Think lighthouses for next vacation


Door County, WI has some good lighthouses to tour on land and some seen just by boat. (J Jacobs photo)

Making lighthouse stops can be fun or daunting as a vacation theme. Best is to plan ahead because given the amount of shoreline on the Great Lakes in the United States and Canada, there are way too many lighthouse outposts in service and deactivated to fit into one trip.

For some idea of how many lighthouses abound in the region visit the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers’ Regional Map. Count the orange dots or click on them for their info. Yes they are numerous but those don’t tend to include lighthouses that have become landmarks and tour sites such as the Grosse Point (not in Michigan) Lighthouse in Evanston, IL and also available at Grosse Point Lighthouse.

Do notice the white dots on the map. They don’t have information. But the town listed will so go to Holland, MI to learn about its Big Red Lighthouse. it should be considered as a lighthouse road trip. Big Red is reportedly the state’s most photographed lighthouse.

In addition, although not  even as white dots on the GLLKA map, Door County, WI has fun lighthouses to visit as does Traverse City, MI

Don’t worry that it takes a number of years to drive by all the lighthouses, active and not on the Great Lakes.

BTW boating is easier but not all lighthouses in the Great Lakes region are on an existing Great Lake, really. Many lighthouses on the GLLKA map are on islands or inland or far out from the roads. They are or were supposed to steer or warn boaters of potential trouble or guide boaters towards safe harbors.  Also, not all lighthouses are visible by boat, others are not visitable by car.

So, if considering a road trip connected to some Great Lakes lighthouses consider your parameters. Maybe do one state. Michigan, with 3,288 miles of lake shore, claims to have more lighthouses than any other state at 130 so visit Lakeside Lights | Michigan.

Or consider staying just in the United States (not the Canadian side) and think about just one lake area such as Lake Superior’s Upper Peninsula.  

Or consider those that are reputedly haunted. See “Dark side of area lighthouses.” 

Or those that have been repurposed such as B ‘n’ Bs. Two are listed on the GLLKA map and more from across the country are on the United States Lighthouse Accommodations done by the US Lighthouse Society.

Now that you have some ideas to consider the next article will be an easy Midwest/Great Lakes lighthouse trip to Door County, WI.

Why visit Chicago this summer or fall

The 'Bean' in Millennium Park. (J Jacobs photo)
The ‘Bean’ in Millennium Park. (J Jacobs photo)

Music floats on summer breezes in southeastern Highland Park, a suburb in Lake County, IL north of Chicago and on the North Metra train line. That is where you will find Ravinia Festival, summer host of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and dozens of concerts from classical and folk to pop and jazz.

But if summer won’t work plan to go this fall when “Hamilton” returns in mid-September. See more schedule info at Chicago Theater and Arts.

Either way, summer and fall are good times to yell and gobble hotdogs and cheesy fries or nachos at Wrigley field for a Cubs game or at Guaranteed Rate Field for a White Sox game.

Chicago’s museums also are interesting destinations this year.

The Art Institute of Chicago is holding a blockbuster van Gogh exhibit. called “Van Gogh and the Avant Garde: The Modern Landscape,” it runs May 14 to September 4.  If you are driving, Route 66 actually starts on the south side of the museum but the sign for it faces the Art Institute across Michigan Avenue. AIC is at 111 S. Michigan Avenue.

With the recent change of England’s royal family, now is perfect to see “First Kings of Europe at the Field Museum. It’s 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive on the city’s Museum Campus with the Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium.

BTW, Lake Shore Drive is now called Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive to honor its first non-native settler.

Three must stops:

The Chicago Cultural Center, covering a Michigan Avenue block from Randolph to Washington Street, was once the city’s main library and called the “People’s Palace.” its marble staircase and mosaic walls at the Washington Street entrance and cultural information room at the Randolph Street entrance, plus art exhibits on almost every floor are all worth stopping time.

Millenium Park sits across Michigan Avenue from the Cultural Center. This is where you find the city’s famed Bean., also called Cloud Gate, the Pritzker Pavillion/lawn with Frank Gehry’s sculptural bandshell and the Crown Fountain of Jaume Plensa’s interactive, “spitting” water. There is also a stairway to an upper floor of the Art Institute’s Modern Wing.

The location of the Chicago Architecture Center on the Chicago River just south of Michigan Avenue is great for taking its famous river boat tour. but it is also a building to visit for a build-out of the Chicago Fire and the upstairs exhibits.

Tip: Don’t try to do everything in one or two days.

Jodie Jacobs






Early May sky show


Spring full moon (J Jacobs photo)
Spring full moon (J Jacobs photo)

May 5 is celebrated as a victorious battle day by Mexican communities in the United States. So if in Chicago find a couple of Cinco de Mayo restaurant deals at Dining Out Eating In.

But if wondering why there are “falling stars” overhead or why it’s so bright outside that night, check out the following information.  

The Flower Moon

If the sky isn’t particularly cloudy where you live than the evening will seem brighter than usual May 4-6, 2023. May’s full Moon has total illumination in the afternoon of May 5 at 1:36 p.m. EDT but will appear full in the evening of May 4-6. The clue to the name of the May full Moon surrounds us almost everywhere there is a plot of earth. 

 The Old Farmer’s Almanac has the time the moon will be rising above the horizon and setting where you live. 

As followers of Travel Smart know by now, the name of a month’s Moon (and yes, it often is referred to the whole month by the same name), often comes from Native American tribes, long ago European farmers and also religions and cultures that base some festivals on lunar events. 

Thus the May Moon is called the Planting Moon, Budding Moon, Milk Moon and Egg Laying Moon. For more name info visit  The Old Farmer’s Almanac and (


Meteor shower (Photo courtesy of NASA)
Meteor shower (Photo courtesy of NASA)


May 5-6 is also when to watch for the Eta Aquarids, a meteor shower that typically sends about 50 meteors an hour across the sky. Their parent is 1pHalley which produces two meteor showers during the year.

The May shower is named for a bright star in constellation Eta Aquarli and is the first meteor shower from Comet Halley debris.

Earth passes through Halley’s path around the Sun again in October when its debris is known as the Orionid meteor shower that peaks around October 20.



Solar eclipse info

Photo from Adler Planetarium Eclipse Exhibit 2017
Photo from Adler Planetarium Eclipse Exhibit 2017

Remember when about half dozen years ago there was a solar eclipse Aug. 21 in 2017 and places to stay near group watch locations filled fast?

NASA is already making plans on where to send experts for watch parties for the next solar eclipse. It’s less than a year, April 8, 2024.

If interested make plans to travel to Kerrville, TX, Indianapolis, IN and Cleveland, OH. NASA will set up group watching places with experts to talk about what is happening. And they are likely to have the special glasses and equipment needed to safely watch.

However, there will be an Annular Eclipse to watch this fall, Oct. 14, 2023. Although the sun will appear as a ring around the Moon, it still is dangerous to watch without precautionary measures.

The moon will appear small because its orbit has it near its farthest distance from Earth. But it will not be safe to watch this eclipse without good protection for the eyes because the Earth will not be blocking the Sun.

NASA will be broadcasting the Annular Eclipse from Kerrville, TX and Albuquerque, NM.

Visit NASA Solar Eclipse to see both the 2023 Annular and 2024 Full Eclipse paths.

The Lyrids are here


Meteor shower (Photo courtesy of NASA)
Meteor shower (Photo courtesy of NASA)


The prolific Lyrid Meteor Shower fills the skies with “falling stars” April 15 through April 29, 2023. But to really see them in action check the late night sky after the moon has set during their peak activity April 22-23.

However, the moon should not be a factor because it is between its new moon (dark) phase April 20 and First Quarter Moon (sliver) April 27.

The Lyrids typically produce about 18 meteors per hour traveling about 29 miles per second. On rare occasions they have produced a storm of meteorites shooting across the sky.

Lyrids’ arrival in Earth’s atmosphere is an annual sky event discovered by A.E. Thatcher in April, 1861. Thus, they are formally attributed as debris from Comet Thatcher (comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher).

To get a good idea of where they seem to originate visit Time and Date for its live-action photo centered on an area between the constellation Lyra (The Harp) with its bright Vega star, and its neighbor, constellation Hercules.

Best is to go out after midnight through pre-dawn when the star, Vega, is overhead. Be patient and allow your eyes to acclimate to the dark sky. You don’t have to look for the Lyrids’ radiant (origination point) because their trail appears longer further away.

If you have ever seen a sky show in a planetarium such as the Adler in Chicago, you know that stars and constellations rise and move from one direction in the sky to another.  So, you may look northeast early in the evening for Vega, then overhead as the night progresses and then more southwest at dawn. 

For more information visit Space and Earth Sky.

Travel to colleges and vacation destination


Even though spring vacation is mostly over travel how-to decisions still lie ahead.  It seems there is more than one way than the family car or name airlines to get to your destination.

Megabus has added more Midwest destinations. (Photo courtesy of Megabus)
Megabus has added more Midwest destinations. (Photo courtesy of Megabus)

Go by bus in the Midwest

There are now more options than the family car for students to get back and forth from campuses in the Midwest and for vacationers to visit some Midwest cities without worrying about construction hassles and rising gas prices.

As of April 3, 2023, Megabus now partners with Indian Trails to expand service between cities in Illinois such as Chicago and  Michigan, such as Ann Arbor, plus Wisconsin to include Milwaukee and Green Bay, and to Minneapolis in Minnesota.

“We are delighted to be expanding our service offerings once again in the Midwest,” said Megabus Vice President Colin Emberson. “This partnership will allow us to expand travel opportunities for customers in some existing cities in our network like Detroit and Chicago while also welcoming customers in a plethora of new cities.”

For more information, dates, rates and locations visit Megabus and Indian Trails


Go by Seaplane in the Northeast. Photo courtesy of Tailwind)
Go by Seaplane in the Northeast. Photo courtesy of Tailwind)

  Go by seaplane in the Northeast

Tailwind Air reopens for the season April 14, 2023 at Boston Harbor (IATA code: BNH) and Manhattan’s Skyport Seaplane Base on East 23rd Street (IATA code: NYS).

It also announced the launch of its newest seaplane route, Boston Harbor to Nantucket Airport (IATA code: ACK). The new Nantucket route, a popular summer destination will begin operations May 17.

The new daily service to Nantucket will take approximately 45 minutes from Boston Harbor. One- stop connections from Manhattan are also available.

Tailwind Air, which already includes such destinations as Provincetown and the Hamptons, plans to resume flights to Washington DC this fall. Visit their website at


National Parks are part of Amtrak destinations. (Photo courtesy of Amtrak)
National Parks are part of Amtrak destinations. (Photo courtesy of Amtrak)

Go by train in the U.S.

Amtrak has added several options to vacation travel including taking an Auto Train similar to a car ferry so you’ll have your car when you get there.

Or if going traveling long distance book a private room,  meals included.

Amtrak also has National Park routes as vacation destinations.

Check out Amtrak routes and schedules.


Our April Night lite

Full Pink Moon lights up April sky (J Jacobs photo)
Full Pink Moon lights up April sky (J Jacobs photo)

If it felt as if you left a light on all night Sunday April 2, it’s because our  April moon begins to look full even a couple of days ahead of April 5 when it is at full illumination at 11:34 p.m. DCT. It will also appear full a couple of days afterwards.

 To catch it for an early evening photo look east after sunset. If still up around midnight, look overhead.  A good reference is at EarthSky. Just remember we’re after the equinox so expect sunset later each day.

The April full moon’s nickname is Pink Moon for flowering blooms but it is also called Egg Moon, Paschal and Passover Moon and even the sprouting Grass Moon. For more names and information on full moons visit Space and Solarsystem NASA.

Related: Planet Parade plus Pink Moon.

However, April’s sky watch isn’t over. The Lyrids Meteor Shower is April 15 through April 29 so more on the Lyrids next week.

Planet Parade plus Pink Moon


Venus, Jupiter, Moon shine from Space station. (Photo taken by former Nasa astronaut Scott Kelly NASA photo)
Venus, Jupiter, Moon shine from Space station. (Photo taken by former Nasa astronaut Scott Kelly NASA photo)

Look up Tuesday night, March 27 (best night) and all this week for what appears to be a parade of five planets, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Mars and Uranus, plus the moon and star cluster M35. 

See them live on EarthSky. Or follow what NASA Astronomer Bill Cooke said, “Look at the western horizon right after sunset.”

OK, accept the challenge and find an unobstructed view of the western sky away from electric lights. The setting sun will still be a problem but give it a shot.

The first two planets to look for are Mercury and Jupiter but don’t wait. They set about half an hour after sunset. Jupiter will appear brighter than Mercury but both could be a problem because of the fading sunlight. Binoculars might help but you can see them without them . They will appear close together.

Then, look for Venus which always appears to be bright. When looking at Venus you might see Uranus as a pale green color dot to the upper left.

Find Mars. It ls not as visible as it was in November when closer to earth. However, look for the moon then check out the bright, yellowish orange dot at the upper left of the moon.

For the M35 star cluster look for its Geminit constellation.

For more information on this unusual parade visit Space.


Spring full moon (J Jacobs photo)
Spring full moon (J Jacobs photo)

 Next Full Moon

A week after the planet parade the Pink Moon will dominate the sky.

It will be full April 5-6, reaching full illumination at 12:37 a.m. ET April 6 but will appear full April 4-7. The best time to appreciate how large it will look is at it rises

The Old Farmer’s Almanac  talks about the color pink and other names. Pink is supposed to be for the color of wild flowers appearing in early April.

As the first full moon after the spring equinox (March 20), it is also called the Paschal Moon which sets the date for Easter, this year April 9. The April full moon is also called the Breaking Ice Moon, Budding Moon and Growing Moon.

For more information on when it will appear full in your area visit Time and Date.


March full moon


Full Moon (J Jacobs photo)
Full Moon (J Jacobs photg)

Assuming your weather is good, you will see a full moon on March 6 even before it reaches full illumination at 6:40 a.m. March 7. But it will appear full even on March 5 and March 8. It is popularly known as the Worm Moon.

What’s is the reasoning behind a full moon name?

Typically, full moons are named for animal behavior at that time of year or for crop seasons or temperature changes.  The Worm Moon is the last full moon of the 2023 winter season. 

By March the ground should be soft enough for some insects to make their way through the topsoil. That thinking had prompted some Native Americans, Europeans and agriculturists in other cultures to think of the emergences of worms. But there are other thoughts.

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, a Captain Jonathan Carver wrote in 1760 that after visiting the Naudowessies and other Native American tribes the March full moon is named the Worm Moon because beetle larvae begin to emerge from the bark of trees at that time of year.

Other Native American names refer to this full moon as the Eagle or Goose Moon, the Sugar Moon for the sap of sugar maples and the Wind Strong Moon, which get head nods from some regions of the U.S this year.

Religions also name full moons according to traditional rites. So, if the March full moon appears before the spring equinox, which in 2023 is March 20, it is known as the Lenten Moon. If after the spring equinox it would have been known as the Paschal Full Moon. 

If looking for “falling stars,” check back here for the Lyrids, mid April.



A tool for you


March full moon is the Worm Moon. (J Jacobs photo)
March full moon is the Worm Moon. (J Jacobs photo)

You probably know that today Feb. 21, is called Fat Tuesday and is when people like to eat foods they don’t during Lent. And, maybe you know that Mardi Gras translates as Fat Tuesday (Tuesday fat).

Or ask others if they knew that Friday, Feb. 24 is Yukon Heritage Day in Canada.

For other holiday info check out Holidays worldwide (

Did you notice the link took you to Time and Date?

I like the website because it does a good job of keeping info short and to the point regarding the moon, planets, meteor showers and space stuff and more.

Now for your tool.

The site also has a make-your-own calendar. For March go to Calendar/timeanddateIt has design options.

You can download and write in the next full moon date. It is called the Worm Moon. See more at moon Phases/Lunar calendar.

Of course with a site name that includes “time,” it also gives hours and minutes info around the world at The World Clock — Worldwide (

Have fun with timeanddate.