Kansas: The 34th State

Today is Admission Day for Kansas, our 34th state, admitted to the Union on January 29th, 1861. Kansas, a state that I’ve not yet visited, is smack dab in the middle of the country, and is, in fact, home to the geographical center of the contiguous United States.  Its capital city is Topeka, and its largest is Wichita. Kansas was originally home to large numbers of Native Americans who hunted buffalo on the prairies.  After the Civil War, scores of immigrants moved to Kansas, turning the prairies into farmland.  Large in geographical area (15th), but small in population (33rd), Kansas today leads the nation in wheat production, and is one of the most productive agriculture states. Because of diminishing populations in Kansas, referred to as Rural Flight, the state and federal government are offering programs of free land and tax […]

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Michigan: The 26th State

Today is Admission Day for Michigan, our 26th state, admitted to the union on January 26th, 1837. Michigan is bordered by four of the five Great Lakes, only Lake Ontario is missing, and has the longest freshwater shoreline of all the states.  Because of this unique geography, the state boasts more recreational watercraft than any other.  Not surprising since an individual is never more than six miles from a natural water source. Residents of Michigan reference their residency within the state claiming to be Uppers (also called “Yoopers”) or Lowers (also called “Trolls” because they live below the Mackinac Bridge), referring to the upper and lower peninsula.  Lansing is Michigan’s capital city, and Detroit the largest.  It’s a big state, ranking 8th in population and 11th in geographic area. When most people think of Michigan, they think of the Detroit […]

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Pacific Aviation Museum

A new museum has opened at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the Pacific Aviation Museum. The museum opened on December 7th, the 65th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In 1941, moored off the shores of Ford Island (located in the middle of Pearl Harbor) were some of the largest ships in the US Pacific Fleet.  The first attack by the Japanese began at 7:55 am, with the second attack ending two hours later.  The loss was immense:  2,403 people (military and civilians), 18 ships, 188 aircraft destroyed and another 159 damaged.  World War II had now begun for the U.S. on a “date that will live in infamy.” The museum takes you back to 1941, starting with a visit to Hangar 37.  There, you’ll watch a film of the attack, interspersed with original film and photos from 1941.  […]

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Get Your Motor Running in Detroit at the North American International Auto Show

Excitement is running high in Detroit right now, as the countdown begins for this weekend’s opening of the North American International Auto Show, and the annual unveiling of what’s hot, what’s cutting edge, and what’s in the future of the car industry. From its inception in 1907 (how many cars were they showcasing then?) to the international showcase that it is today, Detroit has showcased our love affair with the car.  Originally called The Detroit Auto Show, this event now ranks with the best of the best in the auto world, holding its own with the major auto shows in Frankfurt, Geneva, Paris and Tokyo.  In 1989 it became known as the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). Some highlights of past shows: 1992 ““ The President of Chrysler “crashed” a Jeep Grand Cherokee into the site through a special […]

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New Mexico: The 47th State

Today is Admission Day for New Mexico, our 47th state, admitted to the union on January 6th, 1912. The culture of the area is heavily influenced by the large population of Spanish, Mexican and Native Americans who live in the state, and who, generations earlier, occupied the territories of what is now New Mexico.  The state has the highest percentage of Hispanic Americans (some immigrants, some descendants of Spanish colonists) and the second highest percentage of Native Americans (mostly Navajo and Pueblo).  This blend of culture has always fascinated me, and I regret that I have not yet had the opportunity to visit New Mexico. Santa Fe is New Mexico’s capital city, and Albuquerque its largest city, followed by Las Cruces, Santa Fe, Rio Rancho, and Roswell. It ranks 36th in the country in population. Popular visiting spots include:  Carlsbad […]

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Utah: The 45th State

Today is Admission Day for Utah, admitted as our 45th state on January 4th, 1896. Utah is one of the Four Corner states (the others are Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona), the only place in the Unites States where four states come together at one point.  Utah is ranked 13th in geographical area, and 34th in population.  The largest city is the capital city of Salt Lake City. Utah has a large tourism industry, given a boost when it was host to the 2002 Winter Olympics.  The state is known for its many ski resorts, national parks (Zion and Bryce Canyon, for example), the Great Salt Lake, the Bonneville Salt Flats (in photo), the Sundance Film Festival and the Mormon Temple. I’ve only been to Utah once, and that was to visit Salt Lake City in 1987.  It was a […]

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Alaska: The 49th State

(As part of my quest to visit every state, I will be spending some time throughout the year highlighting each of our 50 states.)   Today is Admission Day for Alaska.  On January 3rd, 1959, Alaska (purchased from Russia in 1867) became the 49th state. Although Alaska is the largest state in geographical area, it is one of the least populated, ranking 47th of 50.  Due in large part to its connection with the oil industry, it is one of the wealthiest states.  Alaska is a rugged state, with lots of outdoor adventure opportunities:  fishing, hunting, hiking, snowshoeing, dog sledding, etc.  During the summer, the coastal cities in Alaska are popular ports of call for many cruise lines, and cruising the Inside Passage is an opportunity to see nature in all its glory.  Other popular sites:  train rides through the […]

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Resolutions at Flyaway Cafe

I make resolutions every year. Although I usually refer to it as goal setting, I try to be both ambitious and realisitic in the process, and make resolutions that reflect the varying parts of my life.  Some overlap, some don’t, but my overall goal is to be a better person a year from now. Here are a few of my travel resolutions (goals) for Flyaway Cafe: Go to Europe — finally! Go to at least three new U.S. cities Go to at least two states that I haven’t yet been to.  It doesn’t count if I’m just at the airport. Write and post regularly, sharing my travel discoveries, both good and bad, with all of you. Remember the joy of travel. Did you make any resolutions?  Please take a minute and leave them here in the comments.

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Philadelphia's New Year's Mummers Parade

For those readers who’ll be in Philadelphia over the New Year, you won’t want to miss the 102nd New Year’s Day Mummers Parade. So who are the Mummers?  The forerunners appear to date back to 400 B.C. and the Roman Festival of Saturnalia.  In that era, Latin laborers marched in masks through a day of satire and gift exchange; the Celtic version was a variation of the “trick-or-treat” theme.  Since that time, the bacchanalia of New Year’s celebrations have taken many twists and turns, but hthe revelry and enthusiasm of its origins remains. The first “official” Philadelphia Mummers Parade was held in 1901, and it has become the most authentic folk festival in the world.  Thousands of people (this year estimated to exceed 15,000), capped and caped, speckled and sequined, strut their stuff as Mummers.  And I do mean strut!  Mummers don’t […]

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Try Solitary Confinement on Your Next Hotel Stay

I like my creature comforts when I travel.  But I’m also trying to broaden my horizons.  I’m looking for new places to go, new adventures, a little motivation and encouragement to try something a little different and off the beaten path.  It’s not so much that I’m in a rut, as that I want to make sure that I don’t get into one. Maybe that’s why my pal Jon sent me information about this KGB Hotel in Liepaja, Latvia.  Either that, or it’s because I mentioned that when I get home from traveling, I become somewhat of a recluse, not wanting to see anyone or leave the house. This hotel, however, sounds like one that I’d be most anxious to leave.  It bills itself as  “unfriendly, unheated, and uncomfortable,” but it’s open all year “˜round.  You can read a first hand […]

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