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Those Rocky Mountains sure are nice and…high, but they’re not the only natural wonder visitors are coming to explore in Colorado.

"Birthday girl gets greens!" declares Mike Eymer, before passing his large bong from one end of the white Hummer limousine to Jenna, the quiet blonde sitting at the other. She lights up timidly, gulps down and passes it to her mother, Carol, as she exhales, filling the back of the limo with a cloud of smoke.

Carol, who lives in Florida, decided to surprise Jenna for her 22nd birthday by flying her from Oregon, where she goes to college, to Denver for a marijuana tour.

"The first clue was my landing time," says Jenna, her eyelids already drooping after one hit.

"Her flight got in at 4:20," says Carol smiling.

Ultimate Dinner Party

Feast at the Next 'Sleep No More'

The creator of wildly popular “Sleep No More” is back with a riotous new show featuring Chinese acrobats, wild dancers, mad scientist-like drinks, and a Bacchanalian feast.

A Frenchman with wild eyes and even wilder hair is gripping my hand tightly, bent into a crouch next to me, and buzzing like he could spring at any moment. “Are you in love?” he asks, his gaze focused on the two figures on the stage in front of us. “In the beginning, this is what love looks like.”

Queen of the Night

Matteo Prandoni/BFAnyc.com

I’m sitting at a raised communal table on the side of an oval stage in the middle of the storied Paramount Hotel’s basement just a few blocks from Times Square. In front of me, ”Queen of the Night” is unfolding. It’s the latest work of Randy Weiner, the proprietor of the famed, Macbeth-tinted “Sleep No More,” a show responsible for bringing a fantastical, interactive style of theater to popularity over the past three years in New York City.

The night is billed as “a dark debutante ball” for the Queen’s daughter, Pamina, with a storyline based loosely on Mozart’s opera, “The Magic Flute” and told through a finely orchestrated bedlam of dancing and dining. Guests are immersed in two-acts of over-the-top dinner theater and plied with drinks, food, and attention from the discerningly tactile dancers.

The Abalone Craze

The Foraging Wars

The locavore craze has gone beyond just a trendy activity. In California, tourists have been pitted against career foragers, causing problems for wild mushrooms and abalone.

A block away from San Francisco’s Ferry Building at 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday, Paul Grosz is piling produce in his trunk quickly, like it’s a getaway car, so he can leave the Farmer’s Market as fast as possible before the foodie tourists swarm in. “You can end up behind someone who acts like this is Portlandia and wants to know every detail about the day-to-day existence of the fiddle head fern frond he’s about to buy,” he says about the newest variety turning up at the outdoor market: the finicky slow-food tourist.

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Market size abalone are inspected, Cultured Abalone, Goleta, California. (UniversalImagesGroup via Getty)

Increasingly, those same picky eaters are gathering their own wild edibles in the great outdoors, or dining out in the type of restaurants that cater to wild tastes. While suspicions about the impact of this back to the (public) land trend on the environment have been mounting, this year there is hard evidence of what over foraging can do to at least one species. California Fish and Wildlife will shut down the most popular section of the California coastline because of over fishing of abalone, the popular expensive delicacy that can fetch more than $100 a piece on the black market.

Egged on by blogs and apps and YouTube videos that demonstrate how to turn backyard weeds into dinner, or how to find chewing gum from spruce trees ( “Hard and crumbly with pieces of bark and bits of insects,” according to “Eat The Weeds” forager Deane Green), the New Foragers have been hitting the trail hard. Too hard, it seems.  

Space Flight

Branson’s Galactic Obstacles

In a new book, Tom Bower suggests Virgin Galactic may never achieve space flight. Though some of his claims are a bit alarmist, Bronson’s space program still faces major safety issues.

Will Richard Branson’s long-touted rocket ride into space via his Virgin Galactic enterprise ever happen?

A new book, Branson Behind the Mask, by investigative reporter Tom Bower (to be published by Faber & Faber on February 6) casts serious doubt that it will.

In fact, there is little in Bower’s book that is not already known about Galactic’s dismal record so far. Branson presents an easy target because he has so frequently over-promised on his bid to introduce so-called space tourism.

The first passenger-carrying flight was supposed to happen in 2007. The date then slipped to 2009…2010…2011…2012…2013…and now to later this year.

Grab Your Keys

How Drive Across the U.S. for Free

How Drive Across the U.S. for Free Robert Galbraith/Reuters

If you have a Tesla Model S.

Burn your plane ticket, it's high time for a road trip. All you need is a map, suitcase—and Tesla Model S. The car manufacturer just completed a network of 73 charging stations that fully traverse the country, dotting the route from Los Angeles to New York, according to CEO Elon Musk. The free, fast-charging pitstops powers the battery of the company's famous Tesla Model S. Musk says an estimated 80 percent of Americans are covered by the stations, and Tesla has plans for a similar blanketing in Europe, where it has 14 stations currently. By the end of the year, Tesla hopes that superchargers will be installed throughout Belgium, France, Austria, Italy, Spain, and the UK.

Read it at Smart Planet

Game Day

Best Broncos and Seahawks Bars

Not everyone can watch the epic face-off in person on Sunday. For Seahawk and Bronco fans across the country, we’ve rounded up the best bars to bask in your team’s glory…or defeat.

Each year, avid NFL fans organize their stats, draft their fantasy players, and set aside their Sundays to watch their favorite teams battle it out for a spot in the annual Super Bowl. This year, the two teams vying for the coveted Lombardi Trophy are the Denver Broncos (15-3) and the Seattle Seahawks (15-3). Putting it lightly, Super Bowl XLVIII is sure to be exciting, as the top offense in the league (the Broncos) will be facing off against the top defense (the Seahawks). Where will you be watching the legendary action happen?

While not all superfans will be able to see their teams in action at the MetLife Stadium, we’ve rounded up the best bars in top U.S. cities for Bronco and Seahawk fans to watch the epic battle. Kickoff is at 6:30pm on Sunday, February 2.

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Lise Gagne

Boston:

#winning

AFAR Launches New Travel Awards

Now book your safari to Botswana.

Choosing your next travel destination can be a stress-inducing project—beach or mountains? Explore a big city or go off-the-grid for a digital detox? How are you supposed to choose?

Maldives

Reinhard Krause/Reuters

AFAR media has just announced the launch of its annual “Experiential Travel Awards.” Whether readers are interested in finding the best river cruise (Orient-Express Road to Mandalay), a dream remote beach destination (the Maldives), or a domestic getaway (try Jackson Hole, Wyoming), AFAR has curated the best travel experiences for 2014. With a judging panel composed of a 13-member travel advisory board made up of high-end U.S. travel agents and an extensive survey of readers, the AFAR awards have named winners in 23 categories, ranging from best street food and nicest locals to best overnight flight and best international airport.

The awards are accompanied by the announcement of a major design refresh for the magazine debuting in the March/April issue.  

Art Guide

A Super Bowl Culture Pregame

Don’t limit your Super Bowl trip to the inside of MetLife stadium. From fine dining to alternative (and boozy) art tours, get a little culture before football madness begins.

On Friday, out-of-towners will start pouring into New York City for America’s annual spectacle of beer and aggression—the Super Bowl. But before watching the Seattle Seahawks face off against the Denver Broncos, get a little culture—and a little more zen—by checking out one of New York City’s best assets: its museums.

Even if you’re not a true art aficionado, the city’s museums are a great place to experience a wide selection of the great things Manhattan is known for: the food, the culture, and the history. From trend-setting apps and boozy tours to amazing restaurants, you’re sure to make your trip even more exciting.

Appreciating the Art:

The Museum of Modern Art was one of the first museums to introduce their own iPhone App—complete with audio guides. It took a while for people to catch on, but it has now set the standard for the museum guides of the future. Sayonara, archaic headset devices. If you are looking for something guaranteed to cut through the professional jargon and give you a more simplistic explanation of the artworks you’re seeing, then go for the unofficial MoMA: Unadulterated audio guide. Employing “experts from kindergarten to fifth grade,” it is sure to cause some chuckles.

Winter Respite

We’d Rather Be in St. Barts

While many of us are stuck in the boomerang of the polar vortex, we are dreaming of St. Barts, the land of magnificient beaches, hiking trails, and restaurants.

by Lee F. Mindel

Saint Barthélemy, my annual winter respite, is my favorite of the Caribbean islands. Its beautiful landscape and coastline are matched only by its fascinating history. Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493, St. Barts was invaded by Carib Indians, colonized by French sailors in 1763, sold to Sweden by King Louis XVI, and then reacquired by France in 1946. The island finally gained its independence in 2007, though it remains an “overseas collectivity” of l’Hexagone.

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Lee F. Mindel

Frito Pie

Tex-Mexcellence

How hipster enchiladas could change the way America thinks about food.

Not long ago, OC Weekly editor Gustavo Arellano publicly announced that Tex-Mex cuisine—the greatest use of sour cream, shredded cheese, refried beans, and flour tortillas known to man; the driving force behind thousands of suburban fajita factories all across America—was dying out.

Tex Mex

Getty

“Tex-Mex for decades was ascendant,” Arellano told the The Weekly Alibi in 2012. “It was the dominant player, [but] I would say that California won the Mexican war. You’re going to have many more restaurants selling tacos and burritos then you do Tex-Mex. ...  And, yeah, you’re going to see Tex-Mex slowly disappear from the American landscape.”

Arellano isn’t just some loudmouth on the Chowhound message boards. He is the author of Taco USA, a smart, lively, deeply reported history of “how Mexican food conquered America.” Which means he is something of an authority on the subject. When Arellano talks, in other words, taco people (like me) tend to listen.

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A Walk on the Wild Side

Streetwise

Welcome to Literary Toronto

Toronto is notorious these days for the antics of its mayor, Rob Ford, but there’s a quieter literary side to the city as novelist Sheila Heti reveals.

In her Toronto based novel, How Should a Person Be?, Sheila Heti transcribed a conversation between herself and her real-life artist friend, Margaux Williamson, leaving just a duologue and removing all sense of the how and the where.

It would be difficult then to consider the 37-year-old’s most successful book to be a reflection on place, but it is. Even with this intermittent chopping of prose, Heti has a strong appreciation of life in the most populous city in Canada—the place where she was born and continues to live. It is, in fact, a book that deals almost entirely with the intricacies of being in Toronto. Or perhaps more specifically, of being ‘Sheila’ in Toronto.

As an author, Heti’s credits include two novels, a collection of short stories, a children’s book and a book on “conversational philosophy”, but she has also been prolific in several other forms: she has a post as interviews editor at Believer magazine, she began a local lecture series where guest speakers talk about subjects outside of their expertise, and in 2013 her full length-play, All Our Happy Days are Stupid was performed in Toronto to sell-out shows.

It seems Sheila Heti has got to that point that successful authors can get to when they write about the place in which they live. The point where the city knows them as well as they know it.

Wonderland

Sea Caves Exposed on Lake Superior

Sea Caves Exposed on Lake Superior National Park Service

Thanks to the current deep freeze, a chain of sea caves on the Apostle Islands are visible for the first time in five years.

It seems the current deep freeze across the north may have some benefits. For the first time since 2009, an icy wonderland is accessible in Wisconsin. Those fearless enough to hike the two miles across a frozen Lake Superior will arrive at the hidden sea caves of the Apostle Islands 18 miles west of Bayfield. But even then, you’re not quite there. “You’re looking at these beautiful rock formations, but they’re covered by stalactites and stalagmites made of ice,” Bob Krumanaker, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore superintendent, told Wisconsin Public Radio. “And then if you carefully crawl under some of that ... the ice is completely smooth and generally completely clear underneath it. So, it’s like there’s a glass floor that you can see the bottom of the lake," he said. You’ll enter a “fairyland of needle-like icicles.” We’re not sure what’s more frightening: having ice move below our feet, or hanging around needle-like icicles. But we’re pretty sure it will be worth it.

Read it at Esquire

The Nomadic Life

On Foot in the Moroccan Mountains

There's nothing like a remote trek through Morocco to help you find freedom and peace of mind…especially when the day ends with Berber whiskey and a delicious lamb tagine.

It had taken the camels and their black-turbaned Berber herders four long days to walk from the Sahara. When we met them, the dromedaries’ panniers were being loaded with everything we needed for a three-day hike in Morocco’s High Atlas mountains: blankets, wicker stools, water drums and—bliss—an endless supply of Moroccan pastries.

Our guide, Mouha, glanced up at the trail that disappeared far into the ochre uplands. “Time to start walking,” he said. “Yella! Let’s go!”

The sun was lowering over the peak of Jebel M’goun and a two-hour hike still lay between our camp, a lamb tagine, and us. So, I followed this fleet of the desert along an old mule path, out of the Valley of Ikamdoulen and up into the M’goun massif.

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Camp on the Tatarart pastures, High Atlas mountains, Morocco. (Joanna Eede)

Soak It Up

Last Gasp of Summer

Instagram’s Coolest Pools

Instagram’s Coolest Pools

From a submerged Bar Refaeli to a Mediterranean idyll, a voyeur’s look at the stars’ sun-soaked scenes.

Zambian Safari

Wildlife, Storytelling, & Dung, Oh My!

Hillary’s New Title: Grandma

Hillary’s New Title: Grandma

Chelsea Clinton shocked her mother, the audience, and America when she announced she’s pregnant. With one Clinton presidency done and another one possibly starting, this could be the making of a dynasty.

Neverending Trial

Pistorius’s Star Witness Disaster

The Lives of Others

Sorry, Snowden: Putin Lied to You

LOCKED UP

Captive With a Canine For 9 Years

Girl Power

Stop Calling Hidalgo a Style Icon

Globetrotters

Dispatches from Around the World

Marseille’s Comeback Tour

Marseille’s Comeback Tour

The bouillabaisse is just as tasty, but Europe’s 2013 Capital of Culture now has a lot more to offer. Anna Watson Carl reports.

Serengeti

Walking With Wildebeests

Global Marvels

What a World!

The Secret Life of Cappadocia

The Secret Life of Cappadocia

More than a natural wonder, Cappadocia's formations have been a safe haven to many. Nina Strochlic reports.

What a World

The Craziest House Ever Built

What a World

Turkmenistan’s Door to Hell

conde-nast-traveler

End of an Era?

Covering Burma in the 1980s

The Good Old Travel Guide Days

The Good Old Travel Guide Days

Tony Wheeler, co-founder of Lonely Planet Publications, remembers the fun early days of travel guide writing, but says they're not over yet.

Beacher's Madhouse

L.A.'s Craziest Nightclub

It's A Madhouse!

It's A Madhouse!

Miley Cyrus’ fav new haunt is Beacher’s Madhouse, the craziest club in Los Angeles.

Just Like Rodman

Most Structured Trip Ever

Visit North Korea!

Visit North Korea!

Take the vacation of a lifetime—in beautiful North Korea? That’s Uri Tours’ pitch. Lloyd Grove reports.

Directions

A Love Letter to New York

Maps of the Heart of Manhattan

Maps of the Heart of Manhattan

In ‘Mapping Manhattan,’ explore the city via 75 New Yorkers’ personal geographies. By Allison McNearney.

Travel