Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mardi Gras in Lake Charles

Colorful beads, beautiful sequenced costumes and lively music will welcome and surround you in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday, which comes before Ash Wednesday. A year ago I had the pleasure of being in Louisiana for Mardi Gras. I was directed to a great family town, Lake Charles, for parades, decorating a king cake, lively music, the Krewe of Krewes and delicious seafood; like gumbo. I've watched many unique and beautiful floats over the past few years, but it is nothing compared to actually being on a float in the parade and tossing beads to kids and adults along the street/parade route. It was a little chilly and raining the day we participated in the parade. If you aren't aware, they have a parade for each krewe, it's quite interesting. Mardi Gras has evolved from one day to week long celebrations. There's even a parade of boats on the lake. We were in the Red Hat Ladies parade (no, I'm not that old, not even quite), however there were men driving the floats and keeping the music going, and even a few kids onboard. I've never seen so many beads in one place!  A rainbow of colorful beads draped on the nails inside the floats. We tossed to young children, to men and women, to people who used to be strangers, who are now friends. "Throw me something!" Was the chorus along the streets where tailgating came to a whole new meaning. There's symbology, or meaning to everything about Mardi Gras. The throwing of beads didn't actually start until the 1920's. The purple represents justice; the green symbolizes faith and the gold exemplifies power ad they come in a plethora of shapes and sizes. Krewes even give out their own unique trinket, or doubloons with their logo embossed. The King Cake for example, when you bite into a king cake and if you get the golden baby, means you are the king or queen of the party and it also means you have to bring the king cake to the next party. King Cake is traditionally oblong or oval shaped cinnamon dough, glazed and sprinkled! Most have fillings of strawberry, cream cheese or apple. King Cake season officially opens January 6, the feast of the Epiphany. this is only a small portion of what Mardi Gras means and has to offer. Millions of people participate and enjoy Mardi Gras around the globe, with various cultures coming together to celebrate the things that make them unique. For a list of events go to: www.visitlakecharles.org

Friday, October 31, 2008

Jekyll Island

As you drive across the bridge, you can almost feel yourself stepping back in time. Don't be surprised when you witness men and women dressed in fine attire on the front lawn. They are partaking in the tournament play of croquet. As the mallet chucks the ball through metal rings, you can circle the lawn and admire the brick, old-style mansion. A playground for the rich, from a private hunting club to a state park gem. From tee time to tea time, this 240-acre, riverfront compound is a National Historic Landmark District and one of the largest ongoing restoration projects in the southeastern United States. 
A romantic getaway for couples, a respite, or girl-friends or guy weekend retreat, you will never be bored with this line up: fishing, boating, kayaking, biking, tennis, golf, birdwatching, soccer, camps for kids and more! Feel as though you are one of the America's elite families on winter retreat when you visit. As you will be treated with the hospitality as royalty.
After a rousing game of tennis, or hiking on the trails, meander over to the Cafe on the Wharf for a fresh, fruity, frozen beverage. After a refreshing repast, explore the grounds in the Pier Roads shops or the Historic District for treasures for sale. Or seek out hidden cache with a high-tech GPS for geocaching on the island. 
In addition to the beautiful grounds, also a resting place for migrating birds on the Atlantic Flyway, and architecture, I loved the loggerhead turtle rehab facility. The island is a major site for conservation and education.
Jekyll Island is also a superb location for business retreats with the only distractions coming from your participants anxious to enjoy Jekyll Islands paradise of sea fishing or sailing.
Visit them now.. while gas prices are still going down! Worth the drive! www.jekyllisland.com

Monday, October 27, 2008

Hit the Road

Whenever I travel I always look for an opportunity to paddle a kayak or peddle on the trails. Not only is this  a great way to stay in shape, its a great way to see parts of the city or town where you are visiting. Getting up an hour earlier or skipping the television in your hotel room for beautiful foliage, learning to identify birds and feeling great are worth the one-hour of less sleep.
While in Springfield, Missouri, I found a beautiful gathering place for people of all ages, River Bluff Cave House is just one of the cities beautiful areas for respite and recreation. This family-friendly park offers trails and a cave to explore. Other city parks offer playgrounds, rose gardens, rock walls and picnic/grilling areas.
The morning air is fresh and exhilarating along the bike/walking paths. Springfield parks offer a plethora of recreational opportunities as well; from skating rinks to rugby fields. Feel free to rent a bike and hit the trails all over the city and into the charming neighborhoods.
Another one of my favorite past times is fishing. Missouri has a wealth of lakes, rivers and streams to cast your bait or fly. If you need to practice your casting technique you might want to visit Dogwood Canyon where you can catch plenty of Rainbow Trout. There are 2,200 acres of beautiful paradise here in the Ozarks, to explore on foot, by bike, on horseback or with a guided tram tour.
The Ozarks are also a great place for paddling. Whether you enjoy pleasure kayaking or canoes, you wont be disappointed with the scenery, wildlife or tranquility of Missouri/Arkansas's Garden of Eden. Borrow a canoe or kayak at Lake Springfield Park where you can paddle James River Water Trail. 

Monday, September 15, 2008

On the Flly (fishing)

  Casting a line in or around Springfield, or in the Ozarks is inspiring. Relax and reel 'em in at Dogwood Canyon. To get started you might need to brush up on which fish are biting and the bodies of water in the area from the pros at Bass pro, while you're there you can pick up some fishing and hunting tackle and perhaps some bug spray and sunscreen.
  Do you need to practice your casting technique? Dogwood Canyon is the place to cast, hook and reel in beautiful trout. Snap your flies near attractive waterfalls, under bridges and along fast moving streams where you can catch and release or keep your prize. Novice anglers can take a private lesson from one of the guides and become a pro in no time. Bike paths meander through part of this beautiful 2,200 acres of nature park for kids of all ages. Explore a slice of paradise on a Guided Tram tour where you can see an Indian Burial Cave and the Great Spirit Rock Shelter, limestone bluffs and clear spring-fed waters and through the rugged canyon to see bison, elk and longhorn. Rustic, yet modern cabins are available for rental of groups (www.dogwoodcanyon.com) 
    I visited in early spring and all the colour was not yet flourishing, however you can easily visualize the beauty of the area. Best of all, I was finally learning to fly-fish. And yes,  I caught those fish not my guide. He just brilliantly showed me where to fish and how to snap my wrist to cast where the trout can be found. Cool, crisp, clean water flows freely, tumbling over rocks and branches, under bridges and over falls spilling bright, colorful trout.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Bike Month

Isn't it amazing how we have to have a special day, week or month to remind us of something? For instance did you know that there is a national procrastination day? Or frozen food month? Well March is National Bike month and obviously the idea is to get more people to get off their couch potato, glued to the computer behinds, and peddle! That's right. We want you to burn off some calories, make some new friends, don those bullet-looking helmets (you don't have to put on the spandex, please) and conserve our resources while cutting down on emissions. Thankfully our cities, states and national government understands this challenge we have, and appreciates what valuable land we have left. 
I love our Rails-to-Trails system. You can ride from towns, through suburbs, admiring nature, various forms of architecture and feel great, both during and after your excursion. These trails can take you from Washington, D.C. to Pittsburgh, PA. Re-acquaint yourself with history, or learn something new along the route. Follow rolling rapids, see one of Frank Lloyd Wrights masterpieces. www.railstotrails.org
Maybe you want to make your next vacation (or mini-vacation) as a biking trip for the family or with friends. This will take a little planning, but will be a trip full of memories!