Category: Travel

Historic Yates Mill

Historic Yates Mill County Park

Yates Mill is a fully restored, circa-1756 gristmill located in Raleigh, North Carolina. As the centerpiece of the Historic Yates Mill County Park in central Wake County, this is worth a visit to this National Register of Historic Places. Yates Mill is the only restored, operational automatic gristmill in North Carolina and one of just a few in the country.


Historic Yates Mills, circa 1756

The Yates Mill Associates offer tours of the gristmill and demonstration of the workings of the operating of the mills. The docents will point other items of historic interest and detail how the mill was brought back over the years through changing of ownership, remaining vacant, and restoration from natural disasters.  The tours are definitely worth your time if you are interested in this part of the history of the south.  Learn more about tours options and times by visiting the Yates Mill Associates


Turning on the Wheel of the Mill


Inside the Mill


Grinding Stones


Views of Yates Mill Pond

The park encompasses some 574-acres and is a wildlife refuge.  You can walk trails, watch migrating waterfowl, and other wildlife on the 20-acre pond, fish from designated areas, and enjoy a peaceful visit with nature. There is a visitor center and a small museum focused on milling. The park visit is free and often open seven days a week, except for major holidays until sunset. The mill tours have small fee associated with exploring the gristmill.



Small Cabin at Yates Mill


Front of Yates Mill

Directions to the Historic Yates Mill

Located about 5 miles from downtown Raleigh, the mills can be easily found  via Google Maps 

The address of the mill is: 4620 Lake Wheeler Road, Raleigh, NC 27603

Hope you enjoy your trip here and thank you for reading.


Must-See Waterfalls Near Portland

Horsetail Falls

A visit to the Portland area would not be complete without an exploration of the Columbia River Gorge area. We took a local tour booked via Viator, which offers hotel pick-up from the downtown area.  The first stop for the morning tour was Horsetail Falls.  These beautiful falls just might look like a a horsetail as they plunge 176 feet into the Historic Columbia River’s Highway’s “Waterfall Corridor.


Horsetail Falls

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Horsetail Falls

Latourell Falls


Latourell Falls

The Latourell Falls was to be our first falls to visit, but the site was very crowed and our guided made a detour to Horsetail circling back this must-see historic site. You can visit the lower falls with just a short walk from the parking area to watch the dramatic straight down fall of water (~224 feet). The photos here can be very stunning and taking in the sounds of nature is well worth the walk.


Latourell Falls

Multnomah Falls

Our next falls on our half-day tour was Multnomah Falls, this is Oregon’s tallest waterfall at 611 feet. This falls is about 30 miles east of downtown Portland. This two-drop cascade fall attracts many visitors and is wheelchair-accessible with a viewing platform. There is a steep hiking trail that lead you to the top of the falls. These falls are worth seeing year around as the volume tends to remain steady because of the rainwater and snowmelt that feed the Multnomah Falls.



Multnomah Falls

Please consider making the 1/4 mile hike to the Benson bridge, which is famous for selfies and is foot-crossing built by the lumber baron Simon Benson in 1914 spanning the falls’ second drop.


A Very Crowded Benson Bridge

Helpful Hints for Visiting Multnomah Falls

After you have explored the falls, return to the lower level and consider stopping into the Multnomah Falls Lodge below. This lodge was built in 1925 and has excellent views and is home to a restaurant, gift shop, espresso bar and U.S. Forest Service interpretive center

Crown Point Vista House

Our last stop on the half-day tour, was the Crown Point Vista House (circa 1916).  The Vista House was originally built as a rest stop observatory. Indeed, a very expensive rest area along the old Columbia River Gorge Highway. It was designated as National Historic Landmark in 1974 and restored in 2005. The views here are worth stopping for a few minutes.


Crown Point Vista House

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Rotunda of Vista House– Greenish Opalized Glass

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Views From Crown Point Vista House

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Views From Crown Point Vista House

Check out the Columbia River Gorge Visitors Association for maps and other attractions.

Rose Garden of Portland

International Rose Gardens Portland

International Rose Gardens Portland

A visit to Portland’s International Rose Test Garden offers you the opportunity to enjoy speculator views  downtown and Mount Hood. This is oldest official continuously operating public rose test garden in the United States. The garden features more than 10,000 roses with hundreds of thousands of visitors enjoying its sights and scents annually.

First, by the editor of the Oregon Journal, Jesse Currey in 1915, Portland Rose Garden became part of the Portland Parks system in 1917 and continues under this umbrella.  The garden is located in Washington Park area and open daily with free admission.




If you wish to learn more about the 4.5 acres (1.8 hectares) garden, consider taking the daily free tour offered by a Portland Parks trained volunteers at 1 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The tours meet at the sign outside the Rose Garden Store. If you have a group of 10 or more, you can ask for guided tours for $5 per person. You should consider scheduling the guided tours at least two weeks in advance. Call 503.823.3664 to make arrangements. The daily free tours are walk-up and worth a visit.



Art in the Garden




Please keep in mind that car parking near the International Rose Test Garden is very limited. Consider the Max Light rail, bus and free shuttle service as alternatives to reach the park. We took the Max Light Rail and the free shuttle to visit the garden.


Washington Park is served by the MAX Light rail’s blue and red lines. You could take MAX red or blue lines from the City City toward (Hillsboro BLUE or Beaverton-RED) getting off at Washington Park. The walk is about 1.8 miles through some beautiful parks and some hilly terrain via the Garden Trails Connection.

Instead, you could catch the free shuttle to the garden that picks you up right outside the Washington Park MAX Light Rail station (see below).


The free Explore Washington Park shuttle is seasonal from the months of April and October stopping at all Washington Park’s major attractions and the Washington Park MAX Light Rail Station.


You can also get to the International Rose Test Garden via bus service via the TriMet bus #63 , which runs from Providence Park to Washington Park. The bus has stops near the International Rose Test Garden and the Japanese Garden.

Explore the following site for other travel and parking options in the Washington Park area



Lan Su Chinese Garden


Lan Su Chinese Garden

A recent visit to Portland, Oregon gave me the opportunity to explore the Lan Su Chinese Garden. This little oasis in the small Chinatown district of  Portland gives you the opportunity to experience a tranquil, quiet, and beautiful environment behind the walls. In addition, you have the opportunity to learn how two cities, Portland and Suzhou; its sister city in China have collaborative to make the most of an authentic Chinese garden outside of China. Learn more about Lan Su


The Walkway

As you enter the garden, you will notice the unique walkway and how the stones are often placed upright or at slight angle. If you care to go barefoot, the stones offer the opportunity for a natural massage.  If wearing lightly soled shoes, you can feel the stones through them as well.  Please be prepared for the rough massage often offered, if deciding to go barefoot.


Views from the Teahouse


Inside the Teahouse


If you have time to take in the atmosphere, consider having tea in the two-story Teahouse. You will find plenty of seating and go up to the second level for the best views of the garden. You will a ticket or have membership to Lan Su as this is the only way to access the Teahouse.


Views from the Second Floor of the Teahouse



Lotus Flower In Bloom


Walkway Shaped Like Lotus Flowers

Learn more about the Lan Su Chinese Garden

Tour Options:

General Admission to Lan Su Chinese Garden

Family Pass Admission to Lan Su Chinese Garden




National Museum of Funeral History

A chance drive by led to a visit to the National Museum of Funeral History.  This museum is located on the north side of Houston just of I-45 at exit 64. The building itself doesn’t stand out and you might just drive by it without giving the industrial-looking facade a second glance. Instead, consider paying the reasonable entrance fee (around $10 or under with discount) and take in the some 35,000 items on display through this museum’s permanent and special exhibits. All of which focus on the history of funerals. Such exhibits include:

Some of the more interesting findings during my tour of the museum continues as follows:

Presidential Funerals Exhibit




Copy of George Washington’s Funeral Bill and Eulogy


News Clipping of Lincoln’s Death


FDR’s Death News Clipping

History of Embalming



The Museum Display of Egyptian Mummification


Early 19th Century Embalming Supplies


Coffins and Caskets


A Glass Coffin

Fantasy Coffins from Ghana Exhibit




Historical Hearses











Hearse of Princess Grace of Monaco



Website Refreshed

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Photo by Pixabay on

You might have noticed that looks a little different as I recently felt like the blog needed a refresh. In taking advice from my fellow blogger, “Living The Q Life” on their Annual Website Review post, I decided it was time to do a refresh of the blog including the theme. Consider leaving feedback letting me know your thoughts on the new layout.



A Visit to Monticello



During our visit to Thomas Jefferson’s historic plantation known as Monticello or ‘little mountain’ in Italian, we explored the house, grounds, and gardens. Monticello as a name sake does fit estate  sites on a hill with wonderful views rolling hills and distance views of Charlottesville. During our time at this historic southern plantation, I learned more about the life of our third president and the intertwined connection of slavery here. This is one of the most visited historic sites in the area. Monticello and the University of Virginia are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites

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Touring the Estate

There are several options to tour Monticello depending on the amount of time that you have to explore the plantation and area. In general, I would dedicate about 2 hours minimum to allow enough time to see most sites of this large plantation. You could spend most of your day here taking a “Behind the Scenes-Tour”, The Slavery-Walking Tour, the Garden Walking Tour, and enjoying time in the museum near the entrance at the foot of the mountain.  In addition, don’t miss the family grave site of the Jefferson.

We took time to do the ‘Behind the Scenes Tour” I do recommend booking tickets early as these sell out fast as a limited number of slots are available. You get to explore the house from top to bottom. Unfortunately, only certain areas of the home allow you to take photo.

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Doom Ceiling


View from the Dome Room


Doom Room


The Cuddy

The Cuddy was a hideaway off ‘The Dome” room that Jefferson’s granddaughters often took advantage of using to get away from the noisy house. Learn more about the Cuddy.

Sally Hemings

Slaves were present and a part of daily activities on Monticello. One of these known enslaved individuals was Sally Hemings. You can learn more about her and the relationship she had with Thomas Jefferson by watch a video online and through exploring a moving exhibit at Monticello.

The Slavery of Monticello Tours is an outdoor walking tour that we took advantage of during our time visiting the UNESCO World heritage site. The tour is included with all ticket purchases and I highly recommend it. Of course, weather permitting.

Finally, we explored the gardens and listened in on the Garden and Grounds Tour , which is another outdoor waking tour of the gardens and grounds of Monticello. This tour is offered a couple of times a day and begins at the fish holding pond with tour hours posted here.



Poppies in Bloom




Views of the Lower Garden


The Walk to The Family Cemetery









Travel Advice – Be Vigilance

Travel Safety

As a frequent traveler, I am careful with guarding my personal effects including my wallet, which is always placed in my front pocket during the warmer months. In the cooler months, I wear a coat that has inside pocket near the upper right or left chest. Throughout all my travels, I have only had one attempt at pickpocketing with someone taking the hotel key (what they probably thought was a credit card) that I placed in my back pocket.

Fanny Pack Wearer Be Warned

Fanny Pack

Photo by M. Garret

I have never been a fan of these fanny packs. They just mess with my style and are just too easy for would-be thefts to gain quick access to your valuable and move on to the next victim. Please avoid wearing such extra items that make you stand out as a tourist and potential victim of the next pickpocket.

Traveling by Train in Europe – My Advice

One of the benefits of traveling in Europe over the U.S. is the exceptionally connected train service. Please don’t let anyone tell you that train travel in Europe is unsafe. Indeed, it is intimidating with some language barriers to manage, but the agents are used to tourist and foreign travelers. When in doubt; just ask ONLY official agents at booth. This will make sense later.
Some of my advice to make your next European train trip make it even safer.
  • Advice #1 – Never Put Wallet in Back Pocket – I haven’t placed my wallet in my back pocket in over 20 years. Never do this while traveling. How will you know it is gone until you reach for it? Instead, move it upfront (front pocket). If you are wearing a jacket, inside the front zipper as most have these areas. While on the metro/train, keep your hands in your pants pockets or near it.
  • Advice #2 – Bring Only What You Need – Cash is often best, but don’t go overboard bring too much so that you stand out in the line when paying. You will also need a credit card. Bring more than just that favorite rewards credit card. I recommend at least two (one for main use-outings) and a back-up credit card (kept safe somewhere). Please look for a credit card that doesn’t charge a foreign transition fee. They are growing in number.
  • Advice 3: Keep to yourself – I know it might seem like strange advice, but the metro/train is where picket-pockets look for their next victim. It is often through casual, unexpected conversation in your native tongue. You get excited that someone speaks your language and next thing you know, something is missing. Avoid speaking to someone who STRONG wishes to talk to you.  Positively, state you are fine or a “no, thank you….”
  • Advice 4: Avoid High Traffic Hours – you don’t want grab that metro/train that is so crowd that you have to squeeze on like sardines. This is makes for prime grounds for pickpockets. Try and book/move to/catch the next train/metro. After all, you are on vacation and why rush?
  • Advice 5 – Why the Purse? – In packing for your European trip, the purse might seem like a wonderful idea. Think twice (if you can) and avoid bring such an easy target for pickpockets. If you must bring it, don’t bring your Hermès, bring something far less expensive. Pack only things that if snatched would not be end of the vacation. 
  • Advice 6 – The Line 9 of Paris – This Paris Métro Line 9 is known to have lots of pickpockets. If you must take it, keep this in mind.
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Not the Line 9, But Like the Photo!

Hope you find my list of travel tips helpful as you begin to plan your next trip. Enjoy!

Cathedrals Of France

A visit through France offers one the opportunity to explore this great European country from its rich history, wine regions, and food. During your tour, consider taking in some of the many beautiful cathedrals dotted throughout the country. Some are within city centers while others stand out as beacons guiding one safely from the sea into the harbor.

Bordeaux France

Bordeaux France

Inside Our Lady’s Church

Our Lady’s Church

Our Lady’s Church or known locally Notre Dame  is in Bordeaux offers some outstanding baroque facade that contrast the simple interior of this cathedral. The chapel features  various trompe-l’œil ornaments, which are a series of 10 religious paintings by Brother André from the 17th century. In addition there are a series of beautiful 19th century stained glass windows, attributed to the famous Bordeaux glassmaker masters Hutrel and Villiet

Mont St. Michel

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Mont St. Michel

Mont St Michael

The Abbey

The Mont St. Michel is very busy welcoming nearly 2.5 million visitors including both pilgrims and tourists. The location of this UNESCO World heritage site in the middle of the bay offers wonderful views. In addition, the entrance to the medieval town below is where you will find the Tourist office. This definitely worth a visit. Learn more about visiting Mont St. Michel 


The Priory of the Sacré-Cœur

As you glance down the side street, you might notice the above building and wonder what this might be? This the Priory of the Sacré-Cœur, which shelters a monastic community of sixteen Benedictine Sisters, who fulfill their vocation of the spiritual and material facilitation of Basilica of Sacré-Cœur.


Basilica of Sacré-Cœur

Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris


Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris


I end this post with a image of the Cathedral Notre-Dame of Paris prior to the devastating fire earlier this year.



Benefits of Traveling

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” – Maya Angelou


Travel should be a joyous experience. A journey in which one can captures the sense of wanderlust and you longing for more destination travel, cultural experiences, new foods to eat, and people to meet. You shouldn’t have to wait until your retirement years to begin traveling. Please read some benefits of travels and perhaps these will inspire you to book your travel locally or far away?

Finding a New Purpose

“To travel is to take a journey into yourself.” – Danny Kaye

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Photo by P. Apichodilok 

Exposure to new ideas, people, culture, and lifestyles makes you further understand your home country. You just might gain an appreciation that you are sharing a small portion of this larger planet we live on with others who often are seeking out the same purposes in life; careers and education goals. If you feel stuck in a rut, consider going on a trip to gain that new sense of purpose and direction.

Appreciate Your Home Even More

I can attest to the fact that being away from after a week or two, that I appreciate it even more and this is often two if traveling to locales that might not have the same luxuries as my place. For instance, a trip to the Serengeti National Park in which we camped in a tent that ran with generator power for a few hours during the day and bathing rain shower offer by a 5 gallon bucket.

We may take for granted our abundance supply of fresh clean drinking water. There are parts of the world, such as South Africa, India, and Ethiopia in which people don’t have as much access to clean drinking water.  Consider exploring for opportunities to support ending the water crisis across the globe. It is through traveling to these areas that one is exposed to others plight and can appreciate what we do have. Sometimes this may one wish to support others to have a greater quality of life.

“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang

The more we travel, the more we realize that our home is so much more than the town, city, state and even country that we’ve grown up in; we realize that our home is the world, this planet, and we become more conscious of how we can harmoniously live and support one another.


Do You Really Know That Much About The World?

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine

You can watch all the shows, read books and magazines; but these are just concepts until you experience travel yourself. The world is often much different once you have experienced it. I still hear the myths that traveling is just too expensive and dangerous. You may realize that you can save more traveling, especially on lifestyle expenses while traveling this great planet of ours. There are many ways to save on travel through booking sites such as  You have the whole world to see, experience, and learn. You can meet new people and experience new culture. Why not travel?

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A pleasure cruiser on the Douro River | Apexphotos/Moment/Getty Images

Life is a Wonderful Gift

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

A cheesy thought as I finish this blog post, but nevertheless. Life is a wonderful gift and we need to experience the most of it and travel. You won’t have many regrets realizing that you have seen this wonderful planet of ours rather staying shying in your hometown wonderful ‘why if I had?” Go on and travel!