Friday, April 29, 2016

Photo Friday: Things I love about Philadelphia

Yesterday I talked about visiting Philadelphia. We used to visit every few months. We have taken four of our grandchildren to Philadelphia, met with friends there and just gone on our own, we love it. 

Here are some of the things we love. 
Philadelphia Academy of Art

Love the skyline

Philadelphia Zoo

Reading Terminal Market

Alex and some of the signers of the Constitution

Taking the Lights of Liberty Tour

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Flashback Thursday: Visiting Philadelphia

Philadelphia is one of our favorite places to visit. It has so much to offer. Not only is it filled with historic sites but it has plenty of entertainment as well. It is a perfect place to bring children but it is just as much fun for adults only. 

One of the things I like about Philly is the ease of getting around. Once you figure out the one way street grid, it is one of the easiest large cities to actually drive in. We usually drive in and park the car at the hotel. It is a great walking city and there is the Phlash bus for places that are in the most popular tourist areas. 
We have stayed at many different hotels in downtown. One of the most interesting is the Courtyard Marriott. It is an Art Deco former office building with great architecture and even better views. If you are lucky enough to have a room facing west and are high enough up, you will have great views of the Ben Franklin Statue on top of the Town Hall. 
First time visitors will want to see things like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Your first stop should be the Independence Visitor Center.  The National Park Department administers these landmarks but there are free tickets tickets that you should pick up at the visitor center.  Tickets are not required in January and February. 

This is just a teaser article to get you in the mood to visit this great city, more detailed articles will follow.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Jamestown Day Celebration


On Saturday, May 14, Historic Jamestowne and Jamestown Settlement collaborate to offer a range of programs marking the 409th anniversary of the 1607 founding in Virginia of America’s first permanent English settlement.

“Jamestown Day” features Historic Jamestowne’s ongoing archaeological discoveries of the 1607 fort and one of Jamestown Settlement’s ships sailing in the James River. A variety of family-friendly tours and interpretive programs on Powhatan and English 
trade and weaponry, and military and maritime demonstrations will take place at both sites.

“Jamestown Day” is sponsored by Historic Jamestowne, site of the original 1607 settlement jointly administered by the National Park Service and Jamestown Rediscovery on behalf of Preservation Virginia, in partnership with Jamestown Settlement, a living-history museum of 17th-century Virginia administered by the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation.

While there is separate admission to Historic Jamestowne and Jamestown Settlement, a four-site value ticket to Historic Jamestowne and Jamestown Settlement, as well as Yorktown Battlefield and the Yorktown Victory Center, is available on “Jamestown Day” and throughout the year.

Jamestown Settlement

An artillery salute will mark the mid-morning departure of the Discovery, a re-creation of one of the three ships that brought colonists to Virginia in 1607, to set sail in the James River. Programs also highlight the 25th anniversary of the Susan Constant, commissioned in 1991, and the 10th anniversary of the Godspeed, commissioned in 2006, including a photography exhibit, films and an artillery salute.

The day’s events feature military drills and interpretive demonstrations on Powhatan Indian and English trade and weaponry, and a program on the beginnings of representative government in America. Visitors also can engage in a variety of diversions, such as bowling, hoop rolling and quoits.

Historic Jamestowne

As part of the National Park Service’s Centennial, “Jamestown Day” at Historic Jamestowne will feature tours, demonstrations and ongoing archaeological excavations of the 1607 James Fort, allowing guests to share in the moments of discovery while interacting with archaeologists on site. Guests can meet English colonist Anas Todkill and interact with an American Indian interpreter.

A variety of ranger tours and programs highlighting the history of first settlement will be available throughout the day, including costumed glassblowers at the Glasshouse showing one of America’s first industries.


Separate Admission to Historic Jamestowne and Jamestown Settlement
There is separate admission to visit Historic Jamestowne and Jamestown Settlement. Free parking is available at both sites. Admission to Jamestown Settlement, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, is $17.00 for adults and $8.00 for ages 6 through 12, and free for children under 6. Open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Historic Jamestowne adult admission is $14.00 and includes Yorktown Battlefield. National Parks passes and Preservation Virginia memberships are accepted, but a $5.00 fee may apply for entrance to Historic Jamestowne. Children under age 16 are admitted free.

A four-site value ticket, available at Historic Jamestowne, Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center, is $35.25 for adults, $23.25 for ages 13-15 and $12.75 for ages 6-12 and offers seven consecutive days of admission to all four sites.
For more information about Historic Jamestowne, call (757) 229-4997 or (757) 898-2410 or visit or For more information about Jamestown Settlement, call (888) 593-4682 toll-free or visit



9 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Explore America’s Birthplace. Discover the story of Jamestown by touring the Visitor Center exhibition gallery and the Nathalie P. and Alan M. Voorhees Archaearium Museum, Memorial Church and archaeological site of the 1607 James Fort, and the waysides of New Towne.
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Free Enterprise and Early Industries. Experience the work of craftsmen at the Glasshouse and James Fort site as they demonstrate glassmaking and blacksmithing as practiced during Jamestown’s early years.
9:30 a.m. and 12 & 2 p.m.: Ranger Walking Tour. Take a guided Park Ranger tour to gain unique perspectives on the history of Jamestown.
10 a.m. – 12 noon: Children’s Dig Box. This “field work” for children will be focused around a simulated archaeology dig. Here, kids will practice digging techniques, participate in screening activities and develop the knowledge necessary to identify archaeological features, artifacts and stratigraphy.
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.: “The Buried Truth.” Share in the moment of discovery at the original 1607 James Fort. Meet the Jamestown Rediscovery archaeologists and learn about ongoing excavations and the latest discoveries.
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.: Native Lifeways of the Chesapeake. Meet Dan Firehawk Abbott of the Nanticoke people of Maryland’s Eastern Shore and learn about the material culture and lifeways of Tidewater Algonquians and their interactions with the settlers of Jamestown.
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.: A New Life in the New World. Learn firsthand about the trials of the first English settlers and their experiences exploring the Chesapeake from Anas Todkill, one of the settlers who explored the bay with Captain John Smith.
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.: New Happenings at the Archaearium. Join the curatorial staff and view artifacts from the archaeological collection and learn the stories of their discovery.
10:30 a.m. and 1:30 & 3 p.m.: Archaeologist Walking Tour. Join an archaeologist for an in-depth tour of the 1607 fort site and learn about this season’s excavations and new discoveries. Tours continue on Sunday, May 15, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.



All Day: Explore Museum Galleries. An introductory film and expansive gallery exhibits, featuring more than 500 artifacts, tell the Jamestown story in the context of the Powhatan Indian, English and African cultures that converged in the 1600s.
All Day: Celebrating Our Ships. Building a 17th-century ship is an amazing feat of skill. Enjoy an exhibit highlighting the construction, launch and sailing adventures of Jamestown Settlement’s Susan Constant and Godspeed, marking 25- and 10-year anniversaries.
All Day: Living-History Interpretive Demonstrations. Visit the re-created Powhatan Indian village, 1607 ships and colonial fort where costumed historical interpreters present hands-on programs and demonstrations, including cooking, navigation and matchlock musket-firing.
10:30 a.m. & 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 & 3:30 p.m.: “Godspeed to Jamestown.” A documentary from A&E Television Networks’ History® chronicles the 2004-2006 construction of Jamestown Settlement’s replica Godspeed.
10:30 a.m.-12 noon and 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m.: Period Games. Join in fun and games of the 17th century, including hoop rolling, bowling and quoits.
10 a.m.: Discovery Sets Sail. An artillery salute signals the departure of Discovery, one of Jamestown Settlement’s replica ships, from the ships’ pier to demonstrate sailing maneuvers in the James River through mid-afternoon. (Weather permitting.)
11 a.m.: Comparative Fire Starting. Could you start a fire with friction or flint? Learn how Powhatan Indians and English settlers started fires more than 400 years ago.
12 noon: The Rule of Law. Discover the beginnings of representative government, from the earliest days at Jamestown to the establishment of the first General Assembly in 1619.
1 p.m.: Celestial Navigation. Take a noon sighting to learn how English sailors navigated across the ocean in the 17th century.
2 p.m.: Artillery. An artillery firing celebrates the Susan Constant’s 25th birthday and the Godspeed’s 10th birthday. (Weather dependent)
3 p.m.: Comparative Weapons. Discover the advantages and disadvantages of period weapons used by the Powhatan Indians and English colonists.
4 p.m.: Trade Between Cultures. Learn how Powhatan Indians and the English settlers overcame language barriers to trade goods in the 17th century.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The dining pitfalls of booking a cruise last minute

We just booked our first cruise with Holland America. We are quite excited but at the same time there is a certain amount of trepidation. While they do not have open style dining, they do have a limited number of openings on their early dining and they are all filled. We have four options. 

1. We can take late dining which is not acceptable for a medical reason. 

2. We can dine freestyle which means that we can reserve a spot by 4:30 on any given day for the early dining and we will get a table if one is available. Baring that, we can just come to the dining room and wait in line for a table like you would at a  restaurant. 

3. We can book a table for an extra charge at one of the specialty restaurant for each night. But dining is included in our cruise fare so we shouldn't have to pay extra for it. 

4. We can dine at the casual buffet style restaurant. 

No, we are not going to go hungry but in my case, part of the whole cruising experience is getting to know your wait staff and more importantly  their getting to know you. It has always meant getting stellar service since you have the same staff for every dinner. The one time we were not able to get it on Princess, was the worst cruise we ever took. 

What can you take out of this post, book early and reserve your preferred dining time it is that simple. This was a spur of the moment booking and we are paying the price for waiting last minute. Hopefully it will turn out well, I certainly will be writing about it when we get back!!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Photo Friday: Audrain Automobile Museum Newport, RI

Located on prestigious Bellevue Avenue in Newport, R.I. the Audrain Automobile Museum is nothing less than spectacular. Here is just a small taste of what you can see in their current exhibition "Speed Machines".

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Looking for something fun to do in Pennsylvania?

Spree- The Shoppers Road Trip: Upstate PA/Poconos Mountain Duration:Two days and two nights

If you would like to have a couple of days away and are not quite sure what you would like to do, the Visit Pa under “Things to Do” offers a wonderful selection of tour options.   This one is one that will appeal to the shopper in all of us.

Spree—The Shoppers Road Trip” Upstate PA/Pocono Mountains Duration: Two days and two nights

Looking for a shopping adventure surrounded by the most dramatic scenery on Pennsylvania? Look no further than Upstate Pa, featuring downtowns full of boutiques and specialty shops. Visit the bustling towns of Wilkes-Barre and Jim Thorpe to find that one-of-a-kind gift and then head over to the outlets to fishing your Christmas shopping list. We promise you’ll like the deals and the views. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Travel Apps You Need to Download: Waze

Waze will change the way you navigate your next drive. It not only gives you directions, it tells you about anything that is happening along the way such as accidents, hazards, police and so much more.

Your fellow Wazers are the ones who supply the information and if you happen to be the passenger, not the driver, you can also contribute to the knowledge of the people who are traveling behind you. 

We used Waze extensively on our drive to and from Florida. We also used it when we drove to Weeki Wachee and Kanapaha Botanical Gardens.  

Waze is so useful that honestly it can help you to travel around your local area, you don't have to save it for your vacation. If you live in an area where you may have traffic issues getting to work, Waze can help you chose the best route on any given day and even tell you where to get the cheapest gas.

Waze is available for Android and for iPhones and is free to download. If you haven't downloaded it, I have to ask Why Not? It is simple to use and as previously state will change the way you look at travel. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

We booked a cruise to Bermuda

I have been wanting to take another cruise for a while. It has been quite a few years since our last cruise and I love cruising. I talk about cruising often with our friends who also cruise and who we have cruised with before. No one was taking the bait!! I even considered cruising while we were in Florida but the time just flew by.

Thursday Cindy called me and asked if I was still interested in cruising to Bermuda. She had found a cruise on Holland America which would berth in Hamilton. It seemed like perfect timing. Wednesday evening I was looking at Holland American cruises that go round trip to Europe and I have decided it was something I wanted to do for our 50th wedding anniversary in 2 years. 

This would be the perfect opportunity to try out Holland America on a shorter cruise. Add to that the price of the cruise was slightly less than we are getting in our tax refund and it was like we would be cruising for free. How could I resist? I couldn't of course. It also leaves just three days after our anniversary so this will end up being our anniversary getaway which we do every year. 

We booked on Friday with John Dorman of Cruise One. We have booked a couple cruises with him previously and it is nice to have someone whose name you know to call if I have any questions. He also is very timely in getting back to me if I shoot him an email. 

I forgot to mention we are also getting $100 per person on board credit from Holland America, This will allow us to book some specialty dining or a spa treatment for no cost!! How great is that. 

I will write a review of the cruise and the cruise line when we return but in the meantime I am getting excited and starting to think about all the packing I need to do!!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Flashback Thursday: Historic Chatham Manor Fredericksburg, Va.

Fredericksburg, Va. is one of the most historic cities in America. It is compact and provides a look at both the Revolutionary War and Civil War.

Built between 1768 and 1771 in the Georgian style by William Fitzhugh, Chatham Manor has been witness to the historic events that surround this area during both the Revolutionary and the Civil War. FitzHugh was a friend of George Washington and entertained him and many others on his thriving plantation. During his time there was a racetrack where he could pit his blooded horse against those of the other wealthy planters in the area. Fitzhugh’s daughter Molly would later marry George Washington’s step grandson George Washington Parke Custis. Their daughter would later marry Robert E Lee.

In 1806 Major Churchill Jones purchased the house and his family retained ownership for the next 66 years. At the time of the Civil War it belonged to James Horace Lacy. As a plantation and slave owner, his sympathies lay with the Confederacy and he joined as a staff officer. His wife and children remained at home until they were forced to leave by the Union army. They established their headquarters here in 1862.  Chatham Manor has the distinction of having been visited both by George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

In November 1862 the assault on Fredericksburg by river was launched from below Chatham. Today you can see an example of what the bridge looked like on the property. The resulting Union defeat turned Chatham Manor into a hospital. At one point both Clara Barton and Walt Whitman were working with the wounded at Chatham. 

Later in the war, the house was used as housing and when fire wood grew scarce, the paneling was pulled from the walls and burned. When the war ended, the house had bare walls covered with graffiti and blood stained floors and the grounds had been used as a burial ground. The gardens no longer existed and the Lacys, who were no longer able to maintain it, left in 1872.

In the 1920's Daniel and Helen DeVore took on the task of restoring Chatham Manor. We owe the present condition of the property to their loving care. The property’s last owner John Lee Pratt opened it to the public and in 1975, willed it to the National Park Service.

Today as with many Park Service homes, there is very little furniture. What you get to see are the bones of what is a beautiful house. Jane was our Ranger and she took us though the house and told us the story of its history. More time is spent on its Civil War period than on the Colonial period but there are many more famous people visiting here during that time. What we do find out is the entrance area door is original.  

 We enter through the rear door of the house, the front is the door that faces the river. We walked through the garden to get to the back door, even in October there was plenty of color still left. Take the time to walk the grounds especially the front toward the river, the views are beautiful.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Brandywine Treasure Trail Passport

I am a big fan of travel to the Bradywine area of Pennsylvania and Delaware. This lastest news makes travel there even more appealing than normal. If you have been thinking about visiting, 2016 is the time to go.

The Brandywine Museums & Gardens Alliance announces the availability of the 2016 Brandywine Treasure Trail Passport.  The Passport provides one-time admission to 11 of the Brandywine Valley's most prestigious attractions from May 28 through Labor Day, September 5, 2016.  Participating attractions include the Brandywine River Museum of Art, Delaware Art Museum, Delaware Museum of Natural History, Hagley Museum and Library, Longwood Gardens, Mt. Cuba Center, Nemours Mansion & Gardens, Rockwood Museum and Park, The Delaware Contemporary and Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library. The Delaware History Museum is temporarily closed but the Read House & Garden in Historic New Castle is open to Passport holders.  Individual Passports are $45 and Family Passports, good for two adults and up to three children ages 17 or younger, are only $95.00 representing a savings of up to $350.

The Delaware History Museum, including a major exhibition titled Delaware: One State, Many Stories and the new Center for African American Heritage, is expected to re-open on September 10, 2016.  Passport holders will be allowed to tour the Delaware History Museum from September 10 through December 31, 2016.

The Passport is funded by the members of the Brandywine Museums & Gardens Alliance with the support of the Greater Wilmington Convention & Visitors Bureau.  Passports can be purchased online at  Passports can also be obtained in person at the Greater Wilmington Convention & Visitors Bureau located at 100 West 10th Street, Ste. 20 in Downtown Wilmington or at any of the 11 BMGA attractions. Please call 800-489-6664 or email for more information. 

Some restrictions apply; check the website for complete details.

The Brandywine Museums and Gardens Alliance is a consortium of 11 Brandywine Valley attractions within a 10-mile radius of Wilmington who work together to promote the area's art, culture, history and natural beauty.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Radisson Blu Farnham Estate Cavan Ireland

Everyone has talents, I have a talent for finding and booking great hotels. I may not be able to sing or dance, but if you want to find a hotel that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime, talk to me!! I just seem to have a magic touch. The Radisson Blu Farnham Estate was as the name implies, a former estate. It is located just a little outside of Cavan Town and provides a very high standard of luxury while not being at all stuffy and formal.

You have the option of staying in the original mansion and that is what we requested. I actually asked for a room that faced the front lawn and we also had that. To say that we were impressed from the moment we arrived is both an understatement and an overstatement. About the only thing I didn’t like was the parking situation. Only handicap parking is allowed close to the house and even though we had a handicap sticker, there were no spots open so we had had to park in the lot which is farther than most people would like.

What you do is to get out your luggage and go to the covered waiting area and call the house and they send the van down to pick you up. It works but it also means that every time you want to leave the property, which we did with great regularity, you had to take the van and sometimes that involves a wait. In the grand scheme of things however, this is a very small annoyance.

Our room was not ready for us when we arrived. We were escorted to a lovely private parlor to wait and then escorted to our room. To say it had breathtaking views from immense windows is a gross understatement. It was just stunning and I think we both took a moment to just take in our gorgeous view and the room itself. Even the bathroom had a stunning view!!

The floors were wood and appeared to be original which would make them several hundred years old. The wall facing the bed had a fireplace as well but I have to admit I am not sure if it works, we never even talked about it when we were there.

We had twin beds and after sorting out who would get which bed, Kathy requested the one nearest the window so she could have fresh air to keep her cool, which was perfectly fine with me. We then each picked a wardrobe and unloaded our suitcases. I was so happy to have my clothes back that I was hugging each piece as I either hung it up or placed it in a drawer.

Our room was spacious and included a seating area with a large low table and a huge desk which become my writing area. The bathroom was probably the biggest I have ever had and I have some that were very impressive. We each had out own sink and of course our own robes. The tub was huge and I did enjoy a long soak one night.

We could make our own coffee and tea in the room and part of our welcome was a small bag of fresh cookies and a note from the management welcoming us.  We loved everything about staying here. 

The staff is unfailingly exceptional, not just sweet and helpful but funny and engaging. We ate here every night,  that was by choice. The food was good and the best meal we had in Ireland we had here on our last night. I will write another article about our dining experiences here.

The grounds offer plenty of opportunities to walk around and we did take advantage of the gorgeous landscape. Beyond that, this is a resort!! It has a very popular golf course and a spa. The spa is so popular that we just could not manage to get an appointment. I would make sure to book that ahead of time before I returned here. It was my own fault, they do recommend that you book ahead but we didn’t want to tie ourselves down to a set schedule before we arrived.

The hotel also has an infinity pool. Kathy did go down and enjoy a swim, I was just too tuckered and I didn’t go but I wish I had. Another thing that I loved about this hotel is before we even left the United States they called me and asked if there were any reservations they could secure for me. That is when I should have booked the spa!!

I would recommend this hotel to anyone who plans to visit Cavan and I would love to return for a visit and I can’t even imagine why I would want to stay anywhere else unless price was a serious consideration. Staying here is not inexpensive but it is worth every penny and the rooms in the modern addition are much less expensive than our suite but I was looking to create a lifetime of memories for Kathy and I succeeded beyond my wildest expectations. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Photo Friday: Summer in Quebec City

It is that time of year again when thoughts start to turn to summer vacations. Our family is no exception. For us, for many years, that has meant going to Quebec City. We haven't gone
in a few years and it is time for us to help introduce great-grandson Daniel to his heritage. 

Here are just a few of the places that we have visited in the past and will likely visit this year. 
Chateau Frontenac

Around Place Royal

In the Parliament Building

Art in Quebec

Outside the Parliament

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Looking for Covered Bridges in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley

 Of the slightly more than 200 covered bridges still standing in Pennsylvania, seven excellent examples are community treasures in Lehigh Valley. Five of these, which are open for traffic, often are taken for granted when crossed by busy travelers every day. The Lehigh Valley Covered Bridge Tour will offer you an opportunity to journey back in time to a quieter, more idyllic way of life.

The Lehigh Valley Covered Bridge Tour is approximately 50 miles long.

Feel free to flip through the Lehigh Valley Covered Bridge Tour brochure below. Download and print a copyof the Lehigh Valley Covered Bridge Tour brochure. Or, request a copy of the brochure to be mailed to you.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Our day at Homosassa Springs State Park

Some people may think that whales and dolphins are the marine animals that we all need to see. While I do enjoy seeing them, my new favorites are the Manatees. Known as “sea cows” these large and rather slow animals are just plain adorable.  We did see a couple in the Weeki Wachee River but we decided that the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs State Park  was a better way to actually see them up close and personal and we were right. They have an underwater viewing tank and an outdoor tank where you can watch the manatee.

Now if Homosassa only had the manatee it would be interesting but it has so much more. You begin by entering the Park at U.S. 19 so that you can take the riverboat tour up Pepper Creek to get to the wildlife part of the park.

The day we were there it was warm. Really it was the first gorgeous day in a while and everybody in the world seemed to have decided to visit there too. We had to wait in line to pay and then wait in line to get on the riverboat. There were so many people waiting that they brought in another boat. Even at that it was rather crowded. 

We had three people on our seat and that made it just a little cozy for my liking especially since I wanted to take pictures but other people were making it impossible for more than two people to sit on their bench so we sat close together to allow the people walking in the aisle to sit down. 

I was able to take some photos while we cruised along. When we arrived at the west gate we were hungry and stopped to grab a bite to eat at the Wildside Café. The hamburger and fries were very good and not over-priced.

The walk around the park is over a mile but there are benches along to way to rest. The heat was more of an issue for me that the distance. We got to see “Lu” the hippo and lots of alligators were taking advantage of the warm weather to sun themselves.

The birds are just amazing. We saw owls, ducks, bald eagles, flamingos and a whole lot more.

The only thing I didn’t visit was the snakes and lizards, I just didn’t want to. I loved the black bear and the panther and of course the manatee.

I was quite exhausted by the time we finished so we took the tram back, it is faster than the riverboat.

I can’t recommend Homosassa Spring State Park enough, I just loved it and I am sure it is somewhere that we will visit again and again.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Photo Friday: The Beauty of Butchart Gardens Victoria, BC

Come along on a photo tour of Butchart Gardens in Victoria. This is the first place that my cousin Chris took Al and I when we visited. It is an amazingly beautiful place that was created from an abandoned quarry, goes to show what can be done!!