The Travel Professor
Join me on a journey across the broad spectrum of interesting travel topics. We’ll discuss destinations domestic and abroad, some familiar and some off the beaten path. We take a look at suppliers like cruise lines, air carriers and tour operators and find their bargains and special offerings. Got questions? Email

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Labor Day weekend one tank getaway

AAA says fewer Americans will travel over the Labor Day weekend than did a year ago because of the weak economy and higher airfares.

The auto club predicted Wednesday that 31.5 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home between Thursday, Sept. 1, and the holiday on Monday, Sept. 5, a decrease of 2.4 percent.

Most will travel by vehicle, but 8 percent will fly. AAA said air travel will decline because fares are 13 percent higher than a year ago. Airlines raised prices early this year to offset jet fuel costs and have held prices steady even as fuel has fallen since April.

If you are one of these place bound travelers here are some touring opportunities in your backyard. I considered these some of the “hidden gems” of the river cities. Get out locally, spend some time and money and support the economy!

You can head about 30 or 40 miles downriver to Portsmouth OH for a day of art, culture and casual dining. My tour stops include the Southern Ohio Museum, a drive by the floodwall murals then refreshments at the Portsmouth Brewing Company.

The Southern Ohio Museum, located in the heart of downtown Portsmouth, has served as a center for cultural opportunities of all kinds since 1979 when it first opened in renovated headquarters donated by the city's largest bank. The 1917 Beaux Arts building, austerely handsome on its limestone exterior and classically uplifting in the colonnaded interior where ornate grids of ceiling friezes embellish the second floor galleries overlooking the soaring space of the main floor gallery below.

Today it features the “Art of the Ancients: The Ohio Valley” where the Southern Ohio Museum's new permanent collection of 10,000 Native American Artifacts from 1,500 to 8,000 years old are displayed. Starting more than 3,000 years ago and lasting about 1,500 years, these ancient cultures proposed throughout southern Ohio and northern Kentucky, settling primarily along the streams and rivers feeding the Ohio River. While many details about the Adena and Hopewell people remain unknown, articles crafted from stone, bone, shell and other durable materials managed to survive to offer important clues about the lives of their creators.

An ongoing permanent exhibit displays the paintings in watercolors, oils and prints of Portsmouth's native son, Clarence Carter.

A short 3-5 minute drive takes you to the flood wall where murals depict the history of the city and region. After a leisurely stroll past the art work it’s time for lunch at the local brew pub. My plan is to demolish one of their wood fired brick oven pizzas and sample a craft brewski or two.

Heading back to our car we’ll stroll back through the Boneyfiddle district. This is an interesting shopping and entertainment area.

For more information contact the Portsmouth Scioto County Visitor's Bureau at



Thursday, August 25, 2011

Paris France is liberated by Allied troops

After more than 4 years of Nazi occupation, Paris was liberated on Aug. 25 1944 by the French 2nd Armored Division and the U.S. 4th Infantry Division.

German resistance was light, and General Dietrich von Choltitz, commander of the German garrison, defied an order by Adolf Hitler to blow up Paris' landmarks and burn the city to the ground before its liberation. His disobedience spared the “City of Light”!

Choltitz signed a formal surrender that afternoon, and on August 26, Free French General Charles de Gaulle led a joyous liberation march down the Champs d'Elysees.

Today Paris is a wonderful world class city with plenty of art, culture, shopping, dining, history and more.

Paris is a great locale to use as your base when you are out exploring the French countryside on day trips.

There is a wonderful excursion over to the D-Day beaches and the Normandy region.

“Viva la France!”

Contact your local travel agent and discover how you can plan a history oriented French vacation.

Monday, August 22, 2011

MLK Memorial set to open in DC today

Today tourists and Washingtonians will get their first up-close look at the memorial to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The site is having a soft opening this morning without fanfare to kick off a week of celebrations ahead of Sunday's official dedication.

The memorial sits on the National Mall near the Tidal Basin, between memorials honoring Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson. It includes a 30-foot-tall sculpture of King and a 450-foot-long granite wall inscribed with 14 quotations from the civil rights leader. The public will be allowed onto the site starting at 11 a.m.

Sunday's dedication ceremony will mark the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington and King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech. President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak at the dedication.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

America's Civil War in WVA!

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War. The harrowing battles raged for four years, pitting brother against brother at the cost of more than 600,000 lives. Out of the war, however, there rose a new state, and the only created as a direct result of the war – West Virginia!

There were events that shaped the birth of this state so why not experience some of them in person. West Virginia has plenty of Civil War history to explore first hand. The past comes alive during re-enactments where the real battles actually took place. Experience what you studied in history class by taking a walking or driving tour of Civil War sites. Or see an outdoor theater production that brings West Virginia’s story to the stage.

Two events that shaped the struggle in 1861 are the battles of Carnifex Ferry and Guyandotte. Guyandotte is a short drive to basically the east end of Huntington while the other is only a few hours away via I 64.

Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park is located on the rim of the Gauley River Canyon only minutes from Summersville Lake. An official Civil War Discovery Trail Carnifex Ferry is where on Sept. 10, 1861 the Confederates failed to regain control of the Kanawha Valley.

West Virginia's statehood proceeded without serious threat as a result. Near Summersville, W.Va the Battle of Carnifex Ferry is reenacted on the same ground as the original conflict. The event attracts hundreds of the country's best Civil War re-enactors from several states and has been heralded as one of the finest small reenactments in the eastern United States.

The two day reenactment event includes various living history demonstrations such as camp life, military drill, and a reenactment of the Federal assault on the center of the Confederate line. This year’s Civil War weekend is being held September 10-11, 2011.

Visitors to the park are encouraged to enter the camps and interact with the re-enactors prior to the battle reenactment. In fact, walking tours, led by one of the re-enactors, are given each day.

The 150th Anniversary of this battle offers various living history demonstrations depicting civil war military life. Weekend events will conclude with the reenactment of the battle at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday Sept 11.

Another local WV Civil War living history opportunity is right across the river in Guyandotte. Here on Nov. 10, 1861 about 1,200 Confederate cavalrymen attacked about 150 Union recruits here on a peaceful Sunday. In the confused street fighting, several Union recruits and Confederates were killed and wounded and the rest of the Federal recruits were captured. The next day a Federal steamboat with Union reinforcements arrived and threatened to burn the town. One survivor of this episode is the Madie Carroll House.

As legend goes, the Madie Carroll House arrived in Guyandotte by flatboat in 1810. James Gallaher, a river tradesman, had obtained the house in Gallipolis, Ohio and placed the house on lot number 34 in Guyandotte. Today the historic house serves as both a museum and cultural community center. It will be open during Civil War days and with advance arrangements you can tour the property.

The sights and sounds of the Civil War will return on November 4-6, 2011 marking the 22nd anniversary of Thunder in the Village.

Save these dates, plan ahead and get out discovering some of our country’s history and heritage.

I hope to see you there.