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Virginia

View of the Blue Ridge Mountains from atop Crabtree Falls. Photo by Lia Norton

View of the Blue Ridge Mountains from atop Crabtree Falls. Photo by Lia Norton

During our recent visit to Charlottesville, Virginia, where our daughter, Lia, lives and works, my wife, Catharine, and I had the chance to leave the city a bit and explore the attractions of the nearby region.

Since it was our third visit to Charlottesville, we had already toured Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, and the Jefferson-designed University of Virginia campus, sporting some of the country’s finest architecture. Both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Now it was time to see some of the nearby cities, take some scenic drives, negotiate some hiking trails, absorb some additional culture, visit some wineries, and even make a pilgrimage to the factory that produces my favorite potato chips. (Special thanks to Lia, her boyfriend, Mike, and their trusty Prius for chauffeuring us around.)

So here are my top… Continue reading

Monticello, Thomas Jefferson''s home, is just outside Charlottesville and can be reached by a hiking trail. Photo by Clark Norton

Monticello, Thomas Jefferson”s home, is just outside Charlottesville and can be reached by a hiking trail. Photo by Clark Norton

Dear Readers, 

While I’m traveling in Antarctica for a few weeks I’ll be reprising some of my most popular posts from the past three years. This one (now slightly updated) originally ran in October of 2014. 

After my first visit to Charlottesville, Virginia, I wrote about ten things I learned about this lovely Virginia city where my daughter now lives.

And now, after a second visit, I’ve compiled a list of five more things I learned about “C’Ville.” So I guess I’m making progress. (Stay tuned next year for “One or Two More Things I Didn’t Know About Charlottesville.”)

You could call this the “sports and outdoor activities” edition of the things I didn’t know. It was warmer for this visit than the last, so… Continue reading

Monticello -- Jefferson's home, which appears on the U.S. nickel coin. Photo by Clark Norton

Monticello — Jefferson’s home, which appears on the U.S. nickel coin. Photo by Clark Norton

Dear Readers, 

While I’m traveling in Antarctica for a few weeks I’ll be reprising some of my most popular posts from the past three years. This one (now slightly updated) originally ran in December of 2013. 

On a recent family visit to Charlottesville, Virginia, I found it to be a very livable — and visit-able — city, which I highly recommend for baby boomer travelers.

Mostly I knew it as the home of the University of Virginia and Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, both of which were designed by our third president. Those two sites alone would warrant a visit, but anyone interested  in history, outdoor activities and good food would find a welcome respite in Charlottesville.

Now here are ten things I didn’t know about Charlottesville:

Montpelier, home of President James Madison. Photo by Lia Norton

Montpelier, home of… Continue reading

Where in Asia would you find this location of Nathan's Famous hot dogs? Photo from Nathan's Famous.

Where in Asia would you find this location of Nathan’s Famous hot dogs? Photo from Nathan’s Famous.

Americans all know about fireworks, barbecues, hot dogs, parades and the other modern-day manifestations of the July 4 holiday, but how much do you really know about Independence Day, especially as it relates to travel or travel destinations?

Take this quiz and find out. (Baby boomers, how well do you remember your history?)

1. True or false: As one of the 13 original colonies, Vermont was the only one that refused to ratify the Declaration of Independence.

2. Which U.S. president was born on the Fourth of July in Plymouth Notch, Vermont?

3. Name two Asian countries where you can now buy a Nathan’s Famous New York hot dog, similar to those gobbled up in the annual hot dog eating contest at New York’s Coney Island:

a. Indonesia and Japan

b.… Continue reading

Monticello, Thomas Jefferson''s home, is just outside Charlottesville and can be reached by a hiking trail. Photo by Clark Norton

Monticello, Thomas Jefferson”s home, is just outside Charlottesville and can be reached by a hiking trail. Photo by Clark Norton

Last fall after a visit to Charlottesville, Virginia, I wrote about Ten Things I Didn’t Know about this lovely Virginia city where my daughter now lives.

And now, after a recent second visit, I’ve compiled a list of Five More Things I Didn’t Know About “C’Ville.” So I guess I’m learning. (Stay tuned next year for “One or Two More Things I Didn’t Know About Charlottesville?”)

You could call this the “sports and outdoor activities” edition of the things I didn’t know. It was warmer in October than it was last year in late November, so I got outside more, including to a University of Virginia night football game, a win over Pitt that came complete with exploding scoreboard every time UVA scored, enough cheerleaders and band members to… Continue reading

Monticello -- Jefferson's home, which appears on the U.S. nickel coin. Photo by Clark Norton

Monticello — Jefferson’s home, which appears on the U.S. nickel coin. Photo by Clark Norton

I spent last week in Charlottesville, Virginia, visiting family over Thanksgiving, and found it to be a very livable — and visit-able — city, which I highly recommend for baby boomer travelers.

Mostly I knew it as the home of the University of Virginia and Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, both of which were designed by our third president. Those two sites alone would warrant a visit, but anyone interested  in history, outdoor activities and good food would find a welcome respite in Charlottesville.

Now here are ten things I didn’t know about Charlottesville:

Montpelier, home of President James Madison. Photo by Lia Norton

Montpelier, home of President James Madison. Photo by Lia Norton

* Some of the most coveted and prestigious student residences at the University of Virginia have no bathrooms. These are historic ground-floor single rooms facing the Lawn, the long… 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

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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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