Scottsdale, Arizona — cowboys and caviar

The first impression of Scottsdale, Arizona, is the diversity of attractions. The shopping alone provides an introduction to the something for everyone variety. Along with top-of-the-line stores are shops selling cowboy hats, boots and everything that’s worn between them. Even visitors who don’t buy whole hog into the cowboy theme find that casual attire is perfect for exploring the Sonoran Desert which surrounds the town.

Myrtle Beach sun, sand, plantations (oh, and 100 golf courses)

Most of the 15 million or so people who visit the Myrtle Beach area each year do go to golf and soak up the sun. Not surprising, because the destination has over 100 excellent golf courses and is bordered by a 60-mile stretch of inviting soft sand beaches. As I discovered, it also has history-rich towns, reminders of southern plantation life and intriguing cultural tidbits, any of which alone would be reason enough to go there.

Miami’s colorful neighborhoods from gritty to genteel

Welcome to Miami and Miami Beach, where broad swatches of white sand and glittering night life are main attractions that draw most visitors to that popular destination. But behind the glimmer of sun and the glitz of top-notch entertainment lies a collection of diverse neighborhoods that offers an enticing mosaic of cultures, lifestyles and architecture.

Ugandan people — simple, struggling, smiling

Relaxing in a hot shower, walking to a nearby market to buy meat or strolling through a village may seem like commonplace occurrences. But in the African country of Uganda, these experiences are likely to be unlike life as you’re used to living it.

New Zealand: Magnificence in miniature

Victor Block is back from New Zealand. The country offers more to-see’s and to-do’s than many much larger ones. That diversity is among reasons why so many travelers place it high on their list of favorites.

Key West — laid back with loud shirts

That fun-filled outlook on life sums it up. More than the sun or setting, Key West is an attitude. Life there is laid back and people need little excuse to party. Even the sunset provides one.

Valley Forge: Victory over despair

No battles were fought at Valley Forge. Not a shot was fired at an enemy. Yet the setting may be the best-known site associated with the Revolutionary War. The struggle for survival dramatically conveyed the courage and endurance that characterized the Colonials’ battle for freedom.

Ancient Confucius, ceramics and buried chariots in modern China

A recent return trip to China, more than 20 years after my first visit, resembled a back-to-the-future experience. Like the rest of the country, Shandong Province, perched on a peninsula jutting into the Yellow Sea southeast of Beijing, offers a study in contrasts. In cities, modern skyscrapers stretch as far as the eye can see. Members of the “millennial” generation sporting the latest fashions are glued to their cell phones.