Special Places

Charleston S.C. We liked this town! The narrow cobblestone streets, city market, and waterfront provided a fun-filled day. We stayed on nearby James Island County Park, which was extraordinary. It featured a Christmas light show unlike anything we've ever seen. Huge light displays sponsored by corporations lined the park roads. A parade of vehicles came to take in the spectacle. The light display would have been enough for most parks, but James Island County Park did not rest on its laurels. It also featured an outdoor ice rink (while it was 70 degrees) that seemed to attract the whole city. We marveled at the quality of the park and its facilities.

batlship.jpg (31327 bytes) We visited the battleship USS North Carolina in Willmington, NC. Mark's father served on this ship in WWII. Commissioned in 1941, the USS North Carolina was the first of the fast battleships built by the U.S. Navy in World War II. During that war she earned 15 battle stars and participated in every major naval offensive in the Pacific. She had a crew of 2,339 and a top speed of 28 knots. An ice cream parlor, post office, shoe repair and barber shop were some of the conveniences on board. It was a floating city. When first commissioned, radar was not present on the ship because it had not yet been developed...
plymouthplan1.jpg (13382 bytes) Plimoth Plantation goes to great lengths to re-create the details of 17th-century life. Furnishings, clothing and everyday utensils are reproductions of objects produced during the period. We had the opportunity to speak with "pilgrims" and learn about their life. It's time travel you won't soon forget. It is located in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and is a nonprofit, living history museum.
icerink.jpg (24329 bytes) New York City was one of our favorite places and this page would not be complete without a picture from THE CITY. Rockefeller Center, located in the heart of Manhattan, was always busy and alive with people and events. From ice skating to election day coverage, this was a great place to soak up the energy of the city.

librtbell.jpg (10138 bytes) independencehall.jpg (15056 bytes)

Philadelphia was perfect following Boston, the North Bridge, Lexington, and Concord. We stopped for the day and toured the historic area. Independence Hall was getting a face lift, but the crack in the Liberty Bell remains unchanged. The sacrifices and courage of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence were brought to life.

sdview.jpg (7729 bytes) A view of San Diego from Cabrillo National Monument. San Diego is a special place.


saguarca.jpg (6453 bytes) The Saguaro Desert near Tucson was a magical experience... Haunting in its starkness, beautiful on its own terms, the desert exerts a hold on the soul.


powell.jpg (13001 bytes) This bookstore is said to be the largest in the free world. It is located in downtown Portland, OR, and be prepared to spend an afternoon. Bet you can't buy just one.


budbech2.jpg (5960 bytes) Oops! This was Buddy's favorite place. In Coronado, California, they have a designated dog beach. One Saturday we witnessed up to 50 dogs and their owners bonding on the beach. It was truly a funny scene with dogs impressing each other with their beach skills.


mac107.jpg (8597 bytes) At MacDonald Observatory outside Ft. Davis, Texas, we spent an especially educational and fun day. The staff was outstanding. Here we are learning about the 107-inch telescope. That night we came back for some star gazing. The celestial view is amazingly vivid.


whaleb.jpg (4723 bytes) Seven Seas Whale Watching Line provided free tickets on one of their boats. From Gloucester, Mass. we traveled 30-40 miles to feeding grounds. We saw about 50 whales, including humpback, minke, and fin. One whale breached right next to the boat, and we saw into its huge mouth.


yfalls.jpg (10617 bytes) We spent several days in Yosemite National Park. It is spectacular, beautiful, and awe-inspiring. Upper Yosemite Falls pictured here drop 2,500 feet. The valley floor provides a platform from which to witness nature unleashed.


sfccar.jpg (13018 bytes) This picture was taken from our cable car in San Francisco. We climbed on and hung off the side -- just like in the movies. San Francisco is a jewel.


riverford.jpg (16796 bytes) This was our all-time favorite hike, an unforgettable and challenging experience into Waipio Valley along this dream-like river on the Big Island of Hawaii . We forded the river several times to take advantage of what little trail existed, climbed boulders, and slipped on rocks as we made our way through rain forest to the pool at the base of two unbelievable waterfalls. We swam in the pool and let the falls shower us.
jacksq.jpg (10170 bytes) Jackson Square in New Orleans was too impressive not to be included on this page. Certain images of this city stand out clearly. In the heart of the French Quarter, this park is surrounded by a flagstone pedestrian mall and centered by a statue of General Andrew Jackson, the hero who defeated the British in the Battle of New Orleans. The mall is alive with street vendors, artists, and clowns.

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Betsy Blondin Mark Blondin