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Information Highway

Sometimes it's difficult to physically visit fun places so how about taking a virtual tour. Then when you can travel there, this tour will so show you all the best places.You can do that now. Here's some fun and informative tours at Tours4Mobile.
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San Antonio: Heart of Texas

Kathleen Walls
Published 5-28-2023

mexican dancersThere is no question. San Antonio is the heart of Texas and the heart of San Antonio lies the middle of its 21st century downtown. There one piece of 18th century architecture reigns supreme. It is not the tallest or the largest. Not even the grandest, but it is unquestionably San Antonio's crowning jewel. The Alamo! No other symbol in American history is more revered as a shrine to heroism in the cause of freedom. In actual fact, the story is a little different. A group of American who had been invited to settle in Mexico's then owned territory, actually snatched Texas away from Mexico and created a separate county, the Republic of Texas. They declared independence from Mexico on March 2, 1836. The Republic of Texas was not recognized by the United States until a year later in 1837.

26 Experiences you will only find in Onslow County, North Carolina

Kathleen Walls
Published 5-13-2023

kayakerUntil 1941, Onslow County was a quiet fishing village that depended on naval stores, lumber, and tobacco crops as its main source of income. Then in 1941, Onslow County and the world changed. Marine Barracks Camp Lejeune located in Jacksonville, Onslow’s main city. Today, tourism plays a major role in the area. It has many unique attractions you won’t find anywhere else.

Huntsville: Relive the Past and Foresee the Future

Kathleen Walls
Published 5-4-2023

rocket at space centerIn Huntsville, you can foresee the future at the Space and Rocket Center. You can tour the museum’s artifacts from Apollo and Challenger to present day and experience a simulated space voyage aboard the Discovery Shuttle where you “launch” from Kennedy Space Center, go into orbit, and landing back at Kennedy.

A Walk on the Wild Side of St. Lucie County

Kathleen Walls
Published 4-7-2023

Here’s a secret about Florida. It’s not all theme parks and crowds You can visit St Lucie County for some natural resources and have a blast minus the crowds. I recently took a nature press trip and want to share the beauty of the Treasure Coast with you.                                         
                                           (Photo credit Ischell Laxton)

Western North Carolina Nature Center

Tom Straka
Published 4-4-2023

barnAshville, North Carolina is a fun city to visit, with lots of hidden gems. Among them is the Western North Carolina Nature Center, one of North Carolina’s accredited zoos, but much more than that. It is both plants and animals, intended to connect people with an appreciation of the of the Southern Appalachian native wildlife and habitats. The WNC Nature Center is a menagerie of over 60 species of wild and domestic animals, set in a landscape including hundreds of native plant species, all characteristic of the unique Southern Appalachian bioregion.

Alachua County’s Magnificent Museums

Kathleen Walls
Published 3-28-2023

fossil_at_mnhtnAlachua County, Florida has a museum for every interest. As a college town, you expect this in Gainesville, but there are other towns around the county worth a visit. Here are some I have visited and enjoyed. I’ll start with Gainesville.

Dudley Farm: A Trip into Florida's Agricultural Past

Kathleen Walls
Published 3-4-2023

dudley farm houseDudley Farm Historical State Park is an authentic 325-acre working “Cracker” farm on the western outskirts of Gainesville. A visit there gives you an accurate picture of North Florida farming through the eyes of three generations of the Dudley family. The farm began in the pioneer days of the 1850s when Phillip B.H. Dudley and his wife, Mary, began the farm. After Phillip’s death, the farm passed it on to his son, Ben, and his wife, Fanny.

Herlong Mansion: Reminder of a Earlier Time

Kathleen Walls
Published 3-1-2023

mansionWhen Zeddy Clarence Herlong came to Micanopy with his wife, Natalie, in the early 1900s and settled into the house along an Indian trading route, now known as Cholokka Boulevard, he never imagined it would one day be a famous bed-and-breakfast. The two-story pine “cracker style” home, built in 1845 by R. S. Stoughton, and then owned by Herlong’s father-in-law, John Simonton, is now The Herlong Mansion and listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Catty Shack Offers Help for Homeless Animals

Kathleen Walls
Published 1-30-2023

guide shows habitat plansThere has been a lot in the news lately about the homeless. Yes, that’s a sad situation, but at least people can try to get help. What about animals who cannot ask for help or go apply for a job? Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jacksonville, Florida helps those homeless. Animals that have been abandoned, confiscated by law enforcement due to abuse, or just cats that are unwanted at bigger zoos can find a “forever home” here.

Manifest Distilling

Kathleen Walls
Published 2-25-2023

bar at manifest distillingIf you’re visiting Jacksonville and want an adult beverage at a fun location, visit the taproom at Manifest Distilling. They’re located in the heart of the sports district and since Jacksonville worships the Jaguars that is a good place to be. It began in 2016 as a dream of David Cohen, a graduate of the brew school at the Siebel Institute. He brought in Scott Kennelly, Trey Mills, and Tom Johnson at first. Today it has grown to 11 staff people and one territorial cat.

The Jesse James Trail

Renée S. Gordon
Published 1-25-2023

jese james displayThe whereabouts of Jesse James may have been mysterious in the latter part of the 1880s but scholars have successfully traced his movements from birth through his burials and exhumations. Across the country, from Texas to West Virginia, there are explorable sites and markers that refer to his domestic and his criminal lives. He joined the Civil War guerrillas in 1864 and Post-Civil War he and his brother Frank formed an alliance with the four Younger Brothers and became the James-Younger Gang to continue the fight. James is estimated to have participated in approximately twenty armed robberies.

Destination Kansas City, Kansas 

Renée S. Gordon
Published 1-15-2023

The consolidation and incorporation of eight small towns in Wyandotte County in 1872 led to the creation of Kansas City eleven years after Kansas gained statehood. A biography of the state, both prior to statehood and into the 21st-century, is a microcosm of the history of the United States’ westward expansion and the colorful characters who impacted on those events. Until entry into the Union the region was recognized as the Nebraska and the Indian Territories until 1854 and as such settlers, outlaws, lawmen, natives and African Americans entered the area. Kansas City, KS is listed as one of fifty-five National Heritage Areas based on its historical sites, culture and significant geography

Walking with Patsy Cline

Kathleen Walls
published 1-7-2023

I saw Patsy Cline last night. Well, she looked like Patsy Cline. She talked like Patsy Cline. And boy, did she sing like Patsy Cline! Actually, it was Gail Bliss performing in
the fantastic A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline at Jacksonville’s Alhambra Theatre and Dining.

Starr Hill Winery and Vineyard

Kathleen Walls
Published 12-8-2022

my wineStarr Hill Winery is more than a winery and vineyard. It’s almost a one-stop-for-all place. The vineyard sits atop a hill in Curwensville in the Pennsylvania Wilds. We visited recently on a press trip and met with Kenn Starr who told us a little about Starr Hill Winery. It began with his father’s dream. He started making wine in the ‘50s when he returned from Germany where he had been stationed in the Air Force. He saw how they made wine over in Germany and started making wine in 1967. Kenn told us, “We have the original bottles here at the winery.”

Anna Maria Island

Kathleen Walls
Published 11-16-2022

anna maria island beachAnna Maria Island’s history goes way back. The first record of European explorers here dated to the 1530s. They claimed Anna Maria for Spain. Of course, they weren’t the first people here. The Tocobagans, Calusa’s and other native tribes using the island as a base for fishing and hunting.

Trinkle Mansion Bed and Breakfast

Kathleen Walls
Published 11-15-2022

Atrinkle mansion stay at Trinkle Mansion Bed & Breakfast in Wytheville, Virginia is a way to experience traveling like the elite in the Victorian era. Those days, wealthy people stayed at the homes of friends and family many times when traveling. That’s how it feels when staying at Trinkle Mansion. It is a Classical Revival home built for William Trinkle, a gentleman farmer and brother of a Virginia governor, Elbert Lee Trinkle. Trinkle served as governor from 1922 to 1926 after serving in the Virginia Senate. That may give you a hint of what it would be like staying in William Trinkle’s home.

Isett Heritage Museum

Kathleen Walls
Published 11-14-2022

isett_museum I always love to know all the little secret stories about a place I visit. On a recent visit to Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, I got the entire condensed history of the area at the Isett Heritage Museum. I’m using condensed loosely as the museum is huge. There are three large buildings plus some outside artifacts all telling the local history. J. Melvin Isett and his wife, Beulah, began the museum after many years of collecting and a variety of service-related businesses in Huntingdon County. In 2001, shortly after Mr. Isett retired, he opened his collection to the public in a 1940 renovated barn on the property. In 2004 the museum expanded adding a ten thousand square foot building, and once again in 2008, added another ten thousand square foot building. The three buildings house a collection of over forty thousand items.

Bilger’s Rocks:  A 300-Million-Year-Old Rock City

Kathleen Walls
Published 11-1-2022

sign at bilgers rocksBilger’s Rocks have been there since before the America continents split from Africa. It’s about 300-million years old, give or take a few birthdays. Paleo-Indians used some of its caves for shelter. The first European settler was a German named Jacob Bilger in the 1800s. Today, it’s a park with not only the rocks but a primitive camping area and playground and the ruins of an old mill on Bilger’s Creek which runs through the park. There are hiking trails and beautiful woods.

Cades Cove
A Treasure Trove of History and Nature

Article by Kathleen Walls
Photos by Martin and Kathleen Walls
Updated 10-28-2022

cades_coveNestled in the northwest corner of the great Smoky Mountains National Park, is a tiny treasure trove of Americana. Here, the heritage carved by the early settlers of this pastoral valley is preserved. Rustic log cabins still echo with the soft whispers of Elizabethan English. The mills and barns recall a time when man and nature were bound in an ongoing ritual. Their houses of worship still ring with the strains of joyous hymns from the past. On this eleven mile loop road you cover a span of a century in the lives of Cades Cove residents but the historic buildings are only a part of the Cades Cove experience.

Experience Kitsap Peninsula, Washington

Kathleen Walls
Published 10-14-2022

lighthouse and keepers homeKitsap Peninsula is just minutes away from Seattle, but it’s another world. A place of diversity, both physically and culturally. It’s home to Native American Tribes, has one town with a Viking heritage, and is a diners and watersports lover’s heaven, with a lot of history.

Poplar Forest and Thomas Jefferson

Story by Tom Straka
Photographs by Pat Straka
Published 10-8-2022

Poplar forest south sideWhy a tree to lead this article? To start with, it is a tulip poplar, located at Poplar Forest. It is a very old tree, believed to be over 200 years old. Popular Forest was a Virginia tobacco plantation which included a plantation house, also known as Poplar Forest. Work began on the mansion, which is still there, in 1806. The tree is thought to predate the construction of the mansion. The person who owned Poplar Forest and built the mansion was an interesting fellow.

Things I Love or Hate About Hotels

Kathleen Walls
Published 10-8-2022

hotel with poolAs a long-term travel writer, I have stayed in all kinds of hotels over the years. Most good. Some not so good. Sometimes it's a wonderful experience and occasionally, it's like a horror movie setting. There are some little things that a hotel can do to make the stay a pleasant one. These are the top loves and hates I have at hotels. Hotel managers, this one is for you.

Monticello and Thomas Jefferson

Story by Tom Straka
Photographs by Pat Straka
Published 9-29-2022

view of front of MonticelloMost readers will surely recognize the person and home in the title photograph. Thomas Jefferson standing in front of one of America’s most famous homes. The home in the photograph, Monticello,  is real and Thomas Jefferson is interpreter Bill Barker. "Jefferson" spoke to us near the front of Monticello, in a small group of about a dozen, first giving us background, then allowing the group to ask questions. The presentation was at the end of a full tour of Monticello. The tour, the subject of this article, was outstanding and "Jefferson" was a fantastic way to end the tour. We expected the home to be the highlight of the day; instead, it was Jefferson, "himself" who was the true highlight. Think about it, spending time in small museum, then a full tour of the house, and ending with a conversation with "the man himself."    

Visit a Time Machine at Patee House Museum

Kathleen Walls
Published 9-1-2022

pony express headquarters at patee housePatee House Museum in St. Joseph is like entering a time machine of Missouri history. I stood at the counter of the first Pony Express station and felt like I was back in 1860. Patee House was the Pony Express Headquarters when it began. Pony Express is the first thing that comes to mind when most people think of St. Joseph, but Patee House began several years earlier.

Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary

Kathleen Walls
Published 8-30-2022

noah's arkNoah's Ark is a sanctuary in Locust grove, Georgia for abused, abandoned, neglected, or surrendered animals ranging from domestic livestock to exotic animals such as tigers, monkeys, wolves, primates, and bears. tours are free but you can opt for a more close up paid tour. Volunteers, Patty and Mark, took our group on a Walk on the Wild Side tour. It’s 1.5-hour walking tour bringing us inside the first set of fences so we could get a closer look at some of their more than 1,500 animals.

Ride with the Pony Express

Kathleen Walls
Published 8-27-022

Pony Express museum"Help wanted. Young, skinny, wiry fellows, not over eighteen. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred. Wages $25 per week.” Would you answer this ad? During the 18 months the Pony Express was in operation, over 230 young men applied and were accepted. Some died in performance of their duties. Others went on to different careers after the Pony Express ended.

Getting Hand to Paw with Wolves

Kathleen Walls
Published 8-16-2022

author and wolfLittle Red Riding Hood lied. She caused generations to see wolves as evil creatures, intent on eating people. I recently visited Seacrest Wolf Preserve located in Chipley, Florida. Cynthia and Wayne Watkins founded it in 1999 as a sanctuary for displaced captive wolves. Seacrest is one of the few preserves in the country that allow up close encounters with wolves.

Virginia Beach, A Place to Play

Kathleen Walls
Published 8-8-2022

beachThere are many reasons to visit Virginia Beach. Aside from the delightful weather most of the year, there are lots of attractions and some delicious restaurants.

Fayette Historical State Park and Townsite   
Michigan Upper Peninsula Iron-Smelting Town

Tom Straka
Published 6-25-2022

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has lots of fascinating towns and museums to visit. Many of the museums are related to the region’s pioneering industries: copper, iron, and timber. The Upper Peninsula once had huge iron resources and over two-dozen iron blast furnaces, and many of the museums and historical attractions deal with the iron mining and smelting industries. The fuel for nearly all of the iron smelting furnaces was charcoal, and if you look hard you can even see some charcoal kilns that still remain to celebrate the iron industry history. Marquette was center of the iron activity and if you enter town from the east, you’ll see a huge, reconstructed charcoal kiln to welcome you to the city.  

Best Dining in the South

Kathleen Walls
Published 6-11-2022

I've been doing a lot of road trips lately and have discovered some of the best dining in the South. Here are a few must-dine places.

Some Gave All: All Gave Some

Kathleen Walls
Published 5-29-2022

Just back from a press trip to Henry County, Georgia, where I had the privilege of meeting many of the veterans who gave some. For Memorial Day, we honor those who gave all. Henry County recognizes both. Here's a little about those who gave some and those who gave all.

Transformative Travel in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Renée S. Gordon
Published 5-29-2022

Archaeological evidence exists attesting to the fact that Native Americans inhabited the Oklahoma region as early as 500 AD. The state’s documented history begins with the Spanish explorations of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in 1541, followed in 1682 by Robert de la Salle who claimed the land for France.

Colonial Williamsburg Where Past and Present Meet

Kathleen Walls
Published 5-19-2022

carriage in williamsburgWilliamsburg is one of those magic places where history is ever present. Williamsburg was founded between 1630 and 1633 when some Jamestown settlers moved there. Jamestown's capital building burned twice, the second time In 1698. The locals in Jamestown were tired of the unhealthy climagte and decided to permanently move the capital Williamsburg. The once small community grew and prospered until a later governor, Thomas Jefferson, moved the capital to Richmond. Williamsburg retuned to its early small village status.

Auburn, New York: The Spirit of Tubman

Renée S. Gordon
Published 5-18-2022

Harriet Tubman was born 200-years ago in Maryland and embarked on an extraordinary journey that continues to resonate throughout US history. Her story serves as an example of courage and perseverance against seemingly insurmountable odds. She employed her uncanny ability to conquer any situation  functioning as an Underground Railroad conductor, abolitionist, lecturer, suffragist field nurse, Union spy and scout, and in 1863, leader of a Union raid resulting in the destruction of Confederate supplies and the liberation of hundreds of the

Buffalo Soldiers In the Heart of America

Renée S. Gordon
Published 4-10-2022

buffalo soldier museumThere have been no American military engagements in which African Americans have not participated at some level. In the 1600s British colonies blacks were used to defend against Indian attacks. Massachusetts’ 1636 law was one of the earliest documented laws to state that “all able-bodied Negroes” had to report to serve in the militia. Enslaved and freedmen were among the 9,000 African Americans serving in the Continental Army as Patriots, largely in integrated units. During the War of 1812 it is estimated that 15% of the soldiers and sailors were of African descent and General Andrew Jackson called for “free colored inhabitants of Louisiana” to enlist in the US Army on Sept. 21, 1814 with the promise of equal pay. The Civil War witnessed Union enlistment of approximately 200,000 African Americans, an estimated 100,000 once enslaved, resulting in a death toll of nearly 40,000.

Experience Southeast Texas

Renee S. Gordon
Published 3-30-2022

janise Joplins carNative Americans settled along the shores of Sabine Lake in what was to become East Texas more than 1,500-years ago. In 1528 Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca and three of his men, including Estevanico an African, became the first Europeans to travel into the interior of Texas. They were followed, nearly 200-years later, by transient Spanish, French and Englishmen. In the 17th-century the lake became a draw for traders of legal and illegal goods, settlers and pirates like Jean Laffite.

The Not Too Little Zoo That Can

Kathleen Walls
Published 3-29-2022

keeper and macaw at gulf coast zooGulf Shores Zoo became a household word as "The Little Zoo That Could" when a prime-time documentary told how the zoo's saved its animals in 2004 before Hurricane Ivan struck Gulf Shores. It all began in 1989 when Joey Ward built a small, community zoo on his family's land just a mile from the beach. He named it Zooland Animal Park. By 2000 it had grown and was renamed The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo.

Shelby: Land of Rythym and Roots

Kathleen Walls
published 3-34-3033

earl scruggs statureShelby in Cleveland County is just 45 minutes west of Charlotte but a completely different world. Creativity reigns here. Two music legends were born in Cleveland County, Earl Scruggs and Don Gibson. Art is all over Cleveland County. Museums are unique. Shopping and dining is laid back and individually owned not chains.

Virginia Beach: The First Resort

Renee S. Gordon
published 3-20-2022

sige about Virginia beachNative Americans, namely the Chesepians, inhabited the South Hampton Roads region of Virginia for thousands of years prior to first contact with English colonists on April 26, 1607. Three British Ships sent by the Virginia Company, sailed for 4 months, landed on Cape Henry and erected a wooden cross on the spot where they came ashore. Captain Christopher Newport, the first English tourist, was first to go ashore to reconnoiter and found “freshwaters, faire meadowes," and “goodly tall trees”. A second party built a small boat and visited the areas’ land and waterways. On May 14, the ships relocated to Jamestown and established the first permanent English settlement.

Norfolk, Virginia, Home of the Brave

Renee S. Gordon
Published 3-9-2022

battleshipNative Americans inhabited the Norfolk region, in a settlement known as Skicoak, for thousands
of years prior to the establishment of a European colony in
1636 and in 1682 Nicholas Wise sold 50 acres of riverfront
property to the Virginia General Assembly to found Norfolk.
Fifty years later it was the largest town in the colony. During
the American Revolution the busy port, shipbuilding industry and transportation of goods made Norfolk a prime target for a British attack and on January 1, 1776 they destroyed two-thirds of the city. Citizens torched what remained to prevent confiscation by the British. The city was rapidly rebuilt and again established prominence as a port linking transportation between North and South

Cape Henry Lighthouse's Unique Keeper

Kathleen Walls
Published 3-9-2022

old lighthouse at cape henryCape Henry Lighthouse, the 4th oldest lighthouse in the United States, was authorized by President George Washington in 1792. In 1881, the government constructed a second lighthouse 350 feet from the first. The lighthouses are a fun place to visit but there is something more in their story. Lighthouses are beacons of hope, and Cape Henry Lighthouse offers a story of one man's hopes. From May 10 to July 26, 1870. Willis Augustus Hodges served as the first African American lighthouse keeper at the Cape Henry Lighthouse.

Winston-Salem, Where Two Cultures Collide

Kathleen Walls
published 3-6-2022

bridge between salem and winstonCan you imagine a culture of socialistic church members in a society where the church controlled all aspects of life and owned all property in the settlement and smoking, drinking and partying was forbidden ever finding common ground with capitalistic tobacco manufactures?

Seek the Exceptional in Clearfield County, PA

Renée S. Gordon
Published 2-3-2022

foliage fall colorsWestern Pennsylvania’s Clearfield County is as close to a recreational paradise, replete with natural wonders, numerous outdoor activities, unique tasting trails and culinary delights, as any traveler can imagine. All season recreational offerings make any time opportune for a trip to the county’s wild side. More than 100,000-acres of State Forest and Game Lands allow sport hunting and game viewing. Those who prefer water-based experiences can choose from more than 250 lakes and rivers in which to fish, swim, boat or canoe.

Amelia Island:Like No Place Else on Earth

Kathleen Walls
Published 2-1-2022

ft clinchIt's no wonder Amelia Island is such an interesting place to visit. The blend of cultures that have created this special place differs from any other place on earth. It lived under eight flags. It was special to people from pre-Columbian Timucuans to pirates and con men, as well as hardworking settlers from many countries. Today, it's a wonderful vacation spot with fewer crowds than the better-known Florida beach towns. Here are just some of the best things to do on Amelia Island.

Discover Aiken, South Carolina

Renée S. Gordon
Published 1-30-2022

racing hall of fame in aikenThe city of Aiken, named after William Aiken, SC Railroad’s first president, was founded in 1835 after railroads entered the area in 1833 and the world’s longest line, 136-miles, connected the Savannah River with Charleston. In 1871 Aiken County was formed from portions of four existing counties.



Ball’s Bluff Battlefield

Story by Tom Straka
Photographs by Pat Straka
Published 1-6-2022

battlefieldThe Battle of Ball’s Bluff was a small one by Civil War standards, but a consequential one. It occurred early in the War on October 21,1861, by accident, just a couple of months after Bull Run (or First Manassas). The battlefield is on U.S. 15 in Leesburg, Virginia, just before the highway crosses into Maryland on to the Antietam and Gettysburg battlefields. We’ve passed it many times and recently had the time to visit. It turned out to be a well worth the stop; it is a small battlefield, but an interesting one that abuts the Potomac River. The 300-foot bluff is surprising, while being so close to the ocean, it contains 100-foot cliffs, is covered with outcroppings, and only a single steep trail led up to the top. Union troops had to cross the Potomac River twice to reach the battlefield, as Harrison Island stood in the middle of the river. Union pickets protected the island during the crossing, taking cover behind entrenchments for protection from hostile Confederate fire.   


Tampa Bay:The Place to Play

Kathleen Walls
Published 12-17-2021

beach at tampa Tampa Bay is one of Florida’s most popular playground areas. It has such a variety of attractions even a picky group will find something each party will enjoy.

Horne Creek Living Historical Farm

Story by Tom Straka
Photo by Pat Straka
published 12-16-2021

horne creek farm Horne Creek Farm is a living history farm, a North Carolina Historic Site, and the actual Hauser family farm (as opposed to many living history farms that are relocated farm buildings or rebuilt farm buildings). This is the real thing, allowing visitors to experience farm life in North Carolina’s northwestern Piedmont circa 1900. The site features the family’s original farmhouse (with original furnishings), a tobacco curing barn, a corn crib, adjacent fields under cultivation, and even a heritage apple orchard. The Site also offers programs ranging from old fashioned ice cream socials to an annual corn shucking frolic. There is a visitors' center with exhibits and a gift shop. This living history is a chance to learn about the rural past, a chance to see, smell, touch, and hear things once common in rural North Carolina.orne Creek Farm is a living history farm, a North Carolina Historic Site, and the actual Hauser family farm (as opposed to many living history farms that are relocated farm buildings or rebuilt farm buildings). This is the real thing, allowing visitors to experience farm life in North Carolina’s northwestern Piedmont circa 1900. The site features the family’s original farmhouse (with original furnishings), a tobacco curing barn, a corn crib, adjacent fields under cultivation, and even a heritage apple orchard. The Site also offers programs ranging from old fashioned ice cream socials to an annual corn shucking frolic. There is a visitors' center with exhibits and a gift shop. This living history is a chance to learn about the rural past, a chance to see, smell, touch, and hear things once common in rural North Carolina.

Fort Dobbs State Historic Site

Story by Tom Straka
Photo by Pat Straka
published 12-5-2021

 During the COVID-19 pandemic we have visited attractions that were primarily out-of-doors and generally not that far off the highway.Fort Dobbs State Historic Site meets those requirements, being nearly at the intersection of Interstates 40 and 77, just north of Statesville, North Carolina. Most forts in the South were associated with the Revolutionary or Civil Wars. Fort Dobbs is a French and Indian War fort. It is the only state historic site associated with that period in North Carolina. The site is similar to Oconee Station in South Carolina, visited last October and described in an ARGH article, in that it is mainly a blockhouse and it is situated on what was back then the frontier, the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Enjoy the Holidays on Jekyll Island with a Holly Jolly Christmas

Kathleen Walls
Published 11-29-2021

jekyll clubhouseFor my friends who have never visited Jekyll Island, the
holiday season is the perfect time to visit. Take a ride on
Jekyll’s Holly Jolly Trolley to see over half a million lights
around the island. There are lights from the Historic District
to Beach Village. Trolley riders will enjoy festive holiday
beverages, and sing along to Jingle Bells and other carols.



Michelangelo- A Different View

Kathleen Walls

Some of the greatest art in the world is in the Vatican, so when "Michelangelo - A Different View" got sanctioned by The Vatican you know it is special. The exhibit gives visitors an opportunity many people will never have in a lifetime, namely to view famous frescos by Florentine master sculptor/painter, Michelangelo, that  adorn the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Read more.




Renee S. Gordon

Kehinde Wiley, one of America's foremost African American artists, visited an exhibition of his works in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) and was stricken by the Confederate statues, and what they represent, that line nearby Monument Avenue.  He conceived of a monumental sculpture, Rumours of War, as a response that would enhance the country's story by placing people of color into the narrative and serving as a reminder that our cultural wars have not ended. Since that time the Confederate statues have come down and the “war” has expanded to include political, social and historical issues. The sculpture expresses Richmond's recognition of and commitment to societal change through art. Read more. 


Macon has More

Kathleen Walls

I know there are some places in Macon I haven't visited. However, I was surprised to recently learn of an outstanding event I had not known about before. I guess that's because I was staying at the fantastic 1842 Inn and visiting some of Macon's most interesting places. I must have gotten too busy.Read more.




Kathleen Walls

As some of you know, I recently purchased a 2003 Ford Econoline 250 cargo van from Apex Autoline and have been converting it into a camper van. Her name is Maybelline from one of Rock-and-roll's early Chuck Berry songs about an unfaithful gal named Maybelline, a Cadillac Coupe de Ville, and a hot rod Ford. My van is not a hot rod and I hope she will be faithful. (If you are too young to remember the song, Google it and enjoy. It was a big hit and a fun song.) Read more.


Take a Road Trip

Kathlleen Walls

Ever wonder what it is like to take a real road trip? Imagine a trip where you went from the highest mountain in one state to the deepest cave in another. Get the feel of spending one night in a luxury hotel and the next in a tent in a campground. Add in a little rain—no make that a downpour—one of the camping nights. Here's the scoop on my fun–mostly– road trip. This is just a teaser, there will be stories about many of these places coming soon. Read more.


A Piece of History: Camp Blanding Museum

Kathleen Walls

Sometimes hidden treasures are right in your face. Like many others, I took home county sites for granted. Sure, I live just a few miles from Camp Blanding and can hear the booms of drills often. Camp Blanding began in 1939 as a Florida National Guard training site and remains that today. What I wasn't thinking about was the Camp Blanding Museum telling its history. I can't believe I never visited before. After all, during WWII, this was the fourth largest city in Florida. Wow! What a little gem. Read more.




Georgia's Top (at 4,784 Feet) Tourist Attraction

by Tom Straka

This is a trip for a pandemic, one that minimizes crowds and is mostly out-of-doors. The highest point in any state offers a destination with a view. A day trip from my location offered three choices in North Carolina (highest in eastern United States), South Carolina, and Georgia. Georgia won, as it includes a museum and a view of the Atlanta skyline from 80 miles (on a very clear day, not the day I was there). On regular clear day, four states should be visible. The name of the top attraction is Brasstown Bald. Read more.



Virginia Beach, A Destination for All Seasons 

Renee S. Gordon

On April 26, 1607 three English ships docked in Virginia's Chesapeake Bay and placed a wooden cross on the beach. They named the site of the first landing Cape Henry in honor of Prince Henry of Wales. Approximately 18,000 indigenous Native Americans, the Chesepians, who had inhabited the region for thousands of years, greeted the settlers. Fourteen days later they relocated upstream to the more easily defended Jamestown Island and established the first permanent English settlement. Based on this early history Virginia Beach can lay claim to being the first tourist destination in the country. Read more.



Queen Esther Opens at Lancaster, PA's Sight & Sound Theater 

Renée S. Gordon 

The Book of Esther is the story of a beautiful Jewish girl named Hadassah who becomes the wife of Ahasuerus, the Persian king Xerxes I, and is renamed Esther. Her religious identity is hidden, making her life at court precarious, and inexorably leads to her being called upon to save her people from total annihilation. Read more.

Georgia's Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site

by Tom Straka

Good pandemic travel destinations need to be interesting, generally not crowded, and preferably mostly out-of-doors. Etowah Indian Mounds just off Interstate 75 north of Atlanta near Cartersville, Georgia meets that definition. It includes a small museum with a huge outdoor expanse which was the largest Native American settlement in the Etowah Valley. Still remaining are historic Indian mounds on the north bank of the Etowah River. Read more.


Jackson, Mississippi Civil Rights Trail, Relentless Tenacity 

Renée S. Gordon 

The first recorded European explorer to reach Mississippi was De Soto in 1540. At the time Native Americans had been living there for 12,000-years and three indigenous tribes had the largest presence, the Chickasaw, Choctaw and Natchez. It was Indians who gave the river and the state its name as the “Father of Waters”, “Misi-ziibi". The native inhabitants were displaced through unfair treaties and oppression and in 1719 the French introduced a significant number of slaves into the area. Read more.


Hattiesburg, Mississippi Civil Rights Trail, Relentless Tenacity  

Renée S. Gordon

The U.S. Civil Rights Trail runs through 15 states and the District of Columbia and seeks to interpret the fight for Civil Rights through exploring the cities and sites along the route. Each destination is a testament to the fortitude, resolve and unwavering commitment of those, both black and white, who engaged in the struggle. Guides and maps are available throughout the trail aid in traveler's site selections and understanding of each site's place in the history of the movement, Read more.

Black History is Embedded in Saint Augustine

Kathleen Walls

When it comes to Black History Month, no place figures more in Black history than Saint Augustine.  Walk through almost any section of the city and you will find reminders of its rich Black history. In 1606, 13 years before the first enslaved Africans were brought to the English colony of Jamestown in 1619 an event happened that was little noted but it was of great historical importance in Black history.  The Cathedral Archives in St. Augustine recorded the birth of the first African American child in the continental United States. This free child was the first spark in the fight for civil rights for African Americans.Read more.

The Roswell Incident

Kathleen Walls

Roswell, New Mexico was described as "West of lost and North of nowhere"in the 1993 documentary UFO Secret: The Roswell Crash by New Century Productions.  The documentary of course refers to the July 4, 1947 crash of an alien spaceship which did ­—or did not —happen near Roswell. This was what put Roswell on the map as far as visitors were concerned.  As a teen in the 1960s, I developed an intense interest and have followed possible UFO incidents so when I finally got chance to visit Roswell, New Mexico just months before the pandemic slowed down my travels, I was thrilled. Read more.

Fairfax County, VA, George Washington Walked Here!

Renée S. Gordon 

When the first Europeans arrived the region of Fairfax County in 1608 the land had been inhabited for thousands of years by Indians. The Doeg, the largest tribe in the area, lived in three villages in what is now Fairfax. They farmed and fished. By the end of the 1600s they had either migrated, died of disease or war. Read more

Fairfax County, VA, George Washington Walked Here!  (Part 2)

Renée S. Gordon

One can trace the country's military history through visiting sites and attractions throughout Fairfax County Virginia from the pre-American Revolution Era to modern contemporary times. The region has always been significant, as the site of three Native American villages, a route between the revolutionary northern and southern colonies, a Civil War transit hub and the location of several museums that interpret US military history. Read more.

Lynchburg, Virginia, Where History Speaks!   

Renée S. Gordon 

Travelers appear to see a light at the end of the tunnel and that, coupled with enhanced safety precautions, competitive pricing and flexible reservations make this an opportune time to plan to ease back into the thrill of adventure. It is best to opt for destinations that meet your social distancing comfort level, offer a variety of indoor and outdoor attractions, are affordable and are accessible via safe modes of transportation. Read more. 

Finding Treasures in Daytona Beach
and Volusa County Florida

Renée Gordon

Many Americans are hopeful that shortly our lives will begin to stabilize, we will once again engage in what were ordinary activities, rebuild our economy and reestablish our unifying cultural links and travel has proven to be one of the most effective ways to accomplish all of these goals. Individuals and families can visit destinations that enhance their knowledge of culture and history and provide jobs in industries, hospitality and tourism, which have suffered disproportionately. Read more.  

New York City, Just Breathe 

Renée Gordon 

On December 31, 2019 Covid-19 was reported in Wuhan, China.  Once again the world, and NYC in particular, was plunged into social and economic despair and tourism suffered a huge blow. Now, more than a year later, it appears NYC can once again exhale and plan to welcome visitors again. All sites, attractions, dining venues and accommodations adhere to the Dept. of Health guidelines and NYC is open for business. Read more.

Florida Cracker Lifestyle
at Barberville Pioneer Settlement


There's a special place in West Volusia County where you can time travel. Barberville Pioneer Settlement transports you back to the turn of the century when Florida was the wild frontier. The buildings range from the late 1800s to early 1900s and present a way of life that is all but forgotten now. It's the perfect place to blend education with fun in a safe, mainly-outdoor environment. Read more.

Foxfire Museum and Heritage Center

Tom Straka

Back in 1966 a North Georgia English teacher needed a way to get his students more engaged. He gave them a chance to come up with a project that would make the course more interesting. The result was an idea for a magazine that focused on local (Southern Appalachian) folklore, tradition, and culture. The students could use their own families and the local community as a source of material. Read more.

Visiting William Bartram's River of Lakes

Kathleen Walls

William Bartram came to West Volusia County 255 years ago with his father. He was intrigued enough to return in 1774. He was one of America's first naturalists to visit and write about Florida. His book, Travels Through North And South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, The Cherokee Country, The Extensive Territories of The Muscogulges, or Creek Confederacy, and The Country Of The Chactaws, —They went in for long titles those days—was one of the first naturalists' books published by the fledgling United States in 1791. Read more.

The Art of DeLand

Kathleen Walls

The town of DeLand, Florida began in 1876 when a New York businessman, Henry A. DeLand, visited and fell in love with the area. He remained there and built his home. The city was incorporated in 1882 and named in his honor. It has blossomed into a delightful place to visit. No hustle and bustle, no traffic and no parking problems create a wonderful background for dining, shopping, and relaxing. Since I visited near Halloween, it's only natural to include some ghostly fun spots. Read more.

Car Camping at Palmetto State Park

Kathleen Walls

Car camping is becoming more popular. Many years ago I camped in everything from a station wagon to a stretched tarp between trees to motor homes and every kind of camping in-between. After getting hooked on RVing and Glamping, I thought "no more primitive stuff like car camping for me." I was wrong. On a trip last year, I had a long drive of about thirteen hours between places that were graciously hosting me. Being cheap, I decided to go back to the old ways and do a night of car camping. Read more.

Christiana, PA:
Taking a Stand for Freedom

Renée S. Gordon

An excellent way to gauge the political climate is to examine the laws that are deemed necessary and enacted and the response of the population. In the inexorable march to the Civil War the most impactful law was the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, strengthening the lax enforcement of the 1793 Fugitive Slave Act. The 1850 law, enacted as part of the 1850 Compromise, was created to facilitate the recapture of those identified as southern slaves. Southerners felt that Northern sentiment was not in their favor and abolitionism was on the rise. Read more.

Frederick County Maryland

Renée S. Gordon

Frederick County Maryland was the site of pivotal events during the founding of the country from its formation in 1748 but it is the Civil War, and allied events, that would indelibly inscribe its place in history. The county is situated on the Mason-Dixon Line, abuts Pennsylvania, and was both an early gateway to the West and later for southern incursions into the North. The Historic National Road, the C&O Canal and the B&O Railroad all passed through and it was the location of Union and Confederate troop movements and Antietam, the Battle of South Mountain, Gettysburg and the Battle of Monocacy.Read more.


Frederick Douglass in Maryland 2

Renée S. Gordon

Maryland's African American history officially dates from 1634. The colonies' initial black population probably came from Virginia but was quickly supplemented by sales directly from Africa, the first “documented” Africans arriving in 1642. More than most states Maryland's stance on slavery was shaped by political events. In 1639 all slaves' were stripped of legal rights and in 1664 the Maryland Assembly deemed the enslaved slaves for life. Read more.  

Athens, The Classic City

Kathleen Walls

This is an excerpt from the latest edition of Georgia's Ghostly Getaways. It is available  at Kindle books. Check out my other books  at my website, KatysWorld
College towns seem to attract haunts. So do historic districts, Athens,
with its eclectic mix of brash young college students and descendants of the legendary antebellum gentry, is a natural habitat of ghostly legends. Read more.

Oconee Station: Defending the South Carolina Frontier

Tom Straka

Upcountry South Carolina is the northwest corner of the state, along the North Carolina border and the Blue Ridge Mountains. It has many historical, natural, and cultural treasures. Many of these attractions can be visited during a pandemic and Oconee Station is one of those. It a South Carolina State Historic Site that includes one of the prettiest waterfalls in the Upstate, Station Cove Falls. Read more.



Finding Florida's Phantoms in Ocala

Kathleen Walls

Just outside the city of Ocala lies a different "Magic Kingdom." Mother Nature rules this kingdom. It's the Ocala National Forest, 430,000 scenic acres of the most diverse terrain imaginable.  It contains highlands, swamps, 600 lakes, countless ponds, 23 streams and springs of clear crystal water, it's bounded by the slow, dark waters of the Oklawaha River on the west and the larger, faster moving St. Johns River on the east. It is the oldest national forest east of the Mississippi and it has its ghostly secrets. Read more.

Haunted T-Frere's
Excerpt from “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana”

By Cheré Dastugue Coen

Some say that the personalities of ghosts in the afterlife are much like the ones they had while living. Amelie Comeaux who haunts T-Frere's Bed and Breakfast in Lafayette was a “canaille,” a mischievous girl, and her antics in death reflect this wily nature.
 Read More

Maryland, Fredrick Douglass in Talbot County

Renée S. Gordon

September is International Underground Railroad Month and nowhere is that history better preserved and presented more accurately than throughout the state of Maryland. This month Maryland is honoring the legacy of the freedom seekers and those who assisted them with a series of exhibitions, events, tours and walking and road trips, all designed to be both comprehensive and follow socially safe guidelines. Read more.

Best Places You Never Heard Of

Kathleen Walls

Being trapped at home courtesy of Corona Virus has me thinking of many lesser known places I visited over my years of travel writing and want to visit again . Each of these places has a unique treasure you won't find anywhere else. Here are just a few of my favorites. You can click on the linked names for more about that place. Read more.

South Carolina Botanical Garden

Tom Straka

There are many interesting historical and natural attraction located just a few miles off the interstate; one is a fantastic botanical garden just ten miles from the exit on Interstate 85, halfway between Atlanta and Charlotte. It is Clemson University's South Carolina Botanical Garden, which is much more than the standard botanical garden. All the traditional plant-focused things are there, but a lot more, like a special natural heritage trail that allows the visitor to transect the natural plant habitats of the state in just a half-mile. Read more.



Norfolk, Virginia: Nauticus and Battleship Wisconsin

Tom Straka

Norfolk is the second largest city in Virginia. Its history has much to do with its location at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. It has Chesapeake Bay to the north and the Elizabeth River to the west and south, giving it a tremendous amount of waterfront.  All that water also means it has an interesting naval and maritime history. That history is on display at one of the city's best museums: the Nauticus, which includes the Hampton Roads Naval Museum and the Battleship Wisconsin. Read more

Opening Up America amidst Travel's New Normal

Renée S. Gordon 

The U.S. travel industry has emerged as one of the hardest hit industries in the country. Prior to the pandemic travel produced a $2.6-trillion profit and created 15.8-million jobs across the industry. As of the end of April, 8-million jobs have been lost and projections estimate that the total effect of the economic loss will be nine times that of 9/11. Read more


West Baton Rouge Museum

Kathleen Walls

When most people think Louisiana plantations, cotton is what comes to mind. However another crop, sugar cane, was a staple. West Baton Rouge Museum tells the story of Louisiana's sugar cane industry. A trip through the museum and its many historical buildings that make up its campus is a tour through time. It gives a glimpse of life back through the years for 300 years from the Antebellum though the struggle for Civil Rights. Read more.

Sofa Sojourner's Virtual Tours of UNESCO Sites

Renée S. Gordon

UNESCO World Heritage Sites are chosen based on their outstanding value to humanity and at least one of ten additional criteria.  Why sofa sojourns? There are several reasons for traveling from the comfort of your sofa. These visual forays allow us to explore places around the world, reminisce about former trips, learn about new ones and plan for the time when we can all travel again. Read more

Sofa Sojourner's Virtual Tours

Renee Gordon

There was a time, not so long ago, when travel was a luxury for those with time, money and imagination but creative minds and the internet have altered that narrative. Today you can travel from anywhere to interesting places and see sights that once you only heard about. In these times of sheltering in place the ability to access information, virtually visit national and international destinations and in some cases experience them interactively, is priceless. Read more.

Sofa Sojourner's Road Trip:
New Orleans to Houma  (Part two)

Renée S. Gordon

Baton Rouge is uniquely where the past and the present merge and it is filled with sites that clarify and expand what you have previously learned. After French explorers came upon the Baton Rouge area in 1699 the region was thoroughly documented by Pierre Le Moyne D'Iberville's descriptions of what he called Istrouma, Red Stick, in French is Baton Rouge. He saw large red poles, adorned with animal and fish heads, placed by the Houma tribes to delineate their hunting ground. Read more.

Baton Rouge: Born of the Water

Kathleen Walls

Red Stick was what Native Americans called this part of the country. Baton Rouge, as we know it today, is often under-considered as a great tourist destination. It was where  Travel South held this year's conference. Yes, we worked meeting with CVB people from southern states in a speed dating format during two of the days but lunch and evenings were super fun and our first day was spent seeing some of its many attractions. Read more.

Sofa Sojourner's Road Trip: 
New Orleans to Houma   

Renée S. Gordon 

Being an armchair adventurer has its advantages. Travelers have all the time they need to explore a destination's hidden treasures as well as experience the local cuisine and culture. As we embark on part two of our Louisiana adventure we are heading the 57-miles to Terrebonne Parish, the heart of Bayou Country. Louisiana has 64 parishes that are the equivalent of counties in other states. Terrebonne created in 1822, is the second largest parish and is one of the southernmost. Read more.

Whole Lotta History Goin' on

Kathleen Walls

I recently returned from Travel South as the Corona Virus erupted. We're all sitting at home now and friends have asked me what a meet-up like this is like. Here is part one of an overview of Travel South starting with my pre-trip, called "A Whole Lotta History Goin' on." I hope since none of should be on the road now, you can enjoy my trip vicariously. And that you will be inspired to go see some of these fantastic places for yourself when this crisis passes. Read more.

Road Trip: New Orleans to Baton Rouge (Part 1)

Renee S. Gordon

Self-isolation is a term that has recently embedded itself into the public consciousness. People have been asked to refrain from close quarters in large crowds, international travel and nonessential activities. In other words, as much as possible, stay home. Self-isolation has its own set of issues, not the least regarding the impact on destination travel. My solution is to spend some of your newly available time planning for the time when things normalize, and history has proven that it will, and the call of the open road will again beckon. Plan now for a new adventure, to revisit an old one and support the travel industry. Read more.

The Black Dispatch: Spying While Black (Part One)

Renée S. Gordon 

We can all acknowledge the fact that blacks have played a significant role in United States history, from the Spanish explorers, Estevanico, Pedro Nino and Juan Garrido, to advancements by  *Dr. Patricia E. Bath and **Dr. Thomas Mensah. We tend to exalt those whose actions were overt, seemingly larger than life but what about those who operated in the shadows and attained quiet victories. What about those who literally turned the tide of events. Read more. 

The Black Dispatch: Spying While Black (part two) 

Renée S. Gordon

African Americans served as spies during the American Revolution with the belief that their service would prove the loyalty of the people, improve their condition and  for the ever present promises of freedom. Largely the status of African Americans did not change as a result of their service the government did not keep their promises. Read more.

Willie Amps it Up

Kathleen Walls

Two events happened in 1965. Country Willie – His Own Songs became Willie Nelson's first RCA Victor album leading to his success as a singer instead of just a songwriter. The same year, the Saint Augustine Amphitheater was built commemorating Saint Augustine's 400th birthday. Willie and Saint Augustine have another thing in common, being the oldest. Willie is the oldest, male, country star still performing; Saint Augustine is the oldest city in the United States and they are both still in great form. Read more.

Delving into Durham, NC (part one)

Renée S. Gordon 

Cities are, in their own ways, canvasses that depict the history, culture, and dreams of the residents. Stories reflected there are ever changing but the past never really disappears and, if one looks closely enough, one can see traces of earlier times and their ongoing impact.Durham is a classic example of a city with a storied past intertwined with a modern vibrancy. Read more.

Delving into Durham, NC (part two)

Renée S. Gordon

The use of slave labor in NC was, from the outset, a money making proposition. In 1663 eight Lord Proprietors were granted a charter from King Charles II. The Concessions of 1665”,  in which 50 additional acres were assigned to settlers based on the number of enslaved 14 years and older each brought into the colony. The 1669 Colonial Carolina Fundamental Constitution legalized slavery. Read more.

Fort Selden: Where History Overlaps

Kathleen Walls

Off the beaten path places always appeal to me especially if there is a history connection. Las Cruces has many. One is an ancient adobe fort that tells a story of the old west. Read more.

A Landmark Reborn: Centennial Plaza

Kathleen Walls

Little did I know many years ago when I lived in the Mississippi Gulf Coast and was attending college at The Jeff Davis Campus of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, I would get to see an amazing reincarnation  40-plus years later. Read more.

Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum

Kathleen Walls

Oklahoma City is filled with interesting places to visit. There is one that is not a fun quest but no one should pass it by without stopping. The Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum walks you through one of the most horrific acts committed in modern history. Read more.

Montgomery, Alabama (part two) 

Renée S. Gordon

Montgomery, Alabama has, from its beginning, acted as a historical vortex, drawing people and events into its orbit in astonishing configurations. Read more

Montgomery, Alabama (part one).    

Renée S. Gordon

Montgomery, Alabama is widely recognized as both the Cradle of the Confederacy and the Birthplace of Civil Rights.  Read more.

Bayou Rum: The Spirit of Louisiana

Kathleen Walls

David Friedman, author of Food Sanity, gives us one good reason to drink rum. He states, “Also, while too much drinking can damage your brain, moderate consumption of rum may actually lower that risk: Rum has properties that may help protect your brain cells and decrease your risk of dementia and Alzheimer's.” Read more.

PHLASHING Through Philly

Renée S. Gordon 

Whether your latest resolution was to spend more time with your family or not, this column is for you. Philadelphia was designated the nation's first UNESCO World Heritage City in 2015, placing it on par with Berlin, Mexico City, Paris and Quebec City.  Read more. 

Punta Gorda, Florida

Renée S. Gordon

Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León is believed to be the first European to explore Florida although earlier expeditions reached the region hunting for native slaves to export to Spain. He set sail in 1513 on a search for gold and new lands, later stories tell he sought the Fountain of Youth.  Read more.

Baltimore's Ever Present Past 

Renée S. Gordon

The Mid-Atlantic region is the most historic corridor in the country and consists of a series of metropolitan areas within 220-miles and accessed by I-95. The major cities, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, DC, each have distinctive attractions, New York's glitz, glamour and Broadway, Philadelphia's historic sites, art and music scene and DC's museums, memorials and institutions. Read more



Ghost Ranch: Past and Present

Kathleen Walls

As you drive into Ghost Ranch, you are going to be driving slowly. That's because the eye-catching beauty of the mountains surround you. You would not be human if you didn't stop to stare at such overwhelming beauty.  Read more.





Fort Hill and John C. Calhoun

by Tom Straka

There are lots of old plantations and plantation houses scattered across the South. Many are special, usually due to some sort of historical connection. Fort Hill was the antebellum plantation of John C. Calhoun, a preeminent nineteenth century southern statesman and later the home of Thomas G. Clemson, his son-in-law.  Read more.


Luxury at Sea, Regent Seven Seas Navigator

Renée S. Gordon

The Hamburg-America Line launched the Princess Victoria Louise, the first ship built solely for luxury cruising, on June 29, 1900. Prior ships were ocean liners created to transport passengers and cargo on transatlantic journeys as expeditiously as possible but the Victoria Louise was designed to provide a truly luxurious experience with the aura of a floating 5-star hotel. Read more.

Beaumont--Port Arthur where Music Lives

Kathleen Walls

The Beaumont, Port Arthur Metropolitan area in Texas is called the Golden Triangle in reference to the wealth that flowed in after the oil gusher at Spindletop in 1901. It includes other smaller cities such as Orange, Nederland, Groves, Port Neches, Vidor, and Lumberton, and smaller places within the area. It could also be called "Golden" in regard to the number of gold records local musicians have earned.  Read more.

Two Casitas Offer an Old Santa Fe Welcome

Kathleen Walls

Nothing is more welcoming on a cold night than a warm fire flickering in an old fashioned cast iron stove. It's really a gas heater but it looks and feels like a real old fashioned wood one. Naturally, there is back up heat and air conditioning if you visit in summer. When I visited Two Casitas in November, Santa Fe's nighttime temperature dropped to 19%. It didn't bother me at all.  Read more

Touching on Texas and New Mexico

Kathleen Walls

The last few days on the road were a whirlwind of fun. I didn't have time to write about them—until now. It was on to Ghost Ranch and Las Cruces inNew Mexico and then to Beaumont and Port Arthur in Texas. Read more.

A Touch of New Mexico

Kathleen Walls

I'm in Santa Fe now after a fabulous pre trip to Albuquerque. Albuquerque is filled with great food and amazing museums. Our IFWTWA (International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association) Convention was very helpful to improve my career as a travel writer.  Read more.




Alien Touch in Roswell

Kathleen Walls

Say “Roswell, New Mexico” and everyone's first thought is “aliens.” Mine too. That's way I am so thrilled to be here today exploring the unknown. My first stop naturally was the International UFO Museum & Research Center. This is not some hokey museum dealing just with Hollywood's version of aliens from outer space.  Read more.

Treasures in Oklahoma City

Kathleen Walls

Oklahoma City is filled with treasures I discovered yesterday and probably many more I did not have time to visit. My stay began at the historic 21C Museum Hotel. This early 1900s building earned its place on the National Register of Historic Places by being a former Fred Jones Ford Motor Company assembly plant that crafted Model Ts.  Read More.


A Brand New Event: First Southern Cast Iron Cook Off

Kathleen Walls

I'm in Lake Charles and just visited the very first Southern Cast Iron Cook-Off.  Picture Cajun food and culture, music, venders offering samples of and information about everything from alligators to cast iron pots and pans. Professional chefs and amateurs competed in four categories– Meat & Game, Seafood, Sweet & Savory Baking, and Vegetables & Sides.  Read more.




Awesome Lake Charles

Kathleen Walls

I'm in awesome Lake Charles, Louisiana now. It's such a different kind of place. It's not a descendant of the plantation South  or the old West. It's a mish mash of both. It's history is influenced by the fact it was not exactly included in the area of the Louisiana Purchase as it is not land drained by the Mississippi River.  Read more.


The Secret Coast

Kathleen Walls

The Secret Coast won't stay a secret much longer. There is so much going on along Mississippi's Gulf Coast now. The last two days was rainy but I still managed to see a lot more of the coast.  It brought back many memories of the days when I lived in Bay St. Louis.  Read more.

Phase one: Bay St Louis

Story and photos by Kathleen Walls

To paraphrase Willie Nelson, "I'm on the road again." But instead of making music, I'm visiting some fantastic places. Some brand new to me; some I am visiting again and enjoying the old while marveling at the new.  Read more.

Small Town Tales: Short Pump and Ashland, Virginia

Renée S. Gordon

In 1607 a group of 105 people led by John Smith established a permanent Virginia colony, named in honor of Queen Elizabeth I, at Jamestown on land inhabited by Native Americans. A colony, also established by the Virginia Company, was to become Richmond, situated on the fall line of the James River. Read more.

Central Virginia, Appomattox and the Blue Ridge Mountains (part two)

Renée S. Gordon

More Civil War battles were staged in Virginia than any other state and many of those battles played out in and around the 34,000-sq. mile Blue Ridge Mountains' region. The mountains are more than 1 billion years old, wind through eight states and are stunning in their majesty.  Read more.


Ten Haunted Hotels in the South

Halloween is an especially good time to seek out haunted hotels. But these are fun any time of year. Southern hospitality mingled with the spirits of long ago. Read more.



Central Virginia, Lynchburg  

Renée S. Gordon 

Contrary to what some might believe Lynchburg was named after John Lynch who took over the family's James River  ferry service in 1757. In 1786 45-acres of John Lynch's land was used to found the town that was chartered 29-years later. The location of the ferry service was memorialized in 2004 with Langley Fountain spouting a 190-ft. stream of water into the air. Read more.

Cleveland, Living with Legends 

Renée S. Gordon 

In 1669 the French explorer de La Salle, the first European in the Ohio was met by the Iroquois Indians who migrated there in the early 1600s. The river and the state would be named the Iroquois word for “beautiful river”. The land was a bountiful native beaver hunting ground and although the Iroquois were quickly decimated and supplanted by the tribes including the Delaware and Shawnee, the French established posts to trade with the natives.  Read more.

Franklin, Tennessee, Yesterday's Wine

Kathleen Walls

I wonder if Willie Nelson was thinking of Franklin, Tennessee when he wrote "We're agin' with time like yesterday's wine."  Just like a good aged wine, Franklin had a unique past and today is a city that beckons travelers of all types. Read more.




Savannah, Where the Past is Ever Present 

Renée Gordon

Georgia, named in honor of King George II, was the 13th of the 13 colonies and was founded in 1733. When the ship Anne landed the 120 colonists on the shore of the Savannah River, at the foot of a 45-foot bluff, founder James Oglethorpe brought with him the plans for the city with the river as the northern boundary. Read more.

Vingenzo's: A Touch of Italy in Woodstock

Kathleen Walls

Woodstock, Georgia has a huge variety of great restaurants but if you like Italian, Vingenzo's stands out. It is an Italian treasure in Woodstock's downtown entertainment district.  One taste of Vingenzo's Chef Michael Bologna's Neapolitan Pizza or homemade sausage will have you thinking you died and went to—no, not Heaven—Italy.  Read more.


DeKalb County, Georgia: The Presence of the Past

Renée S.  Gordon

The history of DeKalb County has been archeologically traced back as far as the late Ice Age and Indian mounds from the Late Archaic Period have been found that predate the 1567 Spanish claim to the land by thousands of years.  Read more

Experience Saint Lucia

by Renée S. Gordon

Saint Lucia was possibly inhabited 3,000 years ago by the Ciboney and based on archaeological research and artifacts it has been proven that “Iouanalao” island, “land of the iguanas”, was settled by the Arawaks around 2,000 years ago. Read more.



Savannah Eats

Kathleen Walls

You may go to Savannah for the history and fun but you gotta eat. So why not eat at the most fun and interesting restaurants. As icing on the cake many of Savannah's restaurants have a historic background. Here are a few I loved there and why. Read more. 

Always Patsy Cline

Kathleen Walls

She was born Virginia Patterson Hensley on September 8, 1932. In a life filled with much misfortune, she not only survived but became a role model for female singers and women everywhere.  Read more.

Wilmington, Delaware's “Chateau Country” 

Renée S. Gordon

In 1800 Pierre-Samuel du Pont de Nemours and two sons left France to settle in the United States. This voyage would alter the course of American history. Pierre had been elevated to nobility because of his position with Louis XVI as an economist, secretary to the Assembly of Notables and his assistance in crafting the 1783 Treaty of Versailles that ended the American Revolution. Read more.

Tribute to Lum York

Kathleen Walls

On the 50th Anniversary of Hank Williams death, I had the honor to meet the man who slapped his bull fiddle for Hank's Drifting Cowboys in the 1940s.William Herbert "Lum" York, (November 16, 1918 – August 15, 2004) was a musician best known as the bass player in Hank Williams Drifting Cowboys. Read more.



Wonderful Woodstock

Kathleen Walls

Who knew there is so much to see and do in Woodstock, Georgia?  Just visited it with Travel Media Showcase this year and discovered a treasure. It began with the Georgia Gold Rush and grew when Marietta and North Georgia Railroad built a depot there in 1879. There are a couple of legends about the city's name. Read more.

Wilmington's Harriett Tubman Underground Railroad Byway 

Renee S. Gordon

On Monday, September 17, 1849 Araminta “Minty” Ross set out from Poplar Neck Plantation, on Maryland's Eastern Shore, to freedom in the North. Prior to her escape she changed her name to Harriet, after her mother, and took her husband's last name.   Read more.

DeKalb County's Terrific Trio

Kathleen Walls

Did you know DeKalb County, Georgia has a trio of unusual and fascinating museums? I didn't until I recently visited during Travel Media Showcase. Read more.

Maryland's National Harbor: America's Backyard

Renee S. Gordon

The first Europeans in the southern region of Maryland, today's 10-mile long South Potomac Heritage Scenic Corridor portion*, were met by the Piscataway Indians who lived there from 1300. Regional native habitation dates back 13,000 years and was the site of a thriving culture. Read more

Savannah for the Broke and Cheap

Kathleen Walls

If you've been putting off visiting Savannah because you think it's expensive, think again. It can be costly especially parking but there are many free attractions well worth a visit. I just visited and had a wonderful time. Read more.


Elatse'Yi: Camping Without the Headaches

Kathleen Walls

In the not too distant past, if you wanted to get close to nature you needed to pack your camping supplies or hitch up your RV. I just did a magnificent close to nature trip with neither of those things. How? I went glamping in Ellijay in the North Georgia Mountains. Read more.

Southern Hospitality at its Peak,
NashHouse Southern Spoon & Saloon

Kathleen Walls

NashHouse Southern Spoon & Saloon in Nashville, Tennessee is more than a dining establishment. It's a tribute to Nashville's Country Music icons. It's relatively new having opened in March 2018 and is booming. Location of course is important. It's in the Cambria Nashville hotel putting it walking distance from the Country Music Hall of Fame, Music City Center, and the Johnny Cash/Patsy Cline Museums. Read more.




North Carolina Transportation Museum
Planes, Trains and Automobiles, and Some Boats

Tom and Pat Straka

This is one of the gems which is hidden right off a major interstate. It's for transportation buffs, especially railroad buffs. In the late nineteenth century, J.P. Morgan, owner of what was once the Southern Railway Company, located its largest steam locomotive servicing facility halfway between the railroad's major terminal points of Washington, D.C. and Atlanta. Read more.

R and A Orchards: Country Fresh

Kathleen Walls

If an apple a day really keeps the doctor away, R and A Orchards in Gilmer County, Georgia can keep you in perfect health. In this era of not knowing where our food comes from, it's a pleasure to visit a real family run orchard and produce store.  Read more.

Henry County, GA from Reel to Real (Part Two)

Renée S. Gordon

Hampton, located 26-miles south of Atlanta, has a population of less than 10,000 but receives thousands of visitors annually drawn by the city's unique sites and attractions. Seven years ago Hampton was deemed a “Playful City,” one of under 220 in the country.  Read more.

Build an Ark

Kathleen Walls

There are many fun things to visit in Ellijay, Georgia but there is one unusual place many people might miss. If you are an animal lover this one is a must-see. It's Build an Ark Animal Rescue.  Read more.


Westville:  The 1800s Return

Kathleen Walls

Long awaited Westville, a living history recreation of a typical Georgia town in the 1800s is now alive and in full swing again in Columbus, Georgia. Its authentic homes and building have been moved from around the state. It had begun in Lumpkin and was closed down for a good while to complete the move.  Read more.


The Lone Writer Rides the Range

Kathleen Walls

"Return with me now to those thrilling days of yesteryear when the Lone Ranger rides again"--no make that the Lone Writer. Here at French Broad Outpost Dude Ranch in Eastern Tennessee, I'm getting as close to the old western days as you can get. I followed a gravel road that is not on most maps to the ranch.  Read  more.


“The Impressionist's Eye”
An important art exhibition in Philadelphia

By Eleanor Hendricks McDaniel

I recently visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art to view an exhibition of their extraordinary collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artworks. More than 80 important pieces by the masters of those avant-garde movements can be seen in the media of painting, sculpture and works on paper. Read more.

Legacy of The Man in Black: Johnny Cash Museum

Kathleen Walls

One of the greatest musicians of our time is memorialized in a museum in downtown Nashville. Only a handful of musicians have left as large a footprint on Country Music as Johnny Cash. The Johnny Cash Museum is rated number one music museum in the world and a must-see by Forbes, Conde'  Naste, and National Geographical Traveler. Read more.

Reel to Real in Henry County, GA (part one)

Henry County, Georgia, comprised of four major communities, Hampton, Locust Grove, McDonough, and Stockbridge, is situated 20-miles from downtown Atlanta. It was named in honor of Patrick Henry upon its creation in 1821 on land obtained through a treaty with the Creek Indians.  Read more.    

Cross Hazzard County with Mayberry and you get Leiper's Fork

by Kathleen Walls

Leiper's Fork, Tennessee is one of the prettiest little towns you can find. It's no coincidence that as you drive into town, a bright orange car and a police cruiser catch your eye. It's the General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard and Barney Fife's cruiser from the Andy Griffin Show Read more

Getting Catty at Jacksonville Zoo

Kathleen Walls

There are some places in Jacksonville a visitor should not miss. One of them is Jacksonville Zoo and Botanical Gardens. It's on the north side of Jacksonville and not in the main path of visitors headed into Jax's busy downtown.  It began back in 1914 and has grown ever since. 

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