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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Thursday Thirteen--Thirteen States I have Visited

Since I never do this post, I decided to so it this week because I saw it on Maggie's Mind and hers was about the 13 states she has not visited. I thought I would use Maggie's idea but do it in reverse and list 13 states I have visited and why. I was working on this last week and a lot of it got deleted so I decided to try and get it up this Thursday, June 12th. Ok, here goes:

My favorite hotel in Vegas is by far the Venetian. Not that I have ever gotten to stay there and it would probably be a waste of money but I did love going on the gondola ride in the center of the hotel. The boat driver sang opera and the song "Santa Lucia" to me and my date and it really was romantic!

1.) Nevada I really love Vegas and I usually go there at least twice a year. I like everything about Vegas...the cheap food, the entertainment and I love to play the slot machines and roulette! I like everything except that people can still smoke all over the place. I am not used to hearing, "Smoking or Non Smoking" when I go out to eat. When I quit smoking cigarettes, it was a challenge to go to Vegas but when I did go, I noticed less people smoking! It seems that more and more places in Vegas are banning or regulating smoking. I used to be able to walk anywhere with a lit cigarette hanging out of my mouth but there are a lot more places that have banned it altogether. Big ban spots are: shopping mall sections in casinos, restaurants, tourist spots, etc.

2.) Louisiana I went to New Orleans with some friends and unfortunately did not get to stay for the actual Mardi Gras festivities but I did get to visit at the beginning of Mardi Gras season. I got to enjoy King Cake and visit a lot of historical sites that were amazing! The friends that I went with went there more for the party aspects so I had to beg them to go on the Marie Lavou Voodoo Tour to see her grave at one of the above ground cemeteries. I really want to go back and see some friends who live there. I have one friend who just moved back after leaving for two years after Hurricane Katrina destroyed her family home as well as some of her other family members homes (They all lived on the same block.) Another friend of mine who grew up there during the 50's during segregation and is retiring and returning home to New Orleans. It will be cool to have some people to go and see because I really like this city. I love the food in New Orleans...can you say Creole or Cajun? Either is fine with me! I took a cooking class when I went to visit and learned to prepare a mean Jambalaya! I was recently online trying to order some of the spices from the culinary academy. The seasoning I love most and ran out of is called "Joe's Stuff!" It is a really awesome blend that I get TONS of compliments on and I am not even all that into cooking! For all you cooks out there, it is well worth the $10.95 plus shipping!
If anyone ever gets to New Orleans. go to the New Orleans School of cooking where you not only learn how to prepare some of the best traditional Creole dishes, you get to eat your creation in a really nice sit down lunch. Make sure to pick up a big bottle of "Joe's Stuff!" Its by far the best seasoning I have ever used and am ordering some this week.!

3.) Arizona I had an ex that was a semi truck driver and I used to go to Arizona like twice a month for the longest time. I would pack up all my papers and chill out over the road. I really liked these once a month road trips and loved that there was a really comfortable bed in the truck. I could sleep, grade papers on a little mini desk and even watch TV and play PlayStation 2 games. I mostly used to sleep and just relax and listen to music and watch the scenery go by. Its amazing how plush some of those trucks are inside and I love stopping at truck stops!

4.) Hawaii I went to Hawaii once. I don't know much about this trip or even much about what I saw or did. I do remember it being beautiful and I am dying to go back. I have no idea if I went to Pearl Harbor or not but I do remember going to a volcano and snorkeling at the beach. I don't remember much else because I had only been off drugs for only a few months when I went on that trip. I spent a lot of time attending AA meetings on the beach and trying hard to not want to "suck em up..." the drinks I mean! That is the motto while on the island! I really wanted to try one of those Blue Hawaiian drinks but fortunately, I did not give into temptation! I ended up in Hawaii because my dad wanted to do something nice for my sister and I because my mom had recently died and my dad knew I was really trying to get my act together. He gave me and my sister a trip to Hawaii as a surprise. My pops was like that....a really wonderful guy who never had a ton of money but was super generous with what he did have. I miss him more than I care to think about. I can honestly say I had the best dad in the whole world and wish he was around to see me finally grow up and get my act together.RIP Dad....You really did do a good job raising me...I am more like you in every way than I ever thought possible!

5.) Illinois: Last summer when I went on a trip through the Federal Government's "Teaching American History" grant program, our trip started in Chicago. We learned a lot about industrialization and immigration. We went to the Jane Adams Hull House and also went to Pullman Village. At Pullman Village, we learned about how George Pullman tried to create Utopia for his workers by creating one of the first experimental factory town. The homes even had real indoor plumbing! As the Pullman luxury cars became more and more popular, George Pullman wanted to keep up the productivity of his workers and protect them from the commonplace strikes of the industry and the city. His aim was to prevent labor unrest by creating ideal living conditions. He developed the first self-sufficient factory town just south of Chicago at Lake Calumet. The town had everything from churches and stores, to butcher shops and libraries. The only thing missing were bars. Mr. Pullman felt it would lower productivity. The only bar in the town was in the hotel, and only visiting businessmen were allowed to be served. To make sure people were not living a wild lifestyle, Pullman workers would go in and do home inspections. In truth, the town was considered more of a business venture for Pullman than anything else. Everything remained Pullman's property, including the church. In 1894, he was forced to layoff workers, without lowering rents. Pullman's workers went on strike. The strike received national attention and a visit from Federal Troops. So much for giving people everything they want!

These are pictures of the historic Pullman Village as well as the award he got for creating a model town for his loyal employees.

6.) Tennessee This was the second stop on the Civil Rights Tour that I went on. It was definitely surreal to be at the place Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and touring Graceland that very same day. I always did want to go see Graceland and everyone was getting ready for the big Elvis week which celebrated the 30th year of his death. I liked Tennessee and I am going back to Nashville this summer. Here are some pics from Graceland. My favorite part of the tour was the Lisa Marie plane. Ah if I were a rich girl!

7.) Alabama This state was the last stop on the Civil Rights tour I was a part of last summer. If you were to tell me I was going to end up in Alabama, I would have never believed it. My travel list did not seem to have that destination on it and really had no desire to go to this state but I had a great time there. There is so much history there that its amazing! We went to Birmingham which is better known as "Bombingham" Alabama and Montgomery Alabama. There is really something to be said for people in the South. The "Southern Hospitality" thing is for real. I left a bunch of souvenirs in Birmingham along with my notebook so I called the Civil Rights Institute hoping that the lady who had handled our tour could see if it was found and mail it to me. I was more than willing to give her money to send the items to me. Instead she insisted that she meet me in Montgomery the next day to personally deliver my stuff to me. That would NEVER happen in LA! The group I went with also met an amazing chef and artist who catered our farewell dinner. Her name is Michelle Browder and she made the best soul food I have EVER eaten! Amazingly enough, she specialized in cooking healthier versions of soul food classics! She served grilled Talapia fish instead of fried catfish and her riblettes were the best I have ever eaten. I went online to order her "Sweet Jesus Iced Tea" and some "Good Lawdy Lemonade" and guess what? I found out she had closed down her restaurant and catering company as well as her art studio to travel across the country campaigning for Obama! Here is an excerpt from the article I found:

"Other volunteers, like Michelle Browder, had traveled the country stumping for Obama and have been in Billings for weeks to close out the primary election season. Browder, a restaurant owner from Montgomery, Ala., said she closed her business, PJR’s Fish and Barbecue, last July after hearing Obama speak deciding to campaign for him. She sported a straw cowboy hat decorated with Obama pins. In her right hand, Browder held a wooden, red white and blue Obama purse the size of a dinner plate. She was happy to be in Montana."

I always love to see people follow their deams! This lady was one of the most talented and hospitable people I ever got the privilege of meeting. She and her family made our farewell dinner and time in Alabama something I will always remember.

Well, I thought I would get this entire post done tonite but I am tired so I will finish it up tomorrow. It has kind of been fun going back into my travel journals...makes me wanna plan my next trip, how about you? Let me know what you think of my kinder, gentler colors too...I miss posting but damn it takes awhile to write! I am definetly an all or nothing kind of girl!




Stan said...

OMG, Diva, this was like the longest post ever! :) But very good reading! Thank you!

Hope you are doing well!

Mz Diva said...

I know it was long...thats why I decided to stop! Sorry! I only got to 7 or 8 too! I will do the others today and the other days will be quck!

MamaFlo said...

Bravo Diva! You did it, the new site looks way better than all the colors of the rainbow as it was difficult to read. Any look at that Thursday Thirteen - Wow, you are doing it girl!

There is a place on my blog where you can email me, if you have questions like you've indicated in the recent past, I'd be happy to help you.

maggie's mind said...

Nice! Will you be doing a to be continued next week? :)

I loved seeing the pictures along with the places.

I've been to Nevada and have done the gondola ride in the Venetian but didn't stay there, and I've been to Arizona a few times as a child and once as an adult, I grew up in Illinois, and I think I was in Tennessee when I was very young. Hawaii, though? Would be a dream, and your dad sounds like one of the good guys.