It’s easy to figure out why there’s a National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio. The Packard brothers started out in Warren in 1899. Within a decade the company, known for its high-quality cars, was based in Detroit and neither Packard sibling was associated with it. But their legacy lives on in their hometown in northeast Ohio.

National Packard Museum Packard logo on tailfin
The snazzy two-toned tailfin on a 1956 Packard Caribbean

The museum hosts Packards built from 1900 to 1956, ranging from a 1900 Packard Model B (the second-oldest surviving Packard) through a rare assemblage of three 1956 Packard Caribbeans. (Two of which are seen at the top of this story.) A sentimental favorite is the 1941 Packard LeBaron chauffeur-driven limousine that was owned by Mrs. James Ward Packard. (Shown below.)

1941 Packard LeBaron limousine

Packards are also know for their elegant hood ornaments, two of the more elegant versions are shown below:

The 1953 Henney-Packard Ambulance (shown below) served at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma. Inside there was a large medicine cabinet, lifesaving equipment and seats that converted to beds. They saw service globally by the U.S. military.

1953 henney Packard ambulance

There’s an extensive collection of archives from the Packard family and the Packard Electric Company (which still exists as part of Delphi Automotive), memorabilia, and a handful of Packard marine engines. Check their schedule for annual events that include a Packard legacy weekend (devoted to the car whose motto was “Ask the man who owns one”) and a motorcycle show.

Visiting the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio

Number of vehicles: 30, plus special exhibits throughout the year.    

Highlights: 1900 Packard Model B (the second-oldest surviving Packard); 1911 Model 30 Detroit Fire Department Squad Car; 1927 Sterling Knight (the last car made in Warren, by a short-lived venture); 1956 Packard Caribbean Push-Button Automatic Convertible.

Location: 1899 Mahoning Avenue N.W., Warren, OH 44483. About 60 miles southeast of Cleveland.

Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m.

Phone: (330) 394-1899     Web: www.PackardMuseum.org

If you found this post useful, why not share it to your Pinterest boards?

Other things to do in Warren, Ohio

If you’re visiting Warren, there are a few attractions that may interest you. In addition to classic cars, the small town offers several sights related to a few of our key interests: space exploration and rock-and-roll.

Site of Neil Armstrong's first flight in Warren Ohio

Neil Armstrong went on his first airplane ride in Warren when he was only six years old. Bitten by the aviation bug, just thirty-three years later he was kicking up lunar dust as the first man on the moon. The airfield from which he took off in a Ford Tri-Motor is long gone; to paraphrase Joni Mitchell, “they paved paradise and put up a McDonald’s parking lot.” But in a corner of the lot “First Flight” park commemorates the historical site with a replica lunar module occupying pride-of-place in the center.

Dave Grohl alley drumsticks Ohio

Warren must have something for commemorations with a fast-food connection. Drive just three miles southeast from the lunar landscape to a Burger King at David Grohl Alley. It’s hard to miss since it’s decorated with the world’s largest pair of drumsticks (they’re each 23 feet long) that are set up like a teeter-totter. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Grohl was the drummer for Nirvana and is now the frontman for the Foo Fighters. The town where he got his start remembers him with this small street that is decorated with dozens of rock-themed murals in addition to the jumbo drumsticks.

Visitor information:

Warren is located in Trumbull County. www.ExploreTrumbullCounty.com/

Changes in Longitude Larissa & Michael Milne at Arctic Circle

We’re Larissa and Michael, your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive updates and valuable travel tips subscribe to our free travel newsletter here.

Introducing the updated and expanded 2019 Second Edition of the perfect tool for anyone who loves vintage and collector cars!

The 2nd edition of the Roadster Guide to America’s Classic Car Museums & Attractions is now available. The 400-page road warrior was published in April 2019 and is the ultimate travel guide for vintage car buffs

Hemmings Motor News–the bible of the collector car hobby–says “No car enthusiast should hit the road without this book,” while the Detroit Free Press called it “Vacation planning for car lovers.”

This guide is a valuable travel resource for anyone who wants to discover classic cars, from Model As to 280Zs. Organized geographically, it helps car buffs plan motor-themed road trips, or find a museum close to home.

There are more than 300 attractions featured in the book. The museums range from the well-known, like the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, to smaller ones like the Franklin Museum in Arizona and the Studebaker Museum in Indiana. Vintage car lovers will find many places they have never head of before featuring the Brass Era, Classic Cars, Tail Fins, Muscle Cars, racing, sprint cars, trucking and more.

There are also many auto-themed attractions like the Tucker Trail in Pennsylvania; along with oddities like Cadillac Ranch in Texas; Carhenge in Nebraska (think Stonehenge, but with 1950s sedans buried in the ground); and the world’s largest tire in Michigan, which was a Ferris wheel at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Bring this book along on your next road tip to discover fascinating car places.

There are 60+ black-and-white photos in the book. They’re not color because then the book would have to be printed in China (like so many other books are) to keep the price reasonable. But I wanted the books to be printed in the USA.

I greatly appreciate your interest in this exciting project that helps keep America’s auto legacy alive.

To order on Amazon: Roadster Guide

From guest writer Mark (an Indy native)~ Headed to Indianapolis for the Indy 500 or a conference? Looking for something else to do besides sit through another boring PowerPoint presentation? If you’re looking for other activities in town you’re in luck because there are many unique things to do in Indianapolis.

Newfields: Indianapolis Museum of Art, Gardens and More

Indianapolis Museum of Art, LOVE statue. Photo courtesy of Visit Indyphoto courtesy of Visit Indy

If you’re looking for a some culture, you can find a wide array of it at Newfields. This vast complex contains several terrific points of interest. The Indianapolis Museum of Art boasts a collection that spans the world and millennia and includes over 100 acres of nature park and estate gardens. The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: 100 Acres is exactly what the name implies and Oldfields  Lilly House & Gardens is a historic 26-acre estate filled with gardens, fountains & statuary. You can spend a whole afternoon wandering the grounds without ever making it inside the museum.

Mark’s tip: Grab some barbecue from Hank’s Smoked Brisket down the road on MLK Drive and have an impromptu picnic. Best part is that general admission to the museum and the grounds is free.

See the “reel” life Hoosiers at Butler University’s Hinkle Fieldhouse

Hinkle Field House, Butler Universityphoto courtesy of Mark from The Time to Go is Now

Butler University is located near the Indianapolis Museum of Art and is a great place to wander around. Stop by the Holcomb Observatory & Planetarium and take a gander through their telescope. (Yes, we still say “gander” in Indiana 😉)

Go see a basketball game at the historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, home of the Butler University Bulldogs, decades of Indiana high school basketball history and the climactic scene of the movie Hoosiers. Hinkle Fieldhouse is to basketball what Lambeau Field is to football and Fenway Park is to baseball. Hyperbole? Not to Hoosier basketball fans.

Try a Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

Pork Tenderloin sandwich, Things to do in Indianapolisphoto courtesy of Mark from The Time to Go is Now

The word “tenderloin” is usually associated with beef except in Indiana where it refers to pork. (Okay, and San Francisco but that’s not food related.) Indiana has been one of the top pork producing states since the 19th-Century. While other places took their pork to the smoker, we took ours to the fryer. The Indiana pork tenderloin sandwich features a cut of pork tenderloin pounded thin, breaded and fried (think schnitzel) and then served on a bun. Darn near every restaurant, diner and bar has one on the menu but not all are created equal. I’m not offering any favorites because I’m not starting an argument here, but a Google search will help you find one.

Gangsters and Presidents at Crown Hill Cemetery

Crow Hill Cemetery-Things to do in Indianapolisphoto courtesy of Mark from The Time to Go is Now

Crown Hill Cemetery is one of the largest cemeteries in the United States. Its elevated vantage point offers great views of downtown. The wooded grounds create a park-like setting to stroll or ride a bike on the twenty miles of roads. It is home to a who’s who of Indiana history including president Benjamin Harrison, Col. Eli Lilly (founder of the pharmaceutical company that bears his name), and Depression-era gangster John Dillinger.

Race Over to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Indy 500 Trophy, photo courtesy Visit Indy

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a monument to fast cars. If you’ve never been to a big time race the Indianapolis 500 is the one to attend. It’s held every year over Memorial Day weekend, and tickets are available and affordable.

If you can’t make it to race weekend, check out the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, which is open all year. There you can see race cars from open-wheeled racing’s glory days when speed, safety and sanity were pushed to—and in many cases beyond—the limit. (photo courtesy of  Visit Indy)

Take a Hike at White River State Park & Canal Walk

White River Canal Park, Things to do in Indianapolisphoto courtesy of Visit Indy

On the west side of downtown Indianapolis, White River State Park offers several attractions in a very small area, many of which are connected via the strollable Canal Walk. For history and culture, check out The Indiana State MuseumThe Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art and the Indiana Historical Society; all are accessible via the Canal Walk.

For more active pursuits, cross the pedestrian bridge over White River and visit the Indianapolis Zoo and White River Gardens. Catch an Indianapolis Indians game at Victory Field, a wonderful stadium to watch AAA baseball. Interested in music? The Farm Bureau Lawn at White River Park hosts a summer concert series. Traveling on the cheap? Pack a picnic and find a spot outside. You may not see the band, but you’ll hear the whole show.

Beer Here

Black Acre Brew Pub-Things to do in Indianapolisphoto courtesy of Visit Indy

Indiana was once home to a thriving brewery industry (we are in the German Triangle after all) only to have it virtually wiped out by Prohibition. In the last twenty years Indianapolis has gone from having a couple of dedicated brew pubs to several brewers putting out many lines of quality beers. Sun King, Black Acre, Flat 12, Fountain Square, Bier, Broad Ripple Brewpub, Brugge Brasserie, Oaken Barrel, Triton, Planetary there are more, but that’s a good start.

Tour Monument Circle and War Memorials

Things to do in Indianapolis-War memorials and Monument Circle

Like a smaller version of Washington, D.C., Indianapolis loves its war memorials. The Soldiers & Sailors Monument on Monument Circle is right in the middle of the original city plan.  Dedicated in 1902 the monument houses a Civil War museum and observation desk that offers a nice view of downtown. If you’re feeling energetic you can climb the 331 stairs for free or pay $2.00 to take the elevator. A short walk north will take you to the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza and the American Legion Mall featuring more walkable green spaces with parks, fountains, monuments and memorials. photo courtesy of Visit Indy

Bike the Indianapolis Cultural Trail

photo courtesy of Visit Indy

Six years in the works, the Indianapolis Cultural Trail is a network of bicycle and pedestrian paths that connect the various cultural districts of downtown Indianapolis allowing for quick and safe movement around the downtown area. It also features several installations of public art. Rent a bike for the day and explore downtown. Venture out to the Massachusetts Avenue & Fountain Square cultural districts. There are more than enough restaurants, bars and shops to keep you occupied.

Like it? Share it . . .Pin it!

The American city of Indianapolis offers many interesting sight beyond the famous auto race.


Mark and Julie-The Time to Go is NowGuest writer
 Mark and his girlfriend Julie quit their jobs at the end of 2013 and embarked on a 12 month round-the-world backpacking trip. His blog, The Time to Go Is Now, documents their trip, and travels beyond.

 

 

 

Changes in Longitude Larissa & Michael Milne at Arctic Circle

Larissa and Michael are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive our free updates and valuable travel tips subscribe to our travel newsletter.

Is Graceland worth visiting? August 15, 2019 marks the 42nd anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death, and “The King” is more popular than ever. Below is our review of visiting Graceland, which reflects updates to the facility unveiled earlier this year.

The Elvis Presley Graceland home is a required pilgrimage for Elvis fans. Graceland Memphis TN is one of the most popular Memphis attractions, but with tickets ranging from roughly $40 to over $150, is Graceland worth visiting? We set out to see if a tour of the Elvis house was worth the price.

BEST VALUE: The Elvis Experience Tour

QUICK ACCESS: Elvis VIP Skip the Line

There are many different options for visiting, which we share below (along with our candid opinions). A lot depends on how much of a fan of “the King” you are, along with how much time you want to spend, and of course your budget.  If you are a fan going to Memphis to walk in the footsteps of your musical idol then Graceland is a must. If you’re just passing through and are simply curious, it may not be as high a priority. (Although we do share a free hack for a quick visit at the bottom of the post.)

VISITING GRACELAND? COMPARE HOTEL PRICES

We’re casual fans. I like his music but I’ve never seen one of his movies in its entirety (Larissa has–I think it’s a “girl thing”) and I owned only one of his albums. Despite this, we were pleasantly surprised to find there was plenty to see, and it was one of the best Memphis tours that we took.

Graceland Memphis|Elvis Presley Graceland|Memphis toursThe entrance to Graceland: Elvis Presley’s legendary home

Graceland Tours

There are ticket packages with different options about what you can see, which range from below $50 to over $150. Since prices are subject to change we are categorizing them into 3 general price ranges:

  • Low: Under $50
  • Moderate: $50 to $90
  • High: Over $90

1. The Graceland Mansion Only

(Price category: LOW) Includes: an audio-guided tour of Graceland, Elvis’ house, only. While this is the least expensive option, at around $40 it’s not exactly cheap; we don’t think it’s the best value.

2. The Elvis Experience Tour

(Price category: MODERATE) In our opinion, this is the best value. It’s about $20 extra, but you get to see a LOT more. This package includes the Graceland Mansion, plus full access to the all-new Elvis Presley’s Memphis Entertainment Complex, which includes three self-guided exhibits:

  • Presley Motors Automobile Museum: A great collection of Elvis’ favorite cars
  • Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum: Gold records, the funky jumpsuits and more
  • Elvis Discovery Exhibits: A collection of exhibits (some rotating) that showcase different facets of Presley’s life, such as his Army years and growing up in Tupelo, MS.

Book the Elvis Experience Tour

[BEST OVERALL VALUE]

 3. The Elvis Experience + Airplanes Tour

(Price category: MODERATE) includes the above plus self-guided tour of Elvis’ jets–which Larissa insisted on, since she is a total plane geek. The Airplanes Tour is a few dollars extra. (Note: same tour as above, simply select the “tour the planes” add-on option.)

Book the Elvis Experience + Airplanes Tour

[BEST OVERALL VALUE . . . FOR PLANE GEEKS (Like Larissa)]

 4. The Elvis Entourage VIP Tour

(Price category: HIGH) includes the above plus “Front-of-the-Line” mansion access, a Keepsake Backstage Pass and a Self-guided tour of Exclusive VIP Exhibit.

Book the Elvis Entourage VIP Tour⇐  

[RECOMMENDED for BUSY TIMES]

(NOTE: Most of what you are paying for on the VIP tours is the ability to skip the line. We visited at 2:30 on a weekday afternoon in late August and there was absolutely NO line. We strolled through the house practically on our own and had the Jungle Room all to ourselves. However, if you’re visiting on a weekend, or during a special event, it may be worth the extra money.)

 5. The Elvis Entourage VIP + Airplanes Tour

(Price Category: HIGH). So you have to pay an extra few bucks to see the airplanes if you purchased only the Elvis Entourage VIP Tour. You still get the ‘Front-of-the-Line” mansion access and the backstage pass.

Book the Elvis Entourage VIP + Airplanes Tour

[For BUSY TIMES/AIRPLANE GEEKS]

6. The Elvis Entourage VIP Tour (With Transportation)

(Price Category: HIGH) This is a good option if you’re staying in downtown Memphis and don’t have a car (or don’t feel like dealing with parking hassles). You get a full-day pass to the attractions listed above (Airplanes a modest surcharge), along with regularly scheduled shuttles to/from several Memphis hotels.

Book the Elvis Entourage VIP + Transportation Tour

[For those without a car in Memphis]

7. The Ultimate VIP Tour

(Price category: HIGH+). If you just won the lottery this is the tour for you. Instead of touring the mansion via a self-guided audio tour you get a personal guide plus: transportation for your tour of Graceland Mansion in special vehicle, access to Ultimate Lounge at Elvis Presley’s Memphis, options to purchase special merchandise only available to Ultimate guests, a meal with table service at one of the Elvis Presley’s Memphis restaurants, Exclusive Photo Opportunity, Personal Graceland Archives Show and Tell Session and the Keepsake Backstage pass. We didn’t take this tour, so we can’t recommend it. But to us it seems like a lot of extra doodads you could purchase at the souvenir shop, along with a meal at a restaurant that’s open to the public anyway.

Elvis Presley Pink Cadillac at Graceland|Memphis attractions

Elvis’ favorite car was this pink 1955 Cadillac he bought for his mother . . . even though she couldn’t drive!

Even if you’re not a fan we recommend the Elvis Experience Tour. It helps put the whole Elvis “Phenomenon” into context, and gives you a greater appreciation for the impact Elvis Presley made on music and pop culture in his relatively short life. You’ll see the car museum (I’m a classic car guy, and included the Presley Automobile Museum in my guide to classic car museums, so I had to see that) and a few more exhibits. If you want to pay more to go inside the airplanes is up to you. You’ll only be inside them for a few minutes tops. (Well, most people will be–Larissa was in there for half an hour!)

Graceland jungle room|Elvis Presley Graceland|Memphis tours

Ah, yes, the infamous Jungle Room at Elvis’ Graceland.

Inside Graceland: Jungle Room & more

Graceland mansion includes Elvis’ house, which is not that large for someone who was larger than life, along with the paddock with his father Vernon’s office, and racquetball court. It’s interesting to walk through the rooms where he lived (except for the off-limits second floor) and get a sense of the man, or at least his lavish taste in decoration.

The Jungle Room is legendary for what some consider its tackiness. Woe unto anyone who had the misfortune to die in the 1970s and have their design choices from that funky era of shag carpeting and garish colors be memorialized forever. On the plus side, a prerecorded guided tour with headsets is included with the admission ticket, most places charge extra for that.

The tour of the grounds ends beside the in-ground pool with a somber visit to the Meditation Garden containing the graves of Elvis and his family. A stone marker also commemorates his twin brother Jesse, who was stillborn. [Note: If you simply want to pay your respects, here’s a free hack: the Meditation Garden is open daily from 7:30am to 8:30am for free walk-up visits.]

elvis grave graceland|Elvis Presley Graceland|Memphis attractions

Elvis’ tomb. He is buried here, along with his family, including his twin brother Jesse (who was stillborn). 2017 is the 40th anniversary of the Elvis Presley death.

Elvis Presley’s Memphis: multiple museums and displays

On the west side of Elvis Presley Boulevard, you’ll find Elvis Presley’s Memphis, a recently-opened entertainment complex that houses the other museums and exhibits. [These are included in all tour packages except the “Mansion only” tour.] This is where you’ll find Elvis’ collection of gold records and those famous jumpsuits.

Other displays include videos of his early TV appearances and costumes and memorabilia from his movies. You can also see the outfits that he and Priscilla wore for their wedding. (BTW, if you’re seeking a gift for the Elvis fan in your life, those costumes shown at the top of this post are available in the gift shop for a mere $2,000 and up.)

There are also two restaurants–Vernon’s Smokehouse and Velma’s Diner–along with a coffee shop. This makes it easy to pace yourself through the many exhibits. We took a break, had a peanut butter & banana sandwich (Elvis’ fave) at Velma’s, and were refreshed and ready to continue exploring.

graceland racquetball court|Elvis Presley Graceland|Memphis tours

Jumpsuits and gold records: a hunk a hunk o’ burnin’ love.

Visiting Graceland: Practical Stuff

The Graceland tour is well organized. The ticket office, museums, jets, gift shops, restaurants and rotating displays are on the west side of Elvis Presley Boulevard, while the mansion is across the road. Visitors board shuttle buses to enter the mansion grounds. Once you’re over there, it’s just the house, some outbuildings and the Meditation Garden, so it is not overrun by commercialism.

One negative aspect was the parking charge. I could understand this during busy times and festivals, but on a midweek afternoon the lot was virtually empty and we still had to pay $10–effectively adding five bucks to each of our admissions. I wasn’t too happy about that. It looked like there might have been free spaces on the street, but we didn’t discover that until later.

Graceland Hours: Monday-Saturday from 9am to 5pm; Sunday 9am to 4pm for most of the year. Winter hours and holidays might be shorter–best to check the website.

Graceland Address: 3765 Elvis Presley Blvd., Memphis, TN 38116 (about 20 minutes south of downtown Memphis)

Where to Stay: There are several hotels near Graceland. Check Prices!

For the full immersion experience, the best choice would be The Guesthouse at Graceland, which is part of the Graceland complex. (It didn’t open until after our visit, but you can bet we’re going to try it the next time we’re in town!)

fried peanut butter and banana sandwich|Elvis Presley Graceland|Memphis attractions If you made it this far you may as well stop at Gladys’ Diner for The King’s favorite sandwich: fried peanut butter and banana.

Our Verdict

So is visiting Graceland worth it? While it depends on your level of fandom–and we’re not crazy fans–we still felt it was worthwhile. It’s not like visiting a zoo or fine arts museum, which you can find in any major city. There is only one home of King of Rock and Roll; Graceland is unique and we’re glad we went.

For more opinions on whether Graceland is worth seeing here is a discussion on Fodors.

🎶 I saw the ghost of Elvis on Union Avenue

Followed him up to the gates of Graceland

Then I watched him walk right through

Now, security did not see him

They just hovered round his tomb

But there’s a pretty little thing

Waiting for the King

Down in the Jungle Room 🎶

~Marc Cohn, from his song Walking in Memphis

Like it? Share it . . .Pin it!

Is graceland worth visiting|Elvis Presley Graceland|Graceland Memphis TN|Memphis attractions

28581550060_131210d7e7_mWe’re Larissa and Michael: your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive monthly updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

LeMay Family Collection EdselThe LeMay Family Collection grew out of the automotive obsession of one man, Harold LeMay. He grew up as a humble farm boy, served in World War II, then returned to Tacoma to start what became one of the largest privately owned rubbish-hauling companies in the country. When his collection topped 3,000 vehicles, it was listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s “Largest Antique and Vintage Vehicle Collection.” The museum sprawls across the former home of the Marymount Military Academy, with cars and memorabilia tucked into every possible corner, including the former showers and indoor rifle range.

LeMay Family Collection car museum

Tours of several of the buildings are led by knowledgeable volunteers who are passionate about cars. One of the things that make the LeMay Family Collection unique is its wide range of vehicles on display. Tucked in between the showstoppers are ordinary cars from yesteryear; it’s almost like walking across a supermarket parking lot around the year 1972. The collection doesn’t stop at cars; there are also fire trucks, wreckers, tractors, and buses on display.

In the White Building, vehicles are stacked in so tightly that some are on three-tiered racks. Despite the inconvenience of displaying them, they are exchanged frequently with hundreds of cars in off-site storage so those can be seen, too.

LeMay Family Collection car museum

A Soviet-built 1974 Gaz Chaika Limousine sits next to a U.S.-made 1955 Packard on which it was modeled, highlighting the progress (or lack thereof) of the Soviet automotive industry. The Chaika was so out of style that it’s probably the only 1970s car that sported tail fins. The 1948 Tucker has a special story: It’s the one car that always got away from Harold LeMay. In a closing of the circle, his family purchased it after his death.

Tailfin at LeMay Museum at Marymount

I’m always trying to find my first car, a 1975 Pontiac Firebird, in a museum. Here they had a ’74 and a ’76, so that was close enough to relive my glory days. TV/film cars include a 1969 Charger “General Lee” from The Dukes of Hazzard; the 1948 DeSoto Suburban Sedan that was the Cunningham family car on Happy Days; and a 1986 Cadillac Brougham that was used as a presidential limo in The American President and In the Line of Fire.

Edsel at LeMay car museum

A special event occurs on the last Saturday in August, when shuttle buses take visitors a few miles to the LeMay family home; there, another 200+(!) vehicles are on display. Believe it or not, the family is still adding to the collection. NAAM member.

To see more autos that were owned by LeMay, visit the LeMay-America’s Car Museum that was created with a sizable gift of cars from the LeMay family.

Visiting the LeMay Family Collection

Number of vehicles: 500+     Highlights: 1948 Tucker (#7 of 51); 1959 Opel P-1 that set a record for 376 mpg (that’s miles per gallon, not mph); 1976 Chevrolet Vega Cosworth; 1938 Graham Custom 97. Note: For more about the Opel, go to www.376mpg.com.

Location: 325 152nd Street, Tacoma, WA 98445. About eight miles south of LeMay–America’s Car Museum.

Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Regularly scheduled tours of about two hours run throughout the day.

Phone: (253) 272-2336   Web: www.LeMayMarymount.org

Here’s the link for more stories about classic car museums.

Lately we’ve noticed escape rooms popping up everywhere in our travels. We did our first one in Prague last year and really enjoyed it. We were intrigued when we heard about an escape room at the Lock Museum of America in Terryville, Connecticut. A lock museum?  It seemed like the perfect location for it.

Lock Museum of America Escape Room Adventure Game

What is an escape room?

An escape room, or adventure game, is typically an attraction where 2 to 6 people are locked in a room where they have to solve various clues to find the key to get out. Typically they have an hour to solve the clues that involve wordplay, simple mathematics, puzzles, common sense, matching up photographs, jigsaw puzzles, and more. You don’t need to know any facts, like what’s the population of Los Angeles, to solve the clues. Phones are not permitted so no Googling!

Lock Museum of America Adventure

How is the Adventure Game at the Lock Museum of America different than other escape rooms?

Lock Museum of America Escape Room Texaco LockFirst of all, the Lock Museum of America is an incredible site for this concept. You are surrounded by one of the largest collections of unique antique locks and keys in the world, many of which were made in Terryville during its industrial heyday. (Well, except for the 4,000-year-old lock from ancient Egypt that is the oldest artifact in the collection.)

Rather than being locked in a room, which many people find stifling, players have free rein throughout the museum. In fact, they need to roam through several rooms to solve the clues. (This is why it’s called an adventure game instead of an escape room.) A volunteer is standing by to provide clues in case the players get stuck.

 

Lock Museum of America Adventure Game

The theme of the Lock Museum of America Adventure Game is based on an Indiana Jones-type tale of an Egyptian Pharoah’s gold that is hidden in the museum. Participants must solve the clues to solve the mystery. I’ve watched people play the game and, at first, it seems impossible. Where to start? What’s even a clue?

But gradually the players work their way through the clues and, with a few hints along the way, solve the puzzle. It’s definitely challenging, and also a lot of fun. Compared to other Escape Rooms I’ve played, I like the free-wheeling atmosphere of going from room to room. Plus the setting, surrounded by antique locks, is certainly unique.

More information about the Lock Museum of America Adventure Game

The Lock Museum of America is open from May through October. The Adventure Game is open on weekends during that time. Reservations must be made in advance. For more go to Lock Museum of America Adventure.

Lock Museum of America Adventure Room

 

Larissa and Michael are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive our free quarterly newsletter with updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

I’ve spent a major chunk of the last two years dragging Larissa around the country visiting car museums and auto attractions.  During that time, I’ve branched out from my travel writing about road trips for the Philadelphia Inquirer to writing articles about car museums for Hemmings Motor News,  Read more

Playing pinball across America

Back in 2011, when we sold our home and jettisoned our possessions to start our global odyssey, one item we missed was our Genie vintage pinball machine. Fortunately, there are plenty of places to play pinball across America, one of which is not too far from our former hometown of Philadelphia. We’ll even show you how to find your favorite pinball games to play around the world.

Pinball Hall of Fame Las Vegas

Pinball Hall of Fame, Las Vegas, NV: For a break from the flashing lights of the casinos, head two miles off the strip to the National Pinball Hall for some flashing lights of a different nature. Aficionado Tim Arnold has over 250 vintage pinball games on display and, best of all, they are in tip-top playing condition. Tip: To really stretch your playing time seek out the older machines where you still get five balls for 25 cents. www.PinballMuseum.org

playing-at-pinball-hall-of-fame-las-vegas-america

Seattle Pinball Museum, Seattle, WA: Located in Seattle’s Chinatown district, this museum is run by the husband and wife team of Cindy and Charlie Martin. More than 50 games are available for a single admission fee. www.SeattlePinballMuseum.com

Pacific Pinball Museum

Level Up Arcade, Eugene, OR: This combination arcade and bar is popular with students from the nearby University of Oregon. Although it’s a bar, those under 21 are allowed to play until 9 p.m., after that it’s time for the grown-ups to act like kids on the 25 pinball machines. www.LevelUpArcade.com

26261435421_086a579370_z

Free Gold Watch, San Francisco, CA: Maybe the odd name of this pinball arcade has something to do with its funky location in the heart of Haight-Ashbury. This is a popular venue for local pinball leagues and tournaments. Free Gold Watch

Pacific Pinball Museum

Pacific Pinball Museum, Alameda, CA: Located in the shadow of San Francisco on Alameda Island, this arcade takes the title of museum seriously by offering classes on the cultural history and unique artwork of pinball in America. To make all this learning fun, five rooms are packed with 100 historic machines on which to play. www.PacificPinball.org

D & D Pinball, Tucson, AZ: In Tucson’s hip “Fourth Avenue District,” 29 games are set up for play. A popular hang-out for University of Arizona students.  It’s worth the trip to see the very cool pinball-themes murals painted by Nicolas Sanchez. 331 E 7th St, Tucson (NW corner of 4th Ave & 7th St) D & D Pinball

genie-pinball-machineSilverball Museum Arcade, Asbury, Park, NJ: Closer to home, the Silverball Museum Arcade provides a festive time right on the Asbury Park boardwalk. While it’s billed as a museum, it’s definitely of the “please touch” variety as you can play the more than 100 games (and Michael can play his beloved Genie) for a reasonable hourly fee; so there’s no need to keep reaching for quarters. And since this is the Jersey Shore after all, you can also feast on funnel cakes and salt-water taffy from the café. Note: They’ve also opened an arcade called the Silverball Museum in Delray Beach, Florida. We haven’t been to that one yet but it’s on our list. www.SilverballMuseum.com

Whether you’re traveling from Soho or down to Brighton and you want to play them all, here’s a handy website to find pinball machines around the world during your travels: pinside.com/pinball/map

Pacific Pinball Museum

We’re your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive monthly updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

During the two years I spent driving around the country visiting car museums for my new book, the Roadster Guide to America’s Classic Car Museums & Attractions, I was pleased to see the high number of car museums in Pennsylvania, my home state. Here’s a review of a handful of these car museums in Pennsylvania, including the opportunity to see five rare Tuckers in one day.

Car Museums in Pennsylvania

Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum

Simeone foundation Museum Philadelphia

The Simeone is a hidden gem located in a former engine remanufacturing facility near the Philadelphia airport.  In 2014 it was awarded “Car of the Year” for its 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe. The museum owes its existence to the passion of one man, neurosurgeon Fred Simeone. Over the course of a half-century he’s collected over 60 of the world’s greatest racing cars, all of which still run. Come for the popular twice-monthly “Demonstration Days,” when you can watch some of the cars get taken for a spin on the 3-acre back lot.

The oldest vehicle here is a 1909 American Underslung that raced in long-distance events. Other cars are displayed according to where they raced (Watkins Glen, Bonneville Salt Flats, Brooklands, and more) or by the races they entered. Among them are Le Mans, the Targa Florio in Sicily, and the Mille Miglia. With so many sleek Italian racing cars on display, the museum sometimes looks more like a modern sculpture gallery.

Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles

Mister Softee truck Boyertown vehicle museum

Founded in 1965, the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles includes gasoline-, steam-, and electric-propelled vehicles as well as toy cars, carriages, and sleighs. The main exhibit area occupies the former Boyertown Auto Body Works, where truck bodies were built from 1926 through 1990. A few of these trucks have returned home and are now on display. The focus is on Pennsylvania-built cars, reflecting the Keystone State’s importance in the early development of the automobile.

The 1872 Hill is one of the earliest autos in existence. Teenager James Hill built it in Fleetwood, PA. The 1913 SGV Touring Car, built 15 miles west of here in Reading, featured a push-button transmission. One of my favorite vehicles is a 1958 Ford Mister Softee Ice Cream Truck just like the one that blared the ubiquitous theme song around my neighborhood when I was a kid; they were all built in this building.

The museum also features roadside architecture, with a 1921 Sun Oil cottage-style service station and the 1938 Reading Diner.

William E. Swigart, Jr. Automobile Museum

Two Tuckers Swigart auto museum Pennsylvania

The William E. Swigart, Jr. Automobile Museum seems an unlikely place to spot not one, but two Tuckers, yet here they are. One of them might be considered the Tucker: the coveted 1947 Tucker ’48 Prototype Tin Goose—the very first Tucker made along with another Tucker 48, one of only 51 ever produced.

The rest of the museum features a rotating exhibit of 35 of the approximately 150 cars purchased by Swigart and his father, insurance tycoon W. Emmert Swigart.  There’s also the largest collection I’ve ever seen of international license plates and antique car logo badges. The photo below shows just a few of them.

antique car insignias Swigart Museum

Note: The Swigart Museum is open from Memorial Day weekend through October 31.

Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) Museum

AACA Museum hershey Kissmobile

The Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) Museum in Hershey, is the home of three Tuckers in the newly created Cammack Tucker Gallery. The vehicle made famous in the 1988 movie Tucker: The Man and His Dream is one of the classic cars most prized by collectors.  The gallery is filled with Tucker-related paraphernalia including engines, parts, and mechanical drawings. The newest exhibit at the AACA Museum is a tribute to driving along Route 66. It’s rare to see buses in museums and the AACA doesn’t disappoint: In the lower level is the Museum of Bus Transportation that contains a rare look at this form of transportation. Included in the collection is a 1959 GM Coach that made an appearance in Forrest Gump.

Rolls-Royce Foundation

In appropriately named Mechanicsburg is a salute to the pinnacle of automotive luxury. Tucked away on a winding, two-lane country road, luxury car aficionados will find the Rolls-Royce Foundation, a museum and library celebrating the coveted vehicles.

Rolls Royce car Museums in Pennsylvania

The main gallery holds about a dozen Rolls-Royces and Bentleys, the brand purchased by Rolls-Royce in 1931. A skeletal 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom, shown without a body, demonstrates just what a discriminating buyer got for all that money. Initially Rolls-Royce provided only the high-end engines and chassis, not the complete vehicles we see today. Customers took the engine to an independent coach builder to customize, which is why each early Rolls model was virtually unique.

Grice Clearfield Community Museum

Its not often you find a car museum where a wild turkey is lurking among the cars; the turkey in question here is a stuffed one that’s frozen in time alongside a tail-finned 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air. Lynn “Scoot” Grice, an avid hunter, founded this museum where more than 800 stuffed trophy game mounts share space with 75 automobiles.

Grice Clearfield car museum in Pennsylvania

One of the highlights of the collection is the display of seven Crosley cars; built by Cincinnati industrialist Powell Crosley, the quirky, compact-sized autos have a cult following. Another rarity here is a 1932 Rockne, a model produced for two years by Studebaker as a tribute to the legendary Notre Dame football coach who had died in an airplane crash the year before. Studebaker was headquartered in South Bend, Indiana, also the home of Notre Dame.

Eagles Mere Auto Museum

1947 Ford Sportster Woody wagon

In the bucolic town of Eagles Mere (located just north of Little League World Series setting Williamsport) the Eagles Mere Auto Museum and the Eagles Mere Air Museum offer glimpses into the bygone days of road and air transport.

Eagles Mere car museums Pennsylvania

Car museums Pennsylvania Eagles MereThe collection of 75+ cars offers a huge “wow” factor. The focus is on American-made cars and trucks from the 1950s and ’60s, including a “Class of ’69” section with ten Chevy Camaros sporting different styles and engine configurations that will have Muscle Car fans drooling. There’s a collection of six “woodie” station wagons with my favorite, a 1947 Ford Sportster Woodie Convertible. (Pictured above.)

At the Eagles Mere Air Museum, all of the vintage aircraft, including a 1917 “Jenny” biplane, are regularly taken out and flown. In addition to almost 30 planes, the museum sports a collection of reconstructed vintage engines, along with exhibits of rare artifacts celebrating early aviation pioneers.

Roadster Guide to America's Classic Car MuseumsThe second edition of my book, the Roadster Guide to America’s Classic Car Museums & Attractions, provides greater detail for each of these car museums in Pennsylvania, plus many more in the Keystone State. Pennsylvania offers a real bonanza for vintage car buffs.

 

 

Classic car museums in Pennsylvania|where to see antique cars in Pennsylvania|Car museums in Pennsylvania|Simeone museum|Swigart museum|AACA Museum Hershey PA|Eagles Mere car museum

28581550060_131210d7e7_mLarissa and Michael are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive our free quarterly newsletter with updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

When we first heard about driving the Loneliest Road in America—otherwise known as U.S. Highway 50—that crosses the barren hinterlands of central Nevada, we were intrigued. In a 1986 article for Life Magazine, the American Automobile Association had this to day about it:

“There are no points of interest. We don’t recommend it. We warn all motorists not to drive there unless they’re confident of their survival skills.”

Yikes! They make the road sound like something from a Hank Williams song. Well, once we heard that, we just had to see for ourselves if their description was true . . . or perhaps prove it wrong.

Nevada state tourism has embraced the once-derogatory moniker of "The Loneliest Road" with special road signs

Historic road through mountain passes

Decades before the Interstate Highway System was built,  two-lane U.S. 50 was the primary route across Nevada, linking its Utah and California borders. It’s also an historic road: it was once part of the Lincoln Highway—America’s first transcontinental route—that was proposed in 1913 to connect New York and San Francisco. Fifty years earlier the Pony Express also crisscrossed this path.

Crossing from Utah into Nevada on US Route 50 at a desolate gas station.

We started out at the Utah/Nevada border, at what may well be the “Loneliest Gas Station in America,” and, like all good pioneers, headed west. We were tracing the path of the early settlers who passed in Conestoga wagons without the benefit of power steering, GPS or extra horsepower under the hood. Tumbleweeds and the remnants of scattered vegetation provided some color as we set off into the Great Basin Desert.

Unexpectedly we started climbing over a 7,000-foot elevation mountain pass in what became a pattern on this roller coaster drive. Stone markers indicating a portion of the historic Lincoln Highway that shares the Loneliest Road in Nevada were installed by the Boy Scouts in 1928 to aid motorists and commemorate America's first transcontinental route.Upon reaching the peak the straight, two-lane road swooped down into a vast prairie before disappearing into the next mountain range 30 miles down the road. In total the drive undulates through seven high desert valleys, providing an array of earth tones and sage greens that form a soft contrast to the vivid blue Nevada sky dotted with stark white cumulus clouds.

The Lincoln Highway joins Highway 50 in the former railroad hub of Ely, 65 miles west of the Utah state line. You can still see remnants of that historic route in the form of concrete signposts marked with an “L”; the Boy Scouts of America placed them there in 1928 to guide motorists while commemorating the road’s namesake, Abraham Lincoln. However, with the vast desert stretching to the horizon on either side of the road, it would take one very confused driver to get lost here.

Old trains, vintage opera houses and mid-century neon

Ely hosts one of the biggest attractions along Highway 50: the Nevada Northern Railroad Museum. The 56-acre historic train yard and depot have been restored to how they looked in 1907, when local copper mines filled the burgeoning need for telephone and electrical lines in America. Visitors can even ride on a train powered by a circa 1910 Baldwin steam locomotive that was built in Philadelphia.

Two "campers" who spend their vacation tinkering with trains at the Nevada Railroad Museum in Ely, Nevada along the state's Loneliest Road

An elderly gentleman clad in striped denim overalls, sporting a glorious white beard and hoisting a giant monkey wrench mentioned he was one of the campers at the museum. Somewhat confused, we found out the museum offers its own version of a “fantasy camp”: a weeklong session where adult train geeks can tinker on actual equipment.

The Hotel Nevada, along Nevada's Loneliest Road in the town of Ely, remains little changed from 70 years ago.

77 miles farther west, the silver-and-lead mining town of Eureka bills itself as the “Friendliest Town on the Loneliest Road.” In the 1880s, when the smelters were cranking out at full speed, it was named “The Pittsburgh of the West.” With an ornate circa 1879 opera house and museum in the former offices of one of Nevada’s oldest newspapers, The Eureka Sentinel, which was founded in 1870 during the mining boom, Eureka could easily serve as a Western movie set.

The Victorian-era buildings that line the main street of Eureka, Nevada are a well-preserved testament to the once-bustling commerce along the Loneliest Road

Ghost towns and ancient stones

Lovers of ghost towns—and all things abandoned—will love this drive. All along the Loneliest Road, just over the hill to the north or south intrepid souls will find the vestiges of life once lived with gusto. Two miles outside of Eureka, the former mining hamlet of Ruby Hill lies abandoned to the elements. Some of the corrugated tin-roofed buildings scattered along a small gully still house the furniture of prior residents–a sobering reminder of why these are called ghost towns. Among the silvery juniper bushes and piñon trees, cactus flowers blooming in bright fuchsia provide vivid splashes of color.

The abandoned ghost town of Ruby Hill lies just off the Loneliest Road outside of Eureka, Nevada

Midway across the state, Route 50 shakes hands a few times with the path of the old Pony Express. A handful of crumbling stations are still hunched over by the roadside. This area is desolate even now, imagine the plight of the lonely mail rider galloping through during the service’s brief life?

On the eastern outskirts of Fallon, the desert yields an archaeological surprise close to the road. At Grimes Point, a quarter-mile walking trail reveals rust-colored basalt boulders marked by geometric petroglyphs of circles and wavy lines, some of which were struck almost 3,000 years ago by indigenous peoples. Even more remarkable considering the parched desert environs, going back 12 millennia this spot was 400 feet below the surface of a lake.

Petroglyphs from 3,000 years ago offer an intriguing diversion at Grimes Point, along Nevada's Loneliest Road

F-18s and freedom ringing

The town of Fallon is perched at the western terminus of the “lonely” portion of highway that Life magazine referred to in 1986. Known as the oasis of Nevada (which admittedly isn’t saying much), Fallon boasts a rare patch of green in the state and is famous for its luscious cantaloupes and as the home of Fallon Naval Air Station, where the pilots made famous in the movie Top Gun now train; it’s not unusual to see (or rather hear) a pair of F-18 Hornets roaring overhead.

Sand Mountain, a 600-foot tall sand dune, sits alongside the Loneliest Road, just east of Fallon, Nevada.

Nearing the California state line, motorists will note an incongruous sight in the capital of Carson City. In front of the Nevada State Museum there’s a full-sized replica of the Liberty Bell. In 1950 one was given to each state as part of a U.S. Savings Bond drive. But why does the bell look so much different than the original that is displayed in Philadelphia? This one lacks the famous crack.

A replica of the Liberty Bell--from a 1950s US Savings Bond drive, occupies pried of place in Carson City, Nevada along the Loneliest Road

At this point, we were ready to let freedom ring ourselves. We had driven the length of The Loneliest Road and lived to tell the tale. Though there were indeed some desolate stretches, there’s a particular beauty in the landscape along with haunting sights of a bygone era. It’s well worth the journey.

Pick up a "passport" to chart your progress along Nevada's Loneliest RoadNote: Rather than grouse at the slur on their character, the towns that form the bone-dry vertebrae along the spine of the Loneliest Road chose to make the best of it. They created a passport-like “Official Highway 50 Survival Guide” that highlights points of interest on the route. Intrepid travelers who have it stamped at stations along the way qualify for an “I Survived Highway 50” certificate and souvenir upon completion. Now what could be better than that?

Like it? Share it . . .Pin it!US Route 50 across Nevada--the so-called "Loneliest Road in America"--offers a glimpse into the past, along with stunning scenery

We’re global nomads who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011 seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive monthly updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

It was the summer of 1969 and, as Old Faithful was about to send its regular timed flume of scalding hot water about 140 feet into the air for a spectacular sunset performance, the crowds gathered in hushed anticipation. The geyser had been doing so like clockwork for eons and was one of the main attractions of Yellowstone National Park.

Old Faithful geyser scheduleMeanwhile, a nine-year-old Mike Milne (your humble storyteller) had somehow locked himself into the bathroom of the room he was sharing with his family at the Old Faithful Inn; mere steps from the geyser. They were on the trip of a lifetime and this was the moment they had been waiting for, save for a recalcitrant key that had somehow become jammed in the lock. As his older brother wailed from outside—“C’mon, we’re gonna miss it!”—the pudgy young lad (who also wore glasses, he was quite a dreamboat back then) struggled with the key, but to no avail. He didn’t get to witness Old Faithful on that fateful day and, like General Douglas MacArthur, vowed to someday return.

Decades later Yellowstone has become one of the most popular destinations in America as streaming caravans of tourists make their way to the rugged sight: Yellowstone is the fourth most visited national park, with over 4 million visitors per year. During Michael’s first visit in 1969 the park was popular, but nothing like this. Low cost airfare and a more mobile society have created massive crowds during the summer. But Yellowstone is magical—and relatively empty—in the fall, a season that’s perfect for snuggling up to a warm fire in the lodge and donning the first cozy sweater of the season.

Chromatic pool visiting Yellowstone in the fall

The park itself is aflame with the blazing leaves of quaking aspen, bigleaf maple, and cottonwood trees turning a brilliant yellow, and seems to operate on a slower pace. Deprived of the manic energy of all the summer visitors, it follows the lead of its grizzly bears and starts settling down for a long winter’s slumber.

Yellowstone Park waterfall

We visited in early October, just a week before most of the park closed for the year. This off-season period is the perfect time to enjoy the sights that make Yellowstone justly famous, without struggling for elbow-room while you do so. It’s worth noting that many of the park’s lodging options have also closed for the season by this point, so unless you reserve months ahead at one of the few lodges still open, you’ll have to stay outside the park. Fortunately, there are several routes to take into Yellowstone, with the towns nearby each offering their own flavor of Western life and good food and lodging options.

Buffalo Bill Museum of the West

Fifty miles from Yellowstone’s East Entrance, Cody, Wyoming transports visitors back to cowboy times. The town, founded by “Buffalo Bill” Cody, offers the spectacular Buffalo Bill Center of the West, a collection of five national-caliber museums under one roof. A member of the Smithsonian Affiliations program, it’s hard to imagine a better place to round out your Western education. Whether your interests are natural history, firearms, the local indigenous people, Western art or Buffalo Bill himself, you’ll find something to get you in the cowboy spirit.

Yellowstone park in fall buffalo

Note: This photo was taken with a zoom lens. Do NOT get close to the wildlife!

A day driving through the northern regions of the park took us past stunning vistas for which the park is justifiably famous. With virtually no one else on the road, we were able to explore at leisure. Occasionally, we’d spot a few cars pulled over by the side of the road, a familiar signal that there was wildlife in the vicinity to view. The bison proved particularly photogenic, especially when they chose to stop in the middle of the road and not budge for several minutes. We hadn’t seen any elk . . . until dusk.

45th parallel sign Yellowstone Park

A few hundred of them (yes, hundred) crossed our path, as we were leaving the park just after sunset. We bunked in for the night in the tiny hamlet of Gardiner, Montana, which sits just across the state line at the park’s Northern Entrance. Gardiner gives visitors a glimpse of life in days gone by, with only a few buildings and small motels lining the streets, many of which are unpaved. Later that night, that same herd of elk paid us a visit, moseying down the streets of Gardiner as if looking for their own room for the night.

Jackson wyoming antlers in park

From the southern approach, the town of Jackson offers the most sophisticated taste of the West near Yellowstone National Park. The village is located in the valley of Jackson Hole about 60 miles south of the park’s South Entrance, a drive that passes through Grand Teton National Park, with its breathtaking views of those rugged peaks.

Moose walking in jackson Wyoming

Jackson attracts high-end visitors who seek comfort mingled with a dose of ruggedness in their travels, which might explain the moose calf ambling along the side of the road as we drove into town. Our room at Spring Creek Ranch, perched high above the valley with the Grand Tetons in the distance, made Michael observe that the town had come a long way since his first visit, when the airport gates were literally two wooden gates, like you’d find in someone’s backyard.

Spring Creek Ranch Jackson Wyoming

The view from Spring Creek Ranch.

Meanwhile, back at Yellowstone we made our way to Old Faithful, located mere steps from the Old Faithful Inn with the balky bathroom door. (In Michael’s youthful memory it was over a mile, but whatever.) The geyser is showing its age a bit and is not quite as “faithful” as it used to be, emitting its scalding steam within a small range of times now. The crowds awaiting the sunset display were speaking in hushed tones, as if they too had succumbed to the languid rhythm of the final week of the season at Yellowstone. A small burst of steam shot into the sky, followed by the full force of the geyser. The setting sun turned the watery display into crystals jetting across the sky. It was magical, and more than made up for the 45-year wait.

Larissa Michael Milne Old faithful geyser

Decades later little Mikey Milne finally gets to see Old Faithful erupt.

Visitor Information:

28581550060_131210d7e7_mLarissa and Michael are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive our free quarterly newsletter with updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

SaveSave

The expression that there are two sides to every story is never truer than at the Battle of Little Bighorn, the site of Custer’s famous Last Stand. Even the site has had two names; it was originally named after the vanquished George Armstrong Custer. In 1991, recognizing modern sensibilities, President George H. W. Bush signed into law the name change to its current one: Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. Custer’s rash decisions that day cost the lives of all 209 men (including two of his brothers and a nephew) under his immediate command. It didn’t really make sense for him to be honored for his actions.

I’m surprised that such an overwhelming defeat hadn’t happened to Custer sooner. He had been a risk taking soldier earlier in his career in both the Civil War and the Indian Wars. His prior actions in battle led to a few close calls. His continued success despite long odds led to a sense of hubris and destiny on his part.

He also had political aspirations and hoped that further success on the battlefield would be a springboard to a successful candidacy. In typical audacious Custer fashion, he had designs on being president someday. His father was almost a century ahead of Joe Kennedy in pushing for one of his boys to occupy the White House.

Battle of Little Bighorn

Last Stand Hill

I spent two days touring the battlefield. Dominating the area is Last Stand Hill. The headstones of Custer’s men are scattered about like a boxer’s broken teeth and enclosed by a Victorian wrought iron fence. The rest of the battlefield looks much as it would have looked on June 25th, 1876; basically a vast windswept prairie. However the devil is in the details. The tours give you the opportunity to listen to the story of the battle from the vantage point of both the winners and the losers.

On the first day I attended a talk by a Park Ranger about the battle. He gave such a vivid presentation that with the presence of a few war whoops and rifle shots you would have thought you were there during the fight. He spoke of how the Indians had been repeatedly pushed off their lands as American expansion led increasingly further west. How they had finally settled in the Black Hills area of eastern Wyoming. Here they were granted a permanent reservation by the government in 1868.

Unfortunately for the natives, gold was discovered in the Black Hills in 1874. This was all fine and dandy except that the location of the gold strike was also in the middle of the newly formed reservation. Initially the army tried to keep out the hordes of gold fevered settlers but it was just too much. The Indians left their reservation and started raiding the interlopers. In 1876 the Indian Wars resumed in full.

I was at Little Bighorn at the start of the annual motorcycle rally in nearby Sturgis, South Dakota so there were many bikers at the ranger talk. Hearing this tale of constant betrayal by the American government, one biker turned to another and said, “You can only kick a dog so many times before it jumps up and bites you.”

Not to compare the Indians to dogs of course, but to point out the obvious. You bully someone enough and they come back to bite. The evidence of those teeth marks lies all around the battlefield in the form of stone monuments to fallen soldiers.

The next day I returned for a different tour. Native American guides who are students at nearby Little Big Horn College take visitors on a one hour tour of the battlefield. After boarding the van our guide Brian said, “There are many versions of what happened here that day. Today you are going to hear my version.” As the van drove slowly through the battlefield Brian used an arrow (minus the sharp tip) to point out various sites along the way.

This tour was told more from the Indian’s point-of-view. Brian recounted from the oral legend of Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho veterans of the battle. Things I learned the day before from the Park Ranger were placed in a different context.

Custer headstone Little BighornThe Park Ranger recounted how the bodies of Custer and his men were mutilated, Custer having an arrow shoved into his private parts. From my readings I knew that this was a delicate way of saying that he had an arrow thrust into his penis.

He also had two knitting needles pushed into his ears. Legend has it that this was done by Indian women because Custer had refused to listen. Pretty gruesome stuff. Without any background it further paints the warriors as savages; lending further credence to the belief that they were a foe who deserved their eventual fate at the hands of the US government.

During the tour the next day Brian addressed this issue and pointed out why the soldiers had been mutilated. The Indians believed that the afterlife would be pretty similar to one’s life on earth. Therefore they needed their body to continue their same lifestyle. They cut off the soldier’s trigger fingers so they would not be able to fire a gun and hunt in the afterlife. The mutilation of his penis was so Custer would be even further hobbled and not be able to create offspring. Okay, it’s still gruesome but at least now I understand it in context.

As famous as the legend of the battle has become to American school children, the main part of it was over in about 45 minutes. Even when it ended, the rest of the American army that was dug in on a nearby hill didn’t know of Custer’s fate until the next day, after the smoke had cleared.

As heartbreaking as the sight of Last Stand Hill is, even more so is the trail leading down to the Deep Ravine. Here 28 soldiers of Company E broke away from the group on the hill. A Lakota Sioux named Respects Nothing stated “The soldiers at Custer Hill were all killed before those down along the ravine.”

The soldiers made a mad dash for the perceived safety of a ravine by the Little Bighorn River. It was a desperate move made by desperate men. At this point in the battle their fate was already sealed.

Another Indian veteran stated that it was like a buffalo hunt as the soldiers frantically ran down the hill, only to be cut down by the Indians circling them on horseback. There was to be no escaping the ferocious onslaught. I think they probably knew that but gave one last valiant effort to save their lives.

Little Bighorn Deep ravine trail

Looking up at Last Stand Hill from Deep Ravine Trail

Little Bighorn is one of the few battlefield sites in the world where the headstones are placed where the soldiers bodies were found, not lined up in neat rows. At the top of Last Stand Hill the soldiers’ headstones are clustered relatively close together. On the Deep Ravine Trail there was no such modest comfort of dying among your comrades in arms. On the trail the headstones are scattered in ones and twos along a half mile stretch; a literal monument to the killing frenzy leading to the deaths of the soldiers of Company E.

Even when touring such bloody battlefields as Normandy, Verdun and Gettysburg, where men died by the thousands, I haven’t been as touched as I was while walking along the Deep Ravine Trail. As I reached the bottom of the trail I saw a grown man in tears as he looked out over the ravine. I was starting to puddle up myself. He gave me a knowing nod and moved on.

While the tribes won the battle, they realized that in the long run they would lose the war.  A year later one of the battle’s heroes, Crazy Horse, was dead; the night he turned himself in to military custody he was killed by an army guard.

When we think of places for the best pizza in the world our thoughts normally drift to New York or Italy. But the town of Old Forge, Pennsylvania claims that it is the “Pizza Capital of the World.” Those are pretty big words for such a small town. We just had to check this out so here is our review of Old Forge pizza.

Old Forge is in northeast Pennsylvania (known to locals as NEPA), only five miles from Scranton of the TV show The Office fame. With a population of only around 8,000 supporting 14 pizzerias, it may well be the “Pizza per Capita” capital of the world, but “Pizza Capital?” So off to Old Forge we went to see, and taste, for ourselves.

Old Forge Pennsylvania NEPA pizza capital of the world sign

Review of Old Forge pizza

Old Forge-style pizza is baked in rectangular metal trays. It’s distinguished by the blend of cheeses, they vary at each establishment, that can be a combination of mozzarella, parmesan, romano, American and … what? Did they just say American? This we had to check out. So follow along as we push ourselves to taste Old Forge pizza at four places in one day.

Arcaro & Genell Restaurant

Arcaro and Genell Old Forge style pizza

We started our pilgrimage at Arcaro & Genell. Settled into puffy vinyl booths, with Frank Sinatra playing on the radio, we felt like we had appeared in the 1950s-era restaurant from the movie Big Night. Since we were newbies, the cheerful Amanda was our guide to the ways of Old Forge-style pizza.

A whole pizza is not called a pie but a tray, and individual slices are called cuts. It comes in traditional red and a white. The white pizza at most places is actually a double crust pizza made by folding the dough over the topping. Are you with me so far?

Arcaro and Genell pizza Old Forge NEPA

We selected the classic red pizza with original crust (not the thinner variation) and a single crust white topped with fresh tomato, garlic and onion. Arcaro’s proudly proclaims that they were selected as a Top 10 pizza in America. The rating was done by USA TODAY back in 1983 but it’s still pretty impressive.

The sauce on the red tray had the classic Old Forge taste, a bit oniony and a bit sweet. The pans are brushed with olive oil, making the crust crispy on the bottom rising to a chewiness directly beneath the sauce. The cheese was a blend that we guessed was Mozzarella, American and Cheddar; but Amanda would not reveal state secrets.

Arcaro and Genell pizza crust NEPA pizza Old Forge

The single-crust white was garnished with fresh tomatoes, raw onions, and a pesto type blend of minced garlic and dried basil. Both pizzas met with our immediate approval. The cheese blend is not traditional, but seemed to work.

Revello’s Pizza

Revellos Old Forge Pizza NEPA

Thinking of the day ahead, we tried not to fill up and walked across the street to Revello’s. You know you’re in Northeast Pennsylvania when the pizzerias also offer pierogies, a staple in these Polish and Italian former mining towns.

Revellos old forge pizza red and white NEPA

Revello’s was once a mainstay of Old Forge pizza, but we were disappointed. The crust tasted like a toasted version of Wonder Bread and the cheese seemed to be 100% American. It reminded us of snacks we made in the toaster oven as teenagers.

Mary Lou’s Pizza

Mary Lous Old Forge Pizza

We moved on to Mary Lou’s, tucked into a residential in a nondescript tan stucco building a few blocks off Main Street. As soon as we got out of the car and breathed in the garlic-scented aromas, we knew we were onto something. Mary Lou, a sweet grandmother of eight, ably assisted by grandson Joe, was certainly the cutest of the bakers we met.

Mary Lous Old Forge NEPA pizza

Her pizza education started early in life when her mother taught her the family recipes. A steady stream of customers picking up pre-ordered trays was a testament to her pizza’s popularity. The crispy crust is lighter than the others; the sauce, the best of the day, a perfect blend of onions and sweet tomato.

Elio G’s Old Forge Pizza

We were pretty full at this point, but as we were driving out of town we made one last stop at Elio G’s to watch Elio and Tom work through the dinner rush. For Old Forge pizza historians, Elio’s is a must-see destination. Elio mentioned that his grandmother, Nonni Ghigiarelli, invented Old Forge-style pizza in 1926. She made it for card players at the bar that she and her husband owned. It was an instant hit.

Elios Old Forge pizza NEPA copy

Elio is as crusty as his pizza which makes for an entertaining wait. He uses only the best ingredients including the sweetest of onions. Cheese blends are heavily guarded but it seems that Elio uses only mozzarella and sharp provolone. The chunky tomato sauce was heavily laden with black pepper

Elios Old Forge pizza

Elios white pizza is a blend of cheese and freshly cooked spinach topped with an intense blend of herbs; we tasted black pepper, rosemary, salt and maybe oregano. The herbs sprinkled on top made it taste like stuffed focaccia. Speaking of stuffed, we were pretty stuffed ourselves at this point and had to call it a day.

In Old Forge, pizza is a comfort food to celebrate both life and to mark its passing. At Elio G’s, a woman who looked remarkably like Paula Deen, stopped in to pick up five trays for a surprise 40th birthday party for her daughter.

At Mary Lou’s, a doctor who grew up in the area, was back in town to visit his father in hospice care nearby. The entire family was gathered in support of his father whose death was imminent. He said, “I was raised on that pizza It feels like home to me.”

At times like these, those who grew up in Old Forge gather around a tray of their wonderfully idiosyncratic pizza to provide support for each other. I recommend visiting Old Forge to witness a true slice, no, make that cut, of Americana.

You might be interested in our pizza tasting on six continents to find the best pizza in the world.

Here are even more reviews of Old Forge pizza on Yelp.

28581550060_131210d7e7_mLarissa and Michael are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive our free quarterly newsletter with updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

As we’ve been driving around the country seeking ghost towns we came across one that was unusual; the California City ghost town has a population of over 14,000 people so why would it be considered a ghost town?

California City ghost town welcome sign

A bit of background first. California City is a massive planned community that was carved out by developer Nat Mendelsohn in the heart of the Mojave Desert in southern California. That was back in the 1950s when it seemed like you couldn’t go wrong investing in California real estate, even if it was just sand. Mendelsohn was quite optimistic so the city he built is so big geographically that it’s the 3rd largest city by area in the Golden State and one of the largest in the country. That’s awfully big for the number of people who actually moved there.

California City street sign

Streets were put in and infrastructure for the large city was constructed. But then the market spoke and it turned out there weren’t enough people who wanted to live in the remote location.

California City ghost town

Driving around California City today there are people and schools and all the trappings of a small town. But the eerie edges yield to empty streets and the harsh desert pretty quickly.

California City ghost town street sign houses

On the bright side, neighbors don’t have to worry about being too crowded and there are a few steady employment opportunities in the area: Edwards Air Force Base and a prison, among other things. One other “growth” area seems to be the proliferation of real estate offices. After all, they have plenty of plots of land to sell.

California City real estate office

California City is located only 100 miles north of downtown Los Angeles so it’s an easy road trip if you’re in Southern California.

California City ghost town

Here are Amazon’s top books about California travel
If you make it to California City you’re only 30 miles west of Boron, California, home of the Rio Tinto Boron Mine, which is the largest open-pit mine in California and the largest boron mine in the world. If you’re familiar with 20 Mule Team Borax, this is where it comes from.

Borax Mine Visitor Center

There is a free Borax visitor center that includes a museum and overlook of the mine which is actually quite fascinating. If you’re in the area it’s worth visiting.

Route 66 El Rancho Motel sign Barstow California

And once you’re in Boron you’re only 40 miles west of Barstow, one of the scenic sights on the old Route 66 and the spot where it turns south to head into Los Angeles for its final stretch. That’s the fun thing about road trips, wherever you go there’s always something else to see just over the horizon.



28581550060_131210d7e7_mLarissa and Michael are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive our free quarterly newsletter with updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

The death of Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey got us thinking about one of the group’s signature songs Take it Easy, which that was written by Frey along with Jackson Browne. Frey sang the lead vocals, one of which put a dusty old town along Route 66 forever on the map of rock and roll lyrics destinations:

“Well, I’m a standing on a corner
in Winslow, Arizona
and such a fine sight to see
It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford
slowin’ down to take a look at me.”

 Winslow, Arizona was forever immortalized in the song "Take it Easy," written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey. Visit the town that sits along historic Route 66.

Standing on a Corner Park in Winslow Arizona

Standing on a Corner Park in Winslow Arizona

In Winslow they embraced this burst of fame and created “Standing on a Corner Park” at the intersection of Route 66 and North Kinsley Avenue. You can’t miss it, there’s a giant highway shield of Route 66 painted in the road. Since the song doesn’t mention exactly which corner in Arizona the writer was standing on this one was chosen. It’s in the center of town so it works just fine.

Visiting Standing on a Corner Park Winslow Arizona

In a mural created by artist John Pugh there is indeed a reflection of a girl slowing down to take a look. To add even more realism, a bright red 1960 Ford flatbed truck is parked in the street for a unique photo op. While Winslow doesn’t get quite the foot traffic of tourists crossing Abbey Road in London does, we were surprised by the steady flow of people on a winter’s day. It’s estimated that 100,000 people a year visit Standing on a Corner Park.

standing on a corner park Winslow Arizona

The centerpiece of the park is a denim-clad statue holding an acoustic guitar called “Easy” which was created by sculptor Ron Adamson. While it does bear a passing resemblance to Jackson Browne, it was created to represent all songwriters. It was installed in September 1999. Upon Glenn Frey’s death the statue became a setting for tributes to the Eagles songster.

Winslow Arizona Glenn Frey memorial

 

Photo courtesy Standin’ on the Corner Park

Winslow itself is a pretty interesting town to visit. You can stay in the historic La Posada Hotel which is a former Santa Fe Railroad hotel from 1929. East of town there are a few relics from Route 66’s glory days of welcoming travelers and even a spot where the road literally ends.

Arizona Route 66 near Winslow Minnetonka store

Route 66 peters out below, replaced by the interstate.

Arizona end of Route 66 Winslow

Visiting Standing on a Corner Park in Winslow Arizona

Address: Intersection of 2nd Avenue (Old Route 66 eastbound) and North Kinsley Avenue. Winslow is 58 miles east of Flagstaff. You’ll take I-40 to get to Winslow so make sure to exit the interstate to get downtown.

Hours: 24/7

Admission: Free

Web site: StandinOnTheCorner.com

We’re global nomads who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011 seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive monthly updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

Classic American road trips are chock full of dusty forgotten towns with vintage neon signs advertising motels and roadside diners, still trying to lure passing motorists. Many of those signs are disappearing; victims of age, weather and neglect. However there’s a glimmer of hope as Read more

Here’s an excerpt from Philadelphia Liberty Trail, our historical travel guide:

According to folklore, early in the summer of 1776 George Washington, Robert Morris, and George Ross went to the Arch Street upholstery shop of a young widow named Elizabeth Griscom Ross Read more

The San Andreas Fault at Parkfield California

San Andreas fault parkfield pacific Plate sign

The town of Parkfield, California sits astride the San Andreas Fault and proudly bills itself as “The Earthquake Capital of the World.” On the water tower outside the Parkfield Cafe they even declare “Be here when it happens.”

San Andreas fault parkfield cafe california

Parkfield California population signThe remote town in central California (about 200 miles from both San Francisco and Los Angeles) consists of less than two dozen full-time residents, but that number swells when scientists from the United States Geological Survey visit their on-site monitoring unit. The unit is part of something called the Parkfield Experiment, a long-term earthquake research project that records seismic activity to help predict when the “Big One” will strike the Golden State.

According to the USGS website which reports on the Parkfield Experiment:

“Moderate-size earthquakes of about magnitude 6 have occurred on the Parkfield section of the San Andreas fault at fairly regular intervals – in 1857, 1881, 1901, 1922, 1934, and 1966. If such characteristic ruptures occur regularly, then the next quake would have been due before 1993.”

As you know, it is now 2015 so the next one seems a bit overdue.

One of the highlights of a visit to Parkfield is the bridge straddling the San Andreas Fault which separates the North American and Pacific plates of the earth’s crust. Signs at either end of the bridge even note that you are entering the North American Plate or the Pacific Plate. The bridge has shifted five feet in the last 80 years, which is evident when looking at the piers, but local residents take it all in stride.

San andreas fault shifting bridge Parkfield

As we were taking photos of the bridge a grizzled old farmer pulled up in his Ford pickup truck and yelled over at us, “You know, it’s all your fault!” At first I thought we had done something wrong until I got the gallows humor and gave him a wave.

San Andreas fault Parkfield California bridge

It seemed to make his day as he roared with laughter and drove off. I wonder how many unsuspecting visitors he gets with that line.

Here some popular books about California earthquakes.

Visiting the San Andreas Fault

We were only in an earthquake once, oddly enough in Philadelphia during the Virginia earthquake of 2011 that was carried up the East Coast and damaged the Washington Monument. Do you have any earthquake experience to share?

We’re global nomads who have been traveling the world since 2011 seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive monthly updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.