Travel Haiti for Spring Break

This weekend we attended the in Rosemont, Illinois. We talked to vendors from Senegal, Haiti, Mexico, Australia, Turkey and Panama about travel offering in their countries.

We especially liked learning about countries we are less familiar with. In January 2010, Port-au-Prince, Haiti was destroyed by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. Over a year later, the city is still battered and residents are living in tent cities. The media focus on destruction overlooks the undamaged areas of the country.

We talked with Gregory Jesus Luc from Spring Break in Haiti about their tours. Guided vacations available include the traditional “sun & fun” beach vacations, cultural excursions or humanitarian working vacations. Trips are customized based in the type of vacation desired.

Photos courtesy Spring Break in Haiti.

Haiti Beaches

Haiti Beaches

Haiti Horseback Riding On The Trail

Haiti Horseback Riding On The Trail

Spring Break in Haiti Poster

Spring Break in Haiti Poster


Lonely Planet: Dominican Republic and Haiti

Lonely Planet: Dominican Republic and Haiti

Globe Trekker: Cuba and Haiti

Globe Trekker: Cuba and Haiti

Grand Canyon National Park South Rim

The Grand Canyon South Rim weather can be cold and snowy during Autumn and Spring. Driving in from Phoenix, we arrived just as a snow storm ended. A fresh coat of white blanketed the slopes of the canyons as we entered the National Park Service gates of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

We stayed in the park at Yavapai Lodge operated by Xanterra. After lodging in other National Parks, we had low expectations for the hotel and rooms. We were delighted to find the rooms at Yavapai clean, bright and spacious. Our second surprise was the hotel cafeteria offered a variety of food at a reasonable cost.

There were many Japanese visitors at the park and signs were in English and Japanese. During our visit the lodge hosted sessions for a new batch of Japanese employees.

South Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

South Rim Grand Canyon Arizona. Photo credit @noelfwilliams

Our car remained parked at the hotel, and we utilized the free bus service within the park or went by foot. Our first morning at the park, we woke early and walked to the rim to watch the sunrise up over the canyon. The only noise was the fresh snow crunching under our feet as we watched the colors emerge from the rock walls. The scene changed continuously as the sun rose highlighted rocks and shadowed recesses.

Over the next few days, we viewed the Grand Canyon from a variety of scenic overlooks. The 6 billion years old canyon formed by the Colorado River is 277 miles long and 18 miles across at the widest section. In the distance, the pastel colors of the Painted Desert can been seen.

Click on the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?” from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Enjoy the music by Kyle E. Williams inspired by Ferde Grofe’s Grand Canyon Suite.

Beef Jerky Montana Style

Last year, Larry bought a kit at Cabellas for making his own beef jerky. He spent an afternoon making some pretty tasty jerky for our hikes out in Montana. We eagerly looked forward to a family reunion. Our son, Aaron, rented a newly built rustic cabin tucked away in the woods and surrounded by rivers, hiking trails and the Crazy mountain range beckoning us to adventure. The spacious Bennett Cabin outside of Clyde Park in Montana is a work of art. Its sturdy 80 year old logs are accented with green cedar shingles. It’s very reasonable to rent since it’s devoid of plumbing.

Aaron and his wife Lynelle climbed out of their van with our three energetic grandsons August, Jasper, Isaac and their chocolate lab, Gracie. Family fun would now begin. But it didn’t take long for Gracie to discover a strange substance she enjoyed chewing. She also rolled into some foul smelling pond and only a bath in the nearby stream could get rid of the stench.

We shared Larry’s delicious beef jerky with the family while hiking along the stream. But after a half hour or so we were stopped by fallen trees that were the result of a June tornado that swept through the area.

That evening, we came across the journal where visitors describe their time at the cabin. We were told to look for a fantastic view of the stars, a visiting owl and an occasional bear sighting. But what caught our attention the most was an entry from the previous week. It went something like this.

Entry 7/8. We were sitting around enjoying coffee and conversation when a very polite forest service man informed us that our serene time was coming to an end. A downed tree caused by a tornado killed a cow and now they, meaning the forest service, were going to have to deal with it. Yes, they were waiting for an expert to arrive from Bozeman who would help them with the situation as a resident bear had discovered the beast which made it unsafe for cabin residents like us.

More trucks began to arrive— some seven or eight of them donned with helmets and chain saws as they cut through the tree. They then covered our cabin windows with plywood and asked us to park the cars behind the cabin suggesting we take a hike. We went toward Target rock over fallen trees not knowing what to expect.

Soon an explosion ripped across the mountain—-an earth shattering and auditory resound of military impact. What we were hearing was the sound of an exploding cow. An exploding cow! It took a legend to blow up one single cow. There was enough gusto to take down a herd of cows. Any resident bears must have fled completely out of the Crazies for good——with need of therapy.

We went back to our cabin and were greeted by a considerate and good humored forest service employee informing us that the danger was now over. I felt it was my duty to walk to the gate where the deed was done to investigate. The dirt road was strewn with clumps of red meat the size of salmon servings and flies were swarming in mass. The smell was pre-historic. I was witness to something that looks simple, but is complex. Now little critters will nibble the bits. As for bears—the therapy continues.

Now we understood why Gracie was having such a feast. The mysterious substance was nothing other than—Montana beef jerky. Her last treat resembled a cow’s ear—Yuk! Coming from Illinois and chewing our own beef jerky, we knew we were witness to the aftershocks of an event done only Montana.

Larry and Sue Schuerr

Larry and Sue Schuerr Photo Courtesy Sue Schuerr


Empty Bowl Project Fundraising Soup for Charity

Austin, Texas knows how to soup it up. The Empty Bowl project brings together potters, artists, bakers, chefs and hungry residents to raise money for the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas.

“The Empty Bowl Project is potters donate bowls, restaurants donate soup and bread. Folks come out and buy a bowl for $15 and have it filled with soup which they enjoy while listening to live music,” said organizer Hester Weigand. “Everything we have out here is donated.”

When we arrived at 11AM, hundreds of people lined the grass outside the American Mexican Cultural Center. On this bright Austin day at the 14th annual Empty Bowl Project, the atmosphere was festive as the lines snakes through the grass field.

Potter Kelly Hill and her daughter demonstrated bowl making for an attentive crowd gathered around their pottery wheel.

Potter Kelly Hill Demostrates #EmptyBowl Project

Potter Kelly Hill Demonstrates at the Empty Bowl Project

Kids could not resist the photo op and jumped in and out of a huge soup pot complete with stirring paddles. Here is one cutie stirring up Trouble!

Kaleigh and Paige Muellner Cooking Up Trouble #EmptyBowl Project

Kaliegh and Paige Muellner Cooking Up Trouble at the Empty Bowl Project

We selected our bowls from hundreds of unique pieces of every size and color imaginable. After we paid for our bowl, our next stop was the cleaning table. Each bowl is washed, rinsed and dried assembly line fashion.

Bowls in all shapes, sizes and colors to choose from #EmptyBowl

Bowls in all shapes, sizes and colors to choose from

Next, it was time to fill our bowls. Four soups were available to choose from with different soups rotating in. I was glad to see vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options offered. We stopped at the bread baskets on the way to our tables. We dined outdoors at long community tables and listened to live music. After we ate, we washed our bowls at the washing station.

We admired the the silent auction artist and celebrity created bowls. Cindi Lauper, John Waters, Aaron Neville, Pat Metheny, Adam West, Dan Aykrod, Steve Martin, Dr. John, Chris Isaak and others.

Click on Hester’s picture below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?”

Hester told us, “The event is a fundraiser for the Capital Area Food Bank, specifically the Kids Cafe program which provides a hot evening meal and after school tutoring for kids who might not have a place to go after school. There are 34 of those locations around town and they serve over 2,000 kids a day.

Plans are under way for next year’s Empty Bowl project. For more information on volunteering or attending the event, visit the Empty Bowl Project online or follow them on Facebook. Find them on Twitter and use the hashtag #emptybowl.

Microsoft Retail Takes on Apple and Apple Store in Oak Brook

Microsoft opens their first Illinois retail store in Oak Brook, Illinois as they get ready to take on Apple and the popular Apple Stores. Microsoft invited us to tour the new store and share our thoughts with you.

The Microsoft Windows 7 logo is the only signage outside the store, just like Apple Stores use the Apple logo. Inside the store we were greeted by advisers in colorful t-shirts and lanyards. The store is laid out like an Apple store with tables covered with electronic gadgets you can try out. Our store tour guide, Evelyn Kong, explained the target audience is a young mom who is not tech savvy. Advisers are on hand to help you select the item best for your needs.

Microsoft Retail Store Oak Brook, Illinois

Microsoft Retail Store Oak Brook, Illinois

Around the perimeter of the store, large flat panel monitors show product demonstrations and interactive games. These screens added energy and life to the store. Computers of all sizes are arranged through out the middle of the room. One of the desktop solutions on display was connected to three monitors for the serious multi-tasker. Also available are laptops, netbooks, smart phones and Kindle readers to try for yourself.

A limited number of the most popular software titles are on the shelf. Over 900 additional titles are available through the in-store kiosk. Select the titles you are interested and pay for your purchase. The software is burned onto a branded CD, the label is printed and the disc is placed into a shrink wrapper case while you wait.

Shoppers can schedule a free 15 minute consultation with an Microsoft expert who can fix or diagnose your technology problem. Store staff can help you set up your new purchase and training sessions are available.

A home theater area showcased Xbox in the family gaming center setting. Microsoft has a solution for those who do not like the look of their Xbox or laptop clashing with their home or office colors. Bring your logo or a picture to the store and Microsoft can create a skin to cover your product. Put your company logo on your laptops for your sales team, brand music players you give customers or cover your Xbox to match your living room decor.

The kids in the store gravitated to Kinect game played on the 100+” touch screen television. Using wireless sensors, the kids rafted down a river using their bodies to control the movement of the raft. Companies and individuals can rent this big screen area at no charge for parties or classes.

This area with a large screen is available for free rentals. Have your company meeting or clients in for a session. Contact the store to make reservations and additional information.

Click on the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?”

Microsoft offer programs and networking session for business owners. Contact the store for more information.

Microsoft sponsored our visit. The Microsoft Retail store in located in Oakbrook Center. Follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

100 Oakbrook Center
Oak Brook, Illinois 60523-1838
(630) 573-0700

Mile High Ghost Town Jerome Arizona

This week, April M. Williams and the crew of “Where Are You Today?” go back in time to visit Jerome, Arizona. Once a thriving mining town, Jerome is now home to an artist’s colony nestled amongst the relics of days gone by.

On our trip from the Grand Canyon to Phoenix, we stopped by Jerome, Arizona. The mines closed long ago and the town was but a ghost town. For most areas in this predicament, the story would end here as the earth reclaimed the buildings crumbling down the hillsides it was built on.

Not in Jerome. Artists found this quite town near Sedona perfect for living and working. Small shops opened to showcase their works. When tourists driving through the winding turns on Route 89A pulled over to shop, cafes and restaurants opened catering to their needs. Soon visitors found bed and breakfasts sprouting out of newly renovated homes.

A local craftsman creates custom sundials and sells them in town. Did you know they will only be accurate if they are designed for the exact location they will be used?

We had lunch at the Mile High Grill & Inn. Arriving at midday, the restaurant was not crowded. We dined near a large window which lit up the large room. The staff was friendly and helpful.

Mile HIgh Grill Jerome AZ

I had a vegetarian sandwich called Greg’s Aria which was roasted red pepper, pesto, red pepper aioli, and mozzarella on ciabatta bread. I choose tater tots over french fries.

Wondering what else we found in Jerome? Click on the image below to see this episode of “Where Are You Today?”

Mile High Grill & Inn on Urbanspoon

Louis Sullivan Works Exhibit at Chicago Cultural Center

The Chicago Cultural Center current display of Louis Sullivan works is not to miss for anyone interested in architecture or history. Sullivan, an architect, was a leader in Chicago’s rebuilding post the Great Chicago Fire. With blocks of stores, factories and home decimated, he had a clean slate to design and build his modern works. Sullivan began using steel to create high-rise buildings as an inexpensive and versatile building material.

Many of the buildings highlighted are no longer standing including the Transportation Building from the Colombian Exposition and the White City era. The iron gates and photos are all that remain from Chicago Stock Exchange.

There are a few of his works still standing. I graduated twice in the ornate Sullivan designed Auditorium Theater now part of Chicago’s Roosevelt University. Over sized photos show the Theater Building crowded with tables. The former Carson, Pirie, Scott store on State Street with the decorative iron work is one of my Sullivan favorites.

In this exhibit, descriptive text combines with two story prints of the buildings designed by Louis Sullivan and large chunks of now torn down buildings. Walking through the installation, I felt as if I was strolling down the streets of Chicago during the early 1900’s.

Louis Sullivan Works Exhibit at Chicago Cultural Center

Louis Sullivan Works Exhibit at Chicago Cultural Center

Unlike most museums, the molded concrete and steel segments of once stately buildings are at hand and eye level for visitors to see and touch. Beyond the building remnants stand photos of the building where you can see the segments as they were.

If you visit Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery, stop by to see Louis Sullivan’s final resting place.

This free exhibit runs Jun 26, 2010 – Jan 2, 2011.

Chicago Cultural Center
78 E. Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60602

Visiting Hutto Texas Home of the Hippo

In this episode of “Where Are You Today?“, we are in Hutto, Texas. The Hutto Chamber of Commerce states the town grew from 630 residents in 1990 to over 20,000 current residents. Just outside Round Rock, Texas the home of Dell Computer is this friendly. small town known for hippos. It is the only school with a hippo for a mascot. Stop by to see “Henrietta” the hippo on East Street. While driving through town, you will see hippos in a rainbow of colors and different sizes in front of businesses and homes.

Henrietta Hippo and friends in Hutto, Texas

Henrietta Hippo and friends in Hutto, Texas

I spoke to Tom Britton, President of the Hutto area Chamber of Commerce. Listen in as he tells us the hippo legend. You can follow the Chamber on Twitter @huttochamber.

If you are in the area, stop by to say hello to Tom at the Hutto Area Chamber Of Commerce. They are located at 122 East St, Hutto, TX 78634. They have a pot of coffee and a warm smile waiting for you.

Where are you today? Click on the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?” as we visit Hutto, Texas.

Snowing in Chicago and Hutto Texas

More snow in Chicago. We just returned from Hutto and Padre Island, Texas where the temps were unseasonably cool. The snow storm due to hit Chicago just grazed the city and left three inches of heavy, wet snow for our arrival.

This morning, large flakes began falling. A pretty sight for sure. Pictures from Hutto, Texas show 2 inches of snow on the ground. We left town just in time.

Winterfest Lake Snow Scuplting in Geneva Wisconsin

Today we hopped across the state line for the 15th annual Lake Geneva, Wisconsin Winterfest. The event includes helicopter rides, ice fishing derby, food, drink and shopping at local merchants. On frozen Lake Geneva cars, ice fishermen, cars, ATVs and motorcycles, skaters, walkers and dogs intermixed. A few swans patrolled the only unfrozen section of the lake.

The big draw for us is the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Championships. This year 15 teams from across the country competed for the title. Earlier in the week I watched as they prepared the first snow mold. A 6 foot wide by 9 foot tall cylinder is packed with snow. Rumor has it that this snow is gathered from the Rockford Airport runway as they clear the path for airplanes. Once the cylinder is partially filled with snow, people stomp on the snow till it is packed solid. These steps are repeated until the cylinder is full. The sculptors use hand tools to create their artwork.

Take a look at a few of the statues and the scene at the festival. Check out the hog on the Harley motorcycle. Click on the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?”

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