Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Puerto Rico is a part of the United States. This island on the northeastern edge of the Caribbean Sea has the soul of the islands with a tropical vibe that seems so opposite of much of the U.S. When we decided to go for an El Yunque rainforest day trip, it really did feel like we were in a far-off land. But entering what’s labeled as the only tropical rainforest in the U.S., one that is part of the U.S. National Park Service, I was reminded that we were, in fact, in a U.S. territory.
What’s your true knowledge of ALS? For me, I learned a little about the disease when I watched “Pride of the Yankees” when I was a kid. The movie about iconic New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig chronicles the life of the legend. It ended in tears for me as I discover some mysterious disease would force one of the greatest players of his generation to retire from baseball. Today, that disease is called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. But everyone knows it as Lou Gehrig’s disease. And it isn’t a re-airing of that classic movie that has everyone talking about ALS. It’s the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and I happily joined the crowd today.
As I sit down to write this evening, I find myself in a reflective mood. Not in a sappy sense, but in two hours it will be midnight to begin Aug. 14. Another 18 hours after that it will be precisely 6 p.m. central time, and 15 years to the minute after my wedding ceremony began back on Aug. 14, 1999. Fifteen years ago today, the only travel that was on my mind was our honeymoon in Jamaica. But today, I found myself researching an upcoming visit to Traverse City, Mich., and looking at flights for an October weekend to Las Vegas. So let’s have a look at 15 years of travel reflections.
Family travel can be so overwhelming and full of challenges for parents who prefer unique destinations instead of amusement parks and beaches. Yes, finding bed-and-breakfast inns that will welcome a child, awesome chef-driven restaurants that aren’t too stuffy for children and cultural attractions the kids won’t find boring is pretty hard. But the biggest challenge I’m discovering? It’s scheduling family travel around school.
Sometimes when I visit a tropical location, the trip tends to be all about the beach, seafood and relaxation. There are plenty of opportunities for all of that in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. But there is also opportunities for adventures of the city variety. In fact, my afternoon of exploring Downtown Puerto Vallarta culture and history was a highlight of my time in Mexico.
We’ve visited New York City numerous times through the years, from a whirlwind weekend of seeing all the highlights to separate guys’ and girls’ weekends, to an anniversary getaway. My wife and I have seen New York from so many different angles, and we have numerous New York City favorites. New York is possibly our favorite city in the world, and earlier this summer we decided to introduce our 7-year-old son to the joys of it and watch him create his own New York City favorites.
I want to let everyone in on a secret: I’m training for a marathon, the St. Jude Memphis Marathon in December. Not really a big deal; I’ve run one before. But starting the training process the week before our week in Puerto Rico meant I’d need to get in a couple of runs in the island of enchantment. The great thing about my Puerto Rico run is that it was a unique way to see and experience the island.
Besides the airport, a hotel or resort often is the welcome to a destination for a traveler. If the hotel makes a great first impression then the trip is sure to be off to a great start. When I stayed at the CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa earlier this summer, it would be the lodging for my first-ever trip to Mexico. So, yeah, there was some pressure on this trip-opening experience when I stepped foot on the CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta property.
Imagine a morning snorkeling the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean followed by wading into a cold waterfall on a brutally hot day before sitting under an umbrella looking out at the near-perfect water of a quiet fishing village. Taking a Yelapa day trip with Vallarta Adventures from Puerto Vallarta made these experiences possible.
Writing the above headline makes me think of the line from “Sweet Home Alabama” when Reese Witherspoon’s character says to an old high school friend, “You have a baby … in a bar!” Yes, we visited a casino with our 7-year-old son. We decided to drive south of Memphis to the Mississippi gaming community to discover if kid-friendly Tunica really does exist. We were only in Tunica County for a night, but it was long enough to have a little family fun at Gold Strike at MGM Resort.