Tag: travel

Why I am Not a Fan of “Labor Day” Weekend

I am not a fan of “Labor Day” weekend. First, similar to other holidays we celebrate in the United States – let’s face it – the use of “day” in the name is a misnomer. For some, “Labor Day” is an entire week of last minute vacation time or at the very least a four-day attempt to get the final moments of surf and sand!

Labor Day – 1960’s-1970’s

When I was young this weekend meant that summer was done and school was to begin. Yes, I liked the idea of going to the FIRST day of school. But, after that – I was not necessarily “in the mood”. I would have much rather been running around with friends until the “lights came on” and wait evenings for the ice-cream truck to stop at the nearby corner. Now, I was being relegated to sit in a row in a school – sans air conditioning – on what was predictably some of the hottest days of the year. Toss in the fact that I had a hefty dose of ADHD and sitting in a chair for HOURS after a couple of months of freedom, was for me – torture!

Labor Day 1977

Labor Day 1977 meant I was going to load a car up and drive the 7 hours from my house to the University of Delaware. While I was “all in” to enjoy living away from home and starting life as a collegiate – I was scared and second -guessing the distance. (Those feelings didn’t last more than a few days, by the way!)

Labor Day 1987 – 2007

When I had children my favorite part of their year (and mine) was indeed – Summer. We initiated the Adventurer’s Club – where each week one child would have the exciting “duty” to choose where we would explore in our local area. From museums to hiking state parks, we relished in the knowledge that we can come and go as we please. The lack of schedule and desire to explore on these mini-staycations were some of the most memorable moments of my parenting school-aged kids. Honestly, there were many times I “got” homeschooling.

Labor Day – My Mature Years

Now as a person with no children at home and my own business – Summer seems to roll in to Fall with nearly a blink. Except for a few notable changes. First, Labor Day weekend means that Hallmark stores (and others) seem to wave a magic wand and all their Christmas ‘stuff’ appears on shelves. Yes, we seem to bypass all other holidays and go straight to Christmas.

Positive Note: Fall also does bring one positive element- cheaper travel rates. Hubby and I often like to take advantage of this time of the year.

Back to my list… Labor Day also means that floral scents are replaced with pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg spices. Good-bye fruit pies and say hello to pumpkin pie! Not to worry – I love fruit and pumpkin pies!

Lastly and my main “complaint” – This time of year means people become more serious. We wear our “school or work clothes” and put away the fun flip-flop sandals.. We accept, begrudgingly, a life with more regimental scheduling of our day and less time to sit and chat without rushing. And clearly many of us forget the care-free and relaxed feelings of summertime. UGH!

Now you know, my friends, why I am not a fan of Labor Day weekend.

In case you are curious – here is the history of Labor Day.

National Comedy Center – Destination Laughter!

Laughter IS the common language of our world. And, you will find much of it at the National Comedy Center!

From Vaudeville to the Family Guy and every genre of comedy in between – you will find them here in Jamestown, New York!

When you think of destination spots for vacations one usually doesn’t pick Jamestown – until now. The National Comedy Center and the Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Museums are about to invigorate this sleepy hamlet located in Western New York the way that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame revived Cleveland, Ohio.

Read more about other Western New York location gems here.

In order to truly appreciate this “cultural center” you really need to experience it first person. But, I will try my best to give you a close-up account my words and the images snapped from my trusty iPhone 8 plus.


More than 50 immersive exhibits take visitors on an interactive journey through comedy history, from early vaudeville acts to the latest viral memes.

National Comedy Center Website: comedycenter.org

There is so much to see and “feel” at this center. I can’t stress enough how you need to experience it for yourself. AND EVERY ADULT can access this place. The accessibility factor is super!

To entice you to indeed visit I have devised a TOP 10 list of my favorite “things” about the National Comedy Center. I encourage you to add to my list in the comment section.


Tip 1. Come early and plan on staying several hours!

The center opens at ten. Arrive early to beat the crowds and be able to take in the exhibits without feeling rushed. If you have have all day opt for the pass that allows you entry to the Lucille Ball – Desi Arnaz museum AND the National Comedy Center. Both are amazing and you will be glad you did!

Note: Wear comfortable shoes and bring Kleenex. You will need it to wipe the tears from belly laughs throughout your stay.

TIP 2: Go all out – immerse yourself!

The first step of this experience is to get a wrist band that allows for digital engagement throughout the center. You can use the code to ‘vote” for favorite actors, comedy shows and more! Also, to receive content to your inbox that you generate – you will need to have this “techie wristband”.

Note: The first time I visited I was shy about sharing my personal info so I made a bogus email and name. Bad move. This didn’t allow me to get any of my saved content that I generated along my visit. The second time I was forthcoming and sure enough – when I got back to my hotel there were my interactive videos, etc. waiting for me in my inbox!

And… Don’t forget to wave to yourself when you walk through the entry way!

Above the entry way door you will spot your welcome message!

Tip 3 – Meander among the history of comedy, famous quotes and more

One of the very first exhibits you will encounter is a homage to comedy writers. Plus, a whole section dedicated to the humor of George Carlin. I spent quite a bit of time in this first section not realizing how expansive the remainder of the place was. But, I loved George Carlin and I was thrilled to see such a large exhibit about his genius and tumultuous history of censorship.


Now move on to the the first truly interactive room allows you to see behind the camera- literally. You also can pull up a chair and pick one of your favorite comics to perform. Dana Carvey got us off to a great start!


There are quotes and jokes along the way for all to enjoy. On windows of a walkway between sections of the building you will find great quotes that give you just enough chuckle. They also lead you in to an exhibit of a timeline of comedy in the United States. And, when you are done here – stop as you shouldn’t bypass the writer’s library. This area has some hidden gems – so go enjoy them!

Tip 4: Sit and stay.

There are several places that offer you a place to sit and watch a show, movie, news reel or interactive exhibit. Sit and stay for a while in these areas. Lingering is encouraged as there is sooooo much to see and reminisce. One of the areas I spent the most time was a huge wall with an interactive board of comedy influence – called The Continuum. It was fascinating to literally connect the dots between one comedian to another.

(Shameless side note: I will be working with Harry Shearer this October… guess what I am going to show him?! See below.)


Tip 5. Get a drink and a snack.

This place may seem a bit overwhelming with hysteria. So you may need to refuel. Lucky for you there is a snack bar easily accessible to the exhibits. Prices are fairly standard and won’t break the budget.


Tip 6 – Play with toys.

There is a section that shows you how props were used in comedic scenes, such as Saturday Night Live. . I missed this section during my first visit but went purposely to see it during my second. It was so much fun! Again, playing with toy props is encouraged! Also, a good place for older kids to explore.

Props!

Tip 7 – Become part of the act!

There are several opportunities to become part of the show. You can do you own improv stand-up comedy routines. You also can sit in a booth an insert yourself in to several well known scenes from past comedies such as I Love Lucy. Hubby and I took a few photos as Ethel and Fred Mertz.


Tip 8: Go Blue… Go if you dare…

The Blue Room is “rude, crude and at times socially unacceptable”. It also highlights some of the most “on the edge ” comediennes during the past century. I loved this room. It wasn’t salacious but more educational, if comedy that makes you blush can be that. So, if you want to see Richard Pryor, James Carlin, Amy Schumer, Don Rickles, Lenny Bruce and many more at their comedic best – take the elevator to the BLUE ROOM floor. No kids allowed. Read the caution below before entering. And, be prepared. The F-word is used liberally like salt is sprinkled on fries.


Tip 9: Keep going – there is so much more to do!

Just when you thought you were done with the exhibits here you will happen upon one of the most fun gift shops … anywhere. This place alone is a homage to comedy! Stay. Laugh. Purchase.

When you are done keep going and make your way to the Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Museum a short walk away. If you find yourself hungry – stop for lunch at one of the several little cafes you will find along the streets.

Jamestown also is a stone’s throw to the famous Chautauqua Lake and institute.

Like some night life? Head east to the Seneca Nation Casino and Resort. They have a number of bands that play there, including Peter Frampton who packed the house!

Much to do here in Western New York!

Related: Places to eat and stay in Jamestown


Last Tip – #10 – Avail yourself of the events at the National Comedy Center and make plans to come back!

There is so much that happens at the National Comedy Center- especially in the summer months when the tourist season is at full peak. I am so bummed I won’t be there this week as August 7-11th is the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival with top comedians headlining.

Get your tickets here

And, just look at who contributed to this center and advises the programming, etc.!


Something to consider…

Our world is a bit topsy-turvy these days. In fact, there is so much dissension and violence that laughter gets lost in our collective worry and grief. We NEED a place like the National Comedy Center to help remind us about good times and good people. After all, laughter IS the best medicine.

Lastly, a special shout-out to the wonderful staff at the National Comedy Center. Gary Hahn and Adrienne (sorry forgot your last name) – both were super attentive and answered all my questions to help me prepare for this article. I hope our paths cross again – very soon! And, special thanks to all the staff – they were nice to every person who walked through their doors!

Western New York

Can you find the common thread between … Hot air balloons, a town named after Alexander Hamilton’s sweetheart – Angelica and attractions dedicated to famous comedians from all over North America?

Answer: All are reasons to travel to the Southern tier of New York.

New York is a BIG state. Many people confuse the Southern Tier with “Upstate” or the Adirondack area. But, if you are familiar with New York – you will know that the Southern Tier is largely rural with areas that are truly gems to visit. And yes, there is much more to discover in this state than New York City and Niagra Falls.


Wellsville New York – Where Balloons Adorn the Sky!

July is a perfect month to visit Wellsville, New York – a hamlet tucked among the Allegheny mountains and adjacent to the Genesee River. Known for good food and people – this town is where I went to junior and senior High School and holds a special place in my heart. . It also is home to the Wellsville Balloon Rally! This weekend event (usually Friday – Sunday) is all about community spirit and beautiful hot air balloons. In conjunction to the rally, the entire town comes out to hear an Elvis impersonator sing on the lawn of the beautiful David A. Howe Library and attend the street fair where bargains are every where including at Northern Lights Candles where my family competed a large portion of early holiday shopping!

It also is about weather.

Too hot, too windy or any rain will ground the balloons! However, if conditions permit, the balloonists will have an “afterglow” at dusk – meaning they tether in place – even if they can’t launch. Below are photos from this year’s festival. (A special thanks to Bye Bye Hot Air Balloon for allowing us to check out their balloon and gondola “up close”.)

Tip: Book hotel rooms early – as this is a very popular event and rooms go FAST and are in limited supply!

Read More: About Wellsville, New York and the Balloon Rally


Oh Angelica!

Angelica, New York. I have a very peculiar recollection of this town. It revolves around the annual Allegheny County Fair. I recall the first and only time we went. There were kids laughing, lots of animals, the smell of fried dough and I think hot dogs and tons of carnival rides. The “peculiar” memory? Well – this is where I learned I hate carnival rides as I “lost my cookies” on something called, THE ROCKET!. (Sorry if TMI!)

I only mention the above memory to say that I have let my decades old fear of Angelica go as I returned to this town earlier this summer. The old memories have been replaced by new ones. I now see beyond the carnival scene and learned to enjoy the lovely streets sprinkled with Victorian homes, antique shops, and small eateries.

Favorite Angelica “hot spot” – The Canteena which was exceptionally fun as it reminded me of college town fare and drink. Plus, this place was a stone’s throw to antique shops that had lots of toy and game memorabilia.

Fun fact about Angelica – this is the town that was purportedly named for Angelica Church – the beloved sister-in – law/ love interest of Alexander Hamilton. With less than 1000 residents, Angelica has seen a bit of a resurgence in popularity due to some savvy Main Street planning and the connection to the Broadway show- Hamilton!


Go West! Jamestown, New York strives to be the Home of Comedy!

About three weeks ago I visited Jamestown, New York for probably only the second time in my life. The first time was en route to Chautauqua Lake . In fact, many people have made Jamestown a “drive through” destination versus a place to stop. My money is that Jamestown will now be a very “trendy” place to visit with thanks to some new awesome attractions – the I LOVE LUCY Museum (two actually) and the National Comedy Theater. I am only going to whet your appetite about these places in this blog. Soon, I will be dedicating my blog to a more in-depth look at these attractions. By the way- the National Comedy Center is INTERACTIVE and open captions all film content for the Deaf.

However, IF you can’t wait – enjoy the photos below and click the links to go their respective websites.

I LOVE LUCY MUSEUM

NATIONAL COMEDY CENTER

UPCOMING EVENTS AT THE NATIONAL COMEDY CENTER


In other news…

I OBVIOUSLY have a keen interest with travel. And, I find it sad and disheartening that some families cannot travel or experience area attractions because they have family members that have unique challenges (eg. Autism, Deafness, mobility issues’ etc.). I really, really, really would like to address these issues in upcoming blogs and add links to destinations, hotels, airlines and more that are dedicated to inclusion and allow for all families to enjoy!

IF you have any information – please use this contact form and I’ll get back to you asap! Thank you.

A Day at the Reagan Library

Father’s Day is always tricky for me. I never know what presents to buy for hubby and this year was no exception. So, I took a “page” from our daughter’s philosophy that experiences far exceeds “things” when it comes to present giving. I took that sage advice and gave hubby a pass to the National Presidential Libraries (NARA.org) with our first stop- the Reagan Library.

This summer the Reagan library is hosting the Da Vinci collection. In essence, it was a handful of his mechanical drawings of tools. From his attempts to draw prototypes for flight to weapons that could create massive amounts of injury or death. Yes, the painter of the Mona Lisa must have spent many hours thinking dark thoughts to create such drawings that were more like “Dexter” than the angels he depicted in his earliest paintings.

Da Vinci's Artwork

Da Vinci’s life and artwork have been long chronicled.  However, there remain many unanswered questions about his greatest works and the thought processes that were involved with his artistry and his mechanical drawings.

For example,  The Mona Lisa is one piece from Da Vinci’s portfolio that is veiled in continual mystery. Was ‘Mona Lisa” a woman or a man that captured the love interest of the reportedly homosexual DaVinci?

 Secondly, the painting of the Last Supper has kept the interest and populated many a question by art and theology aficionados. Why did Da Vinci paint the 12 disciples and Christ as he did? 

Also, at the Reagan library you will find Andy Warhol’s rendition of the Last Supper.  The two juxtapose exhibits presented an interesting mix of pop culture meeting ancient masterpieces! 

Below are the replicas on display at the Reagan library.

Don't leave without visiting other wonderful exhibits at the Reagan Library.

Allot two hours to really walk and enjoy the DaVinci exhibit. Then treat yourselves to lunch or a snack at the cafe on the grounds.  

I would recommend not leaving before you visit the other notable parts of this vast library, including Air Force 1, Marine 1 and the gardens.  

In the outside gardens you will find the burial place for the President and First Lady.  Surrounded by a vista that is simply lovely.

Roses bushes adorn the exterior and must have been a favorite of Nancy Reagan. 

You will also find a slab of the Berlin Wall.  The docent indicated that this particular section was chosen as President Reagan looked the butterfly drawing that was on the Western Side. The Eastern Side is blank.  Just concrete.

Inside, there are scores of exhibits that chronicle the two terms of the Reagan presidency and his life before and after.  If visiting expect to add at least two more hours to cover these exhibits and visit the actual Air Force One and Marine One aircraft.

  

Pearl Harbor – a #MustSee

“YESTERDAY, December 7, 1941 a date which will live in infamy the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

Library of Congress: Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945. Address to Congress requesting a declaration of war, Dec. 8, 1941

It is hard to believe that the quiet port area of Oahu, known in Hawaiian as “Pu’uloa”or Pearl Harbor, was once the site of one of the most deadliest attacks ever to have occurred on this planet. It was December 7, 1941 – truly a day that will forever be emblazoned in the minds and hearts of many who still grace our world.  One way to be sure that the lessons of this era are not forgotten is to put Pearl Harbor on your #MustSee travel list!

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USS ARIZONA Memorial  (right) Photo: L. Sattler

There are many FAQs about visiting Pearl Harbor on their website. Click here for these.  In addition, I would like to add a few suggestions that may help make your visit easier.

Tip1: GO EARLY!  I mean arrive when the parking lot opens and plan on visiting more than one day, if possible.  I have been three times and at different times of the year.  It can be hot and crowded by noon no matter what month you visit, so I can’t stress enough the importance of arriving early (they open at 7am) and staying until lunch then leaving and coming back another day.  Also, wear comfortable shoes. There is a lot of walking involved if you visit the entire park.

Tip 2:  The actual memorial for the USS Arizona is under renovation due to a crack – thus it is not safe for visitors to actually walk around the memorial.  Instead, there is a very nice movie and boat ride (70 minutes total)  that includes audio commentary of the events of December 7, 1941 – when the Japanese navy  attacked the harbor leaving thousands dead, wounded and much of the US Pacific fleet destroyed.

Tip 3:  The website also advises people of the following if you wish to take the boat and video tour of the USS ARIZONA:

There are three ways to secure the movie/boat tickets to the Memorial:

  1. Two months out, 325 tickets are placed online at recreation.gov. The official National Park Service website for its Parks. Please note there are three choices to choose from in getting these tickets.
  2. Each day at 7:00am Hawaii Standard Time an additional 525 tickets are placed on recreation.gov for the next day’s reservations.
  3. If you were not able to secure your movie/boat tickets for the USS Arizona Memorial online, the National Park Service gives out over 1,300 free walk up tickets each day on a first come, first serviced basis. Be sure to arrive early for these walk up tickets, the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center opens at 7:00am.

Tip 4: Bring a tiny pocketbook / wallet / or  clear bag.  For security reasons, pocketbooks, backpacks, duffels, etc. are NOT allowed and will cost you $5 each if you have to check them in to their storage facility.  The rule of thumb is that if the bag is larger than your hand, it will not be permitted in the park.

The park rangers also advise you NOT to leave valuables in your car as the parking is not secure (although it is FREE to park!)  I learned the second day of my trip to bring a ziplock clear bag and stick my valuables in that followed by a $1.99 tote bag that I bought at the gift shop. Money well spent.

Tip 5:  Watch the movies to see authentic reel footage from World War II. And,  before you venture on your trip  watch their welcome video that you  can find here. 

Tip 6: Ask questions of the many experts and docents that are on the premises. They are a wealth of knowledge and some are related to Pearl Harbor as family members or ex-military.

Tip 7: Buy a Passport  to visit the other ships and submarine in port that are part of the memorial. The USS BOWFIN (submarine) was a great tour and given two thumbs up by my family members. Grab the free audio tape to listen- it comes in several languages.  For those who need captioning or interpreting – please see the information in the chart I found below.

HOW TO MAKE RESERVATIONS – FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT
USS Bowfin Submarine Museum www.Bowfin.org
USS Battleship Missouri Memorial www.USSmissouri.org
Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor www.PacificAviationMuseum.org
USS Arizona Memorial Tours www.PacificHistoricParks.org
Tip 8:  Food and beverage are available for purchase. They are not cheap and I would advise to buy water and then go elsewhere to eat if you want a nice sit-down meal.  Remember, two -half days are better than a long full-day , in my humble opinion.
Tip 9:   Support the memorial park by making a purchase in one of their gift shops. There are a lot of wonderful items available and they make very unique gifts for special occasions.
Tip 10: Kids are welcome, but in all honesty much of the importance of this day may be lost on young children.  I would recommend this park for ages 8 and up unless you just want to show “cool boats and a submarine” to your tots!
Tip 11: Take photos and share the stories about this hallowed site with others.
If you have a tip about visiting Pearl Harbor – please leave in the comment section below. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

All Photos by Louise Sattler

Amazon Prime Day(s) Picks for Tech, Travel and Back to School (July 2018 Promo)

 

Let me start with this “disclaimer”…  I shop local when I can because I love to support “Mom and Pop” stores in my own backyard. From  CRAFTED  in San Pedro with their original wares by local artisans to flea markets and local box stores.  But, when I need something fast, not readily available or in bulk, I go to my computer and click on Amazon.  In this blog,  I am going to have a little fun and tell you about my favorite items for tech, travel and back to school as TOMORROW, July 16th,  starts their widely popular AMAZON PRIME DAYS.  This is when they will suggest and make offers on thousands of GREAT DEALS! But, I am throwing my faves in to this “mix”, too!

And, in turn I want to know your favorites – so use the comment section below.  Note, as am Amazon Influencer, I get my “own favorites page” that you will find right below. There are many more items listed on this page than blog space allows and that any proceeds from this page to me go directly to back to the community as I support a wide variety of charities.

Click here for my full Amazon Influencer Page list

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 The KINDLE FIRE

CORD CRUNCHER EAR BUDS      

 

 


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Convenience Kits Women’s Deluxe Travel Set  

Therm- A – Rest Back Pillow

 

I love having all my essential travel products for hygiene in one zipper kit that doubles as a nice bag, too.  There are many different configurations of the Convenience Kits line, so check them all out for one of your faves!

I NEVER leave home for a long trip without this inflatable pillow by Therm-A-Rest!  This product is the envy of everyone who spots it on flights and train rides and wishes they had one, too!



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Teachers this section is for YOU!

 

                                           I LOVE this  ASL set of alphabet stamps by Iconoglyph!

It doesn’t matter if you teach ASL or not, this is a clever way for spelling, literacy and math lessons. Also, students can be creative with artwork and more!

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Tote around all you technology, files and lesson plans with this amazingly comfortable and versatile  Baggalini computer bag!

 

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Now your turn to comment on  your favorite “Must Haves” … Also, thanks to Bitmoji for their clever charicatures.  IMG_7251

 

 

 

 

 

 

psst…links go through my influencer page, however, any proceeds I acquire are donated to charity or through the SMILE charity program. Thank you.

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Traveling the Pacific Northwest – Part 1: Seattle and Vancouver

Family vacations can be exciting, exhilarating and sometimes exhausting.  But, with lots of planning, a spirit for adventure and a sense of humor – the family vacation can be a success.  I am writing this blog as our family completed the first part of our “vacay” and is about to journey on to “part 2” – a cruise through the inside passage of Alaska. I hope that my chronicles helps other families learn how to plan a successful trip and give insight to those who may need special accommodations when they travel. By all means add your “pearls of wisdom” in the comment section, too!

First stops: Seattle and Vancouver. 

I was expecting rain. Doesn’t everyone talk about the Pacific Northwest, especially Seattle, as being nothing but rain, rain, and more rain? Isn’t the reason Starbucks got its’ start in Seattle was to keep people warm when they were cold and wet from the damp weather?  Well, let me tell you – after nearly a week in Seattle and then Vancouver our family didn’t see ANY rain.  We did experience glorious sunshine, lots of delicious coffee shops, restaurants galore and a ton of fun!

Seattle is a bustling city that one can experience largely on foot or with the assistance of a very efficient rail system.  To get to our hotel (Hyatt Olive 8) from the airport meant an easy train ride and then walking about four blocks. The staff was extremely accommodating, especially since we originally were sandwiched between two rooms with screaming babies. They moved us quickly to a quiet floor and all was good!

Seattle is a fun city and there is no shortage of excellent restaurants (My favorite was a small French bistro on 1st Street – Le Pichet.)  We ordered a number of dishes and found all of them to be excellent! In addition to the culinary scene, be sure to check out these places if you find yourself in Seattle:

1. Go to the Space Needle but spend much more of your time at  Chihuly Gardens and Glass. The glass works by Dale Chihuly took my breath away.  His story can be found on his website.   As an accomplished artist, the state of Washington shows their native son’s prolific works of art proudly!   Moreover, his glass sculptures are exhibited in more than 200 museums and gardens worldwide.  The glassworks are so colorful that they seemed to dance in place when the light hits them “just right.”   Below are just some of the many photos I captured from this amazing place!

Special note for travelers: You can purchase a combo- ticket for both the Space Needle and the gardens. It is worth it,  but GO EARLY to BOTH.  The wait in line for the Space Needle for our 2pm ticket was an hour. While the view was spectacular, it was crowded and people were not “at their best”.  Plus, they are still “under construction” and that meant less room for all the people sandwiched in the viewing area.  My advice – make your trip to the “needle” during a weekday.

The Chilhuly Gardens, however, was an exhibit that offered lots of room to meander. It also was wheelchair friendly. With that said it probably would be a challenge for young children and those that need to “touch”.  This is definitely not a place that welcomes people, especially little ones,  who are accustomed to a museum that allows for a tactile experience.

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2. Next to see in Seattle… Pikes Place Market.  This is just a huge hoot! From flying fish to the gum wall. Yes, I said a GUM WALL. Apparently people have put thousands of pieces of gum on to a wall under the market.  While it is interesting, it also is gross. (Have a germ phobia? Stay away!) There is a Ferris wheel and plenty to keep kids occupied. The walking is fairly easy except for a few rough hills from the seaport to the Space Needle.  Don’t fret! There is Lyft, Uber and taxis to drive you. Plus, a monorail.  Most of all – there is a ton of food vendors with reasonably priced meals.

 

3. Travel from Seattle to Vancouver is great via AMTRAK!  The seats were very generously sized with power outlets. And there was WiFi on the train for those who needed to be “plugged in”.   Food and beverages are served on board, although I would bring your own coffee.  There is ample room for luggage (big bags are taken from you and given back at the end of the trip.) Have your camera ready as the ride passes through areas that make for great photos and video! Below is a snippet of video of the ride through Bellingham Bay. BRING YOUR PASSPORT!

 

3. Now let’s chat Vancouver!  Ah… this city has intrigued me for years as it is the place where so many TV shows and movies are filmed. The CW channel has made Vancouver their flagship “set”.  Again, we we visited when the weather was clear and temperate.  The people are super friendly and this town gets an A+ for walkability.  If you are tired of going up and down some of the hills – hail a cab – there are plenty of them! The only downfall – like Seattle, this city is not cheap.  Even with the exchange rate favoring the US dollar, Vancouver is an expensive place to vacation.  We spent quite a bit of time visiting quaint shops and eateries trying to stay away from the expensive restaurants. Our stay at The Burrard Hotel  was very good and the prices were reasonable. The staff was superb!  Our stay would have been “rated” excellent had there been a pool or hot tub/ spa on the premises.

 The waterfront area (where the cruise ships dock) is filled with fun little shops, but true finds are on the side streets and at the Granville Island Public Market. The cute  Aqua Bus  takes you from Vancouver “proper” to Granville Island in two minutes (no exaggeration!) You also are able to ride a bike across a bridge, but it would appear that cars are not welcome unless there was a distinct purpose – such as dropping off shop owners and their wares.  The Aqua Bus also can take you to other points around Vancouver.  While there is a ramp to get from the Aqua Bus to the dock, it does not appear to be accessible for those in a wheelchair.  You can obtain much more information regarding accessibility here.

       Special Note to travelers:  The Burrard has an elevator but not sure it is wheelchair sized. Laundry is at the hotel and there is parking.

 

The Skyline of Vancouver from Granville Island Public Market

 

Coming up next in this series… Discovering Alaska… the cruising experience. 

 

 

Need an alternative to your current WIFI source? Consider this option, I am.

Have you ever traveled to a place that has pretty slim pickings when it comes to WIFI friendly establishments? Or have ended up in a hotel that wants to charge you $8 or more a day for a single device use? Maybe you are at a conference and the venue isn’t providing free WIFI except for in the lobby. And my personal favorite – when your own WIFI service doesn’t work in port when you are on a cruise. For a person like me, who is WIFI dependent, a frequent traveler and often can’t “do without”, I need reliable WIFI?

Recently, I met at the LA TRAVEL and ADVENTURE SHOW my solution to help me out –  Vision Global WIFI.  This company offers pocket sized portable WIFI  hotspots that can be flexible with their service packages and powerful enough for five devices to work off a single device. Great for people on the go, go, go!

Based in Japan, Vision Global WIFI, has a huge presence in Asia between their Wifi device rentals and their popular SIM card business.  Now they are seeking to “break-out” in to the United States market with a robust social media marketing campaign.

Related Content: A travel bloggers review of Vision Global

First, let’s learn how it works.  In the United States you can order via this easy link and it will arrive FedEx. Be sure to let them know the exact length of your rental needs.  The rental starts from your departure date from the US until the return date to the US.  Next, request to learn about the options for rental devices.  Chances are you will rent their most popular and agnostic device that can provide you with Wifi access across 130 countries!  Next decide on a plan. It is important to convey the exact length of your needs –  14 days, 30 days, etc.

Unlike other plans, a major differentiator is that  FIVE devices can use the same equipment as long as you are within radius and for usually less money that running competitor versions or racking up data usage bills on your mobile phone plans.

Once the device is literally “in hand” set-up is easy peasy! 

Step 1: Turn on the WIFI device and set your telephone / computer/ tablet to receive a WIFI signal

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Step 2: When the device is on you will see the WIFI address. Look for the address on your personal device, as well.  

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Step 3: Add the password that will appear under the Wifi Name (my photo does not show this for security reasons.)

Step 4: When you return from your trip or the period of loaning is completed- be sure to return pronto!

Now, I am about to embark on using the above Vision Global WIFI device in order to give an authentic review of the actual workability.  So far, during my set-up process, I was duly impressed.  It was less than two minutes and I was set up and ready to use the incredibly fast WIFI.

Note:  I am receiving this device free of charge in exchange for an honest review. But, I promise to let you know the pros and cons, as transparency is what social media should be all about.

I also learned that other travel reviewers are being sought. So, if you are one who would like to learn more I  offer you this email to connect.

Stay tuned for my updates!

Ready to try it now instead of waiting for my review?  Here is a sign up link  that will let the folks at Vision Global WIFI know that you read this blog and want to rent their product!

 

 

Lessons Learned from a Cemetery

There are a lot of valuable lessons I learned while recently traveling to Japan.  However, the Japanese culture for burials is one that fascinated me.  Hubby and I spent quite a bit of time in Kyoto in a massive cemetery. This one was close to the Gion district in an area known as Higashiyama-Ku / Kiyomizu.

There is true beauty in the way that the Japanese organize their cemeteries.  Like much of Japan, there are clean lines (architecturally), symbolism and a deep sense of tradition. I was taken aback by the amount of small gifts left at so many of the tombstones.  From cups of green tea, flowers and even Saki bottles!  Many had hanging Ojuzu (Buddhist prayer beads), as well.   As a practicing Jew, I am accustomed to leaving stones at the gravestones of beloved family.  But, a Saki bottle – well that kind of took me by surprise and frankly, made me smile.

I decided to learn about the Japanese customs for caring for their cemeteries. This was a very useful  link,  if you are so inclined to read more, too. ( Funerals, which I did not witness, is about honoring the deceased’s ancestry. )

Related: Burial practices for the Shinto and Buddhist Religion

 

 

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