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United States of America Off The Beaten Path: 300 reviews and 492 photos
The Rogers, Arkansas, Daisy Airgun Museum
If I asked, "Want to see the Daisy Museum?", you'd probably think it was a flower museum. Not at all. It's a museum in Rogers, Arkansas, that gives the history of the famous Daisy airgun [b-b-gun], located at 202 West Walnut Street and well worth a visit.
Since 1960, Daisy's corporate offices in Rogers, AR, have kept an impressive airgun collection. In 1999, the company chose to utilize that collection to create an entertaining museum to serve as a tourist attraction for the Northwest Arkansas town. In 2004, they relocated the Airgun Museum to this current location. [Old Rexall Drugstore and Soda Fountain]
I found the Daisy Museum to be fun because it brought back memories of childhood with "B-B gun"! I'll never forget my dad always warning never to point a Daisy at any living thing.
The museum has a nice gift shop where memorabilia can be purchased as souvenirs or gifts. I saw traditional and old-fashioned toys, scented soaps that were handmade, and great post cards.
Kids love the fact that they can beg their parents to look at the rifles, pistols, youth guns, ammo, and accessories such as logo caps, posters, and the famous Red Ryder Cowboy Carbine Tin Sign.
You are able to walk through the museum at your own pace. I saw antique Daisy advertisements that I remember seeing as a teenager, antique Daisy airguns [over 145 of them!], a display of primitive airguns dating back to the 1700s, as well as the very latest Daisy airguns.
While in Rogers, Arkansas, don't miss this museum.
Wl-Mark Museum, Bentonville, Arkansas
The main reason that Allan and I drove from Bella Vista to Bentonville, Arkansas, was to see this visitors center and experience the history and origin of Wal-Mart. My sister Ronda has worked at Wal-Mart in our hometown of Robinson, Illinois for years, and I wanted to see for myself what this company is all about.
It truly is an educational and historical facility filled with fascinating displays, videos, photographs, and philosophies. More than that, it is a history of retail. Located in the Walton family's original 5 & 10, it looks like a store from the old dime store days.
There are individual learning stations scattered throughout the facility where I learned about the amazing growth of this company.
I especially enjoyed seeing Mr. Sam's 1979 red and white Ford F-150 custom pickup truck that has about 66,000 miles on it. The truck also has cages on the back for his much-loved hungting dogs. [see third photo]
I also enjoyed the reconstructed Wal-Mart Home Office [left exactly as it was on the day that Sam died!]
In addition, I really loved all of the family photographs, the Sam philosophies, and the memorials to Sam, his brother, and his youngest son [see 2nd photo]
Impressive also was all the information about Sam's wife, Helen Walton who is still living and continues to do numerous good works for this community.
The center is FREE and is open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
Other Contact: 105 N. Main St., Bentonville, AR
Front View of Villas at Amelia Island, Florida
One year in the 1980s, right before Christmas, the school where I taught burned, & my room was completely destroyed. I lost everything &, of course, was quite upset, close to depressed. To cheer me up, my husband booked a Spring Break vacation at Amelia Island, Florida It was one of our best vacations; however, it took us literally 3 years to pay for it!
We stayed in a 2-bedroom golf villa with a golf course view.
Amelia Island is off the northeastern coast of Florida, almost at the Georgia border. Amelia Island Plantation Resort (where we stayed) was developed in the early 1970s with a master plan to protect tidal marshes, conserve oceanfront dunes, grasslands, & savannahs. "An unprecedented 40-foot wide strip of natural vegetation was added as a buffer to all waterways allowing them to remain a wildlife refuge, travel corridors, & food sources."
The Island has 13 miles of lovely beaches that are framed by 40-foot dunes capped by sea oats...simply breathtaking. Because of the salt marshes & moss-covered trees, there are more than 250 types of birds.
While at Amelia Island, be sure to see the fifty-block area of shady streets where you can view 19th-century Victorian "cottages" from Amelia's golden era. What amazing architecture. See the Fairbanks House, nicknamed "Fairbanks Folly" because of its opulent excesses--it's now a popular bed & breakfast.
The downtown Fernandina Beach has stores with antiques, clothing, & collectibles, but it's the architecture that dates from 1873-1900 that's just fascinating. There are gas lantern replicas & wrought iron benches & cobblestone walks.
Also, make sure you visit Amelia Island Museum of History...it's unique because it is a narrative by docents who tell of the 4,000 years of the Island's history.
Even though it was expensive & took 3 years to pay for, we've never regretted our incredible vacation on lovely Amelia Island, Florida
Phone: Museum (904)261-7378
Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina
The largest & most expensive home ever built in the United States is the Biltmore Manor with its 255 rooms. It reminds me of a fairy tale house.
Since the late 1700s, people have been visiting Asheville, North Carolina, to visit George Vanderbilt's, Biltmore Estate.
After Vanderbilt built his home, a great deal of money was invested in the public and private buildings of Asheville...that is until the crash of 1929. Progress was stopped, which, in a way, was good because much of Asheville's fine old architecture was saved.
But, if you have to see just one thing in Asheville, make sure that it is the Biltmore House with its remarkable architecture. It took five years to complete and includes 50,000 pieces of art, antiques, and other furnishings. The distance from the front door of the mansion to the street is 3 miles!
Shops include A Gardener's Place and The Stable Shops. We still have a set of wine glasses with the Biltmore emblem engraved on them that we bought there.
Save at least one day so you can leisurely tour the house, garden, and winery. Also, have lunch at one of the Biltmore restaurants. You might want to visit Biltmore Village, which is a cluster of shops and galleries located in the old employees' quarters outside the Biltmore gates.
Open every day except Thanksgiving & Christmas.
9 am to 5pm
$31.00 for adults
Abe Lincoln's Springfield Home
If you admire President Lincoln as I do, then you must see Springfield, Illinois.
It became the state capital when the General Assembly voted to move the capital from Vandalia to Springfield; it was in the center of the state. That same year, Lincoln moved to Springfield.
It was here that Lincoln met & married Mary Todd They bought a home here; it was the only home that Lincoln ever owned. 3 of their 4 sons were born here. Once elected the 16th president of the US, Lincoln had to leave Springfield; he made a farewell speech from the back of his train that included this remark, "I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return." How prophetic.
After his assassination, a funeral train carried his body to Springfield.
Lincoln Home National Historic Site
You can visit Abe & Mary's home in Springfield. The house contains period pieces (many original).
The Lincoln Home Visitor Center (426 S. 7th St) contains an exhibit of various other Lincoln sites in the area.
The Great Western Depot, where Lincoln delivered his farewell speech, now contains restored waiting rooms & exhibits. The law offices of Abe & his partner William Herndon are located in the surviving portion of a Greek Revival commercial block. There's also the old federal courtroom where Lincoln argued cases.
The Old State Capitol is a Greek Revival structure with a domed cupola & Doric porticos. Lincoln delivered his "House Divided" speech here in 1858. His body lay in state here after his assassination.
Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site
Lincoln's coffin was placed in a white marble sarcophagus in the center of the burial chamber, itself surmounted by a tall granite obelisk. It & much of the statuary are very beautiful. A large bust of Lincoln stands at the approach to the tomb. Lincoln's remains now lie sealed in a vault beneath the floor of this same monument. Three of his sons & his wife Mary are also interred in this monument.
Honolulu House in Marshall, Michigan
My best friend, Marilyn, lives in Charlotte, Michigan, right next to Marshall, Michigan, a real architectural gem. There's a townwide dedication to preserve the past, & this led to a massive restoration. They did this long before it became fashionable; it's been going on for half a century.
I think Marshall looks like a picture-perfect 1800s town. There are blocks of Greek Revivals, Italianate villas, & turreted Queen Annes. The town is filled with antique shops, which Marilyn & I visited.
A land speculator from New York state bought parcels of land, & wealthy families from upstate New York settled here. They named the town after Chief Justic John Marshall; soon, it became the county seat of Calhoun County.
Because the residents, especially Senator James Wright Gordon thought that Marshall would become the state capital, he built a governor's mansion. Alas, they were not chosen as the capital; instead, Lansing received that designation. So, Gordon moved into the home on South Marshall Street. It still stands today, & the locals call the neighborhood that surrounds it, "Capitol Hill".
I loved the old-fashioned dime store that sells most everything, & the local hardward store that reminds me of the 1950s. It's great fun to go in & out of all the brick storefronts. Much of the wares are Victorian in nature.
Oh, yes, Marilyn took me to Schuler's of Marshall to eat. It's a dining institution for more than 50 years. It serves prime rib, delicious filets, freshly baked breads, & a towering ice cream pie that is topped with hot caramel sauce!
The historical society is in the Honolulu House, which looks strange in this Victorian community. But, a former U.S. consul to the Sandwich Island (Now Hawaii) reportedly built the home to resemble one he owned in the islands. Pick up a free walking-tour guide with more than 100 historic houses & buildings..
Indiana Dunes State Park
3 miles north of Chesterton, Indiana, on In49 is Indiana Dunes State Park, & it includes over 3 miles of Lake Michigan's southern shore.
Huge sand dunes rise along the shore;thousands of years ago, the lake deposited sand on the beach while the water level slowly sank. Then, winds blew in from the lake & formed these dunes. When the wind comes over the shore, plants, dunes, & hills slow the wind so that it is forced to drop its load of sand, which, in turn, creates shoreline sand dunes. A really unusual feature is the "blowouts". After many years, the sand blows away & leaves behind dead stumps of what were once living trees. See "blowouts" on Trail #10. It's really quite weird.
Thank goodness, much of the remaining dune area is protected as Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
Additional hiking trails are found in this Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. These trails go by historic structures, woods, wet prairie, ponds, & up to Mt. Baldy.
Mt. Baldy is one of the largest dunes on Lake Michigan's shore. It's known as a "live dune" because it is still being blown along by the wind. It moves 4 to 5 feet farther from the lake each year. I've heard it called the "smoking dune" because the sand blowing off the top looks like smoke.
We had a family reunion there one year. From the beach, we were able to swim. Some of the family went fishing; the children built sand castles; & some of the history buffs explored evidence of Indian heritage at the Bailley Homestead.
Some of the teenagers toured the nature center & learned much about the area, finding out that cross-country skiing is allowed during the winter months. They also found out that it took 50 years to save the dunes; this valuable area was being destroyed by industrialization. After the area was established as a protected area, that led to the acquisition of almost 9,000 acres of dunes & wetlands.
Spend some quality time at the Indiana Dunes State Park, one of nature's real "wonders".
Other Contact: 1600 North 25 East, Chesterton
Phone: (219) 926-4520
Mackinac Island's Downtown
On our trip around Lake Michigan, one of our stops was Mackinac Island (pronounced Mackinaw). Because no cars are allowed on the island, we took a 20-minute ferry ride across the Straits of Mackinac.
Oblivious to the fact that I'm quite allergic to horses, we proceeded to tour this enchanted island of horse-drawn carriages.
The island's name means "Great Turtle" because it resembles the humped shell of a turtle coming out of the water.
Without car noises and smells, you feel as though you have gone back a century in time. Boats & planes deliver mail, supplies, & groceries as well as tourists.
Just off the ferry docks is the main street called Huron Street. Take a stroll to smell the fudge being made; two of the best fudge makers are Murdick's and Ryba's. Walk east on Huron & then up Fort St. to the White Fort Mackinac. Use the 150-foot-high ramp to reach South Port Entrance. Here, you can see the Officer's stone Quarters (island's oldest bldg.) and the Soldier's Barracks.
After walking Market Street with its old houses with hanging flower baskets, we went to Marquette Park to where carriages are lined up to rent for a tour around the island. We then saw the Grand Hotel (1887) with its 660-foot porch (over 2 football fields in length) that has many rockers and multitudes of geraniums. After the hotel, we were taken to the horse stables. Suddenly, I could not breath, and my throat closed up. The same thing happened to another girl on the tour. Authorities rushed us to the ferry, and we were off. As soon as the fresh air hit us (& we were away from the horses), we could breath again!
Even though I strongly suggest seeing Mackinac Island, I, myself, cannot return.
Located in Lake Huron a few miles east of St. Ignace at the divide between Michigan's upper & lower peninsulas.
Clifty Falls State Park in Indiana
For all the people who think that Indiana is flat, just visit Clifty Falls State Park one mile west of Madison on Indiana 56.
Clifty Falls has been called "one of Indiana's greatest beauty spots".
For me, one of the most beautiful sights for me was seeing all the Beech and Maple woods that surround the waterways.
This state park is about 1,400 acres and has an inn and swimming pool. There are also tennis courts, shelters with fireplaces for picnicking, concessions, and a playground for children.
But, what makes Clifty Falls State Park so special is the view that it provides. Visitors are able to see the Ohio River and the Kentucky hillside at one time.
Walkers and hikers are able to explore multiple trails that lead to waterfalls, a boulder-strewn canyon, and fossil beds. The canyon "sees" the sun at high noon only.
Furthermore, it's a great place to go in the winter. If you love birds as I do, you'll be interested in knowing that this is the spot to see winter vulture roosts. It's really quite amazing. (The Inn is open year round.)
The waterfalls of Clifty Creek and Little Clifty Creek are lovely. To learn more about these waterfalls and the wildlife, you are able to visit the nature center.
1 mile West of Madison on IN 56
Phone: 812 265-4135
Amana Villages in Iowa
Near Cedar Rapids, Iowa,visitors are able to see original and restored buildings, craft and furniture shops as well as museums connected with the Amana Society, a German Protestant religious society. The Amana Colonies are seven communities that are spread over 26,000 acres along the Iowa River Valley in Eastern Iowa. Today there are about 1500 residents who are usually descendants of society known as the Colonies of True Inspiration who fled Germany to the United States to escape persecution.
The seven villages are laid out in a kind of old-world style, and the entire settlement (475 sites & buildings) is a national historic landmark. That's probably why it is also Iowa's number one tourist attraction.
At first this community was a "communal lifestyle place"; today, it is part of a free enterprise system.
I found the plain churches quite quaint. They have no stained glass windowns or any ornate items. We were told that women sit on one side of the church, and men sit on the other side. No ministers preside; instead, lay elders conduct the services.
Interestingly, in the graveyards, only plain stone markers are used; their reason...to show that all people are equal in the eyes of God. Each of the seven villages has its own cemetery.
The people in the seven communities produce clocks, cheeses, wine, hardwood furniture, meats, and woolens. All of these are available for purchase in the shops throughout the villages.
You might know that I would like the Chocolate Haus the best. They make hand-dipped fudges and chocolates from 100-year-old recipes.
I noticed that there are plenty of hotels, motels, and Bed & Breakfast in the area for those who wish to stay over.
It's obvious to see why more than one million people visit the Amana villages every year; it is quite unique.
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