Traveling Mamas

Inspiring you to explore our world

  • Many of our readers may notice that while the Traveling Mamas enjoy travel, we also take pride in helping others and giving back to the travel community. This holiday season we’ve joined together with Passports with Purpose to help raise money for a gift that gives back.

    Passports with Purpose is a joint effort by Seattle area travel bloggers and is led by Beth Whitman, of Wanderlust and Lipstick. These travel bloggers had the idea of raising money for Heifer International, a really cool site that allows donors to purchase cows, water buffalo, and even pigs for communities around the world. Heifer projects around the world help families achieve self-reliance through the gift of livestock and training. Gifts are passed from recipient to recipient until entire communities are transformed.

    So what’s in it for you, the reader? Traveling Mamas has put together a basket of goodies (graciously donated by a few sponsors) that is being raffled through Passports with Purpose. These goodies are travel items we believe in, and they can also be found in our holiday gift guide. A $10 donation through First Giving, along with the code GB01 placed in the comment section of your donation, enters your name in the drawing. Be sure to leave your email address so that you can be contacted if you win. Your donation goes towards helping a rural community build and sustain itself.

    The Traveling Mamas basket includes:

    Funkey Finder – A fashionable way to keep up with your rental key on vacation. $18.95.

    Tassi – A crazycool product that keeps your hair neat while putting on makeup or cleansing your face. Packs just right for that special trip. $14.99.

    Carson LensPen – This is one of my favorite items. I’ve used it for years to keep my camera lens clean, and it is the size of an ink pen. $12.99.

    4 Designer Luggage Tags – Bonjour Fleurette luggage tags retail for $12 each. Total $48.

    Eastsport Natural Collection Duffle Bag – $60.

    Remember to make your donation through First Giving. Thank you for your continued support.

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  • I was recently invited to attend a Black History tour through Missouri that began in Kansas City and ended in St. Louis. You may be saying to yourself, “Why is a white girl going on a Black history tour?” I’ll tell you why. This post is not meant to offend, but to educate readers to the opportunities out there.

    There are many types of travel. There are romantic getaways, family trips, babymoons, mancations, and educational/cultural travel. Cultural tourism is very important. It includes Native American history, various wars throughout the world, the Wild West, and very definitely Black history. We, as Americans, search far and wide to identify with a particular culture. We seek our heritage and our roots. We go on quests to find out who we are. Black history is just as important to US History as much as any other ethnic group or historical event. So I went to seek out the stories of the people, who for so many centuries have been ignored.

    I’m a Southern Mama, and live in the heart of Louisiana’s Plantation Country. We are very open about slavery, black history, and the descendants of the people who settled this area, no matter what class they were. The Louisiana Plantation tours celebrate the memory of master craftsmen who built many of the homes and labored in the fields, most of whom were slaves. Missouri is new to this practice, and one woman, Angela DaSilva, has made it her life’s mission to find the hidden histories and forgotten people of the United States.

    DaSilva was our tour leader and schooled us in the atrocities that occurred within the slave population. We were even placed on the front steps of the Old St. Louis Courthouse, site of the Dred Scott Case, and we reenacted a slave auction. It was very eye opening. Her passion for this subject, which is also her heritage, conveyed the cruelty of families torn apart, the torture, and many times the deaths. This sad history is not to be forgotten, but many of these same slaves were eventually freed and struggled to seek out better lives. Their legacy can be found in the faces and the places we visit and live today.

    For anyone wishing to explore their heritage or to learn more about Black History, take a tour with Angela DaSilva and the National Black Tourism Network, where you won’t just read about it, but you will follow the footsteps of these historical people. The tours include so much, that there is no way I can fit it all into a blog post. My experience can be told through this slide show and in future posts I will highlight some of these places.

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  • Stephenie Meyer may have never dreamed that her research visit to the small town of Forks, WA would bring much needed revenue into the travel industry. Her successful Twilight Saga and now the film Twilight has become the focus of the female teen scene (and also a number of mamas) and has renewed the idea of Vampire Tourism that first began with Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

    Mamas love movies, books, and their locations. I decided that it was time to read the Twilight Saga before watching this movie, to see what the hype was all about. The books are very engaging and I can understand the appeal it has to teenage girls. Many fans have fallen in love with the fictional characters Edward and Jacob. I spoke briefly with a film critic acquaintance who wished to remain anonymous for copyright reasons. I think he just doesn’t want anyone to know that as a 30 something male, he actually enjoyed the movie. He was surprised that he liked it and recommends it as a date movie that guys can sit through.

    Just in case you’ve ever wondered where some of the places mentioned in the books or movie are, I thought it would be nice to help you in your quest for more Twilight in your lives. Here are a few of the top travel spots mentioned in the books or movie that YOU can visit:

    Forks, Washington – The town is not fictional, but is actually located on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. Here, fans and tourists can find the actual places listed in the series, such as Bella’s House, Forks High School, Forks Police Station, and even take a shopping trip inside of Forks Outfitters. Is the Miller Tree Inn Bed and Breakfast really the setting for the Cullen’s home? It is close enough for many fans, and you can spend the night here also. The Forks Chamber of Commerce offers guided tours, which must be reserved in advanced. They’ll even take visitors to the Quillayute Prairie Cemetery, which serves as the Cullen’s baseball field in the book.

    La Push – The unincorporated community of La Push is near Forks, WA and is part of the Quileute Indian Reservation. The fictional Jacob Black lives in La Push and it is here, at First Beach, where Bella and Jacob spend a good deal of time together.

    Hoh Rainforest – This rainforest is located in Olympic National Park, a 30 minute drive from Forks, WA. It spans 70 miles, from the glaciers of Mount Olympus to the Pacific Ocean. Rustic cabin lodging is available at Hard Rain Café starting at around $69 per night and campsites are $15 per night.

    Port Angeles – La Bella Italia Restaurant is where Bella and Edward (well, maybe just Bella) ate a dish of mushroom ravioli, which was just recently added to the regular menu. Diners can also order a glass of vampire wine and finish the meal off with Twilight cupcakes.

    If you plan on exploring the Olympic Peninsula, Nerd’s Eye View offers great suggestions on a quick visit.

    Volterra, Italy – This town is located in the Tuscany region of Italy and is home to the fictional Volturi, considered to be the royal family of vampires. This ancient city’s underground is where the Volturi lead unsuspecting tourists to their deaths.

    Film Sites – Due to movie industry incentives and overall film budget, the screen adaptation of Twilight was filmed in the Oregon cities of St. Helen’s and Portland. FanTrips.Travel offers guided tours (with lodging and meals) that take fans through the film sites, including the Columbia River Gorge, View Point Inn (where Bella and Edward spend time after the Prom), and the Historic District of St. Helen’s serves as the stand in for Forks, WA. This tour runs between $800-$1000 per person.

    This quick video of First Beach in LaPush, WA by striatic gives an idea of the atmosphere Bella and Jacob shared during their discussions on the beach.

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  • Congratulations to the following readers who can now Travel Like a Rock Star with Joe’s Jeans and the Traveling Mamas. Check your email on how to claim your prize. Thanks to everyone who took the time to enter. There were a lot of you! Be sure to keep checking back at TravelingMamas.com for great travel tips and some fabulous giveaways.

    Rock Star Kristina

    Rock Star Kristina

    Rock Star Cassi

    Rock Star Cassi

    Rock Star Adam

    Rock Star Adam

    Rock Star Elizabeth

    Rock Star Elizabeth

    Rock Star Rebecca

    Rock Star Rebecca

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  • If any of you have been following my tweets on twitter, you may be wondering what I was up to. I was on a cultural tour of Black history in Missouri. I wanted to post while on the road, but things just didn’t work out (busy from sunup til sundown). I had hoped to salvage the opportunity during my free time at the Millennium Hotel in St. Louis. The pictures on the hotel site had me excited about the luxury rooms.

    Millennium Hotel St. Louis picture of Standard RoomWe drove into the driveway late Friday night during a downpour. The bell boy made our bus back up out into the street without letting the driver deposit us as close to the entrance as possible. Then, the ding dong bell boy comes to the bus with one broken umbrella to handle 14 people. Ummm. Okay. I just walked in the icy rain up the drive.

    Check in was relatively easy and I deposited myself inside of room 2503. I was looking forward to a relaxing hot bath in this luxurious hotel. I immediately ran to see the awesome view of the arch. It was a great view. Then I began to look around.

    CajunMama's Standard Room at Millennium Hotel St. LouisI’m being kind when I say that The Millennium Hotel St. Louis reminds me of a former 1980’s heroin addict that has aged badly. Yes, it is contemporary, but for a rack rate of around $300, I expected so much more. The place was just tattered and worn.

    So I went for a steaming shower instead of a bath. The narrow tub had a typical liner and curtain. I got in, but the airflow from the main room cause the liner to keep blowing in on me. I would move it. And it would blow in again. I finally slapped it, but because I was wet it attacked me as if it was angry at me for slapping it. I was really grossed out by the time the really gross shower liner had wrapped around me.

    After drying off, I decided to sit and write a Mama on the Move post. The only wireless was available in the lobby for $2.99 per hour. The high speed access was there, but the room’s cord was missing. My wireless was picking up a signal from the St. Louis Wifi Access. So I got excited and paid the $7.99 for access. Of course the pages to pay loaded without a problem. Once the payment processed, it took 20 MINUTES to load up a page. I finally got frustrated and shut the computer down.

    I then decided to get in the bed and watch tv. Guess what? That contemporary night stand was leaning at an angle. Everything I put on it slid to the floor, even the tv remote.

    I thought at first that maybe it was just me, but after speaking to a few of my traveling companions and hearing their horror stories of their rooms (one gal switched twice and another was charged twice for the high speed internet) I realized that my opinion was justified. The Millennium Hotel in St. Louis sucks.

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