Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Visit Missouri-Fort Zumwalt Park


We have several parks in our area, but my favorite is Fort Zumwalt Park.  This 48 acre park is both scenic and historic.  It has a wonderful 3.5 acre lake and lots of trails and paths to enjoy nature.


Newly Renovated

The lake named Lake Wetsel, after a board member that championed the lake, was completely dredged during 2019.  At that time several small bridges and a walking path were added.  This makes it a wonderful place to take a stroll or go for a more energetic walk.




Historic Features


I love seeing the fort each time I go to the park.  It is a wonderful recreation of a log cabin from the late 1700's.  Here is a quote about the Zumwalt home from the O'Fallon city website.   https://www.ofallon.mo.us/fort-zumwalt-park
"It’s hard to imagine the O’Fallon area as the leading edge of the American frontier. But in 1799, when Daniel Boone and his family settled just a few miles away, the area was a wilderness in which Native Americans hunted, fished and trapped game.
At about the same time that Daniel Boone arrived, Jacob Zumwalt and his extended family settled in the O’Fallon area circa 1798, building a large log home. A few years later, when the War of 1812 set off deadly guerilla raids with Native Americans ambushing and killing American settlers, local families fled to the shelter provided by the Zumwalt’s home, which is said to have been fortified with a stockade fence.  A spring, which is now Lake Whetsel, supplied water.
Zumwalt’s Fort, as the fortified house came to be called, was one of 35-plus “settler forts” that once stood in Missouri. Boone’s Fort at present-day Matson, Missouri, was the largest.
The reconstructed Zumwalt’s Fort opened in 2015 as a gift to the City from the O’Fallon Community Foundation. It is the only rebuilt War of 1812 settler fort in the state.
Interpretive signs at the site provide structural details and information about the people who lived here in the days when the O’Fallon area was part of the American frontier."

Another historic house in the park is the Heald house.  It is a large brick home built near the fort on a hill called "Stony Point" .  It was first built in 1884 and was renovated by the City of O'Fallon in 2001.  I love taking photos of the flowers around the house.



Wildlife

Wildlife abounds in the park both in the woods surrounding the lake and in the lake itself.  I particularly like watching the colorful ducks in the lake.




















Here is an Iris I photographed along the lake.

Other Activities at the Park

The park features many other attractions and special events.  Here are a few of the most popular.
  • Picnic Areas
  • Pavilion for Group Gatherings
  • Large Playground
  • 18 Hole Disc Golf Course- this scenic 18 hole course winds it way through the park.  The course is free for open play and scorecards are available near the first tee.
  • Celebration of Lights- each December the park hosts a annual celebration of lights.  This celebration features a drive-through display of seasonal lights.  It also has nights set aside for a walking tour and some nights there are carriage rides available.
  • Founders Day Celebration-The park hosts this celebration in May with live blue-grass music, hands on activities and heritage demonstrations.
  • The Park is the host for The St. Charles Model Railroad Club.

Photo Shoot

I love to do photo shoots with my granddaughters and the park is the perfect place to take their photos.  Here are a few from their recent visit.






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Monday, July 20, 2020

Travel: Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge - Wildlife Drive

This past weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. We spent our time on the Wildlife Drive. Despite the heatwave and oppressive humidity, it was a wonderful experience. I am writing this review because I highly recommend this destination for birdwatchers, wildlife lovers, bicyclists, hikers, photographers, travelers, and anyone who appreciates being immersed in nature.





Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Cambridge, Maryland


Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is located in south eastern Maryland - the region commonly known as the eastern shore. The refuge is over 30,000 acres of tidal marsh, forests (hardwood and loblolly), managed freshwater wetlands, and croplands.  It was established in 1933 as a refuge for migratory birds.





The Wildlife Drive


With 30,000 acres of refuge, Wildlife Drive was a manageable chunk of area for a brief visit. We paid our nominal fee and entered that portion of the refuge. 




The drive includes a paved road (approximately 4 miles in length) with a few branches of unpaved - but wide - walking trails. Due to the heat and our limited time, we remained on the roadway.  

Our first stop was the observation deck and viewing area. Had we more time, I could have remained in that area for hours.  A raised wooden walkway and deck were positioned in the middle of the marsh. Two benches were available as were two free/permanent binoculars.






We observed fish swimming in the clear sections, a large number of Red-winged Blackbirds and dragonflies, and in the distance we easily spotted what appeared to be a Bald Eagle nest and two eagles perched in nearby trees.

As we left that area, I spotted what I believe to be a Green Heron in a tree (I am a beginning bird-watcher so please do not use my guesses of species as factual). I was so excited! I believe this is only the second time I've spotted a Green Heron since I've begun to list birds I've spotted.




In the distance, I saw a little marsh "Shack". Of course I was intrigued. If you know me, you know that I have my very own Shack.  This shack turned out to be a permanent viewing blind!






Along the road, we pulled over at various spots to observe turtles, ducks, Great Blue Herons, Osprey nests, and a Great White Egret (again, I'm only sure of the identification of the Great Blue Heron and Osprey).










Wildlife and Marsh Seasons


The pamphlets that were available at the entry gate included quite a bit of helpful information. Including a general "Wildlife Calendar".  From January to December, the refuge is a living and changing community of wildlife.  As we there in July, the time frame (depending on weather) generally includes swallows, kingbirds, and flycatchers feasting on the huge amounts of insects. Hibiscus begins to bloom near the end of the month and the Osprey babies begin to leave the nests. We were fortunate to find that the Ospreys were easy to spot on their nesting platforms.





If you are a bird watcher, you may want to refer to the migration information to increase your chances of seeing the species you'd like to see. For example, I believe we saw Teal. Whether they are "blue-winged" or "green-winged" I'm not sure. I'm not even fully confident they are Teal. But Teal is listed as a species that is traveling through the area during this time on their migration from North to South. 

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is definitely worth a visit for any outdoors person or birder. And the Wildlife Drive is a scenic and comfortable front seat for Mother Nature's show.






Related Links:

Eastern shore, Maryland has many great places to visit and things to see. Assateague Island (home of wild ponies) is my favorite place in that region. For more travel information check out VisitMaryland.org.

I recently read Chesapeake by James Michener. During my entire time at Blackwater National Refuge I thought of the people depicted in that historical fiction. From the Native American peoples, to the slaves and the slave owners, to the pirates, and those who worked hard to survive in the marshes of the Eastern Shore... they were all on my mind as I wandered the refuge. Read my review of that epic novel here.

Harriet Tubman lived in this area. I have seen the home that she was born in (from a distance and during a tropical storm). I have also visited the Harriet Tubman underground railroad state park. For more information about additional Harriet Tubman sites in the Dorchester County (Cambridge, MD) area, click here



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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Travel Tips & Destination Recommendations Reviewed on Review This Reviews!

Treasures from the Archives of Review This Reviews! 


Have you ever been to a Renaissance Festival, hiked down the side of a waterfall, spent the night in a lighthouse, walked with ghosts, been on a 10 day cruise, or explored the ruins in Rome?  Review This Reviews is proud to say we have contributors who have done each of those things and are willing to write about their travel adventures.  We hope to peak your interest in a variety of destinations and give you tips to plan your own fabulous vacations and excursions.

Several of our contributors enjoy day trips and offer advice to make even those activities safer and easier for our readers.  Like all of our reviews, the travel reviews are based on our own experiences.  Therefore, you can reap the benefits of our knowledge without the monetary, emotional or physical expense.  



Travel with Our Contributors 


We are fortunate to have contributors from multiple regions of the United States, Canada, and Australia.  We always carry our cameras and take notes, even if we are touring someplace close to home.  After all, it might be close to our home, but it may well be a wonderful destination for your next vacation. 

We also have several reviews of travel books and products that we have found to be essential in our adventures.  Did you know that the Rand McNally Atlas not only gives you an excellent detailed map, but also shows you where the rest areas are located?  That is just one example of essential information shared in our travel reviews. 

You will find over seventy-five travel articles on Review This Reviews to aid you in your travels.   Stay safe and have fun! 


A Review This Reviews Pinterest Board - Travel Reviewed 


The board below features 30 of our most recent reviews.






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Thursday, June 25, 2020

Visit Missouri-Klondike Park St. Charles County

Klondike Park Meeting Facility

On a recent beautiful June afternoon,  my friend and I ventured out into Missouri Wine Country.  After a wonderful lunch at a winery overlooking the Missouri River Valley, we stopped at Klondike park for a bit of hiking and photography.

Location of Park

Klondike park is located in St. Charles county just 14 miles south of the 40/94 interchange.  It is a wonderful location with over 250 acres nestled in the middle of Missouri Wine Country.

Boat Ramp

As we left the winery we took the first exit we saw for the park and found that this exit really just led to the boat ramp with access to the Missouri river and not into the park itself.  We decided to get out for a few minutes to photograph the river from this vantage point.

There is a power plant in this area and from the boat ramp we got a good view of the power plant across the river.
We had really wanted the main entrance to the park so we got back in the car and went down hwy 94 for about 1/4 of a mile and we came to the main entrance.

Features of Klondike Park

The park has a modern meeting facility (pictured at the beginning of this page) that is perfect for both family and business meetings.

One of the key features of the park is the beautiful bluffs overlooking the Missouri River valley.  There is a paved path that you can hike to the top of the bluffs for some scenic views of the area.

Hiking and Biking Trails

There are more than 4 miles of natural and paved trails for hiking and biking.  The trail pictured above is one that we took to go down to the river.  It was an unpaved path that went down a rather steep hill before it crossed the Katy Trail and eventually ended up at the river.

Katy Trail

The Katy Trail is a 237 mile hiking and biking trail that goes across most of Missouri.  Over half of the trail follows the path that explorers Lewis and Clark took along the Missouri River.

Camping at Klondike Park

If you are looking for a place to stay, Klondike park offers camping facilities including, 6 rustic cabins, 43 campsites, restrooms and showers.

Other facilities include:
  • Picnic shelters
  • Playgrounds for children
  • Large lake that is fully stocked

Unique Birding/Wildlife Area

We found there were numerous opportunities to take photographs.  There were many fields with wildflowers and birds.

Image from Klondike Park

Here is a canvas I found on Amazon which depicts a scene from Klondike Park.  Klondike Park is just north of Augusta, Missouri.

Here is a book with information on day hiking trips in Missouri.




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Monday, April 27, 2020

Zoo Cam's Reviewed!

Who doesn't need a bit of calm in this topsy turvy world of late? Free, fuzzy and a whole lot of fun are the Live Cam's from zoos across the world!


Larger zoo's have multiple live cams for a dose of free entertainment. However, the animals may not always cooperate with on demand viewing (we all need our sleep don't we!). So checking back is necessary at times to find the action shots. Here are a few of my favorite zoo cams.


Panda Cam - Smithsonian's National Zoo

Not one, but two cams for the absolutely too darn cute Giant Panda.
There is also a robust archive of panda videos at the National Zoo including the arrival of baby giant panda Bao Bao.



Penguin Cam - Detroit Zoo

If there is one cam that will give you an immediate chuckle is the penguin cam. These guys and gals are too funny!

Butterfly Cam - San Diego Zoo


The butterfly house at my local zoo is a favorite to visit. Entering into the butterfly house is akin to being transported to a fairy garden of gorgeous flowers.  The San Diego Zoo's Hidden Jungle greenhouse has 30 (ish!) varieties  of gorgeous butterflys on the butterfly cam.


Koala Cams - Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Lone Pine Sanctuary was established in 1927 as a safe refuge for Australia's koala bears. The sanctuary has its' mission to protect the Koala with its' efforts for a sustainable and biodiverse environment.

Lone Pine has quite a few Koala cams and I admit a huge fondness for the Koala! But the live cams at Lone Pine also have Platypus cams and Dingo cams.


Sloth Cam

For life in the slow and slower lane, check out the sloth cams. Sloths are active at night and no worries about missing the action with this slow mo crew.




Support Your Local Zoo

The vast majority of zoo's are currently closed and all could use financial support while America is staying at home. Now would be an excellent time to fast forward the holiday donation to your local zoo.




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Friday, April 3, 2020

Teton Trek at the Memphis Zoo Review

The Teton Trek

I absolutely love zoos!  My all time favorite zoo is in Memphis, TN.  They have been improving and adding new additions to the Memphis Zoo for years.  Every time I go, it is like a new adventure.

The Teton Trek opened on Oct. 2, 2009.  Needless to say, I was thrilled when my husband took me to Memphis the very first week it was open
for my birthday.  

The Memphis Zoo really outdid itself with this gorgeous exhibit.  The Teton Trek is stunning!   Not only is the lodge beautiful, but the Grizzly Bear and the Grey Wolves are delightful and mesmerizing to watch.

I wish they had rooms in the lodge to rent.  I would move in today!



The Teton Trek Lodge at the Memphis Zoo


Early on this beautiful, glorious day, I donned my new black Keds tennis shoes, jeans and blouse that my daughter gave me for my birthday, grabbed my new camera which was a birthday gift from my son, snatched my sunglasses and jumped in the car for our new zoo adventure.


Let me tell you, this place was breathtaking! The entrance to Teton Trek is through this huge lodge. The entire area is surrounded by magnificent trees and there is a water fountain in front of the lodge were several people were wading.


This is the perfect setting for Grizzly Bears and Grey Wolves. I was so excited to see the animals, that I practically ran through the lodge when we first got there, but I did go back in hours later to explore. The picture on the right is actually the last picture I took that day at Teton Trek.

Even now, I find myself wanting to skip over writing about the gorgeous lodge and get right to the animals on exhibit, but I will try to contain myself long enough to describe the inside of the lodge.

It is a two level structure with second level decks on both the front and the back of the building where chairs have been placed so you can sit and watch the animals from afar. There were a lot of Moms with their small children on the deck facing the Bear exhibit. I didn't blame them. It is a nice, shaded area out of harms way where they can rest and watch both the children and the animals at the same time.

Downstairs, there are tables and chairs sitting around the vast, open area. This would make a great meeting room or party area. There are also indoor restrooms in this lodge. A necessity when you spend the whole day hangin' with the Grizzly Bear.



Grizzly Bear Habitat in the Teton Trek


WOW!!!

Step outside the lodge and the first thing you see is an expansive enclosure with a beautiful waterfall.  The entire area has been designed to replicate a wilderness most of us would not traverse without a ton of provisions.




The Teton Trek Path

The entire Bear exhibit area is surrounded by a paved walking path. On the outer side of the path, are additional animal exhibits. Since we were there the first week, some of the animals, like the elk, had not arrived so their new homes set empty, ready and waiting for their future inhabitants.

The Trumpeter Swan and the Crane were already in residence by their pond. There were also a few ducks and a lot of area birds filled the trees.






Gray Wolves on Amazing Wild Animals
See More Photos, plus read Grey Wolf Facts on AmazingWildAnimals.com

Grey Wolves in the Teton Trek


I have always loved wolves. They have such an intelligent look and they often seem to be trying to communicate something. 

The Grey Wolves at the Memphis Zoo appeared to be like playful dogs. 

One was busy tearing up the new square of sod while two others were busy fighting over a stick.  But I was not fooled.  They knew we were there.  They're just not as interested in us as we are of them. 

Take a look at my pictures and tell me they weren't posing for the camera.

Grey Wolf Ripping up Sod
Two Wolves Playing
Beautiful Grey Wolf


Grizzly Bear in the Teton Trek


Baby Grizzly Bears at the Memphis Zoo (2009)
These are the little guys I had to see and they were definitely worth the trip!

There are currently three Grizzly Bears in Teton Trek.  


When they first arrived (2009) they were babies and were absolutely adorable.  I knew that even the babies would be dangerous up close, but I found them captivating.  Like all babies, they were sleeping when we first entered the Teton Trek, so we waited. When they woke up, they were ready to play.  They ran back and forth across the enclosure at a shocking speed.

They chased each other.  They swam.  They slapped, splashed, snorted and roared their way into the hearts of everyone present.


We were all completely enraptured with their every move.

The Game of Chase
Searching for Fun
Swimming Together

One Sad Thing


This was such an excellent day!  Very little could have rained on my birthday trip parade.

However, when we got back home and I had a chance to upload the hours of video that I took of those precious grizzly bear babies, I made a sickening discovery.  My brand new video camera records when the light is red.  I thought is was recording when the light was green, thus all I video taped were my feet walking on the pretty walkway.

Dang!  I guess that means we just have to load up the car and go back to Memphis to video record those grizzlies.

One good thing I discovered:  My video camera makes great still shots.



The Babies Have Grown Up
And, I have been back!


Adult Grizzly Bear
Adult Grey Wolves
Still Enjoying the Limelight







Read More about the Memphis Zoo

  • The Memphis Zoo Review
    The Memphis Zoo is one of the best zoos in the United States, actually in the world. Outstanding habitats for animals with safe viewing for visitors...



The Photos in this article are the Exclusive Property of ©Sylvestermouse.
Please Do Not Copy, Reproduce or Use the Photos without the written permission of Sylvestermouse Cynthia.

Many of the photos are available for purchase at Zazzle.com if you would like to own a legal copy.

The Photos by Sylvestermouse Available for Purchase at Zazzle.com



 
Thank you for stopping by!
Do Come Back and See Me Again!




© 2009 Cynthia Sylvestermouse - This Article was originally published on a website that has closed.


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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Make Your Own Public Restroom Survival Kit Reviewed

Make Your Own Public Restroom Survival KitProtect Yourself in Public Restrooms! 


My husband and I enjoy making day trips as well as traveling. What I hate most about traveling whether for a day, or even a week, is the necessity to use public restrooms.  

By now, we have all heard that you should use a paper towel to open the bathroom doors since so many people do not wash their hands before touching the door knobs.  As if that is not enough to make you cringe, I was recently told that drug addicts will clean their needles by poking them in the toilet paper in the restroom stall.  This takes things to a whole new level of contamination concern.  

To be fair, I did check Snopes to determine if needle cleaning in public restrooms is a valid concern and found that none of the health services questioned had ever heard of that happening.  Still, it made me hesitate to trust the provided toilet paper in public restrooms.

For me and my family, I have decided better safe than sorry.  After all, we know there are germs in any restroom.  With the flu, a multitude of viruses, and the concern for cleanliness, why take the risk if not absolutely necessary? 

Some might consider this an extreme and unnecessary precaution.  Perhaps it is.  But, like any other precautionary measure, if it gives you peace of mind, why not.  You are certainly not hurting anyone else by carrying your own public restroom survival kit.


Items Needed for Your Public Restroom Survival Kit

Make Your Own Public Restroom Survival Kit
I assemble my own public restroom survival kit.  I include individually wrapped toilet seat covers, my own toilet paper in a sandwich bag, flushable single pack wet wipes, camp soap sheets, and a few of my own paper towels. 

I carry two different types of toilet seat covers.  One is the typical paper cover that you see in many public restrooms.  The other is a plastic toilet seat cover.  The plastic seat cover is not flushable, but I find it required in some public rest stops.  Even though it is made to encase the seat cover, I simply lay it on the seat.  If I won't sit on it, I certainly will not lift that seat to "gift wrap" it.

You all can stop laughing now!  No, I am not a germaphobe, but over the years I have truly seen some pretty nasty things in public restrooms.  I won't go into the graphic details and descriptions.  Suffice it to say, I've seen enough to know I believe in the proverbial "ounce of prevention".  In this case, I would alter that saying slightly to state an ounce of protection.

If you think I am alone in this concern, allow me to point out that Amazon.com even offers a pre-assembled public toilet kit.


In a pinch, I would totally invest in that "go bag"!  Because I have time to prepare my own survival kits packed with my preferred supplies, I don't mind putting them together myself.  

If you plan on traveling by plane, you may prefer a clear bag for supplies in your carry-on.  There are no liquids in my public restroom survival kit, but a clear bag might keep baggage inspectors from opening it and touching everything.  Hand sanitizer would need to go in your clear liquid carry-on bag.  If you are traveling by car, you can choose any tote bag.

I prefer a tote bag that will clip to my jeans belt loops or my camera backpack loops.   This is a nice inexpensive trio that I found.  I only need the medium sized bag in this set for my restroom survival kit, but I can always find different uses for the other two.
 

 

How Do I Know I Am Not a Complete Germaphobe?


A real germaphobe would recommend two more items!  After all, the dirtiest places in a public restroom are the floors, the toilet handle, and the faucet.

Eek!  Perhaps I should rethink this!   After all, I do wear my shoes in the car and in my home!  And, those gloves and shoe covers are disposable.



And if you really want to do things right, be sure to include your Poo-Pourri! It was previously reviewed by Dawn Rae and would make a fabulous addition to your public restroom survival kit. 
 

When you are out and about, be sure to be prepared, stay safe, and "rest" protected in those public restrooms!

 




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