Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Whimsical Wednesday: A Haunting Fascination

Over the past couple of weeks, it seems that I've been obsessed with haunted places. It all started two weekends ago, when Dan and I decided to visit our friends Warren and Missy near Flint, Michigan. While down there, the four of us dined at the supposedly haunted Historic Holly Hotel. Although we didn't experience any paranormal activity that night, it led me to think about all the other allegedly haunted locales in the United States, from San Diego's Whaley House to Miami's Biltmore Hotel.

Despite being a hopeful skeptic who's never witnessed any otherworldly entities, I was intrigued enough to write a travel blog series about the 10 most haunted cities in America, including such atmospheric places as Key West, Chicago, Savannah, and New Orleans. If you have a chance, take a look at my list – and let me know if I've missed a town or two. And, of course, feel free to share any spectral encounters of your own.

Unfortunately, given my lack of real-life ghost stories, I can only contribute to fictional ones, like the one we're currently unraveling at Come In Character. Of course, if you're interested, you're welcome to join in the spooky fun!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tuesday Travels: Riverboat Respite

While working on the third edition of Moon New Orleans, I've made sure to include an entry about the Steamboat Natchez, one of my favorite diversions in the Big Easy. Launched by the New Orleans Steamboat Company in 1975, the current Natchez is actually the ninth steam-powered sternwheeler to bear the famous name. Equipped with steam engines that were crafted in 1925, this authentic vessel was modeled after the Virginia and the Hudson, two sternwheelers of old. Today, this nostalgic riverboat – which leaves from the foot of Toulouse Street in the French Quarter – offers daytime harbor excursions and dinnertime jazz cruises on the Mississippi River all year round. During the daytime trips, you can visit the steam engine room, listen to live narration about the history of the port, opt for a Creole lunch, and enjoy a concert of the on-board, 32-note steam calliope (which I can often hear from my French Quarter apartment), while the nighttime cruises feature buffet-style dining, live jazz by the Dukes of Dixieland, and gorgeous views of the city.

Reflecting on the cool breezes that I've often enjoyed while riding the Natchez riverboat, I couldn't help but promote it and the nearby Creole Queen (also docked along the Crescent City's riverfront) on my American Nomad travel blog. Still fixated on the cool breezes – especially given how warm this summer has been in northern Michigan – I decided to explore other sternwheelers around the country, from the Pride of the Susquehanna in the Northeast and the Minneapolis Queen in the Midwest to the Colorado King in the West and the Belle of Louisville in the South.

So, do you enjoy taking riverboat trips? If so, do you have a favorite?