Our Santa Fe Trip Was a Blast!

Church Street Café in Albuquerque, NM

Our Santa Fe, NM Trip

We visited the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, also known as Saint Francis Cathedral, a Roman Catholic cathedral in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico last week. The cathedral was built by Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy between 1869 and 1886 on the site of an older adobe church, La Parroquia (built in 1714–1717).

 

 

Our First Day Out in Colorado and Then in New Mexico

Our First Day Out in Colorado and Then in New Mexico
By Tristin Sean Owens, 3rd Grader
Logansport Elementary School
 We were going to Colorado and it took two days but we got their and had to go to New Mexico but going to New Mexico we got in a blizzard and it got bad so we could not go back so we had to keep on going and when we got out of the blizzard we got to New Mexico and got in the hot tub their was some men that was drinking and was very crazy so we got out of the hot tub and got in the pool and then it got late so we went in the motel and went to sleep. 

Mamaw said we are going to Albuquerque today and we might go to Hinkle Family Fun Center. Ms. Betty, mamaw’s friend, will love playing at Hinkle’s with us! I hope she does! Then we are going to visit several old churches in Santa Fe tomorrow.  I’d rather stay here at the room and swim. It was snowing yesterday when we were at the pool but the pool was warm. It is not an inside pool.

This week… we are traveling…

We left home last Saturday for an 8-day venture out West. The five of us made it to Wichita Falls last Saturday where we shut down for the night. We stayed at the Howard Johnson right off the Interstate – the beds were okay but there was only a half of roll of toilet paper in our room and there was no shower curtain on the shower stall. Complaining: sigh! Good thing none of us had a virus!

My friend Ms. Betty from Logansport is with us. I know without a doubt she will never want to come again for a number of reasons, mainly because of the long drive to our destination! She said yesterday that she does not like Colorado at all.

As we traveled through New Mexico over into Colorado, freshly fallen snow was everywhere.

We arrived in Alamosa, Colorado around six p.m. on Sunday and found an I-Hop where we had our evening meal before heading over to South Fork where we planned to stay for the night. We rented a nice room at the Allington Inn and Suites – the rooms were nice and clean and the best part: the pool and hot tub was inside and open for business. Our two younger travelers were excited and stayed in the pool until shortly after ten.

By now the temperature has dropped dramatically outside and it is freezing.

More to come – stay tuned!

We arrived in Santa Fe, NM on Monday. It started snowing while we were coming in. We are staying at the Inn at Santa Fe. It is a nice motel and has a full breakfast for the guests. The rooms are clean and comfy! I love it here and I’m in no hurry to leave! This week we are going downtown to visit some of the museums and old churches , and then drive over to Albuquerque on the train for a full day of shopping and visiting museums.

The boys started getting a little fussy being cooped up all day yesterday because snow was falling off and on all day. It was cold outside but in spite of that, their papaw took them down to the pool last evening for a swim in the hot tub! Well, the motel staff heated up the pool and hot tub and the boys swim, and played in spite of the wintry weather all day! There was snow on the ground in places! The pool was warm and the hot tub was even ‘hotter’! Three state troopers who were transporting a prisoner to another town was in the hot tub last night and they apparently having some drinks! I told Theresa at home about it and she told me to tell them not to “drink and drive!”

Ms. Betty seems to like Santa Fe, NM a lot better. She and I have been visiting some of the gift shops and thrift stores around town!

More to come – stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

We’re Heading West This Sunday

By Marcella Simmons

 

This Sunday, we are headed out to Santa Fe, NM to see the country, do some travel writing and just enjoy the week away from home. I am taking my grandson Kendray, my friend Ms. Betty and my other half and best friend, Jackie.

 

Kendray is 5 and attends Logansport Elementary – he is in kindergarten. I had to get it approved at the school board office for him to go without the days absent being counted against him, so now that is done and approved, we are just about ready to go.

 

Shortly after church on Sunday, I am picking up Ms Betty and the four of us are rolling out of here for a few days.

 

It feels odd that I am only taking one child this time instead of the normal three but truthfully I have to write this time and take pictures for my websites and there won’t be a whole lot of time to play with the boys. Kendray will have to hang with his pa quite a bit while I work!

 

I already see the week unfolding and it is going to be a wonderful trip. I checked the 7-day weather outlook for Santa Fe and it is rather cool there – middle 60’s in the daytime and 40-50’s at night! According to what I read, about  the middle of the week it might get up in the 70’s a couple of days!

 

So we ‘re heading out on Sunday – check back for daily posts of our New Mexico experience.

 

When we return from our New Mexico adventure, we are heading to Mt. Ida, Arkansas. In a couple of weeks Spring Break is coming up (we’re leaving right after church on Sunday and coming home the following Friday). That week the whole family will be in tow and we are going to have an awesome spring break with the kids. We’re staying at Mountain Harbor Resort in one of the large condo/cottages! It is such a beautiful place – you can actually sit on the back porch and enjoy your time away from home and listen to the birds while they’re busily going on with their day. And in the evenings an occasional raccoon will stop by ad come up on the porch for morsels of food the kids leave behind. The kids love Mountain Harbor as much as I do.  

 

Check back this Sunday for updates!

 

 

Forest bathing is the next big thing, and Arkansas is the perfect place to do it

Arkansas Family Travel Host

Forest bathing is the next big thing, and Arkansas is the perfect place to do it
Katherine Stewart
forst1.jpg
We are a nation of achievers. That’s a good thing when it comes to growth, innovation and progress—after all, it wasn’t people sitting around fanning themselves and binge-watching television who put us on the moon or gave us smartphones. But it turns out that all this achievement may be taking a toll on our health. According to Project: Time Off*, American workers are leaving millions of hours of vacation time on the table each year, which can lead to burnout, excess stress, and loss of quality family time.
Survey says: Take a vacation. Or at the very least, take a break. Trouble is, even when we’re engaging in leisure activities, the inner achiever still won’t kindly sit down and be quiet; every walk, hike and bike ride is measured in steps traveled…

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Arkansas Repertory Theatre announces 2017-2018 season

Arkansas Family Travel Host

Arkansas Repertory Theatre announces 2017-2018 season
Katherine Stewart
Central Arkansas
The Arkansas Repertory Theatre, the state’s largest non-profit professional theatre company, has announced their 2017-2018 lineup. This will be their 42nd season and their first fully under new Producing Artistic Director John Miller-Stephany, who in a statement said the season might be “more varied than ever before,” a notion that fits with the Rep’s mission of presenting a diverse body of theatrical work that highlights the human journey.
The season opens August 25 with The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, adapted by Rebecca Gilman from the novel of the same name by Carson McCullers and directed by Miller-Stephany himself. The haunting Southern story of a handful of eccentric misfits who seek kinship with a deaf-mute in a Georgia mill town, the play was named by Time magazine among the top 10 of 2009.
Next up is The School for Lies…

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Mark Martin Fan Appreciation Days set for April 27-29

Arkansas Family Travel Host

Mark Martin Fan Appreciation Days set for April 27-29
Jill Rohrbach
Northwest and North Central Arkansas
The Mark and Arlene Martin Hope for Arkansas Foundation will host its 13th annual Mark Martin Fan Appreciation Days on April 27- 29 in Batesville.
Batesville_Mark_Martin_Fan_Appreciation_Day_2Mark Martin and other NASCAR legends, including Tony Stewart and Bill Elliott, will be at Fan Appreciation Days signing autographs. Stewart will greet the public from noon to 1:30 p.m. on April 28 at the Mark Martin Power Sports Store, located at 840 Batesville Boulevard.
And you don’t want to miss the Stewart and Martin lawn mower race at 11:45 a.m., also at the Mark Martin Power Sports Store. Additionally, “America’s Got Talent” group Recycled Percussion, a Las Vegas act, will perform a public show at 7 p.m. at the Batesville Community Event Center, located at 1420 S. 20th St.
On April 29, Elliot will sign autographs from noon…

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Renovated tour boat at Lake Ouachita State Park

Arkansas Family Travel Host

Renovated tour boat at Lake Ouachita State Park
amooney@msgd.aristotle.net
James Wilborn, Assistant Superintendent at Lake Ouachita State Park has sent word of a project that has taken place at the park. The work entails the recent renovation of a 42 foot large tour boat that has been in continuous  operation at the park for the last 25 years.
tour boat

According to Wilborn, the boat was used for interpretive lake tours of Lake Ouachita, the largest lake within Arkansas’s borders. This year the boat was dry-dock and completely renovated by the Arkansas Correctional Industries. Wilborn stated that the boat, which is the largest in the state park fleet, was transported to their facility at Tucker prison in southern Arkansas last winter and while there, inmates completely renovated the boat utilizing skills they had learned while being incarcerated.

Wilborn shared some history about the vessel. ‘This boat had initially been built…

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Munchin on Main Street brings food, music and more to Morrilton

Arkansas Family Travel Host

Munchin on Main Street brings food, music and more to Morrilton
Katherine Stewart
Central Arkansas
Sticking close to home for a spring break staycation? A new one-day festival in Morrilton will showcase the vibrancy of the historic downtown area with food trucks, vendors, live music, children’s activities and a car and bike show. Munchin on Main Street will take place on Saturday, March 25 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., with activities taking place along Railroad Ave. between Division and St. Joseph streets. The festival is a joint project of Main Street Morrilton, the Morrilton Area Chamber of Commerce and the Uncommon Communities program (which has also had a hand in nearby Perryville’s Saturdays on the Square and Arkansas Goat Festival).
Cuisine to suit every palate will be on offer from the festival’s participating food trucks, among them Road Hog BBQ, Miss Muffett’s Cheese Curds, Two Guys Hibachi Express, La…

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5 Places in America You Never Knew Existed

By Robert Schrader
Weird and Amazing Travel Expert
 It’s easy to think of America is being a normal country, and not just for those of us who’ve lived our whole lives here. Our national symbols, after all, include apple pie, the bald eagle and a game… Read Full Story Here

Wine Travel – Alabama’s New Wine Trail

Alabama Family Traveler

By Jim Hofman 

 

If you’ve ever felt that wine travel is best suited for summer time, perhaps by the end of this travelogue you’ll have a slightly different perspective. It’s January as we write this, and winter has its usual vice grip on the Midwest. But all around the country, wineries are welcoming visitors and hosting wine trail events. Actually, the traditional off season is the perfect time to visit your favorite winery. Crowds are lighter and chances are you’ll rub elbows with the owner or winemaker who can personally provide insight into their craft. It’s an ideal way to learn more about wine in a relaxed, leisurely setting.

 

In spring 2008, we caught wind of a new wine trail being developed and marketed in the Deep South. And so, in an effort to escape the winter doldrums, we set out for the milder climate of Alabama…

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America’s Great Loop is an American Tradition For Boaters

By Vladia Jurcova Spencer  Share this article on Google+

How it all started…

America’ Great Loop Cruisers’ Association (AGLCA) was formed by Ron and Eva Stob, authors of the Loopers’ bible “Honey, Let’s Get a Boat.” In 1999, Ron and Eva discovered, cruised and became enchanted with the Great Loop. After completing their journey, they established AGLCA to share general, navigational and cruising information about eastern North America’s waterways, known as the Great Loop. Their mission from the beginning was to enhance the overall experience of learning about exploring and safely cruising America’s Great Loop. Most importantly, Ron and Eva spent a year living their dream on the water and wanted to share it with others.

Although many join the association because they own a boat and are ready to undertake this amazing journey; some members, however, don’t have a boat YET, what they do have – more importantly – is a dream. Being part of the Loopers family helps these members keep their dreams alive as for many, who are determined to cruise the Great Loop, the planning process can be very lengthy and at times discouraging. Cursing the Great Loop has to be taken seriously as safety is a priority. Beginning an endeavor of such magnitude could take years of preparation. One has to think of finances, finding the right boat, buying and outfitting it, learning to pilot it, planning the voyage, improving navigational and cruising skills and much more. Ron and Eva had to learn everything from scratch. They devoted months to preparation for the greatest odyssey of their lives that was going to take them away from home for a year.

What is the Great Loop…

The Great Loop is the continuous waterway that encompasses the eastern portion of North America – including the Atlantic and Gulf Intracoastal Waterways, the Great Lakes, the Canadian Heritage Canals, and the inland rivers of America’s heartland. It is considered one of the safest long distance cruising routes in the world. To travel all or a portion of the Great Loop or any of its magnificent side trips is truly an adventure of a lifetime.

The saga for most begins in the early spring in southeastern Florida. From the sunny state, the Loopers journey north following the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway along the southeastern seaboard of the United States all the way into Chesapeake Bay, along the way discovering charming barrier islands along the coast of Georgia and the Carolinas, mysterious river channels and estuaries, using bicycles to explore state parks and cities. From the crab rich Chesapeake, Loopers head to Montreal in Canada, exploring historic towns of immense charm and cruise by sights such as the Statue of Liberty on the way. The St. Lawrence River carries them into the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes, although uncertain and treacherous, are a dreamland of vacation cottages, picturesque waterways, granite islands, farmland and woods. Boaters must be brave and adventures to take on the Great Lakes. Once they reach Chicago, it is down South again via the Mississippi River and Tenn-Tom Waterway, and then eventually into Mobile, Alabama and the rich and warm Gulf of Mexico. To close the Great Loop, cruisers have to go around the Southern tip of Florida back to the same point where they started. Many choose to spend warm winter months exploring the amazing Okeechobee River and Lake, and tropical Key West before it all ends, and they close the loop in the Southeastern Florida.

While on the journey, Loopers can choose to be isolated from the daily news of catastrophes, wars and starving people. For many, this trip is a true radical sabbatical, depending only on the camaraderie of fellow boaters and generosity of people they meet along the waterways. This dependence is deeply bonding and lifelong friendships are formed on the Great Loop. The constant stimulation of a new destination drives cruisers to continue and complete the journey. On the rustic and beautiful Mississippi River, as they are getting closer to the end of the voyage, many catch Tom Sawyer’s wanderlust that Mark Twain embedded in his adventurous character. For many, the journey never ends, there is always another river or lake to explore, another friendship to be made, another lock to navigate.

Rendezvous and Reunions along the way…

Navigating the Great Loop, or even parts of it, requires a lot of knowledge and support, and Loopers have an opportunity to attend three annual Rendezvous and Reunions which are held throughout the year in destinations along the Great Loop route. The events are designed to allow mixing and mingling with old friends and new members, sharing stories while learning valuable cruising information for the remainder of the journey. Camaraderie among Loopers and knowledge of the Great Loop are strengthened as seminars and presentations about safety, vessel safety checks, useful Looping tips and information about the waterways ahead provide the foundation for these three-day events. AGLCA members look forward to these social gatherings for months, making plans to be at the right location at the right time. Loopers know how to have fun; especially popular is the Looper Crawl that takes place on members’ boats during the Reunions. There are three Rendezvous and Reunions along the way, the spring one takes place in Charleston, South Carolina. In the summer, members meet in the Canadian Great Lakes. The most popular and largest rendezvous traditionally takes place in Joe Wheeler State Park, Rogersville, Alabama.

Any time while cruising the Great Loop, AGLCA members can meet up with friends using AGLCA’s new Looper Locator feature supported by Google Earth. The feature is added as an additional benefit for the association’s members who cruise a total of 6,300 miles on the North American waterways. The special map layers will allow members to locate fellow Loopers all over the Great Loop as well as businesses that provide services for boaters, including marinas, boat dealers, boat repair shops, restaurants and hotels. While navigating the waters of the Great Loop is an experience of a lifetime, any unexpected challenges are put to rest using the knowledge gained from AGLCA and the supportive Looper community.

What is AGLCA…

America’ Great Loop Cruisers’ Association is an organization of people who share a sense of adventure and a curiosity about America’s Great Loop. The association’s primary purpose is to disseminate information and enhance the overall experience for those who are learning about, dreaming of – as well as exploring – America’s Great Loop. AGLCA’s members range from experienced Loop cruisers to boaters in the midst of Looping; those planning on one day cruising the Great Loop or just simply dreaming about it. Everyone is welcome at AGLCA, young or young at heart, still working or retires, ready to travel fulltime or only occasionally; whether you have a powerboat, sailboat, trawler or no boat; whether you are doing or dreaming! The association is the place where lonely find life-long friends and social butterflies extend their social network…it is an association of those who want to belong to a fun-loving, adventurous group of boating enthusiasts!

People behind AGLCA…

While scouting out locations for the 2007 Spring Rendezvous in Charleston, SC, the Stobs enjoyed a dinner with friends, Steve and Janice Kromer. Already for some time, the Stobs have been looking for the right people to take over the helm of the association. By the touch of fate or destiny, the Kromers, also avid boaters and longtime AGLCA members, have been looking to get involved in a new adventure somewhat related to their passion for boating. One thing led to another and Steve and Janice left the dinner knowing what they needed to do. Today, their main goal is to ensure that the association’s purpose and commitment remain the same.

Both Janice and Steve have a significant amount of boating under their belts as well as a long history with the US Power Squadron in Charleston. Janice is a former Squadron Commander and Steve served six years as Educational Officer. Although, they are just partially Looped, they know more about the “blue interstate” than many weathered sailors. The Kromers own a 50′ Marine Trader, No Sense3, and get on the water as much as their semi retired status allows them.

Steve Kromer is one of the original founders of KFR Services and was its president from the company’s inception in 1975 until July 1, 2008. He was responsible for the design and implementation of the databases Tele-Tech Services produced prior to 1995. Presently, he serves in an advisory role on special projects. Outside of work, Steve enjoys teaching boating safety for the Charleston Power Squadron, and when time and weather permits, loves to cruise the Intracoastal Waterway on his trawler No Sense3.

Janice is also one of the original founders of KFR Services and has remained active in the company throughout the years. Janice’s interest in and knowledge of telecom tariffs began in 1975, when she was a member of the team that designed and implemented one of the first call accounting applications in the telecommunications industry. Today, she devotes the majority of her time to employee issues and the growth of the company’s newer divisions. She fills her free time as a past Commander of the Charleston Power Squadron, serving on the Advisory Council for The College of Charleston’s Family Enterprise Forum, cruising the Intracoastal Waterway aboard No Sense3 with Steve, and spending time with her five grandchildren. Steve & Janice have two children, Stephanie Fetchen and Kimberly Russo, who are today their business partners.

 

Vladia Jurcova Spencer of Stylee PR and Marketing works with the America’s Great Loop Cruisers Association to introduce this amazing journey to more boaters that are interested living their dream of doing America’s Great Loop.

To find more resources or meet fellow Loopers, visit the America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association website.

Wine Trails – Wine Travel Blossoms in Alabama

By Jim Hofman

Much of Alabama’s wine country is located in the central part of the state, where the hilly terrain is conducive to vineyards and grape growing. South of Birmingham, it’s a downhill run to Montgomery, the state capital, and Mobile, a lively port city hugging the Gulf Coast.

When you visit, you’ll navigate Interstate 65, which cuts a north/south path through the heart of Alabama. Travel is a breeze and most attractions are easily accessible off the highway. Currently, there are three wineries in the southern half of Alabama, so when you combine winery visits with the friendly cities of Montgomery and Mobile, you’ve got the makings of an ideal 3-4 day getaway.

Planning The Route: Two I-65 Wineries

Our plans called for a mid morning departure from Birmingham with an overnight stay in Montgomery. Then, a half day’s drive to Mobile and the subtropical climate of Mobile Bay and the Gulf Coast. Two Alabama wineries sit along the I-65 corridor between Birmingham and Montgomery, which are 90 miles apart. And so, after a light breakfast in Birmingham we headed south on I-65 with our sights set on Vizzini Famrs Winery. Located only 1/2 hour south of the city, Vizzini is open daily at 10 a.m. and is easy to find right off exit 234.

Vizzini offers an onsite deli and outdoor patio where you can enjoy lunch overlooking the vineyards. We arrived at 10:30, too early for lunch, although we did snack on freshly baked bread and local cheese from the deli counter.

You’ll have your choice of about a dozen Vizzini wines, made from a combination of west coast and Alabama grapes. If you’re familiar with our travelogues, you know we like to “drink local” and sample wines made with local grapes. At Vizzini Farms Winery, that means a terrific Cabernet Franc, whose smooth flavor compared favorably to Virginia or California wines of this style.

Sensing how much we liked the Cabernet Franc, our tasting guide suggested the Sangiovese, a red Italian table style wine that had us thinking of a pairing with barbeque. Among others we liked were a Pinot Noir, Blush, and a pleasantly surprising Riesling that was right in our sweet spot. We aren’t sure where the grapes originate for Vizzini Farms’ Riesling, but we recommend it as a “must try”. Crisp and a bit sweeter than many Rieslings, we wish we’d bought more than one bottle.

Less than 10 minutes away, only a mile off exit 228 near the town of Calera, is the beautiful and welcoming Ozan Vineyard and Cellars. If you’re pressed for time and can only visit one winery in Alabama, Ozan is a good choice. Situated on a 24 acre estate in the midst of Alabama wine country, this relatively new winery boasts a continually expanding vineyard with emphasis on the Norton grape.

Ozan’s Wine Train

One of Ozan Vineyard’s more interesting projects is their monthly wine train excursion, which combines wine tasting with a leisurely train ride through the countryside. Operating from April through November, each trip offers a different environmental focus, depending on the season. These Saturday journeys last three hours and include wine tasting, gourmet box lunch, and theme narration. See Ozan’s website for more details.

We settled in for a taste of Ozan’s Norton Red Label. Norton wines are fast becoming our red wine favorite, having been introduced to the style in Missouri and southern Illinois. We weren’t surprised to see it here, as the countryside reminded us of central Missouri. This wine is big and bold, with an appealing black cherry flavor and mildly oakey finish. Also try the Reserve Merlot, vinted from local grapes and aged for 16 months.

For something sweeter, there’s Ozan Peach. Peach wines are big in Alabama and this one is really good! Very pleasant and well made, it’s not overwhelmingly sweet and has the aroma and flavor of farm fresh peaches.

There are almost a dozen wines to try here, with special releases planned through 2009. Only minutes off I-65, it’s an ideal stop between Birmingham and Montgomery. Ozan is a big supporter of the Alabama Wine Trail and helps enhance promotion of the Alabama wine industry. They’re open Fridays and Saturdays, 11-6.

Down I-65 To Montgomery

Less than an hour from Ozan is Alabama’s historic state capital, Montgomery. Located in the heart of Montgomery’s downtown a few short blocks from the Alabama River is a Montgomery landmark, Daisy’s Diner. Daisy’s is southern cooking personified. There’s a set menu at Daisy’s, and daily specials, usually focused around a “meat and three”. This means you’ll get one meat and three side dishes. From the moment we walked in, we were mesmerized by the scent of fried chicken, which was nothing short of outstanding. The outer breading was crisp and tasty, the chicken itself moist and tender. We also ordered a plate of meatloaf, with buttered corn, squash casserole, and turnip greens on the side. What a delicious introduction to Montgomery!

With just over 200,000 residents, Montogomery isn’t particularly large. It’s easy to navigate, especially the walkable downtown area. The city is rich in history, with numerous civil rights landmark sites. The best place to start is historic Union Station, an 1890’s era building housing the Montgomery Visitors Center. We viewed a short video overview of the city and visited “The Depot”, Montgomery’s official gift shop. You can also buy $1 all day passes to the Montgomery Trolley System, which will transport you all around the downtown area.

From here, your choices are many. Visit and tour the Alabama Capitol, explore historical sites, or spend an afternoon amidst the speciality shops on Mulberry Street. This is a government town, so the downtown is bustling, especially during the day.

We enjoyed meeting some local Montgomerians, who were delighted we were spending some time in their city. They claim many tourists bypass Montgomery on their way to the Gulf Coast and never experience the city’s charms. We enjoyed our visit very much, and recommend a day or two stay for anyone traveling through Alabama.

On The Road To Perdido

Our next morning’s agenda pointed us south on I-65 for the 170 mile ride to one of our favorite seaside destinations, Mobile. About 30 miles outside of the city, you’ll find Alabama’s oldest and southernmost farm winery, Perdido Vinyards. This was our first stop of the late morning.

Since 1983, Perdido Vineyards has been a stalwart of the blossoming Alabama wine industry. Open six days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Perdido welcomes visitors and offers winery and vineyard tours to individuals and groups. They specialize in muscadine table wines but also produce a surprising array of other wine styles.

Perdido is a great place to get acquainted with muscadine wines. This prolific grape is common in southern states and is a traditional sipping wine enjoyed by generations of southerners. If you like sweet wines, they’re right up your alley. We found Perdido’s to be very well made. Muscadine wines are a bit too sweet for our liking, but that’s not a knock on them at all. After all, the best wine is the one you enjoy the most! As our tastes trend toward semi dry wines, we’ll like some wines you won’t, and vice versa. Taste, compare, enjoy, and tell your friends. That’s what wine travel is all about, right?

For our palate, Perdido’s Demopolis Ecor Blanc was a fine discovery. This semi dry white has mild tropical fruit flavors and an extremely well balanced finish. This one came home with us, as did Delta Bouquet, an enjoyable blush wine with just a tinge of sweetness. And if you’re headed out to the Gulf Coast beaches, don’t pass up Perdido’s Wine Coolers, the newest addition to their product line.

Mobile: Gateway To The Gulf Coast

When describing Mobile to friends, we often compare the city to its Gulf Coast neighbor, New Orleans. There’s a similar pace and a wonderful mix of cultures in both cities. But as much as we enjoy New Orleans, we enjoy Mobile even more. Maybe it’s the close proximity to such natural attractions as Dauphin Island. Maybe it’s the safeness and walkability of the downtown area. And maybe it’s because Mobile is a bit of the underdog, in the shadow of it’s more prominent neighbor. Whatever the reason, if you like all the good things about New Orleans, you’ll love Mobile.

Here’s another parallel … did you know Mobile is the birthplace of Mardi Gras in North America? Mobile first celebrated the Mardi Gras tradition over 300 years ago, in 1703. Every February, Mobile throws a huge two week party to celebrate the event, with parades and all sorts of revelry. In fact, Mobile is known as home to “America’s Family Mardi Gras”. There’s even a special store devoted to the event, Toomey’s Mardi Gras.

The city itself hugs the western shore of Mobile Bay, a large inlet that merges with the Gulf of Mexico 10 miles to the south. Ecotourism is big here, with all sorts of spectacular natural sights in this subtropical climate. Even in January, we enjoyed temperatures hovering right at 70 degrees with gentle breezes and flowers in bloom all around the city. Nature has truly blessed this area, making the Mobile area a one-of-a-kind waterfront destination.

Summing It All Up

We chatted with one of the shopkeepers about our Alabama wine travels, and she responded “Alabama is beautiful before a glass of wine, and after!”. We couldn’t agree more. This is truly an underrated vacation spot. If you’re a foodie, you’ll love the southern cooking, the barbecue, and of course the fresh seafood. If you’re into history or the outdoors, Alabama has you covered with friendly cities, clean and clear mountain areas, and the compelling Gulf Coast.

And finally, if you’re a wine lover, hopefully we’ve given you a glimpse into the Alabama wine industry. May you enjoy your Alabama travels as much as we did!

Are you interested in learning about unique, largely undiscovered wine travel destinations? If so, Wine Trails USA should be your very first destination! Join us as we explore over 100 U.S. wine trails and get insider tips on wineries, attractions, and local food specialties. Vist us at: http://www.winetrailsusa.com.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation 2016

leadville train 5

by Marshall Lewis

 

     This summer was unlike any other that I have had.  I say this because I got to visit other states.  These states included Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and a little bit of Arizona.  It was an awesome experience!  I recommend going to these places even if you weren’t thinking about it. 

     We left my hometown of Gorum, Louisiana at 5:30 A.M., and we picked up Johnathon and Emmett Bull at Flora, Louisiana at 6;00 A.M.  Then we headed toward Amarillo, Texas.  We stopped at Shreveport for a Taco Bell breakfast, and then stopped at the Texas Tourist Bureau for maps and brochures.  When we got to Dallas, we took a wrong turn and had to get turned around.  We had driven about 13 hours when we arrived in Amarillo at the hotel.  We ate fried chicken for supper and went to the swimming pool.

     On Saturday morning we drove through New Mexico and arrived at the Manitou Cliff Dwellings at Manitou Springs where we toured the ruins and pueblos containing the museum and gift shops.  We spent 2 nights at the Ramada Monument.  The next morning we went to the Royal Gorge Amusement Park.  This place was so cool!  Even though it is located on top of two mountains, there is a cable car that will take you across the gorge, over 2000 feet below, so that you get the best view of the place, or you can walk across the long bridge.  We also went to the Dinosaur Resource Museum, outside of Colorado Springs.  That was o.k. 

     The next day we went to Leadville, Colorado to the Israel Museum.  We ate some bad food at a local cafe and rode the train up the mountain.  I fell asleep on the way up the mountain, but I managed to stay awake on the trip down the mountain.  It was a long ride, but it was worth it!  From the train station, we drove up through the mountains to Fruita, Colorado where we stayed at Monument RV Resort. 

     On the 13th of July, we drove into Utah for the first time. We went to Arches National Park and also Canyonlands that day.  The next day we drove to Dinosaur, Colorado to Dinosaur National  Monument.  At the Visitor Center we got on the shuttle bus and rode to the quarry.  There was a huge wall of fossils on the side of the mountain that we could see.  It was enclosed in a two-story building and very interesting. 

     The next morning we went to the Colorado National Monument, which was a couple of miles from Monument RV Resort.  Then we drove to Naturita, Colorado and spent 4 more days at High Country RV. This was a great place to stay even though I slept in a tent!  The San Miguel River was great as well.  It was a couple of blocks away, with a nice park beside it.  The river was clear to the bottom, with rapids in the middle, a shallow area by the park, and some deep spots on the other side.  I went swimming in it a few times.  The last night there I cooked for everyone and they seemed to enjoy it.  The dish of bow tie pasta with chicken and alfredo sauce was empty!

     We headed to Blanding, Utah the next morning.  Through the canyon area, a front end noise that we thought was  the cv joint was getting louder, so we pulled over and got out of the van.  The lug nuts on the left front tire had to be tightened.  We had already lost one.  We stopped again at the base of the canyon and tightened them again.  Slowly we went up through Slick Rock Canyon and made it out to a straight section, when w had to stop on the road.  Only one lug nut was barely holding the tire on the car.  We spent the afternoon on the side of the road, with 1 bar of AT&T service and the Allstate Road Service refusing to take our information because the phone kept fading in and out.  The Allstate Insurance Office in Mansfield, Louisiana spent 2 hours trying to help us, with no luck.  Finally help came when the Colorado Department of Transportation came to our rescue.  They went up the mountain, called a wrecker, had a mechanic to wait for us at the Ford place in Dove Creek, and even called Napa at Dove Creek to make sure they had the right parts for the wheel.  We had the wheel fixed and then were on our way to Blanding.  That night we ate at the A & W Restaurant, watched a lightening storm, and went bowling with Johnathon Bull.  I beat him 3 times in a row, but we had fun.    

     The next day we went to a dinosaur museum and to the water park.  We had a lot of fun.  The last night in Blanding, we all went bowling.  Emmett Bull won at the end of the first game, but in true fashion, I won overall at the end of the second game.  We also went to Natural Bridges National Park, which was a great place. 

     On the way to Albuquerque, we stopped at the Four Corners Monument, which was very hot at mid-day.  Later, we stopped to eat at Burger King, then drove on to our hotel.  It was being evacuated due to a transformer blowing up.  The manager at Cascada Hotel made arrangements for us to stay at Home 2 Suites by Hilton.  We went to Hinkles Amusement Park on Saturday and 2 museums on Sunday.  We saw a laser light show at the planetarium that night, but I fell asleep during the main part.  When they played AC DC, I woke up and recorded that on my phone. 

     On Monday we went to Petroglyph National Park and walked the Lower Canyon Trail and the Macaw Trail in Boca Negra Canyon.  That afternoon we moved to the Rodeway Inn.  The next day we played games  and rode go-carts all day at Hinkles Family Fun Park. Another day we went to Cliff’s Amusement Park.  I got to ride a roller coaster there for the first time.  I rode it 5 more times after that.  We went to another laser show about Orion, which was o.k.  The next day we drove back to Amarillo. We stopped at Cline’s Corner for souvenirs and junk food, then we stopped at the Cadillac Ranch on the edge of Amarillo. They let you paint on the cars,  so in big, bright yellow letters I painted LSU on the first one.  We stayed one night at the Travel Lodge, then at last, headed home.  So 3 weeks in all – that was the trip! 

     I would also like to say THANK YOU to Mrs. Mellissa Coles, Mrs. Marjorie Bull, and Mr. Jimmy Bull for making this experience possible for me.  Thank you for everything. 

 

 

Fishing the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Zoie Clift, travel writer
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
Arkansas is home to more than 600,000 acres of lakes. Among these are five in Southwest Arkansas collectively known as the Diamond Lakes. These are Lake Ouachita and Lake Hamilton at Hot Springs, Lake Catherine near Malvern, DeGray Lake at Arkadelphia and Lake Greeson between Glenwood and Murfreesboro.
Arkansas angler and fishing expert Billy Murray has extensive knowledge of these waters. The Hot Springs native, who was recently inducted into the National Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, started his career over 50 years ago as a fishing guide at Lake Ouachita. He enjoys fishing all of the lakes of the state, including the Diamond Lakes.
“Each body of water has its own personality,” he said. “The characteristics of each are different and the fisheries have different species available and are on different river systems. Within our five-lake area here we have almost any type of water you would like for recreation. Our wealth is in our water. We are so fortunate to have what we have. It’s a boon to Arkansas and gives our people the opportunity to go out and enjoy our state.”
Below, Murray shares his insight on each of the five lakes.
Lake Ouachita
Lake Ouachita is surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest. The 40,100-acre lake is well known for fishing and consistently ranks as one of the top 10 spots in the nation for largemouth bass fishing. The lake has more than 100 uninhabited islands for camping and on the eastern shore is Lake Ouachita State Park.
“Lake Ouachita is the largest lake we have in the state. It is a wilderness lake. It has no homes on it. It is there for flood control, and the lake fluctuates greatly up and down depending on rain and drought. It has multiple species available in the lake, the main ones being bass, striper, walleye and crappie. Each one of these species has a different niche in the water. They don’t cohabitat; they have their own area of the lake they live in. The lake is able to generate more of these fish because of the extensive amount of water fluctuation it has.
“It is probably the premier striper fishing lake in the state. It has a tremendous population with many fish caught being over 30 pounds. And it is one of the few lakes in Arkansas you can go out and target walleye and catch them. Walleye is normally a northern species found in the northern part of the country. The bass population is good, too. You have largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, which are catch and release only, and then there is Kentucky spotted bass. The length limit on the largemouth and spotted bass is 13 inches, which gives these fish a chance to get to maturity before they can be taken out of the lake.
“The river system that feeds Lake Ouachita has got more lakes on it than any other river system in our state. You have Lake Ouachita, Lake Hamilton and Lake Catherine, all on the same river, which is the Ouachita River. So it is a very diverse fishery in that it has huge amounts of big open water, which is not only good for outdoor recreation such as fishing, but it is also a big recreation lake for swimming, skiing, scuba diving; it is a multi use reservoir. And it has somewhere around 1300 miles of shoreline. So it’s a huge body of water. The one thing that makes it so unique is it has huge tributaries that go off of the main body of the lake. It’s serpentine shaped with creeks that go 6 or 7 miles off the main body of the lake. And it has all of the things in it that promote a good fishery, which is grass, standing timber, big open water areas, and lots of long huge shallow flats. Each one of these types of areas is what promotes different species of fish. The big open areas are the striper areas; the long creeks off of the lake are where most of the bass fishing is done. And most of the walleye fishing is done on the ledges and humps that are out in the main body of the lake.”
Lake Hamilton
Downstream from Lake Ouachita is Lake Hamilton. It is of the state’s most popular recreational and residential lakes. Garvan Woodland Gardens is a lakeshore botanical garden that can be accessed by the lake via boat, and Scenic 7 Byway crosses the lake.
“This is a residential lake. It has homes, motels, restaurants, all types of businesses right on the shoreline of the lake. It’s what we call a constant level lake. It doesn’t fluctuate when you get large rains. They try to hold it at a constant level mainly because they don’t want it to flood a bunch of people’s houses. Lake Ouachita is the lake they control the water level in the Ouachita River with. It’s the one that when it rains real hard they just stop the water right there and start letting out the lakes below so they won’t flood.
“Lake Hamilton is a much narrower lake than Lake Ouachita. It is kind of long and skinny and doesn’t have lots of big open water. It has no standing timber in it and very little grass. So the habitat is more limited than on Ouachita. The main shallow water habitat is boat docks. This is where all of the shallow water cover comes from. Lake Hamilton has a lot of boat docks; it’s a residential lake. It also has largemouth bass, stripers, walleyes and crappie. The main fishing time here is usually early spring and winter because in the summer it has thousands and thousands of boaters and skiers on it; it’s a high-traffic body of water. But it is very important to our area because of how much recreation is on it.”
Lake Catherine
If you continue downstream, the next lake is Lake Catherine. Situated on the lakeshore is Lake Catherine State Park. Though 11 miles long, the lake covers a mere 1,940 acres, nestled in narrow valleys of the Ouachita Mountains.
“This is a much shallower lake than the other two previous lakes above it. There is water in excess of 300 feet deep in Lake Ouachita. It’s a deep and really clear lake. As you come downstream, the lakes gets shallower. Lake Catherine is the shallowest lake in the chain, and the smallest. It is simply a river channel lake. It has huge flats with lots of stumps, no standing timber and very little grass. Parks and Wildlife sources say there are more fish per acres of water here than in the previous two lakes mentioned.
“Lake Catherine is also a residential lake; there are homes on it. And it is a constant-level lake; it does not fluctuate except in the wintertime. They lower it usually around the 1st of November so that everyone who lives on the lake can repair boat docks and work on shorelines. So it stays low in the winter and then they raise it again in the spring. This is for both Lake Hamilton and Lake Catherine. Catherine has the same species of fish in it which is bass, stripers, walleyes and crappie, mostly game fish. There is probably less traffic on it than the other two previously mentioned lakes, too.”
DeGray Lake
This 13,400 acre lake is home to the state’s only resort state park: DeGray Lake Resort State Park.
“Lake Ouachita, Lake Hamilton and Lake Catherine are all Ouachita River reservoirs. DeGray Lake is our newest reservoir we have built here in the Diamond Lakes area. It was built in the early 70s and is on the Caddo River, which is one of the state’s premier floating streams. For people who like to river fish or float a river, it’s a very scenic river before it gets to the lake. There are outfitters in Glenwood and Caddo Gap that rent canoes and send people downriver on float trips. The river doesn’t get too big or too swift, it’s a really nice float. Most of this is done in the summertime so people can enjoy the river. It’s a nice outing and good fishing as well as floating and a real scenic small river.
“DeGray Lake has DeGray Lake Resort State Park. It is really the only facility on the lake besides Iron Mountain, which is the big marina right at the dam. And there are multiple campgrounds. For lake size, DeGray Lake probably has more campgrounds on it than any other lake; it is very accessible to the public. It’s a wilderness lake which means the water level fluctuates a lot. It may fluctuate anywhere between 15 and 25 feet a year. It comes up in the spring and down in the winter.
“This large amount of water fluctuation is one of the things that contributes to it being a really good fishery, because it floods in the spring and all of the young fish have a place to hide in the springtime to grow big enough to where they can live in a very competitive environment. They don’t have to get out there and fend for themselves among all these larger fish. When that happens, everyone gets eaten. So when it floods in the spring during the spawn, they have a place to go hide. They are semi-adults by the time they have to pull out of that flooded cover. DeGray does not have stripers in it, like the other lakes we have in our area. But it does have a good hybrid striped bass population, largemouth, Kentucky bass and crappie.”
Lake Greeson
The 12-mile-long, 7,000-acre lake features clear waters and steep, rocky ridges that form islands and long peninsulas extending into the lake. Around the lake shore is Daisy State Park.
“Lake Greeson is on the Little Missouri River. It’s the hidden diamond of them all. It is the smallest of the five lakes and has two marinas on it, one at Self Creek and one at Swaha Lodge. It is not a residential lake, it’s a flood control. So it has lots of water fluctuation; it is up in the spring, down in the winter. Of all of the lakes we have mentioned, it is probably one of the best fishing lakes we have. It has a tremendous bass and crappie population and large creeks that run off the main body of water.
“As far as habitat goes, it has no grass and no standing timber, which usually the more grass and timber you have, the more fish growing habitat you have. But this lake has none. But the water level does go up and down during the year, which contributes to it having a larger fish population. The lake has huge rock bluffs and is very scenic. It has a tremendous amount of water flow that goes through it because it is small and a tremendous amount of campgrounds, launching ramps, and access facilities to the lake.”

Unique and Fun Things to Do in Santa Fe, NM

By Sean M Nash 

 

Santa Fe is a city with a rich and vibrant history. The earliest known inhabitants settled in Santa Fe around 900 A.D. Since that time, a number of different cultures have claimed the land as their own. In 1912, it was incorporated as part of New Mexico as the 47th state. In an effort to preserve the history of this extraordinary place, many of the original structures have been preserved and newer ones are subject to strict building codes. A culturally significant society, Santa Fe was the first city in the U.S to be listed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). With so much history and beauty, it should come as no surprise that over a million visitors flock to this city each year. Go see for yourself what Santa Fe has for you.

 

Annual Events

 

Often when people travel they coordinate it with events or festivities. Year round cultural events dot the calendar with unique and fun things to do. One such event is the Burning of Zozobra during the Santa Fe Fiesta in September. It is said to be the oldest community event in the United States. The festival centers on the peaceful reoccupation of Don Diego de Vargas in 1692. This September marks the 300 year anniversary of this celebration. Some other worthwhile events to mark your calendar for in town are the Rodeo de Santa Fe in June, Santa Fe Wine Festival in July, and Las Posadas in December.

 

Enjoying the Outdoors

 

Santa Fe offers a wonderful landscape full of color and special geographic features which make it great for visitors with different outdoor interests. The Rio Grande offers up to class six on the rapids. Guided tours like those offered by Santa Fe Rafting can lead you down either path. Skiing, snowboarding, and other snowy fun can be had atop the Sangre de Cristos Mountains from Thanksgiving to about Easter. As if Santa Fe was designed by nature to impress, there are dramatic cliffs and terrain as far as the eye can see. Hiking and horseback riding are popular as a result of the aesthetic charm and vast landscape. We recommend checking out Hermits Peak when in Santa Fe for a great trail of moderate difficulty with endless rewards.

 

Historical Sites

 

Santa Fe was settled long before it became part of the United States and has managed to preserve a lot of the structures from its history. The capital itself is one of the oldest cities in the U.S. The “oldest house” or De Vargas Street house is said to have been built in 1610 and is quaint but rich with historical significance and value. The Palace of the Governors and San Miguel Mission also share “oldest” distinctions and are great for wandering around or day dreaming yourself back in time. Again, the community and government restrictions make many efforts to keep the historical nuance intact so you won’t have to look far for something different from your typical box stores and high rises.

 

Museums

 

There are not too many travel destinations in the U.S where you’ll find the number and quality of museums to be so top notch. There are two places that really concentrate those efforts and that would be in the aptly named Museum Hill and in and around the Palace Of The Governors. There are more museums than any one trip will allow so check around as I’m sure there are several which will appeal to each type of traveler. The Museum of International Folk Art offers the largest collection of folk art in the world. Or there’s the Museum of Indian Art where the curators take a then and now approach to displaying native collections of art in partnership with elders, tribal members, and scholars. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is celebrating its 15 year anniversary and is the most visited museum of New Mexico. The list goes on to reflect much of the art of the South West while having diversity and a fresh look into each subject.

 

Other Stuff

 

If you need a drink or want to dance or both Santa Fe has that too. Some bars have great outdoor patios such as La Casa Sena Cellar Lounge and Bishops Lodge among others. If you like a dive bar there’s Matador. There are multiple bars with live music, with local market food, and others that just want to pour drinks down your throat. It is said that New Mexico is the birthplace of vineyards in the U.S. If this is true then you can experience some of that by looking up Estrella Del Norte vineyards or Haak Vineyards for that. To forget about the Opera would be a tragedy. The stage and setting are well designed to engage guests as well as allowing them to drift off into the surrounding environment. Well known for their tailgating, I’d recommend you at least take a moment to check out the vibe. When in Santa Fe don’t be afraid to do the other stuff but do make time for the many things that make it unlike anywhere else in the country.

 

Visit http://www.MHNsaves.com for more articles about different and fun things to do while on your trip. Also, while on the site, enjoy the benefits of free membership to get the best prices on hotel stays and car rentals.

 

 

 

In and Around Santa Fe, New Mexico

By John Pelley  |   Co-Author: Maggie Pelley 

 

Visiting in and around Santa Fe, New Mexico opens up the eyes of each individual. Over four hundred years of culture and history, a walk on the streets of Santa Fe is a walk through time. Early settlers from the East found their way via the Santa Fe Trail. Today you can arrive via plane, train and auto. Be aware that the streets around the main plaza are very narrow. Out lying ones have the mechanical coin meters at $1.00 per hour. A commuter train runs frequently during the day from Belen through Albuquerque to Santa Fe. The bus transit system offers free rides to train ticket holders. The rate for seniors is only $0.50 or $1.00 all day. Remember this, flatlanders, when you walk around sightseeing. You are over 7,00 feet. Seeing Santa Fe takes your breath away in more ways than one.

 

Ask residents for “The Round House” and they will give you directions to the Capital building, a four-story circular building with a plaza in the form of the Zia Sun symbol, which also appears on the state flag. The three top floors are open for a self-guided tour. Check out the Visitor information desk on the main level and you might get lucky to meet Sarah Duran, a local resident with a font of knowledge. What she does not know, she will find out.

 

The Capital complex was dedicated in 1966. What is striking about the building is the use of space and the numerous art works hanging from all of the walls. The artists depict the many aspects of New Mexico: natural beauty, the beauty of the indigenous people, the Spanish colonialism, and modern New Mexico with all of its diversity.

 

The fourth floor houses the Offices of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor. The Governor’s Gallery, started in 19+73, focuses on local art and artists as an outreach branch of the Museum of Fine Arts.

 

The third floor has many offices of the 42 Senators elected every four years and 70 Representatives elected every two years. They have to be citizens and residents of their district. Besides that they do not receive a salary, only a per diem and a mileage allowance. They meet for 60 days in odd-numbered years and 30 days in even-numbered years. Albuquerque and its environs comprise almost one-quarter of the legislators, because the districts are measured by population. Eat your hearts out other states with inflated salaries for their legislators.

 

The second floor, the main floor, houses the galleries for the Senate and Representative chambers. Both are up-to-date with modern technical innovations. Both have the Great seal of New Mexico behind the front desk. The rotunda floor also depicts the seal. Little has changed since 1851. The American bald eagle shields the smaller Mexican eagle. The bald eagle grasps three arrows in its talons. The harpy eagle has a snake in its mouth and a cactus in his talons. This goes back to an ancient Aztec story, in which the gods told the Aztecs to settle where they saw such an eagle portrayed. Under them the state motto reads “Crescit Eundo” (It Grows as it Goes).

 

Sarah recommended a restaurant down the street called The Upper Crust Pizza Parlor, which was voted best in Santa Fe. For under $5.00 Monday to Friday from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM you can get a large slice of pizza with one topping of your choice, a small salad, and a beverage. The pizza was delicious. I had spicy Thai dressing on my salad. It lived up to its name. The sodas we had were great. My wife chose a Way2Cool Root Beer, made in Carrizozo, NM. Outstanding!! I chose a Blue Sky Lemon Lime Soda, made with natural ingredients. Outstanding too!!

 

The restaurant is directly across from San Miguel Mission Church, which dates back to Spanish Colonial times and rebuilt after the 1680s Pueblo Revolt. The church is still active for the people who live in the Barrio de Analco.

 

Next to the restaurant stands a building which claims to be “the oldest house in the USA”. The house dates back to the Analco People in the 1200s, then Spanish Colonization in 1607. Today the property houses a gallery, which happened to be closed at that time.

 

Continue walking down the old Santa Fe Trail. It ends at La Fonda, a luxury hotel. It was part of the Harvey House Empire during the late 19th century and early 20th century. The hotel has been there since the early 1800s as reflected the hotel’s stated roots: “The Inn at the End of the Santa Fe Trail”. La Fonda, which means inn, faces the Plaza. Some of the famous residents of the hotel were Captain William Becknell, who arrived in 1821 after a successful trading expedition from Missouri to Santa Fe opening the Santa Fe Trail and Ernie Pyle, the World War II journalist.

 

Directly across the street from the La Fonda Hotel on the Santa Fe Trail stands Loretto Chapel. This Gothic chapel features “the miraculous staircase”. Legend states that St. Joseph came to the chapel and built it in one night. This stand-alone spiral wooden staircase has no supporting beams. The woodcarvings are intricate in design. Whoever built it was a master carpenter and wood carver. A visit to Loretto Chapel is worth a trip to Santa Fe by itself.

 

Surrounding the plaza are many specialty shops and a highly recommended restaurant, the Plaza Café, which has been in business for generations, serving local food at moderate prices. Thanks again to Sarah. Along the North side of the plaza is the Hall of Governors, closed on Mondays. Under the portico are numerous Natives selling their turquoise jewelry. They sit, waiting patiently for someone to show interest in their wares. Around the plaza are numerous food venders with local delicacies for sale.

 

Catty corner to the plaza is the Museum of Fine Arts with permanent and temporary exhibits. Between Palace and San Francisco Streets is Burro Alley. A bronze statue of a burdened burro guards the entrance to the alley. Next to it is Lensic Theater, in which concerts are held. On the wall of one of the buildings going back towards the Plaza along San Francisco Street stating that Billy the Kid was incarcerated there for a time awaiting trial and sentencing in Mesilla. At the East end of San Francisco Street is St. Francis Cathedral, which is surrounded by scaffolding for renovation.

 

Other interesting attractions in Santa Fe are the Georgia O’Keefe Museum, which features many of her works. Canyon Road has many galleries, exhibiting local artists. Going South along Cerrillos Street stands New Mexico School for the Deaf. They have a theater, in which plays are performed. North West of the city is the world famous Santa Fe Opera. Their season is in July and August at this beautiful venue set in the mountains.

 

Continue North on Rte 285 to Chimayo. Pilgrims have been making this trek since 1810 to The Santuario de Chimayo looking for physical and spiritual healing. Lourdes healing properties is from its water. Chimayo’s healing is from dirt found at the crucifix of Our Lord of Esquipulas. Pilgrims are instructed to rub the dirt on the parts of the body to be healed. The Church replaces to dirt, approximately twenty tons a year. The grounds are beautiful and a tributary of the Rio Grande River runs behind the property. The priest that the sanctuary is a member of the Sons of the Holy Family order. He is very friendly and personable.

 

The next destination is Bandelier National Monument high in the Jemez Mountains. The monument preserves to extensive ruins of the Pueblo People, who came into the region over 10,000 years ago. Adolph Bandelier traveled the area in 1880s and was shown the pueblo in the Frijoles Canyon by the natives. He wrote a novel, The Delight Makers, depicting Pueblo life before the Spanish incursion into the area. The park is named for him.

 

Archeological surveys record at least 3,00 sites in the Monument. An easy trail about one mile in length takes you to the Long House carved out of the volcanic rock on the cliff face. The Long House is an 800-foot stretch. Ladders lead inside the dwellings. On the cliff face are pictographs and petroglyphs, depicting faces and geometric designs. Many other ruins are below on the canyon floor.

 

The people were hunter-gatherers and farmers, planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers. In the mid 1500s the people moved to different areas. The Pueblos of Cochiti, San Felipe, Santo Domingo, San Ildefonse, Santa Clara, and Zuni contribute to the preservation and interpretation of these historic sites.

 

All along Rte 4 you see signs that read LANL, keep out. The reason for this is Los Alamos is only a few miles away. Los Alamos was the home for The Manhattan Project during World War II. Today the major employer is the Department of Energy Los Alamos National Laboratory. The Laboratory is finding continuing uses for nuclear energy focusing on national security.

 

The town itself has all the amenities of a modern city with a wealthy employer. Visit the Bradbury Science Museum. It is not named for Ray, the famous science fiction author, but for Norris, the man who continued the work of the LANL after World War II.

 

The museum is a hands on experience about the discovery, use, misuse, and disposal of nuclear waste. Especially interesting are the movies. One tells the story of the town of Los Alamos called The Town that Never Was. The Manhattan Project was conceived in Manhattan, New York and enlisted scientists from many universities and private laboratories. Communication was marginal, if at all. The Government wanted a secret place far from either coast. Los Alamos was chosen. A private school for boys stood on the land. The government took it over and built the town. It looked more like a frontier town with muddy streets, prefab housing, and isolation. The mailing address was PO Box 1663, Santa Fe, NM. This appeared on the driver licenses and birth certificates. Top secret was the norm. After the first explosion at Trinity in White Sands, NM and after the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the town of Los Alamos was unveiled.

 

Two other places of interest in town are The Fuller Lodge, which served as the dining hall during the Manhattan Project, and the Los Alamos Historical Museum, which interprets life in this region.

 

Leaving Los Alamos, we continued on Rte 4 through the Jimez Mountains. The crest is over 9,000 feet. This opens to the Valles Caldera, a twelve-mile diameter caldera left from the volcanic eruptions over one million years ago. The caldera is grassland surrounded by forests and mountains. Continue on through Jemez Pueblo and Rte 550 East. This takes you to Bernalillo and I-25. Going north will take you back to Santa Fe and South to Albuquerque.

 

John and Maggie Pelley are Geriatric Gypsies. During our travels we have found many different and exciting places. Each town has a story to tell. Both of us enjoy good listening music as we go. John has a CD he has recorded. For pictures, links, and more information visit [http://www.jmpelley.org]

The Santa Fe Railroad And Its Famous Passenger Trains

By Joelyn Pullano 

 

The Santa Fe was possibly America’s most famous railroad and definitely one of the most successful. Freight and passengers rode over the Santa Fe rails form the 1860s until 1995 when the AT & SF merged with Burlington Northern to form the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad.

 

The Santa Fe became one of the strongest rail carriers in North America, it served as a distribution system for imports, exports, food products and manufactured goods produced in the United States. For all it’s successes as a freight carrier, the Santa Fe was most remembered for its fleet of stylish passenger trains, several of which ran until 1971. The railroads first passenger train was the 1892 inauguration of the California Limited, which was the premier train on the road’s Chicago-Los Angeles route. This was followed by the 1911 debut of the extra-fare De Luxe between Chicago and Los Angeles, then, on November 14, 1926, a legend was born, the Chief, another extra-fare Chicago-Los Angeles Train. All three of these lines were pulled by steam locomotives.

 

Santa Fe was intrigued by the prospect of dieselization and thought diesel-electric power was a good way to cut costs on its desert operations, where water for steam locomotives was at a premium. On May 12, 1936, the railroad introduced the all-sleeping-car Super Chief, yet another entry in the Chicago-Los Angeles market, and the first to be non-steam-powered, being pulled by a pair of diesel locomotives built by General Motors-owned Electro-Motive Corporation (EMC). Santa Fe’s EMC boxcabs, where popularly known as The Twins and are generally considered the first commercially built high-speed passenger diesels. With diesel power the train was able to make the 2,000 mile trip in just 39 hours and 45 minutes, 15 hours faster than the best steam-powered run.

 

A year later in May of 1937, the Super Chief received all new equipment, emerging as Santa Fe’s first lightweight streamliner. Its new streamlined EMC diesels debuted what was destined to become one of the most famous railroad paint schemes in the world, the red, silver, black and yellow, “war bonnet”. This scheme was designed by EMC designer Leland A. knickerbocker, and was specifically intended for the stylish streamlined E1 locomotive. It was applied to numerous other locomotives over the years and remains among the most recognizable of railroad paint schemes. For the next 40 plus years, these colors would appear on all locomotives regularly assigned to Santa Fe passenger trains.

 

In 1938, the all-coach streamliner El Capitan was launched as the Super Chief’s companion train – the two ran only a few minutes apart- serving economy travelers who wanted a fast trip over the main line. As the years went by, more Chiefs joined the fleet. 1948 saw the addition of the Texas Chief that ran on the Chicago-fort Worth-Houston line, and 1954’s San Francisco Chief that ran on the Chicago-Kansas City-Amarillo-San Francisco line. During this period the Super Chief was upgraded and now sported new sleeping cars, diner car, and its famous Pleasure Dome Lounge.

 

The Pleasure Dome car featured a classy lounge on its main level, while the upstairs dome section contained a raft of individual, fully rotating seats for viewing. Unique to the Pleasure Dome car was the Turquoise Room dining area beneath the dome section, which was a private dining room that could be reserved for groups and served from the adjacent diner’s kitchen.

 

Through consistent service and periodic upgrading and innovation, the Santa Fe gained a reputation of operating the finest passenger trains in North America. This was a reputation held until Amtrak assumed operation of selected Santa Fe passenger trains on May 01, 1971. Throughout history, Santa Fe’s Super Chief was often cited as the world’s best and most famous passenger train.

 

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New Mexico Travel

By Max Bellamy 

 

A journey to New Mexico can be a very enthralling and enchanting experience. The state, with its diversity, can be a unique travel experience, offering culturally and traditionally rich places as well as breathtaking natural beauty and charm. Travel can include cycling through the beautiful locales of the Kit Carson National Forest or the Rio Grande Gorge.

 

A journey to cites like Santa Fe and Taos not only acquaints the tourists with the rich cultural heritage but also satisfies the adventurous streak in them. While the former city is famous for art, literature and music and the desert, the latter is known for being a world- class skiing resort. The rare opportunity of viewing the works of George O’Keefe ad R.C Gorman in Santa Fe makes the whole experience memorable. A trip to the city of Albuquerque in New Mexico is ideal for indulging in horse racing, visiting the historic towns, national monuments, the tramway and participating in the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which is the largest and the one of its kind, in the world.

 

Traveling to New Mexico also assures exposure to the diverse Spanish, Mexican and native cultures. Similarly, Las Vegas with over 900 historical buildings is a traveler’s paradise. In northwestern New Mexico, are the Aztec ruins. The journey to New Mexico is incomplete without visiting the national parks in Carlsbad called the Carlsbad Caverns National Park and The Lincoln National Forest, in Ruidoso. Cloudcroft is the perfect place for ice- skating cross-country. In southwest New Mexico, the places worth touring are Deming, Las Cruces and Silver city with its famous Gila National Forest. New Mexico offers the unique combination of the old and new, classic and contemporary lifestyles and is a haven for tourists. A planned holiday makes the trip more enjoyable and adventurous.

 

New Mexico [http://www.NewMexico-Web.com] provides detailed information on New Mexico, New Mexico Travel, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Santa Fe, New Mexico and more. New Mexico is affiliated with Discount Philadelphia Hotels [http://www.e-PhiladelphiaHotels.com].

 

All Seasons RV Travel Fun In New Mexico

By Marley Martinerin 

 

No matter what time of year you’re looking for RV travel fun in New Mexico another world awaits. There are some important measures to take before you head out on your trip, and some involve the very draw of New Mexico – the open area and mountains!

 

If you’re traveling to New Mexico, make sure you have proper equipment. This can mean chains for snowy winter mountain passes, an eye towards brakes and radiators dealing with steep slopes and being safe when operating your RV. Remember that open area can mean wildlife as well as livestock.

 

The beauty of New Mexico is the biggest reason to go. The “Land of Enchantment” offers a chance to be in a group, at a festival or off on your own. One of the big annual draws is the annual Red Rock Balloon Rally near Gallup – if you’re looking for an RV spot at this time be sure to plan well in advance!

 

Skiing or hiking can be another way to enjoy the beauty of the state, and will vary depending on the part of the state. The cities are bustling with activity but there’s also great expanses for the nature lover to explore. A centennial celebration in art and festivals is slated for the state in 2011.

 

Those who love history will find plenty of that here. From Billy the Kid to Native American artifacts and art, New Mexico is a place where tradition runs deep. Take time to watch a group of pronghorn antelope or the majestic beauty of an elk herd in the mountains. Remember no matter how tame they appear they are wild animals. They can create a great deal of damage to the human body as well as to an RV so be sure to give them space.

 

Statistically New Mexico has an average of 15 people per square mile so while this is an advantage in many ways it can be a problem if you need assistance! Be sure to have plenty of fuel, food and other supplies as well as a fully stocked emergency kit. Like most areas, even the most generous of people have limits to what they may be able to do.

 

New Mexico is home to the world’s first wilderness protection area – three-quarters of a million acres of mountains, rivers and desert that makes up the Gila Wilderness area. Take a guided horseback trip or explore on a llama trek.

 

Remember New Mexico is generally at a higher elevation than many are used to. Always keep plenty of water on hand to stay hydrated, and pay close attention to the signs. The closer to sea level you live the more this may be a factor especially above 8000 feet. Be aware of headache, being lightheaded, weakness, trouble sleeping or an upset stomach. If it advances difficulty breathing even when resting, coughing, confusion and the inability to walk in a straight line can happen. This can be very serious and many don’t see the symptoms as altitude issues.

 

Be prepared! Come for the beauty, the history and adventure. Be aware of the risks and have a great trip to New Mexico!

 

*** Marley Martinerin is a regular contributor to a number of sites and writes articles about such topics as vintage clothing, and vintage gas pumps.

The Most Renowned Mystery of Santa Fe, About to Be Unveiled

By Nathalie Bonnard-Grenet 

 

Before we enter into the chapel…we will read this sign: “Loretto Chapel, built in 1873, Miraculous Stairway”. Everything you can read on it, is erroneous!

 

Loretto Chapel! No no no, but maybe “The Chapel of our Lady of Light” was a little bit too long to put on this sign. But that is its real name.

Built in 1873! Do you really think that such a sophisticate jewel could have been built in one single year? It took 5 to be completed, until 1878.

 

The best! Miraculous Stairway…

The legend goes… I won’t give you all the sleazy – flimsy details of the story.

But it is said that due to the murder of young Mouly, the architect of the chapel, the choir was left with no plans or drawings to figure out how access it!

 

The Loretto sisters begun to do what they knew best, they pray! And it worked!

After 9 days of prayers (called a novena) to St Joseph, the patron saint of the carpenters…a white bearded-man carrying a toolbox and traveling with a donkey, appear at the convent door, seeking for work… as a carpenter! What a great co incidence!

 

The sisters employed him immediately. The man built a two 360 degree spiral staircase, piece of art! And disappeared, without even asking to be paid for his labor!

Who wouldn’t want to know the name of such a model employee! Many begun to assure that Saint Joseph himself came to built the Miraculous Staircase, in Santa Fe!

 

And this… was the Legend.

 

And this is the object of the controversy.

 

What everyone agrees on, is that this is artistically evident that the 19th century craftsman who built the staircase in this chapel was a MASTER carpenter. From any angle you look at it, it’s simply magnificent

and perfect! After many years of thorough research, Mary Straw Cook, the author of the book Loretto: The Sisters and Their Santa Fe Chapel could state with no doubts: Francois-Jean Rochas, was the talented carpenter.

 

The question now is: HOW did he build it? How this amazing stairway can stand without a central axe and no nails?…

Rochas, also known as ‘Frenchy’ seemed to have received training as a ‘compagnon’.

 

When I researched on the compagnon’s carpenter from his time, 19th century, these types of stairways were quiet common.

‘The compagnons du tour de France’, that’s their exact name, – absolutely not related to the ‘actual tour de France’ that you might have heard from – is a French organization of craftsmen and artisans dating from the Middle age, and still active today!

 

The young people who aspire to become a compagnon, have to take a two years course, where they learn the basic of their work, then they leave for a ‘Tour de France” which now can be all around the world, for three to five years, in different cities, and with different masters.

 

The knowledge is transmitted only verbally from masters to apprentice; it is kept secret because only those who deserve it can receive the knowledge. It is not a technical knowledge only, but also the teaching of philosophy, the symbolic, and values: fraternity, equity, and appreciation of the well-done labor for the welfare of the community. Only those who can apply these values in their everyday life are worthy of the knowledge. At the end of their ‘compagnonnage’, the student has to build a ‘model’ of EXCEPTION to show his abilities, before receiving the title of ‘compagnon’.

 

Even with a nice and well said legend, it’s the labor and chef d’oeuvre which really matter and which is admire centuries later. As a compagnon, I’m sure Rochas understood this. It was not about him, it was about doing something of exception for the benefice of the community. And for the little story, he did receive payment for his labor. (see pictures above from the museums of ‘les compagnons du tour de France’ of the 19th century.

 

As Benjamin Franklin said: “Well done is better than well said”.

 

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Your Family Vacation Must-Knows When Traveling With Kids

By Nancy Hayssen 

 

1. Ask the Hotel About Child Facilities

 

Some resorts are built for couples, with lots of spas and romantic nooks. Kids will hate this. You need a resort with plenty of indoor recreational facilities, where they can play safely, and happily. Some hotels will even offer babysitting or child care services, so you can do some shopping or sight seeing on your own, without someone tugging at your knee and saying, “Mommy, can we go now?”

 

2. Don’t Overload the Itinerary

 

Kids get tired more easily, or can rapidly become overstimulated and cranky. Make sure that the itinerary leaves lots of room for resting, snacks, or (if you’re taking toddlers) even naps. Ideally you should only cover two major destinations in one day (one in the morning, another in the afternoon). If you want to see more sights, make arrangements to leave your child to rest in the hotel (see tip number one) and do it on your own.

 

3. Bring a “Child Care Pack”

 

This includes lots of water (kids get dehydrated more easily), an extra change of clothes, and small toys to amuse them at restaurants.

 

If you are going to a warm place (like a beach or a tropical country) remember that kids are more vulnerable to sunstroke and sunburn. Bring sunblock, a handheld battery-operated fan, and sports drinks (which will help them retain water). Avoid bringing them out in the hottest times of the day.

 

4. Choose a Kid-Friendly Itinerary

 

Consider your child’s age. A toddler will not be able to appreciate a historical tour of the country’s Medieval churches, and even a seven year old may not be able to stay still in a museum.

 

Look at the places you plan to visit and think, “Will he be able to understand this?” Compare the length of the tour with the average amount of time he can concentrate on one activity. Do this even before you choose a destination-if he won’t enjoy 50% of the key attractions, find another vacation place.

 

5. Be Prepared to Pay Extra for Comfort

 

You can save a lot of money by roughing it out in 3-star hotels or taking long bus rides, but it’s just not worth it when you’re traveling with kids. Pay extra for comforts that will keep them in a good mood: soft beds, big pools, 3-minute access to restaurants or tour buses. Because if they’re happy, you can relax, and actually have fun too.

 

6. Get Older Kids Involved in the Planning

 

Kids are more likely to have fun if you get them “psyched” way ahead of the trip. They can help pick the destination (narrow it down to two places you love and let them have the final say). You can also help them make a vacation scrapbook, where they can put “fast facts” on the place you will visit, as well as photos, postcards and other mementos.

 

7. Pack Your Patience

 

No matter how well you plan, remember, these are kids. Unfamiliar places and changes in schedule will always be a little upsetting for them, so try to be understanding. When they have tantrums, check if they’re overstimulated and bring them to a quiet place where they can calm down. Bring a small comfort toy (which can help them settle down if they are tired, scared or cranky).

 

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Joe Martin Stage Race celebrates 40 years, attracts top cyclists

Jill Rohrbach, travel writer
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
Professional and amateur cycling teams head to Fayetteville March 30 through April 2 for the annual Joe Martin Stage Race. Celebrating 40 years, this four-day, four-stage race will host 750 athletes from 27 countries and all 50 states.
Today, the race is a draw for top domestic and international cyclists, but it had humble beginnings. Joe Martin helped start it back in 1978 as a local event called the Fayetteville Spring Classic Bicycle Race. He was known for being all things cycling: operating a bicycle shop out of his garage and starting a bike team. After Martin’s death in 1988, the event was renamed the Joe Martin Stage Race. It is one of the longest, continually held races in the country.
This year it celebrates its 40th anniversary as an amateur race, 15th year on the USA Cycling Professional Race Tour, and the third year on the Union Cycliste Internationale America’s Tour calendars. The Professional Race Tour is the pro and elite amateur cycling tour of USA Cycling and JMSR has become one of its premier events.
“I think we are the biggest event in Northwest Arkansas that people don’t know about it,” Bruce Dunn, race promotor, says. “We’re one of 25 of these events in the country and Fayetteville, Arkansas, has one. Less than 10 of them are internationally sanctioned and only four are national and internationally multi-stage races.”
“Some teams can only come to one international race and they choose ours,” Dunn says. “Last year China and Japan chose JMSR as the one international race they came to. We get requests from all over the world.” There is a limit to the amount of participants in the JMSR.
The Tour de France is the most famous example of a stage race, in which the cumulative time at the end of the stages determines the winner. Stage races can last anywhere from three to 25 days.
Dunn says that the average cyclist’s training adds up to about 16,000 miles on their bike per year: more miles than some people drive their cars. The athleticism of cyclists, how close quarters they are on the course, the colors of their jerseys, and the sounds of bicycles whizzing by all play to the enjoyment of watching the race.
“Bike racing can’t really be truly appreciated unless you see it in person,” says Dunn. “It’s one of the most beautiful sports.”
JMSR’s four-day, four-stage race offers thousands of dollars in cash and merchandise. The races will begin at noon on Thursday, March 30, with a Pro Men, Pro Women, and an Elite Men category uphill time trials that will push even the most seasoned athletes. In time trails, riders race against the clock.
Friday, the Pro Men’s road race begins at 11:30 a.m. for a distance of 110 miles. The Pro Women will start their 64-mile race at 12:15 p.m. Both races will finish beginning at approximately 2:45 p.m. in the downtown retail and entertainment district of Fayetteville.
Saturday’s action begins at 7:30 a.m. with the amateur racers contesting the Devil’s Den Time Trial at Devil’s Den State Park in nearby West Fork. The Saturday afternoon road race is the third day and third stage for the Pro Men and Women’s fields, as well as the second stage for the amateurs.
A distinctive feature of the event is the Joe Martin Gran Fondo, which lets people sign up to experience the pro routes. Held Saturday, April 1, it consists of three courses – both the 114-mile and 45-mile courses are the same as the Pro Men and Women and the 30-mile course is held on a portion of the pro’s Saturday route.
“A lot of these tour rides don’t have that,” Dunn says. “To participate on the same course as the pros do is unique.”
The final event of the Joe Martin Stage Race is Sunday. The criterium races, which are the most spectator friendly, start at 8 a.m. The Pro Women’s race starts at 2:30 p.m. and the Pro Men’s race at 3:30 p.m. A criterium is a multi-lap, one-day race around a relatively short course that is typically less than one mile. Criteriums often take place in urban areas with sharp turns. Fierce, competitive sprints are common.
The JMSR criterium start/finish line and vendor expo will be at the intersection of Center Street and Church Avenue in downtown Fayetteville. The racing action is fast and furious with riders going at speeds over 35 miles per hour around 90-degree turns with handlebars and shoulders touching.
Also on Sunday at 2 p.m. around the downtown Fayetteville square, there will be a special event for kids ages 3-12, including a free ride and inflatables. This day has a festival atmosphere.
Sunday in particular is a good time to meet the athletes. “It’s not like you have to have a backstage pass or special access,” says Dunn. “They are right there.” The sport of professional cycling is a much more approachable sport, Dunn adds.
Check the JMSR website, http://www.joemartinstagerace.com, for race schedule start and finish times, spectator viewing spots, race locations and routes, and more.
Dunn says that JMSR will continue to be a premier event as long as the city, community, sponsors, and volunteers are willing. He adds that there are only a few professional bike races in the country because the cost to produce one is high. He is currently looking for a new sustainable source and sponsor for JMSR.
The goal is to expand on the success of the JMSR to start a state-wide Tour of Arkansas that will be internationally televised in the next three to five years.
“It’s the bigger picture in addition to the fact that we love the sport, health and wellness factor, and it’s great for the community,” he explains.
Dunn likes the fact that JMSR has been a contributor to the awareness of the city’s trail system and has helped with the impetus to carry forward the cycling initiatives.
He adds that when families come to watch the JMSR they typically want to visit area bike shops and start cycling. “I hear that every year,” he says. “People say ‘maybe we should rediscover cycling as a family.’ I’m most proud of that.” Dunn says he also sees people who attend the race from outside the state return for vacations because they love the area.
Dunn is the race promoter and owner of All Sports Productions, a sports event management and consulting company promoting cycling, running, duathlons, triathlons, adventure runs and other outdoor events. See all of the events at www.allsportsproductionsinc.com.

Kids can choose their own adventures at these five spring break camps

By Katherine Stewart If you’re not saying “bon voyage” over spring break and you’re fresh out of ideas for how to entertain the kiddos during their week off, these five fun Central Arkansas day cam…

Source: Kids can choose their own adventures at these five spring break camps

5 fun family-friendly hiking trails in Arkansas

5 fun family-friendly hiking trails in Arkansas

Arkansas Family Travel Host

Jill Rohrbach
One of the best times for hiking in Arkansas is March, when winter heads into spring. With the leaves off the trees and buds of spring just starting to show, you can see for miles and view vantage points before they are covered up by trees in full bloom.
Mild Arkansas weather provides great hiking temperatures this time of year. Just check your favorite weather app before heading out the door and dress in plenty of layers.
Now, go grab some friends and family and head outdoors for fun and fitness.  Here are five beginner trails to get you started.
Withrow Springs State Park in Huntsville has two great family-friendly trails. The Dogwood Loop is only .75 miles. It starts a little steep but eventually levels out before heading downhill. Or if you’re up for 2.1 miles round trip, take the Forest Trail from the campground and back…

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On the horizon: World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Hot Springs

On the horizon: World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Hot Springs

Arkansas Family Travel Host

stpat2017-300x150.png
Zoie Clift
The First Ever 14th Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade takes place March 17 in Hot Springs. The parade is held each year on the famous 98-foot-long Bridge Street, which is known as the world’s shortest street in everyday use. Media outlet Irish Central recently listed Hot Springs as among the top 10 spots in the world to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Alfonso Ribeiro, who many might be familiar with as playing the role of Carlton in the 1990s series Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, will be this year’s Celebrity Grand Marshal. The Official Starter will be pro wrestler Ric Flair. Flair, known as The Nature Boy, is a 16-time World Heavyweight Champion and has been one of the sport’s biggest stars since the 1970s. His flamboyant showmanship is well known in the wrestling realm and he even trademarked his popular phrase “WOOOOO!”
This year also marks the…

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Making the most of spring break

Making the most of spring break

Arkansas Family Travel Host

Making the most of spring break


March means many things to people, but if you’re a kid in school, it means one thing…SPRING BREAK! And this March brings fun things to do for all ages throughout the Arkansas Delta.

Ramona-Quimby-1The Foundation of Arts in Jonesboro welcomes Ramona Quimby to the stage on March 17-19. Beverly Cleary’s famous rambunctious and imaginative 3rdgrader sheds light on the trials and triumphs of growing up. Ramona is a not-so-typical kid growing up in Portland, Oregon. She likes playing in the park, fairy tales, and adventures…and really dislikes spelling! For more information on the performances, visit www.foajonesboro.org or phone 870-935-2726.

Spend some time with birds as the Mississippi River State Park in Marianna offers a Children’s Bird Walk Adventure on March 24. Kids and…

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What are the Oldest Cities in America?

By Kevin Fields 

North American Indians were on the North American continent from as early as 11,000 BCE. But these early colonizers did not live in permanent settlements and left little in the way of permanent buildings. The Anasazi built towns such as Chetro Ketl, and the great complex of abandoned towns in Chaco Canyon, in what is now New Mexico. Mesa Verde is another ancient city that is over a thousand years old and was built by the Pueblo Indians. However, almost all of these ancient pueblos were abandoned and now stand as ruins rather than vibrant cities. The one exception being Acoma listed below.

Mexico City is probably the oldest city in North America, as a continuation of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán, founded in about 1325. St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada was settled in 1528, and claims to be the oldest European-settled city in North America. St. John’s earned its name when the explorer John Cabot became the first European to sail into its harbor on the Feast of St. John, June 24, 1497. It’s also the easternmost city on the North American continent.

The oldest continuously occupied cities in the United States:

Acoma, New Mexico: Forty minutes drive east of Grants, New Mexico, lies the Pueblo (village) of Acoma, built on a sandstone mesa 367-feet above a valley and approximately 7,000 feet above sea level. The pueblo was built on a mesa for defensive purposes, keeping rival raiding tribes at bay. Native verbal history says Acoma was first inhabited about 700 AD although modern archeological evidence suggests it has been continuously occupied from 1150, making it America’s oldest continually inhabited city. It is presently inhabited by a small population of Keresan-speaking Native Americans.

St. Augustine, Florida: Founded in 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States. Twenty-one years before the first English Settlement at Roanoke, Virginia and 42 years before the foundation of Jamestown, the Spanish established St. Augustine.

Spanish explorer Don Juan Ponce de Leon had landed in mainland America in 1513 and claimed the land for Spain and named it La Florida, meaning “Land of Flowers”. Between 1513 and 1563 the Spanish tried to settle Florida but all their settlements failed.

Finally, in 1565, the Spanish destroyed a French garrison on the St. Johns River, Florida and defeated the French fleet. Near the destroyed French fort, San Agustín was founded by the Spanish admiral, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, on August 28, 1565, the feast day of St. Augustine of Hippo.

Parts of the original Spanish colonial settlement from the late sixteenth century remain today in St. Augustine in the layout of the town and in the narrow streets and balconied houses. Thirty-six buildings of colonial origin remain and another 40 that are reconstructed models of colonial buildings also contribute to the atmosphere of the town.

Jamestown, Virginia: In May 1607, English explorers with the Virginia Company landed on Jamestown Island, 60 miles from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Almost immediately the colonists were attacked by Algonquian natives, who would continue with their attacks for years, and the newcomers were forced to build a wooden fort. Endemic corruption in the Virginia Company in England convinced King James 1 that he should revoke the company’s charter and the Jamestown fort became a crown colony in 1624. The fort remained intact until the 1620s, but disappeared as a town sprang up around the old wooden battlements. Jamestown was named the capital of Virginia until the statehouse burned down in 1698 and the capital moved to Williamsburg. The town effectively became a ghost town with only a few occupants until a military post was located at Jamestown during the American Revolution, and in 1861 the island was occupied by Confederate soldiers who built an earth fort impede a Union advance up the James River. Little further attention was paid to Jamestown until preservation was undertaken in the twentieth century.

Santa Fe, New Mexico: Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in the U.S. and also the oldest European city west of the Mississippi. Santa Fe also features the oldest public building in America, the Palace of the Governors.

The first Spanish Governor-General of New Mexico established his capital in 1598 at San Juan Pueblo, 25 miles north of modern day Santa Fe. The second Governor-General moved his capital south to Santa Fe in 1607 and the city has remained a capital ever since. The city was the capital for the Spanish “Kingdom of New Mexico,” and then the Mexican province of Nuevo Mexico, the American territory of New Mexico (which contained modern Arizona and New Mexico) and since 1912 the US state of New Mexico.

Santa Fe was originally occupied by Pueblo Indians from 1050 to 1607. The conquistador Don Francisco Vasques de Coronado described the Indian settlement in 1540, 67 years before the founding of the city of Santa Fe.

Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts. On December 21, 1620, 102 disillusioned English puritans sailing on the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock on the eastern shore of Cape Cod Bay in what is now southeast Massachusetts. By the end of that winter, half of the pilgrims were dead, including their leader John Carver. The colony continued for a number of decades often close to collapse. The Plymouth colony was eventually surpassed in population and wealth by the nearby Massachusetts Bay Colony, centered in modern Boston, In 1691, Plymouth was annexed by the Boston colony officially ending Plymouth as a separate colony. The city of Plymouth, Massachusetts claims a city charter dating back to 1620.

Hampton, Virginia: Located at the tip of the Virginia peninsula on Chesapeake Bay, Hampton, Virginia is the oldest continuously settled English community in the United States. The Indian village of Kecoughtan, had been visited by English colonists before they sailed up the James River to settle in Jamestown. In 1610, the English returned to the Indian village and began the construction of Fort Henry and Fort Charles at the mouth of Hampton Creek. In 1619, the settlers chose an English name for the community, Elizabeth City. The settlement became known as Hampton in 1680, and in 1705, Hampton was recognized as a town.

Newport News, Virginia: This port of entry city in southeastern Virginia lies on the north side of Hampton Roads at the mouth of the James River. Along with Portsmouth, Hampton, and Norfolk, it constitutes the Port of Hampton Roads. The actual date of settlement and how it got its name is disputed. It is estimated to have been settled as early as 1611, but official records only begin in 1621 when 50 colonists arrived from Ireland. The origin of the place-name is obscure but is traditionally associated with Captain Christopher Newport, and Sir William Newce, who arrived from Ireland in 1621.

Albany, New York: The area was visited in 1609 by English navigator Henry Hudson during his exploration of the river that was later named for him. The area was first settled in 1614 when Fort Nassau was created by Dutch traders. Ten years later a group of Belgian Walloons built Fort Orange nearby. The settlement that grew around Fort Orange was made independent in 1652 and renamed Beverwyck, or “town of the beaver.” Following the surrender of Fort Orange to the British in 1664, the city’s name was changed to honor the Duke of York and Albany.

Ten Oldest continuously occupied U.S. Cities:

1) Acoma, New Mexico c 1150

2) St. Augustine, Florida, 1565

3) Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1609

4) Hampton, Virginia, 1610

5) Newport News, Virginia, 1611/21

6) Albany, New York, 1614/24

7) New York, New York, 1624

8) Quincy, Massachusetts, 1625

9) Salem, Massachusetts, 1626

10) Jersey City, New Jersey, 1629

*** Kevin Fields is the Editor of [http://www.Citybloc.com] a website that brings together demographic, statistical and census data and analysis on every US city and county.

 

Five Day Trip and Weekend Getaway Ideas

By Terry Hudson 

Stick with me because you’re getting ready to discover 20 fun five day trip and quick weekend destination ideas. There’s enough information on short five day vacations to keep you busy for years. OK. Here we go…

… for a great spring getaway, you can take an Upper 3 or 5 day Salt River Canyon rafting trip out of Scottsdale, AZ, or take a tour to Frankenmuth, Utica, Acton, Boston, Watkins Glen, NY, or spend five fantastic days in Las Vegas.

Like chili? Then you could travel to Terlingua, TX for the annual Terlingua International Chili Championship. And while there, view the awesome Rio Grande Canyon or a few of the ghost towns.

Still hungry? Why not take in these events: Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook off in Reno/Sparks, NV, or the Fellsmere Frog Leg Festival in Fellsmere, FL., or the Chitlin Strut in Salley, So. Carolina, or the Boston vegetarian Society’s October festival in Boston, Mass. For you Frenchies there’s the Giant Omelet Celebration in November at Abbelville, LA.

One event I’ll never forget is the Albuquerque International Balloon Contest in, you guessed it, Albuquerque, NM. If you can’t get what you want there, try these hot air balloon festivals: Battle Creek Field of Flight and Balloon Festival or the Adirondack Hot Air Balloon Festival in Adirondack, NY held

in September or The International Balloon Festival of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, the biggest hot air balloon festival of its kind in Canada.

Ever wanted to get behind the wheel of a real, honest to goodness race car? OK then… there’s Nascar racing, Indy car racing, drag racing, 1/4 mile midget car racing, hill climbs, mud racing, street racing and soooo much more. For an adrenaline pumping experience visit the Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, FL or Texas Motor Speedway and for under $500 bucks you can be behind the wheel of a heart pounding, in your face, race car for the experience of a lifetime. Then there are the driving schools that teach you the high speed skills that police departments and beginning race drivers use to learn high speed driving.

Still want thrills… consider flying a real jet fighter airplane. Travel out west to Mesa, AZ and enroll in the Top Gun Fighter Pilot School. You’ll have a great answer for “what did you do on your vacation?”

Now, back to Earth, sort of. Are you a roller coaster junkie or have you been thinking about a quick roller coaster weekend mini vacation, just for a change in lifestyle. Try the Revenge of The Mummy, Universal Studios Florida or, the Silver Bullet at Knott’s Berry Farm. Here’s a few more: Storm Runner, Hershey Park, Thunderhead, Dollywood and the Tsunami at Clementon Amusement Park in Clementon, New Jersey.

How about a little bit of history? One of my favorite five day trips is the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. Been there? Then try some of these highly rated Museums: Academy of Natural Science, Philadelphia, PA, Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL, Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, WY, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY, Museum of Paleontology, University of California, Berkeley, CA,

Here’s a statistic I bet you didn’t know. Out of the 25 tallest waterfalls in the World, the USA is host to three. If you love waterfalls, then you could certainly plan an eye opening five day trip to see the following thunderous sights of nature: Snow Creek (660 m, California), Ribbon (491 m, California), and Upper Yosemite (436 m, California.) It’s amazing that California has three of the tallest water falls in the world. Disappointed because you live a long way from California? Don’t fret. Thirty-one US states boast waterfalls. Find one near you by searching U S waterfalls in your favorite search engine.

We’ve explored many adventures above ground, but what about below the earths surface? Don’t forget about the many great caves in the US. Visiting the depths of a cave offers an experience you just can’t find anywhere else on earth. Here are the top five rated Cave tours in the USA: Ape Cave, Vancover, WA, Moaning Cavern, Vallecito, CA, Carlsbad Caverns, Carlsbad, NM, Jewel Cave, near Rapid City, SD, and

Niagara Cave, Harmony, MN. Who knows? You might have just found an interesting new hobby.

US tourists often plan trips outside the USA. I can recommend that if you are short on time or have a limited budget, you or your family can find plenty of thing to do less than a hundred miles from your front door. Practically all of the suggestions above are right here in the US. This is a great place we live in, and it offers many quick getaways and short trip destinations. Use any of the ideas presented here and be sure to recommend them to your friends and co-workers.

But, before I go, consider these other fun-filled adventure packed five day vacation ideas: learn to water or snow ski or how to sail a boat. Go fishing… deep-sea fishing, salmon fishing, trout fishing, or learn to scuba dive in five days. How about Sky diving or para-sailing? Just let your imagination go wild.

OK, so I gave you more than twenty great mini trip destinations. The point is… there’s a lot to do and so little time to do it. Get out of your surroundings and get your mind off work and other things… you’ll feel great after returning.

The thing I’ve found about a short five day vacation or weekend getaway is that it seems that it is just the right amount of time to spend away from home and it’s practically guaranteed to keep a big smile on your face for a long time

*** Terry Hudson is a successful webmaster and publisher of FiveDayTrips.com where he provides more information on fun five day trips and quick weekend getaways. A spontaneous traveler, Terry gives you many unique ideas for planning five day trips and quick weekend getaways that you can research in your pajamas at his website http://www.fivedaytrips.com

 

 

Get to Know Our National Treasures, Our National Parks

By Robert Buford
Many lesser-known parks are historical areas, such as battlefields of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, forts along the routes of western exploration and migration, ruins of the dwelling places of pre-Columbian native peoples, and homes of Presidents and other men and women who contributed significantly to the nation’s progress. Many of these parks offer both natural beauty and historical interest.Even during busy seasons, they are not are not heavily used, so you may explore them and learn there secrets at your leisure.
Try to make the visitor center your first stop at any park. There you will find information on attractions, facilities. and activities, such as scenic drives. nature trails. and historic tours. Descriptive films, literature, and exhibits will acquaint you with the geology. history, and plant and animal life of the area. The park staff will answer questions about accommodations, services. and the accessibility of attractions.
Navajo National Monument in Arizona
Two of the most elaborate and best-preserved cliff dwellings in the Southwest: Betatakin, 135 rooms, and Keel Seel, 157 rooms. Both occupied during late 13th century by Pueblo peoples. Daily guided tours into the canyon/ prehistoric sites late spring through early fall. Limited to 20 people per tour. Self-guiding overlook trail, picnicking, camping, visitor center, exhibits, museum, campfire programs in summer, Navajo art and crafts shops.
Location: Twenty miles northwest from Kayenta on Highway 160, turn north on Highway 564 for ten miles. Highway 564 ends at park boundary: not a through highway to Page.
Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico
Major Indian ruins unsurpassed in the United States. Represent highest point of Pueblo pre-Columbian civilization. Hundreds of smaller ruins. Visitor center, campground, museum, self-guiding trails, hiking, conducted tours, evening programs.
Location: N. Mex. 57 in northwestern New Mexico, 64 miles south of Aztec, N. Mex
Fort Union National Monument, New Mexico
100 acres of adobe ruins. Remnants of Southwest’s largest frontier fort and supply depot, active 1851-91 as Santa Fe Trail guardian. Key role in Indian Wars and Confederate defeat at Glorieta Pass. Trail ruts still visible on prairie here. Visitor center, museum, selfguiding trail through ruins, picnic area.
Location: 90 miles north of Santa Fe via Interstate 25 and New Mexico 477.
Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado
Spectacular canyons cut by Green and Yampa Rivers through up folded mountains. Quarry contains fossil remains of dinosaurs and other ancient animals. Camping, visitor centers, fishing, backcountry camping, hiking, boat trips, campfire programs, exhibits, world famous display of dinosaur fossils in quarry visitor center.
Location: On Colorado-Utah border 20 miles north of Dinosaur, Colo.
All dinosaur fossils and all improved campgrounds are in quarry area 7 miles north of Jensen, Utah.
These are a small example of the rich history of our country. For more details and a complete list of our National Parks, simply contact the nearest National Park Headquarters. You might also want to check for hints on travel at: [http://rcbenterpriz.com/travel]

Superpower of the World – Touring the USA Affordably

By Pieter G Le Roux
New York is the most popular destination among foreign tourists, followed by Disney World in Orlando. Both of these cities are particularly well equipped for visitors and offer a truly satisfying tourist experience. Natural wonders like the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park are also top attractions as they showcase some of America’s most resplendent natural endowments. Bustling, cosmopolitan cities such as Washington DC, Las Vegas and Los Angeles are Meccas for the corporate, retail or leisure travelers.
Visitors to Las Vegas are urged to explore the mysterious Grand Canyon in all of its natural splendor. Helicopter tours over the top of this natural wonder are a firm favorite, and need to be booked in advance to secure a place. The Grand Canyon All American Helicopter Tours’ air-conditioned helicopters with commentary are the ideal way to enjoy a bird’s eye of the West Rim, Lake Las Vegas, Lake Mead and Hoover Dam. The entire tour lasts approximately 3.5 hours and includes a bottle of champagne enjoyed under a Native American Ramada nearly 1000 metres below the rim. To end off an exquisite flight and humbling champagne, the helicopter passes over the bright lights of the Las Vegas Strip, after which a limousine will transport guests back to their hotels. A maximum of 6 people can be accommodated in the helicopter. A total of three to four flips are offered per day, depending on the season. Lunch is included.
The Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam Day Trip is another fantastic way to enjoy the magnificent crevices, valley and peaks of the area. This tour allows visitors a rewarding four hours in the canyon with the option of taking a Skywalk. This involves the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the Grand Canyon with a 365-degree uninterrupted view from this elevated, glass-bottomed pier that extends off the edge of the Canyon. Hoover Dam enjoys optimal viewing from the Arizona Lookout Point, from which visitors are able to take photographs for a full 20 minutes. This is followed by a walk through the Joshua Tree Forest and, from here, to the West Rim of the Canyon.
For visitors to New York, the Niagara Falls Day Trip by Air is an awesome way to see the majestic falls from both the America and Canadian sides. The qualified guide will make this exciting trip even more informative. Transfers to and from your hotel are available and passports are essential. Depending on the season, visitors will either be taken on the Maid of the Mist boat at the falls (May to October) or will visit the Journeying Behind the Falls (November to April). Both of these are humbling experiences as the thundering water churns out an icy mist. Bring your raincoats! The entire trip takes about 14 hours (including flights and the bus trip).
When eating out in the United States of America, 15% is an acceptable tip. For porters, $1 per bag is the norm. As with any other destination in the world, travelers are advised to be aware of their surroundings, to minimize the amount of valuable photographic and/or other equipment carried on your person, and to avoid certain areas at certain hours (ask your hotel for advice regarding this).
Traveling all my life I love sharing what I’ve learned and saw with people out to explore the world like I am. [http://www.cheapgetawayamerica.com]

Fulltime RVing – When The Urge Hits You to Go RVing Will You Be Aware Of The Pitfalls?

By Joe Macmillan
Full time RVing. What a fantastic lifestyle. It may not be for everyone but for those who take part, it is a great way to go.
Drive down any highway in the world today and you will see Rv’s of every type and description traveling along, mostly in the slow lanes.
These are happy people doing their own thing. Many are families out enjoying their vacations as well as retirees enjoying life as it comes.
Soon the road will be left to another group of people who have decided to add excitement to their lives by exchanging their permanent homes for a lifetime on wheels. Many will belong to an RV travel club where they may stay in specific RV parks for a week or two at a time before moving on.
Travel through some of the southern states in winter and you will find vast numbers of these folks parked in countless numbers of parks.
There are thousands of RV parks laid out like small, and not so small towns with streets, swimming pools, golf courses and happy folks spending their leisure winters in the warm climate.
Did you know that the little town of Quartzite, Arizona with a full time population of 2,800 expands in winter to over 1,000,000 when the Rv’s arrive and take up their spot in the surrounding dessert. For 16 miles in every direction they set up for an extended stay.
Unlike in the city at home, sewer and water trucks come to them. The owners take part in or attend the many shops and RV sales parks and gem shows and flea markets that seem to spring up overnight.
This area has been featured in National Geographic Magazine many times with photos showing the instant city that springs up every year.
When summer arrives in the north most will hook up their tow vehicles and head for the cooler climate to visit friends back home or to tour the roads of North America in their homes on wheels.
One important thing those folks into full time RVing must be aware of is their security.
Traveling with a group makes good sense because crooks do not care for people watching and will shy away from a group. They generally want to avoid trouble because every crook is basically a lazy coward. They are too lazy to hold a legitimate job and cowardly hide behind a gun to get what they want.
These low-life creatures will search out the lone RV that is parked far away in a spot where no one else may be present. They will approach the RV and look for tracks of a tow vehicle leading away indicating they may be quite free to break in and steal everything in sight.
This is definitely something to think about before you decide to head off alone into that remote part of BLM land.
If you think it may not happen, think again. In the winter of 2010 a couple from Alberta, Canada set out on a trip to British Columbia in their RV. They had a tow vehicle behind their motor home. They disappeared without a trace. Their motor home was found burned to the ground a few days later. Two weeks later their tow vehicle was found abandoned. The couple were never found.
Traveling alone is simply not a safe way to go. Join a group for safety and live to enjoy the lifestyle of full time RVing.
You probably lived many years to get to this point in life. Please do not throw it away
Joe and Irma MacMillan have spent many years backpacking, skiing, and simply enjoying life in the mountains of British Columbia. Their website http://whistler-outdoors.com is full of tips on snowboarding, camping, kayaking, rafting, camp cooking and fishing. They met on a blind date in 1957 and are still married. Take a look at their story here http://www.whistler-outdoors.com/about-us.html

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