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Archive for July, 2013

It Takes My Breath Away . . .

Posted: July 31st, 2013 by

We’ve all had an awe-struck sensation a time or two in our lives. Even viewing a single sunset or sunrise can cause us to mouth an exclamation of sorts, and in an instant the site takes our breath away.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons


me-with-dancers1me-blue-bear1Every time I return home to Denver. It matters not if I am flying in or driving in, for as soon as I glimpse the panorama of the Rock Mountains as a back-drop to the Denver skyline I get a lump in my throat and have that awe-struck moment . . . .Denver is also a city that embraces the arts, so much so that no matter where you go you are visually impacted by the city’s love of art, and the beauty of this is that there is no cost to see sculptures that will make you smile (like the big blue bear) or stop you in your tracks for that second look (like the dancers).
New York City Skyline Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

New York City Skyline Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Certainly nature’s vistas and breathtaking skylines can take one’s breath away. Check out this Youtube fan and video contributor with his top ten skyline choices at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbHq5crFsu8. You’ll also discover a boat load of other Youtube videos with even more great skyline photos as well.

Photo Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Photo Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Whether it is a sunset that causes you to pause and just drink in its beauty or the site of nature’s paintbrush in the Grand Canyon or red rock formations in places like Utah or Arizona, or the beauty of historic structures or mind-boggling wonder of buildings that seem to defy gravity, we all have our awe-struck moments. There is no time like the present to get out and enjoy the sites; after all, there is no cost ‘just to look’ . . .

What are your favorite sites to behold, and when was the last time you experienced them?
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Food and Travel ‘Bandwagon’ . . . .

Posted: July 17th, 2013 by

It is normal to select a vacation site based on popular attractions; be it an amusement venue like Disney World, or an outdoor wonder such as Old Faithful, or a pristine beach for frolicking in the sand and sea, or maybe a historic landmark. I have, however, decided to take you on a trip based on food first, then we site-see.

Instead of a road map or atlas, I am seeking out vacation sites based on the popular Food Network show “Diners, Drive Ins and Dives” . . . featuring its colorful host, Chef Guy Fieri. After all; I’ve heard that an Army travels on its stomach, so why not you and me?

mobile bayWe’re going to begin in Fairhope, Alabama, “a vibrant town on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, known for its lovely parks and sweeping panoramic view of Mobile Bay.” Civil War buffs will appreciate the significance of the 3,800 acre Historic Blakely State Park, site of the ‘last major battle of the Civil War’ or if you are a nature lover then check out the Fairhope French Quarter, home to the largest crepe myrtle in the South . . .an Alabama Champion Tree . . . and let’s not forget that ¼ mile pier jutting out in the gulf; surrounded by swimming and picnic areas, a landscaped rose garden, plenty of benches, marina, walking trails and a duck pond.

Here’s the skinny on the food angle: Panini Pete’s and the Gumbo Shack were both featured on Triple D, but after reading the menu ‘our pick’ is Panini Pete’s where the European Panini with house-roasted meats and homemade mozzarella is a favorite – located in Fairhope’s French Quarter – here’s a little trivia about how the Panini became a favorite sandwich for many . . . it can be found here: http://www.calphalon.com/Pages/Content/Articles/Panini-A-Culinary-History.aspx

We’ve visited the South; now how about a trip to the Northeast, where we discovered O’Rourke’s’ Diner, which opened its doors in 1941 in Middletown, Connecticut. A more appropriate name, however, could be the Phoenix, for it has risen from the ashes, after a fire that destroyed the original O’Rourkes back in 2006. You know it’s got to be good when the towns’ people chipped in and helped raise enough funds to have it rebuilt.

Greater Middletown Military MuseumJust where is Middletown anyhow and how did O’Rourke’s become one of its main attractions? Before it became a settlement in 1650, the Wangunks, a distinct Native American Indian occupied Middletown (beginning around 1634). Because it was the halfway point between Windsor and Saybrook, the town was named Middletown in 1653. Many settlers selected Middletown due to economic opportunity and their descendants became merchants and shipmasters, and in time its port became the busiest in the colonies between Boston and New York. The “Triangle Trade” comprised sailing to the West Indies with a cargo of livestock, lumber, farm products and other raw materials, returning with rum, salt and sugar among other commodities; unfortunately in 1807, the passage of the Embargo Act, along with the war of 1812 brought an end to Middletown’s days as an important shipping port.

O'Rourke's Diner Middletown, Connecticut

O’Rourke’s Diner
Middletown, Connecticut

The 19th Century saw the rise of manufacturing in Middletown, as well as the first wave of Irish immigrants, with perhaps Uncle John O’Rourke’s ancestors paving the way for O’Rourke’s Diner.

If you are travelling to Middletown be sure to visit Wesleyan University, founded in 1831, encompassing 316 acres overlooking the Connecticut River; and for those adventurous folks, why not take a stroll in the Connecticut aMAIZEing MAZE, with two miles of winding paths in a living, growing cornfield. A must do and see for those of you with one to eight year-olds and their ‘adult’ friends is the Kidcity Children’s Museum; with a space age road trip, a Clipper Ship and The Farm among other interactive activities. http://www.kidcitymuseum.com/

downtown Midd flickr imageflickr Pilgrin on this road - Bill RevillDowntown Middletown has been named “One of America’s Most Romantic Main Streets” and then there is Wild Bill’s Nostalgia Emporium. Check it out as well as many other Connecticut treasures at this website: http://www.ctmuseumquest.com/?page_id=5521, which by the way is a pretty thorough history of Connecticut along with a very creative blog.

Just thinking about toasty tasty Panini’s and some good ol’ Irish Stew not only makes me hungry, but I just might take a road trip to Fairhope, Alabama or Middletown, Connecticut!

FREE is GOOD! Part 3 of a 3 part series

Posted: July 1st, 2013 by

Macy's 4th of July Parade flickr image by Joyce Andes

Macy’s 4th of July Parade
flickr image by Joyce Andes


Why not Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the birthplace of our country? You might head over to Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing for the Philadelphia Orchestra Neighborhood Concert or simply watch the fireworks at the Philly 4th of July Jam.

If Philly is not on your mind, perhaps the beauty of the Smoky Mountains is calling your name – so head over to UNC’s Kenan Memorial Stadium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to hear live music by Kenny Mann and Liquid Pleasure, and a spectacular light up the sky fireworks display. You don’t want to miss the watermelon eating contest as well . . .

Flickr image by NYC Marines

Flickr image by NYC Marines

Nashville “Music City” 4th of July celebration is a must attend event . . . “ If there’s one thing Nashville knows how to do, it’s throw a party.” . . . . “Get ready for a day full of FREE LIVE MUSIC (including The Band Perry), family fun and incredible fireworks in the heart of downtown Nashville, Tennessee at the Lawn at Riverfront Park.”

Flickr image by Curtis Palmer

Flickr image by Curtis Palmer

Why not “Spend the Fourth of July in the Nations Capital and celebrate with fireworks and festivals,” featuring an Independence Day parade with marching bands, patriotic floats; and then there’s the 90-minute music extravaganza with a “rousing rendition of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture” and live canon fire!

Want to learn more, look at the links at the end of the blog.

flickr-byjustinday.jpg

No doubt your town or city has something planned, so why not grill up those hamburgers and hotdogs, then head on down to the fireworks display where the echo of ooohs and ahhhs can be heard as we celebrate America’s birthday! For more details on these events check out these websites:
http://www.townofchapelhill.org/index.aspx?page=514″
http://www.visitmusiccity.com/july4th/july4th_eventdetails
http://washington.org/article/10-ways-celebrate-independence-day-washington-dc

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