About: Jim Becker


Articles by: Jim Becker


Seniors – Been to Rome?

images-7Rome, Georgia that is.  It, too, was selected as having one America’s Greatest Mainstreets by Travel & Leisure Magazine. Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Rome was voted the #1 small city in the Southeast.

Rome’s name is a commemoration of Rome, Italy. It too was built on seven hills with a river running between them, a feature that was an inspiration for the name. This connection, emphasized by a replica of the statue of Romulus and Remus statue nursing from a mother wolf is a symbol of the original Rome.

From Rome’s Rivers Historic District with its landmark Clocktower to the outer reaches of the county, senior visitors will discover a wonderful sense of community.

Seniors Find Rivers And Wide Streets In Rome


Rome’s wide streets impress senior visitors. Using a chain, an early resident laid out the streets with two of the streets measuring 132 feet across. Rome’s brick Courthouse was built in 1835.

Founded in 1834, Rome is located at the confluence of the Etowah and Oostanaula Rivers. The two rivers end up forming the Coosa River. Because of this feature, Rome’s history was guided by the transportation and cotton industries.

Oak Hill and the Martha Berry Museum are two major drawing cards to the city. Oak Hill was an original Victorian-style farmhouse that was built in 1847. The museum focuses on Berry College which is located at the town’s northern border. And sports fans, Rome has a Class A Baseball Team, the Braves.

Beauty And Charm Define Rome


Few southern cities can boast the beauty and charm of Georgia’s Rome. Tucked in the foothills of the ancient Appalachian Mountains, Rome’s three rivers frame the downtown district for recreation and relaxation.

History remains alive for everyone to experience in the many historical buildings, sites and cemeteries pristinely preserved throughout the city and county.

Senior visitors, you are invited to climb up the crest of historic Myrtle Hill for a super view of downtown Rome. And while you are strolling, take in Myrtle Hill Cemetery and Broad Street, where you will note a small-town revitalization in progress.

The locals have invested huge sums since the city’s precipitous decline in the 1970s and on Broad Street you will see the evidence. There have been more than 120 building rehabs in the central business district, and the area’s many Victorian homes and churches have come back to life.


Rome is one of those rarified small town American gems. It’s a super  getaway retreat, an artsy haven including galleries, antique and specialty shops and restaurants where chefs take pride in serving local produce. Yet the mountain town has a casual feel where you’re just as likely to run into fly fishermen and campers or a family coming off the scenic railroad trip.

Seniors, this might be a travel bucket suggestion.  An On-line Visitors’s Guide might be informative and helpful.  jeb


Seniors Stop At Wisconsin’s Gateway

bel-wbs-2-DSCN0049Welcome, senior travelers, to City of Beloit, the Gateway to Wisconsin. Located near the junction of Interstates 90/39 and I-43 close to the border of Illinois and Wisconsin, Beloit, pop. 37,000, is another of America’s Greatest Main Street cities.

Beloit is proud of its world class riverfront, providing year round recreation and special event facilities, biking and hiking paths.  “As you stroll the thriving riverfront district of Beloit, it’s hard to imagine that it was once a faded downtown, depressed by the loss of factory jobs and the lure of suburban malls.”

Twenty years ago, a forward-thinking group of boosters stepped in to restore many buildings as mixed-use spaces – galleries, bookshops, music venues – and to launch a weekly farmers’ market. Now everyone’s a booster and the locals brag about their 3.5 miles of bike paths, more than 20 works of public art, and the college town’s new reputation as a performing arts magnet.

Senior Travelers Discover the Gem of the Rock River Valley


The name, Beloit, originated with a committee appointed by a convention of citizens who were not satisfied with the name New Albany, the name which for a few months the town wore.

The City Center includes a unique downtown with tree lined streets serving pre-20th century commercial buildings, the internationally renowned Beloit College and beautiful, historic residential neighborhoods. Beloit is called a Gem of the Rock River Valley.

Big Hill Park located on the bluffs of the Rock River is one of Beloit’s most scenic sites with spectacular vistas. Downtown Beloit is the historical economic, cultural and social center of the community. It is anchored by a core of historic buildings and what is called the Ironworks.

Art, Baseball and Angels Attract Senior Visitors


Beloit has helpful guides that can be downloaded to help senior visitors become well oriented to the city. Downtown may be where you want to start your stroll around Beloit. It hosts over 40 days of events a year, from a summer lunchtime concert series to an ArtWalk featuring more than 100 artists.

Check out the Buzz in Beloit, a video that provides an overview of the many activities  in town. Beckman Mill is a major drawing card in Beloit in a 50-acre county park where senior visitors can view an authentically restored 1868 grist mill, a saw mill display, 1840s cooperage, a visitor center, gift shop, creamery, blacksmith shop, picnic shelter, vintage garden and nature trail.

The Beloit Snappers, an Oakland A’s minor league baseball team, represents what’s good about minor league baseball. The Logan Museum of Anthropology, dating back to 1893, has been a teaching museum of Beloit College focusing on the world’s cultures. Drop by the world’s largest angel collection at Angel Museum with over 11,000 angels and angel artifacts on exhibit.

 Senior travelers,  stop in Beloit and enjoy another great main street city.  jeb



Seniors Enjoy Historic Woodstock

woodstock_sign7553Woodstock is another of those Greatest Mainstreets awards from Travel & Leisure. Named after Woodstock in Oxfordshire, England and first settled in 1768 by James Sanderson and his family, Woodstock, Vermont is the quintessential New England Village. It is also a thriving Vermont resort community where, in 1824, Alvin Adams first established the railroad express line, later to become known as the Railway Express.

Senior travelers, the town is one of New England’s premier four season vacation destinations. I am always on the lookout for more National Historic Landmarks and The Billings Farm and Museum falls into that category with its restored 1890 farmhouse. The site honors Vermont’s rich agricultural past. Much of the village is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Senior visitors find that Gillingham & Sons, one of the oldest general stores in Vermont, is one of their favorite places to visit. To quench your appetite, try Bentley’s and The Mountain Creamery that are a couple Woodstock favorites.

Senior Visitors Find 400 Year Old Trees

Enjoy the 400-year-old hemlock trees at the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. Woodstock Town Hall Theatre has seen continuous use since its construction in 1900 as the Woodstock Opera House. The First Congregational Church on Elm Street in Woodstock was dedicated in 1808. It is well worth a peek inside.

It is suggested that the best way to get a feel for the village is to take a stroll along Elm and Central streets, browse the shops and galleries, and then walk across the covered bridge that spans the Ottauquechee River. That bridge is smack in the center of town and surrounded by restored Georgian, Federal Style and Greek Revival homes.


And how about a good hike? It starts in Faulkner Park and is perfect for senior hikers with the switchbacks easy to traverse and make the climb just plain fun.

Called ‘The Prettiest Small Town”…

Described by Ladies Home Journal magazine as “The Prettiest Small Town in America”, it is a visual treat with tree lined streets, perennials and annual flowers everywhere the eye can see. The Village curves around the beautiful Outtaquechee River.

Senior visitors enjoy exploring the small shops, art galleries, country stores and learning about the local legends. The Boston Globe describes Woodstock as “Almost ridiculously pretty.”


The Woodstock History Center houses a large collection of antique furniture, fine art, clothing, textiles, silver, ceramics, photographs, and early American toys.

The Dana House, the History Center’s Museum, was built in 1807 for village merchant Charles Dana. In 1943 it was sold by the Dana family and turned into a museum.

So when you are in Vermont, don’t miss the quintessential New England Village and The Prettiest Small Town in America. Try to top that for a small town honor, huh?  jeb


Seniors Cool Off In Bath


Bath, historically known as “City of Ships”, more recently has a new tag,  Maine’s “Cool Little City.” Big enough to be a commercial and cultural hub and compact enough to be intimate and walkable, Bath is friendly, and a senior visitor’s paradise.

Bath is a port of entry with a good harbor formed by the Kennebec River estuary. The Abenaki Indians called the area Sagadahoc, meaning “mouth of big river.” Most of Bath, Maine was settled by travelers from Bath, England, thus the name.

Folks come from all over the nation to take in Bath’s historic waterfront downtown shops, boutiques, galleries, cafes and restaurants on pedestrian-friendly Front and Centre Streets. Many senior visitors choose to learn about ship-building history at the Maine Maritime Museum.


Ranked one of the “Ten Best” maritime museums in the world and located on a beautiful 20-acre campus on the banks of the Kennebec River, the museum features its own working shipyard complete with boat-building demonstrations and guided kayak or lighthouse tours. Bath is a World Heritage Site.

History and Architecture Draw Senior Visitors

With a plethora of 19th century architecture, visitors enjoy the many outstanding old buildings. Senior travelers will find a conglomeration of Federal, Greek Revival an Italianate architecture, including the 1858 Custom House and Post Office. The more modern Sagadahoc Bridge is an architectural marvel as well.

Not far away is a famous lighthouse on Seguin Island off the mouth of the Kennebec River. Seguin has the tallest lighthouse in Maine and one of the oldest in the United States. It is a fully functional and one of Maine’s most memorable places. Its Fresnel lens is 12 feet tall and beams out 20 miles.


The Bath of today is down-to-earth, unpretentious and features an eclectic mix of historic houses and buildings bordering the river. Front Street, which parallels the river, was named one of America’s Top 10 Great Streets by the American Planning Association.

The city, 12 miles from the Gulf of Maine, has a shipbuilding heritage that began in 1743 and continues today. In 1841, the 1,133-ton Rappahannock, then the largest vessel in the world, was built by Bath’s Sewall shipyard. By 1857, Bath was the 5th-largest shipbuilding port in the country in registered tonnage.

Senior Visitors Enjoy A “Greatest Main Street” Town


The Chocolate Church Arts Center is midcoast Maine’s regional performing and visual arts center.  Senior travelers will find plenty of choices for places to bed down in Bath including the Benjamin F. Packard House, offering four guest rooms that reflect the life of an 18th-century shipbuilder. The Galen C. Moses House is an 1874 Italianate Victorian and is painted salmon pink.

America has a long listing of “Greatest Main Streets” and Bath fits right in. Explore Front Street, with its brick buildings and an outpost of Reny’s, a small discount department store chain that’s a throwback to an earlier era.

The Boston Globe notes that…Bath is only a half a tank north of Boston. jeb


Seniors Pull Out Your Sleeping Bags

15 - hot springs national park_flickr_lance_mountain

Grab your coffee, senior friends and let’s think about sleeping under the stars in a tent…or no tent! I just came across a neat site from The Active Times that highlights 16 spectacular National Park campgrounds.

Our national parks offer access to some of the nation’s most scenic and stunning landscapes, which makes each the perfect backdrop for a picturesque camping trip.

Not that other campsites across the country aren’t worthy of visits from overnight adventurers, but when it comes to a truly memorable camping experience, what could compare to a night spent watching the sunset amidst tremendous rock formations in the California desert? Or waking up to a beachside sunrise shaded by palm trees?

These Seniors Have Great Camping Memories

13-joshuatree-flickr_Howie Muzika

Senior campers, are you in? I hope so. My wife and I along with our 3 children spent countless hours camping all over the US and Canada.  Each of our kids still enjoy camping and I am sure that the initial experiences we shared over all those years contributed to their interest today as campers.

Our national parks are so diverse that each has something to offer for every type of camping personality. Sleep directly under the stars or seek the shelter of a rustic log cabin. Pitch your tent among magnificent mountain ranges or set up sleeping bags on the beach.

We pitched our tent along the Flathead River near Glacier National Park in Montana. I have to admit that we got soaked a few times even in our tent and later our small camper was threatened with terrible windstorms. We lived through it all and cherish every memory.

5-glacier-flickr_Paul Weimer

National Parks Draw Senior Visitors

A road trip with National Parks in mind sounds like a neat idea. Great sunsets, rare wildlife encounters, alluring rock formations, 5,000 year old pines, cave formations, park amphitheaters, shady trees, serene surroundings, great camp stores, fishing, kayaking, swimming.

Take your bikes along and your hiking shoes and check out the hiking trails across the country.  A great way to get better acquainted with this great country we live in…get acquainted with our National Parks.

Jim and Jeannine Becker


Red Lodge: The Gateway To The Park


All senior travelers need to do is follow Beartooth Highway that will lead you right into Yellowstone Park via Red Lodge, Montana (pop. 2,500+). Visitors experience true western hospitality in a quaint, historic, mountain town.

Folks claim that Red Lodge is a place not only of extraordinary beauty, but where real smiles, genuine warmth and a welcoming, Western-style hospitality greet you at every turn. Red Lodge is known for its outdoor recreation opportunities like skiing, mountain biking, and backpacking.

Seniors Travel Scenic Drive


Red Lodge was originally a coal boomtown with as many as 22 mines in Carbon County including Bearcreek’s Smith Mine, site of Montana’s Worst Mining disaster in 1943. The town features historic downtown Red Lodge.

Nearby, the 69-mile Beartooth Scenic Drive has a series of dramatic switchbacks overlooking snow-capped peaks, glaciers, alpine lakes and plateaus. CBS news correspondent Charles Kuralt called the Beartooth Pass the most scenic drive in America.

On September 17, 1851, the United States government signed a treaty with the Crow Nation, ceding the area which now contains Red Lodge to the Crow Indians. Rich coal deposits were found there in 1866, and gold was discovered nearby in 1870. An 1880 treaty between the U.S. government and the Crow allowed the area to be settled starting April 11, 1882

 Eleven Million Acres Of Wilderness Draws Seniors

JMACS_RedLodge3The Pollard is a magnificently restored old town building in the heart of Red Lodge, where senior visitors enjoy traditional mountain hospitality and a number of top-quality hotel luxuries.

Naturalist and author Gary Ferguson was drawn to Red Lodge years ago by the 11 million acres of wilderness that surround it, the Greater Yellowstone territory he calls “the last great temperate, wild ecosystem.” He says he likes living in a place where residents aren’t alarmed if a black bear takes refuge in a neighbor’s apple tree.

For senior hikers, their are numerous trails, both for day hiking and overnight backpacking, beginning at the base of the mountains and along the Beartooth Highway. The Red Lodge area has some great day hikes and extended backpacking trails for all ages allowing senior hikers to enjoy Big Sky Country at its finest.

And wow…for a small town, Red Lodge is loaded with festivities that bring in visitors from all over the world:  The Winter Carnival at the end of February, National Ski-Joring Finals in March; In April, a popular triathlon called the Peaks to Prairie; the Red Lodge Music Festival and the Annual Beartooth Run in June; the Home of Champions Parade and Rodeo, the Beartooth Rally, the Montana State Old-Time Fiddlers Contest, the Fat Tire Frenzy and the Red Lodge Mountain Man Rendezvous  in July; the Festival of Nations in August plus many more concerts and activities.

Seniors, you just can’t go wrong spending some quality time in Red Lodge. jeb


Seniors Find Plenty To Watch In Watch Hill


Watch Hill is an affluent coastal village in the town of Westerly, Rhode Island, sitting at the most-southwestern point in all of Rhode Island halfway between NYC and Boston. Watch Hill is characterized by the New York Times as a community “with a strong sense of privacy and of discreetly used wealth”, in contrast with “the overpowering castles of the very rich” in nearby Newport.

Today, it is best known as the backdrop for the Ocean House, the only Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond Hotel in Rhode Island. The current population of Watch Hill is 140 with the median age of 63.

I came across Ocean House in my recent Condé Nast Traveler magazine (July – 2014). They called it the “Queen on the Hill” and indeed it is. Once destined for demolition, now it is a point of civic pride in Watch Hill that required a three-year-ground-up rebuild.

Seniors Delight In Visiting Ocean House


Ocean House was built in 1868 for “well-heeled” summer visitors from all along the Atlantic Coast. It is the last remaining of seven such properties in Watch Hill. Today there is a lot of life that revolves around this “enchanted bluff.”  Ocean House is ranked high in many categories like: #7 for their spa; #10 as a Top Resort in the US; #11 as a Best Coastal Hotel, #10 for Top Beach Resorts.

Watch Hill is famed as a honeymoon destination. The city includes the westernmost point in the state known as Napatree Point. Together they have formed Little Narragansett Bay which has made Watch Hill a popular harbor around which a business district has grown.


The awesome waterfront was once lined with huge Victorian hotels but fire and hurricanes destroyed most of them during the 1900s. The Ocean House and the Watch Hill Inn are the only two that remain in operation.

Situated in the heart of downtown Watch Hill Village, the historic Watch Hill Inn is an iconic seaside villa property overlooking the waters of Little Narragansett Bay.

More For Seniors To See in Watch Hill

There is more to Watch Hill than hotels. The Flying Horse Carousel, a National Historic Landmark, is the oldest continuously-operated carousel in the United States. Senior visitors will find some great beaches, bird-watching, fishing and an interesting history.


If senior travelers enjoy old lighthouses, like my oldest daughter, take in the one at Watch Hill. One of the oldest lighthouse sites in America, it remains an active aid to navigation today, serving as a nautical beacon for ships since 1745.

Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge consists of 409 acres of diverse upland and wetland habitats including grasslands, shrub lands, wooded swamps and freshwater ponds.

Occupied by Niantic Indians in the 1600s, European colonists used the area as an important lookout point during the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War, hence the town’s name. If you enjoy staying in B&Bs or vacation rentals, Watch Hill has plenty of those awaiting your visit. jeb


Seniors Stop By Fishers

Junk-Removal-FishersI have written several blogs on communities called “the best…”  Fishers, Indiana with a population of just over 77,000 rates right up there with the best on a host of subjects. Let’s explore a little deeper to see why folks enjoy living in upscale and vivacious Fishers, 20 miles northeast of Indianapolis.

Fishers was named one of America’s Friendliest and Top 15 Suburbs For Retirement by Forbes. Forbes says that Fishers enjoys the lowest crime rate on their list and homes average a tad above $200,000 with the cost of living 10% below the national average. The “official city website provides an overview of the things you want to know about the city.

Seniors Find a Town That Offers Lots


The town offers several classes and summer day camps for all ages and it also offers free community events that require no registration or proof of residency, so senior visitors can take these in.

The Fishers Freedom Festival is a two-day event for folks of all ages, held annually, to celebrate the Fourth of July. There are parades, fireworks, games, sports, food vendors, and other entertainment.

Senior visitors as well as the locals flock to Rita’s Backyard that features flowers, planters, vegetables, gifts, and café options. It’s easy to forget about one’s troubles as you walk through the assortment of colorful and well-tended plants.

Conner Prairie, the Symphony on the Prairie, the Fishers Renaissance Faire and much more await your visit. Holland Park is the town of Fishers oldest park, and it remains one of its most popular.  Every year hundreds of new residents start calling Fishers home thus keeping it among the fastest growing areas in the country. The town’s welcoming atmosphere makes transitions easy.

 Trading Post Beginnings


Fishers was was first settled by William Conner back in 1802 as a trading post along the White River. Seventy years later, in 1872, Salathiel Fisher divided his land into town lots.

The area was known as Fishers Station and originally as Fishers Switch. New communities in this time period would spring up along railroads and Fishers was no exception, hence the early reference to a train station or switch.

Fishers rated #8 by CNN Money Magazine as a great place to live and raise a family. That is just another notch in the belt for Fishers which is constantly being recognized as one of the premier places to live, work, and raise a family in the US.

These are just a few of the many reasons why it’s easy to get hooked on Fishers, Indiana. So pull on in and enjoy the city as you work your way through the great state of Indiana.  jeb


Seniors Warm Up In Hot Springs

photo_4287 Hot Springs. There seem to be hot springs all over the country. One of my favorites is Hot Springs, Arkansas.  I’m confident that I would love this one as well. One of this senior’s all-time dreams was to own property with a hot springs stream flowing right through the front yard so that I could jump in whenever I wanted.

Well, Hot Springs, South Dakota is known as the Southern Gateway to the Black Hills. It has great water, small population, just under 4,000 and is the county seat of Fall River County.

Called Minnekahta (warm waters) by the original white settlers in 1879, the town’s name was changed to Hot Springs in 1886. Earlier, the Lakota and the Cheyenne Indian tribes fought for control of the natural warm waters. Wouldn’t you? Of course you already knew that Minne meant waters like Minnesota.

Hot Springs, Black Hills and Wooly Mommoths


The Springs is nestled in the southern Black Hills, surrounded with charm, scenic beauty and tons of friendly people. Hot Springs is home to soothing natural warm water springs, great year-round weather, fantastic outdoor activities, beautiful sandstone architecture, and the most inviting and friendly people you’ll find anywhere.

The Fall River County Courthouse, a unique red sandstone courthouse, was built in 1891 and is a major landmark in town. In 1890, Fred Evans established Evans Plunge and made the natural springs available to the public and today many senior visitors choose to take a plunge into the hot waters. The Plunge has been used to treat chronic diseases, arthritis, rheumatism, gout and other frailties.

The Springs is world famous for Mammoth Site.  More than 26,000 years ago, large Columbian and woolly mammoths were trapped and died in a spring-fed pond near what is now the southwest edge of town.  The Mammoth Site, as it is called, is a unique museum and paleontological site.

It houses the remains of fauna and flora preserved by the entrapment in a sinkhole where Mammoth bones were found in 1974. The world’s largest mammoth research facility, is open year round and features Ice Age geology and paleontology. It has the world’s largest and most  extensive collection of mammoth remains.


Seniors Discover Wild Horse Sanctuary

The Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary was established to give undesirable and un-adoptable horses a quality environment in which to live. Seniors can pay a visit to the Pioneer Museum where the past comes alive in a beautiful 19th century four-story sandstone building that was used as a schoolhouse until 1961.

If you are into spelunking, visit Wind Cave National Park established in 1903. It is the fifth longest cave in the world at 137 miles in length. Oh my, I almost bypassed Angostura Reservoir, a water-lover’s haven with breathtaking, scenic views, offering crystal clear waters, 36 miles of shoreline, and some of the finest sandy beaches in the state.  So swing on by Hot Springs for some assured fun and great warm waters.  jeb


Seniors Enjoy Strolling Through Chinatown


Yes, Chinatown, but which one.  There are Chinatowns in several major cities, San Francisco, New York City and London, the list goes on and on. Chinatown of San Francisco is the largest Chinese community on the West Coast. These seniors had the good fortune to just stroll through Chinatown and to take in the wonderful environment of Hong Kong personified.

We picked up some neat “cooking tools” and we dined in an authentic restaurant high on the second floor right in the heart of the quarter. As we were just walking along, I noticed many Chinese going up a wide stairway. I said to my wife, “let’s see where they are going.”


It was around noon and we soon learned that it was a restaurant. A young man greeted us and asked how we happened upon this restaurant. I told him that “curious Jim” just followed folks up the stairs. I think that we were the only non natives in a large room that was packed with hundreds of Chinese enjoying their noon meal. What a memorable experience.

Largest and Oldest Chinatown

Chinatown became established in the mid 1800’s when there was a large boom in Chinese immigration to the United States. Many came to escape China’s uncertain economic conditions, attracted by the Gold Rush and later by the opportunity to work on the Transcontinental Railroad.


Chinatown can  be found in any guidebook. When checking out this unique and bustling part of the city, why not step off the main streets, dip into the alleyways and get a real view of its residents? That’s the best means for senior visitors to get to know this famed quarter.

San Francisco Chinatown is the largest Chinatown outside of Asia as well as the oldest Chinatown in North America. It is one of the top tourist attractions in San Francisco.

Seniors Walk Through Dragon’s Gate


The entrance to Chinatown at Grant Avenue and Bush Street is called the “Dragon’s Gate.” By just strolling senior visitors will soon discover that Chinatown is about eight blocks long and has two long main streets, Grant Avenue and Stockton Street.

We recall the air that permeates of Chinese BBQ’d meats, the decoration of brightly colored lanterns, the collective sound of Cantonese chatter, the wide open markets filled with the plethora of unfamiliar roots, herbs, and vegetables. Chinatown offers a bounty of shops, including restaurants, Chinese grocery stores and delis, bakeries, tea and herbal shops, clothing stores, galleries and souvenir haunts. It’s just plain fun.


Three annual festivals honor the city’s Chinese heritage. Chinese New Year and the Autumn Moon Festival draw  crowds to Chinatown. It’s one of the most exotic-feeling parts of San Francisco along with Fisherman’s Wharf and at times, you may hear more Chinese spoken on Stockton Street than on the streets of Hong Kong.

Enjoy it all. jeb

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