Digging up my Own Past: A Visit to the LaBrea tar Pits

Statue at the La Brea Tar Pits

As an American, I have always felt somewhat void of cultural heritage.  What’s my traditional dress?  Blue jeans.  An American traditional meal?  Macaroni and cheese.  My two teenage daughters have traveled all over the world exploring other cultures and learning about other peoples’ histories.  Recently, we decided to dig up a little of our own past …

My Great Grandfather was Charles R. Knight, a wildlife painter most famous for reconstructing dinosaurs through a mixture of art and biology.  Our family knew him as Toppy.  I grew up surrounded by his giant oil paintings and small detailed sketches, never really understanding how lucky I was.  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 »

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.


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.


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

Which one of us is the dude?

Avoiding the late afternoon sun on the bunkhouse porch soon after we arrived at the Twin Elms Guest Ranch (http://www.twinelmranch.net/) in Bandera, Texas, I wondered aloud if there would be enough for our family to do here for the next three days.  But within minutes the triangle was ringing from across the dusty courtyard to call us to the dining hall, where we were greeted with all-we-could-eat chicken fried steak, bottomless iced tea, and scarily good banana pudding.  We shared the long tables only with our hosts, since we were the only mid-week guests.  They were a lively combination of dude ranch characters, including Cap’n Kury and Victoria (the managers), real cowboys, ranch jack-of-all-trades, and a harmonica-playing cook.  It didn’t take long before our shy apprehensions dissolved, and the girls were off to feed the table scraps to the friendly dogs waiting outside and see the newborn kittens in the icehouse.

Back on the porch at dusk, recovering from dinner on the glider couch, Cap’n Kury said the cowboys would enjoy our company at the campfire.  With Bob Wills playing from the open Read more »