Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Photographer of the Dells

Wisconsin Dells is known for its waterparks. It is the waterpark capital of the world, after all. But the Dells were famous and drawing visitors from all over the country and the world long before the first waterpark, Noah’s Ark Waterpark, opened in 1979. The stunning natural landscape of the Dells, Witches Gulch and Coldwater Canyon have been attracting humans for as long as humans have been there.

The Native Americans told a legend of how the Wisconsin Riverbed was formed by a great serpent, wriggling down from the north and his home by the Big Lake. As the legend goes, the serpent crawled over forest and fields and his huge body wore an immense groove in the land and the lake water rushed in behind him. When he came to the sandstone ridge of the Dells, he pushed his head into a crevice and pushed the rocks aside to create the narrow winding passage. The lesser serpents fled from him as he approached, which is the legend’s explanation for the formation of Coldwater Canyon and Witches’ Gulch.

wisconsin dells ducksIn 1875, early landscape photographer H. H. Bennett established a studio in the city and took many photos of the sandstone formations in the dells, including stereoscopic views. The rugged gulch was relatively inaccessible in those days, so Bennett reportedly trekked the area when it was iced over.  Carving steps into the ice as he traveled through the gulch photographing the incredible sandstone formations as he went. Prints of these photographs were distributed across the United States enhancing the status of the area as a destination for sightseers. While in Wisconsin Dells take some time to visit the H. H. Bennett Studio, a historic site operated by the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Original Wisconsin DucksThe gulch today is just as scenic and unbelievably gorgeous, but easily accessed by a wooden walkway. Even if you come to the Dells for the waterparks, you would be remiss to not take the opportunity to explore this wilderness wonderland. There are a number of boat tours which include a walk through Witches Gulch, and they are absolutely the best way to go. In addition to the chance to walk the gulch, you can view the impressive rock formations along the Wisconsin River, and you’ll learn so much from the guides about the geological formation, the legends, the history of the region and fascinating tales about individual sandstone sculptures.

dThe Upper Dells Boat Tour features the famous ‘stand rock’ where H.H. Bennett took the very first stop-action photo, and you will witness a trained dog leaping the great chasm, in addition to visiting the Witches Gulch. The Wisconsin Dells Sunset Dinner Cruise includes a lovely dinner and beautifully painted landscapes as the sun sets over the Dells and moonlight walk through the glen. Still others, portraying the glen as a ‘spooky’ place, and playing on the name and legends, promise a scary time. the Ghost Boat Wisconsin Dells Boat Tour includes many a spooky legend and an after dark adventure along the winding boardwalk.

 

Kids Take Over The Kitchen

If you are experiencing the snack-attacks that come with back to school days, you are not alone.  And if your kids are like most, they probably complain “there’s nothing to eat.”  Which of course means there’s no ready made, or quick microwaveable junk food to eat.  There are plenty of healthy options that kids can prepare on their own, they just need a little encouragement to discover that creating their own snacks can be fun and tasty.

The Young Chef’s Academy, with locations in California, Texas, Ohio and New York, is actively teaching kids from four to fourteen that cooking is creative, and full of discovery and fun.  Incorporating lessons in science, math, reading, health and social skills through hands-on cooking lessons.

Throughout August and September the Academy is holding open-house events for families to get a taste of what they are all about.  The free event is sponsored by the Food Network Magazine, the California Grape Board, Horizon Milk, and the Young Chef’s Academy, working in conjunction to invite kids to take over the kitchen.

Each open house event is approximate three hours and includes six stations where kids take part in hands on cooking activities.  They’ll learn kitchen safety, and how to prepare some fun, kid-friendly snacks like cake in a cup, taco bowls, and french fry salad.  The best part is the kids are doing it themselves.  They will gain confidence in using kitchen tools, and perhaps be inspired to use the kitchen at home!

The San Antonio event is being held August 30, and is not far from the San Antonio Riverwalk and great lodging locations.  The other event locations and dates are listed below.
September 8:  Forest Hills, NY
September 13:  Mentor, OH;  Solon, OH; Strongsville, OH
September 14:  Fort Worth, TX
September 20:  Fresno, CA
September 28:  Frisco, TX

Pick Up Some Good Vibrations in Myrtle Beach

For nearly 30 years, Ozark Mountain raised Calvin Gilmore has brought incredible musical productions to the stage of the Carolina Opry.  Combining the best singers, dancers and musicians, with elaborate costumes, multimedia screens, and special effects to produce high-energy shows.

The Carolina Opry in Myrtle Beach is currently producing a show that spans 30 years, bringing to the stage the best American popular music from the 60s, 70s and 80s.  An award winning cast will take you through the years with musical productions of tunes you know and love, with songs from  The Beatles, Elvis, The Beach Boys, Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, KISS and more.  Good Vibrations is a trip down a musical memory lane, with some comedy from bygone eras thrown is as well.

Good VibrationsYou’re bound to be singing along at this feel-good show as you are immersed in the sights and sounds of three memorable decades.

 

36th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival

When Jazz great Duke Ellington died in 1974, dozens of Chicago musicians gathered at the bandstand in Grant Park to honor his memory and legacy with an end of summer jam session, in what would become an annual event.

A few years later, a group of musicians organized the first John Coltrane Memorial, and gathered in Grant Park in August to play some jazz.  Then in 1979, the Jazz Institute of Chicago began plans for an August concert in the park.  Three different Jazz concerts in the park in August, gave birth to an idea for The Chicago Jazz Festival.  Combining the talents, efforts and audiences of all three events into one big Jazz Party at the new Petrillo Music Shell.  The idea was an instant success and has been every one of its 35 years.

Plan to be in Chicago for the 36th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival, August 28 – 31, at the Chicago Cultural Center in Millennium Park.  Listen to the music, dance on the grass, picnic in the park.  Get a full weekend of Jazz the way its meant to be…..Absolutely Free.

White Water Rafting on the Colorado River

If you’re a fan of the great outdoors, and scenic, rugged terrain…And a fan of adventure, and wet and wild thrill rides, then white water rafting is just the thing for you.  And if white water rafting is the thing for you, then the Colorado River in the Canyonlands National Park near Moab Utah, is the place to brave the rapids.

Start out with a peaceful float and stunning scenery on the flat waters of the Canyonlands, but be prepared to the rapids as you blast through Cataract Canyon, with class III, IV and V Rapids.  Your trusty and very experienced guide will steer you safely through the ride of your life. This is an intense ride for thrill seekers and adventure lovers, and an unforgettable experience!

Coast across Lake Powell to end your rafting day at Hite Marina, where you’ll be wanting to go back and do it all again.

 

Take Me to the Orange County Fair

Now is the optimal time to book a family vacation in Los Angeles.  With the Orange County Fair going on through August 10, you’ll have a wealth of activities, carnival rides, concerts and action sports to keep your family busy and happy.

Book our Los Angeles Family Vacation and you’ll get four nights lodging in your choice of more than 50 hotels, plus a Night Tour of Los Angeles, admission to the J. Paul Getty Museum and a helicopter flight over the opulent mansions of the areas celebrities.

2990044vmeThen spend your extra time just an hour from Los Angeles in Costa Mesa at the Fair.  Some of the offerings this year include the 2014 Toyota Concert Series at the Pacific Amphitheatre, presenting among others, Go-Gos, Jeff Foxworthy, 311, Little Big Town, Deep Purple and Blue Oyster Cult.  Tribute concerts in honor of stars such as Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Prince, and the Eagles are scheduled at the arched building, The Hangar.

The Action Sports Arena presents all the high adrenaline action we love and expect at the fair.  Get your fill of Monster Trucks, Skateboards and BMX exhibitions, Demolition Derbies and Rodeos.

The_OC_Fair_ferris_wheelThe Midway will be a buzz of carnival rides, food fare, wine tasting and midway games.

Book your LA vacation now, and have a blast at the Orange County Fair!

Take a Hike

Some of the very best hiking trails are in the Moab Utah area – inside Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

Whether you are an avid hiker or prefer a slower pace there is a perfect hiking trail for you to enjoy the petroglyphs, arches and abundant rock formations.  Just remember to wear good hiking shoes, bring plenty of water, and your camera.

For an all day outing we recommend a Horseshoe Canyon Expedition in Canyonlands.  Spend your day in the remote land West of the Green River where you’ll discover ancient rock art panels created by Native Americans.  Counting drive time to and from the trail, you’ll be out for about 11 hours.

Fiery Furnace 1/2 Day TourIf you’d prefer a shorter hike, but equally enthralling, the Fiery Furnace 1/2 Day Tour through Arches National Park is for you.  Start at the park’s visitor center where you’ll view a short film about the Fiery Furnace, then ride to the trailhead past rock formations like Park Avenue, Courthouse Towers and Balanced Rock.  Once your hike begins it will be the scenery which takes your breath away.  With your guide pointing out the areas natural wonders including Surprise Arch and Walk Through Arch.

So lace up those hiking boots, grab a couple liters of water and take a hike…or two.

 

Here’s a Cool Idea – Natural Bridge Caverns

When you plan your next San Antonio trip to play in the water at Schlitterbahn Waterpark, you should add another cool adventure to the itinerary.  Head underground into the always cool air of the Natural Bridge Caverns where you’ll find its a comfortable 70 degrees.

Just 30 minutes North of downtown San Antonio, the Natural Bridge Caverns offers a wealth of underground beauty and adventure.  With several tour options, and other activities on-site you’ll find just the combination for your whole family to have an experience they wont soon forget.

Natural Bridge CavernsThe Discovery Tour introduces you to an underground world of astonishing beauty as you trek 3/4 of a mile through the biggest commercial cave in Texas.  Reaching a depth of 180 feet and viewing magnificent flowstone, stalactites, stalagmites and other fascinating formations on this 75 minute tour.

Choose the Hidden Passages Tour to visit the second cave where you experience complete darkness like you’ve never known when they temporarily turn out the lights.  This 70 minute tour will take you 1/3 mile past soda straw formations, and incredible cave ribbons.

Want to experience what it might have been like to discover this cavern?  Take the Lantern Tour where you travel through the cave with your own lantern as your light source.Natural Bridge Caverns

Those in search of a very authentic spelunking experience will find it on the Adventure Tour.  Equipped with your helmet light, you are lowered by rope into the 160 foot shaft.  You travel a mile; hiking, climbing and rappelling to explore down to 230′ below the earth’s surface and see the world’s longest soda straw formation – 14 feet!  No concrete steps, no handrails… This tour is physically challenging, and you will get dirty, but it will be so worth it.

Natural Bridge CavernsA few miles from Natural Bridge Caverns you can witness Bracken Bat Flight, the emergence of millions of Free-tailed Bats leaving their cave at dusk to spend the night consuming insects.  The Bracken Bat Flight lets you view the largest colony of Free-tailed Bats in the world.  Please remember to thank them for eating mosquitoes.

Other activities at the Natural Bridge Caverns include an opportunity to pan for gems, minerals, or arrowheads at their on-site sluice; Canopy Challenge and Zipline – a four tier adventure course where you can test your agility and strength on 47 obstacles.  There is a Canopy Kids Course for toddlers and young ‘uns.

No matter which tour you choose, you are guaranteed to have a very cool day.

Experience Life at the Virginia Living Museum

Just a short drive from Williamsburg VA is the picturesque harbor-town of Newport News, where you can visit an incredible museum.

The Virginia Living Museum features living exhibits of Virginia’s indigenous species. Unlike a traditional museum, the exhibits are living and include aspects of an aquarium, science center, aviary, botanical preserve and planetarium.

Virginia Living MuseumThe museum introduces visitors to the many eco-systems of Virginia including the Coastal Plain, the Piedmont, and Appalachian Mountain Cove, Cypress Swamp, Underground. And introduces more than 250 living species, through exhibits, discovery centers, aquarium, and interactive hands-on exhibits.

The museum’s outdoor exhibits include native plants, birds, butterflies, bobcats, otters, pelicans, even wolves, in their natural habitats. ThVirginia Living Museume Living Museum provides these exhibits in an effort to increase awareness and appreciation for the living world. Once you’ve experienced a cool mountain cove, and steamy cypress swamp, the underwater world of Chesapeake Bay, and a limestone cave, you can set your sights higher as you view the sun from the observatory, and see the universe in the digital planetarium.

This really is a one-of-a-kind museum that will fill you with awe and wonder. View the life that exists deep in the earth, to high in the heavens. All in Virginia.

Witness a Tournment of Knights at Myrtle Beach

While you are visiting Myrtle Beach take a voyage back to Medieval Spain where you will witness a magnificent Tournament in which six noble knights battle to be champion, and fight for the heart of Princess Catalina.

During this exciting tournament, feast upon an 11th century meal fit for a king. Everyone will enjoy watching flawlessly trained horses, high-energy performers, and more while the unforgettable medieval story unfolds.

You will be seated within one of the colored sections that will match one of the Tournament of Knights’ competitors after arriving at the theater. Watch as your knight engages in sword fighting, intense hand to hand combat, impressive jousting, and many different games that will test the skill and courage of the knights. Guests will also take part in an ancient ceremony which includes the Royal Falconer and his birds of prey. Gaze at the magnificent royal falcon as it soars over the crowd and back to its keeper during this exciting show. After the Tournament of Knights is finished, find out if your knight wins the heart of the princess.Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament, SC

Some of the most talented performers in the show are the noble Pure Spanish Horse stallions, which are trained to be precise during battle. These highly trained horses are raised to be a part of Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament, and the Master of Horse continually impresses guests with his show of superior horsemanship.

The four course feast includes a variety of foods specific to the time period, and will be enjoyed without silverware! Indulge in tomato bisque soup, garlic bread, delicious oven roasted chicken, tender spare rib, an herb-basted potato, the pastry of the castle, and two rounds of beverages during the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament.