Cross-Country Road Trip: Magical Moab and Canyonlands National Park

Perfectly positioned between Arches and Canyonlands National Parks lies the quaint and quiet town of Moab, Utah. While it's name doesn't conjure the same metaphysical tones of a Sedona, Arizona, or a Ringing Rocks, Pennsylvania, it is a magical place nonetheless. Hiking, climbing, and photography pilgrims flock to its campsites for a taste of small-town civilization before, between, and after deep excursions into the wild backcountry that literally surrounds the town on all sides.

Cross-Country Road Trip: Arches National Park, Done Three Ways

There are essentially three different ways to see Arches National Park and still get an idea of what the place is all about. You can drive it. You can short-hike it. Or you can really take your time and venture to some of the more remote locations.

Cross-Country Road Trip: Colorado’s Hanging Lake

One of the great things about an epic cross-country American road trip is that you get to visit friends you might not otherwise see very often. Mike planned our route with a stop in Golden, Colorado, to visit his friend Steve, who'd recently moved there for a new job. Steve and his kids love to hike, and they'd explored dozens of great trails in and around Denver. His favorite of these was Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon, so we took a day trip to see it for ourselves.

Cross-Country Road Trip: Watching the Rockies Rise

I have to make a confession about this road trip. Apparently, I have trouble judging both linear distances and the height of mountains. Yes, we were on our way to Angela’s childhood home in San Diego. Yes, we were all excited about visiting ten national parks during the journey. Yes, we eagerly anticipated the hiking, swimming, and camping in some of the world’s most beautiful locations. But, as I've said before, I'm all about the journey itself. Especially when that journey involves some kind of epic crossing or transition from one thing to another, very different thing. And, on this trip, I just wanted to watch the Rockies rise out of the horizon as we rolled west across the Great Plains. I had this romantic notion that something so tall and imposing as the Rocky Mountains would loom over the surrounding land and be visible from a hundred miles away.

Cross-Country Road Trip: Near-Miss Twisters and Burnt Ends in Kansas City

At the risk of being cliché, Kansas is flat. The kind of flat that can cause agoraphobia, with your line of sight rushing out to a blue and green split-screen, no matter which way you turn. Standing outside the ring of trees surrounding our KOA campsite in Salina, Kansas, I experienced a delicious vertigo. Like the lush infinity of the rich midwest soil could slip out from beneath my feet at any moment. A green silk scarf sliding off the edge of a glass table.

Cross-Country Road Trip: St. Louis Arch with the Amish

Our epic cross-country adventure began in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where we headed northwest through Nashville toward St. Louis, Missouri. When planning the route, we were aiming for as many national parks as we could hit on our way to San Diego and back, plus a few national monuments, state parks, and other sights along the way.  The first of these encounters was the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. Completed in 1965, this national monument is the world's tallest arch as well as the tallest manmade monument in the Western Hemisphere. Plus, it's space-age cool.

Cross-Country Road Trip: Thirteen States and Ten National Parks

We had taken some interesting trips before, finding the lost corners and unexplored regions that could be easily reached from our home base. But we were looking for something more. It was time to pull the trigger on a family vacation greater than a weekend getaway and experience what it would feel like to be truly gone, with the very real possibility of never returning.

Paris in a Day: Eiffel Tower Escargot and Inadvertently Undressing in the Street

On my way to Morocco last April, I scheduled a long layover in Paris. I'd never been there before, and as a general rule, I try to pack as much into a layover as possible, even if it's somewhere I visit frequently. No sense in staying at the airport and missing an adventure!