Friday, July 30, 2010

Foto Fun Friday - July 30th, 2010

Named after Thomas Corwin Mendenhall, this glacier is a site to see! I enjoyed the adventure of landing in a helicopter on it and exploring.

What STATE does this Glacier live in and what's it's name? Hints above!

Why is the ice blue?
Glacial ice appears blue because it absorbs all colors of the visible light spectrum except blue, which it transmits. The transmission of this blue wavelength gives glacial ice its blue appearance. Glacier ice may also appear white because some ice is highly fractured with air pockets an indiscriminately scatters the visible light spectrum.

Foto Fun Friday - July 30th, 2010
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hyatt Summerfield Suites - Denver, CO

I was on the search for a hotel in Denver, Colorado for a trip with my parents.  I needed wanted a 2 bedroom unit with my usual necessities; free Wi-Fi, free parking, comfortable bed, complimentary breakfast and if I am lucky a full kitchen.  Although after the trip was over I realized the kitchen was unecessary with my parents who prefer to eat out.

I went on my usual online search and came across a couple suitable hotels.  Neither were dead smack in the middle of downtown Denver, but I didn't mind and honestly prefer to be slightly away from the large Cities. Staying downtown would have most likely included an older hotel, paid parking and paid internet.

The Hyatt Summerfield Suites had everything I needed and I was more than pleased when we arrived.  My parents (being the non-travelers) were impressed with their booking agent (me) and loved the 2 bedroom unit we got.  They thought I was some sort of Travel agent goddess, but really it was a simple Expedia find and at a great price. 

The rooms were spacious, very comfortable with ample seating for a family and included a nice full kitchen.  Each room had a master bath with a working desk area, flat screen TV and plush beds.  In the morning we went down for a great complimentary breakfast and hit the road for downtown Denver, which was only about a 20 minute drive away. 

The hotel also had a pool, business room with Wi-Fi printing from your room, a small grocery area for those needed items and they also offered grocery delivery to your room if you didn't want to handle the shopping yourself.  My only complaint was that the dryer we used (out of the 6) didn't work.  I stayed up until midnight trying three times to run the load.  I did let the front desk know and they said they would look at it. But I was hoping for an offer to help dry them or give me back the $3 I spent, with my wet clothes in hand.

I can't wait to take this trip again, this time with my husband and children.  Denver is a wonderful City and staying at the Hyatt Summerfield Suites made it that much more enjoyable.  If your looking for a nice, clean family hotel at a great rate, stay here, you won't be disappointed. ShareThis

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cedarbrook Lodge - The Perfect Conference Venue

All you wonderful Conference planners take a look! I have found a great venue for your next 2011 or 2012 Conferences. 

I was recently invited to stay at the Cedarbrook Lodge, where I found a prior owned, Washington Mutual (bank) training center, turned into a blissful Lodge retreat!  Just around the corner from Seattle/Tacoma International airport and the Link Lite Rail to Seattle, this massive conference center has it all. 

With 104 guest rooms and 18,000sf of conference space - that is just the beginning.  My room was comfortable, spacious and up to date with all the free Wi-Fi and Starbucks coffee a writer needs to stay up at night.  There are two buildings for the guests, each with it's own "Living room" space - a great area for conference attendees to converse in the evening while enjoying some of the nice 24-hour snacks Cedarbrook provides, including oranges, whoppers of different flavors, yogurt, string cheese and Haagen-Dazs ice cream!

The outdoor space will provide a quiet and relaxing atmosphere for the sometimes chaotic sessions at a conference.  Walking trails surround the property on it's 18 acre site and a complimentary shuttle will take you directly to the Lite Rail train for a day trip to anywhere in Seattle. 

Your attendees can also forget the worries of a rental car by taking the complimentary shuttle to and from the airport to Cedarbrook.

Cedarbrooks Conference rooms vary in size and capacity, holding from 8-300 guests. These conference rooms also boast some High-tech gadgetry for providing great presentations on the multiple drop screens and generating Dolby Digital surround sound.

The Lodge also provides in-house catering as well as it's Gourmet Copperleaf restaurant. Serving the best Farm to Table food I've ever eaten! It was worthy enough of it's own article I wrote last week.

Breakfast is complimentary, serving some basic, healthy and delicious food. Oatmeal, cereals, and pastries from the local bakery are just to name a few.










From a large fitness center to the Copperleaf bar and more, this Lodge has everything you'll need for your conference.  After my weekend stay I'd say that I'd love to be staying at Cedarbrook for an upcoming blogger conference!  Amazing venue!


*Disclosure: Cedarbrook provided my weekend stay. All opinions expressed are that of my own.


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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Theme Park Savings - Twilight admission and other Discounts!

I recently asked Theme Parks across the Nation if they offer a twilight, late entry or other discounted prices that may not be listed or always known by the public.  This is always of course public information, but not typically something parks promote on their sites. 

I recalled my favorite park Knotts Berry Farm used to have a Twilight rate and checked up with them first.  They still offer a discount after 4p.m for $27.50 opposed to the normal Full day $54.99 rate for adults.  HALF OFF the all day price and well worth it in my book.  Typically in the summertime parks are open until 10p.m to sometimes Midnight and that gives you 5-8hrs during your half admission price.

WHY GO LATE?
On top of the cheaper entry your most likely to see shorter lines, cooler weather and a few less children.  Most families plan their theme park trips for first thing in the morning, and younger children tire out usually sometime around 4pm if they've been at the park since 9a.m.  

Spend your day visiting the city, enjoying your hotel pool or taking a scenic drive.  Save even more money by having your breakfast, lunch and dinner outside the park, then head in once your ready to hit the rides and have fun.  If your a Theme Park food lover, have a late night snack between all the walking around you'll be doing. 

Locals
You probably already know as a local that purchasing a season pass is the best offer of them all! Some theme parks charging a daily rate of $55 may give a season pass for a mere $10 more.  As a traveler this is the downside of not getting to be a frequent visitor.

Here is a list of just a few Parks that offer a Twilight or late entry price and a few other tips! Call the park where your planning your next trip and see if they offer any late entry discounts. Don't forget to even ask the local Zoo's and Museums


THEME PARK TWILIGHT & DISCOUNT RATES

Lake Compouse - New England - $34.99 Normal Rate - After 5pm $17.99
        There is a discount when someone purchases their ticket online from our website, by showing a stop and shop card, as well as discount coupons available at Burger King and Dunkin Donuts. Members of AAA and Costco can also buy discounted tickets through those entities.

Sesame Place - Philadelphia - $53 Normal Rate - After 3p.m $30
        Another special promotion ticket that we have is the Elmo Any 2-Day Ticket. With our Elmo tickets, guests get two days in the park for the price of one--$53

Seabreeze - New York - $24.99 Normal Pass - After 5pm. $19.99
       The best deal for getting tickets to Seabreeze is to buy them online at http://www.seabreeze.com/. The web price for a Ride & Slide Pass is $21.99 instead of $24.99. Plus to get to use our Express Lanes for faster access to the park.

Hershey Park - Pennsylvania - $52.95 Normal Rate - After 5p.m $26.95
       Discounted tickets to Hersheypark are sold through AAA, Giant and Martin Food Stores and through many participating businesses

Elitch Gardens - Denver, Colorado - $40.99 Normal Rate - After 4p.m - $32.99
       We have coupons for discounted admission at Dairy Queens in Colorado and there are offers on Pepsi cans. We also have discounted day tickets available at King Soopers.  Sunday Funday tickets are $31.99 available online for Sundays in July and August. We also have a Play Like a Kid, Pay Like a Kid promotion which will run the first week in August. This promotion allows adults to pay the child’s price for admission during that week ($29.99). Those last two offers (Sunday Funday and Play Like a Kid, Pay Like a Kid) are only available on our website, http://www.elitchgardens.com/.

Knotts Berry Farm - Buena Park, California - $54.99 Normal Rate - After 5p.m $27.50
      More discounts are offered at the local Ralphs Grocery, Subways, online tickets, AAA members and Military discounts as low as $29.99 for an adult.

Busch Gardens Park in Virginia did not provide a Twilight Rate, but gave the following discount information
      For guests visiting from outside the Williamsburg region, we offer the Discovery Ticket ($69.95 online) that provides unlimited admission to Busch Gardens and Water Country USA for seven consecutive days. We also offer Virginia residents a Fun Card that provides unlimited admission to Busch Gardens through Labor Day for the price of a single-day ticket ($61.95). For guests who only plan to visit the park once, we offer coupons in businesses throughout the area that provide discounts for single-day admission to the park.
Travel Tip Tuesday - July 27th 2010
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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Meeting another Traveling Mom and so many more at EVO

During my recent trip to Park City, Utah I was attending my first blogger conference and super excited to meet some of the wonderful women I had been talking to and working with online.  One person I was really looking forward to meeting was Kim Orlando, founder of Travelingmom.com where I write as "Northwest TravelingMom". 

Kim was on the panel for "Vlogging" and I was there for two reasons. One, to learn how to start vlogging and secondly to meet this super busy and wonderful TravelingMom. 

It is always one thing to have friends and colleagues online, but I always find it so amazing to meet them in person.  It seems that even though you've never met this person that you know them so well and it's always an easy conversation as if your picking up from the last email you left off from.  

Attending EVO was a wonderful experience, not just for meeting Kim, but also all the other great bloggers I had never even talked with prior to the conference.  Everyone was so welcoming (even for this newbie blogger) and I took many lasting friendships home with me. 

PS - We all don't normally dress up like cowgirls (that I know of) but the closing party was sponsored by Bushes Baked Beans and everyone put on their best riding gear!

Some great new bloggy friends I made (just a couple out of MANY)




Christine Young (pictured middle) of From Dates to Diapers - One Amazing mother of 6 (soon to be 7)







Lauren Horsely of Supermom Central & TravelingwithTinysMom on Travelingmom.com 




Gina Bégin of Sugared Magnolia - Where she bakes some fabulous organic foods







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Friday, July 23, 2010

Foto Fun Friday - July 23rd, 2010

Today's Foto Fun Friday comes at the expense of my lovely daughter.  This past weekend we enjoyed our travels near home and went to the Lake Fair that takes place each summer in Downtown Olympia, WA.

I reminded my daughter that she is scared of the big slide (from past attempts), but she insisted she wanted to go. So up she went and
                                          down she came, with a priceless look on her face! 


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Thursday, July 22, 2010

What's on your Travel Bucket List? Here is mine!

This seems to be a popular topic at the moment, and it's even the topic of discussion for this weeks #TNI (Travelers Night In) on Twitter.  It got me thinking about my own Travel Bucket List and where exactly my heart truly desires to go. 

My typical travels tend to lean towards convenience and sometimes the most kid friendly and closest to home with a toddler in tow.  I forget that my dream is to look beyond those conveniences and see the world before I hit sixty.

After some thought I've created my own "Travel Bucket List". Places I want to see and adventures I'd like to complete - dare I say, "before I die".  Not to be confused with my day to day Bucket list, or my favorite places I've already traveled to.  I didn't put these in any order of importance - I find that they all equally have a special reason for being on this list and I want to do them in any order I can.

#1 Ireland
This just looks like an absolutely beautiful island, and somewhere along the lines apparently my fathers side of the family is Irish. Aren't we all? At least on St. Patty's Day it seems!

#2 Visit All 50 United States
I've mostly seen the Western United States and a few larger Eastern States. I don't count airport stops or layovers. I only mark one off if I've spent at least a weekend.  All those tiny ones on the East Coast will take awhile. But my next cruise will be the Canada/New England cruise, that should help mark off a few.

#3 Paris, France
Who doesn't want to see Paris? And the Eiffel tower in Vegas doesn't count

#4 The Grand Canyon with my Family
This should be an easy trip to accomplish since were just up North. I'm waiting for my son to turn maybe 5 or 6 so he can enjoy it too.

#5 African Safari
Every picture I've seen from African Safari's make me want to pack up my jungle gear and hop into the back of a Jeep.

#6 Hot Air Ballooning - Almost anywhere!
I love being high in the sky (despite my slight fear of flying). As I was leaving Park City, Utah last month I saw a few Hot Air Balloons in the distance. I pulled over and just watched them soar through the air. I can't wait to take my husband back with me and do this someday.

#7 Take a month long Cruise with my husband
It's no secret that I LOVE to cruise. I would love to take the world cruise, but 90+ days on a ship seems a bit much and a little spendy. But I plan to hop on for a month long portion of the World cruise maybe once we are "empty nester's" and the kids are gone.

#8 Tuscany, Italy
Another beautiful place I dream of going. Especially when I see it in the movies, it makes me want to go even more.  Can't wait to see the newest movie "Eat, Pray, Love" with Julia Roberts!

#9 Take my Children to Disneyworld for a week or more!
One of my favorite memories as a teenager was one of my rare trips with my parents. My dad surprised me and my best friend on a trip to Disneyworld and I can't wait to share the magic with my children.

#10 Take a trip to help those in need
I did this once as a teenager and hope to do it again.  We built houses in Mexico and even at a young age I knew how important this was and how much we were helping. The tears in the eyes of the families we built homes for was enough for me to want to help again.  One of the most rewarding trips you can experience!

Can you name just ONE place on your list? Maybe some where or something you want to do the most?
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pike Place Market - A site to see! - Seattle, WA

I'll admit I'm not a lover of crowds, but I can tollerate much more than my husband can.  We took a trip up to Seattle, via the Lite Rail and had a great time. Despite having been to the Pike Place market in years past we made the stop anyways.  At first glance my husband would of rather just walked by and skipped the over crowded market, but once we got in and out of the main entrance it wasn't so overwhelming.  The smell of fresh fish isn't exactly my cup of tea, but the beautiful flowers, fruit, vegetables and unique products made this worth the stroll
KIDS at the Pike Place
My thought on Pike Place with children is that it's a tough walk with a stroller. Heck, it's a tough walk sometimes without the kids, and if you have a child (like my son) who likes to run off when not contained, you may want to bring an umbrella or small stroller to strap them down.  Keep the kids close at all times! They can quickly become misplaced behind another person walking by or swept away with the crowd.  There are lots of great bakeries and food stands to delight the kids or yourself with a yummy snack.


HOURS: Unlike many other smaller farmers markets, Pike Place is open 7 days a week, 362 days a year, excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day.  Typical hours are from 10am-5pm, but follow this Link for specific Market Hours information.
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lost in the Parking lot? - Travel Tip Tuesday

Ever gone to the airport, theme park or even the grocery store and forgot where you parked?  We'll here is a simple tip that can save you some frustration after a long day of fun with the Family at the zoo or any other place you may get lost in the jungle of cars!

Travel Tip Tuesday - July 20th, 2010
Grab your camera, iPhone or what ever is handy for a photo and snap one of the nearest permanent object that stands out to you. Could be a sign, huge rock or just something near your car.  Don't take a picture of the cool monster truck next to you, because he may not be there when you get back.  Most theme parks also have the identification signs to help you remember, so snap a picture of that.  Then when your day is about done, look back at that first photo of the day and see where you parked.  Super simple!

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Devine 5 course meal at the Copperleaf Restaurant at Cedarbrook Lodge

I was invited by the Culinary Director, Roy Breiman and Chef Mark Bodinet for a fabulous dinner during my stay at Cedarbrook Lodge.  The Copperleaf Restaurant provides an intimate dining experience with first class gourmet food.

The Chef had a created a tasting menu for us, but the actual menu itself was full of wonderful dishes that would most likely fit anyone's taste.  Prices were in the range of $12-$30 per dish, depending on what you prefer, but well worth it!  I asked for a children's menu even though we had left the kiddo's home for this relaxing trip, and they had a great selection of noodles, meats, sandwiches and the kids favorite...mac n' cheese!  All for a nice price of around $6 per meal.

Farm to Table Food
One of my favorite things about this restaurant and Lodge is that they are dedicated to being sustainable.  At the Cooperleaf restaurant you'll find simple, flavorful ingredients brought to the table from local farmers and even vegetables from their own garden at the lodge.

We began our dinner with something to "open our palate" (yes this was a fancy restaurant) then jumped into the Yakima Valley Asparagus Salad.  The mixture in this salad was amazing. Somehow mixing the cherries and asparagus made my taste buds tingle! At this point I realized I should be taking pictures because this meal was going to be worth sharing.

Next was Kodiak Island Halibut. I have to admit I cringed when I saw fish on the tasting menu, I don't normally eat it.  But my first bite into this and I was in Halibut heaven. It was my first time having Halibut and I hope it tastes this good everywhere because I've been missing out!


After cleansing our palates again we had Snake River Farm Pork Belly.  A little too fatty for my taste, but my husband ate his up and the rest of what I left on my plate as well.  I'm the kind of person who picks off any fat I see on my meat.

Grilled Painted Hills Strip Loin...that's all I have to say! Mmmmm, it was delicious!  I've never had a Morels Mushroom, but they are salty and good if eaten sparingly.

And if I wasn't already stuffed to the brim after tasting all those wonderful dishes we were spoiled with the most wonderful Fromage Blanc Ice Cream (ice cream made with cream cheese) and the CHOCOLATEIST (if that's a word) Theo's Hot Chocolate I've ever had in my life.  Even the cup was the size of an espresso shot because it was so Rich!
Tip: If you plan to dine at this wonderful restaurant, make a reservation! With the small intimate dining it can get full fast. Earlier dining is more likely to get you a seat




*Disclosure: My meal was provided by the Copperleaf restaurant, but I guarantee did not affect my opinion of this article, the food speaks for itself!

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Foto Fun Friday - July 16th, 2010

Last week I wrote about my favorite theme park and how my family has gone for generations.  Well, here is the fun proof I found in my moms photo albums!

Same fun cowboys, still sitting and waiting for us everytime we visit!  There are even some nice looking ladies for the boys to pose with as well


My father - sometime in the early 60's



My Aunt and I (left)- 1985My daughter, mother and I - 2007

So, here is your super EASY Foto Friday Question...What Theme park is this?


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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Then and Now of Travel - How has Travel changed over the years?

Remember the old days of travel?  Stories told by our grandparents (maybe Great-grandparents) of horse buggies, walking up hill both ways to school in the snow without shoes, and the word "Internet" was not even a part of the English vocabulary.

Travel has changed so much, even just in the past 10 years.  New fees and more regulations due to National security and post 9-11 fears.  We can no longer bring any liquids we please, carry sharp objects or cross the United States border without a passport.   


Lets take a moment to sit back and reminisce the good ol' days of travel.  Some good, some bad, but nevertheless...all gone in the past!

THEN:  You rode in the back of the station wagon, crawling over seats, driving your parents nuts and thought seat belts were for race car drivers.
NOW:  Children as old as tweens are sometimes required to use a child seat (due to height or weight) and we don't get out of the garage without the car BEEPING like crazy if a passenger has forgotten their seat belt. But I must say I don't mind the rules when it comes to my kids safety.

THEN:  Riding in an airplane felt like a train because the person next to you, just may have lit up like one with a cigarette in the cabin.  Can you imagine? Smoking on an airplane? 
NOW:  Don't think twice about it - and you'd better bet you'll be hauled off in hand-cuffs if you mess with the smoke-detector on a plane.  I have to laugh as I pass by the glass boxed "smoking section" some airports provide; Take note: the ceilings are yellow!

THEN: FREE Pillow, blanket, full sized snack or hot meal and a smile were what your flight-attendant provided on every flight.
NOW: Snacks and meals provided with a FEE. Don't forget that credit card or cash, or you may be asking your neighbor if he's gonna eat his entire bag of 10 peanuts! And as heard over the PA - "flight attendants are there primarily for your safety", so think twice before pushing that help button.

THEN: Did you pack your Walkman? The first portable cassette player entered our travels in 1979.
NOW: MP3, iPhone and other devices hold 1000's of songs, books and even movies to go!

THEN: Paper tic-tac-toe, hangman, "99 bottles of beer on the wall" and other classics kept you busy while on that family road trip.
NOW: Wi-fi, portable DVD players, iPad and other handheld devices keep kids entertained.  Even your only child sadly no longer needs a playmate in the backseat.

THEN: Cruising was for the elite and unless your father worked on Wall-Street you probably never even considered the day you'd sail away for 7 nights to the Caribbean!
NOW: Cruising is much more affordable for many and with the price of gas you can probably find one cheaper than that week long road-trip your planning.

How has Travel changed since you were a child?
Add your Now and Then story
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

This tip could save a childs life - Travel Tip Tuesday

Today's Travel tip comes from my sons Pediatrician.  During our last 2yr check-up he recognized that we do alot of family travel and gave me some wonderful advice. 

About 20 years ago our Pediatrician experienced loosing Three of his toddler patients. All separate incidences and separate families.  All three were on vacation, two visiting hotels and one at Grandma's house.  The toddlers were able to climb out of their beds and cribs and got out the door to the pool.  Sadly their rambunctious toddler curiosities led them to drown in pools during what should have been a fun family vacation. 

Block the hotel door, or any place you stay that's not home - with a chair, dresser or anything you can move to prevent tragedy.  Even if you think your child is unable to climb out of bed, neither did the parents who lost their children.  Our children amaze us by learning new tricks every day and maneuvering their way out the door in the middle of the night is not one we'd like to let them teach us.

I was even a little shocked thinking back on my last trip to Maui and having the EXACT issue with the entry door unlocking when my son pulled on the handle.  I was just generally frustrated that I was having to chase him down the hall every five minutes, but it never occurred to me that the pool was literally just steps away around the corner with no fencing, no locks and literally a straight walk into it at ground level off the grass.

This can happen to anyone, anywhere!  I hope this advice helps just one family to take this simple step to prevent tragedy from happening again.

Do you have any SAFETY tips for traveling with kids?  Please share! ShareThis

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Snorkeling in Maui with Maui Classic Charters

One of my favorite activities in Hawaii is snorkeling!  Although as much as I like it, I've only snorkeled a hand full of times in all my travels.  I find it to be a more affordable activity, no matter where your visiting.  The Caribbean, Hawaii or Mexico all have snorkel trips that range anywhere from $30-$100 per person. 

We decided to do our second Molokini snorkel (the last time was 10yrs ago), which takes you on a 30 minute ride out to the sunken crater for what is known as the most popular snorkeling destinations in Maui. 

If you choose to snorkel Molokini, no matter who you choose to tour with, you must remember that the afternoon tours are very unlikely to make it to Molokini due to the trade-winds that blow in each afternoon.  Some companies are very clear about this fact, while others may place it in teeny tiny writing at the bottom of the brochure.  If your set on going to Molokini you'll have to get up just a little earlier and hit the morning tour. 

Here are the basics of what *most snorkel companies* are offering for the Molokini tours. Pricing will vary due to quality of their vessel, snorkel gear and possibly different foods offered for meals.  I only found one higher priced company that was offering slightly healthier looking food options.  For me, it's a short term investment, so dishing out the extra cash isn't worth it.  The fun of it is getting out on the water and snorkeling.

Morning Tour
Check in time: 7-7:30am
Includes Breakfast & Lunch
4-5hr tour time
Snorkel Molokini & sometimes one additional destination
Cost - $80-$130 per person

Afternoon Tour
Check in time: 12:30-1:00pm
Optional Lunch: Cost: $6-$10 per person
3-4hr tour
Snorkel Molokini if your lucky to have no wind - otherwise you get to visit the Coral Gardens or which ever location the tour company decides to take you.
Cost: $30-$45 per person

*Children, Seniors and sometimes students receive discounts on rates

Snorkeling with Maui Classic Charters

After my struggle to choose a snorkeling charter (as with every travel decision I make) I decided to go with Maui Classics's Four Winds II.  We decided we didn't want to get up early on our "sans kids" vacation and we were ok with missing Molokini if necessary.  Their prices were very competitive with other tour companies and quite frankly their boat looked alot nicer than a few I had seen down in Maalaea harbor. 

We arrived at the dock and were greeted by Nita.  She was extremely nice and I was very surprised when the rest of the crew was just the same.  Our captain was very laid back, and there to show us a good time. We were lucky to be boarding a vessel that could hold 130 passengers with about 40 that day. 

We boarded the Catamaran and sailed off towards the Coral Gardens (those darn trade winds).  The trip there was smooth, but nevertheless there was still one older lady who was heaving over the side of the boat.  During the ride out they got us equipped with the proper snorkel gear and ready to go, so when we arrived at the Coral Gardens it was a quick jump in the water and fishes galore!

My husband and I felt comfortable snorkeling on our own but the staff was great to offer tutorials and individual help to anyone who requested.  They even took time giving extra assistance to the couple of families with smaller children aboard the boat, letting them use these really cool "snorkel boards" that the kids laid on and could just look through a window to see the fish below.  The kids and adults even got brave enough to use the slide off the back of the boat into the water.

We got back on board for our quick lunch.  I can't say it was a buffet of sorts. Basic BBQ burgers, pork or veggie-burger with chips on the side.  Nothing fancy, but we were there to snorkel and I would probably recommend eating a nice meal before your afternoon snorkel trip.

Awesome CAMERA tip!
You can rent Digital underwater cameras! How crazy cool is that? Here I was running to the local grocery store for my cheapo $15 click and wind up camera that probably didn't get the best of pictures.  I have yet to even develop them. I mean, who has time to develop film these days?  The digital cameras on board were $40 to rent and they give you a disk at the end with all the pictures you take underwater and on the boat.

Our trip with Maui Classic Charters was nice and I would recommend them for snorkeling during your trip to Hawaii. They have affordable prices, a nice vessel and a great staff!


*Disclosure: Maui Classic Charters gave me a discounted tour ShareThis

Thursday, July 8, 2010

If you've got it, Use it! - Foto Fun Friday - July 9th, 2010

First off, I'd like to give myself a little "Happy Birthday" shout out! Because someone has to do it!

Now that we've got that covered...today's Foto Fun Friday is about using what you've got!  Your Camera, that is!  Sometimes I don't like carrying around my SLR and even occasionally miss my point and shoot, but what I've found is that I've got a great camera right in my pocket already.  My iPhone takes pretty decent pictures on the fly and many times they are what you see here on my website because it's the only thing I had on hand at the moment. 

So, use what you've got, whether it's a phone or point and shoot or even your big SLR...but don't miss the memory because your worried about the quality. Some of my favorite pictures are on my iPhone.
Here is one that makes me miss the sunsets in Maui every time I look at my phone screen

Breaking News (for me at least): If you are a iPhone user, I just found out that the newest update includes a ZOOM for the camera! Can't wait to try it out!


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Park City, Utah - Not just a Ski Resort

Beautiful Park City, Utah is just about 30 minutes southeast of Salt Lake City.  Well known for hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics and the Sundance Film Festivals, this City was originally founded in 1869 as a silver-mining town.  The location of Park City, set high up in the mountains creates a peaceful and serene setting. 

My family doesn't ski, so unfortunately I don't think we'll be enjoying any winter activities in Park City, but I was impressed with the summer activities that were available.  Just driving around town you'll find plenty of beautiful walking, biking & hiking trails along the roads and into the mountain sides.  And don't think just because ski season is out that you can't ride the gondolas or ski lifts, some resorts keep them running for people who want to hike farther up the mountains or just take a ride.  I rode the lift at The Canyons and again at Park City Resort, both had amazing views!  Bring your camera for some great photos, and you'll even encounter some crazy looking wildlife along the way; I still don't know what the monkey looking animals were that I saw.

Where the Action is!
Head over to Park City Resort for some really fun rides and activities for kids and adults alike.  You can zip down the mountain on the ziprider, slide down the Alpine Slide or hit the tracks on the best man controlled roller coaster I've ever ridden. 

Something FREE
Ride the FREE trolley on Main Street to get from shop to shop and grab a bite to eat from the many wonderful restaurants downtown. This historic district is a must see for any visitor to Park City and during the summertime it's very easy to get around.  Plan for an entire afternoon on Main Street and if you've got the kids, bring a stroller, they will easily get tired and especially in the summer heat.

Activity on my To Do List
There are plenty more activities in Park City, such as Golfing, Fishing and the local museums, but as I was leaving for the airport I noticed high in the sky along the mountains - Hot air Balloons!  I wanted so badly to have my husband with me at that moment and fly away in a basket dangling from a balloon!  If you've got  $175 per person to spare, you can take a morning ride. Just be sure to dress warm, I hear it gets very cold flying up that high.

Summer Value
The best part about Park City in the summer is that most accommodations are 50% or sometimes more.  Luxury condos that are $200-$300 a night in the winter can be found for $100 a night, and even cheaper hotels and resorts also lower their summer rates.  So if skiing is not your style, visit Park City in the summertime for some fun and relaxation!
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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

True Customer Service still exists! Packlate.com

Today's blog is based on Exceptional Customer service that I haven't seen in years.  If you've read my recent posts you'll recall my stay in Park City, Utah that didn't turn out as I had hoped.  My original booking was through Packlate.com which I had been referred by a traveling friend with a coupon.

At first glace I found Packlate to be easy to navigate, and although they didn't have rentals across the nation, their selection was based in popular destinations and the discounts were great! And just since my booking a few weeks ago they have added 6 new city's and gone international with Costa Rica (which had me drooling over their Beach front Villas by the way!).

You may have heard of them before, but for me this was my first time booking with them.  The best part though came AFTER my vacation was done and over.  I wrote a post on my stay at "The Lodge at Mountain Village" and disappointment with the resort.  I was immediately contacted by the CEO, Steve Barsh, who was genuinely concerned about my trip and let me know that I could have called Packlate to address the issue during my stay and they even would have moved me to another location if necessary. 

Never in my years of travel have I had a 3rd party company (and I've used many) have any concern about how my accommodations turned out.  They've made their money, and hotel accommodations are known to be "written in stone". You know...non-refundable, non-transferable, better pick the right one because it's where your staying, and you checked the box that means you read all the fine print about all the charges, fees and giving away your first born, right???

Packlate made it clear to me that they are not just another travel company ready to take your money, but they make their business by keeping loyal and happy customers, which is what I am now! 

After mentioning I wanted to tell my fans about Packlate, they extended an awesome coupon for ALL OF YOU to use, valid for any booking until September 10, 2010 for $25 off.  Doesn't sound like much? We'll go check out their awesome last minute rates and that "little coupon" can save you half a nights stay!

COUPON CODE:  TravelersBarista25  at checkout
Visit www.packlate.com and book your last minute travels!

Want to know how this whole story began? See my Park City Post & Steve's comment HERE

*Travelers Barista was not compensated or asked to write this post on Packlate.com. This was based on my own personal and genuine experience with an exceptional company! ShareThis

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Travel Tip Tuesday - July 6th, 2010

Today I thought I'd do something a little different. Not necessarily a tip, but something Fun! 

I have to say I absolutely love how the English refer to a vacation as a "Holiday".  It sounds so much nicer and festive than just a vacation, vacay, road trip...etc.  So here is a list of how other languages translate the word "Vacation".

What do you call your vacation? Have any special lingo for it?

Language   "Vacation"                      Language        "Vacation"

Arabic         عطلة                               Greek             Διακοπές
Bulgarian     Ваканция                       Polish             Wakacje
Chinese       度假                               Romanian      Vacanta  
Czech         Dovolená                         Russian          Отдых
Danish        Ferie                               Spanish          Vacaciones
Dutch         Vakantie                          Swedish         Semester
Estonian     Puhkus                            Thai               วันหยุดพักผ่อน
Finnish        Loma                              Turkish          Tatil
French        Vacances
German      Urlaub

PS - You can imagine how my Spellcheck lit up on this post!

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