Grab Your Family & Hit the Road

Our travel contributors are passionate about all things involving planes, trains, automobiles {and boats :) }. Live vicariously through their families as they take you to some of their favorite places around the world. Then pack your own bags and hit the road with your family (and that includes those with a family of two: your hubby and you).

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By Tricia Goyer
1 of 20

Best Places to Spread Out a Spring or Summer Picnic

I don’t know about you, but about this time of year, I am ready for summer.

Although I live in Little Rock, Arkansas (where the winter weather is usually mild), we’ve had our share of winter weather (ice, rain—even a little snow!).

I’m ready for flowers to bloom, leaves on the trees, stepping outside and feeling the warm sun on my skin, wearing shorts and sundresses.

Do you feel the same way?

What’s my other favorite part of summer?  Spending time outside, whether it’s a family vacation, a barbecue with my kids and neighbors in our cul-de-sac, or a date with my husband.

There is nothing more romantic than a summer picnic with the man I love. Maybe you feel the same?

One way to get past the winter blahs is to start planning for a summer picnic . . . today!

Even though the cold wind still blows outside, you can start planning the perfect summer getaway. Spend time with your spouse considering the perfect spot to get away.

Do you like the ocean or the mountains? Would you rather stretch out a blanket on a mountain meadow or on the sand?

Do you want to be in a locale where there’s lots of restaurants and shops to explore, or do you want to be in a small quaint town?

Dreaming about where you’d like to go is something you can do together. Dreaming is almost as fun as going—especially when you do it together. Take a little time this week to dream about where you’d like to go, then compare lists!

Consider these four locations as a starting point for finding your perfect picnic place!


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Halstatt, Austria I traveled to Halstatt with my husband, John, in 2002. It’s a picturesque village of less than 1,000 people in Austria. Halstatt is known for its salt mines, dating back to prehistoric times. John and I stayed in an old hotel overlooking the town square, and during our first moments we were able to watch a local celebration. The town square is a beautiful place to have your picnic, or there are numerous other places overlooking the lake. And after the picnic is done? Here are our top three things to do there:

  1. Visit the salt caves. A wonderful gondola took us to the top of the mountain where we toured the caves. The tour was fantastic.
  2. Visit the Beinhaus (bone house). Visiting a bone house might not be everyone’s idea of fun, but John and I love exploring local culture. There are more than 1,200 skulls in the bone house, 600+ which have been painted with designs. Since the cemetery is so small, without the possibility of expansion, and since cremations used to be forbidden, 10-15 years after a person’s death the skull and larger bones were removed to make room for the next occupants.
  3. Museum Hallstatt. There are rooms filled with exhibits and information files in many languages, including English. The archeological displays were fascinating!

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Crescent City, California Growing up, one of our favorite things to do was “go to the coast.” Crescent City was about four hours away from our northern Californian home. There are wonderful beaches in Crescent City, and it’s not as crowded as many other places. Spread out your blanket to watch local surfers—and the seals that try to outdo them. Things you don’t want to miss:

  1. The Redwoods. Jedediah Smith Redwoods State park is just one of the local places you can view these amazing redwood trees. There are wonderful hiking trails, and walking among the giants you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into another world.
  2. Battery Point Lighthouse. To reach this lighthouse you have to go at low tide. The lighthouse itself is small and homey—it looks like something from a movie. This lighthouse is staffed by volunteers who stay in the lighthouse a month at a time. They keep the place tidy and conduct tours with the help of docents.
  3. Beachfront Park. I have photos of myself playing here as a child. You can go from running in the grass to running on the beach in only a few steps. It’s a great place to collect sea shells!

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Lake Siskiyou, California Lake Siskiyou is located in Mount Shasta, California, and I grew up just ten miles away. The best time to visit is for the 4th of July celebrate and parade in the town of Mt. Shasta. After the parade, go to the lake early to make sure you have a spot, because the beach gets crowded. The water from the lake is crystal clear, and the view of Mt. Shasta can’t be beat! Other local places to visit:

  1. Castle Crags State Park. The jagged peaks indeed look like a castle. There are 28 miles of hiking trails in a still wilderness area, not far from Lake Siskiyou.
  2. Mt. Shasta City Park. Visit the city park and there you’ll find the headwaters to the Sacramento river. Mountain snow gushes from the ground and drops off small ledges. The park is a great place to run around and play like a kid.
  3. McCloud Falls. The nearby town of McCloud hosts the Upper Falls, Middle Falls, and Lower Falls of the McCloud River. The road takes you to the Lower Falls and there you can climb up to the Middle and Upper Falls where you’ll also see a lovely view of Mount Shasta.

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Glacier Park, Montana I lived near Glacier Park for fifteen years, and even though I’ve traveled the world there was nothing more amazing that visiting this national park. Top three places you won’t want to miss:

  1. Going-to-the-Sun-Road. I’ve driven this road dozens and dozens of times, and each time I’m awed by the beauty. It opens around June 21 . . . because it takes so long to clear the snow off these high mountain peaks! The road travels into the high mountains and has expansive vistas that will take your breath away. At the top is a visitor center where it’s common to be greeted by rams and mountain goats!
  2. Lake McDonald Lodge. This beautiful mountain lodge is one of the finest Swiss Chalet hotels in the United States. The front of the hotel actually faces the lake because steamboats used to bring tourists over the water before the roads were built. Inside the lodge, balconies face toward the three-story lobby. If you know how to play, a piano in the lobby is open to talented guests.
  3. Avalanche Lake Trail. This two-mile hike takes you to one of the most beautiful mountain lakes you’ve ever seen. If hiking isn’t your thing, stay on the cedar walking path below, which will take you to Avalanche Gorge. This walking path is perfect for children and is wheelchair accessible.

So how about it? Which location would interest you (and your man) most? Where is your favorite place to spread out a blanket with the man you love?

 
By Tricia Goyer
2 of 20

5 Must-See Places in {or Near} Glacier National Park

Where is your favorite place to visit? Some people love big cities. Others long for the ocean. As for me and my husband of twenty-three years, we love the mountains. We love fresh, crisp air and the scent of pines. There is nothing better than strolling up a gently sloped path to the cadence of a bird’s song. Ahh . . .

One of my favorite places to visit is Glacier National Park in the corner of Northwest Montana.

I lived just thirty minutes away from Glacier National Park for fifteen years, and the sharp mountain peaks, the sight of mountain goats and rams, and the roar of glacial waterfalls is something to behold!

In fact, when I had to travel to the Austria Alps I looked around (spinning like Maria in The Sound of Music), and I told my husband, “This looks almost exactly like home!”

We’d traveled half-way around the world to gaze upon high mountain peaks that looked amazingly familiar to the ones back home.

If you are starting to consider where you want to spend your summer vacation, consider Glacier National Park. It’ll save you the plane fare to Austria! And if you go … here are five must-see stops!

Five must-see stops!

1. Lake McDonald

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Lake McDonald is a beautiful lake just inside the park. Follow signs to the “village” area, and you’ll find a place to park, quaint shops, and a view that will amaze you. The lake is ten miles long and 500 feet deep. If you visit early in the year, you can even make reservations to camp in the park. Of course if you do make sure you heed the warnings about bears. They are often seen by visitors at the park!

2. Avalanche Gorge

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While you’re driving along Lake McDonald be sure to stop at the Avalanche Lake trail. It’s a flat, wooden walkway about a mile long, perfect for kids and elderly people. If you’re more adventurous, hike up to Avalanche Lake. It’s a low-to-moderate incline with a fantastic view. But whether you stick to the wooden walkway or hike to the lake, make sure you stop by avalanche gorge. The green, glacial water pouring through the narrow gorge is breathtaking.

3. Going to the Sun Road.

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Going to the Sun Road is an engineering masterpiece that travels more than fifty miles through Glacier National Park and over the continental divide. If you’d rather look at the massive peaks and deep valleys, you can ride a “Jammer” bus and get a tour guide to point out all the sights. Of course don’t plan your vacation too early. Snow accumulates high in these mountains, and it isn’t plowed until mid-June. It closes by mid-September. It takes approximately two hours to drive the road, but plan for longer because you’ll want to stop and take a lot of photos!

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4. Lake McDonald Lodge

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On your way out of Glacier National Park be sure to stop by Lake McDonald Lodge. It’s an older, beautiful lodge with on-site dining and a gift shop. Make sure you walk around the lodge to the lakeside. This is the side of the lodge that faces the lake, and it’s actually the front of the lodge. Before the roads were built visitors used to come to the lodge by steamboat. Even today you can take a steamboat ride on the lake.

5. Whitefish Lake

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Whitefish Lake isn’t in Glacier National Park, but it’s closer to the town of Whitefish. It’s a wonderful place to hang out as a couple or with your kids. You can swim, rent a paddle boat, or jet ski. Whitefish Lake is popular with the locals, so you’ll get a taste of the real Montana!

As you can see, beauty awaits you in Montana. Your camera will get a workout, but don’t forget to just put away the electronics for a while and breath in the fresh, pine air.

 
By Tracey Goss
3 of 20

The World Outside Our Window- Vegas Penthouse Style!

The view is breathtaking and surreal. From where I sit peering through a modern picture window fitted with electronic graphic shades, I see the Eiffel Tower, a French Chateau, and a Pallazo (Italian-styled palace).

There are also Villas lining an emerald green lake featuring dancing fountains, lush and manicured pool gardens, and an enormous Ferris wheel.

That’s right! We’re in Vegas, baby!

Handsome hubby and I love to vacation. When not vacationing with our boys, we treat ourselves to little “getaways” to recharge our batteries and kindle our love.

Every married couple should take time to get away (or even have a stay-cation) to reboot and let loose like you did when you first met. Don’t neglect that time. It’s important.

My husband has the unique knack of combining frugality and luxury, a gift set that I love, and enjoy the benefits of throughout the year.

So, on this extended date night we spent two nights and one day in a fabulous suite at the Vdara hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Vdara front

The Vdara is an all-suite, non-gaming, non-smoking “boutique” hotel specializing in service to the corporate conference crowd. I’m not sure if the term “boutique” applies here because our suite is located on the 54th floor. Nevertheless, the staff have a very friendly, smaller hotel manner that helped us feel right at home.

The 100 (or so) yard driveway leading up to the Vdara sets a tone which communicates, “you are heading towards a special experience.” As we walked through the doors, I noticed the beautiful scent wafting throughout the lobby. My first thought was, “I need to make a trip to the gift store to see if they sell that scent.” My second thought was “how much did we pay for this?”

The stylish lobby was completely contemporary yet comfortable. The art, furniture and floral arrangements were understated, and did not scream “Vegas”. We checked in and headed up to our Penthouse suite which amplified my question, “how much did we pay for this?” The one bedroom, two bathroom, suite featured a beautiful living room, dining area and kitchenette with modern amenities of which we planned on taking full advantage.

Vdara suite

How does a Pastor of a small church, with a wife who works 32 hours per week at a University afford such luxury?

We stopped at Trader Joe’s on our way in and purchased groceries which covered all of our meals for the trip. Meals which included, great cuts of steak, chicken marsala, pan roasted sweet potatoes and asparagus in our private dining room overlooking the city!

My hubby really appreciated my home cooked meal (along with the basketball game, and wifi). :)

dinner at Vdara

On-site amenities include a lovely spa for your pampering pleasure, a salon, a gourmet market (which offers delicious take out or eat in meals and tantalizing deserts), a small pool area with private cabanas, beautiful restaurants (which looked good from the outside ) and a fitness center.

Here’s the kicker, the Vdara is part of the City Center Complex, a collection of luxury hotels and residences, astonishing dining and outrageous designer shopping. If you like to window shop and see what the designers are up to, view great art while strolling arm-in-arm with your sweetie, this temperature-controlled window shoppers’ paradise was created for you!

Look what I found…Handbag Heaven!!!!

handbag heaven

If designer goods and fabulous handbags are not your bag, there are many other free experiences in Vegas. There is a wonderful conservatory and botanical garden at the Bellagio, a stroll to the iconic Welcome to Vegas sign, the wacky kitschy Freemont District, the Downtown Art District’s First Fridays’ (lots of art, vendors, and people watching). Not to mention the fun you and your husband can have in your room. We turned on the in room music and danced and laughed and…

botanical gardens

Bellagio Botanical Garden & Conservatory

By now you are asking, “how much did you pay for this?”

Drum roll please:

Penthouse Suite: $250.77 per night (for two nights)

Groceries: $89.87

Jean Philippe Patisserie: $6.22 (two scoops of gourmet ice cream and two spoons!)

Tips: $35

Transportation: $90 (we drove from Santa Barbara in our Honda Accord)

Victoria Secret: $49 and some change ;-)

Total: $771.63

Time with my handsome hubby: PRICELESS!!!

We have done similar trips for less. We’ve stayed in rooms or suites in the Wynn, Bellagio and Trump hotels for similar prices. This weekend happened to be a three day holiday so the rates were a bit higher.

Of course you don’t have to go for a suite and your total bill will be even lower. We save our pennies, live modestly throughout the year and splurge a bit as an investment in our marriage.

But the best aspect of this particular little getaway is, what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas. The romantic fires keep burning long after we return home!

Question: What’s Your Favorite Weekend Get Away?

 
By Tricia Goyer
4 of 20

A Visitor’s Guide to Berlin, Ohio

I’ve been married to John for twenty-four years. Some women show their men they love them by providing a back rub or going on a hike. I display my love by bringing home cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. Thankfully, I found the perfect place to stock up when I visited one of my favorite places, Berlin, Ohio.

Heini’s Cheese Chalet is evidence of what can happen when a hardworking couple dreams together, and works together to see that dream fulfilled. Here is the story behind Heini’s:

“Our grandfather, John (Hans) Dauwalder, trained as a master cheesemaker in Switzerland and came to the United States in the 1920s to display his artisan talents in a growing cheese market. After several successful years at the Bunker Hill Cheese Co-op, John decided to return to his hometown in Switzerland to further his romance with Lili Mueller. The two fell in love and were married in 1933.

In 1948, John and Lili, together with their two children, Peter, our father, and Marguerite, our aunt, sold the family farm in Switzerland to join John’s Brother Crist in the United States. Crist had purchased Bunker Hill Cheese in 1935 and asked John to join him in building the family cheese business.

In 1962, our parents, Peter and Nancy, who were married in 1955, acquired Bunker Hill Cheese. The name was changed to Heini’s Cheese Chalet after our heritage.”

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Heini’s cheese is some of the best I’ve ever tasted. My favorite was the Salzburg cheese, which reminded me of the cheese I found in Europe. At the cheese factory, large windows allow visitors to watch the cheese being made by master cheese makers. The cheese is made from milk that is hand-milked and delivered to the factory in traditional milk cans. Their success is the evidence of the power of relationships—between husbands and wives who dare to have a dream and between cheese makers and Amish farmers in a rural community.

If you find yourself in Berlin, stop by Heini’s, watch the cheese-making process, and taste the cheese. The samples are abundant and tasty. You can even have a free tour by an eighty-four-year-old Amish man named Atlee! And visit the coffeeshop and bookshop and pick up a CD or book from Lisa Troyer. Lisa’s a Christian author and singer whose parents own Heini’s. You’re in for a treat!

If you’re staying the night, I highly recommend Berlin Inn and Suites, from the friendly front desk, the warm fresh-baked cookie upon checking in, and the immaculate room. I wished I could stay a week, not just a weekend. I stayed in a suite and enjoyed the whirlpool tub. The fresh-smelling sheets were a welcome treat, and I honestly had one of the best nights sleep I’d had in a while.

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Also, if you are looking for a great lunch, check out the local hangout spot, Boyd and Wurthmann. Their sign proclaims “Home Style Cooking,” and that’s exactly what you get. Boyd & Wurthmann Restaurant still serves a 75¢ cup of coffee and is one of the oldest established businesses in Berlin, Ohio, it opened in the 1930s. I had a wonderful bacon cheeseburger with an in-house special “yellow mayonnaise”—made from mayo, mustard, and a bit of sugar, I was told. It was delicious, as was the homemade coconut cream pie!

While you’re in Berlin, make sure you visit The Gospel Bookshop, situated in the Amish mall. The bookshop is just one of the numerous business. In the same building is a grocery store, a bank, a pharmacy, a fabric store, and more . . . and it’s where the Amish shop. I sat for more than an hour just watching the Amish families. Visiting here truly gives you a glimpse into their everyday lives.

Berlin, Ohio, is one of my favorite places to visit, and you can guess why.

Oh, yes, and I did bring my husband home cheese . . . lots of cheese. He was thrilled. We’re still enjoying it, and we’re already planning a visit to Heini’s sometime next year! I encourage you to visit too!

 
By Lori Ferguson
5 of 20

Exploring West Virginia

My husband, Robert, and I were born and raised in Canada. We currently live in the United States, but return frequently to visit our parents. Driving may take a day or two, but the time spent together in the vehicle is priceless.

We refer to each other as a “captive audience” on these long drives. It’s awesome. 

This drive up to Canada took us through West Virginia on Highway 19.

That is Highway 19

It was just the perfect autumn time to view the wild wonder found in this state.

Did you know…

The world’s 4th longest steel arch bridge is in West Virginia. The New River Gorge is 876 feet below, and a long wooden walkway descending into the gorge allows views that are breathtaking. Next time we drive through WV I’d like to take the quarter-mile guided “Bridgewalk Tour” on the catwalk just underneath the bridge – it’s handicapped accessible. 

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State Parks provide romantic side-trips. Instead of eating a sub sandwich at a rest stop, we pulled off the road at Camp Creek State Park. We were the only ones in the park at the time… it was a walk through a wonderland of colors. Silence and beauty – a romantic combination.

Camp Creek State Park

West Virginia artists share their talent housed in one building. For those who admire and value artisans and their work, the “best of West Virginia” can be seen and experienced at Tamarack. Resident Artisans, gourmet food, baskets, pottery, glass, books, jewelry, apparel, a conference center and even a theater – all available in one spot. A shoppers paradise! 

Tamarack collage

 

And much more. 

We only drove through West Virginia, so I’m sure there are many more sights to see, places to explore and experiences to add to our bucket list!

What’s your favorite part of West Virginia?

Leave a comment – share!

 
By Lori Ferguson
6 of 20

November 11 – Honoring Those Who Fight for Freedom

Ever wonder why we observe a time of remembrance on November 11th? Where did the idea of wearing a red poppy come from?

In Flanders Fields

During the Great War – 1914-1918 – a young Canadian surgeon, Lieutenant Colonel John MacCrae, experienced a horrific battle in northern France, and the death of a friend during the 2nd Battle of Ypres.

The battle and his experience prompted him to write a poem – In Flanders Fields.

The poem is about poppies – blowing and growing on a battlefield. It’s about the gift of freedom from those who fight.

On a sunny day in October I had the opportunity to sit and ponder in the memorial garden in the birth-place of Dr. McCrae in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

November 11, 1918, Armistice Day, is considered to be the end of World War 1, or at least when an armistice was signed between Germany and the Allied countries.

That’s why November 11th has been chosen as a day to remember those who have fought – and still fight for freedom. 

All those husbands and wives – giving, living and fighting for freedom.

In the USA, November 11th is called Veterans Day and honors the service of all veterans. In Canada and the Commonwealth countries it’s called Remembrance Day. Other countries like New Zealand, France, and Belgium refer to November 11th as Armistice Day.

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As a happy and thankful wife, how will you observe this November 11th?

A happy marriage involves a husband and wife who can talk about the present, the past and the future. Use this opportunity to build an understanding of those in your past and present who are veterans. Take the time to tell each other the stories from your history…

On November 11th invite your husband to reflect and give honor to those who have and are fighting.

  • If you’re anywhere close to Guelph, Ontario – stop at to John McCrae’s birthplace. There’s a house to tour, and a garden where remembrance activities will be celebrated. Across the street there’s a lovely river and park.
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  • In the USA on November 11th you can enjoy any Federal Park - for free! Take a walk – see some sights.
  • Also in the USA, there are Veterans Day ceremonies in many cities. Here’s a map to see the one close to you. 
  • In Canada – visit one of the War Memorials.
  • In the UK – see if there’s a war memorial close to you.

Spend some time with your husband giving thanks.

Are there celebrations for November 11th in your area?

Is there a veteran in your family – someone serving right now?

Leave a comment!

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Travel

Best Places to Spread Out a Spring or Summer Picnic

I don’t know about you, but about this time of year, I am ready for summer. Although I live in Little Rock, Arkansas (where the winter …

5 Must-See Places in {or Near} Glacier National Park

Where is your favorite place to visit? Some people love big cities. Others long for the ocean. As for me and my husband of twenty-three years, …

The World Outside Our Window- Vegas Penthouse Style!

The view is breathtaking and surreal. From where I sit peering through a modern picture window fitted with electronic graphic shades, I see the Eiffel Tower, …

A Visitor’s Guide to Berlin, Ohio

I’ve been married to John for twenty-four years. Some women show their men they love them by providing a back rub or going on a hike. …

Exploring West Virginia

My husband, Robert, and I were born and raised in Canada. We currently live in the United States, but return frequently to visit our parents. Driving …

November 11 – Honoring Those Who Fight for Freedom

Ever wonder why we observe a time of remembrance on November 11th? Where did the idea of wearing a red poppy come from? In Flanders Fields …

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  • http://twitter.com/happywivesclub Happy Wives Club™

    So grateful to have Tricia Goyer joining us here at HWC. We absolutely adore her!

    • http://www.facebook.com/tricia.goyer Tricia Goyer

      I love being here!