The easternmost part of the U.S. is...

By Sean O'Neill
October 3, 2012
Courtesy <a href=";includePhoto=on&amp;as=21864">Margate/myBudgetTravel</a>

… Point Udall, on St. Croix, part of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and thus the easternmost point of U.S. owned territory.

Special thanks to My Budget Travel member Margate for reminding us of this fun fact.

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Travel-inspiring art

At BT, we know the important role that images play in conveying an experience and the ability of a single photograph to launch a life-changing trip. But it's not just glossy travel magazines that can provide those images. In the last couple of weeks, I've been searching for art for the walls of my new apartment, which has primarily meant stalking the continually refreshed selection of works up on Jen Bekman's amazing affordable-art site 20x200. As expected, I've seen lots of stuff that would make great d&eacute;cor, but what surprised me was how many of the pieces made me want to buy a ticket somewhere, immediately. Like Hosang Park's aerial photographs of Korean parks and public spaces, which remind me of the joys of having a window seat on a flight. Or the simple eloquence of Liz Kuball's "Untitled (Santa Barbara) (2009)," in which a bushy, fruit-laden citrus tree hanging over the wood of a backyard fence says as much about the place&mdash;the simultaneous moodiness and inherent cheer&mdash;as a much busier photograph could. Many of the pieces also have great commentary from the artists that illuminate the places their works focus on, and the artists' unique perspectives on them. Mike Sinclair's "Rodeo Stars, Strong City Kansas" tells the story of a multi-generational rodeo family and its community. It's also just a completely charming photo. Here's what Mike says about his subject: "These portraits show the Roberts family&mdash;the father, E.C., and three of his five children: Gerald, Margie and Ken. All three children were world champion rodeo riders. The display is located just outside the rodeo grounds in Strong City, Kansas, where E.C. started his first rodeo in 1937. There's been a rodeo in Strong City ever since. Held in early June, when the bluestem grass on this part of the prairie is its greenest, the rodeo is Chase County's biggest event of the year. People come from as far as Abilene and Wichita. On Saturday morning a parade starts at Cottonwood Falls, the county seat, and travels one mile north on Highway 57 to Strong City, ending at the rodeo grounds. After the rodeo, there's a dance at Ken Roberts' old place east of town. Wooden tables and folding chairs brought up from the church circle the outdoor concrete dance floor. Beer and barbecue is for sale. The year I was there, proceeds went to re-roof the town's collapsing opera house. The dance lasts well past midnight. One couple told me that after the dance they always drive the 30 miles home on back roads with their headlights off, guided only by moonlight." If that doesn't inspire you to seek out a new travel destination&mdash;well, maybe not the part about the locals driving around with no headlights&mdash;then I don't know what will. Note: New limited-edition prints go on sale on 20X200 each Tuesday and Wednesday at 2pm EST. Check back often for art&mdash;and trip ideas! MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL It's Still Worth It: 20 Travel-Inspiring Photos Shopping: Souvenir Savior


Belize travel tips from a pro

Few travel writers know Belize like Joshua Berman, who's most recently written for us about its specialty chocolate tours. Berman's just out with an updated edition of a travel guide to Belize from the travel publishing house with the best reputation for Latin America coverage: Moon. We recently spoke with Berman about all things Belize. Q: What has surprised you most in your research on Belize? A: Two things that have never ceased to amaze me: (1) how much sheer geographical, biological, and ecological diversity there is in an area smaller than the state of Massachusetts, and (2) how so many distinct cultures&mdash;more than eight languages spoken!&mdash;exist in a population of only 300,000. It's truly hard to fathom this until you see a group of typical Belizeans chatting on a street corner. You'll see Creoles, mestizos, Rastas, Chinese, Mennonites&mdash;or all of the above&mdash;chatting in one easy circle. Q: So, where's the best place to hang in a hammock? A: Out of range of falling coconuts. Seriously, it's a documented cause of death. Otherwise, I like to hang my hammock on Glover's Reef Atoll or anywhere along the Macal River in Cayo. Q: What's a great nature appreciation experience to have in Belize? A: I think the Lamanai archaeological site packs the most natural bang for your buck. Not only are there vines, orchids, and fig trees carpeting 1,000-year-old Maya pyramids and more recent colonial sugar mills, the journey to and from the site includes a phenomenal birding trip up and down the New River. My advice: Always take the night hike, no matter how tired you are from the day's adventures&mdash;I've seen more wildlife during guided nighttime nature walks and boat rides than on day trips. Q: What's the best way to get off the beaten path in Belize? A: Easy&mdash;buy a bus or plane ticket from Belize City to Punta Gorda (PG). Tourists rarely include southern Belize in their itineraries, even though there are fantastic accommodations there, from homestays to luxe. There are upland villages, ruins, and caves in Toledo&mdash;plenty to do to make it worth the trip. Q: Tell us about the 8th edition of the Belize guide book for Moon. A: There is a new list of voluntourism and other less-than-traditional ways to visit Belize. These are alternative travel opportunities which include field research and volunteer programs, and trips specifically for teachers and veterinarians. Travelers can work directly with botanists, archeologists, and marine biologists, or help out with community projects like housing construction and trail building. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL On the Chocolate Trail in Belize


Readers' best rainbow photos

We asked, and you responded with stunning images of rainbows&mdash;and double rainbows&mdash;from travels through Hawaii, Europe, Brazil, the Caribbean, even the Serengeti. Check out the 15 best shots in our slide show. RECENT READER SLIDE SHOWS Sunsets | Hawaii | England and Scotland IN SEARCH OF... We're now collecting your nighttime photos and photos of Australia. Upload them through myBudgetTravel, tag them, and check back in the coming weeks for slide shows of the best submissions.


Food & Travel: New Orleans gets its bite back

This probably isn't something I should admit to my boss (and by posting it on the BT website, I'm doing just that), but I just spent a full hour of my workday reading a cookbook. Not just any cookbook, mind you. It's the gorgeous My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by award-winning chef and restaurateur John Besh&mdash;produced and edited by Dorothy Kalins, the founding editor of Saveur and the consulting editor of Budget Travel. I know, I know. Who needs another New Orleans cookbook? A quick search on Amazon turns up a whopping 743 titles in the category. Clearly, the world isn't wanting for another gumbo recipe. But My New Orleans is different. Yes, there's gumbo&mdash;an entire chapter devoted to it, in fact&mdash;but there's so much more. Besh was born and raised just outside of New Orleans, so he understands that the city and its food are inextricably entwined. To write a proper cookbook without also digging into the city's fascinating history and culture would be impossible. This is a cookbook with 200 recipes, yes, but it's also part memoir, part history lesson, part love letter to his hometown. Besh has woven into his book beautifully written stories: his first shrimping trip on Lake Pontchatrain, drinking Big Shot soda and eating red beans and rice at Mardi Gras, and preparing meals for the rescue workers after Hurricane Katrina. You learn as much about New Orleans as you do about the food. In fact, I was so engrossed in the stories that I'm pretty sure I would've read every word even if Besh hadn't included a single recipe. But do not skip the food&mdash;you'd be doing yourself a huge disservice. Besh has launched six restaurants, but, as he explains in the intro, the dishes in this book are not restaurant recipes; there are no impossible-to-find ingredients and no pretentiously fussy preparations (my favorite Besh quote in the book: "Deconstruct a gumbo? That's not cooking. That's not love. I'm not about to trivialize a recipe that has been here longer than most cities in our country.") Instead, the book delivers real food that real people can prepare, plus sidebars that are chock full of information about key ingredients like blue crab, Chanterelles, and Ponchatoula strawberries. Too many cookbooks intimidate would-be chefs; this one inspires them. I already have a growing list of the dishes I want to try, starting with Momma Rochelle's Stuffed Quail Gumbo, a recipe that began with Besh's mentor's Cajun mother-in-law and has evolved over the years. From there I might move on to the Trout Amandine or the Louisiana Shrimp and Andouille over Grits. And our associate photo editor, who grew up in New Orleans, tells me I have to try the Crab Boil (his exact words, after reading through the recipe: "This is a good cookbook.") Those other 743 titles? I'm sure they're just fine, but Amazon can have them. I'm sticking with My New Orleans. EARLIER More from writer Beth Collins ELSEWHERE Here's an essay that would have been published in the next Gourmet (had it not closed down) about Why We Cook