From the category archives:

Historic

Want Your Share Of The New California Gold Rush?

by Alan Rider

There are certain moments in history I would love to have been present at.  Not the least of which is the frosty morning of January 24, 1848 when carpenter James Marshall found those first few gold nuggets just downstream from the sawmill he was building on American River.
That’s because it was this chance discovery that started the California Gold Rush.  An event that quite literally made the Golden State what it is today.
But you probably knew that already, didn’t you? Well here’s something you might not know:  There’s still plenty of gold in the cold, clear creeks of those Sierra Nevada foothills, just sitting there waiting for someone to [...]

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Black Friday Blues

by Alan Rider

Just heard an interview with a women who arrived at a southern California mall at 4:30 this morning because she thought joining the crowds lined up for the traditional day-after-Thanksgiving deals would be an interesting “experience.” I’m sure she’s right on some level, though honestly battling the Black Friday throngs for questionable deals on things I have no real use for is one adventure I have absolutely no interest in.
As a matter of fact, I’ve long been a proponent of the philosophy that we’re all burdened by way too much “stuff.”  All of which will wear out, go out of style, or just plain get ignored at the back [...]

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Paranormal Activity Anyone?

by Alan Rider

Maybe you’ve heard about this new movie Paranormal Activity, which is supposed to be the scariest new movie to come along since The Blair Witch Project made us all think twice before heading into the woods with a video camera back in 1999.
Of course, watching a  movie like this is just one way to get that spooky feeling that makes a shiver run up your spine.  For a more authentic paranormal experience, I’d highly recommend you spend the night at St. Francisville, Louisiana’s Myrtles Plantation.
This grand 1796 antebellum home has seen so much tragedy over the past two centuries that it’s no wonder many paranormal experts believe it [...]

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An Extraordinary Place

by Alan Rider

In my adult life, I’ve lived in more than a dozen cities and spent time in dozens more.  And I’m here to tell you that, in my experience, there’s no place on this planet that can match New Orleans when it comes to pure, irrepressible joi de vivre.
What I find truly extraordinary, however, is the fact that this laid-back, fun-loving vibe has remained virtually unchanged despite the dramatic damage inflicted when Hurricane Katrina hit the Crescent City four years ago today.  While many New Orleans neighborhoods remain devastated, the laissez le bon temps rouler spirit that earned this town the nickname “The City That Care Forgot” remains remarkably intact.
Though I’m [...]

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Spaced Out

by Alan Rider

Next week’s launch of the space shuttle Discovery reminds me of a lesson I learned the hard way earlier this year:  Trying to catch one of NASA’s handful of remaining space shuttle launches isn’t as easy as it sounds.
You see, Murphy’s Law caused last February’s Discovery mission to be postponed again and again, until I had to settle for having lunch with an astronaut and riding the shuttle simulator at the Kennedy Space Center.  Both enjoyable and recommended, but …sigh…not exactly the extraordinary experience I was hoping for.
Of course, there is one sure-fire way to guarantee yourself a front-row seat for a future space shot.  For a cool $170 million, [...]

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Hot Rods & Cool Concerts

by Alan Rider

If you were going to sit down and make a list of every uniquely American pop culture icon you could think of, hot-rods and rock-n-roll would have to be near the top of that list. Which makes two extraordinary experiences on tap for this coming weekend seem oddly patriotic:
Peace and Music
This weekend marks the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, the legendary open-air festival that saw 500,000 people descend on Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in Bethel, New York for “three days of peace and music.”  If you weren’t there, you can get a feel for the event Rolling Stone magazine called one of the “50 Moments That Changed the History of [...]

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Summer Skirmishes

by Alan Rider

Okay, time for a show of hands: How many of you out there grew up playing army? You know, running through the woods attacking an imaginary enemy in mock battles where there was just as much glory in leading your squad to victory as there was in faking a highly melodramatic death?
Well, the annual War And Peace Show in Kent, England later this month takes that familiar childhood fantasy to a whole ‘nother level.  In fact, the four-day event pretty well proves that old line about the difference between men and boys being the price of their toys is more than just another cliché.
One of the largest events of its [...]

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