Chelle Koster Walton

Feats of treetop insanity.

Playing in the Tree Tops at TreeUmph! in Florida

That moment when you realize you will be hooking up your own harness hardware (sans supervision) to the 650-foot TreeUmphant! zip line that is the grand finale to the new aerial base camp experience outside of Bradenton, Florida. Or when you realize Read More

Into the sea!

Horseback Riding into the Sea in Turks and Caicos Islands

Diamond had been rescued from a schizophrenic pothead on Provo, I learned. The standardbred horse sometimes takes issue with people at eye level, but he was a sweetheart once I took the saddle. Similar stories ride on the backs of the two dozen or Read More

Cherries ripe for the pickin' at Seaquist Orchards in Door County

Getting in Cherry Condition in Door County, Wisconsin

"Cherry condition" per urbandictionary.com: When something is in near perfect condition. "Cherry condition" according to Door County, Wisconsin: When someone has exceedingly reaped the healthful and gustatory benefits of Montmorency tart Read More

Clyde Butcher's fine art nature photography makes a meaningful souvenir.

What to Buy in Florida: Shopping for True Souvenirs from the Sunshine State

Mickey Mouse ears and crates of oranges: That is so last century when it comes to shopping for souvenirs that truly say “Florida.” Harry Potter is the new Mickey Mouse, and key lime products are much trendier in the citrus department. In Your Bucket Read More

Blue Mountain coffee in bloom.

Getting High in Jamaica’s Blue Mountains

Folks are friendly in the mountains of Jamaica, but in an unpracticed way. They will tell you how to behave and it’s always best to listen for your own sake: They’re almost always right. Then they’ll tell you a funny story. Definitely listen to Read More

Swimming with leatherbacks. Photo by Shannon O'Malley

Swimming with Leatherback Turtles in Barbados

Shannon was crying. I knew she would. I knew she was crying, in fact, even before she lifted her snorkel mask. She still cries, after all, every time she talks about a leatherback sea turtle nest-hatching experience we shared in Antigua a few Read More

Zorba's is equally Greek, Bahamian, and American and where I finally tried sheep tongue souse.

Breakfasting like the Natives on Grand Bahama Island

I may have gulped slightly as I stared down the bowl of “sheep tongue souse” on my breakfast table. I had tried most of the other unusual traditional breakfast dishes during my years of travel to the Bahamas; this visit I was determined to leap out Read More

The rugged black-sand beach of Rosalie Bay

Tuning into Dominica at Rosalie Bay Eco-Resort

I ended up with a riverside suite at Rosalie Bay boutique eco-resort, rather than a room oceanside. I was immediately glad it worked out that way. The view and chortling of the rocky Rosalie River was soothing and oh-so apropos for the mountainous Read More

Atlantis view from Royal Tower

Indulging Watery Fantasies at Atlantis in the Bahamas

My taxi driver dropped me at the wrong spot, so I ended up tugging my luggage through a mammoth casino with all the blinking glitz of Vegas. Massive sea-suggestive Dale Chihuly glass sculptures and the ka-ching of slots greeted my arrival, then a Read More

Abaco Beach Resort

Being a Kid Bahamian-Style at Abaco Beach Resort

After a crafts session on the beach, the kids headed for the docks to go fishing. It may sound like an ordinary kids program on an ordinary day at a sunny beach resort, but what makes the difference at Abaco Beach Resort at Boat Harbour in the Read More

The lush and elegant back courtyard at Graycliff Hotel.

Experiencing Nassau’s Finest at Graycliff Bahamas

It felt like a sigh of relief: an escape from the theme park hoopla of Atlantis resort and the shopping/boozing throngs just down the hill in downtown Nassau. Graycliff: Its very name strikes respect and appreciation among those who know it. Begun Read More

Ponce de Leon landing in Florida vignette at the Fountain of Youth Park

Drinking from the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine, Florida

“Have you had a drink of the water?” the young man with the closely cropped beard and “Winston” name tag asked. “Do I look younger?” I shot back. “I suppose you’re going to tell me you’re 100 years old.” I’d done this before. I’d drank from the Read More

First view of the slopes

A Flatlander Skiing Wintergreen, Virginia

When I posted a picture from the top of the slopes on Facebook, my jaded West Coast friends responded with ridicule and words like “bunny hill” and a definition of “slope.” In Your Bucket Because... It's good for learning -- or re-learning -- Read More

The local shrimp fleet backdrops Pass Christian's parade.

Doing Mardi Gras on the Mississippi Coast

"Be aggressive,” she schooled me. “People will run you over to get those beads.” My friend Amy was preparing me for my first foray into Mardi Gras in Mississippi. Yes, that’s right: Not New Orleans. Not Mobile, where the first Mardi Gras was held, Read More

Keswick Vineyards

Winery-Hopping around Charlottesville, Virginia

The Chardonnay at Pollak Vineyards tasted of crème brulée and fig. Or was that the Viognier? Our fifth Virginia Charlottesville-Piedmont region winery of the day, my notes were just a wee bit wine-sotted. The Chardonnays and Viogniers were starting Read More

The camp's bookstore and information center

Communing with Spirits in Cassadaga, Florida

One little girl in the town of Cassadaga, Florida, loves shiny pennies so much, she’s often leaving them around on the floor. Another inhabitant named Arthur, a former opera singer from New York, has a penchant for cigars and booze. On a visit to the Read More

The adventure begins...

Horse-surfing in Bradenton Beach, Florida

My legs were quivering like tapioca pudding: I’m not going to lie to you. Nervous, yes. But also a reaction to pinning my knees into Winnie’s belly to avoid getting dumped into Bradenton Beach’s Palma Sola Bay. A.J., one of our personal Read More

baby alligator

Becoming a Midwife to a Baby Alligator in Florida

“Push!,” my husband urged. Flashback: Heard that from him often enough with the birthing of my own baby. But this one was entirely less painful. Well, except for that chomp on my finger. I had, as instructed, picked off a piece of tough Read More

Cooking classes in Riviera Maya

Eating Riviera Maya in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula

To once and for all satisfy my ever-crave for Mexican food autentica: Es posible? I was salivating to give it a try as I made my recent plans for the Riviera Maya, a slice of Yucatan coastline where seafood and rich Maya tradition stir up an Read More

One frisky manatee begged for attention.

Snorkeling with Manatees in Crystal River, Florida

The baby manatee nuzzled my cheek with its fleshy whiskered muzzle, and when I began to scratch under its chin, it went vertical in the water, grabbed my hand between its two rubbery fins with their five broad, flat fingernails each, and hugged it to Read More