Blue Mesa Road Vista

   Let your jaw drop at the Petrified Forest National Park.  Adjacent to the Painted Desert - this is Arizona scenery at its finest. In my opinion, it is breath-taking as the Grand Canyon, and a little less crowded. There are a lot of different stations, but there are three that are especially awesome: (1) Blue Mesa Trail, (2) Newspaper Rock and (3) Crystal Forest.

   On this post I will share my photos from Blue Mesa Road. It is a 15 minute loop road with multiple stopping points for a scenic view. The Blue Mesa Road, which you'll just drive by as you pass through the park, you can pull off to look at them more if you want.  They are mounds of beautifully layered colored rock. We loved this adventure! Driving through the park was quite convenient and everything was so beautiful!

The Tepees : Commonly seen rock formations alongside the main road.

Spending Ramadan in India

Many non-Muslim travelers feel concerned about venturing out of their home country to spend time in Muslim areas during Ramadan. Will the shops be open? Will my presence make others feel uncomfortable? Will I have to starve myself all day? These are just some of the questions that people find themselves asking.
However, although Ramadan does mean significant changes in the regular routines of devout Muslims, it doesn't mean that entire nations go into shutdown. This is especially true of multi-faith places like India. As long as you're sensitive to local customs, you can still have an incredibly interesting journey. What's more, traveling during Ramadan can mean gaining access to some rather fascinating cultural events that you wouldn't normally be able to experience.

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Why is Ramadan observed?

Ramadan occurs during the ninth month of the Islamic year. It presents the chance for Muslims to focus on their spiritual development and on expressing their gratitude to Allah through abstaining from usual earthly activities, including drinking, eating, having sex and smoking, between sunrise and sunset. Many people take time off work and some travel to spend time with their family and friends. Once the sun has gone down, they gather together to enjoy their first meal of the day, which is known as 'iftar'. The feasting and cultural celebrations then continue for hours. At the end of Ramadan, a three-day holiday called 'The Feast of the Breaking of the Fast' or Eid al-Fitr, takes place.

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Travelling in Muslim areas in India
Islam is the second largest religion in India. However, only about 13% of the population practice it, while 80% identify themselves as Hindu. The areas with the highest concentration of Muslims are Jammu and Kashmir and Lakshadweep and there are another 110 districts where about 20% of the population is Islamic. So, if you decide to travel to these regions, then you'll need to be more aware of the implications of Ramadan.

You should be careful to observe local etiquette, such as wearing appropriate clothing (i.e. keep your flesh as covered as possible, especially if you're female) and avoiding displays of physical affection in public. You don't have to refrain from eating during the day, but it's definitely a good idea to eat in private. That way, you'll avoid offending any particularly devout onlookers and, at the same time, not make the deprivation process more difficult for anyone who might be struggling. You'll also need to keep in mind that, in some areas, most shops will be closed during the day, so you should either stock up at night or carry supplies with you.

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Travelling in non-Muslim areas
If, on the other hand, you decide to avoid non-Muslim areas, you won't have to think about Ramadan so much. If you're still working on your itinerary and feeling overwhelmed by the sheer choice offered by India, here's a tip: consider heading to Chennai. It's a colourful, bustling city that's becoming more popular with Western travelers with every passing year. There are loads of things to do, from checking out some truly amazing chai houses to chilling out on the breathtaking beaches of the Coromandel Coast. Plus there are some great Chennai hotels.

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When things go wrong 

Even though you can take every precaution to avoid upsetting other people, there's still a chance that miscommunication can happen. If someone expresses anger or scorn at your behavior or appearance during Ramadan in India, remain calm and apologetic and walk away. Be sure to keep your physical distance from anyone who invades your personal space. It's highly likely that your trip will prove to be exciting and interesting rather than dangerous, but it's still a good idea to keep your wits about you.

The Gateway Arch

   Reaching 630 ft. the Gateway Arch, the nation's tallest man-made monument anchors the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and stands as the iconic monument symbolizing the westward expansion of the United States. The Gateway Arch Experience includes the Journey to the Top, Museum of Westward Expansion, Old Courthouse, movies and the Gateway Arch Riverboats.

    The Gateway Arch is a must see while in St. Louis, Missouri. Reading about the history, the design process, the designers/architectures was so interesting. The wait can be quite long if you plan to take the tour within the Arch,so be prepared to allot at least 3 hours for your visit. Once tickets are purchased for the ride in the Arch, there is a museum, shops, etc. to occupy you while you wait for your tour within the arch which gives a wonderful view of the city. The ride in the 'capsule' that transports you up into the arch holds 5 people and it is small and the ride is tight. This is not for anyone who has fear of heights or suffers from claustrophobia.
Address and Hours:
200 Washington Avenue
St. Louis , Missouri 63102
Open daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. 
Extended summer hours.
Phone: (314) 982-1410
Toll-Free: (877) 982-1410

Downtown Old Courthouse
The Arch is a work of art.

The Museum

Great view from the observatory deck

Downtown St. Louis Missouri

This is the bridge where the rivers Missouri & Mississippi meet

Home of Elvis Presley

   Graceland is a large white-columned mansion and 13.8 acre estate in Memphis, Tennessee that was home to Elvis Presley. The site was listed in the National Register of Historic Places and declared a National Historic Landmark on March 27, 2006. Today Graceland Mansion is a museum. Graceland has become one of the most-visited private homes in America with over 600,000 visitors a year. 

   Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo Mississippi on January 8, 1935, the son of Vernon and Gladys Presley. He moved to Memphis in 1948. Soon after signing a contract with Sun Records in 1954 he achieved tremendous popularity. His musical and acting career in records, movies, television and concerts made him one of the most successful and outstanding entertainers in the world. He died on August 16, 1977 and is buried here at his Memphis home. Graceland.

Address and info:
Graceland The Home of Elvis Presley
   3764 Elvis Presley Blvd.
   Memphis, Tennessee 38116
Hours of Operation: Open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Seven Days Per Week.
Ticket Price: $34 - $72 depends on the Tour Package

The famous Memphis home, The King of Rock-n-Roll

Elvis Presley Jungle room

Elvis Presley's  awards and several of his stage costumes

   Originally, Elvis Presley was buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee. A group of men tried to steal Elvis Presley's coffin. The grave sites of Presley's parents, Gladys and Veron Presley, were also at risk. So in October 1977, the family was moved to Graceland.
   Like Elvis fans have been doing for well over 4 decades- no trip to Graceland is complete without signing the Graceland wall.

Roswell UFO Museum and Research Center

   We highlighted our trip through the Southwest by stopping in Roswell, NM.  As many people know, Roswell was the site of an alleged UFO crash in 1947.  It is also close to White Sands Missile Test Center and where nuclear bomb testing was done during WWII.  So if there is any place UFOs would visit, it must be here!

   The UFO Museum and Research Center is privately owned and operated.  It is easy to find and is fun to walk through either alone or with a friend or group.  The fee is only $5 per person with discounts offered for military and others.  The staff is friendly and helpful.  The museum is quite interesting.  One could easily spend 2-3 hours there or more depending on if you go to the library for some research.  The exhibits range from cheesy mock-ups of life size aliens to very interesting and thought-provoking documents, theories, and quotes from astronauts, scientists, and even US Presidents.  So it has something for everyone.  The gift shop is pretty good and has a wide range of items that are not overly expensive.  Remember that this is a private museum that doesn’t receive government support.  I highly recommend that if you are in the area then you should stop by for a few hours.  Photos are allowed.  You will be amazed at some of the information and you probably won’t forget your visit.

Address and info:
International UFO Museum and Research Center
114 North Main Street
Roswell, New Mexico 88203
Phone: 1-800-822-3545(Toll Free Worldwide)
Museum Hours: Open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Seven Days Per Week.

Animated alien and flying saucer display at the UFO Museum

Presidential who believe UFO do exist.

Front view of the Museum


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