Category: American travel

More Impressive than Valley Forge!

Valley Forge certainly has a better PR department than Morristown, N.J. People flock to Valley Forge to see an American Revolutionary War winter encampment, but a much more convenient place to see an even better show is Morristown.

No battles were fought in either location. Troops spent the winter of 1777 at Valley Forge, but the much more brutal winter of 1779 was spent at Morristown. It was there that George Washington settled in for what is recorded as the worst American winter ever. After this encampment, Washington began the decisive push south and eventual Yorktown victory that ended the war two years later in 1781. (more…)

Going the Extra Mile to Save for a Lifetime

The National Park Service’s Senior Pass is one benefit of getting older. If you are over age 62, the pass allows holders to enter parks free of charge. If you drive a car, the whole carload gets in without paying. So youngsters, make friends with the elderly! Currently the pass costs $10 and is good for your lifetime. Effective at the end of this month, August, the price is scheduled to go up to $80.

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Benedict Arnold, Commander of West Point

Before I visited West Point, I had no idea that the Benedict Arnold story was part of the history of West Point. Did you know that he was in charge of West Point and made a deal to sell plans for the fortification to the British in exchange for land? The plot was foiled by chance when George Washington was about to make a surprise inspection visit to West Point just as the deal was being consummated. The rest is history, as they say. Had Arnold succeeded in his plan, we’d all be British citizens today. West Point was crucial to America’s winning independence.

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Lone Star Park

Looking for a local activity that the entire family can enjoy in Dallas, Texas? If you love to gamble, love sport, love horses or love buffets, you’ll feel right at home at Lone Star Park. Located close to Dallas off Interstate 30 in Grand Prairie, Lone Star Park has something for everyone. On Sunday, seniors over 62 get general admission for free or get $5 off a reserved seat. Doors open at 2 p.m., and on the Sunday when I attended, I noticed that they stopped monitoring the ticket booths by around 4:30 p.m. essentially making entrance free for everyone after that time.

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Be a Space Cadet!

 Huntsville, Ala. is Space City, USA. Houston monitors the astronauts. Huntsville controls all the science in space. It’s an amazing place; definitely worth a visit! For me, I can relive my youth when space flight was new and exciting.

The numerous space engineers and even common folk living around Huntsville can rattle off the names of the various rockets used throughout the program. At the U.S. Space & Rocket Center everyone can see for themselves the progression of sizes and impressive increasing power of successive rockets, even if they don’t know the specific rocket names.

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Hot Huntsville

                                                     Early Masonic lodge in Huntsville

Huntsville is hot. No, it’s a super nova! Known as Space City for its marvelous museum focused on the US space program and associated “space camp’ (more in a future article), Huntsville, in far northern Alabama (close to Tennessee), is a great destination for a family vacation.

When Huntsville was designated the site of a convention I attended, my first reaction was “Why Huntsville?” But Huntsville offers a lot. In 1950 the city was tiny, but then it became the center of rocket development for the US. Engineers poured in, and today the city has the highest number of engineers per capita than anywhere in the US. Forbes lists Huntsville in the top 10 smartest communities in the world. These smart people have been very proactive in converting a sleepy Southern town into a fantastic city.

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Get Thee to the Brooklyn Flea

The venerable Williamsburg Savings Bank Building in downtown Brooklyn stood for years as the tallest building around. Its clock tower served as the timepiece for the surrounding neighborhoods, and its clock face was the largest ever at the time. Built in 1927 in a modernized Byzantine-Romanesque style that is hard to duplicate today, with large amounts of limestone and marble accompanied by beautiful mosaics and tinted windows, it was, and remains, an architectural masterpiece. Eventually it was eclipsed by taller buildings, converted in part to luxury loft condominiums, and today the old bank floor with its 63-foot-high ceiling is the centerpiece of one of the coolest uses you can think of … a Saturday flea market known as the Brooklyn Flea.

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If the Stetson Fits, Wear It

Stetson. Today the brand is almost synonymous with Texas itself, despite the fact that only some of the hats are made here, and the company started in Philadelphia. Since the beginning of the Stetson Hat company in 1865, the company has grown to be the largest hat manufacturer in America. Many of its hats are made in a Garland factory, along with those of Dallas’ home-grown Resistol brand which it acquired. You can tour the process and come away with a better understanding of what goes into making each hat. It takes many highly skilled artisans using some modernized equipment but mainly relying on older machinery which is no longer manufactured and, even if it were, using outdated designs replacement of which would be extremely costly. Upgrading a single sewing machine capable of specialized stitching (and there are rows of them), for example, would cost about $25,000.

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Main Street America Close to New York City

 Two and one-half hours of easy driving north of New York City, on the fashionable east side of the Hudson River, you hit the town of Hudson, N.Y. You can reach Hudson by train using Amtrak, too.

What you’ll find is a town that has, in recent years, been discovered by people who once lived in Brooklyn and those who like to get away from Brooklyn for a weekend. They have flooded the town creating a Mecca of sophistication in the middle of rural New York. Because they have bid up prices, don’t expect to find real estate here for a steal anymore. You missed those days. But if you’re looking for an unusual, quiet, rural town for a vacation, Hudson is a place that hasn’t yet been overrun by tourists.

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When Dallas was Las Vegas

Hideaway roulette wheel in mirrored box

 Layover in Dallas-Fort Worth? Near DFW airport, take time to visit the #1 attraction rated by  Trip Advisor in the area. You’ll need to take a taxi to arrive. Make advance arrangements to visit this little-known, off the beaten trail, one-of-a-kind place that is a hidden treasure, a place steeped in history, an attraction that you skip at your peril, a Texas Historic Landmark since 2004. It’s also a place where in the 1930’s a huge treasure passed hands nightly, reputedly ½ million dollars—worth a lot back more back then!

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