Lisa Meyers McClintick, travel writer & photographer

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An apprentice cowers from an ugly argument at Thunder Bay's Fort William.
Ontario's wilderness & wonders
Fort William delivers lively look at fur trade

Star Tribune Travel
The argument started like any would: insults building to a spittle-flying shouting match. A man waved his tankard of ale and told high-hat superiors just what he thought of their rules and questionable politics.

Apparently life wasn't easy during the 1815 fur trade.

The feisty ale imbiber was portraying a Fort William employee in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and as he carried on, modern gawkers drew close to the hubbub while a few costumed actors cowered by the blacksmith shop and behind the well.

Heirloom chicken at Fort William.

Like other lively history lessons throughout the fort, this fiery debate quickly sucked in our kids, ages 6 to 10. They snapped to attention when a smart-aleck 21st-century boy told officers "I know everything!" when questioned about a scandal. Constable Tate hauled him off like a sack of potatoes to a windowless slammer.

Our son laughed and begged to join him -- briefly.
It was one of many entertaining moments that made Thunder Bay the highlight of a summer road trip tracing the routes of Voyageurs from Grand Portage, Minn., to Thunder Bay, and from Canada's Quetico wilderness to Minnesota's Voyageurs National Park.

For the full story and photos of Kakabeka Falls, Hoito's Finnish Restaurant and Thunder Bay's amethyst mine, click here or go to the Star Tribune site.

Longing for light
Germany's Ore Mountains influence Christmas ornaments and decor across the globe
Twin Cities Star Tribune

   "The comforting scent of freshly carved wood enveloped me as delicate shavings drifted into heaps at the Seiffen Folk Art Workshop in eastern Germany. A craftsman coaxed outer layers of tapered blocks into perfectly rounded curls -- an artistic rendering of Christmas tree boughs." Click link to read more.

Raccoon Mountain wild caving
Into the darkness
Adventurous Wild Caving in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Twin Cities Star Tribune

Excerpt: "These off-trail treks require helmets, headlamps, kneepads and gloves and the willingness to get dirty. Very dirty. We were a little nervous, not knowing what to expect, but Perlaky explained every step of the way -- where to stoop, how to belly crawl, and where to put our feet while crossing slippery passages. She made it sound and look easy, as she spryly scrambled through every nook and cranny.

"We're going to take a detour," she said, as she hunkered down near a triangular hole slightly wider than an average woman's hips. We followed obediently, rolling on our bellies one by one, then chicken-winging our elbows to hold ourselves above the hole.

Our feet dangled below until we found a foothold on the wall. Then we dropped into a roaring darkness."

Digging History
Unearthing dinosaur bones in Thermopolis, Wyo. 
Twin Cities Star Tribune

Excerpt: Standing on that ridge in a cap, flannel shirt and work boots, Chris Racay, collections manager for the Wyoming Dinosaur Center, pulled back a blue tarp that covered a swath of broken ground.

"Where you're walking, dinosaurs walked 150 million years ago," he said.

We crouched down to see the charcoal black treasures: a juvenile sauropod shoulder blade, tail vertebrae and parts of other bones, all which stood out against the gray-green soil.

Ice Jollies
Laugh at the cold. Two of Minnesota's biggest festivals depend on it.
 Twin Cities Star Tribune

Factoring in windchill, the afternoon temperature will rise to minus-20 degrees. Yet, here we are: a vast sea of humanity spread over a square mile on Brainerd's Gull Lake.
A group of guys proudly sports Styrofoam cowboy hats. It's a hint they drove 1,000 miles to stake a claim among 21,000 holes drilled for the Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice-Fishing Extravaganza.
"We come for the good-looking girls," jokes Rich Hepner of Casper, Wyo., knowing full well you can't tell an hourglass from a beer gut. People shuffle by, barely visible beneath bulky bundled layers (Click link for full story).

Kentucky Fall Art Drive
Berea Artisans Inspired by Appalachian Roots

Warren May's fingers swing side to side across a dulcimer's four strings. "Tick, tock. Tick, tock," he says, explaining his strumming method. "This is one of the easiest instruments to play."

He softly sings "Amazing Grace," followed by an Appalachian folk song.

Dulcimers fill Warren's shop, one of several studios in downtown Berea (30 miles south of Lexington). Dozens more artists work in the foothills that surround this college town, evidence of a centuries-old crafts culture. Warren's face lights up during his impromptu concert, and Associate Art Director Faith Berven and I can't help but smile, too.

The state Legislature has declared Berea as Kentucky's Folk Arts and Crafts capital, but the decree seems unnecessary. So many artists work here that visitors don't need an organized tour (though maps are available). We spend three days on roads that wrap around faded tobacco barns, talking to craftspeople who, in their creative lives at least, have resisted the tug of modernization.

Click on link to read the whole story.

Brainerd Lakes' Lively Winter Playground
Variety of Resorts and Activities Make Minnesota's Cabin Country Best in Snow