Try Solitary Confinement on Your Next Hotel Stay

I like my creature comforts when I travel.  But I’m also trying to broaden my horizons.  I’m looking for new places to go, new adventures, a little motivation and encouragement to try something a little different and off the beaten path.  It’s not so much that I’m in a rut, as that I want to make sure that I don’t get into one. Maybe that’s why my pal Jon sent me information about this KGB Hotel in Liepaja, Latvia.  Either that, or it’s because I mentioned that when I get home from traveling, I become somewhat of a recluse, not wanting to see anyone or leave the house. This hotel, however, sounds like one that I’d be most anxious to leave.  It bills itself as  “unfriendly, unheated, and uncomfortable,” but it’s open all year “˜round.  You can read a first hand […]

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Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument

Another day, another wonder, and this one will also stir the debate about whether wonders should be man made or natural.  Regardless of your position on that issue, there is no doubt as to the beauty of the underwater world of the Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument. The national monument encompasses nearly 140,000 square miles of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and provides for protection and preservation of the marine area.  It is the largest single area dedicated to conservation, and the largest protected marine area in the world.  To get a sense of just how big we are talking about, it is larger than 46 of our 50 states.  The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands include ten islands and atolls, and stretch over nearly 1,400 miles.  The undersea forests and mountain ranges of this area comprise a coral reef habitat that exceeds 4,500 […]

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Carry Some Readily Available Change

It seems like I’m always rummaging in my purse or pockets for change.  I have lots of it, but somehow I don’t always seem to have the right amount.  And who wants to worry about getting change for your change.  Whether it’s fare for a local bus, making a small purchase, or tossing a few coins in a fountain, it’s always good to keep a little change handy when you travel.  It will save you from pulling out bills for small purchases, and reduces the chance of losing money or having it stolen. All Things Marked came up with a clever way to make sure you always have the right amount of change.  Here then is the magic combination of coins: 3 quarters 1 dime 2 nickels 4 pennies This combination of 10 coins, for a total of 99 cents, […]

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Grant Park: Icons on Chicago’s “Front Yard”

After writing a couple of great articles about the Art Institute of Chicago and Second City, I talked pal Jon Rochetti into another article, complete with some of his photos, from his recent trips to Chicago. Enjoy!   Even before the Chicago Fire of 1871, civic leaders realized that the city’s lakefront was something that should be protected to be enjoyed by all Chicagoans.  Chicago’s Grant Park (map) lies between the downtown business “loop” and The Magnificent Mile (Michigan Ave.) and Lake Michigan.  It covers 319 acres and hosts three exceptional museums: the Shedd Aquarium, the Art Institute, and the Field Museum of Natural History, along with many of Chicago’s favorite icons. Much of the park is actually landfill from the Chicago fire and the city’s first underground subway system. An old tunnel system was built to hold underground telephone cables but after […]

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The Art Institute of Chicago

Today I have a guest post from a very dear friend, Jon Rochetti.  You may have seen his photos accompanying many of my posts, and if you haven’t, take a look here or here or here.  Today, I’m very excited to share with you some of his great writing, along with his photos. ——————- The Windy City”¦The Second City”¦City of Broad Shoulders”¦The City of My Youth – Chicago. I visited Chicago last weekend in a role I haven’t been in years – a tourist.  Usually I visit old friends or travel for business; but this trip was a brother/sister trip to celebrate my sister’s 50th birthday and her first trip “home” in over 15 years.  After visiting childhood homes, old schools, parks where we played as children and even the church were my parents were married, we toured some of the city’s more famous […]

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NYC: The Hudson River Bike Path to the Little Red Lighthouse

A guest post from my pal, Jeffrey Whelan. —————————- Yes, there really is a little red lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge. It is right at the edge of the Hudson River on the Manhattan side, and I have biked up to it many times. In recent years, New York City has spruced up and expanded the bike path, building parks and recreational piers along it to attract people to the water’s edge.  The ride up is varied and scenic, and takes only 45 minutes from midtown. The lighthouse itself was immortalized in the 1942 children’s book “The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge”  written by Hildegarde Swift and illustrated by Lynd Ward. The book itself is still in print, and is largely responsible for the preservation of the lighthouse after  the U.S. Coast Guard deactivated it. The NYC […]

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10 Last Minute Ideas for Your Kids' Last Days of Summer Vacation

The idea of vacationing at home seemed to resonate with readers, both as a money saving idea, and as a practical solution with time remaing before school starts.  Here are some ideas for those of you in the greater Seattle/Tacoma area.  For those of you who don’t live in this area, use the ideas to think about what’s available in your hometown. What are you waiting for?  Pick one.  Pick another.  Send the kids back to school with lots of fond memories about the best summer vacation ever. Pacific Science Center:  Dinosaurs, butterflies, and insects co-mingle with technology and astronomy in creating exhibits that make you think and wonder why. Woodland Park Zoo:  All the animals in the zoo are jumping up and down for you. . . . Come see the lions, and tigers, and bears in natural habitats.  Don’t forget […]

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10 Tips to Help You Deal with Airport Security

Most days I really love my job.  It’s not glamorous, like you see in the movies, but it provides me a great deal of flexibility, variety, and personal enjoyment while meeting my needs to make a living.  While I occasionally have a lousy flight (or trip, or sometimes even a month), the good still overwhelmingly outweighs the bad. That’s part of the reason why a day like today is so difficult. I know that all the passengers on the plane have been through hell ““just to get to the plane.  It may not make you feel any better, but we had to go through the same thing.  We know what it feels like.  The security lines are long, and tempers are short, and patience is in short supply.  There are a lot of people who didn’t make their flights today, […]

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Seattle Underground: The Subterranean Neighborhood

This neighborhood just isn’t like it used to be!  No one can argue with how the Pioneer Square area of Seattle has changed over the last couple of decades.  Before it was what you see now, there was a whole other neighborhood of streets and storefronts, all of which were destroyed in the Seattle fire of 1889. The fire turned out to be a good thing for the city.  Although it totally devastated 29 square blocks of the city, including nearly all of the business district, most of the wharves, and the railroad terminals, the rebuildding of the city post-fire was a turning point in Seattle’s history.  At that point, Seattle began the proess of becoming a real city. The day after the fire, a town meeting was held, and it was agreed that the city would be rebuilt with […]

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Money Saving Travel Tips

Everybody wants to save a little money these days.  A few dollars here, a few dollars there, and pretty soon it is real money! There are a variety of ways to save money when it comes to traveling.  The first thing you need to think about, though, is what you have to give up to save the money.  If you’re not giving up anything, it’s an easy to choice.  But realistically, to save a couple bucks or two, something’s going to have to give.  Maybe it’s just a little expenditure of time; maybe it’s some unneeded luxury; maybe it’s something you don’t want in the first place.  All those are easy trade-offs to save some money. Just be careful in a trade-off that involves something that you really want.  If you really want to stay at a hotel in a […]

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