Road Food

Recommended: The Cheese Shop of Centerbrook, specializing in cheeses, wine, meats, breads, oils and vinegars, and specialty foods, is more than worthy of a detour if you're roadtripping through Connecticut. Great selection and attentive, informative assistance.

The Cheese Shop of Centerbrook, 33 Main Street, Centerbrook, CT (closed Sundays).

Another site to look for hotel deals

Amazon Local has expanded its hotel bookings. Hotels can now offer rooms at published rates in ongoing listings; previously they were limited to discounted rooms and finite sales. According to a report on Skift, "[i]n the past couple of weeks Amazon Local updated its iOS and Android apps and began on-boarding a handful of independent hotels offering their rooms at published rates, which is a big departure from the steeply discounted, distressed inventory that has been the mainstay of Amazon Local over the past couple of years....Amazon is trying to give hotels the flexibility to work with Amazon on an ongoing basis and not just when they have rooms to sell at 40 percent or 52 percent cheaper than published rates when the hotels are feeling the pinch. Among the hotels that have loaded their published rates, availability and photos through the Amazon Local extranet over the last week or plan to do so in the coming days are sister properties Ledges Hotel and The Settlers Inn in Hawley, Pennsylvania, as well as Ocean Place Resort & Spa in Long Branch, New Jersey, and Salishan Spa & Golf Resort in Gleneden Beach, Oregon."

The rest of the story: Amazon’s New Hotel Business Begins to Take Shape by Dennis Schaal (Skift).

Belize: Paradise next door.

Have to agree pretty much with this morning's post by Carly Ledbetter on the many reasons to include Belize in your vacation planning, among them fewer than average numbers of tourists, fabulous beaches, terrific scuba diving and snorkeling on the second longest coral reef in the world, and numerous Mayan ruins. My only disagreement is over the recommendation to visit between November and April; off-season prices drop precipitously, plus from May to October you'll pretty much have the place to yourself. Summers are hot, for sure, but you'll be in the water most of the time, anyway. Just keep an eye out for the occasional hurricane.

Robles Point, northern Ambergris Caye
Photograph by Julian Rivero
The rest of the story: 9 Reasons To Head To Belize For Your Next Vacation Getaway by Carly Ledbetter (HuffPost Travel). See, also: 10 Things You Must Do During Your Next Trip to Belize by Sucheta Rawal.

For even more exclusivity, avoid touristy Ambergris Caye for a spot on the mainland. Our recommendation: Robert's Grove Beach Resort in Placencia, a hacienda-style hotel on 22 acres of white sand beach, not only close to the barrier reef, diving tours and fly fishing trips, but also within easy reach of tropical rainforests and Mayan ruins.

For a rainforest experience, book a stay at Black Rock Lodge, a cozy eco-resort nestled in the dense rainforest above the Macal River in the Mayan Mountains, 2.5 hours west of Belize City, south of San Ignacio. The forest surroundings offer opportunities for canoeing on the Macal, horseback riding to Xunantunich, hiking various canyon trails among verdant local flora and fauna, and bird watching (the Lodge is one of the few places in Central America where you might see all three species of Toucan in one morning). Add in roomy rustic cabins
Where is Belize?
and a restaurant featuring fresh, organic vegetables grown on site, and you'll never want to leave. At least we didn't want to.

Resources:, the Belize in the CIA World Factbook, the Belize Audubon Society, and Belize by Lebawit Lily Girma (Moon Handbooks). Belize is a hair over two hours from Miami and just under two and a half hours from Houston. Air service is provided by American,Maya Island Air, United, US Airways, Tropic Air, TAG, Avianca and Delta.

Posted on YouTube by Ismet Hajdarovic ("Being Latino").

This'll be fun until you get a "404" from room service

 This exists. Or at least it will when it opens on July 17, 2015.

The Henn na Hotel at the Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Nagasaki, shown here in an architect's illustration, will have robot staff and a novel auction process for reservations in peak seasons.

The rest of the story: Huis Ten Bosch theme park to get hotel staffed by robots (The Japan Times).

Say what you will about bureaucracies...

...this is work product of Norway's National Police Directorate

First, the Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta and the design group The Metric System gave Norway's currency, the kroner, a bold, hip new look. Now,

super new travel documents from the National Police Directorate, by Oslo-based Neue Design Studio, arrive on the heels of those arty banknotes.

The rest of the story: Norway's New Passports Are Designed to Make Every Other Country Feel Inferior by Kriston Capps (CityLab)

Ecuadorian exceptionalism? Uruguayan exceptionalism? Indian exceptionalism? French exceptionalism?

Be here if you want to be. But it's not like you don't have choices.

A lot of seniors (a State Department estimate suggests that the number may be between 3 million and 6 million) are heading for the exits because they can extend the benefits from their savings, pensions and social security (and receive better medical care) in many other places. But young people have even greater incentive to reject the shackles of the American economic system and see what else is out there!

The rest of the story: Get Out While You Can: Why Young Americans Should Consider Moving Abroad. Instead of accepting low-paid work or unpaid internships, young people should focus on globalizing themselves by Thomas McGath (AlterNet)

Good Eatin’: A Fusion Find in Culver City

Happy hour in Culver City
Raw shrimp at Sake House by Hikari
On my way to Culver City’s Boulevard Music Summer Festival last night (an evening of Motown, Ray Charles and James Brown covers by the indefatigable Brenda Lee Eager supported by a wildly talented band), I stopped by chance at Sake House by Hikari (9729 Culver Blvd, across from City Hall). Not only were most of the items sampled pleasing (don’t miss the Crispy Tuna) and the regular prices reasonable, but happy hour ('til 7) brought the cost down further. Sake House’s eclectic menu includes sushi, sashimi, maki, udon, teriyaki and tempura, it has indoor and outdoor seating, and it’s open daily for lunch and dinner. There’re also Hikari locations in Korea Town at Chapman Market and in Montebello.

Sake House by Hikari, 9729 Culver Blvd, downtown Culver City, and K-Town at Chapman Market, 3465 W 6th St #150, L.A.; and Hikari Sushi, 1864 Montebello Town Center.

John Muir On Travel

“Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.”
– John Muir on travel, in a letter to his wife Louie in July 1888

A story with 140 characters

Fiction on Twitter: From short short story to endless stream

It is said that Ernest Hemingway once bet that he could write a complete short story in six words. He was Twitter-ready a half century before anyone conceived of tweeting.

Last week Twitter announced that at the end of November the company will host a five-day Twitter Fiction Festival (#twitterfiction), “a virtual storytelling celebration held entirely on Twitter,” inviting creative experiments in storytelling from authors around the world.

According to Twitter, it has hosted great experiments in fiction already, from Jennifer Egan’s “Black Box” to Teju Cole’s “Small Fates” to Dan Sinker’s @mayoremanuel. And Twitter notes it has even inspired some literary criticism.

To get into the spirit of things, and without getting into the whole business of streaming and interaction as components of twitter-fiction (working within the limitations of the classic tweet, you could say), I came up with this tweet-length short short story:

On the desiccated, recalescent planet, barren at last, the desolated creature, a cockroach, grief-maddened, devoured the corpse of its mate.

Hemingway won the bet, by the way. As the story goes (and the anecdote itself may be fiction), he scribbled “For sale: baby shoes, never used” to take home the pot.

On the road: L.A. Mural

Unusually affecting portrait at 617 S. Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles attributed to Jr and Vhils. The head was created by scraping the stucco down to the building’s brick wall and shaping the features of the face with paste.
The Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles
Los Angeles Murals: Red Line Tour (

On the Road: Highway 40 Revisited

Heading east on I-40 toward Gallup. Bob Dylan‘s great bluesy new album, Tempest, on repeat. Nobody cops licks & embraces cliches with more gusto & abandon than Bob Dylan.

The band’s hot. The stories’re gripping. 50 years and counting. Amazing.

You can get Tempest by Bob Dylan at Amazon.

Good eatin': Quick lunch

Chopped a large heirloom tomato — keeping seeds aside — and sprinkled with lemon juice. Laid Spanish anchovies across chopped tomatoes and topped with tomato seeds. Served with cubed feta cheese and whole grain crackers (and a glass of Merlot).

Travel Usury : Putting the tax in taxi

Taxation without representation

Since tourists don’t vote in places they don’t live, it’s customary for local governments to gouge visitors with excessive and arbitrary travel taxes and fees tacked on to hotel rooms, airport, railroad and interstate bus transactions, car rentals, etc., at venues like airports, lodgings,
and so on, where local voters are less apt to go. A particularly egregious example: taxi ride fares in Las Vegas, a sprawling western city where most locals drive their own cars and parking fees are minimal to non-existent to attract gamblers.

You’ll want to think twice before taking a Vegas cab. Turning on the meter costs $3.50 — before you’ve traveled an inch. At the end of the ride, a tip is added with no obvious way to remove or change it. If you choose to use Visa/MasterCard or Amex, there’s a $3 fee to swipe the card. A short trip — from the Venetian to Caesar’s, say, about a half mile — can set you back $15.

Is that $3 swipe fee even legal? (In California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma and Texas, at least, it would be against the law; what’s up, Nevada?) Doesn’t charging the fee amount to offering a cash discount? Visa rules don’t allow retailers to charge cardholders a checkout fee for using their cards; probably neither do the agreements of other credit card issuers. Even if, in tight times, a business felt it needed to make up the sums paid to the credit card card companies, these amount to about 3% of the cost of a transaction not, as in the case at hand, a usurious 20%!

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