Hiking The Cascades in Pembroke, Virginia

I really don’t know how many people realize this about me, but I have a very strong love for water. If I am away from water for too long I start to get a little antsy. My love for water covers everything from rain to waterfalls and puddles to the ocean. I grew up in a home that had a large above ground pool in the backyard. It’s not until you are away from a constant such as having a pool that you realize how lucky you were or how much you miss it.

Perhaps it is my heart missing that daily swim in the summer that makes me want to seek out every single whirlpool, waterfall, or body of water that I can, while on vacation. When we travel to new places, hikes with waterfalls are number one on my list. I will take a waterfall hike over any other hike, pretty much any day of the week.

One of my favorite waterfall hikes is that of the Cascade Falls in Pembroke, Virginia. This particular hike is 4 miles round trip and completely worth it. You will have to pay a minor parking fee upon your arrival, but once you enter the trail, you will be happy that you did.

This particular hike is definitely going to take you up and down the hillside. You will climb stairs, walk across bridges, and trudge across some rocky terrain. While parts will be a little rough, you will see lots of wonderful sights along the way. The entire trail follows alongside a creek. There is no shortage of beauty during this hike.

The most difficult part of this hike is probably the stairs. If you are not used to stair climbing, it will definitely give you a workout; likewise if you are not used to walking four miles on uneven ground. I was tired by the time we arrived back at our car, but it was a great way to spend some free-time. We took lots of pictures of flowering trees and of the creek.

Once you reach your destination, you will not be disappointed by the 66 foot high waterfall. You will also see some shallow waters over to the right of the trail where people have stacked rocks, or may even be lounging after their hike. You can feel the water spraying off as the falls come crashing down. The feeling is peaceful and freeing. I would definitely be willing to take this hike again sometime.

If you would like more information about the Cascade Falls, please visit: https://www.virginia.org/listings/…/CascadesNationalRecreationTrail/


A Museum Dedicated To The Man In Black

When I was young I recall my grandfather talking about Johnny Cash. He liked Cash’s music and because my grandfather liked Cash’s music, I decided I would like his music as well. I also decided that I needed to know more about Johnny Cash and at 10 years old I wrote a school paper dedicated to the Man in Black.

Over the years, my fondness for Johnny Cash has not changed. I listen to his music, I watched the movie about his life, and my husband and I toured the Johnny Cash museum in Nashville, Tennessee on our honeymoon.

The museum was a fun stop on our road trip to Sevierville. Since I love everything about Johnny Cash and his history, it was neat to see some of his actual belongings. We saw pictures of him and June Carter on their wedding day. Lots of great music played in the background. You could watch video clips of Johnny Cash and his band-mates. There was a ton of information about his life, as well as features on Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis.

If you are a Johnny Cash fan, or you simply like checking out different museums dedicated to music, I would highly recommend this experience. The museum is a self-guided tour. It doesn’t take long to get through it, but you can spend as much time as you like looking around and taking photos.

For more information on the Johnny Cash Museum, please visit: http://www.johnnycashmuseum.com/

Diamond Estates – Niagara Falls

Yesterday I wrote an article regarding Neal’s and my trip to Niagara Falls. In that article I mentioned several of the activities we took part in; one activity in particular that I greatly enjoyed was our trip to Diamond Estates Winery. This trip was part of a hotel package deal, but you can definitely go there on your own as well.

If you love wine tasting and you like exploring different wineries, this is definitely a great side stop for you while visiting Niagara Falls. If you are like me, you will want a nice bottle of wine to go with your evening whirlpool experience. This winery has 10 different labels to choose from at all different price points.

While visiting Diamond Estates we took a tour of the winery, checked out the vineyard, and we got to taste four different wines. Overall, the complete time spent there was about an hour. There were plenty of opportunities to take photos and to check out the many wine labels that they offered.

The tour was great as far as providing insight into some of the different wine making processes. It was neat to learn about what makes ice-wine so unique. Even if you are not a wine drinker, this tour would be great for anyone who is interested in learning about wine making.

One of my favorite things about Diamond Estates is that Dan Aykroyd has his own wine there. His wine label is called Dan Aykroyd, and the label has a picture of a microphone on it. We did purchase one of his reds, I believe it was the Cabernet/Merlot; it had a very nice flavor to it.

If you leave the winery feeling frustrated because you can only bring so many bottles back to your country of origin, not to worry. Diamond Estates has a website where you can purchase all of your favorite wines. Just in case you get home and cannot remember which wines you liked, I would highly recommend making a few notes for future reference.

To obtain more information about Diamond Estates, please visit: https://www.diamondestates.ca/site/home

An Overnight Trip To Niagara Falls

Every now and then I get the desire to go to Canada, overnight. Really I would like to visit for at least a week, but ironically, the two times I have gone were overnight trips. The first time, the group I was traveling with, drove from Island Lake, Wisconsin, to Thunder Bay. The second time, my newlywed husband and I drove from Sevierville, Tennessee to Ontario, to see Niagara Falls.

I don’t care who you are, sometimes you need a crazy adventure to spice up your life. I consider the length of drive to Canada, overnight, to be quite the adrenaline rush. When you know you only have so many hours to explore a place, you plan your time wisely and you do as many things as possible.

Granted on my first trip to Canada I didn’t see much. We went to dinner and then I went to bed. The entire ride up to Thunder Bay I had been in the sun, in the backseat of the car. I felt awful. So the people I traveled with had a blast, but I missed pretty much everything. One fun thing did come out of that trip; we met a couple of crazy Canadians who frequented the same festival as us each year. That following summer they were camped out two sites away from our group.

The second trip to Canada was part of Neal’s and my honeymoon. We had a blast. We took advantage of a Groupon that gave us a whirlpool suite within walking distance of Niagara Falls. Our package included a chocolate factory tour, as well as a wine tasting package at Diamond Estates winery, which Dan Aykroyd is partial owner of. We also received vouchers for several different restaurants in the area, which made choosing food a bit difficult.

While in Ontario we walked up the street, through the tourist zone, to Niagara Falls. We got to take tons of daylight pictures. We saw a street performer, who was singing Johnny Cash music. We took some time to just feel the spray off of the falls, which was a pretty neat experience, considering how far away the falls are.

When you visit Niagara, you can take a tour of the falls via boat. There were tons of people on boats that were shuttling back and forth between the falls. Everyone on these boats had rain coats to keep them dry. I personally enjoyed just watching the boats and people, from a distance.

After we’d had our fill of the falls in daylight, we decided to head back to our hotel for a little downtime. I needed to take in one of my favorite travel perks, the whirlpool. We made sure to ask the front desk attendant what time the falls would be lit up so that we could go back and get night photos. Unfortunately, we were sadly misinformed.

I was under the impression, as was the front desk attendant that the falls would be lit up all night long. That was not the case. When we arrived back at the falls, they were no longer lit up except for a couple of small spotlights. We were very disappointed that we had missed out on one of the most spectacular views of Niagara, and by mere minutes.

If you decide to take a trip to Niagara Falls, be sure to see the falls in the daylight as well as at night. Don’t make the mistake we made and think that the falls are lit up all night long. We now have to take another overnight trip back to Ontario to experience the night lights of Niagara Falls, which actually sounds like fun to me.

For more information on Niagara Falls, please visit: https://www.niagarafallstourism.com/

Montgomery Reservoir And Magnolia Mill

Montgomery Reservoir and Magnolia Mill

Colorado is by far one of my favorite travel destinations. I cannot get enough of that amazing mountain air and the peaceful feeling that comes over me when I am exploring the trails. I have been hooked on exploring Colorado from the moment I set foot in the state. It was seven years ago and it was the very first hike my husband, Neal, ever took me on.

We were visiting Colorado in early May; very few trails were open. He took me to check out Montgomery Reservoir, which is located in Alma, Colorado, just outside of Breckenridge. The view of the reservoir was beautiful. I was very excited to learn that there was a mill just up the trail a little further. I love checking out old buildings.

We hiked up to Magnolia Mill and it quickly became one of my favorite places in Colorado. It looked so cool from the outside. I couldn’t wait to step through the door. My husband, gentleman that he is, let me go first. As I stepped over the threshold I was quickly brought to my knees. I realized through shear panic that I was sliding toward the edge of a fairly high drop-off.

I hadn’t taken my sunglasses off, which was clearly a mistake. I failed to recognize that I was stepping onto a very thick layer of ice. Neal quickly pulled me to safety. I quickly lost my privileges of first person through the door, and I also learned my lesson about taking off my sunglasses when entering an unknown building.

Despite that first experience at the mill, we still come back to visit as often as possible. We have photographed Magnolia Mill, and the weathering it has been subjected to, each time we visit. The last time we were there we hiked up even further on the trail and we were able to see a group of Off-roaders coming down the mountainside.

At this time I do not believe it is possible to enter the mill; it has been boarded up for safety reasons. It is, however, possible to hike quite a distance beyond the mill. I suggest at least going to the top of the waterfall; this provides a great view of the area.

For more information on hiking Montgomery Reservoir, please visit: http://www.summitpost.org/montgomery-reservoir/155632

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park

In the past year I have visited the Stanley Hotel twice. As some of you may already know, The Stanley is known for being one of the most haunted hotels in the US. There is much more to The Stanley, however, than its ghost lore.

The Stanley has long been admired for its beauty, as well as its rich cultural history. The hotel was featured in both the movie and miniseries versions of The Shining, as well as in the movie, Dumb and Dumber. Many famous guests have visited and stayed at The Stanley.

The Stanley features ornately kept grounds with beautiful gardens. There is a very unique looking, sculptured water fountain, on the front lawn. Due to its location at the beginning of Rocky Mountain National Park, the views from The Stanley are absolutely breath-taking; you can see the mountains in all directions.

During my visits to the Stanley I did not spend the night. You can most definitely check-in and experience one of the many haunted rooms. Guests often speak of visits from the ghosts that still live within the hotel’s walls. I chose to do more of a photographic tour on my first visit; perhaps in the near future I will book a stay and experience the mysteries of The Stanley on a more personal level.

The second time I visited the Stanley, I did take the Night Ghost Tour. If you want to get in on this tour, you must book well in advance. The first time my husband and I visited, the tours were completely booked out days ahead.

The ghost tour did provide some history of the multiple hauntings at The Stanley. While I did enjoy myself, you definitely have to be into the idea of spirits existing. If you are a skeptic, or a complete non-believer, you may want to avoid this tour. I would have liked to have seen more rooms than what we visited, but I believe that may be a completely different tour, or require a stay in one of the rooms in order to satisfy that desire.

If you do not wish to stay, or wish to take a tour, you can wander the grounds on your own, as I did with my husband, on my first visit. I took tons of outdoor photos, and some indoor. You cannot go upstairs during your self-guided tour, but you can get a feel for the intricacy of the hotel and see some of the history, without venturing too far.

The Stanley hotel is full of beauty and wonder. I would highly recommend a trip to see this beautiful piece of history. I definitely fell in love with its elegance in the moments I spent exploring the grounds, with my husband.

If you would like to book a tour or find out more about The Stanley Hotel, please visit: http://www.stanleyhotel.com/?utm_source=GooglePlus&utm_medium=local&utm_campaign=GooglePlus


Utilizing VRBO for Your Next Vacation

Sometimes when my husband and I go on vacation we want something more than just a hotel. We want privacy and space. We want to get away from the commercial feel that comes with being in a busy tourist location.

Two years ago, in June, we put together a pretty amazing honeymoon in Sevierville, Tennessee. We wanted to check out the Smoky Mountains, but we did not want to stay in any tourist areas. We decided to do a search on VRBO.com, (Vacation Rentals by Owner).

If you want an amazing getaway, VRBO is the way to find something unique. We wanted a luxury cabin, which can be a bit pricey, but well worth it for your honeymoon. Our stipulations were as follows: space, privacy from neighbors, a kitchen, a game room, a hot tub and/or whirlpool, as well as a fireplace. We wanted something that was located just outside of the tourist areas, and yet, it needed to be near the hiking and outdoor attractions we were craving.

We were happy to find that VRBO had tons of luxury cabins to choose from, at a range of different price levels. We went with something that was at the higher end, because we felt this event was worth it. The cabin we chose was called, Turtle Dove, and it had both, a whirlpool and a hot tub, as well as all of the other amenities we desired, including two fireplaces.

The only thing we were concerned about upon arrival was that we could see other cabins nearby. While you could see other cabins, we were never disturbed during our stay. The location was perfect for maneuvering to all of the activities we had planned.

VRBO is a website that can help you find lodging in any state. We have utilized VRBO to find large town homes and condos for our family to vacation in Colorado. We have used it to find a house with a pool, off the strip, in Las Vegas. Whatever your need, you can find it on VRBO.

One great thing about VRBO is that you can negotiate with owners on prices. If you know it is the off season in Colorado, for instance, an owner is more likely to work with you on pricing. We have run into some amazing deals for travel during off season in Colorado. If you do choose to go somewhere during off-season, be sure you check to make sure the activities you are interested in are still available. There is nothing worse than arriving somewhere during the off-season, only to find that everything is shut down for the next month.

To view the actual cabin we stayed in, please find it at: https://www.vrbo.com/441961

To check out your own possibilities on VRBO, please visit: https://www.vrbo.com/




Glacier Canyon – Wisconsin Dells

When I was younger, my parents took my sister and me, on many trips to the Wisconsin Dells. We had a blast staying at the Yogi Bear Campground in Warrens, and going to Noah’s Ark or Family Land. While I love and cherish all of those memories, and I would not change them for the world, nothing beats The Wyndham Vacation Resort at Glacier Canyon.

If you are looking for a place to take your family that will have your kids talking all year long about their experience, you want to go to Glacier Canyon. Glacier Canyon is equipped with amenities galore, and will keep your family busy for days. There is no need to leave the resort unless you want to go downtown or try something different such as riding the Ducks.

The resort has very comfortable rooms that have a rustic feel. They are equipped with Jacuzzi tubs that bubble all of your walking aches away. They have fireplaces, and they have either a patio or balcony. Our room had both a breakfast bar and a decent sized dining room table. You shouldn’t run into any trouble getting everyone to a table for dinner.

If you would like to eat out, the resort has five restaurants to try. They have arcades, black light mini golf courses, go karts, three indoor water parks, including a swim-up bar, and three outdoor water parks, as well as organized activities for the kids, and a workout room for the adults.

If your children get bored at this place, I fear nothing is going to satisfy them. There is simply too much to see and do, and it takes more than one day to do it all. I did try out the Pirate mini golf, and it was a blast. I also tried the pizza, which I very much enjoyed.

The only problem I ran into at this resort was when the upstairs neighbor’s dishwasher began leaking into our kitchen. The staff and maintenance people at the resort moved very quickly to take care of the issue. We were given some comps for the resort because of the leak. I was impressed with how quickly this situation was handled.

I would definitely come back and stay at this resort again. It is one of my favorite Wyndham locations, even as an adult. I went in November, so the outdoor parks were not open, but a great time was still had by everyone involved.

For more information on Glacier Canyon, please visit: https://www.extraholidays.com/wisconsin-dells-wisconsin-getaway/wyndham-vacation-resorts-at-glacier-canyon.aspx

KISS, by Monster Mini Golf

Two years ago while visiting Las Vegas; my family decided they would like to partake in a little friendly competition. We promptly sought out the first mini golf we could find. Low and behold, KISS, by Monster Mini Golf.

This course is eighteen holes of pure black-light fun. Everything is KISS related and if you like black-lights as well as mini golf, you will love this experience. It definitely takes some getting used to. Golfing in a black-light setting is much more tedious than a regular mini golf course; perhaps this is why I have finished dead last, twice.

Adding to the experience is a live DJ, who showcases KISS music, the entire time you are there. If you want a little more excitement added to your experience, you could get married in the KISS wedding chapel and then have your reception in the KISS event room. After your wedding ceremony you may partake in more mini golf as well as KISS themed arcade games. There is no end to the fun you will have at KISS, by Monster Mini Golf.

Before you leave for the evening, be sure to check out the KISS themed gift shop. You never know what you may find. Perhaps that perfect piece of rocker memorabilia, to add to your personal collection.

For more information on KISS, by Monster Mini Golf, or to book your event, please visit: http://kiss.monsterminigolf.com/

Valley Of Fire

One hour, northeast of the strip, you will find Valley of Fire State Park. This is another wonderful place to see if you love beautiful scenic drives and exploring. Much like Red Rock, you will find awe inspiring rock formations in various colors.

Upon arriving there will be a fee to get into the park. Currently that price is set at $10 per car. You can enjoy the park from dawn until dusk. Definitely pack a lunch, there are plenty of places to relax and enjoy a meal, along the way.

This park is filled with tons of hiking trails and lots of things to see. You can camp at one of the many sites available; you will have shade, a table, and water nearby. You will see things such as petroglyphs and petrified trees. The visitor’s center will provide tons of information about the 40,000 acres that make up the park.

If you wish to get married in the Valley of Fire, that can be arranged as well. My husband, Neal, and I, were originally supposed to say our vows in the park, but we skipped ahead and got married early. When we renew our vows in a few years, I am seriously considering the Valley of Fire because of its beautiful surroundings.

If you wish to remain in your car, you can still drive through the park and see many of the beautiful rock formations. I have taken this drive many times and I still find it exhilarating. Once you reach the petroglyphs, however, I would suggest getting out and taking a closer look.

For more information or to book your event at Valley of Fire, please visit: http://parks.nv.gov/parks/valley-of-fire