Go With a Purpose.
A blog about connecting through places that matter.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Heritage Q& A With Travel and Food Writer Beth D’Addono

Today’s post is next in a series of Q&As with people who have a passion for heritage- and culture-related travel.

Travel and food writer Beth D’Addono loves to travel and is fascinated with the connections she’s found all over the world between culture and food. Beth’s work is published regularly in Grandparents.com, where she writes about multi-generational travel, and in a wide range of national and regional outlets, including AAA Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, The Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Philadelphia Daily News. She has also written and co-authored several books, including “Must Sees New Orleans” (Michelin), “The City Tavern Cookbook” (Running Press), and “Access Philadelphia” and “Access New Orleans” (Harper Collins). The social media savvy journalist is active on Twitter and also writes an Examiner blog.

1. Where have you found inspiration and/or life-enrichment during your travels?
For me, connecting with people and their culture is what travel is all about. This is usually done in every day settings, at markets, in cafes, in public spaces and around public art, at musical performances, and more. Food is also a great equalizer, offering a way to learn so much about a place and its history and culture.

2. Tell us about your most recent trip. What heritage or cultural sites did you visit?
I was recently in Boothbay, Maine, on an assignment to write about the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. I spent some time at the local fishing dock, where lobstermen were bringing in their traps and talking about the price of lobster (the price has really gone way down) and conditions in the water. I learned so much about something that is such a part of the local New England scene.

3. What is your most memorable heritage or cultural travel experience?
I would probably have to say seeing Angkor Wat in Cambodia—a magical, gorgeous slice of the rich and vast Khmer culture.

But, I also loved going to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. It is a festival full of so much history and tradition, a celebration that truly far outweighs just the partying.

I also had the opportunity to visit Besakih, the mother temple in the mountains of Bali, and I was there on one of the important Hindu holy days, when hundreds of locals where making offerings, all dressed in traditional clothing.

4. Where is one heritage or cultural destination you think everyone with your interests should visit?
Since I'm so food oriented, I always gravitate to local markets and farmers markets. I think it's an important way to connect with the locals and the local food culture.

5. What sorts of things do you like to learn during your travels?
I'm most interested in the history of a place, its rhythm, the diversity of its culture, and how that is expressed through some of my own passions—art, music and food.

6. What does heritage travel mean to you?
I think it is a kind of travel that is experiential, that draws the visitor into an inner circle, beyond typical tourist offerings. It’s a connection with people, neighborhoods and places that can be profound, but can also be whimsical and fun.

7. What are your favorite heritage- and culture-rich destinations?
New Orleans, for sure, and New York City. I also love Hanoi, Vietnam, for its bridge between the old and new cultures. I love Bali, and can't wait to go back. I already mentioned Angkor Wat. And closer to home, my adopted hometown of Philly has a diverse and rich cultural base.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Heritage Q&A With Nancy Parode, Senior Travel Expert for About.com

Today’s post is next in a series of Q&As with people who have a passion for heritage- and culture-related travel.

Nancy Parode discovered her passion for world travel in third-grade reading class, long before she was able to travel anywhere on her own. She badgered her parents as a teen until they allowed her to spend an exchange semester in Ireland, and she's been on the go ever since. Her articles have been published in Northern Virginia, Military Spouse, IntoWine.com, The World & I Online, NotForTourists.com, budget travel Web sites, local newspapers and military family newsletters. These days, Nancy covers the topic of Senior Travel for About.com, writing and blogging about travel topics, destinations and issues of interest to Baby Boomers and mature travelers.

1. Where have you found inspiration and/or life-enrichment during your travels?
I love connecting with people from different times and places through travel. By walking in the footsteps of others, we can discover why things happened the way they did and see the influence of events and discoveries on art, music, even architecture. I particularly enjoy seeing how people—ordinary people like my own immigrant ancestors—lived and worked. As you might guess, I visit at least one living history museum on almost every trip.

2. Tell us about your most recent trip. What heritage or cultural sites did you visit?
I just visited Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island for the first time. What a fantastic convergence of cultures! From the fortress and village at Louisbourg (French) to the Acadian town of Chéticamp to the Great Hall of the Clans at the Gaelic College, I was amazed to see so many different cultures and musical traditions in one area. We drove the Cabot Trail and wandered through the town of Baddeck, where Alexander Graham Bell flew his kites and tested his Silver Dart airplane and hydrofoil boat. I especially enjoyed the lunchtime ceilidh (music and dance demonstration) we experienced at the Celtic Music Centre in Judique and, of course, the day we spent exploring the meticulously restored Fortress of Louisbourg.

3. What is your most memorable heritage or cultural travel experience?
You mean I have to pick just one? When I was a teen, I visited Boston, Lexington, Concord and Cambridge, Massachusetts, with my family. We walked the Freedom Trail and visited all those historic sites associated with the American Revolution—Paul Revere's house, the Bunker Hill Monument, etc. I never forgot that trip, not only because of my abiding interest in the colonists who wouldn't knuckle under to Parliament, but also because my father, who went to college in the area, took us to places and restaurants he’d frequented as a student.

A couple of years ago, I repeated the entire trip, not only with Mom and Dad but also with my own husband and children as well as my brother and sister-in-law. What fun to see my children discover Boston and the surrounding towns for themselves and to hear their grandfather’s college tales—we heard a few new ones, too! We visited several historic restaurants in Boston, including Durgin-Park. Dad used to eat there as a student, because the inch-thick pork chops were cheap and filling. The menu cover says, “Your grandfather probably ate here!” I have a great photo of my son, grinning from ear to ear and pointing at that menu. The combination of family history and American heritage made this second trip to Boston an adventure I’ll never forget.

4. Where is one heritage or cultural destination you think everyone with your interests should visit?
As I’ve said, I love learning about the American colonists and the Revolutionary War. If you're like me, Virginia's Historic Triangle (Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown) is a must-see destination. You can spend days and days learning about daily life in Virginia’s first permanent colony as well as in its colonial capital. Just up the road, you can see the very spot where Cornwallis faced down the colonials for the last time – and realized he couldn't beat them. Amazing.

5. What sorts of things do you like to learn during your travels?
I like to learn about the daily lives of people who lived a long time ago—or even a short while ago. American history is one of my passions, and I want to know what people throughout the history of the United States thought, how they lived, what they ate and what helped them get through the hard times, whether it was music, sports, writing or something as simple and profound as love of family.

I loved reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books and the Betsy-Tacy series as a girl, because each book described everyday life as it really was. I think series like these sparked an interest in hands-on history that I'll pursue forever—last summer found me helping my daughter dip candles at Conner Prairie in Indiana, for example. Someday I’ll get to De Smet and Mankato to see the places my favorite authors brought to life in their books.

6. What does heritage travel mean to you?
To me, heritage travel connects the past, present and future in a very concrete and meaningful way. I love standing where Louisa May Alcott grew up, looking at views George Washington treasured, listening to music and watching dances from another time and place. No textbook or timeline can substitute for travel experiences like these.

7. What are your favorite heritage- and culture-rich destinations?
I recently visited the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve in Mexico, a UNESCO World Heritage site intended to preserve the region’s fragile natural beauty as well as the Mayan ruins there. I took a Mayan-ruin tour of Sian Ka'an that completely altered my impressions of ancient Mayan culture. I can't wait to take my family there. In Europe, my favorite city is Rome – every single important era in western history is represented there. Here in the U.S., I truly enjoy showing people who visit me around the great cities of Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. There's so much history here. I never run out of things to do.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Looking for a Different Guided Tour? 10 Unique Ways to Experience a Destination

While many travelers like to experience cities and towns on their own and in their own time without a guide, there many others who prefer to take guided tours. Guided tours can eliminate the worry and hassle of traveling to a new place and ensure that you experience as much as possible during a set time frame. However, just because they are prearranged doesn’t mean these guided tours should be considered mundane. Many tour operators offer unique and fun ways to explore a destination.

Whether you’re looking for something more active and adventurous, or longing for something more laid-back and relaxed, here are 10 unique, fun and surprisingly inexpensive sightseeing tours to consider:

Bicycle—Do you ride a bike ... everywhere? Do you wish you could pack your bicycle to take on a trip? Then a bike tour is for you! You can experience everything from cities to the countryside, mountains to deserts, and all the trails and roads in between while pedaling through the fresh air. Unusual Tours, for instance, will take you on a custom bike tour through the Wallowa Mountains Loop in Oregon, complete with rafting along the Snake River and visits to art galleries.

—Is taking a leisurely stroll through a city’s history and culture more your speed? Many cities and towns offer walking tours that take you through specific neighborhoods, to iconic locations, or along historic routes. For photography enthusiasts, Shutter Tours offers specialized walking tours of Seattle led by photographers, allowing participants to snap photos of their favorite Seattle landmarks.

Segway—You may have seen schools of Segways meandering their way through places like New York and Washington, D.C. Even Heritage Travel Inc. CEO John Williams experienced the sites of Washington on a Segway. Segway tours are great for those who want a unique outdoor sightseeing tour or a quick way to get an overview of the sights without hours of walking.

The nation’s capital in particular has some excellent Segway tours that include stops at many of the District’s most famous monuments and museums. Capital Segway, for instance, visits many of the capital's famous landmarks including the White House, the Washington Monument, the Canadian Embassy and the U.S. Capitol Building.

Helicopter—Have you ever wanted to experience a special destination from up high? Why not take a helicopter tour? Get a bird’s-eye view of your favorite city, town or site and get more of a "big-picture" feel for surrounding areas. For instance, the Holland Inn and Suites in Taft, California, offers historic helicopter tours of the town of Taft, Carrizo Plain National Monument and more.

Hot-Air Balloon—Like helicopter tours, hot-air balloon tours provide that bird’s-eye view of a site or destination but at a slower pace and with a lot less noise. Riding in a balloon is described as a more serene, peaceful experience than any other forms of flight. It is also a wonderful way to get closer to nature, as Wine Country Balloons in Sonoma County, California, aims to do with their Nature Walk in the Sky.

Canal Boat
—What could be more relaxing (and enriching) than lazily floating along a historic canal while learning more about what life was like along that canal in the past? Historic Georgetown in Washington, D.C., and Great Falls National Park offer canal boat tours along the C&O (Chesapeake & Ohio) Canal. Be sure to arrive early, because seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

River Cruise—Many major cities along rivers—New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago—have tours providing a perspective of the city’s history from the water. Do you have a special interest in something particular like architecture? A river cruise tour in Chicago offered by the Chicago Architecture Foundation shines a spotlight on the architectural gems along the Chicago River.

—To experience the rugged beauty of the high desert and mountainous regions of the American West, consider a sightseeing tour via Jeep. Companies offering Jeep tours, such as A Day in the West in Sedona, Arizona, have specially equipped vehicles to better negotiate rocky terrains, allowing a more up-close view of an area’s mountains and canyons.

Car—Touring by car can be great... but not just any car. How about a tour of Paris in a classic Citroen 2CV? These cars are an icon of Paris, and many companies now offer a variety of tours of the City of Lights via these zippy little automobiles. To learn more about these unique tours visit Viatour.

—Did you ever watch Roman Holiday and long to experience Rome the way Audrey Hepburn did... on a scooter? Now you can zip around the ancient strade and piazze of Rome on a classic Vespa. A word of caution: drivers in Rome are notoriously aggressive, so while a Vespa tour may sound like fun, it is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

What is the most unique sightseeing tour you have been on? Post a comment below!


Kari Rippetoe is the Marketing Manager at Heritage Travel, Inc., a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Photo Credits:
Canal Boat, Washington, D.C., courtesy of the National Park Service
Flickr, "Bicycle City Sightseeing in Madrid!", by sindandune
Segway photo courtesy of Capital Segway
Flickr, "Landed", by Roxie S
Flickr, "Chicago Architectural Foundation River Cruise", by caribbeanfreephoto
Flickr, "2CV Tour Group", by scotrail

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Heritage Q&A With Condé Nast Traveler's Consumer News Editor Wendy Perrin

Today’s post is next in a series of Q&As with people who have a passion for heritage- and culture-related travel.

Wendy Perrin is Condé Nast Traveler's consumer news editor. She writes a practical advice column called "The Perrin Report" as well as features on a wide variety of travel topics. She and her team also write a daily deals blog on Concierge.com, the online home of Condé Nast Traveler, called “The Perrin Post.” Wendy is the author of Wendy Perrin's Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know (Fodor's, 1997). Considered an authority on consumer travel issues, she received the 2005 award for Travel Journalist of the Year, and her exposé about medical care on cruise ships won an investigative journalism award in the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition.

Wendy is often on TV and radio offering travel advice and discussing trends and issues. Her appearances include The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, Good Morning America, and various programs on CNN. She is a graduate of Harvard University and lives in the New York City area with her husband and two sons.

You can follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Wendyperrin.

1. Where have you found inspiration and/or life enrichment during your travels?
I would probably choose somewhere I have been with the kids, two boys ages 5 and 7. When we travel together, I make a big effort to enrich them by showing them the historic sites and local culture. Boston and Washington, D.C., were both great learning experiences where the boys could see the heritage of our country. We also go to Sonoma County, California, every summer — that’s where my husband is from — and while it doesn't go back as far in history as Boston or D.C., many of the communities there have a strong hometown heritage. Every July they are alive with Fourth of July parades, local fairs they’ve held for many years, and a lot of Americana.

One of the most enriching experiences we have had outside of the U.S. (and maybe most enriching of all) was when we took the kids to Egypt and showed them the pyramids. They learned so much about the world’s most ancient civilization — about pharaohs and temples and mummies and hieroglyphics and how the people used to live — knowledge that they were then able to bring back and share with their classmates and friends.

2. Tell us about your most recent trip. What heritage or cultural sites did you visit?
Well, just last Sunday we stopped in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, en route back from Washington, D.C. We were there for only a few hours, but there was a lot to see and do and the kids were riveted. First you watch a film at the visitors’ center that explains the battles that took place there and what they signified. Then you go inside this very cool Cyclorama—a 360-degree painting from the 19th century where you watch different parts of it light up to show where all of the different battles were fought. The museum had some interactive exhibits that the kids loved, as did the great gift shop. In the shop we bought flashcards that are photos of the national parks across the United States, and we tested each other during the drive home. "OK, who can guess which park this is? ... Hint: It’s mainly in Wyoming ... Another hint: It’s got geysers that shoot water out of the ground … Yes, you’re right, Yellowstone!" And so on.

The toughest part of that trip, actually, was trying to explain to the kids what a civil war is and all of the connected concepts of slavery and freedom and an economy based on cotton. But we tried to explain why the Gettysburg Address is important, and we stood in the spot in the soldiers’ cemetery where Lincoln stood and talked about what that speech meant to this country and our democracy, and they kind of got it. Kind of. Maybe.

3. What is your most memorable heritage or cultural travel experience?
With the kids, I would have to say either Spain or Italy. We rented a house in southern Spain near Granada last year and really got to know the local community. We visited the school where the neighborhood children went. That part of Spain has an agrarian economy where they live off the land. It was interesting to show our kids how, for the people there, orange juice doesn’t come from Costco; it comes from picking oranges off the trees, putting them in an old-fashioned metal hand press, and squeezing. It was eye-opening (for all of us) to see how differently people live there, versus back home.

Without the kids, one of the most mind-changing places I’ve ever been was the Galapagos Islands, where Charles Darwin came up with the theory of evolution. On the different islands, you are able to see where and how species evolved differently in the different environmental conditions. Not only can you see evolution in action, but you also start to realize how human beings are so similar to animals ... how we are animals. You can see the Waved Albatrosses doing their mating dance, which in the way they mirror each other is so similar to two human beings going out on a date. And you’re really struck by the differences between males and females, the male animals wanting to spread their DNA around as much as possible, the female animals wanting to mate for life. You see how human beings are really just highly evolved animals—only with society, convention and religion thrown in.

4. Where is one heritage or cultural destination you think everyone with your interests should visit?
Well, my interests change depending on what my story assignment is. But one thing I always love is beautiful landscapes, and my favorite place in the world is New Zealand. My husband lived there for three years—he was traveling there and loved it so much that he ended up staying. When we were trying to figure out where to go for our honeymoon, he said, "Let me take you to the very best country on earth," and he took me to New Zealand.

The country is just so gorgeous and friendly and filled with thrilling adrenaline-pumping activities to try. People live very differently there. They are so laid-back and fun-loving, it’s a very uncrowded country (there are a lot more sheep than people), so you can play it by ear, which is always nice if you like spontaneous travel experiences. And everything you eat there is so fresh and pure. You stop at a gas station to buy juice and potato chips, and the juice carton says, “Just Juice,” and it’s exactly like that: just juice, no preservatives or other crap. And the potato chips taste like … potatoes — and you realize that the potato chips you’ve always eaten back home taste like cardboard.

5. What sorts of things do you like to learn during your travels?
I like to learn how other people live differently, and that's why, when I travel with my kids, I like to show them how other people live differently. I want them to appreciate other cultures and hopefully grow up to become citizens of the world.

As an example, you see people living so differently in Syria. One of the highlights of my entire travel career was crisscrossing Syria in a rental car. It is one of the easiest places I have traveled in. There are all these world-class ancient sites — from Roman cities to Crusader castles — and no one is there so you have them all to yourself! There aren’t the lines and rules and tourist infrastructure that can get in your way in other places. The driving is easy, the road signage is great and the people could not be any friendlier or more generous or helpful. If your car were to get a flat tire in Syria, the next person driving along would stop on the road, fix your flat tire, invite you to his home, make you a delicious home-cooked dinner, and insist you stay for the night.

6. What does heritage travel mean to you?
What comes to mind is going to a place that has a history and truly deeply learning about that history.

7. What are your favorite heritage- and culture-rich destinations?
Well, in terms of being somewhere so exotic and authentic, Syria is one of my favorites. I love places that make you feel like you’ve traveled backward in time. In the Souks of Aleppo, it feels like you’ve gone back to the Middle Ages.

I get a similar feeling when walking around parts of Florence, Italy, as well. Inside the Vasari Corridor, for instance. The Vasari Corridor is a medieval passageway that is almost a secret. It was built by the Medici family that ruled Florence centuries ago and connects the Uffizi Museum (where the Medicis used to work) to the Pitti Palace (where they used to live). It’s an aboveground tunnel that starts inside the Uffizi, runs across the Arno River above the Ponte Vecchio — it sits right on top of those gold shops on the bridge — and continues through the Oltrarno District to the Pitti Palace. It’s how the Medicis used to get around Florence in secret and spy on their subjects. And when you walk through it, it’s like walking backward in time and getting to see the secret heritage of the city.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

90+ Twittering Towns Speak to Your Travel Interests: Part 2

Yesterday we presented part one of 90+ Twittering Towns that Speak to Your Travel Interests, listing the first 25 states. Below are the next 25 states and some of their actively Twittering CVBs - follow them and give them a tweet to find out the latest happenings before you travel!


Kansas City—VisitKC



New Hampshirevisitnh

New Jersey
Morris County—morriscountynj

New Mexico
Los Alamos—LosAlamos
Santa Fe—Cityofsantafe

New York
Finger Lakes—VisitFingerLake

North Carolina
Surry County—VisitSurryNC

North Dakota

Warren County—WarrenCountyOH


Baker City—Visitbaker

Ligonier/Laurel Highlands—Laurelhighlands
Valley Forge—Visitvf

Rhode Island

South Carolina

South Dakota
Sioux Falls—VisitSiouxFalls

Franklin/Williamson County—VisitFranklin


Salt Lake City—VisitSaltLake


Loudoun County—VisitLoudoun

Whatcom County—Whatcomcounty
Historic Downtown Ellensburg—eburgdowntown

West Virginia
Bluefield/Mercer County—MercerWV

Wisconsin Dells—Wisdells


For even more Twittering towns, check out Twitter travel directory Twisitor Center.

Is there a CVB on Twitter that helped you plan a trip? Post a comment about them below!


Kari Rippetoe is the Marketing Manager at Heritage Travel, Inc., a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Monday, July 13, 2009

90+ Twittering Towns Speak to Your Travel Interests: Part 1

Two of the best ways to get more information about a destination before traveling to it are 1) ask locals or other people who have visited and 2) check with the convention and visitors bureau or tourism organization for that destination.

Did you know you can do both at once?

Twitter allows you to connect directly with thousands of people who know about the place you’re planning to visit—including CVBs and tourism organizations.

If you aren’t already familiar with Twitter, it is a social networking site and “micro-blogging” service that allows users to send and read each others' updates, called “tweets.” A tweet is a post of up to 140 characters of text (hence, the term “micro-blogging”) that you post for others to read in real time. People “follow” you to see your latest updates on Twitter, and you can follow others in order to see their updates.

By following the Twitter updates of a CVB, you can find out more information about that destination (such as upcoming events) and even tweet any questions you have directly to the CVB.

Over the next two days we will share a list of 90 CVBs and historic downtowns from all 50 U.S. states that are active on Twitter. Many of these are for more off-the-beaten-path destinations that have much to offer in the way of rich history and culture. Follow them and give them a tweet to find out the latest happenings before you travel!



Williams/Grand Canyon—bestofroute66

Fort Smith—FortSmithCVB

Monterey County—SeeMonterey
San Francisco—Onlyinsf
Long Beach—VisitLongBeach

Colorado Springs—VisitCOS
Historic Downtown Boulder—downtownboulder

New Haven—Visitnewhaven

Southern Delaware—VisitSouthDel

District of Columbiadestinationdc

Tampa Bay—VisitTampaBay
West Palm Beach—PalmBeachCVB




Central Illinois Region—CentralIllinois

Hamilton County—8GreatTowns
Elkhart County—AmishCountry
Downtown Muncie—munciedowntown

Cedar Falls—CedarFalls
Cedar Rapids—CedarRapidsCVB



New Orleans—NewOrleansCVB



Nantucket Island—VisitNantucket
Worcester— destworcester

Battle Creek—BattleCreekCVB
Ann Arbor—Annarborareacvb
Downtown Rochester—RochesterDDA


Hancock County/Bay St. Louis—mswestcoast

For even more Twittering towns, check out Twitter travel directory Twisitor Center.

Is there a CVB on Twitter that helped you plan a trip? Post a comment about them below!


Kari Rippetoe is the Marketing Manager at Heritage Travel, Inc., a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Wedding Anniversary Road Trip Through Places that Matter

Last month, Cole Stryker (Heritage Travel’s assistant manager, customer experience) took his wife on a weekend trip through the Shenandoah Valley to Charlottesville, Virginia to celebrate their second wedding anniversary. Along the way they visited quite a few places that matter.

Following is an excerpt and photos from his trip journal:

As the Washington, D.C. suburbs gave way to greenery, we sped along Interstate 66 until we arrived in Front Royal, a breezy small town located at the northern mouth of Shenandoah National Park. We stopped at a massive flea market to pick up some fresh strawberries and green beans—a nice supplement to the energy bars we had packed for the ride. We meandered into town, picked up a couple of chocolate malts and explored the main street, where vintage clothiers, wine tastings, and Civil War monuments vied for our attention.

We entered Shenandoah National Park and drove south along Skyline Drive, one of the nation’s most scenic drives. The route featured many pull-offs, which allow drivers to appreciate the vistas without traffic building up.

After exiting the park for the afternoon, we drove aimlessly among the hollers surrounding the park border, eventually coming upon a roadside diner, where we enjoyed (what else?) biscuits and gravy. We spent the evening hunting for antiques in Luray, a beautiful town known for its vast caverns. We enjoyed a restful night at the newly renovated Mimslyn Inn.

We spent most of the next day traveling the rest of the way through the park, pausing only to check out a black bear and her cub. Emerging from the thick forest at the southern end of the park, we drove west to Staunton. We strolled through Staunton’s historic downtown, visited Woodrow Wilson’s Presidential Library, and stumbled on a poignant memorial ceremony for fallen Confederate soldiers at Thornrose Cemetery. Before leaving Staunton we savored incredible barbecued ribs at the Mill Street Grille, polished off with complimentary peppermint ice cream.

After dinner we made our way to Charlottesville and checked in at the Boar’s Head Inn, a sprawling resort hotel just outside of town. That night we walked through the University of Virginia grounds to the downtown mall, a vibrant shopping center where we browsed the shops while buskers’ music filled the air.

The next morning, we started early for Jefferson’s Monticello. We were met by a delightful tour guide, whose whimsical oration brought the estate to life. Here we were introduced Jefferson’s daily routine along with the lives of the large slave community working the fields and gardens. After our tour we were able to explore the beautiful grounds at our leisure. We then departed for Madison’s Montpelier, which was less visually impressive but no less fascinating.

After our tour, we drove back north to Washington through gorgeous plantation country. On the return trip we seemed to come across Civil War battlefield markers every few minutes, reminding us that thunderous cannon fire once shook this bucolic landscape. Signs of battle crept into our view throughout the drive home, a sobering reminder of the area’s turbulent history. Still, I’m glad that these things remain a part of the American landscape so that we may remain mindful of sacrifices made and of the enduring spirit of freedom.

You can create your own trip journal and read the trip journals written by others when Gozaic launches later this summer. Learn more about Gozaic and the upcoming site features, including trip journals.

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