Friday, October 31, 2014

Photo Friday Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Located in Richmond, Va. the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is a bastion of tranquility in the midst of a very busy city. Here are some of the lovely views we enjoyed. 
The Conservatory



Thursday, October 30, 2014

Flashback Thursday Great Quebec Hotels

I am going to suggest that if you can afford it, you book a room for at least one night at the Chateau Frontenac. It is amazing and when almost everyone thinks of Quebec City, the Chateau is what they picture. This is not an inexpensive place to stay. You will pay a minimum of $250 for a room and most likely a lot more. It is however, worth it for the experience. It is what we did, spend one night and I will never forget it. They brought Alex cookies and milk, obviously he liked it.

If what you want is the location, the Hotel Bellevue is literally in the shadow of the Frontenac and it cost less than half the price. It is a lovely small hotel with a wide variety of room styles. It is located within the walls of the city. 

If the lower city appeals to you, the Auberge St. Pierre is located across the street from the rear entrance to the Museum of Civilization. There is plenty to do in the lower city and this is a quiet and interesting area to stay. Breakfast is included and this is a very charming place to stay. 

The Relais  Charles-Alexandre is located outside the walls of the city on Grande Allee , which is the Champs Elysee of Quebec. It is within walking distance of a variety of great restaurants on the Rue Cartier and if you enjoy walking, you can walk into the old city. It is a boutique bed and breakfast hotel with classic French Canadian d├ęcor. It was a very comfortable bed as Al is happy to show.

The Hotel Manoir Victoria is another of our favorites. It has something quite unusual in Quebec, an indoor swimming pool. It is one that we liked enough to stay more than one time. It is located in a great shopping area.

Other hotels we stayed at more than one time, include the Lowes which is being converted into senior housing and the Delta which was not a Delta when we stayed twice so I decided not to mention them. 

We have personally stayed in all of these hotels and would recommend them as excellent options. Check out their websites, it really depends on how much you want to spend and what you plan to do. None of these would be considered a bargain, for that we stayed at the Super 8 which is really nice, had a great indoor pool with slide but is located about 15 minutes outside the city.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Fall Festival at Mount Vernon

Saturday, October 25th we attended the Fall Festival the home of our first president, George Washington. In addition to all the usual things you can do there on any given day, there were special events that appealed to families and children. Not to say that you needed to have children to enjoy this day, there were plenty of couples and seniors who were having a good time. 

The "General" was walking around and also talking to anyone who cared to listen. We sat on bales of hay and listen for about a half hour under a tent and it was fascinating.

There was a straw bale maze for the kids as well as storytelling. We stopped to roast apples and dip them in honey, it is quite delicious if I have to say so myself. 

The events that have to do with the Fall Festival are mostly held at the Pioneer Farm. You can watch a demonstration of 18th century dancing and try it out yourself. Making a corn husk doll was very popular with both children and adults. 

If you wanted to take a sightseeing cruise on the Potomac, it was half price and I though a very great bargain for $5. We spent about 5 hours there and certainly could have spent a lot more. I highly recommend this event to anyone who wants to learn more about Colonial times and our first president.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Photo Friday Farmers Market Davenport, Iowa

Last summer as part of our trip to the Quad Cities, we visited the Farmers market. Don't you just love a farmers market? The fresh fruits and vegetables, the local honey, food vendors and lets not forget the cupcakes.
For wine lovers, the local vineyards were in attendance and for me, the strawberry rhubarb jam was a big draw.
Tomatoes of all colors
I of course bought some local honey as did  this gentleman
Yummy cupcakes
Beautiful fresh eggplant
I bought some rhubarb jam.
Plenty of plants were also for sale.
Anyone hungry?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Flasback Thursday Amazing Montmerency Falls

I remember when I was a child, in the days before the Trans-Canada Highway, when we meandered along the south bank of the St. Lawrence River east of Quebec City trying to get a glimpse of Montmorency Falls. My mother told us that she and my father had gone there on their honeymoon and we wanted to see it.

It wasn't until I brought my own children there that I actually got close to the falls. You can walk across a bridge right over the falls. It makes me rather sick in my stomach to do it, it is wooden and you can see down between the boards, and it bounces but I do it anyway. 
Montmorency Falls are quite magnificent, taller than Niagara at 272 feet but of course, not nearly as wide. When you are on the lower level, the spray will soak you from quite a distance. On the top of the falls, there is no such problem. There are two ways to get from the bottom to the top, one is the aerial tram the other is the staircase. 

The other alternative is to park at Montmorency Manor  at the top of the falls and have brunch, lunch or dinner. You get magnificent views and very good food.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Need to change direction

For the next few weeks I need to forget about doing the trip to the Midwest since I am in the midst of a laptop malfunction and my photos are located on my other laptop. Not to worry, they are backed up but I really don't want to download them all onto my older computer which has its own issues, which is why it not my current computer. 

I am going to regroup and I will be back to share more adventures once I figure out exactly what I am going to do. Stick around, I have lots of adventures to share and I may just do a live blog as I travel through Virginia.
I just thought I would throw in a photo. This is the church tower of the parish church in West Walton, Norfolk. My ancestors the Ollards lived in the parish and I was here to check up on them. That is our little rental car parked in front of the tower. You may have noticed the tower is not attached to the church, I like that.

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Photo Tour of Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Mich.

Greenfield Village is located in Dearborn, Mich. and was crated by Henry Ford to be a classroom. We should be very grateful to him for all the amazing pieces of history that he preserved. 

Getting ready for our Model T ride

Windmill from Cape Cod

Thomas Edison's Lab

Wright Brothers Bike Shop

Cottage from England

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Flashback Thursday Dufferin Terrace Quebec City

The Dufferin Terrance (Terrasse Dufferin) is one of the landmarks of Quebec City. In a city which has buildings that are almost 400 years old, this is a relatively new addition. The first cornerstone was laid by Lord Dufferin who was the third Governor General of Canada in 1878. It was one of the last things he did before returning to Britain to become Ambassador to Russia. We have more than just this to thank him for, he protected the walls of the old city from being torn down for development and for that we must all be grateful. 

Dufferin Terrace runs for about half a mile right on the edge of the escarpment. The Chateau Frontenac towers above the boardwalk that is anchored by the statue of the founder of Quebec City, Samuel de Champlain.
View of the Chateau Frontenac from the Dufferin Terrace

In the summer this is a great place to enjoy the views of the St. Lawrence River and the entertainment that is bound to pop up at any moment. In the winter, this is the location of a bobsled run.  At the eastern corner is the entrance to the funicular and at the western end are the stairs that lead to the Governors Promenade and the Plains of Abraham.    
View west from the Dufferin Terrace
Walking on the Dufferin Terrace has been a favorite pastime since the 1800’s and it is just as entertaining today. It is one of the first places we head for on every visit to the city because the gorgeous panorama before your eyes, never gets old.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Exciting Happenings In Charlottesville, Vir.

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This new social media contest aims to bring attention to the SNP Trust’s activities, including sales of the official SNP license plate 

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (October 13, 2014) – The Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau (CACVB) and the Shenandoah National Park Trust (SNPT) are launching today a unique social media-based contest entitled ―Where’s the Bear?‖. 
The Facebook campaign will span the course of one month and will feature photos of a ―life-size‖ black bear, taken at various locations throughout Charlottesville and Albemarle County. Two different photos of the bear will be posted on Facebook each week (one on the Experience Charlottesville and another on the SNP Trust Facebook pages).  Contestants will be invited to post their guesses on the black bear’s whereabouts. Winners will be determined by random drawings amongst all the fans who will have provided a correct guess by November 10, 2014.  The names of the winners will be announced at a press conference to be held at the end of November 2014. 

Four winners will receive one of these exciting prizes: 

    2-night stay at Homewood Suites Charlottesville + 1-night stay at Skyland Resort or Big Meadows Lodge 

    2-night stay at Holiday Inn Monticello + 1-night stay at Skyland Resort or Big Meadows Lodge 

    2-night stay at Hyatt Place Charlottesville + 1-night stay at Skyland Resort or Big Meadows Lodge - 1-night stay + golf for 2 at Keswick Hall + 1-night stay at Skyland Resort or Big Meadows Lodge 

Additional prizes for each winner include a pair of Neighborhood Passes (granting access to Monticello, Ash Lawn-Highland and the Museum at Michie Tavern), a gift certificate redeemable at select local restaurants and one of four different prizes from the SNP Trust (exclusive hike in SNP with Master Hiker, signed copy of Shenandoah: Views of our National Park by Hullihen Williams Moore, SNP black bear License Plate purchase or renewal or ―Shenandoah, The Gift‖ DVD) 

The ―Where’s the Bear?‖ contest aims at promoting activities of the SNPT, including sales of the official car and motorcycle license plate of the Shenandoah National Park.  A portion of the proceeds from the license plates benefits the Shenandoah National Park Trust which is a  501 C (3) nonprofit organization.  Official rules for this contest can be found here:  
About the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau (CACVB) 

In addition to serving as the global resource for marketing the tourism assets of Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia, through, the CACVB assists tour operators, meeting planners, reunions and other groups in planning visits to the destination.  CACVB’s mission is ―to enhance the economic prosperity of City and County by promoting, selling and marketing the City of Charlottesville and County of Albemarle, as a destination, in pursuit of the meetings and tourism markets.‖  CACVB operates the Downtown Visitor Center (610 E Main St) which is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and a satellite Visitor Center in the Albemarle County Office Building (401 McIntire Rd) which is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., as well as a touch-screen kiosk at Monticello’s Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center.  

About the Shenandoah National Park Trust (SNPT) 

As the official philanthropic foundation supporting Shenandoah National Park, the Trust invests in programs and initiatives which help ensure that Shenandoah National Park remains a crown jewel of the National Park Service—and a national treasure for all to enjoy—for generations to come.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What exactly is a Media Showcase

The reason that we went to Rockford, Ill. in the first place was so that I could attend the "Media Showcase". This was a chance for the city of Rockford , Ill. to present itself to a variety of travel writers and they did a very good job of that. It is also speed-dating for travel writers and CVBs (convention and visitor centers) from around the country to meet and arrange visits. You get 15 minutes together to exchange information. It is all very hectic and fun. 

This was Tuesday, the speed-dating begins on Wednesday morning. This first afternoon we had the option to take a fam tour (familiarization) and that is what Al and I did. My tour was included because I am a writer, Al's I paid for as part of a fee that included a bunch of things. 

We hopped on a bus and were taken to Midway Village Museum. The wonderful thing about any press trips like this is that we get special treatment and get taken on guided to tours etc. I plan to do a separate entry about Midway Village Museum so I won't get into it now but it is a fascinating place with a very nice museum and the historic house. 

After we toured the village we were taken shopping and I absolutely loved this store, it has everything you could possibly want except Al said, fishing equipment but I found it the perfect place to start my Christmas shopping. 

We ended up back at the hotel with time to rest for a few minutes and change for supper. We ate at a catered venue down along the river and honestly were treated like royalty. Being a travel writer is a tough life!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Arriving in Rockford, Ill.

We drove from South Bend, Ind. to Rockford. I trusted our GPS. One of the these days I am going to go back to the old way of doing things, using a map because the GPS decided we would enjoy basically driving through downtown Chicago. Yes,  that was a lot of fun.

Add to that the problem with construction on the road and by the time we arrived we were just a little frazzled. 

I also had not considered the fact that we had changed time zones and we arrived very early for check in. We were lucky that the Courtyard had rooms already cleaned and the woman at the desk upgraded us so we had a lovely courtyard room where we could easily walk to the hot tub for a relaxing soak.

We went out for an early dinner. One of my online friends from Helium, Christine Zibas lives in Rockford and she suggested we go to Garretts for dinner. We actually got there about 4 p.m. for early dinner. We started with an app of chips and salsa which was very good. I had a salad with chicken and roasted peaches and Al had a burger with homemade potato chips. We were very pleased with all the food we got there. 

She also suggested the Egg Harbor Cafe for breakfast the next morning and again the food was excellent. 

We moved across the street to what would be our hotel for the next few days, the Hilton Garden Inn. 
The adventure begins.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Maumee, Ohio

Maumee Ohio is just beyond Toledo, Ohio. It is where we spent our second night which was a Saturday. I chose it for the ease of getting to a church since this can be one of the hard things to do when traveling. This location had two Catholic Churches within a very close drive. We chose St Joseph Catholic Church because the time of the Mass worked better. 

After Mass, we went to the Maumee Antique Mall which was also close to our hotel. It was huge and stayed open until 8 pm on Saturdays. In August, the days are long and we didn't have to worry about getting back before dark. And yes, I did buy a few things, all very well priced. 

We stayed at a Courtyard by Marriott. It had a very nice location, next door to an Outback Steakhouse, within walking distance to Buffalo Wild Wings and a couple blocks from  Cracker Barrel so even though breakfast isn't included, you have options. Gas stations nearby as well to fill up before heading back to the Ohio Turnpike. 

I liked this stop very well. I am sure if I looked around I would have found a small interesting museum and the Toledo Art Museum is not a long drive. We enjoyed the pool and spa at our hotel, a great way to relax.