Another top entertainment venue in Iowa is the Hoyt Sherman Place Theatre. The theatre hosts top music acts of all types, as well as dance and art performances. Located right in Des Moines, the venue is a must stop for families looking for a fun experience. The venue enhances listener’s experience is by the visually stunning and auditory enhancing architecture.
At the college level, Iowa fans are notoriously passionate. The bitter rivalry between the University of Iowa and Iowa State is always a fun game to watch, no matter the sport. The school’s football teams have been meeting since 1894, which is one of the older rivalries in all of college football. Because the two schools are in competition so regularly, a traveling trophy, called the Cy-Hawk Trophy was created. It goes to the winner of the most recent athletic competition between the two schools, whether it be for soccer, basketball or football. If you’re unable to catch one of these amazing in-state rivalry games, don’t fret. Both schools have long running rivalries with out of state schools, such as the Minnesota/Iowa football rivalry, the Iowa State/Missouri or Iowa State/Kansas State rivalry, which always make for exciting contests in their own rights.
Looking to cool off in the heat of summer? Look no further thanIowa’s Charles City Whitewater Park. Constructed in 2011, the park offers visitors lots of recreation options. From kayaking, to Stand Up Paddleboarding, to tubing, the park also has a few non-water related options as well. A disc golf course, art walk, amphitheater, and play area make this a must stop for families visiting the area.
You would not appreciate your friends trashing your house like a rock star trashes a hotel room, would you? So of COURSE you would not do it to your friends home.
Don’t do it to their COUNTRY either!
Obey the local rules and customs, even if they are different than your own.
If you have a “no smoking” rule in your home, you certainly would not appreciate friends or relatives ignoring that rule and turning your coffee table into a giant ashtray, right?
It’s a simple thing, but guests are good guests by being sensitive to the local rules and culture, and by trying to fit into the surroundings. This one thing can greatly enhance the quality of your trip too, as the best way to do this is to ASK a local what the common courtesies or cultural norms are, and in doing so, you’ll earn their respect and make a new friend.
Treat your surroundings with respect, leave it better off. For instance, I always pick up additional trash while disposing of my own. Another way you can do this is with the American custom of a gratuity. Many service workers are paid little, and often are not tipped at all. Make their day a little brighter by flipping them a few dollars.
It’s also a safety issue to pay attention to your surroundings.
And, please, don't be like some of these other people, whose stories I read on the internet…
"Just about every beach and harbor of Cornwall (seaside touristy area of the UK) has a strict rule about NOT feeding the seagulls, with prominent signage to that effect. As a result of constant feeding by tourists, there are huge numbers of gulls, which are very aggressive and bold enough to snatch food from your hands even if you’re not aiming to feed them; they will also attack children, cats and small dogs. Their beaks are very, very sharp, and a wound from one will almost always go septic because they’re such “dirty” feeders. Yet every year you see visitors moaning and wailing (or even trying to sue the town councils) because they’ve been injured while feeding seagulls - generally whilst standing in front of a large sign saying “DO NOT FEED THE GULLS.”
Apparently tourists never see a bird a home...
"In a cafe off the Piazza in Venice a family of English speaking tourists caused an incident. My family was eating at one table, theirs at another. They were throwing bits of bread to the pigeons.
Pigeons on the Piazza San Marco are quite a thing to have to deal with, and the cafes have strict rules about feeding them. Vendors selling bird seed further toward the center of the square have taught the pigeons that presence of humans plus the presence of food equals pigeons getting food, so the birds are very bold near the open-air cafes. It's a constant battle to keep them from hopping and flying right on in.
The waiter came out and asked, very nicely, in perfect English, if they could please stop. They stared at him as if they didn't understand a word he said, and went back to tossing bread as soon as he left. Pigeons got closer and closer. Patrons looked down, startled, as they felt birds around their ankles. Others tried to shoo them off tables and chairs.
The waiter tried again, a couple more times if I remember correctly. I know the family were English speakers, because they spoke to one another every time he left. They just chose to ignore him, and you could see he was getting very frustrated. At the time I got the feeling that he didn't want to make a big deal, and kick them out, because the family had children. Each time, they stared at him blankly, but then kept tossing… I guess seeing the pigeons go after the bread was just too much fun for them to stop. At one point the waiter actually took away the bread, but the children found little rolled bits they'd dropped on their chairs and clothes and kept going.
Long story short, from there it was a very short jump to the patio being swarmed with pigeons, who perched on the tables and ruined the place settings. Spoiled the meal for everyone, especially that poor waiter."
One tourist even told a story on himself... AGAIN with the birds...
"I learned the hard way about birds and restaurants. I was in Phoenix on business and sat outside on the patio at a Mexican restaurant. My salad had those tortilla chips on it, and I saw a little sparrow a few feet away. So I tossed it one. ONE. Sparrows came from everywhere. I won’t over exaggerate the scene, but there were dozens. Fortunately, I was on the patio by myself. A couple of birds perched on the backs of chairs right next to me. I really thought they were going to dive-bomb my salad to help themselves to the tortilla chips. I covered my meal with my napkin and tried to stare them down. I don’t know who looked more stupid at that point."
Since he was alone, I’m guessing…. HIM?
"A wealthy woman from a foreign country first arrived at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport from Paris last July with her sister and adult daughter. The Customs and Border Patrol officers found undeclared items in their luggage, including designer bags, a fur coat, diamond jewelry and watches, Total value: $160,000.
The woman attempted to then bribe the customs officer offering a watch and US$10,000 if he would turn a blind eye. After the officer excused himself and put on a hidden recording device, the woman upped the stakes and offered to “sleep with” the officer if he allowed them to pass through.
She is presently out on a bail of$250,000. USD."
Probably the best thing you can do before traveling is READ up on the areas you will be visiting.
Search on Facebook for locals in that area, send a friend request and ask them if they have some tips.
Search YouTube for videos of the area so you can familiarize yourself with the local culture and customs.
All of this will make your trip go more smoothly, will allow you to make new friends around the world, AND, just as important, will help you blend in and not be a target to local petty criminals looking for a pocket to pick or a bag to swipe.
No matter where you go… just treat other people the way you would like to be treated!
Fortunately authorities got ahold of the folks at the local Audubon Center for Birds of Prey and they dispatched an eagle eyed wildlife professional to oversee the rescue effort.
One of the birds did break free and flew up into the sky, continuing to circle and watching the action from up above. The other Eagle fell into the drain where, then, it could not escape at all. Firefighters were careful to tie a rope around the heavy iron grate, before they removed it, in order to prevent it falling on the trapped symbol of America and quashing all our hopes for the future.
Then, using a net, they were able to snare the bird around the legs (the safest place to grab them as their legs are very strong), and pull it to safety.
So today… “Democracy” is recuperating at the Audubon Center and people of ALL political persuasions are pulling together as one, checking on it’s condition and sending donations to help the center with it’s work.
Central Florida is home to many native species, some, like the Bald Eagle, is also found throughout the country and North America. However some species, like the Florida Alligator, or the Manatee, are only found in the Southern States.
If you love wildlife, and are visiting Florida, there are many “once in a lifetime” opportunities to see native and endangered wildlife, sometimes in their natural habits. A few of my favorite places are…
Blue Spring State Park
Depending on the time of year, you might see just a few, or a plethora of endangered Manatees here.
The last time I visited, there were so many Manatees packed into the river by the viewing dock that you could have walked across their backs to the other side without getting your feet wet (except, of course, that would be wrong, you cannot “molest” Manatees, it’s a crime).
If you’re an animal lover, like me, you probably already make them a part of any vacation you take and, besides what I’ve mentioned here, there are literally hundreds of opportunities to enjoy wildlife in Florida. Just use Google to find something near your destination!
As far as "Democracy," the Bald Eagle, goes... sadly, she passed away from her injuries. So, while Democracy is dead, you can still visit her friends at the Audubon Birds of Prey Center and make a donation in her name and in the spirit of freedom.
NOTE: It's a small, small world. Just learned it was Yaileen's boyfriend, Tito, who saw the Bald Eagles fall from the sky and called 911. Yaileen is "our" server at Sweet Mama's
ORLANDO, FL: Got a sweet tooth or a craving for comfort food? Sweet Mama’s lives up to it’s name.
If you’re flying into Orlando, chances are you’re hungry by the time your flight lands. If it is earlier in the day you’re in luck.
Lake Nona is a community ("Medical City" is located here) just a short drive from the airport and, if you’re looking for something beyond the fast food, or chain restaurant airport fare, “Sweet Mama’s” is a great choice.
One of the first businesses to open in the Lake Nona area, “Sweet Mama’s” is a favorite of locals and visitors alike and are known for their homemake cakes and pies.
When I travel I try to seek out the “Mom & Pop” restaurants as a way to see the local culture and, after all, what’s the point of traveling if you’re just going to eat at another location of the same restaurants that are just around the corner from your home?
I had never been to Sweet Mama’s, but was visiting the local Keller Williams real estate office there at Lake Nona and Lorena, one of the Realtors, recommended it. She said they had GREAT brunches with $3 Mimosa’s (true!) but, alas, since it was a Monday, and still early in the day, we had to “settle” for lunch and no alcohol.
When we arrived we were greeted by Lisa, one of the “Sweet Mama’s” herself and we grabbed a high top table by the window.
They have both indoor, and outdoor, seating, so if it’s a beautiful day, or if you have your dog with you, you can grab an outdoor spot.
They have some kind of special almost every day, and Monday was $6 burger day… for any burger they have. I choose the mushroom, swiss, with sweet potato fries.
Our waitress, Yaileen, was super nice, and friendly, giving us a little history of Sweet Mama’s… she had been going there herself since high school, when it was in it’s first location.
There are TWO “Sweet Mama’s” ..Lisa, in the front of the house, and Linda, in the kitchen. Lisa and Linda are longtime friends who always dreamed of opening a quaint eatery. They treat their customers like family… because some of them are! When Lisa isn’t whipping up family recipes for her own Grandma’s chocolate cake or key lime pie, she’s serving it to her granddaughter.
When our lunch arrived, I have to say that they messed up my order a tad… giving me regular fries instead of the sweet potato fries. HOWEVER, even though I said it was fine, Lisa brought me out an extra order of sweet potato fries at no charge. She even made sure to tell us it was her fault, that Yaileen had put in the order correctly. Frankly, I never care if a minor mistake is make with an order... what's important is, when it does happen, that the business makes it right. THAT earns my loyalty.
My hamburger was PERFECT. I ordered it medium rare and that’s how it came… just slightly pink and juicy. My boyfriend loved his burger as well and he even saved half, plus the order of fries to take home for his dinner later.
Sweet Mama’s is ONLY open for breakfast and lunch… they close at 3 PM for dining, however they also do “Dinner to Go” (plus catering) with pick up until 6 PM, and with some delicious comfort foods on the menu… like meatloaf, fried catfish, liver and onions, chicken pot pie and chicken and waffles!
Desserts are what "Sweet Mama's is known for... homemade, fresh, delightful AND, best of all, available for you to take home for your family or special event. While they have seasonal favorites, they also have a core selection they make all the time, including...
Everyday Pies: Apple, Cherry, Blueberry, Coconut Cream, Key Lime and Peanut Butter.
Everyday Cakes: Carrot Cake, Banana Cake, Red Velvet, Grandma Mildred’s Chocolate Cake, Extreme Chocolate Cake w/Buttercream Frosting, Gluten Free Chocolate, Peanut Butter Squares AND Smores Brownies w/homemade caramel sauce
We’ve already talked about going back there for brunch to get those $3 Mimosas AND because I saw they make my FAVORITE type of Eggs Benedict… with corned beef hash instead of Canadian bacon. If you’ve never had Eggs Benedict this way you should try it. You’d think the flavors of the corned beef and hollandaise would be too intense together, but they are not… it’s amazing.
Of course, I'm already making a "mental note" to get some Extreme Chocolate Cake with Buttercream Frosting to take home.
Sweet Mama’s is just 16 minutes away from the Orlando International Airport, take the South exit out of the Airport and head East on 417 to Narcoossee Road exit, then go North just a bit. It’s on your way if you’re flying in to go to the beaches, and a bit out of the way if you’re heading for Disney, SeaWorld or the International Drive area. Regardless though, I bet you’ll find it worth your time.
Inland Cruises are a Great Travel Value
Ninja Level 1 (out of 5)
When we travel we love to take whatever local cruises we can find, whether they are lake cruises or river, they are an excellent way to see a “side” of the city or town you wouldn't see any other way. An added bonus is they are often an excellent entertainment value as well.
Called “Michigan's little Bavaria,” Frankenmuth is a charming town, on the Cass River, featuring a strong German heritage, with it's own Brewery and quaint, German themed shops. Michigan families have made staying at the 13 acre Bavarian Inn a tradition for generations... it's an full fledged family resort with multiple pools, a water park, arcade, mini-golf and a variety of adult, and family, activities. It's a perfect place to stay if you have kids to entertain.
If you are in the Detroit area, Frankenmuth is just an hour, to an hour and a half, North, through some charming farm country. You'll see the Bavarian Inn on your right as you come into town, but if you prefer to stay in the downtown area they have several selections there as well (Marv Herzog, Fairfield Inn, Springhill Suites and Drury Inn).
We were just there for a day trip though, so we hit the downtown and parked at the River Place Shops, walking over the bridge to the park and annual craft festival, to spend an hour checking out it's exhibits before the boat ride.
We planned the highlight of our day to be the cruise on the Bavarian Belle, followed by lunch at one of the many interesting restaurants and cafes.
The Bavarian Belle is a beautiful boat, and it docks right at the River Place Shops, it's dock and ticket kiosk is by the fountain. Not knowing how crowded the first cruise of the day would be (it wasn't), we got to the ticket kiosk about a half hour early, bought our tickets (just $12 for adults, $4 under 12 and free for children under 4 – cash only), and walked around the shops for a bit.
Getting on the boat was easy, you go down a winding path, a little steep, but still navigable if you have someone in a wheelchair (boat is handicapped accessible), and you just pick your seat. The boat is big enough to move around on, they have popcorn and beverages avail to purchase, and there is plenty of shade on both the upper and lower decks.
I just love taking a boat ride! You always learn a lot of history of the local area and, with the Bavarian Belle, the boats history as well. The Bavarian Belle is a fully restored paddle wheel boat that holds 150 passengers and is run by a family, all working together (Dad is the Captain). It has (non operational) smokestacks and it was interesting to learn that the smokestacks on these boats are hinged and made to lay down for passing under low bridges. Some of what we learned involved the river commerce that used to be so essential to the economy of these small river towns.
We got to see quite a few ducks and Canadian Geese on the Cass River, plus one lonely white goose who, every year, attaches itself to the first duck or goose Mother to hatch babies, helping to guard and raise the brood. The birds are used to passengers throwing popcorn into the water for them, so they will paddle out for easy picture taking... like they did in the photo here!
The cruise lasts only an hour but that was plenty of time to learn the local history and enjoy the scenery. After our cruise we had lunch at the Frankenmuth Brewery, partly because the waiters were waving at our cruise boat from the outside deck. We couldn't disappoint them since they were so obviously wanting our business, but it was a good decision, The Brewery has a nice selection of German and American food (even a couple of “Tex-Mex” items), and you can pick up some of their craft beer to go.
Visiting Frankenmuth has been considered a “summer staple” in Michigan for years, so when you go there you'll feel like you're “vacationing like a local.” You could easily spend several days in Frankenmuth enjoying their restaurants, shopping and activities but DO make a cruise on the Bavarian Bell part of your fun; you'll be glad you did!
Author: Sue Copening