Discover the Magic of Morocco Desert Tours: A Journey of a Lifetime

A desert tour can be an incredible adventure that includes a chance to explore the varied landscapes, dive into the local culture, and even spend nights under the most amazing stars anywhere…

Morocco has been on our minds quite a bit lately. Last summer we spent a week on the south coast of Spain, near Marbella, and were intrigued by the idea of taking a ferry boat across the narrow bit of the Mediterranean to take a quick peek at Morocco. But alas, we were thwarted by the fact that the ferry only when to the Spanish town of Cueta on the north coast of Africa.

Then, just a few weeks ago we found ourselves in that same city of Cueta, which is completely surrounded by Morocco. But we were on a cruise so we only had one day and once again were denied seeing the country that now seemed to be teasing us.

So now we have decided that it is time to start making some plans for our very own trip to Morocco. And one of the top things on our to do list of must-see activities is to take one of the fantastic Morocco Desert Tours.

A desert tour can be an incredible adventure that includes a chance to explore the varied landscapes, dive into the local culture, and even spend nights under the most amazing stars anywhere. Yes, we definitely want to stay the night in a traditional nomadic camp so we have the chance to enjoy the local food and music.

The evening is capped off with a breathtaking sunset, followed by perhaps the most amazing sight. We also hear that the dry desert air, along the intense darkness far from any city lights, makes it feel as though the stars are hanging right in front of you, just out of reach.

After that, morning will greet us with a spectacular sunrise over the dunes of the one and only Sahara Desert. Then, of course, our desert tour experience wouldn’t be complete without a ride on a camel across the vast Sahara.

But we also know that we couldn’t possibly travel to Morocco without a visit to the historic capital of city of Marrakech. The city is probably most famous these days for it’s many bustling markets known as souks. But nearly one thousand years ago it held a place of high importance as the original Royal seat of the The Almoravids.

Their dynasty stretched down the west coast of Africa and well up into what is now Spain, as well as all along Mediterranean and North Africa. After that, from medieval times until about one hundred years ago, the entire country of Morocco was known as the “Kingdom of Marrakesh”.

Exploring the city would give us another great option worth looking into, an opportunity to join one of the Marrakech Desert Trips. From our research we have found that these unique undertakings can be a truly transformative experience. The type of once in a lifetime expedition that can be actually life changing.

Exploring the Kasbahs and Oases along the route is another great highlight. Departing from Marrakech, the route usually leads up into the High Atlas Mountains. We’ll pass by stunning landscapes, picturesque valleys, and traditional Berber villages clinging to the mountainsides, such as Ait Benhaddou.

This classic desert fortification was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and has been the location for many of Hollywood’s biggest pictures, including Lawrence of Arabia, The Man Who Would Be King, The Last Temptation of Christ, The Mummy, and Gladiator.

And even as dry as the desert is, there are also oases along the way. The Draa Valley is renowned for many lush oases that stand out starkly against the arid desert landscape. So we really feel that visiting an oasis is another must do.

And who knows? Maybe we can have our very own Midnight at the Oasis.

David & Veronica,

Help! There’s No One to Eat the Leftovers!

Are you sick of leftovers yet? We love them, but once the kids are gone who’s gonna eat all of this?!?!

The GypsyNestersPretty much everything about life changes when that last kid walks out the door.

Veronica and I think we should make the most of these adjustments, that’s why we started, to celebrate life after kids. Most of the changes were easily anticipated but as always, some things are unforeseen.

Over the past few years, we have had to relearn how to shop and cook for just the two of us. That fell into the unexpected for me. I don’t know why, but it was not something that I thought of before the clearing out of the nest.

Throughout our over four decades of marriage I have been the primary cook in the house. One of the kids calls me about once a week to ask things like “how long do you cook a chicken?” or “what’s in that stroganoff you make?” or ” what was that stuff you made that one time that was so good?” About two hours, cream of mushroom soup and carbonara.

I like to eat, so early in life I figured out how to cook the things that I wanted to consume. A natural offshoot of cooking is shopping, so I learned to do that too. I’m such a hunter-gatherer. With three kids, I had to be!

Usually, a trip to the grocery store involved multiple shopping carts and severe wallet damage. By the time the three bottomless pits were teenagers it required a small truck and a second mortgage. Should The Spawn choose to come along, only perfect weather, no traffic, fast driving and sheer luck could get half of the provisions home before ingestion.

One red light and there would be nothing left but empty wrappers, paper products and canned goods… but that’s only because they didn’t like to eat paper and I had learned to check them for can openers before we left.

On one of these homeward sprints, I’m pretty sure they were trying to start a fire in the back of the van. Luckily I pulled into the driveway right as I started to smell smoke and they were tearing open the meat. After that, I learned to check for matches, lighters, flint, sticks, charcoal, grills, skewers, and long-handled forks… even if we were just going to the Kwik Sack for gas.

So there’s been a bit of an adjustment from shopping for a ravenous pack of teenaged wolves to supplying two middle-aged wandering gypsies. Even more so when the eating habits of said gypsies are completely different.

I like meat. Almost any meat. If it squeals, moos, gobbles, baaas, swims, pinches or clucks, I’m all over it. Skin it, pluck it or scale it and lob it on the fire. Veronica calls herself “a meat avoider,” not a vegetarian, an avoider. As near as I can tell, that means “Let me try a bite of that pork chop, it looks way better than this salad.” She claims that it’s my fault that I never get a carnivorous dish to myself because I make things look so good while I’m eating them. I can’t help it, I like food.

But back to the point, it’s hard to find foods sized for just one or two people. We are now punished for not buying the “family pack” of half a cow. I used to celebrate finding 27lbs of grade A beef on sale for pennies a pound. Now I get to buy the one strip steak for tonight’s dinner at $27.00 a pound, what a deal!

Yes, I could break up the giant bargain packs and freeze the portions but how long will it take for me to go through a side of beef all by myself (and of course Veronica’s bites as she avoids the stuff)? The answer is…. longer than it takes frozen meat to turn into that strange crystallized cardboard space-food product it becomes in your freezer. The bargains may not be available, but these days the final bill is certainly less of a shock. Dozens of dollars instead of hundreds, I’ll take that and like it.

Still, my transition from vats of spaghetti, cauldrons of soup and Fred Flintstone slabs of meat to dinner for two is far from complete. I know there are only two of us and I know that Veronica hardly eats any of the same things that I do (sneak attacks from her fork notwithstanding) but sometimes I can’t help myself. I must have burritos.

Then I have to buy the whole can of green chilis, tortillas come by the dozen, there is only one sized can of refried beans and nobody sells less than a pound of meat or cheese for one or half heads of lettuce… so… I either eat burritos for three days straight or we get a really cool science project going in the back of the fridge.

I’ve found that there are some things can help. First, cook different things. No more big pots and whole chickens, now it’s grilled or broiled meat and a smaller side dish. No more striving to fill bottomless bellies with massive amounts of starches.

I bake a couple potatoes instead of mashing several dozen. I cook a small pan of rice, not a washtub full, a small bowl of pasta with tuna instead of literally pounds of the stuff with gallons of red sauce. Pasta and rice are great because I can cook just the amount needed for today and the rest keeps almost indefinitely.

Tuna is one of the few things that actually comes in a can the right size for one or two people. Not so much with the crushed tomatoes.

It also helps to plan ahead a bit. I try to think about a second meal when I’m shopping. A small roast makes great sandwiches the following day. Fish goes into a salad. That extra steak or pork chop is mighty good with eggs the next morning. Most anything can be tossed into a can of soup to dress it up or mixed together with other leftovers to form a new meal. To me cooking is all about experimenting anyway.

Oh, and by the way, there are a lot of fates worse than eating burritos for three days straight… no doubt I’ll do it again soon.


YOUR TURN: Do you find it hard to cook for two? Do you miss cooking for ravenous teenagers? Do you have any tips for us?

What Are the Top Ways To Relax in the Current Environment?

If you are someone who is struggling to find ways to relax, you are certainly not alone. There are lots of people who have trouble unwinding these days. We live in a world that is more connected than ever before. Even though it is great that we have all of the information in the world at our fingertips, it can also blur the line between the professional and the personal worlds. For example, there are a lot of people who prefer to work from home; however, this can also make it hard for people to disconnect from their obligations. It can be harder than ever for people to relax, but delta 9 gummies can certainly help, along with these tips you can follow if you would like to be more relaxed after a long day.

Exercise on a Regular Basis

If you are looking for a way to relax, one of the most important things you have to do is to exercise on a regular basis. This is an important part of stress management. Even though exercise may not sound relaxing, you’ll find that it is much easier for you to relax and unwind when you are done. This is a great way for you to work off some of your steam. Then, when you finish, endorphins are going to flood your body, making it easier for you to relax. Make sure that you exercise regularly. Even walking for 30 minutes can be helpful.

Get To Sleep on Time

You should also make sure that you get to sleep on time. One of the biggest reasons why people have a difficult time relaxing is that they have a hard time managing their sleep schedules. You need to set a consistent sleep schedule for yourself. Make sure you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Even though sleeping in on the weekends may sound nice, this can actually derail your sleep schedule, making it harder for you to fall asleep at night. Make sure your body gets the rest it requires.

If you have a routine that you follow before sleeping like listening to some calming music or watching a few episodes from your favorite tv shows, then you should do it. But within a specific time frame. To know how you can download the latest movies and tv shows for free, please click on

Set Boundaries with Everyone

You should also take steps to set boundaries with everyone. For example, you do not want members of your family to call you when you are at work unless it is a true emergency. Similarly, you do not want people from work trying to get a hold of you when you go home in the evening. That is when you should be spending time with your friends and family. If you set boundaries and expectations with everyone ahead of time, you will have an easier time relaxing when you get home.

Try Relaxing with CBD

Next, you may also want to try relaxing with some CBD. CBD stands for cannabidiol. This is one of the two main substances that is isolated from hemp. A lot of people have already visited a dispensary in Ann Arbor, looking for a CBD product that may be right for them. There are lots of people who use CBD to help them manage mental health issues, deal with chronic pain, and even fall asleep at night. There is a chance that CBD could be right for you. If you are interested in learning more about CBD, be sure to speak to your doctor to make sure this is not going to interact with any other medications you might be taking.

Disconnect from Electronics Every Day

Finally, you should disconnect from electronic devices every day. Right now, there are lots of people who are used to carrying their phones in their pockets everywhere they go. Even though it might be nice to keep in touch with people, it also makes it difficult for you to disconnect from your obligations. If you hear your phone going off all the time, this can make it difficult to relax and unwind. Even if you shut your phone off for an hour per day, this can help you relax in the evening.

Find Ways To Relax and Unwind

These are just a few of the top ways you can relax. It is important for everyone to relax from time to time. This is an important part of stress management. If you do not take time to relax, you are going to have a difficult time managing your stress. As a result, this can impact your personal and professional relationships. You may find it difficult to spend quality time with friends and family members because you have a hard time relaxing and de-stressing. You might also notice that your performance at work or at school is beginning to suffer because you never truly give your brain a chance to recharge. Therefore, you have to take care of yourself by relaxing regularly. Put a few of these tips to work for you.

T’was the Night Before Thanksgiving

T’was the night before Thanksgiving and all through New York everybody was stirring in every apartment and house.

As I rounded a corner on Columbus Avenue what to my wondering eyes should appear
a festively dressed elf, face down sticking up his…. CONTINUE READING >> 


T’was the night before Thanksgiving and all through New York
everybody was stirring in every apartment and house.
As I rounded a corner on Columbus Avenue
what to my wondering eyes should appear
a festively dressed elf, face down sticking up his rear.

macys thanksgiving elf

Certain this odd sight needed more inspection,
I turned on 81st to check out more balloon’s inflation.

macys thanksgiving dino

While there were no tiny reindeer anywhere to be found,
a huge Dino the dinosaur was hanging around.

macys thanksgiving helium truck

With no help from Santa these giants would soon fly,
after being filled with helium from a nearby semi.

macys thanksgiving pumpkin

As the sun began setting in the far western sky,
I thought about turkey, potatoes and pie
for our feast on the ‘morrow after the parade.
We wish all Happy Holidays and a great Thanksgiving day.


Little Rock / Big Gem

Join us on a rip-roarin’ tour of Little Rock, Arkansas!

We visited the Clinton Presidential Library, hit the Big Dam Bridge, witnessed history at the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site and ate avocado popcycles at the River Market!  CONTINUE READING >> 

Little Rock, Arkansas

We must admit that when we found ourselves spending a week in the heart of Arkansas we didn’t expect much more than the carrying of dozens of boxes from one house to another while helping parents move.

But in the downtime between loads of books, kitchenware, and knickknacks we enjoyed family company while uncovering a hidden gem.
President Clinton Avenue, Little Rock Arkansas

Even well into November, this southern city has inviting outdoor opportunities with gorgeous fall weather.

Our first observation was that Little Rock is an incredibly bike friendly town. Then, while riding its trails, we discovered all sorts of interesting tidbits such as yes, there really is a little rock. It’s on the river right downtown, just off the bike path.

The little rock that Little Rock Arkansas is named from!

Back in 1721 the French explorer and trader Jean-Baptiste Bénard de la Harpe dubbed an outcrop on the river bank La Petite Roche which is French for the Little Rock, as opposed to the much bigger rock formation a little further up The Arkansas River.

Actually the little rock was bigger back then, big enough that boats would use it as a dock, but much of it was destroyed in the building of the railroad bridge.

The Big Dam Bridge outside Little Rock Arkansas

From what’s left of the rock we set out to make the fifteen mile loop of The Arkansas River Trail up one side and down the other, from The Clinton Presidential Library to The Big Dam Bridge.

Wait, what?

Yup, The Big Dam Bridge, as in “yes, it’s a big dam bridge,” which legend has it was said by Pulaski County Judge F.G. “Buddy” Villines at the opening ceremony.

From that point on nobody called the bridge over Murray Dam The Murray Bridge anymore. Truth is it is one big dam bridge, in fact the longest in North America ever exclusively built for pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

River Rail Streetcar Line Trolley in Little Rock

The Clinton Presidential Library behind the Harriet Tubman Monument.

After we crossed the big bridge, we headed back into the center of town. Once downtown we followed the River Rail Streetcar Line, a line of replica vintage trolleys that run to the Clinton Presidential Center and Park.

The center is a seventeen-acre complex that includes the Clinton Presidential Library, the Clinton Foundation, archives, a replica of The Oval Office, and the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.

The Clinton Presidential Library

The Clinton Presidential Library

The main building was designed to represent a bridge reaching across the river, inspired by Clinton’s “Bridge to the 21st Century” campaign theme.

To our eyes it missed the mark a bit, and we’re not alone since many locals refer to it as “The Giant Doublewide.”

Little Rock River Market

Near The Clinton Center we stopped in at the River Market to grab a bite.

The market district has been refurbished over the last fifteen years to become the city’s hub of arts and entertainment. Galleries, theaters and restaurants have filled the formerly rundown buildings around the central marketplace.

Little Rock River Market

The old market shelter now hosts a farmer’s market twice a week.

We missed that, but every day has a cornucopia of chow down choices inside the Market Hall. Like a giant food court, vendors offer cuisine from every corner of the globe.

After some Thai and tacos we spotted an interesting dessert option.

Le Pops in River Market in Little Rock Arkansas

All natural, handmade right in the shop, gourmet ice lollies at Le Pops. We were intrigued, but after the proprietor, Lori, offered us a sample we were hooked.

The flavors most certainly aren’t the typical frozen treat types, with salted caramel, avocado, and pineapple with cilantro among them. We tried avocado, different yet delicious, the somewhat more conventional tropical and tasty pineapple with coconut, and the seasonal selection, pumpkin pie, which tasted like it was fresh from the patch.

After another round of relocating boxes we took an autumn afternoon off to absorb the history of Little Rock Central High School and The Little Rock Nine.

The school became ground zero in the Civil Rights Movement when President Eisenhower sent troops from the 101st Airborne to enforce the Brown v. Board of Education ruling to end “separate but equal” segregated schools.

Little Rock Central High School and The Little Rock Nine

Little Rock Central High School and The Little Rock Nine

In 1957 Governor Orval Faubus refused to allow nine students, who had volunteered to attend the school to begin integration, to enter the school.

The governor went so far as to deploy the National Guard to block their entry. After several weeks federal soldiers escorted the students into the school, but that hardly settled the issue.

The rage of the segregationists grew so nasty that after an agonizing 1957 school year the entire Little Rock school system shut down for 1958 rather than allow integration.

Little Rock Central High School and The Little Rock Nine

The school is still in operation so we only got to see the outside, but in 1982 the site was designated a National Historic Landmark and The National Park Service opened a visitor center.

Inside the small center we found a trove of information, mostly audio and video, that gave us an excellent understanding of just what these students, known as The Little Rock Nine, went through.

By mixing clips from the time of the unrest and recent interviews with some of the nine, the entire story is brought to life in a moving, meaningful way.

Our last excursion through Little Rock came as a celebratory completion of the move. As a thank you for our help, we were gifted with a tour on Segways.

We were pretty fired up at the prospect because ever since seeing people riding Segways in Prague we had wanted to give them a try. So with all of the boxes safely stashed, we took off with Mom & Pop to the sidewalks on these two wheeled marvels.

David gets a Segway lesson

Our guide for the tour, Nez, began by showing us the ropes in a parking garage.

The Segway is designed to sense your shifts in weight and respond by moving forward or back while expertly remaining balanced. It’s amazing, and within minutes we all felt perfectly comfortable commanding our vehicles with just the slightest shifts of our bodies.

WATCH: As we Segway though Little Rock’s hot spots!

Bill Clark Wetlands, Little Rock Arkansas

Confident in our new Segway skill set, we made our way through downtown to Riverfront Park.

Nez filled us in on details via headset as we rolled along through the artwork and historic markers, past the little rock, and back toward The Clinton Center.

Just before reaching the Presidential Library we turned off into the Bill Clark Wetlands. This small preserve has a wooden boardwalk that winds through bringing walkers, cyclists, and – yes – Segway riders in for an up close look at the ecology of the Arkansas River’s edge.

Bill Clark Wetlands, Little Rock Arkansas

An egret in the Bill Clark Wetlands, Little Rock Arkansas

Headquarters of Heifer International, Little Rock Arkanasas

Rolling on through the grounds of the Presidential Center, Nez pointed out the adjacent headquarters of Heifer International.

Heifer is an organization that has distributed cattle and other livestock to farmers in over 125 countries in an effort to create a more sustainable solution to hunger.

We made our way back along the trolley route and completed our Segway tour without incident, something that seemed improbable just ninety minutes earlier. Sort of like finding a jewel in the middle of Arkansas.

The River Market Pig, Little Rock Arkansas

Or maybe not. Arkansas is the only state in the union where diamonds can be found… you just need to know where to look.

David & Veronica,

Creating QR Codes Quickly

The term QR stands for quick response, and that is exactly what both you as the creator, and your friends, family, or customers, will get when they are used…

If you are like us, you really didn’t think much about QR Codes until recently. They have been around since the nineteen nineties, and we remember seeing the funny looking little squares with black and white smaller squares inside popping up from time to time over the past fifteen or twenty years. But didn’t pay much attention. In fact, it has probably been only the last five years or so that we have ever actually used them.

But now they are becoming a noticeably bigger part of our day to day life. At first we saw more and more of them at restaurants, and began to scan them to bring up a menu. But once we were familiar with them we began to see them at shops, museums, on signs, and even on TV. So we began to scan them in those places as well, and discovered that a wealth of information is available right at our fingertips.

Now we have learned that we can use them for our personal events as well, just like businesses have been doing for some time. By using a QR code generator we can create a unique code for all of our own occasions.

The more we thought about it, more ideas came to mind. The codes are a great way to allow friends and family to find out more about parties, weddings, baby showers, graduations, and all sorts of other functions.

By pointing the camera on a phone at the code, or on many new devices by just holding the screen over the code, a website comes up that can contain all of the pertinent information guests might need. Time and place, maps, and gift registries can all easily be included along with simple ways to RSVP.

Then we started thinking about a whole lot of other possible uses, such as lost pets, garage and yard sales, school functions, or even selling a car or house. The possibilities are almost endless. Just print a flyer or poster with the code on it and by scanning it people can get so much more information than could be printed on paper.

The process for creating a QR code is very simple too. Just three easy steps. The code generator will help you choose the content for the code. Then you can customize and design it as you wish, and finally, simply download your QR code. Another nice thing is that there is no limit on how many codes can be created.

Of course, the codes are also great for a multitude of business applications because it is so easy to share a link to a web page, or receive payments from clients, link to catalogs, or allow comments on your products or services, and much more.

Even better for businesses, it is simple to download all of the information about customers who use the code. Everything is kept track of, like the number of scans performed per day, what city and country they are from, the type of browser used, and which language they speak.

The term QR stands for quick response, and that is exactly what both you as the creator, and your friends, family, or customers, will get when they are used. An incredible amount of information can be instantly available, which is why they are becoming so popular.

David & Veronica,

Miami Romantic Getaway

Miami is a modern marvel with one of the world’s most spectacular skylines, and the tropical weather makes it a perfect place for a couple’s retreat any time of year, but especially in the winter… CONTINUE READING >> 

Miami has been a popular pick for a romantic rendezvous for a long, long time. In fact, one of my earliest memories is of my dad watching the Jackie Gleason Show back in the sixties. The intro featured a camera shot skimming across the water toward Miami Beach… and it just looked so cool.

Some of that could be that I hardly ever got to watch TV back then, but no, it was really cool. And it really made us want to visit there as a couple all these years later.

Miami actually owes its existence to being a prime getaway destination. Long before Mr. Gleason ever laid eyes on it the city’s founder, Julia Tuttle, convinced railroad tycoon Henry Flagler to build the Florida East Coast Railway with the express intention of delivering tourists to the area. This was way back in 1896.

Fun fact: In doing this, Tuttle became, and remains to this day, the only woman to found a major city in the United States.

But let’s move on to today. These days Miami is a modern marvel with one of the world’s most spectacular skylines, and the tropical weather makes it a perfect place for a couple’s retreat any time of year, but especially in the winter.

And we have a big idea that will make your escape even better, hotels with a Jacuzzi in the room! Imagine relaxing in your very own private Jacuzzi after a day at the beach, or maybe diving or snorkeling in the crystal clear waters of Biscayne Bay.

I know that when ever we visit Miami one of our favorite things to do is drive through the Miami Beach Architectural District in South Beach. The area, more popularly known as the Art Deco District, features some of the coolest buildings anywhere.

Some of our favorites are Hoffman’s Cafeteria Building, the old Miami Beach post office, which has been looking good while delivering the mail for over 85 years, and the the Webster, that opened in 1939 as a hotel but now is a luxury high-end boutique.

Архитектура стиля Арт Деко на приводе океана в южном пляже, Майами Редакционное Фотография - изображение насчитывающей день, американская: 41105812

We have heard that Miami is home to the highest concentration of Art Deco buildings anywhere in the world and we certainly have no reason to doubt it. It is hard to beat cruising along Ocean Drive with Lummus Park and the beach on one side and the amazing collection of fantastic buildings on the other.

Of course Miami’s year-round sunshine makes it a great place for some romantic outdoor activities too. We feel pretty certain that skimming across the beautiful turquoise water with the wind in your sails should spark the romance for just about any couple.

Or if the water is not your thing then stroll hand in hand with your love through any of the over eighty parks and gardens throughout the city. We also love to pack a picnic with a couple of the Cuban sandwiches that Miami has become famous for.

As the home to many of the world’s largest cruise lines, and with over five million passengers per year, Miami is known as the cruise capital of the World. That got us thinking that next time we take a cruise out of The Port of Miami perhaps we will plan an enchanting pre or post cruise stay for a night or two.

And why not make it even a little more special by staying in a hotel with our very own jacuzzi right there in the room?

That sounds like just about the perfect Miami Romantic Getaway.

David & Veronica,

Pumped For Pumpkins

Zombie golf, an action packed parade, huge pumpkins and Veronica enters a pie eating contest! See our full adventure here! >>

The biggest pumpkin at the Sycamore Pumpkin Fest weighed in at 280 pounds!With All Hallow’s Eve just around the corner, we searched for the most sincere pumpkin patch we could find for a gourd old celebration.

We couldn’t have done better for pumpkin pageantry than Sycamore Illinois, and the Annual Sycamore Pumpkin Festival. (The 2023 pumpkin fest is October 25 – 29.)

We kicked off the weekend down on the courthouse lawn with the Lions Club Giant Pumpkin Weigh-in, and got to gawk at an 280 pounder. Not quite up to the new world record, set this year, of 2,032 pounds, but enormously impressive nevertheless.

It takes four men to hoist the giant pumpkins onto the scale at the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival in Illinois!
It takes four men to hoist the giant pumpkins onto the scale!

The Sycamore, Illinois Courthouse

Equally impressive were the thousands of Jack-o’-lanterns on display in front of the courthouse, in fact, this is how it all got started.

Wally Thurow, Sycamore’s “Mr. Pumpkin,” began the tradition back in 1956 when he decorated a few pumpkins and set them out in his yard. The town took to it, the numbers grew, then in 1962 the Lions Club helped out and the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival became official.

Pumpkins decorated by elementary school kids at the Sycamore Pumpkin Fest in Illinois
So many pumpkins! The above entries are all made by elementary school kids!

Here are some of our favorite entries!

Funny witch pumpkin at the Sycamore Pumpkin Fest in Illinois

M&M Pumpkins at the Sycamore Pumpkin Fest in Illinois

Amazing carved pumpkins at the Sycamore Pumpkin Fest in Illinois

Decorated pumpkins at the Sycamore Pumpkin Fest in Illinois

Zombie Miniature Golf at the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival in Illinois

Of course the festival also happens to coincide with Halloween, no coincidence no doubt, and that means ghosts, goblins, witches, and even some zombies.

Zombies? Yes, zombies, and playing miniature golf no less. This we had to see, so we were off to the library for a good fright, and to help raise some funds. We managed to escape with our whole brains, but no holes-in-one.

Scary pumpkin carving at the Sycamore Illinois Pumpkin Fest

There’s more reason to celebrate pumpkins in these parts than just fun and games.

Eighty percent of all the pumpkins produced commercially in the U. S. are produced in North Central Illinois.

By far the majority of those get processed into canned pumpkin, and we know what that’s good for… pie!

Kids pie eating contest at the Sycamore Pumpkin Fest - SO cute!

Speaking of pie, what’s a festival without some good old-fashioned competitive eatin’? So it was back to The Courthouse for the Kiwanis Pie Eating Contest.

After watching kids, some no more than three years old, speed eat giant slabs of pie Veronica was ready to give it a try in the adult category. Give her an A for effort, but she was not even in the same league as some of the veteran competitors.

WATCH: Ginormous pumpkins, zombie attacks and Veronica’s heroic pie eating attempt!

The Elmwood Cemetery Gate in Sycamore, Illinois

Sunset at Elmwood Cemetery in Sycamore, Illinois

With dusk falling it was time to scare ourselves silly so we headed over to Elmwood Cemetery for some spooky storytelling.

We entered through historic gates (dated 1865, they are officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places)  that looked straight out of a Vincent Price movie.

Scary stories in the cemetery at the Sycamore Pumpkin Fest, Illinois

Local residents took turns spinning yarns to tingle the spine and, as if on cue, a bat flew through the group during the second tale. When the screams subsided the stories continued.

Scary stories in the cemetery at the Sycamore Pumpkin Fest, Illinois

A boy ride a unicycle in the Pumpkin Fest parade in Sycamore, Illinois

Sunday brought the grand finale of the festivities, the big Pumpkin Festival Parade. We were amazed at the crowd that gathers in little Sycamore – tailgating, dressed in costume and patronizing the non-profit-only food vendors dotting the route.

This is the big fundraiser for many of these do-gooders in the community and we were happy to part with a few dollars for some pre-parade snackage.

Dancers in the Pumpkin Fest Parade in Sycamore, Illinois

People with pumpkins on their heads at the Sycamore Pumpkin Fest in Illinois

Floats, bands, clubs, politicians and businesses from Sycamore and the neighboring area were all represented in the parade – marching, tumbling, riding and waving their hearts out.

The Northern Illinois University Marching Band in the Pumpkin Fest Parade, Sycamore, Illinois

A lion marches in the Pumpkin Fest Parade in Sycamore, Illinois

This is small-town America at her finest. With a bit of a scary edge. It is Halloween after all.

David & Veronica,

Delve Deeper:

See all of our adventures in Illinois

We LOVE festivals! See more GypsyNester festival coverage
Go to the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival Website