I Located My 70s Prom Photo, and it’s Every Bit as Tragic as I Thought it Would Be!

I got a notice for a high school reunion the other day.Forty-five years!As my darling wife of thirty-nine of those would say, “That’s almost forty!”

David and his highschool sweetheart. Nice outfit! GypsyNester.com
Me and my high school sweetheart – we don’t call me The Beanpole for nothing. Also, the hair! The pants! The 70s down vest!

I got a notice for a high school reunion the other day.

Forty-five years!

As my darling wife of thirty-nine of those would say, “That’s almost forty!”

I wouldn’t have thought too much about the amount of time that has passed since my days at good old Southeast High until Classmates.com contacted us about trying out their website.

Sounded like fun so we said yes, and then started figuring just how long it had been since we graduated.

Veronica seemed to feel that the five years between us gave her some room for poking fun, but I thought it might give me a chance to catch up with some old friends and reacquaint with acquaintances before the big reunion.

Highschool aged David - the hat! The pants! GypsyNester.com
Going for the classic Cosmic Cowboy look of bell bottoms, tennis shoes, and Stetson straw hat. Thought I was pulling it off at the time, as in all this AND a bag of chips!

I jumped online and made a profile.

It was simple; I just uploaded a current photo (and an old one, just to remind people what I used to look like) and wrote a little bit about what has happened in my life over all those years.

After that, I entered my school and graduating class and, viola!

Up popped my Golden Buffaloes  yearbook.

I immediately remembered the cover and the name, Hoofbeats.

I could look through it online, but there was also an offer to buy a hard copy of the yearbook if I wanted one.

Of course, the first thing I did was look up my yearbook picture… O. M. G.!

Well, what can I say; it was the seventies after all, as if that made it okay to walk around with hair like that.

As I continued paging through the book, I found myself reminiscing down memory lane.

David's high school yearbook picture - junior year. GypsyNester.com
A bit of an Elvis sneer happening.

I looked up my favorite teacher, Mr. Hodges, who we always called Hodgy-baby.

I had also forgotten that our Golden Buffaloes won the State Championship in football my senior year.

Digging deeper, I found a picture of myself where I didn’t look like a complete geek.

It even looked like I might have been studying.

No, wait, on closer inspection it looks as though I might be asleep in an upright position.

A more likely scenario if my memory serves.

By now I was pretty much hooked, and everything I had been doing was free of charge, but by upgrading to a Classmates+ membership I could really start connecting with my old friends.

This way I could leave messages, share pictures, and get email updates to see who had visited my profile.

David in his highschool years. GypsyNester.com
Pulling off the rare sleeping upright like a horse while pretending to study move.

I browsed through and left a number of hellos along the way. It’s so easy to find old friends since you can search by maiden name.

That’s how I found my old best friend’s girlfriend, who is now his wife.

I had lost touch with them years ago so I wrote her a message. After a few days I got an email saying that she had replied. So I logged on and we conversed several times over the next few days through the website.

Now that we have caught up, we plan to meet in person next time we are in their hometown.

That experience got me thinking about my own high school sweetheart—the four of us were thick as thieves back in the day—but she was a class ahead of me so wasn’t in my yearbook.

That’s when I noticed that I could see books from other years too, so I looked back one year and found my girlfriend in the class of ’76.

David's high school photo-senior year! GypsyNester.com

Then it hit me—my chance for redemption! Perhaps my junior year picture was not as pathetic as my senior photo. No such luck.

That seventies hair was every bit as bad, if not worse, in this one.

That got me thinking, if ever there was a quintessential picture of bad hair and silly seventies-style outfits it was my prom photo.

My tux was an absolute classic—at least that’s the way I remember it. I know there were pictures, I had seen them long ago.

I don’t know if I ever had a copy, if I did it is long lost like our adolescent puppy love.

But maybe, just maybe she had kept one—no doubt purely for the comedy.

So I sent a message just to say hi and she replied. We caught up with each other (sounded like we both ended up with the right person after all) and then I asked if she had any pictures of us, especially ones featuring my hideous tuxedo.

In no time at all she sent several, including the two above and the game show host monstrosity below.

Along with a note teasing, “Enjoy the ribbing from your kids.”

David's prom photo, the hair! The tux! GypsyNester.com

She should have saved it for blackmail purposes.

David, GypsyNester.com

Thanks to Classmates.com for providing access and compensation for this hysterical blast from the past! As always, all opinions are our own—including the commentary on my horrible 70s clothing choices!

YOUR TURN: Was I stylin’ or what? Tell us your favorite blast-from-the-past reunion story!

Five Fabulous Free Things to Do in London

The last time we were wandering around good old London Town, we found these five unforgettable experiences that don’t cost a dime. Sounds like a good example of another thing that people often say, “The best things in life are free.”

We have all heard the old adage, “You get what you pay for.” While that may be true most of the time, there is also an old saying that tells us “There is an exception to every rule.”

Well, we can positively proclaim that there are exceptions, and we know this is true because the last time we were wandering around good old London Town, we found these five unforgettable experiences that don’t cost a dime. Sounds like a good example of another thing that people often say, “The best things in life are free.”

But while getting there may not be free, we have discovered a great place to find a Cheap Flight to London. So check it out, and let’s get started exploring these fantastic freebies.

1. Hyde Park

The entire park is gorgeous, but we particularly loved the spot just inside the Marble Arch on the northeast corner of the park. This has been a haven for public speaking, debate, and discussions for several centuries.  It was already well established by the time the right to do so was passed into law in 1872. That was when the Parks Regulation Act guaranteed the freedom to assemble and speak openly in the park without fear of retribution.

Many historic figures such as George Orwell, Karl Marx, and Vladimir Lenin have taken a turn at oration from a soapbox at Speaker’s Corner, and the tradition continues to this day. In fact, it may be going as strong as it ever was.

At the other end of park, we took a walk around the Royal Albert Hall and the Albert Memorial, where a giant golden Prince sits gazing toward the concert venue that bears his name. Then, just a bit farther along is Kensington Palace. Many royals, including Queen Victoria and Princess Diana, have made this their residence for nearly 400 years.

2. The Tower Bridge

This is likely the most famous of London’s thirty-three bridges over the Thames, but don’t make the mistake that so many people do and call it the London Bridge. It is definitely not falling down, and it is not in Arizona.

That’s right, that London Bridge was bought by Robert P. McCulloch in 1968, dismantled, shipped across the Atlantic, and reconstructed in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Kids may still love to sing the song, but we doubt that they know they are singing about a span that now crosses the Colorado River after it leaves the Grand Canyon.

Walking across the Tower Bridge is free, but you might have to wait on the draw bridge that allows larger boats on the Thames to go underneath. It is also possible to visit the steam engine room and a glass walkway, although there is a fee for that.

3. Big Ben

This just might be the best known clock in the world, or at least the most recognizable from all of the pictures. That must be because it is nearly impossible to resist taking photos of it. The Westminster Bridge, which also often gets mistakenly called London Bridge, is the perfect spot for a stunning portrait of Big Ben.

Ben’s name originally referred to the largest of the bells in the tower, but over time it came to include the entire structure of what is actually called Elizabeth Tower. These days, most people only associate the name with the clock. The rest of the building below houses the British Parliament and is also home to one of the royal residences, the Palace of Westminster.

4. Buckingham Palace

For almost two centuries British sovereigns have moved into Buckingham Palace upon ascending to the throne. So, with a bit of luck, it might be possible to spot Queen Elizabeth, or perhaps one of the princes that live in the palace going about their business.

However, there is a much better chance of seeing the famous Changing of the Guard, since that happens almost every day. But even if you miss that, the palace is most certainly worth a visit to simply walk around the grounds and watch the goings on at the world’s most renowned royal residence.

5. Abbey Road

Here we found a very different version of royalty, the Rock and Roll kind. The Beatles recorded what many of us consider to be some of the greatest music ever put to tape in this converted old townhouse.

For eight years this was their home and almost every song of theirs was recorded here, but it was called the EMI Recording Studios at that time.

Then the four lads from Liverpool released the album they named after the street. Soon after that the name of the studio was officially changed to Abbey Road.

While we were there, and we’d guess this is almost always going on, several groups tried to recreate the famous album cover of the four Beatles walking across the street. We didn’t try because we were short two Beatles.

(Special Bonus) Ride a Double Decker Bus

OK, it may not be completely free, but it costs less than two pounds and no trip to London can be considered complete without at least one ride. It is a great way to take a break from walking and there might be no better way to see the sights such as Piccadilly Circus, Saint Paul’s Cathedral, and The London Eye.

With all of these great ideas to fill your time in London, you will want to make planning the trip as easy as possible. That is why it is best to find everything, all of the flights and hotels in London (الفنادق في لندن), available to be booked at the same time and in the same place. And all at the best prices.

And when everything is booked, and all that money is saved, there should be a little left over for the incredible things that London has to offer that are not free.

Which might make for an exception to the rule of “The best things in life are free.”

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

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6 Best Cities to Visit in Russia

With so many different Russian destinations worth checking out, each trip can be a completely unique experience depending on where you go…

If you’re looking for a travel destination with a saturated past, culture, and natural beauty, Russia is definitely the place to go. With its vast territory spanning 11 time zones and home to over 140 ethnic groups that speak more than 100 languages, Russia can serve as an ideal travel destination for any traveler. Wondering how to make the utmost of your Russia trip and see this many-sided region in full bloom? This article will provide you with some ideas for things to see in Russia and how to plan your adventure there!

Lively Moscow

Moscow is more than a city: it’s an experience. With palaces alongside glassy skyscrapers, lush gardens, shopping areas, and historical landmarks scattered around the area, Moscow has something to offer for every type of traveler.

Get inspired by the world-renowned performances at the Bolshoi Theatre, browse for art at one of Russia’s most famous galleries like Tretyakov Gallery or Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, then explore Red Square which is home to iconic landmarks including St Basil’s Cathedral and Lenin’s Mausoleum.

To feel the city’s incomparable contrast, visitors can delve into the bustling life of the town in some of its most lively districts such as Arbat or Kitai Gorod. Save some time to admire Moscow’s skyline from Sparrow Hills which provide stunning views over a vast expanse of Russia’s capital sprawling below you.

While enjoying the scenery, pay attention to different architectural styles of buildings ranging from Soviet-styled-ones to monumental business towers!

Glorious Saint Petersburg

During your Russia expedition, make sure not to miss out on glorious St. Petersburg, since Venice of the North is accessible via direct train from Moscow to St.Petersburg just under 4 hours away!

The unmatched charm of St. Petersburg is one that will leave you in awe as the city has been traversed by numerous canals and features 342 bridges differing in sizes and designs. This place delivers on all fronts, by offering up magnificent museums and galleries for those who love art, as well as an abundance of remarkable sites to explore at any time during day or night.

The State Hermitage Museum resides in St. Petersburg’s largest museum complex and offers visitors both legendary paintings from artists such as Rembrandt van Rijn and Vincent Van Gogh while also boasting over 3 million items, from Ancient Egyptian artifacts dating back 5 millennia ago to Soviet propaganda posters celebrating Russia’s rise under Communism!

Stroll down beautiful Nevsky Prospekt, wander along meandering embankments of the city to see raising bridges, spend a day in the Imperial residences Peterhof with its golden statues and manicured gardens leading straight to sea. Believe us, you’ll be left with memories that will last forevermore!

Striking Vladivostok

The city of Vladivostok, the last stop on the Trans-Siberian railway, lies in a remote corner that was once part of Russia’s Asian empire. The name “Vladivostok” means “Ruler of the East” and suits its place perfectly since it’s beneficially nestled between two worlds – Asia and Europe.

Nicknamed “San Francisco” for its rocky landscape where you can enjoy hiking all year round or even take a funicular ride to see amazing views over this fascinating city from up high at Eagle’s Nest observation deck.

What is more, thanks to its location there are many restaurants in Vladivostok that offer delicious food from all around the world. You can explore the flavors of Russia, Korea and China or even take a cookery masterclass with local chefs to learn about their recipes! If you want an activity other than eating out then how about playing some blackjack at one of only two casinos in Russian’s Far East? Or if not feel like gambling but would rather enjoy nature, why not go on a boat tour through the city? In addition to boat trips, summer months provide plenty of opportunities for water sports lovers too: paddleboarding, surfing, and kitesurfing.

Scenic Irkutsk

Cold icy Irkutsk is famed for being the city from which Russia’s great explorers set out for Siberia’s untouched frontier. The town was founded in 1652 as a winter quarters for traders and tax collectors, but has since grown to be among one of Siberia’s largest towns with more than 500,000 people residing there.

With its rich heritage in tow, Irktusk is dotted with well-preserved examples of traditional wooden architecture, multiple historic churches, and museums. One of these is Volkonsky House – a building used for large social gatherings such as balls during Irkutsk tours in this Siberian capital. There are also many different palaces to see including Trubetskoy house where you can witness some of Russia’s most important art pieces from the 18th century onwards.

What is more, Irkutsk is the perfect destination for those who want to explore Siberia’s nature, with Lake Baikal just an hour’s drive away.  It’s one of Russia’s most popular tourist destinations with visitors coming from all over the world to see its unspoiled nature, amazing wildlife, and get enchanted by spectacular views. Visit in summer and enjoy its beaches, villages, and swimming lakeside. Alternatively take a trip in winter when you can see Irkutskiy Zimnik (a unique type of ice that looks like glass), dog-sleigh across frozen Lake Baikal, or go ice-fishing!

Charming Kazan

Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan is a veritable melting pot of Russian and Asian influence where people of different backgrounds and beliefs have known peace for centuries.

The city’s main attraction is the UNESCO-listed Kazan Kremlin that was completed during Ivan The Terrible’s reign. One of this complex’s beautiful structures that highlights is the Kul Sharif Mosque, Europe’s largest mosque. Built in the 16th-17th century by architects who took inspiration from Eastern Islamic art, this architectural marvel features impressive wooden ceilings that are intricately decorated with gold leaf as well as beautifully crafted walls that depict verses from the Quran.

If you’re interested in more than just religion at the palace complex then check out also Annunciation Cathedral which was built next to it for symbolizing peace between Christianity and Islam through tolerance and respect among different beliefs. This building has been around for a long time with its completion date set back in 1561 AD!

What is more, the city has a rich cultural life and boasts various fascinating events, including festivals like the Tulip Festival in April that is sure to delight visitors with its vibrant colors and sounds of all sorts. Culinary lovers should visit at any time – Tatar dishes are delicious!

Stunning Ekaterinburg

Ekaterinburg is the capital of the Ural Mountain Region, full of hidden treasures for you to discover.

After a tragic event, Ekaterinburg is now home to an imposing church with Byzantine-style architecture. The Church Upon the Blood marks where many Romanov family members were killed and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in this city. It stands next to another attraction that can be explored during your travel: Yelizaveta Fyodorovna’s Chapel which features unusual design elements like its inverted pyramid roofline or its windowless exterior wall painted light blue on white marble columns.

Another church worth visiting while on Ekaterinburg tour is the marvelous Ascension Church, which you will find to be one of the oldest in town. This 18th century marvel was not only built with incredible architecture and design but also has a museum inside for visitors who want to take their time exploring Russian history through artful exhibits.

There are also many great museums that should be included in your plan such as the Yekaterinburg History Museum, Military Technology Museum, Urals Military History museum, and The Fine Arts Gallery. A must-see on an Ekaterinburg itinerary is Vysotskiy Viewing Platform which provides panoramic views over this beautiful city from a different perspective making it worth your time!

All in all, you can never get bored of exploring Russia once you start. With so many different Russian destinations worth checking out, each trip can be a completely unique experience depending on where you go!

We are happy to present this collaborative post to offer valuable information to our readers.

Build a Better Bike and the World will Beat a Path to Your Door

We often try to use our bikes instead of a car, but there are some definite drawbacks that arise. How many times have we said, “there must be a better way?” Well, it turns out there is!It’s called a PEBL by BetterBike…

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that we are getting older?

Could be just me, since I know that the title above is a take-off on mouse traps. But of course, the truth is we all are whether we like it or not.

That means we should be on the lookout for ways to make this aging business as smooth and painless as possible. I’ll venture not too far out on a limb and say that almost everyone can agree on that.

We might even begin to think we are Batman!

One way we have found to accomplish this is to simply keep moving. Yup, sounds simple, and it is, but it is also wonderfully effective.

No need to scale mountains or run marathons, just make a point to keep your body in motion. One of our favorite ways to achieve this modest goal is to ride bikes. We began this in earnest back when we set out on our empty nest motorhome adventure several years ago and have continued to this day.

Back then it was a good way to get places without having to move the RV once we were settled in somewhere. Then, over time, we became pretty good at riding to do many of our daily errands and the pedaling helped to keep our old joints working and the blood circulating.

How about a bike that keeps you out of the rain?

So now we often try to use our bikes instead of a car, but there are some undeniable stumbling blocks and drawbacks that arise. Such as the times we have been caught off guard and end up pedaling like mad in a downpour while passing cars soak us every time they go by. That’s always fun.

Or the way we have to limit what we can buy when we are shopping by bike. Those specials on the economy size paper towels will not be riding along with us. Not unless we can learn to balance them on our heads while we ride.

How many times have we said, “there must be a better way?” Well, it turns out there is!

It’s called a PEBL by BetterBike. These ingenious little vehicles, known as Micro Car Ebikes, have combined the best of both cars and bikes into smart, healthy, and emission free eco-friendly transportation.

Plenty of room for all our stuff!

Remember how we talked about keeping moving as we get older? Well, these let you do that without exposing anyone, or any cargo, to the elements. One or two passengers, depending on their size, the family dog, or more than half a dozen bags of groceries can all easily ride in fully protected comfort while the driver pedals along at up to twenty miles per hour.

But wait, I can almost hear the questions popping into your head, “What if there are steep grades along the way?”

That’s where the electric motor comes into play. You can pedal as much or as little as you want and the PEBL will climb right up any hills. It is also easy, and especially fun to drive and, because it is classified as a bike, there are no special skills, licenses, insurance, or registrations required.

“OK, so what if I need to go a long, long way?”

Gee, would a hundred miles be enough? Yup, that’s right, with their extra battery power options fifty, or even one hundred miles can be covered on a single charge. The standard model can easily go twenty-five, and that’s if you don’t pedal at all.

Honestly, it’s not meant for going cross country, but for running around town or back and forth to work it certainly has more than enough range.

“But what about bad weather, rain, cold, or even snow?”

The PEBL is fully-enclosable, with optional windshield wiper and heater available, so the elements are not a problem. On warm days it is simple to open everything up for an easy, breezy ride, making it truly an all-weather vehicle.

“OK, I’m almost convinced, but what about the cost?”

We did a little back of the envelope figuring and have come to the conclusion that a PEBL can actually save money. Here’s how, those of us who are used to being two car households can rethink that. Do we really need both cars?

As we get older, it seems more and more like the answer to that question is no. Either we are hardly using one of them or one of us doesn’t, or dare I say shouldn’t, drive anymore. That means we can downsize to one car for the times that only an automobile will do, and use a PEBL for everything else.

How does that save money? We took a look into the figures and according to AAA the total cost to drive a new vehicle is around $800 a month.

It can be a little more or less for older models, but no matter what you drive the PEBL will be saving you money. PEBL’s can be purchased with only a small down payment, and there are no credit checks or finance charges, so it’ll be super easy to be on your way! You can request a FREE information packet HERE.

Feel free to bring the kids, or in our case grandkids along.

We also love that BetterBike is a family run, made in America business. In fact, they are the only fully-enclosed eBike manufacturer still located in the United States. As a special gift to our readers, get $500 OFF any PEBL, simply by requesting the FREE information packet mentioned above.

And while we may not need any new-fangled mousetraps, better or otherwise, we are certainly on board with smaller, quieter vehicles that offer a healthy alternative to driving.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

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Catalonia’s Beautiful Costa Brava

Spain is well known for its many regions of natural beauty, but perhaps the most scenic area of all is the stunning Costa Brava…

Spain is well known for its many regions of natural beauty, but perhaps the most scenic area of all is the stunning Costa Brava.

The name means Wild Coast or Rugged Coast in Spanish, and this picturesque stretch of shoreline from the French border down to near Barcelona in the country’s Northeast corner certainly lives up to it.

We first visited many years ago on one of our rare kid-less vacations back before our empty nest days, but it was completely by accident. We had rented a car in Paris with the plan to drive to Barcelona, but we got too tired so we pulled off the highway and into the seaside town of Roses to stop for the night.

We had a marvelous evening of food and fun along the waterfront and loved it so much that we spent the next two days exploring the area. It was such an incredible time that we never made it to Barcelona! Luckily, we did a few years later and fell in love with it too.

In fact, the entire area is high on our list of places we want to visit again now that our kids are all adults. It would be perfect for one of the multi-generation vacations that we have started doing over the last several years.

The idea began with us renting a big house for Thanksgiving so that we could all stay together and now it has become our favorite way to travel together.

We can’t think of a better way to see this part of Catalonia, so while looking online at the possibilities in the area we found the best local charming houses available and many of them would be just perfect. Some even have swimming pools.

One of the advantages we like about renting a house is that everybody doesn’t have to do the same thing. Often we split up, so that some of us could go off for a day ay the beach, or drive up the coast, while others could explore the nearby towns and villages such as Girona.

As the capital of the province with the same name, the city is quite bustling for its size. Yet it also has a great deal of Old World charm. Much of the ancient fortifications, parts built back in the first century BC by the Romans, are not only still standing, but open to walk on top of the walls for excellent views. There are even a few towers remaining that allow visitors to climb inside.

The old Jewish quarter, that thrived in the 12th century, is also well worth a look and has been deemed one of the best preserved in Europe. The narrow stone streets and stairways make for some wonderful wandering in the afternoon.

The Catedral de Girona, dates back to the 12th century as well and is a superb example of the Catalan Gothic style of architecture. From the church it is easy to walk along the river and find all sorts of shopping and cafes.

With all of this, the town is so captivating that some of us could consider checking for a Holiday rental Girona and stay a few days.

Meanwhile the rest of us could explore along the shore and hope to find a place as magical as we did on our lost adventure all those years ago.

Maybe we could even find the little bar in Roses where we nearly fell off of our stools laughing while trying to converse with our bartender, Jordi, in a dizzying combination of Catalan, Spanish, English, Italian, and made-up hand signals.

Or make it all the way down to Barcelona.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

We are happy to present this collaborative post to offer valuable information to our readers.

Aerospace Cowboys

New Mexico has been on the cutting edge of the space age ever since there was such a thing as the space age. Here is a look back at our visit to New Mexico’s Spaceport America ten years ago….

Here is a look back at our visit to New Mexico’s Spaceport America ten years ago. 

New Mexico has been on the cutting edge of the space age ever since there was such a thing as the space age.

Because of the wide open spaces, experimental rocket launches, missile testing and the world’s first atomic explosion have taken place out among the cacti and roadrunners.

We saw the questionable side of science, with a dash of real rocketry, in Roswell, but the real heavy lifting of scientific discovery has been elsewhere in The Land of Enchantment.

To hit these hot spots we made a base camp in the town of Truth or Consequences and, like any normal people, we asked about the name.

Back in 1950 the town was called Hot Springs. When the radio show “Truth or Consequences” offered to air the show from any town willing to change their name, this little burg jumped at the chance.

Next thing they knew the show’s host, Ralph Edwards, is in town and the whole world, or at least the American radio listening public,
is aware of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

Edwards took to the place like a duck to water and visited during Fiesta for the next fifty years. The townfolk named a park after him, where they still hold Fiesta every May.

A short drive over the mountains took us to White Sands, which is famous for two things — The White Sands Missile Range and White Sands National Monument.

The missile range is top secret. There is a museum open to the public but the rest is off limits, no matter how gypsy a GypsyNester has gone.

White Sands National Monument

Back in 1945 the army started bringing captured German V-2 rocket parts to this forty-mile-wide and one hundred-mile-long facility. By later that year missiles were flying.

That same summer, just north of White Sands, the world’s first atomic explosion was detonated at the Trinity test site. Needless to say, that radioactive landmark is also off limits to the public.

The space between these two super secret scientific spots is filled with white sand. Hence the name. White Sands National Monument is a blinding alien landscape with giant shifting dunes of pure white gypsum sand.

Upwind of the site a unique dry lake bed forms a never ending supply of the snowy mineral that blows across the barren landscape.
Normally the gypsum would dissolve in the rain, but rain nearly never falls in this desert, so the giant sandbox continues to grow and grow.

See more photos from White Sands National Monument

Most of the wildlife — lizards, mice, rabbits and foxes — that inhabit this peculiar environment have adapted, becoming white to blend in with the surrounding sand for protection.

However, according to one of the park signs, these little guys still end up as tasty little dishes of fast food. Call us wacky, but that seems like the sign might be just a tad disturbing to the kiddies.

Good thing ours are all grown up.

The last of the high tech sites in the area was the one we made the trip to see. Spaceport America is the world’s first spaceport built specifically for commercial use.

The brainchild of Stanford University’s Dr. Burton Lee, the project became a reality after Congress and New Mexico State University got involved.

Soon after that, Governor Bill Richardson and Sir Richard Branson announced that Virgin Galactic would make New Mexico its world headquarters. In 2006 the state formed the New Mexico Space Authority and passed the necessary laws to open the world’s first commercial spaceport.

We contacted Dr. Jerry D. Brown of Spaceport Tours to set up a visit to this real life slice of the future. The good doctor, a NASA veteran, has secured exclusive rights to show people around the facility.

A dusty van ride across the desert brought us to the gate where we were issued our visitor passes and hardhats. It was all very official and highly secured.

A little farther and we found ourselves standing in the middle of a huge windswept stretch of blacktop. Enormous earthmovers, dump trucks, bulldozers and cement mixers line the edges and roared around us as they labored away.

It is still just a construction site, but work is nearly complete on the ginormous two mile long runway, hangers and terminal that Virgin Galactic will be using for their sub-orbital tourist space flight excursions.

This is no regular airport runway. It must be perfectly smooth, so specifications are meticulously met down to the tiniest fraction of an inch.

The mothership “Eve” will take off from here, carrying the VSS Enterprise with six passengers to nearly 50,000 feet where it will disconnect and fly into space.

After a few weightless minutes, Enterprise will return to Earth and land on this same strip. All for a paltry ticket price of $200,000.

While it will be at least a year before any of Virgin’s over three hundred prepaid customers get their rides into space, there have already been numerous launches from the spaceport.

These take place at several nearby
vertical launch sites, where Up Aerospace uses traditional rockets to blast satellites out into space.

So this visit was ten years ago and even though in the years since then things have not always gone according to plans, the spaceport has become an active and important launchsite for America’s growing private space flight industry.

Here’s hoping that continues…

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Picture This: The Badlands of South Dakota

The Badlands of South Dakota
Out of nowhere, the South Dakota plains give way to The Badlands – layers of soft shale, clay and limestone that wear away at a rate of about an inch a year leaving stunning silhouettes and fanciful formations…

Badlands National Monument in South Dakota

After a seemingly endless trek across the windswept northern prairie on our way to Mount Rushmore, the landscape suddenly changed.

On second thought, “suddenly” hardly describes it. Abruptly, immediately, instantaneously the topography dramatically went from flat grassland besieged with billboards to the spectacularly gnarled Badlands.

Wild formations in The Badlands of South Dakota

The Badlands of South Dakota

Out of nowhere the South Dakota plains gave way to layers of soft shale, clay and limestone that wear away at a rate of about an inch a year. The wind blown process leaves behind stunning silhouettes and fanciful formations.

Find out more about the spectacular sites near The Badlands! Click here!

The Badlands of South Dakota

The Lakota Sioux dubbed the region “Mako Sica” or “Bad Land” and early French Trappers concurred, calling it “les mauvaises terres a traverser” meaning “a bad land to cross.”

Wild formations in The Badlands of South Dakota

No one said anything about it being a bad land to LOOK at, so America recognized it as a uniquely beautiful spot and proclaimed it Badlands National Monument in 1929.

The Badlands of South Dakota

However inhospitable or difficult to traverse this place may be, the Badlands certainly provide a most unique spot where one feels
utterly removed from the rest of the planet. We are certain that we weren’t the first to express the thought that this looks like the moon.

The Badlands Loop Road in Badlands National Monument, South Dakota

While most of the park is wilderness and inaccessible by vehicle, The Badlands Loop Road passes through the most mind bending of the formations.

The Badlands Loop Road in Badlands National Monument, South Dakota

Absolutely remarkable — we’d go so far as to describe it as “out of this world.”

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Find out more about the spectacular sites near The Badlands! Click here!

Biking the Monuments of Washington, DC

Here’s a look back at a bicycle tour of Washington, D.C. we took a few years ago…
See our full adventure at the National Mall here or enlarge video >>

Your GypsyNesters ride the National Mall by bike! Check us out!

See more of our adventure at the National Mall in Washington, DC – we even get to bust some myths!

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