Archive for July, 2009

Snow in the summer caps-off trip of “firsts” out west

Ten days and nearly six thousand miles later, we have returned from our most active vacation since our three kids came along.  While we don’t mind traveling long distances, we had become accustomed to staying put once we arrived at our vacation spot – usually on the beach. This year, we were on the go on a different sort of holiday – a three-state trek through Idaho, Oregon and Washington.  Over the past two weeks, I have written of our travels through Idaho and Oregon. This week is the third and final installment – the state of Washington.

PART THREE – WASHINGTON

After many days of travel through Idaho and Oregon, we had come full circle. We were back in Seattle, where we first took our bags off the airport carousel and loaded them into a rented minivan for the long drive to Boise.

For our children, this vacation was about “firsts” every step of the way: first sighting of the Pacific Ocean, first glimpse of the Rocky Mountains and first time in a high desert climate. …

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CONTEST: The winner of Vegas Nights travel stories – Mistaken Identity

BY JO ANN SWAFFORD OF Sautee Nacoochee

My identical twin and I went to Vegas with our other sister and her daughter in January 2007.

We checked into New York New York, and even though it was around 1a.m., we were pumped ’cause, hey, it’s Vegas, baby!

My twin and I went to the lobby/casino ahead of the other two. As we stood there, surveying where to go first, a well-heeled man approached us and asked if we were twins. We get that all the time—even now as grown women—so no big deal and we answer our typical, “Yes, since we were born!”

He comes back with, “Well do I get both of you?” We look at each other, and then back at him, with a mixture of “What did he just say?” and “Did he just say that?”

He doesn’t miss a beat, and says, “Well, y’all do turn tricks don’t you? Isn’t that why your standing here?” We both say, “NO!” simultaneously. He vanishes in about a nanosecond.

I should add here that we both were wearing jeans and sweaters. Is …

Continue reading CONTEST: The winner of Vegas Nights travel stories – Mistaken Identity »

CONTEST: We want your Summer Camp tales!

There are Summer Camp people, and then there are non-camp people.

I fall into the latter category. When I was a kid, I never attended a real summer camp. I went to a few day camps where we played games in a park and splashed around in the city swimming pool, but by mid-afternoon I was back home with my friends, riding bikes around the neighborhood and playing pickup baseball games until time to go home for dinner.

My wife and her sisters went to a month-long camp in North Carolina over several summers when they were kids, and tell stories of an idyllic mountain retreat where they rode horses, paddled canoes on a lake, sang songs and performed skits around a campfire, ate meals in a dining hall and slept on bunk beds in rustic cabins.

It sounds, to me, like Kid Heaven.

So, if you attended a summer camp, we’d like to hear your stories about your most treasured camp memories. Why did you love camp? What were your favorite and least favorite activities? Do you still keep in touch …

Continue reading CONTEST: We want your Summer Camp tales! »

Searching for history, vampires and the beach in Oregon

Ten days and nearly six thousand miles later, we have returned from our most active vacation since our three kids came along.  While we don’t mind traveling long distances, we had become accustomed to staying put once we arrived at our vacation spot – usually on the beach. This year, we were on the go on a different sort of holiday – a three-state trek through Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Last week, I wrote of our travels through Idaho. This week, explore the second part of our journey – Oregon.

PART TWO – OREGON

When we began plotting the Oregon leg of our northwestern trek, my husband and I had visions of our family following the footsteps of Lewis and Clark and thousands of westward expansionists along the Oregon Trail. We imagined Sacagawea navigating the Columbia River in dugout canoes and wagon trains crossing hazardous terrain. Our southeastern kids would surely appreciate the wide open spaces; the lure of the west; the historical significance of such a …

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CONTEST: Finalists for “Vegas Nights” vacation stories!

Thank you again for all of your Vegas Nights tales. Here are this week’s three finalists. The winner will have his or her story published on Sunday in the AJC and will be qualified to win the grand prize, a getaway trip.

Folks, we need your help now. Take a look at the finalists’ tales. Then vote for the story you like the best.

Which author should win this week? Check out the prize!

DICEY PROPOSITION by Jeff Portwood of Smyrna

I got married in Vegas last year, but this story isn’t about that. This story took place on April 14, 2000 at my friend’s wedding. Read on

DOUBLE TROUBLE by Stan Fouts of Alpharetta

I have taken two memorable trips to Vegas. The first one was years ago, with one of my best friends when I turned 30! … My next trip was recently with my family for a short stay before taking my parents to see the Grand Canyon. Read on

MISTAKEN IDENTITY by Jo Ann Swafford of Sautee Nacoochee

My identical twin and I went to Vegas with our other sister and her daughter in …

Continue reading CONTEST: Finalists for “Vegas Nights” vacation stories! »

CONTEST: Finalist for Vegas Nights travel stories – Mistaken Identity

BY JO ANN SWAFFORD OF Sautee Nacoochee

My identical twin and I went to Vegas with our other sister and her daughter in January 2007.

We checked into New York New York, and even though it was around 1a.m., we were pumped ’cause, hey, it’s Vegas, baby!

My twin and I went to the lobby/casino ahead of the other two. As we stood there, surveying where to go first, a well-heeled man approached us and asked if we were twins. We get that all the time—even now as grown women—so no big deal and we answer our typical, “Yes, since we were born!”

He comes back with, “Well do I get both of you?” We look at each other, and then back at him, with a mixture of “What did he just say?” and “Did he just say that?”

He doesn’t miss a beat, and says, “Well, y’all do turn tricks don’t you? Isn’t that why your standing here?” We both say, “NO!” simultaneously. He vanishes in about a nanosecond.

I should add here that we both were wearing jeans and sweaters. Is that what the …

Continue reading CONTEST: Finalist for Vegas Nights travel stories – Mistaken Identity »

CONTEST: Finalist for Vegas Nights travel stories – Dicey Proposition

BY JEFF PORTWOOD OF SMYRNA

I got married in Vegas last year, but this story isn’t about that. This story took place on April 14, 2000, at my friend’s wedding.

We went to see Andrew Dice Clay at the Venetian. A couple of us already had tickets via Ticketmaster, but a few others got in line to buy them. About that time, a guy walked over and said he had some for sale.

Well, it turns out those tickets were comped to him. To make a long story short, the eye in the sky saw this and we were all escorted into a dark room by some very large, no-neck men in tuxedos.

Expletives were flying out of their mouths, accusing the man of disrespecting them by selling the tickets they comped to him. It was like a scene out of a movie.

That was our first ever night in Vegas. It was funny and really scary at the same time. I’ll be back there in December, and hopefully will have a good story to tell.

Continue reading CONTEST: Finalist for Vegas Nights travel stories – Dicey Proposition »

CONTEST: Finalist for Vegas Nights travel stories – Double Trouble

BY STAN FOUTS OF ALPHARETTA

I have taken two memorable trips to Vegas.

The first one was years ago, with one of my best friends when I turned 30!  We had flown to Phoenix to begin our sightseeing journey. The only night we did not have booked was our night in Vegas. We thought rooms would be plentiful. WRONG! We ended up staying at the Stardust. It was OK, but nothing like what they have now.

The next morning was Sunday, and I was amazed that people were actually gambling on a SUNDAY! What had happened to our world! We lost money and I still blame it on the fact that we were gambling on a Sunday!

My next trip was recently with my family for a short stay before taking my parents to see the Grand Canyon for the first time. We were able to get a great deal at the Venetian! WOW! We were “styling” on this trip.

We managed to stay inside most of time time, until my wonderful little nieces heard about the rides at Circus Circus. My sister had rented a car, but the rest of us …

Continue reading CONTEST: Finalist for Vegas Nights travel stories – Double Trouble »

Want a different summer vacation? Go west…to Idaho

Ten days and nearly six thousand miles later, we have returned from our most active vacation since our three kids came along.  While we don’t mind traveling long distances, we had become accustomed to staying put once we arrived at our vacation spot – usually on the beach.

With our oldest child heading to middle school and our youngest now a travel-hardy five-year-old, we set out for a different kind of summer break this year. Though we did make it to a beach on the Pacific Coast, we were on the go from the get-go as we took a Whitman’s Sampler holiday through Idaho, Oregon and Washington.  Over the next couple of weeks, I will give you this Southeastern family’s take on the great northwest.

PART ONE — IDAHO

We took a five-hour plane ride to Seattle; then immediately hopped into a rental car for the eight-hour drive down to Boise, Idaho. As travel days go, this was a doozy. It seemed a lot more reasonable when we were sitting in Atlanta, gazing at the map and …

Continue reading Want a different summer vacation? Go west…to Idaho »

CONTEST: The winner of romantic travel stories – We met at a hostel in Rome

By Alyssa and John Dunn of Decatur

The most romantic travel story for my husband and I happened, in fact, before we were even husband and wife! I was 20, having just studied abroad in Paris, and was traveling with a friend around Europe. John had just graduated from college and was also doing the grand European tour with a friend. I was from Connecticut and went to school in Boston. He was from Baltimore and was starting school at Emory in the fall. Needless to say, our paths never would have crossed in the U.S.

But thankfully, we did cross paths, in Rome, Italy. We both ended up at the same hostel in Rome at the same time. The hostel itself, near the train station, was very dirty and filled with college students drinking their way through the continent. I was not enjoying our stay there at all. But then, one evening, after a long day of sightseeing, my friends and I happened upon John and his friend eating in the communal kitchen. They seemed nice enough, so we sat down to …

Continue reading CONTEST: The winner of romantic travel stories – We met at a hostel in Rome »