Thursday, May 26, 2016

Key West Sunset from Mallory Square in May

Most of our friends know how much we love watching sunset from White Street Pier in Key West, but you can't see the sun from White Street in the spring and summer. If you are visiting Key West for the first time, or if you just love to see all the people and street performers, a good spot to see sunset from in May is Mallory Square. To actually see the sunset you'll need to go down the pier one way or another from where most of the performers are set up, but with a little looking around you should be able to find a good spot like us. One of our tips for getting great pictures at sunset is to grab a few shots of the buildings and boats as they light up in the golden hour sun. We also suggest using the manual settings on your camera to help capture some great color by underexposing just a little, and be sure to use flash if you are taking pictures of friends and family with the sun setting in the background. We go to watch sunset just about every night, so if you happen to see us at Mallory or anywhere else on the island, be sure wave when you see Josh and Joe Travels!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Three Life Lessons from the Southernmost Cat

With roots in Florida and ties in the midwest, we do a lot of traveling, and many of our friends know we don't travel alone. Our cat Teak has spent a lot of time riding up and down the Florida turnpike, and getting to know Teak has taught us many important lessons.

Knowing Teak is a lesson in friendship. There are few things Teak enjoys more than the company of his friends, and he waits eagerly for companionship. Teak is emotional and intelligent about his relationships, and reminds us to spend time with the relationships that matter most.

Being Teak's friend is a lesson in honesty. Teak counts on us to help him with a lot of stuff, and he gives us no reason not to believe that he needs something. Teak has no use in his life for dishonesty or insincerity, because to honestly know Teak is to act with genuine kindness in your heart.

The Southernmost Cat teaches understanding. Teak will tell you anything you want to know, but you have to pay attention. Teak has taught us more about cats and humanity that we ever could have expected. Teak understands what we do for him, even if he doesn't always seem to understand why. For the Southernmost Cat, true understanding is really more about the journey than the destination.

Teak, beloved cat and trusted friend, died April 12, 2016, following a six-month struggle with illness. He was twenty years old. Teak was treated for kidney dysfunction and chest congestion at Noah's Stop 11 Animal Hospital. He had also developed an unknown neurological condition that caused seizures in the sunset of his life. Affectionately known as Scooby to his close friends, Teak enjoyed seafood, bird watching and long naps in his window bed. He had become a "freshwater Conch," a term used in Key West, Florida, to describe northerners who become locals. Teak would change his call sign to the "Southernmost Cat" while in Key West, a reference to the nearby naval air station. He held a lifetime appointment as senior project supervisor and lead investigator of the household, and enjoyed relaxing with his favorite toys from a store at Clinton Square in old town Key West. A seasoned traveler, Teak had been as far south as Florida and as far west as Kansas, and he modestly preferred standard hotel rooms to suites. Teak is preceded in death by Kaya Anne, his longtime cat-panion. He is survived by Josh and Joe.

So one last time, Teak is changing his call sign. Teak is now and forever will be the Southernmost Cat. We had taken a break from blogging, but we plan to start posting again about our adventures. And if you happen to see us anytime soon along a blue highway, be sure to stop and ask if we need directions, because we suddenly find ourselves without our co-pilot here at Josh and Joe Travels.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Kansas City National World War I Museum and view from the top of the Liberty Memorial Tower

The National World War I Museum and the Liberty Memorial Tower have become one of our favorite places in Kansas City, and this year we finally got to go inside to visit the museum, and Joe took the trip up to the top of the tower for a new view of the KC skyline. We've spent a lot of time at the memorial enjoying the view of Union Station and downtown Kansas City. We love the Crown Center area and Union Station and the World War I Museum make it a spot you shouldn't miss on your own Kansas trips.

Inside the memorial you'll find a spectacular museum that tells the story of World War I. Even if you are not much of a museum person like Josh, you'll love how well the museum is designed and packed full of real war era pieces. If you're anything like Joe, you could easily spend a couple hours in hear reading all the signs and watching the short films. You start your journey in the museum watching a piece that summarizes the build up to World War I, and they do probably the best job anywhere of articulating America's role in the war and illustrating the impact the war had on America soldiers and their families. Bottom line: this place is really very cool.

So here are a few tips to make your trip to the National World War I Museum even better. First, the war museum opens at 10:00am daily. This can be kind of a late start for your morning sightseeing. We recommend hitting the Kansas City Money Museum, within walking distance, which opens at 8:30am weekdays and has a cool, free walk-in experience. Second, consider spending the day in the area. You can easily soak up an entire day at the museums, Union Station, and Crown Center. Remember that the Kansas City Union Station is full of museums, so if you visit with young children you'll have it made in the shade. And if you wear comfortable shoes and have nice weather you could easily walk the area and never half to move your car. Best of all, and third, there is a pedestrian bridge that takes you over the tracks from Union Station to the old freight house to Jack Stack, home of some of the best Kansas City BBQ you'll find.

So enjoy your visit to the National World War I Museum and the Liberty Memorial, and check out one of our favorite places just like Josh and Joe Travels!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Behind the Scenes: Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular Louisville, Kentucky

Halloween is probably Joe's favorite season, and when he can't be in the middle of the madness at Fantasy Fest, you can be pretty sure he's out looking for just about anything that has to do with pumpkins. And when you are in the midwest, the best place to look for jack-o-lanterns in October is Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular in Louisville, Kentucky.

Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular is probably the biggest jack-o-lantern show you'll ever see in your life, and with with thousands of carved pumpkins lighting up the trail at Iroquois Park on the south side of Louisville, you should be sure to visit during the Halloween season.

This year Joe sprung for the VIP passes for Jack-O-Lantern, and if you don't mind the extra cost, in addition to going on the trail with everyone else, you get treated to a special look behind the scenes and a private trip to the pumpkin shed where you can see the magic behind the art pumpkins. What is the difference between an art pumpkin and a regular old jack-o-lantern? Well, the art pumpkins are the incredibly detailed and intricately designed pumpkins that together create the multimedia art show produced by the team at Passion for Pumpkins, Inc.

Passions for Pumpkins started doing shows in Massachusetts, and it wasn't long before the show got so big they made found themselves in Louisville doing Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular. This group has a special technique for doing the art pumpkins, and if you look at some of our pictures you might pick up on a few things, but needless to say the artist spend hundreds of hours each fall during the show creating these one-of-a-kind pieces.

Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular is a rain or shine event, which means if it happens to start raining, the show goes on, so if you buy tickets in advance and it starts to rain (like we did), don't panic. One of the pumpkin experts actually told us that rainy nights are some of the best times be out on the trail because the crowds are lighter and you can take your time without the big lines behind you, but be sure to pack an umbrella. Parking can get pretty crazy when a few thousand of your Halloween inspired friends show in suburbans and minivans, so get there early and consider buying passes in advance. Photography is permitted along the trail, although its not too easy to hold a camera and an umbrella, and tripods and flash photography are not allowed. It absolutely poured the night we were there, and while we want to go again on a dry night, the rain didn't completely spoil our fun. But keep in mind, we had those pricey VIP passes hanging around our necks thanks to Joe, so we spent a lot of the time during a downpour in the pumpkin barn where we were high and dry. And you get to peak behind the scenes just like Josh and Joe Travels!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Kansas City and Moon Marble in Bonner Springs

Of all the places we travel, Moon Marble in Booner Springs, Kansas, is one our favorite places to visit. Our trips to the Moon have become an annual tradition, and we've been collecting handmade marbles from the Moon for about ten years. Those marbles are like our trips - not a single one can ever be exactly alike no matter how hard you try. If you've been following the blog for any amount of time you've likely read all about Moon Marble, but don't forget that in addition to the one of a kind handmade marbles, Moon Marble is also one of the coolest independent toy stores you'll find in the country. So make sure you stop at the Moon, and don't forget to ask if we buy more marbles made by Ernie or Bruce if you bump into Josh and Joe Travels!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal

Cincinnati Union Terminal is incredible, and while it still serves as the city's hub for Amtrak, it also serves as the museum center. Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal houses the history museum, children's museum, science museum and even an omnimax theater. Union Terminal is also home to the Cincinnati Library and Archives, so this is a spot with lots to see. Union Terminal's architecture features one of the largest half domes you're likely to ever see in the United States, plus the Rockwood ice cream parlor and Winold Reiss mosaics are impressive details. And while you're there, you'll notice a unique perspective on the city skyline. Opened in 1933, Union Terminal is one of the best examples of art deco style in the midwest, so be sure to drop by if you are in Cinci, just like Josh and Joe Travels!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Cincinnati and Findlay Market

This year we've had a lot of fun exploring Cincinatti and Newport, and once we got away from the shopping malls and interstates we are having fun hanging out with the locals. You might remember when we stopped to check out Bobby Mackey's and Newport at the Levee, and it was on that same trip to Cinci that we went to the Findlay Market.

Findlay Market is a historic farmers market right in Cincinatti - it has actually been continuously operated since 1855, so if you are looking to see something really special, don't miss a chance to see Findlay Market. The market is all about fresh, locally grown food and promoting local business - just the kind of thing we love to see and support.

And if you've been following Josh and Joe Travels for longer than ten minutes you know how much we love good barbeque, so it won't surprise you that one of the things that led us to Findlay Market was Velvet Smoke BBQ.  This place is a local favorite with stellar reviews, so if you are hungry at the market and love smoked meat, check out Velvet Smoke. If Velvet Smoke isn't your thing, you'll have no trouble finding a great fresh snack at the market. The place was hopping when we dropped by, so grab something to eat, pull up a chair and spend a few minutes at Findlay Market, and be sure to say hi if you see Josh and Joe Travels!