Category: Travel Blog


As many on the blog know, one of my favorite hikes is the Old Rag trail the Shenandoah National Park.  Depending on your trail, it is roughly 11 miles to the parking area and is one of the most challenging hikes in the area.  Due to my travel schedule, I had hoped to see the fall foliage on Friday but the trees are not ready to their annual show.  Nevertheless, it was spectacular.  I followed my usual practice of starting at dawn as the sun was rising. (That means leaving Northern Virginia at 5 am to make it near the trailhead in Sperryville, Virginia). Continue reading “THE WONDERS OF THE OLD RAG”

Day 11: From Dawn At Shipwreck Cove To Dusk At Polihale Beach

IMG_8785Our last full day in Kauai began for me at 5 am when I quietly left the house to greet the dawn at the nearby Shipwreck Cove.  After I returned, the family got up and we took an overall one hour drive to the Western side of the island where one of the most spectacular beaches can be found at the start of the Na Poli coast in Polihale State Park.  The thing about the Hawaiian islands is that everyone can be Ansel Adams with an iPhone. It is virtually impossible to take a big shot on Kauai. Continue reading “Day 11: From Dawn At Shipwreck Cove To Dusk At Polihale Beach”

Day 10: The Wonder That Is The Nā Pali Coast

IMG_8722Our tenth day in Hawaii was the most memorable with a trip up the awe-inducing Nā Pali coast of Kauai.  Parts of Nā Pali are only accessible by boat though some trails and roads reach this unique area.  You may be familiar with the coast without knowing it since the almost prehistoric look of its cliffs and valleys have been featured in films like King Kong.  It is far more inspiring in person and we signed on with the leading boat tour  outfit for the coast, Captain Andy’s Sailing Adventures.  We took one of the company’s custom 65′ Star Class luxury catamarans for the tour of a lifetime.  Nā Pali is one of the true wonders of the Pacific with plentiful sea creatures and wondrous cliffs. Continue reading “Day 10: The Wonder That Is The Nā Pali Coast”

Day 9: Hanalei and the North Side Of Kauai

 On our ninth day, we ventured over to the other side of the Kauai to visit the historic village of Hanalei and its lovely cove beach. The trip across the island offers from stunning scenes but also a vivid illustration of how different the weather is on different parts of this small island.  We are staying on the Southern tip where it has the most sunny days.  The Northern parts including Princeville have almost constant rain, though it passes quickly. The change is quite pronounced between the two parts.  The North tends to have not only more rain but it is notably more muggy and buggy. We also found the water to  be more clear in the South. Continue reading “Day 9: Hanalei and the North Side Of Kauai”

Day 8: The Wonder Of Waimea

It is called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Waimea Canyon on Kauaʻi was one of the highlights of this trip.  It is a 3,000 foot park is one of the most spectacular natural settings on Earth.  We planned an entire day with a guide from Kauai Hiking Adventures. We were incredibly fortunate to have Jeffrey Courson, a Californian who came to Kanai decades ago and has an encyclopedic knowledge of the island’s planting, animals, history, and topography.  Above is my son Jack at the very end of a cliff overlooking the canyon. Continue reading “Day 8: The Wonder Of Waimea”

Day 7: Kauai’s South Shore

IMG_8339We spent our second day on beautiful Kauai was visiting beaches on the South shore.  We started in the morning at the aptly named Shipwreck Cove where the waves were huge but the under current quite dangerous.  We went in briefly before going down the shore to Poipu Beach which was lovely but a bit crowded. At the suggestion of one of the lifeguards, we went further down the road to Salt Pond Beach which had more roasters than people.  The waves were huge and we had a ball.



Continue reading “Day 7: Kauai’s South Shore”

Day 5: Behold The Green Turtles of Oahu

IMG_8275Day five on Oahu could be simply called turtles, turtles, and more turtles. One of the reasons that I was interested in staying on the North Shore rather than Waikiki was the abundance of green see turtles.  Today we enjoyed watching these magnificent animals at various beaches, including their daily visit at a beach for sun and a feast of sea grass.  It was a great way to spend the last full day on Oahu. Continue reading “Day 5: Behold The Green Turtles of Oahu”

Day 4: From Diamond Head To Pearl Harbor

IMG_8212Day Four of our trip to Hawaii started early with a trip to the Diamond Head crater.  This was my second hike up the crater, but the first such venture for the family.  We then had a great lunch at Duke’s restaurant in Waikiki and journeyed on to Pearl Harbor. We finished the day with an evening dip back on the North Shore.  It felt wonderfully decadent.   Continue reading “Day 4: From Diamond Head To Pearl Harbor”

Day 3: The Waterfalls, Water Lilies, and Waterdrops Of Oahu

IMG_8161Our third day in Oahu was spectacular.  We started by driving to the magnificent the Waimea Valley and the Waimea Arboretum and Botanical Garden.  We then walked to the nearby Waimea Beach where kids jump off a high rock into the surf.  It was a great day of hiking and just lying on the beach.

Continue reading “Day 3: The Waterfalls, Water Lilies, and Waterdrops Of Oahu”

Day 2: Oahu From Turtle Bay To Shark’s Cove

IMG_8108We arrived at 6 am (ET) in Oahu, Hawaii and were pretty beat but had to rent a van and drive to the North side of the island.  We are staying in Turtle Bay between Protection Point and Kuilima Point on the North Shore of the island of O’ahu.  For those wanting to avoid the congestion and tourism of Waikiki, the North Shore is ideal.  Despite our late arrival, we got up at 6 am to start what was an awesome first full day on the island.  Continue reading “Day 2: Oahu From Turtle Bay To Shark’s Cove”

Aloha Hawaii

img_7067Today, I am taking most of the family on our first family vacations in years.  We are going to Hawaii and will spend time on Oahu and Kauai islands.  I will be posting our usual travel blog on the trip with discussion of sights, restaurants, and adventures for any readers who might benefit from the experience and photos.  As always, I may be a tad delayed in posting depending on wifi and conditions. I will be posting the travel blog at the end of each day.  However, we take off this afternoon and will arrive in Honolulu around 9 pm local time.  Unfortunately, my son is doing pre-med studies and staying behind, though he and my brother-in-law are cheap house and dog sitters at the homestead! Continue reading “Aloha Hawaii”

My Wonderful, Inspiring, and Embarrassing Hike In the Cleveland National Forest

IMG_8073As is often my practice, I used an out-of-town speech this week to experience another of our wonderful national parks.  With my keynote to the Ninth Circuit scheduled for Monday, I used Sunday to explore the rough remote areas of the Cleveland National Park. I decided to get up early an hike the San Juan and Chiquito Falls trails.  It would turn out memorable beyond all of my expectations.  With a heat wave hitting the area, the hike in the desert environment was well over 100 degrees with no shade. Despite bringing over a gallon of water in my camel back, I ran out of water on the return of the long hike and ended up with heat stroke . . . and had to be airlifted out after taking a tumble into a ravine. More of that rescue later.  All I can say is that I can never repay the Orange County rescue team of the Sheriff’s office and fire department.  While I wish I was not the subject of their work, meeting these incredibly heroic first responders was an inspiring experience. I will be writing about that experience separately.  While I am now recovering from heat stroke in my hotel, I wanted to share some of the pictures before my embarrassing failure just short of the trail head. Continue reading “My Wonderful, Inspiring, and Embarrassing Hike In the Cleveland National Forest”


IMG_7862As I mentioned yesterday, the highlight of my recent trip to New Orleans was my visit (with my son Jack) to the greatly expanded World War II Museum.  I have visited the museum repeatedly since it was first opened.  As someone who continues to study and write on military history, this museum has been a joy to watch expand and improve through the years.  It is now the greatest military museum for the greatest generation. It is easily on par with the great museums of Europe like Musée de l’Armée at the Les Invalides in Paris. It should be a point of pride for all Americans in its expanding and unique collection of artifacts and weaponry from World War II.  Moreover, it is expanding even further and is now composed of multiple buildings and soon will be joined by The Higgins Hotel & Conference Center along with the massive Bollinger Canopy of Peace that will cover all of the buildings.  The result will certainly be a truly unparalleled facility committed to military history. Continue reading “THE GREATEST MUSEUM FOR THE GREATEST GENERATION: A TRIP TO THE NATIONAL WORLD WAR II MUSEUM”

New Orleans at 300: Aging Gracefully Along The Banks Of The Mississippi

IMG_7931I  recently visited New Orleans for a speech during the celebration of its 300th anniversary.  It coincides with the French Quarter festival and my son Jack and I had an absolute ball.  I lived in New Orleans when I taught at Tulane Law School (after clerking on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit).  I still have tremendous love for this unique city and its wonderful people.  Unfortunately, due to events in Washington, I have been delayed in posting some of the pictures.  Tomorrow I will be posting the pictures from my visit to the greatly expanded World War II Museum.  As discussed below, my only negative review is the Royal House restaurant, which was truly abysmal.

Continue reading “New Orleans at 300: Aging Gracefully Along The Banks Of The Mississippi”