11 Fabulous Experiences In Beautiful Tamarindo, Costa Rica


I’ll never forget arriving in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. The warm air, glistening blue water, and the phenomenal sunset were the perfect anecdote to a cold Canadian winter. 

You’ve probably heard of Tamarindo. It’s a popular beach town on the Nicoya Peninsula in the province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Tamarindo is known for surfing and parties. Rather like Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast, the party reputation exists but in either town you do not need to be a partier to thoroughly enjoy the experiences. 

Tamarindo’s location makes it a great base to explore further afield. There are many tour operators in Tamarindo offering a wide variety of activities such as sailing, snorkeling, volcano hikes, and ziplining. You can tailor your vacation time in Tamarindo to suit exactly what you love to do. 

Pro Tips:

  • High season runs from December until May in Tamarindo. It is a very popular destination. That being said, I loved Tamarindo’s vibe. It is bustling but also embodies the “pure vida”  lifestyle, the Costa Rican way of embracing the simple life.
  • The locals or “Ticos” have nicknamed Tamarindo “Tamagringo,” proof positive that you’re headed to a busy tourist town where lots of expats live.
  • All the beaches mentioned in this article have currents. When swimming, be very aware of the strength of the current and undertow. Watch how the waves affect swimmers and surfers. Pay attention and thoroughly enjoy the water! 

Getting To Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Book your flight to LIR — the airport in Liberia, Costa Rica. It was also named the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport until July 2021 when it was renamed Guanacaste Airport. 

Liberia Airport is only one-hour away from Tamarindo. The best choices to get from the airport to Tamarindo are to rent a car, take a taxi, a shuttle bus, or the public bus which will take much longer. If you are driving, the roads are paved. 

Tamarindo is a small town with lots going on. Slow your pace and let the delights of the area wash over you. Intersperse your beach days with guided tours that offer activities. You will find lots of tour operators in Tamarindo.  

Beach walk in Tamarindo, Costa Rica.
Max Herman / Shutterstock.com

1. Go For Long Beach Walks 

The beach at Tamarindo has lovely soft, white sand perfect for walking. It’s a wide beach that stretches for about 1.5 miles. Head out for a refreshing morning walk, listening to the shore break and dipping your feet in the ocean. 

Pro Tip: There are plenty of beach vendors in Tamarindo. Fruit. Ice cream. Handmade jewelry. Massages. I found that the vendors certainly approach you for a sale but were not aggressive or hyper persistent. 

2. Enjoy Spectacular Sunsets At Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Plan a sunset sailing trip, pull up a chair at one of the beach bars, or sit on the sand and just watch the glowing ball of fiery orange drop lower in the sky until it disappears over the horizon. Stunning. Unforgettable.

Silhouettes of sailboats and surfers dashing across the sand make for some spectacular photo opportunities.

Colin D. Young / Shutterstock.com

3. Learn To Surf In Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Tamarindo is one of the best beaches for surfing in Costa Rica. It is the perfect place to learn and also challenging enough for advanced surfers. If you are just starting out or need some fine tuning for your technique, there are plenty of surf schools on the beach. 

Even if you aren’t a surfer, you might enjoy watching the activity. While away an hour observing the lessons, full of successes and crashes, and the more advanced surfers riding the waves.

4. Partake In Water Sports To Your Heart’s Content

Tamarindo beach is water sports heaven! Rent a kayak, go stand up paddle boarding or join a tour and go sport fishing. The sky’s the limit! 

Playa Langosta / Shutterstock.com

5. Spend Time At Langosta Beach (Playa Langosta)

The beaches along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica are spectacular. Just a short 1.5 miles south of Tamarindo is the gorgeous Playa Langosta. Bring a picnic and walk the beautiful beach, exploring tide pools, collecting shells, and watching the surfers.

Pro Tips: 

  • There are a lot of magnificent beaches in the Nicoya Peninsula. Other beaches worth visiting are Playa Avellanas, Playa Grande, Playa Flamingo, and Playa Conchal. This list, of course, only scratches the surface. 
  • It is important to mention once again the need to be watchful of strong currents and undertows. 

6. Take A Tamarindo Estuary Boat Safari

Hop in the canopied boat with a seasoned guide and explore the mangrove forest in Las Baulas National Park. Keep your eyes open for howler monkeys (my favorite), crocodiles, and exotic birds. Float down the river and immerse yourself in nature. 

7. Go Snorkelling In The Pacific Ocean

When the ocean beckons, I go! Getting on the Pacific Ocean and zipping across the sparkling water to just the perfect snorkeling spot is a very memorable experience. Perhaps it will be your lucky day and you will see dolphins while out on the ocean. 

Leatherback turtle on the beach.
Brendan Delzin / Shutterstock.com

8. See Leatherback Turtles Nesting

Las Baulas National Marine Park is the largest nesting ground in the world for endangered leatherback turtles. Nesting season is from October — March with many turtles coming ashore. In recent years, the number of leatherback Tturtles returning has decreased. Look for guided tours from Tamarindo or Playa Grande. 

9. See Olive Ridley Sea Turtles Lay Their Eggs 

On the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, the best place to see turtles lay their eggs is in Ostional Wildlife Refuge. About a 2-hour drive from Tamarindo, this wildlife refuge with its 9-miles of protected beach is a haven for Olive Ridley sea turtles. The best time to witness this spectacular event of mother nature at work is from September to December. As with Tortuguero National Park, the only way to visit and see the Olive Ridley sea turtles nesting is with a guide. Organized tours are available from Tamarindo.

Pro Tip: For any guided tours of turtles laying eggs it is important to wear dark clothing so as not to distract the mother. There are no cameras allowed. 

Hiking in Rincon de la Vieja National Park in Costa Rica.
Hiking in Rincon de la Vieja National Park in Costa Rica (Photo Credit: Nature’s Charm / Shutterstock.com)

10. Take A Combined Activity Tour

Sometimes when you are on vacation, you step outside your comfort zone. That’s one of the aspects of traveling that I adore.

I was with my daughter and her friend in Tamarindo when somehow I agreed to go ziplining and horseback riding to a volcano in Rincon de la Vieja National Park. It was a full-day adventure tour, leaving early from Tamarindo and returning after dark. I definitely stepped outside my comfort zone that day and still feel proud about it. What will you do on vacation in Tamarindo? There are many combined tours available including hiking, kayaking, rafting, and ATV tours. 

Pro Tip: If you are not keen to do a full day trip including a long drive, there are ziplining and adventure parks closer to Tamarindo. Check out Black Stallion.

11. Peruse The Tamarindo Markets

The Mercadito de Tamarindo is a daily market with food stalls and clothing shops. Stop by for a bite to eat and enjoy the live music. It’s open from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.  

The Saturday Market in Tamarindo runs from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. and has local produce and artisanal goods. I always love seeing what fruit and vegetables are in season!

Where To Stay In Tamarindo

Hotel Capitan Suizo is a 4-star boutique hotel right on Tamarindo Beach. It comes highly recommended with its beautiful beachfront suites, bungalows, and lush tropical garden. With its Certificate of Tourism Sustainability, an onsite restaurant, and spa, Capitan Suizo might be just the right place to rejuvenate in Tamarindo. 

Tamarindo Diria is another beautiful hotel perched just back from Tamarindo Beach. Sit on the beautiful terrace, refresh in the pool (or the ocean), and return in the evening to hear the waves crashing from your room.

Where To Eat In Tamarindo

There are many restaurants in Tamarindo Costa Rica. Don’t forget to try a “Soda” (a local Costa Rican restaurant) that sells typical Costa Rican food like beans and rice with chicken or shrimp. Try Soda El Buen Comer or Soda Guanacaste for a real Costa Rican experience! 

Nogui’s Beachfront Restaurant has been around since 1974 when Tamarindo was a mere little fishing village with no running water or electricity. Nowadays it serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and is a Tamarindo tradition! 

Green Papaya Taco Bar is another favorite in Tamarindo. Tacos, burritos, and quinoa bowls have you covered for the perfect casual meal after a beach day!

Pangas Beach Club covers all the options! Drop by for a beer in your bathing suit or breeze in for a candlelight dinner by the sea. Can you go wrong? 

Sprout is going to satisfy those craving for healthy food! Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner just a few steps from the beach this is also a great go-to for a quick bite! 

Pro Tips:

  • Tamarindo may be the perfect place for you to spend your entire time in Costa Rica. If you like quieter beaches, the Pacific Coast has plenty. Spend a few days in Tamarindo and then head south to towns that are less busy such as Montezuma (where capuchin monkeys joined us for breakfast), Dominical, and Santa Teresa.
  • If you’ve got more time why not explore Drake Bay and the Osa Peninsula and plan a visit to Corcovado National Park.

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11 Fantastic Things To Do In Coastal Bodega Bay


Thirty minutes from bustling Santa Rosa, coastal Bodega Bay is an escape pod, a place to unplug, unwind, and immerse in Nature. Sonoma County’s tiny fishing village of Bodega Bay, California, flaunts an untamed coastline, towering Pacific headlands, secret coves, and hidden beaches. Wildlife fills the water, air, and coastal mountains.

This small fishing village has a reputation for R&R. It’s especially popular with San Francisco Bay residents as a coastal escape where life is slower-paced and Nature is off the hook.

Getting to Bodega Bay is easy. I suggest a car or car service. The closest airport, about 30 miles away, is STS (Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport). It has direct service to and from Seattle, San Diego, Portland, Phoenix, Orange County, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Denver, and Dallas. San Francisco and Oakland airports are about 80 miles from Bodega Bay.

Here are 11 of my favorite things to do in coastal Bodega Bay.

1. Meet Coastal Bodega Bay Grapes

Sonoma Coast Vineyards is an essential first stop when you get to Bodega Bay. The friendly and comfortable tasting room is the best place to get in the Bodega state of mind while trying the distinctive wines grown in Sonoma Coast vineyards. Winegrowers on the coast farm in a cold-climate wine-grape region west of Russian River Valley. Some vineyards are only 5 miles from the Pacific. The climate is challenging, the yield can be small, and the deer hungry. Still, the results are sublime and unique to this part of California.

Your tasting host will help you choose a flight of local wines. Get your first taste of Bodega Bay from the grape, then select a bottle or two for a sunset picnic or fireside nightcap.

2. Meet Bodega Bay Locals

Doran Regional Park is a sampler of the Bodega Bay environs and wildlife. The 127-acre park has a 2-mile sand beach where you can stroll, fly a kite, surf, build a sandcastle, listen for barking seals, or just watch the waves roll in.

Walk among grassy dunes or find a picnic spot. A boat launch and parking are available. In addition, the park has biking and walking trails, equestrian trails, fishing, birding, and accessible areas.

Pro Tip: Easy-going kayaking, paddle boarding, and wetland discovery can be enjoyed inside the harbor. A good place for gear is Bodega Bay Kayak. They offer free lessons with equipment rentals if you’re not bringing your own.

Scallops from Drakes in Bodega Bay, California.
Scallops from Drakes in Bodega Bay (Photo Credit: Mary Charlebois)

3. Seafood, Seafood, Seafood

Bodega Bay is one of the last remaining small fishing villages on the California Coast. At one time, it hosted a thriving fishing industry for fresh and canned seafood. Dotting the docks were companies with slogans like, “If it swims, we have it.” The fleet’s catch was purchased and distributed to restaurants, hotels, and markets in San Francisco.

A small fleet of fishing vessels is still sheltered in Bodega Harbor, seasonally bringing in salmon, lingcod, rockfish, albacore, halibut, and of course, Dungeness crab. You’ll find the fruits of the fisherfolks’ labor all over Bodega Bay. It’s hook- and net-to-mouth freshness unlike any other.

There are many eateries in Bodega Bay appealing to all tastes and budgets. It’s hard to go wrong with any of them. Here are two of my favorites.

Drakes Sonoma Coast is focused on the Sonoma coast’s abundant fresh food. The Executive Chef excels in finding local, sustainably sourced ingredients. A large stone fireplace and panoramic views of Bodega Bay and the ocean set a warm, casual ambiance. Wines from Sonoma County, craft beers, and enticing cocktails are served in the dining room, bar, and around the firepit outdoors. Drakes is at Bodega Bay Lodge and is open for breakfast and dinner.

Spud Point Crab Company is a crab shack, and crabs are always on the boil. Spud’s also serves red and white chowder, crab cakes, seafood cocktails, sandwiches, and whole-cooked crabs. This is a casual place where you order at the window and take your delights to one of the picnic tables in front or across the street to the marina docks.

For more eateries, check out this list of the top seafood restaurants in Bodega Bay.

4. Fill Your Picnic Basket

Pelican Plaza Market, Delicatessen, Wine and Cheese Shop carries locally produced fish, meat, dairy, wine, beer, and more gourmet food selections than I can list. Stop in when you first arrive and stock up for a beach picnic or fill the mini-fridge at your lodging. The deli counter has delicious house-made salads and sandwiches. The coffee pot is never empty, beginning at 7 a.m. daily.

Osmosis Spa's meditation garden, Bodega Bay, California.
Osmosis Spa’s meditation garden (Photo Credit: Mary Charlebois)

5. The 3 Rs: Refresh, Rejuvenate, Relax

Osmosis Spa and the relaxing Zen Gardens are quietly awaiting your arrival. Let the stress of the day melt away with a Cedar Enzyme Bath followed by a 75-minute Swedish-Esalen massage. This popular modality includes long strokes and therapeutic stretches.

After your treatment, spend time in one of five exquisite gardens: the Meditation Garden, the Japanese Tea Garden, the Field of Hammocks, a secluded pagoda, creekside, or in a group space.

6. Hitchcock Hunting In Bodega Bay

If you are a Hitchcock fan, you know the famous thriller, The Birds, was filmed in Bodega Bay and Bodega. Many of the film locations are easy to find. One of the most recognizable is in the inland village of Bodega. Potter School House was used as the schoolhouse in the movie. Learn more about the film and its shooting locations in and around Bodega Bay here.

Pro Tip: Stop in at Casino Bar & Grill in Bodega. It’s the place to meet locals for a burger and a cold beer.

White pelicans in Bodega Bay, California.
White pelicans in Bodega Bay (Photo Credit: Mary Charlebois)

7. Meet Bodega Bay Birds

With its location on the Pacific Flyway, Bodega Bay has exceptional birding opportunities.

Bird Walk Coastal Access Trail is the place to find local and migrating birds. The 1.19-mile pathway meanders along a saltwater marsh and circles two freshwater ponds along the harbor. The area provides year-round habitat for songbirds, waterfowl, and shorebirds. I especially loved the pelicans. They fly and swim in groups with the choreography of a dance troupe.

The track is flat and made of gravel. It is moderately accessible for wheelchairs, and a pedestrian bridge connects the Bird Walk to Doran Regional Park.

Pro Tip: Find more birding locations on Sonoma County Regional Parks’ Find a Park page.

8. Explore The Head

A granite monolith protruding into the Pacific, four-mile-long and one-mile-wide Bodega Head protects Bodega Bay from the powerful forces of the Pacific. The 360-degree panoramic view of the Pacific and inland Bodega is a photographer’s nirvana.

On the Pacific side, hold onto your hat. This always windy setting is one of the best whale spotting locales in the area. There are trails, beach access, picnic tables, and toilets available. Wildlife in the vicinity includes seals, whales, and seabirds.

On the harbor side of the head, try your hand at fishing, crabbing, or getting in the water for kayaking or paddleboarding.

Pro Tip: From January through May, volunteers are present to help you spot the migrating giants. They have spotting scopes, binoculars, and answers to your whale watching questions.

9. Meet the Inhabitants Of The Coastal Bodega Bay Estuary

Bodega Marine Laboratory (BML) is a UC Davis research and educational facility providing science for today’s complicated environmental challenges. BML studies the impact of residential, recreational, and commercial activity on the coast.

Aquariums and displays show local aquatic life in its natural habitat, including a kelp forest and a tidepool. In addition, docent-led and group tours are offered.

10. Golf With Whales

The Links at Bodega Harbour are a Scottish-style course. Fairways and greens are combined with jaw-dropping Pacific views and natural coastal rough. From January to May, you may see whales from any of the 18 ocean view holes.

View from Bodega Bay Lodge (Photo Credit: Mary Charlebois)

11. Stay Somewhere Special

Bodega Bay Lodge is a destination in itself. Sitting between Hwy 1 and the Pacific Ocean, the setting is dazzling. Guest rooms have fireplaces and private balconies with vistas overlooking the wetlands, Bodega Bay, and the Pacific. The property is beautifully landscaped, with walking paths connecting to Doren Park and the Bird Walk Coastal Access Trail.

Indulge yourself with a visit to the spa with its menu of massages, body treatments, and facials. Then, spoil yourself with recreational amenities, including a spa tub, sauna, and fitness center. Finally, meet other travelers at sunset with a glass of bubbly by a firepit before dinner.

Enjoy breakfast or dinner at Drakes or stay in and take advantage of the hotel’s room service. Try a late breakfast on your balcony. For your first morning, it is ideal for getting into the Bodega frame of mind.

If vacation rentals are more your style, Bodega Bay is your happy place. Oceanfront, mountain view, golf course access, or mountain cabins are available in all sizes. So whether it’s a romantic escape for two or a family reunion that requires 10 bedrooms to sleep up to 22 guests, there is a home-away-from-home to fill your needs.

Coastal Bodega Bay is a bit off the beaten path but worth the drive through California farmland, vineyards, ranches, and wetlands if you are arriving from the east. When coming from the north or south, you’ll meander along CA Hwy 1. This is the take-it-slow route. The narrow road skirts along the absolute edge of the Pacific, showing off rocky coasts and soaring headlands. The scenery frequently changes as the fog moves in and out offshore. It’s spectacular no matter what the weather.

This Sonoma County fishing village is embraced by the natural world. It’s slow-paced and friendly with plenty to explore. Wildlife, waves, wilderness, and wine. What more could you need?



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11 Delightful Events To Celebrate The Holidays In Grapevine, Texas This Season


Stroll Grapevine’s Main Street this holiday season among Victorian-style shops adorned with twinkling lights, decorative wreaths, garland, candy canes, ribbons, and bows. Gaze up at the massive live Christmas tree on Peace Plaza at Grapevine Main Street Station. Unwrap a Christmas classic in Grapevine, the Christmas Capital of Texas, with 40 days and 1,400 Christmas events now through the end of the year.

Carol of Lights in Grapevine, Texas.
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1. 33rd Annual Carol Of Lights

Greet Christmas at the 33rd Annual Carol of Lights show and street lighting on Monday, November 22. Come early at 4 p.m. and enjoy a visit with Santa and live reindeer, create holiday crafts, and savor tasty bites. Then at 7 p.m., the mayor “flips the switch,” and the streets light up with a dazzling spectacle of lights amid live musical performances culminating with breathtaking fireworks at city hall.

Two women smiling as they walk down the Christmas decorated street of Grapevine, Texas.
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Shop historic Grapevine’s more than 80 locally-owned boutique shops, jewelry stores, art galleries, home décor studios, collectible shops, wine tasting rooms, and more. You are sure to find your favorite Christmas foods, a bottle of wine, and a gift or stocking stuffer for everyone on your list.

Visit the Christmas market for locally and regionally sourced baked goods, cheese, nuts, chocolate, and gift baskets at the open-air European style market at the Town Square Gazebo on Saturdays and Sundays through Christmas, plus Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of Christmas week.

Hundreds of band members walk down the streets of Grapevine, Texas in the Parade of Lights.
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3. Parade Of Lights

See more than 100 lighted floats and marching bands along Historic Main Street during the Parade of Lights on Thursday, December 2, from 7-9 p.m. Santa wraps up the parade making his debut on the last float.

Conductor taking tickets to board the North Pole Express Train.
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4. North Pole Express Christmas Village

Don’t miss the most wonder-filled time of the year at the North Pole Express Christmas Village as you stroll through a winter wonderland in the snowy Christmas Forest and experience real snow in Texas. Join Herman the Elf on a journey around the village with the Grapevine Christmas Passport Elf Adventure with holiday crafts and handmade ornaments like a wooden train or metal tinsel. Meet Main Street Santa in the North Pole General Store in Christmas Village, take a photo, and attend storytime with Santa.

Main Street Station Tower in Historic Downtown Grapevine.
Dorti / Shutterstock.com

5. Main Street Station Tower

Tour the Main Street Station Tower with views of historic downtown Grapevine from 12 stories high and a 360-degree view of lights across the DFW Metroplex.

Small tractor pules a wagon of people  enjoying Christmas at Nash Farm.
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 6. Christmas At Nash Farm

Experience how Grapevine’s earliest settlers celebrated Christmas at Nash Farm with cookies and cider as you help decorate the farmhouse for Christmas. Enjoy a Victorian Christmas tour of the farmhouse and barn or celebrate with ornament making while listening to traditional Christmas music with refreshments. Enjoy coffee, tea, and sweets along with parlor games at the farm’s Christmas Parlor Social. Later, you can learn Victorian card printing, ornament making, and cookie baking. See the farm schedule for events and tickets.

Palace Theater in Grapevine's historic city.
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7. Grapevine’s Historic Palace Theatre

Enjoy Christmas classics on the big screen and holiday-themed performances and entertainment at Grapevine’s Historic Palace Theatre with the North Central Ballet and the Nutcracker, an abbreviated version featuring three dances. You’ll see a comedy version of The Return of the Nutcracker, A Merry Little Christmas Show, Cinderella, A British Pantomime, and Elvis Christmas Special with Kraig Parker. Take a trip back in time to It’s a Wonderful Life Radio Show, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin’s Christmas Tribute, or bluegrass Christmas With the Petersens. See the schedule for classic Christmas movies like Home Alone or It’s a Wonderful Life.

Inside The Gaylord Texan Resort at Christmas time.
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8. Buddy The Elf At The Gaylord Texan Resort

Take a trip into Buddy the Elf’s world to save Christmas at The Gaylord Texan Resort. Visit Mr. Narwhal and friends in the candy cane forest, explore the North Pole toy shop, watch for Santa’s arrival at the famous New York department store, have a snowball fight in Central Park, and more. Be amazed by towering Christmas trees, millions of dazzling lights, shimmering ornaments, and magical miniature train sets at Merry & Light, with real falling snow. Find an indoor ice-skating rink, real snow to build life-size snowmen, and a snow-tubing hill.

Entrance to Snowland at Great Wolf Lodge.
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9. Snowland At Great Wolf Lodge

At Great Wolf Lodge, wander through a winter wonderland at Snowland with daily indoor falling snow. Play Snowland Bingo, make holiday crafts and enjoy songs and stories at Twas the Night Before Snowland and the frost fest dance party. As a respite from Snowland, play at the 84-degree water park where cabanas feature glowing Christmas trees and holiday décor.

Charcuterie board and two glasses of wine sit atop a wrought iron table outside in Grapevine, Texas.
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10. Urban Wine Trail And World-Class Dining

Sip hot mulled wines at Grapevine’s renowned winery tasting rooms along the Urban Wine Trail and dine at over 200 chef-owned restaurants and cafes with world-class gourmet cuisine and creative holiday cocktails.

Family takes picture with large Santa sculpture in Grapevine, TX.
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11. Main Street Instagram Photo Ops

Be a kid again with dozens of Instagram photo ops along historic Main Street with peppermints at Candy Cane Lane, giant toys at Toyland at the Gazebo, or vintage sleighs, and life-size Christmas cards. You’ll enjoy the 40-foot community animated Singing Christmas Tree, giant gnomes, and Santas. See the Hometown Christmas display inside Tower Gallery with Captain Christmas and his reindeer ready to strike a pose as you stroll through more holiday vintage vignettes.

Pro Tip: Dr. Sue’s Chocolate has a hot chocolate Happy Hour every day starting at 4:30 p.m. with handcrafted hot chocolate and unique garnishes.

Shop the British Emporium, winner of Best Multicultural Store in DFW, for British holiday gifts and food.

Texas has many destinations waiting to be explored:



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11 Tips For Visiting Yellowstone In 2022


No matter when you visit, Yellowstone National Park is a pretty special place. But in 2022, you can expect everything in the park to be amazing. That’s because Yellowstone is celebrating its 150th anniversary and everyone’s invited to the party.

It’s no wonder that this spectacular spot became the very first national park, not just in the United States but the entire world in 1852. This incredible natural habitat includes bison, elk, wolves, and raptors, and other-worldly geothermal features including geysers, hot springs, fumaroles, travertine terraces, and mud pots. The home of the famous Old Faithful geyser, Yellowstone attracts millions of people each year and 2022 is promising to be a banner year. If you want to celebrate the park’s big milestone, here are some tips for planning your visit.

Yellowstone’s 150th birthday is going to be chock-full of events. To keep up to date on all the announcements and possible changes of plans (for instance, if a trail shuts down for maintenance), monitor the park’s social media accounts. You can find Yellowstone National Park’s list of social media platforms here.

Campsite in Montana's portion of Yellowstone
Campsite in Montana’s portion of Yellowstone (heychli / Shutterstock.com)

2. Plan On Visiting Three States

While Yellowstone is considered an iconic Wyoming destination, the park is technically in three states. Ninety-six percent of the park’s territory is located in Wyoming but 3 percent is in Montana and 1 percent is in Idaho. Why does this matter? I have a sneaking suspicion that all three states will plan special celebrations for Yellowstone’s big birthday, so it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye on their respective state tourism board social media accounts to see what might be announced.

I have to say, I have a soft spot for the Montana section of Yellowstone. On my first visit, I drove in through Montana and the West Entrance and I was instantly smitten. The scenery, as you might expect, is spectacular but what really stayed with me was how incredible the air smelled. It was so crisp and clear and even smelled a bit like cinnamon. What a way to start a trip!

Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel at Yellowstone National Park
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel (Ronnie Chua / Shutterstock.com)

3. Book Your Accommodations Early. Super Early!

This is the kind of tip that applies to any National Park at any time: Book your accommodations early, especially if you want one of the highly in-demand historic park lodges. Now take one of the most popular parks around and add in the fact that 2022 is an extra special anniversary and you’ve got a scenario that equals really high demand and limited availability. You don’t want to book early. You want to book super early! (Feel free to hop over the park’s reservation page right now. We’ll wait).

Thankfully, there are plenty of amazing choices within the park. Yellowstone National Park Lodges operates nine lodges (both hotel-style and cabin-style) in the park with more than 2,000 rooms. All are open from late spring through fall, but only two are open in the winter: Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel.

4. Know The Cancelation Schedule 

Many rooms book a full year ahead of time but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a room if you aren’t an early bird. You can try checking availability 30 days or so before your visit. Those with existing reservations get a full refund if they cancel with at least 30 days’ notice. Another good benchmark for checking is at 8 days pre-trip. Summer guests lose their full deposit if they cancel with 7 days or fewer remaining before their trip. If a last-minute cancelation is going to open up, chances are it’s at the 8-day mark.

Backcountry campsite in Yellowstone National Park
drewthehobbit / Shutterstock.com

5. Last-Minute Travelers Might Luck Out For Camping

If you’re a last-minute kind of traveler, you’ll appreciate that three of Yellowstone’s 12 campgrounds are first-come, first-served. As well, there are 300 backcountry campsites. Yep, that does mean you’ll have to trek to get there! But it also means getting a tiny corner of the iconic park entirely to yourself, for just a few dollars a night. You can read all the details of what backcountry camping entails here

Another flexible option if the backcountry doesn’t appeal to you is the newly renovated Fishing Bridge RV Park. It’s slated to reopen in late May 2022. It will offer 172 revamped sites for hard-side RVs ranging from 40 to 95 feet, plus upgraded electrical service and additional shower and laundry facilities.

The Irma Hotel in Cody, Wyoming
Steve Cukrov / Shutterstock.com

6. Consider Booking Outside The Park

While it’s hard to argue with the convenience of staying within Yellowstone (to say nothing of how cool it is to experience the historic lodges), accommodations just outside the park might be a better deal. As things book up rapidly for the 150th anniversary, you might not find the availability or prices you were hoping for within Yellowstone’s boundaries. The hotels and inns of the gateway towns usually offer better prices and don’t book up as quickly. The Irma Hotel in nearby Cody is a good choice for anyone who wants something nearly as old as Yellowstone itself (the hotel was established in 1902) and plenty of legends (it was founded by Buffalo Bill himself.)

A landscape shot of Yellowstone National Park
Oomka / Shutterstock.com

7. Plan On Pacing Yourself

All parks promote wide open spaces but Yellowstone is a bit more wide open than most. It’s the second-largest park in the lower 48 states. Only Death Valley National Park is bigger. There are approximately 3,500 square miles to cover. There are people who’ve spent their whole lives exploring Yellowstone and haven’t come close to experiencing it all. So plan on pacing yourself. Expect drives to take longer than you expect, thanks to frequent stops to view wildlife and the resulting traffic accumulation.

The Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park
The Old Faithful Inn (f11photo / Shutterstock.com)

8. Try To Hang Out During Non-Peak Times

Yellowstone is beautiful any time of day but it’s especially lovely in the early morning and evening. That light is a photographer’s dream! And an extra nice perk is that there will be fewer people around. 

I was once so keen to visit on off-peak hours that I arrived super-early, only to crash mid-day when the combination of jetlag and a pre-dawn wake-up hit me. So I did what any sensible person would do: I took a nap in my car in a parking lot! The only thing I missed was the post-lunch crowds around Old Faithful and I promptly went inside the Old Faithful Inn to visit the tiny coffee kiosk that’s tucked away on the mezzanine level. One latte and a treat later and I was ready to go!

Bison walking on road in front of traffic
SL-Photography / Shutterstock.com

9. Don’t Be Finicky About Rental Car Prices

Unless you’re on an epic road trip (lucky you!) and have your own vehicle, you’ll need a rental car to explore Yellowstone National Park. There’s no comprehensive public transit system to rely on. Unfortunately, rental car prices just about everywhere are on the rise. When the COVID-19 pandemic began and travel all but stopped, most car rental companies sold a significant portion of their fleet in order to make up for lost revenue. Now travel is back, but these companies still haven’t regained their old stock levels. My best advice is to book your rental vehicle now and don’t hold off just because the choice of vehicles isn’t what you envisioned. Right now, getting a large sedan instead of an SUV might seem like a letdown but you could be stuck with a tiny compact car — or nothing at all. Take what you can get now but keep looking. Having something set up is better than nothing.

Hiking path in Yellowstone National Park
Focused Adventures / Shutterstock.com

10. Plan Out Some Paths

There are more than 900 miles of trails in Yellowstone National Park, ranging from short, easy, accessible paths to epic multi-day challenges. While you certainly don’t need any special training to tackle the majority of the park’s most popular routes, 2022 is shaping up to be an extremely busy year. If you want a path to yourself, you might have to go, well, not off the beaten path per se, but certainly along the road less traveled. Having a list of hikes that match your interests and abilities means you’ll always have a backup plan should your first choice be crowded.

11. Download All Your Plans

If you’re like me, you might email your travel plans to yourself or bookmark certain web pages and social media posts for easy reference when you travel. Alas, such clever plans don’t exactly work out in Yellowstone because much of the park has no reliable cell signal. That means no quick email checks! As such, download your travel plans before you enter the park and include some maps and driving instructions as well. Happily, Yellowstone National Park has its own app that you can download and use offline.

Read more about Yellowstone National Park in these articles:



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Duren leads No. 11 Memphis past Western Kentucky 74-62


Jalen Duren had 22 points, 19 rebounds and five blocks as No. 11 Memphis beat Western Kentucky 74-62 in a sloppy game on Friday night.

DeAndre Williams added 13 points and Earl Timberlake finished with 10 for the Tigers (4-0).

Camron Justice led the Hilltoppers (1-3) with 18 points, while Jairus Hamilton scored 14. Dayvion McKnight had 11 points and eight rebounds as Western Kentucky lost its third straight.

It was the play of Duren controlling the middle that kept the Tigers from dropping their first game of the season.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE SPORTS COVERAGE ON FOXNEWS.COM

“Jalen’s energy definitely made up for those mistakes that we made shooting the ball in the first half. We shot the ball horrible,” Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said, adding: “Thank God for Jalen Duren tonight because he kept us in the game and won it for us.”

Duren had 11 points and 12 rebounds in the second half and helped the Tigers pull away.

“That’s why he’s one of the best players in America,” Western Kentucky coach Rick Stansbury said “He beat us up around that rim. He got those put-backs. He’s hard to keep out and keep off that rim.”

The game ratcheted up the competition for the Tigers, who travel to New York next week to play in the NIT Season Tip-off. They will face Virginia Tech in the opener.

“I’m thankful for a game like this right before we go on the road,” Hardaway said. “I think everything has been so easy that the guys get a little complacent. Tonight, we got into a good game.”

Memphis shot poorly from 3-point range and committed 26 turnovers, keeping Western Kentucky in the game even when the Tigers stretched their second-half lead to double digits.

Western Kentucky had its own problems with 25 turnovers and poor free-throw shooting.

“You can point to a couple of things. You can point to turnovers. We had 25,” Stansbury said. “Then the free-throw line. You can’t go 5 for 13 from the foul line. Those kinds of things just take the air from you.”

The Hilltoppers gave Memphis by far its toughest challenge this season, leading by as many as 10 points in the first half. Memphis went 1 of 7 from 3-point range in the first half against the Western Kentucky zone defense. A late rush by Memphis left the game tied at 38 at the break.

“Give them credit for going to a zone,” Hardaway said. “We work on zone every day. Got a little stagnant on the offensive end.”

Western Kentucky had its own turnover issues in the first half, preventing any kind of flow to the game. In the second half, Memphis’ defense held the Hilltoppers to 26.5% shooting. Memphis was better at 39.4%, but made only one of its nine 3-point attempts after halftime.

“We didn’t win the game, but I’m awful proud of the way our guys came in here and battled,” Stansbury said. “We just played one of the better teams in the country. And we were right there.”

BIG PICTURE

Western Kentucky: The Hilltoppers can give opponents plenty of trouble with their zone defense, along with busy hands swatting away passes. Western Kentucky’s 3-point shooting kept the game close until it finished the game by missing six of its last seven shots.

Memphis: Turnovers continue to plague the Tigers. The 14 first-half giveaways resulted in 19 points for the Hilltoppers. And the ballhandling was just as bad in the second half.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win and Memphis should at least hold onto its spot in the AP Top 25.

HOLD ONTO THE BALL

In the first five minutes of the game, the teams combined for 10 turnovers. The Tigers came into the game averaging 20 turnovers a game, and Western Kentucky was forcing their opponents into roughly the same amount.

UP NEXT

Western Kentucky: Hosts Alabama A&M on Wednesday.

Memphis: Faces Virginia Tech on Wednesday in the NIT Season Tip-off in New York.



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business trip

CWT Exits Chapter 11 Bankruptcy One Day After Filing


A U.S. bankruptcy court judge on Friday approved travel
management company CWT’s plan to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy, one day after the
TMC filed a petition, the company announced Friday. The court’s approval
appears to set CWT on a course to complete the financial recapitalization
process
it announced in September, including the prepackaged
Chapter 11 filing
.

CWT in a statement late Friday said its plan had “the
overwhelming support of CWT’s financial stakeholders” and would eliminate
about half of its debt.

“We are pleased to have received prompt court approval
of the agreement we reached with CWT’s financial stakeholders, which positions
the company for long-term success and provides significant financial resources
to further grow and develop our business,” CWT CEO Michelle McKinney
Frymire said in the Friday statement. 

RELATED: CWT’s
McKinney Frymire Leans Into Recapitalization & Recovery

CWT had prepared the prepackaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy
petition to accelerate the closing the restructuring and recapitalization deal,
and filed Thursday in a U.S. bankruptcy court in Texas. A prepackaged process
is one in which debtors and creditors agree to restructuring terms ahead of
filing for Chapter 11. The company in September said the recapitalization deal plan
would replace CWT’s existing $1.5 billion debt burden with a new first lien
debt of $625 million and a new undrawn revolving credit facility.

RELATED: CWT
Filings Illuminate Its Path Into And Out Of Chapter 11
[$ subscription]

CWT on Friday said the plan would raise $350 million of new
equity capital into its business, and announced $100 million in product
development, including enhancement of its myCWT travel management platform. 

“Having reached this important milestone, we are now
able to move beyond the pandemic and accelerate investments that create
innovative programs and industry-leading experiences, including an enhanced
myCWT platform,” McKinney Frymire said in the statement. “As business
travel continues to recover, we look forward to building on our momentum,
continuing to advance our strategic priorities for the benefit of our
customers, partners and other stakeholders, and delivering exceptional
experiences for our customers, travelers and attendees.”

The TMC said investment also would be geared toward  “augmenting CWT’s existing omni-channel
experience, enabling it to continue its pre-pandemic track record of strong
growth, and enhancing the existing sustainable solutions it provides for its customers
and their travelers,” a process that “will include expanding CWT’s
breadth and depth of omni-channel content, travel comparison capabilities,
analytical reporting and choice and availability of sustainable travel
solutions to further enhance the point-of-sale experience for travelers and
carbon footprint details to enable better-informed decision-making.”

Further details will be forthcoming, according to CWT.

RELATED: CWT
Prepares Prepackaged Chapter 11 Filing



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JAGS HIT THE ROAD TO FACE #11 MICHIGAN


ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The IUPUI women’s basketball team will open its regular season campaign on Tuesday night (Nov. 9) when the Jaguars travel to Ann Arbor to face #11 Michigan at 7:00 p.m. The game marks only the second time the Jags face the Wolverines, with the last matchup on Dec. 11, 2004, when IUPUI fell 68-48.
 
Head coach Austin Parkinson‘s team enters the game after a 98-50 exhibition win over IU Northwest that saw five Jaguars score in double-digits. Standout guard Rachel McLimore led the team with 17 points and three triples followed by three-time #HLWBB Player of the Year Macee Williams with 10 points and five rebounds.
 
The Jaguars finished the 2020 season with a 15-5 record and were voted atop the Horizon League Women’s Basketball Preseason Polls for 2021. Starting point guard Destiny Perkins returns for the Jags and has started off strong with 10 points and three rebounds in the exhibition match up.
 
Other returning letterwinners include graduate student Morgan Allen, juniors Natalie Anderson and Ali Berg and sophomores Trinity Duckworth, Jaci Jones and Anna Mortag. First-year center Jacquel Bronaugh and freshman forward Nakaih Hunter led the incoming class with strong outings against IU Northwest. Another newcomer, Saint Louis-transfer Rachel Kent, was among the starting five for the exhibition opener and finished with six points and three assists in limited action. 
 
Parkinson’s squad was recently pegged No. 12 in the initial Mid-Major Top 25 for the 2021-22 season.
 
The Jaguars will be tested on Tuesday as they face Michigan who enters the season ranked No. 11 in the Associated Press poll and No. 10 in the USA Today/Coaches poll. The Wolverines return 11 players including their top leading scores, Naz Hillmon, the 2021 Big Ten Player of the Year, and Leigha Brown. Michigan is coming off last year’s 16-6 season. Naz Hillmon led the team in 2020 averaging 23.9 points and 11.3 rebounds to earn the program’s first-ever All-American.

Tuesday’s game with be aired on Big Ten Network+ with tip off at 7 p.m.
 





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EMCC basketball teams each fall to 1-1


Jakorie Smith scored 22 points and Nick Walker grabbed 14 rebounds Thursday night, but East Mississippi Community College dropped a 70-65 game to Northwest Mississippi at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum.

EMCC and Northwest battled through seven ties, including a 33-33 halftime deadlock that came about following double-digit runs by both teams during the opening half.  London Taylor scored eight points during a 12-2 Rangers run that gave the visitors a 19-10 lead midway through the half.   

Slowed by 8 turnovers during the game’s first 12 minutes, the Lions later overcame an 11-point deficit by scoring 11 unanswered points, including 6 straight points by Smith, to knot the score at 28-28 with 2:24 remaining in the first half.

Following intermission, the teams played through three more ties before Northwest scored eight consecutive points to move ahead, 51-43.

As they did in the opening half, the Lions battled back to forge two additional deadlocks midway through the second stanza.  Following consecutive put-back baskets by EMCC on the heels of two Danny Washington steals, Blake Butler‘s three-point play at the 12:00 mark tied it at 52-52.

A minute later with the score tied at 54-54, the Rangers went on a 7-0 run to reclaim the lead for good. The Lions pulled to within six points at 69-63 on a Butler 3-pointer with 2:37 left.  Following a two-minute scoring drought by both teams, EMCC could then only manage to cut the deficit to four points on a Nick Walker putback with 24.1 ticks remaining.

EMCC received double-double efforts by forwards Smith (22 points, 10 rebounds) and Walker (12 points, 14 rebounds). It was the 14th double-double for Smith in his career and the sixth for Walker.

Isaiah Gainesscored 18 of his team-high 20 points after halftime to lead four players in double figures for Northwest. Joseph Cooper was next with 15 points, followed by Ethan Pickett and Taylor with 12 and 10 points, respectively.

EMCC (1-1) will resume MACCC play Monday at Holmes before competing in Vincennes University’s McDonald’s Classic, Nov. 12-13 in Indiana, where the Lions will meet the host Trailblazers at 6 p.m. Friday before taking on preseason No. 6 John A. Logan College at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Women’s basketball

Coahoma 65, East Mississippi 50: The Tigers led from wire to wire to pin the first loss of the season on the Lions.

After taking a 38-27 halftime lead, the Tigers did not let the Lions get closer than 10 points the rest of the way. Two free throws by Markiema Lancaster pulled EMCC within 11 at 61-50 late in the game, but the Lions did not score during the final three minutes.

Shakira Wilson led EMCC with 11 points. DJ Williams followed with 9 points, and Siarra Jackson contributed 7 points and 5 rebounds.

Coahoma displayed balanced scoring with five players scoring between nine and 12 points, led by Tiara Abron’s dozen, Nakia Cheateham with 11 and Brayland Ferguson with 10.

The Lions (1-1) will travel to Northwest Mississippi for a Monday game before returning home to host Itawamba on Thursday.  Tip-off time for the EMCC-ICC women’s game is set for 5:30 p.m. at Currie Coliseum on the Scooba campus.  



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11 Unique Things To Do In New Mexico


For 9 days each October, millions of people gather in Albuquerque to celebrate everything balloons during the annual International Balloon Fiesta. However, New Mexico is truly the Land of Enchantment and home to outstanding attractions and places to explore. Whether you love the outdoors or enjoy taking in history and culture, New Mexico is ripe for travel. From ghost towns to giant telescopes gazing through space for discoveries, you’ll have a great time traversing the state.

New Mexico is one of my favorite states to visit. I’ve often said if I were to move from Nebraska, New Mexico would be in my top three states to consider (Minnesota and Washington are the others). Here’s a look at some of my favorite spots to visit in the Enchantment State, as well as a few more attractions.

Welcome to Roswell (New Mexico) sign with animals beaming into a flying saucer spaceship.
Steve Lagreca / Shutterstock.com

1. Roswell

Alien fanatics enjoy exploring Ground Zero of space travel. Whether you believe in little green aliens, Roswell has been linked to outer space visitors since a spaceship was believed to have crashed in the New Mexico desert during the 1940s. Since then, the city has embraced its status, including an annual alien festival. Learn about the “Roswell Incident” through a series of exhibits at the International UFO Museum and Research Center.

If UFOs and aliens aren’t for you, beam over to the Roswell Museum and Art Center. With more than 11,000 pieces in its collection, the museum focuses on southwestern art. Founded in 1935 as part of a Works Progress Administration, the museum is one of a few remaining created as a Federal Art Center. Nature enthusiasts embrace hiking trails at Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge. As the Chihuahuan Desert and southern plains meet near the Pecos River, a unique and beautiful landscape features sand dunes, grasslands, and sinkholes. The wetlands invite hundreds of species of waterfowl and birds. Look for creatures native to the area, such as long-eared rabbits. You may swear you’ve seen a jackalope.

Historic Acoma Pueblo indian village in New Mexico, USA.
Traveller70 / Shutterstock.com

2. Acoma Pueblo

Dating back to the 1200s, Sky City is believed to be the oldest inhabited community in the country. Residents originally used ladders to gain access because of the mesa’s sheer build. With up to 50 people living at the Sky City Acoma Pueblo year round, visitors get an up-close look into the history of the southwestern Native American tribe. Tours are hosted by locals, beginning at the Sky City Cultural Center and Haak’u Museum. With beautiful pottery and other artifacts, the museum offers a look into the early lives of Sky City residents. Surrounded by beautiful scenery, the Acoma Pueblo is a memorable visit for anyone taking the 60-minute drive from Albuquerque.

Coyote (Canis latrans) at Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, AZ.
Craig Chaddock / Shutterstock.com

3. Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, Cibola County

With about 50 Wolves, foxes, dingoes, and other canines, the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary offers a home to abandoned or rescued animals. Located about 90 miles south of Grants, animal lovers will enjoy a guided tour of the rugged terrain. Visitors learn fun facts about wolves and other canines at the facility. Animals calling the sanctuary home are often rescued from people who thought they could raise wolves in a domestic setting or thought the animals were a wolf/dog mix. Some wolves come to the sanctuary after sustaining injuries that prevent them from surviving in the wild. While visitors get up close to the wolves, physical interaction is prohibited. However, sanctuary caregivers do perform public shows where they share access to young, domesticated wolves.

Pro Tip: Call Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary 48 hours in advance to reserve your tour.

Elephant Butte Lake, New Mexico, USA.
Elephant Butte Lake (Photo Credit: Judd Irish Bradley)

4. Truth Or Consequences

Imagine renaming your town after a television game show. That’s exactly what residents of Truth or Consequences did in 1950 when the show’s host challenged communities to do so. Hot Springs won. The rest is history. Whether or not you tour the town, a photo with the city’s name is a must. But, come prepared for a different kind of experience. With actual hot springs, Truth or Consequences is the perfect spot for relaxing in a natural hot tub. La Paloma Too has the city’s oldest hot springs tubs, which you can rent by the hour. Enjoy the great outdoors by traversing the trails at Elephant Butte Lake State Park. You can also spend time on the beach, relaxing or swimming in the clear lake.

Very Large Array satellite dishes at Sunset in New Mexico, USA.
Kenny Tong / Shutterstock.com

5. Very Large Array, Socorro

Thanks to the giant telescope at the Very Large Array, scientists discovered ice on Mercury. The enormous radio telescopes, about two hours south of Albuquerque, search space for all kinds of scientific wonders, including material from other galaxies. Made famous in movies such as Contact and Independence Day, the VLA role actually doesn’t include hunting for alien life in the cosmos. The facility offers self-guided tours of the 27 radio telescopes. You’ll feel like an ant when standing next to one, as they’re 82 feet in diameter.

The Four Corners monument on a cold spring morning.
Jo Hunter / Shutterstock.com

6. Four Corners Monument, San Juan County

Stand in four states at one time. It’s a challenge that must be accepted. Located on the Navajo (Dine) Nation, the Four Corners Monument includes Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. The monument includes observation decks overlooking each state marker for excellent views and photo opportunities. You’ll find Native American vendors, selling pottery, clothing, and beadwork. If you’ve yet to try fry bread (aka Navajo bread), this is a great spot to order some.

Pro Tip: Bring a paper map, as cell service is spotty at best.

White sands national monument hills of gypsum sand dunes and shrubs plants in New Mexico with Organ mountains on horizon during colorful yellow sunset.
Andriy Blokhin / Shutterstock.com

7. White Sands National Park, Alamogordo

Located in the Tularosa Basin, between New Mexico’s mountains, dunes of white sand roll like waves in an ocean. Reminding them of snow, people often bring cardboard boxes to flatten and sled down the dunes at White Sands National Park. As you traverse the white dunes, you’ll find several types of cactus and other vegetation. Be on the lookout for wildlife and small invertebrates, including lizards.

Pro Tip: The park is occasionally closed for military missile testing. You can confirm the information here.

Quaint Roadside Shop in Madrid NM.
Gary L. Brewer / Shutterstock.com

8. Madrid Ghost Town, Madrid

Located about an hour northeast of Albuquerque, Madrid (MAD-rid) is not your typical ghost town. It’s actually a thriving artists community. Once a major coal-mining town, Madrid heated homes and provided coal for steam locomotives. Following World War II, the need for coal in the region waned. However, because mining companies had to recruit employees, they provided prefabricated houses. Instead of withering away like other buildings of the 1800s and early 1900s, these buildings were rescued in the early 2000s and repurposed by artists and others into galleries, studios, and shops. Today, visitors can spend a day touring Madrid’s 40 galleries and shops. Head to Casa Grande Trading Post, home to a mining museum and petting zoo. Enjoy a guided horseback ride at Cerrillos Hills State Park, about 10 minutes north of Madrid.

Ancient City of Taos, New Mexico USA.
Josemaria Toscano / Shutterstock.com

9. Taos

With Taos Pueblo standing tall among the area’s mesas, Taos combines history with art. At least 1,000 years old, Taos Pueblo is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Western fans may recall the story of Kit Carson, a mid-1800s gunslinger. His story is told at the Kit Carson Museum. A visit to Taos must include the Historic Taos Plaza. Part of the early settlement of the city, the plaza became the center of the city. Today, shops, galleries, and boutiques hug the area. For a unique experience, visit the Taos Drum Company. Located about five miles south of the city, the Taos Drum Company has been making authentic Native American drums since 1951. Handmade by residents from the Taos Pueblo, the company uses natural and renewable resources to create its instruments.

Pro Tip: Taos Drum Company celebrates its Native American ancestry with teepees outside the factory store.

Sandhill cranes at dawn in Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.
Michelle Holihan / Shutterstock.com

10. Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, San Antonio

Home to Sandhill cranes from October until January, when they start making their way north, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is home to coyotes, rabbits, geese, ducks, and javelinas. The wildlife refuge was once the gathering site of animals and humans, alike. As the Rio Grande was once a powerful river, with raging currents and overflowing the plains during flooding. The Piro tribe lived along the shoreline. As the climate changed, the Rio Grande was reduced to a slower, calmer river. During the 1930s, as part of the Depression recovery, the Civilian Conservation Corps reestablished the area’s wetlands, creating the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is about a 90-minute drive south of Albuquerque.

Las Cruces New Mexico.
Richter MachThunder / Shutterstock.com

11. Las Cruces

Walk along the same streets as Billy the Kid and Pancho Villa. Located less than an hour’s drive from the Mexican border, Las Cruces is full of western history, including the ballads of bandits Billy the Kid and Pancho Villa. Visit Billy the Kid Gift Shop, where you’ll find tons of souvenirs, but also history, as the store is located in Las Cruces’ old courthouse. Used to try and jail Billy the Kid, his ghost is said to haunt the building. Hike the trails along Organ Mountain, where you’ll find waterfalls and wildlife, such as mule deer, songbirds, and even mountain lions (always keep a safe distance from animals). Art Obscura features an eclectic collection of art exhibitions, ranging from fine art to antiques. With rotating exhibits, the gallery offers fresh paintings, photos, and sculptures.

 New Mexico attractions are varied and numerous:



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Travel journal: UND in Nashville (updated 11 p.m. Friday)


Update 11 p.m. Friday

At this point, it has become very apparent to everyone in town that “North Dakota is here.”

Walking down Broadway, you’ll hear others commenting on it.

A longtime Nashville resident made the comment to a friend: “I looked down Broadway and half the state of North Dakota was walking on the left side of the street. The other half was on the right side.”

You can’t go into any bar or restaurant without seeing green within a couple of steps.

However, no place was more lively Friday than the Wild Horse Saloon, the site of the pregame party. Fans packed the three-story venue, which allows those on the second and third floors to look onto the ground.

North Dakota locals Tigerlily played live music on the stage. At about 8:30, the UND team showed up and walked onto the stage. Public address announcer Darrin Looker introduced every player on the team as the crowd roared.

You could see the look on the players’ faces that they thought it was pretty cool.

UND players are introduced on stage in front of the crowd at Wild Horse Saloon on Friday in Nashville. Photo by Brad E. Schlossman / Grand Forks Herald

UND players are introduced on stage in front of the crowd at Wild Horse Saloon on Friday in Nashville. Photo by Brad E. Schlossman / Grand Forks Herald

UND fans pack the Wild Horse Saloon in Nashville. Photo by Brad E. Schlossman / Grand Forks Herald

UND fans pack the Wild Horse Saloon in Nashville. Photo by Brad E. Schlossman / Grand Forks Herald

Update: 7 p.m. Friday

The UND hockey alumni held a get-together Friday night at Acme Seed and Feed, and many continued on over to the Wild Horse Saloon.

One of the highlights at the alumni get-together was a roundtable with Tim Hennessy, Gino Gasparini, Dean Blais and John Marks. They told some old stories and cracked some jokes.

Hockey Hall of Famer Ed Belfour and Nashville resident David Hoogsteen also spoke from the heart about what the program means to them.

Belfour said he has a text thread with his teammates on the 1986-87 NCAA national championship team, and they’re often checking in on each other. He discussed their tight bond.

It was striking to me that despite playing professionally for so many years and being part of so many great teams (including a Stanley Cup winner), his to-go guys are the ones from a team 35 years ago (and a team in which Belfour was a member for just one season).

Gasparini also thanked Ralph Engelstad Arena general manager Jody Hodgson for his work on putting together these destination games. Gasparini said UND’s destination games are one of the “best things going on in college hockey right now.”

A few other attendees included Hobey Baker Award winner Ryan Duncan and Evan Trupp, who recently finished chemotherapy treatments. Brock Nelson and Rocco Grimaldi also stopped by to say hi.

So far, I’ve seen players from seven different decades in Nashville. Among them: Dave Kartio (1960s), Bob Duncan (1970s), Cary Eades (1980s), Jason Blake (1990s), Robbie Bina (2000s), Johnny Simonson (2010s) and the current team (2020s).

Goalie Nation also is well represented. At least four are in Nashville: Belfour, Jon Casey, Karl Goehring and Jake Brandt.

From left: Tim Hennessy, John Marks, Dean Blais and Gino Gasparini speak at the UND hockey alumni reunion Friday in Nashville. Photo by Brad E. Schlossman / Grand Forks Herald

From left: Tim Hennessy, John Marks, Dean Blais and Gino Gasparini speak at the UND hockey alumni reunion Friday in Nashville. Photo by Brad E. Schlossman / Grand Forks Herald

Update: 6 p.m. Friday

Former UND swimmers and divers held a reunion Friday night at Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint in downtown Nashville.

There were roughly 50 of them there, an impressive showing for any sport’s alumni, but especially for one the school cut.

Among the attendees were former head coach Mike Stromberg, former UND swimmer and assistant coach Jeremy Organ, who is now the head coach in town at Vanderbilt, and the program’s first All-American, Kim Edwards Thompson. She was wearing a UND swimming shirt from the 1990s that listed the team’s North Central Conference championships on the back.

UND President Andy Armacost attended the event along with athletic director Bill Chaves and associate athletic director Erik Martinson.

After Stromberg spoke to the group, Armacost asked for the microphone to address the swimmers. They gave him a strong ovation for doing so.

The night seemed to be more about celebrating friendships and accomplishments of the swimmers than it was about making a big push to bring the program back. However, they did tell Armacost that if he wants to bring it back, he should contact them and let them know what they need to do to make it happen and they’ll get to work on it.

Former UND swimmers Denise Hanna Beachley and Kim Edwards Thompson pose for a photo during the UND swimming reunion Friday in Nashville.

Former UND swimmers Denise Hanna Beachley and Kim Edwards Thompson pose for a photo during the UND swimming reunion Friday in Nashville.

Update: 4 p.m. Friday

UND held its lone practice in Nashville from about 1-2 p.m. Friday.

Because Bridgestone Arena is hosting a concert Friday night and an Islanders-Predators game at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, neither UND nor Penn State will have a chance to skate in the venue before the 7:07 p.m. game.

The Fighting Hawks practiced at Centennial Sportsplex, which is near Vanderbilt’s campus. The Predators skated before UND, which meant some of the players were able to chat with former UND forward Rocco Grimaldi.

Former UND forward Rocco Grimaldi, now with the Nashville Predators, talks to Riese Gaber (left) and Kaleb Johnson (right) between Nashville's practice and UND's practice Friday at Centennial Sportsplex. Photo by Russ Hons / UND athletics.

Former UND forward Rocco Grimaldi, now with the Nashville Predators, talks to Riese Gaber (left) and Kaleb Johnson (right) between Nashville’s practice and UND’s practice Friday at Centennial Sportsplex. Photo by Russ Hons / UND athletics.

It was the usual day-before-the-game skate, which means it ended with the weekly shootout competition. This time, as it often seems before big games, there was a major surprise winner.

Assistant coach Karl Goehring got the first shootout win of his career. Although Goehring hadn’t scored a goal in the shootout all year, he buried two on Friday. Of course, it came in the city where he had his one night in the NHL. Here’s our story about that.

The UND hockey team practices at Centennial Sportsplex in Nashville on Friday afternoon. Photo by Russ Hons / UND athletics.

The UND hockey team practices at Centennial Sportsplex in Nashville on Friday afternoon. Photo by Russ Hons / UND athletics.

Update: 3 p.m. Friday

Friday began with an excellent luncheon at Bridgestone Arena to benefit 7Element, an organization that is working to prevent veteran suicide through the camaraderie of hockey.

Founder Brian Bailey, who has completed nine combat tours for a combined 89 months, had a wonderful speech about veterans transitioning out of the military, the hardships, and how 7Element has been impactful.

There are more than 900 members of 7Element, which has no paid staff. Bailey’s full-time job is a business operations manager with the Nashville Predators. Bailey said he’s heard from 35 members who have said the organization kept them from harming themselves.

The event was set up by Ralph Engelstad Arena general manager Jody Hodgson and former UND player Brad Miller, who is a board member with 7Element.

There also was a silent auction. Among the items: A signed 2006-07 UND hockey jersey, which means it was autographed by Jonathan Toews, T.J. Oshie, Ryan Duncan, Taylor Chorney and more. It was donated by a fan specifically for this event.

Among those in attendance at the luncheon included UND President and military veteran Andy Armacost, athletic director Bill Chaves and associate athletic director Erik Martinson, whose brother, Mitch, is a veteran.

7Element founder Brian Bailey speaks at a fan luncheon in Nashville on Friday. Photo by Brad E. Schlossman / Grand Forks Herald

7Element founder Brian Bailey speaks at a fan luncheon in Nashville on Friday. Photo by Brad E. Schlossman / Grand Forks Herald


Update: 9 a.m. Friday

The takeover of Nashville began Thursday night.

There was a UND shoutout at the Opry, I’m told. Green shirts lined each side of Broadway and filled the bars and restaurants in downtown Nashville.

The light drizzle outside didn’t seem to keep any fans from enjoying Broadway.

It did, however, clear out the usually jam-packed balcony at Tootsies, which has the famous view of Bridgestone Arena and Broadway.

A view of Bridgestone Arena from the balcony at Tootsie's.

A view of Bridgestone Arena from the balcony at Tootsie’s.

Update: 7:30 p.m. Thursday

The UND hockey team has arrived in Nashville.

The Fighting Hawks landed at about 5:20 p.m. on their charter flight from Grand Forks.

This flight contained a lot more personnel than a normal road game, because so many events need to be staffed.

There were two special guests at the front of the plane, though. Three-time NCAA national championship-winning coach Gino Gasparini and his wife, Tootsie, traveled with the team.

Gino wore his 1987 NCAA national championship ring. Of course, that was arguably the greatest UND team of all-time.

This isn’t the first time the Gasparinis have made a trip with UND. In 2016, Berry invited them on the team charter. They accepted. The night before the NCAA national championship game, Gino spoke to the team. The players said they were ready to hit the ice right then after Gino’s speech.

UND won its eighth national championship the next night, beating Quinnipiac 5-1.

The general attire on a UND road trip is dress shirt, sport coat, no tie.

On this particular one, the players added a little flavor. Chris Jandric, Griffin Ness, Riese Gaber and Ethan Frisch all donned cowboy hats as a nod to their destination.



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