There are a few things they tell you when you're about to walk with lions.

You have to drive two miles down a winding dirt road to find the Comanche Creek Brewing Co., here in the high country of northern New Mexico.

Crested Butte, Colorado's wildflower capital, nestles in the Elk Mountain Range of west-central Colorado, where lupine, aster, mule's ear and a host of other dazzlers dot the fields. But currently the hottest tourist attraction is weed.

PORTLAND, Ore. - Portlandia is pridefully weird, with its love of beards, bikes and crazy junk food. After a couple of high-calorie days here, I want to put the fetching little city on my handlebars and ride.

BIG SUR, Calif. - When four twentysomething women are silent in a car, you know something is up.

This city is obsessed with food. And it also happens to have some of the best eating in all of Mexico.

The twin Yamaha motors of the Carlisle Bay 2 fired up, and Skipper Cleve pivoted the boat west, skimming the smooth waters that stroked the white southern beaches of Antigua. Our resort, the Carlisle Bay, had no sooner disappeared than its neighbor, Curtain Bluff, came into view. Then came one of the many disused sugar mills that dot the island, each looking like an overgrown, stone beehive, the queen bee and her swarm gone on to better things.

The first family camping trip I remember was at Washington's Kalaloch, an Olympic National Park campground perched just above a wave-pummeled Pacific beach.

The craziest things get swirled together in El Paso, Texas - horned lizards and chihuahuas, baseball diamonds and city offices, tiny shops selling pants designed to "lift your butt" and sprawling stores stuffed with cowboy boots.

The clink of a cafe con leche against a china saucer, the clatter of horse hooves on cobblestones, the laughter of tartan-clad children sent to retrieve a baguette from the ambulant baker: These are the telltale sounds of Madrid rising to greet another blazing Spanish day.

When telling people that I would be camping in Brooklyn - yes, that Brooklyn, the borough of New York - a swift, two-pronged response usually followed.

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