"" Writer's Wanderings

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Couch Surfing, It's Not Just For TV Watchers

There are several alternatives to a hotel and/or a bed and breakfast when you travel according to an article I found at Smart Traveler.com. Most of them are out of my comfort zone but are interesting. Take for instance "couch surfing." Now when I saw that I thought it involved watching TV with a remote in your hand. Nope. It is arranging to stay in a host's home on their couch or in their guest room. While this may be a good way to get to know the locals it's way too adventurous for me.

Some of the other suggestions involve renting a vacation home which we have done. Those are usually homes or condos that are specifically designated as rentals for income for the property owners. That's not a bad way to go. They are stocked with dishes and pans, come with linens most often and offer privacy. VRBO or Dwellable is a good place to search for them.

A unique idea is to rent a dorm room during the summer break. I had no idea that was a possibility. I've stayed in dorm rooms on occasion for a writers conference but didn't know that some colleges actually let you rent them for a week or so. Of course you may not have cooking facilities and in some cases, a private bathroom, and would probably have to supply your own linens but the price might be right. Check out the listings at University Rooms. com. Beware. It may bring back memories of those college days.

A few more ideas are listed in the article at Smart Traveler.com: hostels, home exchanges, night swapping, and camping. Check out the link if you want to
learn more.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Fright Night Friday in Columbus, Ohio

No, it's not Halloween yet but this past weekend we headed south for a softball double header "starring" our granddaughter. We wanted to be there on time for the first game so we planned an over-nighter and went out to dinner with Bob's brother and his wife. They had planned an evening at a classic movie showing in one of the downtown theaters and invited us along. What a treat!

The Ohio Theater was absolutely beautiful! It was opened in 1928 as a Loew's movie house that seated over 2700 people. It became home to many other productions and popular on the vaudeville circuit. It thrived as a movie house until the suburban sprawl pulled business away. In 1969, a group formed to save the Ohio from demolition and restore its grandeur. (A similar thing took place in our Cleveland Playhouse Square area.) The Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA) owns the theater and it is now home to the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Balletmet, and the Broadway Series as well as over a 100 other events including Fright Night Friday.

Before the Fright Night Friday movies began the huge Wurlitzer organ rose from the floor and we enjoyed a half hour of wonderful music from Broadway musicals and old movies. It was worth the price of admission alone ($4).

In the 60s and 70s, Cleveland had its Ghoulardi (Ernie Anderson). In the 70s, Columbus had Fritz the Night Owl as host to their classic horror flicks. He was the star attraction before and during the shows. The movies were true classic horror, The Return of the Vampire (1944) starring Bella Lugosi and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) starring Fredric March. We stayed through the first one and smiled at the 1944 version of special effects. Lugosi's face melts as the vampire dies. It was a wax mask of the actor's face. Very effective, though.

I did have a nightmare that night but it wasn't Bella Lugosi who grabbed me. It was the character in the novel I'm writing. Guess I need to get it done and out of my head. There'll be more time to watch classic movies then.

Does your city have a classic movie fest in the summer?

Friday, July 25, 2014

That's A Service Animal On My Plane?

Did you know that the TSA actually has guidelines for taking a service monkey through security? A service monkey? Who knew? But yes, there apparently is such a thing. Some monkeys can be trained to do things for the disabled like grasp things and do manual tasks like open doors or fetch items.

That opened the door to my curious little mind. What other animals might be considered service animals? There seems to be quite a list according to some people. I found pigs and miniature horses trained like assistance dogs. A parrot helps a man with his Bipolar Disorder. Ferrets can help detect the onset of seizures.

The one that truly amazed me (and frightened me) was a man who claimed his boa constrictor could detect the onset of a seizure and would alert him to take his medicine. How? By constricting. He wears the snake around his neck.

So I ask, quaking at the thought of sitting next to a man on a plane with a snake wrapped around his neck, are these allowed on a plane too?

While the TSA does have rules about how to take a service animal through its security, it doesn't list what it will allow. The service animal does have to be certified but that largely depends upon the regulations in the state where the animal resides. If you look at the ADA regulation changed in 2010, it states that only dogs can be recognized as service animals leaving the rest to be called "therapy animals." I'm confused. All I know is, I'm happy for the man with the snake but I don't want to be traveling with it loose on a plane.

Isn't there a movie. . .?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Be Careful What You Ask For

This story made the rounds
a year ago probably while we were diving in Grand Cayman. I'm just now catching up to it. The moral of the story is: be careful what you ask for.

Apparently when you book a room online at the Woodlands Resort and Conference Center there is a box that asks if you need any special service. An enterprising young man with a great sense of humor thought it would be fun and would create a few laughs for the staff if he requested something silly. So he asked to have three red M&Ms placed on the bed. Not a whole package just three. One for him. One for his fiance. And one to split later if they got hungry. Then, just because he likes pictures of bacon (or so he said), he wanted a picture of bacon placed on the pillow.

Much to his surprise, there on the bed when he arrived were the three M&Ms and a picture of bacon. Apparently the staff has a good sense of humor as well.

Dustin Wray, the traveler with the sense of humor, was interviewed on ABC News and said that once his post of what happened went viral, the hotel offered him a free stay. The manager was just happy that he hadn't asked to have the M&Ms wrapped in the bacon.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Been There, Done. . .Oh, Oh. . .

There are lists for everything these days. The top five beaches, the top ten World Heritage Sites, the most romantic cities, the list of places to see and the list of places not to see. They are tantalizing barometers for what we might be missing or how much we've checked off the bucket list. So when I saw a list of the 10 must-see places in New Zealand, well, I just had to check. You see we had an extensive visit to New Zealand and went all around both islands. So did we miss anything?

The list, if you'd like to look more closely is at Smart Travel.com  and we visited most of them: Milford Sound, Auckland, Christchurch, Bay of Islands, Queenstown, Rotorua's Geothermal Valley, Franz Josef Glacier and Waitomo Gloworm Caves but apparently a couple slipped by us.

Waiheke Island is one we missed. It is in the Hauraki Gulf and is reached by a 30 minute boat ride from Auckland. It is known for its vineyards and wineries which could be why we passed it up. We say plenty of vineyards and wineries on the main islands that make up NZ.

White Island in the Bay of Plenty in the area near Tauranga and Rotorua is basically a volcano. It's Maori name is Te Puia o Whakaari which means "The Dramatic Volcano" named such because it is very active. The only way to see it is by helicopter (not for me) or scenic flight unless you have the time to take a boat there for scuba diving. Our World Cruise does stop a
t Tauranga and there is an excursion but by helicopter. I guess we'll pass again. There's always hope of seeing it from the ship as we arrive or leave the port.

All in all, there are a lot more than 10 best places to visit on Middle Earth and I think we did a pretty good job of seeing most of them. Still, I wouldn't mind another trip back just to be sure we didn't miss any more.
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