About: Jim Becker


Articles by: Jim Becker


Seniors Enjoy Capital of Dreams


Montgomery, capital of the State of Alabama, is called “The Capital of Dreams.” Named for Richard Montgomery (1738?–1775), America’s first national hero, and an Irish-born soldier who served in the British Army and later became a Major General in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.

The Alabama State Capitol is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the First Confederate Capitol. It is located on Capitol Hill, originally Goat Hill, in Montgomery and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960.


Located on the Alabama River, in the Gulf Coastal Plain, 230,000+  citizens call Montgomery home. The city was incorporated in 1819, as a merger of two towns and became the state capital in 1846.

Senior visitors tour one of the most historic State Capitol buildings in the world. You can walk in the footsteps of world-changing events and stand on the spot where Jefferson Davis was inaugurated President of the Confederacy.

Montgomery was the cradle of the confederacy and a century later, the impetus of the Civil Rights movement. Visit the church where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached and the parsonage where he lived with his family.

Seniors Visit A Rich Historical City


Montgomery is a city rich in history, yet clearly focused on the future. Once the capital of the Confederacy, Montgomery gradually grew to become the center of the Civil Rights Movement. Today, the city is more than just the capital of Alabama, it’s the epitome of a revived economic prosperity.

Senior visitors will discover an atmosphere of southern hospitality and  great weather. Montgomery is filled with a rich diversity and cultural landmarks such as the Hank Williams Museum, Alabama Shakespeare Festival and Rosa Parks Museum.


The Parks Museum, a tribute to the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement”, honors Rosa Parks, the African-American woman who, in 1955, sparked the civil rights movement by refusing to give her bus seat to a white man. The museum helps visitors relive this tumultuous era with a video, artifacts, historical documents, a life size statue of Rosa Parks and a replica of the bus in which she sat that day.

And look at all the places to enjoy that feature historic attractions, theater and performing arts and museums. Located on a 300-acre park complete with walking trails and large ponds in the City of Montgomery is the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. The Shakespeare Festival is among the ten largest in the world.

If you want an attraction that will spark your sense of adventure, visit the 40-acre Montgomery Zoo which is home to more than 600 species of exotic animals. Eight universities and colleges call Montgomery home.

Montgomery has won several national awards including being voted Best Historic City by USA Today and being named an All-American City in 2014 by the National Civic League.  jeb


Seniors Visit the Pench Tiger Reserve


Pench Tiger Reserve has been in the news recently as in literally “Raining Tiger Cubs”!!  This past June three tigresses gave birth to as many as ten cubs. Senior travelers will find Pench Tiger Reserve, in Madhya Pradesh, India.

Comprising the Indira Priyadarshini Pench National Park, the Mowgli Pench Sanctuary and a buffer, it was declared a National Park by the Government of Maharashtra in 1975 and received the official status of “Tiger Reserve of India” in February 1999.


The Park nestles in the Southern slopes of the Satpura ranges of Central India. The reserve and its neighborhood is the original setting of Rudyard Kipling’s most famous work, The Jungle Book. The reserve area serves as one of the prime habitats of Indian Tiger (Panthera Tigris) which is the key species in this area.

Senior Birders Like The Reserve

The Pench Tiger Reserve is especially famous for large herds of Gaur (Indian Bison), Cheetah, Sambar, Nilgai, Wild Dog and Wild Pig. For senior birders, there are over 285 species of resident and migratory birds in the Reserve. In addition, the park is home to 33 species of mammals, 50 species of fish, 10 species of amphibians, 30 species of reptiles, and a wide variety of insect life, unfortunately many of those are mosquitos.


Nagpur (95 kms away) is the nearest airport connected to Delhi &  Mumbai and other places by regular flights. It is also the nearest railway station connected to most major metro cities. Highly recommend for senior visitors is Mahua Vann Resort if you are going on a Tiger trail. The resort is the latest on the scene in Pench and they say that it is “beautifully merged with the surroundings making it a serene and relaxing stay in the wild.”

Teak Jungle, Meandering River And Breathtaking Beauty


Pench is a spectacular reserve set among a teak jungle, and offers a secluded game viewing experience. Taking its name from the meandering Pench River which intersects the park, the reserve sprawls over a breathtaking landscape of hills, forests and valleys. The gentle, undulating scenery of the Satpura Hills creates an unforgettable backdrop to the wildlife viewing.

Tiger Reserve area constitutes a unique ecosystem, and according to the Forest Minister, “Conditions congenial for wildlife have developed at the Pench National Park at a much faster pace than any other national park. That is the reason why wild animals and birds are multiplying in the natural way.

The area has always been rich in wildlife. It is dominated by fairly open canopy, mixed forests with considerable shrub cover and open grassy patches. The Reserve has the highest density of herbivores in India with 90.3 animals per sq km. Pench is a naturalist’s dream come true.   jeb


Seniors Discover Quechee Gorge


When I first saw this name as a site selected by CNN as a great place to visit, this senior just had to check it out. I learned that Quechee Gorge (pronunciation: kwee chee)  is known as Vermont’s Little Grand Canyon and is located in Hartford, Vermont.

The length of the Gorge is 1.4 miles.  As I live in Arizona, “little” makes more sense, especially if you have visited our “Grand Canyon” that is a mile deep and 277 miles long. Nevertheless, the Quechee Gorge is impressive.

Quechee was settled in the 1760s when homesteaders were deeded acres for the erection of mills along the Ottauquechee River. The mills became the heartbeat of this community, providing everything from lumber to cider for the settlers. To accommodate growing traffic, a bridge was built over the Ottauquechee River at the current site of the Quechee covered bridge.

 Seniors Find A Popular Natural Wonder


Quechee is the home of the Quechee Lakes planned community, with two eighteen hole golf courses. The town is host to a popular hot air balloon festival, Scottish Games, Quechee Polo Grounds, and the Simon Pearce glass blowing and pottery facility, keeping things hopping all year long. Senior visitors can start off at the modern Quechee Gorge Visitors Center in White River Junction.

Today the Gorge is one of New England’s most popular natural wonders. Over 200,000 yearly visitors enjoy the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, fishing and canoeing the river, hiking trails, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing.

Established in 1985, and located in the heart of the Quechee Gorge, Quechee Gorge Village has evolved into one of the best shopping attractions in the state of Vermont. Seniors can visit the Cabot Quechee Store, Danforth Pewter, Vermont Toy & Train Museum, Vermont Spirits, The Quechee Diner and Snow Farm Gallery.

Covered Bridge, Cool Gorge and Hot Air Balloons


The town itself with about 700 inhabitants has lots of shops, a waterfall, a covered bridge, and one very cool gorge easily viewed from a bridge that crosses the main road into town. If you drive a little farther out of town, you will see Farmer’s Diner, a throwback to an earlier age with a old red barn and one of those old original dining cars that looks like it fell off a train. The antique mall features more than 450 booths.

Every Father’s Day Weekend, folks come from all over to enjoy the annual Quechee Hot Air Ballon Festival. For those of you who enjoy hiking, an easy trail takes you along Quechee Gorge, up to waterfalls and Dewey’s Mill Pond.

Further exploration along the Ottauquechee River (pronounced AWT-ah-KWEE-chee) leads you through green meadows and colorful Vermont  woods. Now you know all about Quechee, so plan to stop by and see that famous gorge for yourself and maybe dine at Farmer’s Diner.  jeb


Seniors Roll Into Meridian


Meridian, the 3rd-largest city in the state of Idaho, is only 10 miles west of Boise with 75,000 residents. The City of Meridian’s slogan,“Built for Business – Designed for Living,” embodies the community’s character as a sophisticated, family-friendly city in the heart of what is called Treasure Valley.

Idaho State University – Meridian (ISU-M) brings culture and activities to the city with its 14,500+ students. The University currently offers five undergraduate programs and 10 graduate degree programs, primarily in the health professions.

Downtown Autumn

Meridian has an abundance of honors. It was selected as one of the best communities for young people by America’s Promise Alliance and was named the “Safest City in Idaho.” Meridian is the tenth fastest growing city in the nation.

Meridian was established in 1891 on the Onweiler farm north of the present site and was called Hunter. Two years later an International Order of Odd  Fellows lodge was organized and called itself Meridian because it was located on the Boise Meridian. Shortly afterwards, the town was renamed.

The Settlers’ Irrigation Ditch, 1892, changed the arid region into a productive farming community which was incorporated in 1902. The early economy of the city was largely dependent on its fruit orchards.

Seniors Enjoy Treasure Valley


Meridianʼs urban renewal agency, Destination Downtown, is a community-driven initiative to establish downtown Meridian as a premier destination, the heart of the community, home of local businesses and the hub of Treasure Valley enterprise, culture and social activities.

What is there to do in Meridian? Visitors can start with the Village Cinema and the Roaring Springs Waterpark. The Meridian Speedway Stockcar Racetrack is another big draw for sports fans. The Meridian Idaho Temple is a beautiful Mormon site and it, too, brings in many visitors to the city.

In June, Meridian celebrates its heritage with the Dairy Days Festival, a community favorite for 80 years. It features arts and crafts, food, free entertainment and what is called a fun run. The city’s rural history is displayed in a one-room school house museum, the Pine Street School. Visit History Center in City Hall and enjoy the large courtyard that hosts “Concerts on Broadway” in the summer.

Other nearby attractions include Adventure Island Playground, World Center Birds of Prey, Warhawk Air Museum, Eagle Island State Park and the Idaho Botanical Garden. Senior travelers can stop in Meridian as you travel through Idaho and enjoy the environs.  jeb


Seniors Enjoy Bilbao


Bilbao, in northwest Spain, is the sixth-largest city of Spain, pop. 353,000, and the capital of the province of Biscay. It is the heart of a metropolis where more than a million people live spread along the length of the Nervión, a nearby tidal river.

Bilbao is a port city situated close to the coastline and several nearby beaches. It is the largest city in what is called Basque Country (Pais Vasco).  After years of financial uncertainty, Bilbao has once again become a dynamic city, full of amenities, focused on environmental and urban regeneration, and a city that draws throngs of tourists each year, including senior tourists.

Marques de Riscal

Bilboa is the center of the economic-social development and the main factor of the modernization of the Bay of Biscay. The great architectural and infrastructure projects have been the driving force of the urban and economic regeneration of the city.

Guggenheim Museum Draws Senior Visitors

The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao with its uniqueness has become a cultural and tourism driving force of this Basque city. This spectacular building (Frank O. Gehry, 1997) is covered in titanium panels and has its own important collection.


Instantly hailed as the most important structure of its time, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao has celebrated more than a decade of extraordinary success. With over a hundred exhibitions and more than ten million visitors to its credit, senior travelers won’t want to miss this unique treasure.

The cultural activities in Bilbao are evident, with two of the best art galleries in Spain, six theme museums, contemporary art exhibitions and an ongoing program with shows: opera, symphony orchestras, theater, dance, cinema and light, pop and rock music.

Bilbao is a cultural hub and a gourmet delight. It is known as the “Capital of Cod.” It is also in Bilboa where senior visitors will enjoy the famous pintxos (typical appetizers). The local custom is to call what are known in Spanish as tapas by the Basque name, Pintxos, probably much more elaborated than their Spanish cousins due to the Basque love of gastronomy. Basque cuisine is among the best in Spain, and Bilbao boasts some of the region’s leading restaurants, so welcome senior gourmands.


Best Restaurants in Old Town

Bilbao Fine Arts Museum (Museo de Bellas Artes) rates #1 with tourists.  It is a small museum now gaining international fame for its surprisingly rich collection of Spanish and Basque paintings and sculpture.

My wife and I would first head out to the old historic section of Bilboa and from what I read, we would not be disappointed. The medieval barrio of Bilbao is a zone of ancient buildings, narrow streets and squares in the center of the city and where you will find the best restaurants.

Bilbao is the new modern face of Basque Country. The city has been able to successfully mix traditional Basque culture with a new vision for the future. It is an absolute must for design and culture lovers.  jeb


Seniors View Something “Fishy”

georgia-aquariumSome folks just love being “packed to the gills” with fun.  Others could care less. USA Today had a contest to discover the Best Ten Aquariums anywhere.  One of this senior’s favorites, the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, placed #4 out of the top ten. Grab your coffee, we’re visiting aquariums today.

Shedd Aquarium is an indoor public aquarium in Chicago that opened on May 30, 1930. I read that it contains 32,000 animals like beluga whales, jellyfish, sharks, manta rays and dozens more. The Shedd is truly a State-of-the-art indoor aquarium, world famous for its variety of habitats and views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago Waterfront.

Shedd Beluga Birth

John G. Shedd wanted to give back to the city in which he had risen from stock boy to president of department store giant Marshall Field & Company and donated $2 million to build the building. Because every great city in the United States and Europe had a fine aquarium, he decided that Chicago must have the biggest and best.

Seniors Enjoy The Most Magical Aquarium

The Georgia Aquarium, a public aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia, houses more than 100,000 animals, representing 500 species, all of which reside in 10 million gallons of marine and fresh water. Chosen #1, the world’s most magical aquarium, Georgia Aquarium features more animals than any other aquarium. Through a path of more than sixty exhibits, the Aquarium tells a global water story, with features modeled after the greatest zoos and aquariums in the world.

1280px-Georgia_Aquarium_-_Ocean_Voyager_Tunnel_Jan_2006Everything in Texas is Big and so is the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi, #2. Be sure to check out the animals and exhibits link on this page to provide you with an idea of what is in store with your visit. The Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee is literally teeming with life. The 10,000 exotic sea creatures comprise more than 350 individual species in this third chosen aquarium.

Now we visit # 5,  the Tennessee Aquarium. Situated on the Tennessee River in downtown Chattanooga, the Tennessee Aquarium is home to 10,000 animals and an IMAX theater. The Tennessee Aquarium is home to the most diverse gathering of freshwater animals in the country.


The Monterey Bay Aquarium, I’ve been there, in Monterey, California is located on the site of a former sardine cannery on Cannery Row. Vancouver Aquarium in Canada is dedicated to effecting the conservation of aquatic life. Then we have #8 – Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, #9 – Henry Dooley Zoo & Aquarium in Omaha and lastly #10, the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

Spend some time and look each of them up with your search engine.  I think you might find them worthy of a visit when you are in those cities. Your time will be well spent.  jeb


Seniors Enjoy Mountain View


Mountain View, in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, is named for its views of the beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains. Nestled (I like that term…) between the Santa Cruz Mountains and San Francisco Bay, senior travelers will find Mountain View in the heart of the Silicon Valley, 10 miles north of San Jose and 35 miles south of San Francisco.

The city is home to approximately 75,000 residents, many nationally and internationally known hi-tech corporations, and a thriving small business base. Mountain View boasts strong safety and public education records and is considered one of the best places to live in the Bay Area.


Coming from the north, look for the Taco Bell on the right just before the road heads inland towards Devil’s Slide. Twenty years ago it was an A&W Root Beer, at which time it was the world’s most beautiful hamburger stand, now it’s the World’s Most Beautiful Taco Stand (WMBTS). Should be worth a visit just to view that Taco Stand.

From Agriculture To High Tech

And there is history in Mountain View, just as there seems to be in most every city I know in the entire state of California. Mountain View began as stagecoach stop on the route connecting the Port of San Francisco and the new State Capitol in San Jose.


Covered in lush orchards and magnificent vineyards the town became an agricultural boomtown in the late 1800′s. The town was incorporated in 1902 with a population of 611.

The city’s population exploded with the growth of the electronic and aerospace industries but Mountain View remained predominantly agricultural through the 1940′s, 1950′s, and the 1960′s.

Mountain View has seen itself transformed from an agricultural-focused town into a high-tech center located in the heart of the Silicon Valley.

Seniors Find A Vibrant City


Senior visitors to the city will find it a pedestrian-friendly environment. Most of the city’s attractions are located downtown around Castro Street. Mountain View’s vibrant and active city center offers restaurants, shops, theater and sidewalk cafes.

Senior visitors enjoy the downtown area for its festivals like the annual Art & Wine Festival, its parades, cultural events, weekly farmer’s market and free concerts.

Loaded with fun attractions and things to see and do, senior visitors start off with the Computer History Museum. Along with the Museum, tourists enjoy Shoreline Park. The Shoreline Lake Aquatic Center and Café is one of the few places that offers a true respite in Silicon Valley. It’s the perfect place for a break from the office, lunch, or a few hours spent learning how to sail.

For you hikers, Stevens Creek Trail is at the top of the list in the area. Put Mountain View on your list the next time you visit the Bay Area in California. jeb


Jean Lafitte Park Attracts Senior Tourists

3142669072_39b62d4d5fJean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve protects significant examples of the rich natural and cultural resources of Louisiana’s Mississippi River Delta region. In Jean Lafitte’s day, silver and gold filled a pirate’s treasure chest, but today’s treasures are people, places, and memories.

Senior visitors will discover New Orleans’ rich cultural mix and learn Cajun traditions from people who live them. You will see alligators basking on a bayou’s bank and find yourself walking in the footsteps of the men who fought at 1815’s Battle of New Orleans.

Do you know about Jean Lafitte? He attacked merchant ships as a pirate around Central American ports until he died in 1823. Jean Lafitte National Historical Park encompasses several sites in south Louisiana rather than a single spot.


The visitor center is a good place to start. Rangers can direct you to sites near New Orleans well worth visiting: the Chalmette Battlefield from the War of 1812, and the Barataria Preserve, a lush swamp and trails site. The six different sites of the park are scattered through south Louisiana, from the bayous to the prairies.

The park contains the French Quarter Visitor Center in New Orleans, the Acadian Cultural Center in Lafayette, plus the Wetlands Acadian Center in Thibodeaux.

The Prairie Acadian Center in Eunice interprets the Cajun and Creole cultural histories of the region and the Calmette Battlefield where the 1815 Battle of New Orleans sealed the end of the War of 1812 with a resounding American victory with the help of 1,000 pirates lead by Jean Lafitte.

 Senior Visitors Enjoy The Barataria Preserve


One of the units, just south of New Orleans is the 23,000 acre Barataria Preserve. It preserves bald cypress swamps, live oak/palmetto stands, open sawgrass marshes, and freshwater and brackish lakes. The Preserve just outside Marrero offers a taste of Louisiana’s wild wetland.

The 2-mile long boardwalk trail that leaves from the visitor center gives senior visitors opportunities for great wildlife viewing and getting a closeup glimpse of the wetland ecosystems of South Louisiana. Visitors will want to keep a good eye out for the camouflaged creatures in the forest.

Many of the trees in the Barataria Preserve have the tell-tale signs of damage from Hurricane Katrina. But, you have to know what you are looking for. That is because the bald-cypress have flexible branches and survived it quite well.


The preserve includes bayous, swamps, marshes, forests, alligators, nutrias, (know what they are?) and for you birders, over 200 different species. This senior would consider a swamp tour for a real close up feel.

Jean Lafitte Swamp and Airboat Tours’ escorts senior visitors into the murky waters of the Louisiana swamps where you can get face to face with the beauty and beasts of nature. Seniors, take in the murky waters, the gators and southern Louisiana in several of the Jean Lafitte Parks.  jeb


Seniors Head For Lombok


Senior travelers we are off to Malaysia,  Lombok Island to be precise. With Bali to the west and Sumbawa to the east, Lombok is beautiful, as these photos show. If you love photography, Lombok is for you.

Lombok, immediately east of Bali and approximately the same size, however, its climate and terrain differ. Lombok has a large immigrant Balinese population and their houses and temples are similar to those of Bali. Mataram is the capital city and also the island’s largest city and a good center for day trips to the surrounding areas.

 For senior snorkers or divers, Lombok is made for you. Lying a few kilometers off the west coast of Lombok just north of Senggigi beach are three isles no more than two or three kilometers in circumference. These isles are considered special because of the diversity and abundance of marine life that finds its home in the extensive coral waters that surround each of the them.lomboklinks-sade-village

Senior Visitors Learn of Island’s Cultures


The Museum Negeri Nusa Tenggara Barat exhibits a variety of beautiful and fascinating cultures of the island. The ancient artifacts and decorative arts, as well as local armor and arms are all displayed in the museum. The Museum collection includes manuscripts conveying the ancient history of the area, written on lontar (dried palm leaves), barks and bamboo, in ancient native language.


The Architecture of this region is typical “Sasak” House. A visit to a traditional Sasak village is a necessary part of your trip to Lombok. Sasak villages are distinctively marked by grass-roofed-houses. Like many ethnic groups in Indonesia, the indigenous Sasak belong to the Austronesians as they are called who migrated from mainland China some 5,000 years ago.

The Sasak (around 90% of the population) are Muslims but have a culture and language unique to Lombok. There’s also a significant Hindu Balinese minority, a legacy of the time when Bali controlled Lombok.

Visitors Discover Unspoiled Paradise Island


Lombok Sumbawa, as it is called, awaits your visit and in many ways lives up to or exceeds the promotional term, “an unspoiled Bali”. With beautiful beaches, enchanting waterfalls, the large, looming volcano of Mount Rinjani combined with relatively few tourists, Lombok is indeed the paradise tropical island that many people still mistakenly imagine Bali to be.

Lombok is becoming increasingly popular with tourists and honeymooners who want to relax in an inexpensive, tropical, un-crowded atmosphere, with many natural treasures and majestic scenery. Nothing happens quickly in Lombok and visitors find Lombok a delightful place to unwind. Enjoy this one folks. jeb


Seniors Seek the Exotic in Srinagar

Dal Lake Kashmir

Srinagar, situated in the Kashmir Valley, is a city of nearly 1 million, famous for its 400 year-old Mughal gardens, its lakes and throngs of colorful houseboats. Senior travelers find it to be a hot spot for tourism and CNN listed it on their Travel Photos of the Day. Srinagar is composed of two Sanskrit words, one for the goddess Lakshmi and nagar, which means “city”.

The city has a long history and is said to have been named by the King Pravarasena II over 2,000 years ago, who named it Parvasenpur. Srinagar is a collection of images, a paradise vale of deep green rice fields, river bridges of gardens in bloom and lakes rimmed by houseboats. Srinagar is also a summer capital of the state, business center and holiday resort.


Lonely Planet notes that “Indulgent houseboats, historic gardens, distinctive Kashmiri wooden mosques and a mild summer climate combine to make Srinagar one of India’s top domestic tourist attractions.” I just could not pass up this series of great photos of a farmers market in Srinagar. I loved the one with the lady sacked out on pile of carrots.

 Seniors Enjoy the Venice of the East

Srinagar is known for traditional quality Kashmiri handicrafts and dry fruits. The city is located on both the sides of the Jhelum River which is called Vyath in Kashmir. The river passes through the city and meanders through the valley, moving onward and deepening in the Dal Lake. The Jhelum and the Dal and Nagin lakes dominate Srinagar and its life and activities.

The city is famous for its nine old bridges, connecting the two parts of the city, like so many old European cities. Srinagar is one of several places that has been called the “Venice of the East”.

Hotel/Houseboat, Resorts And Old City


For a “classic Kashmir” vacation in Srinagar, consider a stay in a hotel/houseboat. They are everywhere. You will not want to miss the 16th century Moghul gardens and nearby mountain resorts of Pahalgam and Gulmarg, Sonamarg and old city Srinagar.

Every season offers senior travelers new touristic vistas to this city of great antiquity. Spring breathes new life into a frozen world and the air is fresh with the fragrance of a million flowers that blossom on trees and shrubs.

So watch your timing for a visit, senior travelers, winter brings with it snow and sometimes Dal Lake freezes over. I would suggest a tour using a qualified travel agent for your trip to India. I have personally known couples who make their own arrangements in India and got by just fine. It is simply that India is a huge, highly populated country.

Enjoy your time in Srinagar. jeb

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