Down on the bayou: Cajun hospitality and gators

We floated through vast groves of bald cypress trees draped in Spanish moss, while malevolent-looking gators sunned on logs

Down on the bayou: Cajun hospitality and gatorsThe news from Louisiana is often hurricanes, burst levees and the dangerous streets of New Orleans. What we’ve discovered down south has been unreserved hospitality. A few years ago, on our first trip through the Bayou State, the weather turned cold. We became stranded in the town of Natchitoches, blindsided by a gale of sleet.…

In the heart of the world’s largest non-polar icefield

All was ice, white curving fingers spilling from mountain valleys. Dark lines of ground rock defined each icy highway

In the heart of the world’s largest non-polar icefieldKLUANE NATIONAL PARK AND RESERVE, Yukon – I’ve been a geography nut since I was a kid. My noggin is full of useless facts. In pre-metric days, I memorized details of the world’s highest and lowest: Mount Everest, 29,028 feet; Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, 35,814 feet. As a proud Canadian, I knew that…

Of sour toes, midnight golf, and birds singing for sex and war

Historic, colourful, quaint and sleep-deprived Dawson City; and up the perilous, muddy Dempster Highway

Of sour toes, midnight golf, and birds singing for sex and warUpon our return from six weeks exploring Canada’s north, friends enquired, “So what was your favourite place?” And each time, gazing distantly while recalling the amazing scenery, people and places we encountered, I answered: “Haven’t a clue.” But Dawson City, Yukon, is a good start. I love Dawson. Unlike cruise-ship destinations on the nearby Alaska…

A soft egg in the Nahanni National Park Reserve

Discovering Virginia Falls, a remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site – and learning a little German

A soft egg in the Nahanni National Park ReserveON THE ALASKA HIGHWAY – In German, weichei means soft egg. It defines a person’s character. In Canada, we call them wimps. Charly Kudlacek is from Frankfurt in the German state of Hesse and, as eggs go, is hard-boiled. We met Charly and his wife Marion in a remote campground at Summit Lake on the…

Turks and Caicos – the road less travelled, but it could be ours

Would it really benefit Canada to get into bed with these types – even if the bed was a hammock swaying in a tropical breeze?

Turks and Caicos – the road less travelled, but it could be oursI once had political aspirations. It was the early 1980s. A federal election was brewing. At the same time, a tiny chain of British islands in the Caribbean – Turks and Caicos Islands – had expressed interest in forming an association with Canada. What a great idea: Canada’s own warm winter destination. No more currency…

Riding in Riccione and the unsurpassable beauty of Tuscany

The beauty and hospitality of Italy soon becomes apparent whether astride a bicycle or driving down its twisting, narrow country roads

Riding in Riccione and the unsurpassable beauty of TuscanyThe Most Serene Republic of San Marino is located in the middle of Italy. At 62 square km, it's one of the smallest nations in the world. Although only a few dozen kilometres from Italy’s Adriatic Coast, San Marino’s summit is almost 800 metres above sea level. And crowning this mountainous micro-state is the medieval…

Overwhelmed in Rome, overfed in Matera

Basking in the splendour, charm and hospitality of southern Italy, particularly when you wander off the beaten track

Overwhelmed in Rome, overfed in MateraOn a lonely country road near Ostuni, in the province of Puglia – the heel of Italy’s boot – I stopped to photograph a field of poppies in an olive grove. After a few happy snaps, I jumped back in the car and motored on. Fifteen minutes later, I reached for my daypack and realized…

Once in a blue moon: scaling B.C.’s Fisher Peak

Climbing Fisher requires no mountaineering equipment, no technical skills. But the steady steepness makes for a long, hard day

Once in a blue moon: scaling B.C.’s Fisher PeakOnce in a blue moon something improbable occurs. A goal beyond expectations and beyond the capacity of aging knees is accomplished. The view of Fisher Peak from our Kimberley, B.C., condo is mesmerizing. For years I’ve gazed across the Rocky Mountain Trench at that daunting, taunting pinnacle. Fisher dominates the skyline in this range of…

Immersed in the zesty flavours of Kerala, India

In the last of a four-part series on India, Gerry Feehan explores a world of exotic spices – and encounters Joe Tourist yet again

Immersed in the zesty flavours of Kerala, IndiaAfter three chaotic days in Mumbai, we boarded a plane for the relative calm of Kerala on India’s extreme southwestern tip. The “land of coconuts” is a tropical paradise dense with rainforest, wild elephants, monkeys, tea plantations – and spices. Kerala is home to a wonder of zesty flavours: pepper, cinnamon, liquorice, chili, cardamom, ginger,…

The squalid, stifling slums of Mumbai

In Part 3 of a four-part series, Gerry Feehan explores one square kilometre that will forever be seared into his memory

The squalid, stifling slums of MumbaiIt was in the rooftop restaurant of the InterContinental Hotel in Mumbai that we first encountered Joe Tourist. He was at the other end of the open-air bistro, ordering sushi. “Hey,” he shouted across the floor at the flustered waiter, “make that four tuna belly and throw in an extra order of unagi.” Ordering sushi…

The world’s most perfect building does not disappoint

In the second of a four-part series on India, Gerry Feehan visits the Taj Mahal and the blessed Ganges

The world’s most perfect building does not disappointThe Taj Mahal in Agra, India, was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal. Constructed of ivory marble inlaid with semi-precious stones, the Taj Mahal is described as the world’s most perfect building. The Taj does not disappoint. The grand mausoleum is best viewed in…

The flavour, energy and urgency of India unfold spontaneously

In Part 1 of a four-part series, Gerry Feehan avoids ‘Delhi belly’ and discovers that India is a photographer’s paradise

The flavour, energy and urgency of India unfold spontaneouslyThis is the first in a four-part series on India. “India. Are you nuts?” an incredulous friend remarked. “Why would you want to go there? It’s dirty, crowded, smelly and full of stray cows.” So I was anxious as I stared out the window of the 787 Dreamliner on descent into New Delhi after a…

Lake O’Hara Lodge: a timeless Rocky Mountain beauty

At every turn, a mind-blowing vista opened before us. But always – far below – lay Lake O’Hara, an artist’s palette in aquamarine

Lake O’Hara Lodge: a timeless Rocky Mountain beautyA Red Deer friend described Lake O’Hara Lodge in Yoho National Park, B.C., as the most beautiful place she’d ever been. My wife and I have done our share of travel to exotic and wonderful places so my expectations for our three-day visit to O’Hara were tempered with a grain of salt. The lodge, accessible…

Off the beaten track in Hawaii

A week with the free spirits of Hana, replete with bevvies and grind, green eggs, and an elusive hunt for wild boar

Off the beaten track in HawaiiThe village of Hana is on the quiet ‘windward’ side of Maui. Windward is a euphemism for rainy. Precipitation here averages 300 inches (7,600 ml) a year. No person of sound judgment would live in a place where an inch of rain in an afternoon is considered a light drizzle. Most tourists endure the gruelling…

Pleasure and pain: tree skiing at Whistler

The 2010 Olympics ended nearly eight years ago but the party carries on. The hills and streets echo with languages and accents from around the globe

Pleasure and pain: tree skiing at WhistlerI was navigating a black-diamond run at the end of our last day in Whistler. The path dropped through a steep mogul field, then narrowed to a single track in thick forest. I veered hard right through a tiny opening between two Douglas fir trees. I emerged blindly from the dark boughs. Terra firma vanished.…