Tag Archives: Florida

“Travel America” and Me

20 Feb

The other day, we were flying to Arizona, and I picked up a magazine to read on the plane. Travel America lists over 250 places to visit in the United States. As I skimmed through the pages, I began to count all of the ones that I have visited. I have been lucky enough to travel to all 50 states and have seen some great stuff. This is a list of places that Travel America and I have in common.

Wait, here is a picture that I took on the trip to get you in the mood. It is in the Superstition Mountains.img_2279

Massachusetts

Paul Revere House

Old North Church

USS Constitution

New York

Central Park

Madison Avenue

Statue of Liberty

Empire State Building

Broadway

Niagara Falls

Pennsylvania

Independence Hall

Liberty Bell

National Constitution Center

Rhode Island

The Breakers

Florida

Walt Disney World

Kennedy Space Center

Everglades National Park

Miami Beach

South Beach

Georgia

River Street

Buckhead

Georgia Aquarium

World of Coca-Cola Museum

Kentucky

University of Kentucky

Louisiana

Garden District

Lafayette Cemetery

French Quarter

Louisiana State University

Mississippi

Ground Zero Blues Club

Delta Blues Museum

Natchez Trace

North Carolina

Blue Ridge Parkway

The Biltmore

South Carolina

Harbour Town Golf Links

Tennessee

Beale Street

B.B. King’s Blues Club

Graceland

Ryman Auditorium

Country Music Hall of Fame

The Hermitage

Union Station Hotel

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Alum Cave Trail

Cade’s Cove

Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Washington Monument

Lincoln Memorial

Arlington National Cemetery

Old Town Alexandria

Mount Vernon

Illinois

Michigan Avenue

Indiana

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Michigan

University of Michigan

Missouri

Gateway Arch

North Dakota

Badlands

Fort Mandan

Ohio

Progressive Field

Warehouse District

Oklahoma

National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

Cattleman’s Steakhouse

South Dakota

Badlands National Park

Wall Drug

Mount Rushmore

Crazy Horse Memorial

Custer State Park

Saloon #10

Mt. Moriah Cemetery

Arizona

Tombstone

Mission San Xavier del Bac

Grand Canyon

Canyon de Chelly

Goulding’s Lodge and Trading Post

Sedona

Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Mesa Verde National Park

Montana

Billings

Pompeys Pillar National Monument

Little Bighorn Battlefield Indian Memorial

Beartooth Highway

Glacier National Park

Going-to-the-Sun Road

Nevada

Death Valley National Park

Luxor

Excalibur

Venetian

New Mexico 

Carlsbad Cavern

Palace of the Governors

Inn of the Anasazi

White Sands National Monument

Texas

Sixth Floor Museum

South Congress Avenue

Sixth Street

River Walk

The Alamo

Utah

Bryce Canyon

Temple Square

Wyoming

Snake River

Grand Tetons National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Old Faithful Inn

Yellowstone Lake

Old Faithful

Lower Falls

Yellowstone River

Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Alaska

Glacier Bay National Park

Denali National Park

California

Universal Studios

HOLLYWOOD sign

Grauman’s Chinese Theater

Walk of Fame

Rodeo Drive

Golden Gate Bridge

Chinatown

Redwood National Park

General Sherman Tree

Sequoia National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Falls

Pacific Coast Highway

Hawaii

USS Arizona Memorial

Lanikai Beach

Volcanoes National Park

Waimea Canyon

Oregon

Haystack Rock

Columbia River Gorge

Mt. Hood

Historic Columbia River Highway

Crater Lake

Washington

Mount Rainier National Park

A New Year’s Eve Celebration to End All New Year’s Eve Celebrations

2 Jan

Yesterday, my old college roommate sent a text saying that it has been 26 years since the greatest New Year’s Eve party of all time. It was held at our apartment, and I am certain that, in the past quarter of a century, the apartment complex has not seen anything else like it. I will not recount the specifics of the gathering. Just know that none of have forgotten any of it.

After that text, I thought about how I have spent some of the other New Year’s Eves.New Year

There was the one that my future wife and I spent in a swanky private club in Nashville.

There was the one at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida.

There was also the one in the downtown streets of Phoenix, Arizona with the same old college roommate.

Oh yeah, there was also the one spent in a Waffle House in north Georgia.

I almost forgot about the one on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii.

There was also the one when I had the flu.

A lot of New Year’s Eves have come and gone. Some of them have been memorable. Some of the have been forgotten. Some of them have been fun. Some of the have been miserable. However, my favorite New Year’s Eve was a few night ago.

My stepdaughter had a couple of friends over. We had homemade pizza and took selfies. They danced and sang. I slipped off and watched the end of The Magnificent Seven and the beginning of Wyatt Earp, but nothing could keep me away from the fun. We watched the ball drop in New York and the musical note drop in Nashville.

It was a great night spent with people I love. Is there a better way to start the new year?

 

 

Get Away From Magazines

14 Jul

I have to stop going to the grocery store because I always buy some “Special Edition” magazine. “Special Edition” is the code for something that costs more than a regular magazine. Yesterday, I got one called Great American Getaways that was put out by LIFE.Getaway

I read it and decided that the money spent meant that I should do more than that. Therefore, we have a post.

This is going to be simple. List the getaways. Write if I have ever been to them. Yes or no answers will suffice.

Mount Desert, Maine – No

The Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts – Yes

Franconia, New Hampshire – No

Block Island, Rhode Island – No

Mystic, Connecticut – No

Sag Harbor, New York – No

Tanglewood and Williamstown, Massachusetts – No

Stowe, Vermont- No

New York City, New York – Yes

Cape May, New Jersey – No

Cooperstown, New York – No

Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, No

The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. – Yes

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – Yes

Niagara Falls, New York – Yes

Sea Island, Georgia – No

Walt Disney World, Florida – Yes

The Florida Keys – No

Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia and North Carolina – Yes

Horse Country, Kentucky – Yes

Columbus, Indiana – No

Mackinac Island, Michigan – No

Nashville, Tennessee – Yes

Chicago, Illinois – Yes

New Orleans, Louisiana – Yes

Ozarks, Arkansas – Yes

Sand Hills, Nebraska – No

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota – Yes

Santa Fe, New Mexico – Yes

Land of the Anasazi, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico – Yes

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming – Yes

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – Yes

Horseshoe Bend, Arizona – No

Alta, Utah – No

Glacier National Park, Montana – Yes

Las Vegas, Nevada – Yes

Death Valley, California – Yes

San Diego, California – Yes

Yosemite National Park, California – Yes

Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada – Yes

Oregon Wine Country – No

Mount Rainier, Washington – Yes

Big Sur, California – Yes

San Francisco, California – Yes

San Juan Islands, Washington – No

Redwood National Park, California – Yes

Volcano National Park, Hawaii – Yes

Lanai, Hawaii – No

Glacier Cruise, Alaska – Yes

The Brooks Range, Alaska – No

That is 29 visits out of 50 places.

Now, I promise myself that I will not buy more “Special Edition” magazines…until I go back to the grocery store.

 

Celebrations of Yesteryear

1 Jan

Last night, we spent a low-key evening playing games and doing everything we could to stay up until midnight. It was a fun celebration of the new year, but my mind kept going back to a celebration that took place twenty-five years ago.

My college roommates and I threw a huge party at our apartment. To protect the guilty, I will not recount the gory details of the gathering, but it would make a good movie to be shown in some art house theater.

There were two parts of the party that can fit a family blog and provide examples of that night. First, most of the furniture ended up in the backyard. Second, I spent the strike of midnight convincing a girl not to kill her boyfriend.

As I thought back to that night, I thought about where I was on other nights of the yearly eve, Honestly, I cannot remember most of them. That is either a result of inebriation or old age. However, a few of the nights come in clearly.New Year

One New Year’s Eve was spent at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. Those were the days when my favorite football team played in a New Year’s Day bowl every year. We watched fireworks that night and watched fireworks on the field the next day.

Traveling to a football game also took me to the streets of Phoenix, Arizona on a warm December night. My friend, who was also hosted the famous party, and I stumbled down the sidewalks with 200,000 other people. Luckily, we ran into Larry, who you have read about a couple of times, and he got us to our hotel.

Football games have also led me to less festive locales. One New Year’s Eve was spent in a Waffle House in north Georgia. The greatest memory of that night was one of my traveling companions complaining about the iced tea. According to him, it tasted like urine. Of course, he used a different term.

The New Year’s Eve on of Waikiki Beach was a lot better than the one in north Georgia. Everyone sat in the sand while fireworks blasted over the Pacific Ocean. The only problem was that we had to drive across the island to our beach house and almost got lost.

There have been many memorable New Year’s celebrations. However, none of them compare to the party at Citizen, a private club in Nashville. At one of their parties, I spent New Year’s Eve with my future wife. Since then, every celebration of the coming year has been awesome.

There Is Not Much Quite Like

27 Feb

While walking on the treadmill, I started thinking about how lucky I have been. That luck has come in numerous ways, but I was specifically thinking about travel. My mind went to some of the great places I have visited and the great sights I have seen.

There is not much quite like…

drinking wine in the chateau of Inglenook Vineyards.Honeymoon 016

catching the sun set over the buttes of Monument Valley.West 2010 232

hearing the water break on the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.

leaving an offering at the grave of Wild Bill Hickok in Deadwood, South Dakota.

watching the Potomac River flow behind George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon.

feeling the power of water rushing over Niagara Falls.

zip-lining through the trees of north Georgia.

climbing the mesa at Ghost Ranch and looking the landscape often painted by Georgia O’Keefe.SONY DSC

sitting on the porch of the Old Faithful Lodge and watching buffalo roam through the geysers.

lying in the grass of Jackson Square and eating a beignet from Cafe Du Monde.

floating down the Rhine River and looking at the castle ruins passing by.

staring at the presidential faces of Mount Rushmore.

playing Blackjack at a Las Vegas table and watching the chips come and go.

touring Graceland and seeing The Outlaw Josey Wales playing in the TV Room.

hanging out on a beach in Cancun and watching my stepdaughter play volleyball.Cancun - Volleyball

strolling through the Vatican and trying to get a glimpse of the pope.

reading a book by a pool in Costa Rica.

climbing a waterfall in Jamaica.

being mesmerized by the killer whales and bald eagles in Glacier Bay.

dancing to “Me and Mrs. Jones” in a nightclub in Chicago.

standing in silence at the bombing memorial in Oklahoma City.SONY DSC

trying to see the tops of the Giant Sequoia in California.

driving through Hereford, Texas and passing thousands of head of cattle.

betting on Jai Alai in Florida.

lounging on the couch and watching television with my wife.

The State of Music – Part 1

14 Apr

Yesterday, I was told that I am eccentric. When I asked for some examples, I got the following:

I can read for hours at a time. (Is that strange?)

I have no food in my refrigerator. (At least I have a refrigerator.)

Sometimes I like to sit in the dark. (Sometimes lights hurt my eyes.)

Anyway, after three I said that was enough. I suppose that in some people’s opinions I am eccentric, but aren’t we all? After the conversation, I started thinking of things that may make me different from others, and I started wondering if the things I wonder about are the same things other people wonder about. For example, I have always wondered how many songs have the name of my state, Tennessee, in their title. I have searched this but can never find an answer. This is a musical place and has inspired many songs, so it may be an impossible quest.

Instead of just thinking about my state, I began to think about other states as well. Are all states remembered in song? With that in mind, I decided to make a list, and this post in the first installment. I will search for songs with states in their titles and list the ones I like the best. I will try to stay away from official state songs, but that may be impossible. After all, some states have been placed in music a bunch of times while others have been barely used. I will also include a link for people to listen if they like.

If there are some state songs that you like, then tell me about them.

Here are the first ten:

Alabama – Several songs have been written about Alabama, but I am going with Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama”. Recorded as an answer to Neil Young’s “Southern Man”, this song became a classic of the Southern Rock genre.

Alaska“North to Alaska” was a hit for Johnny Horton in 1960. Included in the movie of the same title, it is a somewhat humorous chronicle of the Alaska Gold Rush.

Arizona – There are a few Arizona songs, but none that I really like. With that in mind, I am going with “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone (or Phoenix, Arizona)?” by Charley Pride, one of the few successful African-American performers in country music.

Arkansas – There are quite a few old-timey songs about Arkansas, but I am trying to keep this list in the latter half of the 20th Century. This time we will go with Bruce Springsteen’s “Mary Queen of Arkansas”.

California – This state is included in tons of songs, but on my list there is only one. My favorite song of all time is “Hotel California” by The Eagles. Nothing else even comes close.

Colorado – Alright, I didn’t pick a John Denver song. I know that would be the obvious choice, but sometimes it’s good to not be so obvious. Instead, I chose the aptly titled “Colorado” by The Flying Burrito Brothers.

Connecticut – Man, this was a tough one. This state doesn’t seem to lead to much musical inspiration. Maybe it hard to rhyme something with Connecticut. I finally found a short instrumental by Aerosmith called “I Live in Connecticut”.

Delaware – Another difficult one found me grasping for anything I could get my ears on. I finally discovered that Perry Como recorded a song called “What Did Delaware, Boy?”, which is based on an old joke.

Florida – This is a popular state for tourism and sun, and I thought that would lead to several songs. It didn’t. However, with sun, sand and ocean all around, I figured I might as well go with Mr. Sun-Sand-and-Ocean himself, Jimmy Buffett, and his song “Floridays”. I know the spelling is messed up, but the name is in there somewhere.

Georgia – Now, here is a state with a bushel of songs written about it. It seems like everyone who has ever recorded a song has come up with one about Georgia. With many choices, I have decided on the original version of “Rainy Night in Georgia” by Tony Joe White.

So, twenty percent of the states have been covered. Tune in next time for another ten classic tunes. Remember, if you have some ideas for your state or any other, then please let me know.

It’s a Conspiracy

4 Mar

This semester, one of my fellow history teachers is offering a cool class on conspiracies in American history. I wish I could sit in on the course because he covers conspiracies from different eras and explains why people have been attracted to the theories during those times. It is interesting to hear his students talk about the subjects they cover in class and the assignments that he gives them. I can tell that they are having a lot of fun and learning along the way.

A few days ago, a couple of students were in my office talking and explained that each of them have been given a specific conspiracy to research and write about. As one talked about their assignment, I said that I had been there. Then, the other one talked about their assignment, and I have been there as well. Finally, one of them said that I must be the one behind all of the secrets because my travels have made me a common denominator. We laughed, but I began to think, “Damn, I have been to a lot of these places.”

With that in mind, here is a list of the places I have been lucky enough to visit that are connected to some vast conspiracy.

Cape Canaveral – One of the coolest tours anywhere, you can get a upclose view of the launch pads used from the 50s to the present. It is amazing to take a journey through the technological changes. What makes this prime conspiracy territory? Ask any moon landing skeptic, and they will tell you that these launches didn’t go anywhere. The astronauts were walking around somewhere in the desert.

Mount Rushmore – Actually, I didn’t know a conspiracy surrounded this monument until I watched an episode of Brad Meltzer’s Decoded. I thought the only conspiracy involving this place was by the people who made that stupid National Treasure: Book of Secrets movie. However, Meltzer’s minions looked into the possibility of the mount paying homage to racial purity. I don’t know about that, but I know that the Black Hills were the sacred land of the Sioux. The fact that it is now a tourist trap is conspiracy enough.

Roswell – In 1947, a UFO crashed near this New Mexico town, and the government has been covering up the incident ever since. It must be true because there is a museum dedicated to it with a lot of cool exhibits.

What? You didn’t know Bigfoot is an alien?

Then, you probably didn’t know that they have real recreations of alien autopsies.

Actually, the museum is interesting and has an extensive collection of UFO videos, research and writings.

Memphis – I wrote in a recent post about my visit to the National Civil Rights Museum, built on the site of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination.

This conspiracy springs from the idea that a petty criminal like James Earl Ray could not have shot King and escaped to Europe without help. Ray fed this idea with his insistence that he was working with a man named Raoul. I have also wondered how Ray got away but had my questions answered after reading Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin.

Dallas – The granddaddy of all conspiracy theories is based around the assassination of John F. Kennedy at Dealy Plaza. Most people probably believe that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone. Some say it was the mafia. Others say it was the Cubans, the Russians, or even the vice president. I don’t know about any of that, but I believe this conspiracy lingers for a couple of reasons.

First, a president, Abraham Lincoln, was actually the victim of a conspiracy.

Second, a visit to Dealy Plaza leads people to believe that something else must have happened. Walking around the grounds, it just makes sense that the gunman was on the grassy knoll and not in a window on an upper floor of a building. It is difficult to describe the area, but everyone should take a look for themselves. I must admit that of all the conspiracies this is the one I come closest to believing.

There you have it. The list of conspiratorial places that I have visited. I promise that this doesn’t make me the Cigarette-Smoking Man from The X-Files. Where’s my proof? If I was, then the following would happen.

Derek Dooley would resign as the head football coach at Tennessee, and the team would never lose another game.

I would win the lottery.

People would be breaking the law when they throw chewing gum on the ground.

I would win every hand of Blackjack.

All of us bloggers would be world-famous.