Jan 082015

Did you ever receive a book that you just couldn’t set down?  This inspiring travel guide, 100 Places in the USA Every Woman Should Go, is written by Sophia Dembling.  She weaves over 100 enticing tales involving remarkable women that helped shape America’s history.

What better way to read her comments about ski resorts than while stopping near Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort, on Utah’s Alpine Loop scenic roadway.  If you were expecting to see me sharing this chapter with Bob, well – not on this trip. Our on-going joke is that everyone has personally seen him, except me.
Honeymoon Camper for two on Route 66
Our first camper was perfect for traveling across country with our 1964 Pontiac convertible. Those were the days of driving down Route 66 on a tank of gas for less than a dollar a gallon.  You can see why this camper was descriptively named the “Honeymoon Special.”

We can relate to Sophia’s statement, that you know America is a big hunk of land when driving from sea to shining sea. We’ve visited many parks and landmarks mentioned in her book, but now she’s given us quite a few more places to check off on our bucket travel list.

Dead Horse Point State Park
Mentioned in her book is Utah’s Dead Horse Point State Park.  You can view, but please not do, a Thelma and Louise moment where their final drive over the cliff was filmed.  This is also a very tragic view of where wild horses were corralled. They could see the water, but would plunge to their death in desperation to reach it.

Utah scenic roads
Pioneer women had to be as tough as men to travel on the wagon trains that brought them out west.  Sophia notes that there aren’t many museums dedicated specifically to women.

Her book still has something for everyone and plenty of gal loving trivia about the USA.  She describes museums dedicated to women pilots, brothels, Salem witches and artists. I can relate to her descriptive trivia and history about shopping malls, where we have all done the “shoppers death march” laden down with purchases.
HO Scale Train Room

My husband and I manage an HO scale train room.  You are always invited to see how we have depicted some scenic travels on our trains. This is where you may find me re-reading her travel guide for help in planning our next trip across the USA.

Since travel maps were replaced with a GPS, I hope you will share what is now your favorite travel planning guide.

Jun 222014

There are easier ways to travel, but families still love their three mile an hour horse power on the hoof.
Antelope Island Horse and Wagon
This covered wagon group travels through the western states each year. They converge on Antelope Island in Utah each summer during the annual Western Music Festival. The riders donate their time and covered wagons for local charity. As fellow horse lovers, we couldn’t resist the chance to go along for a ride down the dusty trail.
Antelope Island meeting wagon
They allowed me to ride shotgun with the driver, which seemed to give a very short proximity to the back side of the horse. Nell was harnessed close enough to me that she brushed the dust off my cowboy boots with her tail. I was so relieved that the horses didn’t need to add some fertilizer to the trail, or I’m sure that would have landed on my boots.
Antelope Island Covered Wagon
The driver explained what a day out on the road was like.  Although some of the group travels in motor homes, he keeps the heritage alive by camping as weather permits.  He described his morning as being awakened at dawn by the sounds of harnesses clanking and smelling coffee boiling.

The smile on his face while explaining that his average speed is three miles per hour, gave a sense of what I’m missing.  One of the tales he dispelled was the colorful phrase “circle the wagons” actually meant that the wagons served as a corral for the livestock.
Antelope Island riding shot gun
The towns along the way welcome them with organized guitar playing groups sitting around the evening campfires.  Other entertainment in the towns would include quilt and craft shows, toilet bowl races and cow pie bingo.

He admitted he’s feeling the old bones are telling him that riding on wagon trains may have to end soon.  His motto has been “as long as he is able to continue, this is an adventure that gives him a real appreciation for God, Country, and his pioneer ancestors that thrived on the western life.”

Apr 242014

Join us for a travel back in time to Michigan’s Mackinaw City and the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.  How far back?
Mackinac-park 1 Mackinac-Bridge-sign Mackinac-Ferry-To-Island Mackinac-Island-Grand-Hotel-
Mackinac Bridge These cars and my hairstyle should help with your guess (stop snickering).

As you can see, I’m walking past some 1950’s cars in the Mackinaw City Park.

I’m sure you’re wondering, like I was, about the different spellings for the same island and city name.

First of all, the shape of the island resembles a Great Turtle and the Indians gave it the name Michilimackinac.

Around the 1820’s it was shortened to Mackinac, but pronounced Mackinaw.

The founders of Mackinaw City changed the spelling to reflect the phonetic “aw” sound.  They felt the postal carriers would be less likely to confuse Mackinac Island with Mackinaw City, if they weren’t spelled the same.

Speaking of old cars, a summer cottager decided to bring his Locomobile to Mackinac Island.

While driving in Mackinac Island State Park, he frightened and hurt several horses and wrecked some carriages.

This prompted the State Park Commission in 1900, to outlaw automobiles.  Travel on Mackinac Island has been by foot, bicycle, or horse and carriage ever since.

I’d love wearing those sunglasses again, but wouldn’t want to lug a camera around with a roll of film and flash bulbs.

The scenic ferry trip is the only way to travel to the island, other than by plane.

The Grand Hotel opened in 1887 and has had five U.S. Presidents as guests.

We walked on the 600 foot front porch and enjoyed its namesake of “flirtation walk,” since we weren’t married yet.

The five mile “Big Mac” is the longest suspension bridge in the Americas.
On my bucket list, is being one of the lucky people allowed each year to climb up the bridge’s 552 foot tower.

There’s an elevator most of the way and then cubby holes and a ladder to finally reach the top of the south tower, as shown in this article.
What’s on your bucket list?

Feb 162014

Back in the days of Romeo and Juliet, cities like San Gimignano, Italy were run by feuding noble families.  By the end of the medieval period, this city’s richest families had built 72 towers over 230 feet tall.
San Gimignano tower
This mysterious Devil’s Tower is tied to legends. According to one story, the owner noticed when he returned from a trip, that the tower had a diabolical intervention and grew taller than when he left it. Another story is that the slashes on the left side were left by the devil or lightning – whichever you want to believe. San Gimignano landscape
We climbed up the highest hill to the ruins of the Rocca di Montestaffoli fortress.  Originally this was a castle and became a perfect place for lunch while enjoying the panoramic view of the city, parks, and olive groves.
San Gimignano streets
The lord of Tuscany forbade any spending on enlarging or improving the city around the 1500’s. This prevented any further destruction of old houses, towers and churches.  Fortunately, San Gimignano’s ancient appearance became frozen in time and allowed us a glimpse into the Middle Ages as we walked through this medieval city.
San Gimignano house San Gimignano buildings








No vehicles are allowed inside the city and we wondered if this is why these ancient stones stay so clean. The windows were purposely designed to be very narrow for added protection, but don’t allow much natural lighting.

Notches were built into the walls for wooden balconies.  When protection from the street robbers was needed, the wooden beams were removed so they couldn’t climb up into the towers.  Hot oil could be dumped on the robbers, as an added a deterrent.
San Gimignano church

Rick Steeves’ guide book warns about touristy over-crowding.  We traveled during the off-season and leisurely ate our gelato in the center of Piazza Duomo, near the steps of The Collegiate Church.

Bill, our experienced guide and son-in-law, added an overnight stay.  This gave us more leisure time to enjoy the local Vernaccia white wine and village food specialties, with a relaxing night’s sleep in one of the towers.

The medieval tower was our most unique place to stay, what was yours?

Dec 312013

On this last day of 2013, reflecting and remembering all the events of the year would take quite a while.  Fortunately, it helps that my memory isn’t as detailed as it used to be.  I wouldn’t want to stay up all night!!!  So I’m sending my thanks to you, my family and friends in this short quote.
blog - thanks










Also, I’d like to share this inspiring comment from an Olympic paraplegic skier.  I plan on reading this often during the 2014 year, when I feel frustrated.

“This Holiday and every day you live, thank God you can see the sunlight when you awake, as there are many who are blind.  When you sit down to a meal give thanks, for there are many who are hungry.  Give thanks for your family and your friends, for many are alone.  Give thanks for your job and co-workers, for there are many with no job.”

“Thank God for his most precious gift, your life.  Treasure the gift of each day and take nothing for granted.  Find your way down the mountain, no matter how difficult.  And cherish the journey.”

Thank you for your friendship and I look forward to our journey together in the New Year.

Sep 292013

Blue Lily Photography is a traveling family that has been, and will go, everywhere!bluelily french vintage costume brick window

As they state in their bio, “A few years ago we sold our belongings and gave up our professions to take photos of families, while traveling the world.”

Their two children are home schooled while visiting the sites they study about.

They are getting an up-close and personal chance to learn about ethnic foods and meeting people from all over the globe.


Blue Lily’s nomadic life and work has been featured on Oprah, The Today Show and in the New York Times.bluelily french vintage costume doorway

Each year, their amazing talents are put to creative use for their children’s annual birthday photo shoots.

Keeping with tradition, Wendy and Tyler planned Isabelle’s sixth birthday pictures around another theme.bluelily french vintage dress twirling


To set the themed birthday shoot into motion, Wendy commissioned me to re-create a Regency period dress.

She sent me a picture of Gwyneth Paltrow from the movie Emma, a Jane Austen novel.

After sewing a dress in the fabric and colors she described, the outfit was sent off to her.

Wendy and Tyler had an idea in mind for her birthday shoot and took the Jane Austen era dress with them to Europe.
bluelily french vintage costume



They found the perfect location in this beautiful garden setting in Normandy, France.


Visit Isabelle’s themed 5th Birthday in Blossoms photo shoot in Kyoto, Japan here, and her 4th birthday with a Princess and the Pea theme here.

You can add your belated birthday wishes on their blog: http://bluelily.squarespace.com/blue-lily-blog/2012/7/17/happy-6th-birthday-isabelle.html/

Visit more travel sites with Travel Photo Mondays at Travel Photo Discovery

Sep 212013

Blue Lily Photography is a traveling family that has been, and will go, everywhere!   bluelily viking costume jasper canada

As they state in their bio: “A few years ago we sold our belongings and gave up our professions to take photos of families, while traveling the world.

Their amazing talents are put to creative use for their children’s annual birthday photo shoots.

bluelily viking hiccup costumeKeeping with tradition, Wendy and Tyler planned Isaac’s eighth birthday pictures with another theme (see last year’s Hobbit shoot and the year before- Tarzan).

Isaac loved the film, How to Train a Dragon, about a Viking named Hiccup.  So he decided he wanted to be “a ferocious Viking, with some niceness.”bluelily viking cotume glacier Jasper Canada

bluelily viking hiccup costume Jasper CanadaTo set the themed birthday shoot into motion, Wendy commissioned me to re-create the Hiccup costume.  She sent a picture of the Viking boy and the many measurements needed.  After sewing the clothes and covering some boots, the outfit was sent to them.

Wendy and Tyler knew when they arrived at Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada, that this was the perfect location for the photo shoot.

This became Isaac’s favorite hike in the whole world, and as he told me later when we met for the first time, also “the coldest hike.”

Sit back and enjoy the travels and many creative pictures of Blue Lily Photography on their blog.

I’m sure Isaac would enjoy your comments of how ferocious, but nice he looked as a Viking at this link: http://bluelily.squarespace.com/blue-lily-blog/2012/8/5/a-very-viking-birthday-happy-8th-birthday-isaac.html

Linked to Travel Photo Mondays

Sep 042013

Wendover is a remote town that evolved from a 1920’s gas station, with a single light bulb on a pole, to a Utah/Nevada border town with six king-sized casinos.
Wendover Will
Wendover tower
The 63 foot tall cowboy stood in front of the Stateline Hotel and Casino from 1952 until 2005, when Stateline became the Wendover Nugget Hotel and Casino.  The Nugget gave Will to the City of West Wendover and he traveled to what is now considered the center of town.

Wendover Will was included in the Guinness Book of Records as the “World’s Largest Mechanical Cowboy.”

Another historical site located in this remote area is the airfield where World War II bomber pilots and crews trained in their B-19s and B-24s.  Wendover was chosen for a top secret mission, because of it’s remote location.  After a year of training for this historical mission, Colonel Paul Tibbets and his crew lifted off a B-29 named Enola Gay from this airfield.  His flight brought him to Hiroshima, Japan where an atomic bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” was released and destroyed the city.
wendover airplane hanger Wendover buildings
This event marked the beginning of the end of World War II.
The plane was named for Colonel Tibbet’s mother.  It was never documented as to how she felt about her name being attached to a plane associated with such a massive weapon of death.

Several flying scenes for the movie Con Air were created, using this tower as a backdrop.

Note the white cutout section above the doors of the Enola Gay’s hanger, to accommodate the tail of the B-29.

After the base’s closing in 1969,  The Historic Wendover Air Field Foundation was formed to preserve and restore the frame buildings.  They could be best described as having the patina of rusted gold.

As history buffs, we enjoyed viewing the displays and photos at the airfield’s museum.  More information on what some visitors consider an eerily and ghostly remote area, is available at this site: http://www.wendoverairbase.com/museum.  Please share some of your travels to remote areas.
 (This is part of Travel Photo Mondays #2 on Travel Photo Discovery.)

May 082013

Our bucket list includes a quest to visit all 59 National Parks.  The Capitol Reef National Park is in an isolated area of Utah, which allows for a peaceful hiking experience.

It’s located on the Scenic Byway 12 route which travels through 3 national parks, 3 state parks, a national recreation area, and a national monument.  Yes, I will be linking these areas for your enjoyment in future story’s about our travels through the 124 miles of the Scenic Byway 12 route.

Capitol Reef natl park

The trails in the Capitol Reefs National Park took us up and around some cliffs for a panoramic view of the many spires, ridges and domes.  The park was named Capitol Reef, because the whitish sandstone domes resemble the Washington D.C. “Capitol” Building.  The “Reef” refers to the high uplifted ridge, which presented a considerable barrier to early settlers.

Capitol Reef red flower

I’m always amazed at how flowers manage to bloom in such inhospitable environments.

Capitol Reef white cactus flower

Capitol Reef purple flower

I would appreciate your helping me identify these cactus beauties for me.

I believe the red flower is the Crimson Hedgehog cactus, but the white cactus and the bluish lavender flowers are a mystery to me yet.

Apr 172013

­If you need to get somewhere fast, a hot air balloon is not the way to travel.   That’s why our bucket list included the experience of floating through the air like, or in this case with, a balloon.

Balloon 1Our children decided to fulfill this wish and surprised us with an anniversary gift of a hot air balloon ride.

They told us we would be picked up at 6 a.m. and to wear wind breakers.  We weren’t allowed to ask where, what or why!  Although having to get up that early in the morning, helped narrow down the bucket list of possible surprises.

Balloon 2

Balloon 3


Our certificate said it so well.  “We broke the bonds of gravity and ascended towards the heavens over the historic mountain town of Park City, Utah.”

Balloon 4I’ve read that you can’t really steer it, ­and it only travels as fast as the wind blows.  But we landed as planned, and on time, in a field with the chase vehicle waiting to pick us up.

After completing our ride in the “Dreams Aloft” balloon, we celebrated our safe journey with the traditional champagne toast.  We then received certificates that are proudly displayed on an office wall.

We can only describe flying in a hot air balloon as one of the most serene, enjoyable activities we’ve ever experienced.   If you are an adrenalin junkie like us, check out this high flying experience at the website: www.pcballoonadventures.com and then let us know about your balloon flight.

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