July 19, 2017

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 […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: The Midwest’s Wondrous Hidden Getaway – The American Club

June 7, 2017

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By Joan Larsen   More often than we might admit, we find we need a change from the “every day” that has felt – well, often mundane.  A “jump-start” is truly what we need… and perhaps, just a little time “away” would do a world of good.  A special hand-picked getaway, one not too long […]

Joan Larsen’s Secret Wonders: The Good Life – My Hidden Hideaway in Denali

May 31, 2017

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By Joan Larsen “We travel, initially, to lose ourselves, and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes. And we travel, in essence, to become young  again—to slow time down and fall in love with life once more.”  — Pico Iver   Once in a while in our travels, […]

Swim Season Safety: Know What A Drowning Person Really Looks Like

May 29, 2017

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More than half of Americans cannot swim adequately, and most of us can’t recognize a drowning person right in front of us. Ah, yes. The pools and beaches are open again. For the past couple of seasons around this time of year, I have vainly attempted to educate the public about the horrors of the […]

Joan Larsen’s Life Stories: Love Letters from a Scammer

May 24, 2017

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By Joan Larsen   A true story, a cautionary story for all women is about to unfold.  My beautiful young friend in her 40s was about to experience the downside of life in a way that many of us discover in that decade.  Caring for dying parents, one after the other, drains you and often […]

The Unsanitary Swim Diaper: Not in My Pool, Please!

May 22, 2017

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Time for Lila’s annual public safety and health announcement:  even the manufacturers don’t claim that “swim diapers” will contain a mess. Memorial Day is fast approaching, and that means the neighborhood pools will soon be opening for business.  As we wrote last year, the whole concept of a diapered child in a communal swimming area […]

Joan Larsen Introduces Friar Moustache: The Stray Dog Adopted as the Newest Friar in a Bolivian Monastery

May 17, 2017

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From Joan Larsen, a story to delight you ! Meet Friar Bigotón (Friar Moustache), the stray schnauzer, who just became a member of the St. Francis Monastery in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The saint, after which the Franciscan order was established, is known as the patron saint of animals there.  So it is only natural that the […]

Stay Out of My Driveway!

May 15, 2017

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Maybe it’s some kind of equivalent to the crotchety old man yelling, “Hey, you kids!  Keep off my lawn!”  You have seen the signs as you drive around:  Keep Out.  No Trespassing.  Private Property.  Then there are the hand-lettered signs in spray paint, on plywood:  No Turning Around in Driveway!!!  and similar sentiments.  “Geez, touchy, […]

Joan Larsen’s Favorite Travel Moments Above San Francisco: Communing With Giants — A Most Magical Day Spent in California’s Muir Woods

May 10, 2017

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 By Joan Larsen   2017 . . . and, with it, still another return journey to the West in early spring – to The City By The Bay, San Francisco. Once again the city has exceeded my expectations. It always does. That city pulls out all stops – and then continually adds some more – – […]

Dear H.B. Reese, What the Hell Happened to Your Peanut Butter Cups?

May 8, 2017

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Has anyone else out there noticed that Reese’s Cups – formerly one of the most perfect foods ever to grace the planet – have gone somewhat downhill over the past few years? Specifically, I have my doubts on just how much “peanut” is in these things lately. Peanut butter, in its purest form, is just […]

Jeanne Henriques: Lounging on a Private Longboat – A Woman’s Extraordinary Photo Journey In Gorgeous Laos

May 3, 2017

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A most special treat this week for all of us . . . and the warmest of introductions to our guest blogger, Jeanne Henriques – someone I call a very dear friend from afar, writer and photographer extraordinaire. Jeanne not only writes like a dream, but leads and writes about the most extraordinary life I have […]

Vitas, the Man With the Five-Octave Voice

May 1, 2017

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His name is Vitaliy Vladasovich Grachyov, but you can call him Vitas.  He was born in Latvia, raised in Ukraine, sings in Russian, and is wildly popular in China.  When I say “wildly popular,” I mean, he draws crowds of fainting girls worthy of the Beatles’ heyday.  Here is a video of crowd reactions, shot […]

Joan Larsen in Canada’s Wildest Places: Very Close Encounters With the Rutting Elk

April 26, 2017

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By Joan Larsen The shriek started off like the creak of a rusty hinge and shifted to a cross between a whistle and a screaming jazz horn – with the volume set on 11.  A group of geese hurried into the air, scared skyward.  We almost levitated, too, the first time we heard it. It […]

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Joan Larsen Writes: No Stiff Upper Lip – Prince Harry Speaks Candidly and Emotionally About His Life Struggles

April 19, 2017

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By Joan Larsen In a voice that is both moving and articulate, England’s Prince Harry has only now come out to the world – to us – about his severe emotional problems following the death of his mother, Princess Diana. Still struggling in his late twenties – almost two decades after losing his mum – […]

Joan Larsen Introduces Eileen Rockefeller: Letting Go

April 12, 2017

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By Eileen Rockefeller So often, in the ups and downs of life, it seems to be our special friends that are our “glue”, the people who hold us together, sharing our joys and our sorrows. We are grateful. Today I am absolutely delighted to introduce you to a woman who is all that to me, and so […]

Lauriate Roly Remembers: No Power that Saturday Night

April 10, 2017

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By Lauriate Roly   “I’ll give you ten dollars”. Well, no… What do you mean, No? If people really want to hear me play because they like it, I don’t need money to please them.  It’s enough for me that they enjoy my playing.  I love to play, and I love to hear myself play.  […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: Taking the Scenic Route – Pure Unspoiled New Zealand

April 5, 2017

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By Joan Larsen How can I tell you about this place – this beyond special island country of New Zealand – a country that never fails to sweep me away with its charm, its wonderful people, and the enchantment that I never fail to feel on each return visit?  I am swept into the very […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: Here Comes the Sun… Living a Charmed Life on Marlon Brando’s Private Island

March 29, 2017

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By Joan Larsen A lifetime ago . . . or so it seems . . . romance was said to begin and end in the paradise of French Polynesia.  And so, with the help and encouragement of then famed author James Michener – a friend who made us believers, my love and I found ourselves […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: Living in the Clouds – Reaching Guoliang, China on One of the World’s Scariest Roads

March 22, 2017

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By Joan Larsen   Before the road was built in the mid-1970s, the only access to the village of Guoliang – high in the Taihang Mountains of China – was a very precarious path called “The Sky Ladder” – 720 mountain steps cut into a very steep cliff.  It definitely kept visitors out.  In fact, […]

Joan Larsen’s High Adventures: Deep In Australia’s Jungles – Learning to Love a Frilled Dragon

March 15, 2017

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By Joan Larsen Still young and very adventurous on our first month-long journey to Australia – travelling on unpaved dusty roads to be one of the first to discover the wild places of the country’s Top End – had been dreamed about for years. It was a bit more rugged than we had been told […]

Joan Larsen Remembers: Leaving a Piece of My Heart in Patagonia

March 8, 2017

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By Joan Larsen I am so sure that I speak for all of us when I say that we come to a point when we need a change of scene… and we need it now.  “Please,” I will say, “let the world go away!”  Whether we go far or near, we need time and we […]

Joan Larsen’s Secret Wonders – In Photos: Africa’s Mighty Victoria Falls, One of the Seven Wonders

March 1, 2017

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By Joan Larsen Sometime in your life, you should stay at a grand British colonial hotel befitting of the grand old days.  And sometime, too, you should see one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World,  the stunning Victoria Falls in southern Africa. Tranquil, shaded, with a chorus of frogs in the courtyards, with […]

Joan Larsen’s Glimpse of Paradise: To Big Sur With Love

February 22, 2017

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By Joan Larsen How could any one of us resist a world that is totally breathtaking?  Just a plane’s flight away to California – not that many hours from any of our homes – lies a piece of heaven on this earth called Big Sur.  A warning though:  once seen, once under its spell, and […]