Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Go Farther in the Dells

If you can get past the garish attractions and crass commercialism littering the small city of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin — the mini golf courses, the cheap motels, the haunted houses, the axe throwing, the world’s highest concentration of water parks — you’ll receive a handsome reward. Declared a State Natural Area in 1994, the Dells of the Wisconsin River is one of the most scenic and unspoiled spots in the entire state, and, ironically, the place that begat all that tourist tat to begin with. Read more >


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A Good Laugh Is a Mighty Good Thing

Seals in a Bathtub, Portland, OregonHerman Melville said it best in Moby-Dick: “A good laugh is a mighty good thing, and rather too scarce a good thing.” Published in 1851, Melville’s statement could not be more pertinent today. Let’s face it: In light of a disturbing pandemic, food and hand sanitizer shortages, insufficient health care procedures, quarantines, and a constant barrage of bad news and “Breaking News” from CNN that instantly makes you think, “What fresh hell is this?!”, we need a good laugh to relieve the tension, if only for a moment or two. Without further ado, from my travels around the world, here are the top five sights that will make you laugh >


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Staying at a Great B&B in KC, MO

Jefferson House Bed and Breakfast, Kansas City, MissouriMissouri always seems to be unbearably humid. When I went to St. Louis and St. Charles in April a few years ago, residents said it felt like August, not spring. This time, in October in Kansas City, it felt like August again. So, after roaming around all day in the unseasonably uncomfortable weather, it was time to check in to Jefferson House Bed and Breakfast for some much-deserved respite. Read more >


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Roaming the Halls of America’s 80th Largest House

E.W. Marland Estate, Ponca City, OklahomaCruising through the quiet streets of Ponca City, Oklahoma, I passed by the Poncan Theatre (opened in 1927 to a crowd of 1,200 people), City Hall (built in 1916 as an auditorium), and the Ponca City Library, in a Spanish-influenced design to complement City Hall, across the street. Just a few minutes away, I reached my destination, the fantastic E.W. Marland Estate, a 55-room palace on 30 acres built like an Italian villa for lawyer, oilman, Congressman, and governor E.W. Marland and his wife in 1928 — a mansion that they lived in for fewer than three years. Read more about one of the best house museums in the United States >


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Three Days in the World’s First National Park

West Thumb Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National ParkI had wisely chosen early autumn as the time of year to visit Yellowstone National Park. Post–Labor Day, the school year had begun a few weeks before, the summer crowds had dissipated, and the weather had cooled substantially — perfect conditions for spending three full days in the oldest and most diverse national park in the United States. Read more >


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Dining at an Old Favorite in Wichita’s Old Town

Within a couple of blocks from the wonderful Hotel at Old Town in Wichita, Kansas, I found a terrific place for breakfast (Egg Cetera) to start my day, and an equally terrific place for dinner — Larkspur Bistro & Bar — to finish off the day of exploring this historic district with a dinner distinguished by a remarkable fusion of flavors and textures in a warm and friendly setting. Read more >


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50 Candidates, 5 Winners: The Most Beautiful State Capitols in the United States

Missouri State CapitolAs Washington, D.C., continues to fail to deliver meaningful, beneficial change to the vast majority of Americans, state governments step up to fill in this appalling lack of action. From minimum wage increases to environmental legislation, governors and state senators and representatives enact changes on a local level. And many of them around the country get to do that in what is very often the most beautiful building in the capital city of their respective state. From domed cruciforms to tower skyscrapers, from a circular structure to a building that looks like a French palace, U.S. state capitols are brimming with history and run a gamut of architectural styles (some more successfully than others). Read about the top five capitols in the United States >