Archive for the Category »History «

Sep
21st
  Where to Take Your Kids Before They Move Out.

School is back in session.. life is getting back to routine. My oldest started middle school… so last spring’s 5th grade graduation was a milestone for me: He was leaving the nurturing nest of our sweet elementary school.

Actually, it was compounded by the fact that my youngest graduated kindergarten just the day before… the stark contrast between the 5 year olds and 10 year olds made me realize they grow so fast. So me, being sentimental, started to think that – OMG – the empty nest doesn’t seem too far away. A bit dramatic? Maybe.

Have you thought about what you want your life to be when you are an empty-nester? (That is another blog post!) Or…have you thought about what you want to do with your kids while you still have them at home? Where would you like to take family vacations before they are too busy… or have moved away? You only have so many chances to create indelible travel moments together.

I have thought about this. Everyone is different, but there are some general themes that would make for memorable family get aways.

1) I will start with the most obvious, and probably easiest: Hit the beach. Rent a beach house, plant your toes in the sand, BBQ at sunset, play on the beach, and bring board games. With just simple pleasures, there are many opportunities for bonding time. Hawaii will also work here – there is nothing like getting to an island – can’t recreate that vibe as much as I have tried. Hawaii is the easiest for many reasons: With kids you want things simple, and it is an English speaking, American state…. everything is pretty convenient. Cue the sea breeze please.

2) Brave a World-Class Big City or Two. World class museums, taxis zipping by, wonderful parks. I would put New York City, Paris, London, and Rome on that list. San Francisco too – but it is more laid back.

You can also find many free things to do in large cities – take advantage of free days at museums, the many free activities in parks from puppet shows to concerts to playgrounds. When I took my kids to Paris, it was unbelievable how long we could sit in a park and watch our kids play on all the play areas so different than anything we have in America, as well as multi-generational pick-up games of soccer that they joined.

3) Sneak in a History Lesson: Everyone would love their children to have a sense of the world, and historic moments. Seeing is believing over just learning in textbooks. Some locations steeped in history make awesome family vacations. Did I mention Rome? I am again. The birthplace of Western civilization, there are many a history lesson to be found here. There are tours about Julius Caesar… and standing relics of ancient Rome like the Forum and Coliseum. Vatican city is important whether you are a practicing Catholic or not  - what a statement it makes about organized religion, and it’s importance to many people. No to mention, the art history lesson there…the Sistine Chapel and the architecture of Basilica di San Pietro.

Also on my list: Greece, Washington DC – tour the capitol and White House, visit the monuments, and if you have time go to Gettysburg, Boston, or London.

4) Lions and Tigers and Bears and Nature. Expose your kids to the good old outdoors, and all the creatures that call  it home. Kids love animals – even teens find them interesting. In Alaska, I met some teens who said Alaska was their best family vacation – believe me, if you’ve been to Alaska, you know how original it is compared to the rest of America. Bear viewing, kayaking with bald eagles, hiking glaciers are all possible in the Last Frontier.

Easier to get to for most, are our national parks. Yellowstone may be one of the best I’ve visited for animal viewing, along with being an incredible geological lab for all! Your kids will love the spouting geysers, bubbling mudpots, and hissing steam vents… Yellowstone has the greatest concentration of thermal features in the country—nearly 10,000 of them.

There is also the Galapagos Islands – home of the blue-footed booby, the Great Barrier Reef for some amazing viewing of marine life, and Africa for an organized safari, which is better for older kids.

5) Lastly – it is a rite of passage for a child to visit a theme park. You only capture that thrill for a short time, so indulge them, no matter how crowded and how bad the food.:)

Some of these trips can be done on a budget. Forgive me if I have missed some other potential trips.

But now, you have time, and hopefully inspiration to plan for next summer… these are trips that will last a lifetime.

 
Sep
07th
  A Moving Tribute You’ll Want to See

While I am sure this week you will be reading many heart-wrenching articles honoring the lives of those souls we lost… and see unveiling of memorials 10 years after the tragedy of 9/11, I want to include one small bit of interesting travel information to the whole reflective landscape.

No doubt many who visit New York City after this Sunday will pay homage to the new memorial at the site of the Twin Towers. But one other riveting item that would be moving to see is at Battery Park. If you happen to do some sightseeing and take the ferry to the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island… or take the Staten Island Ferry, you will be in the vicinity of the Sphere sculpture, by artist Fritz Koenig.

The Sphere, Battery Park, NY

I saw it recently, and had never heard about it. It is a sculpture that was in the plaza of the Twin Towers for three decades, and somewhat “survived” the brutal wreckage of 9/11. It symbolizes hope… and the indestructible spirit of Americans.

It is chilling, however, to see the dents, bent metal, and charred parts of the sculpture – a tangible reminder of that terrible day. It touches you to see something left from the horror, something that was there, that actually got away relatively intact…but not without deep scars. Truly art imitating life.

It has been moved to Battery park for people to see, and honor those who died in the event…Definitely moving us… And hopefully helping to heal some of our scars.

 
Mar
08th
  Do You Believe In Destiny? One Place Where Thousands Have Written Their Own Story…

From The Adjustment Bureau

If you don’t think like a scientist, but instead let your heart lead, go see “The Adjustment Bureau.” Great premise that lingers long after you leave the theater.

If you haven’t been privy to any of the massive marketing for this movie, it stars Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, a couple, who like magnets, keep appearing in each others lives, and risk everything to “rewrite” the plan that life has pre-set for them.

If you are fatalistic, you  believe that there’s nothing you can do to change your path. However, the message of this film, without getting to “woo-woo” is that sometimes the energy to follow a different path is so great, that you should listen.

The Statue of Liberty appears in the movie at a pivotal time  – at the climax when we don’t know if the couple will prevail. Metaphor? I couldn’t miss the symbolism – it is the first thing thousands of people saw as they arrived on Ellis Island….rewriting the story they were born into by risking it all and coming to America. The American Museum of Immigration is also on Liberty Island.

Since it is Lady Liberty’s 125th birthday this year, it might be time to take the family to New York for an educational but still fun experience.

Begin with the boat ride over from Manhattan’s Battery Park – kids love looking back at the city, and being on the water. Then, once on Liberty Island, you can view the statue’s magnificent construction, learn about its history in the museum and discover the spectacular views from the top of the pedestal (Visitors must be able to climb 24 steps after exiting the elevator to reach the pedestal observatory). You can also buy special “Crown Tickets” to go all the way up to the crown – highly recommended if you aren’t afraid of heights.

Even without Pedestal/Museum or Crown Tickets, visitors can follow ranger-led walking tours of the island. An audio tour, available in nine languages, provides interesting commentary about Lady Liberty, her history, and significance as a worldwide symbol of freedom. A 30-minute tour of Liberty Island explores outside the Statue, and a special children’s tour is offered in five languages. Audio tours can be purchased from Statue Cruises along with ferry tickets or on site at the Discovery Audio booth.

Entry to the monument pedestal is by Pedestal/Museum Ticket only, which is available in advance with the purchase of a Reserve Ticket online at www.statuecruises.com or by calling 1-877-LADY TIX or 1-877-523-9849.

Nearby Ellis Island, also part of the Statue of Liberty National Park, is also worth a visit – but younger children may have a hard time appreciating the significance and the museum. There is a 45 minute audio tour where the immigrant experience comes to life,  and thank goodness one especially for children. You can see interesting artifacts, and even research your family’s immigration history.

Like the main characters of  “The Adjustment Bureau,” those immigrants who passed through Ellis Island hundreds of years ago must have believed they had the power to influence the story of their lives.

I don’t think there are any coincidences in life. Some things are put in front of you for a reason.  But our actions do matter. It is what you do with the situations or gifts life presents that determine your destiny.  You can re-set your purpose. Your life is in your hands… Live it fully.

 
Dec
07th
  Remembering Pearl Harbor at the USS Arizona Memorial

If you are a World War II buff, or if you just want an educational and emotional break from lounging on the beautiful beaches of Hawaii, the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor is the ticket. Today is the 69th anniversary of the “day that lives in infamy.”

The sunken battleship is the final resting place for hundreds of American crewmen, after a Japanese attack that prompted the US to enter World War II. . A 184 foot memorial on top of the mid portion of the ship is open to the public. Make sure to allow enough time to take it all in…some say 90 minutes. And try to get there before the tour buses!

If you’d like to learn more about it, go to : http://www.pearl-harbor.com/arizona/arizona.html or http://www.nps.gov/valr/index.htm.

Another good website for info – http://gohawaii.about.com/cs/pearlharbor/a/pearl_harbor.htm.

I know it is hard to motivate your family to leave the beaches of Waikiki, but you’ll be glad you did. Remember those who fought for our freedom.