Learning to Adventure from Daddy

I was born with Fernweh, an ache to explore faraway places. It’s in my DNA; both of my parents had it. It was my dad, however, who taught us to pack adventure into our explorations.  

Like my mother, I’d bask in the preparations for travel. I’d research, map out itineraries, and pack well in advance. For Daddy, however, the best part of travel was the adventure—the experiences you couldn’t plan for. 

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CHIAPAS, MEXICO: Maya, Mother Nature, and More.

3 Ways to Discover Chiapas, Mexico

From a Maya immersion tour deep in the Lacondon jungle to a hacienda-hopping equestrian adventure in the Cintalapa ranchland, discover one of Mexico's most magical and least-known regions with three YourLifeIsATrip.com insiders: editorJudith Fein, photographer Paul Ross, and publisher Ellen Barone.


by Judith Fein

Searching for Maya history, archeology, cosmology and contemporary life, travel journalist Judith Fein explores Chiapas with archeologist and tour guide Yolanda Ruanova.

© Paul Ross.What lured me to Chiapas? Maya ruins, living Maya and San Cristobal de las Casas. I wanted to be transported back to the Classic Maya period, which began in 200 C.E. and lasted until the empire collapsed six to seven hundred years later. I longed to walk through vast, abandoned cities that were hacked out of the jungle, and gaze up at monumental pyramids, stone palaces, temples, tombs and brilliantly-carved stone stelae.  I wanted to walk along paths once reserved for royalty, and contemplate the cosmology and science of a highly sophisticated, pre-Colombian society. 

Palenque was as huge, impressive and complex as I had imagined.  The murals at Bonampak looked as though they had recently been painted, and the nobility, slaves and priests depicted were still alive. The approach to Yaxchilan was by boat, and, in the high-altitude palaces, I could almost hear the squealing of kids playing and smell the flowers in the gardens. 

I longed to know more about the ancient Maya: what did they eat, how did they dress when they were not attending or performing rituals, what was their magic, what did it feel like to go to a ball game, and did they accept or bristle when they were subjected to their leaders’ rigid hierarchical rule? 

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Win Your Dream Adventure

And the winner is...YOU.

Have you been dreaming of signing up for that trip-of-a-lifetime - trekking the Inca Trail, swimming with whales in Belize, or perhaps simply eating your way through Italy - but can't afford it? Well, how does a FREE trip sound? Yep, if you can dream it, you can win it and you can GO FREE. Ain't life a trip?

With more than $40,000 in prizes to be won in Gap Adventure's CREATE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE contest, if you win you'll travel on the dream tour YOU create for FREE. Plus, you can take along TWO FRIENDS and receive a host of other prizes like electronics, clothing, footwear and travel guides.

What are you waiting for? CLICK HERE TO ENTER.

And when you win, we invite you to share the experience on YourLifeIsATrip.com.

Bon Voyage,

Ellen & Judie,



Contest runs from February 3rd to March 31st , 2010.

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My Furry Valentine

by Judith Fein


As the holiday of hearts approaches, you’re probably thinking long-stemmed roses served on a breakfast tray in a 5-star hotel. Then, hmmm….snuggling, doing the love thang, champagne, chocolate, doing the love thang again, bundling up for a hand-holding stroll, dinner, a show and home again.  The odds are slim that your amorous thoughts turn to things that creep and crawl and fly.  But what if Cupid inspired you to do just that—think of animals for Valentine’s Day? One equatorial word immediately leaps to the lips: Galapagos.

So how, you wonder, can blue-footed boobies compete with bubbly and sinking your fork into a one-pound crustacean swimming in garlic butter on your plate?

The great Galapagean secret is that it’s no longer an either-or proposition. The entire crew of a ship can pamper you and your honey while you float toward the remote islands that young Charles Darwin visited in 1835. It’s no wonder it took him five years to collect his thoughts and formulate his theory of Evolution and survival of the fittest.  Poor Charley had to recover from his years on board the Beagle, where he suffered continually from the agony of sea-sickness. Although your cruise may not result in a great scientific breakthrough, your ship will be stabilized, you will not be tossing your petit fours, and you will be in the mood for unusual forms of aquatic and terrestrial love.

My husband, who is a thoroughbred romantic, booked us in a deluxe room on the l00-passenger Explorer II.  I had visions of walking single-file down a dark, narrow, creaking corridor and ducking into a stateroom with a metal floor and a Murphy bed.  Ah, how little I trusted my Valentine. The corridors were broader than some state roads, and the doors all shone with mahogany finishes.  Our room was carpeted, had real drapery, a huge bed, a video console, chocolates on our pillows, and—was I dreaming?—the room steward made up the room at least three times a day.  Before bed, he twisted  our yellow beach towels into the shapes of different Galapagos animals.  I think my fave was the turtle with mints for eyes.

I’ll concede that it’s not love-inducing to get up at 6:45 a.m. every morning, but you have to take a ponga (a motorized skiff) to shore to greet the fauna before they go food-hunting.  The upside is that there are several breaks during the day when you can slip off into your stateroom for a quickie, and everyone is too busy talking about the animals they’ve just seen to notice.

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by Sharon Spence Leib


rafting the Nooksack RiverPlanet Earth has areas so gob smacking beautiful, they captivate the humans living there. At any given moment, Bellingham Washington residents are hiking, biking, bird watching, fishing, river rafting, sailing, kayaking, skiing…. or sipping microbrews at funky pubs while planning their next adventures. With stunning mountains, wild rivers, mystical forests, and the beckoning Pacific Ocean, staying indoors is pretty impossible.

In “Bellingham and Mount Baker,” author Mike McQuaide explains his twenty-year love affair with the city: “If I had ever imagined my perfect city and surrounding area, it would have been a place remarkably like Bellingham…. I could kayak and watch stunning sunsets, but also scale the heights and snowboard into May. Since I like to run and bike and hike, a place laced with miles of forested trails where I could lose myself in my thoughts…. I’ve always had a wildlife jones for critters like orcas, bald eagles, and owls, so it’d be a place that had some of those thrown in as well…. I welcome you to Bellingham and Mount Baker and I think you’ll agree: It’s a special place.”


“Every time I breathe this pure air, my life gets longer,” smiles Dylan Tougas, our Nooksack River guide.

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