Areas of expertise include travel, food, wellness, books, fitness, family, Southern California, and the Palm Springs area.
Braver Than You Think: Around the World on the Trip of My (Mother's) Lifetime
Newly married and established in her career as an award-winning newspaper journalist, Maggie Downs quits her job, sells her belongings, and embarks on the solo trip of a lifetime: Her mother's.
As a child, Maggie Downs often doubted that she would ever possess the courage to visit the destinations her mother dreamed of one day seeing. You are braver than you think, her mother always insisted. That statement would guide her as, over the course of one year, Downs backpacked through ...
This Fragrance Brand Puts Iceland in a Bottle
For Jónsi Birgisson and his three sisters, growing up in the Icelandic town of Mosfellsbær meant boundless freedom: playing among wet evergreens, running along empty roads . Sometimes, they would swipe a neighbor’s rhubarb, cut off the stalks, and dip them in honey to eat like candy. Now those memories are a fragrance.
Smell Your Way to Better Travel Memories
Author Maggie Downs shares a memory of traveling to Egypt—and the aroma still associated with it, a decade later.
Scent is inexorably linked to memory. Author Maggie Downs explores what makes aromas so enduring—and how we can sniff out more powerful travel experiences.
The soft, gold-threaded scarf in my hands contains a secret. Whenever I bury my nose in the fabric and breathe deeply, the Red Sea greets me. In an instant, I’m transported to a serene ...
The Scent of the Desert
The first time I thought about the scent of Palm Springs, I was in another desert, one nearly 7,700 miles away. I was staying in a military ambulance that had been converted into a camper, parked for the night among the rugged rock and dramatic canyons of Wadi Rum, Jordan.
It rained during the night. By the time I awoke, th...
I worried that being a mother would derail travel — but I found a fellow adventurer in my sweet seven-year-old son
Over the course of our two-week trip, the texture of travel changes. It’s deeper, more robust.
Years ago, I watched someone fling a message in a bottle into the Strait of Gibraltar. It bobbled there on the surface, this container of mystery and love, before it was pulled away with the current.
I think of it again this spring, eyeing my travel companion in Caye Caulker, Belize. The water is teal, warm, and silky with salt. Beneath us, the second largest barrier reef in the world teems with col...
The Protector, the Multitasker, the Holder of Rocks
Ten mothers define motherhood
Keeping Up With Fran Lebowitz
On the eve of the Rancho Mirage Writers Festival, the author known for her sardonic social commentary tells it like it is.
When you call Fran Lebowitz, you must speak to the answering machine before she’ll pick up. And, after seconds that stretch like hours, she does.
The author and social commentator, who will appear Feb. 3 at the ninth annual Rancho Mirage Writers Festival, has streamlined her life to a place of enviable minimalism during a time of digital chaos. She scr...
Quiet Places in a Time of Noise
Gordon Hempton believes there’s a reason why “peace and quiet” is a common phrase. It’s because quiet cultivates peace.
Hempton, an acoustic ecologist who’s been recording the sounds of nature for more than 40 years, has witnessed the adverse effects of noise pollution on public health and the environment. Now, as the co-founder of the nonprofit Quiet Parks International, he’s on a quest to preserve quiet spaces around the world, before peace and quiet become extinct.
“There’s this relationsh...
Everything You Thought You Knew About ‘Hobo Code’ Is Wrong
Rail riders past and present leave messages for each other, but not the ones you’ve probably heard about.
Connecticut Shorty caught her first ride in the porch of a grainer—the slender, metal cutout on a grain-filled train car—traveling about 200 miles across Northern California, from Dunsmuir to Roseville. It was 1993, and Shorty, then 51, was learning how to hop freight trains from a man known as Road Hog USA. He was a hobo, part of an American tradition that emerged after the Civil War: tr...
George Van Tassel’s Integratron Draws the Cosmically Curious
Out in Landers, where roads open wide like arms ready for an embrace, where stars sprinkle the night sky like splatters of paint, it’s easy to imagine mystical forces at work. There’s an energy here. And that’s exactly what lured aeronautical engineer George Van Tassel to the desert.
I got sober during the pandemic. What will happen when my friends meet this version of me?
When lockdown began, I was still a boozy social butterfly.
Sober curious? The unexpected joys of travelling alcohol-free
My first big trip after giving up alcohol was island-hopping around Greece in 2021. This was my dream come true – the travel I’d put off for far too long – and it gave me everything I hoped for: classical art, platters of stuffed dolmas (vine leaves) and that ridiculously blue sea.
But being in Greece also meant an abundance of gold-standard Greek hospitality. There were generous hosts who presented me with bottles of locally made wine, kind hoteliers who pressed mastiha cocktails and ouzo in...
Sin City, without the sin? A few years into sobriety, I tried Las Vegas sans vice — and it was my best trip ever
We’re at a grocery store in Las Vegas, and my eight-year-old son yanks open the door of a drink cooler. But instead of racks filled with beverages, the cooler widens into a slender hallway. Lit with eerie blue lights, the walls are lined with bottles that look stretchy and misshapen, like objects in a funhouse mirror. We tiptoe along the path into the unknown darkness.
No, this isn’t a dream, and we’re not in altered states. This is Omega Mart, an immersive exhibition created by the art colle...
Explore limestone caves at Mitchell Caverns, a hidden gem in the Mojave Desert
As the only limestone caves in the California State Park system, Mitchell Caverns is a worthy road trip destination