About: Jim Becker


Articles by: Jim Becker


Welcome to Issaquah, Senior Citizens


With a name like that, there just has to be a good reason. Seniors, can you even guess the derivation? The Issaquah area was first called “Squak,” a Native American name that referred to the calls and squawks of the many water birds which frequented the boggy land, swamps, and creeks of the valley.

Several years later, the citizens changed the town’s name to Gilman, after Daniel Gilman, who was responsible for bringing the railroad to the area. In 1899, the city’s name became Issaquah.

Why do senior visitors stop in Issaquah? For starters, the neighboring highlands are called the Issaquah Alps, featuring hiking trails and outdoor activity throughout the Tiger, Cougar and Squak Mountains that surround Issaquah.

Sunset Magazine highlighted Issaquah (Feb. 2014, pp. 52-53) and noted that this “Best Burb” feels like both a time warp and a new edition of Main Street USA. Issaquah is a suburb of Seattle.


Seniors Drawn to Culture and History of Issaquah

There are many cultural and historical activities going on in Issaquah. The old Village Theatre has presented live stage plays on its main stage in historic downtown Issaquah since 1979. The Cougar Mountain Zoo is located on the north slope of Cougar Mountain just to the west of Issaquah.

Senior visitors come to the area to watch paragliders and hang-gliders descend from Tiger Mountain. Another major attraction is the Issaquah Valley Trolley #519.  It seats up to 24 passengers and is like the trolley cars in the early 20th Century. Senior passengers riding the Issaquah Trolley will get a sense of a primary mode of transportation a century ago.


Salmon Days is a two-day award-winning festival held in Issaquah on the first full weekend of October each year,  celebrating the return of the salmon to their birth-waters, and praising Issaquah’s history, culture, and ethnic diversity.

 Home of Notable Natives

A host of famous people hail from Issaquah. They include J.J Putz, Ichiro Suzuki, Tim Lincecum, Mel Stottlemyre, Detlef Schrempf and several other baseball stars.  Must be something in the water from the local creek that produces so many powerful athletes.


The local Chamber notes that Issaquah is a great place to live, visit, conduct business and explore the best of the great northwest.  A community dedicated to local traditions, hometown values, and award-winning neighborhoods. With one of Washington State’s top school districts, a series of thriving business districts and a growing arts, nightlife and recreation scene…Issaquah has it all.”

So when you come out for your cup of Pike Place at Starbucks in Seattle, take I-90 15 miles over to Issaquah and enjoy.  jeb


Seniors Hone In On Florence

1FlorenceFlorence, Arizona was highlighted in Sunset Magazine as one of the West’s Best Places to Live. Senior travelers will find that Florence, sixty-one miles southeast of Phoenix, remains an “Old West Town”, having preserved its past, with a “relaxed” way of life today.

Florence is  the county seat of Pinal County, Arizona and is one of the oldest towns in the county with a population of 26,500+.  My wife and I missed Florence when we visited the nearby Casa Grande several months ago.  But yesterday, we drove to Florence for lunch and a visit. Just to the north of the ruins, we also discovered another gem, a Greek Monastery…in the middle of the desert. Another blog:)

Seniors Enjoy Another Mainstreet City


Florence is an Arizona Mainstreet City. Walking through downtown Florence, with its sprawling historic district, is like strolling in an open-air museum. These seniors strolled the historic walk and enjoyed looking at all the buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The town boomed in the 1870s  with the discovery of  silver in the nearby Silver King Mine. Business prospered as the town became the commercial hub for area mines while ranching developed and farming continued.

In 1878, Florence, Arizona was known as “the garden city.” Located in the middle of the desert, its lush grass would spread outward from tall stands of cottonwood trees that lined the hard-packed streets. Farmers, ranchers and miners would join townspeople at the Pinal County Courthouse, the center of activity, to socialize and transact business.


The Crown Jewel of Florence is the Pinal County Courthouse, the second court house.  It dates to 1891 and today after a $6 million make-over, the two-story red brick structure looks nearly new.  The first picture, above, is the impressive courthouse.  The time on the clock is the same as it was in 1891:)

 3 State Prisons And National Historic District

Three state prisons are located in Florence. The state’s first prison is thick with legend and history and today officials with the Arizona Department of Corrections celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the historic Pinal County building. Actually we were told there are 9 correctional facilities in Florence.

Senior citizens might wonder about safety with three prisons in town, but Florence was chosen as one of the safest cities to live in Arizona. Its historic downtown is designated a National Historic District. Florence’s Main Street Program is another way the city embraces its past while developing a vibrant economic future.

The Gila River Runs Through It


One of the major rivers of Arizona, the Gila, runs through historic Florence. There are plenty of things to see and do in Florence. The Pinal County Historical Museum highlights the history of Florence. A major draw to the community is the annual Country Thunder Music Festival that brings in folks from all over the southwest.

We enjoyed our drive to Florence, senior friend. We thoroughly enjoy historical destination and would call Florence one of those.  jeb


Seniors Enjoy Top-Rated Powwows

artspubOur local paper here in The Valley (Phoenix) had a listing of the 10 Best Powwows in the nation.  They noted that every year there are gatherings of thousands of American Indians for a powwow. Most of us have heard the word “powwow” before, but do you know the derivation of the word? This senior enjoys etymology and here’s what I discovered.

The word derives from the Narragansett word powwaw, meaning “spiritual leader.” A similar gathering by California Native Peoples usually in the fall is called a Big Time. A modern powwow is a specific type of event for Native American/First Nations people to meet and dance, sing, socialize, and honor Native American/First Nations culture. Pow wows may be private or public.


So where are the best Powwows? Naturally they take place where there is a large gathering of a particular group of native Americans. Crow Fair, Montana is a good example. Now in it’s 96th year, this gathering is like a state fair for the Crow people.

In Cabazon, California the Morongo Thunder and Lightning Powwow takes place in September. Dancers from around the country assemble for a three day event that takes place at the local casino.

 July 4th Event in North Carolina

The Cherokee, North Carolina event takes place on the 4th of July on the Cherokee reservation and is said to be among the top-ranked events east of the Mississippi. That’s a neat site, isn’t it! Next seniors travel to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the Hunting Moon Powwow. This one is relatively new on the circuit and has grown tremendously over the past several years.


In Bismark, North Dakota a United Tribes International Powwow takes place in September and includes more than 1,500 dancers.  This is the 45th year for that festival. The Denver March Powwow season kicks in every March with a huge number of Native American drummers.

Seniors Find The Largest Outdoor Powwow

On to Idaho Falls for the Julyamsh Powwow that is the largest outdoor powwow in the Pacific Northwest. 600 dancers and an even larger crowd. The dancers dance on the grass. Out in Salamanca, NY the Marvin “Joe” Curry Veterans Powwow happens mid-July. Formerly called the Seneca Powwow, it was re-named after a tribal member who served in Korea and Vietnam.


The Coushatta Powwow in Kindler, Louisiana is one of the biggest events in the country. Stomp dancing, a style popular among tribes in the southeast, happens in June. The last one is in Albuquerque (had to look up that spelling again…) called a Gathering of Nations. It is REALLY BIG with more than 3,500 dancers and 150,000 spectators.

Senior travelers, you might just run into a Powwow one day on your travels. If so, enjoy! jeb


Seniors Enjoy Gulfport

Historic_Slider-980x400Gulfport is a city in Pinellas County, Florida, bordering St. Petersburg and Boca Ciega Bay and senior visitors will enjoy it for it’s wide variety of dining experiences. Fact is, Gulfport was one of six finalists in the Rand McNally “Best of the Road” out of 600 competing towns for ”Best of Food.

The quaint city of Gulfport was established in 1910 in central west coast of Florida. With a population of 13,000 residents, it is home to 1,500 licensed businesses, services, entrepreneurs, inns, artisans, boutiques, restaurants and shops.

Gulfport is a beach community overflowing with parks, piers, culture, and fine dining. The town is continuously buzzing with activity from Fresh Markets every Tuesday showcasing fresh produce, breads, seafood, and condiments to Art Walks the first Friday and third Saturday of every month featuring musicians, artists, and food vendors.


Gulfport began its life as a quaint fishing village and later became a Mecca for snowbirds in the 1920s and 30s. The Historic Waterfront District features a fine beach, several enticing shops and a host of family owned restaurants.

The dining scene in Gulfport is booming with over 15 independently-owned restaurants within a few blocks of the historic downtown area.

Over the years, Gulfport became a magnet for area artists who have found the quiet city a great place in which to nurture their creative spirit. The city is said to be a little oasis of “Old Florida” comfort and friendliness and the heart of town is filled with quaint cottages.

Seniors Like the Art Walk And GeckoFest


GeckoFest, Gulfport’s celebration of the end of summer, is dedicated to the town’s unofficial mascot and favorite reptile, a Gecko. The festival has grown to become one of the most anticipated events of the year. Regular events include a twice-monthly “Art Walk”.

Senior visitors are always invited to wander through the Clam Bayou Nature Preserve, take in the view from Williams Pier and explore the Historic Waterfront District’s shops and restaurants. 

The Blueberry Patch is a place of art and beauty, music and good times since 7-7-77 and four celebrations are held each month. Every Saturday is volunteer day and everyone is invited to help clean and improve the patch, make art out of anything available, work in the vegetable garden, and make new friends.


Senior travelers will always be welcomed in both Gulfport and South Pasadena.  They share a common border and depend on one another for commerce, healthcare, culture and recreation. With St. Petersburg to the east and glitzy beach communities to the west, these two cities are often overlooked when describing southwest Pinellas County.

Food, art, festivals, the beach, the sun and so much more. What else could one ask for? jeb


Seniors Learn All About Big Red


Seniors, if you have ever been to Lincoln, Nebraska, then you know all about Big Red.  It seemed to me that the whole city was dipped in Red… the color of the University of Nebraska Football teamTake in a game at Memorial Stadium and senior visitors will see throngs of rabid fans all dressed in red.

Lincoln is the capital and the second-most populous city of the State of Nebraska, after Omaha. Lincoln, founded in 1856, is also the county seat of Lancaster County. Lincoln’s population is estimated at 265,000+.

 Seniors Visit A State Capital

Omaha was the original state capital, but it was moved to Lancaster, shortly after the Civil War. The town was then renamed Lincoln in honor of the recently-assassinated president. Because this is home to the state capital, senior citizens will find many attractions in Lincoln having to do with the history of the city and state, its arts, and culture.


Today tourism is an important industry, and Lincoln attractions include several important museums like the Nebraska State Historical Society’s Museum of Nebraska History and the University of Nebraska State Museum, which contains a planetarium.

Other attractions include the Governor’s Mansion which is open for tours, and the beautiful State Capitol Building itself, constructed between 1922 and 1932. Soak in the panoramic view of the city from the 14th floor observation tower of the 400-foot high capitol building, whose white stone Art Deco spire can be seen from miles around.

For some outdoor fun, head to one of the city’s parks, the largest of which is Wilderness Park, whose hiking, biking and equestrian trails will keep your blood circulating.

Unusual Museums Interest Senior Visitors

Image: Washington v Nebraska

You won’t be wanting for Things to Do in Lincoln as I’ve found 101 of them for senior visitors to consider. After your visit to the state capital, consider the #2 attraction in town founded in 1992 by “Speedy” Bill and Joyce Smith. The Smith Collection Museum of American Speed is dedicated to preserving, interpreting and displaying physical items significant in racing and automotive history.

Sunken Gardens features an annual floral display of over 30,000 individual annual plants which are redesigned to a different theme each year. The theme for 2014 is “Thunder Birds.”

My wife and I would hit The Historic Haymarket District of Lincoln, a restored turn-of-the-century warehouse district that includes restaurants, antique shops, specialty shops, and art galleries. The highlight of nearby Iron Horse Park is the “Iron Horse” Legacy, a brick mural showing the first locomotive to cross the prairie.


I’m about of room for this blog but I just had to toss in this attraction. The National Museum of Roller Skating in Lincoln features a collection of roller skates. The museum has a display showing the evolution of the roller skate wheel from 1860 to 1998.

On your way through Nebraska, stop by Lincoln and enjoy all the amenities this great city has to offer. jeb


Seniors Enjoy A Stop In Magnolia


Enjoy yes! and why not.  Magnolia is home to the World Championship Steak Cook-off plus it possesses the World’s Largest Charcoal Grill which are both part of the annual Magnolia Festival. Senior visitors enjoy the aroma of the grills as 70 cooking teams compete for $4,000, the Governor’s Cup and of course bragging rights.

Over 3,500, 16-oz. rib-eye steaks are served in just 30 minutes. The total prize money awarded for the Festival event is $9,000. The festival for this year is over but mark May 15-16, 2015 on your calendar for next year, seniors and don’t miss the next one.

Magnolia has the honor of rating one of the Ten Best Food Festivals in the entire country by USA Today. The festival has been featured on the Food Network and attracts 40,000+ to the event and Anthony Armstrong of the Food Network came to town to take in the great food displays in Magnolia.

blossom-festival-paradeAnthony is on a mission to discover what’s truly at the heart of America, one super food festival at a time. Anthony will travel to the most colorful and delicious festivals in America, tasting everything from classic interpretations to surprising twists.

Senior Visitors Enjoy One  Of The State’s Treasures

Located in southwest Arkansas just east of Texarkana and north of Shreveport, LA, deep in the beautiful pine forest, Magnolia is considered one of the state’s treasures. As senior visitors enjoy the fragrant blossoms on the Magnolia trees lining the courthouse square they know that they are somewhere special.


Logoly State Park is highly popular with tourists all season long. Other major attractions are Steve’s Outdoor Sports and Lois Gean’s clothing store. The Festival of Lights is another special attraction in Magnolia and takes place from late November through Late December.

Magnolia is not huge (10,900+) and has a lot going for the town besides the Festival. It has history on its side,  founded in 1853 and at the time of its incorporation in 1858, the city had a population of about 1,950.

Agriculture, Cotton and Oil

The city grew slowly as an agricultural and regional cotton market until the discovery of oil just east of the city in March 1938. The Magnolia Oil Field was an important discovery, not just for the city but for the nation…it was the largest producing field during the early years of World War II, helping to fuel the American war effort.

Founded in 1909, Southern Arkansas University, a liberal arts college that calls Magnolia home, offers a varied calendar of events and tours of its 658-acre Agricultural and Horticultural Farm. Lake Columbia is popular with both anglers and outdoor enthusiasts and boasts over 3,000 acres of water.

So when you are traveling in southern Arkansas, drop by Magnolia and enjoy all it has to offer. jeb


Seniors Enjoy Peaceful Cloud Peak Wilderness

bighornCloud Peak Wilderness is located in north central Wyoming. Entirely within Bighorn National Forest, Cloud Peak Wilderness was established in 1984 in an effort to preserve the wildest section of the Bighorn Mountains. Managed as the Cloud Peak Primitive Area as far back as 1932, this region has some of the most majestic alpine scenery that senior travelers will find in America.

For 27 miles along the backbone of the Bighorn Mountain Range, Cloud Peak Wilderness preserves many sharp summits and towering sheer rock faces standing above glacier-carved, U-shaped valleys. Named for the tallest mountain in the Bighorn National Forest – Cloud Peak at 13,167 feet – the area is blanketed in snow for a large part of the year.


On the east side of Cloud Peak itself, senior visitors will discover the last remaining glacier in this range. The peak and the south west ridge route are among the most popular ascents in the state.

Seniors Mountain Climb, Hike And Fish

It is common to see several parties a day attempting the climb during the summer climbing season-July and August. Speed ascents have been made from the West Tensleep Trail head in under three hours.

Senior visitors are in for an awesome experience when you take the sixty mile loop through the area in the Bighorn National Forest. Beautiful lakes cover the landscape and drain into miles of streams.

CP07C Sign

The area is a hiking and fishing paradise. Although rugged in appearance, the Bighorns are actually more gentle than other mountains in Wyoming. The area is now visited each year by tens of thousands of backpackers, hikers and horseback riders who enjoy the more than 100 miles of trails.

Backpacker Magazine notes that Cloud Peak is the “Best of the Bighorns.” Amazon has several helpful guides for hikers. Just input: Hiking Wyoming’s Cloud Peak Wilderness (Regional Hiking Series).  The area keeps snow on the ground usually into July, and the snowmelt feeds into several hundred high mountain lakes.

Seniors Seek Out Wilderness Areas


Seniors, if you are “into” wilderness areas, you may already know that there are 757 designated and federally protected wilderness areas in the United States.  hey range in size from the tiny 6 acre Pelican Island Wilderness in Florida  to the mind-numbingly huge 9 million acre Wrangell-St. Elias in Alaska. Cloud Peak Wilderness is some 189,039 acres of majestic alpine scenery.

Enjoy all the fresh air and scenery of the ‘Equality State’. It is still called by many “The Cowboy State.”  You choose. It will be a memorable vacation.  jeb


Seniors Discover Mentor


This senior spent a couple of years in graduate school at Ohio State in Columbus, but never encountered the neat city called Mentor. Mentor was first settled in 1797. The population runs right at 48,000, so it’s not small.

CNNMoney.com ranked Mentor 37th in a list of the Top 100 Best Places to Live in America so we just have to check out the city for senior visitors. It is known as The City of Choice.

There is a lot of history that focuses on Mentor. In 1876 James E. Garfield purchased a home in Mentor, from which he conducted the first successful front porch campaign for the presidency. Must have worked, he was elected president and coined the term ‘Mentorite’ when referring to a native of the city.

Seniors Check Out National Historic Site


Garfield’s 20-room farmhouse that is now a National Historic Site. The site includes guided tours of the Garfield home, visitor center exhibits, a biographical film, walking paths, and dozens of special events each year.

You will find plenty of other things to fill in your itinerary including the Headlands Beach State Park that attracts senior visitors. If you missed this year’s BeachFest, you missed a great time. One of the “coolest’ sites in town is the Mentor Civic Center, an indoor ice skating complex with two regulation-size ice rinks, a studio rink, locker rooms and a snack bar.

Senior Birders Head for Mentor Marsh


The City of Mentor maintains over 1200 acres of green space including 34 parks and public facilities that accounts in part why it is a great place to live. Add it all up and you have more recreational opportunities than you can find in many major cities. Plus, Mentor’s location on Ohio’s north coast makes it a major destination for those who can’t get enough of the great outdoors.

Senior birders, you will find more than 250 species that have been recorded around Mentor Marsh. Great numbers of waterfowl also stop at the Marsh. During seasonal migrations you’re sure to see Blue-winged Teal, American Wigeon, Gadwall, American Black Duck, Northern Shoveler and Hooded Merganser.

Bring along those clubs and spend some time at the Black Brook Course designed by Bertie Way. And ladies,  Mentor is one great shopping destination with nearly 600 retail businesses. In 1961, the Great Lakes Mall opened as the world’s largest indoor shopping mall. So many superlatives in just one city! Check it out for yourself.  jeb


Seniors, Let’s Check Out a Library


I have my coffee, do you have your’s?  We’re going to visit a library this morning, senior friends. This library is unlike any other in the entire world. It is called the Library of Celsus. Ever heard of it? Nope, this senior hadn’t heard of it either.

Picked by CNN as one great place to visit, the Library of Celsus is an ancient Roman building in Ephesus, Anatolia. Christians know about Ephesus… Paul wrote to the Ephesians in the Bible.

The Story: In 92 A.D., Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus was a consul in Rome, and was in charge of all public buildings. Sometime between 105 and 107 A.D. he was the proconsul (governor) of the Asian province, the capital of which was Ephesus. When he died in 114 A.D. at the age of seventy, his son Tiberius Julius Aquila, built the library as a heroon (mausoleum) in honor of his father, a wealthy and popular local citizen.

The facade of the Library of Celsus is one of the most spectacular sights in Ephesus. It faces east so the reading rooms received the morning light. In the land that is now Turkey, a wide marble road slopes down to this, one of the largest libraries of the ancient world. Early on, Ephesus was a coastal city with a population of 1/4 million.


The library was built to store scrolls and to serve as a monumental tomb for Celsus. It was unusual to be buried within a library or even within city limits, so this was a special honor for Celsus. I always felt that I was “buried in a library too”… during grad school at Ohio State.

 Seniors…Greek City, Roman City, Important City

Ephesus was an ancient Greek city, and later a major Roman city, on the west coast of Asia Minor. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era. In the Roman period, it was for many years the second largest city of the Roman Empire, ranking behind Rome, the empire’s capital.

This library is one of the most beautiful structures in Ephesus. The grave of Celsus was beneath the ground floor, across the entrance and there was a statue of Athena, the goddess of wisdom, over it.


The scrolls of the manuscripts were kept in cupboards in niches on the walls. There were double walls behind the bookcases to protect from the extremes of temperature and humidity. The capacity of the two-story library was more than 12,000 hand-written scrolls. It was the third richest library in ancient times after Alexandra and Pergamum.

The facade of the library has two-stories, with Corinthian style columns on the ground floor and three entrances to the building. Senior visitors will discover that the Library of Celsus was remarkable not only for its size and its beauty, but also for its clever and efficient design. jeb


Seniors Awed by the Petrified Forest

21046 Annual2012 pass:GENERIC-05_proofHave you ever held a piece of petrified wood in your hands?  It is amazing what has happened to the wood over eons of time. This senior doesn’t understand it, but wood becomes stone by the process of permineralization.

Petrified wood is not rare, but choice pieces fetch high prices. It is found in volcanic deposits and sedimentary rocks at many locations worldwide. It is sometimes found where volcanic activity covered plant material. And it is found where wood in sedimentary deposits was replaced by minerals precipitated from groundwater.

I have a friend who bought a huge trunk-like piece and hauled it back from out west on a trailer. He wanted it in his front yard.  It is still there I’m sure!

 Seniors Drive Through Petrified Forest National Park


The petrified forest in Arizona is one that my wife and I have driven through many times. Senior visitors will find hundreds of petrified logs at the Petrified Forest National Park near Holbrook, Arizona on Interstate 40.

There is a store that carries many pieces and types of petrified rock on the outskirts of Holbrook. Well worth a visit, even it you are not in the market to buy some pieces. You will find each piece to be beautifully colored by chemical impurities such as iron and copper. Cut and polished petrified wood is used for jewelry, paperweights, and lamp bases.

The Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona is 346 square miles – 220,000 acres. The stone logs in Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona, are of the Triassic Period, more than 200,000,000 years old. Many were carried off by folks who simply walked through the area years ago and helped themselves to whatever they could carry.


The remaining logs and pieces are carefully protected. Many visitors cannot resist taking small rocks, despite strict regulations and stiff fines against removing any material. So be forewarned. Buy your rocks at that store south of Holbrook.

 Painted Desert An Added Attraction

This popular tourist attraction sits adjacent to a sun-swept corner of the Painted Desert. Most visitors come to see one of the world’s largest concentrations of brilliantly colored petrified wood, and they all leave having viewed the beautiful Painted Desert as well.



What is neat is that you can drive through the park, stop when you want to just look and walk along the many paths that are lined with the broken logs. Plan enough time to walk among the fossil logs and the Painted Desert badlands that are adjacent to the Park.

TripAdvisor explains each of the various portions of the huge park. Included of course is information on the Painted Desert just to the north of the park. So on you way to Phoenix or Flagstaff, plan a drive through this awesome park. Take lots of photos, but remember, no rocks, okay?  jeb

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