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Midwestern Lodging of a Different Era

Kathleen Walls

hotel check in deskThere are many hotels that reflect a certain period of American life in the mid-west. Here are four of my favorites. I'll bet you would love them too.


If You Build It, They Will Come

Kathleen Walls
Published 7-1-2024

Great Smokey Mountains National Park Roosevelt monumentIn 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt faced with the worst depression in American history needed to kick start the economy. Part of his New Deal was an organization designed to employ young men. He called it the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and it did much more than give millions of young men jobs on environmental projects. As travelers, we owe a lot to an organization that has been somewhat forgotten over the years. The CCC earned the nickname, "Roosevelt's Tree Army." These parks continue to provide a natural attraction and much of the buildings these young men built are still in use at parks across the country today.

Atlas Ad Astra Missile Silo: The Stuff of Science Fiction

Kathleen Walls

man and dog in ad atlas missile siloI remember back in school during the Cold War years we were told, “Get under your desk when a nuclear air raid sounds.” Yeah, that really would have protected us from a nuclear bomb! There were science fiction books and rumors of underground nuclear missile silos built to retaliate if Russia fired a missile at the US. Later years proved the rumors were true. Missile silos were built mostly in western states like Kansas. When the Atlas missiles became obsolete, the government decommissioned the missile bases, removed the obsolete missile, and sold the property. One in Wilson, Kansas was bought by Matthew Fulkerson.

D Day

Kathleen Walls

states of soldiers at Nrmandy on D dayIt was on June 6, 1944, on the beaches of Normandy that the event occurred that foreshadowed the end of WW ll and of Hitler's reign of terror. Operation Overlord, the Allies code name for the invasion of France. It began on the storm torn beaches of Normandy and ended at the Arch de Triumph with the liberation of Paris. Over my years travel writing, I've visited many places commemorating the day know to the world as D-Day. It is something that needs to be taught in every school and never forgotten.

Discover Jonathan Dickinson State Park

Kathleen Walls

boardwalk at Jonathan dickinsoin spJonathan Dickinson State Park on the Loxahatchee River is the largest state park in Southeast Florida. It's the perfect place to visit any time of the year. It's in Martin County, Florida, which offers you wonderful places to explore while camping at Jonathan Dickinson Park. One of my visits here was on a comped press trip, but my opinions are my own.

Jazz, BBQ, and Fountains: Kansas City

Kathleen Walls
Updated 5-26-2024

slap's bbqIt's been awhile since I first visited Kansas City but my latest visit shows it still offers a visitor a hot time in a cool city, Kansas City has it all: hot jazz, spicy barbecue and tons of sparkling fountains. It's a blend of Kansas and Missouri's best and a city (make that cities) everyone will enjoy.

Elmwood Cemetery: A Microcosm of Memphis History

Kathleen Walls
Published 5-13-2024

elmwood cemetery gatesOften a historic cemetery reflects that city’s history. That is the case with beautiful Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis. Elmwood was founded in 1852. Elmwood’s executive director Kim Beaden and Amanda Zorn, Historian/Visitor Services & Volunteer Coordinator, showed me around the cemetery. It has the feel of a garden with beautiful southern magnolia, poplar tulip, and giant water oak trees. Elmwood is divided into sections including the Masonic Section, the Confederate Rest section, the Yellow Fever Section, African American Section, and others. Many of the tombstone sculptures resemble a museum.

Only in Little Rock

Kathleen Walls
Published 5-3-2024

ark histor museumYou may think of Little Rock as just the capital of Arkansas, but did you know it has many unusual attractions worth a trip. Little Rock has attractions that are the biggest, oldest, first, or only one of a kind ranging from history to nature and culture. Here are a few things you will find only in Little Rock.

Post Trip Fun in Murfreesboro and Hot Springs

Story and photos
by Kathleen Walls
Published 4-30-2024

hand holding arrowhead and four leaf cloverThis year I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Southeast Tourism Society Showcase in Little Rock. As those of you who follow my trips know, that usually includes a post trip. This year it was a delightful deep dive into newer territory for me. We visited Murfreesboro and Hot Springs. It was an interesting trip as I learned so much I had not known before, ranging from pre-historic colonies, digging for diamonds, to conflicts with the law. One of the most fun places we visited was the Gangster Museum in Hot Springs. We visited Crater of Diamonds State Park, where we dug for diamonds. Had we found any, we could have kept them. Perfectly legal. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any diamonds but got a deeper insight into legal situations in a short run-in with a Barney Fife Wannabe.

Take a Pink Jeep Trip into History

Story and photos
by Kathleen Walls
Published 3-6-2024

great smokey mountainsGreat Smoky Mountain National Park is a place you could spend days or even weeks exploring. It is America’s most visited national park. Cades Cove is one of the most popular places in the park, but there is another lesser-known section where history still lives. Pink Jeep Tours takes you there.

Onslow County, NC From Fishing Village to Travel Mecca

Story and photos
by Kathleen Walls
Published 1-21-2024

beach between two homesFor the first half of the 20th century Onslow County was a quiet fishing village. It also produced naval stores, lumber, and tobacco crops as its main source of income. Then in 1941, Onslow County and the entire world changed. WWII brought Marine Barracks Camp Lejeune to Jacksonville, Onslow’s main city. Today, tourism plays a major role in the area. It has varied attractions and world-class dining you won’t find anywhere else.

History Museums in Greenville, South Carolina

Story and photos
by Tom Straka
Published 12-26-2023

Some cities are full of museums. For a history buff like me, it is fortunate cities often put a priority on preserving local history, making history museums fairly common. Greenville, South Carolina has an unusual assortment of museums, including two military history museums, a creative arts center, museum of art, children’s museum, music museum, and even a Shoeless Joe Jackson museum and baseball library. One of the art museum collections in the city is said to be the second largest collection of religious art in the world (second to the Vatican). Most of these museums are walking distance from one another, so Greenville offers a great opportunity for museum-lovers.

St. Johns Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve

Story and photos
by Kathleen Walls
Published 12-16-2023

lake and woodsAs a long-time Florida resident, I am familiar with palm trees but until I visited St. Johns Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve (SJBGNP), I had no idea there were so many variants. Dr. John Rossi, founder and resident biologist led our small group on a tour of the garden. The garden is St. Johns County’s newest attraction. It focuses on an important, but often neglected side of the county, the natural side.

Music a la Cajun in Lafayette

Story and photos
by Kathleen Walls
Published 12-10-2023

Lafayette Parish in Louisiana is alive with music. It's a part of their culture.  In the 1760s, thousands of Arcadians driven out of Canada because of their religion were welcomed in Catholic Spanish owned Louisiana. They brought their music with them. However, in the new environment, it modified to create a totally different music from French Canadian. Ranger Jodie at the Acardian Cultural Center in Lafayette explained, "The main instrument in Cajun music is the German accordion. And then we have the fiddle which is French we also have a guitar which is a Spanish influence and we have the triangle, rub board and spoons which are African instruments."

A Spooktacular Jacksonville Zoo Visit

Srory and photos
by Kathleen Walls
Published 10-26-2023

The Jacksonville Zoo And Gardens is one of the top zoos in the United States. They are doing it big for Halloween with their 36th annual Spooktacular. A few ghosts and ghouls fit right in with the wildlife. You enter beneath the watchful eye of some giant skeletons. Then pass under a Spooktacular archway.


Bristol: Birthplace of Country Music

Story and photos by
Kathleen Walls

Published 9-14-2023

big bang of country musicBirthplace of Country Music in Bristol, Virginia/Tennessee has a fantastic history behind it. The Museum tells how country music was recognized as a genre at the famous 1927 Bristol Sessions. It’s an amazing story.

The Gardens and Grounds at Monticello

Story by Tom Straka
Photographs by Pat Straka 
Published 9-4-2023

gardenAbout a year ago we spent the better part of a day at Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. The details are in an earlier article in this digital magazine. While Monticello is recognized as one of America’s most famous homes, the grounds surrounding Monticello are almost as interesting as the house. They were attractive enough to bring us back for a second visit, centered on the restored vegetable and flower gardens, orchards, Jefferson’s favorite trees, and a bunch of fascinating outbuildings. They were well worth a second better part of a day. Tours at Monticello have various options, mainly the house tour and the gardens and grounds tour.

Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Story and photos
by Kathleen Walls Published 7-27-2023

chuck berry exhibitI just visited Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s an amazing time travel trip into American music. Sure, it’s about rock and roll, but remember rock and roll evolved from blues and country with many other genres adding a touch or two. What I love about the museum is that it takes that into consideration and showcases those early influences. Over the years, they have inducted many influencers, including Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Ma Rainey, Robert Johnson, Hank Williams, Bob Willis, and countless other musician whose music led to rock and roll.  

An Extraterrestrial Heritage Area in Georgia

Story and photos
by Tom Straka Published 7-17-2023

cairnsNewsweek magazine recently published an article with a catchy title: “The Weirdest, Most Extraterrestrial Spots You Can Visit, Here on Earth,” promising “some of Earth’s most bizarrely surreal natural wonders.” There were eleven locations, ranging from a national forest park in China with bizarre rock formations, a desert in Canada’s Yukon, Easter Island, the world’s largest salt flat in Bolivia, the Skeleton Coast of Namibia, to Glowworm Caves in New Zealand. One location caught my eye, as it is only a few hours away. The Arabia Mountain Natural Area, just east of Atlanta, was described as “as close to the experience of walking on the moon’s surface as we have on Earth.” As you begin the hike up Arabia Mountain, shown in the lead photograph, you are on solid rock, and the scant forest soon gives way to the “lunar surface.” You’ll be on a monadnock.

The Perfect Home-Away_From_Home in New Iberia

Kathleen Walls
Published 7-2-2023

bayou chateau and chateau royaleI had a wonderful experience when I visited New Iberia. There was so much more than I expected. New Iberia is a quiet little town on the banks of Bayou Teche with a big history. Founded in 1779, by Spaniards New Iberia is the only Louisiana city retaining a Spanish name. Later, the Acadians, settled there after being driven out of Nova Scotia by the British.


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FTC has a law requiring web sites to let their readers know if any of the stories are  "sponsored" or compensated. We also are to let readers know if any of our links are ads. Most are not. They are just a way to direct you  to more information about the article where the link is placed. We have several ads on our pages.  They are clearly marked as ads. I think readers are smart enough to know an ad when they see one but to obey the letter of the law, I am putting this statement here to make sure everyone understands. American Roads and Global Highways may contain affiliate links or ads. Further, as their bios show, most of the feature writers are professional travel writers. As such we are frequently invited on press trips, also called fam trips. On these trips most of our lodging, dining, admissions fees and often plane fare are covered by the city or firm hosting the trip. It is an opportunity to visit places we might not otherwise be able to visit. However, no one tells us what to write about those places. All opinions are 100% those of the author of that feature column.

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