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6 Great Apps For Traveling

Traveling in unfamiliar places can be frustrating. Where’s the cheapest gas, the best food, free WiFi? Load these FREE apps and the answers will be at your finger tips. Don’t leave home without this FREE App! Gas prices can vary enormously by up to 20 cents a gallon or more. The Gasbuddy App will find the cheapest gas price in the USA or Canada by city/zip or postal … Continue reading 6 Great Apps For Traveling

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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.
Continue reading “Trekking to Historic Theatres”

“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.
Continue reading ““A Rose by Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet””

90 Years of Nostalgia: The Rand McNally Road Trip

The initiation of the Interstate Highway system in 1956 has resulted in scenic roadways as this - Flickr image by Rob Harrinton
The initiation of the Interstate Highway system in 1956 has resulted in scenic roadways as this – Flickr image by Rob Harrinton
I just got my new Rand McNally Road Atlas. To be more specific; the 2014 90th Anniversary edition, chock full of nostalgic ‘looking back’ over the past 90 years edition. I don’t know a lot of folks that are 90 years old, so being able to read about what happened over the past 90 years, as referenced in this memorable publication is definitely a great way to travel down memory lane.

The Florida Overseas Highway was but a dream at one time . . . Flickr Image
The Florida Overseas Highway was but a dream at one time . . . Flickr Image
I think what struck a ‘travel’ cord more than anything else [for me] was when President Eisenhower initiated building the Interstate Highway system in the US in 1956. After all, this really opened up the opportunity for people from all walks of life to truly tour America. Although I am not a fan of super highways, it does provide a quick way to get to the by-ways that take you to those out of the way scenic places.
Continue reading “90 Years of Nostalgia: The Rand McNally Road Trip”

I Now Know What Sea Legs Mean . . .

Sunrise in Cozumel, Mexico, from the bow of the Breeze
Sunrise in Cozumel, Mexico, from the bow of the Breeze

You probably guessed: I just recently went on a week-long cruise which I can easily describe as a dream vacation. You know, where the skies were pretty much sunny, the air was warm and a calliope of chatter (in about a dozen languages) and laughter filled the air wherever we were… the sights were fantastic, the food was hmmmm very good, and there was plenty to see and do.

swans 2As memories go though, there were three or four standouts. First, there were the towels mimicking various sea creatures. Yes, I did say towels! You see, each evening, when we came back to our cabin after the sumptuous evening meal, we were greeted by a clean room and a towel sea creature sitting atop the bed. As I remember correctly, we had a frog, a penguin, a sea turtle, a stingray and I presume a pelican. There was also two swans kissing, representing a heart, to celebrate my daughter’s birthday.
sentinel
This simple gesture, provided by our daily housekeeper, who cleaned our room, not once, but twice a day, was actually something unexpected but eagerly anticipated after the first evening’s surprise. Although I am sure the overall cost of the cruise includes what some might think nonsensical; I on the other hand thought it to be a thoughtful and genuine state of hospitality, something often lacking in any vacation, be it on land or sea. By the way, the towel brigade was in full swing the morning of our final full day at sea when the pool deck had an array of towel-sea creatures sitting atop lounge chairs, much like I imagined soldiers would look, all bedecked in white uniforms, guarding their charges of blue.
Continue reading “I Now Know What Sea Legs Mean . . .”

Holidays: The Name’s the Same!

It appears there are a number of cities and towns in the US with holiday type names, so how about a little trivia where the name is the same when it comes to holidays?

The Star of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is easily visible 20 miles away
The Star of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is easily visible 20 miles away

Probably the most recognized Christmas related town name is Bethlehem, and in the US there are (reportedly) eight to 12. I’ve discovered 9 of them: Bethlehem, CT; Bethlehem, GA; Bethlehem, IN; Bethlehem, KY, Bethlehem, MD; Bethlehem, MS; Bethlehem, NH; Bethlehem, PA; Bethlehem, WV, with Bethlehem, PA being the most prominently known.

It was on Christmas eve in 1741, when a group of Moravians founded the mission community of Bethlehem, which proved to be a town for the future when in 1762 it built the “first-water works in America to pump water for public use.”

After the Civil War Bethlehem became a city, and a center for heavy industry and trade during the industrial revolution, thus Bethlehem Steel Corporation was founded, becoming the 2nd largest steel producer in the US, and was also one of the largest shipbuilding companies in the world. Unfortunately they ceased their operations in 1995, after about 140 years of being in business.

Could it be the result of a grand ceremony on December 7, 1937, during the Great Depression, when the wife of Bethlehem Steel Corporation President, Charles F. Brown, flipped on the switch to turn on the new Christmas street lights and a large wooden star [that the city of Bethlehem still beckons visitors]? It was also at this time the Chamber of Commerce adopted the nickname ‘Christmas City, USA’. Today, that wooden star when lit up can be seen as far as Wind Gap, 20 miles away.

Bethlehem is also home to three large universities, including Lehigh University, and Money Magazine listed it at number 88 out of 100 ‘best cities to live’ . . .
Continue reading “Holidays: The Name’s the Same!”

O Christmas Tree – Oh Tannenbaum – Oh Árbol de Navidad – O Kerstboom – Oh arbre de Noël – Oh Pokok Krismas – Ol Jugran – O Coeden Nadolig and so on . . . .

1961 marks the first year for a  'themed' Christmas tree in the White House during the Presidency of John F. Kennedy, which highlighted the Nutcracker ballet, a favorite of First Lady Jaqueline Kennedy - Wikimedia photo
1961 marks the first year for a ‘themed’ Christmas tree in the White House during the Presidency of John F. Kennedy, which highlighted the Nutcracker ballet, a favorite of First Lady Jaqueline Kennedy – Wikimedia photo

We can thank the people of Northern Europe (Latvia more particularly) during the 15th century for the origin of the Christmas tree, one of the most iconic images during the Christmas holidays.

1995 White House Christmas Tree
1995 White House Christmas Tree
I, for one, cannot imagine Christmas without a tree, although over the years, I, like a lot of others have gone from a traditional fresh cut tree to a Sears & Roebuck aluminum tree with silver branches, and ultimately to a variety of artificial trees. They all have had one thing in common though, tinsel, lights (from the traditional oval shaped bulb to bubble lights during the 50’s (my favorite of all time) to the tiny LED lights that light up today’s Christmas trees. Add a little tinsel, a special tree topper and the souvenir ornament of the current year to complete the overall look.
2002 White House Christmas Tree
2002 White House Christmas Tree

As I write this blog I thought how interesting it would be to feature a little history of some of the White House Christmas trees, along with other trivia, such as a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

A typical Charlie Brown Christmas Tree
A typical Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

Continue reading “O Christmas Tree – Oh Tannenbaum – Oh Árbol de Navidad – O Kerstboom – Oh arbre de Noël – Oh Pokok Krismas – Ol Jugran – O Coeden Nadolig and so on . . . .”