As they drove from Traverse City, illinois to Tucson, Arizona, I wrote a series of letters, & photocopied them to send to relatives & friends. This was the first of the two.Travel Letter #1Saturday, 12/13/03 - nice morning. Welcome to our holiday form letter. we are in Arizona now. The sun is shining & it will be in the sixties today, which should melt the ice on the windows soon. Ana's foot doesn't seem to be broken, as they thought, so they took a long walk in the desert last night. they saw a coyote, probably the same two I chased the other day, & there were javelina tracks everywhere.The library in Safford has books in french, so Ana is enjoying reading now that her eye-patch is off. The doctor promised that the "divet" left by his golf-club-like blade will heal soon. they learned that eyeballs have plenty of nerve endings, & they think the object in her eye may have been a fiber from a yucca plant.Our uncontrollable coughs are under control now, & they are not among the ten people in Arizona that died from the flu this week. Oh, & the antibiotics from the Safford clinic seem to have helped with Ana's abcessed tooth.I should start at the beginning. The first day, after dealing with the usual rudeness of the INS employees in Detroit, they made it to Kansas. they hit a traffic cone there at high speed, & heard a horrible sound coming from under the van. The cone, I discovered, had been dragging along underneath. Nothing was broken, but later the bright light switch stopped working.In Farmington, New Mexico, they spent a few days resting & coughing. they were about an hour away from buying a house when they discovered it needed new wiring, had a garden hose attached to the natural gas line, & other problems they missed on our first visit. The new bloke begged me to buy it, called our motel room to tell me they needed money for open-heart surgery in two days, & called again to lower the price, but they moved on. By the way, the house was to be a winter project, not a new home.Fortunately, they drove during daylight after that. In the Colorado mountains they went from 16 to 20 miles-per-gallon, confusing the sensors & causing the "check engine" light to turn on. they successfully ignored it until it changed it is mind.Steve & AnaMonument Valley was beautiful, the Christmas parade in Holbrook was cute, & despite various problems & illnesses, we are having a great time. You see, I didn't need to make you all jealous, so I left out a lot - the constant sun, the beautiful sculptures in Grand Junction, & the nine times we've been in hot springs in Colorado, New Mexico, & Arizona. Next week we are going to Mexico for lunch. Hope all is well in arizona. Adios,
The winds cut deeper and make progressively louder noises as the days shorten. Fog creeps in from the sea more often. And then Halloween shows up, as if to really remind us about things otherworldly. It's no wonder Oregon's northern coast has a load of ghostly tales swirling about. It's no wonder the remake of "The Fog" currently in release is set in a fictional North Oregon Coast town. From flying pots and specters who've moved from one building to another in Seaside, the ghostly legends of a hotel in the Nehalem Bay, to the myriad of hauntings in ancient Astoria - there's plenty for the ghost-hunting tourist in this pristine and stunning area.SLEEPLESS IN SEASIDETales of things creepy abound in Seaside - but they're hard to find. It's almost as if they've been swept under the carpet.For almost 100 years, the old Hotel Seaside (later named The Seasider) was a grandiose, beautiful building that was a sort of centerpiece to Seaside, at the Turnaround. So it's no surprise that place acquired tales of apparitions and otherworldly guests over the years. There were numerous spirits that purportedly haunted it.These days, the Shilo Inn sits in that spot. But when the old hotel was torn down, the spooks moved to Girtle's Restaurant, just down the street on Broadway, according to owner Bob Girtle. He recounted numerous stories of otherworldly happenings in the restaurant, having seen them himself or coming from various employees who tell their own tales. They talk of seeing the mysterious shadows of feet walking behind the door of a closed-off area of the kitchen, visible from the small space between the floor and the door. This happens when it's not possible anyone else is in there, say Bob and his crew. They don't even check that room anymore when they see the shadows. Then there is the notorious flying coffee pot in the galley area between the kitchen and the main dining room. Bob and others on his staff have experienced this more than once. Sometimes it moves a bit, others it literally flies across the hallway. Bob said he inherited some employees of the old Seasider back in the 80's, and at least one said they saw some of the same ghosts.John Sowa, owner of the New Orleans-style eatery Lil' Bayou, also related tales of moving objects in the kitchen and a strange sense of someone being near him while alone in his office. Kitchen utensils are found in different places than employees have left them, or an object suddenly falls off a hook or a shelf. Lil' Bayou lies in the historic Gilbert District of Seaside, which is filled with old buildings, almost all with upstairs areas that are often unused. The charming, atmospheric area has gone through a rebirth in recent years, and often there are whispers of ghosts coinciding with many of the renewed buildings.The Seaside Aquarium may have a closet containing something - or rather, an upstairs that could be haunted. When the building was a natatorium back about 80 years ago, there were apartments at the top floor. That area isn't used much at all now, but manager Keith Chandler says he's heard whispers over the years the top floor is haunted. Various stories have been handed down through the generations about noises coming from there.EERIE AND NOT-SO-EERIE ON THE BAYManzanita, which caps the north end of the "Nehalem Bay" , is shrouded in mists and mystery, with Neahkahnie Mountain looming overhead and legends of a galleon and its buried treasures. Some versions of that tale contain atrocities, like purportedly burying their African slaves alive with the treasure to keep the natives away.On its beaches, there are mysterious piles of rocks that have appeared over the years, apparently overnight. Sometimes they appear as single piles or stacks. No one has ever figured out who is responsible, creating speculation of an otherworldly artist. In nearby Wheeler, facing the Nehalem Bay, Old Wheeler Hotel owner Winston Laszlo says he's encountered several things in that old building he couldn't really explain. Sometimes, he said, he believes he sees someone in the corner of his eye, only to discover there's no one there.Once, Winston was looking in a mirror in the hotel's public area and saw the reflection of a man sitting in a chair behind him. Winston says he turned around to look at the man, whom he didn't recognize as a guest, and there was no one there.A pair of ghost hunters even came to the visit the place and took photos of what they believed could be "spirit orbs" just outside the basement area. Winston still has copies of these.Winston and wife Maranne Doyle-Laszlo say the entire building seemed to be against them during the process of remodeling the ragged old construct into the first-rate hotel it is now. They had a nagging feeling a presence seemed to arrange one disaster and setback after another, such as when a window blew out in a storm. Then, one day, they say the building seemed to accept them, and reconstruction proceeded smoothly thereafter. (www.oldwheelerhotel.com. 877-653-4683.)In an email just before her visit, ghost hunter Martina DeLude told Winston that made sense. "Ghosts that haunt residential and business locations become very threatened when someone starts changing things that they are accustomed to. Some spirits actually become incensed when furniture is moved around. Just like the living, most spirits do not like change. Possibly, as soon as they realized that it was once again going to become a hotel - perhaps something they may remember - they decided to help you along instead of stifling your efforts." There's more on their investigation of the Old Wheeler Hotel at http://www.nwpprs.com/Investigations/Places02/OldWheeler.html. In other tales, Wheeler Antiques owner Garry Gitzen says a Wheeler woman, descended from local tribes, actually burned down her own house in recent years because disturbing spirits haunted it. She did this in lieu of tearing the thing down, never rebuilding it, with rumors floating about that Native American children had died in a fire in that spot in ancient times.Not all is creepy here. According to Winston and Garry, there is a host of well-meaning spirits there known as the "Good Spirits of Wheeler," and Ekahni Books owner Peg Miller says the place is a sort of "spiritual vortex lite." They all point to something they call a "Wheeler Moment," where serendipity seems to suddenly rear its head. Locals talk of numerous circumstances where pleasant, happy coincidences popped up, assisting folks in some way. They all note various incidents where someone is discussing wanting to do something, and someone or some opportunity arises that helps things along - like the time the Garry and Winston were talking about creating a film festival, and they discovered a documentary filmmaker was staying in town.ASTORIA - OR GHOSTORIA? At the very tip of Oregon, Astoria is full of major ghost stories of one sort or another. That's no surprise, considering it's the oldest settlement west of the Mississippi. The Liberty Theater is widely regarded as haunted. It was once a haven for the likes of Duke Ellington, Jack Benny, Guy Lombardo and supposedly even gangster Al Capone. Purportedly, it's also occupied by someone named Paul. One employee was quoted as saying that Paul is "quite handsome," giving him the nickname Handsome Paul. He apparently wears a "white tuxedo and a panama hat," according to the Clatsop County Historical Society. Cast and crews over the years have talked about spotting him. While mostly just an apparition, he's been known to slam doors and make other unruly noises. Other tales from the theater include objects gliding through the air, knobs unscrewing themselves from appliances and utilities, as well as two or three other inhabitants from beyond. Also famous for being haunted is the firehouse there, plus the town has a brutal history of men being "shanghaied" in the early part of the century.
We hope that these money tips will help you save some money while traveling and make you trip more enjoyable.PLANNINGStart with thorough trip planning. Use free destination guides. Buy a guidebook, it will pay for itself within the first day of your trip. Do not forget to buy a travel insurance, it will provide you with peace of mind while on a trip and prevent you from becoming a bankrupt if something happens.It is becoming a popular trend - to buy your holiday using a credit card. This option allows you to have an official record of your purchases/bookings. Some cards also provide an additional insurance to the holder. American Express lets you transfer your purchasing points to your frequent flier program account. When you purchase an air ticket with MasterCard, the credit company automatically signs you up for an accidental life insurance with $100,000 coverage amount.In order to save on your trip, travel with a partner(s). You can book a double hotel room for almost the same amount as a single one. By splitting accommodation and dining costs, taxis, car rental fees travelers in a group will save money.BOOKINGFor sightseeing try to travel off-season, usually October through April in the Northern hemisphere and April through October below the equator. You will be able to find cheaper airfare, find more budget rooms, spend less time in lines, and meet more local folks than tourists.ACCOMMODATIONKeep written records of all accommodations you reserved. Learn the cancellation policies. Usually late cancellations or no shows are charged one night stay. If you have to cancel, try to do it long in advance. Reconfirm all reservations two days in advance by phone.During summer and weekends year-round, you can get a fancy business hotel room at a cheap one-star hotel price.DININGYou can save a lot of money by buying food at a local grocery store.Eat according to the season. Order and buy food that is in season where you travel, it will cut down your dining expenses.Avoid touristy restaurants, instead eat where local people eat. There you will find better food for less money.Try to adapt to local cuisine, combine learning the local dining traditions with good prices.Avoid breakfasts at hotels, they are usually high-priced.Every country has menu specials. Learn simple words and you can dine well with locals anywhere for under $20.TRANSPORTATIONSave money by driving in groups. For four people it is generally cheaper to share a rental car than to buy a bus ticket or a rail pass to travel between cities. Avoid renting a car in a big citiy, it is less convenient than using public transit. Airports usually have cheap and regular public transit connections to the town center.Carefully choose parking spots. Thieves recognize and target tourist cars.learn your rail options. If you travel a lot, buy rail passes. Three rides generally cost more than a day pass.In Europe budget airlines can often get you from one city to another faster and cheaper than the train. Beware though: budget airlines often use small airports located far from town, which can cost a extra time and money. You also are allowed less luggage on board for free.SHOPPINGUse your moneybelt to store the cash safely.Students, families, and seniors should ask for special discounts.Understand all fees and expenses. Ask to have all bills itemized. Do your own math when calculating the cost.We wish you a successful and safe trip!
If you're a hotelier or the owner of a bed and breakfast, you undoubtedly want your guests to feel warm and welcome. As you already know, the small touches can leave a lasting impression on your guests. What you may not know is that art - particularly contemporary fine art - can play a significant role in conveying your desired message to your patrons. As an independent hotelier or B&B owner, you've probably given much thought to the facade of your establishment, the layout of the lobby, and even the uniforms that your staff wear. You may not have considered the ways in which art can help reinforce your "brand" - what your guests come to associate with your establishment. Original watercolors, for example, can reinforce feelings of relaxation and rejuvenation among guests who stay in properties located in vacation destinations. The tropical watercolor of a parrot in colorful plumage or a flowering peach hibiscus will bring smiles to the faces of your guests. For the historical establishment, acrylic paintings depicting local history will reinforce the feeling that your hotel or B&B is associated with a particular location or place in time. Original "contemporary "fine art" " is out of reach for many small- and medium-sized establishments, but that doesn't mean that art can't play a role in maintaining the ambience of your hotel. Reproductions are an affordable solution to fine art, and can be incorporated into virtually every public space and private room in a hotel. Giclee prints, for example, can be printed on high quality paper stock, on canvas, or on exquisite silk. The digital ink-jet process uses up to a dozen fade-resistant inks to bring depth and life to a fine art reproduction. Likewise, lithographs can be reproduced on quality paper, or can even be printed digitally on Baltic birch plywood or aluminum. For the artist, lithographs allow his or her work to be reproduced faithfully, without a "middleman," so to speak. Serigraphy is another option for those in the hospitality industry to avail themselves of fine art at affordable prices. Formerly known as silkscreening, serigraphy is an extremely versatile method of making multiple copies of an artist's work. The inks used in serigraphy will adhere to a variety of surfaces, and so can be used on textiles, woods, paper, and glass. Whatever the ambiance of your hotel or B&B, contemporary fine art and fine art reproductions can enhance the impression you're trying to convey to your guests - at a price that's affordable.
Las Vegas. This city of neon lights, over-the top entertainment and non-stop thrills make the city one of the top holiday destinations in the world. The hotels in Vegas rival the top establishments in the world, offering the most amazing variety around. Yes, the city no doubt has some of the most gorgeous, ultra-luxurious suites and rooms in the world, but if you're on a budget, Las Vegas is equally accommodating. In fact, what many don't realize is that Las Vegas has some of the best rooms around at the lowest prices imaginable- and the hotels are all vying for your business badly. So next time you are in this City of Pleasures and are on a tight budget, think twice about booking the lousy motel on the outskirts of time and check out our super savers tips below:Timing is everything. Avoid busiest times of the year: holidays, spring and summer vacations, and large vacations.If you can, before you decide on a hotel, ask about pricing on "extras": extra beds, cribs, rollaways and extra occupants and about any extra charges for local phone calls, cable TV, and Internet connections.Compare all factors before making your final decision.Ask your hotel for free funbooks, which often include two for one dinners and shows and discounted drinks.Ask for everyone about discounts, special offers, freebies, comps. These are available at most Las Vegas hotels and casinos, but you need to ask for them.Join the MGM Mirage Players Club and or "The One Club" to accrue credits for comped food, beverages and rooms.Buy your own water and drinks at outside discount stores. Bring along a small ice cooler to keep your water and drinks cold and a hot pot to brew coffee or tea. This could save you $10 or more a day in refrigerator rental fees.Use the free monorail system that goes between the hotels and casinos and the free public bus system. Ask for a schedule at your hotel or casino.If you rent a car, ask your hotel and the casinos about free parking. Most hotels and casino's offer free parking as a perk if you ask, because they want to give you a good reason to stay.