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Willy Volk

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Here today. Gone tomorrow.

Jeff White: 1976-2009

Dear Gadling Readers,

We usually avoid getting overly serious here at Gadling, but something happened recently, and we thought we should share it with you.

Our friend and colleague Jeff White has died. Unbeknownst to most of us, Jeff had been battling cancer for some time. Though he'd been in remission, the cancer came back late last year and spread throughout his body. He died at his parents' home in Connecticut on June 29, 2009. He is survived by his parents, James and Dolores; his brothers, Gregory, Paul, and Michael; five nieces and nephews; and his wife, Nicki, to whom he was married for only three weeks. (I wince every time I think about that.) Jeff was 32.

A career journalist, Jeff was living and working in Berlin when we contracted him to write for Gadling in February of 2008. While all the bloggers at Gadling travel, Jeff was a traveling expat, which, in my mind, made him uniquely qualified for this work. He did not disappoint. Though he lived far from the rest of the team, he kept in close contact, and I considered him a good friend and a dependable co-worker. He was a talented writer, armed with with a quick wit, a global perspective, and a passion for travel.

Today, we're going to pay tribute to Jeff, republishing some of his old posts that really moved us. We hope you'll indulge us -- and maybe get to know Jeff all over again. A good place to start is his "About Jeff White" post.

We love you, Jeff. You'll be missed.

10 things to do on Jost Van Dyke, the "New York of the Virgin Islands"



Only five miles from Tortola, the main commercial center of the British Virgin Islands, minuscule Jost (rhymes with "toast") Van Dyke is a little island with a big reputation. The scant 8-square-mile island -- dubbed the "New York of the Virgin Islands" because it offers so much nightlife -- probably packs more fun per square inch than any other island in the BVIs.

Most of the action occurs on the south side of the M-shaped island, in either White Bay (to the west) or Great Harbour (in the south-central area), though rugged Little Harbour, way to the east, is making a play for adventure- and fun-seekers, as well. Moving roughly west to east, what follows are some of Jost Van Dyke's brightest, shiniest hot spots.

One Love Bar and Grill
This ramshackle restaurant (left) seems like it must've been cobbled together from junk that floated up on the beach, but the fact is: this place serves painfully cold Carib beers and heaping, open-faced lobster rolls ($20).

The dining area -- if you can call it that -- is the part of the beach under a sprawling sea grape shading scattered plastic chairs and tables. If you plan to visit, don't worry about your outfit: you really can't be dressed too casually for this dive.

Soggy Dollar Bar
If you've been to this place (large image, above), you know how fanfreakingtastic it is. If you've only heard tales about it, let me break it to you gently: it's seriously more fun than your friends told you. If you've never heard of it, well ... you lead a sad, sad life.

  • Moored in Great Harbor
  • The Soggy Dollar Bar
  • Ivan's Stress-free Bar
  • Painkillers
  • Foxy's

Maho Bay Camps: A true eco-resort in St John, USVI

If waking to the sounds of thrumping tree frogs and the gentle sloshing of waves kissing a sugary beach -- not to mention one of the most amazing sunrise views in the hemisphere -- appeals to you, you need to move Maho Bay Camps to the top of your travel short list immediately. All this, and it's a truly "green" resort, too.

Roughly 1100 miles southeast of Miami sits one of America's most precious resources: the United States Virgin Islands. Named by Christopher Columbus for Saint Ursula and her 11,000 virgins, the former mouthful "Santa Ursula y las Once Mil Vírgenes" has mercifully been shortened to the Virgin Islands, but it still casts the same kind of mythical charm over both first-time and regular visitors alike.

Today, the US Virgin Islands consist of three main islands: St. Thomas, known for its cruise-ship-friendly mega-port, Charlotte Amalie; St Croix, a (largely) working-class island boasting some excellent scuba diving; and St John, 75% of which is national park and therefore: pristine, lush, verdant. Think: America's jungle.

Considering how untouched St John is, it makes sense for the island to host "green" hotels. In 1976 -- long before the phrase "eco-resort" even existed -- a visionary named Stanley Selengut decided untrammeled St John needed a self-sufficient hotel integrated seamlessly into the natural vegetation. To that end, he set about creating Maho Bay Camps. Today, Maho's resort shines as perhaps the single finest example of an ecologically-friendly, low-impact resort in the world. Moreover, given its unspoiled, undeveloped location, this place is truly a hidden gem.

  • Tent at Maho Bay
  • Francis Bay
  • Tent
  • Sunset

Gadling is on Twitter

"What are you doing?"

We at Gadling want to know about the little things that happen in your life, particularly those little things surrounding travel. We want to know if you're packing for a four-wheeling trip to Utah, relaxing on the beach in Cancun, or stranded at the airport in New York. We're curious to hear if your road trip to Colorado is going well, if you're waiting for a train to Midway, or whether you just scored an awesome wooden carving from a vendor in Lusaka.

How can we do this? Follow Gadling on Twitter. Once you follow us, we'll help you connect with other travelers, and with other people who love to think and talk about travel. We'll also keep you up-to-date on breaking news, fill in the gaps on some of the travel news that can't fit on our blog, and share all sorts of (short) travel tips there.

If you don't know what Twitter is, watch this short tutorial, which explains it very clearly. If you do know what Twitter is, then what are you waiting for? Follow us!

Marco Polo Didn't Go There ... but Rolf Potts did

Rolf Potts, author of the great philosophical/travel/how-to book Vagabonding, has just wrapped his "virtual book tour," in support of his new book, Marco Polo Didn't Go There.

On his tour, he chatted with various people about life as a travel writer, the themes he explores in his new book, and much more. If you want to see where he's been and who he's talked to -- well worth your time, whether you're an aspiring writer or a travel junkie! -- be sure to check the links below.

Now that Rolf's virtual book tour is complete, he'll be embarking on a real book tour, and on that tour, he'll be keeping a virtual diary -- right here at Gadling! Starting very soon, Rolf will be joining Gadling to discuss, among other things:
  • what it's like to travel around the US and talk about one's travel writing;
  • the bad reputation travel writing tends to get in the critical milieu;
  • how to deal with the occasional oddball at book readings (i.e. people who ask 10-minute questions that aren't really questions);
  • getting drunk in the homes of famous people;
  • the worst diseases he's suffered on the road, the worst border crossings and bureaucracy, the most overrated and underrated fellow travelers by nationality, his weaknesses as a travel writer, and more.
Visit Gadling to see what Rolf has to say! If you have any questions for Rolf, let us know, and maybe -- if you're really, really lucky -- he'll answer them.

Alternatively, you can see Rolf in person at one of 20 cities nationwide as he celebrates the release of Marco Polo Didn't Go There (Travelers' Tales, 2008). We encourage you to ask for the book at your favorite local bookstore or Amazon.com.

GADLING'S NWA WORLDCLUB GIVEAWAY

GADLING'S NWA WORLDCLUB GIVEAWAY

OFFICIAL RULES

NO PURCHASE REQUIRED TO ENTER OR WIN

1. ELIGIBILITY: Gadling's NWA WorldClub Giveaway (the "Giveaway") is open only to individuals who are legal residents of the fifty (50) United States (including the District of Columbia) and are 21 years of age or older. Employees of WL Acquisition LLC, AOL LLC, its advertising or promotion agencies, those involved in the production, development, implementation or handling of Giveaway, any agents acting for, or on behalf of the above entities, their respective parent companies, officers, directors, subsidiaries, affiliates, licensees, service providers, prize suppliers any other person or entity associated with Giveaway (collectively "Giveaway Entities") and/or the immediate family (spouse, parents, siblings and children) and household members (whether related or not) of each such employee, are not eligible. Subject to all federal, state and local laws and regulations. Void in Puerto Rico and where prohibited by law.

1. SPONSOR: The Giveaway is sponsored by WL Acquisition LLC, 22000 AOL Way, Dulles, VA 20166 ("Sponsor").

2. AGREEMENT TO OFFICIAL RULES: Participation in the Giveaway constitutes entrant's full and unconditional agreement to and acceptance of these Official Rules and the decisions of the Sponsor, which are final and binding. Winning a prize is contingent upon fulfilling all requirements set forth herein.

3. ENTRY PERIOD: The Giveaway begins at 3pm EST, on Monday, March 10, 2008 and ends at midnight on Wednesday, March 12, 2008.

4. ENTRY: During the Entry Period, go to http://www.gadling.com/2008/03/10/anyone-want-a-free-northwest-airlines-worldclub-pass/ and leave a comment on the post (using a valid email address). Submission will result in one (1) entry. Limit one (1) entry per person. Subsequent entries from the same person will be removed from the entry database. The use of any agencies or automated software to submit entries will void all entries submitted by that person.

5. DRAWING: On or about March 14, 2008, sponsor will select the name of one (1) potential winner in a random drawing of all eligible entries received during the Entry Period. Potential winner will be contacted via email and will be asked to provide their full name, age and mailing address. If a potential winner does not respond within the timeframe stated in the email notification, the Sponsor may select an alternate potential winner in his/her place at random from all entries received during the Entry Period. .

6. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will receive a Northwest Airlines WorldClub pass (valid until March 31, 2008). Approximate Retail Value: $45. Pass is subject to Northwest Airlines' terms and conditions. No cash or other substitution may be made, except by the Sponsor, who reserves the right to substitute a prize with another prize of equal or greater value if the prize is not available for any reason as determined by the Sponsor in its sole discretion. The winner is responsible for any taxes and fees associated with receipt or use of a prize.

7. GENERAL CONDITIONS: In the event that the operation, security, or administration of the Giveaway is impaired in any way for any reason, including, but not limited to fraud, virus, or other technical problem, the Sponsor may, in its sole discretion, either: (a) suspend the Giveaway to address the impairment and then resume the Giveaway in a manner that best conforms to the spirit of these Official Rules; or (b) award the prizes at random from among the eligible entries received up to the time of the impairment. The Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual it finds to be tampering with the entry process or the operation of the Giveaway or to be acting in violation of these Official Rules or in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner. Any attempt by any person to undermine the legitimate operation of the Giveaway may be a violation of criminal and civil law, and, should such an attempt be made, the Sponsor reserves the right to seek damages from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law. The Sponsor's failure to enforce any term of these Official Rules shall not constitute a waiver of that provision. In case of a dispute as to the owner of an entry, entry will be deemed to have been submitted by the authorized account holder of the screen name from which the entry is made. The authorized account holder is defined as the natural person who is assigned to an e-mail address by an Internet access provider, online service provider, or other organization responsible for assigning e-mail addresses for the domain associated with the submitted e-mail address.

8. RELEASE AND LIMITATIONS OF LIABILITY: By participating in the Giveaway, entrants agree to release and hold harmless the Giveaway Entities from and against any claim or cause of action arising out of participation in the Giveaway or receipt or use of any prize, including, but not limited to: (a) unauthorized human intervention in the Giveaway; (b) technical errors related to computers, servers, providers, or telephone or network lines; (c) printing errors; (d) lost, late, postage-due, misdirected, or undeliverable mail; (e) errors in the administration of the Giveaway or the processing of entries; or (f) injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from entrant's participation in the Giveaway or receipt of any prize. Entrant further agrees that in any cause of action, the Giveaway Entities' liability will be limited to the cost of entering and participating in the Giveaway, and in no event shall the Giveaway Entities be liable for attorney's fees. Entrant waives the right to claim any damages whatsoever, including, but not limited to, punitive, consequential, direct, or indirect damages.

9. DISPUTES: Except where prohibited, entrant agrees that any and all disputes, claims and causes of action arising out of, or connected with, the Giveaway or any prize awarded shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, and exclusively by the appropriate court located in the Commonwealth of Virginia. All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Official Rules, entrant's rights and obligations, or the rights and obligations of the Sponsors in connection with the Giveaway, shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules (whether of the Commonwealth of Virginia or any other jurisdiction), which would cause the application of the laws of any jurisdiction other than the Commonwealth of Virginia.

10. GIVEAWAY RESULTS: To request the name of the winner, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Gadling's NWA WorldPass Winner's List, 22070 Broderick Drive -- 12D:G09, Dulles, VA 20166. Requests must be received by April 30, 2008.

The World's Best Places to Live

Finland was recently named the best place in the world to live, thanks largely to great air and water quality, low rates of infant diseases, and protection from water pollution and natural disasters. What else is great about Finland? Well, for starters, Finland ...
Plus, it's gorgeous.
  • Cathedral bridge
  • A strange pattern in the night
  • Valkeajärvi
  • Finland lake


Iceland also made the list of the world's best places to live. Despite it's name, Iceland is not made entirely of ice. In fact, Iceland offers:
Iceland has all this, plus ... it's stunningly beautiful.
  • At the Blue lagoon, Iceland.
  • Across Reykjavik
  • Little red
  • Reykjavíkurtjörn
  • Reykjavík
  • Church


Norway made the cut, too. Despite it's reputation as being expensive, Norway has:
Don't believe us? Check out this amazing gallery.
  • norway
  • Magnificent reflection
  • lustrafjord
  • Cool waters of Norway
  • Oslo city centre HDR
  • Noruega


Ahhhh ... Sweden. There are so many reasons to love this nation:
Yup ... it wouldn't be hard to live here.
  • Red sunset and an ancor
  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • Hässelby strand
  • Stockholm - Gamla Stan
  • estocolmo of sweden
  • end of the day


Austria rounds out the list of the five most liveable countries. However, just because it came in at number five -- and just because it has controversial urinals -- don't dismiss this nation. Austria is the proud home of:
Of course, the nation is lovely to look at, too.
  • It was a long conversation but at the end he didn't want to sell the house
  • Austria
  • Alpes Austriacos
  • Großer Ahornboden bei Hinterriß, Österreich / Austria
  • Park in Vienna
  • Dobratsch Skulpturenprojekt


Don't feel like living outside the U.S.? Be sure to check out Money's list of the best places to live in America!

The Greatest and Most Unusual Travel Photo of All Time?

I stumbled over this image just now, and it took my breath away.

Everything about the image is just so amazing: The poof-y shapes of the clouds in the background... The electric blue line that marks the boundary of the atmosphere... The absolute void of color that is space juxtaposed against the brilliant white space suit... The fact that you can see the photographer's reflection in the mask of the astronaut... The slight, slo-mo wave the astronaut is giving, as if to say, "Tell my wife I love her very much, she knows..."

In my opinion, this may be the greatest travel photo of all time. I love it.

Be sure to check out the larger image here. And for other great travel photos -- none of which were taken in space -- be sure to browse through our Photos of the Day.

World's Best Islands Based on "Activities, Beaches, Culture/Sites, Lodging, Restaurants and Scenery"

islandsFor me, a dream vacation involves a wide, white, sandy beach for relaxing on; bathtub-warm, blue water for scuba diving in (or sailing over); a very funny book for transporting me a bit further from home; and a bar nearby that serves frozen drinks -- for all the rest of the time. While I certainly enjoy active vacations, I also enjoy laying around a bit. Consequently, I'm always on the lookout for ideas about islands worth visiting.

According to this list, the Top 20 islands in the world -- based on Activities, Beaches, Culture/Sites, Lodging, Restaurants, and Scenery are:
  • Bali
  • Kauai
  • Maui
  • Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
  • Mount Desert, Maine
  • Tasmania
  • Hawaii
  • Galapagos
  • Santorini
  • Santo Stefano
  • Phuket, Thailand
  • Thatch Cay
  • Blue Lagoon
  • Grand Bogue Caye
  • Allan
  • Caritas
  • Cerralvo
  • Pakatoa
  • Isla de sa Ferradura
The site provides details about what makes each island special, though some of the descriptions are as spare as the islands themselves. Nevertheless, the list makes a nice jumping-off-point if you're dreaming about island travel...

Ex-Marine Kills Black Bear With Log: His "Bark" Is Worse Than His Bite

black bearI spent my formative years in a sleepy little hamlet north of Atlanta known as the only city in America that required all city residents to own a handgun. We all felt safe, and nervous, and protected, and just a little bit skittish. It was nice.

An hour-or-so north of my well-armed town was an even tinier hamlet: Helen. Designed to resemble a Bavarian village (seriously!), Helen is a draw for shop-happy grannies (thanks to its novelty) and outdoorsy types (thanks to its remoteness).

Evidently, ex-Marine Chris Everheart (not a shop-happy granny) was camping near Helen with his three children when a 300-pound bear snuck into their campsite. When the bear lunged for Everheart's six-year-old boy, the former military man "picked up a log and threw it at it. It happened to hit the bear in the head. I thought it just knocked it out but it actually ended up killing the bear." Everhart was later cited for not storing his food properly.

No doubt Everheart's boys are bragging to all their friends: "My daddy can beat up a black bear!" It's cool now, kids, but wait'll you try to sneak in after curfew and daddy's eyes start gleaming...

[Via Get Outdoors]

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