Museums Open Doors with Free Admission

Smithsonian Castle

Smithsonian Castle and gardens

Free culture! Come and get your free culture! Continue reading

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Bye Bye My Sweet Buddy

Buddy PuppyI spotted a tiny puppy curled in a ball at the back of a cage at the pound. I couldn’t really see the sleeping ball of fur because his cellmate was at the front of the cage barking and snarling at me.

Cairo and Sandy in AnchorageIt was a recon trip. Mike wasn’t with me. Our yellow lab/Great Dane mutt developed a large tumor on his spleen and suddenly he was gone. A week later we were traveling in Europe. It was a whirlwind trip that covered Saltzburg, Vienna, Budapest, Krakow, Auschwitz/Birkenaeu, Prague and Munich Continue reading

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Road Trip? There’s An App For That

Somewhere in Kentucky

Get your motor runnin’
Head out on the highway
Lookin’ for adventure
In whatever comes our way

Lyrics from “Born to be Wild” by Steppenwolf

Got a hankering to hit the open road?

Before you load up the car, load up your smart phone with these helpful free apps.

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Asheville’s Calling

SONY DSCThe ads are cheesy. An iPhone rings and the caller I.D. says Asheville, N.C. The tagline from this tourism board commercial is “Asheville’s calling. Will you answer?”

Asheville has been calling me for a while but not because of the ad campaign. I have not been able to get out of town for a while and I am desperate for a mountain fix. I need a change of scenery and a day trip is just what my inner travel junkie negotiated with my wallet.

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Stalking Homeland in Charlotte

One of Showtime's Homeland Shoots in Charlotte

One of Showtime’s Homeland Shoots in Charlotte

The year has flown by and it’s time for the annual weekend visit from my nearly lifelong friend Bill. Although Bill would be content to spend the two and a half days sitting on a couch yacking, that is not my idea of a good time. Prior to his arrival, I make up a list of interesting places to visit.

Bill’s visits were never a challenge when Mike and I were gypsies moving from city to city. There was always something new to explore. But, now that we’ve been in Charlotte for 12 long years, my self-imposed rule of not repeating anything is making that to-visit list more of a challenge.

Most of the must-see Charlotte-area tourist destinations have already been covered: the U.S. National Whitewater Center, the Levine Museum of the New South, the Latta Plantation. We’ve been to the mountains; we’ve been to the sea – road trips to Asheville and Charleston were checked off early on. Last year had an international theme. (Read about that trip here.) So what to do this year?

Charlotte has a pretty active film community because of North Carolina’s generous 25% refundable tax credit for productions done in the state. Add to that a diverse choice of typical looking locations that stretch from the ocean to the mountains with small towns, big cities and farm land in between. Crew costs are cheaper than L.A. and New York. It’s also a heck of a lot easier to close streets, businesses, or a university campus for a shoot here. Continue reading

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Easter Island Planning & Packing Tips

The Mutt and the Moai at Tongariki

A trip to Easter Island is the trip of a lifetime. A trip to Easter Island is long and expensive.

But if you are one of the 50,000 or so people who make this trek every year, you will be well rewarded for your efforts. Don’t shortchange yourself on time, and don’t put off doing it. I should have bumped it to the top of my to-do list a long time ago. I really loved this incredibly special place. Continue reading

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Daily Torture – More DNC Fun

The hottest tickets in town dropped in my lap at a business meeting. Tracy could barely contain her excitement and concentrate on the purpose of the meeting. She had just gotten her hands on tickets to a taping of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” I said, “I would kill to get tickets to The Daily Show!” There were two extra tickets! Tracy generously offered two tickets to me and my husband.

My fabulous employer told me to go and have fun! We tried to concentrate on the business at hand and all raced home to tie up loose ends. Unfortunately, Mike couldn’t get the afternoon off.

A friend who went the day before said we needed to be in line no later than 2:00 and assured me that I could bring a backpack. With permission to pack, I wanted to make sure I was ready for rain. I filled my backpack with the poncho from the media party, a pair of waterproof sandals so I wouldn’t have to stand around in squishy, wet shoes again, a phone charger in case I had an opportunity to plug-in and my iPad to pass any boring time in line. I wore comfortable walking shoes in case we had to park miles away but my mistake was to wear clothes that were way too hot to wear standing in the hot sun. Continue reading

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CarolinaFest – More DNC Fun

Train to Uptown Charlotte’s CarolinaFest for the DNC 2012

The Charlotte in 2012 host committee threw another fun party for the Democratic National Convention. CarolinaFest drew a diverse group of delegates, dignitaries and a mob of Mecklenburgers (Charlotte is in Mecklenburg County) to the heart of the city. Continue reading

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DNC Media Party – Charlotte, North Carolina

Notice that we are cruising right through the red light.

The night started with a police escort! No, it wasn’t a funeral. We were on one of the many chartered city buses headed for the Democratic National Convention’s Media Party in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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Frightened by Fur on Easter Island – Day 4

It’s 6 am and Edith is rattling our door. Scared out of a dead sleep, we are a bit alarmed and confused until we figure out that the owner of the Hotel Taura’a thinks we are part of the group on an early fight.  Before we can respond, she realizes her mistake and moves on.

Our flight doesn’t leave until 5:40 this evening. We still have plenty of time to play.  Wide awake, now. We decide, “What the heck!”  Let’s go record an Easter Island sunrise.

We pick Anakena Beach because we can race there on paved roads.  Well, not really race.  Time is of the essence to make in time for the sunrise. But there are so many loose animals on the island lurking around every other corner, that we are afraid we will hit a cow or horse in the dark if we go too fast.

Furry Beast in the Dark

There is no moon so it’s still pitch black when we arrive and can’t see a thing.  I open the car door a smidge and it’s pushed open by more than one furry creature that I can’t see.  The interior car light is not set to turn on so in the inky darkness I push whatever they are away with my tripod legs and get the door closed.  We shine a light and realize that the car has been surrounded by a pack of dogs. Mike and I freak out a bit.  What should we do? Continue reading

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