Archive for September, 2010

Have you ever traveled on an educational tour?

My 13-year-old daughter has the opportunity next summer to spread her travel wings on an educational tour through Europe. The itinerary and sights she will see are all very exciting, and I think her head will be full with a continent’s worth of history when she comes home. I also think she will be much more independent after three weeks without her parents.

While it’s difficult to imagine letting her cross the Pond on her own (with a big, teacher-led group, of course), I’m trying to tell myself that this is no different than letting her go to summer camp. It’s just a summer camp on an international tour.

Every time I think about how young she may be for such a trek, I remember that I made my first big trip sans parents when I was only a couple of years older. I embarked on a similar tour when I was 15 years old, traveling through Germany (East and West, at the time), Austria, Switzerland and even little Lichtenstein. I polished my German-speaking skills, toured …

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An apple fest on a fall day is a great getaway

For many of us, the delicious temptation of the apple (in all of its variations, from pie to caramel to butter) is difficult to resist. We are a country that loves our apples. Early in our history, we had Johnny Appleseed traveling the Midwestern frontier, wearing pots on his head and planting apple trees wherever he trod. Today, we celebrate the simple apple all year long, through contests, pageants, festivals and fairs.

With the exception perhaps of SEC football, nothing seems more seasonal to me on a crisp, autumn day than spending time with my family or friends at one of our region’s many apple orchards or apple festivals.

It’s easy to indulge in all things apple, when Georgia’s apple country lies just up the road from Atlanta. Orchards in Gilmer County produce more than 600,000 bushels of red, green and gold beauties each year, and the county seat of Ellijay is ripe for apple visitors in early October when it hosts its annual Apple Fest.  During the fortnight of …

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Would you pay more to camp in style?

One of the things I have always enjoyed about fall is camping in the crisp, cool weather. I love the sounds, the smells of a crackling campfire at night and the woods in the early morning. As I have gotten older, however, I don’t relish the feeling of sleeping on the hard ground as much as I once did.

In my childhood, we would occasionally camp out on my parents’  farm. We would hike to a set of rock outcroppings, pull out our sleeping bags and pretend we were camping on a Himalayan mountainside. If I woke up sore or with a crick in my neck from sleeping on a stone slab, I don’t remember it. By the time I entered college, I was ready for a proper camping trip – one that required actually leaving home, hiking a real mountain and carrying my tent and everything else on my back. What discomfort I might have felt at sleeping on the ground was negated by the fact that I slept very little on those trips in the first place.

The arrival of our children a few years later also brought …

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Time to think about holiday travel? Deals may soon be hard to find

Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go… I know, we have literally just celebrated the last big weekend of summer, but those hoping to travel this winter might be wise to start making their holiday travel plans now.

In years past, winter travelers could hold out hope for last-minute deals on airline flights. That has changed. Higher airfares, added fees, fewer planes flying fewer flights and peak-travel surcharges all add up to a more expensive getaway this Thanksgiving and Christmas – whether to the ski slopes, the beach or Gran’s house in  Poughkeepsie.

In a recent Cox Newspapers report, American Express Business Travel said the cost of plane tickets this fall is nearing pre-recession levels. That doesn’t count the extra fees travelers are hit with these days for baggage, seat selection and anything else imaginable.

“The total cost of travel is definitely going up,” Charlie Leocha, director of the Consumer Travel Alliance, said in …

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Unearthing hidden treasures around Huntsville

One of the first things I look for each day when I turn on my computer, aside from emails and the like, is the latest photo on the Bing.com search website. The photos themselves are usually beautiful, and are often of exotic places that really get my travel juices flowing.  

While pictures of the Southern Alps of New Zealand, Alberta’s Lake Louise or the clear waters off the Fijian coast are breathtaking, some of my favorite daily images have been of interesting places nearby that I never knew existed. It’s those destinations within easy reach that send me to my calendar to see when I can hit the road for a new adventure.

Over the weekend, Bing.com served up a striking photo of Neversink Pit in Jackson County, Ala. For cavers, Neversink is probably a well-known name. The 162-foot deep limestone sinkhole is owned by the Southeastern Cave Conservancy and is listed among the top ten sinkholes in the world. The open-air pit promises endangered ferns, waterfalls and other …

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