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!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Georgetown Fair Queen: Fair Week Portraits with 2015 Queen Sierra Dicken and Court

The 2015 Georgetown Fair was one of the best yet, and we can't wait to see what they put on the schedule for next year's fair. 2015 Miss Georgetown Fair Sierra Dicken and her court had a busy week, and on the last day of the fair we found a few minutes to do some pictures with Queen Sierra's fair week convertible sponsored by Toyota of Danville, and we got lucky with a few night pictures in the midway.

As the official photographers of the Georgetown Fair Queen we stay pretty busy in Illinois, and we also get a lot of questions about how we do our fair queen coverage. We plan on posting some behind the scenes stuff for photographers interested in the equipment we use, how we develop our coverage strategies, and stuff like that. In the meantime, here is a quick look at our fair week by the numbers:

1,500 is the approximate number of miles we drove back and forth from Indianapolis to Georgetown. Starting with fair family dinner, we went out six times in ten days. 36 is the number of rechargeable AA batteries we burned through on pageant day. If you happened to notice Joe handling a double flash rig at the pageant, we hope to talk a little more about this and our gear later. 11 is the number of posts we put up about the Georgetown Fair Queen Pageant in the month of August. In these posts we've shared about 100 pictures you won't see anywhere else. 4 is the number of camera bags, on average, that we took with us on each trip the Georgetown Fair.

After a busy week with the Georgetown Fair Queen, we're looking forward to sharing some of our other trips, and we've got some behind the scenes stuff to share with you, too. So keep checking back often and be sure to wave if you see Josh and Joe Travels!