Thursday, May 31, 2012

Go Ahead, Climb It!

As a little girl, I was told of Mount Rushmore and all that the workers and creator, Gutzom Borglum went through to carve and blast it out of the Black Hills.  I always wanted to see it.  Every year some three million people stop by to have a look.  It's iconic and beautiful and one of the best known tourist ideas in the U.S.
Here's what you may not know about the area.  There's more to it than Mount Rushmore.  There's also more to it than Crazy Horse which as far as I know is still unfinished.
Some of the most interesting parts of the area are underground.  Both Jewel Cave and Wind Cave are close by and worth the look.  Wind Cave is known for its passages that are somewhat like a maze and Jewel Cave is known for it enormous caverns.  In all the talk I've heard about Mount Rushmore, I've rarely heard about these caverns.
Here's the biggest one though.  Climb it.
The granite cliffs around Mount Rushmore are available for climbing.  You get a unique view of the monument, plus amazing views of the entire area.  There are a few companies that provide these options.  Most of them come with instruction and some also have guides to go with you.  It's a great way to view one of America's best known works of art.
Here's the second climbing activity.  If anyone has seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind, you've seen pictures of Devil's Tower.  This monument is only about an hour from Mount Rushmore, and climbing it is a great activity and a fabulous challenge.  To do this you must go with a tour company and a guide.  They will provide instruction before climbing.
All I can say is sometimes you just have to climb it to get the world's best views.  If you get out to Mount Rushmore, and you've done the motorcycle rallies and the pow wows, try just climbing it.  Climb up it, climb next to it, climb under it.
Mount Rushmore is way more fun than just staring at another pretty face.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Container Ships - The Only Way to Go

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I have an obsession with the "By Any Means" type of travel.  I got into the idea while watching my hero, Charley Boorman travel from Ireland to Australia by any means he could get there.  I too, had always been interested in that kind of travel from the moment I saw "Around The World in 80 Days" as a child.  I am interested in the north.  The further north, the better.  I loved northern Russia, and Iceland was great.  So, I wanted to circumnavigate the globe around the north.  I found that there were ferries that went all the way from Iceland to Denmark and many other places.  What I didn't want to do was take a commercial flight.  My problem was how would you get from Canada to Greenland?
Well, travelers, Charley Boorman clued me in to the solution.  You can book passage on container ships.  CMA-CGM is the best known for these excursions, but there are others.  It's an alternative mode of transportation for adventurers.
I realize that cruise ships are elegant and have all the luxuries that you want while floating about on the oceans, seas, and rivers of the world.  But container ships come with beautiful staterooms, on board chefs, indoor pools, movies and other entertainment, and even workout rooms.  What they have that cruise ships do not is exotica.  These are some of the biggest ships in the world.  On board you can tour the engine room and see the massive elements that make the behemoth move.  You can tour the bridge with the captain and hear all the stories that go with a life on the sea.  It's a one of a kind experience.  It's not something that all of your neighbors have done.
Does it cost a lot?  It does reportedly cost about $80 per day on average.  However, container ships go virtually anywhere on Earth, so you can choose your destination.  You don't have to choose from a list of tours.
So, if you want a real adventure on the seas, try going with the people who work out there and not a bunch of tourists.  Take a container ship and make your trip an adventure.
Here are some links you can check into:
Enjoy the view as you sail into Reykjavik Harbor.  It's beautiful, isn't it?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Hendersonville, North Carolina

Hendersonville, North Carolina :

So, you've heard about the waterfalls in Brevard County not far from Asheville, North Carolina.  That's great.  So you've gone down that way and seen the Biltmore Estate, the town of Cherokee, and Chimney Rock State Park.  You feel like a real tourist.  I've done that too.  The problem is that even after 200 waterfalls, I feel like I'm missing something.

Here's the thing you don't know about.  There's a little town called Hendersonville.  It's just south of Asheville and East of Brevard.  It's a little spot on the map that's really of no consequence.  You won't hear about it on television.  But, you should visit.

Hendersonville is the way life used to be.  There are decorated ceramic bears all up and down main street to show us their artsy side.  They have art galleries, ice cream shops, and great shopping.  Everyone will say hi to you on the street, and they may even ask where you're from.  It's a town where everyone knows everyone else, and even if you work hard to fit in, they'll know you're from out of town.

Now, unlike a lot of touristy destinations, I recommend that you visit Hendersonville in the evening, and during the week, probably on a Monday night.  Why?  Because for the last 90 plus years, Hendersonville has been having a public square dance in the city parking lot.  They come out and dance the night away until about ten o'clock.  They'll make you feel like family and it's a lot of fun.  There are no complicated moves.  The callers keep it easy for novices.  It's a great fun time for anyone from anywhere.

Square dancing is one of the most community centered events I have encountered over the years.  It's something that automatically introduces you to new people right on the dance floor or asphalt.  If you do visit this traditional event, you will make friends.  There's simply no way not to.

So, once again, do your hiking, do your gawking, see how the rich people live and learn all about the Cherokee.  Then take a little drive down to Hendersonville and you will learn to have the hometown time of you life. 

Welcome to my blog!

Travel isn't always what it's cracked up to be.  Sometimes I like to take the road less traveled.  I like to get away from Disney and the south rim of the Grand Canyon.  Sometimes I like to do things that most people didn't know they could do.  This is the first post in a blog that will be updated weekly.  This is a blog to discuss places and things that most people don't do.  It's about the things you don't see on the Travel Channel or Channel 5.  This is a chance for you to get some ideas that you'd never have thought about on your own.  Enjoy the possibilities that exist on other pages of the travel guides.  I like to participate in the activities on vacation rather than just looking at things in a museum.  What I would really like to hear is what you find most interesting of the things that I write about.  I would like to take my off the cuff ramblings and turn them into a real collection for a book, and I would like to know which ones really sound great to the readers.  So let me know what you like, what you don't like, and what you think is not off the beaten path.  I love feedback, and remember, this is just a blog.  I can write pretty well when I put a lot of thought into it.  Let me know what you think!
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