Monday, December 15, 2008

Minus how many degrees?


Howling winds blowing an inch or so of snow around make this Iowa December one I am looking forward to leaving. With temps below zero, I think we are to hit 10 today. WOW
It appears a neighborhood cat was looking for refuge on our porch in last night's storm.

More on the moving later...time to turn up the furnace, grab a blanket and Myron and read a book.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Leaving Iowa


Sunrise in December awes us with different colors each day. These I will miss.




Early snow in December chills me. These I won't miss!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Moving...a Trip or a Journey?




After over 25 years in the same house, we are moving. One could consider this a trip, but it feels more like a journey. Boxes are everywhere. Cats are supervising every move I make. After all those boxes must be inspected before, during and after loading.
Mable decided she would take a rest and keep an eye on things from a comfortable spot.
Updates will be posted as they happen. So will photos of Iowa things I will miss.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Winter Has Come to Iowa



Winter has arrived and this snowman is on the move. If you are traveling this Holiday Season here are some helpful tips.
Did you know you can turn to Google to learn your flight status. Type your airline name and flight number into the search bar to get the latest flight info.
TSA has begun allowing travelers to pick which security lane they want. As of November 20 every airport will have a "beginner" lane for families and travelers needing special assistance. Plus, at 48 airports, you can choose from three different lanes. There is a "expert" lane if you travel light or are familiar with TSA rules. And there is an "intermediate" lane.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Girls Getaway Guide


A few days ago I mentioned a book for travelers...especially girlfriends traveling together. Read some questions I asked during an interview with the author and take a look at this one.

1. How did you come up with the idea for these books?
During a very tough year both personally and professionally, I came to find a tremendous amount of solace in traveling with my girlfriends. I love the adventure of experiencing new cities. It is almost like a re-birth for me. I also love re-visiting cities, where you can re-visit old memories and create new ones at the same time. Before I traveled to new cities, I would always look for city-specific travel books geared towards fun-loving girls. I could not find any city guides that highlighted trendy hotels, restaurants, spas, shopping, entertainment, cultural attractions, bars, plus provided a calendar of events throughout the year and activities unique to that area.

2. What is your goal in writing these books?
To make it easy for women to get together and have fun during their getaways, so they can “Leave Their Baggage at Home.” Everyone has “baggage.” For me, I went through a divorce and lost my job, so I carried a lot of personal baggage. For some people, just their daily routine alone can wear them down and weigh on them like baggage. No matter what type of “baggage” you carry in everyday life, a fun-filled girls getaway is the perfect way to rejuvenate yourself and spend quality time with your family and friends.

3. How did you get started writing?
I have always enjoyed writing and excelled in this area in school. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, I decided to continue my education and obtain a master’s degree in Communications. I love the writing process and enjoyed my time as a PR practitioner as it gave me the opportunity to communicate my employer’s story through written materials.

4. Why "girlfriend guide books"?
I have always appreciated my family and friends and the important role they play; however, it was not until I went through what was the most difficult year of my life that I realized that my girlfriends are irreplaceable. I don’t have any sisters, so I feel as though my girlfriends are my sisters. Our getaways together provide time for us to connect on a much deeper level and truly be there for one another…through the good times and the bad.

5. Anything else you want to share?
The Girls Getaway Guide is pleased to announce The Getaway Girl’s™ second annual “12 Days ‘til Christmas” holiday promotion. In an effort to help all girls beat the holiday madness, the Girls Getaway Guide will host a countdown to the big day. Women everywhere can visit the Girls Getaway Guide online at http://www.girlsgetawayguide.net/ to sign up for nearly $7,000 in fabulous giveaways, which are sure to provide welcome holiday cheer during this stressful time of year. The promotion will be held Dec. 8-23. On each of the 12 business days leading up to Christmas, a terrific Girls Getaway Guide prize, such as a resort stay, spa package and dining or shopping gift certificate, will be awarded to a lucky winner.

This interview was part of a blog tour.
Yesterday the blog tour stopped at Beverly Mahone at Boomer World (http://boomerworld.blogspot.com/2008/12/casey-wohl-girlfriends-getaway-expert.html) and tomorrow it will continue at Virtual Blog Tours with Teresa

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

December


Anyone traveling to ski country this year? If you are flying and taking your own equipment, pay attention to the baggage fees on your airline. Some charge a hefty fee for overweight bags. Pack your skis separate from boots, etc.
If you are worried that a bag might exceed the weight limit, include a duffel bag that you can pull out and fill at the check in counter.
To be safe on weight limits, number of bags, etc. check your airline's website for the most up to date information.
Happy traveling.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Girls Getaway Guide to Key West

Since this is a travel blog I find it only appropriate that I talk about a travel book. "Girls Getaway Guide to Key West" by Casey Wohl is a guide you don't want to be without.

From places to get pampered in Key West to wine tasting to her personal favorites this is a guide all of us would be happy to get this Holiday Season. Learn which boutique in Key West will spend time explaining to you and your girlfriends which are your best colors and styles. Jump start your next vacation and turn it into the best time you've ever had.

To find out more about Casey's books please visit http://shop.girlsgetawayguide.net/. Check out her site for a 12 days 'til Christmas contest and all sorts of other goodies.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving Holiday


Let's see...What did I get in this bag?


Okay...enough shopping. I'm tired.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.
We ate plenty of great food, did our share of after Thanksgiving shopping, and saw awesome snow covered peaks in Denver. I didn't manage to get any photos of the scenery, however. I was too busy spending time with this pair.

Hokey Pokey is looking over her purrchase in the bag in the first photo.
Luna is just plain worn out from the whole day in the second one.
What a life these two lead.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thirteen Holiday Flight Tips


If you are traveling this Holiday Season, here are some tips to remember as you get ready.

1. On the Holiday: Fly on December 25 and I think you will find airports and planes are much less crowded.

2. Supply and demand: Staying in a hotel over Christmas? Look for properties that tend to draw a business clientele. Occupancy rates drop on and around the holidays, making for deals.

3. Clubs: Join all loyalty clubs, even if you don't care about the points/miles. You'll get treated better, particularly if the hotel or car rental agency is overbooked.

4. Parking: Airport parking lots are more likely to be full around Christmas and New Year's. Look into private parking lots located off airport premises (airportparkingreservations.com). They'll often guarantee a spot, they have free shuttles to and from the terminal, and they're cheaper.

5. Losing the wait: This is when airports get more people than they were built to handle. You can--and should--check in online up to 24 hours in advance. Just go to the carrier's website; you'll be walked through checking in and printing your boarding pass. If you're not checking bags, you'll be able to go straight to the gate.

6. Carry vs Ship: I ship gifts ahead so that I don't have to check bags. Airlines and airports aren't handling bags as quickly or as reliably as they used to, and I don't like to wait after finally getting off the plane.

7. Arrival: Go to the airport earlier than normal. Airport security is a nightmare around the holidays because of the sheer number of people and the fact that many of them are infrequent, inexperienced fliers.

8. No secrets: Wrap any gifts after you arrive. The TSA reserves the right to open anything.

9. Speaking of the TSA.: The rules for carrying on liquids and gels are confusing and not uniformly enforced. You can bring as many containers as you want, provided they all hold three ounces or less and fit in a single one-quart Ziploc bag. Containers do not need to have the manufacturer's label. You're supposed to remove the Ziploc from your carry-on when you go through security. If your liquids and gels are valuable to you, follow the rules to a T. If not, you may find it not worth the trouble.

10. Water...I want water: If you want to bring water or other drinks, buy them once you've passed through airport security.

11. And now, boarding: People are carrying on a ton of stuff, usually because they're bearing gifts. If you are, too, get on the plane as early as possible. Different airlines board passengers differently; sometimes, the same airline does it in different ways. Stand near the gate; you may even want to ask the agent how the boarding will happen. If the agents are boarding the plane by zone or group, wait until the group before yours is almost done, then enter the line. By the time you reach the front, your group will probably be called. And if not, what's the worst that can happen? They'll make you wait right near the gate.

12. In the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you: I wish we lived in a world where you were guaranteed overhead space near your seat. Until we do, I refuse to store my bag behind me, because I'll never get off the plane. Look ahead while you board: If the space above your seat is full, put your stuff as close to it as possible.

13. The pickup game: The days of circling the arrivals area are thankfully coming to an end. More and more airports have "cell phone lots" where drivers can park for free and then wait for arriving passengers to call. Use them!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Airport Runways Info


For those of you traveling in or through Chicago, Seattle and D.C. you have some new runways. Ones debuted today in those cities.

Today, the first plane landed on Chicago O'Hare's new runway. It's expected to shorten delays. But fares won't come down soon. United and Delta, which control most of the gates at the airport, have apparently been blocking the sale of gates to rival airlines that might bring competition to fares. For example, Virgin America has been unable to buy gates, even though the FAA has given the airline approval to use the airport. In the meantime, fares at the airport have been rising, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

At Washington Dulles airport, a fourth runway opened today—the first since 1962. But don't expect delays to disappear right away. The airport hasn't opened up a new path for the planes to move around the airport, so there is a chokepoint that still has to be fixed.

Later today in Seattle, a third runway debuts. It will improve safety for planes landing in cloudy weather, say authorities. No word yet on delays or potential fare drops.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cardinals


Fall is fully upon us and these trees have now lost all their leaves. This cardinal and his friends will stay all winter, as long as I feed them. When the snow gets too deep to get to the bird feeder, I feed them on the back step. Birds get much needed food and our cats get entertainment. A glass patio door separates the two and the birds have no clue they are being stalked from inside the house.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Local Attractions


Lewis and Clark came through here. Blowing in the wind, this flag marks the spot of an interactive interpretive center...but that's another story.

Here's a tip I give to aspiring travel writers...don't overlook your local attractions. Who better to write about a museum, special garden, or home town festival than a local? Maybe it's "old hat" to you, but others may not know about it. Publications are always looking for an insider's view on things.
Speaking of travel writing tips...want to learn how to become a travel writer? Check out my website, www.travelsandescapes.com. My ebook explains ins and outs of travel writing, gets you started with an article, and gives you some personal tips to get you on your way.
Happy writing.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Photo Tips



Try these photo tips next time you are shooting or being shot with a camera.

Bright sunlight of midday is generally too harsh for anyone's good and can mean washed-out photos. If you're being shot in the early afternoon, look for a shady spot to provide greater contrast. Have your picture taken at dusk, if it's at all up to you. There's good reason that photographers call it the magic hour--pretty much everyone ends up looking hot.

In a perfect world, no one would ever have to be photographed by someone who's shorter than they are. Try to tuck your chin down slightly, but not so far down so that it looks like you're doing a yoga stretch. This will minimize any jowliness and emphasize your sexy eyes instead.

Pose like a pro: Don't stand with hips and shoulders square to the camera. It makes women look their widest. Stand so that your side is to the camera, and turn your upper body back toward the lens. Then put your weight on your back foot, and point your front foot forward. This will make your hips and tummy appear slimmer.

Cats, on the other hand, don't worry about things like this when they get photographed. They sit and look regal.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Veteran's Day


Veteran's Day was two days ago. I don't know about you but I am reminded of Veteran's Day every time I see an American flag, hear the Star Spangled Banner, or think about Freedom. With that in mind, this is to honor all our Veterans...especially a couple that are near and dear to me. One was my dad. He is buried in a national cemetery in Iowa. And one is our son. I am proud of both of them.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Canceled Flight? Here Some Tips


If your flight is canceled or you are bumped from a flight, Budget Travel gives us some advice and options.
Your airline is only responsible for getting you on the next departure with open seats. It pays to have your airline's 800 number on hand since that is quicker than standing in line at the counter to rebook. It doesn't hurt to ask if a competitor has open seats. Some airlines will gladly put you on a different airline.
As for compensation, you are only guaranteed something, usually a flight voucher. If you have been involuntarily bumped on a domestic flight, these rules apply: If you are on another flight within an hours, you get nothing; within 2 hours the airlines pays you the equivalent of your one way fare ($200 max); more than 2 hours later, you get 200 percent reimbursement ($400 max). Keep in mind...vouchers, not cash.




When all else fails, head to a favorite spot to relax. These flip flops found their spot in Cave Creek, Arizona. So many choices!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Kansas City


Fountains, in parks, on walls, and in the middle of streets make Kansas City the City of Fountains. This cat fountain adorned a wall in Country Club Plaza.


Sculptures like this graceful penguin beg for their picture to be taken.



More goodies at The Farmer's Market.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Packing


It looks like the flip flops are getting ready to go again.
They learned a good packing tip from a flight attendant. To limit wrinkles lay multiple shirts or skirts or pants on top of each other. Then roll them all up together.

Flying long distances? Pack a pair of ballet type slippers in your carry on. They take up very little room. Once on the plane replace your shoes with the slippers. Your feet stay warm and comfortable without having bare feet.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Helpers



These two want to be such good help. Problem is, they keep taking cat naps.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Travel and Food


Fresh baked bread pairs nicely with some cheese and wine for a picnic. Or take some home for crostini.


Pick up some apples from a farmer's market. Add cinnamon and sugar for a fabulous fall treat.



Spices from this shop in Tubac will get used for chili and fajitas this fall.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Pier 39







Where's a good place to catch some sun in San Francisco? Pier 39, of course. Sun yourself with some friends. Boat loads of people pass by all day and wave to you.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Napa in October














Northern California looks good in October. Harvest is done, leaves are turning colors, and wines are meant to be tasted. Steltzner Winery in Napa Valley provided great wines in a colorful setting this past week-end. A Travel Tip...Napa is best visited during the week. You will have less traffic to drive in and more open wine tasting spots. Enjoy!




Monday, October 20, 2008

South Dakota
























South Dakota beckoned to the pheasant hunter in my husband and friends this week end. So, my flip flops went along to enjoy the scenery. Mums were in full bloom, bees were out, and pumpkins were on every step. Callie, the cat, watched all the action from her perch on a lap.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Halloween is Coming




Halloween is only a couple of weeks away. Now is a good time to start thinking about vacation packages for winter getaway trips.


Check back here on November 3 for an awesome website link where you can access great fares, vacations, cruises, and more.


Traveling is good for your soul. Getting great deals on your travels is even better.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Colors of Fall







Baskets of mouth watering fall colors looked good enough to eat at the City Market in Kansas City. Oh wait, those are real fruits and vegetables. Go ahead...take as many bites as you like. Just be careful of the hot, hot, hot peppers. They bite back.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Week End


It's a nice weekend. Why not get away for a wine tasting, or a jazz festival, or some R & R? Kansas City offers all of the above and these flip flops are up to the task at hand. Suitcase is packed and they are almost out the door.

Speaking of packing...here's something to pack to help with your photos. Bring along a travel size tripod. It stabilizes your camera for better close up shots or even self portraits of your R & R.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Bags


When traveling, always take along some zip top bags. These come in handy to store your receipts, tickets, damp swimsuits, your camera when at the beach, guidebooks, snacks, or bottles of nail polish. Don't put them all in the same bag, however!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Airport Tips




Early on I promised travel tips and I haven't given you any for a while. So here goes...If you want to avoid stress, save some time and even money, avoid the major airports. Head to ones close by. For instance if you are traveling to San Francisco, fly into Oakland. Or if you are headed to New York, try Islip MacArthur in Ronkonkoma, Long Island. Check out http://www.alternateairports.com/.