Travel articles you can use.

$5 for a Blanket and baggage fees

August 16, 2008 by · Comments Off on $5 for a Blanket and baggage fees 

Sat in the exit row on an American Eagle prop plane to Maimi. Hate this flight, but no other option.

My feet went numb from the freezing air coming through the door. I asked for a blanket and was told I had to buy one for $5.

After fussing, I broke down and paid. At least is was clean. Next time I won’t wear sandals.

No, next time I won’t fly American Eagle.

Here are the current baggage rates (Mid-August 2008). Be sure to add these in to the cost of your ticket.

Airline First Bag Second Bag

Air Canada $0 $20
Air Tran $0 $10 online, $20 at airport
Alaska Airlines $0 $0
American Airlines $15 $25
Continental $0 $25
Delta $0 $50
Frontier $0 $25
JetBlue $0 $20
Northwest $15 $25
Spirit $15 online, $20 at airport $25
Southwest $0 $0
United $15 $25
US Airways $15 $25

I’ll be flying Southwest to Philadelphia on an upcoming trip.

Staycation is the buzz word in travel

August 4, 2008 by · Comments Off on Staycation is the buzz word in travel 

Kyacking along the Chain of Lakes

Kayaking in Central Florida

With gas prices soaring over four dollars a gallon, summer vacations are taking a hit. "Staycation" is the buzz word: meaning stay near home on your vacation.

Florida residents are fortunate to have many choices within the Sunshine State. Naturally, Orlando boasts world-famous theme parks and the Space Coast offers tours of the Kennedy Center.

Jacksonville touts some fantastic parks and beaches along with neighboring Amelia Island and St. Simon's. St. Augustine is always a popular destination and renovated Marineland isn't far down Interstate 95. Check out the changes and the new educational one-on-one dolphin encounters.

But if you're hankering to go a little further from home, consider some off the beaten track adventures in Central Florida.

Westgate River Ranch presents a 1,700 acre Dude Ranch complete with authentic rodeo, campfires and singing cowboys. A petting zoo, pony rides and swimming pool keep little ones happy. Adults can try trail riding or drive cattle in a round-up. In addition, swamp buggy and airboat rides splash some great fun. Watch out for the alligators! The facility offers hotel rooms for as little as $ 89.00 a night, for a family of four with kitchen.

Bi-Plane rides return from barnstorming days and appeal to anyone interested in aviation history. For $65, fly in the open cockpit of a 1929 D-25, complete with leather helmet and scarf tied around your neck. Visit Fantasy of Flight in Lake Wales.

How about something even more adventuresome? Skydiving! Tandem jumps are safe and designed for first time adventurers. I personally assure, the thrill will never be forgotten. I loved it! Florida boasts 14 certified centers, such as nearby Jacksonville, Deland, Lake Wales and Orlando. Each location delights participants with different scenic views.

Kayaking is a cool summer activity and easy to learn. Spend a day paddling and gliding by tall cypress trees, prickly cabbage palms and blue herons. Reasonable rental rates are obtainable on lakes or rivers through the state. Try the famous Chain of Lakes— sixteen freshwater lakes connected by a series of canals in Winter Haven.

Fishing? While Jacksonville offers the Kingfish Tournament; central Florida is the large-mouth bass fishing capital of the world.

Southern Belle at Cypress Gardens

Anyone dig Gardening? Cypress Gardens, Florida's first tourist park founded in 1936, display immense topiary creations as well as a botanical sanctuary. You'll find the gardens photography worthy, along with beautiful hoop-skirted Southern belles.

Of course, the park's famous Ski Show Spectacular still jumps with athletic and acrobatic feats, including the signature human-pyramid of skiers. Newly added water park rides, a heart pounding roller coaster and other amusement thrill rides are on site.

Bok Towers

For something more peaceful, meander around Bok Towers and gardens. Tranquil resting places are tucked into the lushly landscape of ferns, oaks and pines. Listen to the singing bell tower or consider attending a special summer carillon concert.

This summer play near Jacksonville for super staycation fun, or add the price of a tank of gas and explore the middle of our state.

For further information visit:

This article appeared in the August issue of The Creekline

Going to Carolina ~ Chapel Hill

August 1, 2008 by · Comments Off on Going to Carolina ~ Chapel Hill 

UNC BelltowerUNC B BallJT Museum

I was going to Carolina in more than my mind. I was on a plane for Raleigh Durham. Destination — Chapel Hill: home to the University of North Carolina Tar Heels and the boyhood stomping grounds of James Taylor.

“Who?” my daughter asks.

“You know, the guy who wrote and sang “Sweet Baby James,” “Fire and Rain,” and of course, “Going to Carolina,” I tell her.

“No,” she replies.

“Well, you should,” I say.

Too bad she wasn’t able to come along and tour the Chapel Hill Museum. I made the effort specifically to view the new exhibition: The James Taylor Story.

Chapel Hill shouts college town: collegiate shops bulging with logo paraphernalia, pizza, pita and burrito restaurants catering to big appetites and small wallets, and The Library, a place you can tell Mom you went last night, omitting the fact that it’s a bar.

The museum resides in an old house, a few blocks down Franklin Street, from its intersection with Columbia. That area, known as “top of the hill” is a spot that burns brightly in the hearts of UNC fans. Students congregate there, lighting bonfires whenever the Tarheels beat arch rival, Duke.

Nestled in this manicured garden community is the little museum featuring the Taylor display. While it only encompasses one corner, for baby boomers, it’s well worth an hour’s time.

The collection includes family photos, old report cards, childhood artwork like James’ self-portrait as a football player and a slew of album covers. Behind glass sits Taylor’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame trophy, a Grammy award and a copy of a March, 1971 Time magazine with his face on the cover. Taylor says in a documentary, “being chosen for that cover was like winning the lottery.”

The best part is the Taylor theater; if you can call a few movie seats in front of a flat screen TV a theater. Here, one can choose from a vast collection of JT documentaries and taped concerts. I watched his interview on 60 minutes, 20/20 and Inside North Carolina.

Depression hit Taylor in his teens and drew him to heroin. He claims he should be dead, but was rescued. In one of the videos he said he has “an easier time singing about life, then living it.” Despite those early troubles, Taylor appears happy, a blessed fellow.

To me, he seems like a bottle of fine wine created with superior ingredients: a strong and clear voice, skilled fingers to master the acoustic guitar and the ability to search his soul and pour lyrics from his heart. He was crushed, but his juicy pulp fermented and gave rise to a winning blend. He mellowed on the shelf, twisted and turned until aged to perfection.

His voice remains easy, his ballads ring true. Little has changed over the decades, except his hairline. With James Taylor, you’ve got a friend.
523 Franklin Street
Chapel Hill, NC
919 967-1400