Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery
Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery is right in the Corn Belt, located in Swisher, Iowa. Not only does it have endless Iowa-grown grapes, but it also has never-ending bushels of corn straight from our fertile Midwestern soil. This ensures that there’s a personal touch to all of the wine and spirits at this place. They also age their whiskeys in a non-temperature controlled climate to make sure it tastes as natural as possible. Whether enjoying your favorite bottle of wine or some smooth dark liquor, Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery is a great place to unwind.
Located off of Fleur Drive, the Jasper Winery hosts weddings, tastings, and events. The Groben family owns the winery — they’ve been running it for almost ten years. Since everything is locally grown, their philosophy manifests itself in Iowa grapes in every bottle or glass they produce. That doesn’t mean they are behind on the times, of course — they use an innovative process to determine which grape varieties to use during fermentation and how to age the wine once it’s been barreled. Their dry wines are aged exclusively in French or American Oak casks.
This winery offers a variety of different events that allow wine lovers to explore its grounds. Choose the “VIP Tasting Tour” for a 90-minute educational tasting that will teach you how to properly taste wine while you learn about Iowa history ($15), or the “Wine and Chocolate Pairing” session to learn how to best to take your chocolate with your wine ($15). The winery also offers a Bachelorette special for bridal parties that includes your own table, five bottles of wine, two cheese plates, and chocolates to share for only $100.
Tassel Ridge Winery
The Tassel Ridge Winery offers many events aside from your traditional tasting and wine tour. Each week, they host a wine and small plates event, a wood fired pizza day, a wine and pasta night, and a series of other less regular special events. A hosted tour of the winery is free and includes a winemaking process tour as well as a tour of the grounds. Here, you’ll learn vineyard planting techniques and get a glimpse of the harvesting process, followed by the processing, fermenting, blending, and bottling of wine. If you’re with a group, you can book a ride on the Vineyard Grapemobile, an aptly named open-air trailer that will take you through the vineyard as well. It’s a great way learn all about the vineyard’s history and how to harvest grapes in Iowa’s semi-cold climate.
Fox Ridge Winery
If you’re willing to travel about forty-five minutes outside of Des Moines, the Fox Ridge Winery is one local spot you won’t want to miss. It’s located in gorgeous Northern Tama country just northwest of Traer, Iowa. Though the Fox Ridge Winery doesn’t offer tours, they make up for it in entertainment options. It’s the perfect place to go to enjoy live music on the lawn while enjoying their robust wine selection. Their wines are made exclusively from grapes from the region, and they encourage patrons to wander the grounds as they please. This is the place to go if you’re looking for a more independently led experience that allows you to choose your own itinerary.
La Vida Loca Winery
The folks at La Vida know how to tell it like it is, and their wines don’t hide behind any pretenses either. They offer four wines, each variety harvested and bottled using the freshest grapes for superior quality. Their La Vida Loca Red variety won a silver medal in the Mid-American wine competition this year. Though they don’t offer winery tours, they hold feature evenings where guests are served smoked pork loin or smoked St. Louis ribs. This more than makes up for it, especially when paired with the perfect wine. Be sure to check out their Murder Mystery Dinner nights, which involve an action-packed dinner theater experience and the opportunity to discover how loca la vida truly is.
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is the home of a historic lighthouse built in 1825 and the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County. The park is popular for sunbathing, swimming and picnicing and there is more than a mile of sandy Atlantic beachfront to enjoy, Ranked of of the "Top 10 Beaches in America" by Dr. Stephen Leatherman, aka 'Dr. Beach.' Biking and kayaking are also popular activities. Fisherman can throw in their lines from the seawall for some of the best shoreline fishing in the region. Bicycles, beach chairs, and umbrellas can be rented.
Want a guided tour of the lighthouse and lighthouse keeper's cottage? They are given twice daily, Thursdays through Mondays. If you aren't prepared to bring your own picnic, you can also enjoy two restaurants, Lighthouse Café and Boater's Grill, which offers authentic Cuban cuisine.
See the amazing video DRONE footage below of the Ritz and of Bill Baggs State Park, shot by Sky High Aerial Productions. You'll feel like you're there, and you're flying...
2. Uncover the Stairways
Seattle is hilly, and many buildings have lovely stairways. If you enjoy obscure adventures, what's better than setting out in search of steps? The quest will take you to all types of buildings and neighborhoods. Here's a MAP to get you started! Speaking of neighborhoods…
5. Go Swimming
Seattle offers many swimming options, including the fun Lake Washington, Puget Sound and indoor and outdoor pools. Be sure to check out Colman Pool, which could quite possibly be the top pool in the U.S. It's even saltwater.
6. Take Advantage of Nature
From whale watching to hiking to visits to the San Juan Islands, the Seattle area has plenty of opportunities for you to get in tune with nature; take advantage of them, especially the beaches! Once you dive into daily life, it's harder to carve out these times.
Other iconic spots include Dick's Drive-In and the Space Needle. No explanation needed for the Space Needle; it's what represents Seattle on TV. Dick's is an iconic Seattle eatery that was founded in 1954 and that has since spread to multiple locations. Best burgers around! Pike Place Market is like a farmer's market, and you can find the freshest seafood and produce there, while the Elliott Bay Waterfront offers gorgeous views of the bay and is easily accessible in downtown Seattle.
10. Meet People!
People are one of the best things about Seattle. Activities abound, including volunteer efforts, workshops, book readings, yoga classes and fitness camps, so you can find at least one thing that interests you.
Also... check out the business organizations; there are many professional groups, such as the American Marketing Association - Puget Sound Chapter, Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) and the National Property Management Association (NPMA) - Northwest Chapter.
There's a city out there waiting for you to explore it. Time to get started!
by Joe Mack
Approximately 50 miles north of New York City, there is a locale called the Hudson Valley. Some of us are lucky enough to live here. Others come for a visit. A day trip, a weekend, some stay for a week. There is long list of things to do and see up here.
who worked for him in the warehouses on the island. What were stored here were arms and munitions. This too has gardens around it. These buildings are NOT what you usually see in the Hudson Valley. Kinds of reminds me of being on the Rhine or Danube.
... by Linda Y. Walters
When it comes to having a great time, Key West, a city founded back in 1822, is an incredible mixture of excitement, sea faring exploration and most of all, one's own imagination. There's no shortage of local bars and legendary haunts to "drop in on" on any given day. Just don't try to do them all at once!
Duval Street, a hub of activity, has long been the center of Key West night life. You might want to visit The Bull, Sloppy Joe's Bar, or The Whistle Bar which has a clothing optional mantra. Captain Tony's (known for its bar stools which hang upside down from the ceiling) was also reportedly the favorite afternoon haunt of the Pulitzer and Nobel prize winning author, Ernest Hemingway. Many world reknowned persons including Tennessee Williams, former President Harry Truman and the legendary ocean treasure hunter, Mel Fisher, have contributed to the undeniable lure and history of this tiny island just 90 miles off the coast of Cuba.
Prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis, ferries and trade between Key West and Havana were a common daily occurrence. Visit Zachary Taylor Fort for an exciting look at Key West's historical past.
With local haunts like Blue Heaven, Smokin Tuna, and a liquor store named "The Lost Weekend," Key West's significant cultural allure remains in place. Even John F Kennedy is said to have visited Captain Tony's, still known for the distinction of offering its visitors the opportunity to flip coins into the mouths of groupers. Recently renovated, this undeniable landmark reopened in early November of 2016.
Mallory Square, located just a short walk off Duval Street, offers a popular stretch of beach which comes alive daily with a celebration of entertaining street performers and crafts vendors. There's also the undeniable allure of the amazing daily sunset. Thousands gather nightly to witness the splendor of watching as the sun seems to meld with the vastness of the ocean. Cameras poised, its a nightly celebration aptly named "the Sunset Walk".
"Hyatt Centric", which is a branded subdivision of Hyatt Hotels, focuses on and utilizes the specifics of its locatIon and all its inherent components," stated Braedan Quigley, Hyatt Sales & Marketing Director at Hyatts of the Caribbean.
He continued, "In Key West, for example, we focused on Cuban coffee, Ernest Hemingway's influences, and Tenessee Williams' drink specialties, in giving this location its higher demand and visibility".
The Hyatt Centric Key West offers extremely spacious bedrooms, each with a water view from your own private balcony. A sumptuous bathroom, with a generous sized shower, and the added luxury of your choice of operation including rain shower or hand held, in many ways is mindful of a spa experience minus the massage. Add the fragrant lotions and scents, and, of course, the relaxing effects of simply letting your thoughts slow down, and firmly reconnect with your inner calm.
Couples massages, called "duets", are available as well and can include full body signature massage, hot oil scalp massage , or the extremely rejuvenating footscrub.
Jala, which means "water" in Sanskrit, is really all about getting you in touch with your essential life. Explore the delightful experience of relaxation. You owe it to yourself to slow down even if it's only for one hour.
There's no shortage of imagination or deliciousness on the menu. Frozen drinks are also available and you can order from the Mojiti poolside menu which includes a great selection of salads and finger foods.
For breakfast, lunch or dinner, Shor American Seafood Grill is on property and does an amazing job of delivering five star cuisine.
The eclectic menu offers a wide array of internationally represented flavors with several choices of fresh catch, local favorites and delicately prepared side dishes you won't soon forget.
Breakfast offerings include delicious smoked salmon served on pumpernickel break with egg white, cream cheese and capers which took the dish to another level in its delivery of flavor. The Cajun Omelet was amazing and included Andouille sausage, bacon, peppers, Monterey Jack Cheese as well as several requisite Cajun spices. The menu also included the ever popular Fried Chicken and Waffles, an Island Breakfast Ceviche, Eggs Benedict and even a healthy Warm Tropical Fruit Quinoa. Freshly squeezed orange juice, good, strong Cuban coffee and an assortment of teas are also available. Lunch is available as well and includes great soups, salads sandwiches with a local flare and seafood choices as well.
The dinner menu at SHOR is nothing short of spectacular. Appetizers include everything from Charred Baby Octopus, Key West Seafood Hot Pot, Bacon Wrapped Pork Belly and/or Calamari Fries. Or choose from the Angus Prime Steak, Orange Mojo Gulf Stream Mahi Mahi, Key West Ale Braised Short Ribs, or Pan Seared Local Catch of the Day. Much of the seafood served at this distinctive dining establishment has been caught locally and is done so on a daily basis. The freshness is evident.
With an idyllic location in Old Town Key West, Hyatt Centric Key West Resort & Spa offers access to prime sites for relaxation and rejuvenation. Get out on the water, lounge on the beach, or meander through the streets of Old Town as you marvel at the historical architecture. Whether your passion is golf, snorkeling, or spa treatments, you’ll find that you can experience it all from our Key West resort, leaving you refreshed when the time comes to journey home.
#KeyWest #Hyatt #LindaWalters
You would not appreciate your friends trashing your house like a rock star trashes a hotel room, would you? So of COURSE you would not do it to your friends home.
Don’t do it to their COUNTRY either!
Obey the local rules and customs, even if they are different than your own.
If you have a “no smoking” rule in your home, you certainly would not appreciate friends or relatives ignoring that rule and turning your coffee table into a giant ashtray, right?
It’s a simple thing, but guests are good guests by being sensitive to the local rules and culture, and by trying to fit into the surroundings. This one thing can greatly enhance the quality of your trip too, as the best way to do this is to ASK a local what the common courtesies or cultural norms are, and in doing so, you’ll earn their respect and make a new friend.
Treat your surroundings with respect, leave it better off. For instance, I always pick up additional trash while disposing of my own. Another way you can do this is with the American custom of a gratuity. Many service workers are paid little, and often are not tipped at all. Make their day a little brighter by flipping them a few dollars.
It’s also a safety issue to pay attention to your surroundings.
And, please, don't be like some of these other people, whose stories I read on the internet…
"Just about every beach and harbor of Cornwall (seaside touristy area of the UK) has a strict rule about NOT feeding the seagulls, with prominent signage to that effect. As a result of constant feeding by tourists, there are huge numbers of gulls, which are very aggressive and bold enough to snatch food from your hands even if you’re not aiming to feed them; they will also attack children, cats and small dogs. Their beaks are very, very sharp, and a wound from one will almost always go septic because they’re such “dirty” feeders. Yet every year you see visitors moaning and wailing (or even trying to sue the town councils) because they’ve been injured while feeding seagulls - generally whilst standing in front of a large sign saying “DO NOT FEED THE GULLS.”
Apparently tourists never see a bird a home...
"In a cafe off the Piazza in Venice a family of English speaking tourists caused an incident. My family was eating at one table, theirs at another. They were throwing bits of bread to the pigeons.
Pigeons on the Piazza San Marco are quite a thing to have to deal with, and the cafes have strict rules about feeding them. Vendors selling bird seed further toward the center of the square have taught the pigeons that presence of humans plus the presence of food equals pigeons getting food, so the birds are very bold near the open-air cafes. It's a constant battle to keep them from hopping and flying right on in.
The waiter came out and asked, very nicely, in perfect English, if they could please stop. They stared at him as if they didn't understand a word he said, and went back to tossing bread as soon as he left. Pigeons got closer and closer. Patrons looked down, startled, as they felt birds around their ankles. Others tried to shoo them off tables and chairs.
The waiter tried again, a couple more times if I remember correctly. I know the family were English speakers, because they spoke to one another every time he left. They just chose to ignore him, and you could see he was getting very frustrated. At the time I got the feeling that he didn't want to make a big deal, and kick them out, because the family had children. Each time, they stared at him blankly, but then kept tossing… I guess seeing the pigeons go after the bread was just too much fun for them to stop. At one point the waiter actually took away the bread, but the children found little rolled bits they'd dropped on their chairs and clothes and kept going.
Long story short, from there it was a very short jump to the patio being swarmed with pigeons, who perched on the tables and ruined the place settings. Spoiled the meal for everyone, especially that poor waiter."
One tourist even told a story on himself... AGAIN with the birds...
"I learned the hard way about birds and restaurants. I was in Phoenix on business and sat outside on the patio at a Mexican restaurant. My salad had those tortilla chips on it, and I saw a little sparrow a few feet away. So I tossed it one. ONE. Sparrows came from everywhere. I won’t over exaggerate the scene, but there were dozens. Fortunately, I was on the patio by myself. A couple of birds perched on the backs of chairs right next to me. I really thought they were going to dive-bomb my salad to help themselves to the tortilla chips. I covered my meal with my napkin and tried to stare them down. I don’t know who looked more stupid at that point."
Since he was alone, I’m guessing…. HIM?
"A wealthy woman from a foreign country first arrived at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport from Paris last July with her sister and adult daughter. The Customs and Border Patrol officers found undeclared items in their luggage, including designer bags, a fur coat, diamond jewelry and watches, Total value: $160,000.
The woman attempted to then bribe the customs officer offering a watch and US$10,000 if he would turn a blind eye. After the officer excused himself and put on a hidden recording device, the woman upped the stakes and offered to “sleep with” the officer if he allowed them to pass through.
She is presently out on a bail of$250,000. USD."
Probably the best thing you can do before traveling is READ up on the areas you will be visiting.
Search on Facebook for locals in that area, send a friend request and ask them if they have some tips.
Search YouTube for videos of the area so you can familiarize yourself with the local culture and customs.
All of this will make your trip go more smoothly, will allow you to make new friends around the world, AND, just as important, will help you blend in and not be a target to local petty criminals looking for a pocket to pick or a bag to swipe.
No matter where you go… just treat other people the way you would like to be treated!
Fortunately authorities got ahold of the folks at the local Audubon Center for Birds of Prey and they dispatched an eagle eyed wildlife professional to oversee the rescue effort.
One of the birds did break free and flew up into the sky, continuing to circle and watching the action from up above. The other Eagle fell into the drain where, then, it could not escape at all. Firefighters were careful to tie a rope around the heavy iron grate, before they removed it, in order to prevent it falling on the trapped symbol of America and quashing all our hopes for the future.
Then, using a net, they were able to snare the bird around the legs (the safest place to grab them as their legs are very strong), and pull it to safety.
So today… “Democracy” is recuperating at the Audubon Center and people of ALL political persuasions are pulling together as one, checking on it’s condition and sending donations to help the center with it’s work.
Central Florida is home to many native species, some, like the Bald Eagle, is also found throughout the country and North America. However some species, like the Florida Alligator, or the Manatee, are only found in the Southern States.
If you love wildlife, and are visiting Florida, there are many “once in a lifetime” opportunities to see native and endangered wildlife, sometimes in their natural habits. A few of my favorite places are…
Blue Spring State Park
Depending on the time of year, you might see just a few, or a plethora of endangered Manatees here.
The last time I visited, there were so many Manatees packed into the river by the viewing dock that you could have walked across their backs to the other side without getting your feet wet (except, of course, that would be wrong, you cannot “molest” Manatees, it’s a crime).
If you’re an animal lover, like me, you probably already make them a part of any vacation you take and, besides what I’ve mentioned here, there are literally hundreds of opportunities to enjoy wildlife in Florida. Just use Google to find something near your destination!
As far as "Democracy," the Bald Eagle, goes... sadly, she passed away from her injuries. So, while Democracy is dead, you can still visit her friends at the Audubon Birds of Prey Center and make a donation in her name and in the spirit of freedom.
NOTE: It's a small, small world. Just learned it was Yaileen's boyfriend, Tito, who saw the Bald Eagles fall from the sky and called 911. Yaileen is "our" server at Sweet Mama's
ORLANDO, FL: Got a sweet tooth or a craving for comfort food? Sweet Mama’s lives up to it’s name.
If you’re flying into Orlando, chances are you’re hungry by the time your flight lands. If it is earlier in the day you’re in luck.
Lake Nona is a community ("Medical City" is located here) just a short drive from the airport and, if you’re looking for something beyond the fast food, or chain restaurant airport fare, “Sweet Mama’s” is a great choice.
One of the first businesses to open in the Lake Nona area, “Sweet Mama’s” is a favorite of locals and visitors alike and are known for their homemake cakes and pies.
When I travel I try to seek out the “Mom & Pop” restaurants as a way to see the local culture and, after all, what’s the point of traveling if you’re just going to eat at another location of the same restaurants that are just around the corner from your home?
I had never been to Sweet Mama’s, but was visiting the local Keller Williams real estate office there at Lake Nona and Lorena, one of the Realtors, recommended it. She said they had GREAT brunches with $3 Mimosa’s (true!) but, alas, since it was a Monday, and still early in the day, we had to “settle” for lunch and no alcohol.
When we arrived we were greeted by Lisa, one of the “Sweet Mama’s” herself and we grabbed a high top table by the window.
They have both indoor, and outdoor, seating, so if it’s a beautiful day, or if you have your dog with you, you can grab an outdoor spot.
They have some kind of special almost every day, and Monday was $6 burger day… for any burger they have. I choose the mushroom, swiss, with sweet potato fries.
Our waitress, Yaileen, was super nice, and friendly, giving us a little history of Sweet Mama’s… she had been going there herself since high school, when it was in it’s first location.
There are TWO “Sweet Mama’s” ..Lisa, in the front of the house, and Linda, in the kitchen. Lisa and Linda are longtime friends who always dreamed of opening a quaint eatery. They treat their customers like family… because some of them are! When Lisa isn’t whipping up family recipes for her own Grandma’s chocolate cake or key lime pie, she’s serving it to her granddaughter.
When our lunch arrived, I have to say that they messed up my order a tad… giving me regular fries instead of the sweet potato fries. HOWEVER, even though I said it was fine, Lisa brought me out an extra order of sweet potato fries at no charge. She even made sure to tell us it was her fault, that Yaileen had put in the order correctly. Frankly, I never care if a minor mistake is make with an order... what's important is, when it does happen, that the business makes it right. THAT earns my loyalty.
My hamburger was PERFECT. I ordered it medium rare and that’s how it came… just slightly pink and juicy. My boyfriend loved his burger as well and he even saved half, plus the order of fries to take home for his dinner later.
Sweet Mama’s is ONLY open for breakfast and lunch… they close at 3 PM for dining, however they also do “Dinner to Go” (plus catering) with pick up until 6 PM, and with some delicious comfort foods on the menu… like meatloaf, fried catfish, liver and onions, chicken pot pie and chicken and waffles!
Desserts are what "Sweet Mama's is known for... homemade, fresh, delightful AND, best of all, available for you to take home for your family or special event. While they have seasonal favorites, they also have a core selection they make all the time, including...
Everyday Pies: Apple, Cherry, Blueberry, Coconut Cream, Key Lime and Peanut Butter.
Everyday Cakes: Carrot Cake, Banana Cake, Red Velvet, Grandma Mildred’s Chocolate Cake, Extreme Chocolate Cake w/Buttercream Frosting, Gluten Free Chocolate, Peanut Butter Squares AND Smores Brownies w/homemade caramel sauce
We’ve already talked about going back there for brunch to get those $3 Mimosas AND because I saw they make my FAVORITE type of Eggs Benedict… with corned beef hash instead of Canadian bacon. If you’ve never had Eggs Benedict this way you should try it. You’d think the flavors of the corned beef and hollandaise would be too intense together, but they are not… it’s amazing.
Of course, I'm already making a "mental note" to get some Extreme Chocolate Cake with Buttercream Frosting to take home.
Sweet Mama’s is just 16 minutes away from the Orlando International Airport, take the South exit out of the Airport and head East on 417 to Narcoossee Road exit, then go North just a bit. It’s on your way if you’re flying in to go to the beaches, and a bit out of the way if you’re heading for Disney, SeaWorld or the International Drive area. Regardless though, I bet you’ll find it worth your time.
My experience of a romantic weekend stay at the 4-diamond luxury Seelbach Hilton Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky – appearing on the National Register of Historical Places – can never be described as “ordinary!”
The Seelbach Hilton is equal parts historical landmark and architectural masterpiece. It began as the dream of two Bavarian brothers – Otto and Louis Seelbach – in 1869 when Louis came to Louisville to learn the hotel business.
In 1903, after several years of running restaurants and gentleman’s clubs, the brothers began construction of a new hotel at the corner of 4th and Walnut Street (now Muhammad Ali), creating a lavish, turn-of-the-century Beaux Arts Baroque hotel.
Sparing no expense, they imported marbles from all over the world, bronzes from France, hardwoods from the West Indies and Europe, linens from Ireland, and valuable Turkish and Persian Rugs.
Billed as “the only fireproof hotel in the city,” the new Seelbach opened in May of 1905 by offering a 5-hour public inspection and drawing an incredible 25,000 visitors. The hotel was so popular, the Seelbach brothers began a 154-room addition in the fall of that same year.
In 1907, the expansion was completed and included the famous Bavarian-style Rathskeller, decorated with rare Rookwood Pottery. Today the Rathskeller remains the only surviving ensemble of its kind.
In the 1920s, Prohibition contributed to the wealth of underworld kingpins who were drawn to the most glamorous spots for cards and leisure. The Seelbach certainly saw its share.
As the grandest hotel in Louisville and the center of Kentucky’s bourbon and whiskey country, The Seelbach attracted some of the most famous gangsters. Notorious figures included Lucky Luciano and Dutch Schultz – known as the “Beer Baron of the Bronx.”
The King of the Bootleggers – George Remus, a Cincinnati mobster, referred to as “King of the Bootleggers,” got rich running whiskey northward during Prohibition. As a local gangster, he would spend time at The Seelbach, for business and pleasure. Writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, who also visited The Seelbach for bourbon and cigars, was taken with the charismatic Remus. In fact, Remus became the inspiration for the title character Jay Gatsby in “The Great Gatsby.” (more)
by Michelle Valentine
"Love, Eat, Travel, TV"
Contact Michelle: info@MichelleValentine.TV
You can get your business featured on "Love, Eat, Travel" ... just email for information.
One element which has not been given much credence or attention is the very essential one of an environmentally sound planet.
Seldom are we hearing anything solid regarding the candidates’ views on this extremely pertinent issue.
A recent visit to the 49th state (Alaska) brought the environment front and center. Picture the incredibly majestic Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve with a 250 foot glacial height, and a base which is about 100 feet below sea level. The natural wildlife life here is no less impressive, with humpback whales, sea lions, Kodiak bears and innumerable fish and wildlife.
The Bald Eagle, which has a natural wingspan of seven to ten feet, is an amazing and majestic national mascot. This impressive bird lives here in Alaska abundantly but can be affected if its environment is not protected and maintained.
The rate of attrition of this natural saltwater glacier is escalating and maritime temperatures actually keep the bay from freezing over. Currently, the bay is over 1,000 feet deep and provides a unique glimpse into a majestic world of glaciers highlighted by their captivating hues of blue. Created by long wavelength colors of reds which are absorbed, the views are mindful of the sky’s intrinsic colors.
Alaska, which is often referred to as the final frontier (albeit space in many ways), offers a fantastic glimpse into both our past and the present.
Skagway, also known as the Alaska panhandle, is a former gold mining town which seems to somehow still be etched in its own history. Single story buildings are set against the backdrop of a majestic mountainous region and cruise ships, a historic railway system, and all terrain vehicles are its main transportation elements.
The White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad pass through daily encouraging tourists to relive the gold rush history created back in the 1800’s.
Juneau, the capital city of Alaska, is an amazing mix of natural beauty, majestic landscapes and an outdoor paradise for those who are adventurous.
Whale watching, glacier sightseeing, dog sledding, an incredible salmon hatchery (buoyed by the requisite export industry), and Glacier Gardens, all command your attention while giving you insight into this important element of our world landscape.
Founded in 1880, Juneau is 600 airline miles southeast of Anchorage and is the only state capital in the entire United States with absolutely no road access.
If you’ve ever witnessed the Iditarod (dog sledding at its finest) you know that it takes a lot of snow for these elegant and magnificent creatures to pull those sleds. For the past three winters, there has not been sufficient natural snow in place for this eagerly anticipated event. Snow was actually flown in from other nearby cities to provide the necessary amount; which speaks to the growing concern of global warming.
Living in Florida some thousands of miles away from the Alaskan territory allows us to push environmental issues to the fringe of our daily agendas. But when you’re right up close, with glaciers at your door and eagles flying overhead, it becomes a little more clear. Global warming is a very real and present danger.
An exciting fall lineup of events will be presented at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts over the next few months. There’s a fabulous concert line up, the first ever introduction of a popular television game show (The Price is Right) and much more.
There’s literally something for everyone with highlights for those who are particularly entranced with solid performances by talented artists.
For the full line up and ticket availability, go to Center’s website at: http://www.drphillipscenter.com or call the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts box office at 844- 513-2014.
If acrobatics is your thing, be sure to come out on Thursday, December 1 to see SHANGHAI ACROBATS, from the People’s Republic of China, as they perform “Shanghai Nights.” This incredible celebration of world music and dance will delight and enthrall your senses.
The recent winner of five Tony awards, including “Best Play,” will appeal to those of you who simply love Broadway drama. “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time” comes to the Dr. Philips Center as part of their North American Tour on November 1st through 6th.
Winner of five Outer Critics Circle Awards, including “Outstanding New Broadway Play” and the Drama League Award for “Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off Broadway Play,” this amazing production more than lives up to its intriguing title.
Tickets for The Price is Right Live go on sale on Friday, September 30 at 10:00 a.m. with prices starting at $36.50. With Contestants winning cash prizes, appliances, vacations and possibly even a new car, the excitement of this long running television game show now translates to a live experience right here in Central Florida. Open to U.S. legal resident of 18 years or older.
In its first two years of operation, the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts has surpassed its original projections in attendance as well as its schedule of amazing productions. The Center has also generously donated close to another $2 million in value to community projects, events and amenities.
Now in its third year of excellence, the Dr Phillips Center is currently looking forward to completing its fund raising element for Phase 2 of the Center which will focus on adding the 1,700 seat Steinmetz Hall. With attendance of more than 302,500 guests in the past two years and more than 330 performances by incredibly diverse theatrical companies and performing artists, the confirmed success of this amazing state of the art performance venue is golden.
My current dog is Jake, my BFF and soulmate, and he travels with me almost everywhere. Jake is an enthusiastic Labrador/Rhodesian love sponge who instantly bonded with me at Seattle Humane in August 2015. Since adopting each other, Jake and I have worked on basic commands, and he has blossomed into a well behaved, model traveler.
The good news is, if you have the will to travel with or transport your pet by air, there’s a way! The options available to you depend on several factors, such as the costs you are willing to pay, the personality, training and size of your pet, and whether you meet federal guidelines involving physiological, psychological, or emotional disabilities.
Your pet can fly with one or more of these options: as (1) a carry-on pet, (2) checked baggage or cargo, or (3) a service dog or emotional support animal (ESA). CLICK HERE to see the costs and conditions involved in each of these three categories on the major airlines in the continental US. Service dogs and ESAs ride free on all airlines.
Carry On Pets...
If your pet is a small dog or cat, you have the most options when it comes to air travel. That’s because all airlines allow in-cabin travel with a small dog or cat in a carrier for a small fee of between $95 and $125 on one-way travel in the continental US. To qualify for carry-on, your pet must be small enough to fit comfortably inside a carrier no larger than 18.5” long x 8.5” high x 13.5” wide, and must remain in the carrier underneath the seat in front of you for the full duration of your flight. Southwest sells a soft-sided carry-on carrier that you can purchase online or at the ticket counter for $58. Many carriers have breed restrictions and require advance arrangements, so be sure to research the individual circumstances applicable to your pet and airline when planning your travel.
Alaska Airlines has the simplest policies and least expensive fees, and will allow you to check any size dog as baggage in a carrier for $100. Southwest does not allow animals to travel as cargo or checked luggage. American charges $200 for pets to ride as checked baggage. United’s PetSafe air cargo program charges for pet transportation based on weight, with rates as high as $699 for extra-large dogs to US destinations. Delta appears to charge the highest rates, with fares of more than $1000 to some destinations. As of the date of this article, Delta quoted me $592 to ship an 80 pound dog in an extra-large carrier from Spokane to New York’s JFK airport. All airlines except Alaska require advance arrangements for this service.
Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals
What’s the difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal? You need to know because airlines will ask which you are claiming if you show up to the ticket counter with a dog on a leash. The most important thing to know is that the right to travel with a service dog or ESA applies to the human rather than the animal. Applicable U.S. laws (Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Fair Housing Act, and Air Carrier Access Act) do not require either type of animal to be registered or certified. These laws entitle both service dogs and ESAs to fly in the cabin of an aircraft at no additional charge, and also to reside in housing that otherwise prohibits pets, without breed restrictions.
Service animals are restricted to dogs, and in rare cases, miniature horses (I’ve never heard of anyone attempting to travel with a service horse, so we’ll refer to service animals as service dogs). There are no species or breed restrictions for ESAs, and I’ve heard stories of people on aircraft with emotional support ducks, cats and miniature pigs, in addition to dogs.
A service dog is trained to assist an Individual with a disability that substantially limits the individual’s ability to perform a major life activity without assistance. For example, my sister has Type 1 diabetes and needs to travel with a service dog that can smell when her blood sugar is out of balance. I have a friend with epilepsy who has a dog that can sense when he is about to have a seizure. (more)
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Inland Cruises are a Great Travel Value
Ninja Level 1 (out of 5)
When we travel we love to take whatever local cruises we can find, whether they are lake cruises or river, they are an excellent way to see a “side” of the city or town you wouldn't see any other way. An added bonus is they are often an excellent entertainment value as well.
Called “Michigan's little Bavaria,” Frankenmuth is a charming town, on the Cass River, featuring a strong German heritage, with it's own Brewery and quaint, German themed shops. Michigan families have made staying at the 13 acre Bavarian Inn a tradition for generations... it's an full fledged family resort with multiple pools, a water park, arcade, mini-golf and a variety of adult, and family, activities. It's a perfect place to stay if you have kids to entertain.
If you are in the Detroit area, Frankenmuth is just an hour, to an hour and a half, North, through some charming farm country. You'll see the Bavarian Inn on your right as you come into town, but if you prefer to stay in the downtown area they have several selections there as well (Marv Herzog, Fairfield Inn, Springhill Suites and Drury Inn).
We were just there for a day trip though, so we hit the downtown and parked at the River Place Shops, walking over the bridge to the park and annual craft festival, to spend an hour checking out it's exhibits before the boat ride.
We planned the highlight of our day to be the cruise on the Bavarian Belle, followed by lunch at one of the many interesting restaurants and cafes.
The Bavarian Belle is a beautiful boat, and it docks right at the River Place Shops, it's dock and ticket kiosk is by the fountain. Not knowing how crowded the first cruise of the day would be (it wasn't), we got to the ticket kiosk about a half hour early, bought our tickets (just $12 for adults, $4 under 12 and free for children under 4 – cash only), and walked around the shops for a bit.
Getting on the boat was easy, you go down a winding path, a little steep, but still navigable if you have someone in a wheelchair (boat is handicapped accessible), and you just pick your seat. The boat is big enough to move around on, they have popcorn and beverages avail to purchase, and there is plenty of shade on both the upper and lower decks.
I just love taking a boat ride! You always learn a lot of history of the local area and, with the Bavarian Belle, the boats history as well. The Bavarian Belle is a fully restored paddle wheel boat that holds 150 passengers and is run by a family, all working together (Dad is the Captain). It has (non operational) smokestacks and it was interesting to learn that the smokestacks on these boats are hinged and made to lay down for passing under low bridges. Some of what we learned involved the river commerce that used to be so essential to the economy of these small river towns.
The cruise lasts only an hour but that was plenty of time to learn the local history and enjoy the scenery. After our cruise we had lunch at the Frankenmuth Brewery, partly because the waiters were waving at our cruise boat from the outside deck. We couldn't disappoint them since they were so obviously wanting our business, but it was a good decision, The Brewery has a nice selection of German and American food (even a couple of “Tex-Mex” items), and you can pick up some of their craft beer to go.
Visiting Frankenmuth has been considered a “summer staple” in Michigan for years, so when you go there you'll feel like you're “vacationing like a local.” You could easily spend several days in Frankenmuth enjoying their restaurants, shopping and activities but DO make a cruise on the Bavarian Bell part of your fun; you'll be glad you did!
Author: Sue Copening
Dining on the Road – Budget ideas
Ninja Level 1 (out of 5)
Cost: $ to $$
One of the great things about traveling today is the number of travel-friendly phone APPS like “Around Me” that allow you to find businesses within your current area. This allows the passenger to browse as you drive down the road. I use the APP to easily find ways to eat well, but on a budget.
I think one of the most fun parts of travel is finding the “Mom & Pop” eateries... like the “HomeFront Cafe” in Altamont, New York (just outside Albany), a charming country diner with patriotic and war memorabilia, including photos and memorials of locals who served our country. It was one of those places you could picture becoming your regular place, and it had an vintage “soda shop and ice cream bar” that is open in the warmer seasons.
One of the pleasures of locally owned, rather than chain, restaurants is that you often find the food to be unusually good, less expensive, and you get to experience the “flavor” of the local area, rather than a homogeneous “cookie cutter” ambiance that doesn't change with geography. Eating in a local place is a great way to get a feel for the community. Why not sit at the bar so you can chat with the locals?
I love meeting locals when traveling... and some are just a delight. In Kentucky my boyfriend and I sat next to an African American gentleman who was a regular at the diner. His name was Clay and he worked at a local non-profit helping men with drug and alcohol problems get back on their feet. He recommended we try the “Hot Brown” which is a Kentucky favorite consisting of Turkey and Bacon, sometimes with Ham as well, and served as an open faced sandwich with either a Mornay sauce or Cheddar Cheese. We did, and their version was a little different than my Mom used to make but very, very good. This diner had drinks, my boyfriend had a beer and I had a couple of cocktails. When we went to pay our bill however, we found that Clay had already picked up our check. So, not only did we have a delightful dinner companion to chat with, but we had that as a pleasant surprise!
Now “Diners” can vary in quality from state to state. In New Jersey and Michigan, a diner is often like a 4 or 5 star restaurant but with a more casual atmosphere and much lower prices. In fact New Jersey is famous for it's highly rated diners... like the Americana Diner in East Windsor, a delightful treat that made getting a bit lost totally worth it. The Americana serves cuisine best described as “international' in it's range, including curry flavors, Mexican, Italian, Asian, french, Greek and, of course, American!
In other states “Diners” might be slightly grimy places with little more than hamburgers and chicken soup on the menu. Frankly, I don't care which type of place it is, I still prefer being able to relax and get waited on (while enjoying the local ambiance) rather than grabbing a predictable (and generally unhealthy) meal in a fast food joint that looks the same as the one around the corner from our house. Often, you spend the same amount of money, so why not do something different and enjoy one of the pleasures of travel?
Ever been traveling and wanted a meal late at night but there were no options other than the normal fast food joints off the highway? Now here is something you might not even think of... Check the internet for local hospitals! This is something I picked up on while caring for sick relatives over the years... hospital cafeterias are often open very late, and some even have a limited selection 24/7. They generally have some “home cooking style” hot meals like meatloaf, chicken, fish and pasta, salad bars, a wide beverage selection and even desserts. Another plus... pricing! Hospital cafeterias are designed to service both employees and visitors of patients, so generally speaking, they are a low budget option for dining. Most of the time hospitals are located within a few miles of the major highways as well... so just look on your phone APP, then check the website for the hospital to see what their cafeteria hours are. Once I had a great meal at a hospital that served full meals till 1:30 AM.
Most of the time when we are traveling by road we take a couple of coolers with us. This saves us a bunch of money and allows us to snack healthier while driving. Before leaving I make up a bunch of hard boiled eggs, a few sandwiches, sometimes some cold chicken and salads. Throw in a half gallon of milk or tea, some yogurt, blocks of cheese, fig or fruit spreads and crackers and you're good to go, Finding a scenic spot for a picnic is usually pretty easy.
Now that's at the beginning of the trip. On the return, we often don't have much of a kitchen for preparing, but we can restock the cooler from a local grocery store. Additionally having a cooler allows us, when we eat in a restaurant, to have a place to put leftovers. Sometimes, if we are driving through more remote areas, I'll even order another meal to-go, something I know will keep in the cooler well that we can have up the road or the next day.
When we go on trips where we will be in the same spot for a week or two, we try to find places to stay that have somewhat of a kitchen in the room. This cuts down on the number of (more expensive) restaurant meals. You'd be surprised what you can do even in a room with only a microwave and mini fridge. I don't use microwaves for cooking though (only for heating water), so we also bring our trusty CrockPot (slow cooker). I've made delicious lasagna, pot roast and other hot meals right in the room. Like pasta? Cook the sauce in the CrockPot and heat water to boiling in the microwave, pull it out and drop in Angel Hair. It's thin enough it only has to sit in the hot water for a few minutes to be ready.
You can easily bake potatoes in a CrockPot and, if you get an elevated rack for your slow cooker you can bake chicken or meatloaf as well. Just use Google to find great recipes perfect for hotel room “dinner and movie” nights!
For packing, I throw our condiments, salt, pepper and spices, in the CrockPot, along with some of our own silverware and knives for prep. Into a tote goes a couple of plates and bowls, a larger serving bowl for prep, a roll of paper towels, crackers, nuts and other snack items. You can take along a complete kitchen “outfit” in no more than two tote bags.
My final “Road Tip” is this... don't pass up the chance to stop at those roadside stands.. in the Southern USA the boiled peanuts are a delightful snack and, all across the country, you can find some amazing BBQ, crabs, boiled shrimp, jerk chicken, empanadas, tacos and more. If you're not hungry when you come across them... stop anyway and throw something in that cooler!
Author: Sue Copening
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