ROAD TRIP to Ashland, Oregon!

ROAD TRIP to Ashland, Oregon! Ten Days “On The Road” and on a mission.

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Cold Rain and Snow! Ashland, Oregon 3-14-18

Los Angeles, California to Ashland, Oregon and now WE ARE BACK!

NOTE: The road trip happened in early March with the threat of winter weather in the north and in the Siskiyou Pass into Oregon, so we had to time our travel and hope for good weather on both sides.

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Monday Morning Road Trip! Los Angeles to Ashland (670 miles) in 10 hours! Instead of stopping, we decided to make a straight shot on Interstate 5 (via the 405 freeway) to stay ahead of the winter weather in the Siskiyou Pass…

A long, beautiful, uneventful drive north with the intent to get there as soon as possible while driving as safe as possible. “No tickets, no accidents, and no encounters with law enforcement” makes for a good trip. We stopped for gas and to stretch our legs (and other business) along the way, and arrived in Oregon in only 10 hours!

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Tejon Pass, California

NOTE: This Blog Post was delayed again because of technical issues. Our primary computer crashed recently and it had the transferred pics ready to upload.

 

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Mt. Shasta in the Siskiyou Pass, California (things start getting blurry)

670 miles and ten hours later we were in Ashland, Oregon!

WE LOVE ASHLAND!

There was beautiful weather all week long. It had snowed the week before, there was snow on the mountains, Mt. Ashland ski resort was open for business, and there was even still some snow on the ground the first day. It was cold and windy at night the first couple nights, and it was raining/snowing in the pass, but the weather stayed really nice during the day (sunny and in the 70s) from Ashland to Medford most of the time.

 

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Ashland Creek in Lithia Park – Ashland, Oregon

 

Scenes from the Ranch:

 

 

On The Menu in Ashland:

Lunch at Sesame Asian Kitchen in Ashland

Dinner at The Loft in Ashland
NY steak & prawns, fries, veggies, caesar salad, tuna tartare, bread & butter, an excellent 1993 Southing Sea Smoke pinot noir, and a coke
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Pizza (take-out) from Kaleidoscope Pizza in Medford
Lunch (take-out) from Arby’s
Lunch (take-out soups) from Olive Garden

BBQ Tri-Tip Sandwiches for Dinner at the Ranch
Pasta and Meatballs with cheesy bread and a coke for Dinner at the Ranch
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Pizza and Champagne Dinner at the Ranch with friends
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Ice Cream from Grater’s in Cincinnati, Ohio (via UPS)
pints of black raspberry chocolate chip, cherry chocolate chip,
salted caramel chocolate chip, and chocolate chocolate chip
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Girl Scout Cookies: Tagalongs and Samoas

Dinner (take-out) from La Tapatia in Phoenix (Oregon, not Arizona)
2 chicken street tacos with salsa

Dinner (take-out) from Harvey’s Place in Ashland
roast beef dip sandwich and fries
(Read our previous Blog Post about Harvey’s Place>
)

Sushi Lunch at Bonsai in Medford
sushi, sashimi and cut rolls

Dinner at Beasy’s on the Creek in Ashland
shrimp cocktail, clam chowder, grilled prawns (didn’t eat them, got them “to go”), bread & butter, red wine, a coke, and no dessert thank you

Hand-made Chocolates from Lillie Belle Farms in Central Point

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Oregon Sky 2

 

Walking in Lithia Park on Monday Afternoon (almost alone)
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Ashland Creek in Lithia Park

 

Heading South on Wednesday! Destination: Oakland and then Home!

There was rain and snow in Ashland, in the Siskiyou Pass, and even further south to the Bay Area. And more stormy weather was predicted for Thursday and through the weekend, so when the weather looked clear on Wednesday morning we headed south hoping to get through the pass without incident or chain requirements. It rained a little, it snowed a little, there was a little sleet and then it was clear and beautiful the whole way to Oakland.

We stopped for an hour at the Rolling Hills Casino in Corning, California on the I-5.

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Rolling Hills Casino – Corning, California

 

Going south, we had the choice to “stay on or get off?”: stay on and keep going south on the I-5 with Los Angeles as our destination or get off and take the 505 Winters cutoff to the Bay Area with an Oakland stopover as our destination. We almost kept going, but decided to detour west, get a hotel room, have dinner and rest for the night instead.

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San Leandro Bridge and Puffy Clouds 3-14-18

We were going to stay at a hotel in Emeryville where we got off the freeway because East Bay traffic was jammed, but found a good deal on a room at the LaQuinta Inn near the Oakland Airport online and made a same-day reservation through an internet site because it was easy and we were tired. We had Dinner at the Black Bear Diner in Emeryville on Pi Day and tried to connect with a friend who was local via telephone.

On the Menu: Breakfast for dinner.
2 eggs over medium. bacon (with extra bacon), biscuits & gravy, and iced coffee
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and then a small chocolate cream pie “to go”
We enjoyed it with some “free” coffee from the lobby in our hotel room.

 

 

After we ate, we drove over to the La Quinta Inn at the Oakland Airport via surface streets to avoid the freeway traffic and soon arrived at the hotel without too much trouble.
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We checked in, went to the room, unpacked, took a nice hot shower and shaved, and then got dressed to go and meet our friend. But it was too late (almost 8:30pm) so we got undressed and ate some of our pie and quickly fell asleep.

Thursday 7am: Leftover Pie and a Continental Breakfast!

On the Menu (a nice continental breakfast at the hotel): scrambled eggs, bagel with cream cheese, cornflakes and milk, and coffee. We also took a banana, an apple, 2 blueberry muffins, and a bagel with peanut butter and jelly for the road trip home. We also enjoyed the leftover chocolate cream pie and some canned pineapple juice before breakfast.

Thursday 11am: On The Road Again!
I-5 south (via 580) Oakland to Los Angeles

The LaQuinta loyalty program offers a late check-out to guests, so we could have stayed until 1pm. Instead we enjoyed the “free” breakfast, packed our bags, and loaded the car The early storm passed and morning Bay Area traffic cleared and we left at 11am to get on the road and get clear of the weather. From Oakland we had the choice to take the faster Interstate 5 (east route) or more scenic US highway 101 (west route) south to Los Angeles and so we chose the 5 south, again because of the stormy weather on the coast.

There was a little residual rain as we left the Bay Area at Livermore, but then it was blue skies all day and the whole way to L.A. and it only took 5 & 1/2 hours with one stop for gas.

 

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Los Angeles Again 3-15-18

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Oakland Sunrise 3-15-18

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Flashback Friday! B-25 Restored Mitchell Navy Bomber Maiden Flight

FLASHBACK FRIDAY!
North American B-25 (Restored) Mitchell Navy Bomber Maiden Flight

Camarillo Air Field LIVE on Periscope (thanks to the Periscoper)
These are screenshots from the tarmac:

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From Wikipedia:
The B-25 Mitchell is an American twin-engine, medium bomber manufactured by North American Aviation. Named in honor of Major General William “Billy” Mitchell, a pioneer of U.S. military aviation, they served in every theater of World War II and after the war remained in service for four decades. There are more than one hundred surviving North American B-25 Mitchells scattered around the world, mainly in the United States. Most of them are on static display in museums, but about 45 are still airworthy.

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Recently restored, according to the scope, this was the maiden flight and first time back in the air for this veteran aircraft. The plane flew three fly-bys, so here are a few good screenshots of the plane in the air:

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And here are a few historical shots from WWII of other B-25s (not my pics, obviously):

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WWII North American B-25 Mitchell Twin Engine Medium Bomber

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY!

 

Unless otherwise noted, all photos copyright 2016 JoshWillTravel

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North American B-25 Mitchell Twin Engine Medium Bomber (not my pic)

NOTE: We are not a military aircraft expert, so we apologize if we made an error…

TRAVEL TUESDAY! Where do you want to go next?

TRAVEL TUESDAY!
Where do you want to go next?

What’s the DESTINATION, Kenneth?

“I’ve got Two Tickets to Paradise!
Pack your bags and we’ll leave tonight!” 
~Eddie Money

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Duke Kahanamoku Statue – Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Oahu 

“Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again…”
~John Denver

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Limo and a Private G-4 LearJet at Santa Monica Municipal Airport in Los Angeles

“I have a limo, ride in the back
I lock the doors in case I’m attacked”
~Joe Walsh

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Your Limosine is Waiting!

“VEGAS BABY! VEGAS!”

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The Venetian – Palazzo – Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night

“If you’re going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you’re going to San Francisco
You’re gonna meet some gentle people there”
~Scott McKenzie

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Golden Gate Bridge in the Fog – San Francisco, California

We might need to go to Yosemite soon.

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Yosemite Valley, California 

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Picture Point – Yosemite Valley – First snow of the season!

“Here today, gone to Maui…” (or maybe Hawaii)

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Hana Bay – Hana, Maui, Hawaii

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Rainbow Falls – Hilo, Hawaii 

Where do you want to go next?

“Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man,
Tryin’ to make a livin’ and doin’ the best I can.
And when it’s time for leavin’,
I hope you’ll understand,
That I was born a ramblin’ man.”
~The Allman Brothers Band

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Road Trip! Mount Shasta from the I-5 Freeway – Shasta, California

All Photos copyright 2010-2016 JoshWillTravel

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Yosemite Falls – Yosemite Valley, California 

Travel Answers: Los Angeles!

Travel Answers: Los Angeles! (from a previously saved draft)

These are Travel Answers about Los Angeles saved from another website:

Best views in Los Angeles?

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Downtown Los Angeles from up high!

Q: Best views in Los Angeles? We will be visiting LA and want to take in the views! Ocean views, city views..from restaurants, hotels, parks, etc. Where are the best places to take some photos in LA? Thanks!

A: Great views of Los Angeles day or night?

The Standard and Skybar on Sunset Blvd and the Rooftop Bars/Pool Decks at the London West Hollywood Hotel, Montage Beverly Hills and Luxe Hotel Rodeo Drive all have great views along with cocktails and food.

Nice views of Downtown at WP24 from the 24th floor bar and 25th floor restaurant (the WP stands for Wolfgang Puck), both the Elevate Lounge and the Rooftop at The Standard Downtown LA have excellent views.

If you can get into City Club on Bunker Hill (a private club on the top of the Wells Fargo building) there’s a men’s restroom with the best view!

The Music Center plaza has great views of DTLA, Cityhall and the DWP Building. The dancing fountains, the PEACE statue, and the architecture of Disney Hall, the Ahmanson, Mark Taper Forum and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion provide great scenery.

There’s a picnic area at the top of the Hollywood Bowl that has great views and it’s open during the day as a city park. You might also catch a (free) rehearsal if it’s the musical season.

Visit the Getty Museum for amazing views and amazing art. FREE just pay $10 for parking. Open late on Fridays.

Take a slow drive along Mulholland Drive for great views of the San Fernando Valley and West L.A. day or night. There are numerous turnouts and vista points between Hayvenhurst and Runyon Canyon Park.

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The View of the San Fernando Valley from the Top O’ Topanga

Free things to do in Los Angeles?

Q: My girlfriend and I are traveling to LA for 6 days and we would like to know what free or cheap things there are to do in Los Angeles? We are kind of on a budget! We would also like to find out the best mode of transportation and areas to stay in!

A: “Cheap” thrills in L.A.? There’s so much stuff you can do that is free or “on the cheap” in Los Angeles! The Getty Museum is FREE, it cost $10-15 to park.

The Beaches in Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach are FREE, pay only for parking.

Griffith Park and the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area have hundreds of miles of hiking trails. Parking and park fees vary. There are also many other places in L.A. for hiking, biking, picnicking, etc.

There are also any number of free public parks and other unique spaces to visit! Bergamot Station and The Brewery Artist Loftshave art galleries in addition to numerous other galleries throughout the city. Check and see if you’ll be in town for “FREE MUSEUM DAY” which varies by location, and some museums are always FREE, but alway encourage donations. The museums also have relatively inexpensive entry fees.

Visit the Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica Pier, Downtown Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, NoHo Arts District, Universal CityWalk, Old Pasadena, Venice Beach Boardwalk, Hollywood and West Hollywood. No entrance fees. Pay for parking and other activities.

UCLA, USC – University of Southern California, Art Center College of Design, California Institute of the Arts and other colleges have museums, art galleries and events that are also worth looking into too.

See my other answers for more things to do in Los Angeles!

I recommend that you rent a car rather than uber/lyft/taxi/public transport if you want to see and do a lot while you’re here. You really need a car to navigate the city.

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Malibu Beach – Malibu, Los Angeles, California

Where is the walk of fame and how far is it from the airport in L.A.?

Q: This is my first time to LA and I was wondering where the walk of fame is and how far is it from the airport?

A: Where is the “Walk of Fame”? Hollywood Blvd in Hollywood!

The Walk of Fame runs from LaBrea to Gower and up Vine to the Capitol Records Building. You can see the stars’ hands and feet in concrete in the courtyard of (Grauman’s) Mann’s Chinese Theater, visit the Kodak Theatre and shop at Hollywood & Highland. Also in the immediate vicinity are Ripley’s, Madame Tussaud’s, Max Factor and the Hollywood Wax Museums. The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, the El Capitan Theatre and the Jimmy Kimmel Live studio/offices are just across the boulevard. There are also many restaurants, clubs, bars, retail and tourist gift shops in the neighborhood. The Musso and Frank Grill, Frolic Room, AVALON Hollywood (the old Hollywood Palace Theater), Pantages Theatre and The Egyptian Theatre are all very historic spots along the Walk of Fame.

How far is it from the airport?

Los Angeles International Airport in Inglewood is far away. And depending on the time of day, traffic and your chosen route, it can take 20 minutes or two hours. The LA Flyaway recently started a Hollywood Shuttle, but it’s timeliness because of traffic has been problematic.

Bob Hope Airport in Burbank is closer and the 170 and 101 freeways provide a direct route which can take 20 minutes or an hour depending on time of day, traffic or an event in Hollywood or at the Hollywood Bowl.

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Hollywood & Highland on the Hollywood Blvd Walk of Fame

Best Steakhouse in Los Angeles?

Q: My first question would be about food! I’m searching for the best steakhouse that’s at par with CUT. Aside from Lawry’s, Morton’s, Mastro’s and Ruth Chris, do you know of any? Thanks in advance!

A: Great Steakhouse in Los Angeles? So many… here are a few:

BOA Steakhouse in West Hollywood and Santa Monica

Craft in Century City (and CraftSteak at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas)

Le Sanglier in Tarzana, Larsen’s Steakhouse & Delmonico’s Steak and Lobster House in Encino and the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks

Arnie Morton’s The Steakhouse – Burbank and Woodland Hills

and the Côte de Boeuf at Mélisse is exceptional!

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Dinner Party at n/naka in West L.A. (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

The typical great night in bars and then club in LA

Q: We’ll be a bunch of friends and we wanna experience the now famous ‘LA Style’ nightlife! So let us know, no restriction at all. Where could we start to drink? Then have a cool dinner? Then drink again? And finally be in a nightclub all night long? Or in a house? or swimming pool? or… I don’t know, you’re the one. Thanks!

A: So you want a great night bar/club hopping in Los Angeles? I suggest you pick the nightclub first depending on your taste in music, atmosphere and cost. Check the LA Weekly for listings and reviews.

Pick your location: Hollywood or Downtown Los Angeles, Silver Lake or Koreatown (Los Angeles), West Hollywood or Beverly Hills, Santa Monica or Culver City? Staying in one area is easier than trying to motor from place to place on a busy night.

There are any number of bars and restaurants in all of the locations, again depending on your taste in food and drinks, atmosphere and cost. Pick your restaurant, most have a bar or beverage service. Pick your poison, designer cocktails or craft beer, absinthe or single malt whiskey?

Cover charge, cost of drinks or bottle service, parking and tips add up quickly. Choose nearby bars and restaurants, within walking distance if possible, to avoid traffic, parking charges and/or a DUI. Designate a sober driver or get a limo. Choose a supper club where dining at the restaurant gets you admission to the club.

Contact local club promoters and restaurants and let them know you have a group party, and see what they’ll offer you! VIP treatment, free drinks, bottle service, and other perks can be negotiated with a large party. Make sure you have reservations and are “On the List” because waiting in line to get in sucks.

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Lucy’s 51 in Burbank (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Nice LA beach for swimming in July

Q: I will be staying in the Hollywood area for 5 days in July.  Any recommendations on a nice beach for swimming?  Thanks.

A: I recommend Zuma Beach and Malibu Beach north on Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Monica. There’s no beach close to Hollywood! Drive Sunset Boulevard from Hollywood to the Pacific Ocean and you’ll pass through West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip, Beverly Hills, UCLA, Brentwood Villageand the Pacific Palisades on your way. When you get to PCH turn right and head up the coast to Malibu. Avoid “rush hour” or you’ll get caught in heavy traffic!

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Malibu Beach – Malibu, Los Angeles, California

Bachelorette in LA

Q: Hi – I am looking for some advice on a killer bachelorette weekend in LA. 7 of us will be traveling together, and I would love recommendations on a good location, any bars or events, as well as hotels. At lot of us are from cities that provide accessible public transit – so if possible, we’d rather save on cab money and be in a central location. I’ve heard West Hollywood and Los Feliz are good neighborhoods. Has anyone had luck finding a hotel that accommodates a large party like ours? We would ideally like to spend about $1K for the two nights. One random note – the bachelorette really likes Harry Potter. Know of any “entertainers” that could accommodate? Thanks!

A: So you want a great Bachelorette weekend in Los Angeles? I suggest you pick the hotel and nightclubs first depending on your taste in music, atmosphere and cost. Talk to the Sales Manager at the Hotel to arrange a Group Rate! Check the LA Weekly for club listings and reviews.

Pick your location: Hollywood or Downtown Los Angeles, Silver Lake or Koreatown, or Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, or Culver City Staying in one area is easier than trying to motor from place to place on a busy night.

There are any number of hotels, bars and restaurants in all of the locations, again depending on your taste in food and drinks, atmosphere and cost. Pick your restaurant, most have a bar or beverage service. Pick your poison, designer cocktails or craft beer, absinthe or single malt whiskey?

Cover charge, cost of drinks or bottle service, parking and tips add up quickly. Choose nearby bars and restaurants, within walking distance if possible, to avoid traffic, parking charges and/or a DUI. Designate a sober driver or get a limo. Choose a supper club where dining at the restaurant gets you admission to the club.

Contact local club promoters and restaurants and let them know you have a group bachelorette party, and see what they’ll offer you! VIP treatment, free drinks, bottle service, and other perks can be negotiated with a large party. Make sure you have reservations and are “On the List” because waiting in line to get in sucks.

NOTE: Avoid going to Comedy Clubs, most hate bachelorette parties.

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The Roof on Wilshire (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

See my other Blogs with more answers about fun things to do in Los Angeles!

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Echo Park, Los Angeles, California

Renting a Car in Honolulu?

Renting a Car in Honolulu?

Will You Need A Rental Car in Hawaii?
Here’s a Q&A from a saved draft. This is a Travel Blog.
Sharing it now for #TravelTuesday!

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Waikiki Beach – Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Q: Is there a difference in reserving a rental car here or when we land in Honolulu? Any rental companies you’d recommend or avoid?

A: Internet before you arrive!

Check each Rental Car Company WEBSITE for best deal! They run 24 hour cycles for car rentals, so if possible arrange your pickup and drop off in 24 hour increments. You can also get a deal on week long rental if you’ll be there that long. Also, you’ll get better rates away from the airport rental office (you won’t pay airport fees), so if they have another location rent from them. (they might even offer delivery to your hotel and you can usually get a free shuttle from the airport)

NOTE: Each company’s rates and availability vary wildly depending on what events are happening, the day of the week, the weather, “hotel block” specials and many other factors, so reserve ahead of time VIA TELEPHONE (not the internet) if possible and always get a confirmation number and the name, employee number and direct phone number of the employee you booked the reservation with.

AAA offers discounts, join the rental car company “customer card” loyalty program before searching for rates (they always offer upgrades and discounts) and check with the hotel for a package deal/discount or free rental! You probably don’t need additional insurance coverage, but check with your own car insurance company and make sure you are covered when driving a rental car in the destination location! If you have travel insurance, that may also cover you. Check and see if the resort fee at the hotel covers parking too.

They also may try to sell you GPS and additional upgrades, add-on services or amenities with your basic rental. Buyer beware! Do you need that GPS or can you just use your smartphone? It’s a lot of fun to have a convertible or a jeep, but how much more will it cost and how much driving will you really be doing on Oahu? Remember to figure the cost of fuel into your budget and the higher gas prices in Hawaii!

NOTE: Once you’ve found the best deal for a rental car, check and see about package deals/vacation companies that will save you money with a bundled “air-hotel-rental car” package or consult a travel advisor for additional service and a price quote.

Plan ahead! Make your reservation well in advance and watch for any specials that might be offered after you reserve (they’ll usually allow you to change to the lowest rate). Be sure to plan your connection from the airport to the rental car company location, most offer free shuttles, or you can arrange other transport. It’s always best to do your research and make your arrangements and reservations prior to arrival.

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Duke Kahanamoku Statue on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Another Terrorist Attack! Brussels, Belgium

Another Terrorist Attack!

Brussels, Belgium – Tuesday, March 22, 2016

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The Brussels Airport and Metro are CLOSED due to a Terrorist Bombing!

More than thirty-four people have been killed and 212 injured, after explosions struck Brussels during the Tuesday morning rush hour. Two bomb blasts hit the “Great Hall” Departures Hall of Brussels-National Zaventem International Airport (BRU) and another exploded in Maelbeek Metro Station. Belgium has issued a Level 4 alert, denoting “serious and imminent attack”: the Airport and Metro are closed and the city and the border with France is currently locked down.

Authorities Reportedly Seeking Man In Photo on the Far Right:

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These are the Suspects in the Brussels Airport Terror Attack

Brussels-National Airport is an international airport 6 NM northeast of Brussels, the capital of Belgium. In 2015, more than 23 million passengers arrived or departed at Brussels Airport, making it the 21st busiest airport in Europe.

From the Brussels Airport website: http://www.brusselsairport.be/en/

Brussels Airport extends its deepest sympathy to the friends and relatives of the victims of the explosions in the departures hall earlier this morning. At 8am two explosions occurred in the departures hall. The emergency and rescue services are on the scene and are offering the necessary assistance. All flights at Brussels Airport today are cancelled. Passengers are requested to contact their airline for further instructions.

The airport authorities are asking to avoid the surroundings of the airport.
Questions about family or friends at the airport? Call (0032) (0)2/753 73 00

All flights have been diverted.
The airport will remain closed Wednesday March 23.

UPDATE: 2 suitcase bombs exploded in Brussels attacks and a 3rd failed to detonate.
Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel and federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw held a press conference on the attacks in Brussels. Van Leeuw confirmed two of the three men seen in the surveillance photo at the airport are “likely” (deceased) suicide bombers and authorities are actively looking for the third man photographed.
Major cities across the United States have increased security at transit hubs in wake of the attacks in Belgium. The Department of Homeland Security will also announce additional federal plans to tighten security.
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OTHER RECENT TERROR ATTACKS:

March 13: Grand-Bassam, Ivory Coast
March 13: Ankara, Turkey
March 16: Maiduguri, Nigeria
March 19: Istanbul, Turkey

Justice for the Victims! Never Forget! Peace & Love!

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READ OUR PREVIOUS BLOG “TERROR IN PARIS”> http://wp.me/p3dhVM-20n

And on a lighter note…

Watching President Obama & family watch baseball in Havana, Cuba on ESPN!
Ending the Cuban Embargo after 56 years and making America great!524858_1343903868969509_6814465471931950365_n

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie (around the backyard)11032428_1344209948938901_5402869447938646071_n

And Pretty Roses! Read the Previous Blog “March 20th is the First Day of Spring!”> http://wp.me/p3dhVM-2Zb

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Travel Answers: San Francisco! Yosemite!

Travel Answers for San Francisco and Yosemite:

Q: What’s a great day trip from SF that’s not wine country?

A: Great Day Trip from San Francisco?

Drive south on beautiful Highway 1 to Santa Cruz. Stop along the way in Pacifica, Half Moon Bay, Davenport and/or at Ano Nuevo State Reserve and see the Elephant Seals.

Pacific Ocean from Highway 1 (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Pacific Ocean from Highway 1 (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Visit the beach and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, shop the Pacific Garden Mall, and check out the University of California, Santa Cruz (arboretum, performances, museums & special collections at the McHenry Library). Tour the campus, there are great views of Monterey Bay, art installations and walking paths/roads through the meadows, pastures and redwood forest on the hill (just stop and get a visitor pass at the main gate).

There are plentiful beaches, galleries, shops, restaurants, bars, wineries, clubs and other performance venues in Santa Cruz and in the nearby communities of Capitola, Aptos, Felton & Bonny Doon.

Check out the world famous Mystery Spot and Lighthouse Field State Beach! The Evergreen Cemetery est. ~1885 is one of the oldest in the bay area and state and it’s now a tourist attraction.

Return to San Francisco via Highways 17 (880) to San Jose and the 280 or 101 freeways back to the city sometime after sunset.


 

San Francisco from the Bay Bridge (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

San Francisco from the Bay Bridge (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Q: Best 3-day weekend trip from San Francisco? Looking for something outdoorsy that would be a good use of weekend summer trip. Ideally somewhere warm enough for sun, swimming & shorts. Probably for a small group (either 2 or 4 ppl).

A: 3-Day Trip from San Francisco? People have already recommended Big Sur, Carmel, Monterey and Santa Cruz to the south. Marin, Napa, Vallejo, Mendocino, and Lake Tahoe to the north. So how about going east to Yosemite National Park? Yosemite, Merced, Mariposa are all within driving distance and only a few hours away. Just make sure to make a reservation! http://www.nps.gov

Half Dome - Yosemite, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Half Dome – Yosemite, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)


Q: Best airport to fly into for a week at Yosemite?

I’m planning a fall trip to Yosemite and trying to figure out which airport to fly into: Sacramento, Fresno, San Fran? I’m coming from New York so I have some airline options. I’m most concerned about which airport will have sufficient car rental options and flights at all hours.

A: If you’re flying in from NYC, you’re going to have to land in San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland or Los Angeles. Each has it positives and negatives, so base your decision on the cost of airfare and then determine the best mode of transport from your destination city.

Rent a car (get unlimited mileage plus insurance) or take Amtrak (train and bus combo) from Los Angeles or San Francisco/Oakland. The bus will take you right into Yosemite National Park and drop you at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls and it’s both less expensive and cleaner than driving! www.amtrak.com/san-joaquin-train

The drive from Los Angeles is about 6 hours, and you’ll travel the 5 freeway to interstate 99 through Bakersfield, Fresno and the Central Valley to interstate 41 into Yosemite.

The drive from the Bay Area is about 4 and 1/2 hours (could be longer with traffic) on highway 580 through San Leandro and Livermore to highway 205 through Manteca to interstate 120 into Yosemite.

NOTE: If you’re driving in the Sierra Mountains in the Fall, be prepared for rain and snow at higher elevations, some roads may require tire chains (sometimes a problem with a rental vehicle).

There are also tour companies that have chartered buses that will take you into the park, or backpack/bus adventure travel companies like Green Tortoise from San Francisco that include more than just transport: www.greentortoise.com/adventures/yosemite-national-park-tour-3d.php

NOTE: If you’re going to take a chartered bus, make sure the company is CA state licensed and check their safety and consumer record before buying a ticket!

Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)


Q: Most impressive staircases you’ve ever seen?

I recently saw some of the craziest staircases in the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. Where else in the world has cool, winding, or even weird staircases? Want to plan some trips to see them..pictures would be awesome, thanks!

A: In Yosemite Valley there is a stairway to the top of Vernal Nevada Falls that was carved out of the granite rock. You can start at the bottom of Vernal Falls and climb 2000 feet to the top of Nevada Falls and the rim of the valley.

“Climb along nature’s giant staircase, where you are rewarded with close-up views of two waterfalls and numerous geologic features (depending on how far you choose to hike)…Prepare for slippery footing and a tremendous amount of waterfall spray in spring and early summer (hence the name for this trail!).”

Follow the Mist Trail 0.5 miles up a steep granite stairway of over 600 steps! Continue on to the top of Half Dome if you have a permit (and “weather permitting”).


Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Q: Where was your favorite backpacking destination? Out of all the places in the world, where was your favorite backpacking destination and why?

A: My favorite backpacking destination: Tiltill Valley above Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in northern Yosemite National Park. Picture a valley just like Yosemite except there are no other people, no cars, no shuttle buses, no buildings… just an amazing wilderness all to yourself. It’s a long day hike uphill to reach the Tiltill Valley, but it’s worth the trip!

The trailhead begins at the Hetch Hetchy parking area, and it’s a rugged uphill trek past the reservoir and into the backcountry (be sure to get your permits at the ranger station and be aware you are in “BEAR COUNTRY” – problem bears are relocated to this area of the park).

p.s. I don’t recommend backpacking solo, you should always have at least one travel buddy when you are in the backcountry!


Yosemite in Winter (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite in Winter (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Q: How many days would I need to explore most of what Yosemite has to offer? I’m planning on going there some day and I would like to know how much days would I need to explore most of what the National Park has to offer! Thanks.

A: How many days in Yosemite National Park? It depends on how much of the park you want to explore. If you just want to see Yosemite Valley, you should allow at least three days. You should add more days if you want to really see everything! It also depends on how active a hiker you are because there are great things to do and day trips with varying degrees of difficulty you can experience. Ride the Shuttlebus and walk the valley, tour the valley in an open air tram, hike to Mirror Lake, picnic at Yosemite Beach, hike to the top of the waterfalls or around the rim of the valley, climb to the top of Half Dome or El Capitan. Visit Yosemite Village and the Ansel Adams Gallery and be sure to check out the The Ahwahnee Hotel.

Accommodations in the park range from tent and camp sites, RV sites, covered campsites, tent cabins, and hotel rooms. You need to make reservations for any of the concession vendors a long time in advance at nps.gov and there are lots of rules and regulations you need to be aware of before and during your visit.

REMEMBER YOU ARE IN BEAR COUNTRY!

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia Redwood Trees (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia Redwood Trees (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

There are other areas to see within the park or just outside: Tuolumne Meadows, Mariposa Grove and the Giant Sequoia Redwood Trees, Wawona Point (and historic hotel), skiing at Yosemite’s Badger Pass in winter), Bass Lake, Oakhurst, and many others. You should allow 1-3 days or more for each area depending on how active a hiker/camper/skier/snowboarder you are.

If you want to experience the backcountry as a backpacker/camper you should plan 3-14 day trips. there are great areas in and around the park. I’ve been to the Tiltill Valley above Hetch Hetchy Loop and down the South Fork Merced River in the Sierra National Forest, both of which were excellent backpacking trips! Be sure to learn the necessary skills and the park rules and regulations before entering the wilderness.

You are also close to Lee Vining, Mammoth Mountain and Mono Lake State Preserve which are near the east entrance to the park.

See also John Muir Trail and the Yosemite Park website nps.gov for more info.


 

Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Q: You have a day to explore Yosemite. What do you HAVE to see?

I love everything about being outdoors, especially around water. I like hiking, but I don’t get too extreme. Viewpoints that are hidden/will make me never want to leave would be loved.

A: What to see in Yosemite Valley? Everything!

Ride the Shuttlebus, walk the valley paths and bridges, raft or inner tube down the river, tour the valley in an open air tram, hike to Mirror Lake, Picnic at Sentinel Beach Picnic Area, hike to the top of any of the waterfalls or around the rim of the valley or to the top of Half Dome, climb El Capitan. Visit Yosemite Villageand see the Visitor Center and the Ansel Adams Gallery, shop at Curry Village and be sure to check out the Ahwahnee Hotel. See my other answers for more.


Wawona Hotel - Yosemite (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Wawona Hotel – Yosemite (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Q: Places to stay in Yosemite? If anyone is familiar with places to stay IN the Yosemite Park… I am trying to decide between a few places… Curry Village, Yosemite at the Falls & Wawona Hotel. From what I gather there aren’t bathrooms in Wawona Hotel (not so thrilled with that idea). Any advice, please on these 3 places?

A: Yosemite Lodge at the Falls is the best place to stay, unless you can afford the Ahwahnee Hotel. It’s centrally located in Yosemite Valley near Yosemite Falls and a couple shuttle stops (almost walking distance) from Yosemite Village. The accommodations are “motel quality” but nice enough considering you won’t want to be inside very much.

Curry Village is near Half Dome, and on the shuttle route. The accommodations are mostly tent cabins with shared facilities and some full cabins with private facilities.

Both Yosemite Lodge and Curry Village have a “cafeteria” style restaurant, a “hamburger stand”, a bar/restaurant and mini-market/gift shops. Yosemite Lodge also has a nice sit-down upscale restaurant.

The Wawona Hotel sits up on the rim of the valley about a 45 minute drive from the valley floor and the village. It’s a very nice historic hotel, but not really convenient if you want to be in the valley. There are cabins with private facilities and they are very nice if you don’t mind walking outdoors to get to the main building (more of a problem in winter). Wawona is great if you want to ski at Badger Pass Ski Area, visit Glacier Point or the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia Redwoods.

There are Ranger led nature talks available and other entertainment at all three locations. Yosemite Village has a market, a Visitor’s Center with an Indian Village and interpretive programs, the Ansel Adams Gallery, the post office and more restaurants and gift shops.

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Yosemite Falls - Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Falls – Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)





 

 

TRAVEL ALERT! Who ya gonna call?

The Polar Vortex that has caused such tremendous trouble for travelers this week is a great reminder to always book your trip with a professional Travel Agent!

Bad weather? Missed Flight? Travel Emergency? Who ya gonna to call?

Bad weather? Missed Flight? Travel Emergency? Who ya gonna to call?

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“TRAVEL ASSIGNMENTS” in 2018!

“TRAVEL ASSIGNMENTS” in 2018!

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Breaking News! Shooting at LAX Terminal 3!

LAX is on lockdown because of a shooting at Terminal 3. Another reason you need a professional travel agent!

A guy walks into an Terminal 3 and shoots three people…
“Flights have been grounded at Los Angeles International Airport after a shooting that wounded at least one TSA agent. LAX officials said they did not know when flights would resume.”
LAX is being evacuated, all flights have stopped, freeway exits are closed and traffic is completely stopped!

One man with a rifle shot three people near Virgin America in Terminal 3 at 09:20am PST. Suspect in critical condition and in custody. Airport on lockdown, total GROUNDSTOP all flights grounded, total airport evacuation in progress, arriving planes and passengers holding on the tarmac, freeway exits and Century Blvd closed and it’s a total traffic nightmare!!!

Lots of “speculation” by the news media until Mayor Garcetti, Police Chief Charlie Beck, LA World Airport Police Chief Gannon and others gathered for a press conference at LAX. 1 TSA officer killed, 6 people transported to area hospitals. Travelers are asked to avoid going to LAX and advised to call their airline (or travel agent) if flying today.

Shooting at LAX this morning leads to a travel nightmare! Hundreds of people were evacuated and are stuck in the sun on the sidewalk at the airport revealing a lack of contingency planning for travelers in an emergency!

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