared accomodation only, but my husband and I had a cabin entirely to ourselves. The hostel is impeccably clean, the kitchen facilities are great, and you really do feel like you are in a place where the world simply can't get to you (even though you are only a 15 minute drive from the Jasper townsite). The stunning Maligne Canyon walking/hiking trail is within walking distance of the hostel, and there are enough trails branching out from there to keep the most dedicated day hikers busy for a long, long time. I would highly recommend going during an "off" time if you want to maximize your chance for having the hostel to yourself. We went in early October and it was perfect. The top of the Maligne Canyon trail usually has quite a few people there, but stick to the trail and the number of other hikers will thin out dramatically.
Additional Rave about the area: The magnificent Jasper Park Lodge is about 10 minutes from Maligne Canyon, and if you can afford to fork over the moola for a night or two there, I'd highly recommend it. Heck, if you want to interrupt your hostelling/backpacking/whatevering for a fantastic, nearly hedonistic dinner, you should give this place a try. Indulgent luxery in the middle of nowhere. I stayed there for a work conference and simply didn't want to leave - my collegues, myself, and my husband (who didn't want to miss the chance to stay at the Lodge) spent our days eating, hiking, eating more, hiking, eating a lot more, and floating around in their heated outdoor pool. The staff treat you like royalty, and the rooms are fantastic.
The lodge has hiking trails galore, most right outside your cabin door. And there is lots of wildlife - we saw minks, ferrets, bighorn sheep, and more elk than you can (or should) shake a stick at. Actually, I wasn't able to get out of our cabin one morning because several elk decided that the grass that lined our cabin deck was the tastiest around and munched it for quite a while before wandering off to trap some other guest in their room.
APPROACH WITH CAUTION: Banff Rocky Mountain Resort in Banff, Alberta
This is a very strange place. The rooms are great, with reasonable rates, kitchenetts, good arrangements, recent renovations, wood burning fireplaces (inquire for avalability), and shuttles into downtown Banff, which is only about five to ten minutes away. They've got lots of activities and resources for kids. It would be great for people who don't want to have to eat out every night, or for families with kids.
That being said, my husband and I went there for our 'mini-moon' and were rather dissapointed. We liked the room, but the customer service was wretched, and we didn't eat a single meal in either their 'pub style' restauraunt/sports lounge or in their self-procalimed fine dining restauraunt (a meal in their fine dining area came with the package deal we had purchased, otherwise we would have given it a wide berth). The meal in the fine dining restauraunt was indeed so bad that we literally had tears in our eyes from laughing.
We were the only ones in the dining room for the majority of our meal, the rice was uncooked, the duck was tough and gristly, and there were odd combinations of food like sweet biscotti being served with baked brie, stewed tomatoes, and cranberry chutny (sounds interesting on paper, but was a complete disaster on the plate). My creme brulee was nothing more than a small corell lasagne dish filled with whipped cream-from-a-can and burnt sugar! The dishes were so hilariously awful that we took pictures of every last one.
Even the pizza we ordered one evening was completely screwed up. It had cheese, yes, and mushrooms. But no tomato sauce (and we were told it had), and two other toppings we asked for never materialized. Happily, we had a lot of wine.
So yes - good rooms, but don't expect to eat there, or really to get customer service of any description there.
Can two geeks survive a year in New Zealand without their 20-sided dice? Will the laptop get funky while nestled in their backpacks among stinky socks and unwashed clothes? Find out at
The same guy also runs a Chinatown tour on Saturdays, which is also excellent. Victoria's Chinatown is pretty neat to begin with, but again, he's a great story teller, and you can really see/feel the history come alive.
Go Tahoe North is a great resource for planning a tahoe vacation. It covers lodging, ski resorts and runs, maps, weather information, packages, deals, etc.
Lake Tahoe Visitors Bureau great website from lake Tahoe's visitors bureau
SnoWeb information on skiing and snowboading. Has great information on Tahoe ski areas
Who knew that 15 minutes of online searching could save you so much money on the room you'd be staying in anyway?
I'm not sure if there are a lot of promo codes for international hotels, but since it's such a common practice in the U.S. I posted the message here
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