Photo of the Day-After the Harvest

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Photo of the Day: Through the Trees

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Photo of the Day: Kansas Cattle Feedlot

On one of our cross country camping trips, my dad told us stories of trail rides that matched the western tv shows in vogue then and then showed us how beef cattle are kept in feedlots prior to processing. I believe this photo is from about 1965 somewhere in Kansas.

The process is still the same. After spending a year to 18 months grazing on grass, most beef cattle in this country are shipped to feedlots like this and then fattened up with grain and  corn.  Because of crowded and dirty conditions, most are given antibiotics. To help them add weight, most are fed steroids and hormones.  Then they are processed and we buy that meat and eat it.

To avoid that, you can purchase beef that has been completely grass-fed and is ASH-free (no antibiotics, steroids and hormones) by looking for a local cattle rancher or your local meat processor and purchasing a half or quarter cow. Or, if you are lucky enough, you can purchase cuts of meat raised that way in a small local food market like the Wild Ramp in Huntington, WV. 

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There’s more to Florida besides Disney World!

The Magic Kingdom acts like a huge magnet to anyone with children, especially for families planning a trip during the winter school vacation time. Marketing for all the major Orlando attractions is very strong, particularly in the Northeast, and few children miss the siren call on their tv commercials.

It’s an easy trip to plan, but there is so much more to central Florida. My suggestion, if you feel you MUST go to Disney World, is take advantage of the good airfares and go…for one day. Then with your rental car, go see other highlights of the area. There is so much to pick from and you and your family will have an experience few people have because they are only focused on the amusement park.

Florida orange groves are spread through central Florida. The Citrus Tower in Clermont provides greats view from 226 feet.

Manatees are rarely seen in the wild but you can view them at the underwater glass observatory at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. There are trails to snake and alligator exhibits as well.

Ancient man lived in central Florda as far back as 200 BCE. The Crystal River State Archaeological Site has six mounds and is considered to be one of the longest and most continually occupied sites in the state.

In the winter visitors to the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge can watch and even swim with manatees.

Take a glass bottom boat trip in Silver Springs in Ocala and see where the Tarzan movies and the tv show Sea Hunt was filmed.  Or if you prefer a less commercial experience, rent a canoe at Ocala National Forest and journey along the twisting, winding Juniper Run.

Daytona Beach is famous for its 18 miles of hard packed sand where you can drive your car. Make sure to go to the access point at the north end of the beach, as traffic is only one way.

If you enjoy liighthouss, the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse is  the nation’s second highest.

Cape Canaveral is not only a National seashore with over 300 speicies of birds and animal including brown pelicans, turtles, manatees and alligators, it also is the location of the Kennedy Space Center.

Lots to see and do besides visiting Mickey and Minnie!

Posted in education, Family, Family Travel, Florida, Historic Interest, Kid Travel, National Park, Natural Must See, Ocean, Travel, wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Time to Plan your Fall Foliage Trip

Despite the drought conditions in the Midwest, the New England rain this summer was adequate and the projections for the fall foliage is that it will be a spectacular show. Yankee Magazine keeps an updated Foliage Map on the Internet so you can time your visit to any given area. In addition, individual state organizations keep other maps.

Once you take a look at the maps and figure out when you would like to go, get planning NOW.  You are at most 4-6 weeks away from peak foliage enjoyment, and lodging reservations are going to be difficult the longer you wait.

Combine your trip with one of New England many festivals for a wonderful time.

September 28-30  Manchester Fall Arts and Crafts Festival Manchester, Vermont

September 30-October 7 Fryeberg Fair  Fryeberg, Maine

October 1-6  North East Kingdom Fall Festival  Walden, Cabot, Plainfield, Peacham, Barnet and Groton, Vermont

October 6   Manchester Apple Festival    Manchester, Maine

October 6-7  Living History Days  Orono, Maine

October 6-7 Warner Fall Foliage Festival     Warner, New Hampshire

October 6-7 Sunday River Fall Festival   Bethel, Maine

October 6-7 Boothbay Harbor Fall Festival Boothbay Harbor, Maine

October 6-8 Chowder Days  Mystic Seaport, Connecticut

October 6-7 International Oktoberfest Newport, Rhode Island

October 6-8 Connecticut Renaissance Faire  Hebron, Connecticut

October 13  Wolfe’s Neck Farm Fall Festival  Freeport, Maine

October 13-14  Wellfleet Oysterfest  Wellfleet, Massachusetts

October 20   Keene Pumpkin Festival  Keene, New Hampshire

Many many more!!!

Posted in Art and Artisans, Beer, Connecticut, Family, Festivals, Maine, Massachusetts, Natural Must See, New England, New Hampshire, Ocean, Rhode Island, Travel, Vermont | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wildflowers: Fireweed

Fireweed is a wild flower that grows in many areas of Alaska. We were introduced to it during our 6-hour ride to the Back Country Lodge deep inside Denali National Park. The guide informed us that the plant blooms from the bottom  of the stalk up.  The lore is that the number of inches to the top of the stalk is how many weeks before the first snowfall.

He said one year they did not pay attention and ended up having to fly out from the small airfield located near the lodge, as the roads became impassible with a mid August storm.

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Alaskan cruise highlight

My mom asked me to plan a family vacation to Alaska and assumed we would go on a cruise with a side trip to Mt. McKinley, but her budget did not permit that. Instead all seven of us flew into Anchorage and rented a van. We had an amazing week driving first up to Denali National Park and then down to Seward.

In Seward we took a day cruise out into the Alaska Gulf and saw an amazing array of wildlife, both aquatic and land. The sea otters intrigued me and perhaps the next time I go to Alaska I will be able to sea kayak in an area where sea otters live.

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Photo of the Day: Identify the State Capitols










Hint: all have been visited by me in the past year and shown on this blog.

Okay….here are the states…see if you can match them up and list the names of the capital cities: Connecticut, Tennessee, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Vermont, West Virginia, Massachusetts, New York, Georgia

Posted in Architecture, Culture, education, Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, Tennessee, Travel, Vermont, West Virginia | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Good Eats

A while ago I posted some fine restaurants we had experienced in our travels across the country where you could also enjoy a wonderful meal. My teenager started to spout all the fun places that we had also enjoyed that also should be shared.  These places will not empty your wallet and will not appeal to the snob in you. Instead, they are places where you can get a delicious meal and something about them makes them special.

Baja Burrito, located at 722 Thompson Lane across from 100 Oaks Mall in Nashville has a format found in other places, like Qdoba. But unlike the chain, Baja Burrito is a locally-owned independent place that does only a few things, does them well, and does them fast.  Open from 11am-9pm Monday-Saturday, the staff there are long-timers and the energy is high. When you get in line to place your order, it moves quickly and soon you can fill your small container with a choice of four salsas for your chips.  Great place for burritos and fajitas and my favorite is the fish tacos.

In Maine it is pretty much mandatory to eat lobster, but a nice sit-down restaurant can put a dent in your wallet. On our last trip that way we were told we MUST stop at Red’s Eats. Where is it? Just drive up Route 1 and when you get to the traffic jam, park the car and walk towards the bridge. It will be on your left.  More specifically it is located at 41 Water Street  in Wiscasset, Maine.  Open every day for lunch and supper, Red’s menu includes other things but really it offers one thing and one thing only that you should purchase-a lobster roll. They do all the work, removing the succulent lobster meat from its shell after cooking, piling over a pound of meat on to the bun. They offer you a choice of melted butter or mayo and after you find a seat on the deck, you can enjoy. Simple, wonderful pleasure. Nothing fancy and absolute bliss. You may wait on line, as we did, for an hour, but it is worth it.

Tom + Chee in the Cincinnati area is THE place to get grilled cheese. Remember your childhood comfort food of Campbell’s tomato soup and grilled American cheese sandwich? Well, time to upgrade that to an adult option! Build-your-own offers six choices of breads (including gluten free but also including a glazed donut for you risk takers) and nine choices of cheeses (including vegan). You can add toppings (veggies, pesto, hummus and potato chips) as well as meats. Located in downtown Cincinnati at 133 East Court Street, there are other cafes in Newport on the Levee next to the aquarium, and in Louisville.

New York City has so many wonderful places to eat that I almost did not want to include this place, but it is from my childhood. We used to go into lower Manhattan to go to the eye doctor and have glasses made up, sort of like Lenscrafters now. So while the glasses were being made, my dad would take us to some place to learn a bit about the history of New York and then out to eat lunch. I’m talking about Katz’s Delicatessen, which you saw in one scene in When Harry Met Sally. They make wonderful pastrami sandwiches there, piled high on rye, with a half sour pickle. Yum.

While we’re talking about beef I want to share about a restaurant here in Huntington, West Virginia that has been doing so well near the Marshall University campus on 3rd Avenue that the owners recently opened two other places in nearby towns. Fat Patty’s offers interesting hamburger concoctions that are the best in town.  For example, the Born on the Bayou includes a 1/2 pound patty blackened with Cajun spices, sauteed onions & peppers, melted Provolone cheese, lettuce & tomato, served with Honey Mustard glazed on the bun.

Do you have any local favorites that you share with visitors? Are there local joints in your town or your past that you would like to share?

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