The Sainte-Chapelle may be my favorite church in the world, and staring at the heavy tulips in Forest Park reminds me of those amazing stained-glass windows back in Paris, brilliant with color and the gold-trimmed spectacle of the 13th century.

And yet Easter Sunday at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis is no less beautiful. The trees are overdressed with pastel blossoms (no wonder dogwood is the Missouri state tree), and stepping inside the century-old church, I am confronted with more gold than King Louis IX could have ever imagined in his lifetime.

The French king is the patron saint of Missouri’s largest city, and when it was founded (exactly 250 years ago this year), this Mississippi River outpost was a French-speaking port.

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The Illinois road ends on an island in the stream—a sandy, almond-shaped isle covered with tall and unbending trees. The first bridge is just one lane, so I wait for the light to change green, then rumble up and over the water onto the island. The second bridge is now closed to auto traffic, so…

The Lincolns are having ham for dinner, which makes sense, because tomorrow is Easter. The pink plastic pork sits on an antique platter, surrounded by a dozen buttery biscuits fashioned from polyvinyl chloride. They look delicious. Seventy-five percent of the home is original, but the black silk top hat hanging in the hallway is not.…

“So, what do you remember about the road?” I ask. “Traffic!” laughs Jim, and the rest of the table echoes the word. “Traffic and more traffic! Real busy,” they add. “Narrow as hell,” says Harv, and his eyes stop, thinking back to that time in his life traveling down a road that no longer exists.…

I wanted a convertible— —a  red vintage convertible with shiny chrome rims and white leather seats. But the Enterprise at O’Hare didn’t have any of those. “You wanna Impala?” The guy asked, but it was white—and I’m allergic to renting white cars. One day on the road and white cars start looking like dirty underwear.…

There’s a piece of the road in the museum—square slabs of aged asphalt excised from west of Oklahoma City. I’ve never seen such a thing in a museum.  I have seen shrunken human heads and Tyrannosaurus teeth, polished suits of armor and a queen’s underpants, but never before have I seen a chunk of road…

Long before I ever jet set to London or Tokyo, and long before I sailed the oceans or bussed to Antarctica, I went on road trips, with my parents. Every summer we set off in our family van, rolling from one rest stop to the next, on to national parks and the beach and the…

Two flags hang in the garage: Cuba on the left, America on the right. In the middle of our group stands Luis Enrique González, dressed in a black Harley-Davidson T-shirt, his hair wrapped in a black bandana. Oversized motorcycles from yesteryear stand parked in a row—some red, one bright turquoise. “This one’s from 1938,” explains…

This National Geographic Expeditions Cuba Trip has offered a spectacular opportunity to meet Cubans on their home turf and share with them our own impressions of their country. Though we explored several other areas in Cuba, we began and ended our expedition in the capital, Havana. With 2.2 million inhabitants, it’s impossible to caption this…

We were walking in the same direction, but going different places. The old man carried a folded cloth sack, and I had my camera bag flung over one shoulder. He said hello first, and I reached out to shake his hand. His skin was mocha brown and paper thin—his body frail and his hair as…