Jody Victor: It took 70 million years of volcanism, migration, and evolution to produce the unique ecosystems and distinct human culture displayed by the volcanoes in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
It was over 1,600 years ago when Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands migrated to Hawaii. They came in great double-hulled canoes guided by the sun and stars, and reading the winds, currents, and the flight of seabirds.
The beautiful park you see today was created to preserve the natural setting of Kilauea and Mauna Loa and as a refuge for the islands native plants and animals.
If you plan on visiting and hiking the wonderful trails, be sure to wear light layers and hiking boots or shoes. The temperature and weather can vary from rainy and chilly to hot, dry and windy depending on the elevation and area you are visiting. Park trails range in difficulty from easy walks (Bird Park/Kipuka Puaulu or Thurston Lava Tube/Nahuku) to longer hikes such as Kilauea Ike or Mauna Iki.
The true character of the park is best discovered on foot. With over 150 miles of trails in the park, exploration by walking and hiking can be a fascinating and enjoyable experience.
Located within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and nestled on the rim of Kilauea caldera is the Volcano House. With its unique charm it has captured the hearts of travelers and islanders alike. The Volcano house has offered spectacular views and warm hospitality for decades as Hawaii’s oldest continually operated hotel with a history dating back to 1846.
Hawaii has always been one of our family’s favorite vacation destinations. Add in the spectacular volcanoes and you’ve made a wonderful choice for the whole family.
There is much to see in the oldest city in North America! The mainland of the North American Continent was first sighted by the Spanish explorer and treasure hunter, Don Juan Ponce de Leon on Easter, March 27, 1513. He claimed the land for Spain and named it La Florida, meaning “Land of Flowers.”
Sometime later, Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles was named governor of Florida. When Menendez arrived off the coast of Florida, it was August 28, 1565, the Feast Day of St. Augustine – that is how St. Augustine got it’s name.
So, St. Augustine was founded forty-two years before the English colony at Jamestown, Virginia, and 55 years before the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock in Massachusettes – making it the oldest permanent European settlement on the North American Continent.
The oldest fort in the US is in St. Augustine – you can visit it – a great place full of history. If you visit on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday you can watch as soldiers in period costume, load one of the many cannons at the fort and set it off! Loud but interesting. Also the oldest school house is located in the old part of St. Augustine. As you walk up and down the old narrow streets it is easy to picture Spanish soldiers and their familes living and working in the area. There are quite a few Bed and Breakfast inns and smaller hotels in the Old section if you want to get the real feeling of Old St. Augustine. There are many tours availabel throughout the city. You can ride horse-drawn carriages, visit the old lighthouse, the Fountain of Youth, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, museums, and of course, there’s a multitude of quaint shops, taverns and restaurants sprinkled in among it all!
The beaches around St. Augustine are some of the best in Florida.All in all it’s a great place to visit whether you are a couple, a family or traveling in a group.
If you ever get the chance to visit Australia, don’t miss it. It’s a great country, full of surprises! On one of our visits there we were able to take in the Great Barrier Reef. Because of its natural beauty, both above and below the water, the Great Barrier Reef has become one of the world’s most sought after tourist destinations.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven wonders of the natural world. It is larger than the Great Wall of China and the only living thing on earth visible from space.
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,600 kilometres (1,600 miles) over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres (133,000sqmi). The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland in north-east Australia.
A large part of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which helps to limit the impact of human use, such as fishing and tourism. Due to its vast biodiversity, warm clear waters and accessibility from the tourist boats called ‘live aboards’,the reef is a very popular destination, expicially for scuba divers. Tourism on the Great Barrier Reef is concentrated in the Whisundays and Cairns due to their accessibility.
Many cities along the Queensland coast offer daily boat trips. Several continental and coral cay islands are now resorts, including the pristine Lady Elliot Island.
A variety of boat tours and cruises are offered, from single day trips, to longer voyages. Boat sizes range fron dinghies to superyachts. Glass-bottmed boats and underwater observatories are also pupular, as are helicopter flights. By far, the most popular tourist activites on the Great Barrier Reef are snorkelling and diving, for which pontoons are often used, and the area is often enclosed by nets. The outer part of the Great Barrier Reef is favored for snorkelling due to the clear pristine water.
Our trip was by boat and we snorkeled the reef. We saw beautiful corals, many varieties of fish and other sea creatures. All in all, it was well worth the time and expense. We highly reccommend it!
If you haven’t finished your Christmas shopping yet, why not take a long weekend and combine your shopping with some great relaxation! If you have never been to Pigeon Forge, you are in for a treat.
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, is one of the fastest growing tourist cities in the South. It is one of the primary gateways to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a half-million-acre wilderness preserve, is the most visited National Park in the United States. Over half of the nearly 11 million visitors to the Smokies pass through Pigeon Forge, located on US Highway 441, within a day’s drive of two thirds of the nation’s population. Pigeon Forge is five miles from Gatlinburg, 35 miles southeast of Knoxville, and is easily accessible from Interstate 40.
Pigeon Forge offers ample hotels, motels, cabins and campgrounds for guests. The city is filled with action-packed entertainment, natural beauty, and lots of old-fashioned mountain hospitality. Area restaurants feature everything from fast food to home-cooked family-style meals as well as popular steak and seafood specialties.
Major attractions include Dollywood, Dixie Stampede, Old Mill Restaurant, museums, plenty of theaters, comedy shows, mint-golf courses, and much more.
The name Pigeon Forge was derived in 1820 when Isaac Love built an iron forge on the Little Pigeon River. Although the forge was dismantled in 1885, a mill was built around the same time and still operates today using the same machinery. The Old Mill, a national historic site, is more than 150 years old.
And, Oh, did I forget to mention shopping? Shopping is a popular pastime in Pigeon Forge featuring a unique style of souvenir, craft and specialty shops. It is fast becoming known as the outlet shopping capital of the Southeast – Pigeon Forge Outlet Malls feature name brand, high quality goods sold at factory direct prices. You’ll be glad you went and you’ll want to go back!
A while back I had a chance to visit Aruba. A great little island in the Caribbean. Let me tell you a little bit about it.
The island of Aruba is part of the West Indies in the Caribbean Sea. Aruba is about 19 miles long and 5 miles wide and lies about 18 miles off the Paraguana Peninsula of Venezuela.
There are plenty of hotels, all-inclusive resorts, timeshares and apartments to stay in and most of them are right on or near a beach. You will have fun trying to choose the best one for you. Tourism is Aruba’s main industry so of course, they put their best foot forward from the minute you get there until you reluctantly leave.
The beaches of Aruba are considered some of the cleanest, widest, and most spectacular in the Caribbean area. The typical Aruba beach consists of powder-fine white sand, perfect for sunning and every kind of beach activity you can think of.
Speaking of activities, here are just a few that are available all over the island.
* Enjoy fruity umbrella drinks while relaxing on the beach.
* Soothe your skin with Aruba’s very own aloe vera.
* Watch the windsurfers and kitesurfers at world-famous Fishermens Huts. You’ll be sure to want to try it yourself.
* Visit one of Aruba’s many museums.
* Shop for deals on jewelry, cigars and local handicrafts.
* Please your palate with some of the world’s most delicious foods. Try cuisine from Cuba, Italy, the Netherlands, Argentina, and America all in just a few days.
* Take the whole family deep sea fishing, playing mini-golf or mountain biking.
* Try your luck at any one or more of a dozen different casinos.
* Rent an ATV and explore Aruba’s desert landscapes , many caves, goldmine ruins, or a natural pool and a beautiful hilltop chapel with spectaculr views.
* View the sea life by scuba diving, snorkeling or on a glass submarine tour.
There’s also golf courses, tennis courts, horseback riding, sunset cruises, kayaking, jet skis, and much more. Just be sure to take plenty of sunblock and have a great time!
New York is a city we never get tired of – We love New York!
There are so many great places to visit in the world I doubt we can see them all. The truth is, you don’t even have to go very far to have a wonderful get-away weekend. One of our favorite weekend places is New York City.
Of all the places we’ve been – as close as Cleveland or as far away as Australia, New York City actually has more fun per square foot. If you like Broadway shows this is the place for you. On our latest foray into the city we went to several shows: Drowsy Chaperone, Jersey Boys, Wicked, and The Apple Tree. You can buy your tickets ahead or take your chances when you get there. We have been lucky a few times and got seats down front because we waited until the last minute. But don’t count on this – you are better off to at least have tickets for one show.
If you like “seeing the sights” there is never a lack in New York. There are so many museums, art galleries, and historical tours, you’ll never run out. And there are always sporting events going on too.
The food in New York is an international treat! We enjoy going to our favorite restaurants while we’re there. This last trip we went to Foley’s, Frankie & Johnnie’s, Ruby Foo’s, and Carmine’s. Carmine’s is a family style Italian restaurant – so bring a group. And, of course, they all have fabulous desserts! At Carmine’s we had their “to die for” Chocolate Torte – YUM!
For shopaholics the territory is never-ending! There are big stores like Macy’s – the largest department store in the world – and smaller quaint shops all over the city. We never fail to do a little shopping while we’re there.
New York is a city full of many different cultures and peoples from all over the world – that is part of the charm – you get the feel of foreign travel without leaving American soil.