My Favorite Experiences

Let’s leave the supernatural behind. I’ve got a long list of places I visited over the years so I thought I’d mention some of my favorite experiences.  That’s not as easy as it seems. but at least it’s fun to reminisce.

The very first trip I took was to Hawaii on 2007. My Mom and Sister went with me. We went to the Big Island. In a way I wish I could get that innocence back.

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I think I spent the whole vacation with my mouth open. Everything amazed me from the condo overlooking the golf course and the ocean waves to the Chain of Craters Road in Volcano National Park. Everything was new and fresh.

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The following year I went back to Hawaii. This time to Oahu.  This time my sister went with me  but my mom stayed at home. We were in a high rise building only a block from Waikiki Beach. And we saw rainbows ever day, morning and afternoon!

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That trip had so many highlights. Of course there was Pearl Harbor. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, everyone should go there and pay their respects. It is such a moving experience.

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I snorkeled in Hanauma Bay, a volcanic crater. What an amazing time!

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We spent a day at the Polynesian Cultural Center, another don’t miss stop and nearly got blown off the “pali ” (cliffs) at Nuuanu Pali State Park, our first experiance with the trade winds.

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Jump to the fall of 2008. I was in a use it or lose it position with my time share points so I took another vacation. On a shoe string I booked Sedona, Arizona. This time I was traveling alone.

Snoopy Rock

Snoopy Rock

The Red Rocks of Sedona are breath taking but nothing prepared me for my first sight of the Grand Canyon.

On the South Rim, Grand Canyon 2008

On the South Rim, Grand Canyon 2008

I stepped off the tour bus and my head spun. I had to step back. The sight made me so dizzy. My mind kept telling me it wasn’t real. Nothing could be that spectacular.

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

It’s fun to think back like this and almost embarrassing to look at my pictures. I’m happy to say I’ve improved in that department!

Oh Sedona!

Yesterday’s repost of Ben Stein’s very pertinent comments on the holidays went a little long so I’ll try to make it up to you by keeping this post short.

I was reading a magazine a few weeks ago and in the travel section was a 2 page spread about Sedona, Arizona. Now that in itself is not unusual. Sedona is a beautiful place deep in Red Rock country and a major vacation destination. What caught my eye was the list of “must do” items while in Sedona.

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I was thrilled to see that I have hit them all. (Except the Vortex tours). That must be a sign of a good vacation or maybe a well planned one. I’ve actually been to Sedona twice, once on my own and once with my sister. There was some overlap on the two vacations because some things were too good  not to do a 2nd time.

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For example, we took the drive to Williams to catch the train to the Grand Canyon. The first time my impression was beyond words. It was dizzying to step off the tour bus and see that majesty spread out before me. The second time was no less breathtaking but it was sweetened by being able to see my sister’s response to this amazing wonder.

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The article recommended the Out of Africa Safari which I did on my first trip.

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My sister and I skipped that on the 2nd trip to visit Montezuma’s Castle instead. I place those ruins high on the must see list. I enjoyed Out of Africa but if time is an issue, I’d have to vote for Montezuma’s Castle.

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Before we went to the “castle” we stopped at Montezuma’s Well. That isn’t as spectacular as the “castle” but it was still interesting and I climbed down the 100 steps the the base of the well.

Slide Rock State park was another spot on the list. I remember exploring that on my first trip and we made a short stop on our 2nd trip as well.

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The renowned shopping area in Sedona is Tlaquepaque. Our exposure was limited to the trolley tour through the area. I did the same thing on my first trip but if you are someone who likes to shop, this is not to be missed.

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Last but not least is the Chapel of the Holy Cross.

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This was a stop on the trolley tour so it became a stop on our tour as well. I took the trolley tour both times I was in Sedona. It is well worth it. The guides are fun and knowledgeable and it gets you familiar with Sedona. We had plenty of time at the Chapel. Clearly it was a major stop and a must see attraction. From the courtyard you can see such iconic landmarks as Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, Courthouse Butte and Madonna and Child, all beautiful red rock.

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Oh Sedona, those were 2 great vacations!

Give me an A!

A is for Alaska

Juneau

Yes, I can cross that one off with an asterisk because I went on a cruise-tour. It was nice and most normal people would be happy with it but I wanted more. I’d like to return and spend a week, maybe in Anchorage, and do day trips. I’d like to go to Kenai for the bears and Fairbanks for the Northern Lights(opposite directions if you’ve never been in Alaska) . I’d like to do some more wildlife trips and whale watches and take a small boat tour up to the glaciers.

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I might want to take another trip after that in an RV and drive the ALCAN highway. It’s supposed to be spectacular.

A is for Arizona

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Yes, I can cross Arizona off the list, also with an asterisk. I’ve been to Sedona twice. It’s beautiful. I love the red rock country and the weather, not too hot, not too cold. I’d love to take pictures in all the classic places especially in the fall especially around Oak Creek Canyon and Slide Rock Park.

The Grand Canyon is breathtaking but I want to be there as the sun peaks over the rim and the colors begin to glow in the warm early morning light.

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I haven’t seen the Saguaro National Park which is in southern Arizona, nor Monument Valley to the north. While I’m in the northern part I’d want to check out the slot canyons like Antelope Canyon.

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Oh Arizona, I barely know thee!

A is for Arkansas

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No I must confess I have not made it to this southern gem and I do mean gem. If I’m not mistaken Arkansas is home to Crater of Diamonds State Park. For a small fee I can dig for my own diamonds! I surely want to do that.

Arkansas is in the heart of the confederacy too. There are Battlefields and Military Parks. There are Nature Ways, Scenic Byways and one of the great natural wonders, Mammoth Spring! Oh and can’t forget the Presidential Library of Bill Clinton. And I haven’t even mentioned the Ozarks.

There are so many things I’d like to see in Arkansas I think it will end up with an asterisk too once I’ve made my first visit.

A is for Alabama

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No, another southern state that awaits. Sweet home Alabama, I love that song. Alabama has centuries of history from the civil war to civil rights and Native American Culture thrown in for spice. There are Zoos, and if you’re into NASCAR, the Talladega  Superspeedway. There are botanical gardens and outdoor trails. And once again, I am only scratching the surface.

So to sum up the letter A, there are 4 States in this group and I’m 1/2 way through, 2 down and 2 to go. All have plenty of great exploring. Do you live in any of these states? Have you visited any? What’s your “must see-must do” suggestion?

A is for Alaska

or Alabama or Arkansas or Arizona..any other “A” states? I think I got them all.

Where is this going? you might ask and my answer is Alaska , Alabama, Arkansas and Arizona.It’s not just where am I going but where have I been and where do I still want to go.

There’s a magnetic map they make where you can collect a magnet from each state you visit and eventually the whole map will be covered with magnets. Maybe I’ll get one someday. Until then I think I’ll just go on chronicling and planning .

To that end I thought I’d take stock of things and the easiest way is alphabetically.

 So of the 4 states that start with A I’ve only been to one, Arizona, the Grand Canyon State, home of Red Rock Country and the New Age land of Sedona. It’s where I took my first and so far only helicopter ride.  I’ve stuck my feet in the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. I’ve marveled over ancient Indian Ruins and strolled through an “African Serengeti” and all that only scratched the surface.

Alaska. Where to start? It’s such a huge state. It’s where I hope my vacation will take me in 2012. I want to see the glaciers and animals; lots of wild animals. There should be bears and seals and bald eagles. There might even be a wolf and whales. We’ll cruise the Inside Passage and spend time in Denali.

Now we get to the other “A”s. Arkansas and Alabama. I don’t know much about them as far as tourist locations but lets see what I can dig up.

Arkansas: Well the Clinton Library immediately comes to mind. After all, Bill Clinton is still a prominent figure, not some dead president. But if that’s all there is it would be a very short visit. Arkansas is a center for quartz crystal mining. Hot Springs and Mt. Ida have Dig-Your-Own Crystal Mines. That could be interesting. The Arkansas Ozarks are beautiful forests and mountains with loads of  hiking trails but beneath your feet is a labyrinth of cave systems. Tours abound  so that could also be interested along with canoeing and kayaking the wilderness areas with my trusty camera in hand. I’m sure there’s more and I’ll have plenty of time to see what else I can find.

Last but not least is Alabama. Right off the bat I can tell you there are National Parks. A great opportunity to collect my Park Stamps. I believe there are 7 separate parks spread throughout the state. Indian culture…the Trail of Tears of the Cherokee people as they were forced to leave their homeland. How about other history. Alabama was a hot bed of history in the civil rights movement and a visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute sounds like a good way to start exploring it. There are Zoos and Aquariums and more history with the Civil War Trail. Sounds like that could be a very full vacation too.

After the “A”s comes “b” but I don’t think there’s a state that starts with “B”? Am I wrong? If there are no B’s we’ll have to move on to the C’s. But I’ll save that for another post.

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If any of you have been to these states or live there and can offer some suggestions or insight, I’d love to have your comments.

A Little bit of Trivia

A friend of mine is a college professor who works with foreign students in an ESL program. ( English as a second language). I happened to run across a quiz on Travel in the USA that is geared to the ESL student. I figured as I travel around the USA and was born here that  I’d Ace the test. Ha! I won’t tell you my score but I will say it wasn’t 100.

Let me know how you do on it.:)

1) At this tourist attraction in Washington D. C. you can find Lincoln’s Bedroom, the Green room and the Red Room.

  • A) The White House
  • B) The Smithsonian Institute
  • c) The Museum of US History

2) Which of the following is NOT a borough of New York City?

  • a) Manhatten
  • B) Queens
  • C) Long Island

3) Which state legalized gambling in 1931

  • a) California
  • b) New Jersey
  • c) Nevada

4) What is the smallest US state?

  • a) Hawaii
  • b) Rhode Island
  • C) Washington D.C.

5) At this famous monument located in South Dakota, you can see the faces of four US presidents.

  • a) Mount Rushmore
  • b) Yellowstone
  • c) Mount McKinley

6) Carmel is a romantic, beach resort in __________?

  • a) Florida
  • b) Hawaii
  • c) California

7) What is the capital of California?

  • a) Los Angeles
  • b) Sacramento
  • c) San Francisco

8) Jazz Music comes from this city.

  • a) New Orleans
  • b) Atlanta
  • C) New York City

9) This is the longest river in the US.

  • a) The Colorado
  • b) The Missouri
  • c) The Mississippi

10) What State is the Grand Canyon in?

  • a) Colorado
  • b) Arizona
  • c) Nevada

Ok now. Have you got your answers?

The correct answers are:

1=a

2=c

3=c

4=b

5=a

6=c

7=b

8=a

9=b

10=b

How’d you do?