Opryland’s A Country Christmas has been wowing audiences for 35 years and this year’s event is bigger and better than ever with the addition of an indoor/outdoor water attraction.[Read more…] about Nashville: Opryland’s A Country Christmas a tradition for 35 years
Visitors to the South can now literally walk the sacred ground of the Civil Rights movement with new U.S. Civil Rights Trail website launched on Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. Tourists will have the opportunity to tour areas pertinent to the Civil Rights Movement from the schools in Topeka, Kansas that were part of the 1954 desegregation case decided in Brown vs. Board of Education to the Lincoln Memorial, where the march for equality took place in 1963.
The trail allows visitors to experience places where blacks died at the hands of opponents to desegregation and which are scattered across the Deep South. The courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi, where in 1955, two white men accused of murdering 14-year-old Emmett Till walked free. This courthouse has been restored, as has the Jackson, Mississippi home where voting-rights activist Medgar Evers was assassinated in 1963, just hours after President John Kennedy proposed major civil rights legislation. [Read more…] about Walk in footsteps of the Civil Rights Movement with new tourism website
I am always amazed at what captivates a child’s mind and attention. I took my six-year old niece to the McWane Science Center in downtown Birmingham yesterday, and although I had been there many times before, I had never really experienced it through the eyes of a child her age. She was mesmerized by all of the activities and opportunities for experiencing the center not even knowing it was really science she was experiencing. Even though I had to explain to her what some of the things were, she still got into the activities. We played tug of war, we road a bicycle to produce electricity, she pretended like she was looking for fossils in an archaeological dig site and she played in an “itty bitty city” complete with a farm and a cow that she could milk. She was so fascinated by the pretend grocery store and diner where she took my order for a sandwich and pizza. Of course the role she loved best was the check out clerk who rang up groceries on a cash register. She also liked the mirrors that distorted her face and body when she looked in them. She challenged me also to hit a target with a tennis ball by pulling a rope tied to a weighted ball.
It was also fun seeing her interact with other children who she didn’t know. She and a little girl decided to build a castle and play ground out of the building blocks provided in one area. Soon two little girls working together became three.
She barely ate lunch because she was having so much fun and I had fun watching her have fun. I am thrilled she had a chance to learn something and she didn’t even know it.
After playing for three hours, we ventured across the street to the new Pizitz Food Hall. I am still in awe of the transformation Birmingham is going through. Walking into the Food Hall and smelling aromas of the food and seeing how it is laid out really and truly made me feel like I was not in Birmingham, but then and stopped to catch myself and said “yes this is really in Birmingham. ” It’s a gorgeously renovated building. I was most excited to see Warby Parker, an eye glass store with a sustainable mission, as one of the retailers of the building. I purposefully took my Warby Parker glasses with me to have them adjusted, corny I know (they really did need adjusted), but it was my excuse to go in to meet the people and to see the store. Afterwards as promised, my niece and I got ice cream from Lichita’s a Food Hall tenant whose “paletas are reminiscent of southern Mexico and are created using fresh fruit and quality ingredients from farmers markets and local sources.” (From the Pizitz Food Hall website).
It was such a fun day with the best six-year old I know.
Ironically it seems lately the only chance I get to be a tourist is when I travel to places on business. Last week I attended the College Media Conference in Washington, D.C. I was delighted to see that the conference was being held at a hotel on 16th Street Northwest which was only a couple of blocks away from Pennsylvania Ave. I lived in D.C. before, during, and after 9/11 and love going back there any chance I get.
It was inspiring to be back in D.C. I truly miss living there. I never get tired of visiting the monuments when I am there. Funny, when I lived there, I never really visited them unless I had visitors in from out-of-town, but for me, after experiencing 9/11 the monuments seem to represent resilience. Even though it has been almost 15 years since the attacks, to me it seemed like just yesterday. Those wonderful monuments represent our strength as a nation.
A colleague and I went to the Mall to see the monuments at dusk. They are truly majestic at the time of day when the sun is setting. It was good to see the Washington Monument open and repaired after the earthquake damaged it a few years ago. The monument is surrounded by 50 flags representing the 50 states. On Sunday, there was a breeze so they all were waving in the wind. I could see the Capitol still being renovated with scaffolding on one side and on the other I could see the WWII Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial off in the distance. The Washington Monument is in the Center of D.C. and memorializes and honors our nation’s first president, George Washington. The Mall as a whole is part of the National Park Service, which is celebrating its100th year. Moving down the mall towards the Lincoln Memorial, we went past the World War II Memorial which was opened in 2004 to honor the 16 million members of the Armed Forces and the more than 400,000 who lost their lives during that war.
We took the Reflecting Pool route to the Lincoln Memorial, which was complete with baby ducks and their mom. The sun was continuing to set as we moved toward the Lincoln Memorial, which created a beautiful direct view of the Washington Monument and Capitol Building down the Mall. The sunset on Sunday was just gorgeous One of my favorite things has always been to climb the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial and turn around to see the sun’s reflection off of the monuments. It’s inspiring for me to visit this memorial because of all its history. According to the National Park Service website, the land on which the Lincoln Memorial sits did not exist until the Army Corp of Engineers deepened the Potomac River in the late 1800’s. The area was then used for the construction of the memorial. It was built to memorialize the 16th President and his leadership in saving the U.S. There are 36 columns around the building to represent the 36 states in the union at the tine of Lincoln’s death. On the steps of this memorial is where Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech and the very spot where he stood is etched into the steps. One can take a virtual tour here.
Leaving the Lincoln Memorial, we went to the Vietnam Memorial, which to me is probably one the most haunting of the monuments, It contains the names of the service members who died and those who are missing. When visiting the wall one cannot help, but be a little emotional. The city I currently live in is bringing a replica of the Wall to display Jul 6-10.
On our way back to the hotel we passed the White House with lights brightly reflecting on it. Moving through Lafayette Park, I could see Saint John’s Episcopal Church (the President’s Church) just north of the park and it lights were also shining brightly I remember watching TV and seeing the elected presidents and their families walking to the church on Inauguration Day,
No matter what our political views are we cannot help but be in awe and inspired by the sites and history of this city. It was fun being in D.C. again, even if only for a brief moment.
I love traveling to big cities. In fact, my ideal vacation is exploring all large cities have to offer. Last week I was able to travel to Chicago for a business conference. After each day of classes, I took the opportunity to explore the city. The first time I traveled to Chicago was eight years ago, and at the time, I didn’t really get to see much of the city. [Read more…] about I Must Have Been Out of My Mind, I Tilted Off the 94th Floor