About: Jim Becker


Articles by: Jim Becker


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


Seniors Visit the “Andouille Capital of the World”


That just has to be LaPlace, Louisiana, senior friends. You may already know that andouille is normally a pork sausage, almost always smoked and heavily seasoned, typically with onions, garlic, cayenne or other hot chiles, black pepper and usually thyme.

There are as many versions as there are cooks, and LaPlace Louisianans guard their recipes closely. Historically LaPlace was settled as a small farming village in the 18th century and was named after an early settler, Basile Laplace. The city’s railroad station that was established in 1883 “put it on the map”.

LaPlace came up today on my CNN Travel information site so I wanted to check out the town and share it with you. You can see on this map that LaPlace lies between the southwest edge of Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River, only 25 miles west of New Orleans.


The Andouille Festival each October features Cajun food, a hotly contested andouille cooking competition as well as great zydeco and Cajun music. Seniors, if you don’t know what zydeco is, “google it!”

Andouille played an important role in the region’s cuisine history. The sausage was brought to the region by colonists from France. The Cajun people who settled in the swamps and bayous of the Mississippi Delta in the mid-eighteenth century came from Acadia in Nova Scotia, and were originally from the coastal regions of Brittany and Normandy. They spiced the French sausage up, and today it is a vital ingredient in gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, and etoufee served with shellfish or chicken.

Seniors Drive The Great River Road


Attractions in LaPlace include some of the most historic antebellum plantations in the Gulf Coast region. From the early 1800s through the 1850s, dozens of these riverside mansions were built along a 70-mile stretch called the Great River Road that ran along on both sides of the Mississippi.

Today, only a few remain that are in decent shape, and enjoyable things to do in and around LaPlace include tours of these historic sites. Senior golfers, LaPlace is home to one of the best 18-hole course in the New Orleans area, the Riverlands Country Club.

Louisiana is swamp territory and some folks even feed alligators.  If you are adventuresome and up to it, maybe try the #2 most popular thing to do in LaPlace… an ATV Swamp Tour. Seniors, come on down to Louisiana, visit LaPlace, enjoy the food, each of the 64 parishes (French: paroisses), the Cajun atmosphere and very friendly people. jeb


Red Rock Is A Must Visit For Seniors


The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada is an area managed by the Bureau of Land Management as part of its National Landscape Conservation System, and protected as a National Conservation Area. CNN wrote up the area recently and it rated very high with visitors from all across the country.

Senior visitors discover the unique geologic features and plants and animals of Red Rock that represent some of the best examples of the Mojave Desert. The Red Rock Canyon conservation area is home to a distinctive red sandstone landscape with red sandstone outcroppings everywhere… the scene seems never to be the same.

Senior travelers can enjoy the  colorful formations on a 13-mile scenic loop by car, or by hiking or biking this protected area. Frommer’s notes that if you need a break from the casinos of Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon is balm for your overstimulated soul.

This is a magnificent unspoiled vista less than 20 miles away from The Strip (and if you must, a morning visit should leave you enough time for an afternoon’s gambling).


Seniors Take The Scenic Drive

You can drive the panoramic 13-mile Scenic Drive (daily 6am-dusk) or explore more in-depth on foot, making it perfect for senior athletes or senior armchair types alike. Senior grandparents, you can bring the grandkids out for a picnic, and possibly get a view of the wild burros that roam the area..

Red Rock Canyon was designated as Nevada’s first National Conservation Area. The area is 195,819 acres and is visited by more than one million people each year. Visitors find plenty to see and do with more than 30 miles of hiking trails, rock climbing, horseback riding, mountain biking, road biking, picnic areas and nature observing, plus a visitor center with exhibit rooms and a book store.


Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is enjoyed by the local population as well as visitors from across the United States and many foreign countries. TripAdvisor will take you on-site with nearly 2,000 visitor photos.

One visitor writes “This is just about 20 minutes away from the strip. It’s absolutely beautiful, even on a hot and sticky day! The park opens at 6:30 am. It’s a one-way drive for 13 miles. You pay $7 to enter and can stay as long as you want.

The Red Rock Canyon area is, arguably, the most beautiful area in Nevada—perhaps the southwest. jeb


Seniors Enjoy Vibrant Passau

1 Passau 1.jpg

Passau, in Lower Bavaria, Germany, is known as the Dreiflüssestadt or “City of Three Rivers.” The Danube is joined at Passau by the Inn River from the south and the Ilz from the north. Senior visitors will hear the saying that Passau is located on the Blue Danube, the Green Inn and the Black Ilz. Water has quite literally shaped this picturesque town on the border with Austria.

Passau lies in Germany’s far southeast corner. Settled since prehistory and a former hub of the salt trade (Europe’s ‘white gold’), it became the Roman village of Batavis, then later the Holy Roman Empire’s largest diocese and a sword-making center.

Passau Town Hall and Danube River via WikiMedia

Passau is close to the Czech Republic and Austria with throngs of tourists arriving from these countries and from river cruises. Passau is also a popular holiday destination for Germans. About a fifth of the town’s population of 50,000 are students at the University of Passau, renowned for its Economics, Law, Theology and Computer Science institutes.

It is no surprise that Passau is the economic, cultural, and communications center of south-eastern Bavaria. Senior visitors discover  city and state libraries, a municipal theater, and a host of other cultural institutions. Industries in Passau include a bell foundry, brewing, and the manufacture of optical instruments, textiles, and tobacco.

Fortress, Cathedral and Town Hall Draw Senior Visitors


The town is dominated by the Veste Oberhaus fortress. Sitting on the hill across the river from Passau old town, it was built by the prince-bishops to watch over the commerce in the rivers. The site is now the home of the Oberhaus Museum and from here there are panoramic views of Passau and the Danube.

The magnificent St. Stephen’s Cathedral, with its three characteristic green onion-domed towers, is a major highlight. Located on the highest point of the Old Town, the site incorporates the remains of an earlier Gothic structure. The Cathedral is home of the world’s second-largest cathedral organ.


Architect Carol Lurago created a cathedral filled with light and splendid architectural details. In Passau’s Gothic Town Hall there are paintings which depict episodes in the town’s past, including its association with the Nibelungen legends. The Altes Rathause (Old Town Hall) is another highlight of the city that dates from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.  It’s neo-Gothic tower can be seen from all over town.

Historically, Passau was once the Celtic settlement of Bojodurum, and it later became the site of a Roman camp, Castra Batava. It was made an episcopal see in 739 and in 1217, the bishops became princes of the Holy Roman Empire. In spite of revolts by its citizens for municipal freedom, the prince-bishops managed to rule Passau until 1803.

You will find plenty to see and do in Passau so plan on spending a few days just enjoying one of Germany’s featured cities.  jeb


Seniors Stop In Hingham


My wife and two daughters and this senior had the good fortune of spending a summer in Boston while I studied at Harvard. We lived in South Weymouth which is surrounded by several lovely communities like Weymouth, Cohasset, Nowell, North Sictuate, Hull and Quincy. Just to the north of our home was Hingham, a town in Greater Boston on the South Shore of Massachusetts in northern Plymouth County.

The population runs right at 25,000. Each of those communities is unique and filled with history. Each name has a historical significance and Hingham is no exception. Hingham’s roots go back to the earliest days of European settlement in the new world with the first Europeans who arrived in 1633 and called the area Bare Cove.

The first significant settlement was established in 1635 when the Rev. Peter Hobart arrived with his followers from Hingham, England. In that same year, they renamed the town, strangely enough…Hingham.

 Seniors Enjoy Two ‘Oldest Buildings’


Hingham‘s history is reflected in its immaculately kept antique houses. The Old Ordinary, a tavern used by 17th century travelers, now houses the Hingham Historical Society Museum. Another is Derby Academy, founded in 1784, the oldest co-educational school in the country.

Hingham’s first parish, Old Ship Church, built in 1681, is the oldest wooden structure in the country in continuous use as a place of worship. Hingham has created six historic districts which helps the town maintain its unique character.

Hingham is pleased with its location on the water, including 21 miles of shoreline and construction of a new harbor park that further expands the public use of Hingham Harbor.

Caution. Thickly Settled


I just have to share this story: my family and I came upon a sign in Sictuate that read:  Caution. Thickly Settled.  I loved that sign. This Iowa native found it rather humorous. We also discovered that folks in the Boston area “talk differently” than we folks from the Midwest.

In a store in Weymouth my wife asked for a bag for our groceries. The clerk  corrected her and said, “You want a sack right?” We learned to love the Boston Accent. And they drive differently out there too!

Eleanor Roosevelt traveled down Main St. Hingham and described it as the most beautiful Main Street in America. Ancestors of 16th president, Abraham Lincoln were among the first to arrive in Massachusetts and his massive statue in downtown Hingham helps senior visitors remember that.

Major attractions in Hingham include World’s End (a wildlife area and nature preserve), Loring Hall Theater, Wompatuck State Park, Whitney and Thayer Woods, Weir River Farm, Old Ship Church and The Old Ordinary.

Senior travelers, when you travel through Massachusetts, stop in Hingham and enjoy the culture and history.  jeb


Seniors Find Pop Culture in Williamsburg


Williamsburg is said to be a ‘City within a City’. Few other enclaves inspire the kind of love-it-or-loathe-it partisanship that this one does. But the thing for senior visitors to remember is that Williamsburg is actually a rather large neighborhood in Brooklyn New York, both in population and geography. It’s home to 125,000 people, about the same as Harlem.

Near the L-train stops, it offers a fantastically hip (or annoying, depending on your disposition) array of bars, restaurants and shopping. The eastern and southern borders are more affordable but less safe, and lag in retail density and access to green space. Pinterest puts it all together for us with some great links that show the multifaceted life in Williamsburg.

Williamsburg has emerged in recent years as a pop-culture darling, and a force in defining NYC trends. While it seems that everyone has an opinion on Williamsburg, those that live in the neighborhood prefer not to overthink it. Instead, senior visitors will find a refreshingly care-free community where the motto is “do your own thing” – and always have a good time along the way.



The Brooklyn Flea will move to a permanent home in Williamsburg, at the East River State Park.The market, known for such unusual offerings as its deadstock bow ties and emu mayonnaise, is moving into the park next door. The Williamsburg Bridge, known as the Willy B by the locals gets confused with its immediate neighbor, the Manhattan Bridge, which also spans the East River.

Seniors Discover The ‘In’ Place To Be

The good news is: “This is a neighborhood in which the word diversity could have been invented,” said Devine of the Dime Savings Bank, “and it’s in the process of reinventing itself. Real estate values have exploded in the past two or three years. There’s new construction on every piece of land that was vacant and renovation of existing buildings. The area has a perception of being the “in” place to be.


So when you are in NYC, swing by Williamsburg and see for yourself all the good things  that are going on. Begin your Brooklyn adventure in the edgy neighborhood of Williamsburg. Discerning seniors will most likely soon see it as the home of the hipster.

Recently it has become the home of the culture maven, formerly known as the hipster, who renounces the loaded hipster label, and any label at all. It is also the home of the successful artist, financial guru, aspiring model, artisan cheese-crafter, famous partying actor, faux-hawked toddler, and trust-funded novelist.

Williamsburg is the home of innovative art, the Brooklyn indie music scene, and some of the most fun and interesting places to go. This cultural hub makes a great day trip for senior travelers, so make it a stop by on your next trip to NYC. jeb

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