About Me

I'm a freelance writer based in western Massachusetts. I write about adventure of all kinds, abroad and in my own backyard. 


I just got back from a month in Thailand, where I immersed myself in the food and the culture...and climbed the most beautiful rocks in the world! Here's a peak.

Recent Publications

How The Next Generation Of Folding Kayaks Are Making Paddling More Accessible

In a city of 2.7 million, Chicagoland resident Mike Paus finds solitude gazing up at the skyscrapers and historic truss bridges from the cockpit of his 12-foot folding kayak. He likes to paddle in the morning when there aren’t many people around—only turtles, ducks and freighter ships arriving from ports worldwide. “You have it all to yourself,” says Paus, who owns an Oru Beach LT kayak. “It’s very good to just get away from it all and collect your thoughts. I encourage anybody who wants to impr

A kayaker’s chronicle: Part three of three: Sewage and stormwater flow through the same pipes in Holyoke, Chicopee and Springfield

Following last month’s torrential rain, millions of gallons of untreated sewage were released into the Connecticut River and its major tributaries; six million from Holyoke alone. PHOTO BY ANNA LAIRD BARTO

“From the viewing platform at the South Hadley Public Library, I watch the water surge over the Holyoke Dam, also called the South Hadley Falls Dam,” writes Barto. “The municipally owned Holyoke Dam hasn’t come under the same fire from environmentalists as its upstream counterpart in Turners

A kayaker’s chronicle: Part two of three: Water’s out below Turners Falls dam; farmer explains exemptions to Clean Water Act

Editor’s note: This is part two of a three-part series chronicling the current state of the Connecticut River as it runs through Massachusetts, in light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to limit the Clean Water Act. In part two, writer Anna Laird Barto paddles from the Turners Falls Dam to the Coolidge Memorial Bridge. Barto began her journey before the recent catastrophic flooding throughout the region.

My journey is stopped short by the Turners Falls Dam. The concrete monolith is act

How Folding Kayaks Can Change Lives

For their 15th wedding anniversary, Trent Sluiter of Cambridge, Ontario, bought himself and his wife, Holly, a pair of Tucktec folding kayaks. For Holly, 39, the gift meant far more than jewellery or flowers—it meant the freedom to get back outside.

“You can’t go out in your kayak and be on a beautiful lake and be upset or angry or anxious,” says Holly. “It’s this instant calming that comes over.”

It’s a peace Holly doesn’t take for granted. She lives with a rare condition called occipital and

A kayaker’s view of the Connecticut River’s run through the state: Part One

The water is clear enough that from my kayak I can see the wild celery rippling on the river bottom. But there’s no sign of the granite tri-state marker, which was submerged in the 1960s after the reconstruction of the Turners Falls Dam. The view is the same across state lines: steep wooded banks leading up to fields of strawberries, vegetables and hay. Rivers do not respect socially constructed boundaries.

The Best Bed and Breakfasts to Book in Connecticut

This state embodies all the historic charm of New England – red barns, white steeples and colonial country estates – just a short train ride from New York City. By staying at the best bed and breakfasts in Connecticut, which are generally small and owner-operated, you experience the local culture in a way no chain hotel can recreate. From the storied seaports of Westbrook and Greenwich, to the Farmington Hills and the Connecticut River Valley, each of the properties on this list has its own unique character and story to tell.

The Ultimate 10-Day New England Road Trip Itinerary

White steeples against crisp blue skies, glorious autumn colors and fall foliage like you wouldn’t believe, fresh lobster rolls, REAL maple syrup – New England conjures all kinds of cozy associations! And some not so cozy, like great white sharks, witch-hunts, whaling, and rabid sports fans (don’t worry, they don’t attack unless you’re wearing a Yankees hat). Whether you’re planning a fall getaway or a summer vacation, the coastline and mountains of New England make for one truly unforgettable road trip!

The Best Romantic Hotels in Boston

Luxury and location make for an unforgettable stay at the Four Seasons. Ride the swan boats at Boston Public Gardens, directly across the street from the hotel, or take in a Broadway show two blocks down at the Colonial Theatre. Die-hard romantics note: the hotel is also handy for the brownstone-lined thoroughfares of Newbury Street and Commonwealth Avenue, modelled after the Champs-

in Paris. Afterwards, enjoy a couples massage or candlelit dinner without leaving the privacy of your room, or w

The Best Luxury Hotels in Boston

It’s not the Asian-contemporary decor, Frette linens, or in-house French bistro that earns the Mandarin Oriental the most rave reviews – it’s the spa, which consistently gobbles up awards.

The ritual begins with a hot towel and fragrant cup of tea before moving on to the quartz-crystal steam room and the heated Vitality Pool – all this before your treatment even begins. Choose between favorites like the Himalayan Salt Stone Massage or the Millennial Posture Treatment.

The best places and programs for studying abroad in Mexico

Study abroad offers insight not only into a foreign culture, but into our own. This is especially true for US students studying in Mexico. The two countries are connected not only by geography, but history – most of the southwestern US belonged to Mexico until 1846 – and immigration, which has given new vitality to Mexican culture within the US.

As you consider the many different study abroad locations, programs, and living arrangements in Mexi
Marisol Benitez

The People's Guelaguetza: Oaxaca Reclaims its Most Time-Honored Tradition

Despite the threatening clouds, the procession swelled in size, stretching as far as I could see in either direction. I was swept along by the crowd, down winding cobblestone streets and past colonial buildings painted tropical fruit colors. In doorways and windows, behind the wrought iron curlicues, whole families stood and cheered. This kind of procession, called a calenda, is how the people of Oaxaca, Mexico, traditionally kick off a fiesta, and the Guelaguetza of Lunes del Cerro is the bigges

10 tips for starting an edible container garden

Like many people, I’ve always had good intentions about eating locally and sustainably.

BUT THE SUBWAY DOESN’T STOP at Trader Joe’s, and the waiting lists for CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) and community garden plots can be years long–not to mention an intimidating commitment for a beginning gardener!

That’s why I got into container gardening.

Container gardening–growing plants in pots instead of the the ground–saves space, money and the environment. Even if you don’t live in an urban


Today’s yogis have choices: traditional styles like Ashtanga, Bikram and Iyengar have competition with edgier offerings like Goat yoga, AcroYoga, Standup Paddleboard yoga and now the latest wellness craze, CBD-infused Yoga.

What makes CBD-infused yoga stand out from other yoga trends is the atypical combination of yoga and cannabis, the plant that produces CBD and one whose benefits and use traces back to ancient India. But cannabis in yoga has ancient beginnings, and is even mentioned in the V

How To Define The Relationship You Want

No matter what kind of relationship you’re looking for, it’s important to be upfront about your needs, desires, and expectations. If you want to go to Paris, you’re not going to board a plane for Tokyo, right? Before you invest precious time and emotional energy in a relationship, make sure that you and your partner are looking for the same things. Whether it’s a one night stand, a casual fling, a long-term monogamous partnership, or something else entirely, you have the right to ask for what yo


Childhood isn’t all fun and games. Between home, school, extracurricular activities, and screen time, today’s kids are busier than ever. And just like adults, they get stressed.

Whether it’s adjusting to a new school or sibling, the pressure to get good grades, or anxiety over climate change, stress can overwhelm children’s abilities to cope. While research shows yoga helps kids stay focused and manage their emotions, parents speak up about what works. Children are natural yogis, according to S
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