Archive for October, 2009

Do you have a favorite Caribbean getaway?

As I trudged through the rain recently, a friend diverted me from cold, wet thoughts with news that she was planning a trip to Aruba in a few weeks. I’ve never been to this small island just off the coast of South America, but the idea of white beach sand and warm Caribbean breezes were enough to push soaked clothes and flash flood warnings to the recesses of my mind – at least temporarily.

While my friend is traveling to this Dutch-governed island mainly to do a bit of scuba diving over the winter, she appears to be headed to Paradise at just the right time. Her early December departure will put her there at the tail end of the “off season”, when hotel rates are still reduced. By mid-to-late December, hotel rates typically rise throughout the Caribbean. (Of course, bargain-hunters who are flexible about the island or resort they’re staying in may find some great “peak season” deals in the coming months because of the recession.)

Temperatures on the island …

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Have you ever sailed on a theme cruise?

Lately I have noticed an increase in themed travel packages, specifically in the cruise industry. I’m not talking about extreme sports expeditions or singles-only tours, which draw adventure-seekers to challenging locations or ensure that single travelers can mix and mingle with other adults on their vacations. While those have become popular, I’m thinking more of the mile-long lists of “theme cruises” out there catering to just about any interest you could imagine.

A theme cruise is generally defined as a “normal” cruise with additional activities or programs centered on a particular topic of interest. Typically, when I hear “theme cruise”, I immediately think of the Disney Cruise Line. Disney cruises allow families to eat with Mickey and Co.; offer parents and children Disney-themed activities; and spend the day on Disney’s own private island. But DCL isn’t the only game in town when it comes to theme cruising.

Over the past few months, I have seen …

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FAIR thee well at the South’s festivals

For two weeks every October, the Sirens’ call of the Cumming Country Fair draws our family, friends and neighbors up Georgia 400 to the gates of the Cumming Fairgrounds for a few hours of good, old-fashioned fun.  But with all of the recent rain and our jam-packed schedules, I’m afraid time is running out for us to make it there this year.

The fair will pack up and move on after its grand finale on Sunday, October 18th, and we have yet to find a rain-free, softball/tennis/gymnastics/scouts-free day to go. (Fingers crossed this weekend turns out sunny.)

My entire family loves a good fair. My husband and kids are all about the carnival rides and the games. I’m all about the caramel apples and funnel cakes. But in the end, the agricultural and historical exhibits are what really make country and state fairs special to me. Not only do they remind me of a simpler – but much more difficult – time, they also never fail to make me appreciate the lives we enjoy today.

And …

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Want to get lost in the corn maze craze this autumn?

Enjoying the crisp air, colorful leaves and harvest festivals is an annual rite of autumn; and people have come up with many fall activities over the years to help get out and make the most of the season.

Folks used to simply gather together and go for a hayride as part of their autumnal celebrations. As kids, we would throw a bunch of hay in the back of a pickup truck and ride around the farm before topping the evening off with s’mores around a campfire. More recently, hayrides continued to be popular, but they were something you did with the kids in addition to spending a day at the pumpkin patch or picking apples in an orchard.

The 21st century fall festivity of choice seems to be the corn mazes that have grown wildly popular over the past few years — so popular that many of those pumpkin farms and orchards have added a maze to give tourists added incentive to visit.

Today, you can find more than 600 corn mazes popping up along the North American landscape, from Edmonton, …

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