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FALL: It’s All About Falling Leaves and Festivals

Posted: October 2nd, 2013 by

Fall in Aspen, Colorado is evident by the stark white bark of the Birch Trees and their brilliant yellow leaves sprinkled with radiant reds.  Flickr photo by snowpeak

Fall in Aspen, Colorado is evident by the stark white bark of the Birch Trees and their brilliant yellow leaves sprinkled with radiant reds. Flickr photo by snowpeak


Every October the same phenomenon occurs when leaves of the quaking Aspen glow in various shades of yellow, and the Beech dazzles with golden bronze while the Birch tree’s’ bark’ is as captivating as its leaves of golden-yellow brillance. Probably the most favored trees in the fall for resplendent foliage are Maple and Oak trees. Japanese Maple trees are drenched in bronze, purple and red leaves come October, and then there is the Paper Bark Maple with its bright red leaves, or one of my favorites, the Sugar Maple with its explosion of orange foliage and the silver maple with its shimmering yellow leaves.
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Have Dog: Will Travel!

Posted: September 10th, 2013 by

How could anyone leave Mylee behind . . .

How could anyone leave Mylee behind . . .

I confess: I’m a pet lover; and like a lot of other pet owners; in particular dog owners, I just can’t bear to shut the door with my pets’ soulful eyes staring at me, and even though the tail wagging is out of control when I return, I still feel a twinge of guilt when I depart sans Fido. I’m talking about going to work and doing errands, so I shudder to think about a little vaca . . . pet sitters and kennels alike can cost an arm and a leg, and leaving one’s (as some perceive them to be) mutt with relatives just might not be in the best interest for both species; hence my list of places to get a little R&R for both you and your faithful four-legged, tailing wagging BDF . . best dog friend

After a great deal of research it appears California seems to offer more puppy love than many other states; however, to be fair I am focusing on lots of places to travel to with your beloved dog:

Pilgrim Bark Park and the seashore of Provincetown, MA provide a perfect venue for Fido to romp in the surf and sand

Pilgrim Bark Park and the seashore of Provincetown, MA provide a perfect venue for Fido to romp in the surf and sand


Whale watching is a popular attraction for Fido and his master in Provincetown

Whale watching is a popular attraction for Fido and his master in Provincetown

In 2010, Dog Fancy Magazine revealed Provincetown, Massachusetts was selected as their #1 canine city, with businesses providing ‘doggy’ biscuits and bowls of water for those furry shoppers who bring along their human companions, but, if you’re heading west then Carmel By the Sea, Benito, Fort Bragg and Sand Diego, California, or Salem and Lincoln City, Oregon, as well as Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Madison, Wisconsin are all listed as places you’ll want to take Fido.

Other traveling with your dog special places include Chicago with its 18 miles of paved trails that trace Lake Michigan’s edge or in New York with its NYC Dog Walking Tour visiting Greenwich Village, SOHO and Little Italy. And, if you want to memorialize your trip to NYC, check out the William Secord Gallery where (at a price and advance reservation) your pooch can have its portrait painted.

Anonymous photo title "Yo Quedo Pizza" taken at one of many pet-friendly eateries in Orlando

Anonymous photo title “Yo Quedo Pizza” taken at one of many pet-friendly eateries in Orlando

Manitou Cliff Dwellings Wikimedia Image

Manitou Cliff Dwellings
Wikimedia Image

Not to be outdone by its Eastern pet-friendly venues are the cities of Orlando (where in Florida there is a doggy dining law that allows dogs to dine with their owners in outside eating venues) and for healthy alternatives such as hiking and breathtaking scenery you’ll want to travel to Colorado Springs, Colorado where you can meander with pooch around Bear Creek Nature Center, the Manitou Cliff Dwellings or Garden of the Gods National Park; and finally there is Austin, Texas with 12-off leash parks for doggy fun and games.

Sweet Dreams -  Flickr image by Nieve44/Luz

Sweet Dreams – Flickr image by Nieve44/Luz

I could go on and on . . . but, I won’t. I would like to say however, your problem won’t be leaving your BDF behind, but in deciding which dog-friendly venue to travel to. By the way, if you and your furry friend are in need of a good night’s sleep after a full day’s activities there are many lodging places that accept pets.

DOG DAYS OF SUMMER: COOL OFF WITH A SHOWER, BUBBLES NOT INCLUDED

Posted: August 27th, 2013 by

Crown Center Fountain, Kansas City, MO (by night)

Crown Center Fountain, Kansas City, MO (by night)


crown Center Fountain, Kansas City, MO - by day

crown Center Fountain, Kansas City, MO – by day

Some of you may remember my August 2010 blog, ‘Cool Places to Visit during the Dog Days of Summer’ where I featured half a dozen or more ‘cool caves’ to explore. Well, here it is the end of August and we are smack dab in the middle of those dreary dog days, when even our four-legged furry friends are looking for a place to cool off.

Childrens Fountain, Kansas City, MO

Childrens Fountain, Kansas City, MO

If ‘spelunk in’ is not your thing, and descending deep into the earth is not on your mind, then join me and your fellow blog readers in dancing around one of many ‘cool’ water fountains. We’ll begin with Kansas City (MO), which is officially known as The City of Fountains and has more fountains than any other city (except for Rome) in the world.
Nicholas Fountain, Kansas City, MO

Nicholas Fountain, Kansas City, MO


What began as the City Beautiful movement in 1890 resulted in the creation of fountains, not just for landscape decoration, but also for practical purposes, such as one built in 1904 featuring spigots pouring water out of a number of lions’ mouths so passerby’s could get a cup of clean drinking water; while at the same time water poured into a granite basin at the proper height for horses to get a cool drink, with the overflow ending up in four small pools so dogs could lap up fresh water as well. The Humane Society of Kansas City was responsible for not only this innovative and useful fountain, but went on to mount more than 100 more fountains throughout the city.

Atlanta, GA Centennial Park

Atlanta, GA Centennial Park

Crown Fountain, Chicago, IL (by night)

Crown Fountain, Chicago, IL (by night)

Not near Kansas? Why not cool off in Chicago, Illinois Crown Fountain, or in Atlanta, Georgia’s Centennial Olympic Park Fountain?

While there is some controversy surrounding public water fountains, citing disease, dirty water, etc., it would appear (and is so noted in numerous articles) municipalities that have public water fountains have a variety of filtration systems to assist in alleviating these issues, and continue to offer a respite from summers’ heat for its citizenry.

Rockafeller Center iconic water fountain

Rockefeller Center iconic water fountain

Whether you elect to participate in romping through a fountains’ man-made droplets of rain, or to simply admire the architectural beauty found in water fountains, one can’t help but feel a little bit cooler in doing so.

Please note: All photos credited to Wikimedia Commons

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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FREE is Good! (part 2 of a 3 part series)

Posted: June 11th, 2013 by

What’s the buzz about, you ask?

Coker Aboretum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Wikemedia image

Coker Aboretum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Wikemedia image

There are FREE tours on each 3rd Saturday at the North Carolina Botanical Garden located in one of the most beautiful University campuses in the nation: the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This includes Coker Arboretum. June 23rd and June 29th both feature “Honey beehive and summer wildflowers and pollination tours,” where you will learn that “bees are responsible for pollinating 1/3 of the world’s food and produce. You’ll also be treated (rain or shine) to a 60-minute long tour of the Display Gardens and get a close-up look at their new pollinator garden. For more information about events, check out http://ncbg.unc.edu/calendar/

A special footnote: Dogs are not allowed anywhere in the display gardens (inside fenced areas) but leashed dogs are allowed on the Piedmont Nature Trails.

Not into flora and fauna? Well, how about salty seas and sailors?

Wikimedia image is of the rotunda steps leading to Memorial Hall at the U.S. Naval Academy

Wikimedia image is of the rotunda steps leading to Memorial Hall at the U.S. Naval Academy

You’ll need a valid government ID (such as driver’s license or passport) to enter the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy, but entry to the U.S. Naval Academy Museum is FREE. The museum has been housed in various locations at the Academy since it was founded in 1845. It underwent a complete renovation in 2007 and 2008, officially reopening in 2009. Some of the exhibits feature the story of the U.S. Navy, “the largest collection of seventeenth and eighteen-century ship models on public display in North America,” and virtual restoration of old ship models and the building of new ship models. You might want to visit this website to get additional information on exhibits and your visit to the U.S. Naval Academy’s Museum: http://www.history.navy.mil/branches/org8_Visit.htm

USS Barry Display Ship, decommissioned November 1982 - Wikimedia image

USS Barry Display Ship, decommissioned November 1982 – Wikimedia image


USS Constitution Wikimedia image

USS Constitution
Wikimedia image

No matter if your interests are in tall ships, like the USS Constitution aka “Old Ironsides” the oldest commissioned naval vessel in the world still afloat (docked in Boston Harbor), or more modern day sea vessels, like the decommissioned battleship USS Barry where History comes alive at the U.S. Navy Museum at the Washington Navy Yards in Washington DC. You can tour both for FREE, and by the way, if you can’t visit Boston any time soon, take a virtual tour of the USS Constitution. For more information and details, visit http://www.history.navy.mil/ussconstitution/visitor_info.html
and http://www.hnsa.org/ships/barry.htm

Be sure to look for part 3 in this 3 part series where we will explore FREE 4th of July events.

FREE is Good! (part 1 of a 3 part series)

Posted: May 29th, 2013 by

beach by vlitvinov
Schools out, and while many folks plan their summer vacation well in advance, there are that many more who don’t. All, however, face the daunting task of where to take the family, especially if children are involved. Pets are also often a consideration as to whether to leave them with a caretaker or pack their leashes and include them in the summer fun.

The cost of getting away can be a factor, and often dictates how far one can go and how long they can stay. Let’s face it, vacations can be quite costly; I have therefore collected a montage of fun or interesting places for the family, focusing on FREE. I have even included a post script where the family pet is concerned. Read on . . .

marine helicopter by ahisgettAlabama bound? Why not visit the U.S. Army Aviation Museum in Fort Rucker, Alabama, where admission is FREE and it has a kid-friendly environment. A Trip Advisor review stated, “Interesting and kid friendly . . . our 9 year old especially loved it as there was a helicopter he could climb into.”

An interesting factoid: Fort Rucker is a U.S. Army Aviation Center training military, civilian and international personnel in aviation and leadership skills and is situated in SE Alabama near the Florida and Georgia State lines. It is also near Enterprise Alabama, a city that built and dedicated a monument to an agricultural pest, the Boll Weevil (the only monument of its kind in the world).

A popular outdoor recreation area is Cedar Falls in Petit Jean State Park

A popular outdoor recreation area is
Cedar Falls in Petit Jean State Park

Families who live in or near Arkansas are indeed lucky. Check out their on-line calendar featuring FREE FUN ACTIVITIES and EVENTS for the entire year, including the 28th Annual Steamboat Days in Des Arc, or the 42nd Annual Smackover Oil Town Festival and you won’t want to miss Donkey Day: The True Spirit of Independence on the 4th of July in Mountain View.

You might easily hear the strains of “My Old Kentucky Home” when visiting the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest near Louisville, Kentucky. Admission is FREE but there may be a ‘nominal’ Environmental Impact Fee for vehicles during the weekends and holidays. Some events to look for during the summer months include ECO Kids Discovery Day on June 1st, then on June 2, bring the whole family for FREE Fishing Days at Berhneim’s Cedar Pond and Holly Pond.

Photo courtesy St. Louis Zoo.org

Photo courtesy St. Louis Zoo.org

Admission to one of the most well-known Zoos in North America is FREE; however, there are nominal costs for various attractions at the St. Louis Zoo in St. Louis, Missouri. If you get there early, during the first hour of operation, you can ride the Mary Ann Lee Conservation Carousel FREE, featuring “64 colorful hand-carved wooden animals, representing protected and endangered species at the Saint Louis Zoo,” or visit the Children’s Zoo at no cost as well. Another FREE thing in St. Louis is simply observing the iconic Gateway Arch.

Be sure to read part 2 of this 3 part series on FREE is Good!

We Remember . . .

Posted: May 22nd, 2013 by

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier - Arlington National Cemetery Wikimedia Commons Image Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – Arlington National Cemetery
Wikimedia Commons Image

Memorial Day is seen differently by many.  There are those who see it as a 3-day holiday, time to gather with friends and family for a backyard BBQ or a picnic in the park.  Others look at it as the start of summer vacation.  Depending on the area you live you might appreciate the warmth it brings; a real end to late spring winter-like weather.  Often young people see it as the official ending of the school year with visions of sleeping late or playing the day away. Late May is also a gardeners’ delight.  No matter how you view Memorial Day, there is one constant for the last Monday in May It is a Day of Remembrance.

Three years after the end of the Civil War, the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) established Decoration Day (with the first large observance held at Arlington National Cemetery) a day set aside to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers, on May 30, a time when most flowers were in bloom throughout the country. 

Memorial Day Flickr image by cwwcoff1

Memorial Day
Flickr image by cwwcoff1

Major General John A. Logan declared, in 1868, “to decorate graves with the choicest of flowers of spring time. . . we should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. . . let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners.  Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

There has been some dispute though as to the birthplace of Memorial Day with approximately 25 places named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day, and although many were in the south, the official birthplace of Memorial Day was declared in 1966, when Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, New York as the “birthplace” of Memorial Day; then by an act of Congress in 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday and to honor those who have died in American wars.  In December 2000, Congress passed The National Moment of Remembrance Act, to remember all of America’s fallen heroes.

Interestingly enough, tourism bridges all that is associated with Memorial Day, for the likelihood of travel is a given.

Viet Nam War Memorial Wikimedia Commons Image

Viet Nam War Memorial
Wikimedia Commons Image

Here is a list of some events taking place on Memorial Day ‘Weekend’ 2013

• Saturday, May 25 – 1:00-5:00 pm & May 27 – FREE admission – National Veterans Art Museum – Chicago, Illinois – Exhibit: Tenacity and Truth: People, Places and memories – Note: May 25 – 11:00 am – Wreath Laying Ceremony, Richard J. Daley Center Plaza, Chicago, IL – Parade to follow at Noon – on State Street (from lake Street to Van Buren Street) – For more information visit: www.nvam.org

• Monday, May 27 – 5:45 pm. (FREE admission) – across the river from downtown Wilmington, NCUSS Battleship North Carolina – 48th Annual Observance – visit www.battleshipnc.com/Events/MemorialDay

• Friday, May 24 – Monday, May 27 – Atlanta JAZZ Festival – Atlanta, GA / Chastain Park, Piedmont Park / Loews Atlanta Hotel – for complete schedule and details visit: www.atlanta.net/visitors/atlanta-jazz-festival.html

• Sunday, May 26 – National Memorial Day Concert – 8:00 p.m. (FREE) – West lawn of the U.S. Capitol – Washington, D.C. For more information visit:dc.about.com/od/specialeventphotos1/ss/MemDayConcert.htm

• Friday, May 24 – Electric Run – 8:20 – 11:00 pm – Begin from Home Depot Center – (Carson) Los Angeles, California. Check website for cost and details: www.electricrun.com/losangeles

• Here are some other sites to visit with details about their Memorial Day Weekend Events:
www.Brooklynmemorialdayparade.com
www.denver.org/what-to-do/museum-art/memorial-day-denver-weekend

Please join our company and employees, and our franchises, in taking a moment to reflect in appreciation for those persons who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom.

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Awe-Inspiring Tourism Sites: For the Nature-Lover in All of Us . . .

Posted: May 9th, 2013 by

I just recently read the latest issue of Vacations where they featured 12 awe-inspiring U.S. preserves. I have always enjoyed nature, as I’m sure many of our blog readers do, so I thought why not join in and feature some lesser know but equally ‘awe’ inspiring natural habitats that just might encourage you to load up the family and hit the road…

orange-chinned parakeet flickr sussexbirderWildwood Wildlife and Nature Center (aka Zoo of the Northwoods in Minocqua) is the 2nd largest zoo in Wisconsin, where you can get “up close and personal” while you have lunch at the all new Jambo Hut overlooking the Giraffe Serengeti habitat area, or with kiddies in hand you might want to have an interactive Budgie encounter where over 500 beautiful parakeets intermingle with the zoo’s guests. For those not into new-found feathered friends, you might want to bottle feed any number of animal bottle babies in their interactive petting zoo. Note: flickr photo of the two orange chinned parakeets is by sussexbirder

Perhaps one of the most unusual ‘animal type preserve’ is Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary in Locust Grove, Georgia, just south of Atlanta, where more than 1,000 exotic, wildlife and domestic animals call home, living side-by-side, as witnessed in these photos. The only way to do this sanctuary justice is to simply point you to their website.
lion-tiger-bear_1538513i

Maybe you’re not into areas of confinement: if so, then the Wetlands & Wildlife National Scenic Byway provides plenty of wide-open spaces, impressive any time of year, but more so in the Spring and Fall seasons when millions of migrating birds rest their wings and refuel at the Byway Wetlands. The region is filled with other species as well where you can find “burrowing owls to bobcats.”

The 77-mile Byway, including a stretch of the Santa Fe Trail in Kansas, connects two of the “world’s most significant wetlands” (Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge), and may very well change your vision of the Sunflower State.

Cheyenne Bottoms - photo by dr da wittCheyenne Bottoms is the largest interior marsh in the United States and one of the “most important shorebird migration stopover points in the Western Hemisphere where more than half of all shorebirds that migrate east of the Rockies pass through this 40,000-acre lowland” . . . and surely a favorite of ‘peepers’ also known as bird watchers.

It is said “there remain only a handful of natural places on this planet that display a vast, timeless, landscape,” places like the wetlands treasure, Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. Others include the Serengeti, the Everglades and the Amazon . . . all a wonder to behold.

bl tail jr wikimiAnother phenomenon that is part of this ecological wonder is the presence of the black tailed Jack Rabbit, where in Kansas it is a sport to hunt Jack Rabbits on horseback and with Greyhound dogs. These rabbits can run up to 40 mph and leap up to 25 feet in one bound. There are also bison, prairie dogs and the not so well known “magic muck” which sustains life for the many species that have a temporary or permanent home in the wetlands.

The beauty of nature is captivating, and we indeed are fortunate to have places such as the Zoo of the Northwoods, Noah’s Ark, and Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, part of the Wetlands & Wildlife National Scenic Byway. So, if touring Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska, or ‘scoping’ out lava in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is not on your list this year, perhaps Kansas, Wisconsin and Georgia are on your mind . . .