Southeastern United States

Activities in America's Southeast, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Virginia.

Feats of treetop insanity.

Playing in the Tree Tops at TreeUmph! in Florida

That moment when you realize you will be hooking up your own harness hardware (sans supervision) to the 650-foot TreeUmphant! zip line that is the grand finale to the new aerial base camp experience outside of Bradenton, Florida. Or when you realize Read More

Daytime Christmas scenery at the Opryland (Photo credit: MCArnott)

Spending Christmas at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee

Streams of lights fall like incandescent snowflakes, characters of children’s books and cartoons hang from small-scale hot-air balloons and parachutes. Only Santa can bring more excitement at the Opryland Hotel! You might not deck your halls Read More

Clyde Butcher's fine art nature photography makes a meaningful souvenir.

What to Buy in Florida: Shopping for True Souvenirs from the Sunshine State

Mickey Mouse ears and crates of oranges: That is so last century when it comes to shopping for souvenirs that truly say “Florida.” Harry Potter is the new Mickey Mouse, and key lime products are much trendier in the citrus department. In Your Bucket Read More

Music History in the form of instruments played on iconic hits.

Honoring the Music Makers at Nashville’s Musicians Hall of Fame

What would you expect to see in a musicians' hall of fame? If the household names of the world's leading recording artists and performing headliners come to mind, think again. Nashville's Musicians Hall of Fame is all about the players behind the Read More

Cover Photo

Traversing the Mississippi on Mud Island in Memphis, Tennessee

Something childlike takes over me when I go to Mud Island. I must go to the far north end of the Mississippi River and walk the length of it, from Illinois to Louisiana: Roughly one mile. For me, and I think most who visit it, the big attraction Read More

Viewing Atlantis (NASA/Kennedy Space Center)

On a Mission with Space Shuttle Atlantis

Every morning, I wake up looking at a Space Shuttle, a career space worker by my side. The model reminds John of his 33 years with the program. Where we dine with his parents, photographs of launches and astronauts grace the walls. When the sheriff's Read More

Monticello

Walking in Thomas Jefferson’s Footsteps at Monticello

The piercing ring of metal striking metal mingles with the sizzling fumes of a roaring forge. On Mulberry Row, a worker pounds smelted ore into nails – a mainstay of life at Monticello, circa 1790. Nearby, two men shape softened wood into strips for Read More

Seneca Rocks WV

Squeezing Through Stones in Seneca Rocks, West Virginia

Sitting on the deck of the Front Porch Restaurant, chowing down on a slice of pizza, I had a grandstand view of the rock climbers scrambling up above me. Distinctly tilted and sparkling in the summer sun, the 900 foot tall wall of quartzite has Read More

Graceland was built four years after Elvis was born. He bought it when he was 22. (photo credit: Katherine Rodeghier c 2013)

Touring Graceland, Home of Elvis Presley in Memphis, Tennessee

My first impression, taking the circular driveway to the home of Elvis Presley, is how small it is. For someone larger than life, I expected something grander for the King of Rock ’n’ Roll. But if you go by square footage (17,552), the home is Read More

The working grist mill at Dollywood was built by hand to resemble mills in the 19th century. (photo credit: Katherine Rodeghier c 2013)

Immersing in Smoky Mountain Culture at Dollywood Theme Park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

I admit it, I was wrong. I thought Dollywood, the theme park in the Tennessee foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, would be a cheesy tribute to the buxom, big-haired blond country singer and movie star. I imagined over-the-top caricatures and Read More

Big Thunder Mountain Railway (photo by John Keatley)

Riding Rollercoasters at Disney’s Magic Kingdom

Slipping into the skinny seat of the shuttlecraft at Space Mountain, I kept hearing the voice echoing throughout the noisy room. "Shuttle preparing for launch. Shuttle preparing for launch." In 1975, the year Space Mountain opened, my sisters and I - Read More

Ponce de Leon landing in Florida vignette at the Fountain of Youth Park

Drinking from the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine, Florida

“Have you had a drink of the water?” the young man with the closely cropped beard and “Winston” name tag asked. “Do I look younger?” I shot back. “I suppose you’re going to tell me you’re 100 years old.” I’d done this before. I’d drank from the Read More

Azaleas in bloom at Maclay Gardens

Chasing Camellias at Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park, Tallahassee

Three camellias. The blossoms sat in a silver dish in the parlor near the door of the Maclay House. I'd seen them there on several different visits to the manor home, always freshly picked, always a trio. I asked the docent why. "It was Mrs. Read More

First view of the slopes

A Flatlander Skiing Wintergreen, Virginia

When I posted a picture from the top of the slopes on Facebook, my jaded West Coast friends responded with ridicule and words like “bunny hill” and a definition of “slope.” In Your Bucket Because... It's good for learning -- or re-learning -- Read More

Americqn Alligators Hunt with Eyes Ears and Nose

Communing With Wildlife at St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park, Florida

When a close friend asked me to join her in a visit to her favorite zoological park in Florida, I jumped at the chance. I was curious to discover why my well-coiffed girlfriend of 50 years was so enamored with the mostly dark scaly skinned Read More

Camellia Garden, Dorothy B. Oven Park

Seeking Spring Blooms at Dorothy B. Oven Park in Tallahassee

Walking beneath ancient live oaks downhill from the manor home, I spotted the bright blossoms from quite a distance. "I bet those are flame azaleas!" One of the showiest of native azaleas in the Southeast, Florida flame azalea stands out in spring Read More

Goodwood

Touring Goodwood Museum and Gardens in Tallahassee, Florida

Amid the relaxed grandeur of a Southern plantation, it was the daffodils that caught our attention. In such a formal space, atop one of Tallahassee's highest hills, an estate dating back to the 1830s, you'd expect to greet daffodils in neat formal Read More

The local shrimp fleet backdrops Pass Christian's parade.

Doing Mardi Gras on the Mississippi Coast

"Be aggressive,” she schooled me. “People will run you over to get those beads.” My friend Amy was preparing me for my first foray into Mardi Gras in Mississippi. Yes, that’s right: Not New Orleans. Not Mobile, where the first Mardi Gras was held, Read More

Driving Nascar

NASCAR Driving at Walt Disney World, Florida

It had been at least 15 years since I’d driven a stick shift but when offered the chance to take the wheel of a NASCAR race car -- provided I knew my way around a manual transmission -- I signed on. Driving is like riding a bike, right? And I'm from Read More

Wild horses on Cumberland Island

Backpacking Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia

A quiet snuffle, and a snort, awakens me from slumber. Silhouettes of live oak branches laden with Spanish moss pattern the roof of my tent in the pale moonlight. I roll over in the sleeping bag and peer out through the tent screen. Horses! The Read More

A thin piece of numbered metal is put onto a songbird's leg.

Learning About Bird-Banding and Migration in Gulf Shores, Alabama

I am holding a life in my hands. It consists of less than half an ounce of feathers, one fast-beating heart, and not much else. This tiny gal -- the plumage says it's a female -- has just flown over the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico, a solid Read More

Keswick Vineyards

Winery-Hopping around Charlottesville, Virginia

The Chardonnay at Pollak Vineyards tasted of crème brulée and fig. Or was that the Viognier? Our fifth Virginia Charlottesville-Piedmont region winery of the day, my notes were just a wee bit wine-sotted. The Chardonnays and Viogniers were starting Read More

The camp's bookstore and information center

Communing with Spirits in Cassadaga, Florida

One little girl in the town of Cassadaga, Florida, loves shiny pennies so much, she’s often leaving them around on the floor. Another inhabitant named Arthur, a former opera singer from New York, has a penchant for cigars and booze. On a visit to the Read More

The adventure begins...

Horse-surfing in Bradenton Beach, Florida

My legs were quivering like tapioca pudding: I’m not going to lie to you. Nervous, yes. But also a reaction to pinning my knees into Winnie’s belly to avoid getting dumped into Bradenton Beach’s Palma Sola Bay. A.J., one of our personal Read More

baby alligator

Becoming a Midwife to a Baby Alligator in Florida

“Push!,” my husband urged. Flashback: Heard that from him often enough with the birthing of my own baby. But this one was entirely less painful. Well, except for that chomp on my finger. I had, as instructed, picked off a piece of tough Read More

The shadow of a hot air balloon falls on a forest's autumn colors. (photo credit: Katherine Rodeghier, c 2012)

Autumn Hot Air Ballooning Along Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains

The pilot guides our hot air balloon toward a forest ablaze in autumn colors. She gently lowers the basket until it brushes the treetops, a maneuver she tells me is called contouring. I’ve gone leaf peeping by car on scenic drives and on foot Read More

Enjoying the view from atop Stony Man in Shenandoah National Park. (photo credit: Katherine Rodeghier, c 2012)

Autumn Leaf Peeping in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park

We’re nearing the end of an enjoyable family outing motoring along Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park when my husband decides it’s time for a break. He pulls into Skyland Resort, orders a beer in the Mountain Taproom and positions himself in Read More