How I Spent My Christmas Vacation in Panama: Part Two

Hooray for Coco Mango!

Hooray for Coco Mango!

Coming back from Guna Yala we were dropped off at the airport in Panama City for a cross-country flight to David.  David is the biggest city in western Panama and the gateway to the highlands around Volcan Baru, the tallest mountain in the country at just over 11,000 feet in elevation. Because we were all in need of a night of air-conditioning and a comfy bed, we opted for a room at the new business hotel near the David airport where we got a great deal on a family room with breakfast.  Our birding guide had suggested that if we wanted a more Panamanian experience, we should go to the foothill town of Volcan on the western side of the volcano instead of the American expat haven of Boquete on the eastern side.  We headed out in the morning!

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How I Spent My Christmas Vacation in Panama: Part One

Too much to do...

Too much to do in Guna Yala!

The first day after school got out I found myself driving north with my family toward Panama. Living outside Seattle, this has more to do with funky airline ticket pricing than a bad sense of direction. My wife had found flights out of Vancouver cheap enough to warrant the drive and the cost of parking the car for a couple of weeks. So our trip to Central America started with a short trip to Tim Hortons. Read more »

Ready to Visit Vietnam?

Vietnam 100 Travel Unusual Tips coverI recently had the opportunity to read a new book about Vietnam.  Part travel guide and part love letter, “Vietnam: 100 Unusual Travel Tips and a Guide to Living and Working There” is an eclectic combination of travel tips, culinary insights, and cultural information.  It is peppered with so many glorious photos that every reader is transported, just a little bit, to bustling cities and lush rice fields as they learn and discover the real Vietnam.



This is a book that attempts the nearly impossible – explaining Vietnam to an outsider. The country is a fascinating mix of old and new, urban and rural, Communism and capitalism, with wafts of Chinese and French influence.





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Boston’s North End – Family Travel at Its Best


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Stunning and delicious, Boston’s North End is a family-travel paradise.  Wander Hanover Street to enjoy Italian sweets such as canolies, anise cookies, and luscious gelato.  Find gourmet coffee, fresh-spices, and imported delicacies down busy, narrow side-streets.  It’s simply fun to walk around Read more »

Coffee and Kids – Touring the Janson Coffee Farm in Panama

interiorcolorpalettesWe arrived in the Chiriqui Highlands in the early-afternoon.  By the time we had enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, rented an SUV that could actually hold a family of four, and navigated our way through the sprawling town of David, it was a bit later than we had expected.  Instead of heading to Boquete with it’s lively ex-pat scene, we went straight to Volcan, on the south side of the volcano, Volcan Baru.  With just a few “upscale” restaurants and tourist attractions, we expected Volcan to provide a more authentic Panamanian experience.  And it did! After settling into our hostel, we were eager to see the mountains and the coffee before our entire day evaporated into logistical doldrums.

There isn’t a sign or map to be found in Volcan.  A faded poster at the hostel indicated that there really was a coffee farm and, with the loan of a cell phone from a women who just happened to be nearby, we reached Leif at Janson Coffee Farm.  It was getting late he said, but if we hurried we could get a nice view and quick tour.

He provided some minimalist directions and we were off.  Through town, to a side road, a fork in that road, and then a long stretch of smooth dirt road sloping gently upward.

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Great Family Escape – Sleeping Lady

fish and flowers








Looking for a quick escape from city or suburb? Sleeping Lady is a perfect family-friendly destination.  Tucked in between Leavenworth, a fun Bavarian village, and the Cascade Mountain Range, Sleeping Lady offers peaceful Read more »

L.A. with Teens – 8 Terrific Tips

IMG_9571What will you do for winter break?  Spring break? Or even to celebrate the end of school in June?  Frequent bargain airplane deals to Los Angeles make this a super-fun, teen-friendly destination.  We went last April and now the kids are clamoring to return again this Spring Break.  Here’s some ideas to make it a little more fun … Read more »

The Thames Valley Close-Up

On a recent visit to Henley-on-Thames and Wallingford England, I zoomed in!  read all about it at Wandering


What would your kids zoom in on?  Try it on your next trip or even in your own backyard.

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