Archive for Travel Writing

Timeless in Olema

Olema - voices from the past on a moonlit night


Named after the Miwok Indian word for Coyote, the little town of Olema is a quiet outpost of rolling hills and green pastureland on the eastern edge of the Point Reyes seashore. It’s one traffic light, perpetually blinking red, stands as a sentinel at the intersection of Sir Francis Drake Drive and Highway One. An oasis of of aging hippies, ranchers, and refugees from the City, Olema is a force of serenity on a rushed and rattled world making its way to the red blinking light standing guard at the end of the road.

I lay quietly on a clear and cool autumn night, the sky choked with stars as soft patches of moonlight illuminate the bedstead near my pillow through the parted curtains of the cottage window. In the stillness, almost like an apparition at first, I hear a soft yet persistent wail reverberate through the valley. It is the town’s namesake, coyote, baying at the moonlit night.

I am lost in timelessness, as if out in the crystalline darkness the haunting sounds of the night echo through the centuries as the Miwok and I lay motionless in the still night, entranced and enchanted, listening as if in a half-dream, to the call of Olema.

Image credit: tomswift46, courtesy flickr

5 Tips for Aspiring Travel Writers

Learning travel writing combines adventure, fun, and hard workEver dream of being a travel writer? We understand here at the Traveler. We love reading travel adventure and seeing the world through another person’s insightful gaze. Sometimes we just like hearing about a cool new place to visit.

Since  we started the Traveler back in 2001, we’ve enjoyed giving new writers their first clips and developing long term relationships with many of them.

But even a publication like the Traveler that seeks out new writers can’t publish most of stories submitted for consideration. As much as we’d like to give everyone a chance, we can’t. Frankly, too many aspiring writers don’t follow some basic fundamentals for approaching editors. Here are some starter tips for getting your travel writing foot in the door:

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Kauai’s Old World Charm

By Anne Gordon

The dazzling colours of the Waimea Canyon

Kauai may be one of the smallest of the popular Hawaiian islands but it is the oldest and undoubtedly one of the most beautiful. The first main island in a chain of volcanic islands destined to emerge over millennia (the Hawaiian island chain stretches for thousands of miles to the northwest of Kauai in small atolls, islets, and seamounts), it has for centuries drawn to its shores Polynesian adventurers, settlers from every continent searching for a better life, missionaries intent upon conversion and in their multitudes, tourists and travelers in pursuit of the ultimate destination. One of the latter, I was lured by the island’s stunning natural grandeur and the culture of a people who had courageously set out from the Marquesas long ago in a quest for a land unknown.

Unlike its sister islands where glitz and glamour prevail, Kauai has retained its old world charm. For that reason Hawaiians from neighbouring islands; Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and the Big Island, choose Kauai over all others as their own holiday destination. Tourism as we know it has yet to make a significant impact on the island, even though the spirit of aloha lies deep within the souls of its people.

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Backroads of New Zealand Part 4: Life and the Zen of Gliding

A Travel Series by Diane Covington

Follow along with Diane as she explores the northern end of the South Island of New Zealand for adventures along the back roads…

Part 4: Catching the updraft above Nelson Lakes National Park, New Zealand

While we were staying at the Alpine Lodge in St. Arnaud, I had the chance to go up in a glider above Nelson Lakes National Park. What an unforgettable experience! Here are my thoughts on that amazing journey through the sky. If you want more information on taking a ride in a glider, check out the online home of the New Zealand gliding clubs.


The fat brown Jersey cows munched the thick grass, flicking their tails against flies, then moseyed along. They never even glanced over at the light planes that zoomed past on the grassy runway, recently reclaimed from their pasture. The slender gliders raced up and down, landing and taking off, like birds in flight.

To go up in a glider, you get strapped into your seat, then the glider, attached by a cable to a wench, gets towed down the runway till it takes to the air, sort of like launching a kite. You’re taxiing down the runway, then whoosh, up, into the sky. No motor, no sound, just the feel of lifting up fast, carried by the wind. The wench releases, attached to a tiny parachute and billows down to the ground.

Up in the air, the sound of the wind rushing past the wings, a thin Plexiglas cover is all you have between you and the open sky. 1,000 feet above the ground, catching updrafts, lift as they call it, up, then down, circling, just like the ospreys, hawks and vultures, I’ve watched soaring, drifting, circling- -amazing.

I was stunned by the beauty of the perspective, thrilled by the closeness of the treetops, awed by the sensibility of literally “casting our fate to the winds” and depending on the whims of Mother Nature to carry us along.

The sheep and cows below looked like little dots of white cotton or brown fuzz. The sun sparkled off the Plexiglas cover, the clouds danced along the ridges, almost eye level to us now.
It must be one of the most direct experiences of flying that a person could have, except maybe hang gliding. I was reminded of the myth of Icarus who fulfilled his dream of flying but soared too close to the sun and melted the wax holding his wings together and fell to his death.

I’ve had dreams of flying and this felt pretty close. I can see why my friend who was piloting the glider has logged over 600 hours, feeling out the air currents, riding them and soaring through the sky.

How could I have missed this for all these years? Where was I that I didn’t know this wonder?

It felt gentle somehow, like we were riding Mother Nature, in some sync with her moods and fancies, flowing, natural like a bird. It felt like she smiled at us in a playful way, played with us a bit, a game of hide and seek, hiding the currents—catch me if you can—down, down, down, then up, up, up, over, always gliding, soaring, falling, then soaring again.

I thought about life–where are the updrafts, the places where I can soar with ease and grace, the wind beneath my wings, carried by something larger than myself, but which I am a part of?
And saw that gliding and life both require that you pay close attention to what is happening, moment by moment. Looking for the gifts, like the updrafts, the lift, which will carry you on.

Diane Covington 2010

Backroads of New Zealand: Part 3 – Nelson Lakes National Park

A Travel Series by Diane Covington

Follow along with Diane as she explores the northern end of the south island of New Zealand for adventures along the back roads…

Part 3: Nelson Lakes National Park

It was a three-hour drive from the ocean at Golden Bay to Nelson Lakes National Park, up in the mountains.

We chose the small village of St. Arnaud, right on the shore of the sparkling waters of Lake Rotoiti. There is so much outdoor fun available here, it’s hard to know what to do first.

On the lake, you can kayak, windsurf, water-ski, canoe and swim. Or try your hand at fly-fishing in the nearby rivers, for some of the best brown and rainbow trout fishing in New Zealand. Or kayak or raft down the river.

There are hiking trails all over the park, with an extensive network of tracks and huts for overnight stays for backpackers.

I spent my days bike riding and then jumping in the lake to cool off.

We found a gem of a lodge, the Alpine Lodge, a five-minute walk from the lake.

The lodge is a perfect place if you want to be outside and active all day, then come back to a clean and comfortable room, shower and have a gourmet dinner. We enjoyed delicious entrees such as Chicken Curry, a Vegetarian Burrito and an amazing Burger in their bar at the Lodge.

Just next door, their café serves breakfast and lunch. I had a delectable chocolate and berry muffin for breakfast and for lunch, a bacon, cheese and vegetable quiche. All their breads and baked goods are made from scratch. They buy local produce and support local businesses, including serving beers brewed in nearby Nelson and of course, New Zealand wines.

Owner Alexandra Unterberger, who runs the lodge with her fiancée Leighton Marshall, comes from a family with over 300 years history in the hotel and restaurant business. They really go out of their way to make guests feel welcome.

“We’re here every night with the guests. We enjoy having that personal touch,” Alexandra said.

The Alpine Lodge and St Arnaud are centrally located for sightseeing day trips. It’s one hour to Nelson, for arts and crafts and Blenheim for wine tasting. Or the West coast for dramatic coastal scenery, including blowholes.

We had a two-story studio with a view of the creek and felt at home during our three-day stay.

“We want to provide clean rooms, good service and good food,” Alexandra said.

And they did. We’ll go back for sure.


Diane Covington 2010