We’re Off to the “Land of Umpqua”

Seniors, I’ll bet that you have no idea where we’re going today.  I just was sent a neat travel brochure on Roseburg, Oregon.  What does “Umpqua” mean? “Thundering waters” or “across the waters” are two popular translations for this surviving word of the Umpqua language. Another definition is “satisfied” – as in a full stomach, so take your pick.

Roseburg is located on Interstate 5 between Grants Pass and Eugene, approximately 125 miles north of the California border. To pinpoint Roseburg even more, the city is about 80 miles inland from the Pacific coastal communities Reedsport and Coos Bay. Roseburg has a population of approximately 20,000 residents.

The local Visitor’s Center has a listing of those attractions that bring folks in from all over the nation. Senior travelers will  find six covered bridges along with the Applegate Trail, the Douglas County Museum and a fabulous Oakland Historic District. For you “birders” they claim 320 species. Boating, biking, skiing, hiking and Diamond Lake provide choices for senior visitors to the area. Known as “Oregon’s Oldest Fine Wine Region” as well as “America’s Last Undiscovered Wine Region”,  I counted 22 wineries in the area including a Becker Vineyard that I had to plug, as yours truly is a Becker.

Roseburg is Unspoiled

Part of a water wonderland crowned by the world famous Umpqua River, the gentle climate creates limitless recreational opportunities among lush forests and cascading waterfalls. With only 19 people per square mile, Roseburg has many unspoiled areas to explore and you can have a great picnic in 345 acres of parks within the city limits.

The lakes, rivers and reservoirs of Douglas County provide ample boating and fishing settings, especially on the beautiful North Umpqua, a river that’s famous among fishermen. The North Umpqua offers fishing opportunities for trout, salmon, bass, and is one of the world’s only rivers with a native run of summer steelhead.

Roseburg and several surrounding communities provide a glimpse into the past as seniors will enjoy visiting their historic structures and districts. Just five miles north of Roseburg at Winchester Dam you will find a unique fish ladder where visitors can observe salmon and steelhead in their native environment on the North Umpqua River through a viewing window.

National Scenic Byway

There are numerous scenic byways in the US and 172 mile route within the Umpqua and Rogue River and National Forests offers an inspiring drive through southern Oregon’s panorama of rivers, mountains and forests. Two of Oregon’s most beautiful and renowned rivers bookend this breathtaking tour through the thickly forested southern Cascades.

So set your compass for Roseburg, senior citizens…the winters are cool without much freezing and provide most of the rainfall that brings blossom-filled springs. A warming trend begins in April and May, continuing into the summery days of July and August. Fall weather is pleasant and crisp, producing brilliant leaf colors in late October. You’ll enjoy Roseburg.  jeb




Seniors, Bring Your Fish Pole To Tofino

Oh yes, and also your golf clubs, a pair of quality hiking boots and a surfboard (Tofino was named the best surf town in North America in Outside Magazine’s 2010 Editors’ Choice awards). Senior visitors will find Tofino a pleasure spot for each of these, plus much much more. We’re talking Tofino, BC. That’s British Columbia in Canadian talk.

Tofino is a district of around 2,000+ residents on the west coast of Vancouver Island.  Today it’s a popular tourist destination in the summer for all you senior nature lovers to take in a whale watch and just be close to mother nature. Accessing Tofino by car from the US involves taking a ferry to Vancouver Island from Vancouver, Seattle or Port Angeles. And get this…Tofino’s winters are so mild that it can grow some of the most exotic palm trees. In Canada!

The Official Tofino Website invites senior tourists to check out  the many amenities that Tofino has to offer. Punch in the View Map button to put a precise location on Tofino and the See Details button for a listing of Things to Do. The Michelin Road Atlas rated the drive from Victoria to Tofino one of the three best drives in Canada. TripAdvisor notes not six or seven attractions, but a total of 18 and they all look way cool.

A host of fun events tailored to maintain vibrancy through the year include November’s Tofino Oyster Festival, May’s Shore Bird Festival, the Tofino Food & Wine Festival in June and the big one, the Pacific Rim Whale Festival in March. June 21 is Canada’s Aboriginal Day, and celebrations in Tofino include Native song, dance, storytelling and arts and crafts demonstrations.

Seniors Discover Beaches, Rain-forests and Whales

Tofino and the area had a population of over 100,000 at one time prior to the arrival of Europeans and their decimating diseases. Thousands of years before Tofino was named after a rear admiral in the Spanish Navy, the people of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations lived and worked there. They’ve occupied the west coast of Vancouver Island for as long as 10,000 years. The Legendary Captain James Cook was the first European to come sailing by in 1778.

Tofino is known for its long beautiful beaches and towering rain-forests. Experienced sea kayakers will be delighted with the sights and sounds of the waters along Clayoquot Sound (adjacent to Tofino) that is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and Pacific Rim National Park.  The biggest sign of spring in Tofino, literally: 20,000 Pacific Gray Whales, migrating past the shores. Tofino offers the best way to experience BC’s pristine wilderness first hand.

And it’s right on the coast so you will enjoy great seafood year round.  jeb




Seniors Look Into Chengdu

Chengdu is one of the most important economic, transportation, and communication centers in Western China. It’s big, even by Chinese standards. The urban area is home to 14,047,625 inhabitants. So why would seniors want to visit Chengdu? Chengdu was chosen as one of the top ten cities to invest in out of a total of 280 urban centers in China. In 2006, it was named China’s 4th-most livable city by China Daily newspaper and today is an important economic center. It’s very livable and inviting.

The Heavenly State Draws Senior Visitors

Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan Province, which is known as the “Heavenly State”. Located in the west of Sichuan Basin and in the center of Chengdu Plain, this area is the natural habitat of giant pandas. Sichuan Province is reputed as “Tian Fu Zhi Guo”, literally a place richly endowed with natural resources.

Sampling the famous Sichuan cuisine is a must for any visit to Chengdu. Enjoying the food as well as the culture, shopping and having tea at a teahouse afford senior visitors a deeper understanding of this cultural city. With it’s long history of over 2,300 years, Chengdu was proclaimed one of the 24 cultural and historical cities by the State Council.

Wikipedia is always a great resource for checking out any site in the world.  They note that Chengdu is one of the main air hubs in China and ranked 4th in passenger volume… senior travelers won’t be wanting for a flight into the city. Care for some helpful travel tips?  Go to Wikipedia for all the information you want, including the best shopping locations, Sichuan cumin, and all about the giant pandas.

Parks, museums, the breeding station for those giant pandas, gardens, zoos… they are all in Chengdu. A Chengdu Concise Guide to the city notes that the food ranks among the very best in the entire world.  Sweet dishes, sour dishes, hearty dishes, light dishes, sinful dishes and conscious dishes. You’d better exchanges your currency in Bank of China, or the hotel you stay in. Don’t trust any peddler in the street who provides you the service, they may give you counterfeit currency.

Spend a little time on my Best Chinese Websites, it will be helpful on your journey and enjoy your visit to Chengdu.  jeb




Seniors, What’s the Capital of Maryland?

Do you know your state capitals, senior citizens?  I used to be able to name them all. Guess it was from the civics class in school, but I can’t do that any more. A few continue to escape my mind, like New Hampshire, Connecticut and Maine. I imagine that it is because I’m originally from Iowa and that’s a long long ways from those eastern states. Couldn’t possibly be a memory issue, could it?

The US Naval Academy with a 4,000-strong brigade of midshipmen was founded in 1845. Today the population of Annapolis runs close to 40,000. The city boasts more 18th century buildings than anywhere else in the United States, including the homes of all four Maryland signers of the Declaration of Independence. Many of these buildings are located in a thriving downtown historic district with shops and restaurants, along the waterfront.

From its earliest days as a colonial capital city, Annapolis was known as the “Athens of America.” One could find a wealth of cultural activities, a glittering social season, gracious hospitality and intellectual stimulation. The small seaport brought visitors from around the world who shared the news of the day while enjoying the ambiance and exquisite tidewater cuisine of the local pubs.

Things This Senior Learned About Annapolis While Creating This Blog

Along with the many 18th-century houses, the names of several of the streets—King George’s, Prince George’s, Hanover, and Duke of Gloucester, etc.—date from colonial days. I knew of St. John’s from their fine basketball team but I did not know that it was in Annapolis, did you? The College was founded in 1696 as King William’s School, a preparatory school. It received a collegiate charter in 1784, making it one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the United States.

 Annapolis became the temporary capital of the US after the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783. The Maryland State House is the oldest in continuous legislative use in the United States and it was in that State House that George Washington famously resigned his commission before the Continental Congress on December 23, 1783.

Lots For Seniors To Do In Annapolis

 Annapolis offers a wide variety of activities that senior visitors will find attractive. It is home to incredible boat shows. The sports enthusiasts can attend football, baseball, lacrosse and all sorts of other sports year round at the USNA. Senior visitors can attend the annual Renaissance Festival or New Years Eve Celebration with hundreds of musical, theater, dance and comedy performances in and around the city.

Annapolis has a thriving community theater scene and is world-renown as America’s Sailing Capital. Senior visitors will find fresh seafood, including those wonderful blue crabs, in fine restaurants. offers a good visitors guide to the capital of Maryland.

 I think that senior citizens will really enjoy a visit to Annapolis. jeb




Lucca, Italy is Awaiting Senior Citizen Visit

Lucca is a city of around 90,000 happy folks up in Tuscany. Its long history goes back to Etruscan and Ancient Roman times, and the city retains pieces of Ancient architecture. Lucca’s great era was in the Gothic times just before the Renaissance. Lucca’s current defensive walls were designed by Leonardo Da Vinci and were never breached. Today senior visitors discover that it’s one of the richest cities in Italy, located about 50 kilometers west of Florence.

Things For Senior Visitors To See and Do in Lucca

TripAdvisor can load you up with landmarks, museums, outdoor fun, theater performances and so much more. Lucca is one of those ‘love at first sight’ cities with first-time senior visitors, with its rich history, handsome churches and excellent restaurants.

It’s most famous composer Giacomo Puccini lived here just north of the Piazza Cittadella in Casa di Puccini, the modest house where he was born in 1858. Puccini spent his childhood in Lucca and the city embraces him as a favorite native son. Many of the old churches now house art galleries. Not many cities in Tuscany still have a city wall around them. They were often dismantled to create more space for pedestrians and make other expansions possible. In Lucca, the 4 kilometer long city wall still stands.

A “Must” On Any Tuscan Adventure

Lucca is one of those Tuscan towns senior travelers don’t want to miss when traveling to Italy. The city is located on a plain at the foot of the Apuan Alps and is a half an hour from the Tuscan coast. It isn’t a hilltop village so it is ideal for anyone with mobility issues as well as for anyone wishing to take a break from climbing Tuscan hills. Incidentally Lucca is a biking capital of the region so if you enjoy riding, plan on renting a bike and tour the awesome Tuscan countryside as my niece did with a few of her friends.

City of 100 Churches

This Italy Guides is a Virtual Lucca personified. Senior travelers will get a close up view of the Piazza Anfiteatro, the Guinigi Tower, the house of Giacomo Puccini, San Michele in Foro, Lucca Cathedral and the Santi Giovanni e Reparata church. Each of these Lucca sites are loaded with history and this Interactive Map of Lucca invites visitors to view the city street by street.

Visit Lucca by during the summer months when the area is regularly dotted with Puccini festivals and operas hosting a variety of young opera singers from across Europe and North America. Try Bagni di Lucca’s spa that is considered to be “an oasis of peace and serenity.”

Lucca has 4 beautiful squares and wow, get this, 100 churches in and around Lucca’s historic center. Lucca makes a nice base for visiting Pisa and the Tuscany coast. You’ll thoroughly enjoy your visit to Lucca.  jeb




Yea Harvard!

Yes, yours truly had the good fortune of spending a summer at Harvard for a French film workshop.  It was a great experience with Dr. Laurence Wylie, my hero. This senior majored in French (and Biology) at Cornell College in Iowa and it was there that I first read Dr. Wylie’s books on Provence.  There can be only one Harvard University, so let’s explore the school located in Cambridge in more detail.

Harvard today has over 2,100 faculty members and more than 10,000 academic appointments in affiliated teaching hospitals. Senior readers will discover that there are approximately 21,000 students, including undergraduate, graduate and professional students.   Currently there are 44 nobel laureates and former faculty members with around 300,000 living alumni who contribute to make the present endowment  just over…get this…$32 billion.

Harvard’s motto is “Veritas” (Latin for “truth”). I had a study carrel in the Harvard Library that houses over 17 million volumes. It was easy to get lost in the stacks. I recall well whenever I entered the library I saw an original Gutenberg Bible in the main lobby. It was an awesome artifact housed under glass.

 Harvard offers many scholarships for an average of around $11,000+ per student. Originally patterned after the Colleges at Oxford and Cambridge, the house system reflects the founders’ goals of a true residential college, a “collegiate way of living.” YouTube has a short overview of Harvard that highlights many stats that make the school unique.

The Name Harvard

Harvard is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States, established in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It was named after the College’s first benefactor, the young minister John Harvard of Charlestown, who upon his death in 1638 left his library and half his estate to the institution.

Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) is dedicated to delivering an unparalleled student experience, redefining liberal arts education for the 21st century, and is committed to making a Harvard education accessible to students from all backgrounds.

The campus includes Harvard Yard right in the middle.  Most of the students in our group had a room on campus, but since my wife and two daughters with me, we found our own housing: a couple who wanted a house sitter for the summer in South Weymouth a suburb of Boston.

Seniors Investigate Wikipedia

Seniors will discover that 8 US presidents that include FDR and JFK are Harvard grads. Other notable alumni include Henry David Thoreau, Helen Keller, Yo-Yo Ma, Al Gore and Tommy Lee Jones. Senior historians can bone up on Harvard history and statistics via Wikipedia.

Harvard ranks third behind MIT and Cambridge in England as being the very best.  If you are ever in Cambridge or close to Boston,  drop by Harvard Yard and wander through the campus. It’s one of kind.

Thanks for joining me with a cup of coffee this morning:)  jeb




Seniors Head East to Nova Scotia

Eastern Canada is loaded with exciting places for seniors to visit.  While I personally have not visited Québec City nor Montréal, they are both on my “bucket” list.  Going further to the east coast however, is the focus of this blog and is on my wife’s bucket list. Way way up the coast and way way to the east is where we’re headed today.

Champlain named Nova Scotia “Acadie” and claimed it for France in 1604. French settlers were exiled to Louisiana by the British in the 1750s and their descendants are known as Cajuns.

For a population just under a million Nova Scotia is remarkably diverse, Mi’kmaq, Scottish descendants, black Nova Scotians, French Acadians, Annapolis Valley farmers, Cape Bretoners and Haligonians all form distinct groups with their own unique quirks, culture and language.

Nova Scotia, one of Canada’s three maritime provinces, is the most populous province along the Atlantic and is the second smallest province. The provincial capital is Halifax. I recall when I left Ohio State I had two married friends who took jobs at the University of Halifax. I had no idea where that was. They fell totally in love with the environment.

Halifax is the kind of town that people flock to, not so much for the opportunities, but for the quality of life it has to offer. Sea breezes off the harbor keep the air clean and parks and trees nestle between heritage buildings, cosmopolitan eateries and arty shops. Several universities keep the population young and the bars and nightclubs full.

Nova Scotia museums and historic sites offer a glimpse into the country’s cultural and geological history.  From the historic Fortress Louisbourg in Cape Breton to the Joggins Fossil Center (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), there is plenty for senior visitors to experience throughout Nova Scotia.

Senior Visitors Meet Friendly People in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia is one of the friendliest places on earth with more than 550 festivals and events celebrating tartans, harmonicas, ukuleles, and blueberries along with traditional powwows and saber-tossing men in kilts.

Renowned events include DRUM! – a spectacular production celebrating the rhythms of the founding cultures and the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo, the world’s largest annual indoor show. Nota bene: this show has nothing to do with skin tattoos. The Tattoo strikes a unique balance, featuring pipes & drums, military and civilian bands, historic re-enactments, dancers, acrobats, choirs, military displays and competitions, drama and comedy in a fast-paced, two and half hour, family show.

One can not leave without viewing the Bay of Fundy with its world famous high tides that can rise 5-8 feet in only one hour,  one of the highest vertical tidal ranges in the world.  I think that you will enjoy exploring every area of Nova Scotia. jeb




South West Montana Draws Seniors

Big Sky Country is a draw wherever seniors go, but in South West Montana the folks “humbly claim” to hold the best of what Montana is all about.  The Official South West Montana Website is all about giving folks continually updated Montana travel opportunities that turn Montana vacations into experiences you’ll never forget. It’s all there just waiting for senior visitors’ exploration.

I was in Montana years ago, recruiting for a boarding school where I taught in Minnesota. As I was coming over a hill, there stood an antelope right in the middle of the road. I had to slam on my brakes so that he did not become grill decoration. They seem to roam freely all over the state. In South West Montana senior travelers will find wildlife galore… elk, black bears, moose, golden eagles and it you are really observant, a grey wolf from time to time.

Helena is the state capital and Butte is not too far south of that city. Helena was the center of wealth during the state’s mining heyday. At one time Helena boasted more millionaires per capita than any other city in the entire country.  The state capital building in a neoclassical style reflects the American Renaissance of the late 19th century. What’s particularly cool about the building is the dome that features Montana copper…makes the capital quite unique.

Helena, nestled at the foothills of the Montana Rockies, with a population of nearly 70,000, is the epitome of diverse culture, hosting folks dressed in jeans and those in business suits walking side by side through the busy downtown streets. Its original residents were mainly of English, Scottish, Irish, and German descent.

Mining, Fishing and Irish Pasties Catch Seniors’ Attention

Butte is currently Montana’s fifth largest city and for generations was one of the largest cities west of the Mississippi. Known as the “richest hill on earth” back in 1900, that hill produced over two billion dollars worth of gold, silver, copper and zinc and is literally honeycombed with drifts (horizontal or subhorizontal development openings), winzes (underground mines) and stopes (backfilling with tailings) that extend beneath the city. There are over 3000 miles of workings and shafts reaching a depth of 4000 feet.

Butte was once the largest city between Chicago and Seattle, famous for the Berkley Pit, the largest Superfund site in the nation. Butte is known for the food of its Irish-influenced mining heritage. Pasties are a meat, potato and onion mix, surrounded by pastry dough, baked and smothered with brown gravy. You senior gourmands will enjoy the food experience in Butte.

Montana is well known as a fishing paradise, and some of the nation’s best streams are in the southwestern part of the state. Don’t be surprised to find that almost everybody in this part of the state is a catch-and-release fly angler.

I think you will enjoy the fascinating South West Montana.  jeb




Lavenham is “Extra”

There is a saying in French when something is high above everything else…they say “extra!” That’s Lavenham, England.  I have a cup in our cupboard with a photo of the renown church called St. Peter and St. Paul that daily takes me back to Lavenham.  I was in England as a tour group leader with a senior program called Scandinavian Seminar.  Our group was enjoying a tour called “France and England: Friends or Foes?” In touring parts of England where great battles took place, we passed through a  marvelous small village called Lavenham.  My senior friends and I were given time just to stroll among its tiny weaving streets and to “absorb the environment.”

The one most memorable part of Lavenham was the huge church in this tiny village. It looked like it didn’t belong there! It was so huge and yet there it was, towering over the village of 1,700 inhabitants. Today Lavenham is most noted for its 15th-century church, half-timbered medieval cottages and circular walk.

Lavenham is ‘England’s finest mediaeval village’ nestled in the heart of the Suffolk countryside. Offering a wealth of historical interest, delightful shops and galleries and a wide choice of places to eat and drink, my group of senior adventurers found it to be a great choice for a relaxing day in the countryside of Suffolk, England. Crammed into Lavenham’s center are over 300 exquisitely preserved buildings.

In the medieval period Lavenham was among the 20 wealthiest settlements in England. I recall as well the timber framed Guildhall overlooking the market square. A beautiful and historic building, it was built around 1529 by the Guild Hall of Corpus Christi, one of three medieval wool guilds in Lavenham. Inside is a small local museum, but in it’s “day” it was really a major site.

Take a Walk With Me, Seniors.

So take a walk with me through this village, called “the most complete medieval town in Britain”, a tribute to its fine collection of medieval and Tudor architecture.

The parish church of St Peter and St Paul is one of the last great Suffolk wool churches to be built before the Reformation. Construction began in 1486 and finished in 1525. Like other great Suffolk churches of the period, the village church was built by local merchants who made their fortunes in the woolen cloth industry. Its construction was funded from the wealth generated by the wool trade in the region and as such, and in common with many other churches in Suffolk, it is referred to as a ‘wool church’.

So when you are in England, senior travelers, cruising around the country, drop by Lavenham out in Suffolk County. Plan on spending an entire day here enjoying the many shops, winding streets and most of all that magnificent ‘wool church.’

Buy a cup with a photo of the church like I did and you will have lasting memories each time you have your morning coffee. jeb


Do You Speak Sonoma?

Good question.  For all the good folks who live in Sonoma County, they love where they are planted.  Senior visitors will find countless wineries, quaint towns, quality cafes, a hoard of art galleries and so much natural beauty. North of San Francisco 3/4 hr  and just to the west of Sacramento, Sonomads as they call themselves, are the folks who embrace the wanderlust of Sonoma Wine Country.

Corkscrews and Coasting

The Sonomads living among so many famous wineries and the long west coast of California, invite senior visitors to come and to learn their language.  It does not require a dictionary or any grammar rules, just a desire to explore those 370 wineries and miles and miles of Pacific coastline. If you are an “epicurious senior”, you will discover a host of fine restaurants, many of them new.

Taste a new varietal as you visit some of the fine wineries, and get outdoors. The largest area, the Russian River Valley, has 130 wineries, which do their thing with grapes grown on 10,000 acres.

The 1000 year old redwood forests and hiking trails invite outdoor-oriented senior visitors to enjoy the many sounds of nature. The 50 miles of coastline have a plethora of scenic viewpoints where senior travelers can observe whales basking in the azure waters.  Any way you slice Sonoma County you find 15 American Viticulture Areas (those are the appellations or wine regions) each with a unique terroir (ground condition) that features some of the best Zinfandels in the world.  The Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs rate right up there and  you will even discover a fine Malbec that is a new favorite. They like to use the term “Forkscrews” as while the wine is excellent, the food is a delight as well. That term actually is used as a multipurpose utensil facilitating wine and food pairings.

The “Official Sonoma County” URL has it all put together for you with links for Things to Do, Food and Wine, Lodging, Maps and Planning, Travel Tips and Special Deals just for you.  The county boasts a world-class arts scene along with music, theater, dance, film, literature and many visual arts. You can plan your visit around a series of festivals and events if that is your interest.

That Coastline Draws Senior Travelers

The 50 mile coastline of northern California Sonoma County makes for a stunning drive as you pass through state and regional parks. The Coast is rugged, dramatic and highly scenic. And those grey whales! They claim that there are pods of over 20,000 that migrate along the coast from the Arctic Circle to the Gulf of Cortez.

Bodega Head seems to be a favorite spot for a great whale watch. The coast is cool and the weather is always moderate. You’ll find a host of fine resorts in picturesque settings all along the Pacific. Enjoy Sonoma County and America’s premier wine country. jeb



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