Archive for August, 2009

Travel for Ten? Where do you go for a reunion vacation?

This is a year of reunions for my husband and me, as we both mark the twentieth anniversary of our high school graduations. Planning a trip to back to the old school isn’t really that big of an issue, however, because both of us graduated from schools in metro Atlanta. But we are gearing up to travel to a reunion of sorts with about ten of our college friends who are literally spread all over the country.

Several of our far-flung college buddies from UGA now live in Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, Brooklyn, Columbia (SC) and Sarasota, while a few of us are still in the Atlanta or Athens area. Some are single; others don’t have kids; and four couples have children ranging from toddlers to middle schoolers. Our family of five is the largest by far.

These reunion vacations began two years ago, with a camping trip out to the Badlands in South Dakota. Last year, the group headed south to Puerto Rico. Because of scheduling issues with other family trips and the cost of flying the five …

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Would you bed down in a bedroom community on vacation?

The Suburbs: chances are you live in one. The city has its thriving nightlife, cultural opportunities and people from all walks. Suburbs don’t lack people, but their charm, nightlife and cultural offerings can vary widely from town to town.

Some are literally bedroom communities, built to house the city commuter for the few hours that they’re not at work. Others have grown to the point where they offer many city-like benefits. Still more suburbs were once small towns, independent of any “metropolitan” label, that were simply surrounded as the big cities spread.

Over the weekend, I traveled to one such community just outside of Nashville – Franklin, Tenn.  Just a short drive from the state capital, Franklin offers easy access to all things Nashville without surrendering its own small-town charm. The picturesque downtown is not only filled with shops, restaurants and bars, it is also filled with people out and about on a Friday night. Unlike some places, Franklin is active …

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CONTEST: We have a winner!

travel contest logo

You’ve read the stories. You’ve cast your votes. And now, as summer comes to a close, we have a winner in our Atlanta Travelers Blog contest.

Since June, we’ve been reading your vacation stories about different topics, then voting on which was best. They were all great stories, but only one of the finalists will win the three-night stay at the AAA Five Diamond rated Ponte Vedra Inn & Club.

This luxurious oceanside escape is 20 miles southeast of Jacksonville, Fla., and stretches along the sparkling blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Read more about the resort, and the grand prize, here.

The vote was close, with nearly 1,000 cast over the past week, and only 26 votes separated the top two finishers. And now, the winner is…

Vegas Nights: Mistaken Identity by Jo Ann Swafford of Sautee Nacoochee.

Congratulations, Jo Ann! And thanks to all of you who submitted stories, and to all of you who voted. We’ve had a great summer!

The other finalists:

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What Southern cities whet your travel appetite for good cuisine?

I always love reading stories about travel “bests” – best mountain getaways; best cities for shopping; best family destination. The possibilities are virtually endless. While I’m not single or likely to ever (willingly) leap off a tall bridge, I will gladly devour articles entitled “Best Singles Vacations” or “Best Spots to Base-Jump”. 

It was only natural, then, that I would check out Forbes’ recent article listing the “World’s Best Cities to Eat Well”. Many honorees read like a list of European and Asian cosmopolitan centers (think Paris, Rome, Tokyo, Madrid and Beijing).  However, the list does include some surprises. Absent from the “bests” are London and New York, while Mexico City and Shanghai shine.

As I dreamed about the food and culture that draws so many tourists to these cities each year, I began to look a little closer to home. As Atlantans, we are slap dab in the middle of a region that loves to eat well. We may not always eat healthily, but Southerners love …

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CONTEST: Time to pick the grand prize winner!

travel contest logo

School is back in session and summer’s winding down. Just one more thing to do before we pack away the beach toys, bring the boat home from the lake and put the luggage back in the closet.

We’ve read your travel stories. Now we need to award the grand prize.

Since June, we’ve been reading your vacation stories about different topics, then voting on which was best. Now, it’s time for one more vote to decide which of the finalists will win the three-night stay at the AAA Five Diamond rated Ponte Vedra Inn & Club.

This luxurious oceanside escape is 20 miles southeast of Jacksonville, Fla., and stretches along the sparkling blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Read more about the resort, and the grand prize here.

Thanks to all of you who have submitted stories, and to all of you who have voted, too. We’ve had a great summer, but someone’s is about to get better! Read the winning entries, then cast your vote for the best travel story of them all!

Continue reading CONTEST: Time to pick the grand prize winner! »

CONTEST: The winner of Summer Camp stories – Arts & Crafts accident

BY SARAH DASHER WATTON OF SANDY SPRINGS

I went to Camp Illahee for girls in beautiful Brevard for several wonderful summers. Every spring, I would spend hours poring over the camp brochure, carefully selecting which courses I would be enjoying during my three weeks in North Carolina.

Seventh grade year, I was bored by the prospect of another summer tie-dying tees and sculpting clay doo-dads in Arts & Crafts. I wanted to try something exciting, something different (and not as scary as say, rock climbing or whitewater rafting). One of the more peculiar options was a class called “Printmaking,” in which girls would learn to “handcraft stationery and other printed items” using an old-fashioned Platen printing press.

In June, I found myself amid a small circle of campers surrounding a medieval-looking iron contraption in the dark basement of a camp lodge. As the counselor explained how the press worked, I began to seriously doubt my decision. However, I soon learned to enjoy …

Continue reading CONTEST: The winner of Summer Camp stories – Arts & Crafts accident »

Will you squeeze in one more summer getaway?

While summer won’t officially end for a few more weeks, the carefree travel days of this season are over for most metro families. Gone for another 180 school days are the mid-week jaunts to Walt Disney World or the beach; the cross-country excursions; and the tours of the big cities.

Our northern friends may not return to school until after Labor Day, but most Georgia districts are fully back in swing by mid-August – which is right about the time prices drop for summer travels at many southern destination spots.

Just because the family has to work around the school’s calendar for the next few months doesn’t mean you can’t squeeze in a bit more summer fun. The way I see it, August weekends are the perfect time to get out and go in the Southeast.  As I mentioned, prices for beach rentals along southern shores tend to go down in August. College football hasn’t started yet; and many of the kids’ athletic programs really don’t kick in until early September.

Autumn’s jam-packed …

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CONTEST: Finalists for Summer Camp stories!

Thank you again for all of your Summer Camp 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!

ARTS & CRAFTS ACCIDENT by Sarah Dasher Watton of Sandy Springs

I went to Camp Illahee for girls in beautiful Brevard for several wonderful summers. Every spring, I would spend hours poring over the camp brochure, carefully selecting which courses I would be enjoying during my three weeks in North Carolina. Read on

PINKY’S PETS by Kerry Sartain of Acworth

Over my 61 years, I have participated in many summer camps with the Boy Scouts, as a camper, staff member and Scouter. The most memorable experience was my very first week of camp as an 11-year-old Boy Scout at the “Old Camp Bert Adams,” where …

Continue reading CONTEST: Finalists for Summer Camp stories! »

CONTEST: Finalist for Summer Camp stories – Arts & Crafts accident

BY SARAH DASHER WATTON OF SANDY SPRINGS

I went to Camp Illahee for girls in beautiful Brevard for several wonderful summers. Every spring, I would spend hours poring over the camp brochure, carefully selecting which courses I would be enjoying during my three weeks in North Carolina.

Seventh grade year, I was bored by the prospect of another summer tie-dying tees and sculpting clay doo-dads in Arts & Crafts. I wanted to try something exciting, something different (and not as scary as say, rock climbing or whitewater rafting). One of the more peculiar options was a class called “Printmaking,” in which girls would learn to “handcraft stationery and other printed items” using an old-fashioned Platen printing press.

In June, I found myself amid a small circle of campers surrounding a medieval-looking iron contraption in the dark basement of a camp lodge. As the counselor explained how the press worked, I began to seriously doubt my decision. However, I soon learned to enjoy …

Continue reading CONTEST: Finalist for Summer Camp stories – Arts & Crafts accident »

CONTEST: Finalist for Summer Camp stories – Pinky’s Pets

BY KERRY SARTAIN OF ACWORTH

Over my 61 years, I have participated in many summer camps with the Boy Scouts, as a camper, staff member and Scouter. The most memorable experience was my very first week of camp as an 11-year-old Boy Scout at the “Old Camp Bert Adams,” where Cumberland Mall is today. In 1959, that area was wild, wooded and apart from Atlanta. No malls, no highways, and not much in the way of businesses existed.

The trip started Sunday afternoon with a bus ride from Decatur to Vinings. Once the bus unloaded, we were shown to adirondacks (three-sided wooden structures with a wooden floor and an overhanging roof), each with three bunk beds to accommodate six campers. I quickly learned my first lesson of summer camp as all the experienced campers dashed to claim their bunks. I was left behind with some other Tenderfoots to find the open spaces. I found a bottom bunk open, and I would learn why no one else wanted it. The top bunk was occupied by a Second Class …

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