oregonrock.jpgThe Oregon Coast is one of the most beautiful stretches of land I have been privileged enough to spend time exploring.  If you are an Oregon native or you are visiting this summer, don't miss some of these great local stops along the way. Have fun!!

-Stay in Astoria's renovated Hotel Elliott, a 1924 historic beauty.  Stop at the Columbian Cafe and ask chef Uriah Hulsey for his catch-of-the-day crepe.  Save room for the wild campfire salmon or the ale-steamed local clams at Baked Alaska .

-Coast Cabins  in Manzanita has the most Northwest-cool lodging on the Oregon Coast.  Rent the North Tower for its loft view and outdoor hot tub.

-Dip your toes into surf culture with Lanny at Shuler Surfboards, his Seaside store and shaping studio.

-Sip on Willamette Valley red or cool down with the Oregon berry sorbet at sleek little Yummy  in downtown Seaside.

-Stretch your legs at Hug Point, mile markers 32 and 33.  Do as the sign says.

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May in Maine Eric Lax
Charlie Clevenger

May in Maine and the lobsters are crooning. Leaves sprout on the trees around midmonth but you can’t plant your garden until Memorial Day because lingering nighttime frosts are always a threat to wipe it out. The real sign winter’s finally over: In New Harbor, Shaw’s Lobster Wharf opened on Mother’s Day to serve the world’s best lobster roll and a few miles up Route 32 in Round Pond, the Muscongus Bay Lobster Company fired up its boiler; you can sit at a picnic table and devour your crustaceans as you gaze out at the view of water, boats, islands and trees so stunning that it is where superannuated picture calendars go die.

Muscongus Bay Lobster was a tiny affair when we started going 20 years ago, a half dozen tables and a small cook shack. Dan Renny’s family ran it but about 10 years ago (he’s in his 30s now, as hard working a guy as you’ll ever meet and handsome as the devil) he took it over and has managed growth without sacrificing the rustic charm. The wharf has been enlarged, more tables added to handle the crowds, a bigger cooking shed. The big news this year is that he’s put light bulbs in the port-a-potties.

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porkdumplingsTo understand the food in Richmond you must have a quick lesson on demographics and history. Don’t worry, it’s quick. Richmond began to see many immigrants from Hong Kong and throughout Asia after World War II, with a great number flowing in during the 1990s. Currently, Richmond is 65% Asian, 49% of those are Chinese. You’ll find other Asian cultures as well, particularly Southeast Asian as well as a mix of other cultures from all over the world. But this predominately Chinese makeup means restaurants, stores, shops and markets all cater to an Asian population, and visiting and eating is pure heaven for a guy like me.

What you won’t find in Richmond is a central Asian neighborhood, a place that announces itself with a banner or red arches as a gateway to a Chinatown. Here Chinese culture here is woven into every aspect of living, reflected not only in its citizens but also through signage and everyday life. I have never felt more like a visitor in Asia than I did in Richmond, and considering I was still standing in North America my mind was blown away.

Then there’s the food. Oh my goodness, the food. The New York Times said Richmond has “the best Chinese food outside China” and I’m not going to disagree. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my trips to Asia it’s this: food must be of a certain quality, taste good, be made and served properly…there are definitely standards. Richmond was no different. Each restaurant I visited seemed to outdo the last as I sampled Hong Kong-style comfort foods, Malaysian noodles, a Shanghainese dim sum as well as glorious food courts within 2 distinct Asian malls.

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edenrockGenerally, the time to avoid is the hurricane season that officially runs between 1 June and 30 November. However...

Generally I think avoiding the hurricane season is prudent. But, forget prudence if one has the chance to luxuriate on the beach of St. Jean on St Barths, and dining alfresco at Eden Rock’s Sand Bar – “La belle Vie!” as my friend, Francoise Kirkland would say.

More than likely if someone asks me to describe my favorite meal, my answer would be a lingering joyful alfresco lunch, where the air is luscious and the sun warm. Summer at the Colombe d’Or comes to mind, as does Christmas in St Barths at Eden Rock’s Sand Bar.

So, we rushed the season, and while tropical storm Kate was about to form near the Bahamas, Bill and I were about to have a perfect storm for would-be hedonists: great food, beautiful location, fabulous weather and a lover with which to cherish it all! Heaven.

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bath-england.jpgSounds a bit like Bilbo Baggins but when you are journeying around the countryside of south-western England, you are likely to come across many fascinating places and people. Their history stretches back to the Celts, the Anglo-Saxons and the Romans – each race introducing new cultures, different religions and ways of cultivating the land. So a hodge-podge from the past still exists although much has been sanctified and blessed into a greying sameness by the more prosaic and mundane English civil service that seems to run most things in this present day and age. But whilst there is still a King and Lords of the Rings, and folk with imaginations like me who can paint with pictures and words, beauty and good can be found wherever you journey in the U.K. and beyond.

Culture is based in detail. It is based in generations of characters, of peoples, of species building on top of past generation's work. Details will lead you down the path to the culture. We only have to look at the works of William Shakespeare, of Emily Bronte, of Jane Austen – they are played and read and enjoyed by millions of folks around the world. The paintings of Michaelangelo, Rubens, Leonardo da Vinci, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones still evoke the glory of those masters and the rapt attention of ardent admirers.

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