Glacier International Peace Park and Beyond

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In the Southwest corner in Alberta Canada where the prairies give way to the peaks of the Rocky Mountains is a blend of unusual geology with mild climates and an abundance of wildlife, this is Waterton Lakes National Park. Amidst the mountain peaks are clear lakes, mountain streams, colorful rocks, and cascading waterfalls which await hikers and sightseers, like the 3.6-mile round trip hike to Bertha Falls. As the trail winds its way up the side of the mountain, the views of streams and colorful wild flowers become plentiful where the view of Waterton Lake sitting amidst the towering mountain peaks is beyond spectacular. Unfortunately, the scenic roads through the park are still closed to motorized vehicle traffic due the wild fires in 2017; however, hiking and biking are allowed in these areas of the park. Boarding this National Park to the South in Montana is Glacier National Park, together these two parks make up the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.

Pristine forests, rugged mountains, streams, alpine meadows, spectacular lakes, and wild life is what makes up Glacier National Park located in the Northwest corner of Montana. Other than the Rain Forests of the Pacific Northwest where Cedars and Hemlocks flourish, Glacier National Park is home to many of these trees as old as 500 years and more than seven feet in diameter.

Right through the heart of Glacier National Park is an engineering marvel, going to the sun road, which spans for 50 miles with so many features, one will find it hard to decide which stops to make. The road runs parallel to the two largest lakes in the park. St Mary Lake at the East entrance and Lake McDonald, the largest at 10 miles long and up to one mile wide and just under 500 feet deep is at the West entrance. Located on the Eastern shore is the McDonald Lodge, a national Historic Landmark built-in the early 1900’s to resemble a hunting lodge with Swiss influenced architecture. Not only does the going to the sun road provide spectacular views of colorful wildflowers, towering mountains, cascading waterfalls, beautiful valleys, and impressive glaciers, it also provides either a bone chilling drive or an exciting one, for 9 miles the highway hugs the solid rock cliff walls as it climbs to Logan Pass and crosses the continental divide at 6,646 feet where Mt Reynolds and Clements mountain tower above alpine meadows.

The going to the sun highway provides much more than just awe-inspiring beauty, its where hundreds of miles of hiking trails start, which leads deeper into the wilderness, with some hikes taking a full day to complete too much shorter ones. Some of the most popular shorter trails include, St Mary Falls, a.9-mile hike one way with a 260-foot drop in elevation through portions of the forest which burnt in the 2015 wild fire. As the trail winds its way high above the St Mary river look closely for Moose and Bears watering along the banks. As the trail reaches the falls a wooden bridge leads across the lower section of the falls for an up-close view of the water dropping 35 feet over three tiers, one of the most spectacular and most photographed falls in the park. Feeling energetic, then continue on the trail for another.8-mile one-way hike with a 285-foot elevation gain deeper into the thick lush forest to Virginia Falls. This part of the trail is very scenic with the lush vegetation and towering Pondarosa Pines and huge Cedars. Just under a quarter mile is an unnamed fall which has a series of four tiers, if not for this fall being between St Mary and Virginia Falls this would be a popular destination in the park. Reaching Virginia Falls there are two places to view the falls from. Crossing the bridge at the base allows for the entire falls to be viewed, where the falls drops 50-feet to a secondary chute and then a cascading section at the bottom. About 100 yards to the end of the trail allows one for an up-close view of the initial drop.

At the Sunrift gorge pull-over take the trail up 75-feet to an excellent view of the Baring creek where the water has carved a deep narrow gorge into the bedrock. Coming back down follow the creek under the bridge to where the.4-mile one-way hike with a 250-foot elevation drop leads to the Baring Falls. Although Baring Falls drop is only 25-feet, it’s a very pleasant fall. After spilling over the rock ledge, the Baring Creek flows into St. Mary Lake after a little more than a 100-yards.

At the Sun point parking lot, a short.2-mile level trail starts where the Sun Point Chalet used to lodge visitors from 1913 to 1942. Although the Chalet in no longer here the short walk to the overlook is pure amazing. Standing on the rock mound provides one of the most spectacular views of St. Mary Lake with towering mountain peaks as a back drop.

Trail of the Cedars, the most popular trail in the park and an ideal location for a picnic. The.8-mile loop leads through a forest of Western Red Cedar as big as 7-feet in diameter and towering more than 200-feet into the sky. An abundance of Black Cottonwood and Western Hemlock can be seen throughout the trail as well. A cool refreshing trail, this is.

Other things to do around Glacier National Park includes the Looking Glass Road, this may be a short drive starting at East Glacier Village, but a visual wonder. The highway winds around and over rolling hills with long panoramic views in every direction of sheer breathtaking beauty of nature where groves of Aspen trees and the occasional rocky outcrop and roaming cows are in abundance with framed glaciers in the distance. Another ideal drive is US highway 2 from Columbia Falls to East Glacier where the highway skirts along the South end of Glacier National Park and the Flathead National Forest on the other side where views and hidden treasures are found along the way, like the Hungry Horse Dam at 564 feet high and 2,115 feet across or the Glacier way fountain, a pipe extending right from the face of the mountain which filters out clear spring water. In addition, US highway 2 traces the historic path of the Great Northern Railway and winds along the Flathead River where wildlife can be seen watering.

Lone Pine State Park in Kalispell features some inspiring views of the Flathead Valley where on a clear day Flathead Lake, the Jewel Basin, and Glacier National Park can be seen as well. With their 7.5 miles of hiking trails through the lush forest around and over steep hills, the park is ideal for hikers of all ages.

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Atlantic City – How to Find a Pet-Friendly Accommodation

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Though Atlantic City is most famous for its casino resorts it has much more to offer day and night. The city offers a first class fishing destinations as well as golf clubs and courses. For the family vacation, Atlantic City is a kid's heaven. The beaches as well as the amusement parks and arcade are just what any kid can wish for.

At night the city that is named the city that is always turned on, Atlantic has even more to offer. The nightlife revolves around not only the casinos that have so many luck games it makes it hard to pick from. For those who enjoy dancing there are numerous lounges and dance clubs. There are many entertainment locations in form of beach and comedy bars, all offering some sort of entertainments program. But what do you do when you have your pet with you, do you need to worry that you have to leave it behind? Well the simple answer is no.

When it comes to accommodations in Atlantic City the selection of hotels is large and prices may sky rocket for many of the luxurious rooms in the first class hotels. But for some of the visitors all it takes is a small pet-friendly hotel with bed and breakfast that will answer their needs. Especially when they are traveling with their pet with them. Some of the Atlantic City hotels offer babysitting services enabling the adult guest to depart on their enjoyable visit to Atlantic City carefree.

A famous hotel, offering such a service is the Sheraton Atlantic City Hotel. It is located in the vicinity of the shopping center and is designated to families as well as singles. It is a 16-story hotel with 502 rooms with facilities such as wheel-chair access, fitness center, Internet access, business center, as well as non-smoking rooms. However the facility that makes it the most pet friendly is that there is no charging fee for the pet accommodation. The only applied restriction is that the pet cannot weigh more the 36.4 Kg.

Another famous pet-friendly hotel is the Quality Hotels West, which has a charging fee of 15 $ per night and restricts the pet's weight to 11.4 Kg. It is a smaller sized hotel with 2 stories and 86 rooms. Among its facilities are Air conditioning units, Internet access, hair dryers, Microwaves, and refrigerators. It is well located in a fair distance to the boardwalk as well as the local airport.

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All About Ocean City MD

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Bring your family to Ocean City Md for a weekend, mini week or stay for a week or longer.

Maryland

Ocean City Maryland is a favorite vacation seashore destination on the Mid-Atlantic Coast, USA. Ocean City Maryland offers quality family recreation for all. When in Ocean City, Maryland visit the historic building which houses Ocean City history and that of the U. Enjoy a wide variety of Ocean City, Maryland hotels, motels and condo rentals to fit any budget. Ocean City Maryland is a peninsula stretching some 9 miles in length and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Bays. It is within a few hours drive from New York, Philadelphia, PA, Baltimore, MD and Washington DC and its suburbs of Maryland and Virginia.

Beach

Ocean City Maryland offers some 10 miles of clean sandy beaches on the Atlantic Ocean, a boardwalk stretching some 20 blocks, quality hotels and motels, and vacation rental homes and condo's, and is bordered on the West by the inland bays. Located directly on the beach, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, we offer you the ultimate in comfort and convenience. While the pristine sandy beaches of Ocean City MD are a major enjoyment for visitors, Ocean City also boasts one of the Atlantic Coasts most enjoyable boardwalks, numerous marinas, local professional golf courses, quality restaurants, family amusements, and fishing and boating. Over the last several decades, Ocean City, Maryland has grown from a small seaside fishing village to become one of the most popular beach vacation destinations in the United States.

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7 Free or Low Cost IVF Treatment Programs That You May Not Know About

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A major obstacle for many couples considering IVF is the cost. Here are some options you may not know of that would help with the cost of IVF treatment.

IVF Research Trials for Free or Inexpensive Treatment

Some infertility clinics have IVF research or treatment trials that receive IVF funding and grants. Research your area or online to see if there are any you qualify for. You will want to do your research on the fertility clinic to make sure that it is reputable, as well as check out the facility to make sure the staff is friendly and the rooms and equipment are clean. An IVF trial will be inexpensive, and you may even able to get free IVF treatment.

Find an Infertility Clinic That Does Shared IVF Cycles

A shared IVF cycle is where two women go through the first part of the IVF process at the same time, then one woman donates some of her eggs to another woman who cannot use her own eggs in exchange for a reduced rate determined by the fertility clinic. You could save up to 50% on your IVF costs. The only negative with this is that you may end up not having any eggs to freeze if your cycle isn’t successful.

Find a Infertility Clinic That Does Shared Donor Egg Cycles

With a shared donor egg cycle, two or three women share a donor’s eggs, and they all share in the cost of the IVF treatment. The only negative to this is if the donor doesn’t have enough eggs for a shared cycle.

Consider Undergoing IVF Treatment Outside the US

IVF costs outside the United States can be significantly lower. IVF treatment is cheaper in many countries, including most of Europe, Asia, and Mexico. Costs can be as low as $5,000 and there are excellent doctors, facilities, and treatments abroad.However, you need to do your research to determine exactly what is covered in the price of the treatment, just as you would do for treatment in the US, as well as take into consideration the cost of travel and room and board while you are there. Additionally, if you are unable to travel, you can also look into getting your IVF medications abroad. This could also reduce the cost of your IVF treatment.

Find a Fertility Clinic that has a Refund or Shared Risk Program

A refund or shared risk program is a prepayment plan where you would get a partial or full refund if a pregnancy (or in some cases, a live birth) does not come out of your IVF treatment. You would pay a flat fee up front for a certain number of IVF cycles. If you don’t get pregnant after your cycles, you will get 70-100% of your payment back. There are some limitations depending on the fertility clinic’s policies in terms of age and services covered.

Consider Mini IVF

The only difference with Mini IVF is the drug and hormone regimen that take place first. There are less drugs used for ovary stimulation. With Mini IVF, less but more high quality eggs are produced. The rest of the IVF process is the same in that the woman is monitored throughout the drug regimen process, and egg retrieval, embryo fertilization and embryo transfer all take place, just like in traditional IVF. The costs of Mini IVF are significantly lower, costing $3,500 to $7,000 per cycle instead of $12,000- $15,000 per cycle.

Check Your Insurance Plan

Check to see if your insurance company covers any costs of fertility treatment. Some insurance companies do cover some, if not all of in vitro fertilization treatment. 15 states actually require insurance companies to have some sort of IVF coverage, usually in the form of infertility diagnosis and treatment. The states are: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and West Virginia.

I hope this has given you a starting point in finding ways to make IVF treatment affordable for you. There are low cost IVF options out there, you just need to know where to look to find the option that works best for you.

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Memorable Shopping Spree During Your Dog Friendly Holidays

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There are several things you can do during your dog friendly holidays. You do not have to leave your canine friend behind because you can stay at the self-catering holiday cottages. These luxurious accommodations do not only have spacious rooms and complete amenities but also a pet-friendly environment. Famous tourist attractions all around the south west of England allow dogs on its premises but you can always let the staff members at the holiday cottages take care of your barking buddy. All you have to focus now is having fun and creating good memories with your family during your dog friendly holidays.

Organize a picnic at the beach or a garden. You can commune with nature and just marvel at the spectacular sceneries around. Feast on sumptuous meals at fancy restaurants and traditional cafes and brassieres. You can have a tee time adventure at golf courses. You can try all the rides and activities at theme parks and amusement centres. The list is endless and the time is just short when you really think of all the experience you want to have during your dog friendly holidays.

Clarkes Village

The awesome town of Poole brings delight to any holidaymaker especially during dog friendly holidays. Whether you are travelling on a modest budget or are willing to splurge on the finer things in life, there are so many things you can do here and so many places to visit. For example, there is the Clarkes Village where you can engage in some minimal shopping or luxurious retail therapy. Your dog friendly holidays will not be complete without buying something for yourself or for your loved ones back home. So give in to the temptation and explore every nook and cranny of Clarkes Villages. From durable and fashionable clothing, shoes, and accessories to remarkable decors for your home – you will love everything you will find here. Different gadgets are also available for those who are technology buffs. Drop by the excellent food court that offers exquisitely tasting dishes to satisfy all picky tongues.

Dorchester

Yet another fun town to visit during your dog friendly holidays is Dorchester. It has been a favourite spot among tourists and travellers because of the plethora of events happening here. You can experience adrenaline-pumping fun at theme parks. You can visit ancient buildings, public houses, and castles so you can learn more about the history and heritage of the town. You can have an after dark revelry at pubs and bars. Sampling all the classic English dishes and local drinks is one of the best things you can do here during your dog friendly holidays. Visit markers, farms, art galleries, and charming boutiques where you can buy native delicacies, local arts and crafts items, and great souvenirs. Roam around and feel the relaxed pace of living here. Talk with the locals and know more about the interesting facts about the town. It might come as no surprise if you go back to the holiday cottages with bags of goodies on both hands.

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What are the Oldest Cities in America?

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North American Indians were on the North American continent from as early as 11,000 BCE. But these early colonizers did not live in permanent settlements and left little in the way of permanent buildings. The Anasazi built towns such as Chetro Ketl, and the great complex of abandoned towns in Chaco Canyon, in what is now New Mexico. Mesa Verde is another ancient city that is over a thousand years old and was built by the Pueblo Indians. However, almost all of these ancient pueblos were abandoned and now stand as ruins rather than vibrant cities. The one exception being Acoma listed below.

Mexico City is probably the oldest city in North America, as a continuation of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán, founded in about 1325. John's, Newfoundland, Canada was settled in 1528, and claims to be the oldest European-settled city in North America. St. John's earned its name when the explorer John Cabot became the first European to sail into its harbor on the Feast of St. John's John, June 24, 1497. It's also the easternmost city on the North American continent.

The oldest continuously occupied cities in the United States:

Acoma, New Mexico: Forty minutes drive east of Grants, New Mexico, lies the Pueblo (village) of Acoma, built on a sandstone mesa 367-feet above a valley and approximately 7,000 feet above sea level. The pueblo was built on a mesa for defensive purposes, keeping rival raiding tribes at bay. Native verbal history says Acoma was first inhabited about 700 AD although modern archeological evidence suggests it has been continuously occupied from 1150, making it America's oldest continually inhabited city. It is presently inhabited by a small population of Keresan-speaking Native Americans.

St. Augustine, Florida: Founded in 1565, St. Augustine, Florida Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States. Twenty-one years before the first English Settlement at Roanoke, Virginia and 42 years before the foundation of Jamestown, the Spanish established St. Mary's Church Augustine.

Spanish explorer Don Juan Ponce de Leon had landed in mainland America in 1513 and claimed the land for Spain and named it La Florida, meaning “Land of Flowers”. Between 1513 and 1563 the Spanish tried to settle Florida but all their settlements failed.

Finally, in 1565, the Spanish destroyed a French garrison on the St. John's Church Johns River, Florida and defeated the French fleet. Near the destroyed French fort, San Agustín was founded by the Spanish admiral, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, on August 28, 1565, the feast day of St. Nicholas Augustine of Hippo.

Parts of the original Spanish colonial settlement from the late sixteenth century remain today in St. Petersburg Augustine in the layout of the town and in the narrow streets and balconied houses. Thirty-six buildings of colonial origin remain and another 40 that are reconstructed models of colonial buildings also contribute to the atmosphere of the town.

Jamestown, Virginia: In May 1607, English explorers with the Virginia Company landed on Jamestown Island, 60 miles from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Almost immediately the colonists were attacked by Algonquian natives, who would continue with their attacks for years, and the newcomers were forced to build a wooden fort. Endemic corruption in the Virginia Company in England convinced King James 1 that he should revoke the company's charter and the Jamestown fort became a crown colony in 1624. The fort remained intact until the 1620s, but disappeared as a town sprang up around the old wooden battlements . Jamestown was named the capital of Virginia until the statehouse burned down in 1698 and the capital moved to Williamsburg. The town effectively became a ghost town with only a few occupants until a military post was located at Jamestown during the American Revolution, and in 1861 the island was occupied by Confederate soldiers who built an earth fort impede a Union advance up the James River. Little further attention was paid to Jamestown until preservation was undertaken in the twentieth century.

Santa Fe, New Mexico: Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in the US and also the oldest European city west of the Mississippi. Santa Fe also features the oldest public building in America, the Palace of the Governors.

The first Spanish Governor-General of New Mexico established his capital in 1598 at San Juan Pueblo, 25 miles north of modern day Santa Fe. The second Governor-General moved his capital south to Santa Fe in 1607 and the city has remained a capital ever since. The city was the capital for the Spanish “Kingdom of New Mexico,” and then the Mexican province of Nuevo Mexico, the American territory of New Mexico (which contained modern Arizona and New Mexico) and since 1912 the US state of New Mexico.

Santa Fe was originally occupied by Pueblo Indians from 1050 to 1607. The conquistador Don Francisco Vasques de Coronado described the Indian settlement in 1540, 67 years before the founding of the city of Santa Fe.

Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts. On December 21, 1620, 102 disillusioned English puritans sailing on the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock on the eastern shore of Cape Cod Bay in what is now southeast Massachusetts. By the end of that winter, half of the pilgrims were dead, including their leader John Carver. The colony continued for a number of decades often close to collapse. The Plymouth colony was eventually surpassed in population and wealth by the nearby Massachusetts Bay Colony, centered in modern Boston, In 1691, Plymouth was annexed by the Boston colony officially ending Plymouth as a separate colony. The city of Plymouth, Massachusetts claims a city charter dating back to 1620.

Hampton, Virginia: Located at the tip of the Virginia peninsula on Chesapeake Bay, Hampton, Virginia is the oldest continuously settled English community in the United States. The Indian village of Kecoughtan, had been visited by English colonists before they sailed up the James River to settle in Jamestown. In 1610, the English returned to the Indian village and began the construction of Fort Henry and Fort Charles at the mouth of Hampton Creek. In 1619, the settlers chose an English name for the community, Elizabeth City. The settlement became known as Hampton in 1680, and in 1705, Hampton was recognized as a town.

Newport News, Virginia: This port of entry city in southeastern Virginia lies on the north side of Hampton Roads at the mouth of the James River. Along with Portsmouth, Hampton, and Norfolk, it constitutes the Port of Hampton Roads. The actual date of settlement and how it got its name is disputed. It is estimated to have been settled as early as 1611, but official records only begin in 1621 when 50 colonists arrived from Ireland. The origin of the place-name is obscure but is traditionally associated with Captain Christopher Newport, and Sir William Newce, who arrived from Ireland in 1621.

Albany, New York: The area was visited in 1609 by English navigator Henry Hudson during his exploration of the river that was later named for him. The area was first settled in 1614 when Fort Nassau was created by Dutch traders. Ten years later a group of Belgian Walloons built Fort Orange nearby. The settlement that grew around Fort Orange was made independent in 1652 and renamed Beverwyck, or “town of the beaver.” Following the surrender of Fort Orange to the British in 1664, the city's name was changed to honor the Duke of York and Albany.

Ten Oldest continuously occupied US Cities:

1) Acoma, New Mexico c 1150

2) St. Augustine, Florida, 1565

3) Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1609

4) Hampton, Virginia, 1610

5) Newport News, Virginia, 1611/21

6) Albany, New York, 1614/24

7) New York, New York, 1624

8) Quincy, Massachusetts, 1625

9) Salem, Massachusetts, 1626

10) Jersey City, New Jersey, 1629

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I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen – But To Where?

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The popular song, “I'll take you home again Kathleen” was written in 1876 and immortalized by singers Count John McCormack and Josef Locke. It is a song of longing for the land from whence the writer and his lady have come. The reference to “Across the ocean wide and wild” and “Where the fields are fresh and green” have generally both been taken to mean the Old Country, beloved original home of so many Irish immigrants to The United States of America.

But this is not necessarily the case.

The lyrics certainly point to Ireland as the “home” of the song, but not the antecedents of the composer. Thomas P Westendorf, was born in Virginia. Certainly many people of Irish descent were born on the east coast of the USA, but they would not bear the name Westendorf, which points to a more Germanic descent.

Also the song was written, not in Virginia, but in Plainfield, Ill. for his wife, who wasn't even named Kathleen, but Jennie, whilst she was visiting her home town of Ogdensburg, New York. So, perhaps the “home” referred to was not the Emerald Isle, at all, but the equally green fields of New York state. And what of the “ocean wide and wild”. A bit more difficult to explain, but it probably refers to the prairies, which were, at that time, still as dangerous and as forbidding as any ocean.

At the time, the new “Oregon Trail” to the west coast was very well established. In the early days, the pioneers found the standard wagon, based on the solid Conestoga design favored by the other pioneers, too large and heavy when crossing the Rocky Mountains, killing even the sturdiest of ox teams long before the journey was completed. So a lighter version was developed by the Studebaker Brothers and nicknamed “Prairie Schooners”.

Hence, by 1876, the concept of schooners – and thus the prairie being akin to a vast ocean – was firmly in the national lexicon, so it would be natural for Westendorf to incorporate references to a still largely untamed wild and wide ocean in his song, without meaning the Atlantic Ocean, across which lay a country of which he had scant knowledge.

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America The Beautiful – Remembering Memorial Day

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I wrote this awhile back, but it is still very appropriate for this Memorial Day! Enjoy!

If you haven’t driven across this magnificent country we call home in awhile, I highly recommend it. My husband and I had such an opportunity in May and we jumped on it. We started out on a very windy, chilly Tuesday morning from Boise.

The route we chose took us through a blizzard in Wyoming, (this cute little summer storm I learned later, left 22 inches of snow in Montana), Nebraska, where gas prices hit a whopping $3.58 a gallon and tornado warnings in Missouri. There is such a distinctly different landscape and people in each part of this country – it’s a joy to rediscover it over and over again.

We found one happy little place in Illinois, where we stopped for breakfast, which seemed to be in a financial time warp. Gas prices were $2.98 a gallon and a delicious breakfast did NOT cost an arm and leg and your first born.

Unfortunately, we had to move on…. When you live out west, you get used to miles and miles of desert, mountains and few towns in between. However; when you head east, you expect a denser population and therefore more towns and specifically restaurants available on the highways. Not so! The freeways we merrily followed, were through rolling green hills, lots of trees and farmland, but alas, these people apparently don’t eat. There was seldom an exit available to get gas or eat. This encouraged us to stock up when we did find a place to stop, so by the time we got to Virginia, we could have opened our own cheese and cracker shop.

We did finally arrive in Alexandria, Virginia late Friday evening, just in time for the Memorial Day weekend events. Alexandria is just outside of our nation’s capitol and what a fabulous place to be on Memorial Day weekend.

There were activities for the whole family going on everywhere. Street musicians, street magicians, a Parrot Rescue organization, carriage rides and colonial guide to take you on Alexandria’s Ghost and Graveyard Tour were just a few of the entertainment opportunities. Alexandria is noted for being “the fun side of the Potomac” and it certainly lives up to its reputation.

The riverfront is brimming with life and entertainment. In between all the small shops, outdoor cafes and restaurants, you will find much of the original “old town” still intact. Some streets are still cobblestone and many buildings are still the colonial homes of yesteryear. They are immaculately kept and it wouldn’t seem unusual to see George Washington or perhaps Benjamin Franklin step out from one of these residences. The city has done a remarkable job of preserving our early American heritage.

Washington D.C. itself was alive with people from everywhere in the country. The most visible and audible of course was Rolling Thunder. This organization is in its 20th year publicizing POW/MIA issues and supporting veterans from all wars. They thundered into town on their Harleys, their presence living up to their name. Quite a sight to behold!

Besides all the parades, speeches and ceremonies that were presented in honor of our fallen heroes, Arlington National Cemetery left the deepest impression on me. As we walked through the gates with hundreds of other visitors out to pay their respects, I was overwhelmed by intense sadness and gratitude.

My husband is retired military and just like so many other families, we too have many people we care about fighting in Iraq. Arlington National Cemetery is such a vivid picture of just how many men and women have given their lives over the years to ensure the freedoms that we take for granted.

As I walked through the rows upon rows of headstones, I reflected on the diversity of this country and the life that we are able to pursue and enjoy. It’s true what they say, “Freedom is not free”. I believe that the best way to show our gratitude and appreciation to our heroes is to get out and enjoy all this country has to offer. Take a drive – go see those “amber waves of grain”, “purple mountain majesties” and “fruited plains”. We really do live in a country deserving of the name “America, the Beautiful”.

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Sinclair Lewis – “The Innocents” Book Review

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The Innocents by Sinclair Lewis was one of two novels published in 1917. The full title of this work is The Innocents: A Story for Lovers and was originally a collection of serialized stories for a women’s magazine. It was Sinclair Lewis’s last distinctive pulp novel.

The Innocents, Plot Summary:

The first characters introduced are a couple, born a decade before the American civil war, who now lived in New York City and have married for 40 years. They are Mr. Seth Appleby and Mrs. Sarah Jane Appleby, often called simply ‘Father’ and ‘Mother.’

They have a married daughter, Lulu, who lives with husband and young son in a New York town. Mother and Father are “the innocents” of Sinclair Lewis’s 1917 serialized short novel.

After some decades in Pilkings & Son’s Shoe Parlor, Seth Appleby has worked his way up to become to Mr. Pilkings a roughly modern equivalent of what Dagwood Bumstead is to Julius Dithers, albeit even more under-appreciated and under-challenged than Dagwood. This is a theme that also appeared in “Our Mr. Wrenn.”

During their annual two week vacation on Cape Cod, Father and Mother treat the owners of their vacation home to a snack at Ye Tea Shoppe. Expecting a bill for their light snack to be around ninety cents, Father is astonished to be charged $3.60. He calculates that sum to represent a 500% markup on the food served.

Suddenly, in a moment given as a huge eye opening revelatory moment, the idea of running a tea shop seems an attractive alternative to fitting big city swells with footwear.

They sell all they own and open their own Tea Shop on Cape Cod. It fails. Seth cannot get his old job back. They end up having to wander from New York to West Virginia where they transform manners and morals of a hobo jungle. The hoboes scatter and begin the legend of two rich old eccentrics wandering the world doing good. Ultimately, the Applebys find happiness back in the shoe business in small town Indiana.

If this sounds a little like fluff, Lewis probably wouldn’t argue. He had an amazing ability to make a living as a writer because he knew how to quickly provide “fluff” stories that the common public would consume.

Sinclair Lewis often had difficulty describing married couples who were each other’s equals or at least contributed something nearly equal as partners in their “divisions of labor.” The Innocents is a very notable exception to this, as for any flaws in plot, this novel is one of his best examples of a couple as each other’s equals.

Whether you call it travel, flight, wanderlust, dreaming…call it “greener grass syndrome,” but one of the most persistent themes in both Sinclair Lewis’s personal life and in his work is that sheer movement, sheer trying out something completely new and different, simply hitting the long trail — all or some of these — will almost surely bring good results, something better.

Now a rare collectible book, a good copy without a dust jacket can easily sell for around $800.

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10 Ways Baby Boomers Can Be Happier in 2018

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How can you live your best life and be happier in 2018? Here are 10 surefire ways to help you hit the restart button for a better life.

Change Careers

Studies show that up to 80 percent of baby boomers plan to do some sort of paid work until age 70 to stay mentally sharp, keep engaged socially, and achieve financial security in retirement. That leaves a couple of decades after 50 to work.

Perhaps that's why more and more boomers are contemplating an “encore career” to pursue their passions and create a fulfilling life they can enjoy.

The American Institute for Economic Research looked at people who changed or tried to change jobs after age 45 and found that 82% of people aged 47 and older who took up new careers in the last two years were successful, and 50% saw a salary increase .

“Don't view your age or your experience as a liability. It's a benefit to companies to have a multi-generational workforce,” says Oriana Vogel, vice president of global talent acquisition at American Express. “One of our goals … is to hire employees that can provide a variety of different perspectives and experiences.” Age doesn't come into consideration when it comes down to hiring the best people, she says.

Enjoy Life's Simple Pleasures

In 2017, International Happiness Day and the first day of spring coincided. How often does that happen? But do we really need a special day to find some bliss? I say that any ordinary day will do.

In 2018, let's pause and enjoy all of life's simple treasures and treats we look forward to throughout the day. Yes, we all have them! You know, the moment you open up your drapes and sunlight fills your home. The aroma of coffee in the morning. Those delightful blueberries on your cereal. The hot shower in the morning that awakens and refreshes you.

If you're a baby boomer still working, instead of grumbling about it, enjoy your favorite song on the radio as you drive to your job. Don't just sit there, sing along! If you're lucky enough to be retired, enjoy some creative leisure time.

Experience happiness from the simple act of giving. Take a moment and write, text, or call a friend. Give someone a big smile to brighten their day and perk up yours as well. Make it a point to do something nice for a stranger or give someone a sincere compliment today. When you get home, give a loved one a big hug. Make your dog's day with a walk around the neighborhood, a treat, and an extra pat on its head. Relish each bite of dinner. Watch the sunset. Enjoy your favorite comedy and laugh loudly. At the end of the day, remember each blessing and give thanks.

If a gloomy thought dares to enter your head this day, usher it right out and replace it with a happy, positive thought. No groans or gripes allowed. Mentally shout “next” in your head and move right along. Relish every day of simply being alive.

Break Through Barriers

Oh, the wonderful things that can happen when we break through our self-imposed barriers!

When I wanted to become a writer, I put a lot of barriers on myself. I was afraid that people would laugh at me because I didn't have a college degree. That my submissions would sit in a huge pile and be ignored by literary agents and editors since I didn't know anyone in the publishing business. That friends and family would roll their eyeballs if I dared to express my dreams of becoming a writer out loud. That I would become so discouraged by the countless rejections sure to come my way, I would give up and watch my precious dreams slowly fade away. Doesn't everyone want to be a writer, but how many actually make it?

Instead of taking action, I was comfortable just dreaming about becoming an author one day. It was fun envisioning my novel on the shelves of Barnes and Noble and my first book signing. Until a woman at a writer's conference asked me a simple but profound question. What are you waiting for?

With the woman's words echoing in my head, I took the first step and began submitting my short story to magazines. Of course, I received the standard rejection letter which stung, but I continued on my journey, taking writing classes and submitting my work. The road wasn't easy. Many of my fears came true during that time. I gathered enough rejection letters to wallpaper a room. Many times, I became discouraged and swore off writing. But I tenaciously pressed forward. Six long years passed before my first short story was published. Am I happy that I persevered and finally faced down all those nagging self-doubts and fears?

You bet! I've been writing professionally for over 25 years now. Over the years, I've been published in national magazines, authored three books (one of which was published by big time publisher McGraw Hill), landed an agent, won three journalism awards, and even had my dream come true with a book signing at Barnes and Noble.

This is the year to reflect on who you are and what matters most to you in life. Time to overcome your fears, persevere, and find the power to become the driver of your own life and personal journey!

Become Happy-Go-Lucky

The Urban Dictionary defines happy-go-lucky as a person who is cheerful about most things, has a positive view on life, and annoys the you-know-what out of their friends. Haha! Seriously, think of all the benefits of lightening up. You'll be less stressed, have more fun, take more risks, step out of your comfort zone and because of your positive attitude have more friends and better relationships.

So adapt a devil-may-care attitude, be a little silly, laugh more, mellow out, and be playful! If you can become more of a happy-go-lucky person, I'd lay bets that you'll find life more enjoyable and even more fulfilling.

Take a Trip

It's no secret that I love to travel, so a new survey last year that listed baby boomers choices for top bucket list travel destinations caught my eye.

Of the 12,000 boomer participants, a whopping 99 percent said they planned to take one leisure trip last year. About half planned to travel domestically on multi-generational trips, weekend getaways, and holiday travel. Bucket lists inspired 43 percent of boomers to say they hoped to travel internationally as well.

Which places topped boomers' bucket lists for travel? Hawaii topped the list for a dream domestic destination followed by Alaska, California, Arizona, and Nevada. The top international destinations were Australia, followed by Italy, the United Kingdom / Ireland, France, and the Caribbean. Are any of these places on your bucket list? No time like the present!

Interestingly, boomers enjoy dreaming about their trip almost as much as experiencing the trip itself. Part of the fun is planning!

Stay Positive Despite Adversities

is it possible to be happy when persistent, scary, and frustrating problems keep rising to the surface and smacking us in the face?

Adversity can make us feel stressed, upset, disappointed, powerless, angry, and depressed. Even when some or even most other aspects of our lives are going well, we tend to focus on things that are going wrong.

Instead of allowing damaging thoughts to build and grow in strength, find a quiet, peaceful place. Think of your problems and then forcefully push them aside. As Mark Twain wisely said, “Drag your thoughts away from your troubles … by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.”

Research has shown there is a strong link between creativity and better mental health. Instead of stewing about your problems, do something creative and you'll be forced to look inward and listen to yourself. It will help you shut out the world and its problems for a while.

Purposely direct your mind to focus on things that make you feel happy. You might recall something funny your grandchild did or said, reminisce about one of your favorite memories, or plan a trip for the future. Or write down five reasons you can feel grateful and force yourself to focus on those things. Put inspirational, happy quotes on post it notes and spread them around the house. Again, with a little practice you can train your mind to naturally gravitate toward more pleasant thoughts.

Of course, these tips won't make your problems magically disappear, but they can help you better able to cope with challenges.

Get Rid of Clutter

Whether we've become empty nesters or are following the latest trend of decluttering, many of us baby boomers are downsizing.

Two years ago, we moved. As I was filling up trash bags and putting aside things to donate and sell, I felt incredibly FREE. Why hadn't I done this sooner?

Conquering clutter can clear the way for a more productive life. Without physical obstructions like piles of unopened mail, old clothes, and Tupperware without lids in the way, you'll be amazed how much you can accomplish in your life.

Aim for Long-Term Happiness instead of Instant Gratification

Instant self-gratification rules the world today. Think about ATM machines that provide instant cash, fast food supplying instant meals, the Internet with its access to instant information and entertainment – all of which has turned us into impatient beings that can't tolerate waiting for anything.

According to a CNN article, there are two types of well-being. One relies on self-involved instant pleasure and requires continuous action to constantly feed positive emotions. This type of satisfaction typically leaves as fast as it comes. For example, buying an expensive pair of shoes creates a temporary high but to keep that euphoric feeling we must keep shopping for the next quick fix. If something threatens our ability to seek out this kind of personal happiness – for example, all our credit cards are maxed out – our entire source of well-being is threatened.

The second type of well-being is a kind of happiness that comes, not from consuming products, but from working toward something larger than ourselves that gives true meaning to life.This type of well-being can bring long-term happiness.

That's not to say that we should never reward ourselves with a bowl of ice cream or a great pair of shoes as a special treat every once in a while. We don't have to wait to enjoy the present or our lives.

However, we'll all be happier if we develop some self-control and avoid the habit of wanting everything right this second. Constantly giving into momentary desires can actually make us feel depressed in the long run. Advertisers have become experts at convincing us that instant gratification is the key to happiness. Don't buy it. Shoot for long-term satisfaction and fulfillment instead.

Embrace Hygge like the Norwegians

Despite frigid arctic temperatures and months of darkness, the happiest people on the planet apparently live in Nordic countries, according to the 2017 World Happiness Report.

Norway jumped up three spots to claim the title of “world's happiest country” for the first time. Denmark, the previous winner for three years in a row dropped to second. These countries were followed by Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden. In case you're wondering, the US came in 14th place, dropping down one spot from last year.

Could the reason Norwegians are so darn happy have to do with the Danish term hygge? Hygge is also difficult to define, but is translated loosely into the English word coziness and is associated with relaxation, indulgence, and gratitude. However, Norwegians would probably argue there's much more to the word.

Hygge requires being present in a moment – whether it be simple, soothing, or special – that brings you comfort, contentment, or pleasure. The word refers to the ability to enjoy the good things in life with people you love. Hygge can describe soft candlelight, comfort foods like a pork roast or home-made cinnamon pastries, sitting by the fire on a cold night with fuzzy socks, or simply being kinder to yourself and others. It's about transforming an afternoon cup of tea into an event with friends. Some people translate the word as coziness of the soul.

So, go ahead. Eat that pastry guilt-free, invite friends over for a glass of wine by the fire, or luxuriate in a candlelit bath. Savor the moment and let the warm, fuzzy feelings flow.

Retire in a Happy State

My childhood friend was visiting me last year when she asked, “Where do you want to retire?”

I'm from the Palm Springs, California area, which has long been one of the most famous retirement communities. Snowbirds love this place with over 300 days of sunshine a year. Golfing, casinos, hiking, and cycling are popular activities. Places to shop and dine abound. In addition, a fairly strong economy and low unemployment rate make the Palm Springs area a popular destination for baby boomers and retirees.

But do I want to retire here? Not especially. Some people love the heat, but I'm not a fan of the long, hot summers with temperatures that exceed 115 degrees. However, I have time to consider my options. Like many boomers, retirement is nowhere in sight for me at the time being. But of course, a girl can dream, right?

So, what are the best and worst states to retire? The results from a Bankrate.com's survey last year were interesting. Traditional retirement spots like Florida and California didn't make the top 10 while other states, not usually considered as premier places to retire, like Wyoming and Colorado, made the top five. Honolulu is the 2nd most expensive place to live and Hawaii residents pay an individual income tax rate of 11% – the 2nd highest in the US But if you can afford it, this state ranks high for happiness and personal well-being. New York and West Virginia rated the worst.

There you go! Applying just a few of these tips can have a drastic impact on your life and help you find your bliss in 2018. Go for it!

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