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Roanoke

The Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa -- did she name all her daughters after herself?

The Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa — did she name all her daughters after herself?

The usual April 1 routine among publications is to write up some ridiculous story and try to convince readers that it’s true. Today I’m going to reverse that.

All of these 12 trivia items have appeared in some form on my blog over the past two years or so. Only one of them is false.

See if you can figure out which one is strictly for April Fool’s Day:

* You can fly to Mongolia from Beijing, China, in less than two hours.

* Some of the most coveted and prestigious student residences at the University of Virginia have no bathrooms.

* Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa had 16 children; her 11 daughters were all named Maria or Marie.

* The small South Pacific island nation of Tuvalu has made millions… Continue reading

Mayor Bowers with his Spanish-speaking dog. Photo by Clark Norton

Mayor Bowers with his Spanish-speaking dog. Photo by Clark Norton

Most memorable travel moments revolve around people as well as sights and activities — often chance encounters on the road, sometimes fleeting, other times resulting in more long-lasting friendships.

Here are a few snapshots from my recent stay in and around Roanoke, Virginia, made possible by the Roanoke Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau, which sponsored me and a number of other travel writers and photographers so that we could get an overview of the area, dubbed “Virginia’s Blue Ridge.”

In Roanoke, some of my encounters were pre-planned, others serendipitous.

My fellow writers and I were privileged to meet the mayor of the city, David Bowers, who greeted us on an overlook atop Mill Mountain, below the city’s iconic 100-foot-high illuminated star. (Read more about the star here.)

The mayor brought his “Spanish-speaking dog,” who, while not actually… Continue reading

Although I didn’t grow up in the South and have only lived there a few years — in Florida and North Carolina back in the 1970s — I always think of Southern cooking when I think of comfort food.

Biscuits at the Roanoker Restaurant -- fluffy yet filling. Photo by Clark Norton

Biscuits at the Roanoker Restaurant — fluffy yet filling. Photo by Clark Norton

My favorite comfort foods, at least to start the day, are biscuits and sausage gravy (toss in some grits and my bliss is complete). And so it was that I started every day of my recent stay in Roanoke, Virginia, with the very same biscuits and sausage gravy. I was powerless to resist — there they were on restaurant menus, prominently featured, and there they were at the breakfast bar at my Best Western hotel.

Are biscuits and sausage gravy the healthiest foods on the planet? Probably not. But how often am I in Roanoke, Virginia, which,… Continue reading

A pastoral scene near Roanoke, Virginia. Photo by Clark Norton

A pastoral scene near Roanoke, Virginia. Photo by Clark Norton

In my previous post, I talked about my trip last week to the Roanoke, Virginia, area, and what I regard are the smart marketing techniques of the Roanoke Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau by hosting travel writers and photographers from around the U.S. and Canada to experience an area they might otherwise not visit.

The trip was organized by the Florida-based public relations firm Geiger & Associates, who work out every activity down to the minute and somehow manage not to lose any writers — who rank right up there with cats in the “herding difficulty” scale — along the way.

Now I want to detail some things I learned about Roanoke and surroundings — well branded as “Virginia’s Blue Ridge” —  that might be of interest to baby boomer travelers.

So in no particular order, here… Continue reading

Downtown Roanoke's historic center is just the beginning of what the area has to offer visitors. Photo by Clark Norton

Downtown Roanoke’s historic center is just the beginning of what the area has to offer visitors. Photo by Clark Norton

Last week I spent several days in and around Roanoke, Virginia, hosted by the Roanoke Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau. The bureau brought in 19 travel writers and photographers from around the U.S. and Canada to discover what the area had to offer and, ideally, to write about it.

This is smart marketing. Publications large and small in states and provinces as diverse as California and Massachusetts, Colorado and Connecticut, Alberta and Ontario will carry travel articles about the Roanoke region that otherwise would never appear (most of the writers had never been there before). Some of the journalists were baby boomers, others were younger or older, so they’ll chronicle the destination from a variety of perspectives.

The press trip was organized by Geiger and Associates, a Tallahassee, Florida-based… Continue reading

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According to government and private surveys:

  • Leading-edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) and seniors account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel today.
  • Roughly half the consumer spending money in the U.S.--more than $2 trillion--is in the hands of leading-edge baby boomers and seniors.
  • Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) travel more than any other age group.
  • When asked what they would most like to spend their money on, baby boomers answered “travel” more than any other category, including improving their health or finances.

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