Do You Know the Real Story of Mount Rushmore?

Knowing the “Real”story behind a destination: Mount Rushmore

By Amanda Vallone

Have you ever wondered what the “real story” is behind a destination, piece of art, or monument? If you are like most, you have probably learned about famous sights in history from a book, magazine articles, history lesson, or television show. It is a unique opportunity to put that knowledge to the test when you see the sight in person.

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One of the most recognizable monuments in the US is Mount Rushmore- nearly three million people each year travel worldwide to marvel at the majestic beauty of the Black Hills of South Dakota and see the National Monument to four of our nation’s most influential leaders. What may surprise you, is that it was not the original idea of artist Gutzon Borglum to create a monument to the president to the badlands of South Dakota… rather, South Dakota historian Doane Robinson was initially looking to bring tourists to the badlands by celebrating the West. They were to commission an artist to sculpt Western heroes like Oglala Lakota leader Red Cloud, explorers Lewis and Clark, and Buffalo Bill Cody into the nearby stone pinnacles known as the Needles. But the dream of making this tourist attraction large enough to draw people from around the globe needed to be larger than the Needles…. It needed to be carved into the side of a mountain. And so, it was.

Did you know:

* Jefferson was supposed to be on Washington’s Right? But the rock didn’t work out so his face was blasted out and replaced to the left.

* There is a hall of records behind the head of President Lincoln which holds our Nation’s most valuable information and is stored and meant to be opened thousands of years from now to educate our future generations.

* The carving was originally meant to include the bodies of the presidents down to their waists.

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* In 1937, a bill was introduced to Congress to add the image of women’s rights leader Susan B. Anthony to the mountain… But then, Congress then passed a bill requiring only the heads that had already been started be completed.

* 400 men worked on Mount Rushmore, only one of whom was hired an artist, the rest were miners who were good with dynamite. Surprisingly, no man died during this project.

* The one artist Borglums did hire Korczak Ziolkowski, to work as an assistant on the mountain. But after 19 days and a heated argument with Borglum, Korczak Ziolkowski left the project. He would later begin another mountain carving nearby, Crazy Horse Memorial, which today is the world’s largest mountain sculpture in progress.

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You see, some of the most famous monuments in our nation have a lot of interesting and fun facts behind them. This summer the Aging Tree will take a group departure to Mount Rushmore and get a first hand view of these 60 foot tall carvings in the side of a mountain that draw over 3 million visitors from around the world every year. This guided tour brings you to experience the greatness of Mount Rushmore, sightseeing, dinner, and the spectacular lighting of the memorial at night. You will partake in

a patriotic welcome and salute to our Veterans and the Presidents who were chosen for their significant contribution to the founding, expansion, preservation, and unification of this great country.

Do you want to learn more about Mount Rushmore, or the rest of the destinations on this departure including Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Devils Tower and Crazy Horse Memorial?

Join us February 28th at 4:30 at the Aging Tree for more information. Call 386-734-7245 today to RSVP and for more information- CLICK HERE

Can I tell you a story about the time I lived in India

My Bollywood Adventure… Well maybe not quite that glam.

By Amanda Vallone

Picture this, I am in my last year of grad school at Auburn University and my husband (yes, husband- I was a child bride) was completing his second bachelors degree in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering also at Auburn University.  It is 2008 and George (hubby) is taking graduate classes at university and working on some scientific things I couldn’t even begin to explain pertaining to everything from space travel, rockets, to providing sufficient hydration and protection for our military while learning about renewable energy sources.

December of 2007 we were offered the opportunity only seven students in the whole University were awarded- the chance to travel abroad to India all expenses paid if we came back with a research project and an international perspective of the “foreign -exchange student” experience to share with other Auburn students in our own curriculum.

So what would any other poor, working (three jobs)- yet barely surviving, adventurous student do before they had to graduate and get their “big boy and big girl jobs”?

I don’t think you need to think hard to figure that one out… We of course said YES to the opportunity to travel to India and take part in the 4 month research program. No Questions Asked!

Hahahaha- we were literally crazy. We knew nothing about India and we had to apply for our Visas, find a place to stay, work, research, and figure out the travel. We were connected to one of the most prestigious universities in all of India and even the wold- IIT Madras.

Except, upon arrival, they did not have housing for us- party foul! How does one travel this far and plan for 6 months without a place to stay?

 

So what did we do? We left Chennai and traveled 7 hours down mostly unpaved, bumpy, dirt roads to Tiruchirappall, IIT Trichy to stay at a neighboring university for our first two weeks until we could find other accommodations and come up with plan B.

The drive was… rough. I will leave it at that. No, I am not talking about the bumpy roads. That was difficult too, but getting off at street markets and needing to use a eastern facility that is similar to an outhouse is a bit more of what I am considering rough. And figuring out what to eat,  or what not to eat, and the conversion of money… it was all a bit much on extreme jet lag.

  • At this point in my story I am wondering if those reading it are questioning how I got into the travel industry if I am “complaining” — keep reading on…

So we arrive in Trichy after asking directions (because there are not street signs everywhere) and people just give head nods to our drivers questions “Ana Trichy Bono” Which means “Which way Trichy, thank you?!”

Things I saw along the way:

  • Signs for STD’s everywhere- say whaaaat? I later found out it was their sim card for their phone. Totally different from what I would have ever guessed.
  • Coconut Oil- You think you are up on the latest trend by using beauty products or cooking with Coconut Oil in the last few years? India has been doing it forever. No conditioner to be found… but Coconut Oil is sold at the street corner shop in individual packages.
  • Monkeys… they just ran right across the street like squirrels do here. Difference is, if we hit a squirrel in the states we might be upset or even cry about it… In India if you hit a monkey you will sell your car because it is bad luck and some believe monkeys are gods.
  • Rickshaws- an awesome form of transportation to try once or twice.
  • Motorcycles as the family vehicle- with 5-6 people piled up on them
  • Traffic lanes that fit three times the amount of vehicles we would ever dare into the same area.

So we spent our two week allotment at IIT Trichy worked in their lab and met with countless professors about engineering stuff that was over my head. I am not dumb by any means, it just was not interesting at all. The culture however, was extremely interesting. I went to temples, bazaars, and watched traditional dance performances after every single meeting. One of my favorite parts of India was mingling with the people.

We went to the famous Rock Fort that is said to geologically date back a billion years (the actual rock). This historic Rock Fort and temple complex are built on the very top of this huge hill/ rock that measures 273 feet high in the city of Tiruchirapalli. It was truly a pilgrimage to so many. For us, it was our first temple and an amazing experience. We had to take our shoes off before going in and walk barefoot out of respect. The colors on the walls were spectacular and the carvings and designs of the gods and deities were spectacular. There are two Hindu temples inside the Rockfort, The Uchchi Pillaiyar Koil and The Siva Temple.

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This temple was just the beginning of us visiting countless more temples and faith-filled places. It really was quite an experience.

So onto the rest of our time.

I had a professor in the states, Dr. Veena Chattaraman who had a connections with the Gandhi Rural Rehabilitation Centre (GRRC), which was located in a little rural village just a couple hours away in Alampoondi. GRRC was originally founded by monks who wanted to help those of society who were considered “castaways” including those who had leprosy.  GRRC is now working with the disadvantaged and under privileged village youth, children, women, widow and handicapped people.

Since I was an undergraduate student of Fashion Design and a Masters of Science in Consumer Affairs with emphasis in Entrepreneurship in the apparel industry my project was to come to GRRC and help the handloom weavers and the tailors create designs that would be marketable to a more “Western” market. And to then help with the marketing plan of this.

George was to stay with me and bring solar energy to this community or at least this compound, as they were so far off the grid there would be three days at a time we did not get electricity.

Some of the best people in all of India we met were located right here… they did not speak English, and our only way to communicate was pointing and hand motions or with the one gentleman who could speak Tamil and English. Mr. Kumar was the director of the compound, welcomed us into his facility  and into his home for dinner on a few occasions. He had a different type of home because it was whats they called a “love marriage” rather than an arranged marriage. They educated us greatly on the cultural views of marriage, cast system, and what they thought of the US… it was an election year and an Olympic year too. Being an outsider looking into these events was quite an interesting experience.

We stayed in India for about 4 months traveling all over the place. We explored Southern India going back and forth from Chennai to Trichy to Aloompoondi and we even took a vacation to the backwaters of Kerala in which we stayed on a houseboat. Kerala’s backwaters is somewhat similar to the bayou as it is a network of interconnected canals, rivers, lakes and inlets. It is truly a labyrinthine system formed by nearly 600 miles of waterways.

Though I have been a vegetarian collectively almost 1/2 of my life picking it up and dropping it on and off over the years, I found it difficult in India. The one thing I looked forward to was when we would go to Chennai  (one of 2 times total) they had a Pizza Hut and I ordered myself a whole large pizza with real pepperoni…. omg it was delicious.

 

At the end of our trip we had the forethought to plan to fly out of Northern India so we had no excuse not to visit the tourist sights and see the Taj Mahal. So George and I visited a Indian travel agent and set up a trip to see the Golden Triangle which included Seeing the Taj Mahal, visiting New Delhi, Agra, the Pink City of Jaipur, Rajastan  New Delhi, Agra and Rajasthan.

Jaipur is the capital city of Rajasthan and is also known as the Pink City. The maharaja painted the whole city pink, the color of hospitality, when Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales visited Jaipur in 1876. We visited the city’s historic forts and palaces.

We also visited Amber Fort- a marvelous example of Rajput architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The interior of the fort has various royal halls decorated with intricate ivory, mirror and glass work complemented by exquisite wall paintings. It was here that we took an elephant ride around the fort and realized if you give an ounce of interest to those selling you something you will miss all of the sights and you will only haggle the whole tour…

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Luckily today I have 2 beautiful blankets with round mirrors on them to tell everyone about the scenery I missed because I had to buy these blankets.

 

This Golden Triangle Tour really was everything that people think they will see in India. We ran into so many Western Tourists who said they absolutely LOVED India because they only stayed in Northern India. We had such a different and life altering experience in India the two weeks we spent doing the golden triangle was like a vacation that I only remember sparse memories from. The sights were beautiful and I would totally plan to go back for this Northern India Experience again… Ask me to move to India all expenses paid again? I would have to decline.

So moral of the story, I LOVE what I do in tourism… I think traveling the world opens your mind, heart and soul to people. There are new experiences all around you waiting for you to enjoy. It opens your life to opportunity, and it opens your eyes to the world.

I will be sharing pictures of my experience at our upcoming event “Spotlight on Travel” Wednesday, February 8th and would be more than happy to share the full story with you. Want more information on a specific destination in India? Just let me know. 386-734-7245

 

South Africa and Tarzan

By Amanda Vallone

It is Friday night… What does that mean? Movie night! So the Legend of Tarzan it is. Tiffany Clay has been going on about how great the new Tarzan movie is so George and I figured we would have to check it out. On a side note- I was a total True Blood fan, so the main actor in Tarzan,   Alexander Skarsgård, totally sold it for me before I ever saw the trailer.

So, what the heck does this blog post have to do about travel? Well, a lot! My normal day is just about as inconsistent as… let’s just say it is very inconsistent. Not because I cannot stay on task (though, I bet you are wondering if I can, after reading these first few sentences), but rather, what I do at Roseborough is wear a great many hats. One moment I will be blogging, the next moment I will be video posting, then there is flyers, facebook, newspapers, presentations, e-newsletters, group trips, website work… the list goes on. So, what was I doing today? Today I just so happened to be working on our 2017 South African Adventure.

I am so excited about this trip to South Africa including Botswana & Zimbabwe. As I was putting final details on the written portion of the flyer, and doing some additional research, my brain started reeling. Next year I will be going to my absolute numeral UNO destination on my live it list in the entire world. Eeeeeeeeeek!!!! Seriously, my heart is doing a little happy dance right now and I am literally giddy. Sure it is 11:30pm and I just had a cup of espresso (don’t ask me why). But the excitement is totally about Africa and not the caffeine!

So what will we be doing on this adventure you ask? Well let me tell you. We begin by flying into Cape Town which is a totally cool port city on the Southwest coast of South Africa. Cape Town is the second most populous urban area in South Africa and home to highlights including:

  • Table Mountain
  • Robben Island
  • V&A Waterfront
  • Camps Bay
  • Boulders Beach
  • Kirstenbosch Gardens
  • Wine Regions

I myself, am totally stoked about Table Mountain as well as Robben Island the former penal colony where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. Did you know the prison tours are actually now run my former political prisoners like Mr. Mandela whom have firsthand knowledge and experiences of the nearly 500 year system that Robben Island was built on. Our tour is actually going to end at his cell. I am not sure words can describe this. The only thing I can even relate this experience to (not having actually experienced Robben Island yet) is Alcatraz. When I went to San Francisco I was not overly excited about going to Alcatraz, rather it was a portion of a day tour to Muir Woods and Sausalito in which we chose the Alcatraz extension because my hubby George wanted to go. Well the tour was spoken in the words of the prisoners and the prison guards. It was spectacular! So I am only assuming that Robben Island would and should live up to that same odd historical prison experience I am somehow overly “excited” for. And if it for any reason does not live up to my dreams (which I highly doubt), we will be going to the winelands of South Africa for lunch and then a tour and tasting. Uh… SCORE!

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(Photo Credit: Poonam Jayarajan)

Yup, total wino and coffee addict am I… I think I may begin taste testing all of the South African Wines I can get my hands on to “prepare” for this trip. Its for educational value, isn’t it? Who wants to join me?

 Wine Tour

Anyway South Africa has amazing vineyards that are as if you stepped into the south of France- Dreams DO come TRUE!

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Ok ok, so where are all the animals? Well get this, I bet I will shock you with what animals we will see first.

Penguins! Yup, you read that right! We are going to see a colony of Penguins in Africa (my favorite)

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Next odd one up….

Seals!

 Elephant seal colony (mirounga angustirostris), California, 2007

OK, now for the Big Five- as we venture on to Chobe National Park this is where we will partake in not only game drives in those jeeps that you think of when people picture traveling through Africa. But we will also take a River Safari Ride. Remember, the animals come to the water to drink and cool down. So the river ride will give us the opportunity to see many bird species as well as animal drinking. My Salute Africa travel rep Bruce had a pack of Elephants cross in the water right in front of him (about 10 feet away). His wife got some great footage on her iPad. And they saw a bunch of hippopotamus up close and personal on this same river ride.

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So what are the Big Five? What does that term mean? The Big Five was a term coined back in the early 1900’s because it meant it was the most difficult and dangerous animals to kill/ hunt on foot. These animals include: the African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and the rhinoceros. Today tour operators use this term to talk about the animals that would bring presidents and dignitaries to South Africa in years past. Now the only difference is, on our hunt we will be shooting them with our cameras and iPads.

After spending 2 nights in the Chobe National Park Lodge with game drives, boat rides, and hiking opportunities I am sure we will get our chance to see a ton of wildlife J

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And if all of that was not enough… we are going to see the AMAZING Victoria Falls. This magnificent wonder took over 500,000 years for nature to carve out and it is spectacular!

So how does that all relate to Tarzan? Watch the movie… the scenery alone will make you want to go to South Africa. Just about every 20 minutes I said “I cannot wait to go to Africa” from the animals to the beautiful landscape, the culture to the cuisine I literally cannot wait. My heart yearns to travel to South Africa, Zimbabwe, & Botswana on this trip. I am going next September and as soon as I have more details and a flyer posted I will definitely include it. In the meantime, I am going to have an event that will answer some questions about the trip. Join us Thursday, September 8th for our Let’s Talk Travel Series. It is themed Multi-generational Travel- but we are going to talk about this adventure because it is planned as a family friendly departure. That’s Right, Aurora the Explorer is coming along!

Let’s go to Africa!

Berlin

Berlin

Posted by Intern: Matthew I

Berlin has emerged from its communist past as a lively, progressive, avant-garde and one of Europe’s most in demand cities. The city is home to scores of exhibitions and art shows that cover a broad range of subjects bound to interest people from all different walks of life.  The Berlin Wall Memorial  is devoted to those who perished trying to pass from East Germany to West Germany.  The Bahaus Factory Museum features objects and memorabilia related to the factory, which was one of the most famous and significant schools of design and art in the 1900s.

If one feels like taking a break from the sight-seeing scene and getting close to nature there is  Mauer park, which functions as not only a peaceful site, but also a place for lively marketplace enthusiasts. The park also turns into a flea market once a week,  with traders selling everything from food to furnishings. The park hosts hosts a karaoke competition, but instead of expert vocal performance, the event is more centered on enjoyment and wackiness. Berlin’s Botanical garden, founded in the seventeenth century, was given a touch up in the late twentieth century.  Currently, it houses thousands of plant species,  over a dozen greenhouses and a museum.

Berlin is a cutting-edge, dynamic capital city. It boasts a wide variety of of events to participate in and places to go, from visiting legendary factories, listening to the philharmonic,  dance until early morning, or being amazed of all the different plant types in a garden. Berlin rightfully deserves it reputation of one of Europe’s most fascinating cities.