Travel virtually to Saint Augustine and Vegas

Photo is courtesy of Visit St. Augustine
Photo is courtesy of Visit St. Augustine

Sure there are countries I still hope to explore, but there are also so many places in the US I would love to revisit.

Two of them are Las Vegas, NV because it has become a foodie town but also because I haven’t visited the Neon Museum and similar attractions and St. Augustine, FL because its centuries-old history is so much a part of the town.

Neon Museum

Director/producer Tim Burton takes visitors on a fun, inciteful, virtual tours of the Neon Museum and Vegas. Follow along with him in six short videos that include “Lost Vegas.” The videos make me realize how much I didn’t notice when there about 12 years ago.

St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum

Visitors get to walk up the historic lighthouse’s 219 steps with Deputy Director Rick Cain without having to huff and puff

They also get a close look at the lens that otherwise has to be seen outside its room. The video also visits the Keepers House.

But just as good are the views of the country’s oldest port city. Founded by Spaniards in 1565, the city cares about its waterfront and cobbled streets.

 

Supermoon tonight

Supermoon seen in Chicago. ( J Jacobs photo)
Supermoon seen in Chicago. ( J Jacobs photo)

The largest looking full moon, a really supermoon of 2020 will be brightening your neighborhood tonight if the sky isn’t cloudy where you are.

The reason we say that largest looking  is that its size is an optical illusion. The moon looks larger because its orbit brings it closer.

For April 7, he moon’s closest orbital point to earth, called the perigee, has coincided with the moon’s full phase and will be closest at 10:35 p.m. EDT.

Super and even just full moons have been given lots of nicknames. The April  one is often called the “Pink” moon. The Pink moon will look almost as good the evenings of April 6 and April 8, if the sky is clear.

If weather isn’t cooperating mark the calendar for May 7 for the “Flower” super full moon. Just think of the overused but usually true adage of April rain bringing May flowers.

For a fun look at the night sky and the moon visit Space/fullmoon/calendar because it has an interesting video from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The next closest moons will be in the new moon phase which doesn’t reflect the sun. They come the middle of September, October and November. However, the full moon Oct. 1 is the Harvest Moon and Oct. 31 has the Blue Moon, as in the saying “once in a blue moon” because there will be two full moons in one month

Related 2020 article: Super March Monday is about moons

Related 2019 article: March supermoon marks spring

 

Visit San Francisco Symphony and Monterey Bay Aquarium

his trolley scene is among those found online for zoom backgrounds.
This trolley scene is among those found online for zoom backgrounds.

Until we can physically travel again, Travel Smart will visit cities where art museums, zoos and other destinations are doing videos through youtube, Facebook and Google arts .

When clicking on the links you may get something else but they are just ads so click on” skip ad” and you will be at the even/place you want

Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, hills and trolley cars. It’s San Francisco, baby. Until you can go back there are also places you can enjoy online that you may not have thought of in the city and down the coast.

 

Maestro Michael Tilson Thomas. (Photo courtesy of San Francisco Symphony)
Maestro Michael Tilson Thomas. (Photo courtesy of San Francisco Symphony)

San Francisco Symphony

You can watch and hear about Aaron Copeland or  listen to Michael Tilson Thomas conduct the symphony and Emanuel Ax in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Also look for other concerts. They are like having a playlist on the computer to listen to while you work.

SF MOMA

San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art features different artists and their work on line. See Judy Chicago and others.

Asian Art Museum

Visit the museum online to see its collection or learn about interesting and historic pieces.

 

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Watch and learn about penguins or see the cams such as the hypnotic moon jelly movement.

Related: Visit Chicago to see a zoo or travel by L or see it back in the forties

 

Visit Chicago to see a zoo or travel by L or see it back in the Forties

 

This animal and others from the Hamill Family Wild Encounters section of Brookfield Zoo are in videos of Bringing the Animals to You. (Brookfield Zoo photo(
This animal and others from the Hamill Family Wild Encounters section of Brookfield Zoo are in videos of Bringing the Animals to You. (Brookfield Zoo photo)

Some Chicago institutions have put terrific videos on Facebook. Here are some videos sure to entertain and are worth sharing.

At Brookfield Zoo, the “Screaming Hairy Armadillo” sounds ferocious but be surprised by it and other zoo inmates. The zoo has several animal video visits on Facebook. Also check Bringing the Zoo to You..

 

Chicago Architecture Foundation uses First Lady for its river tour. (Photo courtesy of CAC)
Chicago Architecture Foundation uses First Lady for its river tour. (Photo courtesy of CAC)

The Chicago Architecture Center also has several good videos ranging from a WTTW Geoffrey Baer L visit and its architecture boat ride to an old film of the city in the 1940s.  

Chicago’s ‘L,’ the nickname for the city’s elevated tracks (although not all are elevated,) takes riders through colorful neighborhoods.

It’s fun to see the trailer of the recently released documentary, “Geoffrey Baer’s Chicago” (WTTW). Find the trailer at the Chicago Architecture Center’s facebook page or go to Geoffrey Baer’s Chicago or WTTW-Chicago PBS or interactive WTTW.

Of course CAC is known for its Chicago River Cruise. So hop on board at this chiarchitecture/video.

Another good CAC site has a  Metro Goldwyn Mayer film of Chicago in the 1940s. Go back in time to  this chiarchitecture video site.

For youtube videos of the city visit Chicago Architecture Center/videos.

 Enjoy!

 

Where to visit while staying home

 

The spiral galaxy NGC 2008 sits centre stage, its ghostly spiral arms spreading out towards us, in this image captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. (NASA photo)
The spiral galaxy NGC 2008 sits centre stage, its ghostly spiral arms spreading out towards us, in this image captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. (NASA photo)

Get comfortable. It’s time to visit some of the places that have intrigued you or are on your someday list. Don’t dress for travel.

Lots of destinations have added virtual tours. Some are OK even though they expect you to read French, such as on the 350 degree Louvre exploration or Spanish such as with the Guggenheim in Bilbao videos on Mark Rothko’s “Untitled” and Jeff Koons’ “Puppy.”

Others, like the ones here, have videos and cams that make visitors feel they are there.

So warm-ups or jammies are OK as you visit outer space, a zoo, an amazing garden, a Royal home and an aquarium. Just remember if looking at a cam that the place may be in a different time zone so might have different action at a later or earlier hour.

 

San Diego Zoo

Meet its penguins in Penguin Beach video episodes and safari animals in the cams.

NASA

Visit the Hubble Space Telescope, watch a video on the Evolution of the Moon and experience outer space visits through the Solar Dynamics Observatory.

 

Claude Monet. Water Lily Pond, 1900. The Art Institute of Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection. (Photo courtesy of AIC)
Claude Monet. Water Lily Pond, 1900. The Art Institute of Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection. (Photo courtesy of AIC)

Monet

Tour Claude Monet’s Garden at Giverny where you see what the artist painted including the Water Lily Pond.

Osborne House

Visit Osborne, the house that Victoria and Albert built via a Google Arts & Culture video.

Shedd Aquarium

If you have facebook follow penguin Wellington and his friends explore the closed Shedd Aquarium.

 

Super March Monday is about moons

Supermoon seen in Chicago. ( J Jacobs photo)
Supermoon seen in Chicago. ( J Jacobs photo)

Yes if you saw a mostly full moon Saturday night it did appear larger and brighter than usual. It was your first glimpse of the first 2020 supermoon which is at its fullest on Monday, March 9 at 1:48 p.m. EDT. However, it’s fine to look for it Sunday night.

The reason it looks larger is because its elliptical course brings it closer to earth on March 9.. The close point is called the perigee as opposed to the far point which is the apogee.

At 222.081 miles from earth it looms large but the next full moon an April 8 will be even closer at 221,851 miles.

This March supermoon has several nicknames including the “Worm Moon” because worms are said to begin to come out of the soil about this time.

For more information about supermoons visit NASA/supermoon and Space.

Other good astronomy information sites include EarthSky or Time and Date and Almanac.

Three no passport spring vacation ideas

Gerald Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, MI (J Jacobs photo)
Gerald Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, MI
(J Jacobs photo)

 

Don’t wait for the first robin or crocus to pop up to plan what to do or where to go for a spring vacation. Hotels and good B and B’s may already be booked and airlines will have few seats at the price you want. Make plans now

Good as Washington DC is, student groups may already have plane seats and hotel rooms so consider that destination for another time. Instead, Spring Break is a good chance to splash in a pool, visit and cross off a presidential museum or find an unusual children’s museum in a town not yet visited.

The suggestions listed here are Midwest destinations within a day’s drive of Chicago. The city’s schools are out April 6-10 and most suburban districts are out March 23-27 in 2020.

 

African themed Kalahari Resort at the Wisconsin Dells. (J Jacobs photo)
African themed Kalahari Resort at the Wisconsin Dells. (J Jacobs photo)

Indoor Pool

Arguably among the best indoor water parks are the ones at the Kalahari Resorts. If living in the Midwest, consider the African-themed one at the Wisconsin Dells. The resort really is a combination amusement park, movie and dining destination and games emporium.

I like the Dells as a summer or fall escape when the weather is predictable but spring is a good time to enjoy a resort that has so much to offer, guests might not feel the need to leave.  Also check out other Wisconsin Waterparks for a spring Break.

An old time streetscape in the Grand Rapids Public Museum (J Jacobs photo)
An old time streetscape in the Grand Rapids Public Museum (J Jacobs photo)

Fascinating presidential and public museums

Located in Grand Rapids, MI, the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum combines his University of Michigan background, Nixon’s resignation, Betty Ford’s contributions and a replica of the Oval Office.

Across the road is the Grand Rapids Public Museum which has fun explorations and a merry go round ride. From American Indian displays to inventions, an old-time streetscape and a giant clock, there is enough here to spend the day.

 

An orangutan climbed down from his perch to try a computer game with a scientist at the Indianapolis Zoo. (J Jacobs photo)
An orangutan climbed down from his perch to try a computer game with a scientist at the Indianapolis Zoo. (J Jacobs photo)

Where a dinosaur and orangutans hang out

People outside of Indianapolis may not know the city has a remarkable Children’s Museum charmingly guarded by a huge dinosaur and that the Indianapolis Zoo is one of the few places in the country that boasts a specialized orangutan center where visitors can watch these intelligent animals play and practice their cognitive game skills.

I love the Childeren’s Museum’s Take Me There exhibits. When I visited it was to China. Currently it is to Greece. And there really is a simulated flight there.  And I was fascinated by everything the orangutans could do.

Also worth a visit when in town are the Eiteljorg Museum of American indians’ Western Art and the Indiana State Museum next door that has a wonderful Rube Goldberg inventions exhibit. See Visit Indy for more information.

 

Enjoy spring at Camelback Ranch or Sloan Park

 

 

At Wrigleyville West. (J Jacobs photo)
At Wrigleyville West. (J Jacobs photo)

Instead of waiting for spring to descend on Chicago and the Cubs and Sox games, enjoy both this month in Arizona.

Go online to pick up Cubs  or Sox tickets, book a trip to Phoenix, find a hotel in the Phoenix-Mesa area and enjoy the more casual MLB games in the Cactus League.

At home in Sloan Park, the Cubs will take on the Oakland A’s Feb. 22, Colorado Rockies Feb. 25, KC Royals Feb. 26 and Milwajukee Brewers Feb. 29

Their away games (sometimes easier to get tickets) are the LA Dodgers, Feb. 23, Seattle Mariners Feb. 24, Texas Rangers Feb. 27 and San Diego Padres Feb. 28

For tickets and the calendar visit MLB/Cubs/schedule2020 

Camelback Ranch in Glendale is the spring home of the Chicago White Sox. A suburb of Phoenix, visitors get all the advantages of Phoenix’s museums, hotels and its famed Botanic Garden but are close to White Sox action.

The Sox have a home game against the LA Angels Feb. 22 and are awayh against the Cincinnati Reds Feb. 23, LA Dodgers Feb. 24, have a split squad against the Indians away and the Giants at home on Feb. 25, then away against the KC Royals,Feb. 26, are at home against the Mariners Feb. 27, Indians Feb. 28 and away against the Rangers on Feb. 29.

For ballpark info visit WhiteSox/springtraining/ball park. For White Sox season info see Sox schedule..

The Desert Botanic Garden is a popular Phoenix destination. (J Jacobs photo)
The Desert Botanic Garden is a popular Phoenix destination. (J Jacobs photo)

If you go

The excellent Sheraton Mesa at Wrigley West places you right at Sloan Park. But check Visit Mesa to see other accommodation choices. It’s also a good referral to restaurants and attractions.

While in the area try to get to the Desert Botanical Garden and hike Camelback Mountain or Pinnacle Peak Park. Do visit the famed Heard Museum for fine Native American arts.

While visiting one of the Cub’s or White Sox’s away games in or near neighboring Scottsdale, browse fine art galleries in Old Town and visit Scottsdale’s Museum of the West.

So get away from Chicago’s winter. Relax outdoor with a margarita or cold draft beer while shouting Hey! Hey! at Wrigley West. You will feel right at home because the border streets  are Waveland Avenue, Clark Street and Sheffield Ave.

Or enjoy a Chicago hot dog (no ketchup please) at Camelback Ranch and watch the newly rebuilt Sox team take on old rivals. 

 

 

Groundhog Day predictions differ

Groundhog Woodstock Willie predicts winter or early spring each year in Woodstock IL where the Groundhog Day movie was filmed. (Photo courtesy of Woodstock)
Groundhog Woodstock Willie predicts winter or early spring each year in Woodstock IL where the Groundhog Day movie was filmed. (Photo courtesy of Woodstock)

 

Experts predicted that Kansas would win the super bowl this year and they were right. But what are the odds that two famous groundhogs (or woodchucks) have correctly predicted when winter will end?

Pretty good if you know that one of them is right.

After several days of gray gloom, the sun finally shone in northern Illinois Sunday, Feb. 2, the official Groundhog Day. That the sun shone and the weather was a balmy 51 degrees, good news for outdoor activities but bad news in Woodstock where Willie saw his shadow, wanted to go back to his dark hole and so predicted six more weeks of winter.

However, in Pennsylvania, Punxsutawne Phil didn’t see his shadow so stayed out and predicted an early spring.

However, loosely collected records show that Phil has had less than a 40 percent correct record and Willie has been right half the time.

Considering that local weather forecasters sometimes have trouble accurately predicting even a week away, maybe 50 percent isn’t bad.

See what the Farmers Almanac predicts for the Midwest/Great Lakes area.

Also see Groundhog Day relived

Travel experts and exhibitors offer advice at Chicago Travel and Adventure Show

 

Travel and Adventure show has travel experts and knowledgeable exhibitors who can help guests decide where to go, how to get there and what to pack. ( J Jacobs photo)
Travel and Adventure show has travel experts and knowledgeable exhibitors who can help guests decide where to go, how to get there and what to pack. ( J Jacobs photo)

If not sure where to travel this year, check out the Chicago Travel & Adventure Show at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Feb. 8-9, 2020.

Hundreds of destinations from Alabama to Amelia Island and Africa to Australia plus cruise lines will have exhibitors with suggestions on where to stay, when is the best time to go and what are the cost options.

It’s a fun show where guests can listen to and ask questions of Rick Steves, writer and host of Rick Steves Europe and Travel with Rick Steves, Josh Gates, host, The Travel Channel’s Expedition Unknown, Pauline Frommer editorial director of Frommer’s Guides and Peter Greenberg, TV reporter, producer and CBS News Travel editor.

Just don’t be surprised at what you’ll see there, including camel rides, chef demonstrations, Nordic, Polynesian and Taiwanese folk dancers, an obstacle course and Trikkes.

Tips: Enter the drawings for a door prize and pick up a bag there to carry all the handouts home to peruse.

Have fun.

Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. For ticket and other information visit  TravelShows/Chicago.  The Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 N. River Rd., Rosemont.