In the May issue of Spirit we explored the art of the veer, or, in other words, finding those lesser-known (but just as awesome) spots just shy of major Southwest destinations. We’ll be bringing them to you in several installments all this month. First up, where to relax and where to seek adventure!
Oracabessa, Jamaica (76 miles East of Montego Bay)
KICK BACK LIKE BOND, JAMES BOND
In 1952, Ian Fleming holed up in his Jamaican villa and wrote Casino Royale—the first of 14 James Bond books he would pen from what’s now GoldenEye Hotel & Resort (goldeneye.com; from $620). Ask for the 007 bedroom; Fleming’s writing desk still sits there, just in case you’re inspired to pen the next Great Spy Novel instead of basking at the beach.
Hollywood, Florida (11 miles South of Fort Lauderdale)
BASK ON A CROWDLESS BEACH
Pining for prime oceanfront access without the sunseeking hordes? Try Hollywood, quietly tucked between Fort Lauderdale and Miami and backed by a 2½-mile boardwalk. Stay at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (seminolehardrockhollywood.com), where you can splash in a colossal lagoon-style pool. Cabanas and a 182-foot waterslide add to the appeal. Whee!
Yachats, Oregon (155 miles Southwest of Portland)
Standing watch over central Oregon’s craggy ocean cliffs since 1894, the Heceta Head Lighthouse (hecetalighthouse.com; from $234) now has a side gig—playing gracious host to guests as a six-room B&B. Ask for the Lightkeeper’s Room, and sink into the claw-foot tub that looks out on the slowly turning light, which guides ships from as far as 21 miles away.
Landers, California (135 miles East of Los Angeles)
SLEEP IN A LOVE SHACK
The six vintage Airstreams at Kate’s Lazy Desert (lazymeadow.com; $175) channel the vibrant taste of their owner, Kate Pierson of the B-52’s. Six miles from Joshua Tree National Park, they’re the perfect little place to get together.
Glen Rose, Texas (76 miles Southwest of Dallas)
TAKE A WILD RIDE
At the conservationist-run Fossil Rim Wildlife Center (fossilrim.org), you’re the sa-fari captain. A 9½-mile road skirts open animal habitats home to everything from ostriches to aoudads, lending a whole new meaning to the words “wildlife crossing.”
Ponca, Arkansas (153 miles Northwest of Little Rock)
FLOAT DOWN A FREEWHEELING RIVER
The country’s first national river, the Buffalo, flows for 150 pristine miles in northwest Arkansas. Explore its undammed waters in a canoe rented from longtime local outfitter Buffalo Outdoor Center (buffaloriver.com). Paddle for the day, or plan to spend the night—you can pitch a tent on a sandbar or the shore. And don’t forget your rod and reel: In the summer, these waters brim with smallmouth bass.
Tulum, Mexico (78 miles South of Cancun)
SWIM IN A SUBAQUATIC CAVE
The shimmering-blue underwater wells of the Mayans, sacred sites for centuries, are within reach—if you know where to look. Book a daylong snorkeling tour with family-owned Edventure Tours (edventuretours.com.mx) to explore the submerged caverns at Dos Ojos; you’ll also stop by Yal-Ku Lagoon, sea turtle–filled Akumal Bay, and the mysterious ruins of Tulum.
St. Paul, Minnesota (6 miles East of Minneapolis)
SCOPE OUT A STATE FAIR
And you thought fairs were just about fun rides. Second only to Texas’ in annual attendance and kicking off on August 21, the Minnesota State Fair (mnstatefair.org) is home to the esteemed crop-art competition: All entered works are crafted from Minnesota-grown seeds, stems, and other plant parts.
Oracle, Arizona (38 miles North of Tucson)
GO BONKERS IN A BIODOME
What turned into Pauly Shore’s nightmare in the 1996 movie Bio-Dome is the dream of the scientists at Biosphere 2 (b2science.org), who have created a world under sealed glass in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Here you can explore a self-contained ocean, rainforest, and fog desert, all in the name of learning. Sure beats science class!
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Ah, The Great American Vacation. On the surface, it’s something rather abstract, obtuse even, but ask anyone you know what those words mean and they’ll tell you without hesitation.
My dad, for example, will instantly launch into the story of the time my grandparents piled him and his younger brother into the family station wagon for an eight-hour, 500-mile trip to the Grand Canyon. Two boys under the age of 10 in that close of quarters for that duration—it’s not hard to imagine some of the memories that were undoubtedly made.
As for me, my thoughts go to 4-H camp and weeks spent on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Camp, as it became known in our house, was one of my first solo experiences away from the nest—five days in Wakefield, Virginia, spent swimming, canoeing, crafting, and learning a plenitude of campfire songs that I could still sing for you today. After years as a camper, I eventually became a counselor, following in the footsteps of my older brother and sister, also self-professed 4-H freaks. “What happens at camp, stays at camp,” was what we’d tell my mother upon our return to civilization. Leather crafts and low ropes weren’t necessarily national secrets, but they were our secrets and we intended to keep it that way.
Travels to the Outer Banks were a different type of summer getaway. For one, the whole family was involved and occasionally aunts, uncles, and cousins too. Most days began with boogie boarding and ended with a trip to the local Dairy Queen, with the occasional round of mini golf thrown in for variety. There weren’t nearly as many activities to entertain us as there were at camp, but we didn’t savor them any less. Thinking back to those precious times, there’s nothing I wouldn’t trade for another day spent scouring the shoreline for seashells with my grandmother or cleaning crabs for a family feast with my cousins. I still consider that stretch of barrier islands my happy place, and although I no longer live just an hour away from it, I get back as often as I can.
What’s your idea of The Great American Vacation? Perhaps you think of a trip to one of our nation’s majestic national parks like my dad or maybe it’s a special summer camp you had in mind or a seaside stay. If you need some help spurring your wanderlust this Memorial Day, Spirit’s May cover story is a good place to start. Wherever you end up, you’re sure to make plenty of lasting memories. And isn’t that what truly great vacations are all about? Photo Courtesy: Sanderling Resort
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Every month in Spirit, our inflight magazine, we present you with something new to nosh on. April's indulgence is Habanero Coriander Pickles from Searsucker in Austin, TX. But first, a word from executive chef Brian Malarkey:
“Searsucker started in San Diego. Last fall, we opened in Scottsdale, and this month, we’re coming to Austin. It’s social dining: All three locations have an open kitchen, a DJ booth, and couches right in the middle of the dining room. I love pickles, and while I was creating the original menu, I played around with a ton of recipes. I didn’t want someone to eat one and say ‘That was a really good pickle.’ I wanted them to say, ‘That’s the best damn pickle I’ve ever had!’ I’ve always been scared to death of habeneros. But I thought that with enough vinegar and sugar, I could tame them. And it worked. The coriander adds a little bit of a Southwest feel. They’re great in a bloody mary or on a charcuterie platter. I also love to put them in BLTs and chicken salad.”
Here are the ingredients:
2 cups distilled white vinegar 1½ cups water 1½ cups sugar 4 garlic cloves, halved 1 tablespoon coriander seeds 3 habanero peppers, halved 4 Persian cucumbers sea salt Here's how to make 'em: Bring all ingredients except cucumbers and salt to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Place cucumbers in a clean glass container and pour the hot liquid over them until completely submerged. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 3 days. To serve, slice, then sprinkle with sea salt.
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This month’s Spirit cover story is all about the rock stars behind Youth Orchestra LA, a nonprofit initiative that supplies underprivileged children with free instruments, instruction, and, not to mention, profound lessons about pride, community, and commitment. If you like the sound of that, check out the full story here. Or simply scroll down for a few outtakes from our photo shoot. Play on! Photos by Dave Lauridsen 12-year-old Sirilo and 11-year-old Andrew show off their brass. Samantha Rosas, 15, fiddles around with her violin. Practice makes perfect!
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And Now for Your Own Crafting Session Spirit Magazine selected four of the finest handcrafted American spirits, then asked top bartenders to create a cocktail that perfectly complements each one. Ready to shake things up? And Now for Your Own Crafting Session... Spirit Magazine selected four of the finest handcrafted American spirits, then asked top bartenders to create a cocktail that perfectly complements each one. Ready to shake things up? Portuguese Cocktail Phoebe Wilson The Dogwood Cocktail Cabin Crested Butte, CO "Montanyo's light rum is smooth and clean, which means I can apply sweet flavors to this cocktail without it becoming too syrupy." 4 ounces Montanyo Platino light rum 1 ounce ruby port 3/4 ounce simple syrup 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice 1/4 ounce fig puree* Shake ingredients with ice, then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a slice of wig and a mint sprig * Roast whole figs at 300 degrees until soft, about 45 minutes. use a food processor to blend until you achieve a smooth paste. Refrigerate. Mornin' Sunshine Brian Floyd The Vanderbilt Brooklyn, NY "I wanted to play up some of Breuckelen gin's five botanicals--lemon, ginger, juniper, grapefruit, and rosemary. The result is a drink that's great for brunch." 2 ounces Breuckelen Glorious gin 1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice 3/4 ounce ginger simple syrup* 1/4 ounce orange juice 1 barspoon Aperol Combine all ingredients except Aperol in an ice-filled rocks glass. Stir, then top with Aperol. * Puree 1 cup peeled, chopped ginger with 1 cup warm simple syrup. Strain through a mesh strainer and refrigerate. Rockytop Flip James Hensley The Patterson House Nashville, TN "My colleague Ryan Fischer and I trued to put the flavors of the holiday table into a glass. The cream and egg add richness, making it perfect for winter." 2 ounces Corsair Pumpkin Spice moonshine 1 ounce cream 1 ounce simple syrup 1 egg 1/4 ounce Licor 43 1/4 ounce St. Elizabeth allspice dram 9 drops Fee Brothers Old Fashion aromatic bitters 1 tiny pinch salt Shake ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake again. Strain into a rocks glass, then top with freshly grated nutmeg Golden Stonefly Kristi Gamble Clover Spokane, WA "Dry Fly makes its vodka from Washington winter wheat, so I wanted to create a drink that utilizes other ingredients that are plentiful here, like honey and rhubarb." 1 1/2 ounces Dry Fly vodka 1/2 ounce Cocchi Americano 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice 1/2 ounce honey water* 2 dashes Fee Brothers rhubarb bitters Shake ingredients with ice, then strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon twist. * Stir equal parts honey and water over low heat until combined, then refrigerate.
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Every month in Spirit Magazine, we feature a signature drink and snack combination, as well as an origami activity. Check out the slideshow to learn how to make an apatosaurus, byrrh & brandy, and sage lemon ricotta fritters. Photo Courtesy: Adam Voorhes
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Peter Heller isn’t one to shy away from an adventure. In fact, he’s made a career out of thrill seeking. Voyaging to Antarctica with eco-pirates, white-water kayaking in Tibet—you name it, he’s likely done it.
Recently, at our request, he put his survival skills to the test on a 10-day Caribbean cruise for Spirit’s November issue. You can read how he fared here. We caught up with him when he got back to talk about others of his quests for excitement, particularly those we might consider tackling ourselves—emphasis on might. It went a little something like this:
Austin Morton: Many of your trips seem to take you out of the country. Tell me about some of the domestic adventures you’ve embarked upon—and I’m not talking casseroles.
Peter Heller: I prefer the drink-from-the-fire-hose learning curve. Once, after reading a lot of Louis L’Amour westerns, I bought a couple of horses and set out to ride from Paonia, Colorado, to Wyoming. Did I mention that, other than that one time at summer camp at age 12, I had no riding experience? My neighbor, who’s a rancher, showed me how to put on a bridle and tie on a pack. I practiced around the ranch for a few days, then took off on a monthlong journey. All in all, it was an exquisite trip and a great way to get to know western Colorado. We rode across the Flat Tops. Nobody really knows about them, but they are made up of a high plateau—11,000 feet up at parts—that’s all wooded and rolling and full of lakes. There are herds of elk and good fishing; it was incredible.
AM: What do you recommend for those wanting to experience the Flat Tops, perhaps sans packhorse and tent?
PH: Yes! Trappers Lake Lodge is right there if you’re craving a rustic getaway. You can enjoy all the same scenery without having to sleep under a tarp.
AM: Any other zero-to-hero trips you’d like to share with our readers?
PH: Having ridden a motorcycle around my neighborhood just enough times to get my license, I picked up a huge cruising bike—a Honda Shadow 1100—and rode it from Brooklyn, New York, to Denver, Colorado. I have to tell you, going through the Holland Tunnel was a trip. When I got to the tollbooth on my first morning of riding, traffic backing up behind me, I told the lady, “Give me a second. I’m just not sure what I can let go of.”
AM: Yikes! You really were a novice, huh? Did you get better as the trip progressed?
PH: Somewhat, but not really. I ran into a Hell’s Angel in Nebraska who taught me how to steer. That was pretty cool. I kept going off into the clover leafs on the shoulder, and I couldn’t figure out why. The Hell’s Angel explained to me that I was counter-steering or, in other words, doing the opposite of what I needed to do to keep the bike straight.
AM: If you made the journey again, what would you change?
PH: Everything. I wouldn’t recommend any of that. The way to do it would be to start in Denver and get a cross bike, which maneuvers well on dirt roads. Go on the county roads and the state highways, not the interstates. You could ride from Denver over to Granby and up through Rocky Mountain National Park. That’s what I would do now.
AM: I understand you’re quite the kayak enthusiast. What would you recommend for someone wanting to get his/her feet wet?
PH: The Arkansas River Valley in Colorado has everything from easy Class II and III stuff to a Class V. Go for a day through Browns Canyon. It’s a lot of rollicking white water, and you can get a real feel for a western river. You don’t have to have experience; just show up and take commands from your guide. When you’re done, head to the Mount Princeton Hot Springs.
AM: And for those interested in more than a day’s worth of white water?
PH: The Nantahala Outdoor Center in Bryson City, North Carolina, runs raft trips and offers kayak instruction on numerous rivers in the Appalachian Mountains, including the Chattooga River, Cheoah River, Ocoee River, and others. It’s one of the top instructional places in the country. As someone who used to be a guide there, I recommend taking the weeklong kayak class or a white-water canoe class.
Peter Heller’s debut novel, The Dog Stars, is a New York Times best seller. He lives in Denver with his wife.
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A roller-skating rink, a Laundromat, a Vietnamese banquet hall. Believe it or not, these places have a common thread: Each of them is a polling station.
In the November issue of Spirit, we introduced you to patriotic photographer Ryan Donnell, who took it upon himself to document the peculiar venues in which we cast our votes. Now that Election Day is nearing, we thought we’d give you the right to gawk at some more wacky places to carry out your civic duty. Read on for an excerpt from the original article as well as a few unpublished photos from Ryan’s portfolio.
Behind the Curtain, an ongoing photography project that Donnell began shooting in Philly in ’08 and has expanded to include voting outposts in Chicago and L.A., suggests that almost anywhere will do when it comes to punching our chads. Even for federal elections, states determine what does and doesn’t constitute a legitimate polling station, and Donnell has seen just about everything. An auto repair shop; a funeral home; places that sell hamsters, wallpaper, outboard motors, Honda Accords, and báhn mì—all have played host to our sprawling electorate. “The states compensate these businesses with a little bit of money,” he says, “but for the most part they open their doors out of civic duty.”
On average, Donnell (whose collection of images can be seen at thepollingplaceproject.com) spends about 15 minutes shooting each location, but that’s long enough for him to feel, again and again, the exhilaration of the process. “It’s uplifting to see democracy practiced on the ground; to see people engaged,” he says. “These odd but wonderful venues reflect the country; they speak to our diversity.” And to our pragmatism? “Oh yeah,” says Donnell, who has photographed voters lined up in a bustling Laundromat (see above). “We get to do our chores and vote at the same time!” Bowling Alley, Chicago Mummers Museum, Philadelphia Car Dealership, Philadelphia Marine/Boating Store, Chicago
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A few months ago, the Spirit staff was tasked with commemorating Southwest’s 40 th anniversary, which takes place on June 18, 2011. I’m sure that, at least once, each of us nervously asked ourselves, What could we possibly do in the magazine that would capture the impact Southwest has had over the past four decades? We wanted something fun (it was a birthday celebration, after all), historical, but without the stodginess, and forward-looking. After much brain wracking—and several trips to the SWA archives—we came up with a feature package for our June issue that we thought fit the bill: 40 lessons learned from Southwest, the anatomy of a successful airline, a candid conversation with Gary Kelly and Herb Kelleher, 40 ways to celebrate (including, if you can believe it, 40 free music downloads), and, finally, LUV letters from Customers over the years. But we weren’t done just yet. While the 40 free downloads would take care of the soundtrack, you can’t have a party without presents! That’s where the 40 Days of Prizes sweepstakes comes in. Starting June 1—that’s tomorrow—and continuing for 40 days, we will be giving away one birthday present per day. We’re not talking noisemakers and confetti here. You probably won’t want to re-gift a two-night stay at the Aria penthouse in Las Vegas, tickets to Blue Man Group, or a Florida beach vacation. (Check spiritmag.com for a complete list of prizes.) What’s the catch? You can only enter once a day, and airfare is not included. If you’d like to receive a daily email reminder about the prize of the day, click here. Also, we’ll be giving you a weekly rundown of the winners right here, so be sure to check back. Best of luck! And Happy (early) Birthday, Southwest!
For other daily updates, follow both Southwest and Spirit on Facebook (facebook.com/Southwest, facebook.com/spiritmag) and Twitter (twitter.com/southwestair, twitter.com/spiritmagazine).
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