Saturday, December 5, 2009

COME HOME TO THE WOODLANDS


Neal and I made our annual trip to Red River, New Mexico in late October. Each year I am reminded afresh why I love that place so much. It is so diverse. Hiking, boating, fishing, skiing, snowshoeing, historical sights to visit, and my favorite activity–reflecting and writing. 

I’ve written about New Mexico before and if you’d like more information about the area just visit my older posts. Today I want to tell you about a great place to stay–The Woodlands on the River. These condos are on the Red River a couple of miles from town. Each condo has two bedrooms, a bathroom, a family room with a fireplace (wood provided) and a eat-in, fully equipped kitchen. The upstairs condos have a balcony and the downstairs a patio. It is the perfect place to come home to and relax after a day of adventure and activity. If you would rather have a quiet day and maybe take a short walk along the river you can do so and take in all the beauty your heart desires.  


owner- Linda, office manager- Cori, owner-Jodi

The condos belong to individual owners who rent them throughout the year. They usually decorate the condos with a theme. When you call the office tell them if you have any special needs. For instance, upstairs, downstairs, queen bed, twin beds, etc. Cori, the office manager will do her best to accommodate you. This year we were surprised to find that the condo we rented had bunk-beds in one room. This wasn’t suitable for us or the couple who was sharing the condo with us. Even though the Woodlands were near capacity, she was able to work things out for us and get us in a condo with queen beds. 

Even though the kitchens are fully equipped, I suggest that if you plan to do extensive cooking bring your own electric skillet, fryer, or crock pots. Also, bring your own sharp knives. In each condo there have been plenty of dishes and bowls. They provide dish towels and cleaners. Also, there have been paper towels on the counter, but I always bring extra. 

A grocery store is close by on the main street. Neal and I have walked to it. It couldn’t be more than 3 miles. The prices are what you would expect in a small town grocer, so it helps to bring your dry ingredients with you if you are driving.

Another suggestion, bring a humidifier. This will really help your nose and sinuses. The air is thin and dry. It takes a couple of days to get used to it, so drink plenty of fluids and keep your activities light for the first 48ish hours.

Oh, and ducks, can’t forget them! They adopt you immediately. Although guests offer a wide variety of snacks for them I like to bring cracked corn. I buy it at a feed store in town. During our last visit a doe and her fawn also visited and enjoyed the corn.









Hint: the condo units that have the best views of the river are 1, 3, 4, and 6.  Oh, and for what it is worth, what they call a river is more like a creek where I come from. In other words, don’t bring your boat, just your waders. 


For more information go to:www.woodlandsredriver.com

Monday, September 14, 2009

SILVER DOLLAR CITY: A GREAT PAST BEHIND ME


Autumn is in the air. The crisp breeze dances among turning leaves and unlocks my memories of years gone by when my children were small. Our favorite fall activity was to pitch a tent in Branson, Missouri and head to Silver Dollar City. For the life of me, I cannot go there today without crying. How I miss those days when five little faces were turned up to me, their eyes dancing and smiles spread wide.


During this time of year, the City bursts with color. The streets, buildings, and gardens are decorated with yellow, orange, and red leaves, fat pumpkins, pots of mums, friendly scarecrows, vines and wreaths. The aroma of roasting corn and smoked turkey drumsticks wraps a friendly arm around our shoulders and draws us to the kiosks that also tempts with huge woks of fried potatoes and onions, and succotash – a mixture of fried okra, whole kernel corn, summer squash, chicken, onion and bell pepper – yum!


Sweet tooth? No problem. How about hot, fried, funnel cakes - crispy on the outside and tender inside, sprinkled with powdered sugar or slathered with white icing? Too rich? There is always kettle corn, ice cream, and fudge!


The above are just snacks. For a full blown meal there are restaurants that specialize in barbecue, salads, fried chicken, grilled food, and home cooking.


It is a good thing that the City is hilly. After all that eating I need to walk. At any given moment a “skit” might commence right in front of you. Seems that the citizens of SDC are always having to create a scene!


When you need to give your feet a rest, there are several shows to see that are included with the price of your ticket. My favorite is the Saloon show. All of them are fun and safe for the kids. Another fun thing to do is ride the train and be part of the “Great Train Robbery.”


Back in the day, my kids loved the rides. Now I just sit and watch the other parents run behind their children. How I would love to be able to sit all those young parents down and tell them to enjoy these days. I know I did.


If rides aren’t your thing, then shop! From clothing to furniture, there is something for everyone. If shopping isn’t your thing, then people watch. It is mind-blowing to see so many different kinds of faces and bodies, and yet we are also the same.


Nature is another big draw for me. The City is nestled in the trees and hills and great care has been taken to preserve the integrity of history as much as possible.


Oh, I forgot the cave! Explore Marvel Cave. In case of a hot fall day, it is a cool respite.


TIPS:


  • If you are going to ride the rides, plan on getting wet. Wear something that dries fast.
  • If you go to the city after 3:00 the next day is free.
  • Decide on a meeting point. The City is big and crowded. We always had our kids check in with us every thirty minutes. (Of course, this was before cell phones. Still it is a good idea)
  • There are strollers to rent.
  • And in case you haven’t already figured it out, take comfy shoes, even if they are ugly!
  • Don’t worry if you seem to be parking miles from the park. There are trams to take you there and the wait isn’t long. Just remember to duck your head when you get on and make a note of the parking lot you are in.
  • If you plan on visiting the city more than once, it is cheaper to get a season pass. Go to the site for more information.


From now until October 31 is the National Harvest Festival. There are 500 visiting craftsmen and musicians. Blue grass music puts a tap in your step, gospel quartets harmonize on the breeze inviting all who hear to hum along. Another big attraction is their stage show, Headin’ West, a tale of the westward movement in the 1860’s, which is only performed during this season.


Silver Dollar City’s slogan is, “You have a great past ahead of you.” For me it is a reminder of a great past that is behind me. One of three little boys and two little girls with large eyes trying to take in everything at once, laughing, playing, sticky with funnel cakes, and soaked to the skin. Then at the end of the day my exhausted babies slept on the floor like a pile of puppies.


Good times.



Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Finding Treasure in New Haven, Conneticut


New Haven, Connecticut is a delicious blend of old and new. History holds hands with the present in mutual respect and adoration. It is a bustling college town with streets bordered by shady trees beckoning passersby to slow down and rest a while.
I followed the advice of the trees and wandered along Whitney Avenue. It is on this street that I discovered the best kept secret in town the New Haven Museum. I popped in for a quick “look-see” and left three hours later.

Inside I learned about New Haven from its infancy. In this civic museum I found illustrations and paintings, letters and artifacts about the colonization, the early industrial town and city of this beautiful area. When one thinks of New Haven, Yale naturally comes to mind. But there are many famous sons to whom we owe a great deal of debt who hail from this area. Eli Whitney who invented the cotton gin and Noah Webster who had the vision of establishing a uniform language and spelling common to all Americans and yet different from England, thus he wrote our Webster’s dictionary. From my travels, I can attest to his success. Just read my blog, “You Say Biscuit, I Say Cookie.” Then there is Charles Goodyear who discovered vulcanization by accident and we have him to thank that our tires do not melt on the hot streets of summer. The infamous Benedict Arnold called New Haven home as well. Learn all about them here and see the artifacts of their lives.

The museum also houses the Whitney Research Library that holds over 30,000 volumes and over 250 manuscript collections as well as maps, photographs, and family history resources. There is also a sobering display of Amistad which chronicles the events of the 1839 revolt and ensuing legal case resulting in a defining moment in the anti-slavery movement. In this display is an original portrait by Nathaniel Jocelyn of Joseph Cinque, the African slave who led the mutiny on the Cuban ship Amistad. I especially enjoyed the maritime exhibit that chronicles New Haven’s coastal trade with the West Indies, Europe, and China.

As the original sign that hung outside Benedict Arnold’s shop says, there’s “sibi totique,” loosely translated, “something for everyone.” You can see that sign in the New Haven Illustrated room.

If you are visiting New Haven, I recommend you make this your FIRST stop in your sight-seeing schedule. Why? To get insight and an appreciation for the city of New Haven. This will enhance your understanding and appreciation for all the contributions this wonderful place has contributed to our country and our modern lives. It is from this land that the independent, brave, and creative geniuses emerged. They imagined, dreamed, created, and ultimately succeeded. We owe a lot to them.

Typical in most towns, most local residents I spoke with have never darkened the doors of this wonderful institution. Just like New Yorkers who’ve never visited Ellis Island or the Statue of Liberty, some locals here have no idea what they are missing when they pass it on their way to the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. I urge you to visit the New Haven Museum and get a shot of civic pride for your city.

The museum also offers educational programs with classroom space that accommodates groups of up to 40. For more information on their schedule of programs, lectures, and current exhibitions go to:
http://www.newhavenmuseum.org/

Come and let the voices of the past remind you of how we became a great nation and why it is imperative we remember that for our future.

Admission fees:
Adults $4 USD
Seniors $3 USD
Students $2 USD
Under 6 no charge







Walter Miller, President & CEO

Friday, April 3, 2009

Hi Ya'll

I've been working hard on my new writing book and haven't had a chance to travel, but that will all change in May when I leave for the east coast to visit my daughter. I will be in New Haven, CT, Boston, MA, Vermont and New York City. 

I'll have a lot of pictures and information for all who wish to visit that part of our great country. 

For the time being, for everyone who is planning their first trip to the United Kingdom, please read my older posts for a lot of good tips for first time trips. 

I have information for several towns in the UK in older posts as well.

Happy Wanderlust, Ya'll!

Friday, January 23, 2009

From Blogging to Book

Hi Everyone. I've not had the opportunity to travel since being commissioned to write a "how to" book. My deadline is the end of February and then I'll be free to travel again.

So far my destinations are North Carolina, Oklahoma, Connecticut, and New York. I should be back to writing on this blog in early March about North Carolina.

If you are traveling to the USA and have questions, please write me. If I don't know the answer, I will do my best to find out for you. It is still a great time to visit here.

Until March!

Watch for my book, INSPIRE! Writing From the Soul, due out sometime late spring or early summer.