JC Bark Travel Blog

A long time ago when film had to be loaded into large heavy metal cameras, J.C. Bark studied the great photographers and thought she’d become the next Dorothea Lange, but when she reckoned all the pitfalls that come with success;

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JC Bark

JC Bark

A long time ago when film had to be loaded into large heavy metal cameras, J.C. Bark studied the great photographers and thought she’d become the next Dorothea Lange, but when she reckoned all the pitfalls that come with success; like jealousy, money, fame and hard work, she decided to pursue a simpler vocation. The travel business seemed a natural since she already loved to travel, how hard could it be?

By the time she realized that becoming a Travel Agent involved actual work she was hooked. Since then, she sold travel, taught travel and managed travel in Kansas City, Nashville and Tucson, (where she drank her fair share of tequila hobnobbing with Caballeros).

Back in Nashville with Belle Meade Vacations she's arranging amazing, life changing travel adventures for her clients.

Rumors that she was passing herself off as a Tibetan Faith Healer at Base Camp are completely unfounded. She still follows the advice she received from a Lebanese street musician at midnight in Cuzco many years ago, “before climbing mountain finish you cognac”.

JC Bark, Travel Specialist
Fax: 615-425-3234

Virtuoso Accredited
Destination Specialist:
Europe, South America, Central America, Hawaii, Caribbean, Pacific Rim, Mexico

Posted by on in Belle Meade Travel Blogs

"You sail with humility every time, with open eyes. Nothing is clear"  Captain Etienne Garcia, Le Boreal

The polar Arctic, the polar opposite of the Antarctic,  the differences might surprise you.

Check out this article by Arnie Weissmann with Travel Weekly about his Abercrombie & Kent trip through the Svalbard archipelago above the Arctic Circle


and then see his follow up Climate change, front and center in travel


"The full Sprectrum of travel experiences reflects the wide range of human desire and longing, from simple rest and relaxation to potentially life-changing, revelatory epiphanies. An Arctic trip certainly has the potential for procuding the latter"  Arnie Weissmann


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Posted by on in Belle Meade Travel Blogs

"Sedona as a whole is a vortex with the energy spread throughout like a bowl"  Dennis Andres

Seconds before my aunt Louise died of a a previously unknown brain tumor she turned to my mother and said, "Papa wants his black goin to church hat, the one with the wide red band that he lost in the flood" , my mom nodded and smiled as one does with those off their rocker.  Upon leaving the hospital an apparently homeless man approached us to ask if my mother had some work he could do to earn a meal, he was wearing an old black stetson hat with a (you guessed it) wide red band and it looked like it might has been retrieved from flood water.  Now you're wondering what this has to do with travel?  The short answer is nothing; but it's a fun story, legend in my family, and I like telling it plus it provides a nice segue to my recent visit to Sedona, AZ, where the ghosts are mischievous and spiritual activity is abundant.

Sedona is nested amid unique red sandstone formations considered sacred to Native Americans, an area made famous by the spiritual elite of the 80s.  Some believe the surreal red rock formations were placed there by Aliens.  Some say it's the center of the vortexes that radiate the earth's energy.  The area attracts art collectors, outdoor enthusiasts, spiritual seekers, artists and healers from all over the world and travelers looking for a a cool unique vibe.  While there you can utilize the services of clairvoyants, psychics, breath work practitioners or chakra attunement.  Visit Shaman, Reiki,Christian, Buddhist or Energy healers. Have your astrology, tarot, aura color, past life or numerology read.  engage in activities such as yoga, tai chi, quigong and of course, Vortex Tours.

Sedona's not just for new agers though, it's also a world class art destination that inspired artists such as Max Ernst and the sculptor, Nassan Gobran.  Artistic presence is evident all over town, from the Sedona Art Center to enchanting sculptures scattered around various parking lots.  An outdoor lovers paradise, with opportunities for hiking, rafting, mountain biking, horse-back riding and 4 wheeling tours. 

Go for the scenery!  Go for the art!  Go for dinner with views like nowhere else on earth. Go for the multitude of characters drawn here, a few of which are hyper sane humans (as in really in touch with what's important while we inhabit this planet), some seem just like you and me, whatever your reason for going you won't be bored!

Must Sees: 

Chapel Of The Holy Cross, Slide Rock State Park, Oak Creek Canyon, Cathedral Rock, Buddha Beach

Resorts of Note: 

Enchantment Resort, L'Auberge, El Portal

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Not sure what an Embassy really is?  Well, it's not just another building full of bureaucrats.  In many ways, the U.S. Embassy is your 911 when overseas.  Whether you've lost your passport, need to evacuate the country, or someone back in the U.S. needs to get in touch with you, the U.S. Embassy is your point of contact for assistance in many different situations. During a natural disaster, political upheaval, or other emergency, consular officers assist American ciitizens with transportation, evacuation, and in keeping them safe.  This is just one of the many reasons that we encourage you to register your trip before you depart. Registration is free, confidential, and can be done online.


If you're in a serious legal, medical, or financial trouble, the U'S. Embassy offers a variety of services.


It's worth noting why we advise you to get travel insurance.  Obtaining medical treatment and hospital care abroad can be expensive, and medical evacuation to the U.S. can cost more than $50,000.  U.S. medical insurance is generally not accepted outside the U.S., nor do the Social Security Medicare and Medicaid programs provide coverage for hospital or medical costs outsid the U.S.

If an American citizen becomres seriously ill or injured abroad, a U.S. Consular officer can assist in locating medical services and informing family or friends.  If necessary, they can also assist in the transfer of funds from the U.S. However, payment of hospital fees and all expenses are solely the responsibility of the traveler.

Ask your travel professional about coverage.

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New clients sometimes enquire, "what can Travel Agents do for me that I can't do for myself"? My typical responses are generally something like, "we tailor the trip to suit you, because your dreams and desires weren't forged on a factory line neither should your hard won vacations." "Who's got your back when your flight from Milan to Rome gets cancelled."? "Who will advise that the area in Viet Nam you're wanting to visit was damaged by last years typhoon."?  "And did I mention we've got people!  everywhere!"  I could go on but you savvy travelers already know all this and that's why you call us.  However, this link about Virtuoso Advisors is really fun, informative and not nearly so wordy.

So for your enjoyment.   20 Truths about Virtuoso Travel Advisors

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Posted by on in Belle Meade Travel Blogs

Bush Flying in Papua New Guinea

part 2

 "A traveler without observation is a bird without wings."  Moslih Eddin Saadi

From two of my globetrotting clients who recently traveled to Papua New Guinea come two wonderful videos. Several villages tucked away in folds of the lush mountains of New Guinea bear daily witness to a glorious landscape.  Flying into small villages in New Guinea is not for the faint of heart as the Bush pilot aptly demonstrates. In the second video, check out the dude under the big cap over the big hair carrying an axe- see the glint of a smile - until he notices the camera.

Are you ready for an adventure?

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U.S State Dept. lifts Egypt travel alert and Egypt is readying for long needed tourism

Per Michelle Baran with Travel Weekly, extensive  irrigation projects will soon allow cruising to overnight passengers once again after a long 20 year wait. Click on link for Michelle's full article.  Egypt opens stretch of Nile River between Cairo, Luxor to cruising

For those who hunger for ancient temples and antiquities, towns that have survived since the fourth millennium BC, monasteries and Coptic churches, they'll find that an Egyptian Nile experience will provide ample rewards.

Egypt has more history than nearly anywhere else in the world, take Wadi el Hitan or 'Valley of the Whales", a desert that was once an ocean over 23 million years ago, now a UNESCO Heritage site.  If visiting this place and others wonders of Egypt doesn't give you goose bumps you'd better check your pulse for signs of life.  

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 Years ago I spent a cool July night in the high reaches of the Colorado Rockies.  My goal was a little known mountain lake the locals raved about.

After hours of hiking without seeing a soul in air that grew thinner with every step and a backpack filled with lead, I began to worry that I'd lost the trail and argued with myself about turning back, it was at that point that I stumbled, literally, upon a magnificent plateau and there she was, splendorous and sparkling in the sunshine waiting to be admired.  That night I lay under the celestial bowl wrapped in a down sleeping bag, feeling insignificant in a sky so blanketed with stars there seemed little room for the heavy blackness in between.

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