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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Visiting the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum

Seneca-Iroquois National Museum - Salamanca New York
The Seneca-Iroquois National Museum is a historic museum located in Salamanca New York. When you visit this museum you'll learn all about the Seneca people (Hodinosonih people). You can experience Native culture, see contemporary and historic indigenous art and see a real 17th century Longhouse.

The museum is open year round with separate summer and winter hours. Admission is $7.00 per adult, $4.00 for elders and $3.00 for kids ages 7-17 years of age. If you're traveling in groups, they do offer special group rates and parking is free. You can visit their website for a complete operating schedule and a list of their special events. Cameras are basically NOT allowed inside.
Seneca-Iroquois National Museum

Right in front of the building you'll find a large river rock with five indentations in it, along with an information/educational plaque. This large mortar river stone came from the Allegheny River and they believe that the Seneca women used to use it when shucking down corn and grinding it. The New York State Transportation Department moved the mortar stone to it's present location in front of the museum.

When you enter the building you'll be standing in their gift ship where you'll pay your admission to enter the museum. We had a guided-tour and I have to admit, our tour guide was absolutely FANTASTIC at showing us all of the exhibits and explaining them to us. He was extremely knowledgeable and even gave us some background on his own Native ancestors and roots.
Seneca-Iroquois National Museum - Salamanca New York

The first exhibit we got to see was one with realistic animals that play an important part in Native culture and in naming all of the different clans. This is called "The Why Animals Exhibit". Example: Bear, Deer, Turtle, Heron, etc. I found this to be extremely interesting in how the clans are named, how important each animal is to the clan and within Native culture itself.
Seneca-Iroquois National Museum - LONGHOUSE

We then moved on to the LONGHOUSE which was really a site-to-see! The Seneca people used to live in these LONGHOUSES and you would have several family members living together. When a marriage occurred, the new spouse would move-in to the female's family house. In Native culture, the woman is the matriarch and held in high regard, very well-respected by the men.

The next area showed us some of the athletic games that they used to play and some are still played today. Lacrosse, Snow Snake (a stick game that is played in the snow, reminded me of snow bowling but instead of a bowling ball, they used finely-crafted sticks), and so forth. Our tour guide even gave us a demonstration on how the stick was held and launched in the snow and down the icy-snow track. These type's of games helped them to get physical exercise, to hone-in on their warrior skills and I believe, to help relieve stress.
Seneca-Iroquois National Museum - Salamanca New York

We then moved on to the "This is Where We Walked" exhibit which really gave us some good history facts on where they came from, how they lived over the past years and brings you up to the current place and time. One thing you won't read in history books (or in a LOT of history books) is how the United States government swindled a lot of land from them and did so under false pretenses. The native people lost their homes, land and lifestyle. It was really upsetting to me to learn of this past history and I'm glad that the government has taken some steps (but not enough) over the past few decades to correct some of this. A lot more needs to be done!
Seneca-Iroquois National Museum - Salamanca New York

As you walk through the museum it's very peaceful and quiet, at least it was on the day we visited and we were the ONLY guests there. We found it to be educational and relaxing. There are a ton of great exhibits for you to see, other than the one's that I've featured above. If you love Native American art, you'll find some gorgeous artwork featured in this museum that you've got to see!
Seneca-Iroquois National Museum - Salamanca New York

The Seneca-Iroquois National Museum is located on 814 Broad Street in Salamanca New York. You can reach the museum at (716) 945-1760 for more information. If you're looking for hotel accommodations, we recommend the Seneca Allegany Resort & Casino which is within walking distance of the museum.

Disclosure: We were given complimentary admission into the museum as part of a press/media tour. We were allowed to take just a few photographs to show our readers what the museum is like. However, they do NOT permit cameras/photographs inside. Our thoughts and opinions about our visit are 100% our own. Your's may differ. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Five Kid-Friendly Hikes Near Las Vegas​​

Five Kid-Friendly Hikes Near Las Vegas​​
All around Las Vegas lie areas of breathtaking natural beauty, offering families with young children the easy opportunity to explore unspoiled wilderness without traveling great distances. To compose this list, I tapped the memories of three experts: my children, who spent much of their childhoods hiking Southwestern trails with me. These came up as the five places they most enjoyed when they were small.

Badwater, Death Valley National Park, California. One of the most popular places in the park, this salt flat will have you walking on the lowest terrain in North America, 282 feet below sea level. It is easy walking on a flat surface, and in the cooler months can even be walked barefoot. A special treat: Imagine walking on snow, if the sun could warm that snow. Travel as far as you feel comfortable or until the terrain gets too bumpy to walk easily. The salt flat offers spectacular views of the 11,048 foot Telescope Peak to the west; this is one of the few places you can see such a disparity in elevation. Best done November-March.

Riverside Walk, Zion National Park, Utah. This paved and nearly level trail travels along the North Fork of the Virgin River, through a healthy riparian habitat of cottonwood, box elder, and velvet ash, surrounded by Zion’s signature red and orange sandstone walls. Wildlife commonly seen includes deer, wild turkeys and rock squirrels. Highlights include short unpaved spur trails, allowing access to the river where your party can play in the water, picnic, or just relax. After one mile going upstream, the trail ends at the Gateway to the Narrows, the literal jumping-off point where adventuresome hikers drop into the waterway and head upstream using the river as the trail, into the world-famous and spectacular Narrows of the Virgin River. Good year-round, except note that the trail can ice up in winter.

China Ranch Date Farm, Tecopa, California. This date farm is a rare and lush oasis in the middle of the desert near Death Valley National Park. Hike the trails through the date trees or follow the outer trails that leave from there. One good starter trail is the 200-foot Creek Trail, which takes you through a canopy of riparian foliage along a flowing creek—super for small children. Another good one is the Badlands Trail, about one and one-half mile roundtrip. Wrap your visit up by visiting the store, where you can sample the various kinds of dates and perhaps buy some of those you like the most. Nobody seems to leave (nor should they) without buying one of the famous date milkshakes, handmade on the spot.

Kelso Sand Dunes, Mojave National Preserve, California. No official trail here, just a great place for all ages to climb as much as 700 feet to the dunes’ peak. Look for animal tracks in the sand, and perhaps get sandy by rolling back down. These are “booming” or “singing” dunes, which means they make a peculiar noise when the moisture is just right. Only a few dunes in the world do this. Some think the sound resembles a distant airplane motor, while others compare it to a musical note. All kids—and adults, too—love it. Our family tradition is to always fly kites here.

Black Canyon National Water Trail, Lake Mead National Recreations Area, Nevada and Arizona. This is usually done as a full-day kayaking or canoe excursion, either guided or self-guided, embarking from the Nevada side of the Colorado River, just below Hoover Dam, and traveling almost 12 miles downstream to Willow Beach, Arizona. Parents will have to do most of the paddling, but there is a good downstream current with no white water. Foot trails beloved by children lead up the side canyons, some of them to hot springs, waterfalls, and sauna caves. There are several small beaches you will likely have to yourself, to stop and relax, have lunch, and of course swim in the chilly, yet refreshing, clear water. Bighorn sheep and bald eagles share the habitat with plenty of waterfowl. For this trip, even if you have your own watercraft, you will need to sign up with an authorized outfitter through the National Park Service, for transportation through the dam’s security zone down to the launching area. Sundays and Mondays offer the most enchanting solitude and silence, as on those days no motorized boats are allowed north of Willow Beach.

When hiking with children, always carry extra water, jackets and snacks. Keep the distances short and brush up on your geologic and animal information so you can comment on what they see as they walk along. Family hikes can foster self-reliance and an appreciation for the natural wonders found just beyond the city lights.

Deborah Wall lives in Las Vegas and has spent her life enjoying all forms of outdoor sports including hiking, sailing, canyoneering, rappelling, kayaking and winter camping. Wall has been a columnist since 2005 for The View Newspapers in Las Vegas and has published over a hundred feature articles – which include her photographs – in numerous Southwestern books and publications. Her newest book, Base Camp Las Vegas: 101 Hikes in the Southwest, is available for pre-order on Amazon and will be released everywhere on August 8, 2017. To learn more about Wall, visit Imbrifex Books and

Friday, May 19, 2017

El Costeno Mexican Restaurant in Gettysburg

El Costeno Mexican Restaurant Gettysburg Pennsylvania
We few months ago we took a trip to Gettysburg to tour the battlefield and to visit all of the Gettysburg Civil War Attractions. When you plan a trip to Gettysburg, you always want to plan to stay several days, so that you can see and do everything this area has to offer, which is a lot!

When you visit the city, you'll find all kinds of different places to eat...from fast food to upscale dining. There are numerous pubs, restaurants, pizza parlors, diners, cafes and eateries to tempt your taste buds. There is Italian food, American cuisine and even Mexican food for your to enjoy. I grew up eating Mexican food, so when we travel...I like to seek out Mexican cuisine for us to enjoy.

Let me introduce you to El Costeno Mexican Restaurant which is a tiny casual restaurant right down the street from Lincoln Square (the roundabout) in the business district in Gettysburg. This restaurant is open year-round for dining-in or carry-out. On the day that we visited, we got carry-out since we were heading back to our hotel room.
El Costeno Mexican Restaurant Gettysburg Pennsylvania

When visiting El Costeno you can choose to sit out on their old brick and stone patio area to enjoy your food or eat inside. Of course, dining outside will depend on the weather and the time of the year. We were there in the early Fall and it was a 90+ degree day, but since they have a lot of shade, some patrons opted to dine outside.

The restaurant offers your classic Mexican fare. You'll find burritos, nachos, fajitas, chalupa, enchiladas, gorditas, quesadillas, tacos and more! In addition, you'll find your favorite Mexican dishes served with your favorite sides like guacamole, salsa, sour cream, etc. Everything is made-to-order, so you will have to wait for your food to be made. (We waited 20 minutes).

My husband ordered a chicken fajitas and I ordered a chicken quesadilla. With both shared a side of nachos that were smothered in chicken, cheese, guacamole, peppers and other goodies. The portions that you receive are large...we had leftovers which we reheated later that day and enjoyed it as another meal. Everything was hot, flavorful and delicious!
El Costeno Mexican Restaurant Gettysburg Pennsylvania

Normally I don't call out a restaurant by name and write a single blog post about one particular place, but today...I'm totally giving El Costeno Mexican Restaurant a shout-out on our travel blog. We enjoyed THE BEST Mexican food that we have had in YEARS at this place! Not only is their food delicious, it's really reasonably priced!

If your heading to Gettysburg and in the mood for Mexican, we highly recommend this place! You'll find El Costeno Mexican Restaurant located at 39 York Street in Gettysburg Pennsylvania. You can call ahead to place your orders 717-339-0029. We will definitely be dining here again!