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Archive for the ‘Leisurely tourist’ Category

One would normally not see the month of January as the optimal time to tour Washington, DC.  After all, things can look pretty dismal; what with the trees lackluster and lifeless sans their leaves.  Many areas opt for fescue grasses which normally brown and go dormant during the winter months, hence a brown landscape versus the lush green landscapes we are accustomed to seeing the rest of the year.  Flowers and those abundant Cherry Trees rest their brilliancy, preparing to awaken in early spring.  Even people milling about seem a little drab in their winter apparel; a fashion statement of dark winter colors, mainly black, brown and shades of grey. 

This being said, I frankly think that this is the perfect time to visit our nation’s capital because there is little to compete with the beauty of the aged and historic buildings, the awe inspiring memorials, the National Mall, and probably some bargains that you would normally not find in peak travel months.

January is also a perfect time to visit the Capital, the White House, numerous museums and old and new memorials alike.  Winter spells smaller crowds, this means you can linger longer, drink in the sites as never before and ponder on all the greatness that surrounds you.  No need to rush . .

What better time than the upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr. day of observance, Monday, January 16th.  This three-day Federal holiday provides a good reason to take some time for reflection.  As an American, or would-be American there is no better example of what we are about.  Freedom rings louder in DC (although Philadelphians may disagree with me) and a feeling of pride is easily seen where ever you go with many American Flags displayed and testaments to how our nation was founded easily seen and read on numerous statues and plaque after plaque.

I remember well my first visit to our Nation’s capital.  It was a working vacation.  My 13-year old daughter traveled with me and my mouth was probably agape 85% of the time as we toured historic buildings, numerous memorials and attractions, one after the other.  I was spellbound while meandering through the Smithsonian.  Exhibit after exhibit enthralled us while the hours melted into minutes. 

There simply was not enough time to see all that I hoped to see, but the shudder I felt when I stood before Lincoln’s statue, the honor I felt when looking at the Washington Monument, the thrill I experienced when touring Thomas Jefferson’s home and gardens, the excitement I felt and the knowledge I gained when going from one room to the other in the Smithsonian, the trembling of my heart when seeing memorials dedicated to those who have served in our military services to keep us free simply did not prepare me for the lump in my throat and tears falling freely down my cheek as I stood in front of row after row of grave sites at Arlington National Cemetery.

Every where I looked, everything I touched, everything about Washington, DC was indeed special, precious to me, and a reminder that I indeed am lucky to have been born here.  I only hope that I will be lucky enough to return to this great city, even in the winter months.  The Korean War Veterans Memorial, the memorial for Women in Military Service for America and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial (plus others I am unfamiliar with) have been added since my sojourn so many years ago.  How I long to be able to touch the marble and stone and to read what has been written about more great people that helped to shape our nation.

So, if you have the time off; do yourself a favor and make DC your destination in January 2012.  You’re sure to shed those winter blahs and get a whole new perspective and appreciation for the dedication of a few on behalf of many  . . .including  you and me!

Check out my other blogs at www.scoop1942.wordpress.com and www.crespineezcorner.wordpress.com.  I am also a blog contributor to www.Get-packin.com

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“Aurora Borealis, the colored lights seen in the skies around the North Pole, the Northern Lights, from Bear Lake, Alaska, a beautiful Christmas scene of the winter star filled skies.”

Holidays and travel go hand in hand.  The norm used to be folks visiting grandma’s house, but times have changed with many foregoing the standard Christmas family affair.  This is not to say that visiting family is passe . . .  however, a lot of you are thinking out of the Christmas gift box . . . and opt for a skiing trip, or maybe a sandy beach in some warm clime and even go as far as the real North Pole.

So where are the most popular holiday venue’s?  Here are a few to consider:

Want glitz?  A trip to Las Vegas will provide more bright lights and Christmas decorations than you can ever imagine.

Work on your tan and check out the Christmas electric light parade in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The 60′ Christmas tree at Disneyworld  is just one of the many reasons to visit this family paradise.

Want to really get caught up in the spirit of Christmas?  Times Square and its many nearby attractions is just the ticket . . .  FAO Schwarz, Toys R Us, Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City will delight the whole family.

How about an old-world feel during the holidays – visit the Boston Common, especially if the area has been blanketed with snow.

Santa Claus fans don’t have to trek all the way to the North Pole [in Alaska], closer by is Santa’s Village in New York’s Adirondack Mountains which will delight both the young and old.

Everywhere you go, there’s a little Christmas magic; even in your own back yard.  So, take some time to drive through your own neighborhood (especially at night) and take in the lights and sites . . .

Happy holidays

Be sure to check out more about the holidays on  www.scoop1942.wordpress.com

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Over the past week or so I experienced a revelation!  It all began as I researched America’s historic places for this blog.  I happened upon a website titled America’s 11 most endangered historic places; little did I know that this list has existed since 1988.  I was astonished at learning of some places shown as endangered.  I’m familiar with the National Historic Preservation Act of 1965, and also the movement to save a variety of historic buildings, but I just didn’t know how ‘big’ of a problem the endangerment is . . . .

Statue of Liberty flickr image by aherrero

               This brought to mind a pivotal scene in the 1968 movie, Planet of the Apes, where the charred remnants of the Statue of Liberty was buried in the sand . . .the statue’s protruding head and the outstretched arm of Lady Liberty was the only visible part of one of the most recognizable icons in America.

This discovery in post-apocalyptic earth easily made many shudder, even though it was a movie.

This is how I felt as I reviewed the endangered list of some of America’s well-known, and not so well known, historic sites, buildings and places.  Will they too become remnants, and lost to the future?  Suffice to say, many would not be rediscovered but lost forever to future generations.  This, my readers and fellow bloggers, is something to take notice of. 

Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellings flickr image by Caitlyn Willows

Imagine, if you will, “the world’s most important and best-preserved collection of pre-Columbian cliff dwellings, remnants of the Ancestral Puebloan culture that flourished in the area from the 6th through the 13th century” disappearing forever more.  Thanks to NTHP, which listed Mesa Verde National Park among the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 1998, “significant progress has been made to preserve thousands of fragile historic and archeological resources in Mesa Verde.”  I was especially pleased to hear this for several reasons; I hail from Colorado and am of American Indian descent with a strong heritage to the Pueblo Indians and sincerely hope I can once again see these amazing cliff dwellings.  http://www.preservationnation.org/travel-and-sites/sites/mountains-plains-region/mesa-verde-national-park.html

Independence Hall flickr image by lisa Andres

How about the “birthplace of the nation” possibly disappearing from our landscape?  Independence National Historic Park, located in Philadelphia, was listed in both 1991 and 1992 as being endangered.  America is still a young country, less than 250 years old, so to learn of the possible demise of something so historically significant, no older than it is, is heart-breaking to say the least.

Liberty Bell flickr image by NOAA Photo Library

Fortunately, a $140 million public/private partnership was established, making it favorable to save this historic landmark and area.  Want to know more about the history and ongoing rehabilitation where Freedom still rings? . . .  http://www.nps.gov/inde/index.htm

The saying, “Here today, Gone Tomorrow” is apropos for the Detroit Tiger Stadium, which was listed on the 1991/1992 endangered list; unfortunately in spite of its being listed on the National Register for Historic Places and the efforts of hundreds to save it, this turn of the century ballpark fell to the wrecking ball in 2009.  Deterioration, neglect, poor public policy and the replacement of this downtown Detroit landmark all added to its demise. 

Detroit Tiger Stadium ca 2008 flickr image by jbcurio and Comerica Park flickr image by mrkumm

Even the ghosts of greats like Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth, who at one time graced the fields of  Tiger Stadium couldn’t stir up enough support and funding to save what some called a white elephant. 

Regardless the reason for historic venues falling by the way side, it is up to us, America, to do what we can to help preserve the past for future generations.

I will continue my quest to bring to light more endangered American treasures  in this series of historical significance – be sure to look for part 3!

I never know where I’ll go next or what I’ll blog about, but I hope you’ll join me,  from my ‘arm-chair’ or from been there, done that and 69 years of living!

Check out my other ‘travelin’ blog http://crespineezcorner.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/just-a-rolling/

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Notre Dame Montreal Canada, Flickr image by mediafury

I’ve been fortunate, having seen the beauty of the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame Cathedrals in Paris and Montreal, shuddered as I stood where the Berlin Wall was, now no more than a crumble of cement,  was intrigued by the Tea House of the August Moon in the Orient and marvelled at the aqua colored ocean in the Caribbean. 

Indeed the historic buildings, structures and artifacts of foreign countries beckon travelers from all corners of the world; after all, these things and places can be centuries old.  America, on the other hand, is still an infant when compared to many other countries, but thanks to the National Historic Preservation Act of 1965, and the dedication of many, there are now 86,255 historic places in America, preserved for all to see. 

So come on America, let’s see what’s in your back yard!

Grand Canyon, Flickr image by YoTuT

It doesn’t get any more breathtaking than standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon of Arizona.  The kaleidescope of natural rock color is enough to awaken your senses, not discounting the vista with its 277 river miles, depth of 1.6km (1 mile) and as wide as 18 miles.

Coldwater Covered Bridge, Wikimedia Commons

Even something as simple as a wooden bridge, originally built by a former slave in 1850 [some sources say as early as 1839] can be awe-inspiring.  Coldwater Covered Bridge was originally located over Coldwater Creek along the border of Calhoun and Talladega counties in Alabama, now locally owned and spanning the inlet to Oxford Lake in Calhoun County it is one of many visited tourist attractions in Anniston, Alabama.

How about a structure listed on the “11 Most Endangered Historic Places?” . . . Located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma along historic Route 66, the Gold Dome Bank one of the most recognizable sites in Oklahoma City is a “shimmering vision of the future,” at 150 feet in diameter, and an early example of the geodesic dome with its complex web of hexagons, patented by architect and futurist Buckminister Fuller, thus ushering in a new age of technology in 1956.  Threatened for distruction due to new development, it was saved and has been re-purposed – you can read its story here.

The Gold Dome Bank, Wikimedia Commons

Be sure to catch part 2 in this series of historical significance!

I never know where I’ll go next or what I’ll blog about, but I hope you’ll join me,  from my ‘arm-chair’ or from been there, done that and 69 years of living!

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An original outhouse - Flickr image by andyarthur

I just love surfing the net; you never know what you’ll discover or what great little tid bit you’ll pick up.  It’s amazing at what you’ll see and learn.  This is one of the reasons I especially enjoy reading  travel articles. 

For instance, who would have thought reading about ‘toilets’ . .  aka the loo, the john or in polite society, the bathroom; interesting?  Check out this article found on Yahoo travel;  “Best Bathrooms in the USA” and you may just be saying to yourself, WOW!

Although I didn’t agree with the ranking (based on descriptions and photos of these various ‘pesonal’ retreats) I none-the-less found myself hoping to have the opportunity to see [use] one of them in my traveling future. 

Arizona morning sunrise - Flickr image by Observing Life

Blue sky sunset near Tonopah, AZ, Flickr image by Tony-the-Misfit

My favorite is the loo located in the Performing Arts Center in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Just reading the description, “The effect is meant to mimic the breathtaking Sonoran skies that blanket Scottsdale,” is enough to entice one to take a potty break. . .  This Northern lights type display surely is worthy enough to be #1.

Although, I have to say the most interesting tid bit about this particular travel article was the reference to Don’s Johns Luxury Presidential Restroom Trailer.  Who would have thought, an outhouse on wheels . . . a luxurious one at that!

Here is a brief description of this outdoor latrine: “Beautiful interior with granite counters and shelves, black marbleized walls, wood panel doors, and hardwood-designed floor.”  Some of these distinctive outhouses even feature audio systems and large flat screen TV’s; certainly a far cry from out houses I had the unpleasant experience of using while growing up in the country.

And, to top it off, there is an award given for America’s Best Restroom.  Who knew?

I never know where I’ll go next or what I’ll blog about, but I hope you’ll join me,  from my ‘arm-chair’ or from been there, done that and 69 years of living!

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Typical double decker Flickr image by RachelH_

If William Shakespeare had ridden in a tour bus, would he have said, “A tour bus by any other name is still great transportation for touring?”  Had Shakespeare been Spanish, he might have said, recorrido en autobus, or as a Parisian he might have uttered bus de tournée, and as a Vietnamese he might have called it tour du lịch xe buýt.

Wikimedia Commons image

Regardless of what a tour bus is called it can provide a delightful, or horrific, alternative to other means of transportation, whether touring leisurely or not. This reminds me of a scene in the 80’s blockbuster hit, Romancing the Stone, when Joan Wilder is taken into the dense Columbian jungle on a less than ideal bus ride.  She shares the bus with the locals, and a variety of farm animals as they traverse up a mountain on a road barely wide enough to keep the bus from teetering off the mountainside.  The driver’s haphazard handling of the bus added to the overall hilarious adventure taking place.

Had I not ridden on a Greyhound bus early in my childhood, and several more luxurious motor coach’s later in life I might have believed this could easily have been the norm for a tour bus: rickety, filled with less than desirable co-passengers and driven by a maniac.  Oh my, I believe I may have actually described some tour buses.  LOL

Half the fun of going anywhere should be in getting there, and with a tour bus you are able to take in the sites, not worry about your driving, where you are going, getting lost and so on. 

Disneyland Paris Flickr image by Dr. Epsylon

Disney tourist bus and Palais de Justice Flickr image by ell brown

Imagine you are in Paris . . why not be a passenger on Disney’s bus de tournée.  Paris features many beautiful and historic sites such as the Palais de Justice which at one time imprisoned Marie Antoinette in the Conciergerie [a former prison] and now a museum. 

Guadalajara tour bus Flickr image by El Gran Dee

You might be bound for Centro de Guadalajara, the site of the 2011 Pan American Games, and a city to delight your eyes with many beautiful venues, and no doubt your appetite as well with delicious cuisine de Mexico.  Guadalajara meaning stony river is the 10th largest Latin American City, and considered a  ‘city of the future’ and « the third most business-friendly city in North America, » It is also called the home of Mariachi music.

Hua Shan's West Peak Wikimedia

This spiritual adventure will take you to the five sacred Taoist mountains ; perhaps via a XIAN tourist bus. Other names associated with the five peaks are Five Cloud Summit, Great Flower Mountain and Dark Dragon Ridge. To get the complete history of Huashan, you may want to visit Wikipedia or Travel China Guide for a more modern intrepetation.

Tourist bus North Thailand Flickr image by Zoe Goodacre

The colorful tourist bus in North Thailand is typical of the country itself.  Vibrant and colorful Thailand, once known as Siam, is ranked the 50th largest country [in terms of total area] and 21st as the most populous, with about 64 million people.  Although Bangkok, its capital, has numerous attractions such as the 1782 Grand Palace, home to the King of Thailand, you’ll want to traverse its many well-known tourist destinations such as « Ayutthaya, Pattaya, Phuket, Krabi, Chiang Mai and Ko Samui. »

Original Movie Poster King and I Wikimedia image

An early introduction to Thailand was through a 1946 movie, titled Anna and the King of Siam, adapted from a book written by Margaret Langdon in 1944, based on the diaries of Anna Leonowens, a British Governess in the royal court of Siam.  It subsequently became a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical in 1951, and a movie in 1956 starring Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr.  A remake of the movie was done in 1999, starring Jodi Foster and Chow Yun-fat.

So many places, so many tour buses, so little time . . .

I never know where I’ll go next or what I’ll blog about, but I hope you’ll join me,  from my ‘arm-chair’ or from been there, done that and 68 years of living!

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“One is the Loneliest Number You’ll Ever Do . . .” although first written and recorded by Harry Nilsson, it was recorded a number of times by different artists, including the LA band, Three Dog Night, in 1969.  I heard this song the other day and it spurred my interest in the number one (1), so a new blog was born . .

A Town of 1 - Wikimedia image

Lost Springs [Converse County], Wyoming was listed in the 2002 census as having only 1 resident, however, the mayor disputes this, saying there are four (4) Lost Springs residents.  The town was incorporated in 1911, although it was first inhabited in the 1880’s.  Its population actually grew to 200 until the Rosin coal mine closed in 1930.  In 1960 the population had dwindled down to five residents when the State of Wyoming and the Bi-centennial Commission designated it as the smallest incorporated town in America.

California Mule Deer at Yosemite Nat. Park, Flickr image by Alan Vernon

Why would you want to visit Lost Springs?  The question should be why not? The semi-arid town is located in the High Plains of the southeastern part of Wyoming, an area that receives between 10-20 inches of precipitation annually.  Cattle ranching, growing wheat and sunflowers, as well as cotton (not all cotton is grown in the South it seems) and wind power are the key economic factors for the region.  Some areas also have significant natural gas and petroleum deposits. 

According to http://conversecounty.org/community/recreation there is a great deal more to the county than the town of one [or four] residents call home. 

Dinosaur Flickr image by IvanWalsh

“The location is superb for year round recreation including a free Recreation Center, hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, and rafting,” among other tourism attractions like Glenrock’s Paleontological Museum, where you can view a collection of Jurassic-age dinosaur bones.  Admission is free, and you can even go on a dinosaur dig as well.   You may wish to visit http://www.paleon.org/ to learn more about this Paleon Museum.

Hunters and photographers alike enjoy the four-seasons, as do elk, antelope and mule deer that roam free in the grasslands; much as they have since 1886. 

From the wide-open spaces we travel across the country to Hibberts Gore, Maine, where 1.28% of its location is water [wetlands], where the 2010 census recorded 1 resident.  Little is found about the town itself, but Lincoln County, Maine, offers a bit of history, going all the way back to 1760. 

Damariscotta River Wikimedia Commons image

The area abounds in scenic areas such as Boothbay Harbor, the Damariscotta River near Whaleback Shell Midden historic site and Wiscasset, the county seat and well known tourist destination known for its early architecture.  Wiscasset was also placed in the Guinness Book of World Records for “having the smallest church in the world,” with an interior of 7’ by 4.5’. 

Wiscasset Jail & Museum Wikimedia Commons

There are many historical buildings still standing today, such as the 1811 Lincoln County Museum and Old Jail.

How about a town of 0 population?  That’s exactly what neighboring state New Hampshire’s township of Erving’s Location can claim, according to the 2010 census.

Erving’s Location is located on a slope of Mount Kelsey where access is by dirt road, or by hiking up the mountain.

Covered bridge over upper Ammonoosuc River

Not much is noted about Erving’s Location itself, but visitors to the county might want to visit nearby Northumberland, a very scenic town built by the New Hampshire militia in 1755 during the French and Indian War; and, also an area once known for its corn and potato crops as well as starch mills.  Several mountains make up the area, where the Connecticut and Upper Ammonoosuc Rivers flow.

Then there is New Amsterdam, Indiana, a [hamlet] listed with a population of ‘1’ , which is also host to an annual festival in April, called “Remembrance Days” held at Shaffer’s General Store. 

According to the 1860 census, New Amsterdam was the largest waterfront town in Harrison County, but its proximity to the Ohio River, which accounted for its early growth was also it demise with floods playing a large part in its decline. Fact is the Great Flood of 1937 destroyed 75% of all the hamlet’s structures.

Shaffer's General Store, Wikimedia image

 If you attend the Remembrance Days Festival you can still see how high the water got during the Great Flood, as it is marked on the second floor of the General Store.

America was founded on small towns with many growing to become large cities.  Why not take a trip back in history where you can discover places like Erving’s Location, New Amsterdam, Lost Springs and Hibberts Gore.  Small as they may be, they still played a part of the overall growth of America.

Info about the song One can be found here: http://www.allmusic.com/song/t2668211

I never know where I’ll go next or what I’ll blog about, but I hope you’ll join me,  from my ‘arm-chair’ or from been there, done that and 68 years of living!

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