Category: Travel Blog

The Gulf Shores: The Lodge and The Living With Hurricanes

In our final travel blog entry from the Gulf Shores, I wanted to discuss our hotel: The Lodge at Gulf Shores. There are a great variety of hotels and rental properties the area. However, the Lodge is one of the most interesting properties that you can choose. The $140 million, 350-room Hilton Hotel was built with money from the BP settlement after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, which devastated the area. It was the first hotel to receive a “Cat 5” designation, built to withstand a direct hit from a Category 5 hurricane with winds of 160 mph and the accompanying storm surge. It is a unique design with restored dunes and other ecological elements right on the beach in the park area. Continue reading “The Gulf Shores: The Lodge and The Living With Hurricanes”

Gulf Shores: Eating and Entertainment in the Panhandle

In our third travel blog on the Gulf Shores, I wanted to share a few of our experiences with the local food and music. Once again, since we had only a couple days, this is a limited selection but it might be of a little assistance for anyone coming down to the Panhandle. We actually found a couple of terrific spots that you might want to try. Continue reading “Gulf Shores: Eating and Entertainment in the Panhandle”

Gulf Shores: Fort Morgan and the Commanding View of American History

One of the things at the top of my list in visiting the Gulf Shore was a visit to Fort Morgan. As a military history nut, this is a visit that was an utter thrill. The fort drips with history. It was the most prominent focal point of the Battle of Mobile Bay. It was the scene for the great battle of the ironclads as well as Admiral David Farragut’s famed command of “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” Though perhaps incorrectly chronicled, the battle was every bit as exciting and worthy as legend. Continue reading “Gulf Shores: Fort Morgan and the Commanding View of American History”

The Gulf Shores: The Jewel of Alabama

As I mentioned yesterday, I came down to the Gulf Shores for a speech and I have decided to stay a couple days to explore this unique area. I am staying at The Lodge at Gulf Shores Park a unique property that I will be discussing later on the travel blog.  I wanted to start with some pictures taken at dawn during a long walk down the beach running along the Gulf Shores Park. We had a heavy storm come through last night and the birds were out getting their breakfast. This is also a major sea turtle nesting area so you are given stickers to go over your phone lights (Baby sea turtles can confuse cellphone lights of the moon and head in the wrong direction). The beauty and sense of natural power of this place is overwhelming particularly on an abandoned beach at dawn. Continue reading “The Gulf Shores: The Jewel of Alabama”

A Visit To The Glenstone

This weekend, my family and I visited the Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland. I am embarrassed to say that, despite living in Washington for much of my life, I have never been to this extraordinary art museum. Funded by billionaire Mitchell Rales and curated by Emily Wei Rales, the museum is an amazing blending of art, natural landscape, and architecture.  The result is one of the most beautiful and unique spaces in the world.  You can stroll through the exquisite buildings which are as impressive as the art that they contain.  The galleries are surrounded by trails through gorgeous forests on over 200 acres. I strongly encourage anyone in the area to make a reservation and visit the museum (which is about 30 minutes outside of Washington). Continue reading “A Visit To The Glenstone”

Walking Around The Maize and Blue at the University of Michigan

As an academic, I enjoy visiting great universities with the same passion as some have for visiting the great ball parks. Last week, I decided to go to the massive Sanders rally in Ann Arbor and discuss the election with many of his supporters. My son, Aidan, is looking at the University of Michigan for college and tagged along on the trip. The Michigan campus is one of the most beautiful in the country and an excellent addition to our travel blog, including a stellar hotel.

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The Beauty and Brilliance of Monticello

I recently visited the University of Virginia for a speech at the Miller Center, which was always an immense pleasure. It is remains one of the most beautiful and historic campuses in the country and I was able to bring my son, Aidan, who is looking at Virginia for college. As has been my custom for decades, I never go to Charlottesville without taking a pilgrimage to Monticello and the home of Thomas Jefferson. There has been many changes since my last visit due to a wonderful gift of David Rubenstein, who continues to leave a lasting mark on our historical record with his generous and well-placed giving. Monticello is an even greater delight with Rubenstein’s support. No other historic home more perfectly reflects the figure who lived within it. In this case, the home is filled with designs and inventions of Jefferson whose creativity seems to explode in every room with novel architectural points and quirky inventions. Located in one of the most beautiful areas of our country, Monticello is as timeless as the legal contributions of Jefferson from the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom to our Declaration of Independence.

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Sweet to Bittersweet: Hiking Sagehen And Donner Summit Trails

Yesterday hiking in Nevada and California took me from the sweet to the bittersweet. The Sagehen trail can only be described as a “sweet” trail. Trails have personalities. Some played with you and make you earn the summit. Some are just sweetheart, girl-next-door trails. That is the Sagehen trail. A lovely 5 miles there-and-back to a lake with added side trails available. I then did the Donner Summit and Mount Judas trails. That one is not sweet but gorgeous. Think of Mary Ann and Ginger. It was a great combination on a spectacular day.

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The Beauty of Mount Rose

I am in California to speak among the judges and attorneys of the Eastern District in Lake Tahoe on Sunday. As many on this blog know, I am an avid hiker and often take the opportunity of these trips to explore the local trails and forests. Yesterday, I hiked the Tahoe Rim Trail and then the Mt. Rose Trail. These trails take you along the Nevada and California border. The latter is quite difficult as you work your way up the summit of the highest point in the area. At roughly 9000 feet, it is the highest peak of the greater Sierra Nevada range. It is a gorgeous though strenuous hike.

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Running The Nenana With Raft Denali

One the greatest highlights of the trip to Alaska was returning to join Nenana Raft Adventures (www.raftdenali.com) on a whitewater adventure in Denali. This is one of my favorite companies, run by Judith White, who is a fixture in Denali with Nenana Raft Adventures and Denali Paddlesports. Judy attracts top raft operators from all over the country and the company is takes every precaution to give amateurs a safe but exciting time on Class Four runs along the Denali National Park. It is a wonderful way to break up days hiking at Denali and we had a ball.

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Day 10: Hiking Crow Creek

On our final full day in Alaska, we selected the Crow Creek trail. This was my first time on the trail but we received excellent advice from Jimmy Stokes, an amazing hotel staff member at the Alyeska Hotel in Girdwood. Jimmy saw us hiking and suggested Crow Creek. He gave us a map and great advice for the challenging hike. Like all things Jimmy, we soon discovered that he was right on the money with distances and other details. Alyeska is a terrific hotel that celebrates everything Alaska to its great food and outdoor adventures. Jimmy is an example of how the staff go the extra mile for every guest. This trail was a highlight of the trip.

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The Wonder of Blackstone Bay

On our eighth day, we went kayaking around the glaciers at Blackstone Bay near Whittier with Alaska Sea Kayakers. This is my second trip with the company and I could not recommend them more highly. The owner, Pete, is a fixture (and Vice Mayor) in Whittier and has been doing this work for decades. They are incredibly professional and excellent environmental stewards. We had two highly experienced guides, Todd and Kevin (who turned out to be a UConn law student), who were a wealth of knowledge about the animal life and glaciers.

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