Tag - North America

5 Awesome Summertime Activities for Your Trip to the Windy City

Image via Flickr by CJ Anderson

Image via Flickr by CJ Anderson

As the biggest city in the Midwest, Chicago offers all sorts of activities to make your trip amazing. Whether you want to go sightseeing, see a show, go to an amusement park, or just relax, the Windy City won’t disappoint. Take a look at these five awesome summertime activities for your trip to Chicago.

Spend Some Time at One of the Parks

Chicago is known for its towering skyscrapers, but there are also many parks. You can play sports, watch ducks, go for a jog, or just have a picnic with your family. There are free concerts during the summer at Millennium Park. Plus, this park gives you a good view of Chicago’s skyline and the opportunity to see Chicago’s famous Bean. Another great park is Grant Park where you can enjoy the relaxing lakefront or see the famous Buckingham Fountain. Of course, a visit to Lincoln Park will be memorable thanks to the zoo.

Many of the parks in Chicago host festivals. As a matter of fact, there is a festival going on almost every week during the summer. Some of the favorites include the Chicago Jazz Festival, the Chicago Blues Festival, and Taste of Chicago. Most of the festivals are free, which gives you the opportunity to have fun without your bank account suffering for it.

Watch a Cubs or White Sox Game

If you enjoy baseball, Chicago has two teams you can see — the Cubs and the White Sox. If you’re lucky, you can watch these crosstown rivalries play each other. Chicago is also home to several other sports teams, such as the Chicago Bears, the Chicago Bulls, and the Chicago Fire.

Go on a Walking Tour

The architecture in Chicago is diverse with plenty of history and there are lots of walking tours and Segway tours to help you explore it. However, the tours from the water are the best. You can create your own tour with a water taxi or use Lake Michigan Cruises, Shoreline Sightseeing, or Chicago River Architecture Tours to guide you through the architecture.

Visit an Amusement Park for the Day

If you love the thrill of rollercoasters and the fun of amusement park games, Chicago is a great place to spend your summer. Spend the day at Six Flags Great America, with its 13 rollercoasters and Looney Tunes National Park. Other fun amusements in Chicago include Raging Waves, Kane County Fairgrounds, and Kid City. Whether you’re traveling as a couple or with the whole family, there are attractions for everyone.

Relax and Get Pampered

If the goal of your trip is to unwind, there are some world-class spas and resorts in Chicago where you can get pampered all day. Start by staying at the Hyatt Regency Chicago and then drive over to the Kohler Waters Spa at Burr Ridge. There are literally hundreds of spas and massage parlors to help you relax.

These are just a few of the fun activities you can do while visiting the Windy City. Have you been to Chicago? What would you recommend doing?

Wisconsin Dells’ 20 Water Parks, Hundreds of Slides and More

Wisconsin Dells train station, Credit- Flickr-Loco Steve

Wisconsin Dells train station, Credit- Flickr-Loco Steve

by Joseph Sanchez,

Just because you’re a single dad, doesn’t mean you and your kids should miss out on summer vacation memories. Didn’t think the words Wisconsin and summer vacation went together? They do; in a big way. Every year, over 3 million visitors travel to a city called Wisconsin Dells, and it offers every kind of fun a father could have with his kids. Start a family tradition that you’ll all enjoy for years to come by visiting Wisconsin Dells.

What’s With the Name?

The city is the namesake of the 5-mile gorge on the Wisconsin River. Visitors come to delight in the majesty of the 100-foot high cliffs in sandstone rock formations and tributary canyons as they are able to enjoy many outdoor recreational activities within these natural resources.

The other reason people visit the Dells? It is the hottest waterpark destination in the country with over 20 parks and hundreds of slides. With engaging entertainment and attractions for everyone, it’s a perfect alternative to often high-priced Disney theme parks.

Outdoor Sports and Recreation

One of the things that sets the Dells apart from other vacation destinations is the variety of activities offered. One day you could be zooming down a zipline and the next peacefully kayaking on the river along the cliffs. By day, you and the kids can rent wave runners or a pontoon boat and go exploring the river; by night dim the lights to gaze upon the stars from your tent on one of the many campgrounds. Connecting with nature is one of the best ways to connect with the kids.

Lots to Do

Whether a weekend getaway or a longer period of time, you and the kids will have more than enough to do. Whether it’s adventure you seek (roller coasters, go-karts, jet skis, a haunted house) or a completely laid-back experience (glide along Mirror Lake State Park in a kayak, throw a line in the water and take a swim; bike through canopy-lined paths in the wilderness canyon; throw around a baseball at the Rotary Park), you can customize packages or go with the flow at the Dells.

Other outdoor activities include riding horses, hunting club, boat cruises, a riverwalk, bowling and golf. Indoors, play laser tag, take a sky ropes course, ride bumper boats, play 3-D mini golf, do crafts and play board game, paint your pottery, play in an arcade.


The Dells has the largest number of waterparks per capita in the world. Noah’s Ark is the largest of the bunch with 51 waterslides, two huge wavepools, two endless rivers and four kiddie water areas. A number of Wisconsin Dells waterparks are within resorts, some of which you have to be a guest at to enjoy. If you find a certain waterpark you have to hit, be sure you stay at that resort.

There are separate water play areas for toddlers, tweens, teens and adults so no one is left out.


Wisconsin Dells resorts are another draw to the area because they are little villages in themselves. Here are some options to explore:

  • Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort
  • Wintergreen Resort & Conference Center
  • Great Wolf Lodge
  • Noah’s Ark Campground
  • Baker’s Sunset Bay Resort

Talk with the kids and plan the trip together so they feel that they took part in the decision on where to go. It’ll make the experience that much more exciting for them and it will teach them planning and timing skills.

Hiking to Split Level Ruins in the Grand Gulch

Map of Grand Gulch in southeastern Utah

Map of Grand Gulch in southeastern Utah

Hiking to Split Level Ruins in the Grand Gulch*

Anxious to move on quickly, my son Rich and I forged ahead of the group through sage brush thickets. My son suddenly raised his hand nervously. When I caught up with him, he said “didn’t you see the diamondback rattler winding back and forth next to our trail?” Though I hadn’t seen the serpent, just the thought of it brough Emily Dickinson’s powerful poem to mind:

A narrow fellow in the Grass

Occasionally rides– You may have met Him–did you not

His notice sudden is–

The Grass divides as with a Comb–

A spotted shaft is seen–

And then it closes at your feet

and opens further on…

But never met this fellow

Attended, or alone

Without a tighter breathing

And Zero at the Bone–

Zero at the bone described our feeling perfectly–at least until we arrived at a run-off pool, an oasis of ice water amid an increasingly desert-like canyon. Waiting for the arrival of our trail companions, I waded up to my knees into the pool following a sandbar around to the back of a small waterfall where green mosses coated the rocks and cliff.

Fellow hikers in the Grand Gulch

Fellow hikers in the Grand Gulch

It was all I could do to get back to the starting point so numb were my feet, a rather pleasant feeling, none the less, for being in the midst of a hot desert. When the rest of the group arrived, one fellow immediately stripped to the waist and plunged into the pool. As he surfaced he couldn’t form words on his lips so cold was this mid-May water. He waded back to the beach like someone who had fallen overboard in the Arctic Sea, too cold to say “Wow!”

We told others of our snake sighting and to be careful as we ever-so-gingerly proceeded one mile father to the Split Level Ruins nestled high in a sandstone hollow.

Our tents formed a circle among an ancient stand of junipers as old as the Split Level Ruins themselves. If the ancient ones believed in the communal link of all living things including trees, one could ask, did the Anasazi really ever leave? If the juniper, bat, wren, owl, serpent, firecracker penstemon, were truly part of their village, part of their being, then one could say a part of these people is still here. I suspect we do feel the tug of the spiritual fusion of humans with flowers, mountain sheep, and buzzing flies even if it comes from more remote planes of existence. Petroglyphs and pictographs assist in our sensing a lingering presence. These places foster the union of various planes of existence like no other location on Earth. Here truly is the Rocky Mountain Time Zone, a zone whose minutes click by with centuries attached to them.

Despite the trickle of a small stream nearby, our campsite proved to be distinctly drier and more desert-like than the night before. But with water (purified) by our filters) in good supply and a plentitude of food, we experienced no hardships whatsoever, except for having tio climb a steep hill up to the ruins.

Split Level Ruin is a marvelously preserved piece of architecture in two levels with perfect willow-branch ceilings and firmly mortared walls housing numerous chambers. Any and every breeze coming from the valley below or cliffs above wafted through these buildings creating a perfect summer air conditioning.

These sandstone slabs surely absorbed winter sunrays and held them through the night to furnish these ancient people of 800 years ago with indirect solar warmth. The accoustics up here proved to be ideal for listening to nature’s perpetual concert of frogs, birds, crickets, and wind in the willows. The swoosh of a raven’s wings in the sky above almost made me duck. Crickets hundreds of yards away sounded like they chirped in the k8iva (an underground ceremonial chamber) below our feet.

“Hey Dad, look over here,” said Rich. He had crawlede inside a smoky room built right into the bottom of the sandstone cliff. He peered out the narrow doorway all smiles. “Can still smell the smoke from their cooking,” he said. “In fact, it’s making me hungry.” The sun lingered brightly on the higher cliffs as the valley darkened below. Lizzards scampered in search of warmer rocks.

Our descent to camp below led us past Spanish bayonets and green yucca plants whose roots furnished the Anasazi with fibers for such articles as sandals and rope. Soon we cooked our meal of dehydrated honey-lime chicken and mopped our plates with homemade chili-pepper bread. Coffee and cookies finished things just right. There came a time for us to stop talking about events of the day as we sat in a circle under stars; we listened in silence to the plaintive notes of a pair of mourning doves who seemed to have more to say than we tired and weary human beings.

Split Level Cliff glowed bright red in the rising sun. Today we had to cover eight miles in desert heat with those stubborn forty pound packs all the way to our last site before departing the Grand Gulch. Carefully handling a steaming mug of coffee, I plodded back up to Split Level Ruins for one last look. Pottery fragments, some red, some black, some black and white peppered the sandy soil. How did they bake these clay vessels? They probably burnt juniper branches in sandstone alcoves. That would certainly bake clay alright, but I wonder if they might not have used wild turkey dung also for the same purpose. You can see the results of Anasazi potters in the Colorado History Museum in Denver–incredibly beautiful vessels with patterns of black and white squares and occasional representations of lizzard figures scampering up curved handles.

As others awakened from a mummy-like sleep down below, I figured we would be breaking camp soon. There remained eight long, hard miles to go to get to our next site. Would we encounter more snakes? Would we spot unnamed ruins? Would all twelve of us maintain our energy levels?

Eight miles in ninety-degree heat made it difficult for all of us. We burnt through water quickly and the bouncing backpacks chafed our shoulders. Thankfully no yellow-eyed serpents reared their heads to give us a feeling of zero at the bone. We did spot numerous unnamed dwellings balanced precariously on narrow little ledges half hidden in shadows giving credence to the observation that all of Grand Gulch in southeastern Utah served as a gathering place for isolated, rural Anasazi communities unlike the more urban sites in Mesa Verde.

In the heat of noon we paused for snacks on a rocky spillway of a small stream, though hardly anyone was hungry. I barely noticed a stranger–an older, very tan, blond-haired woman munching on some trail mix; some of us struck up a conversation with her. After several minutes of chit chat she announced she must leave because she (like Greta Garbo) treasured solitude. She slithered off into the willows with only a daypack and disappeared forever. Some of us thought she vanished even before she reached the trees–too much exposure to the sun or to Tony Hillerman novels, no doubt.

We lingered a moment longer listening to caroling birds seemingly un-bothered by the ferocious heat. Perhaps they sang from the shade of branch-rooted gambel oaks or from deep within the willow thickets where the old woman had vanished. Perhaps they were the old woman herself singing in solitude. We followed after her and soon we, too, disappeared into the thicket.

* This is a modified excerpt from my out-of-print book Where Land is Mostly Sky (1997).

Steamboat Ski Rentals- A Fascinating Experience

Skiing in Steamboat Spgs

Skiing in Steamboat Spgs

Western Colorado’s most fascinating skiing town, Steamboat has been in existence for the past 100 yrs which offers a historic appeal as well as modern facilities. Steamboat has been branded as the ‘Skiing town’ because of its long history of ski roots and breed of Olympic sportsmen who have grown there. The sport has been a very popular activity during the winter Olympics since ages and been a favorite winter hobby for the athletes. Unlike other adventurous destinations, Steamboat provides fun experience to people of all age. While the kids and youngsters enjoy the ski games, the adult family members would be mesmerized by the heavy snowfall and tree ski experience. Tourists can choose from varied terrains- the beginners as well as experts, the entire family can be indulged in the fun-filled ski experience. With innumerable villa rental options and reasonable diners, Steamboat provides the best skiing experience in Colorado.

One of the biggest problems travelers face during renting out ski equipments is that of standing in long queues before the rental stores. Especially if it is the peak season time, one has to wait for the crowd to reduce before he gets his desired ski equipments. A lot of time and energy is wasted in that, so the best option is to book ski rentals steamboat online. This will not only give you attractive discounts but also quick pick-up upon arrival and delivery at your doorstep.

Generally skiing involves major risk of injuries and sometimes death too. Considering this, one has to book the equipments from the certified rental shops as they would provide resilient stuff. Helmets and goggles are the most important equipment for protection from the cold cutting wind and harsh wind. The ski rent blues can easily be eliminated on prior online booking.

Steamboat experience

Steamboat experience

Skiing during winters is the best form of recreation there. Tourists can choose from a variety of steamboat ski rentals which are easily accessible once you reach the town. The biggest advantage of such rentals is that it eliminates the need for the travelers to carry their personal heavy equipments for ski.Rentals steamboat is the keyword to use while searching for it online prior to the vacation.

 A thorough research will be an added advantage for travelers who would want a hassle-free trip. Skiing in the modern era is generally of two types. One is the Nordic types which entails cross country & ski jumping’s. The other form is the Alpine type which include skiing on down hills. Generally the two types need the same kind of ski equipments and skills. The diversity of the equipment depends on three main factors, the terrain, the ability and the size or weight of the person. They come in different types like the powder ski, the mountain ski, racing ski and skis for kids and women. The size depends on the weight, height, shape and ability of the performer. If you follow these tips, your vacation at the steamboat terrain would be a perfect adventure holiday.

Useful info:


Halfway To The Stars – San Francisco Highlights

by Barbara Barton Sloane,

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

For 16 consecutive years, Conde Nast Traveler has voted the City by the Bay as the “Best City in the U.S.”

Its golden sun seemed to be shining just for me as I landed at San Francisco’s International Airport.  I was eagerly awaiting my visit but I had only a few days to explore and experience. Although the city’s numerous attractions are daunting, I found six must-do activities that were at times cultural, other times crazy, at all times highly engaging and worthwhile.

1. Fisherman’s Wharf is where one comes to board the tour boat to Alcatraz and also where one can find some of the best seafood – anywhere.  Scoma’s Restaurant is down a small alley, tucked away next to Pier 47.  One of its charms is that it’s hidden from the hustle and bustle of the Wharf.  Also charming, the Pier 39 sea lions.  Hundreds of these huge, adorable, shiny brown creatures have taken up residence on a pier that was once a functioning boat marina.  Hoards of people, myself included, watched the animals dozing in the sun, flopping around clumsily, or briefly scrapping with a neighbor but never coming to blows.  Lying supine on a wet, cool surface was way more appealing.  The sea lions are an incredible, fun attraction.

2.  Alcatraz. Admit it – you do want to check it out.  Although it has been closed since the ‘60s, its very name still conjures up mystery and curiosity.  After all, some of the most notorious criminals in history were housed there and although there were several attempts to escape from “The Rock,” no inmate ever succeeded. The prison is now a huge, abandoned hulk, gray and foreboding, its watchtower a formidable reminder of foiled escapes.  One of the buildings is particularly haunting. Sea breezes flow through glassless,  gaping windows, and the only cheery notes are the tiny birds that inhabit there, hopping from one bit of concrete to the next, and the strong current of the Bay lapping the shore.

3. Little Cable Cars climb halfway to the stars, up to the very top of Lombard Street.  Hop on and enjoy one of the most unique rides in the world.  I traveled down the steep Lombard Street incline and had stunning views of iconic bay-windowed houses as well as Treasure Island, the Bay Bridge, Berkeley, and Alcatraz.  The bright jingle of cable car bells can be heard all over town.

San Francisco Street Serenader

San Francisco Street Serenader

4. Nostalgia runs deep for many of us of a certain age for the whole Beat Generation thing.  Travel to North Beach (not a beach at all but a lively Italian neighborhood of quaint shops and sidewalk cafes). This is home to the City Lights Bookshop.  Founded by Lawrence Ferlinghetti in 1953, it became the hangout for Kerouac, Ginzburg and Burroughs, to name just a few.  I came merely to soak in the ambience.  City Lights is one of the truly great independent bookstores in the U.S., a place where booklovers across the country and around the world come to browse and people-watch – all of us hoping the ghosts of the greats are just around the next bookshelf.  Nearby, Telegraph Hill offers a fine vantage point for photos.

5. Known as America’s Best Restaurant City, this town’s chefs excel at all manner of food, from classics to dishes from every exotic place on the planet.  At Burritt Room & Tavern, Chef Lucas Knox turns out some amazing fare.  Irresistible was a dish described as “blue cheese-baked Lady Apples with brown butter walnuts.” I said ‘nuts’ to my diet and am glad I did.  The restaurant also hosts cooking demonstrations by none other than Charlie Palmer.  The bar, Burritt Alley, is dark, intimate and film-noirish.  After dinner my White Russian put icing on the cake.

6. Before departing, you may need a culture-fix and you’ll surely find it here. The city is home to an internationally-recognized symphony orchestra and world-class opera and ballet companies.  On my last night, I saw a production of Alexi Ratmansky’s From Foreign Lands, Christopher Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour and Balanchine’s Scotch Symphony. Culture fix? Fixed!

You may have noticed that I’ve not included in this list is the Golden Gate Bridge because, of course, it’s already on your bucket list.  This structure spans 1.7 miles and accommodates 120,000 cars each day. The Iron Horse is the most photographed bridge of all time and happens to be the most famous bridge in the world.  But you already knew that.

The Painted Ladies of Steiner StreetThe Painted Ladies of Steiner Street

The Painted Ladies of Steiner StreetThe Painted Ladies of Steiner Street

On your next visit, get a City Pass to some of the best attractions.  You’ll have unlimited cable car use, see the Aquarium of the Bay, the San Francisco Museum of Art, and – a perk – you’ll skip most main-entrance lines.  Another thought: just stroll through city streets.  Wend your way over to Union Square, to North Beach, to the Wharf.  You’ll discover the real San Francisco.  There, I swear, you’ll leave your heart.

When You Go:

Tourist Information    



Brasserie S&P @ Mandarin Oriental 

Burritt Room

Things to do    


City Pass 

Hotel Adagio 

Adventure Cat Sailing Charters

Mandarin Oriental

Enjoy the Colorado River at Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab

Red cliff, Moab UT

Red cliff, Moab UT

Moab is surrounded by natural beauty, ranging from the rock formations of Arches National Park, the stunning views at Canyonslands National Park, red rock valleys and the Colorado River. An excellent home base for accessing it all is at the Red Cliffs Lodge, located right along the banks of the Colorado River outside of Moab. The lodge has its own winery, horseback riding, river rafting, a restaurant and, of course, accommodations.

Hold Your Horses

Saddle up for rides in the red rock desert with Red Cliffs Lodge’s own horseback riding programs. Half-day rides take you up through Castle Creek trails seen in many of John Wayne’s films on a quarter horse with staff who know their stuff. The lodge’s longer Outback rides go through vast networks of trails and open range.

The Cowboy Grill

After a long day out in the wild, let someone else rustle up the grub at the Cowboy Grill. Eat out on the patio for a fantastic view of the Fisher Towers and the Colorado River, or, if the weather’s chilly, stay inside next to the fireplace under the twenty-foot vaulted ceiling. Try the Ruby Red trout, buffalo filet mignon, or elk medallions, and a Cowboy Brownie for dessert.

Home on the Range

The Red Cliffs Lodge offers old-school country comfort, with top-of-the-line amenities. All rooms have a view of the Colorado River or Castle Creek, and offer private patios and kitchenettes. The lodge also offers a pool, spa, tennis court, volleyball court, and an area to play horseshoes. Special occasion? The lodge’s Honeymoon/Executive suite overlooks the rapids, and comes with complementary wine from Castle Creek Winery.


When you think of southern Utah, wine might not be the first thing to come to mind. However, Moab is a surprisingly good place for growing grapes. Castle Creek Winery, located on site at Red Cliffs Lodge, produces over 30 varieties of wine. The winery offers daily tours and tastings.

Rafting and ATVs

Red Cliffs Lodge offers rafting and ATV excursions for all experience levels. Raft trips take you through Westwater Canyon and are available as half-day, full-day, or overnight trips, which include a picnic lunch and an experienced guide. If you prefer dry land, 2-4 hour four-wheeling trail tours are available, or you can rent an ATV for the day.

Moab Movie Museum

Ever since the late 1940s, Moab’s red rocks have served as a backdrop for countless movies. At the Moab Movie Museum, learn about some of the films that have been shot in the area. The museum also houses a collection of late 19th century cowboy memorabilia.

Whether looking for outdoor adventures or simply enjoying a luxurious place to stay, Red Cliffs Lodge can cover what visitors to Moab are looking for.

For a more in-depth guide to Moab outdoor adventure, dining, national parks and accommodations, listen to Travel Brigade’s episode, Escape to Moab.

Copyright-Kathleen Curry-© uncharted101.com

Unexpected Summer Fun in New York City

Hudson River

Hudson River

by jason Hall,

Breezy autumn sightseeing and Christmas at Rockefeller Center are still the top attractions to New York for vacationers, but summer in the city, especially  with a detailed itinerary- can thrill even the most well seasoned travelers.

All of the iconic attractions, sans the famous Christmas tree, of course- are still there to enjoy, and it’s easier to get around without the threat of ice and snowstorms. There’s Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty (fact: it’s technically in New Jersey!), The Empire State Building, Broadway Shows, Shopping on Fifth Avenue, The Freedom Tower, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and so many more. But today we’re going to take a look at some attractions- locations  and events in New York- that are best, and in some cases only available- during spring and summer.

Outdoor special events are plentiful and most of them are free and open to the public. Macy’s Fireworks over the Hudson on Independence Day is perhaps the most famous, but there’s lots to do outside almost every day from June through September. there are cultural celebrations and parades, loads of free concerts, Shakespeare in the Park ,The Museum Mile Festival, Broadway in Bryant Park, and the Big Apple Barbecue to name just a few.

Being an island, NY has many piers and summer is the right time to get to know them. Some are huge and some are slim but they each have their own character and provide unique, grand views. There are lots of communal spaces for recreation that are popular with locals and tourists alike.  Architecture aficionados should check out the ultra modern Pier 15, which is bi-level and boasts its own built in ‘grassy knolls’, glass pavilions, gardens and a covered walkway between the two levels. Another favorite is Pier 84, smack in between the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum and The Circle Line Cruise Dock. The pier itself has it’s own charms: bike rentals, a water park and even a dog run where you can watch the local pooches play and schmooze.

Another very special part of New York comes alive, literally- only in the summer. We’re talking about gardens. Just take to the streets downtown and keep your eyes peeled. There are pops of color peeking out everywhere, once you start looking for them, you’ll be astounded at how many you find.  Follow through the ones with open gates and you’ll be enveloped in meandering gardens that run the gamut from funky and bohemian looking, dotted with sculptures and folk art, to meticulously manicured rose gardens in the English tradition.  On the other end of the spectrum, there’s baseball.

Atlantic City Beach

Atlantic City Beach

Atlantic City Beach

It may be America’s pastime, but no place does it like New York City. The fact that it is home to two top major league baseball teams, the New York Yankees as well as the Mets, makes for, in true New York fashion- a one of a kind situation. Different loyalties and traditions make for a storied history, and both team’s stadiums, Yankee Stadium and Citi Field (formerly Shea Stadium) are brand new as of just a few seasons ago.  They are museums in their own right, and both are a must-see for even a casual baseball fan.

Summer time means beach time and beach time in New York means Coney Island. Developers have been chipping away at the old school charm of this beach town but the dark cloud that was hard-hitting damage from Hurricane Sandy did come with a silver lining- a renewed interest in preserving this special place.   The Coney Island Museum is slated to reopen before June of 2013. The very best beach excursions, though, are just west of New York in New Jersey. With so much more to offer than what is showcased on MTV’s ‘Jersey Shore’ TV show (although the boardwalk there actually IS a ton of down ‘n’ dirty fun) savvy travelers will grab a budget car rental and find beach town after beach town all the way up and down the coast, each with it’s own unique personality. Also ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey’s shore needs the revenue as much as you’ll need a break from the stone and steel in the hot city.  Some highlights are the wonderful nature reserve at Island Beach State Park and The Stony Pony in Asbury Park, the venue Bruce Springsteen made world famous early in his career. Then there’s Wildwood, with it’s immense, sprawling beaches dotted with hotels that are astounding examples of 50’s and 60’s ‘Doo-Wop’ architecture.  Just south of that is Cape May, quaint and quiet, with block after block of stunning Victorian homes.  On the way to Wildwood and Cape May, which is about three hours out of the city, hit what locals call “A. C.” Of course, Atlantic City.

Atlantic City’s beaches are free and never really that crowded- probably because ‘beach’ isn’t the first thing people think of these days when they think of ‘Las Vegas by the Sea”. But they are large and lovely-definitely worth checking out before or after trying your luck at the tables.

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Travelling on a budget: free walking tours

    Free Walking tours

Free Walking tours

Travelling doesn’t have to break the bank – for travellers on a budget, numerous free walking tours are on offer around the world. Explore the history, culture and lifestyle of some of the globe’s most popular cities alongside knowledgeable tour guides in an affordable way.


I’m Free Walking Tours offer free walking tours of Sydney and Melbourne in rain, hail or shine. Explore Sydney’s history in a 3 hour, easy-walking tour that includes the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Town Hall and Pitt Street Shopping Mall. Melbourne’s 3 hour tour encompasses the most popular sites of Australia’s culture capital: Federation Square, Chinatown, Royal Exhibition Centre, Princess Theatre and Bourke Street Shopping Mall.


Sandemans New Europe, christened the home of the famous free tour, is committed to providing visitors – regardless of their budget – with the best tour available. Local expert guides share their insights to help travellers discover the beauty and history of as many cities as possible. Currently, Sandemans offers free walking tours in London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Prague, Paris, Madrid, Jerusalem and Copenhagen. The company has plans to expand to Brussels, Tel Aviv, New York and Barcelona.


Free Tours by Foot presents the only free, tip-based walking tours of America’s most well-known cities. The tour company aims to educate and entertain guests with creative tours in an affordable manner. Cities currently on offer include New York, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Boston and Charleston. Travellers are encouraged to pay what they feel the tour was worth after tour completion, helping to motivate the company’s guides to give his or her best effort on each and every tour. For a list of free walking tours around the world, visit the following link.


I’m Free Walking Tours


freetoursbyfoot.com/”rel=”nofollow”>Free Tours by Foot

Free City Tours

Copyright © STI

A Strange Switch: a short story set in early Yellowstone



He held up his rifle and aimed at the poacher who was about to shoot a bull elk. But he still had a difficult time saying what he was ordered to say in this situation:

“Halt in the name of the law! You’re on federal territory preserved for the American people!”

It didn’t make any sense to him having to say that. He half wished the poacher wouldn’t listen and go right on with his poaching. But this man looked mean; he looked like he was going to go right ahead and shoot that bull elk anyway, even though he was in the newly established Yellowstone National Park. Damn it, he thought to himself. The poacher is as white as I am yet here I am tellin’ him he can’t shoot what he fought the Indians to get–freedom–freedom of the wilderness.

Sam Atkins, a red-haired U.S. Cavalryman forty years of age, had been stationed at Fort Laramie twenty years earlier. He had seen action on the frontier, lots of action. He figured that he had killed over thirty-five redskins during his twelve years at Fort Laramie that had the purpose of protecting immigrants along the Oregon Trail. Those Sioux Indians were real devils from his perspective. Just why those savages didn’t respect the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868, only a few years ago, he couldn’t understand. So what if their so-called sacred Black Hills that they called Paha Sapa Wakan had been taken away! Why shouldn’t they be if gold was discovered. You can’t tell me people have to have mountains to practice a religion in. That’s what churches are for. It’s nothing than pure paganism to practice religion in the mountains. Mountains weren’t important to Christians as far as he knew.

He remembered capturing and shooting some of those Sioux devils up by Laramie Peak. His interpreter told him that one of them was called Atanka Wakan or Sacred Bull; he was doing some damn fool thing referred to as “crying for a vision.” Sam tore down a pagan pole set up in a circle of stones near the summit of Laramie Peak. The savage had the nerve to say that this was the peoples’ land and that the Army had no right to stop him from his prayers. That savage clown was stark naked with nothing more than a buffalo robe that he carried at his side. Crying for a vision, my foot! Sam remembered asking him what he saw in his vision. He was told that Atanka Waqkan saw the morning star blink four different colors representing the four ages of man. Big deal! Only a savage mind would come up with something like that.

When the savage refused to come with him, he shot him in the stomach and let him die in agony below his sacred circle of stones. The lodgepole pines hissed in the wind as Sam Atkins with a few cohorts headed back to Fort Laramie winding down a steep trail with their horses snorting and occasionally losing their footing over loose rocks. He thought to himself that he had helped protect those Oregon Trail immigrants and that one more dead savage would make way for progress. One day the whole Dakota Territory would be civilized with decent folks in towns like Rock Springs.

But this poacher sure looked mean.

“Halt in the name of the law. You’re on federal land preserved for the people!” Sam shouted again.

The poacher did nothing but take a surer aim at the bull elk standing in some subalpine willows along a
stream that ran into beaver ponds full of rising trout making slowly spreading circles.

Sam thought of the time he rode out on the prairie with Company C back in the 1850’s just after he got stationed at Fort Laramie at the junction of the North Platte and Laramie Rivers.

Sam was riding hard kicking up lots of dust when he spotted a lone human figure high on a prairie mound fringed with light green sagebrush and sharp-pointed yucca. He told the Company he was going off to scout something suspicious looking. It wasn’t long until he saw that it was a young Indian woman gathering some sort of plants–probably up to some kind of strange savagery. When she saw the Cavalryman, she started running like a scared rabbit. He rode up along side her and ripped off her buckskin dress making her naked. Sam had his fun with her threatening her with a sabre all the while; no matter how much she screamed and shrieked, he kept on having his fun. For Sam, savages had no rights as long as they remained savages and uncivilized. Boy, those were the days!

But this mean looking cuss just fired away point blank at that bull elk and gut shot him. Sam stared in amazement and shouted:

“I’ll have to arrest you in the name of Yellowstone National Park!” And that mean cuss just laughed at Sam–Saqm Atkins, U.S. Cavalryman and Indian fighter of ten years ago! It was too much for Sam and too confusing.

When Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872, there was no such thing as a National Park Service, and so the government stationed a contingency of U.S. Cavalrymen in the Park to protect it from poachers and miners. It was sort of a Black Hills in reverse. While some cavalrymen were stationed in the Black Hills to protect the white miners from the red savages of the wilderness, he and his cohorts were stationed in the savage wilderness to protect it from white exploiters. But Sam managed to console himself with “My country, right or wrong.” The strange switch was that the country didn’t seem to know right from wrong when it was doing one thing here and quite another someplace else.

It wasn’t confusing back at Fort Laramie in 1858. He remembered riding along with Company C. Sam carried the colors proudly. God it was good riding along chomping on a cigar and carrying the flag of his country. They waved at a passing train of Oregon Trailers. Sam felt great when a little blond-haired boy shouted,

“Daddy, daddy! Look! A U.S. Cavalry Unit!”

Sam reached in his pocket and gave the boy a spare brass button.

“Gee thanks, mister! Daddy, look what the soldier gave me!”

Yes, sir, those were the days. I was respected then. Here in Yellowstone I feel like a bit of a fool. Why the heck should I be protecting the wilderness when we fought so many hard years to conquer the wilderness? Imagine protecting woods and geysers for the American people! We should develop this place and use the timber for folks settling the West. But he had to arrest this ornery poacher in the name of the law.

Sam Atkins always was a loner back East when he lived with his domineering farm folks in Ohio. By the time he grew his red moustache, he left his farm one night and headed west all by himself. As far as he could tell, his father never did try to find him. But that didn’t surprise him; when he was a boy his father never had the time to talk with him and never had the time to take his boy fishing. He always was out in the fields, and his mother was always in the kitchen. The only person who talked to him was his gabbing grandfather who rambled on about how
them there Injuns were always frightening honest settlers back when he was a boy.. But his parents never talked with their only son and so he left them. All they wanted to do was work that dirty old farm and nothing else. He heard of cavalry out West and left in 1851. Once he crossed the Mississippi River at the high wooded bluffs of Prairie du Chien, he knew he was getting out to the right country. And the rolling prairies of South Dakota did something for his soul. A few years later he was stationed at Fort Laramie. Each time he shot at marauding Indians frightening the white settlers along the Oregon Trail, he felt powerful and significant. Yes sir, those were the days.

“I have to place you under arrest partner. You shot an elk belonging to the American people. I have to follow my orders!”

“I am an American and that’s my elk you dumb fool,” the poacher shouted back. “This here wilderness is mine just as much as yours!”

“Well that ain’t how the law reads, but I sympathize with
you partner.”

“You sympathize! Ha, that’s a good one.”

Just then the poacher raised his rifle lightning quick and fired hitting Sam Atkins in the chest.

“So much for your sympathy!” the poacher shouted, his face shining in the setting sun.

The land slowly darkened for Sam Atkins. He couldn’t understand why a white man would shoot him, but then he didn’t have much time left to think; he was aging fast. Blinking evening stars peppered the sky above and he could hear the distant roar of Yellowstone Falls. Sam tried to crawl over to his rifle but lacked the strength. He clutched a clump of sweet elk sedge in gis right hand to raise himself a bit and feebly looked across at the poacher dressing out the bull elk belonging to the American people.


Reasons to Visit Silver City, ID



by Lewis Fonner,

Deep in the legendary haunted hills of southwestern Idaho lies a place shrouded in mystery and fear. Barren and remote, populated only by unnaturally large rattlesnakes and coyotes. A place whereof strange stories are whispered around campfires at night. Tales of lost treasures and tormented souls wandering in search of them, of ghostly gunfire and blood curdling screams in the Stygian darkness. Rumors of a place where the very laws of physics and time seem suspended, where the slightest misstep can lead the unwary to an agonizing death and eternal damnation. Many have ventured there, never to be heard from again anywhere in God’s creation. They call this place Silver City.

Ok, so maybe that’s a bit melodramatic, but only a little. Silver City, Idaho lies not far from the Oregon border in Owyhee county at an elevation of a little over 6,000 feet. Classified as a ghost town, it really is a trip back in time, preserved almost exactly as it was in the 1800s. The beauty of the surrounding area and the variety of the terrain rank it as one of America’s great off-road adventures. Whether you’re a seasoned off-roader or you’re looking to rent or buy reliable used ATVs at atvquadswap.com for a first-time adventure, Silver City offers a great experience for all.

Fascinating history

Silver City was founded in 1864 when Idaho was still a U.S. territory after silver and gold were discovered nearby. It rapidly grew to be one of the largest towns in the territory and boasted the first newspaper and telegraph office. Eventually the mines ran out and the town experienced an inevitable decline but managed to avoid destruction or modernization, the fate of most of the boom towns in the area. Silver City stands almost exactly as it was in the late 19th century. The area surrounding the town is riddled with abandoned mines and the remnants of mining camps, and many historic cemeteries illustrate the colorful lives of the people who lived and worked there. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

Great off road terrain

These are the foothills of the Owyhee Mountains and the area offers some challenging ground. There are hundreds of miles of trails in the surrounding area and the Owyhee Front ATV Fun Run isn’t far away. This is a summer trip though, the roads are closed by heavy snows from November through May.

There’s gold in them hills

Whether you use a metal detector or a pan, prospecting is a major hobby in the area, and rock hounds and fossil hunters will have a field day too. Maybe you can even pay for your trip or buy a new all-terrain vehicle.

Awesome scenery

From desert buttes and plateaus to mountain vistas, forests and streams this area offers some of the most fantastic natural beauty in America. Be sure to pack a durable outdoor camera.

Lots of snakes

Ok, maybe this isn’t a draw for most people, but the territory boasts a rich diversity of wildlife. Not only a colorful array of snakes, but also coyotes, eagles, mountain lions, bobcats, deer, elk and more bird species than you can shake a stick at. Just don’t shake one at a mountain lion.

These are all reasons that Silver City offers one of the best off-road adventures in the country. Before you go, don’t forget to check out the weather and equip yourself with some quality wheels to enjoy this “blast from the past.”

Lewis Fonner Lewis specializes in travel writing and hopes to spend his future retirement abroad. At the top of his list are Vietnam, Moscow, and Egypt.

The History of Provincetown

Provincetown;MA Credit-Douglas B. Hanson

Provincetown;MA Credit-Douglas B. Hanson

1602: The first recorded visit to Cape Cod was by European explorer Bartholomew Gosnold. Provincetown’s well-protected harbor offered excellent shelter from storms and, as a result, was a common stop for explorers, who landed to rest and repair their vessels.

1620: Pilgrims arrive on the Mayflower and make the first landing in the New World in Provincetown Harbor.  The Pilgrims stay in Provincetown for five weeks, where they create and sign the Mayflower Compact.  They then continue on to their ultimate destination of Plymouth.

1727:The first permanent settlement in Provincetown was established with fishing being the primary draw for settlers.

1800: Provincetown’s population swelled by the middle of the 19th century.  It had developed as the prime maritime, fishing and commercial center of Cape Cod. Portuguese sailors, who joined American ships in the Azores and Cape Verde Islands, moved to Provincetown by the 19th century to continue working on whaling and fishing boats. The Portuguese became an integral part of the community, bringing their families and traditions to the New World. A strong Portuguese community in Provincetown began to flourish.

1875: Provincetown became the state’s most populated harbor, boasting 25 coastal and 36 ocean vessels, which was more than any other port in Massachusetts.

1898:The Portland Gale sweeps away half of the town’s wharfs and decimates the fishing industry.  Provincetown embarked on a tourism campaign to fill the economic gap.  Artists and bohemians were among the early visitors.  They were attracted to the incredible natural beauty, eclectic population, and sense of acceptance found in Provincetown.

1899: Painter Charles Webster Hawthorne arrived in Provincetown. Shortly thereafter, he founded and taught painting at the Cape Cod School of   Art for the  following 30 summers. Prominent art students and teachers followed Hawthorne to Provincetown and established their own schools.  New art schools  were spawned, which eventually led to a year-round art community of young, aspiring artists working under the watchful eyes of established mentors  and teachers.

1910: The Pilgrim Monument is dedicated by President Taft commemorating the Pilgrims’  landing in Provincetown.

1915:  Eugene O’Neill, considered the father of modern American theater, mounted his  first play on an East End Provincetown wharf, thus establishing Provincetown as the  birthplace of modern American theater.

1916: Provincetown’s place as an active art colony was cemented when The Boston Globe ran a front-page story titled, “Biggest Art Colony in the World in Provincetown.” Hans Hofmann, Franz Kline, Mark Rothko, Blanche Lazzell, Milton Avery, Jack Tworkov and Edward Hopper are some of the other artists who have ties to Provincetown.

1920’s: Provincetown’s art and theater productions were creating an international reputation. The abandoned sites of maritime businesses became the new homes of the seasonal visitor and warehouses and barns became studios, galleries, and shops. The gay & lesbian presence flourished as contingents of artists, writers, playwrights, poets, novelists, and journalists begin to summer in Provincetown.  They were instrumental in developing and growing Provincetown’s famous art colony.

1961: Creation of Cape Cod National Seashore by act of the U.S. Congress

1970’s: Marked Provincetown’s rise as the gay and lesbian mecca that it is widely considered today.

1992: Creation of the Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary by act of the U.S. Congress

2004: Gay marriage became legalized in Massachusetts.  Shortly thereafter, Provincetown became “the place to get married” with over 1,400 marriage licenses issued to date.

Today:  Today, Provincetown is a haven for artists in every medium – painting, sculpting, theater, writing, and music. The vibrant arts community, atmosphere of experimentation, vast teaching and learning opportunities, and palpable energy draw artists year after year to share and deepen their talents.

Located at the base of the Pilgrim Monument, the Provincetown Museum pays homage to the town’s fascinating history through featured exhibits on the Pilgrims, the building of the historical Monument, its rich maritime history, and the early days of modern American theater.

Hawaii Family Vacation Ideas

family vacation in Hawaii, cr-eHow

Family vacation in Hawaii, credit -eHow

Great Hawaii Family Vacation..Here we come! What can you do on the Big Island of Hawaii to make it a perfect family vacation?

The answer is: Just about Anything. The weather and beauty of Hawaii and the surrounding islands is the perfect setting for dozens of outdoor activities. There are also hundreds of shops, restaurants and other attractions for the quieter moments that you want to share, lots of great family vacation spots too. You need a base of operations while you are visiting and there are plenty of hotels and condos from which to choose your accommodations.

Rental homes are one of the best ways to enjoy the real Island experience, and may be something for you to consider when you are planning a family vacation. You should look at the features and special amenities that are offered by each before making your final selection.

The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a popular tourist draw, and both kids and parents can go on a tour of these natural wonders. Kilauea is one of the volcanoes that you will have the chance to see, and as the most active in the world, eruptions are ongoing.

You can take a driving tour or go for a hike that will take you up to the rims of some of the volcanoes. Your family will even be given the opportunity to get a close-up view of active lava as it flows to the sea. This is a must-see Hawaii family vacation idea! Rainforests in Hawaii are majestic and magical sights that will interest the entire family. You can sign up for a tour that will take you on an exciting ride through the less traveled areas. Guides will be happy to make this a trip to remember. If you aren’t afraid to splash through shallow streams and a little mud now and then, you might want to put this activity on your list.

Hawaii family vacation will not be complete without the beaches! The beaches are the playground of Hawaii and this is where your kids will be begging for you to bring them. They can learn how to surf at one of the surfing schools or have fun snorkeling and swimming.

The temperature of the water is warm enough to please the most sensitive swimmers. Seashells litter the beaches and there are many more that can be found as you swim and explore underwater.

Punalu Beach has black sand that will be interesting to both kids and parents, and this beach also is known for its population of Green Sea Turtles. Hawaii family vacation planning must include Dolphin Quest. Dolphin Quest and Dolphin Swim are some of the favorite activities presented in Hawaii. This gives you the chance to get to meet some of these mammals up close and personal.

While there are special programs that let you sign up your kids and teens at Dolphin Quest, the adults must enter a drawing for a chance to participate. Everyone can enjoy the Dolphin Swim at Sea Life Park Hawaii and for a wild dolphin swimming adventure check out private guide, Roberta Goodman.

A luau will be something that the family can enjoy together in the evening. There is dancing, singing and lots of tasty food available. This is an outdoor activity that never fails to attract large crowds.

Kids will be happy to know that there are plenty of fast food establishments available on the Island, and parents will have a chance to enjoy some private moments and upscale dining at 5 star restaurants. For parents a trip to the Hawaiian Botanical Gardens at Onomea Bay can be a great stop. This is where you can wander winding trails and see many of the Island’s native plants and flowers. You are also going to see waterfalls during your walk.

There are over 2000 species of plants that are contained in the Hawaiian Botanical Gardens. If you have never seen mango, coconut or monkeypod trees, now is your opportunity. These gardens are open to all ages, but generally adults are more interested in exploring this natural setting.

Mauna Kea Summit Tours are another Hawaiian attraction that is more suited for adults, or parents with kids who are teenagers. This is because the hike to the top of this natural landmark requires endurance and patience. It is worth the effort though, because the views from the top of Mauna Kea are breathtaking.

Waipo Valley is a culturally and historically significant area of Hawaii that you can explore. Parents and teens may prefer to saddle up a horse and enjoy one of the trail rides through this region. If you have smaller kids there are wagon tours that are also available. Now you know most of your Hawaii family vacation must do lists, Pack you bags for a great Hawaiian family vacation!

Published by Amazing  Family vaca ideas

Your Ideal Summer Job – Summer Camp USA!

If you are lucky enough to have the summer to yourself, would you ever consider going to America? What’s more would you ever consider working in America? All these experiences can be in the palm of your hand by applying for a summer camp.

Camp Counselors

Camp Counselors

Now being a camp counselor isn’t for everyone, but if you are a fun and outgoing, enjoy kids and have a few skills to pass on, then it could be the job for you. Also, it would give you that added extra bit of pocket money to get yourself around and see the country while you are there.

Getting There

There are many companies that provide a way to set people up with a camp that would suit them, such as CCUSA, Camp America, Bunac and Camp Leaders. Many of these help with a visa, insurance, and even discount flights. Also, it is possible for you to apply for a camp yourself and get these companies to help you with the other aspects.


What are these experiences? Well, they are best told by the people who have done it?

Sarah Hill, 22, from Brighton, England, said: “The opportunities camp provided me with a boosted CV in terms of my teaching career, working with children in a new and different way, and the experience has enabled me to learn lots of new skills, such as lifeguarding and archery.”

Ben Hocking, 24, from Perth, Australia added: “I gained confidence in myself to be able to go out into the world on my own.”

Ines Cordoba-Robyn, 20, from Spain, said: “Going to camp is helpful for me, I am learning English and improving it. I am more responsible, and camp teaches me to take care of kids, something that three years ago I thought was impossible.”

The Kids

It is not just beneficial to the counselors personally; the kids they teach also gain life skills from the people they meet and who are responsible for their care.

Lindsey Schmelzer, 24, from Minneapolis, Minnesota, commented: “Camp is a place where campers are able to leave their troubles at home and enjoy the outdoors. They don’t have to pretend to be someone they are not and get to feel included. These children get to work on their strengths or get to try something new because that is what camp is for.

She added: “Being a counselor allows you to help these children enjoy what I just stated.”

Kelsey Titus, 21, from Burlington, Vermont, added: “I feel like what I am doing is important. We have the chance to have an impact, and I love what everybody brings to the table internationally.”


Would people recommend it? What advice would they give to budding counselors?

Tom Luke, 21, from Preston, England, said: “I would recommend it if people enjoyed travelling and meeting new people. My biggest piece of advice I would give is work hard and play even harder.”

Ben Hocking added: “I think camp is a great experience for anyone to do! It’s a lifetime adventure where you learn skills you wouldn’t learn anywhere else.”

Friends Forever

Camp seems to be all about friends and relationships with the people you work with and meet. Ines Cordoba-Robyn said: “I gained a lot of friends, friends for life, friends that I will never forget. I think friendship is the main reason I went back.”

Lindsey Schmelzer said: “Being from the United States, summer camp is a normal opportunity for children to experience. Yet working and camping with people from all around the world makes you look at something in a new light. you expand your surroundings and open your mind.

She added: “Being a counselor puts you in a bubble where you have to learn everything about those you work with and learn to love their positives and negatives. You barely have phone reception and internet that only works every other week; all of our entertainment is bonding with these other people.

“Working at camp with everyone made me want to travel more. When I finally did, I was able to visit those from camp that I kept a close friendship with.

“Camp did not end after that summer.”