About: Jim Becker


Articles by: Jim Becker


Seniors Stop In Nocona

250px-Nocona_welcome_signNocona is a city along U.S. Highway 82 and State Highway 175 in Montague County, Texas. The population runs right at 3,000, so it is small, but senior visitors will find it worth a stop.

The city, its lake, and its resurgence as a regional travel destination were featured in the June 2012 edition of Texas Highways magazine.

The city is named for Peta Nocona, a Comanche chief. The area was first known to white settlers as the last stop in Texas before crossing the Red River on the Chisolm Trail.


It was founded in 1887 along a particular bend in the Gainesville, Henrietta and Western Railway line, which soon became part of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, connecting Gainesville and Henrietta, and later Wichita Falls.

Nocona assumed the role of economic and industrial center of northern Montague County, and many older towns in the area, bypassed by the railroad, shuttered and its citizens moved to Nocona.

 Seniors Find Lake Nocona


The “North Field”, an oil field between Nocona and the Red River, contributed to Nocona’s economy for much of the 20th century and continues to do so on a small scale.

Lake Nocona or Farmer’s Creek Reservoir is approximately 10 miles north of the city. It is a highly popular recreational lake with folks  from across north central Texas offering many recreational opportunities! Three public parks are scattered around the shores of Lake Nocona: Weldon Robb Park, Joe Benton Park and Boone Park.


On Lake Nocona senior visitors will find Nocona Hills, an attractive gated lakeside “city” with many homes, a hotel, golf course, landing strip, and other amenities. Nocona is also home to  one of the finest city parks in all of Texas.

Seniors Also Find Nocona Boots

Seniors, while you are in Nocona, pick yourself up a handsome pair or two of the famed Nocona Boots. In 1925, Nocona Boots was founded by Enid Justin, the daughter of Justin Boots founder H.J. “Joe” Justin, in Nocona, Texas. Enid’s goal was to carry on her father’s tradition of making quality western boots in the town he loved.


Mr. Justin, or “Daddy Joe,” was a perfectionist with every detail of his handcraft. In 1879, he started his tradition of fine boot-making in Spanish Fort, Texas. His cowboy customers could order custom-fit boots that were ready to pick up after their return from cattle drives.

One of Nocona’s more notable residents was “Jackrabbit” Jack Crain: 1939, 1941 All Southwest Conference and two-time All-American Halfback, Texas legend, and the man who saved Texas Longhorns football team in 1939.

Mr. Crain also served four terms as a Texas state representative. Nocona’s high school football stadium is named for him. An account of the game that changed Texas football is at Mack Brown’s Texas Football, and believe me, football is BIG in Texas.

Seniors, set your GPS for Nocona and enjoy Texas hospitality. -jeb


Seniors Drop By Opelika


My wife just commented to me that our country has an abundance of smaller communities that are simply great places for seniors to enjoy as we travel. Opelika is a prime example.

The seat of Lee County in the east central part of the State of Alabama, Opelika is the principal city of the Auburn-Opelika Metropolitan Area.  According to the 2013 Census Estimate, the population of Opelika was 28,635. Now we are off to explore “Large Swamp, AL.”  What’s this? Keep reading and you will find out.


Let’s look into the name…Opelika, Alabama. This word was taken from the Muskogee language meaning “large swamp”. Settlement was sporadic until the late 1840s, when the railroad reached the town. This stimulated development of Opelika as a commercial center and it was incorporated later on February 9, 1854.

 Seniors Hike The Azalea and Dogwood Trail

Senior visitors can enjoy the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art and the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, the place where, during World War II, African American men were trained to become military pilots.


The city is also home to the world-famous Grand National Golf Course. Golfers can also visit the Beaver Creek Golf Course, Moore’s Mill Golf Club, and Pin Oaks Golf Club, and Saugahatchee Country Club.

The Chewacla State Park, spreads across 696 acres of land. Another place worth visiting in Opelika is the Azalea and Dogwood Trail. Following this trail, created by Nature itself, senior hikers can enjoy the numerous hues of the Southern Azaleas and Dogwood trees.

Seniors Enjoy Opelike Historic District


Senior visitors, let’s take a two minute driving tour of the Opelika Historic District.  We’ll see some beautiful and well kept homes and some awesome dogwoods. I don’t  think that I have seen that many historic homes one right after the other for quite some.

My wife and I love the older part of every town we visit. Tiger Town and Angel’s Antiques and Flea Mall would be of interest to my wife.


TripAdvisor’s listing of 17 things to do includes the Grand National Golf Course. Be sure to search out the Salem-Shotwell Covered Bridge, also known as the Pea Ridge Covered Bridge. This locally owned wooden covered bridge spans Rocky Brook.

Seniors, its time to set your GPS for Alabama and hone in on Opelika. You will find that the hospitality in Alabama is as legendary as the Opelika landscape and the southern cooking…yum yum!  -jeb


Seniors Enjoy Bethesda

Bethesda_MD_Instagram_overlay This senior was watching a PGA Tour Golf tournament recently that was being played in Bethesda. I had not ever been to this city and wanted to know more about it.

Bethesda is the home of Congressional Country Club, which is recognized as one of the most prestigious country clubs in the world. Congressional has hosted four major golf championships.


Senior visitors will find this city in southern Montgomery County, Maryland, just northwest of Washington, D.C.

It takes its name from a local church, the Bethesda Meeting House (1820, rebuilt 1849), which in turn took its name from Jerusalem’s Pool of Bethesda.

The National Institutes of Health main campus and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center are in Bethesda, as are a number of corporate and government headquarters.

 NIH_Clinical_Research_Center_aerialSeniors Look For Bethesda’s Landmarks

Bethesda is full of landmarks and important medical institutions, defense conglomerates and a host of other firms that call Bethesda home. Bethesda is one of the most affluent and highly educated communities in the United States.

Bethesda is situated along a major thoroughfare that was originally the route of an ancient Native American trail. Henry Fleet, an English fur trader, was the first European to travel to the area, which he reached by sailing up the Potomac River.


After staying for two years with the Piscataway tribe—either as a guest or prisoner…you guess—he returned to England, spoke of potential riches in fur and gold, and won funding for another North American expedition.

 Seniors Find Prestigious Schools and Notable People


I learned that most early settlers in Maryland were tenant farmers who paid their rent in tobacco. The extractive nature of tobacco farming meant that colonists continued to push farther north in search of fertile land, and in 1694 Henry Darnell surveyed a 710-acre area that became the first land grant in present-day Bethesda.

Senior visitors will find 18 prestigious private schools located in Bethesda including Georgetown Prep. and Sidwell Friends lower school. And notable people is a Who’s Who listing that includes Mike Tyson, Red Auerbach, Connie Chung, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Maury Povich, Daniel Stern and a host of others.


I’d want to spend some time in Downtown Bethesda, a thriving urban center home to numerous restaurants, retailers, arts venues and community events. Bethesda Avenue is an awesome street lined with a wide variety of businesses.

Bethesda: One Destination. One Community. A World of Excitement. Forbes Magazine selected Bethesda as one of the “Coolest Cities” in the country. Seniors, check out Bethesda and discover all that it has to offer.  -jeb

Filed under : Family Travel, United States


Seniors Visit Trondheim, Norway

Norway-TrondheimFill your coffee cup, senior friends, today we head for Norway and check out a beautiful city named Trondheim. It has a population of 187,353, and is the third most populous municipality in Norway.

The Nidelva River flows through Trondheim with old storehouses flanking both sides of this river.

The city is situated where the river Nidelva meets Trondheimsfjorden with an excellent and sheltered harbor. In the Middle Ages, the river was deep enough for large boats.


Trondheim is a city of students, technology, culture, cycling and food. The 30,000 students, many of whom attend the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, leave their mark on the city and contribute to a high level of innovation and a vibrant cultural life.

Seniors Enjoy The City’s Festivals

Trondheim hosts many festivals year round in genres including jazz, blues, chamber music, world music, rock and pop. The best known festival is the flagship St. Olav Festival, Norway’s largest church and cultural festival.


Trondheim Norway lies on the south shore of the Trondheimsfjord at the mouth of the Nidelva.

The city is dominated by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), the Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research (SINTEF) and St. Olavs University Hospital.

The city has a long interesting history. The settlement was founded in 997 as a trading post, and it served as the capital of Norway during the Viking Age until 1217. It was once named Kaupangen (English: market place or trading place).


Seniors Find A Gem

TripAdvisor suggests that seniors start your visit at Nidaros Cathedral, the world’s northernmost medieval cathedral.

Built over the burial site of Saint Olav, this king of Norway, in the 11th century, became the patron saint of the country.


The red Old Town Bridge is a favorite site. You may even get a first hand glimpse of the Northern Lights that illuminate the skies in Norway.

“Trondheim is a gem in the heart of Norway”. The top five activities often include island hopping, a musk ox safari, cycling in the world heritage town of Røros, kayaking the Nidelva River and hitting the hiking routes.


An ever-increasing number of senior visitors have discovered the Pilgrim Path that leads to the medieval Nidarosdomen Cathedral in Trondheim. The path has the same European Cultural Route status as the pilgrim paths to Rome and Santiago de Compostela.

I sign off with a problem. I could not decide which video to share with you, so seniors, you will have to chose one for yourself. Enjoy getting acquainted with Trondheim…“The Heart of Norway.” -jeb


Seniors Visit Warren, Ohio

imagesWarren, the county seat of Trumbull County, is a municipality of 47,000. Seniors will find Warren in northeastern Ohio, approximately 14 miles northwest of Youngstown and 15 miles west of the Pennsylvania state line.


Mayor William Franklin answers the question, “What makes the City of Warren an attractive place to do business? It all goes back to that famous mantra: Location, location, location!

Served by a first-rate network of railroads and highways, the city has long touted its unparalleled access to major metropolitan markets: we are located midway between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, while ground shipping can reach New York City and Chicago overnight.”

Seniors Enjoy Warren’s Museums and Parks


Senior visitors will find opportunities for enjoying a number of activities in the city of Warren: the Trumbull Art Gallery, Americana Amusement Park, Packard Park, John Stark Edwards House and Museum, Glendower Museum, Sutliff Museum and Mosquito Lake State Park.


Warren was first settled in in 1801. Ephraim Quinby was one of the early settlers of the area which was named after Moses Warren, the surveyor of the Connecticut Land Company.

Warren became one of the major trading and manufacturing centers in the late 19th century and remained so throughout the 20th century.

By 1888, four railroads connected this area with the rest of Ohio. The family of Neil Armstrong lived in Warren before settling in Wapakoneta. I’d want to be sure to visit the The Neil Armstrong First Flight Memorial.

 Senior Visitors Drawn To Downtown Warren


Downtown Warren has both historical and contemporary qualities that have drawn senior visitors for more than two centuries.The downtown’s beauty – which can be traced back to the original layout designed by early settler Ephriam Quinby – charms visitors and workers.

Some folks who enjoy downtown find it to be so attractive that they have decided to move into the upper floors of various older buildings.The centerpiece of downtown remains the Trumbull County Courthouse on the four acre Warren Courthouse Square.


Kent State University – Trumbull Regional Campus, Raphaels School of Beauty Culture  and Trumbull Business College are some of the local colleges and universities. Seniors, PlanetWare notes that Warren ranks among the 12 best places to visit in Ohio. -jeb

Filed under : Family Travel, United States


Seniors Drop By Calcasieu Parish


Seniors soon get acquainted with Sulphur population of 20,500, and that’s where we are headed today. Sulphur is part of the Lake Charles Metropolitan Statistical Area, in the Calctsieu Parish. Sulphur is the 13th largest city in Louisiana with a population of nearly 22,000. Sulphur is referred to as “the pride of Southwest Louisiana”, drawing that slogan from citizens who take pride in their heritage.


Sulphur is named for the sulfur mines that were operated in the area in the 1900s. In 1867, Professor Eugene W. Hilgard, an experienced geologist who was prospecting for oil and other minerals, conducted exploratory borings in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana and discovered sulfur in the caprock of a salt dome.

What can seniors see and do in Sulphur, Louisiana? The Sam Houston Jones State Park offers facilities for camping, fishing, boating and hiking. The Sabine National Wildlife Refuge is also a popular spot. Nearby attractions include De Soto National Forest, Sabine National Wildlife Refuge, Sam Houston Jones State Park, W. H. Stark House and the Brimstone Museum.

Seniors Find An ‘All American Road’


Built in 1915, the Southern Pacific Railway Depot was used extensively to ferry passengers and freight to the small sulfur mining community of Sulphur, Louisiana. The depot fell into disuse in the 1970′s, and a group of local residents began efforts to preserve the building as a piece of history.

The museum was officially signed over to the Brimstone Historical Society on December 5th of 2005. It currently has artwork on display from local artists, and other historical artifacts from the history of the town.

In 1996, the City of Sulphur received a National Scenic Byway Designation “Gateway to the Creole Nature Trail”. Seniors can enjoy this All American Road, a driving & walking tour through the marshlands and beaches of Calcasieu and Cameron parishes.

Seniors Take In ‘Old Time Country’ Fair


The 86th annual Cal-Cam Fair is a fall tradition and one of the few remaining ‘Old Time Country’ fairs in the state, where almost anything baked, grown or crafted can be entered, judged and awarded prizes. Carlyss Bon Ton Festival draws visitors from throughout the state and the nation.

Christmas Under the Oaks Festival and Heritage Days Festival are both great times to play in Sulphur. Each Christmas, Sulphur also hosts the Kiwanis Christmas Balloons Parade, which is the only balloons parade in Louisiana.

Sulphur is brimming with youth sports every summer. SPAR Water Park offers seniors and their grandkids a large child-friendly splash and play island, splash pad, lazy river, lagoon pool, inner-tube only Raging River, Parrot Island play area, a body slide and four tube slides.  

So while you are cruising down south, set your GPS for Sulphur and enjoy! -jeb

Filed under : Family Travel, United States


Seniors Spend Quality Time In Piscataway

9911095_nj_piscataway_townshipHere is another one of those townships/towns/cities that I enjoy exploring because of its unusual name. Like Weehawken or Chowchilla that I recently highlighted, seniors, let’s go to Piscataway, New Jersey. Piscataway is the fifth-oldest municipality in New Jersey. It has grown from Native American territory, through a colonial period, and is one of the links in the earliest settlement of the Atlantic Ocean seacoast.

The township was named by MONEY magazine in 2008, 2010 and 2014 as one of the best places to live in the United States. Cited was the long and prestigious history of the community and noted also were 189 buildings on Rutgers, the State University that is located in Piscataway.

Piscataway is a township in Middlesex County, New Jersey with a population of around 57,000. The name Piscataway may be derived from the area’s original Native American residents, transplants from near the Piscataqua River defining the coastal border between New Hampshire and Maine. The area was first settled in 1666 by Quakers and Baptists who had left the Puritan colony in New Hampshire and officially incorporated in 1798.


 Senior Hikers Invited To Enjoy The Trails

Piscataway, New Jersey is home to the Colgate Palmolive Technology Center and the world headquarters of Telcordia Technologies and American Standard. It includes the prominent facilities of Siemens Hearing Instruments, MCI World Com International, Johnson & Johnson Health Systems, Hapag-Lloyd and Pepsi Cola Bottling Group.

Johnson Park is popular for outdoor activities. Senior hiking enthusiasts enjoy the trails at the nearby Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park and Farrington Lake. Golfers enjoy the Rutgers Golf Course. Despite the development, Piscataway has managed to maintain its friendly welcoming atmosphere.


TripAdvisor suggests that senior visitors take in Johnson Park, the Cornelius Low House, East Jersey Old Town Village and enjoy a play at the Circle Playhouse. The Historic District in Piscataway was deemed eligible for the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places in 1999. It includes nine of the 14 existing historic homes on River Road if you enjoy viewing historic homes.

 Seniors Attend The Greek Festival

One fun event I would like to attend is the Greek Festival. The St. George Greek Orthodox Church celebrates Greek culture by hosting a Greek Festival every year the weekend after Mother’s Day. During the Festival, the community showcases great Greek spirit by providing  an event filled with delicious Greek food, live entertainment, and of course Greek dancing with many colorful costumes.


The gyro and Greek fries are always popular, but if you want to get loukomades, Greek donuts with honey, cinnamon and walnuts, they say that you must be prepared to wait in line and be ready to eat them right away. If you let them cool even the slightest bit, you are taking a big gamble and will be sorely disappointed.

Seniors, set your GPS for Piscataway and you will find a community that overflows with hospitality and fun. -jeb


Seniors Explore Chowchilla

36384275 Yours truly loves a city name like Chowchilla. Let’s pay a visit and see what we can learn that might be of interest to senior travelers. This city of around 19,000 inhabitants, in Madera County, California, lies 37 miles northwest of Fresno and is conveniently located inside the Fresno metropolitan area.

The name “Chowchilla” is derived from the indigenous American tribe of Chaushila Yokut Indians who once lived in the area. The name is apparently a reference to the warlike nature of the Chaushila tribe, later on to be associated with “bravery”. The town’s high school retains the moniker of “Redskins” as their local mascot.


Chowchilla houses two California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation women’s facilities, the Central California Women’s Facility and Valley State Prison for Women.

Seniors Visit A ‘Dig Site’

The development of Chowchilla is closely associated with Mr. Orlando Alison Robertson, who was born in Prosperity, Pennsylvania. Robertson became interested in developing California around 1910 and organized the United States Farm Land Company. He purchased the Chowchilla Ranch on May 22, 1912. On February 7, 1923, the City of Chowchilla was incorporated.


Senior visitors can spend some quality time in Chowchilla. There are a number of parks and recreational facilities. In addition, the city offers bars, casinos, restaurants and shopping centers.

Merced College is nearby. Attractions in the area include Berenda Reservoir, Veteran’s Memorial Park, Meux Home Museum, RC Wisener Park and Sports & Leisure Park. Toss in the clubs and play a round or two at the Pheasant Run Golf Course.

Perhaps you have heard of the proposed rail system in California. Chowchilla is the proposed northern terminus of the first leg of the California High-Speed Rail system. I’d be sure to visit the Fossil Discovery Center, a family-friendly museum and dig site showcasing fossils from the middle Pleistocene period.

 Seniors Experience Western Stampede

Stampede 1

Facebook suggests places for seniors to stay, to eat and to explore. A Classic Car Show will take place on September 24 in Veterans Memorial Park. The local Chamber of Commerce wants you know about Chowchilla’s Luncheon of the Year that is always popular with the locals.

Western Stampede is another big draw that features a herd of cattle driven right though the city. There seems to always be a few visitors who want to view the Chowchilla District Cemetery that maintains manual records.

And I almost forgot to mention the Madera County Fair held in Chowchilla. Seniors set your GPS for Chowchilla and enjoy this California community. -jeb

Filed under : Family Travel, United States


Seniors Get HOT on Avery Island

captionMany of us have heard of Avery Island (historically French: Île Petite Anse), the birthplace of TABASCO® brand pepper sauce.  Senior travelers will find Avery Island in Iberia Parish, Louisiana, about three miles inland from Vermilion Bay, which in turn opens onto the Gulf of Mexico.

A small population calls the island home. Avery Island has been owned for over 180 years by the interrelated Marsh, Avery and McIlhenny families.

After the Civil War, former New Orleans banker E. McIlhenny met a traveler recently arrived from Mexico who gave McIlhenny a handful of pepper pods, advising him to season his meals with them.

McIlhenny saved some of the pods and planted them in his in-laws’ garden on Avery Island; he delighted in the peppers’ piquant flavor, which added excitement to the monotonous food of the Reconstruction-era South and history was made.

LA-W-1 - First Rock Salt Mine, Avery Island, Iberia  Parish

The island was named after the Avery family, who settled there in the 1830s, but long before that, Native Americans had found that Avery Island’s verdant flora covered a precious natural resource—a massive salt dome.

The Indians boiled the Island’s briny spring water to extract salt, which they traded to other tribes as far away as central Texas, The World’s Famous TABASCO Brand Pepper Sauce began on Avery Island after the Civil War.

 Seniors Experience Jungle Gardens

Lush subtropical flora and venerable live oaks draped with wild muscadine and swags of barbe espagnole, or Spanish moss, cover this geological oddity.


Avery Island’s 170-acre Jungle Gardens is a botanical treasure. Senior visitors may see deer, snowy egrets and other wildlife and discover a variety of azaleas, camellias and bamboo.

Naturalists, bird watchers and senior visitors from around the world will enjoy the gently rolling landscape, botanical treasures and abundant wildlife.

Avery Island occupies roughly 2,200 acres and sits atop a deposit of solid rock salt thought to be deeper than Mount Everest is high. Today,  Avery Island remains the home of the Tabasco brand pepper sauce factory, as well as Jungle Gardens and its Bird City Wildfowl Refuge.

 Seniors Find Salt and Tobasco


Although covered with a layer of fertile soil, salt springs may have attracted prehistoric settlers to the island as early as 12,000 years ago. Fossils suggest that early inhabitants shared the land with mastodons and mammoths, giant sloths, saber-toothed tigers and three-toed horses.

A salt production industry dates back to about 1000 AD, judging from recovered basket fragments, polished stone implements, and shards of pottery left by American Indians.

Although these early dwellers remained on the Island at least as late as the 1600s, they had mysteriously disappeared by the time white settlers first discovered the briny springs at the end of the next century.

Senior visitors can tour the factory and enjoy a film on the history of Tabasco Pepper Sauce. Save your appetite and be ready to shop and taste your way through the last two stops on the tour, the Tabasco Country Store and Restaurant 1868. -jeb

Filed under : Family Travel, United States


Seniors Enjoy The White Villages of Andalucía

Spain 364 The White Villages of Andalucia Spain or Pueblos Blancos, are a series of towns and large villages that senior travelers will find in the northern part of the provinces of Cádiz and Málaga in southern Spain, mostly within the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park.

These small, quiet hilltop towns are distinguished by their simple whitewashed houses influenced by the Berber architecture of North Africa, the Moors’ native land. Spend a night in the romantic queen of the white towns, Arcos de la Frontera with my travel hero, Rick Steves.


Towns with “de la Frontera” in their names were established on the front line of the Christians’ centuries-long fight to recapture Spain from the Moors, who were slowly pushed back into Africa. Today, these hill towns, no longer strategic, are just passing time peacefully.

Arcos de la Frontera is one of the more popular of the White Villages, because it combines a beautiful old-town center with the more modern and lively upscale downtown area.

 Seniors Take The ‘Route Of The White Towns’

The whitewashed villages of Andalucia are impressive historical monuments in themselves, and their people still live according to age-old traditions, inherited from their Iberian, Roman and Moorish forefathers.


In these village seniors will find Spanish hospitality as legendary as the landscape in all directions. Greenlife Estates notes that Andalucía is much more than great cities, beaches, sun, golf and parties.

If senior visitors go deeper into the northern parts of Málaga and Cádiz, they will find a real treasure for those who love rural areas: the Route of the White Towns, or as it is known in Spanish, la Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos with 20 villages, one right after the other.

White Villages Offer Relaxed Pace


Grazalema is another famous site. Lets descend into a valley and drive into this White Village. After visiting the most touristy cities of Seville, Granada, and Córdoba, this senior found that Los Pueblos Blancos offer a welcome escape to nature and a more relaxing pace.

Most of the villages are clustered around the Sierra de Grazalema, the Sierra Nevada, and Las Alpujarras. The villages are close to each other and can be easily combined on your driving route.

There is so much to see and do in these neat little villages. The accolades go on and on, and rightfully so. Bring up Google or DuckDuck.go and enjoy exploring the plethora of White Villages information. Have fun in Andalucía as my wife and I did.

Look for the big black bulls on the hills and the huge guitars as well. If you don’t see them…you have not been to Andalucía. -jeb

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