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Faithful readers of Hole In The Donut Cultural Travel know that I am no fan of all-inclusive resorts, so when Iberostar Resorts invited me to be part of a press trip to Mexico’s Riviera Maya, I thought long and hard before accepting. My previous experiences with all-inclusives have left a bad taste in my mouth – literally. The food is generally horrible and little accommodation is made for vegetarians. Even worse, every all-inclusive property I’ve stayed at discouraged guests from leaving the property; in some cases I was…

I spend most of each year overseas in developing countries where the cost of living is a fraction what it is in the United States. Each return to the States requires a period of adjustment. This time, I almost choked when I had to pay $75 a night for a hotel room in Minneapolis. That same amount would buy me eight days of lodging in Nepal or Mexico. I’m used to spending about $5 a day for food, so $20 dinners send me into shock. It didn’t help…

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series Adirondack Park, NY

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series Adirondack Park, NYAfter two weeks in the Adirondacks of upstate New York I began to learn more about the culture of the area. Though the Adirondack Mountains are ancient, the human history within them is relatively young. It is unusual to meet second generation residents and third generation families are a rarity, so it was a privilege to meet Judy Damkoehler, a descendant of the men who built the Irondequoit Inn. “My great-grandfather and great-uncle Herbert first saw…

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series Adirondack Park, NY

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series Adirondack Park, NYNearly twenty years ago, I met another rockhound who traded crystals with me. I was living in Arizona at the time, so I gave him copper-bearing specimens like azurite, malachite, and turquoise; in turn he presented me with Herkimer Diamonds from upstate New York. Tucked into hollow cavities in the dense gray rock were tiny, perfectly clear quartz crystals with points at both ends – a condition known as double-termination. It was love at first sight….

This entry is part 5 of 7 in the series Adirondack Park, NY

This entry is part 5 of 7 in the series Adirondack Park, NYA cocoon of ethereal fog enveloped me as I walked to the end of the dock on Piseco Lake. The hush of dawn was interrupted by the gentle splish-splash of a solitary man walking languidly through calf-high water, far out into the lake. In the distance a white wolf-dog stood motionless in water up to his belly, staring intently at something on the shore. Beyond man and dog, all was swallowed up by the white curtain,…

This entry is part 4 of 7 in the series Adirondack Park, NY

This entry is part 4 of 7 in the series Adirondack Park, NYOn my final day in the northeast corner of Adirondack Park, I walked across the street to Point au Roche State Park, bound for a narrow point that juts out into Lake Champlain. Hot, humid breezes blew thick grey thunderheads overhead and birds flitted back and forth, as if panicked by the approaching storm. I breathed in the acrid smell of marsh grass decaying in the late summer heat and started when a garter snake crawled…