Not that it matters. The twilight round I enjoyed at Skibo is now a sweet memory as I sit in the drawing room savoring a post-dinner cognac, the perfect follow-up to a meal of Scottish smoked salmon, winter greens, and potatoes au gratin.

There is talk among the other guests of rustling up a game of billiards. But I'm busy relaxing, my feet resting on an antique ottoman.

My old pal the butler approaches, offers me a cigar.

"Have you decided, sir?" he asks with a smile. "Will it be golf or falconing tomorrow?"

Not yet, I tell him.

For now, I just want to sit back and enjoy. My time here at Skibo is running out. And who knows when, if ever, I'll be back. And then it strikes me: My flight home makes a stop in New York, which isn't far from Rhode Island. Perhaps I'll pay a visit to Carnegie Abbey, the newest Carnegie Club outpost. Just to make sure it's up to snuff.

is frequent contributor to American Way and a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times Magazine and Maximum Golf.



Pack your running shoes and take the scenic route to the lost city of Machu Picchu.

By Ken McAlpine

To truly understand a place, you must see it through many eyes: your own, those of your fellow travelers, the locals you meet, and the locals you never will. Do this, and you may come home with your perspective forever changed. There you have the magic of travel.

Keeping your eyes open has practical benefits, too. Say, when you are jogging along a narrow, rock-strewn trail bordered on one edge by free-fall space spiraling far, far down to a ribbon of smoky river that could cradle your broken body and sweep you northward through Peru until you join the Amazon, and eventually the Atlantic Ocean.

Perhaps the only thing more mind-bending than the thought of that epic journey is the Inca Trail on which I now jog. Carved into the side of the mountain, the trail looks out to higher mountains still. These are covered with snow and here, in late afternoon, are cloaked in dark clouds shot through with misty gold bands of sunlight. While the Spanish who conquered the Incas simply coveted the stuff, gold was, to the Incas, the teardrops of the sun.