October 18, 2017

Why Don’t Cleanliness-Obsessed Americans Use the Bidet?

October 16, 2017

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I have long been interested in having a bidet in our home, but it just wasn’t practical or affordable to renovate our bathrooms.  Silly me, I had no idea (until recently) that there are economical, simple-to-install, effective bidet attachments that can just go right on your existing toilet.  A mere $39.95 later, Lila became the […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: A Landscape of Superlatives – A First Look at Yosemite

October 11, 2017

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by Joan Larsen Only a morning’s drive from San Francisco lies one of the world’s truly great wilderness areas – a place of plunging waterfalls, snow-capped lakes, stark stone cliffs of stunning beauty, and a natural cathedral of ancient Sequoia trees that are among the largest on Earth. Its name: Yosemite National Park, its beauty […]

Sexy Halloween Costumes for Children: No, No, No

October 9, 2017

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It’s just wrong.  I am aware of, and repulsed by, the increasing hypersexualization of women and even of underage girls in this country.  I don’t like the message it sends:  that women’s primary purpose in life, their role, their aspiration, is sex.  Looking good, putting out, appealing to men.  How hollow, limiting and limited.  How […]

Joan Larsen’s Far Out Adventures: Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place in America’s Southwest

October 4, 2017

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By Joan Larsen   Reimagine a walk in the park… as we all know that the wonderful feeling we get when we “discover” the incredibly beautiful places in our world that just may take us a few steps off the beaten path — or the paved road.  In the Americas, I have kept the national […]

Joan Larsen Reflects: The Third Chapter of Our Lives

September 27, 2017

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By Joan Larsen Happiness is like a butterfly:  the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and softly sit on your shoulder.  Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)   Writing a heartfelt, personal letter to a friend — so dear that I […]

The Other Reason Girls are Hypersexualized

September 25, 2017

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Do we continue to foster a culture that insidiously discourages females from doing much of anything else? Women’s-lib veterans must be SO disappointed.   As we have lamented before, it seems like girls these days are too wrapped up in their physical appearance, that they put so much of their self-worth in things like boobs […]

Joan Larsen’s High Adventure: The Good, the Bad, and the Grizzly

September 20, 2017

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All of those traveling to Alaska’s Denali National Park are given “the lecture” by a park ranger before setting out, warning about the dangers of hiking alone and the distance that must be kept between you and a grizzly to be safe.  Unfortunately, the bears do not receive the lecture.  It is where they live […]

“Thank You For Your Service.” What Do You Really Mean By That?

September 18, 2017

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Instead of a thank-you, I’d like something different:  I want you to pay attention, stay informed, and get politically involved.   In recent years, more veterans are letting us know that they find it a little off-putting to be thanked for their service. The exact reasons vary, but I have my own, so count me […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: Gorillas in Our Midst

September 13, 2017

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By Joan Larsen   The world is still in semi-darkness when we were awakened at 6am in the almost unknown country of Africa’s Rwanda, settled into vehicles, and off to what can only be described as one of the most magical encounters on our planet. To be honest, I do not believe I slept last […]

Joan Larsen Presents Eileen Rockefeller: Unconditional Love

September 6, 2017

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In this week following Labor Day, we are delighted to welcome writer-author Eileen Rockefeller to join us once again .  Her words remain always deep — and so deeply felt –and you will find yourself, as I do, nodding your head in agreement as she writes.  We, too, find that it is only in the natural world […]

Stop With the Plastic Already!! The Plastic Convenience Trash Nation

September 4, 2017

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Or maybe, the Plastic Convenience Trash Planet. Maybe, following last week’s rant about the hazards of plastic clamshell packaging, I have been sensitized to plastic packaging in general.  We have really gotten to the point of the ludicrous.  Somebody, please… make it stop! The other day I discovered that there is such a thing as […]

Joan Larsen’s Most Breathtaking Moments in Travel: Killer Whales Come Up for Air

August 30, 2017

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By Joan Larsen It’s a rare moment to capture: whales taking a breather as they swim under polar ice. ANTARCTICA – In the Ross Sea portion of Antarctica, the American McMurdo base has been clothed in darkness for six months. Those “wintering over” spend that time frozen in by the ice until the spring months of […]

Death to the Clamshell! I Long For The Simple Cardboard Box

August 28, 2017

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Hubby: “I’d like to find the guy who invented this crap and punch him in the face. If he was here I’d be like, ‘Oh, was this your idea? Come here so I can punch you in the face.'” Hubby is usually a pretty easy-going guy, and generally reserves such outbursts of violent fantasy for […]

Joan Larsen’s Adventures: Exploring Australia’s Land of the Never-Never

August 23, 2017

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By Joan Larsen Flying by small plane, low over Australia’s Northern Territory, we are present- day Crocodile Dundees, wanting to be one of the first to go exploring a desert world that most travelers will never see. Our delightful, agreeable pilot seemed more than happy to chase down the only large inhabitants in the empty […]

Fun and Disaster with Foreign Languages

August 21, 2017

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I was laughing so hard I could barely breathe. “This book was expensive!” he said.  “I’m sorry,” I replied, “but we just don’t talk like that.” Language-translating machines like Google Translate or Babelfish are handy for small, simple things like finding a bathroom, but they are no replacement for a fluent, bilingual human being.   Just […]

Joan Larsen’s Favorite Retreats: Flying Low and Slow Over Glorious Sedona

August 16, 2017

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An Arizona landscape to take your breath away By Joan Larsen There are some places in our world that take our breath away in ways unexplainable – but we find their visual beauty forever lodged in our hearts.  And so it is with the town of Sedona, with its red rock canyons and sunsets so […]

Teen Pregnancy: The Old, Old Story

August 14, 2017

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It is the old, old story. Young love, flaring passions, secret, unprotected sex… an unintended pregnancy… and life-changing consequences.  Adolescence instantaneously ends, and two young people are flung, unprepared, into adulthood. Here is a glimpse backward at how things once were… A far cry from how they are today. Just some food for thought. A […]

Joan Larsen’s Scariest Climb: Reaching for Heaven on Angel’s Landing

August 9, 2017

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By Joan Larsen The scariest climb It is no secret to my friends that I absolutely live for adventure…  so yes, over the years I have done more than my share of climbing to the heights in so many places in the world.  “But what was the most difficult, the most scary, the most life-threatening […]

Joan Larsen’s World: Close Encounters of the Grizzly Kind in America’s National Parks

August 2, 2017

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By Joan Larsen     August, 2015, Yellowstone National Park … and yet another hiker dead, killed and mostly eaten by a grizzly bear while hiking in the Park. The man, an experienced hiker, actually worked in the park and knew its dangers. Hiking alone especially is not recommended. All visitors are instructed to carry […]

Gypsies, Stereotypes, Offense, and Truth

July 31, 2017

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Back in the days when parents still told their children fairy tales and scary stories at bedtime, the old saw about Gypsies stealing children was a staple (one famous example was Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, in which Esmeralda had been kidnapped by Gypsies as a child).  I had never given the idea […]

Joan Larsen on the Trail of Mexico’s Hidden Secrets: Swimming With Whale Sharks

July 26, 2017

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By Joan Larsen Excitement reigned as our small plane seemed to skim the clear waters of the almost unknown islet off Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula — called Isla Holbox (pronounced Hol-Bosh).  A bit of  paradise, I thought, . . . and when the pilot further whetted our appetites by saying that the blue waters below were […]

Joan Larsen’s Hidden Wonders: The “Must-See” French Gardens of Marqueyssac

July 19, 2017

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by Joan Larsen   The French are good at keeping secrets.   .  . and it has taken me years to discover France’s southwest region of Dordogne with its spectacular panoramas in every direction.  But it is here that one of the most beautiful and romantic gardens of France is located. Sitting high above the Dordogne […]

Joan Larsen’s Secret Places: My Glorious Love Affair in Zermatt

July 12, 2017

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By Joan Larsen An unusual love story – the kind you hope for, dream of – has to have had “beginnings”. My mother’s dreams for her only daughter were not wealth and fame. She was a romantic, believing – showing – that when you had love, combined with a romantic life, that life could be […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: The World’s Most Spectacular Road – America’s Big Sur, Up Close and Personal

July 5, 2017

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By Joan Larsen We needed to have our breath taken away by an array of magnificent scenery, of stunning beauty that cannot be equaled – anywhere. We all seem to need beautiful “getaways” from the world we live in now.  And so, with a truly wonderful lifetime of adventures ‘round the world,  again we searched […]

Joan Larsen in Wildest Africa: Climbing the Dune

June 28, 2017

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By Joan Larsen As a child, I whirled the big round globe that graced our living room, with a single finger choosing the countries I would go to when I grew up.  For so many of us, the pictures in National Geographic  fed our dreams… dreams that danced in our heads, refusing to go away.  […]

Please, No More Tourism to Cultlike, Repressive Dictatorships Like North Korea

June 26, 2017

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We originally published this article on 2 January 2015.  At that moment, there were no Americans in North Korean custody, thanks to an embarrassing and expensive mission by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to retrieve the last two American prisoners in late 2014.  Thus, we implored the American traveling public to adopt a New […]

Joan Larsen’s Summer Dream: A Hidden Getaway at the Lake House

June 21, 2017

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By Joan Larsen I believe down deep we are all alike. Deep inside us, unbidden thoughts take over our quiet moments in the early darkness of winter. The two of us find ourselves talking – the kind of conversation that usually comes late in the evening when the lights are low. It is then we […]

And How Does Your Garden Grow?

June 19, 2017

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As Spring wears into Summer, Lauriate Roly contemplates the joys of the garden. By Lauriate Roly We have a kind of “End Of Winter” evening at my house. I like to do this every spring for my neighbors.   These friends whom I have not seen since they began hibernation, as I did, right after Halloween […]

Joan Larsen’s Life Stories: A Father’s Quest: Finding Debra

June 14, 2017

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By Joan Larsen So often it is just a single moment in time that will change our lives forever.  Many of us have had such moments as we have traveled the road of life. But a true fairy tale ending as this story has? I would call it rare. I would call it a miracle […]

Can We Just Get Back to Smiling Normally for Pictures?

June 12, 2017

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Is personal dignity in photographs mortally wounded?  First it was the weird fake gang-like hand signs (or signs that have crass sexual meanings); then it was the ridiculous kissy-face expression which has spawned numerous references to “whores of the Internet,” or “duckfaces.”  It seems that this pose is widely mocked and reviled, but that hasn’t […]