Tag Archives: From Our Readers

Summer’s Pretty Much Over, So Why Not Another Road Trip?

Fall is Perfect for the Open Roads

Summer may be over, but that’s no excuse to not travel! If you’re looking for that last hurrah, look no further than this article about truly offbeat places by our Guest Contributor, Sally Perkins.

A big thank you to Sally, who has written for us before. We’re thrilled to have her back in this installment about unexplored places in America’s Midwest, West Coast, and the South. Sally is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family, and traveling as much as possible.

Spice Up Your Road Trip with These Unique Ideas

By Sally Perkins



There is nothing more appealing than setting out on the wide-open road with your friends for the road trip of your dreams. But wouldn’t it be even more fun to take a road trip that only you and your friends have witnessed? By setting out on any of these unique road trip ideas, you can guarantee that your trip is unconventional and full of irreplaceable memories that you’ll never forget.

Unconventional Road Tripping Maps 

We’ve all heard of the great American road trips on Route 66 or visiting any of the popular national parks, like Yellowstone National Park or the Grand Canyon. Make your road trip interesting by choosing to take a route that is, as they say, off the beaten path. Oftentimes, the best road trips are the ones that take place spontaneously and in places you wouldn’t normally view as exciting. Try driving across your own home state for a change! Here’s some examples…

Ohio: Ohio is the classic flyover state. Though it gets mentioned in television and films a lot, it is actually home to many strange attractions to spice up your road trip fun. Starting in the northeast corner, in Geneva, you can stop for a game of miniature golf at the oldest mini-golf course in the U.S. You can then visit the many graveyards in the state where former U.S. presidents now rest, including James Garfield in Cleveland. You can also pay homage to the Rockefeller family. There are also a bunch of truly weird attractions, like the world’s largest loaf of bread in Urbana, and haunted places like the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, where the famous movie Shawshank Redemption was filmed.



Bay Area: If strange places in the Midwest don’t interest you, there’s also the beautiful West Coast. The San Francisco Bay Area is a great place to start. Driving in nearly any direction for a few hours will bring you to stunning sites of nature and wildlife. Heading north three hours, you’ll hit the Anderson Valley region. A little less conventional than Napa or Sonoma, this wine-tasting locale also includes an award-winning brewery, Anderson Valley Brewing Company, facilities for cheese making that you can tour, and state parks like Henry Woods

Southern Charm: A third idea for an unconventional road trip is to visit the vast south and hit the road. Though you may not know it, Texas is home to plenty of bizarre happenings, from alien-sightings to spaceship dwellings. Beginning in the northeast part of the state, you can visit the gravesite of a pilot from a UFO in Aurora, Texas. Hitting a few of these stops on your trip will definitely add to the fun and eccentricity of your road trip.

Prepping for your Road Trip 

It is a good thing to keep in mind that you should make sure your vehicle is ready for the ride before setting out. While you and your friends’ attitudes may be to get on the road as fast as possible and deal with the particulars later, checking your vehicle’s oil, mileage, and tire pressure are all wise safety checks to confirm before driving long distances. Taking the proper steps to cleaning your car will make the trip easier, as you will have a clean slate and a more fuel-efficient vehicle from the very start. 
 
Planning an unconventional road trip takes time and consideration, but your friends will certainly thank you once you are discovering parts of the wild that you may never have witnessed otherwise.

Castle for the Road, Anyone?

At Bishop Castle, Your Start to Summer Awaits

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We’d like to thank one of our readers, Kim, for sending us these photos and sharing her story. Kim visited Bishop Castle a couple weeks ago–an interesting way to start the summer. Thank you, Kim. 

You read that right. It’s a castle. In Colorado. About an hour drive southwest of Pueblo. We thought we’d seen it all at Carhenge, but this place definitely gives Carhenge a run for its money. And what is it about Colorado, anyway? We always find weird stuff there, like that one time when we found a dinosaur in Golden. At least he was friendly.

Anyway, back to Bishop Castle…

60 years ago, Jim Bishop had a vision, and that vision was to build, build, build. Then he built some more, then more…and then some more for good measure. He just kept going. Today the sprawling castle that bears his name reaches high into the sky with unmatched views. There’s even a ballroom. We’re also told there’s a dragon on top of the building.

Bishop Castle is a bold and action-packed workout of a tourist attraction, given the spiral staircase and all, so we advise comfortable close-toed shoes. We definitely look forward to seeing this for ourselves someday. 


We always enjoy hearing from our readers and welcome you to send us your travel stories through our Share Your Travels page. Your contributions help make UndiscoveredWanderings possible.

 

Bishop Castle official website

Island Hopping In Croatia

Have You Been to Paradise Yet?

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Why has Croatia become such a hot destination in recent years? Its Old World charm, friendly people, and unique buildings are a start. But its natural beauty–including beaches–is hard to find anywhere else. 

We’d like to thank one of our readers, Nicholas, for sending us his travel story (and photos) about Croatia, including and especially a place called Brač Island. Found off Croatia’s southern coast, Brač is beautiful. Don’t just take our word for it though; read Nicholas’s account below…



It’s well known that Croatia is a nautical haven with favorable winds and currents, which allow sailors to comfortably cruise through the Adriatic Sea. The islands and coastal towns are replete with sheltered harbors so that tourists may dock their boats and enjoy the local flavors of the Croatian cities.

Everyone who decides to go sailing in Croatia must make a stop at the island of Hvar to enjoy the sunshine and the lavender fields. Same goes for the island of Brač – which is better known as home to the horn-shaped beach of Zlatni Rat. Another popular sailing destination is Kornati National Park, a collection of islands, islets, and reefs surrounded by turquoise blue water and adorned with pristine flora.

Taking an Adriatic voyage is a perfect way to go island hopping (Croatia counts more than 1000 islands!) and experience the different facets of this colorful and welcoming country.



Thank you again, Nicholas, for sending this our way! We always like hearing from our readers. If you have a travel story you’d like to share with UndiscoveredWanderings for publication, please visit our Share Your Travels page to learn more. Reader contributions help make UndiscoveredWanderings possible.

 

 

A Sunken Ship Reborn

This Ship Has a Story to Tell

Click icon to view map. Detailed directions and parking instructions in Stockholm can be found here.

We would like to thank one of our readers, Melissa, for sending us photos of the Vasa from her recent trip to Sweden. We enjoy hearing from our readers, and welcome you to send us your travel stories through our Share Your Travels page. Your contributions help make UndiscoveredWanderings possible. We would also like to thank the Vasa Museum (Vasamuseet) of Stockholm for assisting UndiscoveredWanderings with this article.



The Vasa, a sunken ship raised from its watery grave centuries after it met its untimely demise, is one of the most popular attractions in Scandinavia, but virtually unknown in America. We certainly weren’t aware of it until we received this postcard from our friend, Melissa, addressed to UWanderings’s Founder/Editor:

Intrigued, We Set Out to Learn More
The year is 1628. The Vasa was a grand spectacle, complete with two decks of cannons, 10 sails, and beautiful artwork and carvings. The pride of the Swedish Navy; the might of Scandinavia. The ship was a force to be reckoned with. At least it would have been if it ever made it to sea. The ship, it turned out, was top-heavy and very much overloaded. There were plenty of warning signs to indicate design flaws during its construction 400 years ago—including the yet-to-be-completed ship’s dangerous rocking—but political pressure of the day demanded the biggest and most intimidating ship, so such concerns were overruled or simply ignored.

The Vasa at its current home, the Vasamuseet, still drying out.

On its maiden voyage, less than a mile out of dock in Stockholm Harbor, the Vasa keeled over and sank. It was a complete disaster that was keenly visible to the watchful public that day, plus a major diplomatic embarrassment. King Gustav II Adolf was not pleased, even though he approved the ship’s design in the first place. Investigations ensued, but no one officially took the blame once concluded. Perhaps the powers that be would rather have forgotten this whole failure altogether.

And so the Vasa sat, beneath the murky, cold Swedish waters for over three centuries, until a major salvage operation in 1961 brought the world’s attention to this relic of the past, reintroducing it to a brand new, welcoming public. The cold waters actually helped to preserve its hull, but its journey was far from over. Preserving the Vasa’s waterlogged wood required constant spraying of polyethylene glycol; otherwise the wood would quickly dry out and fall apart.

Archival footage of Vasa’s 1961 salvage operation, courtesy Vasamuseet YouTube channel.

Vasa was moved to its current home, the Vasa Museum (or Vasamuseet, in the original Swedish) in 1990, the story of which is an interesting read.  The Vasa is still under restoration since the polyethylene glycol continues to slowly dry, and will for many years to come. We hope to have the opportunity to visit the Vasa someday ourselves; it’s truly remarkable. Here’s a complete visual timeline of the Vasa’s journey. For more information on the other exhibitions at the Vasa Museum, click here.

Vasa Museum official website

The Chickens of Key West

They’re Everywhere

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Special thanks to Allen for sending these pictures along for us to share. We enjoy hearing from our readers, and welcome you to send your travel stories through our Share Your Travels page. Your contributions help make UndiscoveredWanderings possible.

We couldn’t have made this one up if we tried. Then again, we haven’t been to Key West, Florida yet. But who would guess that the place is overrun by rogue chickens?! OK, maybe it’s not that bad, but the local wildlife is definitely offbeat and very much apart of life in Key West. These wild birds roam the streets, hang out in trees, and make their daily rounds through alleyways and gardens, usually looking for–and receiving–handouts (personally, we don’t recommend feeding them). Guess the alarm clock industry isn’t much of a thing in Key West; there’s plenty of roosters who are happy to do the job.

And we thought runaway iguanas were bizarre and a “Florida thing”. Apparently they play with the chickens, too. So if you’re planning a trip to the Keys, be prepared to be welcomed by everyone and everything. They’re quite popular with tourists.

Life in Key West, we hear, is pretty relaxing. The local wildlife agrees.