"" Writer's Wanderings

Friday, September 22, 2017

Lounging On A Long Layover -Airport Lounges For Economy Flyers

For a lot less than first or business class tickets you can get into those comfortable airport lounges with a little luck and ingenuity. We get access to United lounges and some of their alliance airline lounges with a credit card that we pay extra for. It still is cheaper than buying those premium tickets and when we have long layovers for our more lengthy trips, we enjoy being able to get out of the busyness of the main airport and enjoy some snacks and beverages as well as WIFI and other amenities.

But you don't have to pay fees for a credit card to gain access. There are day passes that can be bought and would be the way to go if you are not a frequent flyer. Of course those passes are predicated on whether or not the lounge is at capacity. You wouldn't want to try to get into the Ft. Lauderdale United lounge (or probably any other there) on a big turnover day for the cruise ships. Cruise lines drop their passengers at the airport and often there is a long wait before the flight home. We sat in the Orlando airport once when Disney dropped us off seven hours before our flight was due to take off. Thankfully we didn't have any little ones with us.

I ran across a great source for finding lounges in airports all over the world and how much a day pass would cost. I was surprised that they could go for as low as $20 in some cases. The site is actually called Sleeping In Airports and details places to sleep if you are delayed as well as hints for making yourself more comfortable. One of their pages though is all about airport lounges and lists hundreds of possibilities all over the world.

Go to the site and see if your next long layover might be in a spot where you can snag some time in a comfy lounge--maybe even take a shower if you desire. Also do a search online for airport lounge day passes and you will find several companies that will book your lounge time for you or sell you a pass that you can use for a limited time. You too can travel as though you paid first class.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Travel Companions Through Life

Forty-nine years ago my husband, Bob, and I traveled down the aisle and made promises that we've kept pretty well over the years. Little did we know when we made our first trip as a couple to the Hocking Hills of Ohio that we would become world travelers one day. That was quite a three-day honeymoon since we were the only visitors to the Lake Hope Lodge other than a large group of park rangers who were having some sort of conference.

My only souvenir (besides the memories) is an acorn. There was a large tank for heating oil or propane for the winter guests just outside our cabin window. We could hear the acorns rustle through the leaves as they dropped from the tree and then ping as they hit the tank. I still have the acorn. It's preserved in a chunk of plastic.

Since then we raised five kids, accumulated a gang of grandkids and made friends all over the world. What a great time! I'm looking forward to fifty next year.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Salvation Mountin

Maybe it's because I was preparing a talk for a ladies' retreat this week that an article caught my eye. My talk includes the mention of Elijah visiting Mt. Horeb, the mountain of God. So when I came across a place called Salvation Mountain, well, I just had to take a look.

Leonard Knight was the creator of Salvation Mountain, the sole creator, and it was pretty much a life long work of his. It was begun in 1984 after he discarded his first idea of how to tell the world about his new found faith and the love of God. He wanted to build a hot air balloon and basically advertise the sinner's prayer so that others could find the peace and joy he had through Jesus.

The balloon never got off the ground and just about the time he was to leave the Niland, California area, he decided to make one last attempt at a monument to God's love. He began building a mountain.

The first attempt collapsed after four years of work. He learned that the sand and cement he was using was not strong enough to support the size his mountain had grown to. It collapsed. He began to make an adobe and straw structure that proved to be successful. The work grew to a height of 50 feet and breadth of 150 feet. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of paint, all of which have been donated, cover the mountain with artwork and scriptures and of course the central message of the sinner's prayer.

The story is fascinating and I will put links to the information I found below. Leonard Knight died at the age of 82 after a stay in a care facility because eventually he was a victim of dementia. All those years though he never faltered in his quest to make known his love of God and the importance of telling others. An organization has now picked up the cause but I think it is more to preserve what has become a beloved piece of folk art. Have a look at the links and if you are ever on a road trip in that area take time to have a look. It's on my list now too.

Salvation Mountain "official site" - has detailed biography and history of the site.

Salvation Mountain Wikipedia

Salvation Mountain FaceBook page

Salvation Mountain, Inc,  - the group working to preserve the mountain

Monday, September 18, 2017

Ranch Vacations - Are You A Dude Or Guest?

In all our travels we have never considered a stay at a dude ranch. Perhaps it didn't cross our minds or make the bucket list mainly because we have no desire to get on a horse. The last time I did I thought I wouldn't be able to walk again. Of course that was after having climbed Mt. Fuji and I couldn't make it back to the bus on foot.

Even so, the time before that when I was coaxed into mounting a horse at the ranch in Uruguay where our World Cruise group had an event (Carol and Carolyn, if you read this--I still love you) it was not pretty. The mounting or the dismounting. I was pretty proud of myself for following through though.

No, a dude ranch wouldn't be for us but it might for you if you love horses, the outdoors, and all sorts of activities that center around a working ranch. The question I had was what was the difference between a dude and a guest. Turns out, not much.

The term dude usually referred to a guest who gets involved by doing chores around the ranch like rounding up livestock and such and the term guest referred to someone who likes to watch someone else do the work. I'm guessing that for insurance purposes most of the dude ranches are really guest ranches where there are lots of activities but they don't really involve hands-on ranch work.

In the research I did online I couldn't find a ranch that even listed roundups as part of the activity or even feeding the livestock. There were a few where you could get a little more up close and personal with supervision. I'm sure they exist. They just didn't pop up in my search box before I stopped looking.

There is an association of Dude Ranches however and if you are interested it would be a good place to start looking. It's called (drum roll) the Dude Ranch Association. They explain the types of activities to expect. I must admit that while the horseback riding does not appeal a lot of the other stuff did, especially the trout fishing.

So dudes and dudettes, as my husband would say, if you are looking for some wild western adventure or just some home on the range relaxation put some Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers music on your playlist and check out the ranches. Who knows you might even find one of Trigger's descendants there.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Laptop Bans On Airlines

While I haven't seen it highly publicized (perhaps because it's old news and there is so much other fodder to feed on) there is an easing of the ban on laptops in carry-ons when flying from certain countries nonstop into the U.S. The problem apparently was that there were airlines or airports that did not do an adequate job of screening or did not have the equipment to screen that was approved by the Department of Homeland Security. There had been reason to believe that terrorists were planning to and/or had the capability of carrying a bomb on board with a laptop.

The checked luggage apparently goes through a security check that is different than carry-on luggage and is a better way to see if there i
s an unwanted device hidden there. Now the airlines, mainly those flying out of the Middle East, are complying with the standards set by the DHS and the ban has been lifted for several.

I'm still leaving the laptop at home for this next overseas trip. It's time to take a break from some of the electronics. I'm not even taking a camera this time although I will rely on my cell phone for pictures and of course a connection to family and friends but that will be minimized as well. I'm not ready to disconnect all together.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Caribbean Hurricane Season - Deals and Dangers

Harvey, Irma, Jose. Who is next? And where will they travel? It's been quite a season already and there are still a few weeks to go. We can easily see why there are deals to be had during the hurricane season in the Caribbean if you are willing to take the chance that a windy woman or malevolent man won't upset your plans with their bluster.

When Ivan hit the Cayman Islands a few years ago it was quite a shock. They were famous for dodging the hurricanes that usually passed to the north or south of them. It's that way with some of the other islands as well--at least during certain times of the hurricane season. I found an article on SmarterTravel that helped to explain why.

The water heats up and feeds the tropical storms that turn into hurricanes but it doesn't heat up all over the area at the same time. In June and July the Gulf of Mexico waters are warmer. In August and September, the  Northern Windward Islands (Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, etc.), Leeward Islands (U.S./British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, St. Maarten/St. Martin, Guadeloupe Islands, etc.), Greater Antilles (Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Jamaica, etc.) are more likely to see storms build to hurricane strength from the warmer waters. In October and November, the western Caribbean and Southeastern U.S. are more likely to see a hurricane although I always thought the danger was pretty much over by the end of October.

If you are willing to take a chance on a trip to the Caribbean during the hurricane season you may just snag some really good deals. Cruise ships usually offer lower prices as do resorts in the area. Just be sure to read the fine print and if you are nervous and take out travel insurance but remember there's fine print to be had there as well. I can't speak for the resort areas but I know the cruise lines will change course and ports of call if there is the chance of being caught in a bad storm and especially a hurricane. While there have been horror stories of a few bad cruises those are the exception, not the rule.

While experiencing a hurricane is not a pleasant prospect there is usually enough time to get out of Dodge before it hits--unlike the tornadoes we experience in the Midwest that give little or no warning. Resorts and cruise lines want you back as soon as they can have you. There is sure to be compensation if your plans are blown away. (A friend was given full credit toward another cruise when Irma changed their vacation plans.)

You are not living dangerously by planning a trip to the Caribbean during hurricane season. Just be as cautious as you would crossing the street and look in all directions. And on some of those islands hit this year the tourist dollars are going to a welcome sight for their rebuilding.

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