Category Archives: Places Unseen

Seein’ the States: Recent and Upcoming Travels

December:

Las Vegas for our first wedding anniversary! It was fabulous as always. It was my second trip and Eric’s first. We had a fantastic time in our gorgeous luxury GO suite at the Flamingo and trekking all over the Strip. We did get slowed down a bit by an unfortunate case of tendonitis I developed – talk about painful! Because of that we did not make it over to Sam’s Town, the Stratosphere on the North End, the Vegas sign on the South end or to downtown (Fremont Street or “Old Vegas”). However, that’s what follow-up trips are for! We hope to get out there again this summer and experience “hot Vegas” for once.

Austin, a first time trip for me, for a week for business. Didn’t get out to see much on this first trip which didn’t bother me because I knew I’d be back at least twice in 2014 – but I definitely ate my weight in Tex-Mex. One of my best friends, Beth, made the trip down from Lubbock to visit on my last night there which was GREAT. I stayed at the Courtyard Marriott Airport Austin which I highly recommend. I’m finally at Elite Silver status for Marriott which is encouraging me to seek out Marriotts more often.

Corpus Christi for Christmas with my wonderful in-laws! I got the grand tour, including stops at the Texas State Aquarium and Padre Island, and ate lots of great food including fabulous Puerto Rican homecooked Christmas dinner. We also ate at a great restaurant in San Antonio. Christmas this year will be in KG, but I’m sure we’ll be back to Corpus again before then. His parents very nicely put us up in a Residence Inn Marriott.

January/February:

-Return to Austin for nearly two weeks – this time my husband joined me for a good deal of the trip. It was nice to have him there and we did lots of fun things including walking all over the famous 6th Street, where we visited a quirky arcade bar, bought way too many books at BookPeople, chilled out in a city park, and ate a ton of good food including a fabulous meal at one of Sandra Bullock’s restaurants, Bess Bistro. Sadly, it was not bat season or we would’ve seen an impressive display from the winged critters, some of Austin’s most famous residents! I will be back in April. And yes, it was the same Courtyard Marriott again – impeccable service!

Albuquerque, another first time trip, for another long business trip of about 12 days. I love it! I had seen New Mexico before, but only briefly. ABQ is full of friendly people and gorgeous views. Even the highways are decorated with art – glowing blue “mountains”, pottery jars, a giant rattlesnake – and in the background you can see the lovely Sandia Mountains. Eric flew out just for the weekend and we saw two old friends (and groomsmen) of his, Seth and Mike. We discovered we love New Mexico’s famous green chile at the Owl Cafe with Seth and tried a homegrown ghost chile at Mike’s (and some tasty homemade peanut brittle made with ghost chile by his father-in-law). We rode the tram up to Sandia Peak and ate at the High Finance restaurant at the top while snow whipped around outside. I stayed at a Residence Inn at the “25” development.

Upcoming trips include (for work) Miami and Austin and (for play), our annual Lynch family Beach Week to the Grand Strand in September! I’m also trying to plan a birthday-week trip driving up the East Coast to visit Portland, Maine. That would add at least three new states to my U.S. state checklist! Currently, I’m just 20 states away from having all seen all 50.

My current U.S. “states visited” map courtesy of visitedstatesmap.com:

50 states map30 down, 20 left to go!

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What Vegas Was: The Glass Pool Inn

One of the many wonderful old pieces of Las Vegas was the Glass Pool Inn, a relic from a very different time on the Strip. It stood across Las Vegas Boulevard on the Southern end. (If you hiked just past Mandalay Bay you’d find it soon after on the opposite side of the road.) Built in or before 1952 as the Mirage Motel, the Inn changed names in 1988 after selling the name to Steve Wynn, who, as you might have guessed, applied it to his glamorous, gleaming, sprawling new resort. The new Mirage was a sign of things to come – an era of new behemoth resorts that would continue to dislodge the roadside motels like the old Mirage.

But the little two-story Inn down the street was quite famous in its own right for its lovely above-ground pool, whose round porthole-like windows allowed swimmers a view out onto the road from their aquatic piece of heaven. The new name of Glass Pool Inn was catchy and the new sign, with its aqua blue pool-shapes, looked like it should have been there all along.

Although much beloved, the Inn was torn down in 2004 for reasons I can’t quite figure out. I haven’t yet seen where there are any plans to build a new resort or casino at the site. I’m sure one will eventually spring up once Vegas makes a full comeback from the economic downturn that left incomplete and abandoned resort/casino projects in a few places on the Strip. In 2012, the motel’s sign was cut down with the intention that it would be put up in the Neon Sign Museum on Fremont Street (downtown Vegas). But then the sign vanished from the (locked, gated) lot. To date no one has any clue what happened to it, but the fear is that it was sold for scrap metal.

Like so many things, the Glass Pool Inn sign lives on in Google Maps!

Like so many things, the Glass Pool Inn lives on in Google Maps!

Check out a pic of the gorgeous pool here at LasVegas360.com: Nice panoramic shot

One Month Migrations

I often find myself dreaming about the kinds of trips I’ll take if I ever get to a point where I have a full month’s leave at my disposal. Heck, even three weeks *might* do it for some. Here are some of my favorite goals:

-My aboslute must-do for me: a full trek down the original path of Route 66!
-A month in Japan would be dreamy.
-A trek around Australia, New Zealand, and nearby islands (especially Christmas Island)!
-A full tour of South America complete with voyage to Antarctica, the Galapagos, and Easter Island
-A full Europe tour – with stops in every country, some more leisurely than others. I would of course take plenty of time for my lovely Dutch friends!
-A trek across Africa which would include Zambia, Botswana, South Africa, and Lesotho (especially that crazy airport!) at a mimimum
-A Middle Eastern tour, to include Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, Israel, and the Bamiyan Valley of Afghanistan
-A proper Asia tour
-Travel by train, plane, and boat around New England, Canada, and Alaska
-A cool month to jet-set through to every single U.S. state and territory I’ve yet to see
-A full drive down the West Coast. I’ve only ever been to Sacramento.

Ultimate Dream: One of those crazy world cruises where you just live on a boat for several months and go EVERYWHERE. I think we’ll save one of those for when my salary is a little closer to Doris Buffett’s, however.

What would YOU do if you had a month to travel anywhere you chose? (Would you even travel at all?)

Some Kicks on Route 66!

A trip I’m planning on taking in the next year or two is a drive down the entire length of the original Route 66. I was surprised to see it takes less time to make this drive than I’d envisioned. Some of the original route has been preserved, some has been absorbed into the interstate systems, and some is ready to become one with the earth again and makes for some rough riding! I would love to make a real Great American Road Trip and spend my tourist dollars right here at home! And why not this decommissioned historic road with what remains of its lovable kitschy statues, motels, and abandoned structures?

Here are some of the things I most want to see on Route 66:

  • The Catoosa Blue Whale statue in Catoosa, Oklahoma. Read more about him at the Oklahoma Route 66 Association.
  • The Wigwam Motels in San Bernardino, California, and Holbrook, Arizona. Contrary to the name, travelers stay in their own private tee-pees. A third surviving Wigwam Motel can also be found in Cave City, Kentucky. Book a room at the California Wigwam here or a room at the Arizona motel using this page.
  • The “living ghost town” of Oatman, Arizona, where wild burros roam and wild west attractions are said to be quite popular. Check out some pictures and more information here.

Oh, and then there’s stuff like Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert, Petrified Forest, Santa Monica Boulevard … I guess that stuff is cool too. *wink*

You can find out more about Route 66, including turn-by-turn descriptions (as it’s obviously not on the maps anymore) at this Historic Route 66 page. A book is mentioned on the page that sounds useful and I also found a documentary on Netflix (called simply, Route 66, with 3 discs total) – I’ll be watching and taking notes to plan. I doubt I’ll have enough leave to execute this trip in 2012 unless we cancel our Mediterranean cruise, so 2013 is a likelier possibility.

I also plan to attend the Detroit International Auto Show in January 2012, just for the weekend. I think I mentioned that already. I like cars. Maybe I’ll get to test drive an Equus.

Well, it’s off to my favorite watering hole down the street for a late dinner and a beer or two. I hear they have some new buffalo egg rolls. (Old Arlington Grill, I’m talking about you!)

Confidential to my old friend New Orleans: Hang on, I’m coming for you!

Places Unseen: Melody Key

It’s been a while since I did a travel article. I’ve been working on several; my work days are just so busy, and then I have the novel, and I feel so lazy at the end of the day that the last thing I want to do is stare at the computer some more (especially since it’s screwing with my eyesight). But I’m trying out a new series of blog posts along with all the others I already have planned. (I’m also trying out a new blog format – what do you think? The font is sure easier on my eyes.) I’ll be putting the spotlight on places I haven’t seen, but find unique, and would LOVE to visit. Tonight, I’m going to talk about Melody Key.

Melody Key is one of the many private islands for sale off of Monroe County’s Florida Keys. At 5.5 acres, this is truly a tiny piece of paradise. For just $4.9 million, it can be yours!

The island was originally known as Money Key, supposedly because of pirate loot that was discovered there following the lawless days that pervaded the Keys in the late 1800s. In 1995, a three-story residence was built on Money Key which provides 360 degree views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Money Key was purchased by musician Nick Hexum, lead singer of 311, in 1997. Hexum petitioned Monroe County and the U.S. Geological Survey to change the name to Melody Key. He felt the new name more appropriately reflected the island’s romantic, lush setting, and on a more personal level, the inspiration it provided him for his songwriting. The name change was made official in 2005.

Today the island is for rent starting at $7,800 per week. It is quite gorgeous-looking and boasts impressive amenities, including some 2006 renovations. The rental price includes a 5,000 square foot parcel on Summerland Key, 25 miles away, where you can park your car and then boat on over. Oh, and the boat’s included in the price too!

Learn more about Melody Key at these links, which I used to find all of the above information:

Welcome to Melody Key: Official Site
Private Islands Magazine’s Melody Key page
Private Islands Online: Melody Key’s Market Listing

Next up: A place very few people ever visit. I almost gave Eric a heart attack tonight when I told him I want to go there sometime.

A Beauty Left Behind: Boldt Castle

Some of the world’s most beautiful places are there in whole or in part due to a love story. The Taj Mahal is one example of this. Boldt Castle is another.

In sixth grade, I took a simple reading class as an elective. The class basically consisted of a bunch of kids lying around reading books of our choice and occasionally doing a brief project on what we’d read. Needless to say, it was my favorite class. At the end of the year, the teacher let us choose books to take home from a huge bin of old discards from the library. One of the books I picked was a 1969 children’s mystery paperback, Secret Castle by Anne Colver. The fictional story took place in the real-life setting of the Thousand Islands archipelago in the Northern United States and Canada. The “secret castle” in question is Boldt Castle. The real-life story behind it is mentioned in the book and it’s quite the tearjerker (or at least I think so!). George Boldt, then the owner of a couple of famous hotels (including the Waldorf-Astoria), began construction on a castle on the heart-shaped Heart Island in 1900. The castle was to be a glorious symbol of his love for his wife, Louise. But then tragedy struck in 1904:

“Boldt telegraphed the island and commanded the workers to immediately “stop all construction.” Louise had died suddenly. A broken hearted Boldt could not imagine his dream castle without his beloved. Boldt never returned to the island, leaving behind the structure as a monument of his love.”
-Retrieved from “History” at the Official Boldt Castle website:
link

This terribly sad story has left behind one gorgeous landmark in Alexandria Bay, New York. I would love to see it someday. If you are interested in learning more about Boldt Castle, check out the official website, which offers pictures and descriptions, history, a virtual tour, and plenty of visitor info for planning a trip: Official Boldt Castle Website: Alexandria Bay, NY in the Heart of the Thousand Islands.