Home Eclectic Stuff Swimming in the Brazilian Desert, Maria Shriver

Swimming in the Brazilian Desert, Maria Shriver

Random Acts of Canine Kindness

Cedric the Dog takes a well-deserved break after an ill fated attempt to shut down a white supremacist rally in Kansas.

You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog. – Harry S. Truman

MORE Dog Quotations

How Three Guys From Houston Are Cooking Up a Revolution in Texas Barbecue

A tiny suburban eatery is breaking all the rules to create some of the freshest-tasting grub on the horizon

By Brett Martin; Photograph by Jody Horton

I wish I could tell you that the “blood” in Blood Bros BBQ was literal. That sometime in the mid-1980s, three Asian-American friends in suburban Houston met under the bleachers of their high school football stadium and performed some kind of ritual with a drawn blade in which they swore eternal fealty in smoke and flesh. Sadly, no knife, no blood.

Texas barbecue revolution
Photograph by Jody Horton / Smithsonian Magazine (www.smithsonianmag.com)

This is a different kind of tale: a great American story about the great American food. The brother part is real, anyway. Terry Wong and his younger-by-18-months sibling, Robin, make up two-thirds of the Blood Bros, whose year-old restaurant has made waves in the world of Texas barbecue. The third, honorary Bro is Quy Hoang, who has the distinction of being the first Vietnamese-American to work as a pit master in Houston, a city with no shortage of either.


Newly Discovered Treasures Came From the Same Sunken Ship That Carried the Controversial ‘Elgin Marbles’

The “Mentor,” a vessel owned by the notorious Lord Elgin, sank in 1802 while carrying panels and sculptures looted from the Parthenon

Courtesy Jason Daley, smithsonian.com

In September 1802, the H.M.S. Mentor sank off the coast of Avlemonas, Greece, sending 17 crates of antiquities tumbling to the bottom of the Mediterranean. More than 200 years later, the Greek Ministry of Culture reports, marine archaeologists tasked with exploring the wreck have recovered gold jewelry, cooking pots, chess pieces and an array of other artifacts connected with the trove.


10 Crowd-Free Alternatives to America’s Most Iconic National Parks

Kenai Fjords National Park glacier

For every national park swarmed by visitors, dozens of state and federal preserves, parks, and monuments go relatively untraveled.


5 Easy Ways to Secure Your Hotel Room

Inexpensive, portable safety devices to take with you when you travel
Courtesy by David Dean

Are you worried about the security of your hotel room when you travel? You never really know who else has a key to your room, or how good the locks and deadbolts actually are. Luckily, there are several easy, inexpensive ways to secure the room more effectively. Here are five of the best.


Survey: Only About One-Third of Americans Say They Sleep Better in Hotels

Majority Believe Mattress is Less Comfortable Than at Home

As millions of Americans head out on vacation this summer looking for rest and relaxation, it’s likely that two-thirds of them won’t sleep as well as they do at home.


Secrets the Cruise Lines Don’t Tell You

Courtesy Erika Silverstein, Cruise Critic

Kenai Fjords National Park
Kenai Fjords National Park. Photo courtesy of Deb Roskamp

Cruise ship life can be a little mysterious. Your choices aren’t always spelled out in black and white. The more you cruise, the more you pick up on the unofficial secrets the cruise lines don’t tell you — which give you more options, let you save money and generally allow you to have a better time onboard.


Protect Yourself Against Airport Checkpoint Theft

Airport theft is becoming a major problem for travelers, so make sure to get to your destination with all your items intact.


Hard Day's Night 2017

Question: Name the person who Paul recently called, ‘The REAL Fifth Beatle’

Scroll down for the answer

How to Renew a Passport in 24 Hours

Courtesy Shannon McMahon

taking a passport photo

By partnering with an existing service called RushMyPassport, FedEx is facilitating a nationwide solution for those who need very fast passport renewal.


7 Common Travel Crises and How to Conquer Them

Courtesy Denise Caiazzo, Travel Planners International

travel luggage

Travel advisors are well-equipped to handle just about anything travel-related. Give them a destination, a budget, and a few key interests, and they can whip up an entirely personalized itinerary that will make a client feel over-the-moon, as they make their travel dreams come true.

But what happens when an unforeseen travel nightmare occurs? We’re talking, “I can’t find my passport and I leave for my trip in a week!” or “Surprise, a bad storm hit, and all flights are canceled.”


Pickpocket-Proof Clothing: 10 Garments to Protect Your Stuff

Courtesy Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon

Aday’s Throw It Higher Leggings

Nothing sours a trip like having your belongings stolen by a pickpocket. But chances are, if you travel frequently — or just happen to be unlucky — a sticky-fingered stranger will one day secretly separate you from your stuff. Since traveling sans cash, credit cards, and other valuables isn’t an option for most of us, I’ve rounded up a passel of pickpocket-proof clothing and accessories that’ll make you less of a target for thieves.


How to Complain Effectively at a Hotel

Courtesy Charlyn Keating

Demand satisfaction when you have a valid complaint

How to Complain Effectively at a Hotel
(Click to enlarge) Photo courtesy of TripSavvy 2018

Abbey Road album cover art

Beatle Beat Trivia Answers

Question: Name the person who Paul recently called, ‘The REAL fifth Beatle.’

Answer: The Beatles’ long time producer, George Martin.

The Best Navigation Tools to Keep You on Track on a Car Trip, Here or Abroad

Courtesy Catharine Hamm, L.A. Times

navigation tools
Choose the navigation methods that work for you. Image Credits: LA Times (latimes.com)

Go Swimming in the Brazilian Desert in These Lagoons That Appear Like Magic Every Year

Courtesy Cailey Rizzo, Travel & Leisure

Lençóis Maranhenses National Park
Photo courtesy of RipioTurismo

Nobody can put on an event quite like nature.

Every year, the sand dunes at Lençóis Maranhenses National Park in Brazil collect rainwater from about January to June. And come July, these dunes become temporary pools full of clear, warm water.


I’ve Been Thinking…

By Maria Shriver

At the recent Democratic debate, the final question posed to the candidates was one about friendship.

“We need leaders not in love with money, but in love with justice. Not in love with publicity, but in love with humanity.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked each of them to describe a friendship they’ve had with someone who has different beliefs than them. The question came in light of what I wrote about last week, which was the uproar over comedian Ellen DeGeneres sitting next to former President George W. Bush at a Dallas Cowboys game. Lots of people seemed to be upset by the debate question, but I found it revelatory in terms of how the candidates answered it and how they didn’t.


A Farewell to Ming, the Siberian-Bengal Tiger Who Spent Three Years in a Harlem Apartment

Ming the tiger
Photo credit: Phil Long

Antoine Yates, Ming’s owner, once said that the tiger was his ‘only friend, really.’

In Apartment 5E of a housing project in Harlem, there once lived a Siberian-Bengal tiger named Ming. He had his own bedroom, and was lovingly cared for by his owner, Antoine Yates. Ming was well known to residents of the Drew Hamilton Houses — it was hard to miss his roaring and the distinct smell of his urine — but he went undetected by authorities for three years.


10 Ways to Get a Better Night of Sleep

By Brandon Peters, MD

ways to a better sleep

With a few simple guidelines, you can have better sleep tonight. At some point in our lives, for any number of reasons, nearly all of us will have difficulties sleeping and suffer from acute insomnia. This can lead to significant distress but have no fear. There are simple steps to take that will help you sleep better tonight.


Two Thirds Of Americans Worry About Work Whilst On Vacation

Courtesy Calum McCloskey, 10 Yetis Digital

New research has found the biggest worries that Americans have whilst on vacation, with the weather, accommodation, spending money and arguments all making the top five, with almost two thirds confessing to also worrying about work whilst away.

Traditionally, American small farmers find it difficult to take carefree vacations due to the endless four-season work on the farm. Photograph by Deb Roskamp

As well as determining the biggest worries that Americans have on vacation, with work featuring quite heavily for many, the biggest worries Americans have at the airport were also revealed, with fear of a flight being delayed or cancelled, luggage getting lost or damaged and missing the flight from being late topping the list.


6 Destinations with Sunscreen Bans, and What You Need to Know

Courtesy Shannon McMahon, SmarterTravel

sea turtle in Hawaii
The reef-rich state of Hawaii voted to ban the sale of sunscreens that contain the reef-damaging chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate beginning in 2021.

Think the plastic straws you gave up sipping from are bad for our oceans? It’s time to consider the same about the sunscreen you use. Non-biodegradable sunscreens that contain harsh chemicals like oxybenzone have been proven to be toxic to coral reefs and other sea life. But travelers haven’t been as quick to widely abandon them for a natural alternative — so now some destinations are enacting sunscreen bans themselves.

Here are some of the most popular destinations that have banned non-biodegradable sunscreens, and how you can switch to a responsible alternative.


Deb's Poetry Break

On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer

By John Keats

Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow’d Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star’d at the Pacific — and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise —
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

Send Deb your favorite travel poems

7 Things You Should Always Wear on a Plane

Courtesy Caroline Costellos

Be the best-dressed (and most comfortable) person in the cabin with our guide to in-flight apparel.


How to Disinfect Your Airplane Seat

landing plane


Virtual Reality Helps Japan’s Elderly Travel the World

CNN Travel

Traveling from the canals of Venice to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, a group of elderly people in Japan is seeing the world – without even leaving their seats. It’s all thanks to virtual reality, as well as a team at the University of Tokyo led by Kenta Toshima.


Half of Americans Would Take a Job With No Paid Time Off for a Higher Salary

Meanwhile, One in Three Workers Would Give Up Some Pay for Unlimited Vacation

Half (49 percent) of working Americans would accept a job with no vacation time if they were paid more, according to the 11th annual Vacation Confidence Index* released by Allianz Global Assistance. Millennials (63 percent, compared to 47 percent of Gen X’ers and 32 percent of Baby Boomers) and men (57 percent, versus 41 percent of women) are the most likely to sacrifice paid time off for higher salaries.


Behind the Bucket List: What Americans Really Want in Travel

Courtesy Tours.com

what Americans really want in travel

What do Americans want when it comes to Bucket List travel? A group from Provisional Living wanted to find out not only what’s on those lists, but why and how they got there. What they found was pretty revealing.


Are Airlines Tracking Your Flight Searches (and Raising Prices)?

Courtesy Caroline Morse Teel

flight searches

Ms. Caroline Morse Teel, Senior Editor of SmarterTravel, investigates whether or not searching for airfare makes the price go up. Also: perfume on a plane, tipping when gratuities are included, who can sit in an exit row, and more.

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