Archive of QTG Monthly Travel Blog Link Roundup Posts

Note: For a few years, I published a monthly roundup of my favorite travel blog links from that month. These posts have been consolidated and archived here. Scroll down to the month and year you’d like to view.

September 2013

Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge

Here’s what’s new in QTG world. I spent much of September traveling throughout the state of Indiana, where I uncovered a number of cool sights, including Michael Jackson’s birth home in Gary, a national lakeshore featuring sand dunes on the Great Lakes, the Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Foundation, the Notre Dame campus in South Bend, and some amazing art and culture in Indianapolis.

Indiana will serve as my Featured Destination for October, and I guarantee you’ll be surprised at all the fun stuff to see and do in the state.

I have another big trip planned this month: I’ll be doing a southern Texas road trip and seeing northern Mexico for a few days. We’ll be staying near San Antonio, and there’s a possibility of a quick trip up to Austin.

I’ve also been dying to get more coverage of Mexico on the site, and this trip will allow me to see some of the small towns in the country that you don’t normally read about.

Here’s what I was reading from around the travel blogging world in September.

Featured personal link:

How to visit Los Angeles without a car

I spent a week in the City of Angels doing what some have said is impossible – getting around without a vehicle.

I walked and took the bus and still managed to see all the big sights – the Hollywood Walk of Fame, hiking trails in the hills, hipster neighborhoods Silver Lake and Echo Park, beach towns Santa Monica and Venice, and much more.

los angeles bus

September travel links of interest:

Breakaway Backpacker: The 9/11 Memorial in Photos

On the anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, Jaime posted a collection of photos from the memorial as it looks today and offered his insight about what it felt like to visit.

I have not been to NYC since the memorial was finished, but I’m looking forward to making the trip. The site looks like a powerful place to spend an hour or two.

Be My Travel Muse: Why I Prefer Solo Travel (And Probably Always Will)

Kristin writes about some of the awesome experiences she has had by traveling solo and shares some of the advantages of being on your own, like an increased desire to meet others and complete freedom over your schedule. I can relate to this in many ways, since most of my travels have been alone.

Leah Travels: 48 Hours in Austin: Favorites From a Former Resident

The title says it all. Leah dishes on some of the best options for visitors in Austin, Texas, including the city’s live music scene, its college football atmosphere, the numerous food trucks, the capitol building, and those wacky bridge bats.

capitol Austin

TurnipSeed Travel: Zion National Park Photo Essay

I’ve been to a ton of national parks now, but sadly Utah’s Zion National Park isn’t one of them. This post from Vanessa shows what I’ve been missing – fantastic natural landscapes, gorgeous scenery and plentiful wildlife.

Hecktic Travels: Our End at the Knud Rasmussen Glacier, Greenland

Gotta give another shout-out to one of my favorite sites, Hecktic Travels, for their excellent coverage of Greenland, a place that’s at the top of my travel bucket list.

This post features great pics from a kayaking journey in one of the most beautiful spots on earth. Check out all their recent posts for more Greenland content.

August 2013

arizona canyon

Not long ago I decided to end my one-man boycott of Arizona. You may recall that I refused to visit the Grand Canyon state because of all the bizarre political stories coming out of there.

Things have cooled off quite a bit since then. The governor has become more sensible, and nobody’s paying attention to that wacky sheriff anymore. Plus, other states are really going out their way to take over the “crazy” title (hey there, Florida!)

The boycott post was more of a frustrated rant than anything, and as I’ve been browsing Arizona content on other blogs, the lure of the state’s natural beauty has been calling me back.

So, Arizona, I’m open to visiting again. Can I call you for a date? Maybe a leisurely stroll through your Grand Canyon? Or is that coming on too strong? We could start with a quite coffee in Tempe instead – I’m fine with taking it slow.

(Just not too slow, because word on the street is that New Mexico and Nevada have been eyeing me up, and since we’re not exclusive yet, I’m still free to see other states…)

Here’s my monthly roundup of the travel articles I was reading in August.

Featured personal link:

Meet Sid, the man behind the quirkiest museum in Canada

It’s hard to choose a favorite of the articles I published from the Yukon. I covered a lot of ground, from quirky small towns to wildlife and natural beauty to the history of the Yukon River and the territory’s First Nations.

One post that I think deserves more eyeballs is this one about Sid, who runs the Bordertown Garage and Museum in Beaver Creek. The museum is strange but fascinating, much like the man himself, who rides around on a 1937 bicycle and visits the town dump twice a week to seek out lost treasures.

If that whole “reading” thing is too taxing, you may instead want to check out my 60-image photo essay of the character of the Yukon.


August travel links of interest:

Where’s Pablo: A Colorado ghost town

Ghost towns are always cool. Pablo presents the northern Colorado ghost town of Dearfield.

There’s not a lot left of the place, but the historic markers and broken-down buildings make for some great photography opportunities. Dearfield was a predominantly African-American community, which makes it somewhat of a rarity among ghost towns.

Unbrave Girl: 5 things to do in Niagara Falls, USA

Or, “Why the American Side is Way Better. So There.” Sally is a total Niagara Falls geek. But she’s a geek who got to view the Falls from above in a helicopter. And from below, at the Cave of the Winds. Incredible!

This post is great because it focuses on the sometimes-neglected American side of the Falls. Plus, you get to see Sally posing with a wrestling championship belt. I dare you to pretend you don’t want to see that.

niagara falls

Upworthy: One look at the United States-Canada border reveals some ridiculous things

If you thought the border between the U.S. and Canada was a straight line, think again! There are a ton of irregularities along the way, including one bizarrely-located town in Washington in which kids must cross the international border four times a day to go to high school.

Not mentioned in this amusing video is a town in Alaska that I really want to visit called Hyder. It’s cut off from the rest of Alaska; the only way in is by road from British Columbia. Culturally, it’s Canadian, and in fact, most of the town uses Canadian money.

Geogypsy Traveler: Monsoon visits Grand Canyon and what to do when it rains

Speaking of Arizona, Gaelyn was at the Grand Canyon when a rainstorm ripped through. Those conditions sound less than ideal for seeing the famous gorge, but they resulted in some great pictures. Click through for some views of the Canyon you don’t often see.

Wandering Educators: Eating your way through the woods

Have you ever been hiking deep in the woods and wondered, ‘What could I eat if I got stuck out here?’ Kristen learned all about forest edibles during an adventure trek in an Ohio state park.

A tour guide showed which plants and leaves were fine to eat. Who knew that sassafras tastes like root beer? I could go for a sassafras float right about now…

July 2013

national park sign
This month I spent 10 days in Yukon, Canada on one of my most epic adventures yet. I won’t give away all the details just yet (bears! glaciers! sourtoe cocktails!), but you can read all about it starting next week. And if you’ve been following along on Instagram, you’ve already seen some of the amazing sights.

Since this month was National Parks month on the blog, my links roundup focuses entirely on national parks. Here’s what I was reading from the travel blogging world in July.

Featured personal link:
Tips for visiting all the national parks
A series of tips from several of the national parks I’ve visited. Highlights include seeing bears, alligators, and bison, plus camping in Death Valley, exploring the underworld of Carlsbad Caverns, and doing some unexpected climbing in the Great Smoky Mountains.

July travel links of interest:
Lee Abbamonte: Saguaro National Park
Lee covers the often-overlooked Saguaro National Park outside Tucson, Arizona. The park was named after the saguaro cactus, which is native to the area. It has everything you’d expect from a desert park: Cacti, shrubs, snakes, and very hot temperatures. Who wants to join me on a hike in 120 degree heat?

On My Feet Or In My Mind: Don’t Overlook Grand Teton National Park
If only I had read Erik’s post before visiting Grand Teton National Park, because I did exactly what he warns against: I did a drive-by in Grand Teton as an afterthought on the way out of Yellowstone.

I only gave it a couple hours instead of the couple days that it deserves. In retrospect, Grand Teton is a great park with some amazing scenery.
grand teton reflection

Trans-Americas: Pinnacles National Park
Did you know there’s a brand-new national park? As of January 2013, Pinnacles National Monument received the official upgrade to national park status, which is great because California does not already have enough national parks. What can you find there? Caves, climbing, campgrounds, California condors, and other features starting with the letter C.

Yahoo News: Death Valley National Park to Visitors: Stop Frying Eggs on the Ground

This sounds like an Onion headline, but it’s totally real, thanks to a social media backfire. A park employee filmed a video demonstrating that the summer heat in DV is so overwhelming that it’s possible to fry an egg in a skillet based on the air temperature alone.

Unfortunately, park visitors who saw the video began attempting to recreate the feat, minus the skillet, resulting in gooey messes all over the park that staffers had to clean up.

June 2013

Where do you go for quirky adventures once you’ve already visited 49 states? For me, the answer is to head to two very different places: Yukon, Canada and northern Mexico!

Over the next few months, I’ll be shipping off to both spots for a week at a time. In July, I’ll be a guest of Travel Yukon on an adventure throughout the province, where I’ll check out some national parks, attend a major music festival (yes, the Yukon has one), and explore some glaciers.

I’m excited to share photos and stories from a part of the world that many people probably haven’t considered visiting. We will even pop into eastern Alaska, checking out a couple of the small towns that I didn’t make it to when I visited Alaska last year. How convenient!

Then in October, I’ll be heading to southern Texas and we’ll be spending a few days across the border in some small towns in northern Mexico in the state of Coahuila. I’ve always wanted to see this part of the country, since the Mexican cities I’ve visited so far (Cancun and Tijuana) are super touristy and certainly not representative of the average Mexican community. Exciting stuff, right?

Here’s what I was reading from around the travel blogging world this month.

Featured personal link:

What’s it like to visit a ghost town full of toxic waste? Welcome to Picher, Oklahoma

In 2006, Picher was a small town with hundreds of families going about their daily lives. Three years later, the town was empty due to mine subsidence and lead poisoning. The U.S. government offered buyouts to all local families so they could relocate.

Aside from a few fenced-off sections, Picher remains accessible to the public. Read about what I saw when I stopped by for a visit.

church abandoned bw

June travel links of interest:

Go See Write: Living and working in Antarctica

Michael provides photos and a story from a friend who lives in Antarctica, working as a mechanic. He is in a position that many of us envy, being able to spend months on the seventh continent, although I think the novelty would wear off and I’d probably lose my mind by the third month. Still, it would be worth it to see the Southern Lights (who knew that was even a thing?)

Twenty-Something Travel: My lunch at one of NYC’s most expensive restaurants (broken link removed)

Stephanie managed to find a restaurant in New York that charges $6 for glasses of water. That’s more than I spend on most entire meals! Sometimes it’s fun to live like a king or queen, as she found by hitting up the Mario Batali hotspot Del Posto. The food was great, but the ambience was creepy at times. Check out her story.

Arctic Nomad: Moose safari: an adventure by canoe (broken link removed)

Jarmo went on an outdoor adventure in search of meese (which is the plural of moose. Or, at least, it should be.) I got up close with some moose last summer on my Alaska road trip, but I saw all of them on the roadside from a car.

Jarmo’s experience in Ontario was cool because he got to see a moose from a canoe. It may have been kinda far away, but what an awesome feeling to connect with these huge animals in their natural environment.

moose alaska
A moose I encountered last summer in Alaska.

Gadling: Bed bugs being dealt with by tough, heartless science

I became quite the expert on bed bugs years ago when I had to deal with an infiltration. Though these pests are incredibly difficult to eradicate, and they can be found all over major metropolitan areas throughout the U.S. and the world, science is working on our behalf.

The latest news: researchers have created a product that catches the bugs in a sticky web of sorts, and they die out after they get stuck and can’t move. I’m not sure that’s such a great solution. Do we really want to deal with a room full of sticky, struggling bed bugs for a week or so before they all die out?

The Travel Hack: Camping in the Sahara Desert

Monica got to do something that I’ve always wanted to do when she spent the night in the Sahara. The journey included a camel ride in Morocco, a 4×4 trek to the campsite, an intimate candlelight dinner inside the tent, and a totally clear night sky full of stars. The photos are impressive. I can’t wait for my own Sahara experience!

Cheryl Howard: Abandoned Detroit – Abundant Life Church

In the spirit of my Oklahoma ghost town visit, let’s end with a post about Cheryl’s visit to an abandoned church. Detroit has a staggering number of empty buildings, which are ripe for urban exploration even if many locals would prefer that visitors focus on the city’s other sights. The photos from the inside are stunning. You can feel the history of the place.

May 2013

canada flag

This week I’m in Toronto for the annual TBEX conference, a meeting of professional travel bloggers and tourism boards from around the world. It’s always fun to meet up with my peers, chat with industry folks, and see what kind of lavish social events they have planned for us.

In addition to my week in Toronto, I’m visiting the city of London, Ontario for a couple of days, and then taking a loooong bus ride home to Chicago. I can’t wait to get some more Canadian content on the site, so I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to work with some of the Canadian tourism boards in attendance to plan future journeys. I’d love to do a month-long train trip across the entire country. Or a road trip from Chicago to Banff and Jasper.

Here’s what I was reading this month from around the travel blog world, with a special emphasis on Canada since I’m in maple leaf country right now.

Featured personal link:

Reconnecting With My Amish Roots in Berlin, Ohio

If you missed the story of me connecting with some long-lost Amish relatives in Berlin, check it out. I found my grandfather’s name in a genealogy book owned by a local Amish family in Ohio. It turns out we were fourth- or fifth-cousins. I have dozens of Amish relatives and it was an incredible experience to finally get to know some of them!


May travel links of interest:

Hike Bike Travel: 8 Great Canadian Train Trips

Speaking of Canadian train travel, Leigh uncovered some of the best train trips in the country. Canada is so beautiful, and the train seems like an ideal way to see the countryside, in addition to visiting hot spots like Vancouver, Calgary, Churchill, and Quebec. I want to take all eight of these trips – especially the ones that would allow me to head way north into polar bear territory.

Travel for Wildlife: How to See Beluga Whales and Bears on the Same Trip

Did someone mention polar bears? Cristina explains that you can see polar bears and beluga whales during the same visit to Churchill. You can even go into the water and swim with the belugas. And the companies involved are environmentally-conscious. I am totally sold. Yet another reason to love Canada.

JDomb’s Travels: Montreal by Moped

Jennifer explored the awesome city of Montreal by moped. She actually failed the moped test and had to ride as the tour guide’s passenger, which worked out better because it afforded her the opportunity to take many more photographs (I need to remember that trick.) This looks like an awesome tour and a cool way to see the city. Just last month I took my first Segway tour; now it’s time for me to upgrade to a moped!

Hecktic Travels: Why We Are Proud to be Canadian

I don’t have much to add to this one, except to say that it’s brilliant and I’m almost ready to switch my citizenship after reading. Give it a look!

Travel With Bender: How to Save $40 at Rio Camuy Caves Park

Often, stories about bad travel experiences are much more entertaining than gushing recaps. That’s the case with this post from Erin. Don’t let its title fool you – this isn’t about finding a coupon or discount code.

The way you save $40 is by not going at all, since the park is, as she describes it, “tame, commercialized and all about not being sued.” Having to put up with pre-recorded audio bites in a cave is about as far from a true nature experience as you can possibly get!

Where in the World is Lola: Ultra Music Festival – Miami Edition

As a hardcore music festival junkie, I was excited to see this post by Lola and Roxy about Miami’s Ultra Music Festival, an annual event that brings the biggest EDM and dance music stars to town.

I have never gone to Ultra, but I’ll accept any excuse to go back to Miami. They did a great job of capturing the vibe of the event – and apparently there’s an Ultra Fest in Croatia later this summer. Who knew?

April 2013

amish glass

This month I embarked on a week-long road trip throughout the state of Ohio, from Cleveland to Columbus. In May, I’ll be recapping the journey, with a special focus on Amish Country, where I spent quality time with local Amish residents and tracked down some of my long-lost Amish relatives. (Really! Stay tuned.)

I recently added a bunch of new pics to the “Quirky Bonus Photos” album on my Facebook page. During my travels I often come across quirky sights that aren’t necessarily worthy of a full blog post here on the site, but they’re cool enough to share. Stuff like a fiberglass dinosaur shaped like a ketchup bottle; urinals that dispense candy; and pics of the weirdest-flavored soda you’ve ever seen (we’re talking flavors like buffalo wing and sweet corn.)

Go here to see the Quirky Bonus Photos album. And Like the Quirky Travel Guy page on Facebook!

Here’s what I was reading this month from around the travel world.

Featured personal link:

Cool Chicago: The Green Mill, Al Capone’s favorite jazz club

This month I started a Cool Chicago series focusing on the amazing sights and activities here in the Windy City. One of the coolest places tourists can visit is the Green Mill cocktail lounge, a century-old jazz club where the city’s legendary gangsters like Al Capone used to spend time. Capone used to smuggle in alcohol during Prohibition, and you can still sit in his old booth today and listen to the sounds of the 1940s performed by live musicians.

green mill jazz musicians

April travel links of interest:

A Luxury Travel Blog: 10 of the best travel quotes of all-time

Paul rounds up a collection of inspiring travel quotes from big-time philosophers and thinkers like the Dalai Lama and St. Augustine. Noted linguist Mark Twain appears twice and provides my favorite words of wisdom on the list: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” So many disagreements could be settled if people got outside of their bubbles and exposed themselves to other cultures and ways of thinking.

Four Jandals: Breaking up while traveling – from four jandals to two jandals

Cole and Adela of Four Jandals have decided to take a break in their relationship, which can be tricky when you’re blogging partners. In this revealing post, Cole explains how things happened and describes the future of the site and his own travel plans, and the comments section reveals an outpouring of support. Kudos for being open and honest with readers during a tough time.

Adventurous Kate: Life begins below 14th Street

Kate decided to adventure beyond Midtown and Times Square during an NYC visit and discovered some of the city’s coolest neighborhoods south of 14th Street. That’s really where the action is, in places like Greenwich Village, the Lower East Side, and even Little Italy. The month I got to live in the Village in 2002 while working in Soho remains one of the coolest times of my life. Check out her post for pics and stories about Anderson Cooper and moist meats.

Little Italy NYC

CNN: 7 stunning U.S. spots for wildlife

As much as I love urban life, nothing is better than getting up close with nature and wildlife. In support of Earth Day, CNN put together a list of the top places to see animals in the United States, including Beartooth Highway, Platte River, and Gaylor Lakes Trail in Yosemite. Plus, my personal favorite wildlife-watching spot: Mount Washburn in Yellowstone National Park, where I saw grizzly bears.

Leave Your Daily Hell: Boston and the case for war

Robert tackles the issue of war and how his global travels have influenced his perspective, making his point through the example of the tragic Boston marathon bombing incident. I don’t have much to add since I agree with his viewpoint, except to echo the immortal words of Boy George: “War, war is stupid.”

Gadling: Your Kickstarter vacation. My money. No.

Terrific opinion piece from Pam Mandel, who takes a look at the disturbing trend of travelers creating Kickstarter campaigns to fund their vacations. While many Kickstarter campaigns are noble, a growing number are of the “I don’t want to go to work and earn the funds myself, so you should just give me money instead” variety, which is offensive to those of us struggling to make travel happen on our own.

February 2013

chicago lake street bridge
Under the Lake Street subway train in Chicago.

February was quiet in terms of my own travels. I spent the month hibernating in my homebase of Chicago. I had to postpone my planned trip to Detroit until a later date when I’ll have a vehicle available. As much as I’m a public transportation junkie, it just doesn’t seem feasible to really get to know Detroit by bus alone.

I have a couple other Midwest trips planned in the next couple of months that I’m waiting to announce until I get confirmation from my potential partners, but those will be a lot of fun. I’m also looking forward to a June trip to Toronto for TBEX, the big annual travel blogging conference where I get to indulge in conversation and shenanigans with my colleagues.

Here’s what I was reading in the world of travel in the month of February.

Featured personal link:

Travel blogging couples share funny and inspiring memories in honor of Valentine’s Day

A big thanks to the dozen travel blogging couples who contributed anecdotes and shared personal memories and tips from their journeys. I look forward to being able to see the world with my partner and experience moments like these.

February travel links of interest:

Unbrave Girl: Five Reasons Why Taking the Train in the States Isn’t Crazy

I enjoy traveling on Amtrak. It’s way more comfortable than a bus, with much more leg room, plus electrical outlets so you can plug in a laptop and work or just listen to music while you gaze out the window at the scenery. Apparently some people think taking the train in the U.S. is crazy, but Sally sets these misguided souls straight with this post. Best part about train travel: Regulation-size toiletries are permitted!

Ordinary Traveler: When Orcas Attack – Channel Islands

Christy and Scott got an up-close look at a rare killer whale attack on gray whales and then on dolphins. I can’t get enough of this stuff while watching nature shows, so seeing it in person would be amazing. Fortunately, they did not witness any actual carnivorous activity, as the orcas’ hunt was ultimately unsuccessful.

My own killer whale sighting from Alaska, summer 2012.
My own killer whale sighting from Alaska, summer 2012.

Dave’s Travel Corner: My Reflections as a Non-Muslim Wearing the Burqa in Silicon Valley

An interesting story from Elizabeth, who decided to go undercover, so to speak, to document how passersby would react to someone wearing a Muslim burqa in Silicon Valley, California. I won’t give anything away, except to say that it’s a very interesting read.

Waegook Tom: Why I Won’t Dump My Boyfriend to Travel (broken link removed)

Here’s a great post from Mr. Waegook Tom that came out too late for me to include in the January roundup, so I’m breaking all the rules and including it here. It really hit home, especially since I was putting together my couple travel post at the time. I’ve come across more than one blog where the author admits to ending a relationship to travel the world alone. To each his/her own, but reading stuff like that always makes me sad. For me, at least, love is too hard to find to give up so frivolously.

Less Beaten Paths: Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign

Sumoflam has been to a ton of weirdly-named towns across America. Check out the post to see photographic evidence of all the visits. Among the fascinatingly titled places he has visited are: Uncertain, Texas; Boring, Oregon; Oddville, Kentucky; Hell, Michigan; and my favorite, Flippin, Arkansas.

Legal Nomads: Revisiting the Solo Female Travel Experience

This month, sad news broke of a tourist who was killed while vacationing in Turkey by herself, as reported on Many of the comments on the news article were from people who shockingly suggested that the woman brought the crime on herself by being irresponsible and traveling alone in a foreign country.

Now personally, I stopped reading the comments on YouTube videos and news articles years ago because they make me weep for humanity. But many solo female travel bloggers read those ignorant comments and decided to fire back with their own posts defending the female solo traveler.

Lots of awesome ladies wrote posts explaining why they travel alone and why they shouldn’t have to defend this method of travel. Jodi’s post at Legal Nomads, linked above, includes her own thoughts on the subject, as well as a nice roundup of some of the articles written by other female travel bloggers.

January 2013

santa monica route 66

I just returned from a few days out in L.A. Escaping the single-digit temperatures of Chicago was nice, and so was hiking in the Hollywood Hills and hanging out in Santa Monica and Venice, even if it wasn’t quite warm enough to jump in the ocean.

Next up on the travel list is Detroit, where I’m stopping off for a long weekend at the end of February. I’ve only been there once, and that was a brief visit. The only things I saw of note were the Motown Museum (overrated) and the giant fist statue (kind of cool.) So going back and getting to know the city better is a priority.

Here’s what caught my attention from around the travel blogging world this month.

Featured personal link:

Nationality Rooms in Pittsburgh: Explore Cultures from Around the World in a Single Building

One of the coolest international experiences you can have in Pittsburgh is the Nationality Rooms at the university. Nearly three-dozen rooms have been designed after rooms from various countries around the world, with artwork and artifacts from those nations, including Romania, China, Greece, Ireland and more.

The “Austrian Room” at the University of Pittsburgh’s Nationality Rooms.

January travel links of interest:

Red Hunt Travel: 10 Surprisingly Tasty Animals

Don’t read if you’re a vegetarian… or you get freaked out by the concept of “lean ground horse meat.” Okay, I’ll be honest, that freaks me out a little too. But you can be certain that for every animal on the planet, there’s a group of people somewhere who eat it. Red Hunt Travel runs down some of the more unusual carnivorous delicacies. The only ones I’ve tried are alligator and bison. And some African game meats. How about you?

Gadling: Top American Destinations to Avoid in 2013

This article was probably written to rile people up, cause online arguments and bring in page views. Mission accomplished, given the 11 pages of reader comments. Funny that at the very top of the list is Detroit, where I’m visiting in a few weeks, and Los Angeles, where I just came back from. See, I’m a rebel like that. Also on the list: Salt Lake City (I disagree with that one too), Reno and Daytona Beach.

Indecisive Traveler: The Art of Brick: Lego Sculptures

Lego sculptures are some of the coolest art pieces anywhere. I’m always blown away by the creativity. That’s certainly true of this exhibit photographed at the Magic House in St. Louis by Rease at Indecisive Traveler. So many of these are awesome… the globe, the $100 bill, the Lego people climbing out of the brain. But my favorite is the yellow Lego guy ripping open his chest as Lego pieces spill out. Read to the end to find some unexpected philosophical words of wisdom.

lego monster mall of america
A giant Lego monster I saw at the Mall of America.

Travel with Bender: A Ball Dropping New Year’s Eve in Times Square

I’ve always heard that spending New Year’s Eve in NYC in Times Square is a miserable experience, since you have to get there hours ahead of time, there are no bathrooms, and you can’t even drink alcohol. Erin and Josh describe their experience as they creatively found a way to beat the crowds and the expensive tickets and still have a great time ringing in the new year.

Travel Tweaks: 6 DUIs You Didn’t Know You Could Get on Vacation

I found this post interesting. You can be charged with driving under the influence while you’re driving a snowmobile, ATV, or even riding a horse. So don’t do it! To this list, I’ll add that you can also be charged with DUI if you’re merely sitting or dozing in your vehicle and not even attempting to drive. When I used to sleep in my vehicle, this was a legitimate concern.

Google search terms of the month

A monthly roundup of some of the search terms people have used to end up on Quirky Travel Guy:

best pittsburgh high school cafeteria fries” – I love searches like this because I have no idea how my site would come up in the results for such an inquiry. Good luck finding the answer to that one, my friend.

games you can do at the mall without getting arrested” – This one made me laugh. I shudder to think what this troublemaker is up to. I just hope he’s not going to try any funny stuff at the Mall of America.

im going on a road trip with a guy i like” – Um, ok. I’m not sure what you were hoping to find from that Google search, but have fun on your journey!

swimming around us border fence in tijuana” – You can try it, but you’re not going to get very far.

December 2012

blue globe chicago

According to Travel + Leisure magazine, Quirky Travel Guy was the #1 travel story of 2012! Ok, I may have taken some semantic liberties with that claim, but I did in fact contribute to T&L’s recap of the latest trends in travel over the past 12 months.

Also this month, I was featured in an interview (broken link removed) in the Dangerous Business Thursday Traveler series. Amanda runs one of the most interesting travel blogs out there, so poke around her site if you’re not a regular reader.

As for my own travels, next month I head back to Los Angeles for five days. Hopefully, this will be a much more relaxed trip than the ones I normally take, where every minute is pre-planned and jam-packed with activities. I want to be able to take things slower and spend time wandering around neighborhoods (Silver Lake, Echo Park) that I would consider living in.

Here’s some of what I was reading this month from around the travel world.

Featured personal link:

The 20 largest national parks in the United States

Researching the list of the biggest U.S. national parks was fun. Some iconic parks didn’t even make the list, while other much lesser-known parks appeared in the Top 10, including the selection at #1, which will probably surprise a lot of people. I’m happy to say I’ve been to 8 of the Top 20, but that still leaves a whole bunch more on my to-do list. How many have you been to?

wrangell st elias park

December travel links of interest:

Beers & Beans: Maui Luau: A Photo Essay from the Royal Lahaina

Randy and Beth got to attend a traditional luau at Kaanapali Beach and captured some cool pics of the dancers and fire twirlers. The atmosphere sounded fantastic, and so did the food – cocktails, salmon and coconut Hawaiian pudding, for instance. This looks like an awesome cultural experience. I can’t wait to see one for myself when I finally make it to Hawaii.

Leah Travels: Screw the Louvre… I’m Dining with Lionel Richie

“You Are” going to love this story from Leah, who was metaphorically “Dancing on the Ceiling” when Lionel Richie, of all people, came up to her in Paris, said “Hello” and invited her and Lola of Lola’s Travels to dinner. The girls were “Running With the Night” when Lionel changed the venue at the last minute, but they eventually met up and had a grand time, even if they didn’t stay out “All Night Long.” You’ll “Truly” want to read about the experience. There’s even a Seinfeld big salad reference. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Everything Everywhere: Gary’s 20 Immutable Laws of Travel

You know, I’ve been really fortunate when it comes to air travel. I haven’t had very many bad experiences. Well, aside from that time United lost my camping tent in Alaska. And the time the two people on either side of me decided to have a conversation around me for an hour. And the time I flew over the Grand Canyon and missed seeing it because it was on the other side of the plane. I guess most of Gary’s rules of air travel are right on, after all.

alaska from plane

Rear View Mirror: My Favourite iPhone Photos of 2012

I love a good photo essay. Since cell phone photography doesn’t typically produce the same quality images as a regular camera, the photographer has to rely on his or her creativity to come up with unique angles and unexpected scenes. Andrea does just that in a lengthy post featuring iPhone photos taken from around Europe, from streetcars to sunsets to famous tourist attractions.

Escape Artistes: Frozen Waterfalls and Fallen Glaciers

I know a lot of travel bloggers who would love to trek to Everest Base Camp (*raises hand*), but I don’t know that many who have actually made the journey. Theodora is making it happen – with her 12-year-old son, even – and documenting the journey, which includes sights like frozen streams and killer peaks. The post also paints a clear picture of what it’s like to deal with acclimatization. The experience sounds unglamorous but lots of fun.

Jetting Around: Visiting Tijuana, Mexico

Pola from Jetting Around describes the border city of Tijuana, Mexico, a fun place for tourists to visit but one that can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. My own Tijuana experience was memorable thanks to a local Couchsurfing host, who took me to dive bars and the beach. Pola went way beyond that to report on some of the upscale restaurants and cantinas that I missed. Great details for anyone planning a TJ visit.

Tijuana street

Camels & Chocolate: Visiting the Grand Ole Opry

When I went to Nashville earlier this year, I made it to many of the city’s iconic spots, like the Country Music Hall of Fame, RCA Studio B, and the Hermitage, President Andrew Jackson’s former mansion. I wasn’t able to make time to see the Grand Ole Opry, but if you’re a country music fan, you can miss the Opry. Kristin has been to the Opry a few times and gives the lowdown, complete with photos from backstage.

Google search terms of the month

A monthly roundup of some of the search terms people have used to find Quirky Travel Guy:

do ulysess grant have his own statue” – Yes, and so does his wife, who looks like Mrs. Butterworth.

bonnaroo guide for a stoner” – My guide for the Bonnaroo music festival didn’t touch very heavily on the drug aspect, but clearly there’s a market for this. There are page views out there waiting for anyone who wants to put together a stoner guide!

did people die making the grand canyon” – Nope, no one died. The construction equipment used by the Native Americans was so advanced, they were able to construct massive scaffolding that was accident-proof while they carved away the rocks to form the Canyon and also hauled in the water to create the man-made Colorado River. Yessir, that’s how it happened.

the christmas movie where the five girls were shopping in the mall and trapped in the mall” – I’m unable to answer this person’s query. But it sounds like a lot of fun. Does anyone know the name of the movie he/she was seeking?

November 2012

Philadelphia Magic Gardens
Philadelphia Magic Gardens

This month I’m adding a new feature to the monthly links column. Each month, I get people landing on my website after searching for some bizarre phrases in Google. Take a look at a sampling of November’s strange search terms, followed by a selection of some of my favorite articles from the travel world over the past few weeks.

Google search terms of the month:

which region in france would you go to attend a sauerkraut festival” – I have no idea! I did write about a sauerkraut festival once, but that one takes place in Vermont. Now I’m stoked to hear there are multiple sauerkraut festivals in existence!

build a bear scat jeans outfit” – An outfit made from bear scat? Um, I have no idea what this person was looking for.

cuban restaurant in miami with giant chicken statue in the front” – Ah, I love it when some obscure fact I wrote comes in handy for a reader. I assume he found the answer in my Little Havana post.

pix of people naked in yellowstone” – Sorry, I can’t help you with that on this blog. You, sir, are seeking a different site.

can i travel to america if i have not paid a parking ticket from a trip 14 years ago” – I’m going to go out on a limb and say YES. Of course you can! You will not be locked up at the border. I think.

Featured personal link:

Repurposing old junk into art at Philadelphia Magic Gardens


I love this place and highly recommend taking a look at the post if you haven’t yet. A Philadelphia artist has livened up neighborhoods by creating murals made of glass, old toys, bike wheels, and other random pieces of junk. If you need an art fix, this is the ultimate place to get it.

November travel links of interest:

Aaron’s Worldwide Adventures: Hurricane Sandy: Exploring the Darkness in Manhattan

Aaron is a world traveler who found himself back at home in NYC when Hurricane Sandy ripped through. He did a great job of documenting what he saw as he walked around the city. Even though we heard a lot about the storm on the news, Aaron’s pics provided a more personal perspective and showed just how the neighborhoods and local businesses were affected. I love the images from the bar/restaurant that stayed open by candlelight.

Travels at 88mph: The Ice Never Ends Up North

Not many people travel to Wrangell-St. Elias, the largest national park in America, tucked into the eastern side of Alaska. I only stopped by for 10 minutes myself since I was driving a rental car and you can’t take those onto the park’s dirt roads. Rebecca went much farther into the park, reaching the abandoned mining town of Kennecott and hiking through glacial ice caves.

pools inside glacier
The glaciers I encountered this summer in Alaska.

Travels of Adam: Closing Thoughts on the Great American Hipster Project

Adam spent two months traveling around the U.S. to find hipster havens in many of the nation’s biggest cities. If you missed his journey, get caught up with this wrap-up post documenting the highlights. I especially enjoyed the Texas and Ohio portions, since I haven’t spent enough time in either of those states.

The Downtown Traveler: First Impressions of New Orleans: Bourbon Street

Leslie spent Thanksgiving week in New Orleans and captured the spirit of the city with some great photos from Bourbon Street during the day and and beyond, that depict jazz, fine dining and public drinking. I know some friends who have visited New Orleans during Christmas and New Year’s. It seems that the Big Easy has become a popular vacation destination during the holidays.

french quarter new orleans
My view of New Orleans on my last trip there.

Expert Vagabond: Waterboarding Yourself for Fun

I’ve seen Bear Grylls rappel down a waterfall a couple times, and it always looked incredibly unpleasant. But Matthew at Expert Vagabond decided to do just that during a canyoning adventure near Quebec. And he managed to take pictures at the same time. That is madness. In a good way.

The Planet D: Get Off Your Smartphone and Talk to Me!

Deb and Dave cut right to the chase in this post about how technology is replacing simplicity when it comes to travel and life in general. The fact that you can update your Facebook status from Mt. Everest is a real eye-opener. I want to print out this post and give it to everyone at my local coffee shop, where every single person sits as his/her own table with a laptop, instead of socializing and meeting people.

October 2012

October was a crazy month around these parts. I took a 2 1/2 week bus trip around the east coast, with stops in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington DC, North Carolina and Atlanta. I saw the White House vegetable garden up close, experienced history and futuristic art in Philly, and fought back tears at the Martin Luther King National Historic Site in Atlanta.

Stay tuned for all the stories, starting next month when Philadelphia serves as the Featured Travel Destination.

This month, I also partnered with Residence Inn’s Thrival Guide, which provides trusted referrals from travelers regarding what to see and do in various cities. There’s nothing better than to be able to read tips and info from previous travelers to help guide your own visit. I contributed nearly a dozen of my own tips from Washington DC. Take a look at their guide to share and gain local knowledge.

And earlier in October I was interviewed on TraveLinkSites (broken link removed). Click to check out my words of wisdom about travel within the U.S.

Featured personal link:

Photographs of photographers taking photographs at the Chicago Bean sculpture

A photo essay in which I take pictures of other people taking pictures. You never run out of people to watch at the Chicago Cloud Gate Sculpture, aka the Bean.


October travel links of interest:

Hecktic Travels: Travel on the Radio

Put travel and music together and you’ve got my attention. Dalene and Pete got to play DJ recently on a Calgary radio station and wrote about the experience. Their choices aren’t particularly travel-related, but that’s the beauty of creating playlists – you get to select the songs that are meaningful to you. Props to them for including such acts as Beirut and the Cranberries.

Chrystal Clear: My Criteria for the Perfect City

Here’s a good conversation starter. Chrystal asks what criteria make a perfect city. The answer is different for everybody. Personally, I need a lot of nature (parks, forest, rivers), a diverse population, good public transportation, a progressive mindset, and a good concert scene. I’m not asking for too much, am I?

The Atlantic Cities: Please Bring This to America: Heated Bike Lanes

How much do I love the Netherlands? I’ve never even been there but it sounds like an amazing place. They’re actually studying how to create heated bike lanes so that commuters can ride their two-wheelers even during snowy winters. I love the Dutch.

September 2012

alabama defend our rights

Hey everyone, it’s time for that monthly recap thing. Stay tuned, because October on the blog is going to feature lots of good stuff. There’s the story of a wild deer I used to feed by hand, my first Quirky Attraction post about the state of Alabama, and a photo essay composed entirely of photographs of photographers. There’s also an edgy post about a legendary actress that people will find either funny or wildly inappropriate. We’ll have to wait and see.

Plus, my Featured Travel Destination for the month is San Diego, one of the most awesome cities in America. We’ll go in depth on the city’s ocean and surfing culture, its vibrant neighborhoods, the world-famous San Diego Zoo, and some other cool places to hang out, like the Point Loma tide pools at Cabrillo Monument and the Maritime Museum.

My own travels in October will take me back home to Pittsburgh for a bit, and then on to Philadelphia and Washington. D.C. Get ready for Instagram overload.

Here’s what kept me busy reading in the month of September.

Featured personal link:

Trapped: Stuck inside the Mall of America for 12 hours

I try to spend an entire day on the largest mall in the country from open to close. Follow along as I attempt to retain my sanity and avoided getting arrested as a suspected terrorist.

September travel links of interest:

The Travel Chica: My First World Problems

Stephanie presents a great perspective on how the little things that bug us, like not being able to find wifi and inconvenient department store hours, are really no big deal when compared to the rest of the world. And she solicits opinions from some other big names in the travel blogging world on other first world problems. We are very lucky indeed.

Land Lopers: How Not to Bike Down a Volcano in Hawaii

Add this to the list of things I need to do when I finally make it to Hawaii. Matt takes a bike ride with a company that provides bikes individually named for various Phish songs. Cool! With trepidation, he careens down a volcano around hairpin turns through some beautiful terrain. It sounds like an amazing experience.

Pommie Travels: How to do Las Vegas on the Cheap

From hotels to food to shows to drinks to transit, Victoria has all the angles covered when it comes to seeing Vegas on a budget. Believe it or not, there are even some free things to do there. You don’t have to be a high roller after all!

Tanama Tales: The Grossest Place in San Luis Obispo

Gross? Yes. But fantastically awesome too! Ruth writes about one of the quirkiest places around, Bubblegum Alley in San Luis Obispo, California. It’s a 70-foot-long alley that has somehow become a place where people come and affix chewed gum to the walls. The unsanitary tradition has continued even though officials have tried to clean it up over the years. It sounds a lot like the Seattle Gum Wall!

Matador Network: What’s Different About Me Now: An American in Chile

A thought-provoking essay in which Eileen reflects on cultural differences and how she has changed after several years living in Chile. The slower pace and groupthink are two obvious areas where Chilean society is much different than in the U.S. How much does travel change you? This piece is a good starting point for examining that issue.

August 2012

minneapolis lake

August was a cool month in Quirky Travel Guy land. I just returned from a weekend visit to Minneapolis-St. Paul, which I’ll be writing about starting on Monday when the Twin Cities serve as my September Featured Travel Destination. That quick turnaround isn’t always possible with the format of my site, but it’s awesome when it works out.

If you’re following me on Instagram (handle: @quirkytravelguy), you’ve had a sneak peek at some of the coolest sights already. Like a beauty queen’s head carved out of butter at the Minnesota State Fair. And some good stuff from the city Sculpture Garden.

mpls instagram

Also last week, I made a television appearance via Skype as a budget travel expert on CTV in Edmonton. One of my half-serious long-term goals has been to become one of the talking heads on news and entertainment shows, so I was excited to appear on the program to discuss creative budget travel options.

Some of the ideas I mentioned in the segment were Craigslist ride shares, becoming a driver for companies that move vehicles across the country, and volunteering to get bumped from full flights to stock up on travel vouchers. It was a fun piece and I think that very soon I’m going to write an entire post fleshing out those ideas and others.

Now let’s get to some of the great stuff I’ve been reading from around the travel writing world in August.

August travel links of interest:

Legal Nomads: How to Add Some Excitement to Your Travel Day

This sounds like something I would do. Jodi heads to JFK in plenty of time to catch her flight. Except her flight is actually leaving from LaGuardia. Oops! Hilarity ensues.

Ordinary Traveler: San Diego Summer in Photos

Nobody captures San Diego like Christy and Scott of Ordinary Traveler, who posted a great photo essay of the beaches, food and sunshine of the city. They even took many of the pics with an iPhone, which shows that it’s possible to get great shots with a phone. Sadly, my Android phone just doesn’t measure up!

Leah Travels: Three Reasons Why I Love Las Vegas

I haven’t decided how I truly feel about Las Vegas yet. I’ve only been once, and that was a really short trip in which I gave myself all of $10 to gamble with. So I can’t wait to go back for a proper visit. Leah makes a convincing case for the city. I’m still way more comfortable at nickel slots than blackjack, but maybe Leah’s blackjack guide can help me out.

las vegas main street

Over Yonderlust: Louisville, Kentucky: I like to be surprised

If there’s one thing I learned from my first big road trip, it’s that often the coolest cities are the ones you don’t expect (hey there, Albuquerque!) Erica found some unexpected fun in Louisville and did a great job of capturing the feel of the city with a nifty set of photos. Louisville has been on my radar for a while; this post reinforces that I must visit soon.

Green Global Travel: Cee Lo Green launches GreenHouse Foundation

The man behind the most awesome expletive-filled pop song of 2011 has a warm and fuzzy heart. Cee Lo launched a green initiative for the youth of Atlanta, and Green Global Travel was there to interview him about the project. Who knew the guy in the bizarre costumes is such an environmental advocate?

July 2012

The July links were all about Alaska and remain available in a separate post.

June 2012

As you read this (today!), a friend and I are heading to Anchorage for the start of an eight-day whirlwind Alaskan adventure. A trip like this deserves wall-to-wall coverage, so for the entire month of July I’ll be posting dispatches to fully document the experience. I’m coming hard with at least 15 posts about the Alaska adventure, so come back as often as humanly possible over the next four weeks so you don’t miss anything.

If you can’t wait until next month to hear the juicy details, make sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram (@quirkytravelguy). I’ll be posting the first images from my journey right there as they happen.

June was a busy month. In addition to the Anchorage trip, I attended the TBEX conference for travel bloggers in Keystone, Colorado and finally met in person so many awesome people I have been corresponding with online. The event was inspiring on a number of different levels, and I already can’t wait for TBEX 2013.

While I was initially disappointed at the conference location being so far from a major city, in the end it worked out great. Because there was virtually nowhere to go out at night, all the bloggers ended up in the same place (hi there, Kickapoo!), which led to additional networking and socializing time. If the event had been in NYC, everybody would’ve gone their separate ways for nightlife, and we as attendees would have been robbed of some great bonding experiences together.

And now, some of the travel-related links from June that caught my eye.

Featured personal link:

Overcoming dishonest rangers to see bighorn sheep in Rocky Mountain National Park

My first trip to this park resulted in some great wildlife sightings, none better than the 15 bighorn sheep that crossed the road in front of my car and headed to a drinking hole just across the street. And this after a park ranger swore there was no chance of seeing sheep at all.

bighorn sheep herd

Other travel links of interest:

CBS News: Texas testing 85 MPH speed limit on highway segment

Road trips are about to get a lot more insane! I don’t think I’ve ever gone above 80 on the speedometer in my life, mostly due to a lifetime of driving really old cars that aren’t capable of going fast, plus a budget lifestyle that has no room for speeding tickets.

So I was intrigued to see that the Lone Star state is now considering creating an 85 mph speed limit on a portion of highway between San Antonio and Austin. I can’t begin to fathom people going 85 in the slow lane. Only in Texas!

Man on the Lam: The Holy Grail of Hokey – Inside the Holy Land Experience Part 2

Thank you, Raymond, for visiting the Holy Land Experience in Orlando, so I don’t have to. This is a cheesy attraction that attempts to fuse strongly held religious convictions with the widespread appeal of an amusement park. What’s not to love? Especially when there are wax figures that look like “Mary Magdalene let loose with a BeDazzler.”

The World of Deej: Bay Hill Golf Club – Footsteps of the King

Deej spent much of this month writing about some of Florida’s most notable golf courses. Bay Hill was beautiful, and he shot really well on the course. I think my best score ever, back when I played, was 47 for nine holes, so I’m impressed that a non-professional could shoot 83 over 18 holes on a pro course. If this blogging thing ever falls through, perhaps Deej has a PGA career to fall back on.

So Many Places: Meet our hot rod Vermont

Kim and Brian wrote a humorous post about “Vermont,” the old car carrying them through a cross-country road trip. Vermont is a lovable clunker. With a watch taped to the dashboard! I can relate – my travel van was reliable but definitely had some issues. At least it had air conditioning, though! I can’t fathom doing a road trip without a/c. Oh, and please do check out some of their other recent posts, which detail some of the cool places they’ve driven to so far, like the Badlands.

Flashpacker HQ: First timer’s guide for a quick trip to San Diego

Travis profiles one of my favorite cities, San Diego, and its great beaches and awesome neighborhoods. I’ve done the San Diego Zoo but never made it to Sea World, as its cost was too steep. Maybe next time! I really want to live in San Diego someday, for a couple years at least. The great weather and laid-back vibe are calling to me.

Our Odyssey: Finding overnight spots

You may remember that when I had the conversion van, I would park discreetly on random city streets and sleep inside the vehicle to save money. Sean from Our Odyssey has a much bigger vehicle, but is still able to “hide in plain view.” This post provides some tips on finding your own stealth parking spot.

May 2012

Elvis statue Nashville
Elvis was a huge part of my Nashville trip.

This month, I took a long weekend in Nashville to check out the sights of Music City USA. You can read all about it in June, when Nashville serves as my featured travel destination. Country music is a big part of the coverage, but there’s a lot more to that very cool city as well.

Meanwhile, we’re less than one month away from the beginning of my great Alaskan adventure! Bush plane flights, Kenai Fjords whale watching trips and car rentals have been secured, glacier hiking and backcountry camping has been planned, and now I’m just saving the final dollars and researching campgrounds and other remaining sights. This is going to be an amazing life experience.

Here’s a rundown of a few of my favorite links from the travel world in the month of May.

Featured personal link:

There’s a volcano in the heart of Portland, Oregon

Most people are unaware that a large extinct volcano sits within the city limits of Portland. How cool is that?! It’s been turned into a popular park where locals play sports, walk their dogs, and enjoy the views of the city.

May travel links of interest:

Family on Bikes: Backpacking food – what we’ll eat in the woods

Given that Alaska will be my first significant backpacking experience, I found this post from Nancy at Family on Bikes quite useful. Of course, I’m only going into the woods for a couple of days, while Nancy and her family are biking 500 miles over months. But the same principles apply when it comes to packing snacks. Nuts, granola, dried fruit, trail mix. Yay. Can you see my mouth watering?

The Travelin’ Gringo: Muhammed Ali Center – Not just for boxing fans

Louisville, Kentucky strikes me as one of those places that’s probably much cooler in reality than you’d think. I haven’t been there yet, but Glen shares this profile of the Muhammed Ali Center. Ali’s influence went way beyond the world of sports, so the center documents important cultural and political events in addition to his boxing successes.

Land Lopers: Journey to America’s forgotten capital

Upon reading the title of this post, I assumed it had to be about Philadelphia, because what other city was once the capital of the U.S. before Washington, D.C.? Turns out it was Annapolis, Maryland. Matt from Land Lopers sums up the town in a post about his recent visit, where he became aware of the city’s ghost tours and walking tours.

April 2012

Only two months until it’s time to camp in Denali National Park!

While I continue planning for my June Alaskan adventure, I’m taking a mini-vacation next weekend to Nashville, Tennessee. As a huge music fan, I’m excited to check out the country music culture that permeates the city. I’m not a hardcore fan of today’s country music stars, but you have to appreciate legends like Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley – I can’t wait to visit RCA Studio B where these greats recorded and see some of their artifacts.

Does anyone have any other recommendations for places to check out in Nashville? Leave a comment and let me know!

Here are some of my favorite travel links for the month of April.

Featured personal link:

Chicago Museum Guide: The Windy City’s Best Museums

Summaries of some of my favorite museums in Chicago. No matter what kind of art or visual creations you’re into, there’s a Chicago museum for you. Check out the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton ever found, vibrant Mexican art, bizarre modern art, or classical Impressionist paintings.

April travel links of interest:

Bacon is Magic: Where have all the farmers gone?

When you really stop and think about where our food comes from, things get weird. Nobody farms anymore. But somebody has to grow our food, right? Ayngelina writes about the Maui Agricultural Festival while raising the issues of aging farmers, local vs. imported food, and educating the public on the origins of their food.

Matador Abroad: The crazy sh people carry on bikes in Vietnam

Check out this crazy photo gallery if you haven’t seen it. People in Vietnam carry insane amounts of crap on their bikes. One guy even carries a stack of six other bikes. I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen the photographs!

Travel + Leisure: America’s Best Cities for Hipsters

“Hipster” might be the most misunderstood word in the English language. Count Travel + Leisure among those who don’t get it. They counted down America’s Most Hipster Cities, but their list is way off the mark. The most bizarre choice was New Orleans at No. 4.

Of all the large American cities I’ve visited, New Orleans is far and away the least hipster. Honestly, it doesn’t even belong in the Top 100. I walked all over that city and literally could not find the hipsters. Simply having cafés, music and bars does not make a city “hipster.”

March 2012

Last month, I mentioned that I was considering taking a Megabus trip somewhere nearby to quench my travel thirst before the big Alaska trip in June. It’s now officially been booked – I’m heading to Nashville in the first weekend of May. Music City USA! I’m looking forward to throwing myself into the country music scene and checking out the local bars, college and indie neighborhoods, and unusual attractions around town.

This month I encountered a lot of awesome U.S. travel blog posts. Here are a few of my favorites.

Featured personal link:

Quirky Attraction: Tribune Tower in Chicago

While my Grand Canyon posts were fun and the how to avoid bed bugs while traveling article was useful, I’m partial to this quirky attraction post about the Tribune Tower, because I don’t think most people are aware that you can touch the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, the Alamo and the Berlin Wall all without leaving Chicago! This cool old building has pieces of rock from those (and many more) landmarks embedded right into it.

tribune tower great pyramid

March travel links of interest:

Traveling With Sweeney: This isn’t my first rodeo

Cathy wrote a fun post about attending her first rodeo during a trip to Houston. I still haven’t made it to one of these things! She saw bull riding, chuck wagon races, a mad scramble of calves, and a Blake Shelton concert. I did see Blake Shelton at a rodeo once on the 4th of July, but sadly there was no rodeo that night, just the concert.

Green Global Travel: Yellowstone National Park Day 3

Who goes to Yellowstone right in the middle of a snowy winter? Bret of Green Global Travel! He rode in a weird alpine snowcoach and saw bison herds, boiling steam vents, red foxes, and gangs of snowmobile riders. Everything looks so much more peaceful when it’s covered in snow!

A Dangerous Business: DOs and DON’Ts on a Great American Road Trip

Amanda offers useful tips if you’re thinking about hitting the road on a long trip. Among the suggestions: Have a rough itinerary without being too rigid, use lots of phone apps, and stop at roadside attractions. And don’t be too cheap! Be willing to splurge for really cool activities.

Vagabond3: Long Beach to Catalina Island

There’s an island called Catalina off the coast of California near Los Angeles that you don’t hear much about. It’s so close to the busy L.A. world, yet it’s serene and secluded and full of nature. I’ve been wanting to go there for a long time. Jade made the trip and describes a land of clear snorkeling water, dolphins and sea lions, lots of hiking areas, and even a lost herd of bison.

Kaleidoscopic Wandering: Images: People of Mardi Gras, Lake Charles, Lousiana

New Orleans is always the cliche spot for Mardi Gras, but JoAnna spent it in Lake Charles, Louisiana instead, where she found more of family-oriented community celebration, with the bright colors, beads and wacky costumes we’ve come to expect from Mardi Gras.

February 2012

This month was a quiet one on the personal travel front. I spent a lot of time prepping upcoming articles about my recent trip to San Diego, as well as plotting out my summer trips to Denver and Alaska.

I still want to make a couple of weekend trips in the meantime, to places within reasonable Greyhound or Megabus distance from Chicago. Any suggestions? Right now the leading candidates are Minneapolis, Nashville and Detroit.

Here’s a look at some of the travel stories I was digging in February 2012.

February travel links of interest:

Camels & Chocolate: A first-timer’s guide to skiing Vail

I’m not a skiier (yet). But I love this guide from Kristin at Camels & Chocolate. She lays out all the details you need to know about hitting the slopes in Vail, one of Colorado’s most-popular ski towns. With a description of the ski trails, directions for how to get there, the apps you’ll need, and a dining guide, this post has you covered.

seattle park

FootTracker: Chinese New Year Festival at San Francisco

Look, it’s another Chinese New Year celebration! Annie has the details on what went down in San Francisco, which was apparently much larger and more hectic than the festival I witnessed down in San Diego.

Globetrotter Girls: New Orleans: Get outta town! Swamps, alligators and plantations

Dani and Jess keep writing about rad places that I really want to visit. In this post, they describe some of the cooler sights and activities in the New Orleans area, which include observing houses on ten-foot stilts, visiting old plantations, and holding a baby alligator.

January 2012

Niagara Falls

This month’s most interesting links from the travel world include posts about two beautiful places I haven’t been to yet, one very wet place I want to visit again, an inspiring call to action and a quirky video. Enjoy!

Featured personal link:

Where to see alligators in the Everglades
My first trip to the Everglades resulted in a few memorable up-close alligator sightings. So I wrote about where you should look if you want to see alligators – and other creatures – in the Everglades. Just beware of the vultures!

January travel links of interest:

Otts World: Big Island Helicopter Tour
Hawaii will be the last state I have yet to visit, once I complete my great Alaskan adventure this June. But I feel like I’ve seen it after this great post from Sherry at Otts World, who was lucky enough to take a helicopter tour of the Big Island. Check out the amazing pictures of the island’s coastlines, valleys and volcanoes.

yTravel Blog: 12 Spectacular Photos of Bryce Canyon National Park
Speaking of scenic locations, there’s Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park. The colors in these pics from Craig and Caz are amazing. This is one of the few remaining big-name national parks in the U.S. I have yet to see. Rest assured, it’s at the top of my travel bucket list!

Adventurous Kate: Yes, You Will Travel This Year. Here’s How
An inspiring post for the new year from Adventurous Kate that encourages you to stop making excuses and start traveling – and lays out the steps you need to take in order to do it, including tips on how to make friends if you’re traveling alone. Best advice: If it makes your heart stir, go there.

Travel Yourself: Sh Travel Bloggers Say
Putting a new spin on the popular internet meme of the moment, Cailin at Travel Yourself put together a fun “Sh Travel Bloggers Say” video. There are a lot of inside jokes that you’ll probably pick up on if you read a lot of blogs. It seems that I fall into a lot of these stereotypes myself without even realizing it, like taking pictures of meals before touching them. But I have yet to say, “I got it in Antarctica!”

November 2011

Philadelphia Carpenters Hall
Philadelphia has loads of interesting historic sites, but there’s a lot more to do while you’re there.

It’s the end of another month, and November was a great one here, with lots of love for our Pittsburgh articles. In December, my featured travel destination will be Austin, Texas, with a new Austin article running every Monday. In addition, I’ll have a post about a silly attraction in Iowa called the Farm Toy Museum, another road trip tips post, and an article about airline fees (I actually don’t mind them!) Stay tuned.

Featured personal link:

Three fascinating Pittsburgh museums: Warhol, Heinz History and Fort Pitt
By now, you’ve probably seen my most epic post to date, 66 More Things I Love About Pittsburgh, since I promoted it like crazy. You may have missed this earlier post about three of the city’s most interesting museums, including my favorite museum anywhere, the Warhol. You must experience the pillow room!

November travel links of interest:

Strux Travel: Side Trip – Winchester Mystery House in San Jose
People have told me about this place for years and I’m disappointed to say I never got around to checking it out. Michael describes in great detail this weird house, built by an eccentric heiress, that has secret passageways, doors that lead to nowhere, and a creepy obsession with the number 13. It sounds just like a mansion from an episode of Scooby Doo – all it needs is a trap door to capture Daphne and someone to knock of Velma’s glasses!

The Travelin’ Gringo: Testing… Testing… The Atomic Museum in Las Vegas
Here’s a cool place I missed when I hit up Vegas. The Atomic Museum describes the history of nuclear testing that took place outside Las Vegas in the 1950s. Glen at the Travelin’ Gringo provides photos of the museum’s artifacts, displays and newspaper coverage. I wish I had known about this when I was in town.

Globetrotter Girls: Go Beyond Philadelphia’s historic sites
There’s so much to do in the City of Brotherly Love, how can you even know where to start? If you want to move beyond the Liberty Bell and cheesesteaks, Jess and Dani provide a nice batch of markets, mosaics, murals and micro-brews worth checking out. That reminds me, I need to get back to Philly soon!

A Dangerous Business: You can live a “normal” life and travel too
Here’s a great post for anyone who has ever wished they could travel as often as travel bloggers. Amanda points out that even if you have a 9-to-5 job, you can save money and save up vacation time to make your travel dreams come true. That’s how I got started!

Christopher Elliott: Passenger forced to stand for a seven-hour airline flight
This one was all over the news. On a full flight, one man ended up with an obese man sitting next to him, forcing him to stand for the entire flight. And this wasn’t just any flight; it was a direct Philadelphia-to-Alaska flight. Seven hours! There’s absolutely no way I would have done that. How bout you?

October 2011

everglades gator

October was a cool month on the personal travel front, as I finally got to visit south Florida, see some gators and hit the beach. Within the next couple of weeks, you’ll start to see posts about Miami and Key West on the site, and if you’re into planning really far in advance, expect to see South Florida as my Featured Travel Destination for January.

Featured personal link:

The Staten Island Ferry: The budget traveler’s method of seeing the Statue of Liberty
My top New York City tip for this month was to take the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty from the water, instead of investing the extra time and money to see it up close.

October travel links of interest:

Devour the World: Oklahoma State Fair
I love county and state fairs because they’re so ridiculous. The rides, the fried foods, it’s all pretty crazy (like when I spent the 4th of July at the Greeley, Colorado rodeo stampede.) Jenny at Devour the World wrote about the culinary “treats” at the Oklahoma State Fair, which included donut burgers! They look kinda disgusting, but I would certainly have to try one… even if donut burgers are most certainly not part of a healthy diet while traveling.

Yahoo News: $3 million luxury camper is a 40′ mobile mansion
I love RVs and campers, which should be obvious if you’re aware of my four-month trip where I lived in a van. But this futuristic piece of machinery is just crazy. Look at that picture! That thing is so 3008! It’s a $3 million RV with a shower, fireplace, 40-inch television, and a master bedroom with an adjoining bath.

Technomadia: Five years of love on the road
Real travel nomads are surely familiar with Chris and Cherie at Technomadia, who just celebrated five years together on the road. It’s a sweet story and it will probably make you want to hit the road in a camper, if you haven’t already. I particulary like Cherie’s words of wisdom in the comments section: “Thriving in a small mobile space on the road is indeed a great test for relationship compatibility.”

A View To A Thrill: Learning to fly fish in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
I love posts about the simple thrills, like learning to fly fish. I’ve never actually learned to fish properly. When I worked at summer camp, I would help the kids fish, but if they caught anything, they had to take it off the hook, because I wasn’t touching that ickyness. Renee shares her adventures fly fishing with a guide service in Jackson Hole, a gorgeous part of Wyoming.

Tanama Tales: 20 Bloggers Share How Travel Has Changed Their Lives
I was honored to contribute 5% of this post, where Ruth shared the collective wisdom of some of the coolest travel bloggers out there. They shared their insights about how traveling has improved their lives and why everyone should make time for travel.

September 2011

alaska license plate

Alaska is one of the two states I’ve never visited, and since I stubbornly refuse to post any photos that I didn’t take myself, the contextual pic I’m entertaining you with today is this awesome shot of a license plate from our 49th state. Woohoo!

I’m dying to visit Alaska (next summer, fingers crossed!), so this month I was intrigued by stories on Alaska by Adventures with Ben and Caanan and Kent from No Vacation Required. Here’s a look at some of the posts that interested me in the travel world this month.

Featured personal link:

I went to the Mormon Church Grounds and they didn’t try to recruit me
A recap of my visit to Temple Square in Salt Lake City and how the covert recruiters did not deem me worthy of joining their ranks. Update: Check the comments section for an informative message from a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints!

September travel links of interest:

Wandering Earl: Do Budget Travelers Travel in Comfort or in Poverty?
Nice post from Earl, who seeks to explain the term “budget travel,” which we all throw around without really defining. Budget travel doesn’t mean sleeping on the street, but it can mean dealing with less-than-perfect accommodations.

The Everywhereist: The Kansas Underground Salt Museum
Kudos to Geraldine for finding something interesting to write about in Kansas. Because I didn’t. Ok, that’s not fair to the Sunflower State … I only spent two hours there. If I had more time in the Big K, I certainly would’ve checked out some place like this. It reminded me a lot of my visit to Carlsbad Caverns.

GloboTreks: Photo Essay: National September 11 Memorial
I read a lot of beautifully-written posts this month dealing with the anniversary of September 11. Norbert provided one of the first posts I’ve seen about the new September 11 Memorial in New York City. Check out up-close photos of the somber memorial.

August 2011

Fair Goodness Cake

I haven’t had a chance yet to sort through the photos & videos from my weekend trip to Cedar Point amusement park, so I’m going to hold off on that post until next Wednesday.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to move my monthly links collection up a week. First, I’m excited to say I’ve purchased a ticket to TBEX 2012, a travel bloggers’ conference that will be held outside Denver on the dates of June 15-17.

In other travel news, I’ve booked a trip to South Florida for mid-October. I’ll be hitting up Miami, Key West and the Everglades in the span of about a week. I’ve never made it south of Orlando during my previous Florida trips, so I’m really psyched about this one!

And now the monthly links roundup…

August travel links of interest:

Ordinary Traveler: Best places to photograph in San Diego
In addition to providing photography tips, which I can always use, this post from Christy gave me several ideas for places to visit the next time I’m in San Diego. Horton Plaza looks particularly eye-catching.

Tanama Tales: Traveling with family and friends: Dream or nightmare?
Ruth tackles the touchy subject we all deal with at some point, the issue of traveling with people we like who may have different travel styles from us. Travel compatibility isn’t always obvious, but her tips can help you avoid a nightmare.

Almost Fearless: This is what travel feels like (in case you wondered)
Christine shared these three videos from Rick Mereki that really show why traveling is so amazing. The “Move” video, in particular, is so remarkable that we should probably all just stop trying to make videos because they’re rubbish compared to this.

July 2011

north dakota welcome sign

Did you know North Dakota isn’t officially a state? Man, that means I’ve only been to 47 states now! The strange news about the state – sorry, the territory – tops my recap of interesting travel links for July.

Time: Because of constitutional error, North Dakota is not a state (and never has been)
This one is kind of amusing. I doubt anyone’s going to lobby to have North Dakota representatives removed from Congress or anything like that. It’s just funny that a silly oversight means that since 1889, ND has been pretending to be a state when it really isn’t.

June 2011

It’s time for a new batch of super fun travel and living links from the past month. Ready? Go!

Buzzfeed: The Most Hipster State in the U.S.
I keep an eye on all things hipster, so I was intrigued by this article. Buzzfeed came up with a way to determine the most hipster state in the country. Their surprising winner? Minnesota! The methodology is pretty flimsy, but it’s a fun read. And if you’re so moved, ride up to Minneapolis on your fixie in cutoff jean shorts whilst downing a PBR and listening to Pitchfork radio.

Gadling: Detroit’s Urban Farms – Budget Battles and Milking Goats
I like this one because it hits home. We have a lot of neighborhood gardens in my neck of the woods. I’ve actually been growing food for the first time, with varying degrees of success (the cucumbers died, but the broccoli and red potatoes are going strong!)

Jalopnik: Watch Two Guys Run Wild In an Airport
Haven’t seen this one yet? You must take a look at the video. Somehow two guys got stranded inside Dallas Fort Worth airport overnight and went nuts. Seems like this shouldn’t happen anymore in the TSA era, but it sure looks fun.

The Travel Chica: Saying Goodbye
A good post applicable to anybody who travels, short-term or long. You meet people, you connect, you make friends, and then you have to move on. It’s nice to stay in touch online, but it’s still a bummer when you have to say goodbye.

That’s it for June. See you with more links next month!

May 2011

crazy horse van
My travel van at the Crazy Horse monument, South Dakota.

I’m about to head to Pittsburgh to visit family over Memorial Day weekend. Wherever you’re headed this weekend, happy travels!

A View To a Thrill: Discovering Smith-Gilbert Gardens in Kennesaw, Georgia
I love hidden treasures and this one is cool. It’s funny that such beautiful flowers are found in a town that requires all of its residents to own guns. They may be tough in that city, but apparently they have a sensitive side.

April 2011

A sampling of interesting stories from the travel writing world in April.

The Roamantics: Buying a creen house on wheels
I love hearing about people’s efforts to buy road trip vehicles. This Chinook is an epic ride with levels of comfort and spaciousness I could only dream about, compared to my modest Chevy G-20.

Land Lopers: Seven habits of highly ineffective travelers
Matt at Land Lopers put together a clever piece about poor travel practices. My favorite? Distrust new food; stick instead to the McDonald’s and KFC you’re used to.

My whale-watching efforts failed big-time.

San Diego Uptown News: Whale watching in Baja California Sur
This describes some amazing whale watching trips where you can sometimes even touch the whales. Crazy! Contrast that with my colossal failure trying to see whales in Washington two years ago, and I am quite envious.

March 2011

Here’s what I’ve been reading this month.

Travel Media Ninja: There is no such thing as a “Lucky Traveler” (broken link removed)
I really like this post by Josh, the Travel Media Ninja. Some people look at travelers and say “You’re so lucky!,” but anyone can travel. You just have to make it a priority and adjust your career and budget accordingly.

When I had an office job, I hoarded my vacation time so I could save up for trips. Now that I’m a starving freelance writer, I fit in budget excursions, like a recent 3-day trip to St. Louis that cost less than $100 total, thanks to Megabus and Couchsurfing.

If St. Louis doesn’t interest you, you can visit St. Petersburg or St. Lucia or St. Kitts just as easily with the right amount of determination. It’s up to you!

Northwest History: The Appalachian Trail in four minutes
Most people have seen this one by now, but if you haven’t, check out this stop-motion video of the 2,200-mile trail. It has over 431K views on Vimeo already.

Matador Network: Staying sane, well-fed and entertained on the road
This is a good broad overview of planning for a road trip. It also gives me a chance to announce that soon I’ll be starting a regular feature offering my own road trip tips, from how to survive on a $7/day food budget to the best gadgets to take with you (hint: a mini-stove that plugs into your cigarette lighter is a great idea.) Stay tuned!

February 2011

usa map

Here’s my February roundup of interesting travel links.

CNN: Why more Americans don’t travel abroad
This one hit home since I’ve been to 48 states but have yet to leave North America. The article notes that only 30% of Americans have passports, compared to 60% of Canadians and 75% of Brits. A few prominent travel bloggers offer their opinions.

The article notes the diversity of America and its people as a main reason why people don’t feel the need to go abroad, and I agree with that conclusion. Personally, I really want to explore the world, but I decided to get to know my own backyard first. My reasoning was, Why visit Mesopotamia when I haven’t been to Mississippi?

(But don’t get me wrong… I’ll be visiting Mesopotamia just as soon as it’s feasible!)

Travels with Two: Spending (Most of) the Night at Quebec’s Ice Hotel
I’ve read a lot about this hotel lately and now I really want to stay there. The architecture looks amazing and the thought of sleeping in 25° rooms gets me excited.

I’m sure it’s one of those things that sounds fun in my head but in reality would be super-uncomfortable. On the plus side, it would give me a chance to test out my heavy-duty sleeping bag (the box claims: “keeps you warm down to 20°!”)

Additional links: See all 90 of our Photo Teaser guessing games. See the silliest items for sale in the SkyMall catalog. Here’s a collection of travel memories.

We also have book reviews for travel stories such as Peter DeLeo’s Survive and 100 Places Not to See, and my disappointment in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.