Thursday, August 14, 2008


Kauai has a rural, country feel and a laid-back lifestyle all its own. Ask the friendly people of Kauai. They will tell you this is how it should be, and this is how it will remain. After all, Kauai is Hawaii’s oldest island, geologically speaking, and as the firstborn, it has the legacy of paradise to uphold.
Untouched by major development, Kauai is nicknamed The Garden Island. A voyage around Kauai is a sensory feast of green tropical forests, cascading waterfalls, golden sand beaches and the time of your life. Come and make some memories on beautiful Kauai. Welcome. You’re coming to Kauai, Hawaii’s Island of Discovery.

North Kauai

The dramatic beauty of the valleys and mountains of the north shore of Kauai are first glimpsed from the Hanalei Valley Lookout. Below, green fields of taro grow in beds of water that reflect the sky. Rare birds splash among the liquid clouds. Brooding mountains rise in primordial splendor, streaming with waterfalls. The valleys are so deep; they show up as purple and indigo shadows. A slow river winds through it all, like grace in the soul. The only way to get there is politely, across a one-lane bridge. Everyone likes it this way.
The little town of Hanalei is seamless and so are her sisters, Wainiha and Ha’ena. They are woven so delicately into the landscape that the greenery seems to bloom with their colorful shops, galleries and restaurants. This land has produced food for more than a thousand years since the first Polynesians arrived here. It is settled and fruitful. Guava Kai Plantation has put the island on the map as the “guava capital of the world”, and it dispenses the chilled pink drink to all who wander through its orchards. The picturesque flooded fields of taro are ancient and fertile, and they produce most of the state’s taro for pounding into poi, the Hawaiian staff of life.
Beside the meandering two-lane Kuhio Highway, Wai’oli Hui’ia Church, matching the deep green of the surrounding landscape, still rings with Hawaiian hymns on Sunday mornings, feeding the congregation with more than food. Behind it, the Wai’oli Mission House – with its broad lanai, lava chimney and period furniture – is a peek into the missionary past that has influenced the Hawai’i of today.
The beaches of northern Kauai are breathtaking. Beware – you will fall in love them. At lovely Lumaha’i, in foamy waterfalls created by surf breaking on lava rocks, Mitzi Gaynor, star of Hollywood’s memorable musical, South Pacific, washed that man right out of her hair. Perfect snorkeling can be enjoyed at ‘Anini Beach, where the water is four feet deep on one side of Hawaii’s longest reef and cascades off hundreds of feet on the other. Hanalei Bay lies in the embrace of mountains. In the morning, the water can be like glass, mirroring the mountains so perfectly that the world around it is reduced to silent awe. Ke’e Beach, where the road ends, appeared in the television miniseries, The Thorn Birds, starring Richard Chamberlain, and in Disney’s Castaway Cowboy, headlining James Garner and Vera Miles. Its reef is a lacy network of coral canyons beneath the spectacular cliffs of Na Pali Coast. Nearby is ancient sea caves formed more than 4.000 years ago when the sea was higher. One is the Dry Cave, a cool yawn in the lava; the other is the Wet Cave with a pool of blue water.
The 11 mile Kalalau Trail begins here and winds its way along green ramparts, with waterfalls cascading beside the path and roaring surf pounding the shore below. A secret: most of the spectacular scenery can be seen in the first mile. An ancient hula temple is still lovingly tended, and it was here, according to legend, that the fire goddess, Pele, drawn by the sound of the sound of the drums, fell in love with Lohi’au, a handsome chief of Kauai, inspiring one of Hawaii’s epic love stories.
Presiding over all this natural magnificence, Princeville Resort is a green enclave of planned luxury with hotels and vacation condominiums arrayed along the line of the setting sun. There are championship golf courses, fine restaurants, and a shopping village. The resort is named for Prince Albert, the son of King Kamehameha IV and his wife, Queen Emma. A festival is held here in his memory every May, marked by concerts of Hawaiian and classical music, and a children’s hula recital.
The small neighboring town of Kilauea has a sophisticated mix of shops that are wonderful diversions on the way to Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge at the top of the promontory. Distinguished by its historic lighthouse, the sanctuary affords up-close views of the only diverse colony of nestling seabirds on the main Hawaiian Islands. Residents include red footed boobies, the Laysan albatross, shearwaters and the great frigate bird with its 8 foot wingspan. Hawaiian Monk Seals sometimes haul themselves out of the sea to laze on Moku’ae’ae islet at the foot of the lava cliffs.
The wilderness and reckless beauty of North Kauai are always close at hand, even from the lanai of very civilized accommodations. No effort is needed to discover enchantment. The seduction is total.

East Kauai

Kauai’s Eastside, from the county seat of Lihue to Kappa’s is the center of activity on the island. All roads lead to end from, so here you’ll find a large concentration of shopping, dining and places to stay. Farm fairs, orchid shows, holiday extravaganzas and music celebrations happen from time to time at Vidinha Stadium located in downtown Lihue.
One of the most unique places to shop and dine is a big early 1900s Tudor-style plantation estate. At Kilohana, boutiques fill every nook, and a restaurant spills from dining room to lanai, yet the house maintains the grace of bygone days. To see a fine example of a plantation home without the commercial trimmings, reserve a tour of quiet Grove Farm Homestead, sequestered behind broad green lawns and sheltered by giant trees. The house, once the centerpiece of a thriving sugar plantation, has walls and a staircase of handsome native Koa wood, and is beautiful furnished.
More treasures of the past are preserved at Kauai Museum, interestingly ensconced behind a Greco-Roman façade. Here, the story of the island is displayed in everything from lustrous feather leis to vintage photographs. It’s a good place to become acquainted with calabashes and kings, Kauai’s legends and people.
The most persistent legends of this island revolve around the Menehume, the leprechaun-like little people, blamed for every mischief and credited with wonders of construction. It’s no tall tale that a mysterious group of people did pre-date the arrival of the ancestors of the Hawaiians who, in speaking of them, say they sailed away on a floating island. Before they left, it is said the Menehune built the Alekoko Fishpond, a massive aquaculture facility, is one moonlit night. The wall of the pond is 900 feet long. Alekoko, popularly called Menehune Fishpond after its creators, is just up the hill from mountain framed Nawiliwili Harbor, where stately cruise ships call at the mouth of the Hule’ia Stream, which served as the location for a portion of the film, Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Sharing in the splendor of the setting is Kalapaki Beach. A nice sandy bottom and gentle waves make Kalapaki the best swimming beach on this part of the island. Kauai Lagoons Resort stretches out behind the beach in a rolling plain of golf courses, waterways, condominiums and a spectacular hotel with the largest swimming pool in the state.
More guest accommodations, in a broad range of prices, are strung in lei along the Coconut Coast, where royalty once ruled. Remnants of their reign and their faith can be seen in the many temple ruins. Lava-walled temple once lined the broad Waialua River and their prayers were carried from one altar to the other on giant sharkskin temple drums.
Today, ukulele music sings from the decks of the tour boats playing the river, taking people to the Fern Grotto where, in a sentimental ceremony, they can renew their wedding vows in a natural cathedral fringed in ferns – or they can take the occasion to make those promises in the first place, while serenaded by the stirring “Hawaiian Wedding Song”.
Two beautiful waterfalls feed the Waialua River – Opaeka’a, which tumbles out of the jungle in a symphony of rushing water, and the twin cascades of Waialua Falls. They can be seen by driving along the river and are most beautiful in early morning when sunlight ignites them molten silver. A 30 acre botanical garden, Smith’s Tropical Paradise, blooms amid the lush landscape beside the river. The garden is beautifully maintained by the Smith family, whose roots on Kauai are centuries old. Their evening luau and Pacific revue are staged beside a lagoon that mirrors the dances and the torches, doubling the magic. The show honors many of Hawaii’s cultures and includes everything from the hip-swiveling Tahitian tamure to the exuberant firecrackers of the Chinese lion dance.
You’ll find Lydgate Beach Park just south of the Waialua River. The waters are calm enough for babies and toddlers, clear enough for great snorkeling and are watched over by Hawaii’s renowned professional lifeguards.
The town of Kappa’s has managed to successfully blend local style general stores and restaurants with gentrified boutiques and dinning rooms. With a little luck, a shopper can spot in the eclectic retail mix the kind of Hawaiian collectible kitsch that has become popular and valuable – the hula girl salt shakers, vintage aloha shirts, lava lamps and vibrant floral fabrics. It’s all fun – and beautiful beaches are only yards away. Plunk down a towel at Kappa’s Beach Park or Waipouli, and soak up some sun. Only minutes away from the busy streets, the breezy of East Kauai bursts upon the senses in long stretches of sand, ocean and swaying palms.

South Kauai

The drive into South Kauai takes you under a mile long canopy of eucalyptus trees whose branches form a leafy ceiling, cutting through the majestic Ha’upu Mountain Range. Between you and the world famous beaches of Po’ipu and South Kauai is a great plain crisscrossed with red dirt roads originally built to move sugar cane to the Koloa Sugar Mill. You may as well have landed on another island. Here the colors form a different palette and the sun lights everything so brightly at times that you’ll need a pair of sunglasses handy.
Drenched in sunshine just about all year round, Po’ipu is a nearly perfect resort area. It has accommodations ranging from ultra luxe hotels to spacious condominiums and cozy bed-and-breakfast. There are gourmet restaurants, interesting shops and championship golf links. Po’ipu Beach is a smile of sand where the sunsets are a sacrament, holding the world in a chalice of color while the sea and sky melt into gold’s, pinks and sometimes a flash of emerald. Dr. Beach just ranked Po’ipu Beach one in the U.S. Po’ipu is actually many beaches. The sheltered coves of Po’ipu, with their gentle surf, are the perfect spots to learn to surf or snorkel, and the swimming is idyllic. Adjacent Nukumoi Point has a reef well-populated with angel fish, striped damsels, Moorish idols, black tangs and school of canary-colored butterfly fish. Po’ipu Beach Park is preferred by families who gather for picnics on weekends. It is a sharp contrast to Shipwreck Beach, separated from the rest of Po’ipu by a rocky coastline etched with nature trails. A dawn walk along the cliffs is exhilarating, and a very popular 2 mile hiking excursion. The beach itself is glorious although swimming here is recommended only for the most experienced. Many people like to bicycle beyond Shipwreck to isolated Maha’ulepu Beach, one of the loveliest strands of sand in the state and completely unspoiled. The beaches of Po’ipu draw sun-lovers of all species, including endangered Hawaiian Monk Seals who scoot up the resort sands and stretch out to rest after a strenuous night of hunting.
Prince Johan Kuhio Kalaniana’ole, a delegate to the United States Congress and a tireless worker for the rights of native Hawaiians, was born along the Po’ipu coast at Kukui’ula in 1871. The foundation of the royal home and its fishpond are incorporated into Prince Kuhio Park. His birthday is a state holiday, celebrated on Kauai with island-wide cultural events, including canoe races.
Further up the coast, lava tube forces spumes of salty surf as high as 50 feet in the air. Called Spouting Horn, this natural wonder is a photographer’s dream, especially at sunset when it becomes incandescent with the colors of the rainbow. Everyone stops here at least once.
Nature also has painted the gardens of Kauai with vivid hues. The United States Congress chartered the National Tropical Botanical Gardens at Lawa’i in 1964. This magnificent 186 acre preserve claims the world’s largest collection of rare and endangered plants. The Herbarium contains 26.000 specimens of tropical flora. Adjoining Lawa’i are another hundred acres comprising the oceanfront Allerton Garden. It was originally planted in the 1870s by Queen Emma who found solace here after the loss of her husband and only child. The garden is an enchantment of sculpture, pools, fountains and flowers set amid pathways beside a stream and along the sea.
The rustic charm of southern Kauai is evident in its country towns, many of them old sugar towns with cane tassels waving right up to the edges. Plan a visit to two such towns, Kalaheo and Lawa’i.
Koloa isn’t much bigger, but it stands out because of its place in history. Koloa Landing was once the main port of entry for the island. It was a favorite haven of the Yankee Pacific Whaling Fleet, and later, interisland steamers called. The remains of the island’s first sugar mill are here. There is great nostalgia for those simple days, so people pull out all the stops for the annual Koloa Plantation Days celebration every July. There’s a town fair, parade, music, sports and storytelling.
In the 1980s, Koloa was completely restored and repainted. Today, the little town beside the big banyan tree is a busy center of restaurants and shops and serves the Southside community of residents and visitors alike with a host of services including banking, cleaners, post office and medical facilities.

West Kauai

Venerable towns and many imposing natural attractions play major roles in West Kauai’s appeal. Begin your Westside adventure in Hanapepe, a nice old town that wears its age proudly. Boasting several fine arts galleries and restaurants, Hanapepe is a friendly stroll through the Kauai of yesterday.
Inland you must visit Waimea Canyon – the largest canyon in the Pacific. This is truly a dramatic sight to behold. As far as the eye can see, crags, buttes and gorges march into the distance under an earthen banner of roses, lavenders, celadon’s and sienna’s. More than 3.000 feet down, a river runs through it, patiently carving the rugged canyon wider and deeper. It is here especially that you get a sense of how long the special island of Kauai has existed on earth.
Explore Waimea Canyon on hiking trails or by four-wheel-drive guided tour. It can also be appreciated from several lookouts along Waimea Canyon Drive. This road continues into the mountains, and ends in the cool forests of Koke’e State Park, where rare birds, the only ones of their kind on Earth, sing in the ‘ohi’a and sandalwood trees alongside the 45 miles of hiking trails.
At the end of the road, a 4.000 foot overlooks peers into Kalalau, one of the famed Na Pali Valleys, where the fabled coast rises from the sea in green ramparts and castle-like turrets. The light changes constantly so that from moment to moment, each glimpse is different.
At Koke’e Museum, there are excellent exhibits on the unique flora of the area, along with maps of hiking trails and nature walks. Rangers offer suggestions as to which trail will most suit a person’s interests and abilities. Koke’e State Park stages the Banana Poka Festival every May, offering hikes, crafts and family activities.
Waimea Canyon Drive starts at sea level in the sleepy town of Waimea, which marks a turning point in Island history. In 1778, the British explorer, Captain James Cook, and his ships, Resolution and Discovery, sailed into Waimea Bay. For the Hawaiians, who had lived for centuries in isolation, it was the equivalent of a spaceship landing today. A statue of Cook stands in Waimea, facing the sea. This sunny, sleepy town gives no outward clue to its historic importance. Nearby, at the mouth of the Waimea River, are the ruins of Fort Elizabeth, named for a Russian czarina. It’s all that remains of old Russia’s once held interest in Hawaii. The country’s imperial flag still flutters over the broken fortress walls.
While you are in the neighborhood, plan to stop in and visit the Kauai Technology & Visitors Center in Waimea. There you can get a sense of Kauaui history from the early Polynesian voyagers to the present day through their multimedia presentation.
Beyond Waimea, Kauai stretches out along a shore that’s almost always sunny. The forbidden island of Ni’ihau can be seen from Kekaha. At sunset, it is silhouetted darkly on the horizon. It appears to be floating.
At Barking Sands Beach, the dunes rise to 60 feet. People claim the fine white granules “bark” when anyone slides down them. One Hawaiian legend asserts that the name comes from a fisherman lost at sea, whose dog sat on the dunes forlornly waiting and barkling for him.
When you reach the end, you are where the southern extremity of Na Pali Coast rises in a tall green palisade. It is said than in the old days lovers came to this spot for its secluded beauty. But those days can just as easily be now. Polihale sears the soul with its unbounded freedom. It is a fitting place for a day of exploring to end. You’re on Kauai Hawaii’s Island of Discovery.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Indian Country

Washington State is Indian country. The powerful spirit of our native people pulses, like an ancient chant, through the state’s culture, past and present. The whispers of our ancestors can be heard along every stream and forested trail, and in every wave that rolls onto the endless beaches of Washington’s Pacific Coast. From the snowy peaks of our towering mountains and the rivers that once teamed with salmon, to the eastern Washington deserts and rolling grasses of the Palouse hills – wherever nature and the human spirit melt into one, these are the places that the Indian peoples have called “home”.
To get a sense of this, you need only look at a map of Washington. Over 75 rivers, thirteen counties, and hundreds of cities and towns all bear the melodic names of ancient Indian tongues – Seattle, Tacoma, Yakima, and Spokane among them. Our people guided Lewis and Clark to the Pacific and pointed them safely back to the east. Indian trails became the state’s earliest roads. Salmon, delicately grilled and smoked in alder, has become a hallmark of our famous regional cuisine.
For the outsider, learning about Indian culture is as uncomplicated as visiting one of our tribes. Washington’s Indian population divides easily into three parts: the Coastal tribes, the tribes of the inland waters, and the Inland and Columbia River Plateau tribes.
One of the richest repositories of Coastal Indian life is in Neah Bay, home to the Makah Indian Tribe in the far Northwest corner of the state. Visit during Makah Days in late August and you’ll see traditional dancing, canoe races, and the mesmerizing bone game being played as the smoky scent of open fires and roasting salmon wafts through the cool air. In the museum at the Makah Cultural and Research Center you can look at artifacts excavated from Ozette, a village fifteen miles to the south that was partially buried in a mud slide about 500 years ago. Archaeological evidence of the Makah’s reaches back 4.000 years.
The museum also has full-size replicas of whaling and sealing canoes and a long house. In the gift shop, you can buy traditional arts like cedar masks and bent wood boxes made by tribal members. Then head out to Cape Flattery. Keep your children close as you hike the ¾ mile to the top of a cliff that offers a spectacular ocean view from the most northwesterly point in the contiguous United States.
Down the coast, tucked into Olympic National Park, Quileute Tribe centers its culture in the enchanting 19th century fishing village of La Push, at the mouth of the Quileute River. Mid-March through mid-June, whale watching is spectacular here. Enormous gray whales are often seen as close as 50 feet off shore. Or you can watch the sea lions frolicking in the pounding surf. The Quileute beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world, covered with perfectly round, flat Quileute skipping stones. And the Quillayute Needles, towering rock formations called sea stacks, rise spectacularly up from the saltwater from your beachfront rental cabin.
Across the Cascades in the dry, sunny and fertile Yakima Valley, the Yakama Indian Nation Cultural Heritage Center offers an equally incisive look into the world of the Inland tribes. Along with tools, buckskin garments, and beadwork, you can see a sweat lodge as well as a winter lodge. The gift shop is filled with the work of local craftsmen; the restaurant serves fry bread and lukmeel. If you decide to spend the night, groups as large as ten can rent an authentic teepee at the campground.
Further east, under the sunny blue skies and rocky outcroppings of Roosevelt Lake, the Colville Confederated Tribes and the Spokane Tribe both have houseboat rental businesses. Their huge, fully-equipped houseboats can hold up to 20 people, lumbering merrily through the placid waters behind Grand Coulee Dam. From here, you can explore camping and hunting grounds that are unchanged since the days of Kennewick Man, whose 9.300 year old remains found along the lower Columbia River, tell us that he was a grandfather and warrior whose tribal family thrived here.
And if you have a car full of kids, venture closer to the state’s eastern border. Off Highway 211, cross the Pend Oreille River at the hamlet of Usk, and take the first road north into the homelands of the Kalispell Tribe. About 2.5 miles up you’ll be able to stop and watch the tribe’s buffalo herd grazing in the lush green grass.
In Seattle’s Discovery Park, the Daybreak Star Cultural Center, affiliated with the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation, is a nucleus of urban Indian life. Each year, at SeaFair time in July, the center hosts a huge Indian Days Pow Wow. The art gallery exhibits contemporary Indian art, some of which is sold in the gift shop. The center is open daily and the vast park is filled with trails, native vegetation, and spectacular views of the Puget Sound shoreline and the Olympic Mountains.
The tribal entrepreneurial spirit is as alive and well today, just as when Indians first began trading with European explorers over two hundred years ago. Although tribal casinos are ostensibly built for gambling, they offer a host of amenities that will please any savvy traveler. The resorts are in scenic settings, rooms and dinning room meals are generous and reasonably priced, the gift shops offer an assortment of high quality items, also at good prices, and there is often good, rousing entertainment.
It’s worth a trip to the Seven Cedar Casino operated by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, just to see the magnificent totem poles that grace the entry of the main building. At the Quinault Indian Nation’s Quinault Beach Resort, access to the spectacular beach and the surrounding native forest make for an excellent Northwest weekend, especially in winter when most tourist are hibernating. The Tulalip Casino, operated by the Tulalip Tribes, fairly boasts “big portions and fine dining at a good price”. You’ll get the point if you order prime rib in their Prince of Wales Restaurant. And at the glittering Muckleshoot Casino, the largest in the state and owned by the Muckleshoot Tribe, the Las Vegas style shows pack in the crowds, and folks from all over the Puget Sound metropolitan area come to dance to the live music.
The twenty nine tribes of Washington give our state a breadth of adventures, experiences, and insights into cultures that are as colorful and complex as a dance mask or a beaded saddle bag, and as impossible to forget as the eternal rhythm and earthy beauty of tribal music. Across the state, the Indian dialects and language vary and are rarely used in the presence of outsiders. No matter, the message glowing from the strong and quiet faces of Washington’s Indian peoples is, and always has been, the same; Welcome.

Friday, August 8, 2008


Calabria is a narrow peninsula extending into the heart of the Mediterranean for three hundred kilometers, like the abutment of a bridge reaching towards the warm shores of Africa. And Africa’s blazing sun blunts the ardor of its rays here, creating a climate more agreeable for a restful visit. The luxuriant vegetation, in fact, is made even more splendid by the clear blue sky illuminated by reflected sunlight. All of Calabria is a dream, uncorrupted by the excesses of modernity; there is a fervor in the mechanical, day to day matters of living that reflects a kind of providential respect not just for the past but particularly towards those aspects revealing the particular nature of man and things.
About four hundred and fifty miles of level coastline, deep water and occasionally, surprisingly rocky shores, beaches covered with fine, dry sand – very nearly the last stretches of Mediterranean shore for tranquil rest and vacation. There is so much space that overcrowding, or even crowds, is practically impossibility. There will always be room for everyone here, and everyone will be able to enjoy the serene views of vast olive groves, the scent of the orange trees, bergamots and jasmine. All these elements bring to mind the sea Homer drew for us, a sea we never tire of also because the many seaside villages and hamlets lend it life, and through the distance appear to be creations of some unknown Artist, and the appearance of an occasional farmer riding his donkey, strangely survived from past eras, lends the whole a poetic aura. The sea, then, the most dominating element in the Region, has colors that change, that are peculiar to certain parts, that are brilliant, and the water is constantly clean and almost perfumed.
But if the sea is the greatest wealth Calabria has to offer to the anxious man from the North yearning for relief from endless months of fog or cold, we must also invite him to relax wandering among the sloping, almond-covered hills, near entire fields of colored oleander, and where olive trees, that ancient symbol of Virgilian peace and tranquility, can reach the proportions of an oak, and where centuries-old chestnut woods reveal the force of an ancient nature which, at one time, was the source of wealth and was the livelihood for all. Preferring greater altitudes, Calabria can offer various groups of mountains: the Pollino, the Sila, the Serre and Aspromonte. Four different aspects of the mountains, four groups that vary among themselves, although in a limited area, for native vegetation, and the crops cultivated, for the typical dwellings, for the climate, though they all have the same continental temperatures brought on the air currents from the two nearby seas. It’s customary to compare mountain chains, usually using as the point of reference the other European groups, but this is pointless because everything is different here, and the greatest point of divergence is that here, we are in the center of the warmest sea of Europe.
Calabria is a veritable mine of attractions for cultural tourism. The caves of Papasidero have preserved traces of the oldest human inhabitants in the Region; the Prehistoric drawings have been dated at twenty thousand years old. The ruins of the Mordillo Tower are from the Iron Age. There are archeological findings in great number from more prosperous epochs in these zones, and then there are monumental and historical ruins dating from the middle Ages to the present. And to this we must add those fabulous myths woven through the centuries around the Islands of Homer, and the legend of Scylla and Charybdis.
There are hundreds and hundreds of small workshops where artisans still practice their traditional arts: goldsmiths, women weaving covers and cloth of damask, woodcarvers, lute makers, potters, and craftsmen producing artistic wrought iron. These shops are characteristic of every part of the region and while they reveal great ingeniousness on the part of the workers, they also demonstrate loyalty to the old traditions, the same way folk customs that are hundreds of years old and still faithfully respected, do, or the costumed ceremonies and rituals that reach an almost Oriental magnificence in the Albanian towns where the Greek Orthodox rite is followed.
In its geographical formation, Calabria is a continent; it is an entire world in its cultural treasures; it is an endless stretch of unspoiled countryside, unobtrusive equipment studied to meet the needs of visitors who wish days of rest and relaxation.


Calabria’s beaches are characterized by having a varied exposure to the sun, so that there is, as it turns out, at least a beach for any particular tourist’s needs. Towards the East, along the Ionian are the warmest ones, the beaches are broader, the sand is fine, light and dry ready to meet the long slanting rays of the rising sun. On the Tyrrhenian, the beaches are cooler, have more of a breeze, the coast line itself is far more irregular and is dominated by steep, tree-covered hills.
Beaches upon beaches, following one another in a succession of broad spaces and massive rock formations, facing a sea that really is clean and inviting, where the sea bottom is shallow so that little children can play safely and where, farther out, there are sand banks where the fauna is abundant and inviting for underwater fishing, or even simply for great long swims through clear water.
Along all the 450 miles of coast, more or less, the countryside behind the beaches is a triumph of nature reflected in the sea and illuminated by the sun which blesses this land for nine months of the year. Cultivated fields, brightly colored orange orchards, olive groves and the typical sylvan vegetation of the Mediterranean, interrupted by the presence of towers, reminders of the dangerous times when watches were needed and that at the same time bring to mind this pastoral civilization and that makes the choice of these lands even more desirable. There is a considerable hotel organization ready to meet any tourist requirements. But the Calabria beaches have a unique privilege: that overcrowding that creates discomfort is impossible here, even on the most popular beaches: the space each person has is such that he can be perfectly comfortable, even when we are in groups, we feel as through the beach were private. This situation becomes increasingly important as the receptive and entertainment and sports facilities recently constructed and organized, become larger. The panorama offered for a vacation here is so rich that even listing bare details can stimulate the desire to get to know this land. Beneath a Medieval Castle, almost whole and entire, the beach Roseto, calm and tranquil, stretches out towards a rocky corner and goes down to Sibari; it is a prelude, this angle of beach, to a flourishing seaside resort, equipped with everything the tourist might need or want in order to enjoy his vacation to the fullest. At Sibari the width of the beach benefits from the contrast of an equally wide and equally long pine forest immediately behind it. Beyond this, are the ruins of that most famous city where the practice of relaxation and diversion became an art. Farther towards Corigliano and Rossano – where the Sila begins – down to Cariati and Crucoli, there are solitary hotels protecting the visits of those who thirst for sun, rest and tranquility. After Crotone, a lively city and resort in far off times, going on to Capo Colonna, where this tourism will absorb some Grecian aura, on to Castella where the manor is in the middle after for rheumatism cures. Down towards to Catanzaro Lido at Copanello and Soveranto, where there are racetracks and facilities from hotels to camping grounds that follow the coast down to Bianco, where the jasmine Coast begins to end at Bova, and this is also the coast preferred for underwater fishing.
From Reggio, center of sailing activities, down to Scylla, there is the unique panorama of the Sicilian coast, to end at the start of the Violet Coast along which are the resorts Bagnara and Palmi. The coast, from Nicotera to Briatico, to Capo Vaticano is a series of spectacular views, enjoys unique beauty in sheer cliffs dropping into the sea and offers exceptional underwater fishing.
Without any interruptions, the Tyrrhenian coast in Calabria offers an overabundance even to those who wish a lengthy stay on the coast. Besides numerous tourists’ villages, camping grounds and hotels, entertainment centers, there are motorboat facilities at Cetraro, Diamante, Scalea and Praia a Mare. At Paola, home of St Francis, summer tourism is a consequence of religious pilgrimages that bring the faithful from all parts of the world throughout the year. There is a spa for rheumatic and respiratory cures at Guardia Piemontese.


In spite of the length of its coastline, and of the plains of Sibari, of the Marchesato di Crotone and of Gioia, Calabria is above all a mountainous region. It is linked to the rest of the peninsula by the Apennine chain and its single borderline id through the massif called Pollino, always a bulwark of communications and now greatly exploited for both summer and winter tourism. That chain that branches into the Highlands of the Sila – the most extensive such formation in Europe – and that, working through a most complex series of mountainous transformations reaches the Serre, with its overabundant and spectacular woods, develops finally into the tree-covered Aspromonte. Calabrian mountains are famous hunting preserves, both for permanent and migratory game birds, so much so that they have become a veritable hunters’ paradise famous all through Italy. The mountains where the game is particularly abundant are those above Castrovillari, Morano and Lungro on the Western slopes of the Appenines; the entire Sila; the Serre between Chiaravalle and Polia; the area around Zomaro extending from Cittanova to Mammola to Oppido Mamertina, and finally Aspromonte. In the Sila, deer, boar and rabbit hunting as well as bird hunting in general is coupled with trout fishing, not only in the many clear, swift streams, but also in each of the three artificial lakes, as well as in the others now planned.
After the first September rains, the Sila and the Serre become a Mecca for the populations of entire towns who swarm through the hills looking for mushrooms. The purpose is not simply the useful employment of free time, gathering a basket of mushrooms and healthful exercise as well. It is instead often a means of bolstering the village economy
Also to be considered are those pastures described by Virgil, where herds of sheep and cows graze, producing milk to be used for an exquisite kind of cheese, a considerable economic source in the agro-tourism which has already instilled new life in the Sila.
The Sila, the biggest mountain system in Calabria, strongly characteristic of the Region, has become its emblem. Not simply for historical reasons. It is today the best equipped center in Calabria for winter sports. There are ski-lifts and trails at Fago del Soldato, at Camigliatello, at Lorica, at Villaggio Mancuso that attract skiers each year from other Regions of Italy, Many Sicilians frequent Gambarie on Aspromonte, where the slopes are very near the hotels.
As for the other sports practiced in the mountains, sailing races are held alternate years on the lake of Lorica. Villaggio Mancuso offers equitation, and it is possible to rent a horse to ride in the forests of the Fossiata. This is all accessible now because of a chain of hotels which has been built throughout the highlands. This means that not only is it possible to find lodging in the traditional tourist centers, such as Camigliatello, Lorica, Silvana Mansio, Croce di Magaro, Villaggio Mancuso, Racisi, it is now possible to find a pleasant hotel along the many roads that cross the Sila in every direction, overlooking panoramas or in solitary spots where the countryside has preserved its untouched sylvan silence.
Hotel services are not guaranteed just in the Sila, on Serre or on Aspromonte. Besides those that permit a pleasant visit in the Pollino, there is frequently the chance for lodgings for a night or for a visit, as it is possible to find restaurants at the main crossroads and junctures along the roads that go towards the mountains. All the roads can be travelled with the certainty of finding what is needed for a serene and enjoyable stay.
There is no need to say that in any one of these places there is always a place or building that deserves a special visit, such as the monumental structure above Fagnano Castello, as the Lake of the Two Men; above Luzzi at the Abbey of Sambucina, or at Celico at the birthplace of the Abbot Joachim, in the Serre to the fountains of Polia, the ruins of Soriano, the Ferdinanca and to Mongiana, to the beautiful Town Hall of Civitanova, the engravings of Poro in the Zungri caves, the most substantial evidence of the cliff dweller civilization in Calabria; the Greek town along the southern slopes of Aspromonte.
A special characteristic of the Calabrian Mountains, apart from its climate and well preserved ecology, is its nearness to the sea. The numerous regional highways that cross the area permit one to go from a very high point in the mountains to the shore of one of the two seas in much less than an hour.


Not yet sufficiently famous, Calabria is revealing a great artistic heritage that has roots in every small center, witness of an ancient cultural life that is again beginning to stir. Buildings that deserve mention in tourist guides, sculptures housed in both public and private collections, paintings from many centuries and from every School make up a wealth of artistic expression that is turning out to be one of the most consistent in Italy. It could well be said that Calabria is a land of art, since both the scholar and the visitor will find every expectation filled.
Then that minor art that is artisanry, or handcrafts: the manifestation of popular intelligence and taste in not ordinary style meeting the daily and disparate requirements of the people’s life as well as the desire to adorn, within the modest limits of current conditions, both houses and persons. These crafts are plied today to satisfy the requests of increasing numbers of visitors to the Region, and are giving Calabria the fame of preserving those arts which, like the lute maker of Bisignano, have given the Region an international name. Responding to consistent requests in every area and in every epoch, there are master potters and ceramists in every zone and some zones have become and are still famous. The same is true of gold workers, who have surpassed the limits of a minor art and are delving into the realm of authentic artistic expression to reach the skill of the medieval masters. Wrought iron is specially forged in the mountain villages where it has an ancient tradition and where it is elaborately used for railings and chandeliers.
Woodcarving is practiced by masters skilled in chiseling decorated pieces of furniture. All these add a continuity of tradition to the map of Calabria, and of varied activities, including that of those women who still use old looms in weaving covers, drapery and shawls with wool or silk in simple or figured designs.
Getting down a bit to details, and following the Ionian-Tyrrhenian coast, we find ourselves in a zone which could be called the rug center. The area starts at Cariati, where in the mid 1500’s the Christians, fleeing Turkish slavery, brought the use of Oriental colors and figures. It continues on to Longobucco, Bocchigliero, Campana and Crucoli. Environmental differences, the fruit of age-old custom, protect the use of home looms for the production not only of rugs, covers and tapestries, but of linen. This activity is viable in all three provinces: in Mesoraca, in Tiriolo, famous for the “vancali”, in Centrache, in Fabrizia, in Gerace, in Casignana, Melito, Delianuova, Seminara, Polistena, Rombiolo, Vibo, Filadelfia, Maida, Nocera, Cerzeto where the design is reminiscent of the patriotic-religious themes of the Albanians. This is the single handcraft where only women work, even through in many other crafts she collaborates with men, as in the production of baskets for all kinds of uses, in infinite forms and sizes. This is generally seasonal work, in the province of Reggio in Seminara and Delianuova; in Catanzaro in Cartizzi, Soriano and Conflenti; in Cosenza only in Celico while in Spezzano in the Sila the art of making straw covering for flasks survives. It is mostly in central Calabria where ceramics, terracotta’s and metal pots are made, in the province of Catanzaro in Santa Flora, Squillace, Sant’Andrea, Soriano, Paravati, Nicotera, Tropea, Vibo, Capistrano and Lamezia. The potters of Bisignano, San Marco and Rende in the province of Cosenza are famous, and in the province of Reggio only those of Seminara are still active, but they are the most famous of all. The artisans of Calabria show a particular kind of taste in the building of furniture and chairs made in Oppido Mamertina, San Constantino, Serra San Bruno, Serrastretta, Soveria Mannelli, Rogliano, Rossano, Fagnano, Orsomarso and Firmo.
The pipes made in Melito Porto Salvo and in Villa San Giovanni are further proof of the particular taste of Calabrian artisans. But it is working gold that they show the ancient refinement and delicacy of their touch, particularly in Caccuri, Castelsilano, and San Giovanni in Fiore and Crotone, known internationally by now.


Its most striking attraction is still Calabria’s folklore, a direct expression of its extraordinarily rich heritage. Not only the great variety of women’s dress, brilliant in the Oriental use of gold as was typical of their Albanian historical homes, triumphantly showy in the vivid colors used in some areas of the mountain villages, but all, everywhere, accentuate the typical beauty of the women of Calabria.
The ostentation is remarkable particularly in the repetition of some representations which place at fixed dates, such as the various “Pigghiate” and “affruntate” (scourging and meetings) that take place during the passion play. Among these is the “Giudaica” by Laino, repeated according to an ancient text on alternate dates ever since the 1500’s and in which nearly the entire population of the town takes part; or the Christmas celebrations where “tableaux vivants” are organized either in the open or monumental constructions are set up inside the Churches, occasionally with real shepherds on the spot.
But the religious spirit of the people of the towns has always found a way to graft onto this age-old manifestation of the Faith, those newer needs of the very young – those who at the beginning of the year, on New Years’ Day, go from house to house, knocking at the door and singing a rigama-role involving each member of the family – and that, when you get right down to it, is simply an invitation to be generous with those who have so generously offered their wit and best wishes for the New Year. In the mountain villages especially, it is still the custom to celebrate the Death of Carnival. The ritual is entirely entrusted to the whim of the actors who, when they do not follow the scheme of some old scenario follow instead the tradition of the Comedian dell’Arte. In those towns that have Albanian origins, the scene is different – there the representation is based on the lament for the lost fatherland and on the glorification of Scanderbeg, the national hero. At Castelvillari this festival is given even broader scope and there is in fact an international folklore festival.
A celebration that recurs on a set date is the one called “Primavera Albanese”, that is, Albanian Springtime; the Albanian towns in the province of Cosenza celebrate this holiday collectively in a grandiose costumed festival, with scenes and representations tying together the military traditions and the patriotic feelings still alive among the Albanians in Calabria.
Beyond these curious series of celebrations, there are other more particular celebrations giving the Region a kind of exclusivity with regard to typical rites and rituals, like the hunting festival celebrated each year at the end of June in San Roberto at the close of the season or the Mushroom Festival that takes place in various centers of the Sila and the Serre.
These are all popular celebrations where the happy spirit of all the people finds a way to express its spontaneous enthusiasm for tradition in an ingenuous form of the art of the conditions of its very existence.


Calabrian dishes are, as they have always been, based on the agricultural produce of the Region. The recipes, however, are extremely imaginative, as is to be expected of a population which has had to satisfy the most particular tastes and needs which were developed through the centuries under the influence and in the presence of peoples of the most diverse origins, used to the most varied ways of preparing the most varied dishes.
Homemade pasta, prepared with a refinement which borders on the artistic, and cooked vegetables, form the predominant dishes. Meat – who is to deny the pleasure of good kid roasted with potatoes, generously sprinkled with pepper – is most usually prepared with sauce or roasted, using barely those spices and herbs traditional in each area, but always generously seasoned with good, local pepper, freshly ground and cooked, strong or mild according to taste. Salame and sausage meat as well as the cheeses are, because of their variety and many specialties, a perfect complement to the most refined meal.
And what makes the Calabrian cuisine even more qualified, is that only these dishes can accompany the most ancient wines the world knows. These are Ciro or Greco, wines which in those most remote times and in every part of the Region, stimulated the cultivation of grapevines, so that wines were produced of the most differing quality and taste, each characteristic, if not of a town or village, then at least of an entire zone.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


From the wide, clean boardwalk and nightlife at Virginia Beach to the gentle Chesapeake shores and the remote, pristine beaches of Chincoteague, Tangier and the barrier islands, Virginia has ocean and bay water fun for everyone. Swim, boat, fish, explore or just set up the beach chairs along one of wide beaches and experience relaxation at its best.
Mile high Mount Rogers is the king, but all along the western side of the state are dozens of peaks reaching up more than 4.000 feet. The Appalachian Trail climbs many of them along its 540 miles through Virginia, far more than in any other state. And those more inclined to discover the heights by automobile, Virginia’s 217 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive ride along the ridgeline with countless beautiful views.
The fun at Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Paramount’s Kings Dominion simply doesn’t let up. Thrilling rides, great food, unique experiences and full amenities add up to fun you’ll remember forever. And when the sun goes down, Virginia lights up with night-time fun all over its pretty geography.
From the world-class performers in the magical setting at Wolf Trap in Vienna to the tiny venue in the Blue Ridge Highlands where the famed Carter family still gathers to perform their acoustic mountain magic, Virginia crackles with live blues, folk, country, pop, jazz and classical music, at performance venues that bring out the best in performers.
With her America-in-miniature bounty and her vast array of world-class accommodations, Virginia is the perfect spot for your family reunion. Pick your backdrop from among major cities, tall mountains, clean beaches or rustic getaway spots. Virginia is rich in every category and ready with the warmest welcome you’ll find anywhere.
From world-class malls in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads to specialty shops and trinket-rich flea markets in the Heart of Appalachia, Virginia is a shopper’s paradise. In a state so full of history, antiques are bountiful in every region, as are charming, one-of-a-kind shops for everything from books and furniture to peanuts and Virginia wines.

Hampton Roads

The Atlantic Ocean, the Chesapeake Bay and several historic rivers meet here in the birthplace of a nation, in a region alive with culture, nightlife and great family fun.
In Hampton Roads, the scent of salt air is as crab cakes, peanuts and Smithfield Ham. White sand and the blue-green ocean meet on beaches with sea gulls circling overhead.
Huge ocean-going tankers and container vessels share the Chesapeake Bay with submarines, sleek sailboats, river ferries, commercial fishing ships and pleasure craft.
Hampton Roads is the ultimate destination for history, shopping, sunbathing, boating, golfing, museums, great food, theater and nightlife… or simply to read a book, relaxing by the water.
See 18th century grandeur, restored in Colonial Williamsburg and Revolutionary War battlefields in Yorktown. John Smith met Pocahontas in Jamestown, where a stockade recreates the start of a New World. Visit the site of a Civil War encampment in Newport News, or trace America’s race into space in Hampton. The Navy’s mighty Atlantic Fleet anchors in Norfolk. Walk cobblestone streets in Old Towne Portsmouth. Hike the Great Dismal Swamp in Suffolk, or see it by canoe in nearby Chesapeake. Miles of sand covered with beach towels and umbrellas front the boardwalk at Virginia Beach. Beach music, shag dancing, R&B, jazz and show tunes; professional opera and ballet, live theater, it’s all there. Pick your pleasures.

Eastern Shore

Feel the tug of a taut fishing line. Taste the warm sweetness of sun-ripened fruit. Listen to the call of a heron or the neighing of a wild pony. As you inhale the sea air and marvel at the expanse of undeveloped coastline, you are instantly aware that a trip to the Eastern Shore touches all the senses. Harvesting land and sea remains the mainstay of small communities on this 70 mile long peninsula. Several museums tell the nearly 400 year saga of those who prospered and those who eked out survival in a harsh environment. Until the construction of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel in 1964, residents were isolated from mainland Virginia by a 20 mile ferry ride. Still remote is Tangier Island, in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, where people still depend on fishing and crabbing for their living.
Jump ahead to the space age at the NASA Visitor Center on Wallops Island. Tourism has arrived in towns like Onancock, Cape Charles and Chincoteague, where eclectic eateries, boutiques and galleries line the main streets. Two wildlife refuges, one at Chincoteague and the other near Kiptopeke, harbor the famed Chincoteague ponies and literally millions of birds traveling on the Atlantic Flyway. Shops selling antiques, collectibles and folk art line U.S. 13. Be sure to take time to drive off the main road to explore quiet fishing villages, sample local seafood, then rest your tired head on a pillow at a fine old inn.

Chesapeake Bay

The rivers that empty into the bay define the western shore of the Chesapeake, the largest estuary in the U.S. Some call it “river Country”, as much a state of mind as a geographic description. The mighty York, Rappahannock and Potomac rivers define the boundaries of the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula. The Pamunkey and Mattaponi rivers are named for the Indian tribes that today inhabit Virginia’s only two reservations. Browse curio and antique shops, stop in at a farm stand, lick an ice cream cone from an old-time pharmacy, or settle in for a fresh seafood dinner. A slow drive off the main highway leads past fields of corn and wild daffodils, brick-walked courthouse towns and quiet fishing villages like Urbana, Gloucester, Irvington, Mathews and Reedville. Bike or drive the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail. Nightlife brings stock car racing at Virginia Motor Speedway, and country music at Donk’s Theater in Mathews. Visit the monument of George Washington’s birthplace or Stratford Hall, birthplace of Robert E. Lee, to glimpse 18th century life. You may choose to join the boats on these ancient water routes. Launch a power boat on the bay, or silently explore the smaller creeks and tributaries by kayak or canoe. Whether exploring the Chesapeake Bay region by water or land, your discoveries are sure to relax and improve your state of mind.

Northern Virginia

There aren’t many places in the world where the past and the future combine with intensity and beauty as in Northern Virginia. Northern Virginia is multifaceted – a region that stands alone, characterized by a rich history, urban diversity and rural beauty. Civil War tours and battle locations are popular here. But the timeline extends further, dipping back into the founding of our country. Visit our first president’s estate at Mount Vernon. With the area’s concentration of nearly 30 wineries, there’s bound to be a local wine for everyone. And don’t forget that the urban beauty of Northern Virginia is an extension of our nation’s capital. You’ll find Memorial, the Pentagon and Fort Meyer in Arlington. Northern Virginia is the destination to discover the perfect conversation piece for the coffee table or outfit to explore the nightlife. Antique shops shadow the streets of giant towns, and outlet shopping is surprisingly close by. At the Torpedo Factory Art Center, in Old Town Alexandria, you can watch an artist at work and buy the finished product. Take a jog at one of Northern Virginia’s many state parks. Hike on trails, boat on the Potomac River or just sit back and enjoy the setting. Enjoy all Northern Virginia has to offer.

Central Virginia

From the undulating splendor of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the rolling, wide river-laden Piedmont, Central Virginia offers an endless list of things to see and do. Visit the homes of the nation’s third, fourth and fifth presidents at Monticello, Montpelier and Ash Lawn-Highland, all within minutes of gracious downtown Charlottesville. Explore Civil War history on the National Battlefield at Richmond and Petersburg as well as at the site of Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House. Central Virginia is home to dozens of wineries open for tours and tastings. Fishermen and quiet-seekers alike will enjoy the serenity of the region’s placid reservoirs at Lake Gaston, Kerr Lake and Smith Mountain Lake. Those looking for a little adrenaline rush can rev up the excitement at Martinsville Speedway and the Richmond International Raceway or take a roller coaster ride at Paramount’s Kings Dominion. For family fun with loads of learning, check out the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond and see an IMAX film that will leave you clinging to the edge of your seat. The kid in everyone will enjoy a trip to the Model Railroad Museum and the Virginia S. Evans Doll Museum, both in South Hill. If you want to go for a leisurely stroll, try Millionaires Row in Danville, where streets are lined with Victorian and Edwardian mansions or the lovely Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond. Whatever your pleasure, you’re likely to find it here.

Shenandoah Valley

Flanked by the Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway on the east and the rugged Allegheny Mountains on the west, Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley is a playground of mountain majesty, pastoral landscapes, carefully preserved historic cities, villages and battle sites. Culture and history? Outdoors and food? All these and more abound in the Shenandoah Valley. The Star City of Roanoke offers museums to suit any interest including the cultural complex at Center in the Square. You can find first-rate drama and music in these rolling hills at Black-friar’s Playhouse where Shakespeare is performed throughout the year. Be sure to tour the valley’s well-preserved Civil War battlefields at New Market and McDowell. Or delve further into the past at the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, where costumed interpreters replicate farm-life, or take a walking tour of historic Lexington. Explore thousands of acres of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests or witness the valley’s most famed natural wonder – the arching rock formation at Natural Bridge. Many of the valley’s caverns are open to the public. Load up on food, games, crafts, music and fun at the valley’s many annual festivals including the Highland Maple Festival in Monterey, or the Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester and Harrisonburg’s bevy of cultural events, including the JMU Contemporary Music Festival and the Furious Flower Poetry Conference.

Blue Ridge Highlands

Here, the great watersheds come together, forming the springs and creeks that feed the Mississippi and the Atlantic. They begin their flows as mountain springs, small and pure, deep in the Virginia highlands. Here, the highest mountains in the state look down and out upon the land, where tumbling creeks line roadsides in rocky branches teeming with trout. The natural wonder of Mountain Lake also waits in Giles County, with shiny waters overlooked by a first-class hotel. For more natural wonders you can hike to the top of Buffalo Mountain, ride for miles along the Virginia Creeper Trail and the new River Trail, or float a canoe on the rapids of the New River. History buffs can discover the 18th century charm of the Smithfield Plantation in Blacksburg, research how the Civil War touched Saltville at the Museum of the Middle Appalachians, or explore exhibits at Radford’s Glencoe Museum and Newbern’s Wilderness Road Regional Museum. In Abingdon, eat gourmet sandwiches at the Starving Artist Café, spend a night at the Martha Washington Inn, or catch a musical at the famous Barter Theatre. Look for covered bridges near Mount Rogers Woolwine, meet the wild ponies of the Mount Rogers National Recreational Area, or race into the Birthplace of Country Music at Bristol. The Blue Ridge Highlands serves up delightful lodges and restaurants, set among inviting valleys and pristine peaks. It’s great getaway.

Heart of Appalachia

This wild and wonderful corner of the commonwealth is home to tall mountains and deep gorges, to signature sites of history both natural and man-made. Virginia’s wildest wonders lie at the Heart of Appalachia. Rugged and beautiful, this section is marked by marvels like the Breaks Canyon and the Natural Tunnel. And stretching as far west as Detroit, a hiking trail leads to where Virginia meets Kentucky and Tennessee at the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park – home to overlooks, historic sites and a cave with the world’s largest stalagmite. Pockets of the Jefferson National Forest are around every mountain – from the Cave Springs Recreation Area at Pennington Gap to the Appalachian Trail at Burkes Garden. You can trek atop Stone Mountain. Hang out at High Knob. Gander at the Guest River Gorge. Peer into the Powell Valley near Big Stone Gap. And enjoy an evening under the stars at “The Trail of the Lonesome Pine” outdoor drama. Misty mountains line lakes a Pound, Haysi and Keokee, and water rolls in scenic splendor at the Falls of Little Stony, between Dungannon and Coeburn. Musical venues such as Country Cabin in Norton or The Carter Fold in Hiltons carry on the traditions of homegrown pioneers like Ralph Stanley and The Carter Family – with musical legacies of old-time country and bluegrass.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Palouse

If you’ve never been to the Palouse, you simply won’t believe your eyes once you get there. To call it a land of rolling hills is an understatement. It’s more like a land of bubbling earth.
In one mile you may go around, or up and over, as many as six hills, each 200 feet in height. The hills are covered with topsoil so rich and fine it is the color and texture of coffee grounds and it goes down, down, down, 250 feet deep in places. The soil is so water retentive that crops flourish on the areas 20 inches of annual precipitation. And long hot summer days make for robust growth. Little wonder that the farmers of Whitman County are the most productive wheat producers in the United States. Here wheat, barley, lentils, and peas grow in what has been called “the magical kingdom of grain”, “the Louvre of farmland”, and “agro-surrealism”. And if all that seems far-fetched, you’ll change your mind once you visit.
To experience the Palouse, you need only drive the roads in Whitman, Garfield, Columbia and Asotin counties. But the experience doesn’t stop with simply seeing the farms. You’ll crane your neck looking at architecture throughout the area. The grain elevators, and there are dozens of them throughout the Palouse, are symbols of longstanding prosperity. The old lofty wooden elevators are monolithic tributes to the past. The modern steel structures, which can have a total storage capacity of 2 million bushels, attest to a promising future.
Other buildings point to the strength and stability of Palouse life. Courthouses, churches, barns, farm houses, and the residential streets of prosperous little towns are all testaments to sturdy pioneers who came in the mid to late 19th century, worked hard, built a strong, but thinly-dispersed society and stayed through the generations to repeat that happy way of life. St Boniface and St Gall Churches, both built in 1905, are grand expressions of ecclesiastical frontier architecture. Perkins House in Colfax was built in 1886 and demonstrates that even in this far away land, folks knew what was stylish in their time.
The town of Dayton is a study in turn-of-the-century elegance from its carpenter gothic depot to the cast-iron columns of the Guernsey-Sturtevant Building. The town has nearly a hundred buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. Near Dayton, the scenic byway into the Blue Mountains is recreational delight not to be missed.
And don’t miss Pullman, home of Washington State University. It’s a good place to headquarter stock up on supplies or simply take a walk through the campus. It’s hard not to be drawn to this nucleus of youthful enthusiasm. Headed 26 you’ll pass a barn proudly bearing the slogan “Go Cougars”. Indeed, you’re headed for WSU.
A stark contrast to the rolling hills near Colfax and Pullman, Hells Canyon on the Snake River near Clarkston in the deepest gorge in North America. Jet boat excursions float tours and guided fishing charters will add to your enjoyment of this dynamic area. Thirty miles west of Clarkston, Pomeroy allows you to discover the charm of a small “home town” environment where old-fashioned hospitality reigns supreme.
People seldom visit the Palouse just once. You’re usually drawn back for a second or third look at the “like-nothing-you’ve-ever-seen-before” scenery, to take in the friendly easy-going life of the small towns, and to roll up and down the hills like a boat on big, but gentle waves. The place just changes the way you think about the world. And you wait for the next time that the wind will pick you up like a speck of glacial silt and blow you back to the Palouse.
The Palouse region can be as wild as its history or as calm as golden shafts of wheat swaying gently atop the area’s trademark rolling hills. From its small, proud communities to the highly ranked Washington State University, the Palouse provides a uniquely wonderful taste of Washington charm and hospitality. Here, you can relive historic battles, ski down fresh snowy slopes or enjoy an exhilarating jet boat excursion through Hells Canyon on the Snake River.
The area’s beauty has been lauded in many national and international publications. The subtleties of light and shadows on the rolling hills combined with seasonal variations of soil and crop color make it one of the most popular destinations for professional photographers from around the world. But, there is certainly a lot more to discover in Washington’s Palouse region than its beautiful topography.
Whitman County, in the North Palouse, contains the cities of Pullman, Rosalia, Uniontown, Colfax, Albion, Lacrosse, Endicott, St John, Colton, Garfield, Palouse, Tekoa and Oakesdale. Begin with Rosalia, a strong, old-fashioned hometown evident in the turn-of-the-century replication carriage lights that line the entry into town.
At the Steptoe Battlefield, located on a hill overlooking Rosalia, a 25 foot granite memorial has been erected to mark the location where an Indian victory over the U.S. Army occurred in May of 1858. Rosalia’s Battle Days celebration commemorates this event. Visit the Rosalia Museum with its authentic jailhouse, the largest meteorite found in the area and a vast collection of relics and photos. A local gallery displays paintings and drawings of Old Rosalia and the Antique Railroad Exhibits puts the Roman Arched Bridge that spans the valley in context. This bridge once carried the Milwaukee Railroad through the Palouse providing a vital link for early commerce in the region. If you’re continuing south toward Colfax, the slight detour to the summit of Steptoe Butte, with an elevation of 3.618 feet and just a few miles south of Rosalia on Highway 195, is well worth the effort. It offers a spectacular view of the patchwork mosaic of fertile farmland that stretches as far as the eye can see.
South from Rosalia on Highway 195, you’ll find Colfax. Settled in the 1860s, Colfax, the Whitman county seat, has the distinction of being one of eastern Washington’s oldest established communities. The town’s main industry is agriculture, yet, there is significant evidence of its historic significance. Stately Victorian homes, including the Perkins House, built by Colfax’s founder James Perkins in 1886, give you an impressive glimpse of local history. The cabin on the Perkin’s House property, the original log cabin built by Perkins, is the oldest standing building in Whitman County. Colfax has another unique icon for remembering the past – the Codger Pole. This whimsical 65 foot chainsaw sculpture, the largest of its kind in the world, captures the spirit of a football game rematch between St John and Colfax – played 50 years after the original by the same players on the same field.
Legendary Hollywood stunt man, Yakima Canutt was born near here in 1895. Many of his contributions to the art form have evolved to become standards of the industry today. The Yakima Canutt Museum provides an entertaining look at this innovative and gifted stunt man. In 1998, Colfax experienced a face-lift, adding historic street lamps and trees to beautify the main street of town. Treasures are found throughout the many antique, craft, and jewelry stores downtown. You will enjoy the charm, hospitality and sense of community pride from the moment you step into one of the shops or restaurants to say hello.
Home to Washington State University, the city of Pullman offers a diverse population of 25.000. Pullman was founded in 1877, when it was known as “Three Forks”, a reference to the joining of the Missouri Flat Creek, Dry Fork Creek and the Palouse River.
Pullman has cozy antique shops, galleries, boutiques and a wide variety of dining options for even the most discriminating palate. And if you’re concerned about deserving the wonderful treats from these eateries, get your exercise at one of Pullman’s large number of city parks or the Chipman Trail.
For a change of pace and some local flare, attend Pullman’s National Lentil Festival in August. This two-day festival, which boasts an attendance of nearly 17.000, celebrates a local legume, the lentil. More than 135 million pounds of lentils are grown annually on the Palouse and the Lentil Festival provides a great opportunity to sample many tasty creations using the little legume. More importantly, the festival is packed with fun, family activities, events and live entertainment.
Located between Pullman and Albion is the Three Forks Pioneer Museum. This attraction transports visitors to the late 19th century with a stroll down an old-west Main Street. Storefronts and antiques from the era are represented in a general store, leather shop, doctor’s office, bank, barbershop, blacksmith shop, jail, hardware store and boot hill. The museum is open May through September by appointment. The Staley Museum, a personal museum of the Staley family, is a glimpse into the Pullman of the past, and opens by appointment.
For more enjoyment, investigate the many performing arts options in the city. The Pullman Civic Theatre and Festival Dance and Performing Arts, with six touring events at Beasley Coliseum, are widely attended and enjoyed by residents and visitors.
Washington State University is a world-class educational institution with a strong research component. Be sure to stop by WSU’s Visitor’s Center in the Cougar Depot in downtown Pullman, and then drop by the Lewis Alumni Centre. First constructed as a barn, it is now recognized for its unique preservation of original architecture.
A visit to campus is not complete until you try the world famous Cougar Gold Cheese. The WSU Creamery and Ferdinand’s are housed at the Food Science & Human Nutrition Building and delight visitors with the secrets of this popular product.
WSU has many outstanding museums, including the Conner Museum, with the largest public collection of birds and mammals in the Pacific Northwest, and the WSU Museum of Anthropology, showcasing interpretive exhibits including the fossil record of human evolution and exhibits on cultural similarities and differences in people.
The Robert P. Worthman Veterinary Anatomy Teaching Museum located in Wegner Hall on the WSU campus features several hundred dried and skeletal preparations of large and small domestic animals as well as specimens of birds and other species. You can also see wildlife on campus; view grizzly bears, black bears and bighorn sheep that are at WSU for research, education and conservation on Airport Road. Sporting events at WSU are always a hit – check the schedule and see if you can catch a Washington State Cougar Pac-10 Conference event.
South of Pullman, on Highway 195, Uniontown is a worthwhile side trip to see the town and its signature attraction – the grand St Boniface Catholic Church. Begun in 1878, the church houses the original five altars, statues, stained glass windows, painted décor, wooden pews and oil painted Stations of the Cross. St Boniface also has a stunning collection of ornate silver and gold chalices and crosses, ancient censors and relics, robes and embroidered and hand-painted silk banners.
Feeling quirky? The Wheel Fence in Uniontown is an impressive creation of a local family that includes more than 1.000 wheels from things such as a WWI federal truck, plows, bulk and hay wagons, antique baby buggies and steam engines. Bring your walking shoes and a panoramic camera.
There is also a strong showing of State and County Parks in Whitman County that include Boyer Park and Marina, Central Ferry State Park, Kamiah Butte County Park, Wawawai County Park and Palouse Falls State Park. Boyer Park and Marina located on the historic Snake River and within viewing distance of the impressive Lower Granite Lock and Dam, offers 80 acres of park and river area and 150 boat slips. Treat yourself to hours gazing at the hundreds of fish that glide up the fish ladder in the viewing room. Follow up with a stroll through the exhibits that examine the salmon’s life cycle.
Asotin County is known as the Gateway to Hells Canyon, North America’s deepest gorge. Recreational opportunities abound from the gateway communities of Clarkston and Asotin, located on the banks of the Snake River. A guided tour on the Snake River through the astounding Hells Canyon National Recreation Area is an experience of a lifetime and a “must see” while touring through the Palouse region. The Hells Canyon National Recreational Area is nearly 700 acres of archeological, recreational and ecological treasures, including startlingly rugged wilderness areas. A study in contrasts, the Seven Devil Mountain Range rises 9.393 feet in elevation at “He Devil” Mountain, then plunges 8.000 feet from its summit to the mouth to Granite Creek making it North America’s deepest gorge. Tour the canyon from a mild jet boat tour on a comfortable covered boat or a wild ride down the rapids in a raft or dory boat. A tour in the canyon can include dinner cruise or a multi-day trip with an overnight stay at a rustic camp-style lodge or camping on a white sandy beach under the stars.
Clarkston is located at the confluence of the Snake & Clearwater River in the Lewis & Clark Valley. Clarkston was named in honor of the famous explorer, William Clark from the Corps of Discovery Lewis & Clark Expedition. As they lead the Corps of Discovery through the area in 1805 they were provided much needed assistance from the Nez Perce Indians in the region. You can visit the Hells Canyon Resort Marina in Clarkston, where you can view beautiful sidewalk etching depicting the adventures of the Lewis & Clark expedition. Relive the famous expedition while visiting that area and enjoy a guided canoe, horseback or narrated bus tour on the Lewis & Clark Trail or spend the night in a tepee on the banks of the Clearwater River.
Eight miles west of Clarkston on Highway 12, outside the entrance of Chief Timothy State Park, is the Alpowa Interpretive Center. The center, built near the original site of Alpowa, a Nez Perce Indian village occupied during the mid-1800s, offers displays and a movie of the site’s history and the Lewis & Clark Expedition.
This area is often referred to as the “Banana Belt” due to its annual warm weather and mild winters – so you can golf practically any day of the year. In Granite Lake, formed on the Snake River behind Lower Granite Dam, choose from an array of activities such as water-skiing, sailing, fishing, and swimming, walking or riding along miles of paved levee pathways or camping at a riverside park.
Asotin, located south of Clarkston on Highway 129, is home to the Asotin County Historical Society Museum. Filled with artifacts of the region’s pioneering history, its exhibits also include a Mastodon elephant tusk over 10.000 years old. At Chief Looking Glass Park and Marina you will find the Steamboat Jean, the type of sternwheeler that was once used to transport people and freight from Portland.
Asotin is also known as the gateway to a sportsman’s paradise with easy access to hunting and fishing. Try your hand at some of the best fishing in the Northwest with a fishing trip into Hells Canyon. Chartered tours depart from Heller Bar at the mouth of the Grand Ronde River – also a popular area for fly-fishing. In spring and summer, the fast action catch is bass and trout and in fall, it’s steelhead. The canyon has a healthy number of North America’s largest fresh water fish, the great white sturgeon, which can reach lengths of up to 8 feet. You can’t take one home, but catching one could be the highlight of your trip.
Anatone, at the base of the Blue Mountains, is just a short drive south from Asotin on Highway 129. At Fields Spring State Park enjoy camping, picnicking and warming shelters, miles of cross-county skiing, hiking trails, a sled run and lighted tubing hill.
Garfield County is filled with year-round recreation opportunities, from hunting, camping and backpacking to snowmobiling, cross-county skiing or snowshoeing and water sports on the Snake River.
Take time to explore the city of Pomeroy, a historic agricultural community nestled in the Pataha Valley between the Blue Mountains and the Snake River. The county seat and only incorporated town in this dry-land farming county is nestled on Highway 12 along the Lewis & Clark Trail.
Pomeroy’s Main Street is lined with beautiful 100 year old brick buildings. The historic Garfield County Courthouse provides the centerpiece of the community and is valiantly guarded by the bronze statue of local Civil War hero Lt John C. Mitchell.
Other diversions in Pomeroy include the Garfield County Museum, historic Seeley & Opera House, and an assortment of antique and gift shops. Homemade pie is a matter of pride here, so be sure you sample a few slices at one of the many eateries in town. Don’t feel guilty. You can work off those well-earned calories golfing, or swinging a tennis racquet at the Pomeroy City Park.
Two very famous trails, the Nez Perce Indian Trail and the Lewis and Clark Trail, also run through this community.
The city of Dayton is nestled at the foothills of the Blue Mountains. Home to three National Historic Districts with 117 buildings on the National Historic Register, the town lays claim to the oldest train depot in the state, built in 1881, and the oldest working courthouse, built in 1887 – both beautifully restored. Lewis and Clark camped here in 1806 and you can share in their experience at the Lewis and Clark Trail State Park which features valued amenities the Corps of Discovery didn’t encounter like campsites, kitchen shelters, restrooms and picnic tables.
Dayton’s renovated Main Street was once used as a racetrack for regional Indian tribes congregating for summer recreation and food gathering. Family vacation traditions still continue here due to the local charm, interesting festivals and events, and outdoor activities ranging from downhill and cross-county skiing to camping, hiking and fishing. The sight of Dayton’s Historic Main Street lined with classic cars during the All Wheels Weekend event held each year on Father’s Day Weekend is absolutely marvelous.
Dayton boasts the only 4 star restaurants in eastern Washington. The Patit Creek, and fully restored Victorian accommodation, the Weinhard Hotel. The hotel once housed a saloon owned by Jacob Weinhard in the late 1800s. Walking tour maps provide self-guided tours of the National Historic Districts, and be sure to visit the Depot, a museum that offers a guided tour of its turn of the century furnishing and the history of the area.
Climbing from Dayton into the beautiful Blue Mountains, you’ll encounter the Bluewood ski area featuring great skiing and short lift lines. Bluewood has the second highest base elevation in Washington state and is renowned for its clear skies, dry powder and excellent tree skiing-a true skier’s and snowboarder’s delight.
The Palouse, whit its quiet beauty and surprises at each stop, contains an impressive breadth of geography, history, and vacation opportunities. This is a land with loyal roots and an open door. Palouse region, visitors are always welcome. Whether joining in on one of the region’s festivals or resting beside a revered natural resource, this corner of the state is a grand spot for slowing down and jumping in. from the rolling hills of the Palouse, and the stunning gorge of Hell’s Canyon, down to the rich river valley and pristine Blue Mountains, the Palouse Region offers a reason to travel during every season.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Rocky Mountain Gateway

The western border of the Northwest is the Pacific Ocean. And just as surely, the eastern side is flanked by the Rocky Mountains. And once you get into the top right corner of Washington State, you know you’re at the Gateway to the Rockies. Mountains get sharper and ponderosa pines sweep up slopes, whispering in the wind and filling it with their pungent scent. This is the true west, real cowboy and Indian country.
In Spokane, Stevens, Ferry, and Pend Oreille Counties you can just feel the Rockies out there to the east. Roosevelt Lake wraps around the south and east sides of Ferry County. The county is filled, in large part, by the Colville Indian Reservation. State Highway 21 takes you up and through it and into the Colville National Forest and the towns of Republic, Malo, and Curlew. The sturdy core of life in these laid-back little western communities hasn’t changed much since the days when they are settled. Across the lake Kettle Falls and Colville are handsome and lively, inland northwest towns with museums and interpretive centers that present great insight into early settlement and Indian life. The basketry, rawhide clothing, and beadwork of the Colville’s and the Spokane’s are high on the list of great art.
Pend Oreille County, bisected by the Pend Oreille River is a haven for wilderness lovers and dominated by two National Forests. And Spokane County from the excellent ski slopes of Mount Spokane down to the town of Latah, which is at the north end of the Palouse, has a wide breadth of terrain and dozens of recreational opportunities.
The city of Spokane is an excellent place to visit first on an exploration trip of the Gateway to the Rockies. This handsomely laid-out and wealthy city comes by its moniker “Capitol of the Inland Empire” for good reason. And still, Spokane is one of Washington’s best kept secrets. But visit once and you’ll be in on a secret that you’ll find impossible to keep. Be certain not to miss the newly opened Museum of Arts and Culture for an excellent overview of life in this opulent and generous land.
From the rushing steams and piney forests to the north, to the civic vigor of Spokane, this northeast corner of Washington State is indeed a golden gateway to yet another part of the Golden West.


Visitors to Spokane are inevitably struck by two things: First there is the city’s extraordinary beauty; secondly, you don’t need to be there long, or meet many residents, before you realize that Spokanites are madly in love with their city. In that way, it’s something like New York, Paris, and San Francisco. Talk to anyone on the street about their city and you’ll walk away with a bent ear at the very least. And little wonder. The biggest city between Seattle and Minneapolis, this jewel of a metropolis has a gorgeous natural setting, handsome architecture, a great river running through it, and a civic spirit that “makes it happen” with a lovable rambunctiousness.
Consider Expo 1974. Spokane was the smallest city ever to stage a world’s fair. The city threw itself into a frenzy of state-of-the-art construction, and then went on to host a world-class event. And when t was over, no one heaved a sigh of relief and coasted. Nope, Spokane turned its fair site into 100 acre Riverfront Park. Here rolling lawns, play areas, sculpture, Spokane Falls, the Opera House and Convention Center, share a home with the Looff Carousel. If you want to test your equestrian skills you can hop on one of 54 horses, a tiger or a giraffe and be spun back to the elegance and gayety of 1909 when the carousel was built. There’s even a brass ring to catch, but it’s a stretch.
And above it all in Riverfront Park, the 157 foot, 1902 Clocktower stands impeccably restored. The clock is hand-wound every Monday. This clock and the tower that house it are a legacy of the railroad era, when locomotives huffed and puffed across America and those heading west, across the northern tier of states, stopped in Spokane.
The Clocktower may be the city’s tallest piece of history, but Spokane’s architectural heritage reaches back to the 19th century. Stroll the downtown business and retail core. The Crescent Building, built in 1898 is now a consortium of stores with a food court and full-service restaurants. The city’s old steam plant, built around 1916, now bustles with diners and gift shops. The 1914 Davenport Hotel, designed by famed architect Kirtland Cutter, is so exquisitely resorted, marbled and gilded that Louis XIV would feel quite at home. The 1931 Fox Theater is a good example of Art Deco style. And up the slopes that surround Spokane, the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist, started in 1925, is fine example of the English Gothic style.
The biggest jewel in the old neighborhood called Browne’s Addition, is Patsy Clark’s Mansion. Irish immigrant and silver baron, Patrick “Patsy” Clark, had this 26 room house built in 1895 by Kirtland Cutter. The noted architect was given “carte blanche”, as Tiffany stained glass windows, lighting fixtures and marble and onyx fireplaces attest. It now houses one of the finest restaurants you’ll find anywhere. From Patsy’s dream house, up to the ancient trees, lilacs, and swatch of lawn in Manito Park, you’ll feel that you are stepping into a city that has made good living a way of life from its very beginnings.
To peer into the glory of this, the Capital of the Inland Northwest, visit the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture. From Indian basketry to 19th and 20th century decorative arts and on to contemporary paintings, the goal of this lavish and newly expanded museum is to collect, preserve, and interpret the region’s history. The museum was recently named an affiliate of the prestigious Smithsonian Institution, giving it access to even more world-class exhibits as well as educational and research programs.
From downtown Spokane, the 37 mile long Spokane River Centennial Trail connects Riverfront Park to Riverside State Park. This 10.000 acre preserve is filled with towering conifers, lava cliffs and rushing waters. It’s only a 15 minute ride by car. A similar distance outside town is Cat Tales. This is one of America’s few accredited zoological training facilities where dozens of lions, tigers, lynx and other endangered species have been rescued and given home.
Ambling along the back roads around Spokane, don’t miss Arbor Crest Wine Cellars. Headquartered in Cliff House, 450 feet above the Spokane River, the 1924 mansion was built by inventor and eccentric Royal Riblet – inventor of the square wheeled tractor and the Riblet tramway – a precursor to the gondola ski lift. While many of Riblet’s inventions have been pretty much forgotten, his grand house, 4 acres of gardens, 76 acres of grounds, and the delicious wines that come from them, live on with vigor.
Don’t just pass through Spokane. Settle in and stay awhile. It is a pivotal point for an extended vacation. Great travel adventures radiate from Spokane like spokes from the hub of a wheel. Within 50 miles of the city there are 76 lakes. Drive south to the undulating farmland of the Palouse or the Snake River and its awesomely deep Hells Canyon. To the east and north, Coeur d’Alene, Sandpoint, Priest Lake, and the wilderness of the Idaho Panhandle await you. Due north, you can visit British Columbia. Go west and you’re in the high, dry and breathtakingly beautiful Okanogan.
Spokane is said to mean “Children of the Sun” in the local Salish dialect. This is no misnomer. You can count on 260 days of sunshine, annually, in this city of nearly 195.000 with a metropolitan area of 418.000. A century ago, settlers were drawn to this place with the promise of an opulent future in the form of timber, agriculture, silver, railroads, and magnificent stretches of land. But what will draw you is much less complicated. It’s the promise of what is now, simply, Spokane. And like the Spokanites, you’ll fall madly in love with their city too.