What’s a better escape than an island? Nothing, right? It’s a vacation with a moat around it. Relaxation surrounded by water.
It’s also the most obvious thing a travel magazine can cover. But, being Southwest’s inflight magazine, we worked hard to make this issue different. For one thing, we cover islands—and places within them—that you may not know about. Like Lummi Island, Washington. Or the Dominican Tree House Village in the Dominican Republic. Or Roosevelt Island, New York, a very cool tram ride from Manhattan (which, of course, is another island).
I got to write about two islands my wife and I visited recently: Galveston, Texas, which triumphed over terrible floods (and where you can eat one of the all-time great Sunday brunches at Hotel Galvez & Spa); and Cumberland Island, Georgia, the only barrier island with a national park.
Southwest keeps flying to more islands, and more nations with islands in them, and more nations that are islands. Life just keeps getting better. And more watery.
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Other magazines are also celebrating the 100 th anniversary of the National Park Service, but when we do it, most of our 5.5 million readers are on airplanes that can actually take them to those parks. Talk about interactive media.
Also on tap this month, we offer the 39 best-kept secrets of the parks. They include everything from the amazing skills of trail builders to the whitest sand dunes anywhere (White Sands, New Mexico).
Speaking of which, some years ago, my family and I visited White Sands in the middle of winter. We got there early on a spectacular sunny day and seemed to be the only people within miles. My wife had bought a cheap plastic sled, and the kids and I hiked to the top of one of the biggest dunes. “Watch this, kids,” I said. “I’ll show you how to surf.” I stood on the sled, pushed off with one foot, and suddenly found myself rocketing at terrifying speed. I hadn’t noticed that there was an invisible layer of frost on the sand—which isn’t really sand but powdery gypsum. Toward the bottom I hit a bump, went flying, and did an arms-wide face-plant. I came up covered with powder like a mime. My kids were sprawled on the ground laughing. “Do it again, Daddy!” my daughter said.
I think the national parks represent some of the finest things about America: our history, our astonishing nature, and our willingness to share our greatest treasures. But they’re also a way for families to get together—and watch fathers make complete fools of themselves.
Happy birthday, national parks. And happy birthday, America.
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Look closely at the cover and you’ll realize those two people are the same woman: flight attendant Sandra Force, in 1971 and today. Associate Editor Austin Morton joined Sandra and fellow veteran flight attendant C.J. Bostic on a leg from Love Field to LaGuardia. Both women have been making Southwest customers smile throughout the airline’s 45-year history. Read their story here.
You may have noticed Sandra’s outfits while you were doing a double take. The one on the right was designed by none other than a team of Southwest Employees. You won’t start seeing the new uniforms on board until next spring, but this month we give you a sneak peek.
Despite the anniversary, this isn’t a time to get all nostalgic about Southwest’s storied past. There are just too many cool changes happening. (Have you checked out all those international destinations?) So we devoted some pages to the future and did a little speculating on how many slots Southwest will get at the Lunar Airport. (Yes, you read that right.) Finally, I made a few general predictions of my own. For example, forty-five years from now:
Kids will listen to horrible music.
Real will beat virtual.
Some expensive hotels will sit under the ocean—on purpose.
Our clothes will adjust to the surrounding temperature. Fashionable people will refuse to wear them.
And Southwest’s heart will stay in the center of it all.
Just a hunch of course, but I’d say it’s pretty spot-on.
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At heart, we’re a travel magazine. So it will surprise exactly no one that this issue contains a big travel feature, focusing on summer fun—summer fun in the water, to be exact. You’ll find world-class waterfalls and swimming holes from Utah to Costa Rica, river adventures from Belize to Ohio, and kayak trips from Maine to Seattle.
But we’re not just a travel mag. We also particularly love telling stories about people, the kind that make you want to hug the stranger in the next seat. (Please get permission first.) That may be why, each month, more than 5 million people spend an average of 30 minutes with each issue.
This month, managing editor Brad Pearson profiles Rupal Patel, who provides unique voices to people who have lost them—voices that come as close as possible to the ones they were born with. Try not to cry when Rupal enables one of her patients to say, “I love you.”
So go on, laugh, cry, and get your feet wet. Then tell us about it at email@example.com. We can’t wait to hear from you. Happy reading!
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We editors at the magazine like to think of ourselves as an in-flight entertainment system with heart. We’re especially proud of the stories that tell a good, true yarn while making you feel better about humanity. So when our friends at Southwest told us about their support for Knights of Heroes—a high-adventure wilderness camp for kids who’ve lost their fathers to war—we jumped on it. Summer camp with a service angle, how could we pass it up?
But then, the topic is personal to me. I didn’t lose my father to war—he served in both Europe and the Philippines in World War II—but my mother’s only brother died over the English Channel on Easter Sunday, 1944. He was a pilot, and an ace. Uncle Ward was 22 years old, and the last male to carry the name of de Canizares. My dad’s own experience changed him forever. Both of them served, and sacrificed. I tell their stories in the same issue.
And, of course, we sprinkle in some travel too—the otherworldly kind, as discussed by astronaut Jessica Meir, and the usual. Be sure to check out the Adventure In Orlando. (Hint: There’s plenty to do outside of Disney.)
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Yeah, I know. Putting a smiley face on the cover of a magazine may not make you happy. Not right away. But it seemed the right thing to do in an issue that’s all about happiness. And our cover boy Jack Black is known for being one of Hollywood’s happier denizens. Features editor JK Nickell pretty much confirms that reputation in an interview.
You’ll find a lot to be happy about yourself in this issue. Some of the joyful advice from one of our former editors—Mike Darling, now a senior editor at Men’s Health—may surprise you. For instance, did you know that drinking water can improve your mood?
Speaking of water, the highlight of the issue is a profile of Darlene Arviso, a saintly woman who drives a tank of the stuff to 250 homes in the parched Navajo Nation in New Mexico. Assistant Editor Gabbi Chee Cotherman wrote this inspiring story of enduring hope. It’s the kind of narrative that makes us editors (and you too, I hope) very happy.
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Ah breakfast—it’s just about everybody’s favorite meal no matter what time of day we eat it. Bacon and eggs will always be top contenders, sure, but this month we invite you to try Vietnamese meatballs (at Underbelly in Houston) and avocado toast (at Fig in Charleston) and pineapple upside-down pancakes (at Mercantile Dining & Provision in Denver), to name a few. All you need is an open mind and an appetite, which brings me to our decision to put a crab on the cover.
In “Crab Cakes with Kenny,” Michael Graff reminisces about “the most hopeful breakfast” he and his little brother shared. Kim Cross writes about bacon—because bacon. (Sadly, we couldn’t arrange for scratch and sniff paper.) And it wouldn’t be breakfast without coffee: Former staffer Mike Darling reveals the secrets to a perfect cup. Man, those beans are fussy. Ok that’s enough rambling, dig in!
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Bourbon, apple brandy, and vanilla ice cream topped with bacon dust. It’s called the Kentucky Head Hunter, only you can’t find it in Kentucky. Order it at Oshi Burger Bar in Memphis.
Or, consider a shake with homemade vanilla ice cream mixed with cherry liqueur and a splash of absinthe at Péché in Austin.
If neither of those sound appealing, perhaps you would like a habanero pumpkin porter with a scoop of snickerdoodle, at the Bluebird Microcreamery & Brewery (heaven!) in Seattle.
You’ll find all these drinks under “B” in our A to Z guide to spirits.
Why “B”? Because they’re Boozy milkshakes. And because “M” was taken by Melrose Umbrella Co. in Los Angeles, an old-fashioned bar that serves six kinds of Old Fashioneds.
We do a spirits guide in the magazine every year to toast the season, and our bartender connections have grown so deep that we decided to cover a wide gamut. Cheers!
This month’s narrative is by one of my favorite writers, Heidi Stevens, who has written several stories for us about parenting and children. This time Heidi writes about the Thirty Million Words Initiative, an effort to close the achievement gap by getting kids to hear more words by age four. Kids born into poverty hear an average of 30 million fewer words in their first three years than those born into financially stable families. The research shows that this leads to poorer performance in school—proof that IQ isn’t everything.
Of course, we’re also a travel magazine. The spirits guide shows you bars and drinks worth making a trip. And don’t forget about this month’s Adventure in Houston. If you haven’t been to the Space Center—and you have kids—then consider it a high-priority mission. You copy?
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This may be the first issue in a while that doesn’t make people cry. In previous issues, we’ve had a story about music made from the heartbeats of critically ill children, so their parents can hear them forever. Another story covered an inspiring baseball team that’s teaching racial comity through sport. Another was by a woman who remembers her late father through fishing.
This month brings our annual winter travel guide. I promise it won’t leave you red-eyed and teary—unless you can’t find the time to do every single amazing adventure, from flying a model of the Wright Brothers’ plane to snowkiting a lake in New Hampshire.
As always, though, we include at least one good narrative story, this time on a young woman with one of the coolest jobs around: piloting a deep-sea submersible. But get this: You can join the 26-year-old pilot, Diana Garcia Benito, in the hammerhead shark–filled waters off Costa Rica on a 10-day expedition.
As this month’s cover says, your bucket list just got longer. Happy reading!
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The cover story this month is kind of unusual. For one thing, the “typography” was made by drawing on the fog of a window. For another thing, it’s about a word that didn’t exist until recently: transfarency. It’s when an airline is clear about the prices it charges. When you buy a ticket, you don’t have to worry about extra fees for baggage or changing flights.
We reported the story in Los Angeles, where Southwest Pilot Lauren Buttrick was shooting a commercial with a macaw in a botanical garden. Also shooting a commercial for Southwest: Taysha Arroyo, a 14-year-old with Hodgkin lymphoma. She told the Make-A-Wish Foundation that she wanted to be a star, so Southwest flew her from Rochester, New York, to Los Angeles with her mother and sister. Look for Taysha on a Segway in the spot. Does the heart good.
Speaking of which, our senior editor, JK Nickell, wrote an amazingly moving story about heartbeats, the original human rhythm. Music therapist Brian Schreck, who works at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, records the heartbeats of his patients and incorporates them into original songs, so the parents can hear the sound forever. JK’s story journeys from hospitals to outer space. A must-read.
Finally, Brad Herzog, our go-to guy on the quirky and unexpected, wrote a piece on luck. He’s had his share of it. As a contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, he got to mention his book, States of Mind, “a literal and figurative journey through tiny hamlets like Pride (Alabama), Wisdom (Montana), and Joy (Illinois).” One off-hand remark to Regis Philbin briefly turned it into the best-selling book online after Harry Potter.
So, can you make yourself lucky? Very possibly, says Brad. Happy reading!
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I never thought I’d have a bucket list of movie venues. Not movies, but the places you see movies. But then, when we started work on this month’s issue, that list presented itself. I mean, seeing Jaws in an inner tube? While fake sharks swim around? I’m in, literally. Or catching a flick on an aircraft carrier, a stone’s throw from midtown Manhattan? Or at the spectacular Red Rocks Amphitheatre? And that’s only a few that our staff uncovered. This issue got its start when Jim Collins, author of The Last Best League, offered a story on the Fairlee Drive-In and motel in Vermont. As a New Hampshirite, I’d been to this great old place, where the family who owns it serves hamburgers made from the Black Angus cows that roam their land. The Fairlee was being threatened by a new wave of technology in the form of expensive digital projectors, a requirement for showing first-run films. So the family resorted to technology for an answer: They did a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter. And it’s not just the old drive-ins that are surviving. New ones are springing up, along with novel new ways to see films. But that’s enough talk—now, for your feature presentation…
Happy reading, Jay
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When Southwest started flying to the Caribbean, we editors at Southwest: The Magazine were pretty excited. I mean, the idea that this beautiful nearby sea just got even closer? But professionally speaking, the Caribbean presented a problem. What could we possibly do in the magazine that hadn’t already been done by a jillion travel writers.
We thought: kids. Yeah, kids had been done before, but we’d do it differently. We recruited one of the wisest women I know, Chicago Tribune columnist Heidi Stevens, to write about traveling with children. Then we came up with 23 reasons to bring kids to the Caribbean. Honestly, it wasn’t hard to come up with them. We actually left out the biggest reason of all: because it’s fun!
My personal favorite Caribbean destination? Belize. It has the world’s second largest barrier reef, after Australia. The water between the beach and the reef is crowded with colorful fish and huge rays. You feel like you’re snorkeling in an aquarium. Now that I think of it, maybe it’s just the place for our next family vacation. Happy reading!
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One of this month's cover models has 1.3 million Instagram followers. (We’ll give you a hint: He has four legs.) Tuna, the dachshund-Chihuahua mix behind the IG handle @tunameltsmyheart, came on the scene in late 2011 and has been winning fans on the Web with his snaggletoothed grin ever since.
Associate Editor Austin Morton accompanied the famous canine and his owner, Courtney Dasher, in Austin, Texas, during a leg of their national book tour to witness what happens when your beloved pet becomes your boss. For the whole story, and photos by the talented Peter Yang, check out “Pet Project.”
But dogs don’t rule the Web. Cats do. Still, most people tend to be firmly in one camp or another. To get to the bottom of this age-old debate, I did a Skype interview with two of the funniest people I know: cat lover Gina Barreca and dog devotee Gene Weingarten, co-authors of the hilarious I’m with Stupid. Read a transcript of their droll dispute in the magazine, or hear each spar for yourself by watching the video on YouTube. Afterward, weigh in on who won by sending us a tweet with #southwestmag. Or, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So far, dogs are on top—but only by a slim margin. Are you going to take that, cat lovers?
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We’re no Johnny-come-latelies with the whole Taylor Swift thing. Southwest: The Magazine first put the budding singer/songwriter on the cover years ago, when she was a really talented kid just beginning to make her mark. Maybe that’s why she spent some quality time with J. Rentilly for an exclusive interview in this month’s edition.
In any case, we’re not into plunking celebs on the cover just because they’re celebs. Taylor is a great example of someone who has made a leap of faith, busting out of comfort zones and career boxes. Our favorite quote from the interview: “Every song is about learning a different lesson.”
We offer a different education in leaps of faith in the accompanying travel package, “Take the Plunge.” Our recommendations cover both national and international destinations, taking you from the scary to the challenging to the wish-I’d-done-that-years-ago kinds of experiences.
And then there’s a story by yours truly, about my attempt to run up a mountain in fewer minutes than my (old) age in years—a way of trying to set back the clock through sheer effort. To my own huge surprise, it made me amazingly happy. The secret: Relax, Flow, Focus, and Dance. What am I talking about? Well, you have to read the story.
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We at Southwest: The Magazine like doing the kind of story you’d talk about over a beer. I may be slightly biased, but I think we hit the jackpot with our April cover story. It’s about a guy named Dan McLaughlin, who is trying to become a pro golfer through sheer practice. McLaughlin is testing the theory that 10,000 hours of practice will let you achieve mastery in almost anything. In other words, does practice—the equivalent of four hours a day for seven years—really make perfect? At press time, Dan had only 3,963 hours to go.
Which raises the obvious, let-me-buy-you-a-beer question: What would you be willing to put that kind of time into? Write to us at email@example.com or tweet @SouthwestTheMag.
And while you’re at it, check out this month’s Adventure in Atlanta. It’s been a long winter, and the city’s lush urban trails and open-air eateries beckon.
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At Southwest: The Magazine, we sometimes like to dream up themes that cover a whole gamut of things. We hit the jackpot this time: a whole feature section on time. The one thing we don’t write about in this issue is how to save it. Instead we talk about how to freeze time (a story about a guy who made a fortune from ice), travel back in time (through collections), and predict the future (through algorithms).
But my favorite part is associate editor JK Nickell’s story about a school in Fort Worth, Texas, where you can learn the art of Swiss watchmaking. There you can obtain the secrets to restoring a quarter-million-dollar timepiece. Talk about putting time on your side.
And to cap it off, we list 12 items that are completely worth the wait, from a tailored suit (three to ten months at Archangelo Sartorial) to a set of knives (three years at Randall Made Knives).
This month’s adventure is in timeless Boston, where you can visit the amazing Mary Baker Eddy Library’s Mapparium and follow the red brick line of the Freedom Trail.
My favorite Number this month: We consume ten percent more calories after our team loses. As someone who roots for Boston teams, that’s not much of a problem for me.
Happy reading. We hope you’ll agree that sitting down with this month’s issue is time well spent.
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As the inflight magazine for Southwest, we’re all about travel. (Duh.) But at our heart, we’re all about real people.
Sure, we do celebrities occasionally, but only when they act like real people. (We loved it when Jimmy Kimmel recently brought out our September issue during an interview of our cover model, Mindy Kaling.) Most of the time, we’re looking for unsung heroes, the ones that give us all hope for humanity.
This month’s cover story sure does that, at least for me. Sam White stages Shakespeare plays all over Detroit, giving audiences a glimpse at some of the city’s coolest places—venues most of them probably wouldn’t see otherwise. To do justice to the story, Creative Director Kevin de Miranda assigned a top photographer, Chris Crisman, to shoot the actors in these settings. The result is an inspiring narrative with a photo gallery—one that serves as a tour to the can’t-miss places in Detroit. A trifecta of real people, travel, and storytelling.
Want more travel? This month’s Adventure goes to Phoenix/Scottsdale. The drink of the month is the hot Brazilian Winter, from Boston’s Backbar. (Order some pork buns with it.) The hotel of the month is Manhattan’s ultra-hip Ludlow.
Now for a Number: Desk plants boost productivity by 15 percent, according to researchers in the UK and the Netherlands. The ideal plant: peppermint. It makes you more alert.
And you thought we were just a travel magazine.
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Do you have kids? Then you know what a tricky territory praise can be. You want to build their confidence, but sometimes we parents get a little too … tactful in praising a poor effort. In the latest issue of Southwest: The Magazine, Chicago Tribune writer Heidi Stevens covers the dos and don’ts of self esteem. Heidi, a friend of mine, has great kids; she deserves at least some credit for that, right?
To accompany Heidi’s wise (and occasionally hilarious) story, the editors came up with a useful sidebar that helps us know what to say on various occasions. For instance, if your kid gets straight A’s, don’t praise her smarts. Tell her how hard she worked.
I probably should have read that when my kids were little. I was always praising their great genes. Not helpful, maybe, but great for my self-esteem.
If you’re not used to our special brand of inflight magazine, you might be surprised. Like Southwest itself, we pride ourselves on real people, and we get real people to write about them. What’s more, when we cover travel, we offer a choice of adventures for each destination. Check out this month’s adventures in Los Cabos, whether you’re into food, history, water, nature, or all of the above.
If you’re not new to the magazine, you may notice some changes. A beefed-up front section, for example, with a more individualistic attitude, neatly split between Work and Play. I love this month’s shopping piece in the play section: the best goods in Minneapolis, chosen by taste-setter and blogger Kate Arends.
Think of us this way: It’s like having a really good-looking (the magazine, I mean), plugged-in seatmate who can tell you some secrets about your next destination.
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Every time I look at the cover of this issue, the theme song for Reading Rainbow goes through my head.
Um, sorry, if I just got it stuck in your head. But that terrific show earned a whole generation of fans for its host, LeVar Burton. He’s the kind of warm celebrity you can think of as a friend; this helps explain how he broke the Kickstarter record, raising $1 million in a day to bring Reading Rainbow to classrooms for free.
And that’s really what social media is all about—including crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter. Crowdfunding is less about the funding than it is about the crowds. It’s about friends, in other words. This issue gives you advice you won’t find anywhere else on how to crowdfund your own dream—or maybe just invest in someone else’s.
I’m a huge Kickstarter fan, especially for ventures started by my friends. As I write this, I’m wearing a Lumo Lift, a cool posture monitor that I helped fund on Kickstarter. (Mom would be so proud of her formerly slumping son.) I gave two classically hilarious Kickstarted Calamityware plates to my daughter for her birthday. And half our family sports Kickstarted Sword & Plough bags, made by veterans out of repurposed military fabric.
It was Sword & Plough—and specifically its co-founder, Emily Núñez—that gave us the inspiration for the story in the first place. Emily, an active duty officer in the U.S. Military Intelligence Corps, happens to be a pal of my son’s, and he put us on to her brilliant startup. We sent writer Tracy Ross to the Kickstarter HQ to get a closer look.
Never before have friends been put to such good use.
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Southwest Airlines new look has a lot of moving parts—literally. One of them is its inflight magazine. Not only did our name change from Spirit to Southwest: The Magazine, but hundreds of thousands of a special, celebratory September issue were switched out on planes beginning September 8 and 9. (Click here to read more about the first version of our September issue.) Among the commemorative touches in the issue: a new cover, showing off Southwest’s cool new heart.
That heart, by the way, is a real, physical object. It’s big, it’s 3D, and it’s handcrafted of metallic parts. Southwest shipped it to photographer Adam Voorhes in Austin. (He’s the guy who shoots our amazing cocktails.)
Meanwhile, the magazine’s Dallas-based editorial staff was hard at work producing both issues, including some shiny, new editorial to go with the new look. They worked closely with the airline’s communications and marketing teams to get the branding story right, all while keeping the new look a secret from their closest friends.
We like to think the heart stands for what’s inside this issue: stories about doing things for love, and being loved in return. Just like Southwest.
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At Southwest’s inflight magazine, we don’t shove just any celebrity on the cover. We generally feature real people with real stories to tell.
This month, though, we couldn’t resist featuring Mindy Kaling—writer, director, actress, comedian, and star. The issue focuses on ways to show your heart, getting people to like and trust you. We were trying to think of people who epitomize those traits, and it seemed like the entire staff thought of Mindy. I was proud to say I had met her at Dartmouth, back when she was a college student.
“What was she like?” an editor asked.
“Um, really nice,” I said.
Besides her advice on how to get people to love you, we asked author Grant Stoddard to do a pretty weird story for us. The assignment: be really nice to people in New York City. I mean, really nice. His attempts to be a superhero of niceness to New Yorkers didn’t all go so well. Check out the story and the hilarious photos by Peter Yang.
I got to contribute an article myself, on “Aristotle’s Book of Love.” The philosopher wrote the definitive guide to being liked and trusted.
This month’s Adventure is in New Orleans, a city with the biggest heart in the world.
And now for the Numbers. Our national anthem has four verses. A coffee tree produces one pound of beans a year. And 43 percent of us have assigned seats in the living room.
Oh, and you may have noticed a name change in your seatback pocket this month. Spirit is now Southwest: The Magazine. But as Gary Kelly himself says in his letter, our spirit is still very much here.
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What do you think of the phrase, “really hard to get to?” Do you instantly want to go, without even knowing where? If you do, you may be a true hardcore traveler. People who work for travel magazines like Southwest’s definitely fall in this category. And I definitely include former Spirit's Executive Editor John McAlley. He visited Bandon Dunes Golf Resort for this month’s cover story—a place entails flying to Portland, Oregon, and driving down Highway 101. You’ll find Brandon’s four spectacular courses past Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Devils Churn, the Hobbit Trail, and Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. (Make sure you stop at every one. I have. It’s worth it.)
Meanwhile, even if you don’t love golf, you should read John’s story. He describes a truly magical place while talking about the future of golf as a participant sport. John does the kind of story we love to do best—one that’s so interesting in its own right you don’t care whether you share the passion.
Speaking of travel, this month’s adventure is in Northwest Florida’s beautiful beaches.
We also have a story on the science of parenting by Sheril Kirshenbaum, a scientist, writer, and author of The Science of Kissing. (Parenting frequently follows kissing, according to scientists.) She offers a nice surprise: being a parent—especially a mother—can actually be good for your health.
This month’s cocktail is The Hamptons, mixed by the bartender at Jimmy in Chicago. It’s like an Arnold Palmer with superpowers. Hey, and I’ve been thinking. We have been doing these drinks for more than a decade, and have a passel of amazing recipes. Would you be interested if we provided an archive of those recipes? Let me know in the comments.
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While Southwest Airline’s inflight magazine is famous for doing great storytelling features, we’re still a travel magazine at heart.
You’d think the job would be easy. Fly someplace amazing, go home, tell people how amazing it was. And we do that. But the hard part is bringing out all the incredible variety of experiences you can have anywhere Southwest flies.
So this month we took a different tack, asking: what’s the most underrated sense? Most travel tells you what you can see and hear and eat and even touch. But what about smell?
The interesting thing is, smell is the sense most closely connected to the memory storage in our brains. So if you want a memorable trip, it had better make scents!
That’s why our cover story is dedicated to the science and travel of smells. We got Annie Monjar, the managing editor of Philadelphia Magazine, to report on the word’s leading scent laboratory. And the staff in Dallas meanwhile sniffed out the best ways to follow your nose to fragrant destinations. You’ll learn where the piña colada was invented, where you can get intoxicated by lavender, where to smell the best barbecue, and where to get a whiff of 1700s mixology. Plus much more!
The Adventure this month is in Galveston, Texas, one of the best places to smell salty air.
And now for the Numbers: Hummingbirds consume two times their weight daily. We switch between tech devices 21 times an hour. And Heinz ketchup leaves the bottle at a blazing .028 miles per hour. Gotta love slow food. It gives you time to smell it.
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One of the best things about working Southwest’s inflight magazine is the writers. We consider them friends, and we’re kind of in awe of some of them.
Take Tracy Ross, the author of this month’s big story, “The Carousel of Happiness.” She happens to be in Nepal as I write this. The author of a remarkable memoir, The Source of All Things, she’s now reporting her second book. She took a break from it to tell us about a Vietnam vet who dedicated his work life to preventing torture—and his free time to carving beautiful animals for a carousel in Nederland, Colorado. Her story is heartening, just a little eerie, and classic Tracy Ross, full of hope. To get into the spirit of the place, she even spent the night there, sleeping in the closed carousel. Spooky!
The story goes nicely with our cover package on “The Art of the Veer.” We were thinking about the best ways to hop to a different place when you’re on a business trip or vacation, where you can grab a quick flight or rent a car and see something amazing. The staff came up with 28 of them, from Ian Fleming’s Jamaican villa (where he wrote Casino Royale) to a desert love shack. Go on, veer. You know you want to.
The adventure this month is in Providence, Rhode Island, one of my favorite cities. The drink is a celery cordial, the Automobile, from the Dead Rabbit Bar in Manhattan. And my favorite Number: You can grow 11 miles of hair in a year. Hey, you, have a drink. Now get a haircut.
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The coolest thing about working with the inflight magazine for Southwest, believe it or not, isn’t the travel.
Well, okay, it’s the travel. But the second coolest thing, for me, is getting to meet smart, curious people and to collaborate on meaningful stories. One of those people is Warren Burger.
A mutual friend introduced us a while back, because Warren was working on a really interesting book titled A More Beautiful Question. He had spent a couple interviewing some of the most creative, successful people, asking them not what they knew…but what they asked. Warren found that the people who come up with the greatest innovations basically ask the same three questions: Why? What if? How?
This month’s cover story came out of a conversation Warren and I had about that book. Van Phillips lost his leg in a freak waterskiing accident, and he went on to invent the curved foot you see amputees use for running. Van Phillips asked those three big questions. And you can, too.
As for the travel, this month’s Adventure is in Santa Fe, a town I once lived in, so I’m prejudiced. But if you haven’t been there, put it on your bucket list. Right now.
For this month’s Numbers I’ll give you just one because it’s more than enough. Shakespeare invented more than 1,600 English words, including bandit, laughable, and zany. I dare you to invent one or two of your own: ask why there isn’t a single word for some phenomenon—like, say, taking a picture out of an airplane window. Then ask, what if you could combine two words to make one? How would you do that? I would combine, um, selfie and plane and get planie.
Hey, try and do better.
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We at Southwest’s inflight magazine, Spirit, like to follow the trends. But we’re not interested in the flightier trends that involve cats or planking. We look for ways that society is changing, and focus on the ways it just might be changing for the better.
That’s why our latest cover story has to do with the Etsy Generation—the creative entrepreneurs who are redefining how we think about careers. It’s no longer about starting at the bottom. It’s about enjoying the job. The staff defined a number of categories for this generation: Catalysts (people who create collaborative spaces), Ruralists (small sustainable farmers), Artisans (craftsmen and craftswomen), and Revisionists (careerists who opt out and start something entirely new). Read the piece and tell me how it inspires you.
This month’s Adventure is in New York City, a town where just showing up can be an adventure. The cocktail of the month is Puncher’s Chance, invented by Dominic Alling of San Francisco’s Beretta.
And now for the Numbers. A healthy 35 percent of parents don’t understand what their adult child does for a living (in which case she makes a lot of money, we’re guessing). Goldfish released into the wild can grow to 15 inches. And you have 250 milliseconds to catch a fall before you land on your whatever. Man, I love science!
Read the full March issue here.
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One of the hardest things to do in a magazine is what insiders call a “concept” cover. It’s the “Seinfeld” of graphic art: pictures and text about nothing. Most magazines show models or celebrities. Those count as people covers, not concepts. Others mags, including ours, often show places. But what do you do if you have a terrific story about Legos?
Well, duh. Show Legos. Except that our story—by former Spirit managing editor Melinda Mahaffey—isn’t so much about the toy as about the growing number of adults obsessing over Legos. It’s quite a trend. And a trend isn’t a thing, it’s a concept. So the art staff came up with lots of ideas, showing Stormtrooper Legos, Legos in love with each other (it’s February after all), and even Stormtrooper Legos with Lego cats (don’t ask). Then one of us came up with the title, “It’s Hip to Be Square.” The solution was obvious: show a little square Lego and run that copy. Concept cover done.
Also in this issue: a moving story about veterans with PTSD, and the doctor who is revolutionizing the way these vets get treated. This month’s Adventure takes place in Miami. Our drink of the month is the Coraje, invented by mixologist Jamie Boudreau in Seattle’s Canon restaurant. The place boasts the “western hemisphere’s largest spirit collection,” so of course we love them.
Now for the Numbers: the shortest Oscars ceremony took just 15 minutes. That was back in 1929, and no comedian hosted it. One out of ten women want to be proposed to with a serenade. Presumably the rest will settle for a text message—at least if they’ve heard me sing. And the first TV ad, sponsored by Bulova, cost $9 in 1941. The price has gone up a bit since then: a 30-second spot in this year’s Super Bowl cost about $4 million, not counting production.
We at Spirit will serenade your beloved for less than that. Let’s talk.
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Got your New Year’s resolution? Not me. I’ve never been much for resolutions. We can achieve a lot more with habits. The one little thing we do every day can, potentially, change the world. Or get us in shape at least.
Robert “The Raven” Kraft sure knows this. He runs 8 miles a day. Every day. And I do mean every day. He has not missed a run in 39 years. This month’s cover of Southwest Airlines Spirit magazine shows the man leading a group of runners on Miami’s iconic South Beach. They’re called “streak runners”—people who run every day for years at a stretch. Seven people have longer streaks than the Raven. Streak runners battle injury, weather, illness, schedules, and just plain boredom. But they know a habit when they see one. And there’s a fine line between glory and obsession.
Speaking of obsessions, one of my favorite things about this magazine is its combination of a drink and a snack every issue. Spiritistas maintain close relations with the best mixologists in the land. Instead of telling you where the best bars are, we show you the best drinks, and include the recipe. (We’ve served some of those cocktails at parties.) This month’s drink is a winner: Lindsay’s Lament, crafted by Bill Morris, beverage director at Austin’s Midnight Cowboy. The drink combines bourbon, an herbal bitters called Becherovka, maple syrup, and a pinch of salt. As a New Englander, I appreciate the maple syrup. And to eat with that, try fried buffalo mozzarella. (It’s just mozzarella; hold the hairy beast.) You can follow the recipe in this issue or head to the St. Regis Aspen Resort, where they serve it up to hungry skiers.
But we’re especially proud of the letters we’ve been getting lately—a flood of them most recently on Alex Sheen. Assistant Editor Gabbi Chee wrote a profile of this terrific guy, who created a nonprofit outfit to help us keep our promises. Go to becauseisaidiwould.com and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
And now for the Numbers: There are more than 7.1 billion mobile devices on Earth. That’s 1.4 devices for every man, woman, and thumb-challenged infant. Twenty-eight percent of IT professionals keep their job a secret—mostly to keep friends from asking then to fix their stuff. And women keep the same makeup routine for an average of 11 years.
Don’t ever change. You’re beautiful.
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We at Southwest’s inflight magazine, Spirit, take our name very seriously. Almost every issue contains a “big read” intended to lift every reader’s spirit. Last month, for instance, we ran Gabbi Chee’s great profile of Alex Sheen, a great spirit who has taught thousands of people how to keep their promises. Check out becauseisaidiwould.com and read the story in our digital flipbook. Alex says the story has brought him an avalanche of letters and donations.
Once a year, though, we dedicate our cover story to spirits of the drinkable variety. Our “Spirit Guide to Spirits” has become the talk of the mixology blogs, if we do say so ourselves. This month, we focus on the place where the cocktail was invented: New Orleans. Writer-historian Rien Fertel, a Louisiana native, shows us the city from what you might call the liquid point of view. His piece is more than a tour, it’s an exploration of the city’s…well, spirit.
We’re equally spirited in our coverage of the revival of a Las Vegas neighborhood far from the Strip. It shows what happens when a few zealous residents take their community into their own hands. Inspiring. And Amanda Gleason offers up a set of adventures in Albuquerque—including a biking tour of the “Breaking Bad” set.
And now for the Numbers: It takes eight months to get to Mars. The first text message was sent 21 years ago (it said “Merry Christmas”). There have been 3,313 sightings of Bigfoot since 1921. And 46 percent of us still keep paper maps in our cars. Presumably, fewer than two percent know how to fold them.
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How cool is this: Just as I was booking excursions for a Caribbean cruise my wife and I are going on in a couple of weeks, it started snowing. I got more excited about the snow (just a dusting) than the cruise. That shows you where I lie on the winter love-hate spectrum. But I like the contrast more than anything. Beaches and palm trees are that much better when you have birches and snow back home. I like posting pictures on Facebook with the biggest contrasts between places, in the shortest time. What would you call that sort of meme—a twofer? Have some twofers of your own? Post them on Spirit’s Facebook page, and we might just publish them.
Meanwhile, check out the November issue for our temp-controlled guide to my favorite season. We take you from sub-freezing (dogsledding in Vermont) to suntan (sunbathing in San Juan, Puerto Rico), with a whole slew of activities in between.
If temperate is more your temperature, you’ll find an obsessively detailed set of adventures in Memphis, land of barbecue, Elvis, history, and some amazing culture.
So what’s with the cover? Ah, this is the really good part. Alex Sheen has a cause, which is to keep his own promises and help others keep theirs. He wants to change the world, one promise at a time. It’s assistant editor Gabbi Chee’s first cover story and, like all my favorite features in Spirit, renews your faith in humanity.
And here are the Numbers. A single mushroom in Oregon covers 5.8 miles. Put that on your salad. More than half of us (55 percent) want to change careers. And 58 percent of kids say they’ll always want to read physical books. If they fly Southwest this month, they’ll enjoy the physical magazine.
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