The Ringling

The RinglingWhen one thinks of the word  ‘Ringling’ most people think of the “Greatest Show on Earth” like the Circus. A trip down to Sarasota, Florida will put a new meaning to that word.  John N. Ringling of course was the founder of the Ringling Brothers Circus and with his brothers he did make it into the “Greatest Show on Earth” however there is much more to John N. Ringling than just his “Circus”. We call it ‘The Ringling in Sarasota’ and is located right on the beach of the Gulf of Mexico.

The RinglingThere are actually five main buildings at ‘The Ringling’. First is the main office complex with galleries, bookstore and is where you purchase your tickets. It also has the Center’s Education Art Library and Conservation Lab.

It also houses a very upscale dining room. The 2nd building is the Museum of Art. First stop after getting your tickets is to walk to the Museum of Art with 31 galleries filled with priceless pieces of art from Old Masters thru contemporary from throughout the world.  The exterior of the Museum is magnificent itself with statues and columns everywhere. One could easily spend a whole day just in the Museum of Art.

The RinglingThen a leisurely walk to the Gulf of Mexico to tour John and Mable’s Mansion. With 4 floors of magnificent European furniture, oil paintings, bronzes, crystal chandeliers, fine china and silver, it is breath-taking to see.  Located directly on the Gulf of Mexico with views to remember forever.

While you are there, visit the Bayfront Gardens. This is one of the most beautiful gardens that we have seen. It is as much ‘real art’ as one can witness. It is a true living treasure with plenty of statuary under the magnificent banyan trees and roses everywhere!

The RinglingAs you take another leisurely walk to the Circus Museum you will see the parade wagons, the posters, the glittering costumes and the cannon that shot performers through the air. It will surely bring back a lot of memories for you when the circus would come to town and you and your family would rush down to see it.

The 5th building is the beautiful historic Asolo Theater which is housed next to the main building. They have dramatic performances there that is a ‘must see’ for visitors.The theater has a remarkable history and you can read all about it at It actually dates back several hundred years and was brought over to the United States years ago and re-assembled.

The RinglingThey have two places to dine at “The Ringling”…… a very lovely sit down restaurant in the main building and an outdoor dining option close to the Museum of Art. Next time that you are in Florida, forget Mickey Mouse and visit the ‘Ringling’ instead. You won’t be sorry as this is a tremendous Museum to visit and one that you will remember forever.

The Ringling Museum is the largest museum in Florida.  They are located at 5401 Bay Shore Road in Sarasota. They are open daily, 10 AM -5 PM and Thursdays until 8 PM.  Their phone number is 941.359.5700 is   They have plenty of free parking.

When we visit museums and art galleries we always like to give praise to special people. At the ‘Ringling’ we want to praise Robin Findlay and Alice Murphy in the front office and to Mary Schreck who was one of the finest tour guides that we have ever encountered in all of our travels from coast to coast. She was extremely professional and informative about the Mansion.  Everyone in our group was extremely pleased with her knowledge and she answered all questions perfectly.

Don and RayAlways remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married).

Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at [email protected] and visit their website at

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Tate Modern London – Keep Calm and Wander

Tate Modern London - Alain Tate Modern London is your place to go if you wanna see contemporary art. I must admit that the building’s facade itself is not of a contemporary design but a boring concrete that doesn’t scream modern. And the reason is that – it used to be a power plant and converted into an international venue of contemporary art pieces. As a friend said, “All that contemporary shit you’ve seen somewhere, they’ve all been here at Tate Modern first.” He could be right. 😉 And the best thing about being a tourist in London? The art galleries and museums are FREE! Yes, they’re free, except of course for few visiting exhibitions. I did save a lot of money as museums are exorbitantly charged anywhere in big cities around the world. I love free stuff. Therefore, I love London! 😀 Tate Modern London is your go-to gallery for contemporary art. It is Britain’s national museum of contemporary art where you see the works of big names in the art world.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

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Kansas City – The Steamboat Arabia

steamboat-arabia-01 We just recently returned from a trip to Kansas City, Missouri, and we’re sharing some of the things we experienced there. We saw two museums – the World War I Museum, which was Mark’s favorite, and The treasures of the Steamboat Arabia, which was mine. steamboat-arabia-02The story of the Arabia takes place against the backdrop of manifest destiny and the rush to the West. In 1856, just before the civil war, the states were evenly divided, north and south, an agreement that had held the country together in an uneasy alliance. States were opened up one in the south and one in the north, together, so as not to shatter this pact. When the US government broke this alliance by opening up both Kansas and Nebraska at the same time, they agreed to let the states choose their own alliance based on who settled there, and the race was on. steamboat-arabia-08The Steamboat Arabia set off down the Missouri River in early September, 1856, loaded down with supplies to open ten general stores in new townships. The Missouri River banks had been heavily logged to provide enough wood to power the steamships, and the resulting stumps fell into the fiver as the banks eroded, floating downriver and eventually sinking and creating upstream facing snags, making the downstream passage for boats very dangerous. steamboat-arabia-14The Steamboat Arabia hit one of these snags and sank. Its sinking was slow enough that everyone aboard escaped alive except for one mule who was tied to the ship. The ship eventually reached the bottom of the river and sunk into the silt there, with almost all of its cargo. Flash forward to the 1980’s, when a representative of an air conditioning company was talking with a client who had a map of the estimated locations of sunken steamships. The man went home to his family and said “we could find one of these.” They did tons of research, and finally thought they had located one of the ships, in a field about a mile and a half from the current banks of the Missouri River. The family contacted the farmer, who said he would allow them to search, but thought they would come up empty, as others had before them. steamboat-arabia-03They used a powerful metal detector that could “see” far underground. And they got a hit. And another. And another. Sinking rods down into the soil like a real-life version game of Battleship, they outlined what lay under the soil. A steamship. steamboat-arabia-04The family waited until winter when the soil would be harder, and then started to dig. The boat lay below the level of the water table, so six huge pumps were needed to keep the dig above water. The family had planned to sell off the treasures, if found, to make a mint and presumably retire early. But when they found and opened the first barrel and pulled out a beautiful piece of undamaged fine china, they realized it would be a crime to split up this collection. steamboat-arabia-06They had one more barrier to surmount. The farmer who had permitted them to dig on his land was due 15% of their profits. They approached him and he surprised them. He agreed that it should be kept together, and instead of 15%, asked only for 15 items of his own choosing. And so the museum was born. The family used their cold storage facilities to keep the artifacts safe until they could figure out the best way to restore them. steamboat-arabia-05One more challenge – they cut off the rear section of the boat, but if it was allowed to dry, the wood would crumble into splinters. So they kept it soaked for a year and a half until they discovered a technique that would fill the wood with a substance – I want to say polyurethane? – that would push the water out and hold the wood together. That took another two years of daily sprays. steamboat-arabia-10The museum is a wonder. It has opened a window into a period of time from which we have few relics in good condition. The chill and the water preserved the treasures so well that one of the guys who dug up the boat ate one of the pickles – from 1856 – and said it tasted as fresh as if it had just been bottled. What boggles the mind about this museum is the sheer quantity of the goods. They have tens or hundreds of EVERYTHING, and almost all of it looks like it was made yesterday. More photos below. It’s truly an amazing experience – if you are in KC, make time to go see this little time capsule of American history.

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Kansas City: The World War One Museum

World War One Museum We just recently got back from a trip to Kansas City, Missouri. We’d never been there before – it’s a beautiful city, with some great surprises in store for the traveler. World War One MuseumThe first of these we’re sharing is the World War I Museum. It sits on a grassy hillside in the middle of midtown, an impressive structure topped by a beautiful tower and a pair of giant sphinxes. I’ll admit, I don’t know much about World War I. I’m sure I learned about it back in high school, but boy is there a lot to learn and see. World War One MuseumThe museum has a number of parts – the main museum, accessed from the southern side of the structure, is a museum in the round, with several films to show you what life was like at the time, and many galleries leading you through the war year by year. World War One MuseumAs you enter, you see a glass bridge over a muddy field filled with poppies – an eerie sight – especially when you find out that there are 9,000 of them, and that each one represents 1,000 soldiers who died during the war. It turns out that poppies are one of the only things that will grow on a battlefield, because they thrive on the minerals in bones and explosives. World War One MuseumThere are also big guns, military vehicles, scale models of airplanes, and tons and tons of war paraphernalia. World War One MuseumOutside, there are two additional galleries, and the tower itself, which you can enter and climb to the top via elevator for some amazing views of Kansas City. There’s also another gallery below ground that shows the war from the German point of view. World War One Museum world-war-one-museum-10One of the things I learned (or relearned) – the US entered the war in 1917 after the British discovered a cable (message) to Mexico from Germany, encouraging Mexico to attack the US if the US entered the war, and promising to give Mexico the states if Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. It never came to pass, and in fact gave the President the impetus to bring the country into the war. But my childhood could have been quite a bit different. This is an amazing museum. You can spend a whole day here if you want, but allow at least 2-3 hours to explore. World War One Museum

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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Rock and Roll Hall Of FameWe were in Cleveland, Ohio last month and toured the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We have toured museums from coast to coast and except for some of the major art museums, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is the finest anywhere in the country. I. M. Pei was the architect for the building and it is an unbelievable structure set in the downtown area of the city and is right on the coast of Lake Erie. The building houses more than 55,000 square feet of exhibition space, as well as offices, a cafe and gift shop. Even though the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation started in 1983 without a building or museum, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum opened in 1995 and since then, over 10 Million visitors have toured the Museum. It is a very large museum to tour. We were there nearly 5 hours and could have stayed longer. There are seven floors to the Museum each with it’s own uniqueness. It includes exhibits on the roots of rock and includes country, bluegrass, folk, rhythm and blues and gospel. This museum and exhibits is a true history of the United States during the 50’s thru the 80’s and more ! They deal with many of the issues of the day including this country’s involvement in wars, the racial issues, women’s issues and Gay issues. In the main exhibit downstairs you can see dozens and dozens of original costumes worn by entertainers. Also in the exhibit are instruments that the entertainers used. [caption id="attachment_42103" align="alignleft" width="250"]Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Annex Photo by Robert Caplin[/caption] There is one special room for Elvis that has a seated area and memorabilia and an ongoing movie for visitors to see. There are several short movies in theatres for visitors to learn about the history of Rock and Roll as well. Room after room after room, visitors are amazed at all the different items on display. All of the visitors felt a real sense of comradery as we were all there to visit history. In addition to their regular exhibits they have special exhibits that are featured throughout the year. This is simply a MUST SEE MUSUEM ! Rock and Roll Hall Of FameFor the LGBT Community there are dozens of exhibits and artifacts on display. Rock and Roll DID change American concerning the LGBT community. There are dozens of original posters announcing and promoting an up coming event. We were quite amused seeing one for Little Richard who was performing in concert many years ago and it says “Admission: $2.50, Colored Spectators: $1.50” And to that we say THANK YOU Little Richard! Of course the Village People are featured as well. Many LGBT entertainers are featured. And yes, Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out’ which still stands as an anthem for the LGBT community is there as well as Stonewall and one great quote which reads in part, ” and a certificate on paper Isn’t going to solve it all, but it’s a damn good start.” from the song by Macklemore and Lewis. There is also a special large sign that reads: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

“ROCK CELEBRATES DIVERSITY: Many well-known artists came out as gay during the 1990’s including singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge, Queen’s Freddie Mercury and metal god Rob Halford of Judas Priest. In November 1991, Mercury revealed that he was infected with HIV. He died a day later, becoming the first major rock star to die of AIDS. The success of and controversy generated by gay-friendly artists such as Lady gaga with her stand on the military’s policy on LGBT service members and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s ‘Same Love’ – a song in support of same-sex marriage – shows that rock and the LGBT community have a vibrant and vital relationship.”
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Museum’s Library and archives is the world’s largest repository of materials related to the history of rock and roll. Upon exiting the Museum, be sure and visit the tour bus owned by Johnny Cash and his wife, June Carter. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is located at 1100 Rock and Roll Boulevard, which is East 9th Street. (note: when driving there downtown go to EAST 9th Street and not West 9th Street as we did). Their website is: and their phone number is: 216.781.7625. They are open every day from 10 AM to 5:30 PM. Don and RayAlways remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone! TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married). Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at [email protected] and visit their website at
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New African American History Museum Opens in DC

Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture How many LGBT items are in the new Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture and is it enough to please gay historians? It’s a tough question to answer because some ostensibly gay items may not be presented as such. It’s now widely believed, for instance, that “A Raisin in the Sun” playwright Lorraine Hansberry was a closeted lesbian for much of her short life (she died at age 34 in 1965), but to what degree does this factor into her representation in the museum, for instance? Slated to open this weekend with a ceremony Saturday morning in which President Obama will speak, the museum has yet to be assessed by the public. And curators acknowledge it’s impossible to please everyone. Descendants of the Quander family, whose roots can be traced back to slaves at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, have publicly expressed disappointment at not being represented in the inaugural museum displays, for instance. But whether there’s enough LGBT representation overall to please gay historians is yet to be determined.

By Joey DiGuglielmo – Full Story at The Washington Blade

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TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD: A Christmas Story House and Museum

A Christmas Story house A Christmas Story MuseumFor those of you who enjoyed the movie, A CHRISTMAS STORY then a trip to Cleveland to view the A CHRISTMAS STORY HOUSE and MUSEUM is a real must! The movie actually first came out in 1983 and although it was not an immediate box office hit, it has now become a solid CLASSIC MOVIE! Since 1997, a marathon of the movie has aired annually on TNT or TBS comprising twelve consecutive airings of the film on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day each year. We think that it is more popular than It’s A Wonderful Life! The house was built in 1895 and a very intelligent businessman purchased the house and restored it to look exactly as it did in the movie. It opened as a museum in 2006 and since then, thousands of people have toured the house. It is really a great house museum as you can actually touch and feel everything in the house. A Christmas Story MuseumWhen we were there, several of the visitors got under the kitchen sink and had their photos take. Other chose to put on the pink rabbit pajamas to be photographed. It brought out the ‘kid’ in all of us. Hold the Red Ryder BB rifle, stand in front of the Christmas tree and don’t forget to touch and feel and photograph the “leg lamp”. We had an absolutely wonderful tour guide, Kristen who was extremely knowledgeable about the history of the house and movie. She was VERY charming and the entire group really appreciated her. You could tell that she really enjoyed what she was doing. A Christmas Story MuseumAfter taking the tour of the house, then go across the street to their museum and the tour continues there. It features original props, costumes and memorabilia from the film as well as hundreds of rare behind-the-scenes photos,. Among the props an costumes are the toys from the Higbee’s department store display window. Randy’s snowsuit, the chalkboard from Miss Shield’s classroom and the family car. We drove downtown Cleveland to visit the Higbee’s department store but sadly it was sold and is now a Casino! We did go in and got to see many of the wonderful architectural items remaining on the walls and ceilings. After viewing the Museum then walk into the Gift Shop which is next door. They have a large selection of wonderful memorabilia to purchase and their prices are VERY reasonable. Whether you wish to purchase a life size leg lamp or a Christmas ornament or a night light, they have everything right there for you. You can check out A CHRISTMAS STORY HOUSE by going to: They are located at 3159 West 11th Street just south of downtown. Their phone is: 216. 298. 4919. They are open Monday thru Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM and on Sunday they are open noon to 5 PM. One word about parking. There are tons of on street parking in the area. There are a couple of houses on each side of the house that has parking in their front yards, but forget that. Park right on the street for free parking. We highly recommend this museum for everyone to visit. This is a must-see museum house and one that you will never forget! When we toured the house there were other from coast to coast and everyone talked with each other about their memories of seeing the movie. On a scale of 1 to 10, we give this a 10! A special thanks to Angela Dickerson at A CHRISTMAS STORY HOUSE who is doing a very professional job there. Don and RayAlways remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone! TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married). Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at [email protected] and visit their website at

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