“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””

Advertisements

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.
Continue reading “Mad as a March Hare – March Comes in Like a Lion – March Madness”

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”

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.
Continue reading “The Birdwatcher In Us!”

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 . . .”

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!”