Art Deco Buildings in Downtown Asheville, North Carolina

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Downtown Asheville

The South’s Green, Progressive Mecca


If you want to understand the essence of downtown Asheville that exists between the dichotomous extremes– with the outlandish opulence of the Biltmore Estate at one end of the spectrum, and grungy backpackers in a drum circle at the other– head to the Pack Square Cultural District, at the bustling heart of the mountain town.


Walking down Biltmore Avenue from historic Pack Square, we pass indie record and bookstores, clothing boutiques ranging from hip to hippie-fied, an old-timey general store, an art house cinema, the lively patio of Wicked Weed Brewing, an endless array of farm-to-table restaurants, and the legendary Orange Peel music venue, all in a span of 10 minutes.


Buddhist Monks in downtown Asheville's Pack Square

Buddhist Monks in Pack Square


Although it’s well past lunchtime on a Monday afternoon, the people-watching here is extraordinary. There are slick urbanites dressed all in black, aging Boomers, bearded hipsters, stroller-pushing Earth mamas, fresh-faced college kids, blue-haired lesbians holding hands, red-robed Buddhist monks, dreadlocked hikers fresh off the trail and tattooed cowboys busking for spare change… again, all in a span of 10 minutes.


It’s an eclectic, colorful mixture of left-leaning progressives, all of them drawn to this tiny mountain town, which many residents describe as “an island of blue in North Carolina’s vast sea of red.” And we’re here to find out why.


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Galapagos Sea Lions Line Gardner Bay Beach on Español Island

Sea Lions Line Gardner Bay Beach on Española Island

7 Important Life Lessons I Learned

in the Galapagos Islands


The first time we traveled to the Galapagos Islands five years ago, I felt as wide-eyed and full of wonder as Jack Skellington when he discovered Christmas (What’s this? What’s THIS?!?! La la la la la la).


Animals with no fear of humans? Four to five different species hanging out together peacefully on a five-foot square rock?! Sea lions that swim up to you when you’re snorkeling, enticing you to play?!? What IS this magical nature-lover’s utopia?!?!?


Returning to the islands on an 8-day, 30-passenger small-ship cruise with International Expeditions a few weeks ago, I was no less impressed with the astounding natural beauty this remote Ecuadorian archipelago has to offer. But because I knew what to expect this time around, I found myself more focused on each memorable moment my daughter and I shared.


Here are seven important life lessons I learned from the Galapagos Islands:

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Manali-Leh 5000m tea lady

Manali-Leh tea lady

Tibetan Culture In Ladakh


Ladakh lies in far north India, in the heart of the Himalaya. The name of the region means ‘land of high passes’, as it’s completely locked by mountains on all sides, and so it can only be reached by air, or via a grueling trip across passes over 5000 meters over sea level.


Ladakh occupies the western half of the Tibetan plateau; its history, language and culture are closely related to Tibet. As such, Ladakh is one of the best places in the world to experience and get to know Tibetan culture, especially in summer when beautiful, colorful festivals take place in monasteries.


However, the future of Ladakh may be bleak. Ladakh is a high-altitude desert, with only 100 mm of rainfall every year. Global warming brought increased rainfall in the region – during the night of August 6th 2010, a year’s worth of rainfall fell in under an hour, triggering mudslides and flash floods that killed over 300 people.

We were in Ladakh that night. This photo story is a tribute to this beautiful land, and to all people that lost their life.

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Surfer in Puerto Viejo

Surfer in Puerto Viejo

GO GREEN TIP #110: 5 Environmentally Friendly

Homemade Toiletries


I was standing in front of the sink of a shared bathroom in Puerto Viejo. Ten years before, when I first visited the same town, the only restaurant was a lady selling chicken from her own kitchen, a couple tables scattered on the porch, and it must have gotten business because the shared kitchen at this hostel still had all of one knife, no handle, and an assortment of about five broken pots and pans to accommodate a sleeping capacity of well over a hundred people. Now, there was a restaurant down every alleyway, all of them paved instead of dirt, and I counted something like three supermarkets, twenty-six hotels, fifty-seven souvenir stalls, and one first-rate bakery within a two-block radius.


For the moment, though, I was brushing my teeth at an hour a little earlier than normal for the patrons of this particular hostel, which had a nightly bar centered on an ice chest. There was no mirror to watch myself, usually an unattractive circumstance anyhow, so I scrubbed while reading a flyer posted next to the sink. It was about the ills of fluoride. With a mouth full of foamy chemicals that were no doubt killing me, I decided then and there, even if this hostel probably wasn’t the marquee place to seek medical advice, it was time make a change. Toothpaste had always been a problem anyway.


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Galapagos Birds: The Blue-Footed Booby mating dance on Espanola Island.

Back Where We Started: Our Next Amazing Adventure!


It’s incredible the difference a few years can make in your life and career. And sometimes we only recognize the “pivotal moments” years after the fact.


Back in 2011, GGT was approaching its one-year blogiversary. Mary and I were focused on our freelance work and building our improv comedy company, running the blog in our spare time. We knew exactly what we wanted to do with the site, but had no idea HOW to do it.


One day we got an email from one of our PR contacts: “Ecoventura is pleased to invite you on its press-designated cruise through the Galapagos Islands October 2-9, 2011.” That email changed everything for us, and that trip to the Galapagos started the snowball that led us to where we are now.

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Destinations We’ve Covered:

Egypt- Top 5 Eco Attractions
Madagascar- Ring-tailed Lemurs at Anja Reserve
Morocco- A Journey into the Atlas Mountains
South Africa- Londolozi Game Reserve Safari
South Africa- Kruger National Park
South Africa- South Africa- Zulu Memories
Tanzania- Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

How To Get To Antarctica w/out Doing the Drake
The Haunting Beauty of Icebergs
Penguins of Antarctica
Taking the Polar Plunge
Top 5 Eco Attractions in Antarctica
Whales of Antarctica
Borneo- Sabah Ecotourism Attractions
India- Ranthambhore National Park
India- Tibetan Culture In Ladakh
Laos- The Pastoral Paradise of Muang Ngoi
Malaysia- Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre
Malaysia- Orangutan Conservation at Sepilok
Nepal- Hiking The Annapurna Circuit
Taiwan- Top 5 Eco Activities in Taipei
Thailand- Top 5 National Parks
Australia- Top 5 Eco Attractions
Australia-Kangaroo Island
Australia-Maria Island
New Zealand- Kapiti Island
New Zealand- Tongariro National Park
New Zealand- Top 5 Ecotourism Attractions
Tahiti- First Impressions
Tahiti- Photo Gallery
Tahiti- Moorea 4x4 Safari Tour
Tahiti- Moorea, Tiki Village Theater
Tahiti- Pearl Diving in Bora Bora
Tahiti- Ruahatu Marine Sanctuary, Bora Bora
Tahiti- Swimming With Sharks in Bora Bora
Tonga- Eua Island Eco Activities


Churchill- Into the Wild of Manitoba
Churchill- Polar Bear Fight
Churchill- Polar Bear Photo Gallery
Churchill- Tundra Wildlife

America’s Best Volcanoes
AL- Fishing Mobile Bay
AL- Mobile Carnival Museum
AK- Denali National Park
CA- Hiking The John Muir Trail
FL- Sanibel Island Eco Activities
FL- Crystal River, Swimming with Manatees
FL- Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge
GA- Barnsley Gardens
GA- Top 5 Autumn Activities Around Atlanta
GA- Best Christmas Light Displays
GA- Top 20 Atlanta Christmas Events
GA- Jekyll Island Eco Activities
GA- Weekend in North GA Mountains
GA- Top 5 Eco Attractions in North GA
HI- Hawaii’s Big Island
HI- Hawaiian Mythology
HI - Top 5 Kauai Nature Attractions
LA- Lafayette Cajun Food Tour
LA- Mardi Gras Indians Super Sunday
LA- Voodoo Museum
MT- Hiking Glacier National Park
NC- Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
NC- Asheville's Green Restaurants Scene
NC- Asheville's Top Ecotourism Attractions
NC- Greensboro Travel Guide
NC- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
NC- Outer Banks Wild Horses
NM- Top 5 Eco Attractions
NY- Going Green in NYC
TX- Sea Turtle Rescue, South Padre Island
WV- Outdoor Adventures
Yellowstone- Mammoth Hot Springs
Yellowstone- Lamar Valley
Yellowstone- Grand Canyon & Hayden Valley
Yellowstone- Upper Geyser Basin
Yellowstone- Lower Geyser Basin

Cancun- Cancun Underwater Museum
Cancun- Mayan Museum of Archaeology
Cancun- Swimming with Whale Sharks
Riviera Maya- Monkeys, Pyramids & Pottery
Riviera Maya- Rio Secreto
Riviera Maya- Tulum & Coba