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One of my favorite things about fall is our area’s multitude of fall festivals. Last year, we added a new one to our list, which was amazing! The Japanese Fall Festival at Springfield, Missouri’s, Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden is an annual event that occurs roughly the same time of year as some traditional festivals in Japan; the festival is held the second weekend of Septemeber. For the past 27 years, Springfield has honored its sister city in Japan–Isesaki. The festival includes authentic cultural experiences, shopping, shows, and food.  Kristin has an interest in Manga and Japanese Vocaloid performances, so this festival was especially exciting for her. We couldn’t wait to arrive and see what the Japanese Fall Festival in Springfield was all about. Arriving at the Japanese Fall Festival When we arrived at the festival, we quickly discovered that the area is home to a lot of possible areas to…

We’d like to thank Historic Tours of Boston for sponsoring our visit to the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. As always, all opinions are honest and our own. If you’ve followed our blog for any time at all, you’d know that we love learning more about history as we travel the United States. Our trip to Boston was no different. Every corner of the city seems to be a location of historic significance. When we discovered there was an interactive museum that focused on the Boston Tea Party, we couldn’t wait to go! We didn’t know what to expect, but it turns out, the whole experience was a lot of fun. Everyone who visits the museum becomes part of the story, and the museum turned out to be a highlight of our family’s visit to Boston. Arriving at the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum Our stop in Boston…

If you’re in the Nashville area, be sure to make a stop at Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage. This home of the seventh president of the United States is a great way to get a glimpse of life in the early 1800s. While Andrew Jackson’s legacy is complicated, I always want to learn more and teach my kids about American history. Make no mistake, Jackson’s views on Black people and American Indians are absolutely abhorrent. My heart breaks when we visit plantations where enslaved people worked and lived. I’m sick to my stomach when learning more about the atrocities committed against American Indians, including Jackson’s removal policies and the Trail of Tears.  But somehow, avoiding the history of what happened doesn’t seem right. We have to learn from the past to move forward. Pretending it didn’t happen or “wasn’t that bad” is not an option. So, we visit historical sites and learn…

If you’re driving Route 66 and find yourself in Miami, Oklahoma, be sure to stop at Waylan’s Ku-Ku Burger. This iconic drive-in hamburger joint opened in 1965, and it wasn’t long before more restaurants sprang up across the Midwest. Today, only one restaurant remains. The current owner purchased the restaurant in 1973, and he continues to make sure that his customers can come by for a hamburger or a sweet treat. One cloudy day during spring break, Kristin and I decided to make a drive over to Miami to give it a shot. Joplin is only about a half hour away from Miami, but we’d never been.  Incidentally. we only live about two blocks off Route 66 in Joplin. It was time to check out some local history and taste some yummy treats. Initially, I was bummed that our Ku-Ku day was a tad dreary, but really, it made the…

This may seem crazy, but on one of our longer road trips, we decided to drive the entire Oregon coast, all in one day. On this road trip, we arrived at the northern tip of the Oregon coast in Astoria the previous afternoon. We had a great time exploring The Goonies sites from the film that afternoon before calling it a night at a Hampton Inn on the water. To read about that adventure, click here. The next morning, we checked out of the hotel and hit the road. Our goal was to drive the coastline of Oregon and spend the night in a camping cabin at a KOA in Crescent City, California. By that evening, we were able to say, “Mission accomplished.” The Adventure Begins… After we checked out of our Hampton Inn in Astoria, we hit the road. We had one more Goonies destination to see to round…

Yosemite Valley Lodge turned out to be the perfect place to relax on our trip. When planning our trip to Yosemite National Park, one of the first things we narrowed down was lodging. Since national park lodging can fill up early, it’s best to plan your trip a year out or more. And though I would’ve loved to stay at the flagship lodge, The Awahnee, it’s a little pricy. Since we were on a three-week road trip, we chose a more economical choice this time–Yosemite Valley Lodge. On this road trip, we’d already had several adventures that included four national parks–Grand Canyon, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Death Valley. We’d also been to some great cities (and towns) in California–Lone Pine, Monterey, and San Francisco. Even after all those experiences, we still were awed by the sheer beauty of Yosemite. It’s like no other place we’ve seen. Arriving at Yosemite Valley…

Before we began planning a road trip that included a few days in Seattle, I’d never heard of San Juan Island. When I discussed our travel plans at work, a coworker suggested we add San Juan Island to our trip because her sister loved it so much. Well, my coworker’s sister was right! San Juan Island is an adorable place to visit with historic sites, whale-watching opportunities, and beautiful overlooks of the sea. Getting to San Juan Island From Seattle Since we didn’t initially plan to visit San Juan Island, we could only set aside one day for the side trip. To get to the island, you have to take a ferry or a plane.  We opted to go with the more popular and cost-effective option–taking the ferry from Anacortes. Since we’d never driven our car onto a ferry, this turned out to be an adventure unto itself. Anacortes, Washington,…

Monument Valley is just one of those places everyone should see at least once. The landscape is breathtaking, and when you’re at Monument Valley, it feels like you are in a completely different world. Located within the Navajo Nation in Utah, Monument Valley is a sacred place to the Navajo, or Dine, their name for “the people.” Jeff, Kristin, and I are so grateful to experience a moment in this special place. Our visit is one that we will never forget. It’s no wonder that so many great Westerns and other films were made here. The land, for the most part, looks the same as it has for centuries; it’s absolutely stunning. It’s also wonderful that the Navajo continue to welcome visitors to Monument Vally, and that there is a pretty unique place to stay with breathtaking views. The View Hotel is the perfect place to stay for a night…

One spring day, my friend and I decided to make a day trip to Kansas City. Our two goals–The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and some delicious Kansas City barbecue. We set out in the morning from Joplin, Missouri, and we arrived in KC right in time for lunch. I’d never tried Gates Bar-B-Q, and my friend was game. It was on. Gates has several locations in the Kansas City metro area. I’d never seen the 18th and Vine Jazz District, so we punched the location nearest to that area into Google Maps. We walked around the historic area, vowing to return when we could really explore and visit the jazz museum.  In the meantime, the murals were lovely. Street art is such a cool addition to any city. After walking around the area, we were ready to eat. After a short drive, we arrived at the Brooklyn Avenue location. History…

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