Seniors Find Excitement in Gillette

Gillette , with a population of 25,000+, is located in northeast Wyoming, halfway between the Black Hills and the majestic Big Horn Mountains. Gillette is one of the fastest growing cities in the state of Wyoming. Senior visitors can easily locate Gillette just off of Interstate 90.

The city was named for Edward Gillette, a surveyor and engineer for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. For a brief period Gillette was the rough and ready terminus of the Burlington and Missouri Railway, boasting twenty saloons, a large stock yard, and more than its fair share of rustlers, stock detectives, and shady characters.

Gillette is famed for being a first-rate coal mine town and the coal mine is extremely active with coal cars moving out of the plant about twice per day. That is why it is labeled the “Energy Capital of the Nation.”

Seniors Discover a Town Alive

In the late 1800s “Donkey Town,” aka Gillette, was homesteaded by cattle ranchers. This town was alive from the start; the cowboys and followers of the railroad saw to that. Like many a frontier town in the West, it finally settled down to an orderly development.

Gillette is the best city a cowboy can get. It commands the trade of a large section of country. Its stock raising, farming and coal resources, with the probability of oil fields adjacent, will, no doubt lead to growth in the future. Historically Gillette was incorporated on January 6, 1892, less than two years after Wyoming became a state.

The city boasts excellent parks, golf courses, recreational facilities and the state’s premier multi-use facility, CAM-PLEX. Residents rarely mutter the phrase, “There’s nothing to do!” with the variety of events that are offered throughout the year, from rodeos to fairs to concerts and theatrical productions, to hockey games and music festivals.

Wildlife, Devils Tower and Big Horn Mountains

And, if senior visitors are wild about wildlife, nearly 77,000 pronghorn call this region home, along with a multitude of mule deer, turkey and sage grouse. I well recall driving across the state and as I came over a hill, right in the middle of the road was a pronghorn antelope.

 A natural commodity that sets Gillette travel apart is the majestic 1.8-million-acre Thunder Basin National Grassland. The grassland is located near the Powder River Basin, between the Big Horn Mountains and the Black Hills. The film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” was shot at nearby Devils Tower Monument.

It is worth a trip just to encounter Devils Tower. The town is located 60 miles west of Devil’s Tower National Monument, 130 miles east of the Big Horn Mountains, and 50 miles south of the Montana border. It is certain you will enjoy every moment you spend in and around Gillette. jeb


Seniors In Stepantsminda

Stepantsminda, is a small town in north-eastern Georgia. Historically and ethnographically, the town is part of the Khevi province and is the center of the Kazbegi Municipality. I actually was searching for a site called Kazbegi that was featured on the Travel Photo of the Day on my iPhone.

I learned that the town of Kazbegi, officially named Stepantsminda, but better known under the old name of Kazbegi, is a mountain town on the Georgian Military Highway. Built by the Russians in the 19th century, the “Georgian Military Road,” is the only pass-road across the wild mountains that can be used by cars.

It has been celebrated in Russian poetry since the late 19th century. It is a spectacular drive at any time of the year, but most impressive during spring time, when the sheep are being driven across the snow covered mountains.

Georgian Caucasus Draws Senior Hikers

The town is 10km south of the border with Russia, which is open again for some nationalities. On the western side of the river, the town is known as Gergeti. For all intents and purposes, it is essentially one town in the Georgian Caucasus and seniors will find some great sightseeing.  Stepantsminda is known for its scenic location in the Greater Caucsus mountains, and today is a center for hikers and mountain climbers.

Senior travelers, let’s go visit Kazbegi if you prefer…Stepantsminda.  It is a leading producer of beer and soft drinks in all of Georgia. Tourism, woodworking industry and other sectors of Georgia’s economy attract senior visitors. 

Having sprung up on the debris of the Soviet economy and civil war ten years ago, “Kazbegi”, the beer producing company, today is a multi-profile business group, occupying successful positions not only in food producing and processing industry, but also in tourism and other sectors of the Georgian economy.

Close To Russian Border

Kazbegi is a spectacularly located town just a few kilometers south of the Russian border, with the snowy peak of Mt Kazbek towering to the west, behind the famous hill-top silhouette of Tsminda Sameba Church.

The Tergi river flows through Kazbegi and ultimately into Russia and finally into the Caspian Sea. Alpine meadows and forests surround the Kazbegi Nature Reserve.

The Kazbegi region distinguishes itself with nature, valleys, speeding rivers and blue lakes and is situated only 2 1/2 hours and 90 miles north of Tbilisi. Caucasian’s highest glacier called Mkinvartsveri is evident and under the glacier is the famous St. Trinity church.

Mount Kazbegi is a dormant stratovolcano and one of the chief mountains of the Caucasus, dominating Stepantsminda. It is the third highest mountain in Georgia and the seventh highest peak in the Caucasus.

There will be plenty to see and do so enjoy your visit to Kazbegi/Stepantsminda. jeb


Seniors Explore Andalusia

One of the most fascinating and memorable trips my wife and I made to Spain was to the southern region called Andalusia. This senior had made a special point to visit as many UNESCO World Heritage Sites as possible, and there were several.

Andalusia has a rich Moorish heritage, including many fantastic examples of Moorish architecture which were built during the eight centuries when Andalusia was the center of the Arab population in the Iberian peninsula. The Moorish rule effectively ended in 1492 when Christians recaptured Granada. The entire region has a rich and varied history and includes some of Europe’s best wildlife sites.

The area abounds in olives trees, the glorious Mediterranean seacoast, ancient historical cities, wonderful food and superb lodging facilities. I entitled this blog “Explore Andalusia” as that is precisely what senior travelers will want to do.

Head up that road that looks interesting or visit that castle up on the hill. TripAdvisor suggests 1,209 things to see and do. Wow! There seems to be something for every senior in Andalusia.  Stay in a Paradore, the luxury hotel accommodations in Castles, Palaces, Convents, Monasteries, Fortresses and other historic buildings all over Spain.

The Guadalquivir is Andalusia’s most important river and brings life to many areas in its journey across the region. Andalusia offers a range of attractions that range from impressive monuments in large towns to typical small villages, which have provided a constant source of inspiration for all kinds of artists.

 Seniors Find Medieval Ruins, Olive Trees and Hostales

Each of Andalusia’s eight provinces are loaded with unforgettable highlights. Circle all the cities that you won’t want to miss on a map. We suggest that you pick a rental car in Madrid. Then swing northwest to Avila and Salamanca and then head south to Andalusia. On your route back to Madrid a must visit is the city of Toledo.

 Andalusia = the heart of flamenco, lots of medieval remains and fortresses, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the Iberian Peninsula, the former capital of an Islamic caliphate in the Middle Ages, the magnificent La Alhambra Palace, a maritime port town with the oldest football club of Spain, the world’s olive oil capital, a harbor city right on the Costa del Sol, and Marbella, a wealthy resort town on the Costa del Sol.

We discovered hostales, a type of lodging found mostly in Spain and Hispanic America. Hostales tend to be less expensive than hotels, comfortable and in most cities and even smaller villages. You can save a lot by lodging in a hostal (not a hostel). Look for a sign that reads Hostal, not Hotel.  We hope that you enjoy Andalusia as much as we did. jeb


Filed under : Adventure Travel, Europe


Seniors Retire in Ecuador

CNN Money has been looking for great places for seniors to retire. One of those spots is in Ecuador. In recent years, Cuenca, Ecuador (population 30,000 and 275 miles south of Quito), has become a favorite retirement destination. Cuenca offers temperate weather, beautiful architecture, and modern health care, all for a fraction of the cost of living in the U.S., and the national currency is the U.S. dollar.

Opening-home-price figure, $75,000, is not a typo. Health care and property taxes are dirt-cheap. Sell your winter clothes, seniors…and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime in the Land of Eternal Spring. Every cliché you’ve heard about living large on little, on even a retiree’s budget, is true in Ecuador writes International Living.

Senior citizens can live comfortably on social security and live well. I have spent time in Ecuador and loved most everything I encountered. Of all of the cities in Ecuador, Cuenca is arguably the most charming with its cobblestone streets, old-world cathedrals, colonial parks and urban rivers. It is the third largest city in the country with a population of a 500,000.

Why Cuenca? Seniors Ask

Cuenca is currently home to a few thousand expat retirees, mostly from the U.S. and Canada. New arrivals can choose from one of the many new condo developments or spring for a landscaped historic estate for $300,000.Ecuador is a local food paradise with a variety of lush produce that grows year round in small farms surrounding Cuenca.

What does Cuenca Ecuador have to do with The American Dream? Short Answer: everything really associated with quality of life is more abundantly available in the very best cities of Latin America with Cuenca, Ecuador a crown jewel among them. If you are even a tiny bit interested in a major move like this, read on as they highlight the Big Three Pros of Cuenca including a video entitled “Living in Cuenca.”

My Editor, My Wife, reads all these  blogs very carefully and most often notes that “We have to check this place out.”  I’m confident that Cuenca will be included next. Cuenca is a World Heritage Site and that’s enough, in itself , to merit a visit.

Viva Tropical notes that Cuenca is the city of choice for those people who dream of living smack in the middle of Paris, Barcelona, or Sienna (or even Manhattan or San Francisco, for that matter)… within walking distance of historical, beautiful architecture, culture, and food — at a price that’s affordable for someone needing more living space than a studio apartment.

And “nota bene:” the people in Cuenca are welcoming of Americans and happy to help make them part of the community. Many are fluent in English and the city has plenty of English-language bookstores, store owners, and people willing to accommodate non-Spanish speaking travelers and expats.

Enjoy your time in Cuenca.  I know we would.  jeb


Seniors Converge On Mendocino

Mendocino County is located on the north coast of California, a couple of hours north of the San Francisco Bay Area and west of what is known as the Central Valley. The area is noted for its distinctive Pacific Ocean coastline, Redwood forests, wine production and its microbrews.

The County features some of the most renowned scenic drives in the world. The Pacific Coast Highway #1 runs all but a few miles of the length of the County’s coastline, connecting to San Francisco and beyond. Inland, U.S. Highway 101, also called the Redwood Highway, is a beautiful, historic journey through the lush vineyards of Sonoma and Mendocino County to Hopland, Ukiah and Willits.

The cliff top village of Mendocino is just south of Fort Bragg with a population of only 849 happy folks. Download a Visitors Guide and check out the festivals, special events, visitor packages and wines. For my wife and me, we would enjoy selecting one of the many B&Bs for a stay in Mendocino.

Mendocino Coast Draws Seniors

An artist colony has sprung up in the town of Mendocino and senior vacationers find it very attractive due to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean. There is a small downtown in Mendocino with a number of art shops and small restaurants. Mendocino loves to celebrate it’s rich culture of arts, food and wine.

It is the Mendocino Coast however, that rates #1 with senior visitors followed by the Mendocino Headlands State Park with its unique blend of gentle trails, rugged coastline, secluded beaches and timeless history. The park surrounds picturesque Mendocino on three sides. Miles of trails wind along the cliffs, giving the casual explorer spectacular views of sea arches and hidden grottos.

 The entire region is called America’s Greenest Wine Region. With some of the world’s finest wineries in their back yard and the awesome Pacific Ocean the front yard, Mendocino is securely perched on a cliff overlooking a river and the ocean. This is where the locals carry on their everyday lives amidst the delightful and enduring legacy of the 19th century.

 Wine, Seafood, Rodeos and Parades

Seniors will find it fun to celebrate the beauty and bounty of Mendocino County, from wine tastings and seafood celebrations to the oldest rodeo and kooky parades. Mendocino is one of only two towns in the state of California that is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

For more than a century, Mendocino water towers and accompanying windmills have captured the attention of visitors and writers alike. In 1892, one reporter observed during her stay, “an individuality about the water works of this town not found in any other place.”

 Plan to take in the notable, historic and recreational attraction called the “Skunk Train” that connects Fort Bragg with Willits via a steam-locomotive engine. So when you are up north in California along the coast, stop by and enjoy all the wonder of Mendocino County. jeb


Racing Capital Draws Senior Enthusiasts

Indianapolis, known as Indy, is the capital and most populous city of the state of Indiana, and also the county seat of Marion County. The city’s population runs just over 830,000 making it the twelfth largest city in the US. It is perhaps best known as the “Racing capital of the world.”

Historically, the Indiana Territory was formed in 1800 and admitted as the 19th state in 1816. By far the largest city in the state, Indianapolis was selected as the site of the new state capital in 1820.

Indy is a buzzing metropolis known affectionately  as the “Circle City,” but few who use the term know its centuries-old origin. The name comes from the original design of the city. In 1821, surveyor Alex Ralston carved his place in history by drawing up the plans for the now booming state capital.

 Senior Visitors Find Great Urban Spaces

Two downtown landmarks, Monument Circle and Indiana War Memorial Plaza, are among America’s great urban spaces. The Circle centers the city and furnishes its “Circle City” calling card.

The 24-acre plaza, (think green space and monuments, like Washington, D.C.’s National Mall) gives Indy the distinction of devoting more acreage to honoring veterans than any other city; it’s second to D.C. in number of war memorials.

One of America’s top Western Art Museums attracts hundreds of visitors. The White River State Park is a major hub for fun and the Indy Zoo ranks among the top ten in the US. Senior visitors will find over 200 attractions in town and the Museum of Art ranks #1.

Indy may be best known for its speedway motor racing and the Indianapolis 500. The oldest car race in the world attracts literally hundreds of thousands each year and many come just to see the track. Originally conceived as a test track for local automakers, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened in 1909. Two years later, the oval hosted its first 500-mile race.

My brother and his wife used to frequent the track since they owned a Mini-Cooper that has an annual get-together there. They had tons of fun driving around the track along with hundreds of other Minis.

Track, Football And Film Festivals

And let’s not forget the Indianapolis Colts Football team. Sports reign in Indianapolis, but there are many cultural opportunities as well. The city hosts the Heartland Film Festival, emerging as one of the top venues for up-and-coming film artists and the Indy Chamber has events scheduled all year round.

The Indianapolis Canal walk invites senior visitors to ride paddle boats just for fun near the Indiana State Museum. The city was once home to more than 60 major car manufacturers. Indianapolis contains many interesting and historic districts, with Victorian architecture, cobblestone streets, interesting local shops and popular restaurants.

Check out Indianapolis and enjoy the many amenities the city has to offer. jeb


Gragnano Attracts Senior Pasta Fans

My Travel & Leisure magazine noted that Gragnano on the shore of Lake Garda is a site that senior citizens who are searching for a neat visit should consider. Pretty cool link huh? Gragnano is a commune in the Province of Naples, located about 30 kilometers southeast of Naples.

May be reason enough to personally check out the site for yourself. Yes, it is called città della pasta, city of pasta. And  senior travelers will also find some great pizza in this city. The entire area is calm and peaceful, not exactly a place for tourists looking for discos, pubs and night fun so be aware of that fact. Pasta and pizza are the words here.  My wife and I would really enjoy all the variety.


 Pasta and Pizzerias Make Seniors Smile

The city is not large (20,000) and Facebook recommends that you check out those fabulous pizzerias. In addition senior visitors will not run out of attractions in every direction from Gragnano.

Pasta has been made in Italy for thousands of years. The Romans called it laganum and the Arabs, who conquered the Italian south in the 9th century, called it itriyya. But it was not until the 16th century in Gragnano near Naples that pasta became an industrial product.

 The city has the feel of a true Italian town where people work at other jobs than the tourist trade and so it is one of those fine little places that one can actually settle in and gather one’s thoughts. Gragnano tumbles down from the main road midway up the slopes to the water’s edge. There on a narrow strip along the lake are the town’s main buildings, many of which have stood their ground for centuries and crowd right to the edge of the water.

Bell Towers, Fine Dining and Famous People

Unlike many other lakeside towns around Lago di Garda and the other Lakes of the Lake District, there is no room for an uninterrupted promenade. Just take your pick of fine dining in the area, seniors will have a plethora choices. Among the best things to see in Gragnano is the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, the Spiaggia Grane, San Giacomo and San Michele.

Seniors will want to visit the principal building in Gragnano, the Chiesa di San Francesco, with its campanile, bell tower, that can be seen from a long distance.  The church has a cloister with columns that have fruit carvings.

Gragnano is one of the largest cities near Lago di Garda and is called “the essence of Italy“.  Gragnano has always been visited and inhabited by famous people like Erika Blanc, Cesare Lievi, Benito Mussolini and Uto Ughi, one of the world’s most talented violin players. All have lived there or still visit Gragnano.

So enjoy Gragnano and its great pasta. jeb


Seniors Find Fountain Hills To Be Ideal

Fountain Hills, Arizona has become a popular town for retirees. The Town is a master planned community established in 1970 by McCulloch Properties, now MCO Properties, Inc. Prior to 1970 the area was a cattle ranch and was part of one of the largest land and cattle holdings in Arizona.

The land was purchased by Robert McCulloch in the late 1960s and the community was designed by Charles Wood, Jr., designer of Disneyland in southern California. The centerpiece of Fountain Hills is a beautiful fountain, one of the world’s tallest man-made fountains. It serves as a focal point for the community and attracts thousands of senior visitors each year.

In 2006, Fountain Hills was named by Phoenix Magazine as the best place to live in the Valley of the Sun and was cited as “a welcome oasis on the outskirts of a metropolis.” Senior visitors will find several top quality resorts as well a host of other accommodations.

Unmatched Natural Beauty and a Great Fountain

One of the community’s most valuable assets is its natural beauty. Incredible views and natural desert terrain provide for a wide range of outdoor activities including hiking, biking, boating and golf. Fountain Hills contains some of the more challenging and picturesque golf courses in the State of Arizona.

The fountain was built in 1970 and sprays water for about 15 minutes every hour at the top of the hour. The plume rises from a concrete water lily sculpture in the center of a large man-made lake.

 Senior Visitors Drawn to Art Fairs

Fountain Hills is home to many pieces of publicly displayed artwork throughout its downtown and at public buildings. Art is a significant part of the town’s heritage. One of my favorites, yes my wife and I live in FH, is a mother mountain lion holding her baby in her mouth, in front of our local library.

Fountain Hills offers recreational, cultural and retirement programs that address the needs and lifestyles of active families as well as older adults.

 We love it here, there seems to be something going on all year long that  includes the Great Fair, a three-day juried art show on the Avenue of the Fountains that features over 500 artists, with food booths, beer garden and entertainment.  A popular Art and Wine Affaire is also on the Avenue of the Fountains.

Senior Hikers, Senior Golfers

Fountain Park is a 64-acre passive recreation area and anchor to the town center and where senior visitors find dozens of the local folks walking for exercise every day of the week…and all year long. Yes, the weather is terrific.

Nearby Fort McDowell is widely known for its casino, its live entertainment and the We-Ko-Pa Golf Club. One fellow wrote…”We-Ko-Pa is a gorgeous layout, with amazing vistas and views, wide open, non-residential, challenging holes but forgiving, and good for most experience levels. We even saw some coyotes.”

So come to Arizona, check us out, and spend some quality time in gorgeous Fountain Hills. jeb


Senior Ride Over To Dead Horse Point State Park

Dead Horse Point was recently selected at a Travel Photo of the Day. This senior citizen loves those sites and most all of them are worthy of a blog. First of all Dead Horse Point is a State Park in Utah and not far from Moab, which is the center of the universe for one of my daughters.

There is a legend associated with a name like Dead Horse. Before the turn of the 19th century, mustang herds ran wild on the mesas near Dead Horse Point. The unique promontory provided a natural corral into which the horses were driven by cowboys.

According to one legend, a band of broomtails was left corralled on the Point. The gate was supposedly left open so the horses could return to the open range. For some unknown reason, the mustangs remained on the Point. There they died of thirst within sight of the Colorado River, 2,000 feet below.

Labeled Utah’s Grand Canyon, Dead Horse Point State Park is perhaps Utah’s most spectacular state park and offers a magnificent view of the Colorado River and the eons old canyons carved from the sandstone rock.

Seniors Find Awesome Views

Senior travelers will find the Park nine miles northwest of Moab on US 191 and then 23 miles southwest on Utah 313 to the end of the highway. Here is where the ending of the movie “Thelma and Louise” took place as they plummeted off the edge of the cliff in their convertible.

Check out these awesome views from the Point. They say the the view from Dead Horse Point is one of the most photographed scenic vistas in the world. Plus there are miles of pet-friendly developed hiking trails in the park, including a paved trail which provides easy access to some of the most scenic views.

Senior mountain bikers will love the new Intrepid Trail System at Dead Horse Point. Dead Horse Point is situated atop a high plateau at an elevation of about 6,000 feet. From the point, a “layer cake” of geologic time may be viewed, revealing 300 million years of the earth’s geologic history.

While standing on the canyon rim, 8,000 feet of geologic strata is visible looking from the peaks of the 12.000 foot high La Sal Mountains to the river below. Because of its far reaching views over the Colorado valley, Dead Horse Point was declared a state park in 1959, several years before the creation of Canyonlands National Park which contains a much larger area of similar scenery to the south.

Take this 3D view of Dead Horse Point and enjoy the scenery. My wife and I have put this on our bucket list.  jeb


Seniors Enjoy Kent County

I recently noted Kent County on my iPhone and Best Travel Websites. So this senior just had to check out the area. Kent is a county in southeast England and called one Englands home counties, those counties of south east England and the east of England that surround London. Kent Gardens are major attractions.

I discovered that Kent County is the oldest county in all of Merry Olde England and Kent has more castles and historic houses than any other county. At its heart is spellbinding Canterbury, crowned by its enthralling cathedral.  The total county population runs right at 1.5 million.

Garden of England Draws Seniors

Kent isn’t described as The Garden of England for nothing. Inside its sea-lined borders you’ll find a fragrant landscape of gentle hills, fertile farmland, cultivated country estates and fruit-laden orchards. It might be described as The Beer Garden of England, producing the world-renowned Kent hops, some of the country’s finest ales and award-winning wines from its numerous vineyards.

The region, largely agricultural, is a market-gardening center whose crops include fruit, grain, and hops. Sheep and cattle grazing, fishing, and dairying are also prevalent. Kent is increasingly important industrially because of the encroachment of the London urban area into its western portion. The oasts, (kilns for drying hops or malt, or drying and curing tobacco) Martello towers, orchards and White Cliffs of Dover summon up a picture of England as it once was.

Since Great Britain’s entry into the European Community (now the European Union) in 1973, warehousing has emerged as a growing enterprise. Paper, pottery, brick, cement, chemicals, and beer are manufactured, and there is shipbuilding and oil refining. Wool cloth-making, iron smelting, engineering, all have been part of the industrial scene.

Historical Kent Invites Seniors

The County of Kent is an amazingly beautiful area steeped in fascinating history, inviting cities, interesting towns, pretty villages and picturesque countryside. Kent boasts over 50 museums including, ‘Sevenoaks Museum’, which first opened in 1920 and ‘Ramsgate Museum’, located in a 1904 neo-Georgian Adam-style building designed by S D Adshead.

There are stately homes, castles, beautiful parks and gardens to explore. Notable attractions include the famed Canterbury Cathedral situated in the city of Canterbury. Senior visitors will experience a plethora of things to see and do. The Dicken’s Festival packs in folks from all over Europe.

From early times Kent weathered invasions and take-overs by other nations.  Its proximity to Europe made southern England a prime target and the fertile planes and valleys of Kent were no exception. Lying on the English Channel, Kent County was the first part of Great Britain to be colonized by the Romans. The Romans built elaborate villas and public baths with central heating, and the wonderfully straight roads such as Watling Street, still in use today.

Enjoy the entire area. jeb

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