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January 11, 2006

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                      Toronto-LA$-Jupiter

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Greetings! Last week we left off in freezing cold Toronto. This week we get the heck out of Canada, and travel somewhere warm.

Fortunately, I was only in Toronto for one night because it was so cold. When the taping for my "Call For Help" TV show ended much earlier than anyone expected I jumped on America West's next flight to Vegas (via Phoenix). That trip was pretty interesting. While boarding the flight in Phoenix I heard one passenger say to another, "You’re in my seat." The man sitting down looked at the woman's ticket and replied, "You’re on the wrong flight." I thought to myself, What a dummy. Seriously, how can someone get on the wrong plane? I walked down the aisle a little further, only to find a man sitting in my aisle seat. I said, "Excuse me sir, but do you have 21C as well?" I looked at his boarding pass (figuring for sure he was in the middle seat), and guess what? I was a dummy too! I could not believe I got on the wrong flight! That's until I found out that America West is the real dummy for having two 8:40 p.m. flights to Vegas. Couldn't they schedule the second flight at 8:41 so passengers would at least look at their flight number?

A few days later I was back at LAX. This time I was heading to Jupiter, Florida. Jupiter is in Palm Beach County, and the closest airport to fly into would have been PBI (Palm Beach International). Instead, to avoid stopping in a hub city, I flew into FLL (Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport). Two airlines -- Delta and American -- offer nonstop service from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale. I would much rather drive an extra 25 minutes than change planes, especially on a red eye. For one thing, I'm not a big fan of overnight flights -- I can never get a good night's sleep. For another, the LAX-FLL flight is so short (just over 4 hours) that stopping somewhere would have really messed up my internal clock. Going nonstop, I can take a 2-3 hour nap after I land.

I prepared myself as best I could for a red-eye flight in an economy seat. First I found out what type of aircraft (757) American Airlines used. Then I logged on to to learn which seats on that plane have the most leg room. American won’t pre-assign emergency exit row seats a week in advance, so I chose a regular window seat, then checked in at the earliest possible time (24 hours in advance). At that point I switched my seat to Seat Guru's top pick: 18F, a window seat in the second emergency exit. In addition, I ate before leaving for the airport, but did not drink a lot so I wouldn't have to get up and wake my seat mates to use the loo. (Warning: This not the best advice. To help prevent deep vein thrombosis, passengers should drink plenty of water, and get up every hour to stretch their legs). I also wore comfortable clothes, and brought a comfy eye mask, snug ear plugs, an MP3 player stacked with soft music, and a Bose headset. The only thing I regretted not bringing was an extra pillow and blanket. My head needed more support, and the window got cold!

I have made two trips to South Florida in the past two months, and they were drastically different. The first was a week after Hurricane Wilma - the devastating storm locals call the worst to hit Broward County in 30 years. I believe it, because when I drove around the area looked like a war zone. I couldn't believe the destruction – nearly every billboard and tree was down. Streetlights were either not working, or missing completely. The good news is, I'm back again this week. And although everything is not back to normal, it appears to be after all the cleanup.

I was in Jupiter to check out the new, improved Jupiter Beach Resort and Spa. Fortunately, it was far enough north to escape the storm’s wrath. That's good, because they just completed a multimillion-dollar renovation. They did a really great job, especially on the 159 guest rooms (including 34 suites that are truly luxurious). The rooms have a special feel, with a Bahamian motif. An overnight stay in an Ocean View Room helps you unwind immediately. The very comfortable bed, soft sheets, down-filled duvets, feather pillows and private balcony (with the sliding door left open to hear the roar of the waves) let me sleep like a baby. Other nice amenities included a flat screen TV, stocked mini-bar, microwave, and a spotless marble bathroom with large fluffy towels.

All the amenities above -- along with a work desk, complimentary high-speed internet access and a fully equipped business center -- made this place a fine choice for business travelers. But its size, locale and attitude gear it more toward leisure travelers. The hotel is small enough for a boutique feel, and you won’t get lost trying to locate one of its three restaurants. My favorite place to dine was poolside, with live music. Most of the staff were great. Many have been around for years -- even decades. They remember returning guests’ names, making them feel special.

The big draw here is the beach (the hotel hosts lots of waterfront weddings). But if the ocean gets too rough, guests hit the heated swimming pool. Those hoping to keep in shape can use the workout room, lighted tennis courts and bicycles, or take a yoga class. If you want to get pampered, visit the new 7,500-square foot spa and salon. After changing into a warm, cozy robe and slippers, you hang out in waterfall relaxation room. They’re you’re treated to fruit, fresh juice, tea, or my new favorite: a thick, rich hot chocolate shot. It’s delicious! I also had a Swedish massage. My therapist was awesome. Make sure to try their specialized treatment: a SweThai massage. It’s a mixture of stretching and massaging. I knew I was going to love this spa when I walked in and saw that they use "Pure Fiji" products. They’re my favorite, but I’ve never seen them outside of Fiji. Jupiter Beach Resort and Spa, 5 North A1A, Jupiter, FL; tel.: 800-228-8810.

Last year I was in Jupiter to check out the Ritz, a spring training ball game and the Burt Reynolds Museum. Another recommendation for the area is dinner at Jetty's, an excellent restaurant located on the Intracoastal Waterway across from the Jupiter lighthouse. The food (they serve everything from seafood to steaks), service and atmosphere are sure to make you happy. However, if you’re there during high season (November to April), the long wait won't. Jetty's, 1075 N. Highway A1A, Jupiter, FL; tel.: (561) 743-8166.

A fun, relaxing activity is to board the Manatee Queen, right next to Jetty's. We were going to look for manatees, but the water was rough. Instead, we took a harbor cruise around Jupiter Island. I had no idea this is the most exclusive place to live in the U.S. until I cruised past one multimillion-dollar home after another. Some are worth $60 million! No wonder so many celebrity and pro athletes live there, including Greg Norman and Tiger Woods. Manatee Queen with Captain Brian Bobbitt; tel.: 561-744-2191; email:

No trip to Florida is complete without going to Delray Beach to visit my sister and her family. I love seeing my niece and nephew -- except right after a red-eye flight. After landing at FLL at 5:30 a.m. and taking a 30-minute, $80 taxi ride (ouch! A car service would've been cheaper), I made it into bed without waking anyone. It was just before the sun came up. All I wanted was to get two or three hours of sleep. But like a fool I forgot to lock the bedroom door, and 30 minutes later, in the middle of a killer dream, little Johnny came running in and did a flying snooka (a WWF dive) on me. There was no warning, except while flying through the air he screamed at the top of his lungs: "UNCLE JOHNNY!" When the air made it back into my lungs, and after I gave him a hug, I looked at the clock (it read 6:31 a.m.) and said, "Please, Johnny, just give your Uncle two hours to sleep. I didn't sleep much last night -- or the night before" (New Years Eve).

Surprisingly, he left the room quietly. I thought, "Wow – he’s finally going to listen to me!" But as soon as I slipped back into REM, he showed up again. This time he sneakily dragged his electric guitar with built-in amp (on high) into the room. If it wasn't for the Fijian mask that he slipped over my face (without me knowing) my head probably would've exploded -- that's how loud it was. After a couple more relentless barrages I realized I wasn't going to win. So I got up and said, "Okay, let's get your sister and go to the beach."

This trip I was in Florida to baby sit, while Carol and Tom were away for a few days. Babysitting alone for the first time is a whole other story-- or better yet, a comedy. Let's just say I have a new respect for parents. We went to the beach almost every day. As I left the beach this evening I got talking to a nice gentleman in his 70s. He pretty much summed up my two trips here. When we were through talking I said, "Have a good night." He looked at me in the eyes, chuckled and said, "Down here, how can you not have a good night?!"

Next week we travel to another warm, relaxing destination. This time it's not in the U.S., and I won't be traveling alone. Guess who's coming with me on a 10-hour flight from LAX?

Happy Travels,
Johnny Jet

*Please tell us what you think of this week's newsletter!

Pictures From

The Trip


Jupiter Beach Resort and Spa


My room



Yoga on the Beach


Wedding on the Beach





Hot Chocolate Shot



Jupiter Lighthouse



Manatee Queen



Jupiter Island


My Sister and Her Friend Lee


My Niece and Nephew


Delray Beach


Boat Ride


Airplane Rides







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