Postcards from the West

From artists to eccentrics, UFOs to the nation's best hamburger joint, the West is filled with surprises. Follow Peter Fish down the back roads

Peter Fish

Dine in heaven's kitchen
Great food is a regular pleasure in Yountville, California.

Christmas Tree Lane
December 2007: In Fresno, California, the spirit of Christmas triumphs once again.

100 years of hamburgers
November 2007: Hudsons Hamburgers celebrates a century of Huddyburgers in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

In the swim in Hawaii
October 2007: Get wet in Maui's Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa's Wailea Canyon Activity Pool.

Flowers for Alcatraz
September 2007: In the middle of the San Francisco Bay, visitors can explore the gentler history of the world's most famous prison.

The lost tree
July 2007: Eucalyptus on display in Santa Rosa, California.

To market in Seattle, WA
June 2007: Pike Place celebrates 100 years in business.

San Diego: a city of canyonlands
April 2007: Besides beaches and pandas San Diego also offers canyons.

Defending our Pluto
February 2007: A visit to Flagstaff, Arizona's Lowell Observatory, where the (former) planet was discovered.

Christmas Tree, USA
December 2006: No matter where you find your Christmas tree, chances are it came from Clackamas County, Oregon.

Wine country's roots
November 2006: Toasting Sonoma, where wine country began.

A light on the Oregon coast
October 2006: Lighthouse after lighthouse has gone dark. But not the Umpqua River Lighthouse on the Oregon coast. Its story is a unique one.

Jump in, the sand's fine
September 2006: No ocean? No problem. Learn to scuba dive in the middle of the Great Salt Lake Desert.

Maynard Dixon and the West
August 2006: Through magazine covers and a rich portfolio of paintings, Maynard Dixon's view of the American West became our own.

The wonder of Mesa Verde's cliff dwellings
July 2006: You may think you've visited Mesa Verde National Park, so ubiquitous are its cliff dwellings in textbooks and museum dioramas. You imagine you won't be awestruck when you see them in person. You're wrong.

Open space: an endangered species
June 2006: California's Tejon Pass ― and wide-open spaces like it ― may be as endangered as the condors that call it home.

Eichler redux
May 2006: Rebirth of the cool: Eichler architecture returns to popularity.

Chaparral gets no respect
April 2006: When it comes to California flora, the world loves redwoods and palm trees, but not chaparral. That is a shame.

Brokeback Mountain mystique
March 2006: You can't find Brokeback Mountain, the setting of the acclaimed movie, on any Wyoming map. But there is nowhere else where it could have been set.

Salt goes upscale
February 2006: Salt isn't just salt anymore, and a Utah salt mine is poised to take advantage of that fact.

The fine wines of New Mexico
January 2006: Amid the yucca of New Mexico lurk Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapevines, destined to yield sparkling wines from the most unlikely of places.

Meditation in the mountains
December 2005: Jumping on the meditation bandwagon, at one of the movement's hot spots in Colorado.

The road not traveled
November 2005: You can get to Juneau by ferry or airplane, by kayak or helicopter. But you cannot get to Juneau by RV or car ― at least not yet.

Bozeman's je ne sais quoi
October 2005: What makes a town suddenly hot? Whatever it is, Bozeman, Montana, has it.

Hawaii's Lost hot spot
September 2005: It's easy to get lost in the lore of Kualoa Ranch, one of the Hawaii locations for the TV series Lost.

The wolf in the west
August 2005: Our complex relationship with the wolf.

Water, the ultimate Vegas show
July 2005: In Las Vegas, water is used like a magician's cape or a showgirl's spangles: It teases, it seduces, it fools.

Rev up the combine
June 2005: America has always loved its internal-combustion vehicles. Flip through your cable channels and here they come: Monster Garage! American Chopper! Pimp My Ride! But these are nothing compared to the live, in-your-face spectacle that is Lind, Washington, which might be called Pimp My Combine or Mad Max Meets Old MacDonald.

Oh! Alpaca!
May 2005: Good-bye, ostrich! ¡Vaya con dios, llama! The alpaca is the exotic livestock of tomorrow, conquering the world through sheer cute appeal.

A Sideways look at the Santa Ynez Valley
April 2005: Paradise viewed Sideways: the Santa Ynez Valley's wine country

Get the spa treatment in Scottsdale
March 2005: America has spawned the spa nation. And if one place can be crowned capital of spa nation, it's Scottsdale, Arizona.

Love, luck and Vegas
February 2005: Las Vegas, the city built on luck, may be the perfect place for a wedding. Isn't a successful marriage the biggest jackpot of all?

A humorous view of the aquatic world
January 2005: Ray Troll is famous, in a certain way. If you've ever visited Alaska, you've probably seen Troll's works: brilliant, funny, eerie depictions of the watery natural world.