Friday, February 24, 2012

Who's your dream travel companion?

I got asked this little chestnut recently: who would you travel with, past or present, given the choice. I thought back to the past -- I once answered this with Crazy Horse -- but decided pretty much all historical figures smelled bad. So the choice was easy, as I wrote for Urban Meyer, the new Ohio State football coach. Here's why:
I’ve watched football all my life, and I’m not short of opinions on what teams need to do on third and fourth on their own 38-yard line with 4:51 to go in the third quarter. But I really know nothing about all those cute terms of formations and philosophies coaches talk about. And no one knows more than Urban.
Here's why I picked Germany with clarinets as the type of trip we'd take.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Paris in the '20s

Look at that. Paris' Cafe de la Paix in the '20s. Shot on silent 'travel reel' by American traveler named Burton Holmes. Apparently went on first Trans-Siberian, got first film of Japan. And coined the term 'travelogue.'

I wish people still wore hats.

Here's the video from Travel Film Archive:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine, Nebraska Day

What are residents of Valentine, Nebraska called? Valentines? I hope so.

Eleven years ago I was there in Valentine -- amidst a six-week Great Plains roadtrip. I really enjoyed much of western Nebraska. A look at Fort Robinson, where Crazy Horse was betrayed (you can stay in the barracks if you want). A solitary walk through the open plains panhandle's Toadstool Geologic State Park. A picnic with Wyoming views up top the massive, unreal Scott's Bluff National Monument. In the cow town of Valentine, I stayed the night. I looked at the Niobrara River, I bought a pair of Wranglers on Main Street that I still wear and I met two locals, local Valentines, who caught my attention.

Here's my diary excerpts from May 2001:
A 77-yr-old man runs the Valentine Motel on Hwy 20, just east of Main St. Nice car out front, I mentioned. ‘Yes sir,’ deep clear voice. "That was my wife’s first car. ’53 Ford. I told her not to sell it, when she did, I went back to the dealer and bought it." Lots of dolls in the lobby, and 1960s/70s Neb postcards for sale: four for a dollar."Oh that’s not even a bit of them. There's dolls all over the house. Some say this is more of a museum than a motel. The collection goes back 200 years." His family has been in Nebraska for 53 years. Answered promptly, as if he expected.
Then I went for supper.
Forty-something waitress at Jordan’s CafĂ© sat down at my table, coffeepot in hand, when I asked about canoeing the Niobrara. She’s never seen a snake out there, "but I can’t stand them. If I see a water snake that big (gestures about her full reach, about five-foot-five) I’m out of the water."
Happy Valentine's Day Valentine.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

According to, by the middle of the 18th century it was common for people to exchange small tokens of affection to celebrate Valentine's Day. This year one lucky person will be able to spoil his or her sweetheart for free!

Now through Noon on February 14, anyone 21 and older can register at to win the Iowa Wine and Dine giveaway. The prize package features $50 gift certificates from both the Iowa Wine and Beer Promotion Board and the Iowa Restaurant Association. Oh, and did we mention a new iPad2 to download the Iowa Wine and Beer and Dine Iowa apps?

The Iowa Wine and Beer app provides photos, information and directions to more than 100 Iowa wineries and breweries, while the Dine Iowa app makes it easy to find the perfect restaurant from more than 400 listings. (Both apps are available for both the Apple and Android markets.)

The winner will be announced a 2:14 p.m. on February 14.

And if you prefer to spoil yourself, that's fine, too.

Colleen Murphy, Iowa Wine and Beer Promotion Board