Best Travel Deals for Single College Students and Young Professionals

The sun is gently warming your face as you hear the sound of the ocean gently lapping at the side of your cruise ship. You open your eyes and look around at the hundreds of fellow sunbathers and realize that they all have something in common, grey hair and a summed age of over 3,000 years old. Unless you really have a thing for older men or women, maybe it’s time you looked into cruises and vacations for people more your age.

The cruise industry is one of the fastest growing travel related enterprises in the world as is the tour business. As a result cruise lines and tour groups are more and more often designing themed travel to help sell a new and upcoming generation to the lifestyle of the ocean traveler. There is everything from an Elvis impersonator cruise, women’s trips, gay and lesbian trips, nudist cruises, star trek cruises…ok so I’m not so sure about star trek but you never know but there are many singles and young adult themed options for travel. So why not go on vacation with people your own age?

Don’t feel like cruising? There are many other options out there for single college students and young professionals to some of the hottest vacations spots around. One thing to watch out for is a singles supplement. I tried the best I could to only provide links to sites that do not charge a singles supplement but sometimes it is just unavoidable.

Here are some of the many options that are now available for cruisers/travelers just like you. Make sure to pack the essentials, including the current best laptops for college!

(Most cruises require that you be at least 21 to cruise alone. If someone is under the age of 21, someone must be at least 25 in the room they are staying in and the underage person must have signed permission from their parents, so keep this in mind before you plan.)

The Groove Cruise

www.whettravel.com

Quoted as the “spring break for people with jobs” this cruise takes place on the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. This cruise advertises the hottest dance music, the best DJ’s, and that over “2,000 chic, young professionals” have experienced this cruise which is in its 4th year running. They have 2 different itineraries, one out of LA and the other out of Miami. The last cruise was 55% women and 45% men to give and idea of the ratio. This cruise sells out every year (currently for 2008 there is a waiting list of over 100) so it’s probably best to book this cruise pretty far in advance. For pricing you can contact Kathy at Kathy@WhetTravel.com since pricing varies dependent on your room package.

All Singles Travel

http://allsinglestravel.com/

Travel agency specializing in singles travel. Has a wide range of cruise and travel options. This tends to hit more of an older crowd (30-50) but gets a mix of younger travelers as well.

STA Travel

www.statravel.com

STA Travel is by far one of the best places to book travel for ages 18-30. This site has the largest selection of tours available in pretty much every continent. From African Safaris to London Excursions you’re going to find what you want here.

Travel Chums

www.travelchums.com

Don’t necessarily want to pay for a tour but still don’t want to travel alone? This is your site. Just input the gender and age of the person you want to travel with, and a list of fellow travelers pop up that you can contact. My word of warning is to be careful with this site, and if you’re a female traveler, it’s probably better to stick only with other female travelers.

EF College Tours

www.eftours.com/college

This is also a great site for those looking at traveling with a younger group. There are lots of options, and it’s probably one of the cheapest. I actually would book my tours through them.

So there you go. Don’t let single supplement fees, or a fear of traveling alone stop you. There are plenty of options to travel before your hair turns grey, so get out there and enjoy the world!

My 5 Favorite Art Blogs

These are my 5 most favorite blogs on the internet listed in no particular order. Some I check on a daily basis, some every few days and others weekly. These are all blogs by truly inspirational and artistic women and if not for the World Wide Web I may never have found or known them.

Blog No.1) http://13thstreetstudio.typepad.com/13th_steet_studio/

This blog belongs to Linda Frost. Linda is a wonderful textile artist and bird lover living in the State of Kansas. I find her blog fresh and original with a “writing an old friend” quality. Her blog is a plethora of information from artist’s trading cards to how-to’s and where it’s all happening. Her love of quilting and humor shines through on every page. Linda’s stories of her travels can also be found on boomergirl.com at http://www.boomergirl.com/staff/linda_frost/stories/. If you are interested in quilting or textile arts or birds of any feathers then Linda’s blog is great to follow. I have gained so much knowledge from her about the quilting and textile world since finding her and I am sure you will too.

Blog No.2) http://www.tsktsk.typepad.com

This blog belongs to Tiel from Australia. She is a wonderful artist, illustrator, designer and mother. She shares so many parts of her life on her blog including her husband, children and their travels. I have seen Australia, Belgium, Bragg and Paris through the eyes of Tiel. She showcases wonderful shops she finds in the many areas she travels to also. You can find her website here http://www.tsktsk.com.au and her etsy shop here http://www.tsktsk.etsy.com . I love her artwork and her free flowing style. She creates wonderful children’s artwork and uses her own designs on cards and stationary. Tiel is another bird lover as birds are the theme of many of her creations. This is a wonderful blog for mothers of small children also as she shares tips and hints on how she deals with the trials, tribulations, and delights, of motherhood and being a stay at home mom with a successful arts  amp; design business to run.

Blog No.3) http://sepia-art-studio.typepad.com/blog/

This blog belongs to a wonderful young Finland native named Delila. I have only recently stumbled upon her blog and yet feel I have visited her often. I fear my description here would not do justice for the wonderfully inspirational space she has built. An artist whose love of nature is her theme she has made a comforting place of inspiration with soothing music, beautiful nature photography and mixed media art. She shares her love of all things faery like and of Beatrix Potter as well. She can turn viewing a photo of a simple birch tree into a religious experience. Is she a Wiccan or a shaman reincarnated? I do not know and yet this blog evokes within me thoughts of both lifestyles. She shares the soul of Harry Potter and the gentle sweetness of Alice. I can become lost in her world while looking through her blog archives, with a feeling of reading a wonderful book of yesterdays. She seemingly lives an enchanted life attuned to all things natural. Delila can be found in the pages of Somerset Life’s spring 2008 magazine as well as at her etsy shop here

http://www.sepiaartstudio.etsy.com. Do take the time to check out her sepia art studio bog, you’ll be glad you did.

Blog No.4) http://www.abeautifulmess.typepad.com/

This blog belongs to Elsie Flannigan. She lives in the state of Missouri and oh what a fun life she leads. I so enjoy reading her blog about her adventures with her friends. She is also one of the 5 beautiful people showcased on the red velvet art blog (more on that later). Elsie has a style that I would describe as bright, funky and colorful. She is a free spirit and has a love of life as well as art, painting, drawing, scrapbooking, music, designing, decorating, her many friends; and Jeremy. Oh and I mustn’t forget to mention her grandpa. She loves grandpa, no doubt about that (check her blog and you’ll understand). She shares her boyfriend’s, Jeremy Larson, music on her blog also. A busy lady with many busy friends and yet they all seem to be finding the time to enjoy life. Elsie is also the author of the book “52 Scrapbooking Challenges”. She can be found at her etsy shop here http://www.elsiecake.etsy.com. There is so much more to say about Elsie but I’ll let you all find out for yourselves at her wonderfully fun blog.

Blog No.5) http://www.redvelvetgirls.typepad.com/

This is the blog home of 5 very inspiring and creative young women going by the group name of red velvet girls. Here you will meet Rachel, from Central CA; Elsie, from the Midwest; Silje, a Norwegian living in Kansas City, KS (I love her tattoos); Sarah, another Midwestern girl from Missouri; and Emma, living in California. My oh my, but where do I begin? This blog is full of DIY information, blogs about their fun parties and artsy retreats, wonderful photography and the day to day lives of artists, crafters and best friends. This blog contains links to each artist’s etsy site, a few MySpace sites and a few of their personal blogs as well as links to some of their favorite places on the web. I enjoy seeing the photographs of the gatherings the girls have that look to be some exciting and fun silly times as well as inspirational and learning times for each one. Each girl’s own strengths and personality, loves and joys shine through and create a wonderful and eclectic mix. Oh to be young again was my first thought when finding this site. I am always insured to come away from this blog with a new craft idea, a new website to check out and a SMILE on my face. I’m sure you will too so log on and find out what the red velvet girls have been up to, you’ll be glad you did and inspired to create more in whatever medium you prefer.

I have more “favorites” I like to go to when I’m just browsing the web but these are so full of many of the things I love I find myself needing a “fix” every now and then if I haven’t checked in for a while. I am sure if you love all things bright and beautiful, vintage or modern or both, exceptional photography and sensational music you’ll love many of these blogs also. So grab your favorite beverage, get comfortable, click on a link and enjoy!!

 

How to Navigate UK Immigration

Whether you plan to settle in the UK as the spouse of a British citizen or you are moving there as an investor or entrepreneur, you will need to find out how to correctly navigate the maze of UK immigration before you apply for your particular benefit. Where do you even begin?

Visit the UK Border Agency Site

The best place to start is by visiting the UK Border Agency website, where you will find accurate, up to date information on current UK immigration law, forms you will need to submit and supporting documentation that is required for each immigration benefit sought.

Take the time to familiarise yourself with this site and to bookmark it so that you can come back to it and read more on what needs to be done, as it provides a wealth of useful information and links to relevant sites that will help you make sense of UK immigration.

Application Exemptions

It is important to find out what you need to submit and what does not directly apply to you. For example, if you are a U.S. citizen or from any other majority English-speaking nation, you will be exempt from fulfilling the English language requirement. Finding out about applicable exemptions can help save you time, energy and money, so be sure to find out if you qualify for any application exemptions before you get started.

Find Out Which Benefit You Need to Apply For

It is not always clear which benefit you need to apply for, which is why you should carefully do your research. Start off by visiting the homepage of the UK Border Agency website and then go to “UK visas and renewals” which has some drop-down menu options. Here, you will find out if you even need a visa, depending on your reason for wanting to enter the UK, your nationality and current location. Follow the links until you find out what you need to do next.

UK immigration can be difficult to navigate when you are first starting out and are unsure of what is expected of you, but do not let that intimidate you or hold you back from applying for benefits that you are entitled to. The best place to start is by visiting the UK Border Agency, bookmarking the site and regularly returning to the site to find out more about the immigration benefits that you are applying for. Search through the site to find out what is expected of you if you do indeed require a visa to enter the UK.

 

Innovative Efforts Expose Abject Political Agenda

Innovation is the engine of prosperity in a nation. Innovation is what made this country great.

I’m all for innovation, that is, creating new products that fulfill market needs or new processes for producing a product in an entirely different, more economical way. Market capitalism drives innovation. Clever entrepreneurs make innovation happen. Entrepreneurs have a passion that drives their ambition. They take on enormous risk in their business ventures, putting personal resources and effort on the line. Their innovative products advance the well being of humanity through successful business enterprises, which provide jobs, and income, and a path function out of poverty, not to mention growth and progress for the nation.

What we are experiencing now in this country is a breakdown of innovation. Truly innovative effort, of necessity, is being redirected toward different purposes. Let me explain, by using a current analogous example.

Two young and creative entrepreneurs, bent with ambition, sought to expose the flaws in an existing process. They developed a plan, which consisted of visits to just a few of the production centers where the flawed process was practiced. They put forth a proposal that would test the process with raw materials and inputs that were flawed. If the process continued to operate with flawed ingredients, their tests would prove the process corrupt.

Their plan wasn’t perfect, but it was innovative and clever. The resourcefulness of the two pointed them in the direction of a tactical expert. Such a consultant would advise them how to conduct their test in a series of steps, each one designed to expose the suspected process flaws and make the results known.

They conducted the tests according to the consultant’s plan. The results confirmed their hypothesis that the process was indeed flawed. But the business in which the processes occurred didn’t like the results, ignoring them first, then putting its public affairs department on the job of covering up the embarrassing results.

In this analogy, Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe are the entrepreneurs. Andrew Brietbart is the consultant. The mainstream media is the public affairs department of the hypothetical business. And ACORN conducts the flawed, corrupt process of executing the government’s agenda.

I applaud the energy, creative effort, resourcefulness, and courageous risk of the young Ms. Giles and Mr. O’Keefe. Had their efforts been directed toward producing a new innovation, they would have created a business, put people to work, raised the economic prospects of its workers, created convenient new products for consumers, and contributed to the economy. Instead…

I lament that this country has come to the point where clever young entrepreneurs feel the need to put their resourcefulness toward exposing the corrupt practices of the government rather than producing new products and innovations.

Brhl, Germany is a Fabulous Family Travel Destination Complete with Theme Park

Brühl is located about 15km from Koln and is the home to Brühl Castle Augustusburg, a baroque schloss and one of Brühl’s best known attractions. Brühl is a well visted city due to not only its location proximity to Koln and Bonn, but it has many family attractions.

The town is located on the outskirts of Rhineland National Park. Brühl is known for its biking trails along with its castles and theme park Phantasialand.

The gardens at Brühl Castle are reminiscent of those in Versailles and is a beautiful and scenic attraction for those seeking a place to enjoy beauty and relax.

The inside of the Brühl Castle is breathtaking and incorporates almost every element of baroque architecture. The most famous element is the ceremonial staircase which is impressive with its sculpture and marble. The multicolored ceiling is extraordinary and picturesque. Brühl entry is free, Augustusburg is open Tue-Fri 9-12:30pm and 2:30-5pm Sat, Sun.

Another Brühl family destination is Phantasialand which is a very well known amusement park. In Phantasialand one can spend the whole day enjoying its many roller coasters, slides and shows. The River Quest was one of my favorite rides with its waterfalls, along with the Black Mamba a thrilling roller coaster ride sure to make any heart jump.

For anyone wanting a more casual and less spine chilling attraction there are a varied array of entertaining and show-stopping programs.

One of the best places to stay in Brühl is the Ling Bao Hotel. The hotel is beautifully decorated with a Chinese motif, Chinese antiques and breathtaking furnishings provide a lovely decor. The rooms are well decorated Chinese style bunk beds like boats. The gardens at the Ling Bao are exquisite and look beautiful year round. I love the Disneyland hotel but the Ling Bao compares perfectly and the atmosphere is much less tourist driven.

The Ling Bao has more facilities than that of Disney for the kids including a terrific kids play room with a Wii system and a beautiful pool with a dragon that spouts water, only drawback is that it has no shallow end and is a little small. The Ling Bao also has a spa.

There is a lot to see and do in Ling Bao which is almost in itself a tourist attraction you don’t want to miss. One area is just like a Chinese medicine apothecary which is full of original antiques and faux lookalikes. The Ling Bao adjoins the theme park Phantasialand, which is delightful much like that of Disney. The animatronic figures are a very cute touch and there are many beautiful and scenic areas in which to enjoy even in a theme park, you can feel the adult touches that have been carefully and thoughtfully applied. The park wasn’t too busy when my kids and I visited and much more open than I can remember a visit to Disney being.

There are plenty of young kids rides scattered about throughout the park so as to not leave out anyone.

Brühl, Germany is a great destination in which to stay if visiting the Koln area and traveling with kids. The town is laid back and picturesque and is only a small hop into Koln which has much higher rates for tourists. There are plenty of establishments in which to eat at around the town and it is always best to schedule early as not to run into reservation problems.

My suggestion as always when traveling is do your research and plan out your trip in plenty of time to get the best rates and amenities. Traveling to Koln is easy and staying in Brühl is much better on one’s pocketbook, plus it allows you to see the big city and come back to a smaller venue in which to relax.

Germany trips such a Brühl were not only enjoyable for my kids and myself but extremely memorable as I am sure they will be to your family.

Russian Visa: Where to Get Information About Travel and the Application Process

Russia is a fascinating country that has been around since 864 AD. It is full of history, culture, and art spanning many centuries. Through this time it has seen its upheaval and crises, as well as its triumphs and victories. A trip to Russia will leave you with a deep respect for the Russian people and a greater understanding of their culture.

Before visiting Russia, a visa is required. This can be a long process so it is a good idea to plan ahead allowing plenty of time for everything to be processed. When filing for a Russian visa, there are many websites that offer up-to-date information that is helpful, while there are many that are being used as scams. I would like to share my experiences with two websites that I found to be trustworthy, up-to-date, and worth your effort in using.

The first is www.waytorussia.net/RussianVisa/HowToApply.html. It is the most popular travel guide in Russia and claims to have 2 million people worldwide who use their services. This website offers a variety of useful information about planning your trip to Russia from what to pack, to how to get around the country, to what to expect in different regions, to how to file for a Russian visa. This website also offers a forum where you can find out even more specific information about your trip.

I first found this website when I was planning my first trip to Russia. It helped relieve some of my anxiety that I had about safety issues. After visiting Russia, I have to say that this website is accurate and up-to-date. It offers step-by-step procedures in filing for a Russian visa and keeps all of the information current. This is an important thing to remember when filing since the laws tend to change from time to time.

I especially like this website because it offers a blog, articles, and a link to facebook. This helps me to stay current in what is happening in Russia, as well as what is happening on the website.

The second website that I recommend is www.travisa.com/. They handle visas for countries all around the world. They are essentially the middleman who takes all of your visa documents on your behalf to the embassy where you are requesting the visa. After approval, they send your visa back to you. This website was actually recommended and used by the Russian Embassy in San Francisco where I currently get my Russian visas. Since I am unable to visit the embassy in person, my visa is processed through Travisa by mail. At first, I was a bit apprehensive about sending my passport and application to them, but they handled everything professionally and proficiently. They are always prompt, courteous, and will answer any questions that arise. The link above will take you to their home page where you will need to click on the location that is closer to your home town.

I give this website and service five stars because they do what they say they will do when they say they will do it. Also, they offer the option of completing the visa application online which can become tedious when hand writing the application due to the small boxes.

If you have always wanted to visit Russia, begin by checking out the first website mentioned. This will help you to get an idea of what to expect and what your options are. When you decide to go, Travisa can help you with your visa application process. You will never think of the country as the same once you make a trip!

Europe on a Shoestring

Going to Europe for a vacation isn’t nearly as inexpensive for Americans as it once was. With skyrocketing exchange rates, Americans need to be smart and savvy to make their trip to Europe not only affordable, but enjoyable. Using a few tips and tricks, you can save yourself – and your wallet – a lot of grief.

If you aren’t sure where to visit, check airline specials and be seasonally smart: don’t go to Barcelona in the summer and avoid the Swiss Alps in the winter. Then, learn a few words of the local language: please, thank you, hello, goodbye, and the difference between tap and bottled water are all good to know.

Airfare may be the biggest hurdle in coordinating the European vacation of your dreams. First, assess the currency differences between your origin and your destination and then pick a target airline or alliance of airlines. Because British Airways has a good number of English employees, the price that is charged per seat will likely mirror the current value of the British Pound. Similarly, airlines in the United States may have more reasonably priced fares for Americans. For the best of both worlds, use an airline alliance (OneWorld and Star Alliance are two examples) to obtain codeshare flights: pay for a Lufthansa seat through United Airlines with US dollars.

As soon as you’ve arrived at the airport in Europe, go to an ATM and withdraw local currency. Though fees are associated with this transaction, it is far cheaper and easier than using a conversion service or travelers checks. Be ready to make a decent-sized withdrawl; oftentimes banks charge a flat-fee and a percentage of what is withdrawn.

Where is the best place to stay? Most travelers don’t intend to spend 18 or 20 hours per day in their hotel room so choose location over quality. Most European countries have fantastic hostels and in almost all cases, a dormitory-style room that holds six to 10 travelers isn’t the only option. Be sure to remember that for a little more money, you can ask for a private room with a private or shared bath. Try to book early: reasonable prices for all different types of rooms are available even during peak season if booked several months ahead.

If a hostel isn’t an appealing option, try a bed  amp; bath. Oftentimes, the rooms are as nice as a moderately -priced hotel room and the cultural and linguistic exchanges with the innkeeper (and his family) are well worth your effort and patience. Booking sites make finding a reasonably priced B B; or modest hotel easier than ever. In smaller cities like the Transylvanian city of Brasov, Romania, larger hotels don’t exist but many locals are ready and willing to rent part of their house to travelers.

When it comes time to eat, think cheap and pack a lunch. Most hostels and a lot of lower-end hotels are close to grocery stores or convenience stores that have plenty of options when it comes to food. Because Europeans have more public transport options, food is often just minutes away by bus, train, or foot. If you buy glass or plastic bottles with deposits, be sure to return the container to the grocery store to receive the deposit back. In Germany and many other European countries, a bottle deposit can be as much as .50 Euro cents, so it’s well worth your effort.

For other food options, keep your eyes and ears open for local farmers’ markets or open-air bazaars. Lots of cities have weekend-specific festivals, and many have a weekend reoccurring market with fresh produce, cheese, honey and other local specialties. Be open to trying new types of food and take a hint from the locals when you order. In Romania, for example, a circular bread is a specialty that travelers wouldn’t know about unless they were observant, or had asked someone from the area.

If you want to try a restaurant, pick a place out of the tourist-laden areas and one that looks like it caters to locals. If a sign in the front of the restaurant even mentions the words “tourist” or “English”, go somewhere else to avoid an expensive meal. Be sure to check with your hotel on the standard tip too; oftentimes, the tip is already included or is unnecessary. Try train stations for cheap, good food but be sure to avoid airports because food can be as much as 10 times the price it would be in the city.

When choosing transportation, don’t even think about renting a car. It’s far easier – and less expensive – to use local mass transit and your own two feet. The types of transportation vary throughout Europe, but it’s quite standard in most mid-to-large cities to have a regional train, and a subway, street train or bus system. In Amsterdam, rent a bike and in Prague, be sure to use the funicular to get to the top of the hill in the city. Eurail has passes that will drastically reduce travel costs, especially if you’re visiting multiple countries, are younger than 26, and travel with a group.

Even shopping can be less expensive if you’re aware of international travelers’ perks. Be sure to ask shopkeepers if they participate in the VAT refund program. Usually, a minimum purchase is required, but you’ll receive a check in the mail, a credit to your credit card or even an instant credit for the value of VAT paid, if paperwork is submitted correctly. A word of warning: all paperwork MUST be stamped and duty-free items shown at the airport before your international flight home. Plan on packing all VAT-refunded items in a carry-on and be prepared to show all of these items to customs and duty officials after check-in at the airport but usually before security. Stake out the exact location of the VAT refund center well before you get to the airport to avoid headaches, hassle and possibly running out of time to follow required steps to claim your VAT rebate. Be especially vigilant if flying out of Paris’s Charles de Gaulle; VAT refund centers are notoriously hard to find and you’ll be very frustrated on your flight home if you do wind up paying 20% VAT on that Louis Vuitton bag you bought on the Champs-Elysees. For the cheapest souvenirs, buy in the cheapest countries: your dollar will go much further in Turkey than in Italy.

A Beginner’s Guide to Travel, Leisure and Recreation at RAF Lakenheath, England

Military personnel and their families who have received orders to move to RAF Lakenheath in England are often excited at the wonderful travel opportunities set before them as they plan to explore the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, or for those who would like to use the base as a stepping stone to the Continent. If you are about to move to RAF Lakenheath and you are apprehensive about independent travel and need some guidance, read on to learn more about the travel, leisure and recreation opportunities open to military personnel and their families.

Information, Tickets and Travel (ITT) Office

International travel can be very daunting, especially if this is your first time in Europe and you do not know where to turn to for advice on travel, leisure and recreation. The Information, Tickets and Travel (ITT) office is located in building 977 Room G20 in the Liberty Centre at RAF Lakenheath. Hours of operation are Monday-Friday from 10:00.a.m-5:00.p.m and from 9:00.a.m-1:00.p.m on holidays and family days. Alternatively, call (01638) 522979 or (DSN) 226-2979.

Eligibility

ID card holders (active duty military, retirees, DOD civilians, and their dependents) as well as guests are welcome to sign up for ITT tours and trips. Persons must be aged 18 or above to travel, unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian. Minors are not permitted to travel independently without adult supervision.

What’s Available

At ITT you can hire a car, purchase airline tickets, ferry and Eurotunnel crossing tickets, book package holiday and city breaks, sign up for an escorted coach tour, reserve a hotel room, buy castle or palace entry tickets and much more.

Layaway

Some trips can be very costly, particularly international travel, which is why the ITT office at RAF Lakenheath offers a layaway deal for military personnel and their families who are low on cash, but would still like to make a booking. If you are interested in taking advantage of layaway, call ITT to talk about making a deposit and securing your trip before it sells out.

The Information, Tickets and Travel (ITT) office is a great place to start if you want to find out more about what is on offer from RAF Lakenheath, both within the UK and further abroad. Trips and activities regularly change from month to month, so stop by the ITT office, call to learn more or visit www.ittlakenheath.com to see what is available.

The Grover Museum in Shelbyville, Indiana: Pure History

Travel through Indiana by car often presents the opportunity to discover gems in many of the smaller communities. One such gem is housed in Shelbyville, a typical small city on Interstate 74 southeast of Indianapolis. Located at 52 West Broadway, the Grover Museum is the pride and joy of the Shelby County Historical Society.

Even though the museum is rather small, the displays are most intriguing. As is often the case with local historical societies, generous patrons in the past have made the existence of a small town history museum possible. In the case of the Grover museum, Lena Firn Grover’s will stated that an 80 acre farm should be sold with proceeds to fund the purchase or construction of a “masonry-type” building. The Grover family had long been collecting artifacts from Shelby County.

The Grover Museum opened its doors to the public in 1981 in what was originally the Elks Club building, constructed in 1950. This multi-level building has been an effective venue with multiple display rooms, kitchen facilities, and a ballroom that has been transformed into a “Streets of Old Shelby” life-size generic town representing the 1900 – 1910 era. (See picture) This recreation of typical turn of the century store fronts present a variety of businesses including a bank, Emporium (drug store and soda shop), blacksmith shop and post office. Many of the shops are utilized for interactive activities for the public and local school groups. Local craftsmen can be seen in the wood shop hand crafting wagon wheel staves and other items. (See picture)

One large room has been designed to be a 1904 school room, complete with an original chalk board with a cursive alphabet across the top of the board. (See picture) The desks are reproductions of an original desk that was recovered from the ruins of a Shelby County school.

Another display room is devoted to railroads. Many locally obtained rail road artifacts are displayed. (See picture) A group of local model train enthusiasts maintain an elaborate model train scene that is centered in the room, providing clear view with raised steps for viewing by children.

The Grover Museum also has three rooms for rotating displays. Often the displays are geared towards local activities. Recently a display of Native American artifacts and artwork were placed in one of the rotating display rooms to coincide with a presentation to local school groups. Coupled with an open house, this event drew over 100 visitors, a very respectable number for a small local museum. The Director of the Grover Museum, Candace Miller, explained that the rotating displays have a turn around time that is very short, compared to larger facilities. Often a display will be shown for only 8 to 10 weeks. Putting together a new display in such a short time requires the help of the many volunteers who support the Grover Museum.

Miller also said that lack of new membership is becoming a concern, and has affected many local historical societies nationwide. She stated that the electronic media has made museums less interesting to the younger generation as competition with video games, internet, and social networking online has captured the interest and time of many. Interest and preservation of local history, one hopes, will continue in sufficient volume to allow local museums like the Grover Museum continue to provide valuable service to communities.

The Shelbyville Grover Museum is a very interesting place to spend an afternoon. When traveling through central Indiana it is worth your time to visit. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday 9 – 4, and Sundays 1 – 4. Admission is Free.

Safety Tips for Traveling Alone

As a woman, I know what it is like to have to travel alone. I have often traveled from Oklahoma to California with my three small children.

For the most part, I never had any trouble because I stayed in well lit areas, and never pulled over at roadside rest areas, not even during the day. I tried to stop only at places that were busy, and I always parked in front where I was well seen.

Once coming across the desert (this was the days before cell phones were widely used), a group of motorcycles approached me from behind.

At first I didn’t think anything of it, but then they began to surround my car. One of them got in front of me and began to slow down, while the others tried to guide me to the side of the road. They were using intimidation tactics to get me to pull over.

Instead of allowing them to frighten me, I pressed the accelerator, and came close to clipping the motorcyclist that was in front of me. I didn’t allow them to budge me off the road. I just happened to pass a sign that said there was a Highway Patrol Headquarters a mile ahead.

The motorcyclist in front of me kept turning his head and looking back at me. I motioned toward the sign as we went by it and mouthed at him that I wasn’t stopping until we reached that place.

After a few minutes of this they gave up and drove on leaving me and my children in peace. It certainly could have turned out a lot uglier than it did.

I stopped at the Highway Patrol Headquarters, and explained to them what had happened to me. I hope it stopped some other woman from getting harassed, or even worse.

Don’t ever pull over for anyone that tries to force you to. It’s better to assess the situation and fight to stay on the road. If you have your cell phone on you, dial 911 immediately.

If you break down, call for help immediately if possible. Don’t get out of your car, and keep your doors locked. Even a guy that looks harmless can be a cold blooded murderer or rapist. Don’t trust anyone other than a police officer or the tow truck company you called.

If you have no way to call, just sit tight, a Highway Patrol will be by at some point, and he will help you get to a safe destination.

If someone stops to help you, politely tell them that you have help on the way, so they will leave. There are helpful people out there, but in this day and age, we cannot trust anyone.

Remember these simple tips:

Stay in well lighted areas if possible when stopped.

Keep your doors locked at all times.

When necessary stop where there are a lot of people around.

Don’t ever pull over for anyone.

If you break down, call for help if you can, or wait for a Highway Patrol to come by.

Don’t accept help from strangers, even kind ones, as this can be dangerous.