Mary Harshfield and I, LeRoy Rupright, both of Findlay, took the Rick Steve's "Back Door Through Europe" (http://tours.ricksteves.com/tours10/) tour last year, it was a 21 day tour starting in the Netherlands, then onto Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and then France. Mary does not like to fly, so we crossed on the Queen Mary II, the six day trip allowed us to acclimate to the change in time.
The ship arrived in England six days later and we spent a day in London, we went to Buckingham palace and seen the changing of the guard, that particular day was also being celebrated as the Queens birthday which is an event also called trooping the colors.
We met our group in Haarlem, the Netherlands, the next day we went to Amsterdam and went to the Anne Franks museum. The city was all done up in orange because of the world soccer championship games going on.
We went on by bus to Arnhem which is a open air museum including many windmills, Rick Steve's keeps the groups small so the bus trips are more comfortable, about 20 people.
Next we went onto Bacharach, Germany which is on the Rhine River. The next day we toured St Goar and hiked up to the Rheinfels castle overlooking the Rhine, ending the day with a cruise back to Bacharach.
At this point I won't overload you with the tour, there is much more. Germany, Austria. We stayed in Venice Florence and Rome. In Venice we took a Gondola on the Grand Canal, seen David in Florence. In Rome we went to the Colosseum, Pantheon and of course the Vatican.
Next we went onto Cinque Terre, the Italian Rivera.
Then it was onto Switzerland and the fabulous Lauterbrunner valley, home to 72 waterfalls cascading from the beautiful Alps. We took a gondola up 10,000 feet to the Schilthorn, what a magnificent view.
After a few days, it was off to Paris! Paris, home to the Louvre and the Mona Lisa, Notre Dame cathedral and of course the Eiffel Tower. Our last night on the tour with our group, we spent drinking Champagne at the Eiffel Tower with a beautiful sunset.
Thus ended our Rick Steve's tour, however we had ten additional days before we caught the QM 2 back to the states. So we rented a car and went to the Normandy beaches and the American cemetery, toured many French castles and went to Mount St Michel on the coast.
We then took the train through the Chunnel back to England. We visited the Windsor Palace, London Tower, the Roman Baths and then Stonehenge.
This is of course a brief, there is so much more with more than 2000 pictures.
We visited Missouri about this time last year for the McComb Class of 1957's 50th class reunion. We had class members and community members from several area communities, inlcuding Findlay, McComb, Defiance, Bowling Green, Fostoria, Bloomdale and others.
The first stop in St. Louis was the Gateway Arch. The very awesome structure contained a History of the West museum and a tram ride to the top of the arch to look out over the city.
A step-on guide led the bus tour of the city. A major stop was the beautiful Cathedral Basilica St. Louis. The interior depicted Bible stories and people in cut glass mosaic. Seven hundred colors were used to create the interior and 76 years were needed to complete it. Much of the glass mosaic was done as Michael Angelo worked -- on his back on scaffolding!
On our final night in St. Louis, we enjoyed a river boat dinner cruise on the Tom Sawyer, relaxing and taking in the lights along the Mississippi River.
In Branson, SIX was the first and probably favorite show for all. They were the six oldest of 10 brothers who sang and were accompanied by all the instruments, except there were no instruments -- all sounds came from them! With eyes shut you would think there was a full band accompanying them.
Other shows we saw included Andy Williams with Charo, The Presleys, a family group of vocal, comedy and instrumental, and Shoji Tabuchi, the violinist extraordinaire known for his famous theater bathrooms! some of the group also saw Yakov Smirnoff and the 12 Irish Tenors.
On to Carthage, Mo., where we went to the Precious Moments Inspirational Park. In the cathedral, Bible stories are depicted with Precious Moments figurines. The very interesting museum showed the history of Precious Moments, and both buildings were located on beautiful grounds with gardens and statuary.
A dinner stop on the return trip home was Union Station in Indianapolis. Hundreds of shops and restaurants were available for perusing. Great weather and great people made for a great trip!
"A dream vacation." "A vacation of a lifetime." Those are both very good descriptions of my recent trip to Alaska.
My husband, John, and I flew out of Detroit headed for Anchorage with our son, Mike, and grandson Dane. We had booked a motor home and it was waiting for us when we landed. If you like camping, or can just endure it, then that is the way to see Alaska. You always have your wheels and your bed, and you can cook whatever and whenever you desire. It was awesome!
Our first major attraction was Denali National Park and Preserve. We camped right in the park for two nights. We took a one-day trip into the park riding on an old school bus for about 12 hours. The only way to get way into the park anymore is to ride one of the park's vehicles. It was great in that there were not long lines of cars plugging the roads.
The bus drivers instructed us to be very quiet and calm when we saw wildlife. They want the animals to be able to experience life as it should be without throngs of people surrounding them. Some of the many animals we saw that day included: a brown bear and her cub, grizzlies, bald eagles, beavers, fox, caribou, dull sheep, and many birds.
From there we headed north to Fairbanks. While in Fairbanks we were able to experience 40 degrees below zero! Yes, now that was cold! They gave us parkas, gloves and a glass of water and led us into a cooler. When we got in there, we threw the water in the air and it was instant ice cubes. Pretty amazing, and to think we even paid to be cold!
Traveling in that area we were able to get many glimpses of the Alaska Pipeline. It was interesting to see where our fuel comes from.
The next few days were spent traveling back south through farming area. Since we also own a farm we found this interesting. We were one day too early for the Alaska State Fair. But reading in the newspapers we found that their big draw was the largest head of cabbage. The big winner usually exceeds 100 pounds, now that is a bunch of cold slaw!
Our next destination was Seward in the Kenai Peninsula. It was from here that we took our day cruise to the Kenai Fjords National Park. We love touring national parks and this was our second one on this trip. But the day of our cruise was very gray and cold. The water was a little rough, rough enough to upset John’s stomach and nearly ruin his experience.
The sights and sounds of the Kenai Fjords are almost impossible to describe. It was a wonderful trip! We saw many different animals and our captain told us that the whale we saw gave us the best tail flapping show of the season. I believe it, it was beautiful! Probably the highlight of the cruise for me was the glacier. The captain of the boat took us out to the glacier, turned off the engines and let us sit there for about 30 minutes. It was like being in a thunderstorm. I heard claps that were ice chunks breaking off. Words just cannot fully describe the experience.
I am sure the highlight of the trip for our son was the halibut fishing trip that he took out of Homer. He caught two halibuts: a 20- and a 50-pounder, which netted him about 40 pounds of fillets for the trip home. While he was out fishing that day we entertained our grandson by taking in a couple of museums in Homer. We also came across a Farmer’s Market. We were able to get some locally grown fresh veggies and some very good cinnamon rolls. It also helped us to learn more about the local agriculture.
We were in Alaska for two weeks, which is not really enough time to see everything. We took in many different things, but there is still so much more to see. Like I said in the beginning, this trip was a trip of a lifetime, but I would go back in a heartbeat! Words and pictures do not do justice to all the beautiful scenery that beholds the traveler to our 49th state.
My wife Sharon and I are former residents of the Findlay area and we just moved to Indiana. We spent a week in Nashville for our honeymoon. Nashville is the capital of Tennessee and is called "Music City." That's us in front of the Grand Ole Opry (above) and the Country Music Hall of Fame.
That's our son, Ian, enjoying a hot summer day in Arizona, where we moved in June 2007 from Findlay. I still consider Findlay a "home" to me.
Being out West, I am very close to attractions that seemed so far away while in Ohio. My husband and I recently traveled to San Fransisco and had a wonderful time. Those sea lions on Pier 39 were amazing!
Can't wait to make a trip to Ohio in the fall, though. There is nothing like the smell of cool evenings, campfires and damp leaves!
Submitted by Robin Wilhelm of Mesa, Ariz. (formerly of Findlay)
The lodge is at an elevation just under 6,600 feet. Because of the height and location, it is rustic. There is no electricity. Running water is minimal, as is cell phone reception. Nights are lit up by kerosene lanterns. Wildlife can be seen and heard.
We hiked/backpacked one of the five trails available to reach LeConte. It took us a little longer than we thought it would, 6.6 miles in 7.5 hours. (Down was faster, 7 miles in 5.5 hours.)
After arriving the staff led us to our cabin to get cleaned up before dinner. The dinner they served was all you care to eat, in case we were really hungry after trekking all day.
Even though it was a challenge the views along the trails and at the lodge were worth it. The sunrise and sunset colors were spectacular.
Some tips: We had to put our name on a waiting list for the lodge before getting the opportunity to go. There is one major thing we will do differently when we go again: Stay two nights.
I am a Findlay native, born and raised in Findlay, Ohio back in the good old days (really!!).
Findlay is my "Home Town" of which I am VERY proud. I like to keep up with what's happening there through a daily survey of The Courier Web site, which I really enjoy and that gives me a sense of "connection" with my past. I remember "The Republican Courier" as a kid growing up and being delivered to our house!
In 1982 I was working for Marathon Oil Co. in Findlay and got transferred to Houston, Texas. I still live here in Katy, Texas (a suburb) and am currently retired from Marathon Oil and paint murals in our area schools, churches and homes.
My family has been vacationing in Maine for the past 10 years. This year we stayed in a cabin that was located on Mt. Desert Island in Acadia National Park.
This area has it all! Mountains meeting the sea and every possible "land/sea" experience one could conceivably want. Just beautiful! Bar Harbor is a picturesque, shopping-lovers town by the sea, not to be missed. Neither Texas nor Ohio is anything like Mt. Desert Island!
The pictures in this post are of Balance Rock, a lobster boat and the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. Click HERE to see the photo I sent before of "Jordan Pond House" in the heart of Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine.
According to the National Park Service, "Balance Rock on South Bubble (Mountain) in Acadia National Park is a fine example of a glacial erratic boulder transported by the last ice sheet." Click HERE to learn more about the terrain of the watershed.
Submitted by Jeff Strickland of Katy, Texas (formerly of Findlay)
It was less than two hours travel time from Kenton, which was perfect for traveling with toddlers and school-age children. We had checked on the Internet beforehand and printed a coupon, which saved us money on our admission price. Included with the drive-through safari was a huge cup of food pellets to attract the animals.
Picture six pairs of hands diving into the food pellets and -- you guessed it! -- ore pellets were on the floor of the van than were available for feeding the animals.
There were more types of animals than we could name.
We encountered caribou, deer, moose, buffalo, llamas, alpacas, giraffes, and maybe even a yak. Not really sure about that one because the only yak I have ever come across personally was in a Dr. Seuss book. In the distance we could see zebras and lemurs.
It was pretty exciting stuff especially when the animals stuck their heads through the van windows looking for food, or when they planted themselves in front of the van and refused to move! The experience was a little chaotic at first but fun nonetheless.
After the drive-through fun, we parked the van and rode ponies and also a camel. (That's Alexa and Meyghan atop the camel.) These were included in the admission price. There also were various exotic animals to view and some tropical birds.
It was a great day trip, not that far from home but just far enough that some of the kids fell asleep on the way home. It was also a bit nostalgic for me, because I had taken my own children years ago to the safari, and now I was able to spend a day there with my grandchildren.