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National Parks: Revisiting “America’s best idea” May 21, 2014

Posted by Tracy in : Adventure , add a comment

Arches
Arches National Park (Neal Herbert photo courtesy of National Park Service)

Historian and author Wallace Stegner once called the National Park System “America’s best idea.” Nearly a century after the park service was established, most who have had the privilege of visiting a few of our national parks would be sure to agree. Nothing captures the grandeur of this fragile, beautiful, incredibly diverse planet the way that our national parks do – and to be sure, I’ve been privileged to see quite a few.

So naturally I was delighted when USA Today invited me to help out with their guide to the USA’s best national parks. Here are my contributions:
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Coasting along the Costalegre: Cuixmala, the Soul’s Resting Place December 26, 2013

Posted by Tracy in : ecotourism, Healing retreats, Latin America, Mexico, Nature tourism, Sustainability, Uncategorized , add a comment

La Loma

Part 4 of a series

This fairyland of Moorish-style villas scattered about on a 25,000-acre nature preserve was once the private hideaway of British multimillionaire-turned-conservationist Sir James Goldsmith. The late Goldsmith’s family decided to open the estate to guests and the low-profile, exclusive resort has been visited by the likes of Madonna and Tom Cruise.

I’d received an invitation to visit this off-the-map retreat center, or I’d never have known about it. Had we seen nothing else on our journey along the Costalegre, our escape to Cuixmala would have been well worth the trip.
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Coasting along the Costalegre: Manzanilla and Tenacatita December 20, 2013

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laguna

Part 3 of a series

We awoke early this morning and went to the wildlife refuge at the backside of Barra de Navidad, a place seldom frequented by tourists but a hotspot for migratory waterfowl. A beautiful place to watch the sunrise and the sometimes extraordinary birds that appear there; once I saw several very large waterfowl that I didn’t recognize, over a meter in height. Today there were a pair of graceful blue herons fishing for breakfast; we observed them quietly before hitting the road north.

Today was the day we’d arrive in Cuixmala, the mysterious coastal refuge that was the high point of our trip. But first, we had a bit more coast to explore.

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Coasting along the Costalegre: Barra/Melaque December 17, 2013

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Sunset from the deck of Lydia's on Isla de Navidad

Sunset from the deck of Lydia's on Isla de Navidad

Part 1 of a series

CUIXMALA, Costalegre, Mexico – A precious undeveloped remnant of coastline along the Pacific Ocean revealed a few of her secrets to me over a few days this autumn, secrets I will never forget.

The sight of a protective mother brown booby protecting her downy white baby from raiding iguanas on an island off the coast; a sea turtle laying her glistening round eggs on the beach by the light of the moon; the soft feel of a baby in my hand as I place it on the sand and watch it make its way toward the waves; the crashing sound of a crocodile in the darkness of the mangrove, and the lurking form of another alongside our small boat; the forms of two white sharks far below me as I peer out from an airplane soaring over the coastline.
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Matagorda: The Secret’s Out August 6, 2009

Posted by Tracy in : ecotourism, Nature tourism, Texas , add a comment

Hundreds of miles of coastline stretch from Corpus Christi to Galveston. I’d always wanted to explore that stretch in between where the Colorado River meets the sea. But aside from a state park on an island that is no longer accessible, nobody I spoke to could say much about what I might find there.

This only made me more curious. So one day I picked up the phone and started calling around. And before I knew it, I was packing my bags and headed for the coast.

What I found surprised me: spectacular beaches, abundant wildlife, great food, a fascinating history, fishing to die for and friendly folks who will make you feel right at home.

What I didn’t find was an overabundance of tourists. A couple from Fort Worth, a father and daughter from Houston, a family from Pearland and a handful of locals — but mostly, miles of white sand pounded by surf and backed by graceful dunes.

Take a look for yourself; I think you’ll see what I mean. And read the story in the Aug. 9 Travel Section of the Houston Chronicle or the San Antonio Express-News – or click here for the online version.

Marvelous Matagorda July 25, 2009

Posted by Tracy in : ecotourism, Nature tourism, Sustainability, Texas , 1 comment so far

East Bay at sunrise

Hundreds of miles of coastline stretch from Galveston to the Coastal Bend.

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I’d always wanted to explore that stretch in between where the Colorado River meets the sea. But aside from a state park on an island that is no longer accessible, nobody I spoke to could say much about what I might find there.

This only made me more curious. So one day I picked up the phone and started calling around. And before I knew it, I was packing my bags and headed for the coast.

What I found surprised me: spectacular beaches, abundant wildlife, great food, a fascinating history, fishing to die for and friendly folks who will make you feel right at home.

What I didn’t find was an overabundance of tourists. A couple from Fort Worth, a father and daughter from Houston, a family from Pearland and a handful of locals — but mostly, miles of white sand pounded by surf and backed by graceful dunes.

Last week I got to spend a couple of glorious days soaking up some of the best this region has to offer. On Aug. 9, the story will appear in the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News. Meanwhile, here’s a preview.

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