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5 Southern Morocco Adventures Beyond the Desert

So you’ve spent a night of your Moroccan getaway in the desert, enjoyed the uncountable stars, the quiet, the disconnect. Now…what’s next? After you wake up to the sun cresting over Erg Chigaga or Erg Chebbi, you eat a quick breakfast, sip a strong coffee, and start to head back towards civilization, trekking slowly out of the dunes of the Sahara. While your camel carries you beyond the desert of southern Morocco, mull over these destinations that lie just beyond, and start planning the next stage of your adventure.

Explore the Gorges

The Dades and Todra Gorges are a few hours from Merzouga. With tall, imposing rock formations and palm groves, they are impossibly picturesque and worth spending one or two nights. Though both gorges have well-marked trails, the “Monkey Finger” trail of the Dades Gorge is perhaps the better option for hikers; those looking for a bit of adventure might consider rock climbing, an activity popular among “peak baggers” in the Todra Gorge.

a switchback road winding through the Todra Gorge
A serpentine road in the Dades Gorge. Photo © pawopa3336/iStock.

Chill in the Palm Groves

The expansive palm groves of the North and South Draa Valley beckon travelers needing to unwind. The seldom-visited grove north of Errachidia makes for a great overnight stop if you’re heading to Fez after a night in Merzouga. Those with more time might consider the chic digs in Skoura to hobnob with the celebrity types that pass through, while travelers wanting to go a bit further afield should consider the groves around Zagora after (or before) a night in the Saharan environs of Erg Chigaga.

landscape view of palm trees backed by Atlas Mountains in Southern Morocco
The palm groves of Skoura. Photo © Lucas Peters.

Shop for the Most Unique Pottery in Morocco

Located a few minutes outside of Zagora is the small village of Tamegroute. The local artisans source all of their raw material from the area—they get the clay and wood for their fires from the nearby palm groves, while the ingredients for the pottery’s signature green color remain a closely guarded secret, passed on from artisan-to-artisan through the generations.

bright green pottery on display in Morocco
The green pottery of Tamegroute. Photo © Amina Lahbabi.

Find a Carpet in Tazenakht

Tucked in the foothills between the High Atlas Mountains and the Sahara is the little village of Tazenakht, known for the highest-quality handwoven Moroccan Berber carpets to be found in the entire country. You can find these carpets in the souks of Marrakech and Fez, but they’re almost always marked up significantly. If you’re looking for a great deal on a carpet, make this a stop on your trip.

a boy sitting on a chair outside a rug shop draped in rugs
Tazenakht is well known for its rugs. Photo © Lucas Peters.

Search for Saffron

The striated canyons of Morocco’s Anti-Atlas range open onto fields of saffron flowers, where you’ll soon stumble upon the village of Taliouine: the capital of this precious flower. During harvest, women and children are out before first light to pluck the delicate threads. There are several cooperatives in town dedicated to “Morocco’s gold,” and they make for great places to stop and smell the saffron.

Anti-Atlas mountain range covered in green and purple
The Anti-Atlas mountains covered with saffron flowers. Photo © Amina Lahbabi.

Instead of hustling back to the bustle of Fez or Marrakesh, consider spending a few days in the eastern part of Morocco, exploring some of its less-visited regions, and make the most out of your voyage to this incredible country.

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Walk Vancouver’s Yaletown and False Creek Neighborhoods

On this self-guided tour of the city, which includes a combination of walking and ferry-hopping, you’ll start and end in Vancouver’s Yaletown neighborhood. In between, you’ll explore the Olympic Village, the emerging arts district known as “The Flats,” and the False Creek waterfront. Stop along the way to sample some craft beer.

boats in the water with the Vancouver skyline in the background
The False Creek waterfront. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Total Distance: 2.6 miles (4.25 kilometers)
Total Walking Time: 1.5 hours

Start your stroll with coffee and pastries at Yaletown’s Small Victory Bakery. When you’re ready to wander, exit the bakery, turning left on Homer Street, and take an immediate left onto Helmcken Street. Follow Helmcken two blocks down the hill, and turn right onto Mainland Street, checking out the neighborhood’s restored warehouse buildings. In one block, at Davie Street, turn left to walk south toward the waterfront.

In two blocks, at the corner of Davie and Pacific Boulevard, stop for a quick look at the Engine 374 Pavilion to see the locomotive that pulled the first transcontinental passenger train into Vancouver in 1887. Continue south on Davie Street one more block to False Creek and the Aquabus ferry dock, where colorful ferries shuttle across False Creek, which British naval officer and explorer George Henry Richards is credited with naming. In 1859, Richards traveled up what he thought was a creek in search of coal deposits but discovered that this “False Creek” was actually an inlet of the Pacific Ocean. Board the ferry headed east to The Village.

aquabus ferry with Vancouver skyline in the distance
The Aquabus ferries shuttle passengers around False Creek. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

When you get off the ferry, explore the cluster of contemporary buildings in front of you: the Olympic Village, also known as the Village at False Creek. The neighborhood’s buildings, which housed athletes during the 2010 Olympic Games, have been converted into condominiums, and the district has several brewpubs, cafés, public art pieces, and a community center.

If you’re ready for a break, nab a patio seat at Tap & Barrel, where they’ve got a long list of B.C. beer and wines on tap and great views of the city skyline.

patio of a brewery in the False Creek neighborhood of Vancouver
Take a break at the Tap and Barrel with a patio seat overlooking False Creek. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

From the Olympic Village, you’ll detour away from the water to explore an emerging arts district called The Flats. Walk south through the plaza on Salt Street, past the massive sculptures The Birds, and continue two blocks to West 1st Avenue. Turn left onto 1st, and go three blocks east, crossing Main Street. Look for the Winsor Gallery on your right; stop and see what’s on view in this contemporary art gallery.

Leaving the gallery, turn right to continue east on 1st Avenue. In two blocks, when 1st comes to a T at Thornton Street, turn left to check out two more art spaces, Equinox Gallery and Monte Clark Gallery, both in the same brightly painted building among the warehouses at the foot of Thornton.

Retrace your steps up Thornton Street, turning right onto 1st Avenue, then taking the next left onto Scotia Street. Cross busy 2nd Avenue, then continue south up the hill on Scotia for three blocks, turning right onto 5th Avenue. Follow 5th one block west to Main Street, turn left onto Main, and you’ll find your next stop, Brassneck Brewery, where you can do a tasting of their small-batch beer.

a ferry boat in false creek with Science World in the background, Vancouver
Take in the view of Vancouver and the Science World dome before getting back on the ferry. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Turn left out of the brewery onto Main and walk two blocks south. At 8th Avenue, turn right, walk two more blocks, and you’ll see 33 Acres Brewing on your right. Stop for another beer tasting and a snack, too. To get back to the ferry, turn right onto 8th Avenue and take the first right onto Manitoba Street. Follow Manitoba 10 blocks north, back to the Olympic Village. Pause to take photos of the city skyline and Science World’s dome before boarding the Aquabus to return to the Yaletown docks.

Color map of Downtown Vancouver, BC
Downtown Vancouver

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New to Elin Hilderbrand Novels? Start Here.

Rule #1: Schedule some time

I have no way of knowing which of Elin’s titles you’ll pick first, but I do know that you won’t be able to put it down. Elin’s stories are fast-paced and her writing style is light and addictive. You may want to apologize in advance to your loved ones who will just have to understand your temporary absence.


Rule #2: Fiction will feel real

While the book covers might look like just another light, fluffy beach read, and many of her characters are rich and famous, her writing style is quick and witty and her characters are relatable, with real-world problems and flaws. More importantly, Elin’s plots tend to be peppered with relevant contemporary issues: cancer diagnosis, pharmaceutical addiction, white collar crimes, etc.


Rule #3: Elin will not be pigeonholed

Unimaginative people sometimes refer to Elin as a women’s fiction writer. But after reading any one of her books, you will understand that she is a fiction writer. No gender qualifier needed, thank you very much. Both men and women will appreciate her novels. In fact, her novels are often told from the point of view of a male character. Take that, sexism!


Rule #4: Wine it up

Every Elin book is a love letter to wine, so make sure to pair each read with a character’s choice of vino. (Psst: I made this easy for you, check out the suggestions below.) Not a wine lover? A cool glass of lemonade or a warm mug of hot chocolate (depending on the season) are also good pairing options.

Visiting Þingvellir National Park in Iceland

Þingvellir (pronounced Thingvellir) National Park is one of the top sights along the Golden Circle. Located in South Iceland, the park is steeped in history and was designated as a World Heritage Site in 2004. In addition to historical sights, visitors can enjoy outdoor recreation activities including snorkeling, fishing, horseback riding, hiking, and camping.

people walking on a path below Almannagjá in Thingvellir National Park
Almannagjá in Þingvellir National Park. Photo © SimonDannhauer/iStock.

Sights in Þingvellir National Park

Þingvellir Interpretive Center

The Þingvellir Interpretive Center (tel. 354/482-2660, 9am-8pm daily June-Aug., 9am-5pm Sept.-Apr., free) gives a great overview of the national park, its history, and its geological significance. Stop in to see the interactive display and then pick up hiking maps at the information center next door.


The park’s stony, moss-covered landscape is home to Almannagjá (All Man’s Gorge), which is the tallest cliff face in the national park and the original backdrop to the Alþing. This rock structure is considered the edge of the North American plate, which visitors can view up close. It’s an impressive sight, so be sure you have your camera ready.


Lögberg (Law Rock) is where Icelandic democracy began. Iceland’s Commonwealth period ran from 930 till 1262, and during that time, the Law Rock was the center of the Alþing (parliament). Members of the Alþing gave speeches and held events at the rock, including confirming of the year’s calendar and issuing legal rulings. A man known as the “law speaker,” who was responsible for understanding all laws and required to memorize them, read the procedural laws aloud every summer, standing on the rock.

Öxará River

The Öxará (Axe) River flows over seemingly endless lava fields, emitting a haunting mist in the winter months. It’s serene and eerie until it reaches Öxaráfoss, where the water tumbles and roars over the cliffs. At the river’s edge are a church and farmhouse, the latter of which is the official summer residence of Iceland’s prime minister. The church, Þingvallakirkja (9am-5pm daily mid-May-early Sept., free), is a charming wood structure built in traditional Icelandic design that dates from 1859. Visitors can go inside, take photos, and sit on a pew and reflect. The interior features a wooden pulpit and bells from earlier churches. There’s a small cemetery behind the church where celebrated poets Einar Benediktsson and Jonasa Hallgrimsson are buried.

a person snorkeling in a fissure in Thingvellir National Park
Snorkel or scuba in the Silfra fissure. Photo © yvonnestewarthenderson/iStock.

Sports and Recreation

Diving and Snorkeling

Scuba diving or snorkeling in the naturally filtered, pure water of Þingvallavatn lake is sublime. Surveying the underwater basalt walls, multicolored algae, and sloping sands is magical and unique—you’re able to snorkel or scuba in the Silfa fissure, the enormous crack between the Eurasian and North American continental plates. Don’t even think about going in without a drysuit, as the water temperature hovers around 3°C (37°F).

Diving is possible year-round. There are rules to obey, so don’t attempt to go without a guide. Dive Iceland (Ásbúðartröð 17, Hafnarfjörður, tel. 354/699-3000) offers a two-tank dive package for about 44,990ISK. Travelers must be dry-suit certified to dive. Snorkeling tours start at 19,990ISK.


Boats are not allowed on the lake, but fishing permits are sold at the information center. Tourists have a chance of catching arctic char and brown trout. Be sure to obey the rules and pay for the permit. The fishing season at the lake runs May 1-September 15, and permits are about 40,000ISK.


Þingvellir is lovely for the casual hiker. Acres of flat lava fields make it an easy hiking spot, but be sure to be careful of open rock fissures along the way; you could fall in. There are scores of foot trails and plenty of interesting rock formations and rugged terrain to see. You can get information about trails and the surrounding area at the visitors center. If you’re looking to scale some small mountains, check out Mount Syðstasúla (1,085 meters), which is in the northern region of the park and is the park’s easiest peak to climb. The view from the top is spectacular. The moderate hike is 13 kilometers round-trip and takes about seven hours.

Horseback Riding

Þingvellir is a popular spot for riding horses, with several trails that offer the chance to check out some of the more beautiful and geologically significant areas of the park. Seeing the region by horseback is a beautiful way to survey the land. Reykjavík Excursions (tel. 354/580-5400) offers a year-round horse-riding day tour in Þingvellir for 23,300ISK.

Campsite in Thingvellir National Park.
Campsite in Þingvellir National Park. Photo © 1tommas/Dreamstime.

Campsites in Þingvellir National Park

There are no hotels within Þingvellir National Park. However, there are accommodations in nearby Laugarvatn and Selfoss. If you would like to stay within the park limits, your only option is camping at one of Þingvellir’s five campgrounds, spread across two areas of the park: the Leirar section, which is a five-minute walk from the Þingvellir information center, and the Vatnskot section, which is by Lake Þingvallavatn.

The Leirar campground is divided into four campsites: Fagrabrekka, Syðri-Leirar, Hvannabrekka, and Nyrðri-Leirar. The Vatnskot campground is situated at an abandoned farm by the lake. All campsites have access to toilets, electricity, and cooking facilities. The difference in the two sections is not about amenities, but whether you want to camp close to the lake or stay closer to the information center. Both sections have great landscape views and spacious fields. The campgrounds are open June 1-September 30, and cost 1,300ISK per person.

Information and Services

The tourist information center (tel. 354/482-2660, 9am-8pm daily June 1-Aug. 31, 9am-6pm daily Sept. 1-May 31) is close to the car park. Be advised that there is a service fee of 200ISK to use the bathroom.


Þingvellir is 46 kilometers northeast of Reykjavík. By car, take Route 1 to Route 36, which will take you to the northern part of the park.

While there is no public transportation available to get to the park, a number of tours include a stop at Þingvellir. Check out Reykjavík Excursions (tel. 354/580-5400) for daily departures.

Travel map of the Golden Circle in Iceland
The Golden Circle

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Getting to Ambergris Caye from Belize City

Ambergris Caye is Belize’s largest island, just south of the Mexican Yucatán mainland and stretching southward for 24 miles into Belizean waters. Ambergris (AM-bur-giss) is 35 miles east of Belize City and about 0.75 mile west of the Belize Barrier Reef. The island was formed by an accumulation of coral fragments and silt from the Río Hondo as it emptied from what is now northern Belize. The caye is made up of mangrove swamps, a dozen lagoons, a plateau, and a series of low sand ridges. The largest lagoon, fed by 15 creeks, is 2.5-mile-long Laguna de San Pedro, on the western side of the village.

white sand beach with palm trees on Ambergris Caye
Ambergris Caye. Photo © KaraGrubis/iStock.

San Pedro Town sits on a sand ridge at the southern end of the island, the only actual town on the island and the most-visited destination in Belize. It is chock-full of accommodations, restaurants, bars, golf carts, and services. San Pedro is also the most expensive part of Belize, with prices for some basic goods and foods double the mainland prices and sometimes even more than similar services and restaurants in the United States.

The town is increasingly more populated and traffic more intense as a result, as more expats move here and more businesses open, particularly with the new paved road north of the bridge, which has opened access to a previously remote area of the island.

Whether arriving by air or sea, your trip to Ambergris begins in San Pedro Town—the heart of the island’s activity, where most of the restaurants, bars, nightlife, shopping, and hotels are clustered. Three streets run north-south and parallel the beach on the island’s east side. Residents still refer to them by their historic names: Front Street (Barrier Reef Dr.), Middle Street (Pescador Dr.), and Back Street (Angel Coral St.). Another landmark is at the north end of town, where the San Pedro River flows through a navigable cut. This spot is often referred to as “the cut” or “the bridge,” referring to the toll bridge that replaced the hand-drawn ferry.

Past the bridge are some exclusive resorts, hotels, and lounges. You’ll also hear the term “south of town,” referring to the continually developing area south of the airstrip and south of San Pedro Town, accessed by Coconut Drive and starting past Ramon’s Village Resort, where more upscale retreats can be found, along with some casual and lively outdoor bars.

view of Ambergris Caye from a plane window
The flight from Belize City to San Pedro takes about 15 minutes. Photo © MartinaPal/iStock.

Getting To Ambergris Caye By Air

The 2,600-foot-long runway of San Pedro Airport (SPR) is practically in downtown San Pedro. Belize’s two airlines, Maya Island Air (tel. 501/223-1140 or 501/223-1362) and Tropic Air (tel. 501/226-2626, U.S. tel. 800/422-3435) fly more than a dozen daily flights between San Pedro, Caye Caulker, and Belize City—and another five to and from Corozal. Tropic Air has a computerized system and offers more reliable service; there also are flights from San Pedro to Belmopan, offering quicker access to the Cayo District. Maya Island Air is good too, and sometimes gives 50 percent discounts on cash purchases; be sure to ask if a discount is available.

The flight from Belize City’s international airport to San Pedro takes about 15 minutes and costs US$125 round-trip. Flying in and out of Belize City’s municipal airport is much cheaper (US$25 each way, not much more expensive than the water taxi), although you’ll need to catch a taxi from the international airport to get there.

Getting To Ambergris Caye By Boat

Two companies provide scheduled water taxi service between Belize City and the islands: Ocean Ferry (across from Cholo’s Sports Bar, tel. 501/223-0033) and the San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi (close to Spindrift Hotel, tel. 501/223-2225), with the latter offering more daily departures between Belize City and Ambergris Caye, a 75-minute ride that costs US$14.50-20 one-way, or Caye Caulker, a 45-minute ride costing US$9.50-15. Both carry free Wi-Fi on the boat.

In Belize City, the Ocean Ferry Water Taxi Terminal is on North Front Street next to the Swing Bridge, with boats leaving between 8am and 5:30pm daily. The San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi departs from the Tourism Village in Belize City. Boats depart San Pedro from the pier across from Doc’ks Tiki Bar, 6am-5:30pm daily. Always check the schedule before making plans; usually there are extra boats on weekends and holidays.

Thunderbolt Travels (tel. 501/610-4475, runs a once-daily trip to Corozal from San Pedro at 3pm (US$22.50 one-way, US$42.50 round-trip), and from Corozal to San Pedro at 7am. The trip takes two hours in each direction. The departure pier in San Pedro is by the old football field; ask anyone to direct you to Thunderbolt. The newer Isla Norte Ferry (tel. 501/637-3757 or 501/610-4757, US$25 pp one-way) offers a daily run from San Pedro to Sarteneja and Corozal Town, departing at 7:45am from San Pedro and arriving in Corozal at 9:30am, and from Corozal to San Pedro, departing at 3pm from the municipal pier and arriving in San Pedro at 4:50pm.

Toll bridge connecting San Pedro with north Ambergris Caye. Photo © Lebawit Lily Girma.
Toll bridge connecting San Pedro with north Ambergris Caye. Photo © Lebawit Lily Girma.

Getting Around Ambergris Caye

Walking is feasible within the town of San Pedro; it’s about a 20-minute stroll from the airstrip to The Split. Once you start traveling between resorts to the south or north, however, you may want to go by bicycle, golf cart, taxi, or boat. At one time, cars were a rarity, but together with golf carts they are taking over the town streets and even the north side of Ambergris. Most of the electric golf carts have been replaced by gas-powered ones, and hundreds ply San Pedro’s rutted roads. Cobbled streets mean less dust and fewer potholes downtown.

The toll bridge connecting San Pedro Town with Ambergris’s north side is free for pedestrians. From 6am to 10pm, bicycles pay US$1 to cross, and golf carts pay US$5 round-trip.

Usually the smoothest and quickest way to travel up and down Ambergris Caye, water taxi service is available from Coastal Express (tel. 501/226-2007). Boats share a dock with Amigos del Mar Dive Shop, in front of Cholo’s Sports Bar, departing for points north and south 5:30am-10:30pm daily, with special late-night schedules on big party nights (Wed.-Sat.). Daily scheduled runs are posted online. The fare, usually US$5-14 each way, depends on how far you are going, all the way up to El Secreto, the farthest resort at press time. Most restaurants will radio the ferry to arrange your ride back to San Pedro Town. Coastal Express also offers private charters starting at a minimum of three people.

Minivan taxis (with green license plates) run north and south along the island at most hours; just wave one down and climb in. Expect to pay about US$4-7 to travel between town and points south. Within town, you’ll pay around US$4. There are several drivers that you (or your lodging’s front desk) can call as well, including Island Taxi (tel. 501/226-3125), and Amber Isle Taxi (tel. 501/226-2041). But I highly recommend Manuelito Contreras (tel. 501/627-0177), easily the best on the island—the kind you can call any time of day or night, and he also knows all the doctors in case of emergency.

Many resorts have bicycles that their guests can use for free, and others have them for rent, as do a handful of outside shops. Try the new wheels at Beach Cruiser Bike Rentals (Pescador Dr., tel. 501/607-1710, 9am-7pm Mon.-Fri., 9am-9pm Sat., 10am-5pm Sun., US$11 per day, US$47.50 per week), where you can also grab ice cream and smoothies. Up north, Lisa’s Kayaking (Mile 1 North of Bridge, between Ak’bol and Truck Stop, tel. 501/601-4449, US$8 per day, US$40 per week) also rents beach cruiser bikes.

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4 Reasons Why Joe Ide’s IQ Series is a Must-Read


I first heard about Joe Ide’s novel, IQ, when the rights for a TV adaptation sold, which happened a year before the novel was published! I am always super interested in reading a book that can get the movie/TV industry betting on it before they even know the reading audience’s interest. Clearly, the work must have an amazing concept, or story, or really strong characters that producers are certain will be a hit. In the case of IQ, it turns out it had it all, and it was a really smart bet.


If you’re new to Joe Ide’s IQ series, here are four things that make it a must-read.



1. It’s All About Deductions, My Dear Watson

Isaiah Quintabe (IQ) is an unlicensed private detective in East Long Beach who takes cases mostly from members of his community and accepts payment in the form of whatever they can afford, chickens included. He isn’t wealthy, he doesn’t have friends that work in labs, he doesn’t lift fingerprints or test for DNA; he’s just gifted in being observant. He notices what most people don’t pay attention to or process to connect to other things. It’s always a delight to read a mystery that relies on deducing, something the reader can easily play along with. Like yes, yes that mustard stain on his shirt clearly meant he was eating a hot dog and not skydiving! Or, you know, written better by an actual mystery writer. It feels too easy sometimes when technology can just spit out the suspect’s name or connect someone to the crime. I am team more deducing! 


2. The Importance of Setting

Setting matters in every novel, but it especially matters if you’re going to represent an ethnically diverse community. And it’s even more important if that community deals with crime regularly. A lot of times, places are written about from an outside lens that shows a stereotypical picture that does harm. Ide instead brings East Long Beach to life as a community filled with real people and their backstories and lives, rich and far from caricatures or stereotypes. It also leaves room for so many stories to be told by the community and its members that I really hope to get to know many of IQ’s neighbors over the course of the series.


3. A Character That Stays With You Long After Reading

I kept thinking about this series while I binge-watched Netflix’s On My Block—a coming-of-age story about teens in an inner-city L.A. neighborhood. I couldn’t stop imagining IQ helping Jamal with his treasure hunt. Or, actually, it probably would have been Jamal driving IQ bananas in trying to force him to help him find the treasure. Any character that stays with me, that my brain starts pairing with unrelated things, is always a testament to the strength of how well that character was written. They’ve clearly been brought to life in such a manner that I carry them with me and want to see them continue to do their thing while I wait for more novels. So what I’m saying is that IQ is a fantastic character who comes to life from the page and feels completely real.


4. The Series Just Started So You Can Easily Catch-up!

I know that feeling of discovering a mystery series and getting excited only to realize that it’s on book number 18 and suddenly feeling very overwhelmed. Can you just dive in with the most recent release and then make your way through? How long will it take to read 18 books and get caught up? And then you’re suddenly grabbing a standalone novel and running away. I get it. In the case (heh) of the IQ series, however, your timing is perfect because it is recent: the second in the series, Righteous, just came out, and the third in the series, Wrecked, comes out in October 2018. So, no marathon catch-up required. Also, you can read three books without the years-long publishing wait between each one. It’s a win-win.

Speaking of those 18 book series, though, I do hope IQ will be around for a long run. I like watching his growth, personal struggles, his relationship with Dodson (oh, does that rhyme with Watson?), and the community he lives in. So more IQ mysteries please, and thank you.





Jamie Canavés is a Book Riot contributing editor who always has a book in one hand. She writes the Unusual Suspects mystery newsletter, never says no to chocolate or ‘80s nostalgia, and spends way too much time asking her goat-dog “What’s in your mouth?!” Tweets: @Oh_Dinky.


HBG Big News This Week: April 23-27, 2018

Following is a recap of major news at Hachette Book Group for the week of April 23-27, 2018:

Bestsellers: HBG has 20 titles on the New York Times Bestseller list dated April 29, including three #1s—The Fallen by David Baldacci (Grand Central) debuts at #1 on both the Print Hardcover (Fiction) and Combined Print & Ebook (Fiction) lists. James Patterson’s All American-Murder (L,B) remains at the #1 position on the Sports & Fitness (Monthly) list. HBG’s distribution clients have four titles on the list this week, including one #1—Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Marlon Bundo with Jill Twiss (Chronicle) tops the Children’s Bestsellers (Picture Books) list. HBG also has 16 titles on the USA Today bestseller list, see the full list here.

Edgar winner: Attica Locke’s Bluebird, Bluebird (Mulholland) won Best Novel at the Edgar Awards on April 26. See the full list of nominees here.

Independent Bookstore Day: Tomorrow is Independent Bookstore Day, “a one-day national party that takes place at indie bookstores across the country…Every store is unique and independent, and every party is different.” You’ll find authors, live music, cupcakes, scavenger hunts, kids events, art tables, readings, barbecues, and contests, as well as exclusive books and literary items that you can only get tomorrow. A perfect day to visit your local indie!

HBG Green Goals: Yesterday we issued HBG’s 2016-2017 Environmental Progress Report, with good progress on our key targets—a 2% reduction in HBG’s carbon footprint (during a year of major expansion, which makes this reduction even tougher to achieve), and our recycled and certified fiber usage increased. For more information, go to our Corporate Social Responsibility page on, or

Exciting moment: PublicAffairs author Scott Wapner rang the NASDAQ Closing Bell to celebrate the publication of his new book When Wolves Bite: Two Billionaires, One Company, and an Epic Wall Street Battle (see attached photo). The NASDAQ promoted the book on their seven-story billboard tower and marquee in the middle of Times Square.

Chatauqua Prize: The Futilitarians: Our Year of Thinking, Drinking, Grieving, and Reading by Anne Gisleson (L,B) has been nominated for the 2018 Chautauqua Prize. The Chautauqua Prize “draws upon Chautauqua Institution’s considerable literary legacy to celebrate a book that provides a richly rewarding reading experience and to honor the author for a significant contribution to the literary arts.”

Road Trip Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in 2 Weeks

On a map, the enormity of the Upper Peninsula can be deceptive. The unique qualities that give the U.P. its appeal are scattered over 30,000 square miles, 14 counties, and two times zones. Rustic hiking trails, breathtaking lake views, and charming small towns are interspersed among miles of two-lane highways and scores of abandoned iron and copper mines. But hours spent behind the wheel on a road trip will pay off handsomely. The route outlined here will offer the most efficient way of limiting your driving time and seeing the best that Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has to offer.

If you only have a week and want to experience a bit of everything—without having to work too hard to do so—stick to the eastern half. If you have more time, add on the 7-day itinerary to explore the western half of the Upper Peninsula.

Michigan’s Eastern Upper Peninsula in 6 Days

Day 1

Chances are you’ll be arriving in Mackinaw City, the gateway to the U.P., after a very long drive from home. Check into a comfortable hotel room; enjoy a meal at one of the local restaurants, and take a bit of time to explore downtown. A respite like this is the perfect tonic for early vacation fatigue—one you’ll thank yourself later.

the sun sets over the lake surrounding Mackinac Island
Take a ferry to Mackinac Island. Photo © jmbatt/iStock.

Day 2

Catch an early ferry to Mackinac Island (7:30am is the first). If you plan on spending just one day on the island, it’s best to be a commuter visitor and return to your Mackinaw City lodgings at day’s end. Visit Fort Mackinac, take a captivating carriage ride past the lovely Victorian cottages, and visit the Governor’s Residence and the magnificent veranda at the Grand Hotel. Yes, they charge $15 per person for the veranda privilege, but the experience is truly unforgettable.

After lunch, take in a relaxing round of golf at The Jewel or spend some time at Mackinac Island Butterfly House. If you have a sweet tooth—and who doesn’t?—pick up a wedge or two of world-famous Mackinac Island fudge at either Murdick’s Fudge or Ryba’s. Enjoy dinner on the island at the Woods Restaurant before returning to your lodgings on the mainland.

Day 3

Get an early breakfast at Darrow’s Family Restaurant; you have a bit of a drive ahead of you. Cross the bridge, turn right and make a brief stop at Straits State Park. Here you can enjoy a breathtaking bridge view on the Upper Peninsula side. Head west along U.S. 2. As you begin your trip from St. Ignace to Naubinway, you’ll be treated with a pleasing panorama of the Lake Michigan shore, with St. Helena Island in the distance. There are many turnouts along this route, and with a good zoom lens and clear weather, you can get a shot of the island’s lighthouse. Continue on toward Manistique and stop for lunch at Clyde’s Drive-In No. 2 for a great burger and malt.

After lunch, turn off onto M-149 and head to Palms Book State Park to see Kitch-Iti-Kipi, better known as “Big Spring.” Continue on U.S. 2, ending your day’s sojourn in Escanaba. Have dinner and stay the night at the historic House of Ludington.

A traveler crosses a footbridge to the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse.
The Marquette Harbor Lighthouse. Photo © Henryk Sadura/123rf.

Day 4

After breakfast in Escanaba at the authentic Swedish Pantry, head up M-35 toward Marquette, the Upper Peninsula’s largest and most cosmopolitan city. Once you arrive, a stroll along the waterfront will be invigorating after time behind the wheel. Bring your camera so you can get some great shots of Marquette Harbor Lighthouse, a photogenic lighthouse on rocks located offshore. Grab lunch and spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the area, perhaps perusing junkyard art at Lakenenland Sculpture Park or viewing the sunset at Presque Isle Park. Choose from one of several excellent downtown dining spots for dinner before spending the night in Marquette.

Day 5

Grab breakfast at the Sweet Water Café before setting course on M-28 for Munising and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Since the colorful rocks can only be seen from the water, either book a three-hour boat tour with Pictured Rocks Cruises or a six-hour kayak tour (departing at 9am) with Paddling Michigan. Enjoy dinner at Lake Superior Brewing Company and stay the night in Grand Marais; renting one of the Hilltop Cabins will offer a great waterfront view.

Turquoise water at the shore at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Pictured Rocks National Lakshore in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Photo © Maciej Maksymowicz/123rf.

Day 6

Grab a convenient breakfast at West Bay Diner and Deli, then hit the road for Tahquamenon Falls State Park, where you’ll find the most magnificent waterfall in the U.P. You can see the Upper Falls from the observation deck, which is only a short trail walk from the parking area. Four miles downstream, the Lower Falls produce a similar spectacle. The awe-inspiring power of the falls is hard to overstate. As much as 50,000 gallons of water per second cascade over Upper Tahquamenon, the second most powerful waterfall in the eastern United States, exceeded only by Niagara.

Enjoy lunch at the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Pub before setting out for Sault Ste. Marie. Sail through the always fascinating Soo Locks with Soo Locks Boat Tours and marvel at how gargantuan ships can transit though the locks with just inches to spare. Cap off your adventure with a special dinner at Freighters. Check in at the Ojibway Hotel for the night before departing for home the next morning.

Travel map of Michigan's Upper Peninsula (East)
The Eastern Upper Peninsula

Michigan’s Western Upper Peninsula in 7 Days

Adventure awaits in the western half of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Take your time to really examine the scenery—it’s much more rustic than in the east, and nothing like what you’ll find in the big city!

Day 1

Start your trip on the U.S. 2 going west toward Iron River. Along the way you’ll cross into the central time zone and begin to see some of the rough terrain for which the U.P. is known. This area was the heart of iron country during the heyday of mining. To learn about this historic period, visit the Iron Mountain Iron Mine near Vulcan. Afterward, get back on U.S. 2 and stop in Iron Mountain for lunch; try either Bimbo’s Wine Press on East Main Street if you appreciate good Italian fare (owing to the area’s Italian heritage), or Famers on Pine Mountain Road if you’d prefer a sports bar atmosphere.

Continue west on U.S. 2, taking a brief detour into a corner of Wisconsin on the way to Crystal Falls. You’re entering the Superior Upland, the area of rough beauty known as iron country. Stop in Crystal Falls just long enough to admire the spectacular view looking down Main Street and take a picture of the highlands in the distance.

Continue west along U.S. 2 until you come to Watersmeet. Book a room at the Lac Vieux Desert Resort Casino for a well-deserved rest. After dinner at the Thunderbird Sports Lounge, make the short trek up U.S. 45 to view the baffling Paulding Mystery Light.

female hiker in a forest in Michigan
Hiking through the Porcupine Mountains. Photo © Steven Prorak/Dreamstime.

Day 2

The most picturesque wilderness of the Upper Peninsula awaits you! After breakfast at the hotel, take U.S. 45 north toward Ontonagon, where you’ll find the eastern end of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Pick up picnic supplies in town before taking M-107 up the large hill to Lake of the Clouds Overlook. Park your car and make the very short hike up to the top of the cliff to take in the breathtaking view.

Follow M-107 through the park, being careful of the frequent turns in the road. After exiting the park near Union Bay you’ll find a series of scenic turnouts along the Lake Superior shore. Most have tables, so stop here to enjoy your picnic lunch and chat with some of your fellow travelers. After lunch, head to Ontonagon to take in the Ontonagon County Historical Museum, which offers a fascinating look at the community’s past, with an emphasis on the logging and mining industries. The historical society also offers tours of the Ontonagon Lighthouse, an 1853 structure gradually being restored. Grab dinner at Syl’s Cafe and get a cabin for the night at the Mountain View Lodges on M-64, featuring a waterfront view and a sandy beach.

Day 3

Today you’ll be heading into the Keweenaw Peninsula, as north as you can go and still be in mainland Michigan. From Ontonagon, take U.S. 45 to M-26 and head north. As you progress, you’ll see more pine and spruce trees mixed in with maples and elms. When you come to Houghton, a college town that’s home to Michigan Technological University, stop and take a leisurely break, possibly at Cyberia Café. Stop to view the unusual “lift bridge” linking the city to Hancock across the Keweenaw Waterway.

Continue north on U.S. 41 until you come to Calumet, considered by some to be the capital of the once-dominant copper industry. Take some time to look around at the magnificent if somewhat neglected architecture flanked by abandoned mines. Continue until you get to Copper Harbor and the end of U.S. 41. Take a tour of the Copper Harbor Lighthouse, which involves a fun 15-minute boat ride from the marina. Book a room at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge.

trees on a rocky coastline in Isle Royale National Park
Coastal cove of Isle Royale National Park. Photo © innerflux/iStock.

Day 4

Shift into nautical mode and board the Isle Royale Queen IV for the three-hour trip to Isle Royale National Park, the least-visited property in the National Park system. Although the park is very rugged and most visitors choose to camp, indoor accommodations are available at the Rock Harbor Lodge at Rock Harbor at the far eastern tip. Either way, you’ll have virtually unlimited opportunities to commune with nature.

Hiking, fishing, observing wildlife, and kayaking are some of the activities you can enjoy. Spend two to three days exploring Isle Royale—a truly unforgettable experience.

Days 5-6

Take a few day hikes along some of the shorter trails into the island—Scoville Point and Lookout Louise are good choices, and the view from Ojibway Tower is phenomenal. Look into a National Park Service boat tour or rent a sea kayak and explore the shoreline yourself. Pack lunches and take them with you, but note that dinners at the lodge are satisfying.

Backwoods campers and hikers will have 165 miles of trails to explore. There’s no way to hike it all in a few days, but a well-planned trip will have you walking from campsite to campsite while you keep a lookout for moose.

red, orange, and yellow trees surround the lake in Copper Harbor
Copper Harbor in autumn. Photo © Snehitdesign/Dreamstime.

Day 7

Make sure you’re back at the ferry dock by 2:45pm for the ride back to Copper Harbor. You’ll get into town a little before 6pm, just in time for dinner at the Harbor Haus. Make your way back home in the morning.

Travel map of Michigan's Upper Peninsula (East)
The Western Upper Peninsula

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Jamie Canavés is a Book Riot contributing editor who always has a book in one hand. She writes the Unusual Suspects mystery newsletter, never says no to chocolate or ‘80s nostalgia, and spends way too much time asking her goat-dog “What’s in your mouth?!” Tweets: @Oh_Dinky.