National Geographic Traveler
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April 17, 2006
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IT–Inside Traveler
Text by Jessie Johnston and Emily King    Photo by Jim Richardson
Photo: Stonehenge
Stonehenge is where IT's at during the summer solstice.

What is IT?

Inside Traveler is the latest addition to our online domain, a "travelblogue" we'll regularly update with frontline travel info from our staff, contributors, and savvy readers. We'll take you behind the scenes—into our in-boxes, staff meetings, and suitcases—to give you the minute-we-hear-it info that can't wait for the newsstand.

First up:
BlackBerry thumb massages have spread beyond their birth-state of Arizona. Those suffering from deQuervain's tendonitis—the malady afflicting compulsive e-mailers—can now find relief at spas from Toronto to South Beach. Oddly, D.C. has yet to catch on, so ed-in-chief Keith Bellows, our very own BlackBerry buff, will have to wait to partake in the trend.

At the other end of the technology spectrum, we hear from our fax machine that Luddites with a taste for luxury love the unplugged accommodations at Ek'Tun, in Belize, and Mexico's Hotelito Desconocido. These retreats boast electric-light-free cabanas cooled by the breeze. This resort concept stirs something deep within our memories, an ancient practice we heard of long ago. What was it called? Oh yeah…camping.

If you're not tempted to trade in your CPU for TLC, allow us to guide your travels through the WWW. Chief researcher Marilyn Terrell, our in-house Web whiz, suggests you add the following stop to your Internet itinerary: " is like our Insiders Guide merged with MySpace," says Marilyn. Each listing on the site (categories include Restaurants, Shopping, and Night Life) includes a Google map, links to listings of nearby businesses and reviews by ordinary people. Detailed reviewer profiles set Yelp apart from public review sites like Trip Advisor, by allowing visitors to gauge whether a given person's advice is likely to be worth taking.

Those already planning summer vacations may want to act on a tip from photographer and contributing editor Jim Richardson: "Anyone with even a bit of the Celtic in them can only be one place for the summer solstice: Stonehenge. Over 20,000 druids, bards, and assorted other seekers come to cozy up to the ancient stones. It's a rowdy party: You'll see a variety of folks, from people carrying coolers full of beer to New Agers waving sacred oak branches." Can't make it for the solstice? Get your amulet and crystal fix anytime in nearby Glastonbury, an hour's drive away.

Assistant Editor Amy Alipio recently found her way to Santa Fe for an ex-staffer's wedding, and dropped us the following tip: "Along Route 14 between Albuquerque and Santa Fe (a.k.a. The Turquoise Trail), stop to eat at Ribs, in a nondescript shopping plaza in Cedar Crest (12220 N. Hwy 14). As soon as you enter, the savory smell of slow-cooking meat sets your mouth watering. The source? The hulking, stainless-steel smoker in the corner. Sample one of their microbrews, including Roswell Alien Amber Ale or the Arrogant Bastard Ale (tagline: 'You're not worth it')."

Contributing editor Andrew Nelson (see him live at one of our travel writing seminars) recently spent a week in Reno. "In the 1930s it was the place people went to get divorced—the slang term then was 'getting Reno-vated.' Now people go for the loose slots, the whitewater kayak course on the Truckee River that runs through downtown, and the all-you-can-eat sushi." After successfully avoiding mercury poisoning, Andrew reports that "the Sushi Bar on the Sky Terrace at the Atlantis Casino was the best. Try the lobster roll, available by special request."

When production deadlines allow (and even when they don't), your bloggers try to venture beyond the boundaries of the District of Columbia; each recently spent time in Philadelphia. Says Jessie: "A wander south of South Street started things off with Isaiah Zagar's mosaic chefs d'oeuvre as hors d'oeuvres. Next, I filled up on the award-winning veggie hoagie of grilled eggplant, broccoli rabe, and sharp provolone at Chickie's Italian Deli's (1014 Federal St.), and topped things off with a filled-to-order cannoli at Termini Bros." Emily took the $28-round-trip Chinatown bus to Philly the following weekend, but spent her dollars elsewhere: "Pat's cheesesteak sandwich tastes like rubber—this Cheese Whiz biz is disgusting—but, I loved my afternoon at Monk's Café at 16th and Spruce, where they actually had Hoegaarden on tap."

That's IT.

Know where else we can find free-flowing beer and sushi? E-mail your feedback and tips to

Emily King, a native Utahn, is the Assistant to the Editor at Traveler. Her dirty little secret? She aspires to write an Insiders Disneyland. Jessie Johnston is a researcher at the magazine. A Canadian expat, she acts as Traveler's tenuous link to the French-speaking world, and go-to gal for staff chocoholics.

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