Detroit’s Henry Ford Museum: A National Historical Treasure

For such a young country, America’s national historical landmarks are plentiful. From Washington to San Francisco, the nation’s history is stretched from coast to coast, mapping out the history of the United States and its developments. One of the most legendary of American historical entrepreneurs was, of course, Henry Ford, and Detroit’s Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village acts as a constant reminder of the role he played in revolutionising the country’s automobile industry, as well as acting as home to some of America’s most important exhibits.

The Henry Ford museum originally opened in October 1929 under the name “The Edison Institute,” and was christened by President Herbert Hoover on the 50th anniversary of the invention of the incandescent light bulb. Henry Ford said of his museum: “I am collecting the history of our people as written into things their hands made and used… When we are through, we shall have reproduced American life as lived, and that, I think, is the best way of preserving at least a part of our history and tradition.”

Now known as “the nation’s largest indoor-outdoor history museum” complex, the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield village is more than just a museum – it provides entertainment as well. Visitors can ride in a classic Model T, take a ride in the train, visit the IMAX theatre and even see a live show. The mission of the museum is much in the tradition of its founder; it acts as a preserver of items that are of historical significance – particularly for the Industrial Revolution – and it houses a range of famous homes, machinery and Americana.

Among the Henry Ford Museum’s most notable exhibits are the limousine in which John F. Kennedy was assassinated, as well the chair in which Abraham Lincoln was sitting when he was killed in Ford’s Theater. Other notable exhibits in the museum include George Washington’s camp bed, and the bus on which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, leading to the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955-56. The outdoor exhibits of Greenfield Village include the Wright brothers’ bicycle shop from Dayton, Ohio, Thomas Edison’s laboratory from New Jersey, and the garage in which Henry Ford himself built the quadricycle.

The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village clearly house some of America’s greatest historical artefacts, and should be an essential attraction to visit in any tour of the country’s historical landmarks. Many hotels, like Hilton’s Embassy Suites, offer special American History packages to the Henry Ford museum; so, when these opportunities arise, it is best to take advantage of them so you can save money whilst visiting a premier American cultural destination.

Tips For Taking Pictures of Fall Foliage

Autumn may be one of the most beautiful seasons of the year. Nature puts on a show of beautiful fall foliage for all the world to see. Whether you travel around the block or across the US you will be met with an array of brilliant color. Here are a few tips for taking pictures of fall foliage.

Schedule a A little Travel Time:

Many people schedule their vacation around autumn. There couldn’t be a better time to take a bus tour. This is also the best time of year for taking a long drive up the east coast. From as far north as Canada and as far south as North Carolina, you’ll be met with brilliant fall foliage around late September through sometimes up to November.

Pick a destination that promises lots of trees on sloping hills and valleys. One of my favorite places to drive around in is right where I live in West Virginia. The rolling hills come to life in brilliant yellows, oranges, reds, purples and browns.

Take a short drive along any highway that cuts through the hills of WV and you will see a new picture perfect shot to take advantage of. You’ll even find several scenic overlooks right along the highways.

Pull your car over and grab that camera. Don’t forget your tripod for the best shots.

But don’t stop with West Virginia. You’ll find opportunities for taking fall foliage pictures in these areas of the US:

South East – Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virgina,
North East – Connecticut, Main, Massachusetts, New England, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont
Midwest – Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin

Northern Illinois may not be among the most notorious for fall foliage but I can vouch that they have some pretty awesome opportunities for capturing an autumn picture or two as well. I’ve even known California to decorate a park or two with artificial fall foliage. They actually colored the leaves on the trees in a park to shoot a movie that was set in the fall.

If you don’t have time to travel, try a little walk down your own local block. If you live in an area that has four seasons, you are sure to find at least one tree with fall foliage to photograph.

Play With Angles When Taking Fall Foliage Pictures

If you’ve ever hugged a tree, you’ll love this idea. When you find a tree with some exceptionally brilliant colors, stand at the base of its trunk. Now look up. Fall foliage pictures taken from this angle can be breathtaking. It feels as if the tree is giving you a hug.

Another good angle to look for is from above. Take pictures from a building or even from a hilltop looking over surrounding areas. I used to love taking pictures from a hilltop in Blackwell Forest Preserve. On top of that hill you could capture fall foliage pictures of tree tops from almost every direction.

Taking fall foliage pictures at different angles gives you an opportunity to share your creative side.

Use Your Camera’s Landscape Mode

There is nothing more beautiful than to capture a hill full of trees dressed in a wide array of colors. Many digital cameras come with preset modes. A preset mode means the best settings have been programmed into your camera for taking pictures in specific settings.

For instance, Landscape mode on your camera will capture a wider panorama of the landscape in front of you.

Another trick is to use what is called a stitch mode. Not every camera has this. But if yours does, be sure and use it for taking in those extra wide views of autumn landscape. With this feature you can actually take two or three pictures moving left or right. Then use your photo editing software to paste them together. The result is an awesome panoramic fall foliage picture.

Use a Tripod for Maximum Control

It may take a little time to pull out that tripod but it is worth the extra effort. Using a tripod will save the headache of later deleting blurry, out of focus pictures. You can avoid the disappointment of losing the best shot of the day by taking this one simple step.

Tripods are easy to attach. They can be purchased for as little as $20.00. They don’t have to be big and cumbersome to work. I even had a tripod that was flexible. The legs could be bent around the branch of a tree. It was made for smaller cameras. So it had limited use.

You do want a tripod that is easy to set up and light to carry. Remember you will be doing a bit of hiking to find the best photo opportunities.

Use Your Camera’s LCD Viewer to Check Your Scene For Unwanted Objects

Take a moment to view your potential fall foliage pictures for any unwanted objects that may appear. You know the kind I’m talking about. No one really cares to see that trash dumpster in the corner of your photograph.

A look through your LCD view gives you a clear image of what your actual photograph is going to look like. And sometimes it is just a matter of moving a fraction to leave those unwanted objects out. This extra step can save hours of photo editing later.

When Fall Foliage is Scarce

There may be times when there just don’t seem to be any bright colored leaves to take pictures of. This is when it’s time to get a little creative. Fall foliage may be hard to find. If you start too early in the season, your walks in the park may only reveal a few colored leaves.

But even then you can get some beautiful pictures. Let’s just say you come upon one lonely tree that has decided to show its colors. That’s when it’s time to get up close. Let that tree be the star of your photography for the day. Single out branches and even leaves.

Most important of all, have fun while taking pictures of fall foliage. Appreciate Mother Nature’s show and you will be rewarded a hundred fold.

A Billionaire Ignores My Advice

I had just returned from a whirl-wind tour of Europe. Six cities in 14 days. As a young American man in his twenties, I didn’t appreciate how old everything looked. Rome (ancient), Paris (Eiffel tower-so what?) Berlin (grim), London (too proper), Amsterdam (where does all the water go?), Copenhagen (beautiful blond girls with blue/green eyes – don’t remember anything else 🙂 Why didn’t I stay?

I got on the bus in New Jersey on my way to what I expected to be a very exciting job – salesman for a television program distribution company, on Park Avenue, New York City. Once in the city, I proceeded on two more buses until I reached Park Avenue and 59th street. Standing on the corner looking south, I had to inhale as my breath was taken from my chest. Park Avenue was split in the middle by a series grass islands between each numbered street, all the way to 43rd street, where the view was blocked by the old Pan Am building strattled across the avenue. Both sides of the islands had canals laid with black asphalt – one going south, the other north. As my eyes were drawn south they were pulled up from the street to reveal each side of the avenue’s glass sky scrapers standing proudly, glistening in the sun.

“My God – this is America!” I said to myself. In one moment, I realized what a great country I lived in. I wanted to run to my new job which was in a 38 story sky scraper on the left-hand, or east side of this great thoroughfare, on fifty-third street. It was one of the great new buildings – The Seagrams building.

I took my time walking down the avenue and as I looked up at all of the sky scrapers. I couldn’t believe how may sales opportunities awaited me. I imagined myself spending a month alone making calls on just one street.

As I approached my new place of employment, I marveled at the steps leading up to a plaza with dual water fountains welcoming me to revolving doors and marble floors in an expansive lobby. A sign pointed to the entrance of one of the city’s Power restaurants: “The Four Seasons.” I would later be mildly scolded for entertaining potential clients at my “Power Luncheons.” On any given day, you were lunching with the city’s power brokers, celebrities and sports stars. I decided quite quickly that I liked this life.

Much copied but not matched, the Seagram Building is generally recognized as the finest example of skyscrapers in the International Style.

The elevator whisked me up to the 36th floor and my new office. I loved it. It looked out over the entire city. The man who owned Sterling Communications, Inc., also owned Sterling Movies. He was known to everyone as “Chuck”, or Charles Dolan. Before I was hired, I had to pass a screening test by a sales psychologist, something unheard of at this time. Two weeks later I received a call that I had passed, and could report to work the following Monday.

Sterling Communications also owned Manhattan Cable (now Warner Cable) and Chuck was in the process of laying millions of feet of cable underneath Manhattan’s sidewalks and streets. It was an enormous task, frought with political backlash, not to mention kazillions of dollars in financing. In these early days, I could sense that it was a touch-and-go undertaking. I can still vividly remember my first comments, “What is this guy crazy?”

Manhattan cable went to hotel rooms in those early days, and the company had a difficult time getting anyone in a hotel room to watch what was essentially a news ticker. And then came along Michael J. McCurdy with an idea that would transform the world of cable. I am sure that with this idea alone, Chuck Dolan would make me a vice president. After spending several days flirting with his secretary, I gave her a note for Mr. Dolan…would she please pass it on to him. She smiled, and said yes!

Weeks went by before I got the courage to ask her if he had seen it. Yes, he had.

That was it – nothing else. How could he not see the benefit of having “Live Burlesque” on his channel in hotel rooms! Surely every man visiting New York could not wait until he registered at his hotel. The press would have a field day. I consoled myself by rationalizing that he was just too busy to get back to me. 🙂

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia: In 1972, Mr. Dolan founded Home Box Office Inc (HBO) the first premium programming service in the cable television industry. After selling Home Box Office to Time-Life, Inc. (now Time Warner), he organized Cablevision Systems Corporation on Long Island, and has spearheaded many of the company’s advancements. In 1986 he took the company public, and since 1992 the stock has risen by 400%. Estimated worth is 2.3 billon dollars.

Oh yeah, he also owns Madison Square Garden, the NY Knicks, NY Rangers, and Radio City Music Hall. Me? I was wooed away a year later to a television production company as a producer. I loved every minute in a long career.

Senior Class Trip Ideas For Washington DC, New York City and Atlanta

Class trips are usually focused around educational experiences. There is a different sort of trip that still has a learning purpose behind it: the senior class trip. The senior trip focuses on fun, togetherness, and creating memories that will last. After the trip and graduation, many seniors are off to college, the military, or beginning careers. For many high school seniors the class trip is one last chance to be together with their peer group for an adventure, and to celebrate the time they spent in high school.

When planning a senior class trip with any school, I always keep these objectives in mind. Together with class trip planners I strive to incorporate plenty of fun and memorable things to do which appeal to the high school senior. This article will outline three major destination cities: Washington D.C., New York City, and Atlanta, and suggest senior class trip itineraries that work well with this particular age group.

Washington D.C.: A Favorite Destination for Class Trips

When planning a senior class trip to Washington D.C. I still include the major destinations in D.C. such as a trip to the White House and Capitol and an illuminated tour of Washington D.C. To add excitement and fun, I usually suggest a trip to Six Flags America in Maryland, a short bus ride from Washington D.C. Evening activities may include a dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, as most seniors enjoy music and the ambiance at the Hard Rock. Another evening activity that is sure to please high school seniors is a Potomac River dinner and dance cruise. This is a delightful way to spend an evening in the springtime, when most class trips occur, and it also adds romance to the trip. Another evening outing that is popular among high school seniors is a trip to a Medieval Times dinner theater. Period costuming, jousting matches, and medieval decor make this type of dinner a memorable event.

New York City: The Big Apple Delights High School Seniors

A sightseeing tour of Manhattan is a great way to begin a senior class trip to New York City. For those who want to include a theme park visit, Six Flags Great Adventure and Wild Safari in New Jersey is close, and is a popular choice. Seniors may also want to attend a Broadway show while visiting New York City. High School Musical is coming to Broadway and for obvious reasons it is a good choice for this age group. Another idea for evening entertainment is a theme dinner at Planet Hollywood. Dining among snapshots and film clips of Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone and other Hollywood greats is a thrilling way for high school seniors to spend the evening.

Atlanta: A Marvelous City for Fun in the Senior Year

Sometimes overshadowed by larger metropolitan areas such as New York City and Washington D.C., Atlanta, Georgia is an excellent choice for any senior class trip. Atlanta has a great deal to offer high school seniors. The theme park nearby, Six Flags Over Georgia has Batman: The Ride a rollercoaster that recreates Gotham City and Batman’s underground dwelling. There is also a Medieval Times dinner theater near Atlanta for evening entertainment and dining. Students interested in Civil Rights and black history may want to take the Martin Luther King tour. Another exciting activity for senior class trips to Atlanta is a visit to the ESPN Zone. Students can eat supper here and play virtual basketball, skiing, racecar driving, or select from other activities.

When I assist any student travel group in planning a trip to any major destination, I always like to present options. Educational Travel Consultants is committed to working within budget guidelines while still creating the highest quality student trip possible. If your student travel group is planning a senior class trip this year, remember to keep it lighthearted and fun and incorporate tours and other activities that make that particular destination a unique learning experience, too.

New York, New York – Undeniably One Helluva Town!

It is said that New York City has a certain unusual quality about it. New York can either devastate an individual or raise their level of play, their desire or purpose in some exciting way. As they say, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere… or, you can leave with your tail between your legs.

As a native New Yorker, born in East Harlem, I know it to be unique, and I must say that it deserves the attention it gets as one of the world’s most spectacular cities for all the following reasons.

It is a fact that New York City is the commercial center of the United States, as well as the heart of American advertising, fashion, publishing, and radio television broadcasting. It is the distillation of industry, trade, communication, entertainment, sports and arts, and boasts a generous representation of diverse ethnic groups and faith. Simply put, it’s the melting pot that America is renowned for. It has a positive effect on the creative abilities of its inhabitants. I want to mention that the Five main Boroughs that comprise and add to the fame of the city of New York are Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and Staten Island. Each borough merits recognition for its magnificent landmarks, treasured historical sites, rich history and accomplishments. Yes, this diversity and non-stop electric action is what New York City is all about, and where millions visit each year to observe the riches and results of people’s creative power.

As for the inhabitants and non-inhabitants of this enormous metropolis known as the “Big Apple”, there are several groups of people: First, we have the native New Yorker. These are the individuals whose birthplace is New York City. Regardless to wherever they should go, there will always be some emotional attachment to their roots. Secondly, we have the outsiders born elsewhere who seem to gravitate to the big city They establish residency with zeal, whether it is for the numerous opportunities presented by the city, or simply because they feel lucky to live near others of their own kind. The adventurous, productive type. Thirdly, let us not forget, the millions of frustrated commuters that travel round trip to get to and work in the city. Finally, with all the attractions and entertainment that the city offers, there is the never-ending flow of millions of day-trippers and out of town tourists.

Though New York City may have a lot of positive characteristics, there is also a strong negative side to living in a metropolis of this magnitude. As the city becomes progressively more crowded, there is a greater concern, irritability and outright hostility caused by the fact that the city is clogged with people. It is almost impossible to find an empty taxi, parking spot, or even a seat on the bus or train. This has hardened New Yorkers.

People brand New Yorkers as offensive because of their out spoken qualities. To some effect, it may be true, but to present all New Yorkers as crude is a misstatement. There is a significant number of civil and sophisticated New Yorkers. However, we do have some people that speak their minds when annoyed, not all, but some. But let’s not forget the tremendous sense of humor that characterizes most New Yorkers. Colloquialisms form part of their everyday life, which can be also interpreted as rudeness, such as: “That one could grow potatoes with those dirty ears; ” “Why don’t you take a long walk off a short pier; ” “Hey, don’t spit in the air, it might fall on your nose;” “Don’t let your mouth run off ’til your brain’s in gear;” “Oy Vey! With those bags, she needs a couple of pairs of shoes;” “He couldn’t make a noun and a verb agree even if his life depended on it;” “I hope she lives to a 150 and looks it,” and so on and so forth.

Some individuals have been ridiculed for their unique ‘Noo Yawker’ accent. Here are some examples: “Gedoutahea, yer puddin me on!” “Yeah, I kum fum Noo Yawk.” “Would ja ged a grip!” ” Did’ju or did’ja,” “Would’ju or would’ja,” “Soopah (Super),” “Fur sure I’m ohn the fawth floor,” “Wawda “(water), “I’ll have a tooner samwidge,” (tuna sandwich), ” I wud be da foist to tell you if my brudda was na here,” “Fugheddaboudit! I ain’t saying nuttin,” and, ” My mudda and fodda are goin downashaw ohn Lawnguylund.”

Accustomed to social, political and economic upheavals, crime, overcrowding, deterioration of neighborhoods, intolerable housing, extortionate rents and high taxes, native New Yorkers accept the turbulence that is associated with daily life as a normal and inevitable way of life. However, it still doesn’t stop them from openly vocalizing their frustrations and tensions with expressions such as: “The apartments are so expensive, unless you live in a rat infested roach hotel,” “Those pushcart peddlers will rob you blind, selling hot merchandise no less,” “There’s no place to park unless you pile the cars on top of each other,” “Oy Vey! Some of the neighborhoods look like a war zone,” “I’ve got gates on my windows and three locks on my door, doesn’t that tell you something?” “I hate the summer, smells like last year’s garbage is still out there………” and so on and so forth.

Yet, in spite of all the discomforts, horrible tragedies and miseries, miraculously, most of those who crowd the city streets choose to stay. New York, New York, undeniably It’s one helluva town.

For the millions of commuters, who travel daily to access business and investment opportunities, rush hour is a frightening scenario, as key roadways and bridges are jam-packed with cars, trucks, motorcycles and buses inching their way through bumper to bumper traffic. The overwhelming congestion of vehicles and passengers is everywhere. An aggravating hour or two spent traveling to one place in just one borough is quite common. Let’s not forget to mention the subway. Train after train rumble and shake their way into the station, to be welcomed by an interminable barrier of commuters waiting, lined up on the platform. The crush of commuters all make a mad dash to the train, pushing and elbowing along the way. After a few seconds, the train doors slam shut, leaving the unlucky ones behind. Some frustrated passengers fly to push the doors open j-u-s-t far enough to wriggle their way inside before the train begins to move, hoping their arm, leg, pocket-book or brief case does not remain caught outside. If the train is a local, it will continue to stop and pick up more passengers along the way, thus intensifying the unbearable crowding. Ill-humored standing passengers are crushed together like sardines in a tin can with no room to fall if the train should grind to a stop.

This situation exists year round as New Yorkers and tourists swarm about, seeking out beaches, parks and other recreational areas looking for a way to unwind from the hurry-scurry of the week. Here and there, stranded motorists along the highway stand besides their cars in the sweltering, dizzying heat, worsening the weekend obstruction of thrill seekers. Once the transfer of the vehicles takes place, desperate motorists fly away frantically searching for a gas station, only to find themselves once again trapped in an enormous column of 50 to 100 cars inching their way to the pumps, hoping that the gas would not run out.

New York, New York is one helluva town. Hundreds of thousands of neighborhoods only a few blocks long and a couple of blocks wide, teeming with large selections of stores and shops functioning independently. Despite their public awareness of the American traditions, multi-ethnic groups continue to practice within their neighborhoods, their own traditions, customs, religious festivities and cuisines. The obvious presence of this difference is what makes America’s town so extraordinary. Whether one lives in the neighborhoods of Park Slope, Jewish Lower East Side, Greenwich Village, Italian Harlem, Chinatown, El Barrio, Little Italy or Yorktown, life-long relationships are continually formed. So strong is this value of the neighborhood that many families, as well as their descendants, spend their entire lives living within its confines?

If one wishes to obtain entertainment, there is always something to do.

It is home to an awesome collection of large and small museums, primarily devoted to the arts and natural history. For example, because the Metropolitan Museum of Art is so widespread and visual, one should plan to spend a whole day there. As for burning off some of that accumulated energy pent up from your work week or satisfying your taste buds, there are plenty of bars, dance clubs and restaurants one can go to at all hours of the day and night. New York, New York is “A City that Never Sleeps.” It is a place where history and the present diverge. Historians and experienced lecturers of leading walking tours take local residents and visitors alike along on exciting and unforgettable strolls through the Big Apple’s ethnic neighborhoods, places of history, tradition and craftsmanship, creating lasting memories of an astonishing past.

Speaking about unforgettable memories; this reminds me of my visit several years ago to Manhattan’s theater district, which is the most famous theater district in the world. I went to attend a matinee of “Hairspray”. Seeing that I had arrived too early, I decided to take a walk through the district to familiarize myself once again with everything. There were the usual starry-eyed young aspiring actors, dancers and singers, portfolio in hand, swarming the area hastening to attend auditions in hopes of securing fame and fortune. The transportation situation remained unchanged. Cars continued to force their way through the streets aggressively, without giving any thought to pedestrians or other vehicles. I wanted desperately to cross the avenue, but with the congestion of traffic and chaos of horns honking, brakes screeching, hostile pedestrians screaming and waving their fists only added to my state of confusion. After living several years in the suburbs of New Jersey, unaccustomed to this never ending hustle and bustle of people and vehicles, I decided to return to the theater to wait in line. Suddenly from out of nowhere, a strong singing voice accompanied by musical instruments penetrated the air. How exciting, a free presentation was being given by striking amateur sidewalk entertainers, displaying their musical talents for meager donations. Once inside the theater, my attention was riveted to the stage throughout the entire performance of “Hairspray” as I absorbed the elements of music, drama, and dance, working together as a whole in artistic creativity. This first viewing of a live Broadway musical became a memorable experience for me. There were so many people, I assumed that all the other on and off Broadway theaters were discharging at the same time. Like a swarm of bees, the famished theater-goers, including yours truly, rushed about here, there, everywhere, in search of the nearest restaurant. Satisfied with my steaming cup of coffee, delicious hamburger with onions and a portion of New York cheesecake, I reluctantly returned to New Jersey, promising myself to another exciting trip to my hometown.

All this and much more continue to add to the colorful, exciting atmosphere of the Big Apple. So if, one asks me if I am pleased to have been a New Yorker? With pride, I would answer: “You Betcha!” Undeniably, “It’s one helluva town.”

Soccer Team Tour to Italy – A “Player Experience”

When the members of the ’94 Wilmington N.C Cape Fear Beakers Boys Soccer Club departed for Perugia, Italy, they did not know what to expect. They did know, however, that they would be training and participating in an international tournament that included players from several European countries as well as the United States and Canada. Their coach, Antonio Saviano, tried to get them to understand that many of their opponents would be bigger, stronger, faster and better skilled than the players they were used to facing. There would also be the issue of playing on a larger field with Eleven players a side, instead of the usual eight vs. eight they were used to.

When they got to Italy, their week was laid out for them. There would be two training sessions, morning and afternoon, for Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday would be a sightseeing day and a chance to rest. Thursday through Saturday they would compete I an eleven-team tournament with at least two games a day. The championship finale would take place on Saturday afternoon.

At 9:30 Monday morning they all boarded the bus buzzing with excitement as they headed off to their first session. Although jet-lagged from arriving the prior day, their enthusiasm overcame sleep deprivation. The parents spent the late morning relaxing in town, sightseeing, shopping and sipping cappuccinos. When the team bus returned for lunch, however, the lack of sleep and demanding training session had obviously taken its toll. They boys were exhausted and were told to eat lunch and go to their rooms to rest and recover before their afternoon session. Eleven year old Jack Sordellini was among more than a few players who wondered “what did I get myself into?” He rallied, however, for next session, as well as the two on Tuesday, but was always happy to return to the hotel to eat, swim with his teammates at the pool and just relax. Wednesday was a welcome day off, and many members of the team toured Rome and other parts of this beautiful country.

On Thursday the games finally began. Jack could not wait and it did not take long for him to get what he came for. Playing at the right wing, it seemed that every ball in the first 10 minutes of the match were played to his part of the field and he was forced to make several long runs. The size and speed of his opponents was as advertised and the larger field along with the pace of the game tested his stamina. Once again he wondered if he was in over his head. The game finally settled into a less frenetic pace and the boys from Wilmington realized that they could compete with their stronger opponents. This first game ended scoreless in regulation time and Wilmington won on penalty kicks. They played the balance of the schedule in a similar fashion, and although they did not make the tourney finals, they clearly earned respect. Their confidence grew with each match, both on and off the field.

Alex Gianoplus, 12, heard people in the crowd chanting his name, but who were they and how did they know his name? Were they cheering for him or against? Invited to be a guest goalie playing for an Italian team, he did not understand the words that his teammates were saying to him, but he got the general idea: keep the ball out of the net.

Even though the weather was hot, over 90 degrees, Alex was outfitted with a long sleeve jersey and his socks were pulled up over his knees. The artificial turf, which was 10+degrees hotter than the air temperature, had given both of his knees and his elbows a nice layer of raw skin. That was the price he paid as he had spent the week during practice and games hurling his body in every direction making acrobatic saves.

But now he was playing in the semi-finals as a guest goalie for Italy and he could hear his name being called from the stands. As the opposition skillfully advanced the ball toward him on the attack, he was amazed at the accuracy of their passes. As he followed the play to the left he sensed that the ball would be crossed to the other side. In a split second the ball was redirected to his right and out of nowhere one of the attackers rushed the goal in perfect time to deflect it with his head toward the net. Alex instinctively lunged to his right and extended both arms. The ball seemed to be already in the net when Alex’s out stretched arms punched it to the corner of the field, where one of his defenders cleared it down field. As he landed on his tender elbows he heard the rhythmic chant from the crowd: ALEX! ALEX! ALEX! “Hmm. I guess they are rooting for me” he thought.

When the game ended Alex came up to the stands to watch the next game. He learned that his new fan club was a group of players who had a vested interest in a victory for Alex’s team. Alex sat among his new friends getting acquainted, joking ,watching the game and exchanging sweaty jerseys as souvenirs. Although there was a language barrier, they clearly knew they had a common bond.

Later, after the top two teams played for the championship, all of the teams and their parents went down to the field for an awards ceremony. The host of the tournament stood before a table of magnificent trophies for the winning teams. He thanked all of the participants and then gave out the awards. The first one, he announced, was for the ‘giocatore piu giovane”. Jack Sordellini did not know what was being said, but he understood his own name and went up to accept his trophy for being the tournament’s “youngest player”.

The tournament director continued and then held up the next large cup which was inscribed ‘miglior portiere”. Alex Gianoplus heard his name called and found out that he was named the tournaments “best goalie”.

The next day Jack and Alex waited patiently at the airport to leave for home. They had checked all their baggage with the exception of a small carry-on and, of course, two huge trophies. As they waited for their flight, they sat and talked about their week that seemed to start so long ago.

Somehow their recollection of the week changed a little bit. The Monday and Tuesday practice sessions did not seems so grueling in retrospect. In their minds the opponents were not as large as they once seemed. The field shrunk a bit and any cramps from sprinting in the blistering hot sun could not even be recalled. Turf-burned knees and elbows were little more than a faded memory…

Scuola Calcio, Italian Soccer School’s goal is to provide intensive soccer training programs that not only teach players the game of soccer but also also teach them about cultural diversity and foreign languages. With professionals Italian Soccer affiliations, Scuola Calcio, Italian Soccer School will help to develop players by experiencing international professional soccer training and give them an opportunity to travel to a structured professional environment.

Spending Sunny Days on San Francisco’s Bay

First, check into the hotel. The Opal, formerly La Quinta Inn & Suites is an excellent choice. Located at 1050 Van Ness Ave. San Francisco, CA. in the Civic Center/Cathedral Hill area of downtown San Francisco. You can walk to the Historic Cable Car, Symphony Hall, and other popular locations, or take the city tour bus and explore the beautiful cityscapes including Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, The Victorians, (Pink Ladies four brightly painted Queen Anne Victorians) and Fisherman’s Wharf. The tour bus will send a shuttle to some hotels, and take you to the Fisherman’s Wharf where the double-decker buses depart.

Visit Chinatown for a full day of sightseeing. Chinatown seems to go clear to China with its many shops and restaurants. You can purchase everything from fine jewelry to your favorite San Francisco sports team cap or jersey at reasonable prices. During our visit we found a very nice silk scarf for my mother. The shop keeper called it his Mother’s Day Special. I’m sure we paid his regular price, but it was nice and he was very attentive to our requests.

Catch the Powell-Hyde cable car line to the Fisherman’s Wharf. They are still reliable and a scenic way to see the city. Dine at No. 9 Fisherman’s Grotto. Fisherman’s Wharf’s first Seafood Restaurant for a nice cozy dinner, and order the Dungeness crab pasta dish. Tasty! The Fisherman’s Wharf is a tourist attraction located on the waterfront where you can shop for souvenirs, see live entertainment, experience the bay breeze, and the many different aromas from the restaurants along the Wharf.

If you’re the adventurous type, you can bike 2 miles across the Golden Gate Bridge erected with its orange towers, and return by ferry. This is great family fun.

Guided Tours available daily from five locations, 465 Jefferson St. at the Argonaut Hotel, 1095 Columbus Ave. near last cable car stop, Pier 41 at Fisherman’s wharf, Pier 43 ½ at Fisherman’s wharf, and 2715 Hyde St. near last cable car stop. For a little more adventure, take a ferry ride to Alcatraz Island a.k.a. “THE ROCK” known to be an inescapable experience. They even have tours of the actual facility, but you must book in advance since it’s one of the cities more popular attractions. We didn’t visit Alcatraz, but we did get some fantastic photos and video as we ferried our way to Sausalito.

Upon our arrival to Sausalito, we noticed what may have been a Cinco de Mayo festival already in progress. This included many vendors selling their artwork and various crafts. We also enjoyed the sounds of a Cajun flavored blues band straight out of New Orleans that really set the atmosphere.

Finally, when you return to the Fisherman’s Wharf, beware of the local comedian/prankster a.k.a. “THE BUSHMAN”. He looms on the sidewalk camouflaged with a few hand held bushes, and if you’re strolling along, talking to your honey, or chatting on your cell phone, he’ll shake his bushes and give you a little scare if you’re not paying attention, but it’s all in fun. Be sure to leave a tip in his coffee can. He was a hilarious part of our San Francisco experience.

Riding the Rails in Rockhill Furnace, Pennsylvania

When I lived in New York I worked for a big fancy record company that signed a lot of big fancy artists. We got free CDs and tickets to just about everything that came through town, so I’m not proud to report I was pretty blase when I snagged 15th row seats to Bruce Springsteen on the last night of his sold out world tour. In New Jersey.

“We could sell these for a couple thousand each and fly to Paris for a pastry,” I said to my friend. She was dubious. She wasn’t a Springsteen fan either, but she was as obsessed with music as I was and argued that his live shows were supposed to be the holy grail of all live shows. “I know,” I said, “but…Born in the U.S.A? Cheesy ole Clarence Clemons?” We went back and forth until she finally convinced me – “It’s free, he’s a legend and his fans are hot and know how to work on cars.” So off I dragged myself via subway, commuter train, bus and cab to Brendan Byrne Arena for an evening of ho hum music alongside New Jersey’s luckiest fans.

Cut to:

Springsteen takes the stage, plays one, two, maybe three notes and I am standing on my chair, fist in the air, sobbing. I saw every single show he did on the east coast after that and staunchly defended his honor to any pinheads who badmouthed his music or even lame old Clarence Clemons. Because here’s the thing about Bruce Springsteen: he played every single note as if there was a sniper in the audience who might take him out at any second. He was 100% in the moment, giving it everything he had, pumping us all full of red-blooded Jersey sweat and tears and all us girls wanted to be Mary barreling down Thunder Road in his GTO with our head on his shoulder and a beer between our legs.

By the time I first saw him it was 1993 which meant he had long-ago earned his status as The Boss, and had probably forsaken his humble Jersey roots for a mansion in Westchester somewhere, but he was still a hard worker, was still connected to his message and he still loved what he did. And by golly so did I.

Here’s what I learned about finding your passion from The Boss:

Don’t Wait For The Thunderbolt
Inspiration and enlightenment usually trickle in rather than showing up all at once. If you’re waiting for the big bang to go off in your head, for everything to come together in one giant undeniable bolt of clarity, you may be waiting your whole life. Answers can come in strange packages, and you never know the gem that might be lurking behind something you’d normally pass over. Just keep moving forward with what feels right, take it step by step and stay open. – “I love music, I hear he’s a great performer, it’s free, his fans are hot, etc.” and soon enough you might find yourself swept up in the very thing you love.

Listen to Your Friends

We spend our whole lives viewing our worlds from the inside of our heads out. We can get so tripped up by the squirrels running around between our ears that we can’t think or see straight – ever notice how much easier it is to figure out other people’s problems than your own? This is because your perception of them is squirrel-free. And so it goes for your friends. Lots of times what is so baffling to us is crystal clear to the people around us. Ask your friends what they think your best qualities are and what they could see you being happiest doing. Obviously the final choice is up to you, but you can get some great perspective looking through other people’s eyes.

Pay Attention

What sort of activities make you lose track of time? What magazines do you gravitate towards in a bookstore? What sorts of things fill you with nervous excitement? A lot of times the answer is standing right next to us, but we’re so caught up in worry and indecision and panic over choosing the wrong thing that we walk right past it. Pay attention to what makes you happy, down to the teeniest tiniest little things, and do it without judgment or any thoughts about what should make you happy. It’s just like what happened to little Patty Scialfa, singing back-up for Bruce, pining away while he went off and married a supermodel. When he finally stopped living the I’m a Rockstar So I Have to Marry a Model dream and woke up to find his girl still waiting for him, he found his true love. Or that’s my version of how it went down at least.

So remember to stay open, don’t be a snob about the things you like and don’t like, listen to your heart and your friends and follow the things that make you happy, step by step, and eventually you’ll wind up standing on your chair, fist in the air, sobbing.

Were You Born to Run Or Born to Sell Handbags? Tips For Figuring Out Your True Calling

When I lived in New York I worked for a big fancy record company that signed a lot of big fancy artists. We got free CDs and tickets to just about everything that came through town, so I’m not proud to report I was pretty blase when I snagged 15th row seats to Bruce Springsteen on the last night of his sold out world tour. In New Jersey.

“We could sell these for a couple thousand each and fly to Paris for a pastry,” I said to my friend. She was dubious. She wasn’t a Springsteen fan either, but she was as obsessed with music as I was and argued that his live shows were supposed to be the holy grail of all live shows. “I know,” I said, “but…Born in the U.S.A? Cheesy ole Clarence Clemons?” We went back and forth until she finally convinced me – “It’s free, he’s a legend and his fans are hot and know how to work on cars.” So off I dragged myself via subway, commuter train, bus and cab to Brendan Byrne Arena for an evening of ho hum music alongside New Jersey’s luckiest fans.

Cut to:

Springsteen takes the stage, plays one, two, maybe three notes and I am standing on my chair, fist in the air, sobbing. I saw every single show he did on the east coast after that and staunchly defended his honor to any pinheads who badmouthed his music or even lame old Clarence Clemons. Because here’s the thing about Bruce Springsteen: he played every single note as if there was a sniper in the audience who might take him out at any second. He was 100% in the moment, giving it everything he had, pumping us all full of red-blooded Jersey sweat and tears and all us girls wanted to be Mary barreling down Thunder Road in his GTO with our head on his shoulder and a beer between our legs.

By the time I first saw him it was 1993 which meant he had long-ago earned his status as The Boss, and had probably forsaken his humble Jersey roots for a mansion in Westchester somewhere, but he was still a hard worker, was still connected to his message and he still loved what he did. And by golly so did I.

Here’s what I learned about finding your passion from The Boss:

Don’t Wait For The Thunderbolt
Inspiration and enlightenment usually trickle in rather than showing up all at once. If you’re waiting for the big bang to go off in your head, for everything to come together in one giant undeniable bolt of clarity, you may be waiting your whole life. Answers can come in strange packages, and you never know the gem that might be lurking behind something you’d normally pass over. Just keep moving forward with what feels right, take it step by step and stay open. – “I love music, I hear he’s a great performer, it’s free, his fans are hot, etc.” and soon enough you might find yourself swept up in the very thing you love.

Listen to Your Friends

We spend our whole lives viewing our worlds from the inside of our heads out. We can get so tripped up by the squirrels running around between our ears that we can’t think or see straight – ever notice how much easier it is to figure out other people’s problems than your own? This is because your perception of them is squirrel-free. And so it goes for your friends. Lots of times what is so baffling to us is crystal clear to the people around us. Ask your friends what they think your best qualities are and what they could see you being happiest doing. Obviously the final choice is up to you, but you can get some great perspective looking through other people’s eyes.

Pay Attention

What sort of activities make you lose track of time? What magazines do you gravitate towards in a bookstore? What sorts of things fill you with nervous excitement? A lot of times the answer is standing right next to us, but we’re so caught up in worry and indecision and panic over choosing the wrong thing that we walk right past it. Pay attention to what makes you happy, down to the teeniest tiniest little things, and do it without judgment or any thoughts about what should make you happy. It’s just like what happened to little Patty Scialfa, singing back-up for Bruce, pining away while he went off and married a supermodel. When he finally stopped living the I’m a Rockstar So I Have to Marry a Model dream and woke up to find his girl still waiting for him, he found his true love. Or that’s my version of how it went down at least.

So remember to stay open, don’t be a snob about the things you like and don’t like, listen to your heart and your friends and follow the things that make you happy, step by step, and eventually you’ll wind up standing on your chair, fist in the air, sobbing.

Vacations Without a Car – Favorite Destinations in the United States

The United States is a driver’s paradise. To get almost anywhere, you need a car. However, for those interested in taking a trip without incurring the fuel prices (not to mention the dangers of the road) here are a few vacation destinations with easy access without a cumbersome car.

New York City and the Northeast Corridor

New York City’s public transportation system is unmatched in the United States. Once you’re within reach of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (which includes all area airports and bus stations), you are literally a subway, bus, or ferry ride away from the city’s sites, hotels, and all the attractions that make NYC so special. Park your car in New Jersey, or arrive at one of the airports, and lose the car for your getaway.

If Amtrak is your thing, the Acela, America’s only high-speed train, will take you from Boston to Washington, DC with relative ease. The major cities along the Northeast Corridor all have comparable transportation systems that in many cases stretch to the city limits, and many times beyond. As a bonus, many Amtrak stations are located right in the downtown areas of major cities.

Las Vegas and Atlantic City

In Las Vegas, taxis are abundant, but the real joy is being able to walk from resort to resort (sometimes via an indoor walkway or tram), and many of the attractions are located indoors, away from the searing heat of the desert. Las Vegas has many parking lots, most in close proximity to the resorts — particularly along the strip and in Downtown Las Vegas. Once parked, you won’t often need to visit your car, as long as you plan on staying inside the city. The airport is extremely close to the strip — a quick taxi ride will get you to your destination.

On the east coast, most of Atlantic City’s resorts are located along an extremely walk-able stretch of Boardwalk (the world’s first Oceanside boardwalk). Although taxis in Atlantic City are expensive and abundant, the Atlantic City Jitney plus various casino-owned transportation buses mean that you will rarely have to step into a cab. Also, the resorts are much closer together than in Las Vegas, so walking from one to the other requires far less of a hike.

Walt Disney World and Disneyland

Disney has gone out of its way to make cars all but useless with its 47-square-mile resort paradise in Florida. A 14-mile monorail and an endless parade of Disney-owned buses means that anybody (even those with mobility requirements) can get anywhere on resort property with ease. Even the shuttle from the airport can be free if you book a package. Best of all, Disney Transport is free to all guests!

In California, the Disneyland Resort property is considerably smaller, but the walking distance between resorts and most attractions make this a place to ditch the car altogether. Nonetheless, Disneyland Resort has its own set of Disney transportation options.

Niagara Falls

Most of the attractions in Niagara Falls are located in a tiny section around the three most voluminous waterfalls in North America, which reside between the United States and Canada. If you visit during the summertime, there are numerous trolleys that take visitors all over the falls area and beyond. Even when visiting in the winter, most of the major attractions and hotels are so close together than walking is almost always an option. Just bundle up – winters along the Niagara River are very cold.

Mackinac Island

Not only is Mackinac a great place to vacation without a car, cars are actually illegal anywhere on the island. Except for a few limited emergency vehicles, all transportation is by foot, bicycle or horse-drawn carriage. It’s a beautiful, picturesque place that almost seems frozen in history. The only downside is Mackinac Island’s remote location. If you can get to northern Michigan and get to the island, be prepared for the ultimate car-free experience.

Key West

Tiny Key West has its own airport and public bus system. Flights to Key West (usually connecting from a nearby major city such as Miami) are available nationwide. Key West’s “Old Town” is the main tourist section, and practically everything in that neighborhood is within walking distance. If you are lucky enough to secure a hotel or guest house in Old Town, you probably won’t even need to get on a bus. “New Town” is a few miles away and may require access to private transportation, but don’t worry! Renting a scooter is very popular and a great way to traverse this tiny island. Exploring the other Florida Keys, however, will require a tour or private car, so you’re basically stuck in Key West until the end of your vacation.

Dirk Vanderwilt is the publisher for Channel Lake, Inc. which publishes books in the Tourist Town Guides series. Tourist Town Guides offers independent, honest advice about America’s top tourist hotspots.