Category Archives: Travel Destinations

Great Music, but is the Austin City Limits Music Festival Simply Too Big?




Pros: Great headlining bands and a lot of really cool supporting acts; definitely an experience….

Cons: Agoraphobia

Started in 2002 as an extension of the PBS live concert series of the same name, the Austin City Limits Music Festival has quickly become regarded as one of the best large-scale music events in the country, with attendance expanding from 40,000 in its first few years to nearly 100,000 some ten years later. Taking place over the course of several days in early October at Austin’s Zilker Park which offers a breathtaking view of the downtown Austin skyline, the festival is produced by the C3 Presents promotion which also stages the Lollapalooza festival which occurs annually in Chicago, and attracts prominent musical performers from around the globe as well as promising up-and-coming artists. In addition to the music lineup, the ACL Festival includes a lineup of activities for children and also showcases local artists and food vendors in an attempt to feel more like an all-encompassing event experience (as might be expected, all food and beverage available at the festival is on the pricey side).

breathtaking view of downtown
A breathtaking view of downtown Austin seen behind one of the two main stages.

Austin City Limits splits its varied lineup of over 100 musicians and groups between eight stages, with set times that begin in late morning and run through 10 PM. Ticket prices for the festival fall in the $250 range for a three-day pass or $100 for a single day pass. Obviously the thing that sets ACL apart from other Austin festivals is the quantity of well-known, headlining artists: the 2014 lineup of the festival (which took place on the weekends of October 3-5 and 10-12) included sets from artists such as Skrillex, Eminem, Outkast, Pearl Jam, and Beck. For me though, considering that by the time the main acts begin, there’s some 75,000 trying to cram around the main stages, the undercard which is built around less high-profile but still outstanding artists, actually provides the more attractive shows. 2014’s festival included day-time and early evening sets from such groups as Lorde, Lana Del Rey, The Replacements, Spoon, Chvrches, AFI, Tune-Yards, The Head and the Heart, St. Vincent, and dozens of others (not sure I’m proud to admit that I caught Iggy Azalea performing her 2014 hit “Fancy” live….). There’s a nice variety of all sorts of music represented at the festival, from hip-hop to country-western and folk, and even if some of the music wouldn’t be attractive to all festival attendees, perhaps the best thing about the festival is that one can discover and experience a wide variety of music that he might not otherwise have had the opportunity to.

Much as rain is always appreciated in Texas, it leads to Zilker Park turning into a mud bog.

In 2013, the festival (which runs from Friday to Sunday) was expanded from one weekend to two, with the headlining artists appearing both weekends in an attempt to limit the crowd that would attend on any one day, but having attended the festival both before and after this change, I’m not sure that this effort has really had any effect on the number of people who attend each day. To me, the expansion was just an excuse to draw in more people to the festival, thereby increasing its revenue: 75,000 is still a large amount to squeeze into the 350 acre Zilker Park, and by the end of any given day when the crowd is at its largest, just making your way from one end of the park to the other becomes a chore. At any large festival like this, seeing all the performances one would like becomes all but impossible: though the set-times are somewhat staggered (less so as the day goes on), an attendee has to “choose his battles” so to speak and to some extent plan out his “must-see” list. I also should say that it’s increasingly difficult to get a good vantage point for the headline bands playing at the festival unless one is willing to “camp out” at a stage well in advance of their set time. Though there is a chair-free zone around the main stages, the standing-room areas immediately around the stages quickly fill up and remain extremely crowded as the day turns into night.


A further problem with the expansion from one weekend to two deals with the performers themselves. Though both weekends of the festival feature what is essentially the same lineup, the expansion seems to have had an adverse effect on the bands that are booked for the festival in the first place. Not every group would be willing to “honker down” in Austin and the surrounding area for a two week period, and the quality of the lineup from top-to-bottom seems to have diminished in the past couple years. When I attended the festival previously in 2012, there not only seemed to be more bands playing at the festival, but the overall strength of the lineup as a whole was greater. Additionally, set-times appeared to be staggered a little better during the 2012 event, making it possible to see at least some of the set that most bands were playing if one wandered from stage to stage throughout the day. The groups featured on 2014’s schedule mostly began their sets at the same time, and there honestly only seemed to be a handful of groups playing at any given time: by mid-afternoon, the number of performances going on at any point had dropped to three or four. This only increased the number of people watching any given show at any given time and also made it more difficult to navigate the park from one end to another – particularly when a group like Lorde was booked at a secondary stage smack bang in the middle of the venue, essentially cutting the main stages off from one another.

ACL: It’s an experience for sure.

Ultimately, the massive crowd at Austin City Limits Music Festival is for me, the main drawback of the experience: there simply seems to be too many people at this event. By the early evening, it’s increasingly frustrating to have to negotiate a sea of chairs, blankets, and their occupants in the area between stages – especially in low light conditions, and standing half a mile from the stage isn’t an especially great vantage point to view any concert even with additional speaker installations and huge video display screens that show what’s happening on stage. For me, when placed alongside a comparatively (much) smaller festival like Fun Fun Fun Fest which takes place in early November, ACL just seems like an overcrowded mess. Sure, one can see some great shows during the course of the day, but the large crowd makes it difficult for most people to really get the experience out of the festival that they might want. On the other hand, many younger people attending the festival seem mainly interested in drinking as much beer as possible and acting like a fool when electronic groups such as Skrillex, Calvin Harris, or Zedd begin what is essentially a huge rave-like concert once the sun goes down. As much as that sounds like something a younger version of myself would have really been into, as I get older I find myself appreciating more small-scale shows more than the balls-to-the-wall free-for-all that a large-scale festival like Austin City Limits would provide.

Oh sure, ACL is supposed to be like this…

…but this is sometimes what it seems to turn into…

To be completely honest, I think the organizers of the ACL Festival do about as good a job as they can ensuring the festival runs smoothly and most attendees at the festival are understanding with regard to their fellow attendees (I actually encountered more moronic behavior at a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert I recently attended in Dallas than I did at the entire ACL festival, which was a bit of a shock). I have seen some really amazing performances the times I did go to ACL, but I also was very much ready to leave at a certain point during each day due simply to becoming frustrated with dealing with the immense crowd. Though the lineup of artists performing is frankly unbelievable, in all likelihood most festival-goers won’t be as close to the action as they would like or be able to see all the bands they would want to see, even if they are increasingly aggressive in making their way from one stage to the next. As much as I would call ACL worthwhile and generally enjoyable as a populist music festival with (obviously) mass appeal, I would personally be more likely to choose to go to a smaller and more manageable festival in Austin; both November’s more niche-oriented Fun Fun Fun Fest (my choice for best festival in Austin) and the spring’s Psych Fest fit this bill nicely.

Holy Vesuvius! That’s a Lotta Lava!

Hwy 242 – McKenzie Pass Byway


From my own album. Two of the Three Sisters Mountains, Faith, Hope & Charity
From my own album. Two of the Three Sisters Mountains, Faith, Hope & Charity



Pros: Scenery you’ll see no other place on Earth

Cons: Hairpin turns,  vehicle-length limits

It would be unlikely you would find yourself in this environment much after nightfall, for there are no hotels encouraging you to ‘stay and play’, no restaurants advertizing their dinner specials, or even a gas station with a soda machine.  In fact, if you didn’t know better – you might think you’re on the moon! But of course, you do know better, you’re not on the moon – your on Hwy 242 in Oregon – otherwise known as the McKenzie Scenic Byway.  Well, big deal you may be thinking – highways are everywhere. They sure are – but not like this one – I guarantee it.

The McKenzie Scenic Byway is a thirty-seven mile historic route that winds (and that’s an understatement)) between McKenzie Bridge, a small hamlet on the eastern edge of the Willamette Valley, and ends just west of Sisters,  a somewhat bigger hamlet, in Central Oregon.

In a word, what makes this relatively short drive so unusual and tourist-worthy? Lava.  Not a little lava,  a lot of lava. That, and a backdrop of scenic mountains and extinct volcanos that are just jaw-dropping.  

In each of the pictures there are dark areas covering vast tracts of land – all of it lava. But then, that’s what happens when a volcano blows and nothing stops the flow of the magma. Can you imagine the force, the sound, the fright and devastation of  wildlife? Terrifying! And there certainly would have been wildlife in the area since this cataclysmic geologic event occurred in the Pleistocene-era – which came after the Jurassic Period of T-Rex’s and Brontosaurus’.  

Fast-forward about 100,000 years. . .So now we have a two-lane, paved highway that meanders, curves and twists its way through densely-wooded mountains, pristine, high-alpine meadows and a lava forest, dissecting Mt. Washington Wilderness Area and Three Sisters Wilderness. Both Wilderness’ are magnets for mountain climbers and hikers.  

Originally built in the 1870’s as a wagon toll road, the highway was updated and reconstruction completed in 1962.  At an elevation of 5,325 ft. with an annual snow pack of fourteen feet ( yes, feet), the road is closed from November to July. 

One feature that is impossible to bypass (pun intended) is the Dee Wright Observatory, named for a  highly respected construction crew foreman who worked for the Forest Service for twenty-four years.

Built in 1935, the observatory, located at the summit, is an open shelter structure constructed completely of lava rock. Its main attractions are ‘lava tubes’, windows if you will, that look out onto the lava fields and frame several of the individual mountains and extinct volcanoes ( see below).



 This sundial-style compass is another interesting feature at the Observatory.  It points toward, and identifies each mountain peak or volcano – making your visit enjoyable and educational.   

While you’re there, take a moment to remember John Templeton Craig, a postman who’s unfortunate route took him through this savage land in the dead of winter. In 1877, while attempting to deliver Christmas mail to the Willamette Valley,  Craig froze to death in a cabin, during a blizzard, not far from the summit.

About the moon-like environment. . .in 1960 four astronauts trained for the first moonwalk at the Dee Wright Observatory. NASA too, must have felt this lunar-like environment too similarly advantageous to pass up.

I don’t have a ‘Bucket List’,  but if I did – it would be to be at the summit, under a full moon and watch Madame Luna embrace the lava fields and snow-covered peaks under her pale-blue blanket.

There are no services of any kind from McKenzie Bridge to Sisters. Be sure you have plenty of fuel, drinks, snacks, and emergency items.

Directions:  Approx. 55 mi. east of Eugene/Springfield on Hwy 126 E.  Turn-off is on the right. Plentiful signs to direct you.  The road is barricaded from November to June/July, depending on the weather.  It is opened to bikers and hikers earlier, again, depending on the weather. No vehicle, or combination of vehicle/RV over 35′ allowed.

















Come to the mountains and meadows of Black Butte Ranch

Black Butte Ranch Central Oregon


Pros: (Almost) indescribably beautiful,  peaceful, out  of the mainstream

Cons: Spendy, but have you checked Disney World prices lately? This is not for those who like ‘bright lights-big city’ vacations.

It’s such a pleasure writing this review – like coming home. Living and working in Central Oregon almost twenty years, I drove by Black Butte Ranch several times each month. Each time looking for elk or deer in the aspen-dotted meadows that surround the property.

At the turn of the century Black Butte Ranch was just a parcel of land owned by a rancher and his wife. Although they had many offers to sell to developers, they turned each down concerned that their beloved land would end up either clear-cut (logged) or so over-developed it would no longer resemble the land they knew.  Eventually, they did sell. Fortunately, the consortium of new owners felt the same as the original owners and designed and developed this ranch-resort  having as little impact on the land as possible.

Life at the ranch is a profoundly different experience from most resorts. The main attraction is the look-at-me  environment – scenery, views and quiet pathways that lead you into fir and aspen groves and meadows that make you want to lay down in the grass and disappear for a few hours.

Mountain View

Breaking out of a forested walk you will be able to view any one of seven majestic mountain peaks, including the Three Sisters ( Mountains), Faith, Hope and Charity, Three-Fingered Jack, Mt. Washington and Broken Top. Then of course, there’s Black Butte itself, an extinct volcano from whence the ranch get’s its name.

Maybe you’re the type that likes a little more exercise and adventure during your vacation? You’ve come to the right place and can set your own pace. There’s swimming, tennis, horseback riding, hiking, fishing, biking eighteen miles of bike paths and canoeing. If it’s wintertime, you can cross-country ski right at the ranch, or downhill ski at HooDoo Ski Resort or Mt. Bachelor.

Although there was never any need  for me to spend the night, I’ve  had dinner in The Lodge Restaurant  on several occasions. They feature farm-to-table cuisine that primarily incorporates locally grown or raised fruits, vegetables and meats.  In all honesty, I don’t recall that the food was unusual in any particular way, but it was delicious and served in very pleasant surroundings

The Lodge Restaurant

The Lodge Restaurant

and was awarded TripAdvisor 2014 Certificate of Excellence.

Most visitors to Black Butte Ranch plan to stay a few days – or longer.  The ranch offers one-hundred-twenty  different vacation homes ranging from spacious three-six bedroom custom homes, to two-three bedroom condo’s, to ranch cabins.

All the rentals are not as elegant or well-appointed as the one above, but they are all well-maintained, comfy, and leave you feeling very well-cared for. They offer several different floor plans and sleeping accommodations. Each feature a full-size kitchen, free wi-fi, one or more fireplaces, decks and fabulous views. Most are pet-friendly.

I’m delighted to recommend this lovely ranch resort.  Do come see – and stay.  The memory will last a lifetime – honestly.

Reservations and information  866-901-2961

Sisters, Oregon

























Shhh, the Queen may still be sleeping!

Mary Hill Museum, Goldendale Washington


Pros: Historical, Scenic, Fun!

Cons: (Just about) in the middle of nowhere

Situated on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River Gorge, like a lone, stone sentinel, stands Mary Hill Museum.

This Beaux Arts style mansion was originally intended to be the private residence of entrepreneur, Samuel Hill ( 1857-1931). Instead, he decided to turn it into ” a museum for the public good, and for the betterment of French art in the far Northwest of America”.  And turn it into a museum he certainly did!

Mr. Hill obviously knew people in high places. In 1926 the ‘museum’ was visited by Queen Marie of Romania. So enthralled by Mr. Hills’ effort, the structure and surrounding scenery, she promised to ship him some ‘personal mementoes’ when she arrived back home in Romania. Keeping good on her word, the first shipment of more than one-hundred artifacts arrived almost a year later. Included were Romanian folk objects, Russian icons and diverse textiles.

Soon after, the Queen’s two daughters, both queens themselves, donated items of great value to the museum.  Elisabetha, Queen Consort of Greece (the eldest daughter), donated several Tanagra figurines ( seen below) and Cypriot amphorae. Tanagra figurines were very popular in the 19th century, representing female fantasies in terracotta. Later the Queen’s second daughter, Queen Consort of the Serbs, Croates and Slovenes, gifted the museum with three silver filigree items.

 After Queen Marie’s death in 1938, the museum was bequeathed her gold throne, Byzantine-inspired furniture, and a replica of her coronation crown.
Many items and collections were purchased by Mr. Hill himself – more than seventy plaster and bronze sculptures by Rodin (The Burghers, The Thinker, The Gates of Hell), European and American original paintings by William McGregor, Paxton, Gammell, Haseltine, Leighton, and Blashfield.   Also, American indian art – baskets and beadwork,  three-hundred chess sets, and Art-Nouveaux-era glass by Emile Galle and Ren’e Lalique.
The Thinker by Rodin – 1902 ( one of twenty-eight castings).
The thirty-four acre property also has an outdoor sculpture park with various works of art by many Pacific Northwest artists, and a replica of Stonehenge, commissioned by Hill, and dedicated as a memorial to World War I casualties.
I’ve been to the museum twice. Walking into the Great Hall, and seeing Queen Marie’s wedding dress with a train so long it has sewn-in handles, is mind-boggling and jaw-dropping. Really, you just don’t want to leave, ever.
Mary Hill Museum is located in Washington State just over the Columbia River, in Goldendale, Washington.
P.S.  Oh, and one other minor incidental – watch for rattlesnakes – this is desert-country, you know.





We’re so indebted to these big hunks!

Fleet Week – Portland, Oregon


PORTLAND, Ore. - Guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) and guided-missile destroyer USS Spruance (DDG 111) will participate in Portland Rose Festival in Portland, Oregon, June 5-9, to celebrate the 105th Rose Festival.
PORTLAND, Ore. – Guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) and guided-missile destroyer USS Spruance (DDG 111) will participate in Portland Rose Festival in Portland, Oregon, June 5-9, to celebrate the 105th Rose Festival.

[Rating 4/5]

Pros: A fun, exciting and informative look at part of our country’s defense system

Cons:  Crowds, (necessary) security


I feel I should be chanting “I’m late, I’m late , for a very important date” (cried the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland). This review is quite tardy considering Fleet Week (and Portland Rose Festival) are already in progress, but it’s an annual event, so you may want to put it on your 2015 vacation calendar, and well worth it.

 *Note: Budget uncertainties caused by sequestration prevented the 2013 Navy ships from participating, but they’re back!

Fleet Week began in 1935 in San Diego, California. It’s initial purpose was to put battleships and other military vessels in front of the tax-paying public to  justify their immense expense. With one-hundred-fourteen warships, and four-hundred military planes in attendance, it must have been phenomenal experience.

 Fleet Week is a tradition of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marines, and U.S. Coast Guard branches of the US defense system. The ships and their crews are active military that have been recently deployed overseas, and are still on active duty.  The ships dock in various major US cities for one week ( hence Fleet Week). This allows the public to board the ships and take a look around – (restrictions cited below). This also allows the crews to spend time relaxing, enjoying food, entertainment, sporting events, music, and ‘friendly’ competition with other ships.   


Portland Rose Festival CEO Jeff Curts:

“We are honored to host a Fleet Week, one of six around the country. It’s very special to the organization (Portland Rose Festival) and our community embraces  Fleet Week. “

There have been five USS Charleston’s – aka as “Chuckie” and “The Chuck”.  She’s an amphibious cargo vessel that served in the Vietnam War and Desert Storm.

If you’d like to visit during Fleet Week please note the following restrictions before boarding a ship:

  • No weapons are allowed
  • No chemicals or chemical sprays
  • No fireworks
  • No drugs or drug paraphernalia
  • No large bags or backpacks, diaper bags or exceptionally large camera bags. Small handbags are okay. All bags subject to search.

Fleet Week also takes place in Seattle, Port Everglades, San Diego, and other major port cities.



“The Original Hard-Rockers”

Oregon Sea Lion Caves


Pros: A very interesting, ‘other-worldly’ attraction

Cons: Typical tourist attraction – crowded in summer and during whale-watching time

I would love to take credit for the opening Review Title ” The Original Hard-Rockers”, but alas, I cannot. I saw it on a website and don’t know whom to attribute it. It’s catchy, but it isn’t mine.

Believe it or not, this picture was taken from inside the Oregon Sea Lion Caves  amphitheatre,  looking out toward open water. Perhaps I can set the scene a little better. You’ve just taken a two-hundred-eight foot elevator ride through (at one time), solid rock. The doors open to a loud, raucous atmosphere of water crashing, seagulls squawking,  and sea lions barking – a veritable cacophony of sounds and smells. The interior height of the cavern is the equivalent of a twelve-story building.  It feels very strange – perhaps even frightening – the thought of millions of cubic yards of earth and rock above you, and an unruly, turbulent ocean in front of you. But man is a curious species, so you approach the barricade that protects you from it, and it from you.

NO WAY! Fifty feet below, sitting, sprawling and arguing on a rock, is a rookery of Stellar and California Sea Lions – approximately fifty or so.You wonder how in the world they can, or would even want to, live in this echo-y, chaotic environment? But this is a very special place for them – it’s the only known mainland rookery and hauling area ( winter home) of these species of sea lions. The only comparison is the Blue Grotto in the Mediterranean.

A little history lesson. . .

The cave, which is estimated to be about 25 million years old,  was first discovered in 1880 by Captain William Cox, a local seaman. The story goes, one calm day he came upon the grotto and connecting system of caves and caverns. After exploring that day, he returned several times. Once, he was marooned inside the cave for many days while a violent storm kept him from leaving. He survived by shooting a young seal pup and eating its flippers. Apparently, if you’re hungry enough. . .

After much local investment and hard labor the Oregon Sea Lion Caves opened it’s doors in 1932.  The first access to the main cave was by wooden stairs and walkways. Then, in 1961 the Otis Elevator Company finished installing an elevator that descends two-hundred-eight feet – a grueling three-year project.

Back on top. . .there’s lots to see and do. From the observation deck you can see twenty miles seaward. If you’re lucky you may catch a glimpse of a Gray Whale (eschrichtius robustus)  or two. This is their traditional migration route to southern waters. And if you’re really, really lucky you may see an Orca, a Killer whale. Their distinctive black and white bodies are easier to spot than the Gray, but they are far fewer.

In 1982 Oregon Sea Lion Caves commissioned artist Ken Scott, to create a statue representative of the site and it’s native cave-dwelling residents commemorating their 50th anniversary. After a year of artistic  creativity, he delivered a beautiful life-size, fifteen-hundred pound bronze statue named A Sea Lion Family – a bull, cow and a pup. Check it out on their website.

Oregon Sea Lion Caves are open every day except Christmas and Thanksgiving. Their hours of operation are 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.  (winter hours). And speaking of winter and weather – bring a jacket. Even in the warmest summer months the grotto is damp and chilly.

Ticket prices:

  • Adults  $14.00
  • Seniors $ 13.00
  • Children 5-12  $8.00
  • Under 5 – no charge
  • Parking is free

No (time) limit how long you can remain in the cave.

Oregon Sea Lion Caves

91560 Hwy 101

Florence, Oregon


Now I lay me down to sleep. . .at The Boulders Please!

The Boulders Resort and Golf Course



Pros: Elegant, flawless pampering, great golf ( if that’s your thing)

Cons: Starts expensive and stays that way

I’ve stayed at The Boulders only once, but once was enough to make a very pleasant memory.

The Boulders Resort in Scottsdale, Az is a 5-star Waldorf-Astoria Resort. As mentioned, I was only there once – for two nights, but honestly, I can’t think of a single need or desire, they didn’t, or couldn’t, provide. But perhaps the best amenity is the quiet, calmness of the setting. Maybe it’s the rocks ( it wasn’t named The Boulders by chance).  They’re old, large, solid and cooling – just what a weary traveler wants at the end of a day, well that, a cool drink and some pretty hors d’oeuvres.

The resort has two-hundred-twenty-three rooms of varying arrangement. Envision – a semi-enclosed patio, sandy-cream in hue, a couple lounge chairs ( same color), an outdoor fireplace burning slowly, ( if that’s your desire), a few palmtree fronds clattering in the breeze – nothing in particular to think about – aaahhhhh……..

What amenties can you expect?  

  • A/C ( after all, this is Arizona) 
  • Free WiFi
  • Walk-in closets
  • Egyptian linen bedding
  • Beautiful, hand-carved furniture
  • Leather furniture
  • Cable TV
  • Free Parking
  • Hair blow dryer/Iron and Ironing Board/Coffee
  • Ample linens
  • Shampoo, rinse, razor, lotion, all beautifully arranged in a wrapped Egyptian towel

And after you’ve rested. . .

  • One on-site golf course and six others nearby
  • Four Hot tubs
  • Eight tennis courts
  • Three swimming pools
  • Spa – Steam room – Sauna
  • Hair & Beauty Services ( I broke a nail, and had it fixed in 10 minutes!)
  • Bar-Lounge-Cafe-Coffee Shop
  • Concierge service and specialty 24-hour exclusive concierge service

Nearby Attractions:

  • As mentioned, six other golf courses
  • Cave Creek Museum
  • Many art galleries and tourist-y shops
  • Cave Buttes Recreational Area
  • Equidome Arena
  • Desert Ridge Marketplace
  • Desert Hikes

Other miscellaneous  info :

Rooms start at $207.00/night, but considering the amenities, service and surroundings, worth it.

The Boulders accepts Visa, Discover, American Express and Diners Club cards.

Check in time is 3:00 P.M.  Check-out at 12:00 P.M.

Two Pets allowed – under 80 pounds. ( Dogs only).

34631 N. Tom Darlington Dr.

  Scottsdale, Az 85262

Reservations: 1-866-257-5990





The ultimate ‘romance novel’

Rand McNally Worldatlas


Pros: Handy 3-ring-binder format, super-durable paper, very handle-able size

Cons: May increase thoughts of luggage and passports

There’s an old axiom – ‘Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life’. In that case, I should have been Magellan or Ponce de Leon ( okay, I’d have settled for being Mrs. M. or P., as long as he took me with him).

Me thinks the (overall) type of books found in our own personal library, or those we check out of the library most often, are clear indicators of our interests, proclivities, desires,  far-flung wishes, and daydreams. My library is almost totally of North American ( game) animals, travel, and lady-predecessors to whom I feel a ‘sally forth’ kinship – Mary Kingsley, would most certainly be at the top of the list, but that’s another review all together.

Let me say, that while I’ve had a love-affair with maps, charts and globes for years, I have no training or education as a cartographer, therefore, if I have used incorrect vocabulary or patois, please don’t hesitate to correct me.

Rand McNally Worldatlas ( 3-ring-binder edition) is the perfect desk companion ( along with a good dictionary and thesaurus) for writers of just about every persuasion – book, essay, article – even reviews. My most recent search has been to examine more closely the Indian ocean, and the search area for Malaysian Flight 370.  I had no clue the Indian ocean is so vast. Had someone asked me,  I’m sure it would not have come immediately to mind as one of the largest, when in fact, it’s the third largest ( 28, 400 sq. mi.), just behind the Atlantic ( 41,081), and the largest, the Pacific ( 63,784).

Randy McNally Worldatlas includes thirty-two pages of maps, country flags and index. The maps are drawn to various scales so they are consistent in size from page to page – in other words, India, (for example), is drawn 1:16,000,000; 1 cm. to 160 km. Russia, and surrounding countries are drawn 1:20,000,000; 1 cm to 200 km – yet both are the same size and magnification on the page.The maps are indexed by page, number and letter, as a city map might be, including latitude and longitude readings.  It also has interesting geo-political features such as “Area Occupied by Pakistan, and claimed by India”, or, “Area claimed by China, occupied by India”. Fascinating.

Another practical feature includes the contrasting coloring of the countries. For example – Africa, of course, has many different countries, but no two adjoining countries are the same color. It’s very easy to see the boundaries of each.The countries and bodies of water (names) are printed in easy-to-read bold, black, font of varying size.

The volume dimensions are 8.50″ x 11″, not including three staple-type ‘loops’ affixed to the left-side, allowing it to be inserted into a 3-ring binder.

I searched the book thoroughly for a publish date, but did not find one.