Archives for November, 2011

Ice Climbing

Once you fall, the fear of falling goes away. That’s what I learned halfway up a wall of dripping blue-white ice in Banff National Park. Or rather, I learned it halfway down, as my harness halted my plunge and bounced me against the frozen upper falls of Johnston Canyon. I fell because a saucer-size chunk…

Ski Skills

“Do you ski?” That’s the first thing people asked me the minute they found out I was in Banff. At least, the non-skiers did. All the skiers asked, “How’s the snow?” and I can say that it’s stupendous, plentiful, and happening right now. As I write this, snow is falling outside my window. And yes,…

I flew into Calgary yesterday afternoon and then caught the first bus to Banff. The 90-minute drive starts out straight, flat, brown, and boring–but soon, the bare white wheat fields ripple into true hills that roll into the western distance and its promise of great mountains. And then, before you have time to guess when…

Baby Onager

My travels take me to some very exotic places where I encounter some very exotic animals, but this week I discovered one of the  rarest creatures in the world living in my own backyard. The Persian onager (Equus hemionus onager) is practically extinct in the wild. Once ranging from Israel to Mongolia, the animal now…

For me, knowing how the Pilgrims traveled to North America is just as important as knowing how they survived in the New World. As an American school kid, I was once made to dress up in paper hats that designated me either as a 17th-century English Dissenter or a non-hostile member of the Wampanoag nation.…

“How do I get a job like yours?” That’s what most of you ask me when you write me. (The rest of you ask if I need an assistant.) Lucky for me, I already have lots of terrific people assisting me (but thanks for the offer!) As for how I ended up in this job…

Trusted Traveler

I think I might have set a new world’s record: I cleared customs AND immigration in just 54 seconds. Mind you, it was a weekday afternoon in Canada’s largest airport and the line of travelers entering the United States wasn’t that long—but the point is, I got to skip the line. As a rather frequent…

The time has come to judge and be judged. Though it’s always hard to choose what’s best in any place, I’m presenting a list of all my New Orleans favorites.  As always, feel free to add your own favorites in the comments: New Orleans has no end of hidden gems. FOOD Best menu: Jacques-Imo’s Best…

Just like French literature, the plot of a city often lies in the women who live and work in that particular place. It was Alexandre Dumas who first counseled readers to “cherchez la femme” (look for the woman), and literary critics often use the same approach for revealing the heart of a novel or film.…

The secret is bacon fat. That’s right. Slowly caramelize the chopped onions in a big handful of rendered bacon fat and you’ll conjure up some terrific sweet flavors to balance all the savory and spice (and to think all this time I’ve just used oil). I’ve quickly learned that you can’t flinch at pork products…

“You can take the boy out of the bayou, but you can’t take the bayou out of the boy.” At least, that’s what my dad tells me. He was born in New Orleans during World War II and, despite leaving at a fairly young age, he has always identified with the city. No matter that…

Morning Show

I was very honored yesterday to be on the WWLTV morning show with legendary host and anchor Eric Paulsen. Watch a quick recap of our interview HERE during which I tell everyone how I really feel about this city. (Thanks to everyone at Channel 4 for having me down in the studio!)

Second Line

Jazz music is everywhere in New Orleans — simply walk the streets for a few minutes and you’ll run into it: loud, proud, and infectiously hip-swinging. Jazz funerals are yet another musical phenomenon that sets New Orleans apart from the rest of the world. A celebration in the midst of sadness, the musical parades march…