It’s Not Too Late to Start A Bucket List . . . .

Is this on your bucket list?
Is this on your bucket list?
When it comes to what’s on a bucket list I would imagine some folks are more adventurous than others; like wanting to sky dive in the Swiss Alps or climb Mt. Everest, the highest peak in the Himalayas, but then again a lot of people just want to go somewhere they’ve never been before. That pretty much sums up my bucket list.

In doing my curating for this blog I happened upon an article by Travel & Leisure about the most visited tourism sites in the world, so I thought I would compare their list of 52 popular tourist sites with my list. Much to my amazement, it appears I’ve done that, been there, a lot!

New York City was ranked #1, and although I did not see Central park (ranked #2), attend a Broadway show or see Times Square; during my two brief trips to the Big Apple I did stretch my neck upward in seeking out as many iconic structures in the New York City skyline as I could. I was in awe of the Twin Towers, Empire State Building and other historic skyscrapers, and well remember the excitement I felt in experiencing such a vibrant city with its crescendo of honking horns and a myriad of voices adding to the overall din. Perhaps not a complete bucket list accomplishment, but close enough. Have you been to NYC?

Photo of Lincoln Memorial - Wikimedia Commons
Photo of Lincoln Memorial – Wikimedia Commons
I missed seeing #3, Washington, D.C.’s Union Station, but was fortunate enough to tour our nations’ capital and visit #30 National Air and Space Museum, #34 Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and #36, the Lincoln Memorial: sites that many, especially Americans, would like to visit. I still get goose bumps, and feel a sense of pride when I think of the history of our country through so many historic buildings and places in Washington, D.C. This a major bucket list must see!
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A Monumental Day Indeed!

Washington Monument at dusk, Wikimedia Commons image
Washington Monument at dusk, Wikimedia Commons image
It was just announced that the Washington Monument is reopening Monday, May 12, after a nearly 3-year long repair and restoration project due to an 8.5 magnitude earthquake that damaged the Monument in August of 2011.

Washington Monument during cherry blossom time, Wiki News image
Washington Monument during cherry blossom time, Wiki News image
Although I have seen the monument fairly up close when I traveled to our nation’s capital, I did not tour the “world’s tallest free-standing stone structure,” but it appears I was one of 700,000 (based on statistics) visitors a year. I would imagine also that many did not know the structure, when completed in 1884, had been the tallest in the world [for five years] until the Eiffel Tower was completed in Paris. Not bad for a 130 year old, although some could say 166 years old since its original construction began in 1848.

Who could question that one of the most beautiful sites in America is seeing the Washington Monument at dawn or dusk, its obelisk shape stretching high into the sky. Is it any wonder that it is highly photographed, no matter the time of year, although popular photo are often seen during the cherry blossom blooming season.

Brooklyn Bridge, cy 2008, as depicted in Wikipedia.org
Brooklyn Bridge, cy 2008, as depicted in Wikipedia.org

After reading about the Washington monument being 130 years old I wondered what other tourism finds have withstood the sands of time and found several other note-worthy structures, such as the Brooklyn Bridge which took 13 years to complete at a price tag of $15.5 million dollars (about the same amount for the Washington Monument restoration). The bridge’s grand opening in May 1883 caused a “hoopla” with thousands in attendance while fireworks went off overhead and canons boomed and music filled the air while President Chester Arthur and New York Governor Grover Cleveland (who later became president of the U.S.) joined New York’s mayor celebrating this auspicious occasion.
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Trekking to Historic Theatres

President Abraham Lincoln, presidential box in Ford's Theatre
President Abraham Lincoln, presidential box in Ford’s Theatre
April 15th is probably more-well known as being the deadline to pay one’s Federal and State Taxes foreshadowing a date that has gone down in history. The headlines magnified April 14th as the day the President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, was shot and mortally wounded, although Lincoln did not die until the morning of April 15, 1865.

This horrific event occurred in Ford’s Theatre, at the hands of John Wilkes Booth, a famous actor turned assassin. There had been a number of stories associated with the assassination of the President, including (years later) that Ford’s Theater was cursed since more than one tragedy occurred there.

Ford's Theatre in 1870 and in 2011
Ford’s Theatre in 1870 and in 2011

Unless you are a history buff you may not have known Ford’s theatre was originally built in 1833 as a House of Worship until 1861, when the First Baptist Church of Washington, DC moved to a newly built structure. John T. Ford bought the church, renovated it for a theatre, only to be destroyed by fire one year later. Not to be discouraged, Ford rebuilt the structure and opened the magnificent “thespian temple” in August 1863. Its theatre fame, however, was short lived. Following Lincoln’s assassination an order was given that Ford’s Theatre was prohibited from being used as a public place for entertainment, thus the building was used for other purposes for a number of years.
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“A Rose by Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet”

Cherry Blossoms in full bloom in Washington, DC
Cherry Blossoms in full bloom in Washington, DC
What is it about natural beauty that beckons us to travel for miles across the country, down a country lane, up a winding mountain road or to tropical paradises just to gaze at and gush over flowering cherry trees, azaleas in full bloom, the beauty of roses, or to take in a breathtaking sunrise or sunset scene? I’m sure there are a multitude of reasons, but the one thing that strikes me most is that people can be seen smiling, along with the oohs and ash’s while clicking away on cameras and cell phones alike.

Depending on personal preferences, many find festivals where the flora (flowers, trees and bushes) is still in its natural habitat (on bushes, plants or trees); but, there are as many who not only appreciate the beauty of a multitude of flowers, but the creativity and engineering feats of flower festooned floats, or perhaps flower petals, leaves, seeds and the like magically appearing as flower carpets and other floral wonders to behold.

Tulips in bloom - Creative Commons image by Sandeep Pawar
Tulips in bloom – Creative Commons image by Sandeep Pawar

No matter if it is the aroma of fragrant roses wafting through the air, or the sight of a field of blue bonnets gently swaying along the Texas plains, or the thrill of seeing sunshine yellow jonquils whispering spring is around the corner; let’s face it, our general spirits are lifted with the site of nature’s beauty.
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Mad as a March Hare – March Comes in Like a Lion – March Madness

More than likely you have heard of one or more of these phrases as we say goodbye to those wintery days and look forward to Spring.

hareIn the case of Mad as a March hare, it may be a reference to the erratic behavior of animals (or humans) in the month of March . . . what about March, coming in like a Lion and out like a Lamb . . . well, the Rev. Dr. David Q. Hall describes why “March winds are well known” in his blog, The Rev. Dr.s Musings on Nature, Life and Belief.

bbp 1The phrase March Madness actually pertained to the European Hare’s breeding season, but a more current (20th Century) reference is about Basketball. Fact is, March Madness became a nickname for the NCAA Basketball tournaments, which take place in the month of March. The tie in to tourism is simply that the tournaments take place in a variety of cities each March (and often go into early April), thus attracting a great number of basketball fans, supporters, etc. who not only fill sport venue bleachers and seats, but as is the case with out-of-town visitors, require overnight lodging, the requisite number of meals and an assortment of purchases; all which help to beef up the economical windfall for the lucky hosting city(s).

Photo shows Orville Wright in flight
Photo shows Orville Wright in flight
Tourism would be greatly affected today had it not been for the Wright Brothers and the first airplane flight on December 17, 1903 and although it took place in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, they hailed from Dayton, Ohio, called the birthplace of aviation, and the first stop for the ‘First Four’ at UD Arena in Dayton (March 18-19). Not only will basketball fans be treated to a heart-pounding, foot-stomping start to 2014’s March Madness, but there’s more to Dayton than just the hoops, like the world’s largest and oldest aviation museum, “National Museum of the U.S. Air Force” and the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park.
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The Birdwatcher In Us!

Central Park

"The deceptively cute Gray Jay is one of the most intrepid birds in North America, living in northern forests year-round and rearing chicks in the dark of winter."  www.allaboutbirds.org
“The deceptively cute Gray Jay is one of the most intrepid birds in North America, living in northern forests year-round and rearing chicks in the dark of winter.” http://www.allaboutbirds.org
Let’s face it, there’s a little birdwatcher in all of us. Stop and think for a moment; do you remember when you looked skyward and wondered where that flock of geese was flying to as they headed southward? How about the time you saw birds of a feather swoop from one set of tree tops to another; or watched the antics of a Blue Jay taking possession of its space, or a Mother bird feed her young amid their gaping beaks, twitters and peeps. Yes, you were bird watching!

Mountain Desert Island, Maine - a year-round birding paradise - Wikimedia Commons
Mountain Desert Island, Maine – a year-round birding paradise – Wikimedia Commons
I’ve never actually considered myself a birdwatcher per se, but I do remember quite a few years ago, while touring the Florida Everglades, encountering a group of tourists who were actually on a bird watching tour. They disembarked quietly from their tour bus in single file with binoculars in hand. At first, I couldn’t help wonder what they were doing, but then it was evident as they dispersed and quickly raised their binoculars toward the tree tops. I could barely hear their whispers, but imagined they were pointing out one bird or another. You could see the fascination and quiet excitement on their faces. I watched three or four congregate near some Palmetto’s as they peered around the prickly green pointed Palmetto, and in hushed tones speak of some great feathered find.
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The Dream Continues . . .

Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial, Washington DC
Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial, Washington DC
2013 was the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s infamous “I Have a Dream” speech, a milestone marked by many remembrances and memorials. As we approach this January 20th, set aside to honor MLK, we are reminded once again that we should never give up on our dreams, which are as varied as the people who dream them.

Tower of old Jamestown Church, ca 1639, shown in  1854 image, Wikimedia comons
Tower of old Jamestown Church, ca 1639, shown in 1854 image, Wikimedia comons
. . . including dreams that go back as far as 1607, when the English (some 100+ men and boys plus 39 crew members) established Jamestown as the first settlement of the Virginia Colony, traveling across the ocean to fulfill their dream of religious freedom and a better quality of life. Today Jamestown, and nearby Williamsburg, are a testament to these early settlers’ fortitude, and what once was their first home reminds us of America’s early history, which have also become popular tourist attractions, drawing people from all walks of life.

1870, Crouffit's Great Transcontinental Tourist's Guide, Wikimedia Commons
1870, Crouffit’s Great Transcontinental Tourist’s Guide, Wikimedia Commons
May 10, 1869 marked another milestone in American History, where the dream of the first Transcontinental Railroad was finally realized thereby enabling Americans to travel virtually from one coast to the other overland, connecting with the existing Eastern U.S. rail network at Council Bluffs, Iowa. The dream may have actually begun with Asa Whitney, the widely-traveled cousin of Eli Whitney (inventor of the cotton gin) who said, “[It] would bring all our immensely wide-spread population together as one vast city; the moral and social effects of which must harmonize all together as one family; with but one interest – the general good of all.” Others, like Dr. Hartwell Carver kept the dream alive, with an article published in 1832, where Carver advocated the building of a transcontinental railroad from Lake Michigan to Oregon.

Although the initial building of a transcontinental railroad was very much for commercial purposes, as it evolved it is also provided a means for tourism.
Continue reading “The Dream Continues . . .”