Updates from June, 2011 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • It's still All About Travel 8:13 AM on June 30, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    It’s hard to get there from here 

    But, it can be done if you’re creative.  Running down the best fare with the best itinerary is sometimes difficult.  No, that’s not right, it’s ALWAYS difficult now.

    Airlines change rules and rates like a mother changes a newborn baby.  Constantly.  And they’re sneaky about it too.  Those exorbitant prices for booking over the phone, taking a suitcase (extra or not).  Next they’ll be charging for carry-ons and to use the bathroom.

    Anyway, back to getting out of Redding.  More often I’ve been using “First Class Shuttle” to Sacramento.  Eric Vickery, owner sends a van down and back three times a day, Mon-Fri, and twice on weekends. As business grows they will be adding more shuttle times. The rate is now $105.00 round trip.  Unfortunately the accelerating price of gas has hit them hard.  But riding in comfort and safety makes it all worthwhile.  I don’t worry about running off the road because I’m not as alert as I should be after a long miserable flight from Timbuktu.

    Southwest Airlines flies from Sacramento to just about anywhere in the United States.  No charge for bags, and no sneaky fees for seat location.  The fight attendants are friendly – and funny at times.  They do their best to make your flight un-memorable!

    Give Kim a call 530-605-0137 , or better yet check them out at http://www.firstclassshuttle.net

    • FluffyPuppiesMosaics 12:37 PM on July 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Hi sweet lady, I am sooooo glad you have a Travel blog! I love it and you are sooooo funny! I am always here to help. Hugs, your ole neighbor 🙂

  • It's still All About Travel 6:58 PM on June 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Years and Years of Souvenirs 

    I have hauled more STUFF back; fragile pottery carefully wrapped in my carry-on, crammed in the toes of the shoes in my suitcase and some very awkward pieces balanced on my lap. How do you wrap a donkey piñata from Mexico?  Answer you don’t – you carry it on, place it on your lap where it stays until you get off the plane.

    I have some items that cost pennies – like the whirling dervish dancer and musicians from Turkey (I wouldn’t take a hundred dollars for them), and then I have this God-awful ugly vase from China.  It doesn’t match anything in the house, it’s not my style of décor, and it sits in a corner holding peacock feathers, gathering dust.

    However, it has a story, and I’m reminded of the day Nancy & I took the ferry from Hong Kong to Macao, then a guided bus tour into China.  The China before the “www. world”.  It was fascinating; buffalo plowing the fields, a Chinese golf course (brown weeds) and a virtually empty department store – Chinese variety.  I bought some Chinese toothpaste, which had the consistency of chewing gum and the unappetizing shade of putty.  Have no idea of the ingredients and maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t!

    There were several businessmen along for the ride (they were killing time before their fight back to the US).  One of them bought this humongous vase while on the tour, and couldn’t figure how he was going to get it home, and if he did, what his wife was even going to do with it.  Well, turns out, I was the lucky recipient of his largess.  I carried it home on my lap – too big and fragile for the suitcase.  Anyway, there it sits in the far corner of my house gathering dust and memories.

  • It's still All About Travel 6:39 PM on June 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Music to my ears 

    Memories of my favorite travel places are often triggered by sound. Sounds both melodic and cacophonic.

    One my very favorite places for relaxation is the Moana Hotel in Honolulu; relaxing under the historic banyan tree listening to an authentic Ukulele group, MaiTai in hand with the sounds of the surf in the background.   If I ever make it back to Hawaii, I will make a dash to the Moana, and never move until I’m packing to come back home.

    My first introduction to Hawaii music came in 1942 when a Naval couple moved into across the street from us.  They had been stationed in Hawaii before WWII, and then transferred to El Toro, the LTA station (that’s lighter than air, as in dirigibles).  They often had late evening parties, and the music easily crossed the street from their house to ours. (Navy people party a lot!) My parents became very close friends, and their younger sister my best friend.  We shared the same birthday and met when she was 8 and I 10.

    Anyway, my love of the romantic and authentic Hawaiian music has never ended.  If you’ve never heard the old suggestive recording of Hilo Hattie “The Cockeyed Mayor of Kaunakakai”, you’d better check it out on U-Tube.

    Years ago when I made my first (and only) visited to Jerusalem and Morocco, the sounds of the mostly recorded religious callings were both eerie and exotic.  This was before the major ethnic problems arose (at least to the extent we were aware here in the United States.)  Prayers were called out from the minarets five times a day, sometimes heard simultaneously from several different locations.  They added so much to the atmosphere of these countries, and accentuated the cultural and religeous differences of visiting vacationers.  I’m not so sure they inspire a longing to return right now, but they do bring back exciting memories.

    The church bells in the ancient churches of Mexico are often old, as in really, really old. Cracked and non-melodic, it is more “clank, clank, clank” than the resounding “riiiiing”, but nevertheless a fine way to wake in the morning, along with a great mug of Mexican hot chocolate.

    Next time you travel, take in the sounds as well as the sights!

  • It's still All About Travel 6:36 PM on June 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Books, books and more books 

    Never let it be said I can’t take a hint.  When I found the bottom bookshelf had collapsed and sent books scattering across the room, I decided the day had finally come to take control of the situation and thin out my life-long collection of books.

    Saying is one thing, doing is a whole ‘nother situation.

    Of course, I just couldn’t let my Fairy Tales book go; Arabian Nights, fractured Fairy Tales, Hajji Baba, and all the other classics were my treasures. The ancient color illustrations are a treasure unto themselves.

    Then of course, California history collection, “how-to” books, Harry Potter and friends; how does one do without those.  Answer – one doesn’t!

    And when it came to my travel books, I can’t even consider letting one go.  From my old favorite classic Mark Twain’s “Innocents Abroad” (tourists never change) to the 1988 “Night Train to Turkistan” and everything in between I love them all.

    The Road to Oxyiana (which I haven’t had time to read yet),, “Turkish Reflections” which the New York Times Book Review said “a diverting mixture of travelogue, history, polemic and contemporary portrait” (now, that’s pretty impressive!) the “Golden Road”, and Jill & Leon Uris combined effort of “Jerusalem” ; (it brings back memories of my 1980 trip) wow!  What an experience.  Of course, the “Travelers’ Tales of Mexico is a wonderful memory of 1994 Mexico.  How could I even consider getting rid of my traveling books, (my friends)? When the day comes I cannot actually travel, they will keep the memories alive.

    Since absolutely none of my books are expendable, I guess it just means I’m going to have to shore up the shelf.  I guess bricks would work since it’s on the bottom.  Whatever it takes to save my treasures.

    In the meantime, I’ll keep adding to my collection, especially those related to travel.  A never-ending source of enjoyment.

  • It's still All About Travel 6:34 PM on June 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    San Diego 

    It’s been over a year since a group of us boarded Amtrak for a trip down to San Diego, and I think it’s just about time we made plans again.  However, time slipped by; the Little Italy Annual Fiesta has come and gone, so we’re going to have to plan for next October.

    The weather is perfect in October (isn’t it always – all year-long?) and walking the streets of San Diego is great exercise.  We take time for window shopping, serious shopping, stopping for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and maybe a glass of wine here and there.  It can all be done on our way to India Street where the Italian Festival is in progress, then back to our hotel if our feet hold out.  The trick is – lots of stopping along the way.

    Multi booths line India Street for several blocks.  Fresh produce, cheeses, jars of exotic olives, fragrant breads, local wines, all kinds of arts and crafts soon filled the many bags we carried.  What fun!  I spent as much time taking pictures as I did shopping; just too many exciting and colorful sights to ignore.

    San Diego is just made for mini and major vacations.  Amtrak goes right into the lovely Mexican tiled Union Station by the waterfront.  There are plenty of options for making our way to our hotel.  Since it was late evening, we opted for a taxis this time.  We stayed in a small boutique-style hotel (nothing small about the price however), but it was in a great location in the Gaslamp District.

    The huge Norton Mall was enticing, but the smaller specialty shops even more so.  Glitzy sunglasses, colorful scarfs, artsy greeting cards and lots more filled our shopping bags.  When we were too tired to walk another step, we hopped aboard the ferry for a short trip across the bay to Coronado.  Small-time wannabe sailors tacked their sailboats under the swooping Coronado Bridge and between the enormous gray US Navy ships moving about.  Leaving our ferry, we walked to the historical Hotel del Coronado (known as the Hotel Del by the locals).  We decided to splurge and have lunch on the patio while we watched the white-clad members hit tennis balls back and forth.  What a life!

    Too soon time to get back aboard the train to Los Angeles where we changed to the Coast Starlight headed to Redding.  A most relaxing and enjoyable time was had by all!

  • It's still All About Travel 6:26 PM on June 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Wendover, Nevada 

    Travel buddy Carol and I didn’t know what to expect – we packed for a predicted February Arctic Blast, and ended up leaving the coats, knit caps, gloves and scarves in the hotel room.

    I had old childhood memories of a painted line crossing the road; “Wendover, Nevada” sign on one side, and “Wendover, Utah” sign on the other, a 2-pump gas station and not much else.  The bright Las Vegas style lights and glitz that greeted us as we landed at the Wendover Airport was quite a surprise!

    We signed up for the Allegiant $129.00 air charter special from Redding and  3 nights at the Peppermill, complete with various $ off coupons.  What a deal! Check them out at http://www.wendoverfun.com  for dates and prices of upcoming packages.

    Our room was spacious and clean.  (Lots of room for all our extra winter clothes!)

    We are not serious gamblers, so it was a big surprise when the penny machines actually paid out a little,  giving us an unexpected nice time gambling on their money.  Our “buy one entrée, get another free” coupon at “Pancho and Willie’s Cantina” at the Peppermill was a terrific bargain and one of the best Carne Assada I’ve had.

    I think the biggest surprise was the WWII Airbase Tour we took with Bryan Yadon (owner, driver, guide, chief cook and bottle washer) of “Intermountain Guide Service”.  I had forgotten that Wendover was the location of the Enola Gay training facility.

    Bryan’s been in the business since he was in his teens, helping with his grandfathers tour business in Utah.  I can’t imagine there is anything he doesn’t know about the area!  We were so fortunate to book him on the spur of the moment.  We were so impressed; we booked his Bonneyville Salt Flats tour for the next day. And next time plan to experience the ATV tours he offers.

    The desert has a beauty of it’s own, enhanced by the continuous narration from Brian.

    Check out his website at http://www.intermountainguidenevada.com and take advantage of his great knowledge of this area. Seeing the Airbase and hearing the amazing history is a must when you are there. Tell him “Jacque” sent you.

    Research and planning ahead is vital, but always be open to last minute opportunities!   We had a great time for few bucks.

  • It's still All About Travel 6:02 PM on June 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Win Some, Lose Some – but never give up! 

    But you’ve got to try; otherwise you’ll never win any, at least that’s my theory.

    Seems like travel entails more financial problems than any other, and dealing with them involves repeated phone calls, letters and e-mails, especially when things go wrong.

    I’ve recently gone toe to toe with United Airlines over a cancellation situation (a result of their flight change – not mine) in which they refused to refund one ticket out of three purchased.  When I called their refund  (HA!) department I was turned down; I didn’t qualify according to the phone person and her “written in stone” check-off list.  Next step, I wrote to customer service (HA!) – again received a refusal, so I wrote to the Supervisor of Customer Service.  Voila!  Refund check and two $75.00 credit certificates.  I knew I was right, and so did they. Of course the credits are totally useless – complying with all their disclaimers is an impossibility, but they did refund the ticket in full, admitting it was their problem – not mine.

    Next situation; really bad situation at a Boutique hotel in Newport Beach.  Pricey hotel, absolutely not as advertised. The counter staff at hotel was no help with tacky room and security problems.  When I got home I wrote a letter to owner/manager.  No answer.  Called him several times, no return call, finally got through to a person with lots of bluster, no concept of the English language and no interest whatsoever in making the situation right.  I gave up on this one, but if he thinks I will refer his hotel, he has another think coming.  He loses.

    And the lesson here – don’t give up if you have your facts and know you are right…unless of course you are dealing with someone who speaks with a heavy accent, doing a lot of screaming. and is at the head of the food chain.

  • It's still All About Travel 11:32 AM on June 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    It’s Still All About Travel 


    ……the theme of the 2012 Pasadena Rose Parade.  Very fitting I thought, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if the economy was on the up swing, health better, and attitudes more positive.

    I do love a parade; it makes me feel good inside, I feel myself smiling with happiness, oohing and aahing the gorgeous flower laden floats, and tearing up as our flag and military pass by.  As long as we have parades, we have a link to our past and hope for our future.

    Actually, I have at least three (maybe more if I think about it) favorite parades.  The Pasadena Rose Parade that I’ve watched every year since 1952 on TV, and was fortunate enough to enjoy in person a couple of times.  The Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco and the Mardi Gras Parades in New Orleans tie for second.

    I’m not making any New Years resolutions, but I have decided 2011 is in the past, the woes and irritations are behind me; 2012 will be one more step ahead and life is going to be better for one and all!

    And in remembrance of Roy Rodgers and the last float in the parade – HAPPY TRAILS TO YOU IN THE NEW YEAR!!

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