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Embracing the Culture Vulture Traveler: A Journey of Immersion and Appreciation

Embracing the Culture Vulture Traveler: A Journey of Immersion and Appreciation

The Culture Vulture…

Hey there fellow travelers! Welcome back to Mr. Bill’s Travel Blog, where we’re all about embracing new cultures, traditions, and experiences. Today, we’re continuing our series of the different types of travelers and diving into the world of the “Culture Vulture Traveler” – those adventurous souls who live for immersing themselves in local customs, traditions, and arts.

But here’s the twist – we’re also focusing on being handicapable. That’s right, whether you’re traveling with a wheelchair, cane, or any other accessibility device, there’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored, and we’re here to show you how!

So, what exactly does it mean to be a Culture Vulture Traveler?

Well, picture this: you’re wandering through cobblestone streets, soaking in the vibrant colors of street art, the sounds of local music filling the air, and the tantalizing aromas of exotic cuisine beckoning you to explore further. Sounds pretty amazing, right?

Most historic cities like NOLA have walking tours, horse diven carrigage tours, bus tour and even food tours. We took a walking cementary tour, a city tour on a bus and even a tour on the Natchez Steamboat Jazz tour on the old Mississippi!  All of these tours were excelent, and very accessable. Some of the city sidewalks are uneven and caution should be used by everyone, not just the handicapable!

For us Culture Vulture Travelers, museums are like our playgrounds.

New Orleans has no shortage of Museums and Cultural Tours to choose from!

From ancient artifacts to modern masterpieces, there’s something truly magical about getting lost in the halls of a museum, learning about the history and artistry of a culture. And the best part? Many museums around the world are becoming more and more accessible, with ramps, elevators, and audio guides for those with different mobility needs.

But it’s not just about museums – cultural festivals are where the real magic happens.

Picture yourself dancing to the rhythm of traditional music, savoring the flavors of local delicacies, and joining in on age-old traditions alongside locals who welcome you with open arms. These festivals are a celebration of life, love, and the beauty of diversity – and everyone, regardless of ability, deserves a seat at the table.

The MartiGas is one of the most iconic festivals in NOLA held since the early 1700’s! New Orleans was established in 1718 by Bienville. By the 1730s, Mardi Gras was celebrated openly in New Orleans, but not with the parades we know today. In the early 1740s, Louisiana’s governor, the Marquis de Vaudreuil, established elegant society balls, which became the model for the New Orleans Mardi Gras balls of today.

As a Culture Vulture Traveler, sampling exotic cuisine is a must.

Let’s not forget the food!  Hit’s feasting on street food in New York City, indulging in Brisket in Texas, or savoring the spices of Cajun or Creole Cusine in NOLA there’s no better way to experience a culture than through its food. And with more and more restaurants offering accessible seating and menus, there’s no reason why everyone can’t enjoy a delicious culinary adventure.

And if your in New Orleans don’t forget to stop at Cafe Du Monde for Beignets!  The locals tell me the secret is to avoid the long lines to be seated and go around back to the take out line! Then enjoy your treat as you stroll along the river or through City Park!

 

So, how can you embark on your own handicapable cultural adventure?

It’s simple – do your research, plan ahead, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. From accessible transportation options to barrier-free accommodations, there are plenty of resources available to make your journey as smooth as possible.

But most importantly…

Remember to embrace the unknown, step out of your comfort zone, and open your heart to the beauty of the world around you. As a Culture Vulture Traveler, every corner of the globe is an opportunity to learn, grow, and connect with others – and that’s a journey worth taking, no matter where you are or what challenges you may face along the way.

So, fellow adventurers, are you ready to spread your wings and soar into the world of cultural exploration? The world is waiting – let’s go discover it together, one handicapped-accessible adventure at a time!

A few photos from our trip to New Orleans!

3 Amazing Types Of Adventure Traveler

3 Amazing Types Of Adventure Traveler

Hey there, fellow travelers! 

In my last post, I spoke of the different types of travelers and promised to continue the series, bringing you a post delving deeper into each type of traveler. Today, let’s talk about the Adventure traveler!  

So what makes an adventure traveler?

Now, you might think adventure traveling is only for super fit and able-bodied people, but that’s not true at all. In fact, there are many different types of adventure travelers, including those who might face physical challenges but still have a passion for exploring the world. These awesome folks are often referred to as “handicapable travelers,” and they bring a whole new perspective to the world of adventure. 

First off, let’s clarify what I mean by “handicapable.” This term is used to describe individuals who may have disabilities or physical limitations but are still fully capable of enjoying and participating in adventurous activities. It’s all about focusing on what they can do rather than what they can’t.  

So, what kinds of adventure traveler falls into the “Handicapable” category?

Well, there’s a wide range of possibilities! Some handicapable travelers might use wheelchairs or other mobility aids, while others may have visual or hearing impairments. Regardless of their specific challenges, these adventurous souls are determined to see the world and experience all it has to offer. I am 61 years old and a below-the-knee amputee, I have my own limitations but, I like to push my limits. 

One type of handicapable traveler is the adrenaline junkie. These thrill-seekers are always on the lookout for exciting and daring adventures, whether it’s bungee jumping off a bridge, zip-lining through the jungle (Denise and I have zip-lined before a few times, but that is a story for another day!) or skydiving from a plane. Despite their physical limitations, adrenaline junkies find creative ways to get their hearts pumping and satisfy their thirst for adventure. 

Then there are the nature lovers. These travelers are drawn to the great outdoors and enjoy activities like hiking, camping, and wildlife spotting. They may use adaptive equipment or enlist the help of guides to navigate rugged terrain, but nothing can stop them from immersing themselves in the beauty of nature.  

Of course, there are also the culture enthusiasts among the handicapable traveler community. These intrepid explorers are eager to delve into the rich history and vibrant traditions of different cultures around the world. Whether it’s exploring ancient ruins, attending local festivals, or sampling exotic cuisines, culture enthusiasts are always up for an immersive travel experience.  

Last but not least, we have adventurers who are all about pushing boundaries and breaking stereotypes. These trailblazers refuse to let their disabilities define them and are constantly seeking out new challenges to conquer. From scaling mountains to surfing gnarly waves, they prove that anything is possible with determination and a sense of adventure. 

Denise and I maybe a 4th type of Adventure Traveler

We were headed north through Georgia when we spotted the sign for Tallulah Falls at Tallulah George! Of course, we hit the brakes and took the exit (at a safe speed of course!) 

You might remember hearing about one of the famous Wallendas crossing the Tallulah Gorge back in 1970.  Karl Wallenda, a 65-year-old Wallenda performed a high-wire walk, also known as a skywalk, across the Tallulah Gorge, a gorge formed by the Tallulah River in Georgia. An estimated 30,000 people watched Wallenda perform two headstands as he crossed the quarter-mile-wide gap. 

Be sure to click this link to get the story of this amazing feat and its purpose!  

You can see the stairs we climbed in one of our photos and to answer your question, “How Many Steps are there at Tallulah Falls State Park? The official answer is 1099 steps in total. Be sure to bring your cane or walking stick on this adventure. We only climbed down and back up the first 300 steps to get to the bridge!  Man, what a workout but the view was so worth it!    Our travels usually include extra time built in, just in case we find one of these Jems, and we certainly were happy we did on this trip! 

 There are specific rules, guidelines, and costs associated, including day passes/permits to hike specific trails and all that information can be found here, Click this link to see more detailed information on Tallulah Fall State Park and all it has to offer!  

So, the next time you think adventure travel is only for the able-bodied, think again! Handicapable travelers are breaking barriers and redefining what it means to explore the world. Whether they’re adrenaline junkies, nature lovers, culture enthusiasts, or boundary-pushers, these adventurous souls inspire us all to embrace the spirit of adventure and never let anything hold us back.  

Always remember to do your research (“Know before you go!”), pack the essentials, and let’s get out there and explore, together!  

Check out a few of our photos from Tallulah Falls Gorge below! Just click the photo below to scroll through this gallery!

Tallulah Point Overlook, Tallulah Falls Gorge, Georgia

Tallulah Point Overlook

ON JULY 31, 2020, Mary Beth Hughes officially closed the doors of Tallulah Point Overlook, a beloved tourist shop situated on the Scenic Loop just up U.S. Route 441 at the edge of Tallulah Gorge State Park.

The Tallulah Point Overlook had been open since 1912, offering the traveling public the only free roadside view of the awesome Tallulah Gorge, right from their covered, overlook porch.

The photos in the gallery below were taken in July of 2017 inside the historic site.

Happily, the shop relocated and you can find their new location and details by clicking this link!

 

10 Types Of Inspiring Travelers

10 Types Of Inspiring Travelers

Today we explore 10 Inspiring types of travelers!

Welcome back, fellow travel enthusiasts, to another exciting post! Today, we dive into the fascinating world of travelers and explore 10 inspiring types of travelers you might encounter on your adventures around the globe.

The Awe Inspiring Travelers, Adventure Travelers:

This intrepid explorer is always seeking the next adrenaline rush. From skydiving over scenic landscapes to trekking through dense jungles, the adventurer thrives on excitement and novelty.

The Culture Vulture:

For the culture vulture, travel is all about immersing themselves in the local customs, traditions, and arts. They can often be found wandering through museums, attending cultural festivals, and sampling exotic cuisine.

I must admit that in my youth I dreamed of being one of these types of inspiring travelers, The Budget Backpacker:

Traveling on a shoestring budget, the budget backpacker knows how to stretch every dollar. They opt for hostels over hotels, street food over fancy restaurants, and are experts at finding the cheapest modes of transportation. I was inspired by some of the first minimalist backpackers who set out on the Appalachian Trail with nothing more than a dream and “hobo pack” long before the words “ultra-light backpacks ever became popular. If you are in the mood to be inspired, check out Grandma Gatewood, who in 1955 at the age of 67 hiked the 2,168-mile trail. (You can thank me later!)

The Luxury Travelers:

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the luxury traveler, who spares no expense in pursuit of comfort and indulgence. From five-star hotels to private yacht charters, they believe in living lavishly and experiencing the finer things in life.

The Digital Nomad:

With their laptops in tow, digital nomads combine work and travel seamlessly. They can often be found typing away in trendy cafes or coworking spaces in exotic destinations, all while exploring new cultures and landscapes in their downtime.

The Nature Lover:

Whether its hiking in the mountains, camping in the wilderness, or snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, the nature lover feels most at home surrounded by the great outdoors. They seek out destinations known for their natural beauty and wildlife.

The Foodie:

For the foodie, travel is a culinary adventure. They’re always on the lookout for local delicacies, street food stalls, and Michelin-starred restaurants. From savoring street tacos in Mexico City to indulging in sushi in Tokyo, their taste buds are constantly on a journey.

The History Buff:

History buffs are fascinated by the past and love exploring ancient ruins, historical landmarks, and museums filled with artifacts. They enjoy delving into the rich cultural heritage of each destination they visit and learning about its historical significance.

The Solo Travelers:

Embracing the freedom and independence that solo travel offers. Solo travelers are unafraid to venture out on their own. They enjoy the opportunity to meet new people, push their boundaries, and discover themselves in unfamiliar surroundings.

The Family Travelers:

Traveling with kids in tow presents its own set of challenges, but family travelers wouldn’t have it any other way. They seek out family-friendly destinations and activities, creating lasting memories and bonding over shared experiences.

I have to admit, Denise and I have never thought of ourselves as being inspiring travelers but to be honest, its not always how we think of ourselves, but how others see us. And, I am reminded that inspiring others, is the reason I started writing Mr. Bill’s Travel Blog.  

Denise and I love it all, we try never to miss an adventrue and even build time into our roadtrips in case opportunity comes knocking. If our destination is over 10 hours, we devide the trip into two days. That way if we discover something along the way, we can stop and explore.One prime example of this was on a road trip in Vermont, we came accross an old covered bridge, the Von Trapp Lodge, Ben & Jerry’s, Cabot Creamery, (they were making pepper jack cheese that day!) and Cold Hollow Cider Mill!  All of these had amazing tours and we would have missed them all had we not built in extra time!

We also fall under the Foodie Travelers catagory, we try to find resturants featured on Dinners, Drive Ins and Dives. We shy away from “food or chain resturants” we can get at home and look for the gold mine “Mom & Pop” joints!  Don’t be afraid to let your taste buds do a little traveling of their own! keep your eyes open, talk to locals and don’t be afraid to “follow your nose!”We do our research before we go, but remain open to other possiblities.

I guess that makes us Adventure Travelers as well! Don’t forget the History Buff Traveler… it’s amazing how different places and experiences can take you to another place in time.  Like the time we were in a cave miles under the surface of a mountain and saw the “still” moonshiners setup next to an underground spring to avoid the law during prohibition!Well, by now you know I could go on and on… but let’s leave a story for another day!

The moral of this story… no matter which type of inspiring traveler you identify with most, remember that the joy of travel lies in the journey itself. So pack your bags, set out on your next adventure, and embrace the diversity and wonder of our world. Happy travels!

In my next series of posts, we will delve into these different types in depth and I’ll share a few more stories and photos from our journeys!

 

Parrot Mountain and Gardens

Parrot Mountain and Gardens

A slice of Paradise: Parrot Mountain and Gardens through the eyes of Mr. Bill.

Hello, fellow travelers! Today, I want to share with you a hidden gem nestled in the heart of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee – Parrot Mountain and Gardens. Join me, Mr. Bill an avid traveler with a unique perspective as a below-the-knee amputee, as we explore this enchanting destination that promises a symphony of colors, melodies, and tropical wonders.

Chapter 1: The Journey Begins

As I made my way to Parrot Mountain and Gardens, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of excitement. The lush greenery and vibrant flowers that lined the entrance immediately set the tone for what would be an extraordinary experience. I won’t lie, steep, uneven terrain is difficult for me to navigate. The wonderful staff at the ticket booth realized that, and brought us a golf cart and driver to help us navigate the entire facility!

Chapter 2: A Tropical Oasis 

Upon entering the gardens, we were transported to a tropical paradise. The vibrant blooms and exotic foliage created a breathtaking backdrop. What truly sets Parrot Mountain apart is its collection of over 70 species of tropical birds, each with its own unique charm. As I strolled through the winding paths, the vibrant plumage and melodic chirps of the parrots provided a sensory feast that even my prosthetic limb couldn’t help but dance along to.

 

Chapter 4: Up-Close Encounters

One of the highlights of my visit was the opportunity for up-close encounters with the parrots. The staff arranged for me to interact with some of the birds, allowing me to appreciate their intelligence and vibrant personalities. These interactions added a personal touch to my experience and left me with fond memories.

Chapter 5: Feeding Frenzy

Parrot Mountain offers visitors the chance to feed these feathered friends. With a small cup of bird feed in hand, I marveled at the parrots’ gentle nature as they perched on my arm or shoulder to enjoy a snack. The joy of these interactions brought a smile to my face, creating a bond between man and bird that transcended physical differences.

Conclusion: A Tropical Haven for All

As I bid farewell to Parrot Mountain and Gardens, I couldn’t help but reflect on the unique and inclusive experience it offered. This tropical haven is not just a feast for the senses but also a testament to the power of accessibility in tourism. Whether you’re an avid bird enthusiast, a nature lover, or, like me, someone with a unique perspective, Parrot Mountain welcomes all to revel in its natural splendor. So, if you find yourself in Pigeon Forge, make sure to spread your wings and soar into the captivating world of Parrot Mountain – a paradise that transcends boundaries.

Be sure to check out their website or Facebook page for details on ticket sales, hours open, and all the other details.  You can check out their Facebook here…  www.facebook.com/parrotmountain 

8 Essential Items to Pack for Every Trip

8 Essential Items to Pack for Every Trip

 Heading out on a new adventure? Whether you’re jetting off to a tropical paradise or embarking on a rugged hiking expedition, there are a few things you should always have in your travel arsenal. From practical necessities to handy gadgets, here are eight items that should make it into your suitcase every time you hit the road.

1. Day Pack

A day pack is an absolute must-have for any traveler. Leave your heavy suitcase/luggage in your hotel! This versatile bag is perfect for carrying your essentials during day trips or excursions. Look for one that is lightweight, durable, and has plenty of compartments to keep your belongings organized. With a day pack, you’ll have everything you need right at your fingertips while keeping your hands free to explore.

2. Water Bottle

Staying hydrated is crucial when you’re on the go. A reusable water bottle is not only environmentally friendly but also a practical item to have with you at all times. Look for one that is leak-proof and easy to carry. Having a water bottle handy will save you money and keep you refreshed throughout your travels.

3. Camera/Phone

Preserving memories is an essential part of any trip, and having a good camera is key. Whether you prefer a DSLR, a compact point-and-shoot, or your latest fancy phone (Mine is the iPhone 15 Pro, it takes amazing photos, and if use it in conjunction with a lightweight gimble like the DJI Osmo, amazing videos.)  make sure to pack a camera that suits your needs. Capture stunning landscapes, vibrant street scenes, and candid moments with friends and family. Don’t forget to bring spare memory cards and batteries to ensure you never miss a shot.

4. Cables & Battery Packs

In today’s digital age, cables are the unsung heroes of travel. From charging your phone to transferring photos from your camera, having the right cables on hand is essential. Make sure to pack a universal adapter that works in different countries and a USB cable that can connect your devices. With the right cables, you’ll never have to worry about a dead battery or missing out on sharing your travel experiences. I also pack an external battery pack like this one from Anker.  It can be a game changer when your phone or camera battery needs charging with no plugs in site!

5. List of Places of Interest

Exploring a new destination is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. Before you set off, do some research and make a list of the must-see places in the area. Having a curated list of attractions, restaurants, and hidden gems will save you time and help you make the most of your trip. Plus, it’s always satisfying to check off places as you visit them!

6. ID

While it may seem obvious, having proper identification is often overlooked. Make sure to carry a valid ID with you at all times, preferably a passport if you’re traveling internationally. In case of emergencies or unforeseen circumstances, having your ID readily available will make your life much easier.

7. Walking Stick

If you’re planning on doing any hiking or exploring uneven terrain, a walking stick can be a game-changer. It provides stability, reduces strain on your joints, and helps you maintain balance. Whether you opt for a traditional wooden stick or a collapsible hiking pole, having one by your side will make your outdoor adventures more enjoyable.

8. Layers of Clothing & Comfortable Shoes

When it comes to packing clothes, versatility is key. Instead of bulky items, opt for lightweight layers that can be easily mixed and matched. This way, you’ll be prepared for different weather conditions and have options for various activities. Don’t forget to pack a waterproof jacket or a scarf that can double as a blanket for chilly evenings. Also, I always pack spare comfortable shoes, you never know when the urge to walk on the beach might set in!  (Not to mention (but, I will…)) You might get caught in the rain.

So, there you have it – eight essential items to bring on every trip. With these items in your luggage, you’ll be well-prepared for any adventure that comes your way. Happy travels!