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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Think Green while you Travel

We're just a few days past Earth Hour. I don't know how many of you partipated (we did you can read about it here; but thought in honor of it I'd write this post about thinking Green when you travel. No, I'm not suggest you stop traveling, and yes flying and driving uses gas and therefore that isn't green. Moderation is the key. Travel, explore, learn, and have fun; but think Green. Just because you're not paying the water, the heating or the cooling bill doesn't mean you throw caution and the word moderation out the window. There's still no reason to be wasteful. Why not practice moderation while you're at the resort with taking shorter showers, using your towels and your bedding for a few days. None of us change our beds daily at home, do we need to do that when traveling? All hotels, and resorts have a card you can place on the door or the bed to have your room/condo etc straighten, bed made without having all your linens changed daily. Save water, save electric; think GREEN, put the card out.

Many hotels deliver newspapers daily, don't throw them away; recycle them. In the last 5 years I've noticed the bulk of hotels we stayed in do have a recycling program. Ask about it when you check in. Recycle your newspapers, your plastic cups and water bottles, cans etc if you're cooking.

I'm betting it's safe to say most of us don't turn on the heat and open windows at the same time at home; or open windows with the air conditioning on at home. Who wants to pay to cool or heat the outside, right? So, why do people do this at a hotel? I've noticed it most when along a beach area. A.C. on, doors and windows open cause they want to see and hear the ocean. I too like to see and hear the ocean; but choice one or the other....think Green. If it's hot and you need the ac on, or it's on and controlled by the hotel; go outside to hear and see the ocean.

Moderation is the key, you don't have to do without, you don't have to make huge sacrifices to be green, to think green. If everyone practices moderation and does their part we'll make headway.

Another way to think and practice being green in your travels is to think about items before you throw them out. If you cook (and we usually do part of our meals), you often have food left over at the end of your week. Check the desk before you throw out unused items. We've noticed many Marriott facilities have a box for collection of unused unopened food stuffs. These unopened unused food stuff's are donated to food banks. That's recycling and helping those in needs.

Traveling Suitcase contests
ends today. While I've been a bit disappointed in the number of those that choose to participate; it's been fun getting to know some new folks. I've added those that entered to my blog log, and will announce the winner tomorrow. People who stay actively involved with comments on my blog will stay on my blog log, while others will be removed.
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Monday, March 29, 2010

Zion National Park, Utah

Looking out the window of the car you can see the clouds covering the top of the mountains, as we begin our tour of Zion National Park. Zion was Utah's first park. Cold misty snow covers the trees, the peaks, and the roadways. You might want to keep this picture handy when you're complaining about being hot in the middle of August. I think seeing it will help to cool you down. lol. Seriously folks can you feel the cold from you sit?

cloud covered peaks at ZionPut on coat, hiking boats, hat, and mittens and come along with hubby and I for a winter hike. Regardless of the season you must come prepared at Zion. Elevations vary from 3,666 to 8,726 feet. With that much elevation change you can have a 30 degree temperature swing in any one day.
Zion trailKeep your eyes peeled though, it's getting late and some of the animals are out looking for food. Even when they're on the path give them the right away. Don't run! Be still, or move slowly to get out of their way. Running is never good. Firstly, they move a whole faster then we do. Running get's their attention and they to give chase; plus you risk falling...particularly when it's slippery.
bull on Zion trailWe scrambled as best we could off the trail up the hill a bit. I was holding onto a tree, pulling my sister-in-law up after me. Her hubby, my brother and my hubby we're fast behind us. We had a hard time holding on while we waited for it to leave. I tried to use my zoom with one cold hand to get the picture. Which is why it's not very good. It was a good size bull and it stared at us for what seemed like a long time. Then he started towards us. We remained quiet and motionless; finally he lost interest and went the other direction. We made out way quickly back to the visitors center; as we were almost done with our hike when this occurred. It was getting late, and we were all cold.
crevasses I suggest you eat light if you want to squeeze through. Some of these crevasses are pretty tight. Sandcastles in desert canyons in every direction will keep you snapping pictures constantly. So much to see. Zion rests on the border of the Mojave Desert and is part of the Colorado Plateau. Many different weather zones produce a big variety in animal, and plant life. The area was once home to Ancestral Puebloans, The Anasazi.

snow covered cliffsEven with snow you can see how red and pretty the cliffs are at Zion National Park. No wonder visitors has grown from 3,692 in 1920 to 2.5 million by 1996.

sun setting at Zion
Just as we headed back to our cars the sun began to set, look at the beautiful color even in the dead of winter. This is January in Zion National Park. Perhaps someday we'll return for a tour during warmer months. You can rest assured though if you tour, as we did during the winter months, you see different sites than the average visitor; and it's not crowded!

The park is open all year, except Christmas Day. Some area's maybe restricted if unsafe due to weather in the winter months. Hours vary too by the seasons, open from 8 A.M. to 5 in Spring and Winter, 6 in Fall, and 8 P.M. in Summer.

Jr. Ranger Programs exist, so please get the kids signed up if you have young ones in your group. Bikes and pets are permitted on certain trails. Truly something for everyone, almost everyday of the year.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Traveling Interstate 70, Illinois

World's largest cross measures 198 feet by 113 feet. This large cross is at the intersection of Interstate 70 and Interset 57 in Effingham, Illinois. At night it is lit and visible for quite a distance. A beacon.
The Cross in Effingham, IllinoisVisible for a good distance during the day also. It was built by The Effingham Cross Foundation using 180 tons of steel. Please take time to hop off the freeway, follow the small signs to see this up close and personal. There are 10 stations each with a button for audio homilies, a visitors center (with bathroom), and a video you can enjoy. There are several large crosses across the country. Groom Texas boast the 2nd largest cross in the Western Hemisphere. You can see how little hubby is by comparison...the speck of red, that's hubby. Click on the picture to enlarge it for a better view. I've lighten the photo for better visibility, as it was dark and gloomy...misting while we were there.
BisonThis picture of me and my bison was taken out front of The Indian Arts and Crafts Shop in St. Elmo, Illinois; also right along I-70. I have a thing about bison and so we stopped for a photo opt. However besides stopping to see the Bison I encourage you to stop and do a little shopping while you take a potty break. The selection of Native American crafts, and art is fabulous. Prices are quite good.

Too often in our travels people blow past items of interest, thinking only of the final destination. I really believe it's the journey, and not the final destination that can produce wonderful memories, opportunities to learn and add to the enjoyment of the trip. So, please do yourself a favor, stop, look and learn. Why not add these interesting stops instead of speeding in and out of a rest stop next time you travel?

Interstate 70 is most generally the fastest way from point A to point B, running from near Cove Fort in Utah to near Baltimore Maryland, and the first Interstate Highway Project here in The US; but there are sites along the way..............slow down and enjoy them.

Travel safe my friends and let me know what you see along the way.
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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Keep Pedaling, Hilton Head South Carolina

rented bikeshaded bike pathsigns on bike path

moss covered trees
Get your bike and join me. Mine's the pretty bright lime green bike. Bike rentals are everywhere on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Hotels have rentals as do private vendors to make it convenient. Prices are quite affordable. Some private vendors will even delivery your bike to the hotel or resort, while other resorts have the rental right there at your finger tips. I was given a sturdy lock and basket along with my rental; and a map of the trails. Paths go everywhere on the Island. In fact there are 10 scenic miles of bike paths and don't forget you can also ride on the beach.

On a hot summer's day you could enjoy some shade from the tree lined pathways. I get lost easily so pleased to see lots of signs to help you find your way.

You can enjoy trees, birds, beach scenes as well as caulking at the beautiful private homes. There's even a couple of guided tours you can take on your bike. One such popular tour is to Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge. It was too cold for me to what to venture to another island; but hope to take that in on a return trip to the area.

You can ride just to ride, you can ride to shop or eat, you can ride and see historic sites, and you can ride to enjoy wildlife. I highly recommend renting a bike for a few days when you visit Hilton Head. The one partially warm day I rode all day while hubby was golfing. I had a ball and saw many things you might miss while riding by in a car at a higher speed.
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pack Kitchen Essentials in your Travels

traveling box of spicesWhen you travel one way to save money is to do some cooking yourself. We typically have a kitchen or kitchenette and therefore don't have the need to eat every meal out. We pack small containers of spices that we use in most of favorite dishes. We've even found small containers of salad dressing. You don't want to spend all your time at the grocery store; nor do you want to throw away half used items that are left at the end of your weeks vacation. That's wasteful and costly. Plan ahead. This small container holds tea bags, a coffee bag or two, spices, powdered creamer and sugar, salt and pepper. You might notice a hotel package there on the right side in the picture. I rarely use all that is supplied in a hotel room, so do keep the extra packages. They're light weight and easy to pack that way.

We almost always grill out a night or two, most of the resorts we've stayed in have a grill area. That's a great way to stretch your budget, eat well, and not be restricted if you don't have a full kitchen. So the spices we pack always come in handy for that. Mrs. Dash can be used for so many things it's a good multi-purpose spice that always travels with us.

Breakfast is generally not more then coffee, a breakfast roll, fruit or bowl of cereal. My small packages of creamer are used for breakfast.

Lunch is lite consisting of apples, crackers, cheese and maybe some lunch meat. Small amounts of each we've found are easily obtainable, take little room even if in a small kitchenette, filling and well used up when the week is over.

If you have a full kitchen you may purchase more and have more left at the end of your week. Before you pitch it ask the desk if they keep items on hand. We've found many Marriott facilities keep a food bank box in or near the lobby where unopened items can be put and donated.

This small box of goodies and are packable plastic stemware have served us well in our travels. We take them even when flying.

7 days left in the contest, you still have time to enter.
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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Traveling Alert

Fire truckNot the best of pictures I know; but I took this photo through the glass window 6 stories up after I climbed all the stairs. I was a bit out of breath, so probably moved, add that to the reflection from the glass and well.........what you see is what you get.

Ok, the important part and the reason for my posting this is. What do you wear when sleeping in a hotel room? Do you have something to cover up with near by? Early morning, we'd not yet had a cup of coffee; though we each had one in hand we were sipping when the extremely loud fire alarm went off. I sleep in a t-shirt; but was cold and had put on a fleece and lounge type pants. I could go outside in what I was wearing. Hubby was similarly clad. He did quickly put his jeans on before we walked down the stairs though. I took time enough to grab my purse and cell phone and away we went. Should have seen the barefoot folks in jammies stumbling around. No one was awake, not really anyway. Though getting all that blood flowing as we walked to the ground floor to exit surely helped.

This isn't the first time we've had to exist a hotel for a fire and or fire alarm. Last time it wasn't daylight; it really was in the middle of the night. Luckily it was warm weather and we all were out in the parking lot for some time while the fire department took care of things. That was many years back, when our daughter was young. Waking up a young one quickly, getting something on not a easy task.

It's important to be organized folks, even when you're suppose to be relaxing and on vacation. Before you go to bed at night, know where your purse-wallet, cell phone, and shoes are. Have a quick put on something at your finger tips. You really never know what might happen, and you want to be able to quickly get yourself and loved ones to safety without fumbling around or going outside without sufficient clothing on. And you really do need to put on shoes, yes even you teenagers (who were the bulk of those we saw stumbling around barefooted). If there really is a fire, you don't want to burn your feet. If there really is a fire you don't want to step on glass that's a reality if firemen have busted through a window or something to get in.

In both situations we were all were safe. The first time there was a fire in a trash can from a cigarette not properly extinguished which caused the smoke detectors to go off. Took them awhile to find it too, as they searched floor to floor. I'm happy now that most hotels are smoke free so this is probably less of a issue. Though I know people do cheat and still smoke in places they aren't suppose to. This last time I believe there was a problem in the kitchen area as they were preparing breakfast.

Remember you can not take the elevator when there's an alarm. You must use the stairway. Do you take a minute to see where the stairs are when you're in a hotel? If you've not done that in the past, PLEASE make it a point to do that here forward in your travels.

fire truckOnce the fire department gives the all clear you can return to your rooms, but we still had to use the stairs so we got some extra exercise that day. Think how crowded the elevator is going to be when the all clear is given. If you have the ability to walk, please do and leave the elevator for those less physically capable. It takes some time to transport everyone back in large hotels.

So my travel alert and tip for you all:
  1. Be organized, have shoes and essentials at finger tips
  2. Know where the stairs are

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Charlotte, North Carolina

historic Settlers CemeteryCemetery Charlotte North Carolinaalpha listing of historic burials.cdemetery map of burials

We were passing through Charlotte, North Carolina on our way to Hilton Head, South Carolina. We were searching for Sun. We altered our travel arrangements to skirt a storm as best we could; which is how we landed for a night here in Charlotte. Reviewing maps and weather reports over breakfast before heading out Dear Hubby spotted Old Settlers' Cemetery within a few blocks of our hotel. Naturally, we stopped!

Even in a short cold walk through the cemetery you can see how historic it is and wonder about the many stories it holds.

The oldest known burial is that of Joel Baldwin who died at the young age of 26 in October of 1776. Many Revolutionary and Civil War Hero's are buried here. Many of the early pioneers who formed and settled the area are buried here.

The area was first settled by Scots-Irish who belonged to The Church. It is felt the graveyard was first attached to the church. Though time has changed the church affiliation from non-denominational to the current day Presbyterian, which is the church you see in the background.

Servants of the early families are buried in the NorthEastern portion without markers; or at least none of the plain wooden or stone markers from those early days has withstood the test of time and vandalism.

Vandalism has played a hand at this historic graveyard on multiple occasions. Sadly, some of those records are forever gone. Thankfully there have been periods in it's history that caring people have done what they could to restore and preserve it's history. From my research I believe the cemetery has been cleaned up and restored 3 separate times, each time falling again to lack of attention and vandalism. Hopefully now, this park like setting will be maintained and those there properly honored.

One of the more famous burials is Colonel Thomas Polk, who died in 1793 and is the great uncle of President James Polk.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Travel to Argentina, explore the great outdoors

fly fishingkayakinggreat whale
Grab your passport and your outdoor gear and head to Argentina. This is a sportsman's paradise. Think of water sports, fishing, kayaking, swimming, canoeing and whale watching. Want more adventure, try your hand at white water rafting. Turisom en Argentina encompasses 7 zones. Each zone has something to offer travelers of all ages and all interests.

Be adventureous and hand glide in the Northwest Zone. Or relax and shop in San Salvador, photograph the large diverse species of birds in this region. If you love history like I do, you'll want to seek out the hidden little chapels and the adobe churches which reflect The Spanish influence of it's early settlers. And don't forget to get good pictures of the volcanic areas (now inactive).

Maybe you prefer city life, the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires? This beautiful warm humid green plain area between the mountains will keep you busy. It's the commercial center of the country with it's vibrant city life, shopping by day with a huge variety of dining options and night life once the sun goes down. Don't forget your bathing suit and sun screen, spend time on The Beach of Mar de Plata. Hoteles en Buenos Aires abound with lodging for you and your family right in the heart of this exciting city.

There are National Parks to explore, Petrified Forest to see, and museums to dwell in along The Atlantic Coastal area. The Patagonia Zone offers lakes, forests, and glaciers to explore and enjoy.

The Mendoza Zone is more desert like with much to offer. Geological adventures abound. Go climbing, or caving. For the less adventurous among us grab your camera and head to The Valley of the Moon with it's breathtaking array of color. Buy your souvenirs in San Juan or San Rafael.

Sportman, Birder, Shopper, history buff or just relax in the forest or on the beach. Hoteles en Argentina can satisfy your needs. Don't forget to ask about package deals.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Turtle Park, St. Louis, Missouri (Dogtown-Forest Park)

Remember to click to see pictures larger
freeway exist 34A sign for parkExit 34A, Skinker and Clayton Roads is the spot. The walk bridge you see is at the intersection of Tamm and Oakland Avenue's in St. Louis, Missouri. Some will argue this is Dogtown, some will say it's the far southern end of Forest Park. At the very least it is were the two neighbors join and come together.
small cement turleCute little turtles lining the walking paths make a good place for children to sit.
large cement sculptured turltedAnd who could resist climbing on such a large repile? Seriously, there are children of all ages here. Climbing, walking, photographing.
front view of turtle sculptureFunny the small children didn't seem to be afraid of this large creature with it's mouth opened. These fantastic cement sculptures are the work of a local artist, Robert Cassilly on land donated by Mrs. Sonya (Sunny) Glassberg.
Turtle Playground SignAnd yes, the park is in-fact named Turtle Playground. In August of 1996 it was officially opened. There's parking on the street and plenty of place for bikers, walkers and those with strollers on a sunny afternoon. You could try your hand at identifying a Snapping Turtle, Soft-Shelled Turtle, Mississippi Map, Box Turtles or a Stink Pot as they all reside here in cement form. There's even a long snake which makes a place to sit, or climb along side the walkway.

With the covered walkway over the freeway there's easy access to the park. Though I must admit this is the first time we've actually visited the park; we've seen the large turtles from the freeway many many times in our travels there. Take time, get off the freeway and enjoy it; it's well worth the effort.

The park is open daily til 10 pm and is free!

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Pack Traveling Wine Glasses

plastic packable wine glassesYou might be scratching your head right now as you look at this picture and wonder what's the lady showing me a picture of a broken wine glass for? Nah, it's not broken; it's packable. Is there such a word as packable? If not, I think there should be. The picture on the left is what it looks like broken down, packable. Takes very little room.

Step 2, the glass on the right is what you'll see when you turn and pull the stem portion out. Note the screw area on the top of the stem, and that same area on the bottom of the bowl. That's how you put it together. Easy and quick. Simply screw it together.
2 piece wine glasses for travelingThis picture shows your very nice non breakable packable stemmed wine glass. This is a must for your all traveling needs. I pack 2 of these wine glasses oallthe time when I travel. They're light weight so not an issue even if flying vs car traveling. These 2 are new ones hubby purchased for me on one of our recent traveling excursions. After many years, many miles and lots of vacations the ones I had were scratched and didn't look nice. Though they are still quite usable and have made their way from our traveling/vacation box to our football tailgating box.

I highly recommend these to ease all your packing troubles. I dislike drinking wine from a paper cup in a hotel room, or worse a Styrofoam cup. The other added advantage is a non breakable glass when sitting at the pool side, on the beach, or relaxing from a patio or balcony in our travels. And since it's reusable, it far more environmental friendly than those Styrofoam cups and glasses in the hotel rooms.

Even if you're not a wine drinker, these would be handy and nicer to drink from than the Styrofoam and paper often in hotel rooms.
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