Press Visit to Helen, Georgia: Day One

OK, we were on our way to lovely little Helen, Georgia for a press getaway.

But Tom was not happy with our plans and was convinced that our GPS was taking us in the wrong direction.

We had, as usual, followed the directions of our GPS but it kept forcing us make turns that just didn’t seem right. Finally, we made a left turn that seemed to make us turn directly away from the park and Tom exclaimed that the GPS could not be right, this was taking us away from where we needed to be! I agreed and made an attempt to calm him down. Let’s give it a little longer, I said. Just a little longer and see if we don’t begin to see signs indicating that we were going the right way. I was somewhat in agreement with him since our GPS had taken us to some weird and off the wall locations just recently but I thought we would give it a little longer.

We tooled along the picturesque route with a rough creek tumbling along beside us and, all of a sudden there was a sign for Helen. We both heaved sighs of relief – we were actually heading in the right direction. Pretty soon, we pulled out of the thick forest and turned into the charming town of Helen. Now we just had to find the Visitor’s Center and meet up with our contact person, Jerry Brown, the Executive Director of the Alpine/Helen White County CVB who was going to introduce us to this charming small town. The Visitor’s Center was easy to find and we turned into the spacious parking lot and went inside to find Jerry, who ended up being a nice, friendly person who loved his little town. We had managed to arranged a visit on a weekend that he would be out of town but, knowing he would be gone, he had carefully arranged a visit that would include everything we wanted to see and do.

Jerry was very friendly, told us all about his town and when we confessed that we were not sure how to get to the Unicoi Adventure Lodge because it didn’t seem to want come up on our GPS, he immediately offered to lead us out to where we needed to check in. After showing us around and giving us a little tour of the Visitor’s Center, he proceeded to lead us right to where we were going to spend the next couple of days. He came into the office with us and introduced us to the people who worked there and got us all checked in and situated. He insisted on leading us right to our gorgeous accommodations for the next few days and helped us carry in our luggage.

I was expecting log cabins but these were modern and beautifully decorated.

Walk to the Cabins

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Hot Blown Glass from Lisa Pelo

We were just about ready to give up. We had driven back and forth on this back country road and never seen anything that looked like a glass blowing studio. Maybe we had the wrong directions? Maybe …well, who knew? Finally, I decided to call to get more specific directions and he directed us right to a driveway and told us to turn in. And there it was! Our contact person, Lisa Pelo, was waiting for us and ready to show us around. She wasn’t impatient with the fact that we were late;  rather, she was thrilled to be able to share her love of creating things from glass with us.  Lisa was generous in sharing her history with us and how she got into working with glass as part of her love of art.

“Glass is its own inspiration. There is no other medium like it. The challenge of controlling it better and making more elaborate and complex forms: this is a lifelong project. Color in glass is fascinating. When the light can come in and out of the form through the color to create its own visual interest regardless of the form, that is a skill that has to be honed and sometimes never understood by other glass workers. What there is about glass-you have to master the medium…glass in motion and be able to tell it what to do. You have to know colors/not just the color wheel but what glass colors are chemically and what they do hot and cold and what colors do to enhance the form and then be able to put them where you want them. Then, make the form, an artistically complete form by knowing those basic rules and then create the final vision. The skill set is always in forward development when creating in glass.”

Opening Oven

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Lucas Oil Raceway

When I began planning our getaway to Indiana, I noticed there was a racetrack there. Honestly, I couldn’t have cared less about sitting and watching some car race but I knew my husband Tom would be thrilled to see it, so I added it to our itinerary. It was the best thing I could have done for him. He loves car racing and was so excited about going to the race, more excited than any of the other events I had lined up. Early in the evening, we headed out to the race track and kept thinking we were in the wrong place or going in the back door or something else because it was so quiet and there didn’t seem to be that many people there.

Boy, were we wrong.

Sign for Brownsburg

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Welcome to Hendricks County, Indiana!

We learned about lovely Hendricks County, Indiana at a meeting for travel professionals so, when our 40th anniversary rolled around, it was easy to decide to take a few nights in this charming area. We really knew nothing about the area so just put the address of the Visitor’s Center in our map gizmo and let it take us right there. We drove right into downtown quiet Danville to the Mayberry Cafe, named for the famous Andy Griffith show, to meet up with Josh Duke from the local visitor’s center, who we worked with when planning our trip. Anyone who loves this famous show will be familiar with the restaurant name and the many different, mouth-watering items on their menu. Parked in front of the restaurant is a police car, much like you would see when watching the show.

Photo of Restaurant Resized

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The Charming Gratz Park Inn

Front Door to the Hotel

Front Door to the Hotel

So, we decided to experience a staycation for the first time.

A “staycation” is a getaway where you don’t go far; usually just stay in your same city where you live. Although Lexington, Kentucky is our hometown and attracts plenty of tourists from all over the world, we had sort of taken it for granted. I had come to Lexington to attend the University of Kentucky many moons ago and Tom was a long time resident so after meeting, falling in love, and getting married, we never considered moving anywhere else. We had our kids, life moved on, and we finally settled in a roomy and comfortable house after we both retired from our jobs. Although I  had lived in Lexington most of my adult life, I had always loved traveling and had seen most of the world but finally got Tom to fall I love with traveling as well. I wrote about our travels and he took the many photos that went along with my articles so we settled into a  new way of life once our kids moved out, get married and settled down, and began to have kids of their own.

Hotel Sign

Hotel Sign

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Gourmet Dining at the Harbor Fish Market and Grille

November-Gourmet Dining at the Harbor Fish Market and Grille in Door County Wisconsin-Jan Ross2I tried escargot for the first time on a river cruise in Europe and, although it was with some trepidation that I took my first bite, I loved it. Similar to a mushroom, it had been drenched in butter and garlic so it was quite tasty. The second time I had escargot was just recently at the Harbor Fish Market and Grille on the charming peninsula of Door County, Wisconsin. This time the escargot were tucked neatly away under a delicious and flaky crust but again were delicious. You may think a small restaurant in Wisconsin is an unlikely place to find escargot and you are right, but this charming restaurant in a historic building on the main street of Bailey’s Harbor features amazing gourmet dining, along with a fantastic view of the bay complete with outside dining.

The large building in which the restaurant is located was added to a smaller building in 1908, which was originally used as an ice cream parlor and later a tavern. The larger building was used as a tavern and dance hall where whole families would come to dance; the children were put to bed upstairs while the adults continued dancing. In the ice cream parlor, cones were only five cents, later on in the ’40s and ’50s, movies were shown, and there was roller skating on the hardwood floors on Sundays. The building went through a few owners until 1997 when it was bought by restaurateurs Carl and Karen Berndt; our family was thrilled to pay them a visit on a recent visit to Door County.

Read the rest of this article on Luxe Beat Magazine HERE.

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Kringle Capitol of the World: Racine, Wisconsin

February-The-Kringle-Capitol-of-the-World-Racine-Wisconsin-Jan-Ross2                                                                                                                                                                          A Kringle!

A Kringle is a Scandinavian pastry, a sort of Nordic pretzel, which can be filled with a variety of sweet options. From strawberry cheesecake to apple to pecan, this pastry is available in just about every flavor. Hand rolled from Danish pastry dough which has rested overnight, the sheets of flaky dough are layered, then shaped into an oval, filled with fruit or nuts, and then baked and iced. A typical Kringle is a large, flat oval measuring approximately 14 inches by 10 inches and weighs about 1.5 pounds.

Wisconsin has historically been a center of Danish-American culture, so it makes sense that the Kringle was designated the Official State Pastry in 2013. Racine, a charming small town located on the shore of beautiful Lake Michigan has long been a location to seek out this delicious treat. The pastry was first introduced to Racine in the late 1800s by immigrant Danish bakers, and as the town was home to more Danes than anywhere else in the country, there are more Kringle bakeries in Racine than you will find anywhere else. Unofficially designated the Kringle Capitol of the World, Racine today has five bakeries offering different varieties of Kringle, so you can sample until you find the perfect combination.

My family recently paid a visit to Racine to enjoy the lovely beaches, parks, and trails; Frank Lloyd Wright architecture; an amazing art museum and zoo; and the historic Wind Point Lighthouse. The lake provided area residents and tourists with plenty of opportunities for fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and other watersports, and area restaurants provide any international delicacy you can imagine.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

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Let These Children’s Books Inspire Your Next Family Trip

Beach PicSharing books with children is a great way to step into other worlds, have amazing adventures, hear about other cultures, and learn to empathize with characters. It’s also a very special way to spend time together as a family and a great bonding experience for family members of all ages.

An extension of these wonderful experiences is to actually visit as a family the destinations where some of your favorite books take place. Here are a few classic children’s books with accompanying locations to get you started.

Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery – Prince Edward Island: Those who love this book will find Anne-related attractions all over this lovely and remote island, including Avonlea Village, Green Gables Heritage Place, and the author’s family home where her descendants still live.Kindred Spirits Country Inn and Cottages is the perfect family-friendly location to stay when visiting, offering cottages complete with kitchenettes, a heated swimming pool, and bike rentals.

Read the rest of this article on Minitime.com HERE.

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Five Most Family-Friendly Airport Hotels

Hotel PicIf you are flying into a city for a big family getaway, it’s often easier and more convenient to stay at a hotel near the airport, especially if you have a very early flight or a late evening arrival.

We have handpicked these family-friendly airport hotel recommendations for their great amenities like swimming pools, on-site restaurants with kids’ menus, room service, on-site laundries, complimentary breakfast, free airport shuttles and more.

Read the rest of this article on Minitime.com HERE.

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Indianapolis, Indiana: A Luxury Getaway to the Crossroads of America

February-Luxury-Getaway-to-Indianapolis-Jan-Ross91

Downtown Indy

My husband and I have passed by Indianapolis numerous times over the years as we traveled north from Lexington, Kentucky to ski resorts in Michigan or getaways to Chicago. We often remarked how we were passing a city that looked very intriguing, was only three hours away from our home, and that we should make time to visit the city affectionately known as the Crossroad of American because it is the hub for several major interstate highways which crisscross the state. We finally made plans to visit on our way back home from a trip to Wisconsin in the summer.

Not taking into account the astonishing snarl of traffic that is Chicago, we left Green Bay, Wisconsin late in the afternoon after a tour of Lambeau Field, and ran into that frustrating traffic which put us into Indy late at night. This meant that we were not able to fully appreciate the city until the next day when we arose to the beauty that is downtown Indianapolis.

Read the rest of this article here.

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