Oregon: a Geographic Kaleidoscope

Amy Smetana

When I was a child growing up in Illinois, my imagination of Oregon was limited to the “Oregon Trail” computer game we played in school. It was a far-away, desolate land marred by a never-ending dirt trail littered with sun-bleached ox skulls. Who would want to brave treacherous river crossings and cholera to go there?

It wasn’t until years later that I discovered that the Oregon Trail ends in a nature lover’s paradise – a geographic kaleidoscope.  (More…)

Enjoy the Ride!

Diane Russell

At Busch Gardens Tampa during the holidays, the wait time for Cheetah Hunt was 50 minutes. It was 35 minutes for Cobra’s Curse. The Quick Queue shortens wait times by allowing guests to pay to bypass lines.

What if you could bypass long lines for roller coasters anywhere in the country or world? You can.  The American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) organization exists to find ways for its members to ride roller coasters without waiting in line    (More…)

Angkor Wat via Viet Nam

Catherine Mitchell

I hadn’t planned to go to Vietnam.  What I really wanted to see was Angkor Wat in Cambodia. And I wanted to get there before I was too old to climb all those steps.

However, the company I usually travel with, both because it features groups of from 14 to 16 maximum and doesn’t charge single supplements, didn’t have such a trip. Most of their trips included Thailand, but I had visited Thailand twice already, once very recently.  But, there was a trip to Vietnam with an add-on to Cambodia.  So off I went.  (More…)

New Orleans

Shirley Herring

New Orleans is a city dear to my heart, a party where everyone is invited. The people are warm, the food is world class, and the music will soothe your soul. I am privileged to visit regularly, because my husband’s family lives there. They live in the suburbs now, but it’s never hard to persuade them to go into the city.

Food is always a good place to start. Our favorite haunt is Mandina’s in an old pink house on Canal Street.  (More…)

Civil War Battlefields

Kevin Chittim

Unbearable Florida heat and humidity, wives off on their own adventures, more than a slight danger of boredom—how are a couple of golden agers to spend their summer vacation?

Tim McMurrich and I have been friends for 45 years (although we lost contact with each other for 30 of those) ever since we were part of a stellar softball outfield in the ‘70s.  We hatched our plan to tour Civil War Battlefields over cocktails during the Christmas holidays (not surprisingly our spouses began planning alternate summer plans the same evening).  So, began an 8-day Odyssey    (More…)

My Ancestor Was a Civil War POW

Diane Russell

In the late 1970s, I started researching my family tree. My paternal grandmother’s grandfathers were Union soldiers in the Civil War, so I obtained their military records through the National Archives.

Charles G. Dixon married his sweetheart two days before he enlisted in October, 1864, in Company E, 8th Regiment, Illinois Cavalry. Private Dixon served only 9 months before his discharge in July 1865. A year later, he and Emma Gleason became parents of my great-grandfather, William H. Dixon.

Sanford C. H. Smith was a married father of four children when he enlisted in September, 1862, in Company H, 7th Regiment, Ohio Cavalry. Corporal Smith was captured during the Battle of   (More…)

Impressions of Mexico

Brenda Tipps

We descend through the last layer of cloud, and Mexico City is spread out below us, a red, white and gray metropolis covering the entire Valley of Mexico, and it’s climbing relentlessly up the sides of the valley.  21 million people – – isn’t it one of the planet’s biggest cities? – – live here.

Mexico City is, of course, a Spanish colonial city, built by Cortes after he had destroyed the original city of the Aztecs. The modern city has a European flavor: the tree-lined Paseo de la Reforma is modeled after the Champs Elysees; sleek cars stream down the boulevards and sleek people lounge and stroll.  (More…)

African Journey

Susan Harrison

As a birder, I have had many opportunities for wonderful trips overseas. This past June was probably the most unforgettable experience of my life.

I do my birding travel with Cheepers! Birding on a Budget. This year a trip to Uganda, with a gorilla trek as an optional experience, was offered. There was no way I’d pass up an opportunity to see gorillas in the wild. I spent months reading everything I could find.  I posted questions on TripAdvisor and got marvelous tips and enthusiastic descriptions. I bought the thick garden gloves recommended, wore good, strong hiking boots, and made sure my walking stick was ready. (More…)