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Photography by Paul Giamou / Aurora Photos

The rugged abandon of California’s Central Coast has been given the cinematic treatment in Sundance darling and newly released Big Sur, starring Kate Bosworth. Based on Jack Kerouac’s eponymous novel, the film highlights the haunting beauty and isolated wilderness that drew the Beat writer to retreat here in the first place.

Relive it for yourself, or discover the splendor of the serpentine coast for the first time, on one of America’s most beloved road trips.

Nowhere is the Pacific Coast Highway’s winding roads more magnificent than along Big Sur’s craggy cliffs and crashing surf some 30 miles south of Carmel, CA.

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The “Day of the Dead,” or Dia de los Muertos in Spanish, is often compared to Halloween due to its celebration the day trick-or-treaters hit the streets. But it has a much different purpose. The occasion is a national holiday on Nov. 1 and 2 in Mexico and centers on the gathering of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is held in connection with the Catholic All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

If it seems to you like the holiday often goes uncelebrated in the United States, you might just not be in the right place. Below are 5 “Day of the Dead” events that honor those who have died. Find a complete list of the nation’s events here.

1. Dia de Los Muertos in Los Angeles, CA 
When: Nov. 2 from noon to midnight
The celebration is held at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and is the largest of its kind in California. The festival features an altar-decorating competition as well as live music and costume contests for the best Calaca (skull or skeleton) costume.

2. Bare Hands Dia de Los Muertos, Numero Once Festival in Birmingham, AL 
When: Nov. 2 from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Bring a small altar or memento of remembrance and dress up in bones for this energetic cultural celebration. The festival attracts thousands of visitors and is sponsored by Bare Hands, a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for community involvement and promotes cultural dialogue.

3. All Souls Procession in Tucson, AZ 
When: Nov. 3 at 4 p.m.
The All Souls Procession brings more than 35,000 people together to the streets of downtown Tucson for a 2-mile-long walk that culminates with the burning of a large urn filled with hopes and offerings from the public for those who have passed. The procession is organized by non-profit arts collective Many Mouths One Stomach.

4. Dia de Los Muertos Street Festival in Corpus Christi, Texas
When: Nov. 1 and 2
This festival brings a large art exhibition, artist workshops, and entire day-long dancing and concert events to celebrate the “Day of the Dead.” The event promotes cultural tourism by drawing artists, musicians and vendors to the area each year.

5. Dia de Los Muertos 2013 in Albuquerque, New Mexico 
When: Nov. 1 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
This annual celebration is held at San Jose de Armijo Cemetery and features sugar skull painting, costumes and music organized by the Atrisco Heritage Foundation. The foundation works through the event to promote and preserve the ancestral and cultural heritage of Albuquerque.

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Actual lifeboat from Maersk Alabama, on display at the Navy Seal Museum in Fort Pierce, FL.

Friday sees the release of Captain Phillips, the biopic starring Tom Hanks that tells the story of a merchant mariner and his crew who are taken captive by Somali pirates.

You may recall it was in April 2009 that the crew of the cargo ship, the Maersk Alabama, was traveling on the high seas, 240 nautical miles southeast of a Somali port city, when terror struck: The ship was seized by 4 Somali pirates, and a harrowing ordeal soon followed.

In addition to the 2.5-hour-long film, you can learn the story first-hand at the Navy Seal Museum in Fort Pierce, FL, where the actual lifeboat from the Maersk Alabama now has a permanent home. Plus, for a deeper look into the actual story of what happened that day off Somalia’s shores, check out our own Don Wildman’s recent take on Mysteries at the Museum:

Breaking Bad tour

Meet the Trolley Guys: Jesse Herron (left) and Mike Silva, owners of ABQ Trolley Tours

“Yo, yo, yo, 1 4 8 3 to the 3 to the 6, to the 9, representin’ the ABQ.” With the final episode of Breaking Bad now here, fans of the landmark series can’t get enough of Albuquerque these days – and Albuquerque locals Jesse Herron and Mike Silva, founders of ABQ Trolley Co., are delivering on the goods.

For the past year, this business duo has offered visitors a custom-tailored tour of Breaking Bad’s shooting locations, from Saul Goodman’s office to Gus’s Laundromat. Hop aboard the trolley with these guys — Silva, with his Walter White-inspired black porkpie hat; Herron with a jersey sporting the words “Pinkman,” and get ready to embark on one wacky 3.5-hour odyssey through the heart of the show. And just in case you can’t make it to Albuquerque this season, fret not – this tour isn’t breaking bad anytime soon – here’s what ABQ Trolley’s Jesse Herron has to say.

Traveling Type: What does your Breaking Bad tour cover?
Jesse Herron: The tour is 3.5 hours — it covers about 38 miles around Albuquerque and the show’s major recurring locations: Jesse’s house; Walt’s house, Los Pollos Hermanos, which is about 20 minutes from the center of town, Jesse and Jane’s duplex, Walt’s condo, Saul Goodman’s law office in the Northeast Heights, the A1A car wash, Gus’s house, Gus’s laundry, Mike’s house is on there this season, too … the locations are spread out all over town. There are also many minor locations that riders will recognize seeing briefly from the show. There’s also Breaking Bad trivia with very cool prizes donated from local businesses.

Jesse Pinkman's house

Jesse Pinkman’s house (Photo: ABQ Trolley Co.)

Where do Breaking Bad visitors come from?
Last season it was mostly locals just because they snatched up all the tickets when news of the tour broke locally — this season it’s probably a 50-50 split between locals and visitors from all over the US and the world, like Germany, Australia, the UK, Mexico, the Netherlands, Paris, Singapore and the Philippines.

What surprises people on your Breaking Bad tours?
In the case of locals, they’re surprised that some of the sites — like the Laundromat Gus operates – have been around for years, and they have been driving past it without even noticing it for years. Same goes for Saul’s law office — it would be difficult to identify if someone didn’t know where it was and the fact that there is not, in fact, an inflatable statue of liberty adorning the roof. For out-of-town visitors, a lot of times they expect to see Albuquerque as just a desert — they’re surprised it’s not 115 degrees here … that we do have 4 seasons, there’s a river here, mountains, we have the largest urban forest in America here, one of the best preserved stretches of Route 66 is here, and there’s volcanoes. I think visitors arrive not knowing exactly what to expect but they leave blown away by the landscapes, culture and attractions here.

Is Breaking Bad’s portrayal of Albuquerque fair?
I don’t think Breaking Bad’s portrayal of Albuquerque would be something that would keep a fan of the show from coming to visit. A Breaking Bad fan would never say, ‘I’m not coming to Albuquerque because there’s a meth problem there.’ It’s not a problem here, and that’s not what the show is about — and in no way does Breaking Bad glorify meth or drug use. The locals that say they don’t like the way the show portrays Albuquerque are often the same people who have never seen the show. And, let’s not forget that it’s a TV show, it’s fiction! The show really highlights all things Albuquerque — from the local hamburger chain, local shops like Gertrude Zachary Jewelry to showing the characters drinking local beer, it’s all pretty accurate, down to the zip codes and neighborhoods.

Breaking Bad tour

Stop by Gus’s house (Photo: ABQ Trolley Co.)

How has Albuquerque embraced Breaking Bad?
I think that a lot of the locals are enjoying the new attention that Albuquerque has received because of the show. A handful of businesses have really embraced the show and are having fun with it. There’s a Breaking Bad beer, a Biking Bad [bike] tour, Breaking Bad bath salts (called ‘Bathing Bad’) … Marble Brewery is offering Heisenberg/Walter White-themed beers… you can even buy a sheet of blue candy from Great Face & Body that comes with a mallet and smash it up like Walt and Jesse do on the show.

With the show winding down, how are your tours doing?
This season of Breaking Bad, the tours sell out months in advance and are sold out through the end of October. For those people not booking months in advance, the next best thing is our Best of ABQ city tour — Tuesday through Sunday, twice a day, we have an 85-minute trolley tour of Albuquerque, and if you’re a Breaking Bad fan, we’re pretty accommodating — when you board the trolley (and you let us know you are a fan) we can point out 5 or 6 different locations – like Jesse’s house, the Crossroads Motel, the Railyards, Tuco’s headquarters … visitors can also see the Denny’s showcased in Seasons 4 and 5. Plus, a restaurant in East downtown called the Grove, seen in Season 5, so there’s quite a bit to see on just the city tour.

And what happens when the show ends?
Even though Breaking Bad is coming to an end, we are keeping the tour going — the Bad tour will return next April. We’re going to keep Breaking Bad’s legacy alive in Albuquerque well into the foreseeable future. As long as visitors come to see Walter White and Jesse Pinkman’s Albuquerque, we will be here to show it to them.

Miss America

Check out our slideshow of Atlantic City, NJ, through the years.

Here she comes … Miss America … Tonight’s pageant was memorable for more reasons than one. After 6 years in Las Vegas, the pageant returned to Atlantic City, NJ, where it all began. The Miss America competition has a steep history in Atlantic City, where it was created in 1921 by businessmen attempting to extend tourist season past Labor Day.

Now in its 87th year, the competition awards its winners scholarships worth upwards of $50,000. It wasn’t always so glamourous, though. When Margaret Gorman of Washington, DC, was named the first-ever Miss America she walked away with … a 3-foot golden mermaid trophy.

So who took home the crown? Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, was named Miss America 2014. Not only is she the second consecutive Miss New York to win, but also she’s the first Miss America of Indian descent.

Perhaps, in a ploy to stay relevant, this year’s contestants fielded questions from judges about Syria, and yes, Miley Cyrus. It also had Miss Kansas as an early fan favorite — the 22-year-old contestant is a sergeant in the Army and the first to openly reveal her tattoos during the swimsuit competition.

Lindsey Simmons of Girls Gone Bayou

Some small towns are hot destinations. Take Bastrop, LA, for instance. Never heard of it? If you are a hunter or an avid outdoorsman, you have. Bastrop, just outside Monroe, LA, is home to Simmons’ Sporting Goods, one of the largest sporting goods stores in the country, drawing customers from across the South and selling everything from camouflage and camping gear to guns and ammo to ATVs and 4-wheelers. Bastrop also happens to be home to TravelChannel.com’s new exclusive web series, Girls Gone Bayou.

The series follows the quirky adventures of Lindsey Simmons, as she takes over day-to-day operations of Simmons’ with some help from gal pals, Lori and Kila. Lindsey’s got to convince her overbearing dad, Jeff, that they are up for the challenge, and prove that she and her blonde bombshell BFFs can hunt, fish and trap better than any good ole boy in the bayou. You can watch all 9 episodes of the series, starting today, on TravelChannel.com

We asked Lindsey what people should know about Bastrop and to share her favorite places in her hometown.

“Obviously, one of the biggest attractions for our town is Simmons’ Sporting Goods,” Lindsey says. “We have people that drive from a 5 state radius just to come to our store! They bring their RVs or stay in hotels and make a weekend out of it.”

Lindsey also recommends a stroll through Bastrop’s Town Square at the intersection of Highway 165 North and Highway 425 North to visit its antique shops, jewelry stores and theater.

“It’s a great place to explore Bastrop,” she says. “I guarantee you, when you pass people on those streets, they WILL smile and make you feel at home. I just love that!”

Finally, there’s the Morehouse Activity Center, known as “The Mac,” on Marlatt St.

“On Saturday night you can find everyone in town there to watch a rodeo,” Lindsey says. “Talk about a good time!”

Bastrop has some famous frequent visitors, too. The Robertsons of Duck Dynasty have been doing business with the Simmons’ ever since they started making duck calls. The popular reality-TV family signs autographs at Simmons’ every year.

“They are a great family and are truly as wholesome as they seem on TV,” Lindsey says. “Willie is a hoot. He’s down to earth and hilarious.”

Sounds like another family we’ve come to know. Get to know Lindsey, her family and friends on Girls Gone Bayou. Watch the first episode, now.

Brony: An adult or teenager, often male and college-age (or older), who is a fan of the cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic — a show about pretty, magical ponies who fight evil. Seriously.

In 2011, the very first BronyCon was held in New York City with 100 bronies in attendance. The convention hopped around the city, holding 3 more events complete with visits from the voice actors and dance parties, until reaching 3,000 attendees in 2012. And today marks the first day and a new city for this army of bronies, with attendance expected to be 6,000 brony-strong.

Get excited, Baltimore! Or should I say, Baltimare …

The Baltimore Convention Center, a picturesque location on the harbor for these My Little Pony fans, will be hosting the event all weekend. From the “Mane Events Hall” to the “Portal to Equestria,” there will be videogame tournaments, lectures on voice acting and discourses analyzing the culture of My Little Pony.

Not yet convinced? Head to the Hall of the Moon for a class on drawing ponies. Or visit the Salt Block Lounge for the Brony Karaoke Smackdown.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a bro to enjoy the pony festivities. Girls are welcome, too. Need a little help navigating the city? Check out our Baltimore travel guide for tips!

Can’t make it to Baltimore? Watch the convention’s live stream!

Photography by Jason Leppert

Love cruises and Dancing With the Stars? Now you can combine the 2 into one great cruise experience.

Holland America Line has partnered with Dancing with the Stars, the popular TV show that has made ratings magic with its signature pairing of professional dancers and celebrities, to create Dancing with the Stars: At Sea. The result is a set of theme cruises featuring select dancers and stars onboard and a fleet-wide dancing competition.

The aim is to promote cross-generational appeal among cruise-goers.

“Of course with anything we do, we hope to attract new guests, whether new to cruising or new to Holland America,” says Erik Elvejord, director of public relations at the cruise line. “Our primary considerations in selecting new partners are finding those that meet the desires and tastes of our guests and that can be delivered successfully onboard.”

So far that vision is paying off. Multigenerational fans — grandparents and grandchildren alike — have packed the house for the dance classes, fashion shows, photo-ops, signings and performances.

Photography by Jason Leppert

“I think what they love so much about it is that they get to be a part of it,” says Carson Kressley, one of the show’s stars. Another contestant and Olympian, Shawn Johnson, adds, “It’s very intimate. We walk around the cruise all week and get to share breakfast, lunch and dinner with all these people.”

If all this sounds like a cruise experience you’d love to have, you now have a chance to hop aboard – and dance away the nights — for free: Holland America is sponsoring a chance to win a free cruise trip on all sailings departing through November 2013.

Here’s how it works: Across the Holland America’s 15 ships, participating passengers will accumulate points with the single-highest scorer per ship winning passage on the Champions Cruise in January 2014. Onboard, a final dance-off will commence to see who will be rewarded a special version of the Mirror Ball Trophy as seen on the show. Only 2 theme cruises remain for now, but the partnership is expected to renew. So make sure you jump into the competition!

- Jason Leppert

Jason Leppert is a San Diego-based writer, photographer and videographer who publishes his own cruise travel website,PopularCruising.com.

Whether you’re enjoying the bright lights of the big city or taking a family adventure to the city limits, Las Vegas has something for everyone.

Las Vegas vacations are hotter than ever. Popular shows and hotels, like Aria, make the famed Vegas Strip the place to get your party on. From trying your luck in the casino or hitting the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace to seeing Cirque de Soleil or scuba diving inside Mandalay Bay, there isn’t anything you can’t find on the Strip.

Don’t worry if casinos aren’t your thing –there is still plenty to do outside of the Strip that is sure to get your adrenaline rushing. From horseback riding through Red Rocks to checking out one of the US’s 7 wonders at the Hoover Dam, you definitely won’t find yourself with nothing to do in the Entertainment Capital of the World.

And tonight at 9|8c, on an all-new episode of Toy Hunter, Jordan and his assistant Julia head to Sin City in hopes of tracking down several vintage toys from the popular 1979 TV series, Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century.

 Travel moves you and so will our Watch Travel Channel App. Travel Channel’s brand-new app for iPad® and iPhone® refreshes daily, offering the full range of our video content wherever and whenever you want.  To watch the latest full episodes, you will need the username and password provided by your television service provider.  The app filters content by show, host, destination or interest, making it tap-simple to get ideas for your next vacation or nearby outing. Watch Travel Channel is a must-have for every fan – and it’s now available to download for free at App Store. We’re working on an  Android   version too; more on that later this summer.

Until then, check out our Mobile Apps page for more info about other Travel Channel apps, including The Layover app.

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