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I straddle two worlds as an organic blueberry farmer and a travel editor, but these two realities pleasantly meet in the realm of farm-to-fork adventures—and there is no better place to be than Maine during harvest season. There are more than 400 organic farms and roughly 130 farmers markets in this rugged state I call home. Here are my tips for the perfect fall road trip, including the largest organic farmers’ gathering on the planet, which takes place in September. Day 1: After crossing into Maine on 95 North, make your lunch stop in Biddeford, at the Palace Diner, a converted 1920s railway car where chef-owners Chad Conley and Greg Mitchell put a local spin on classic greasy spoon fare, including their signature tuna melt on challah bread garnished with house-made pickles.
Plan two days to nibble your way down streets filled with a mostly young crowd who congregate in places like Eventide oyster bar, where you can count on a lot more than fresh Maine oysters. If you haven’t yet heard the siren of food-critic praise, Central Provisions, a few blocks downy from Eventide, earns its hype with creative small plates like spicy fried Maine potatoes and fall harvest beet salad tossed with avocado and green peppercorns.
Day 4: Prepare to get happily lost at the Common Ground Country Fair, held annually in late September in Unity, Maine. At the center of it all is an organic feast—dozens of food stalls serve everything from organic blueberry pie to wood-fired pizza made with non-GMO ingredients from the Maine Grain Alliance.
A lobster pound is where local fisherman bring their daily catch, and Trenton has been delivering the classic Maine roadside lobster experience (what fresh lobster is meant to taste like) for generations. Costas Christ is on the sustainable travel beat at National Geographic, which includes his “Trending” column as an editor at large for Traveler magazine.
In Africa's Afar depression, pastoral tribes and salt traders survive amid a surreal landscape of fissures, faults, and a boiling lake of lava.
Maybe it’s Lucy, the 3.2-million-year-old hominid uncovered in the Afar Triangle in 1974, or the majestic permanence of the Great Rift Valley, but a sense of returning to the root of everything pervades Ethiopia.
See photos from this New York borough where tykes and literary types find an artisanal playground.
From Hudson Valley to Quito, Raja Ampat to Memphis, 20 wildly diverse places make our wanderlust list for the new year. Unplug and unwind at these lake escapes, where time stands still, nature reigns, and there’s a profound sense of peace. Boundaries and names shown do not necessarily reflect the map policy of the National Geographic Society. I was deep in Florida's backcountry, canoeing the Wilderness Waterway, a 99-mile [159-kilometer] route that runs along the wild western edge of Everglades National Park.
As I rounded a bend in the main channel, the sun was obscured by a cloud that turned out to be a large flock of white ibis that had taken off from a stand of mangroves. The Wilderness Waterway is classic Everglades—a dizzying labyrinth of mangrove swamps, islands, and grassy shallows where the submerged logs are likely to be gators.


I'd traveled the entire waterway twice with others before my solo trip, but I still found myself paddling the calm waters with two essential resources open in the boat: a navigation chart on my lap and, on the floor of the canoe, a dog-eared copy of Peter Matthiessen's Killing Mister Watson, a tale of murders set along this convoluted coast at the turn of the last century. Winter is the best time to visit, and this January is ideal for anyone hoping to witness step one in the rebirth of the Everglades. Whether it will bring back wildlife such as Florida's endangered panthers is an open question, but CERP is sure to do great things for paddlers.
In 1994, Tony Pernas, a Florida exotic-plant specialist, became perhaps the first person to paddle and drag a canoe through the slough since Hugh Willoughby, the author of Across the Everglades, made the journey in 1897. In the Shark River Slough, Pernas had found remote islands strewn with pottery shards, manatee skulls, and conch shells, artifacts that probably hadn't been glimpsed for a hundred years. A Paddler's Guide to Everglades National Park (University of Florida Press, $17), by Johnny Molloy, details the Wilderness Waterway as well as shorter routes.
Maine’s lobster fishery is also a model of sustainable seafood practices, making it a back-to-the-land-and-sea culinary paradise.
It doesn’t get more local or seasonal than dining en plein air at the Well at Jordan’s Farm. This compact city of under 70,000 pulsates with innovative restaurants and hip microbreweries.
Tip: Their lobster roll—dressed in a brown butter vinaigrette and served on a pillowy steamed Korean-style bun—has garnered national attention.
The historic Danforth Inn, where a growing number of locals say Lawrence Klang is the hottest new chef to arrive on the Portland dining scene, offers a stand-out two-for-one (eat and sleep) experience. The fair, which represents the world’s largest gathering of organic farmers and gardeners, is the epicenter of the farm-to-table movement, with some 50,000 in attendance to learn firsthand about sustainable living.
Just before crossing the bridge to Mount Desert Island en route to the eclectic seaside town of Bar Harbor, keep an eye out for Trenton Lobster Pound. Then head to Acadia for a hike up the Precipice Trail, an adrenaline-fueled day trek that rewards with staggering vistas of mountains and sea. The building's 86th floor observatory, 1,050 feet above the street, has dazzled visitors since 1931. So far, two days into an eight-day solo trip in January, I'd seen just one other group of paddlers. Two ospreys glided by just as I floated past a tree covered with so many snowy egrets that for an instant I thought the branches were blooming with white leaves. Just about the only Everglades wildlife I didn't see in great numbers were the mosquitoes that haunt these waters in swarms during the summer and fall. You sleep at beach campsites or, where no dry land exists, on wooden platforms called chickees, constructed by the Park Service.


I also carried the most vital tool in route-finding here: enough extra water to get lost without running into trouble. The final land purchases in a 109,000-acre [44,110-hectare] expansion of the park authorized by Congress in 1989 are to be completed this month.
Boosting water flows over the next several years will render Shark River Slough, the main artery through the park's famed River of Grass, once again navigable throughout the fall.
One hot afternoon, midway through my trip, I suddenly noticed a manatee grazing in front of the canoe.
Obtain a camping permit at any visitors center ($10 for primitive sites; $14 for developed sites).
Entries close on 30 June.IBTimesUK presents a selection of photos that have already been received.
Do not expect white linens and wine lists; do expect harvested-daily ingredients with an emphasis on simple preparation.
Tip: Drive the leisurely park loop to the summit of Cadillac Mountain for an equally stunning view, minus the hiking.
Then, officials will prepare to breach two notorious levees, allowing the release of much needed water to the new territory; over the past half century, the levees led to the drying of wetlands and the decline of wading bird populations in the area. Right now, you can paddle the slough for a few weeks in good years—it's a two- to three-day trip that stretches over 40 winding miles [65 kilometers] before running into the Gulf of Mexico.
I back-paddled to avoid disturbing it, then allowed the boat to drift as I looked around me. Floating near the mouth of Lostmans River, on a day when I'd seen more manatees than people, I knew just what he meant. Coe Visitor Center (+1 305 242 7700), the park's main point of entry, is less than an hour's drive from Miami. Settle beside the outdoor fire pit with your own bottle of wine (BYOB only) and go a la carte or opt for the five-course tasting menu. These measures will be a mere down payment on a colossal, controversial restoration project called the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Program (CERP). Wading birds were gathering in the mangroves by the hundreds, biding their time until the retreating tide uncovered a mudflat of small crabs, shrimp, and mussels.



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