Atlanta · baseball · Day Trips · favorites · Museums

trippintwins : See It in the ATL

Atlanta, GA is the 9th populous city in the U.S. and is home to numerous international corporations, including CNN, Coca Cola and Delta Airlines. Atlanta was also the host of the 1996 Olympic Games. Atlanta is a four hour drive from where we live, so we typically go a few times a year. These are some highlights from our trips to Atlanta during this summer that can easily fit into your schedule the next time you are at the ATL for a long layover or are looking for suggestions for your next trip.

1.  Center for Civil and Human Rights 

The center opened just over a year ago, in April 2014. It is located in Pemperton Park (downtown area), across from another place worth checking out, the World of Coca Cola. The center’s vision is: ” to connect the 20th Century American Civil Rights Movement with today’s Global Human Rights Movements”. (Center for Civil and Human Rights)  Currently, the center has three permanent exhibits on display, a rotating exhibit from Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr Collection and a temporary exhibit.  The exhibits are designed to be both visually and auditorily engaging making it an excellent place to visit. Admission is $10-15 depending on a variety of factors, active duty military and 6 and under are free.  In addition, it is a choice on the Atlanta CityPASS.

A slide show of our experience is below:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

2. CNN Center

The CNN Center serves as the Global Headquarters building for CNN and is most definitely worth a stop by. The building is open to the public, has a huge food court, restaurants, retail shopping and tours available. This summer we decided to take the Inside CNN VIP Tour. This 50 minute tour is perfect for anyone 12 or over that is interested in a behind the scenes tour of the network. Visitors receive an overview of the network’s history, learns how it became an international news powerhouse and gets a look at the processes involved in creating various news shows. For Wow! moments, you will ride the tallest free-standing escalator in the world (8 stories), try your hand at reading from a prompter and see the Magic Board that was first used in the 2008 election coverage. You step inside various news studios and production rooms and have all your questions answered. Tours are limited to 12 people, so tickets ($35) should be purchased in advance.  The Inside CNN Tour is part of the Atlanta CityPASS, but not the VIP one.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

3. Atlanta Botanical Gardens-Bruce Munro: Light

The largest light show designed by Mr. Munro in the Southeastern U.S is currently on display at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. It is an enchanting way to spend an evening. The light show is created by displays of thousands of fiber optic lights that span the grounds of the Gardens. The Gardens are lit up from 6-11 pm on Wednesday-Sunday evenings through 3 October 2015.Ticket prices run from 13.95 to 22.95 based on day and age. If the light show does not fit into your schedule, check out the Gardens during the daytime hours for an equally visually stunning experience.

4. Catch a Game!

Atlanta is a professional sports team powerhouse city that can satisfy any hardcore sports fan.  It serves as the home of four professional sports teams: Atlanta Braves (MLB), Atlanta Dream (WMBA), Atlanta Falcons (NFL), Atlanta Hawks (NBA) and the scheduled MLS expansion team in 2017. We had the chance to attend an Atlanta Hawks playoff game against the Cleveland Cavaliers in May 2015 at Georgia Dome.  The Georgia Dome is walking distance from downtown hotels. Several other notable attractions: Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park and SkyView Atlanta (Atlanta’s answer to the London Eye) are located nearby.

One of our traditions is to catch at least one Atlanta Braves game per year while visiting.  This year we attended games on Memorial Day Weekend and July 4th Weekend, which are great times to be in attendance.  The Turner Field and Atlanta Braves staff do a great job of hosting event nights, especially things for members of their community.  This includes several events every year that honor active, former military members and their families.   We were lucky enough to attend Military Appreciation night over Memorial Day Weekend in May and have put some pictures of in the slideshow.  As for attending a Braves game on the 4th of July, well, there is nothing more American than staying to the bitter end to watch an awesome firework show!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Have you been to Atlanta? If so, what are your favorite things to do, places to go?

packing

Packing: Things you should leave behind…

This is a list of guidelines we use to edit our packing list. Something all of these items have in common is that they are often unnecessary and take away from much needed packing space. We generally are not light packers and do not aspire to get all of our items in a carry on bag. That being said, we don’t enjoy lugging around our body weight in luggage. We have learned that a little editing can go a long way and  would be useful to anyone considering taking a trip. These are items that we advise you to leave behind.
1. Laptop. Unless it’s needed for work. Often, a tablet can substitute and double as an e-reader and music player.

2. Hairdryer. With curly hair, we use to be very picky about ensuring we had enough room in our luggage for the hairdryer & diffuser becausse hotels do not provide ones that work for us. Now, we leave the hairdryer and let out hair air dry. It’s better for our hair and less bulk in our suitcases.

3. Multiple color schemes. Although it is nice to have multiple colors in a wardrobe to choose from, it’s not a good idea for the road. Choosing one color reduces the number of pants, shoes and accessories required.

4.  Extra pairs of shoes. Choose one or two daytime/walking shoes and one pair of dress shoes only. Shoes are bulky and take from available packing space.
5. Accessories. Bring no more than one or two pairs of earrings, necklaces and rings, watches, etc. Do not bring items you will be heartbroken over losing. Things happen and you don’t always come back with what you brought.

6. Shampoo/conditioner/body wash. We use to be sure we always had our favorite items in travel sizes to be travel ready. Somewhere along the line,  we gained some sense and realized using the hotel provided shampoos will be fine for a few days.

7. On the fence wardrobe items.Travel items should only include necessities, not extras that you will contemplate wearing at some point. Chances are if you have not worn it at home, you won’t wear it on the road.

8. Items that wrinkle. You do not want to spend time ironing if you can avoid it. Pack items that travel well and can be shaken out.

9.  Bulky souvenirs. Do not agree to bring these back unless you have a shipping plan (the store, post office) or do not mind lugging them around in your luggage. You are the one that will get stuck dealing with whatever you agree to buy.

Is there anything you can think of I’ve left out? Is there something you keep packing even knowing you may not use? Have you ever bought a bulky souvenir and regretted it?

Adventure · Australia · B.C. · Banos · Canoeing · Ecuador · Gardiner · India · Kayaking · Montana · National Parks · Queensland · Sailing · Water Adventures · White Water Rafting · Yellowstone National Park

Tranquil to Thrilling: Water Adventures Around the World!

It is said that water has healing powers, which perhaps is one of the main reasons so many enjoy it.  During the summer months, people flock to water for some fun in the sun and a break from the heat. Water adventures are great because they can be done individually, or with a group, and can include most all age ranges.  Whether your definition of having fun is taking a relaxing canoe ride on a lazy river, river rafting in Class V rapids or learning how to kayak, there is an activity for everyone.  This post focuses on three popular water activities available in much of the world:  white water rafting, canoeing and kayaking.  We have asked some of our fellow travel bloggers to share one of their favorite experiences with one of the three activities.  Check out our stories and tell us about water adventures you have had, would recommend and would like to try!

White Water Rafting

1.  The Aussie FlashpackerBanos, Ecuador

Banos is known as the ‘Adventure Capital of Ecuador’ with its’ mountains, active volcanoes, world famous hot springs and rivers that are perfectly designed for rafting to suit all levels. Our last day in Baños we tried our hand at white water rafting and booked a day trip through our hostel. After being kitted up and finishing the safety briefing, an English, Irish and 2 Chilean guys attempted to tackle the rapids of Baños. The river provided us some challenges and at times our boat was completely battered by the rapids and all of us just about holding in and just about managing to stay in the boat but there were other times when the river slowed and we were able to relax and enjoy the amazing scenery, It was the perfect place for my first rafting experience and I am extremely keen to give it another go and would highly recommend Banos & rafting in Banos to anyone!

Simone Lye Rafting

2. Jet Set Brunette – Tulley River, Queensland, Australia

The Tulley River is a grade 4 river situated in Queensland, Australia.  Seasoned adventure-seekers love exploring these challenging rapids and beginners have the option of purchasing a white water rafting package.  There are also places around the water to go cliff jumping and actually swim through some of the rapids!

249313_10150260912098277_483155_n

4. Savored JourneysElaho and Squamish Rivers, Whistler, B.C.

Whistler, British Columbia, is known for more than just its world-class skiing. It’s also an incredible place to go whitewater rafting. Although I’m just a beginner at rafting, we were able to go out on a day-long excursion with Wedge Rafting in Whistler, where we spent the day tackling Class III and IV rapids on the Elaho and Squamish Rivers. It’s not too crazy of a river – there are harder, more demanding rapids, for sure – but with rapids that have been named Devil’s Elbow and Steamroller, it was plenty challenging enough for us!

I went on this rafting trip with my family, so we filled up one whole raft and it was great fun dodging and leaning with the rapids, getting soaked from the churning water along the way. One of the best parts of the rivers near Whistler is the immense natural beauty you witness along the way. There are snowcapped peaks, dense forest and lots of wildlife to spot along the way, when floating through the calmer parts of the river. We were lucky enough to spot a black bear along the banks. The best time to go rafting in Whistler is in the summer, from June to early August. That’s when the rapids are at their highest from the winter snow run-off.

white-water-rafting

5. TravelureThe Ganges

“River Ganga (Ganges) forms after its confluence with various rivers, e.g. Alaknanda, Pindar, Mandakini, etc. and hits the plains at Rishikesh after flowing through the narrow valley of Himalayas from Devprayag. Its path is not smooth since it is moving from mountains to plains. It is between Devprayag and Rishikesh that we did rafting on this river, but closer to Rishikesh. The entire normal rafting stretch here is about 24-25kms (15 miles)and takes about 4.5-5 hours, but you can choose your starting points. We had selected Shivpuri as ours. That was a total rafting distance of 16kms (10 miles) and the time duration for rafting this stretch was about 3-3.5 hours.
“The rapids are mostly between grade I and III. These have been colourfully named – three blind mice, roller coaster, golf course, black money, etc. These names also have something to do with the nature of the rapid, like ‘golf course’, a grade III rapid has nine ‘holes’ or obstacles. The entire stretch was a constant adrenaline rush and we had to constantly be on guard for the unseen. But, this adventure is termed mostly safe, provided you follow instructions of the rafting instructor and paddle/stop paddling when he asks you to.
“I have been rafting on this stretch 3 times. Each time has been as exciting as the first time. I would highly recommend this trip to all water-sport enthusiasts as Ganga rapids, though relatively safe, come with their own brand of difficulty!

Ajay rafting 2 Ajay rafting1. TrippinTwinsGardiner, Montana – Yellowstone River

We went white water rafting with Wild West Rafting in Gardiner, Montana.  Gardiner is located at the North Gate of Yellowstone Park, which makes it a fantastic option if you are staying in the area. They offer a variety of water adventure options, but we choose to do the half day white water rating trip. It was a 2 hour trip down 8 miles of the Yellowstone River with mostly Class III rapids.  Rapid classes vary due to shifting water levels. They also allow children 4 and over to go, which is convenient for families.  We had a large group, so we were split between two boats. All of the guides our group had were very friendly and knowledgeable about their job and the surrounding area.  We all had a great time, it was one of the highlights of our week in Yellowstone!

Erica's group YS

  Canoeing
                                        Sometimes you get to gocanoeing with family and friends……

1. The Travelin’ ChicksIpswich River in Massachuttes

Being travelers, we are always on the look out for the next trip we are going to take and dreaming of lands far off that sometimes we forget about just how great the area we are from truly is. So this year we have decided to explore this great region we call the North Shore of Massachusetts.

Our first adventure? A canoeing trip down the Ipswich River in Ipswich, Ma. With lunch packed we headed down the gorgeous Route 133 to downtown Ipswich. From there we were off to Foote Brothers Canoes & Kayaks. With our life jackets in hand we hopped in the van for the 10-minute drive up river.

Once launched from shore you began to realize just how pristine the area you are canoeing in. Being part of the Mass Audubon Society, The Ipswich River is a wildlife sanctuary. The river snaked past busy beavers in their dams, red winged black birds shooting through the sky and lots of changing landscapes. With numerous feathered friends singing their song to us through the trip we were sad to see it come to a close.  Four hours of canoeing went by in a flash and leaving us wanting more.

With such a great time behind us we can’t wait for the next adventure discovering all that home has to offer.

Kinsey canoeing Chelsea & Kinsey canoeing

And sometimes you guide a group of kids….

2.  Antitravelguides – Calgary, Canada

A few years ago I worked as a counselor at a camp just outside of Calgary in beautiful Kananaskis Country. One of the activities we would regularly lead the kids in was canoeing. Though with kids being kids (and counsellors being adults) more often than not this turned into a water fight. This was generally aided by the buckets that we provided and the games we played – one was called “Sink the Swiss Navy”. You can imagine what the aim of that game was. A lot of canoes sunk and even more humans had a lot of fun.

Luke-canoeing

Kayaking

1.  Stay Home For What?!?!  – Lake Garda, Italy

I’ve been living in Italy for almost 3 months. In those three months, I have visited to a lot of countries, but just recently began to explore Italy. I had been focused on visiting countries that border Italy,  not taking the time to see “Italy”  When my friends mentioned Lake Garda, I was not interested because I kept thinking what could be so great about a lake!  As it turns out, I was suprisingly mistaken!

I agreed to go to Lake Garda with some friends that invited me on a recent weekend…#stayhomeforwhat! It was only about an hour drive from where I live and 5 euro in tolls.  Once we arrived, I immediately understood why people love this place. It is absolutely amazing!!! This is not your ordinary lake; it is by far the biggest I’ve seen.

There are an abundance of activities to choose from in the area, such as water sports, biking and canyoning. For the time we had availble, we chose to go kayaking. We rented the kayaks from At Sailing Dulac, which only costs 9 euro for a single and 14 euro for a double.  This was my first time kayaking, so I asked a friend to double up with me. That decision was probably the worst idea of the day!  It only took us 15 minutes to decide it was harder with two people instead of one because we were not going anywhere! The single riders that were with us……I swear, reached the other side of the lake and came back before we left the lagoon!!

However, there were advantages to going so slow. We had more time to relax and enjoy the scenery. We were able to take in the beautiful mountains that surround the city, the city landscape and the beautiful blue, not grey, but blue water. The wind was blowing perfectly as we watched people around us windsurfing, sail on catamarans, go dinghy sailing, free sailing and kayaking.  It was simply perfect!

I recommend visiting Lake Garda on your next trip to Italy because of the wide options available in the surrounding area. The area provides the perfect setting for individuals wanting a relaxing day for laying out as well as the more adventurous types. While there, make sure to visit the nearby villages and take advantage of the great shopping and restaurants and wineries available.  #Love the Life You Live!

Keisha-kayaking4 Keisha -kayaking

2. 2TravelDads  – Pacific North West, USA

The Seattle area is best seen from the water: sailing, on a ferry, or on a kayak. Just short drives from the city are countless islands and bays to explore. Across the Puget Sound are the Olympic and Kitsap Peninsulas, which are dotted with lakes and waterways, ready to be paddled.

Olympic Peninsula – One of our favorite places to kayak is the Quileute River in La Push. The mouth has a marina to put in and the river itself is shockingly calm. Due to the shallow nature, there are no other boats of any sort, so the river is all yours; your bow is the only thing making ripples. And since the mouth is brackish, watch for flounder, salmon and the occasional otter. Lakes Crescent and Cushman are two other places to paddle: stumps, elk and mountains around every bend. Beautiful.

Kitsap Peninsula – Another favorite paddling haunt is the Agate Passage and Liberty Bay, separating Bainbridge Island from the Kitsap. The gradual shorelines of both sides make for easy pullouts and fantastic wildlife viewing. Without trying, I’ve seen otters swimming, heron and eagles swooping down and I’ve been stalked by a harbor seal. Living right off the Agate Passage, I know the flow of larger boat traffic, so am careful to paddle at the right time. Example: Fridays there is a small cruise ship that takes visitors to the Scandinavian village of Poulsbo, so I know to stay off the water so the wake doesn’t send me swimming. I also know that kayaking on the sea means fighting a tide, so planning trips to flow with the tide is important.

If you’re visiting the Pacific Northwest without your own kayak, they can be rented almost anywhere, and truthfully, you’re not going to have a bad view wherever you paddle.

IMG_3168 IMG_2982Now that we have shared our stories, we would enjoy hearing yours!

Adventure · Aquariums · baseball · Beer · Chicago · Illinois · Museums · Skyline · travel

TrippinTwins: A Snapshot of our 4 days in Chicago

View the amazing skyline that rivals New York City night and day .
Chicago Night View Chicago Day Skyline
Sample Chicago pizza beyond deep dish…

Piece Brewery Pizza Italian pizza

Have coffee in an 80’s themed shop with a DeLorean and a vintage Mac…
 DeLorean Coffeeshop
Attend an event with 55k of your closest friends at Soldier Field in Chi-Town!

Chicago 1074 Chicago 1153

Experience Wrigley Field, the 2nd oldest ballpark in the U.S., built in 1914.

Wrigley Field Sign Chicago 1320

Take the “L” train for efficient transportation & people watching.  Mice and handcuffs anyone? Ha!

Chicago L train

 Enjoy a meal/cocktail at the John Hancock Building with amazing city views.
Brunch Mimosa IMG_2839
Relax while consuming award winning craft beer.

Tara Beer

Explore unique neighborhoods that give the big city a small town feel.

Wicker Park

Wrigleyville
Wrigleyville

Chicago 1357
Andersonville

Visit Luna the sea otter at the Shedd Aquarium.
Chicago 766
Discover how tornadoes form at the Museum of Science and Industry.
Chicago 1266 Chicago 1269
Shop while giving back.

Chicago 1360l

We truly enjoyed our time in Chicago and hope to return soon. If you want a more details about our trip, there is a longer,more detailed post here:Chicago Trip Details

#TheWeeklyPostcard

 

Aquariums · Chicago · Museums · Tours · Trip Ideas

TrippinTwins Chicago Trip Details

From the moment we arrived to the moment we left on a plane back home, Chicago was a ‘homerun”.  Chicago is a quintessential American city that has options to satisfy even the most discerning person.  It has professional sports teams, a skyline that rivals New York, high end shopping, world class restaurants, top tier colleges and numerous festivals throughout the year. Chicago is also a beautiful place-with an amazing lakefront and numerous parks. Check out how we spent our first time in the city and some that we hope you will find useful.

Museums

The Shedd Aquarium (Museum Island)

The aquarium is one of the most visited aquariums in the world, so it’s a good idea to buy tickets in advance to avoid standing in long lines. Our agenda was not finalized when we went to visit the aquarium, so we stood in line for an hour before then deciding to buy the CityPASS. Not again!  This aquarium can easily keep one entertained for 3-6 hours, depending on how many activities you decide to do. Current exhibits include: Amazon Rising, Caribbean Reef, Abbott Oceanarium, Polar Play Zone, Waters of the World and Wild Reef. Currently, there is a temporary special Amphibian Exhibit as well.  In addition, there are  4D movie experience’s, a stingray touch and a dolphin show available for additional costs.

2. Adler Planetarium (Museum Island)

After spending time at the aquarium we went to athe Adler Planetarium.  Our admission was free with the CityPass and we got the benefits of the Anytime All-Access Pass.  This meant we got access to all exhibits, the Atwood Sphere and shows.  We only had 2 1/2 hours to spend at the Planetarium before meeting up with a friend, but we were able to see the SkyWatch Live show and look at a few exhibits we were interested in seeing.  For a list of all the and shows available, please visit the website.

3. Chicago Museum of Science and Industry (Jackson Park)

We went to visit this museum after brunch on a Sunday andt this place was packed.  They have separate lines for people buying tickets and for the CityPass card holders.  Be prepared to stand in line for at least 15 minutes, even with a CityPass because everyone has to pick their shows.  With a CityPass, one show and the regular exhibits are included.  Everything else, costs extra.  We only did what was available with the CityPass and spent over 5 hours in the museum.  The museum is 3 levels and

We had a great time of all three and would highly recommend them for both adults and children. Our recommendation is to research the museum free days/free passes/discount days, or to buy the CityPASS if planning  to visit multiple attractions.

Tours

1. Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) River Cruise

This 90 minute cruise was narrated by a very knowledgeable volunteer for the CAF.  There is plenty of seating below and above deck.  If it is a nice day, this is a great way to experience a river cruise while learning about Chicago’s changing relationship with the Chicago River and the architecture along the river front.  With the continuing growth, the guide has a lot of information to provide, so there is very little time for questions/discussion. It is helpful to have a cursory knowledge of Chicago’s most famous architects to keep up with the discussion. It was easy to get up and move around the boat to take pictures.  It is appropriate for anyone of any age or physical ability, although most little kids will not be entertained by the information.

2. Wrigley Field Tour

We are avid Braves fans, but we grew up watching the Cubs. We knew the teams would be playing each other, but were disappointed to find out the games would be in Atlanta while we were in Chicago.  We decided to take a tour of the famed park. We bought group tour tickets for $25/person through the Cubs MLB Website .

This experience was a definite trip highlight and would recommend this to any baseball/park fan. It is a walking tour with steps, so it is helpful to be in moderate physical condition. There were accommodations made for people with strollers/wheelchairs, although some areas are not wheelchair accessible.

Neighborhoods Explored

Whicker Park/Bucktown

This is one of Chicago’s hippest and creative neighborhoods. Due to our schedule, we only had a few hours to explore the area. We had dinner/drinks at Piece Brewery and Pizzeria. This place is busy and very loud, but the service/pizza and beer selection was excellent.

When we finished dinner, we decided to do some exploring. Geek Bar caught our attention since our friend, Jennifer, that came along is into the Comic Con scene and was interested in checking this place out It’s a gaming restaurant that encourages dress up. I did not take pics because I did not want to intrude on the customers.

After dinner, we went to check out Myopic Books, which houses Chicago’s oldest and largest used book collection.

When finished browsing there, we needed a caffeine fix and went to find Warmhole Coffee. It is an 80’s themed coffee house that serves Halfwit roasted coffee drinks and offers various food menu items. Seating is available both inside and on the front sidewalk. The service was friendly and the drinks were delicious.

Magnificent Mile

This is where upscale shopping and magnificent architecture combine with Michelin Star restaurants and upscale hotels to make up Chicago’s most well known area of Chicago. This is also a popular area for tourists to roam streets and sit in green space across form Hershey and Godiva.

We were looking at options for viewing Chicago’s skyline at the highest vantage point and settled on brunch at the Signature Room. It $45 for all you can eat hot entrees/cold bar/desert bar and the server was great and very patient with questions/picture requests. It was a great experience and an easy way to get that 94/95th floor view without having to wait in line or pay $40 fast pass fee.

Andersonville

This is a quaint neighborhood just outside Chicago filled with independent stores and restaurants. We strolled up and down N. Clark Street, the “Main S.” of this town. We made ourow  way to the Brown Elephant, which we saw a number of people entering. It is a non profit resale shops that benefits the Howard Brown Health Center. They have a wide selection of clothing, books, furniture, ace cessories and are known to have 50% furniture sales.

On the day we visited, it was a really hot day, so we decided to trade our normal coffee break with an ice cream break. We saw a sign  advertising root beer floats that looked absolutely scrumptious at George’s Ice Cream and Sweets. It was the perfect choice. We had plans for the evening, so we walked back to Berwyn Station to take the train back to our hotel. This is a neighborhood I could have spent all day in.

Wrigleyville

Wrigleyville is very much linked with baseball and bars.  The neighborhood is filled with Cubs themed restaurants and merchandise stores.  The neighborhoods in the area are upscale, residential streets lined with brownstones and shade trees. The proximity of the houses to the park allow many homeowners to enjoy views of the game from their rooftops, some even installing seating on their roofs. We walked around there the area a while after finishing the Wrigleyfield Tour, went to a few merchandise stores and had lunch at Uncommon Ground.

Where We Stayed:

Soldier Field

Hyatt Regency McCormick Place is a perfect choice if you are attending an event at Soldier Field. It is a 15 minute easy walk to the field. There is a CTA bus line outside the hotel and trains are within a few blocks. Taxis were always available with about a $15 charge to downtown and $12-$15 to Museum Island. The hotel rooms were spacious and the coffee bar/cafe was excellent.

River North

The Godfrey Hotel. A nicely appointed boutique hotel with a short walk to Loyola University and the Magnificent Mile shopping area. The rooms were big and had double vanities. The hotel had a restaurant, which we did not try. There were several coffee shops/restaurants within a short walk and the CTA train lines were half mile walks.

Alabama · Day Trips

Day Trippin’: Mooresville, AL

We are always on the lookout for new and interesting day trip ideas. Recently we read about a sleepy small town, less than an hour away from where we live,  that is listed on an “America’s Best 50 Small Towns” list.  We decided to explore Mooresville, AL to  discover what makes it so special.

Mooresville, AL is a quaint Anti-Bellem town that is located in Limestone County, AL on the Tennessee River.  It was incorporated on November 16, 1818, a year before Alabama gained statehood. It’s early residents were mostly merchants, cotton farmers and traders.  The town is 0.1 miles and covers just six streets and has about 55 residents. The entire town, of 19th Century period architecture, is on the U.S. Register of Historic Places.   It also served as the one time home for US Presidents James A. Garfield and Andrew Johnson.  It also served as the film set for the Disney movie, Tom and Huck.

The first place we saw upon arriving in Mooresville was Java, the local coffee shop. It’s a charming locally owned store which use to be the town’s General Store. It is a great place to grab a drink, a bite to eat and look around at the antique furniture and artworks that are on display for sale.  It’s also the perfect place to chat with some locals to get historical information about the town and sights to see.

Jave Cafe Outside Java Menu

Located across the street from Java, is a parking lot.  We learned at Java that bicycling is the most popular form of transportation and saw evidence of that in the parking lot with bicyclists there meeting others.  We also saw people parking there to walk the town. While in the area, make sure to see these fascinating historical places: Mooresville Brick Church, Mooresville Church of Christ, Mooresville Stagecoach Inn and Tavern and Post Office that the residents have worked hard to preserve.

Mooresville Brick Church is located on Lauderdale St. The church property was donated by Governor Thomas Bibb and his wife with designation for a church to be built. The church was build in Greek Revival style and completed in 1839. The steeple is unique, depicting a hand pointing towards Heaven. The church served as a worship location for Cumberland Presbyterian, Methodists and Baptists. It was deconsecration by the Methodists in 1994 and handed over to the town to be used for weddings and photo shoots.

Mooresville Brick Church.Moorseville Brick Church Steeple

Mooresville Church of Christ is located on Market Street on land that was bought in 1851 for $20.00.  It was first built in 1854 with additions added in the 1930’s to add space to the church.  It is a white clapboard church built in a more modest Greek Revival style.  It has a storied past and has managed to survive without ever having a full time preacher.  The first Christian of Moorseville, J. H. Hundley, was baptized in this church, it survived yellow fever outbreaks nearby and the Civil War.  This is also the church where James Garfield, the 20th president of the U.S., preached once during the Civil War.  Today, the church receives help from nearby churches to remain open.


Mooresville Stagecoach Inn and Tavern is located on High Street. These were once common along Alabama traveling routes. This one was built by Griffin Lampkin before 1825 and served as the town’s post office before a new one was built. The current post office, thought to be built around 1840, is the oldest active post office in Alabama. The Inn used to have  two levels.  The common room was on the first floor and the two room sleeping quarters on the second floor. The building was used for other purposed before being donated to the city and restored in the mid 1990’s.  Currently, it is used as a museum and City Hall.

Mooresville, AL Stage Coach Inn & Tavern
Mooresville Post Office
Mooresville, AL Post Office dating back to the 1840’s.

The homes in Mooresville are beautiful and well kept and the Oak trees in the area are thought to date back to the early 1800’s.  The town is located between Huntsville and Decatur, AL making this an easy afternoon trip

Uncategorized

Traveling Partners

What happens when you’ve found your next destination, but are not feeling up to traveling alone?  How do you decide who to invite?  Have you ever been on a trip with someone that seemed like would be the perfect person, but wish you had left them at home?  If you’re planning to travel with a friend/friends, here’s a few things I’ve picked up along the way:

1.  Pick a travel partner based on the type of trip.  Your best friend might be the perfect person to attend an out of state concert with, but might not be the person to take on a international trip.  Throw in a foreign language and different customs, some people cannot handle it!

2.  All parties need to agree to the itinerary, so do not let your friend be an inactive participant.  If all parties are on the same page, once you get on the plane/train or car, your trip will be a lot less complicated.

3. Be upfront about things you are willing and are unwilling to do.  If you are afraid of heights and will never go zip lining in a forest, share that information when the trip is being planned.

4.  If money is an issue, make sure all parties are aware of the budget.

5:  If your friend has never stayed in a hostel, make them understand what hostels are and how they differ from hotels.  This is especially true if someone is from the US, where hostels are not as popular as they are in other countries.

6. Compromise, compromise, compromise!  If you do not know how to compromise, travel alone because it’s better for everyone!

7.  Be flexible.  If your friend gets mad and leaves you alone when traveling overseas, it can turn into the best trip instead of the worst!  Traveling alone is sometimes the best thing that can happen.

Do you have any lessons learned from traveling with friends?  If so, please share!

Adventure · Alabama · Day Trips · Waterfall

Day Trippin’: Little River Canyon Nature Preserve

What is one part of the country we have not spent a lot of time discovering?  Oddly enough, that would be our own backyard.  We set out recently to visit Little River Canyon National Preserve, located in northeast Alabama, as part of Lookout Mountain.  The canyon itself is twelve miles long and in some areas, almost six hundred feet deep. It has a storied past, used by Native Americans and by the Union and Confederate troops during the Civil War.  The river was categorized as a State Wild and Scenic River in 1969 because of its uniqueness of  being the only river that flows entirely on a mountain.  In 1992 it was designated as part of the National Park Service.  It was also named in a 2014 Huffington Post article listing it as one of Cheapflights.com’s g best swimming holes around the world.

Our first stop was to the Little River Canyon Center, which is open for tourism suggestions 7 days a week from 10:00am-4:00pm CST. There is also a gift shop which is closed on Mondays. We stopped by to get a map of the general area and receive pointers for the best lookout areas for the falls.

After our stop at the Canyon Center, we drove down the road to see the Little River Falls, which is a 45 foot waterfall.  The amount of water that you will see depends on the current rainfall amounts. There is typically higher water levels during the winter and spring months, which also make for an ideal kayaking time. The water is warmer in late spring and summer though, which makes it an ideal time to swim.  The Little River Canyon is easily accessible for viewing for all as it is only 1000 feet from the parking lot and a boardwalk makes for an easy walk. We decided to only view it from the boardwalk, but for the more adventurous there is a trail that leads to the entry of the water behind the falls.

Erica and Dad Little River Falls pic 1

After spending some time viewing Little River Falls,  we went to Martha’s Falls.  There are two ways to get there from Little River Falls:  walk a trail for 3/4 mile or drive and take a chance on finding an available parking space in a gravel lot at the site. The day we visited, it was a blistering 97 degrees, so we decided to drive. We were happy to find a close parking place, but not so happy to discover that we were blocked in later… (more on that later)

Martha’s Falls is a popular swimming area, so expect crowds on hot summer days. The trail from the parking lot is roughly a mile long.  Nearly half of the trail is rocky and steep, so it is necessary to have some fitness ability to make it to the end. The little kids seen along the trail seemed to handle the hike well, bouncing and jumping from rock to rock and keep up with the more frequent visitors/experienced hikers. For those with less experience, taking breaks and wearing shoes with traction is recommended. Alcohol is not allowed, but leashed pets are. Though,  when we were there,  the leash rule was not enforced. Be sure to bring lots of drinking water to stay hydrated.

P1080296 P1080297

As most people who exit the river area and hike the trail back to the parking lot, we were tired and ready to leave. When we got to the parking lot, it was evident that a truck had parked in the last available spot, which blocked the entire back row of cars in.  The park rangers were called, who waited a bit before ticketing the car and finally calling a tow truck. We were assured that incidents like this one are not a usual occurrence, but it was definitely frustrating to many people there. Parking tip-Park on the front row, if at all possible! There are also other side lots on the side of the road other people were parking in.

FullSizeRender

If you’re looking for a day trip from north Alabama, this is easily doable.  If you are in the Fort Payne area visiting the Alabama Fan Club and Museum, stop by!

Germany

Visiting the Reichstag in Berlin, Germany

The Bundestag building in Berlin is the second most visited attraction in Berlin.  It is often called the Reichstag, but that is the name of the German parliament.  Most people go in order to tour dome,  which offers a 360 view of Berlin.  While you are there, we suggest taking a tour of the building which you can sign up to do on its  website: http://www.bundestag.de/htdocs_e/visits/besgrupp/fuehr/fuehr/245682.  The tours last about 90 minutes and are held when Parliament is not in session and offers a good overview of the history of the building.

The Reichstag went through several incarnations before becoming the building it is today.  It was originally built in 1871, but the area was considered to be too small for its purpose.  It was rebuilt, in its current location, in 1884.  After WWII , it was restored twice: 1964 and in 1992.  It was almost completely gutted in 1992 when British architect, Norman Foster was picked to restore the building for the final time; deciding only to keep the original outside walls.

Original outside walls w/Russian Graffiti
Original outside walls w/Russian Graffiti

The glass dome, at the top of the Reichstag, was built in 1999. It serves as a symbol of rebirth and is vital to the building’s natural ventilation and lighting system.  The walkway to the top of the observation deck is symbolic of allowing the public to walk above their parliamentary representatives head which was not the case during Nazi rule.

image
View from the rooftop of the Reichstag.

 

 

Inside of Dome
View from the inside of the Dome looking up.

Through the guided tour of the building, we were shown several key things that speak to the history of the building, its commitment to democracy and openness. The gifts from the allied nations and the fact that all the offices in the building are uniform demonstrate commitment to democracy.  This symbolism of openness is reflected by the public and parliamentary members walking in through the same doors.

image
Gift to Reichstag from the US was created by American Jenny Holzer. It is a glass room with a LED stick that runs continuously displaying notable parliamentary speeches.

 

image
There is a room lined with archive boxes. These are the gift from France that was created by artist, Christian Boltanski. The archive boxes have the names of democratically elected members of Parliament. The black archive box, shown here, has been painted black to represent the years Germany was ruled by the Nazi’s. There is even a box for Adolf Hilter in this collection that is destroyed frequently.

We ended the tour by walking up the walk way of the dome.  On a nice day, it offers one of the best views of Berlin.  Have you been?  If so, what did you think of it?

 

image
Tara on Left, Erica on Right holding camera

 

 

Day Trips · Trip Ideas

Day Trippin’: W.C. Handy Birthplace, Museum and Library

W.C. Handy Birthplace, Museum and Library

Are you interested in the history of Blues music?  If so, add this museum to your bucket list!  Are you a fan of old log cabins? If so, add this museum to your bucket list!  Do you live near Florence, AL?  If so, go soon!  The museum is open year round from Tuesday-Saturday, 10 AM-4 PM and there is only a  $2 admission fee.

Handy. W.C. Handy, was born in the log cabin that currently houses his museum and library. He was born a musical genius in 1873 and had an illustrious musical career as  he was known as the “Father of the Blues”. The log cabin was built by his grandfather, William Wise Handy, who was an African Methodist Episcopal minster after emancipation.  It was important to W.C. Handy that the cabin remain in Florence and be turned into a museum after his death. Later, the cabin was moved from its original location to the current location after the original location was thought to be developed.

WC Handy Museum


MUSEUM ROOM ONE

The first room contains  family photographs, awards he received, a few of his famous musical instruments such as a piano and letters he received from heads of state and other notable people on display.

P1070281
Memphis Blues score is displayed on the right side. It was the first ballad W.C. Handy wrote and what some credit with being the first blues ballad in history.
P1070280P1070286P1070276

MUSEUM ROOM TWO

The second room contains the Deagan Organ that belonged to Mr. Handy.  It is unique because this is one of only three originals still known to exist today. Everyone is our group was encouraged to play the organ to get an idea how it sounded when played live. P1070287

CABIN ROOMS

After touring the museum and library, we toured the two room original cabin.  The cabin consists of a dining room and a bedroom. The tour guide told our group that most of the items in the rooms were donated, not original to the family.  However, all the items on display are items that fit the time period.

P1070302 P1070294

MUSIC FESTIVAL

Looking for something to do at the end of July?  More specifically, interested in going to a music festival in July?  If so, you’re in luck because the W.C. Handy Blues Festival is held annually in Florence, AL in July.  This year it will be held July 17-25.  Here’s the link to the W.C. Handy Festival: http://www.wchandymusicfestival.org/festival.htm.