Author Archives: Joe

Banff and Glacier NP – but Where Do I Eat?

by Joe
My lovely wife and I just returned from a road trip through western Canada and northern Montana which was a most scenic adventure as you might expect. We love the West but had never explored this state or been to Canada. We enjoyed the Alpine look and feel of the Banff area and the great northern Rockies. Since we went in September the mountain peaks were getting snow already and we had a couple of days when we saw a little snow at the lower elevations. The weather overall was quite good temperature-wise (although my shorts were the only piece of clothing I didn’t bring out of the suitcase). We saw the sun at least part of most everyday so it was all good! The glacier and mountain lakes were the most spectacular we’ve ever seen. The color was a blue we hadn’t seen before and they were cold and clean.

Great hiking and beautiful scenery everywhere, but where to eat? This was not a problem and in fact was, as usual, a wonderful part of the journey. Both locations are big on big game meat such as buffalo, elk, and AAA Alberta beef. But salmon and fish were very prevelant as well as poutine. This is the West and cowboy country. Here are some of our favorites and the locations: Continue reading

O Canada, O Montana

by Joe
My wife and I anticipated a trip to the Canadian Rockies and Glacier National Park for several years. Seems like every time we got close, something else kicked our interest. We just completed this trip in September and were amazed at the beauty, the food, and the international appeal of the area surrounding Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. This was the end of the season for many of the lodges and great park hotels in Glacier and Banff. However, we had great cool weather to hike in and a little taste of snow in the upper elevations of the mountains. It just added to the beauty of the scenery.

The trip was twelve days and just about right for us. You could scale up or down the number of days to fit your taste but no matter how many days you spend you will not be disappointed. I would suggest you try to avoid the mid-summer months as we were told the crowds are quite large. At the major attractions in Banff we still saw buses loaded with tourists. Continue reading

Sea Pines at HHI – The Perfect Beach Vacation

by Joe
My what a great week I just spent in Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island (HHI). If you’re not sure where Sea Pines is located just check out the coast of SC. It’s smack down in between Charleston and Savannah. A great southern state and typically referred to as the “lowlands” in this part of the USA! But that’s not why it was perfect.

The location is close to a huge part of the US population and in most cases can be an easy drive. From Louisville, KY it’s about a 10.5 hour drive which is about as quick as you can get to the ocean from our city. Florida (gulf side) is the same as well a few locations further north. But that’s not why it was perfect. Continue reading

A Walk thru the Fire Garden

by Joe
What ‘da heck is a Fire Garden?  Doesn’t really sound refreshing or serene but it is quite a one of a kind experience.  While my wife Cindy and I were on a trip to London with our daughter Wendy and her husband Jack, we unexpectedly ran into a most unusual event.  Much like the surprise we all bumped into in Cordoba, Spain two years ago.  In the latter instance it was a huge religious procession that contained many enormous man powered floats, large numbers of clergy, altar boys, and lay people moving through the downtown streets of the city until dawn.  We had no idea we were going to be experiencing such a treat on our visit there.  The one in London was the 350th anniversary commemoration of the great fire of London!  We had no idea we would be seeing this one either. Continue reading

Funny Travel Stories

by Joe
It always seems to me that unusual events or actions occur when you travel. Some occur to you and some are incurred by you. Either way for some reason these events can turn into the stories we tell our family and friends sometimes more often then about the things we saw or did and become magnified in their humor. Here are some of the funny stories from a recent trip to Iceland and London with my daughter Wendy, her husband Jack and my wife Cindy. Continue reading

Iceland Hotels

by Joe
Iceland has a number of very diverse options for finding a suitable place to lay your head at the end of the day. For a country about the size of the state of Kentucky in square miles but only about 8% of the population, it has many new, old, expensive, B&B, and hostel type hotels. Although there is a wide price range, be prepared to pay more than you would in the USA. There appears to be new ones being built all over the areas we visited which is probably due to the large increase in tourism in recent years. I don’t recall seeing the traditional US chains but I do recall seeing a Hilton listed once when we were researching places to stay. There are other chains that are Iceland based: Icelandair Hotels, Fosshotels, Center Hotels, Keahotels.

My daughter Wendy, her husband Jack, my wife Cindy and me spent 6 days and nights in Iceland recently. We stayed in several areas: by the airport, in Reykjavik, in the southeastern part of the island as well as by the Thingvellir National Park. Although there are many “budget” options available they are limited in facilities and creature comforts. There also appears to be a great camping community at most of the major attractions we visited. We saw many backpackers, campers, hikers and people making their way via bicycles. Continue reading

Travel and Mom

by Joe

Mom’s birthday would be March 18th. She would have been 95. However, she died a year ago last October ending a wonderful and beautiful life. Mom was a traveler both physically and mentally. She was a reader, of everything. I think that is why she loved to travel. She was an explorer and a searcher for knowledge. She was a prodigious reader and went to so many places in her mind as a young girl that she wanted to see them for herself. She was an only child and through her teenage years, she took several trips around the US with her mom and dad and sometimes with her aunt Doodee. She was fortunate enough to attend and graduate from the University of Wyoming. As an English major with several years of Latin, French and German she explored, lived with, and became part of many cultures through her extensive reading. She was a several books a week kind of reader up until a year before she died at age 93. She had an incredible life. Continue reading

There’s a New Mexico

by Joe
Homer Simpson once said while looking at a map of the US, Look Lisa, there’s a NEW Mexico! Well it isn’t new and it ain’t Mexico, but it truly is the Land of Enchantment. My wife and I just returned from an eleven day tour of the state and found it to be one of the most enchanting and geologically diverse states in the Union. The scenery is terrific, the food is fantastic, and the people are proud of their history and way of life. They are Native American, Hispanic and Wild West American all in one friendly, helpful, and gracious hosts.

We had considered going to New Mexico for several years because we had seen photographs and read info on their Balloon Fiesta held every year during the first couple of weeks in October. Which in itself is a great reason to stop in Albuquerque but by far is not the only draw that will float your boat (or balloon in this case). The more I planned for the trip the longer it became. We picked a great time of year as the temperatures are milder and more pleasant in the Fall. The north will see temps warm up in the day to the high 60s/low 70s with lows in the 40s. The south will still be very warm, typically high 80s during the day and the 60s in the evening. The sun shines everyday and the sky is so blue. Basically we spent five and a half days in the north and the same in the south. The half day was a transitional day as we drove from Santa Fe in the north to Las Cruces in the south which is about a five and a half hour drive. Continue reading

Travel Epistle #1

by Joe
Travel when I was young was much different from travel as I got older. Certainly most people would say the experience of travel changes for us as we mature. In addition to that, and more importantly for me, the feelings, reflections, and the thoughts that are provoked have changed immensely. I suspect this may be somewhat common to us all but I’m not sure if it’s the same for each one of us.  I still enjoy travel on all the basic levels such as the excitement, joy, curiosity, and happiness felt at seeing new places and people for the first time. Even returning to places and events that I go to more than once, but only once in awhile, does the same thing.  But I started to notice in my early adult life, (late teens, and early twenties) that travel also awakened in me a new access to ideas, contemplation, and awareness of self and how I fit into this great universe and perhaps even reality.  I found myself doing some of my best introspective thinking, reflection, and planning while I was traveling.  

Continue reading

The Lure of the Caribbean

by Joe
You say Carabean, I say Caribbean, but let’s not call the whole thing off… No matter how you say it, there’s nothing quite like it. It’s a place that transforms you quickly and forces you to relax, recharge, and reinforce the reasons you take a beach vacation. Continue reading