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Christmas Without Camping?
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Christmas Without Camping?
Christmas is a magical time of the year. The weather gets colder, and families make plans to spend time together. Good food, games, and weather-appropriate activities. Camping makes the list. Warm climates draw people to the south, and snowy climates draw people to the north. RV camps put up their Christmas lights, and the festivities begin.
In the Florida Keys, December doesn't put a hamper on outdoor excursions, but on the contrary, it is the best weather of the year. The temps are not too hot, and the water temps are great. This makes snorkeling, fishing, diving, kayaking, and sailing perfect December activities. The Keys have some really great places to camp. I love the Keys any time of the year. The relaxed island-time vibe slows things down a bit.
The Keys are home to many sights and savory treats. This is the place for the freshest seafood and flavors. The key lime pie is mandatory. Museums and historic tales fill the daytime, and then the nightlife offers entertainment to suit everyone's fancy. Duval street will transform into bars, juke joints, and late-night restaurants. Every type of music and cuisine you can imagine.
I can't forget to tell you about Mallory Square. Mallory Square is a bustle of vendors and performers. It is a party every evening, with the main attraction being the most beautiful sunsets in the world. The sunset is celebrated every single night of the year. You will meet people from all cultures and walks of life. It is a treasure trove of diversity and shared appreciation of the beauty of God's creation.
One last thing I need to mention because it doesn't matter how many times I visit Key West, I find myself on one of the haunted tours. It is really more of a historical representation than the boogeyman. The history of this island is so intriguing. There are lots of true stories that are tragic and some that are pretty creepy. The weirdest part is their truth.
So, of course, south Florida is a great spot to escape the cold and have some summer fun while celebrating the season. To the west of Florida, you will find a nice warm spot in New Orleans. New Orleans is always brewing with excitement. Much like Duval street in Key West, it is always awake. The menu is always brimming with possibilities. Also, like the Keys, the history of the gulf is riveting.
Another family favorite destination is the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area of Tennessee. These tourist destinations are snuggled into the Smokey Mountains. In December, the temps usually range from 29-52 degrees Fahrenheit. Over the mountain is the territory of Cherokee, North Carolina. The Smokey Mountain National Park is one of God's most beautiful places. You can step back and become one with nature and its history at the famous Cades Cove. Homesteads are over 100 years old and just as they left them yesterday. Perfectly preserved.
Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are a part of the greater Sevierville area. This area is known for over-the-top Christmas lights and Christmas entertainment. There are signs of holiday cheer everywhere you look. And the RV parks are plentiful, and for those who wish to ditch the tent, most offer primitive cabins.
In Sevierville, you can hit the ski resort in the morning, ice skate in the afternoon, and watch a show in the evening. Dining options are too many to count, and shopping is one of its best charms. Dolly Parton's famous Dollywood is hidden in these mountains. Dollywood is a holiday tradition. The rides for the thrill seekers and some of the greatest productions for those who would rather relax and stroll through. Driving through Sevierville can instantly evoke the warm feelings of the holiday.
You can ride in a horse-drawn carriage or fly in a helicopter. You can sled down a snowy mountain or slide inside an indoor slide simulation. There are lumberjacks and crime museums. There are Santas and shows depicting the most important birthday to have ever taken place.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, boasts warmer temps and a ride on the Polar Express through the canyon. Cycling, hiking, shopping, and exploring are just a few of the entertainment activities.
Christmas is a perfect time if you have never visited Stone Mountain, Georgia. They host the Stone Mountain Christmas festival. There are opportunities to go water tubing, enjoy holiday train rides, and drive or walk through lighting displays. You can also meet Rudolph and the Abominable Snowman. You can even watch "Ice Age 4-D" on the big screen. Although you won't likely find snow, you will find Christmas spirit by strolling down Wonderland Walkway and watching the daily Christmas parade or fireworks shows.
If New York City is on your bucket list, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. The Macys Parade marks the beginning of the Christmas season. One of the country’s biggest cities hosts some of the most iconic Christmas experiences, like ice skating at New York City’s Rockefeller Center and amazing Christmas shows.
In 1741, on Christmas Eve, after a minister visited a two-room log cabin housing both people and animals, the Pennsylvania city had a name: Bethlehem. Today, Bethlehem is nicknamed “The Christmas City” with a German-style Christkindlmarkt. Bethlehem takes the name seriously. Christmas is a way of life. They open the gates for tourists from all over the world.
If you are looking for the most authentic snowy magic, consider Santa Claus, Indiana, the U.S. branch of the North Pole. The city is packed with holiday-themed shops, including Santa’s Candy Castle and Santa’s Toys, which is located on the street called N. Kringle. The reindeer come out during the holiday season, and Frosty’s Fun Center, a pizza shop with arcade games. Visitors can learn about the history of Old Saint Nick and write letters to him at the Santa Claus Museum and Village. If you don’t have a chance to visit Indiana during December, you can still route your holiday cards through Santa Claus to get a special postmark.
Some people may scoff at the idea of camping during Christmas, but in all actuality, without camping, the first Christmas story would be very different.
Joseph and Mary had to travel 90 miles to the town of Bethlehem. A trip through the Judean Desert at that time would have been very rainy and wet. The temperatures were not kind to them either. The average would have been in the 30-degree range. It is estimated that they traveled about 10 miles each day. So this journey lasted at least nine days, with most scholars thinking it was more around 14 days with Mary's condition. Because of the rain, both travelers would have been wearing heavy woolen cloaks to shield themselves. We also need to take into account that these were not paved roads, so mud was just another thing they had to contend with.
Traveling this path was dangerous as bandits and thieves were plentiful. Archeologists have also recovered signs along this road that cautions travelers of lions, bears, and wild boars. This journey was primitive. There were no take-out restaurants or elaborate campfire meals. Carrying extra weight wasn't an option with one donkey, a pregnant woman, and one man. Their diet consisted of water and bread. Herbs and oil for dipping that bread were saved for dinner.
When Joseph and Mary made the trip, they expected to stay with family or another Jewish family. That would not be their story. Mary would give birth in a barn. This barn did not look like barns today. Today's barns are red wooden icons of the past. The barn in Bethlehem was a cave in which the animals were housed. Yes, I said cave. At this time in history, sheep herders kept their sheep inside caves during the colder months and rainy seasons.
She laid him in a manger, a feed trough.
The savior of the world was birthed on a camping trip. A primitive, roughing it hiking trip that lasted 90 miles and resulted in birth in a barn. He was a divine being born into God's creation. No wonder we feel a connection with Him when we are focused on His creation.
Luke 2 King James Version
1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3 And all went to be taxed, everyone into his own city.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
Matthew 2 King James Version
1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.
12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
Merry Christmas! Happy Birthday Jesus!! Glad tidings to all!
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