Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Sex and the Perfect Getaway

FOR A NEW COUPLE, THERE'S NO BETTER TEST OF COMPATIBILITY than that fateful first trip. There's much to be learned from seeing your sweetiemunchkins removed from her network of coping mechanisms and creature comforts. You may uncover negatives, like her packing 11 pairs of shoes for a weekend upstate. You may also discover a charming quality, like how cuddly she gets after one umbrella drink.

"When you travel, your companion is in your space all the time," says Patti Britton, Ph.D., author of The Art of Sex Coaching. "This kind of proximity magnifies everything: the sore spots and the sweet spots, the good, the bad, and the ugly."

U.S. couples go on 155 million romantic getaways every year. While some of these couples will end up necking in the lost-luggage office, others will find themselves at the precipice of an enchanting waterfall, arguing about who should carry the binoculars. Your journey should start With our step-by-step guide to travel for twosomes.

Step 1 Start smart
Don't be too ambitious too soon. "Early in a relationship, a shorter trip is more prudent," says Linda DeVillers, Ph.D., author of Love Skills: A Fun, Upbeat Guide to Sex-cessful Relationships. Long trips raise expectations, cost more, and represent a commitment. Unless you have a very good feel for her, put a 3-day cap on your maiden voyage.

Do: Spend a weekend in Vegas.

Don't: Go on a 2-week elk hunt.

Your best bet: Pick a spot that's no more than 4 hours away--half a day of livid silence on the way home is not fun. And opt for a place with plenty of activities to choose from. This way, if she's not a golfer, she can hit the spa while you hit some balls.

Step 2 Discuss great expectations
No, not the Dickens classic (although it's quite good). Talk about what you both want from the trip before you pack a bag. "This conversation doesn't have to be some big emotional thing," says Susan Moynihan, editor in-chief of Destination Weddings & Honeymoons magazine. "It can merely be a discussion of your dream vacation. She can say, 'I want to lie on the beach all day, then go have cocktails.' Then he can say, 'That would drive me crazy. I want to go kiteboarding all day, then go have cocktails.' Don't make an issue out of it. It's okay to have different interests. Other than cocktails, obviously, which are nonnegotiable."

Do: Have a lighthearted, enjoyable chat about your vision of the ideal trip.

Don't: Make it a tense summit meeting.

Your best bet: Meet someplace fun but quiet and keep the conversation casual. Concentrate on your expectations. Do you want to see the sights or spend the day on the beach? Must you spend every minute together, or can you split up for a few hours? How much time are you going to spend in the room (hint, hint)? What about shopping?

Oh, and one final do: Make sure you establish what the trip means. If you think you're going skiing and she thinks you're going to propose, things might turn ugly.

Step 3 Don't follow the reader
Many relationships have a natural leader who winds up making most of the decisions. If you just thought, Yeah, that's me, you're the one. If you just thought, Yeah, that's her, she's the one. Take this into account when planning, so neither of you winds up being dragged along on the other's dream vacation.

Do: Embrace democracy!

Don't: Expect her to understand when you skip the butterfly gardens because you want to get a good spot at the swim-up bar.

Your best bet: Identify the leader in your relationship. As a man, there's a strong possibility you are the leader. If this is the case, make absolutely sure your shy gal chooses her fair share of activities. Give her all the time she needs and encourage her to express her likes and dislikes. If she's reluctant to do this or gives you the ol' "Let's just do what you want to do," use your leadership abilities to coerce her into expressing herself. In other words, order her to give you orders!

Step 4 Don't mess around with money
Joy Davidson, Ph.D., the author of Fearless Sex, once went to Venice with a companion on a meals-included package. When she suggested exploring Venice's restaurants, "he couldn't stand the idea of wasting that money. I knew we had different outlooks on money before, but this really highlighted it. We ended up having a huge fight and spending most of our time apart."

Be frank about finances and split costs as equally as possible without allowing them to dominate the experience.

Do: Work out a system ahead of time.

Don't: Insist on being "The Man" and paying for everything.

Your best bet: "The best way to deal with it is to divide the payment by days," says Davidson. "For example, he pays for everything on Monday, she pays for everything on Tuesday, and so on. You'll end up spending roughly the same amount, but you won't have money overshadowing the good times every time you're presented with a bill."

Step 5 Go solo for an hour
You love your lover, but you also love it when she goes away for a while, right? "It's important to create some alone time in a way that's sensitive to your partner," Britton says.

Do: Go for an hour's jog on the beach.

Don't: Blow the day playing blackjack.

Your best bet: Take the pressure off. Split up, then reconnect to compare notes. Individual enthusiasms can be arousing. Or relax together with a room-service meal. Not every moment has to be life-changing.

Step 6 Steam up the hotel room
Hotel sex is one of the not-so-secret pleasures of travel. "There's a lack of responsibility in a hotel room," says Britton. Be irresponsible.

Do: It.

Don't: Not do it.

Your best bet: Pack something surprising in your suitcase--a toy, a DVD, or lingerie, DeVillers says: "It creates anticipation."

GRAPH: On vacation, she'll try (almost) anything

By: Connolly, Chris, Men's Health, Jul/Aug2006

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Ticking Climate Bomb

Many americans remain unfazed by the impact of global warming on the planet, but we think they'll worry plenty when they consider its potential effect on their favorite travel destinations--a subject geotourism editor Jonathan Tourtellot tackles in "The Climate Bomb" on page 86. While scientists and politicians argue over the causes of global warming, nobody can debate its reality: The Earth's average surface temperature increased about 1 Fahrenheit in the past century; the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects a 3-10° rise by the end of this century. This is not a political issue. It 'S a planetary one. That's the message former Vice President Al Gore voices in his movie and book An Inconvenient Truth, both based on a riveting presentation he's been giving to packed auditoriums nationwide. In my chat with Gore, here's what he had to say about the impact of global warming.

Some Americans think the serious consequences of global warming are decades off. What's your response?
Well, that's the essence of the problem. [Climate change] is unfolding much more rapidly than scientists figured, and the range of consequences is much more serious. And in the effort to be conservative in their projections, they erred on the side of minimizing both the pace and the magnitude of the consequences. What's happening [to the planet] is an inconvenient truth, but it is the truth. Those of us who have found a way to take the blinders off and look at [the impact of global warming] are amazed by how serious it is. It's a challenge to the moral imagination.

How long do you think it will take to blunt the advance of global warming?
I really believe that ten years from now, we'll look back on this period as a time when we began to turn the corner. And we'll realize that some damage will continue to unfold in the century to come [and beyond], but that most of the damage can still be prevented. It won't be in our lifetime, but we'll be able to hand [the world] off to our kids with a clear conscience, tell them that we did the best we could, and [that] now [things] are on the right track.

For someone trying to cut carbon emission--lets jets are one of the biggest contributors--aren't you doing a huge amount of travel?
Too much. And I buy offsets for every bit of it. I live a carbon-neutral life. Both of my businesses are carbon neutral My wife and I put money into a project in India that substitutes highly efficient solar units at $300 a pop for very dirty kerosene burners, which verifiably reduces a lot of CO2. There's a micro-hydro project in Eastern Europe that does not involve darn building, but [it] directly offsets the burning of dirty coal. Now, in the short term those projects represent a compromise that allows me to feel a little better about traveling for a purpose that I think is more than legitimate. In the longer term, [they] are a model for others to save money while reducing pollution.

What do you see as the role of young people in combating global warming?
They need to claim the title of the Greenest Generation. It's up for grabs. The challenge represented by the climate process is equivalent to the challenge posed by global fascism. All analogies present difficulties, but if you look at the threat to the course of human civilization, [the impact of global warming] is a showstopper. And rising to meet this challenge can give us the ability to gain moral clarity on a lot of other issues--HIV/AIDS, more than 34 million orphans in sub-Saharan Africa alone, chronic civil wars with child soldiers, genocide in Darfur, tens of millions dying from easily preventable diseases, grinding poverty and degradation. These are not just political problems; they're moral challenges.

What do you say to climate expert James Lovelock's prediction that by 2150 there won't be any travel?
Lovelock's a smart man, and his Gaia hypothesis, which he published in 1972, was brilliant. His new book is The Revenge of Gala and does indeed have a dark vision of what he believes is now most likely. I don't share that vision, which is impertinent [of me] because he is wiser, more experienced, more knowledgeable than I am. But I do believe that the political system is like the environment, and that predictions of how we will react that are based on past reactions may well be wrong. We have two gears--slow and lightning--and when we shift gears, we are capable of moving very quickly, I believe we're about to see the U.S. move dramatically--shift gears---and make predictions like Lovelock's not come true.

By: Bellows, Keith, National Geographic Traveler, Jul/Aug2006

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

California Blues: Going West Italian Style

By Venera Di Bella Barles

The family moves to California from New York State in 1946. We travel along Route 66 in a homemade trailer.

California Blues: Going West Italian Style
I’m a fourteen-year-old girl filled with wonder. World War II is over, and everyone takes to the highways—in search of new lives and so will we.

Trailers are the fad in 1946, big beautiful shiny ones like the Spartan and Air Stream. Dad decides to build his own.

He takes the eighteen-foot rusty trolley bed that sits on the back part of the property of our first home on Fairlawn Ave, and reshapes it into our future. When he finishes building the aluminum, wheeled, cottage, it has a cast iron sink in the front end, a new stove, four Bentwood barroom chairs and a table, salvaged from the sale of Club Paradise. All our clothing, linen, and bedding are piled on top of Dad’s precious tools. This is Mom and Dad’s bed. My four-year-old brother, Nicky sleeps between them and I have an army cot in a small area between the stove and sink.
My dad says it’ll probably take a month or two to get us to California, and we’ll see palm trees again, just like Italy, and we’ll see Indians, the desert, and movie stars.

Father sells everything. The soft velvety armchair that I curled up in when I needed hugs—the one where I rubbed the nap of the fabric and dreamed while Salvatore and Antonietta battled out life.

Even my piano is gone. I can’t believe it’s gone. I think I will never be able to play on another one since I learned my lessons on this one. It’s sold, probably to another little girl. I watch as they lower the beautiful instrument over the side of the upstairs balcony.

Everyone is watching the gypsies. The Di Bellas are on the move again. Mom is taking her cream, satin bedspread, the one she uses only when company comes. All our houses have been sold: Fairlawn Avenue, three on Buchanan Street, the duplex on Allen Street, and finally this duplex on Pine Avenue.

My little brother is leaving his best friend Donny, and I say good-bye to my first year in parochial high school, miserable Algebra, to Albany, where I was born and all I have known. I have spent reasonably happy early years here, but since I’ve moved so often I have become a loner. I don’t have many close friends to miss or say good-bye to. But I am excited to go forward and not look back. As usual, I am an optimist and think my life will be good and plentiful.

Dad’s new, green Buick, a Roadmaster, does the heavy work. It is quite brave, dipping low when the trailer is hitched. Even though I have just turned fourteen, I am thrilled at the prospect of being the navigator and relief driver for my dad. Mom will sit in the back seat as is typical. I have never seen her in the front, she is always too fearful, probably with good reason. Her rosary helps. With this move she leaves her entire family, old friends and security behind. Another Di Bella chapter closes.

Just before dark, most times we find a trailer park where we can stay the night. Mom makes dinner on the new butane stove. Usually pasta—sometimes chops or steak. She even tries to make her spice cake in the oven. My cot is pretty hard. Dad smokes a lot and it makes me cough.

As we drive on Route 66, we hear the first strains of cowboy music on the radio, and I know we are truly going west. They play Dad’s favorite, The Yellow Rose of Texas. Somewhere along the way, Bobby Troup’s new song, Get Your Kicks on Route 66 welcomes us, we hear the wonderful sounds of Mexican brass bands and guitars.

I’ve never seen such night skies like these, filled with unfamiliar stars. It is all dream-like. The darkness is enveloping, and the quiet, yes the wonderful quiet, is womb-like. We do much of our driving at night. During the day it’s magic when the heat ripples in the distance, as if we are coming to an oasis.

We stop at the sign that says, “See the two-headed Snake - Gila Monsters - Reptiles!” Mom is afraid of snakes and won’t get out of the car. Navajo Indians sit by the side of the road with their exquisite wares of jewelry, blankets, and baskets, the lines on their faces like a map to their souls. Most speak only their native tongue. I can’t contain my excitement. I feel a special place in my heart for these impressive, gentle, gifted people.

Burma-Shave signs guide our destination. We’ve been on the road sightseeing for several weeks. There is cactus and tumbleweed as far as our eyes can see and the air is pungent with the smell of sage and old hot earth.

It’s just like the movies. Just like the movies!

In Oklahoma City, we buy Nicky a western hat, boots, and a new fake gun in a holster. Now he’s ready for the Wild West. He imagines he sees cowboys and Indians coming over the hills.

I think I see them too.

Heat waves on the highway continue to race ahead of us; the horizon glimmers like water. I have never felt such hot, intense temperatures, 115 degrees in Yuma, Arizona. The family suffers adjusting to the heat. I am light-headed and troubled with nosebleeds. Dad makes us sit on top of a block of ice until we are cooled. More often than not, it is Dad who nurses us. Even our Buick has a burlap bag filled with cool water hanging over the grill. Everything is so different. Each turn brings new thoughts.

I thought living in Italy and all my days before this were unique, now, this is to be our new life. An adventure I will never forget.