Saturday, July 27, 2013

Mount Magazine in Arkansas

Mount Magazine was a great place to be on a hot July weekend.  The breeze and scenery at the mountain top was worth the trip.  And it was a long trip for us without much to see along the way.  There were times on the Scenic Byways that led to this part of Arkansas that we didn't even see other cars on the road besides ours for long periods of time!

We began our visit to the Mount Magazine State Park at the Visitors Center that was very helpful and informative.  They provided information about the hiking trails and things to do in the park. There was a wildlife observation area overlooking a garden of native plants.  We really enjoyed the hummingbirds that put on quite a show. 

It is hard to believe that the lodge and cabins on the bluff of Mount Magazine are owned and ran by as state park system.  I think of lodging at state parks to be described as rustic.  The Lodge of Mount Magazine State Park is modern and  perfect for its setting.  We stayed in a cabin on the lodge's property that had every thing you could need.  The wrap-around deck with rocking chairs and a hot tub overlooking the Petit Jean River Valley was my favorite part..  The lodge and restaurant shared this same amazing view.  It was really beautiful in the summer but it must be spectacular in the fall.

We knew there is lots of wildlife in the state park and were on the lookout for black bears.  We did not see any bears but discovered two fawns by our driveway when we checked into out cabin. We continued to see deer out in the park and each morning in view of our deck.  One evening as we were checking out the huge full moon from our deck, we saw two deer laying down at the edge of our back yard.  We counted up 15 different deer that we saw up close in our two day stay!  I decided that having deer near your cabin is better than having bears.

The scenery was beautiful, the cool breezes were rare to find in the summer, and there was a surprise around every curve of the road.  Mount Magazine was a great summer destination.  Too bad it is such a long trip or we might be checking it out in the fall. 

Happy Birthday Fred!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Nashville, TN

My husband and I spent two days in Nashville on a road trip through Tennessee.  Since we were going to the Grand Ole Opry we stayed at the Gaylord Opryland Resort which was almost next door.  We knew the Gaylord Opryland would be nice but it exceeded our expectations.  We had a room with a balcony to the Cascades Atrium with the waterfalls less than 100 feet away. It was like staying in a rain forest!  There is lots to see and do inside the nine acres of gardens, shops and restaurants.  There is even a boat cruise that travels through part of the indoor gardens in this huge atrium.

We enjoyed dining at the Cascades American Cafe with its beautiful surroundings and excellent food. We could see the cafe from our balcony of our room.  It was the best meal we had on our 10 day trip!
This turned out to be an exceptionally good time to go to the Grand Ole Opry and be in Nashville.  Quite by accident we arrived with the beginning of CMA Music Festival.  There was a party going on in the Plaza of the Opry before the 7:00 show.  In the Grand Ole Opry we saw a wonderful mixture of old and new country music stars.  There was Kellie Pickler, Diamond Rio, Bill Anderson, Lennon and Maisy (the young girls on the Nashville television show), Ricky Skaggs, Rascal Flatts, and Kree Harrison (from American Idol). They saved the best for last with Keith Urban. We had not so great last minute seats, but we still really enjoyed the show.

The next morning we went to Broadway Avenue where there are lots of country music restaurants, bars, and shops.  We were surprised to find everyone getting ready for a parade and a day of music stages set up all over the area.  On a road trip you never know what you might stumble onto.  

We visited the well known Tootsies Orchid Lounge.  Country stars such as Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and numerous other Grand Ole Opry stars have performed there.  We had hoped to visit the Bluebird Cafe but were unable to get a table.  Maybe next trip.

It was a great week to be in Nashville!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Lookout Mountain, TN

I have passed through Chattanooga many, many times but had never visited Rock City or rode the Incline Railway even after seeing "See Rock City" painted on barns all over the country.  Recently on a road trip through Tennessee my husband and I took the time to visit both and were pleasantly surprised. 

We began our ride on the Incline Railway at the lower station.  The ride up Lookout Mountain was very steep but the view was spectacular. At the top station the observation deck has a panoramic view that on a clear day the Smoky Mountains 100 miles away can be seen. It was pretty great the day we were there.

 After completing our round trip ride on the Incline Railway we continued our trip up Lookout Mountain by car to Rock City.  I just assumed that we would park our car, purchase our tickets, and then walk out on the overlook and see a beautiful view. Somehow I missed the part about climbing up and down through the rock formations.

 It was worth the experience even though we paid dearly for it with a lot of knee pain the next day.  The views, the waterfall, the flower gardens, the bridges (especially the swinging bridge) will not be forgotten.

There was a nice little outdoor cafe to enjoy near the Observation Point where you can see seven states.  It was a breezy, beautiful day and after our climb through the rocks we enjoyed a much earned rest.  Leaving the cafe we assumed we were at the end of our journey only to find out we were only half way back to the beginning of the trail!  We had been clueless about what was involved in "seeing"  Rock City.  But we did make it back to our car and are really glad we got to "See Rock City".  Sometimes it is best not to know how hard a journey will be before you begin so you don't chicken-out and miss a wonderful experience.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Seattle 2013

My traveling friends and I made a trip this spring to Seattle, Washington and surrounding areas.  It was amazing what we were able to see and do during our five day visit.

Our first two day were spent seeing the sights of the city.  We began at the Pike Place Market looking for the Pike Place Fish Market .  We found lots of shops and beautiful food and flower stands.

We finally found the Pike Place Fish Market and watched the huge fish being thrown from one fishmonger to the next.  It was just like the "FISH! Philosophy"
motivational video we watched at teachers'

A visit to the 605 foot tall Space Needle is a must if you are in Seattle.  The amazing view kept changing as the clouds lifted until we could see parts of Mount Rainier and the Cascades mountain range as well as the entire city of Seattle and the Puget Sound.

Next door to the Space Needle is the Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibition. We knew it was going to be beautiful but we were amazed as we walked into each gallery of the Exhibition Hall.  The blown glass was arranged into all kinds of exhibits that have to be seen to be belived.   The beauty continued through the Glasshouse and the garden.


The Seattle Center Monorail is also located near the Space Needle for a quick conection to downtown Seattle.

Another section of Seattle that we enjoyed was along the piers.  There were many shops and restaurants as well as a 175 foot observation wheel that gave us another great view of the city and bay as well as a peak of Mount Rainier.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

French Quarter Festival 2013

 2013 turned out to be another fun French Quarter Festival.  We were there for Friday and Saturday of the four day festival and enjoyed great music, great food, and great weather.

This year we stayed at the Westin Hotel which was right next to the levee.  We had a wonderful view out our window of the Mississippi River and several stages of the festival along with a beautiful sunrise.

We found it very helpful to use the new French Quarter Festival app on our phone to keep up with the schedule of bands on all of the stages.  The app also had a map of the stages and food/drink booths all over the French Quarter.  The food and drinks at the French Quarter Festival are not your usual festival food so it was a big help to have a list of what each booth was selling.

Saturday night we watched the fireworks show from the roof of the Westin Hotel.  It was perfect!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Wildflowers in Texas

While visiting family in Texas this spring, my husband and I took a side trip to look for wildflowers.  We used the website to locate roads to begin our search.  The website was very helpful and accurate.  It included pictures of recent sightings and the directions to get there.  The roadside along Highways 290 and 105 near Brenham were covered in Bluebonnets.  FM 390 had less wildflowers but was worth the drive for the beautiful scenery of Texas ranch country.  Wildflower season is just getting started and it will only get better.

Indian Paintbrush


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Callaway Gardens GA

While visiting family in Georgia, my husband and I made some stops along the way. We particularly enjoyed our visit to Callaway Gardens.  We were a couple of weeks early for the peak of flower blooming but it was still beautiful. 

While driving through the woodland motor trail we came upon the glass-enclosed Butterfly Conservatory.   This rainforest garden was a great home to the butterflies that flew around freely and felt great to us on this cool day. 

Alongside the lake was the Discovery Center that had many interesting nature exhibits along with a gallery of the beautiful photographic art of David Foster.  We enjoyed watching the ducks outside while eating lunch at a lakeside cafĂ©. The Birds of Prey show was truly amazing as the falcon, hawk, vulture, and owl swooped through the seated audience. 

We also came across a beautiful chapel and a Horticultural Center.  There were miles of biking and hiking trails throughout the gardens.  There was a golf course and a marina and a sandy beach.  If Callaway Gardens was closer to our home we would have to get an annual pass because we would be frequent visitors.