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 »

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

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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 »

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The BIG Maze at the National Building Museum.

How We Spent Our Summer Vacation in DC

After we had our tickets clipped and entered the BIG maze I expected to accompany my 12-year-old daughter through the special exhibit at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. But she was already gone at the first turn. If I didn’t want to run to catch up I’d be going it alone. I expected to run into her at each of the many dead ends, but she was never there. Even when I finally made it to the center of the maze, where I could see over the shorter walls, she was nowhere to be seen. Finally I emerged out the other end hoping to find her. When I turned around, she was already coming out of the maze for the second time. Such is the crazy energy that takes hold of kids when they face amazing things like an indoor maze made out of plywood with walls ranging in height from 3 to 18 feet. Read more »

Oasis in Riverside CA?

Why would anyone ever go to Riverside California?  Well, obviously not by choice right?  I got stuck there for a work trip recently and discovered the most amazing oasis: The Mission Inn.

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In my airport taxi, I cruised across miles of highway and then through an unassuming and somewhat discouraging urban area.  I had no hopes of a travel adventure or even a comfy bed.  I was therefore a bit surprised when the taxi rounded a corner and and pulled into a valet loop surrounded by large old palm trees.  I had clearly landed someplace special.

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Passing under a glorious arch, I wandered toward the lobby somewhat stunned.  I even passed live parrots on my way.   Read more »