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  • It's still All About Travel 3:49 PM on January 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    ARGENTINA 

    When I think of Argentina, I think of color, music, action and the best meat I’ve ever tasted anywhere!

    I’ve seen many “folkloric” shows around the world; most choreographed and canned for the tourist.  But the Tango show in Buenos Aires was a perfect work of art.  Several couples in different styles of costume demonstrated the many styles of the Tango.  It was unforgettable. If you ever go to Rio, taking in a Tango show is surely a must!

    Feeling the power and thunder of the falls as I was walking the boardwalk under  Iguassu Falls in Argentina and Brazil was one of the most unforgettable travel experience.  The falls are so immense; cover so much area and carry such a great amount of water.  Niagara Falls just doesn’t compare.  We were soaking wet at the end of the day, even wearing raincoats.  The blowing spray was impossible to escape, and we didn’t even care as we boarded the little 16-passenger airplane back to our hotel, squishy shoes and all. It was an exhilarating experience.

    South America has so much to offer to the traveler; there is always something new and exciting to expeience.  The day spent at one of the working estancias was incredible.  The gauchos (cowboys) put on a great show for us.  There must be something about cowboys – they love to show off, and they were all so good at it.  Most of these gauc;hos had been working for this same family most of their lives .  After watching the rounding up of cattle with working dogs and horses, they put on a great barbeque for us.  It was really an amazing day, and one that is still fresh in my mind.

    A few years after this, Art , his son Dean and other hunting friends went on a Dove shooting week on the pampas of Argentina.  Besides the shooting expeirence, it is vital that the dove population be kept down as are so prolific and eata all the grain grown for the cattle.  So, the guys had a great time shoortig, and the estancias were happy to have more crops dove free.  However, I could not belive these men went down to ths beautifiul ountry and didn’t take the time for a Tango show or the falls.

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  • It's still All About Travel 4:29 PM on December 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    over the hill (we almost go) to Grandmother’s house in the snow….. 

    It’s true – the memories that come first to mind are the ones that, at the time, you would rather forget.

    In about 1946 I think, at least it was after gas rationing, my father decided the family should make the trek “back east” so his folks could see the family from “out west”.

    That was fine, except for the fact; no one in Southern California ever wore, much less bought a true “winter” coat.  Well, not until they hit Sears and Roebuck in Kansas City anyway and finally concluded a lightweight Southern California sweater just didn’t do the job.  Since time was lost shopping, it was decided to stay in a REAL hotel down town.  And that was fine until my mother turned back the blankets on the bed to find bugs scattering every which way!  That did it for my mother; we packed up, got back into the car (in our new warm coats) and went on our way to Minnesota.

    Well grandma was happy to see her freezing grand daughters, loving son and ever-so miffed daughter in law.  We, my 7-year-old sister and I were invited on the toboggan by Minnesota winter toughened male cousins, who screamed “DUCK” as the vehicle was zipping under a barb-wire fence.  (That’s one way to make sure California cousins don’t come back!).  We were treated to a Christmas dinner, the likes we’d never seen before.  REAL butter (right from the cows out in the barn) and mounds of thick whipped cream on all the many pies made in the kitchen honest-to-goodness wood burning stove.

    It truly was a Christmas to remember.

    Oh yes, how could I forget when the car slid off the road outside Albuquerque and luckily hit a road sign before it continued over the hill!

    (repeat third sentence above)

     
  • It's still All About Travel 8:19 AM on December 5, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    CUBA – again 

    "Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba"

    The trip has been on, then off, then on again.  Travel is never easy, and one must be able to make changes at a moments notice.

    Nancy and I were really excited when we booked the November trip, and then crushed when we heard they couldn’t get their legal documents in order.

    However, all is well.  And better than ever.  After having our original trip cancelled (and refunded in full by the way), National Geographic opened up several trips for 2012.   The itinerary is more complete and seems to be better organized.  And most of all, they have U.S. approval for the trips.  All the dates sold out immediately, but since we learned of it so early when I dropped by Avanti Travel, we were able to book and be confirmed immediately.

    So, all is well, we will be on our way in a few months, and you’ll be hearing lots (and seeing lots of pictures) about our Cuba adventure.  Our book club is reading several books on Cuban history and politics, so we’ll be spending one meeting sharing our books and experiences after I return.  Maybe I should bring back a bottle of Cuban Rum, and mix Cuba Libra’s for the group?  I’d bring them Cuban cigars except I wouldn’t be able to get them past customs.

    There is a new movie coming out soon “Havana Nocturne” I’m looking forward to seeing.  It’s about the mob’s (Meyer Lansky, et. all) influence in Cuba.

    If you’d like to read up on Cuba, check out “Bacardi, and the Long fight for Cuba”, “Cuba Diaries:  An American Housewife in Havana”: and many other books covering a wide spectrum of history and politics.  If you’d like a detailed information how to destroy an economy, and build a socialist country, you’ll never have a better example than Castro’s Cuba.

    Stay tuned (as they used to say on the radio in “olden days”) for “Today’s Cuba”!

     
  • It's still All About Travel 8:55 AM on November 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    HISTORY ON THE HUDSON RIVER 

    Recently my friends and I booked the American Cruise Line’s “Hudson River Fall Foliage Cruise”.  And lo and behold, we did see fall foliage!  I think we had the one-week of perfect weather in the area in the last 6 months. Lucky us!

    We boarded our ship in New York Harbor, after spending one free day sightseeing New York City.  Another perfect day for viewing the Statue of Liberty (did you know it’s actually in New Jersey and not the state of New York?) and riding the double-deck bus for a birds-eye view of busy Manhattan and the protestors in the park

    Our trip up the river included a visit to the historic New York State Capital building in Albany.   Albany is the longest continuously chartered city in the U.S., and has one of the most ornate Capital Buildings I’ve seen.   They spared no expense as the saying goes!

    Stopping in Catskill and Kingston, we were treated to detailed history of the British Army’s battle to take the cities in 1777.  Burning Kingston to the ground, which only inspired the residents to rebuild and fight on.  Instead of taking the narrated bus tours, we walked into the downtown area and had a chance to talk to the long-time residents ,who understandably are very proud to relate their colorful history.

    Kingston on the Hudson River

    Kingston Harbor

    The highlight of the trip – at least to me – was a narrated tour of West Point.  I had never really thought that much about the facility, but my mind was certainly changed while we enjoyed the 2-hour guided tour of this granite citadel which sits high above the Hudson River with magnificent views of the Hudson River Valley.   The character and valor of those men who studied and graduated there is truly inspiring.  “Duty, Honor, Country”: the theme of West Point is obvious in the history, and those cadets currently  serving there.

    “Cadet life is no mere holiday training – no refined dandyism, but a four years’ devotion to mind body and heart to discipline and study; more severe, by far, than is required at any other educational institution in the land.”  Words from an 1867 “Guide to West Point and the United States Military Academy.”

    General George Washington

    West Point and the Hudson River

     
  • It's still All About Travel 12:48 PM on November 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Travel Tips from Alaska Airlines 

    I printed out my boarding pass the day before flying with Alaska Airlines to Seattle.  I was surprised when my printer kept chucking out page after page of

    “stuff”.  Actually it turned out to be pretty important travel information.  I’ve condensed it here and deleted the advertising .

    So,…on this Alaska website there was the Seattle weather forecast for the following week, a SeaTac Airport Directory of restaurants, shops for all terminals, concourses North and South satellites, and great directions for ground transportation – buses, taxi’s Link Light Rail. The information was pretty specific as to rates, schedules and locations.

    There was information about transportation options including the Link Light Rail Station to downtown. Light Link is only $2.50 to downtown whereas you could pay about $25.00 for a taxi. Seemed the way to go comparing the cost for a taxi.  Probably faster too.

    There was a packing checklist, Seattle District Guides, information about the waterfront, Seattle Center and University district. All of that, and three pages of Sudoku to help you while away the time.

    Way to go Alaska Airlines!!

     
  • It's still All About Travel 11:36 AM on November 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    NEW YORK – “IT’S A WONDERFUL TOWN” 

     

    State of Liberty

    Sometimes it’s easy to be discouraged when one sees and hears so much negativity.  And, sometimes the positive just comes through all that anyway.

    Such was our one-day spent in New York City before our journey up the Hudson River.

    Yes, we saw the protestors; but the weather was beautiful and the other sites we encountered off-set the negative.

    The tour of the city aboard one of the double-decker buses (the weather was perfect!) allowed us to see the activity of people going about business and enjoying life.  The sight of the new Freedom Tower  going up at “Ground Zero”was healing.  The number of recreation boats circling the State of Liberty reminded us of the liberties American citizens have to enjoy ourselves in sight of such an icon of liberty.

    And best of all, for me anyway, was the recurring view of the Chrysler Building as we navigated the streets of New York.  I think the architecture is so striking.  Art Deco stands out as one of the outcomes of a very tough time – the great Depression of the 29 & 30’s.  It’s still standing and gives me a thrill whenever I see it.

    So – a good day in New York City, a great day for all of us!

     
  • It's still All About Travel 4:53 PM on November 7, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Yalta on the Dnieper River – The Pictures Tell the Story 

    Early one morning, walking along the docks and watched this scene unfold between the fisherman and the feral cat. Need I say more?


     
  • It's still All About Travel 2:45 PM on October 31, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Happy Halloween – “Dia de los Muertos” 

    Some years ago Art & I made a trip to several colonial cities in Mexico during “Dia de los Muertos “(day of the dead), a National holiday. I had read about the famous Mummies of Guanajuato, and it seemed a good time to visit the Museum.   As we traveled through the countryside (via el autobus) we were treated to the sight of cemetaries made bright with bouquets of Marigolds.

    We also noticed piles of ashes where we were told were human remains.  Dug up from their burial site and cremated right there, because the family could no longer pay the fee for yearly internment, or the last member of the family had passed away.  The contrast of bright marigolds and blackened bones was startling.  Dia de Los Muertos is a time for families to visit their buried loved ones bringing gifts of food and flowers.

    Actually with all that color, it seemed more a time of rejoicing their past lives than a time of mourning.

    Using our minimal Spanish we found our way to the museum on an unpaved side street.  It wasn’t fancy; lots of dusty relics, and many mummies.  It wasn’t really as gory as it sounds.  Actually some of them reminded me of paper mache art, until I reminded myself these had been real people with real stories.

    History says these people died around 1865 during a fatal epidemic, and were buried immediately to control the spread of the disease.  Unfortunately, some were buried alive in the rush. Due to the extremely dry climate of the area, the mummified bodies remain in tact, and are displayed today.

    Try as I might, I have not been able to resurrect my photos of this trip; so will add some from the Internet.  I’m sure they will pop up someday – another lesson to label and properly store your photos, negatives, slides, etc.!  I was good at taking plenty of pictures, but failed to protect them for future use.

    For more information, and pictures go to http://www.mummytombs.com and click on the Guanajuato site.

    As for my lost photos – do as I say, not as I do, and Happy Halloween wherever you are!

     
  • It's still All About Travel 3:50 PM on October 24, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Refreshing Olympic Peninsula 

    Cool morning walk through the trees

    This was a first for me – being in one of the most peaceful, coolest green places in the United States, and so sick I could hardly enjoy it.  My hosts were so understanding, and tried hard to make me comfortable.

    Stu – my kindergarten friend and his wife Sheila moved up to the area when they retired from the California Education System, University of Riverside.

    Both well versed in horticulture, biology and botany, there wasn’t a question I asked they didn’t know the answer.

    They took me up to Hurricane Ridge for the panoramic view of Mountains, wildflowers and Canada.  On the way home we stopped at Crescent Lake Resort for crab cakes and local beer. The following day we drove to Port Townsend for lunch and window-shopping.  On the way back home we pulled over to snap a picture of the Port Wilson Lighthouse with Mt. Bakers in the background.  Everyday just seemed to be more perfect.

    We took Punkin’ (their sweet collie-like dog) for a walk thru the Robin Hill Demonstration Farm’s tall trees and ferns.  Another time we took a foggy morning walk on the peninsula, picking up rocks and watching the children build rock towers.  It was absolute heaven!

    It was all so beautiful, and I felt so miserable.  I will have to return (if they dare have me again).  Please add this unique and unspoiled area to your “must see” list. There was an upside however, their aloof kitty Sunny ignored me for 2 full days, and then allowed me the pleasure of petting him just before I left for home.  I felt so honored.  Cats are like that!

    I’m fine now, just one of those un-named things that hit when you least expect it. I’m looking forward to another trip to this special beautiful spot in Washington State in the future.

    If you like the outdoors, water, trees, fresh air, and tired of Redding heat, plan a trip to the Olympic Peninsula – I wish I had years ago!

    Port Wilson Lighthouse

     
  • It's still All About Travel 9:38 AM on October 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Travel Agencies vs Internet 

    Like an avid shopper reads the sale ads, my eyes lock onto anything that pertains to travel, so this morning I wasn’t too surprised to see Avanti Travel’s latest ad in the local newspaper.

    In essence it says”:  “The Internet is for Looking, Avanti is for Booking” .

    Truer words were never said.  When I first started in this business, there was no computer, no Internet, we did it all by hand – or actually by fingers when we looking through the hundreds of pages of airline schedules in the OAG (Official Airline Guide).  We booked by punching numbers into the old manual phones (I have the arthritic fingers to prove it).

    Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not about to bash the Internet here; it has it place, especially for research.  I use it all the time, but when it’s time to book, to lay down real money, I go to my favorite travel agency, which just happens to be Avanti. If you have an agency you’ve worked with and they do a good job, go back when you’re ready to book again – they are your best bet for knowledge and experience.

    They have the answers to your questions, and suggestions you may not have considered.  And, when the day is done, you’ve booked your reservations, and made your deposit, there is a friendly face across the desk that is there for you, now and after your trip.

    Oh yes, just in case you do not have a regular travel agent you work with, give Avanti a call.  530-244-1400

     
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