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Holy cow, what a week! received so many new subscribers this week!  Guess how many new signups we received?  500?  Nope, guess again. 1,000? NOPE! Try 4,000. Thanks to for sending us the majority of those new nice folks.  

After next week's issue we will be all caught up on current time.  Yeah!  This week I was supposed to be coming to you from Anchorage, Alaska for the annual Iditarod Trail sled dog race.  But would you believe for the first time in 30 years they had to move the race 360 miles north to Fairbanks because of lack of snow?  Just my luck, huh?  Instead I scratched those plans and now I am coming to you live from chilly and damp Southern California .  

Can you believe it's almost March?  How time is flying by this month.  What's ironic is that I haven't been flying and it looks like I am going to have my first February in who knows how many years that I haven't boarded a plane.  The good news:  I have been able to get my house and office organized, lounge on the couch, eat home cooked meals, and work diligently on the website & newsletter (perhaps you’ve noticed the new newsletter formats?).  We'll, you can bet your next vacation that I will end my longest non-flying streak soon, and I will be flying in March. With all the war fears, the planeloads are low and the bargains are galore!   It's time to travel.  I haven't taken a photo with my camera in over 2 weeks and that baby better get fired up because here I come. 
My Dad, for some crazy reason wanted to go down to Tijuana and Rosarita, Mexico.  I don't know what movie or commercial he was watching that made him so hooked on going down there, but I said, "no way am I doing that trip again after my December visit ".  Besides, no one else wanted to go and everyone he asked about Tijuana told him not to go because it has changed.  Heck, I even offered to take him to Puerta Vallerta because the weekend rates were so low ($149 R/T), but he didn't have any of his travel documents on him.  I didn't want to feel like a bad son, so instead I took him to the place closest to Tijuana... San Diego.  We decided to go at the very last minute (1:00 pm and didn't get on the road ‘til 3:00 pm).  On the 100+ mile drive down, we called up one of our good family friends, Lou (he recently transferred from NY) to let him know we were coming.  He insisted that we stop by his place in Rancho Santa Fe and eat at his country club, Morgan Run, for dinner .  Since we didn't have time for lunch we were all famished and I have to tell you this place had the best food, especially for a country club.  It was awesome! From the prepared how you like it pasta bar, to the homemade soup, fresh salad, mouth watering pot roast, juicy chicken, you name it.  It was tasty.  I had thirds that's how delicious it was.  I wish I was there right now because as you can probably tell I am STARVING!  Morgan Run is located at 5690 Cancha de Golf in Rancho Santa Fe, CA tel. 858.756.2471.
After dinner we waddled back to the car and drove south. Naturally, the feast made us tired and we just wanted to find a hotel.  That's right find a hotel.  This trip was so last minute, that I didn't even have time to make hotel reservations.  So, get this... I did something that I haven't done in a long time.  I pulled up to the Radisson in La Jolla and asked my Dad and Nancy to wait in the car while Amber Airplane I negotiated.  I walked up to the front desk to hear what they had to offer.  I know these clerks just prey on people who do this and I was so vulnerable because I didn't even get a chance to price hotels online.  So I didn't even have the faintest idea what the going rates were.  To be honest, I felt like some hillbilly and I am sure I portrayed it at first.  As predicted, they went high: $169 a night.  My teeth almost fell out of my mouth.   I remember back in college I stayed here for $70.   I regained my composure and confidence and I politely asked for the hotel manager.  I could tell the young clerk realized I had some game in me, but she was tough, I have to admit.  She said, "Oh, lookie here, I have something that just opened up for $149".  I just looked at her, shook my head no and said with a quiet but firm voice, "The manager, please".  She didn't look happy and either did the over tired and bored manager.  She walked out of her office not happy.  I am sure she was just dragged from either a nap or her 130th game of solitaire.  "Can I help you sir?” she asked with a monotone perturbed voice.  I put a smile on, introduced myself and told her my predicament and she said, "Sorry sir the best we can do is $149".  I then reached into my pocket and busted out all of my travel cards like Fletch did with his ID's.  She snapped out of it quickly and got typing on the computer and said well, in that case we can offer you a rate of $119".   That was good, but it was 8 pm, she could've gone down to at least $99.
I said thank you, but let me check with the boss in the car.   I felt bruised, battered and tired.  I gave Amber Airplane a little nod, which she read perfectly.  She asked where the bathrooms were because we knew we would find pay phones close by.  Without saying a word to each other we both got on the phones and started dialing like crazy. We called all the top 10 hotel 800 numbers and their local front desks.  The rates were high, and wish I had my computer to get them lower.  I knew we could get a good rate down at Hotel Circle but we were exhausted and we really wanted to stay in La Jolla.  So I called the much nicer Hyatt, which was around the block and got the rate down from $320 to $129 (senior rate).  I felt that was very fair and I knew with my diamond status we could get upgraded to the concierge level, which meant free breakfast.  We walked by the front desk of the Radisson and said, "You sure you can't go lower?"  She said "Sorry”, and for the first time they probably saw customers walk out the door".  
Checking-in at the Hyatt, I watched business travelers flopping down $259 a night for a corporate rate.  I knew we had a good rate, but I still felt that if I logged on to Priceline , Hotwire or any of the other hotel discounters on Johnny Jet we would've beat it.  But I'm not complaining, because the hotel was great and the rooms were comfortable.
The next morning we got some of our money back when we dined on the tasty fresh fruit, bagels, muffins, and cereal in the concierge room.  After breakfast we checked out and took the drive to downtown La Jolla.  Anyone who’s been to La Jolla knows it’s "Da Bomb" (a very nice place).   It's a charming, quaint, sophisticated beach town.  For those of you who want to stay near the beach for a romantic night then check into the  La Valencia Hotel (you will drop at least a few Benjamin’s).   We didn't stay there because: The long answer: We were only spending 1 night, we wouldn't have time to use their facilities and I don't think these guys are as negotiable like the big chain hotels.  The short answer:  I'm frugal.  Okay, I said it.  La Valencia Hotel is located at 1132 Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA tel. 800.451.0772
We roamed around the hotel gardens for a few minutes and then went out the back door and headed toward the beach.  My favorite part of La Jolla, besides from the breath taking views, is definitely going to visit the seals.  I have never, not seen them.  They are always hanging out on Seal Rock , and the beach next to it. Part of  the beach is roped off so humans won't go over and pet them, which by the way is not the smartest idea, because they do bite .  What you can do is walk along the bluff and get just a few feet away from them .  If it's rough you might get wet, but it's worth it.  Here is some info from the La Jolla Seals Organization "The most dominant seal is usually the one found in the driest spot. Pups are born between February and April each year. Harbor seals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, so it's a Federal offense to harass them in any way."  Besides, they might take your arm off and eat it for lunch.
Fortunately, for me we didn't have enough time to walk around the expensive shops, because we needed to drive 10 miles to have lunch with Amber Airplane's father and his girlfriend, Sue.  Since it was Chinese New Year's they had us meet them for dim sum We ate at Jasmine's and this place was the most authentic Chinese restaurant I have been to outside of China.  You know it's authentic when the place is full of Chinese people and not many Caucasians. If that didn't give it away, then the chicken feet dish would have.  You won't find any Kung Pao chicken here or any other American Chinese food-dish.  No forks here either, so watch out for flying food .  Jasmine's The Chinese Seafood Restaurant is located at 4609 Convoy Street, San Diego tel. 858.268.0888
After lunch Amber's father recommended that we go check out Cabrillo National Monument.  He said it's the best place to take first time visitors to San Diego.  I think he's right.  The place is awesome.  It's run by the National Park Service and there are all sorts of things to do up there. You can explore life as it was in the 1880's at the Old Point Loma Lighthouse or visit the Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo museum.  FYI:  My boy Juan was a Spanish soldier and navigator who led the first maritime expedition to explore the coast of California in 1542. But my favorite thing to do is just hang out by the Cabrillo National Monument .  This is place has spectacular views of San Diego Bay and the rest of the city.  You can even see Mexico when it's clear, which made my Dad very happy (I think he was looking for a taco stand)!  Also, there are pictures of the different ships and planes that you will see cruise by.

Some more facts about Cabrillo National Monument:  The cost to enter is $5 per car. Even though it might be warm downtown it could be cool and windy up there, so bring an extra layer of clothing.  To get there; follow State Highway 209 south, from Interstate Highways I-5 or I-8, to the tip of Point Loma.  If you don't have a car then you can take the local bus route 26 or a taxi.  It's open daily from: 9:00 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. (6:15 p.m. between July 4 and Labor Day).  Winter and springtime are especially good times to visit because of the annual migration of gray whales (December through February).  Amber and I saw a bunch.  And if you want to explore the park’s tide pool areas then November through March is usually the best time.  
After our little tour it was time to give my Dad what he really wanted...  Mexican food!  We drove over to Old Town San Diego  for some great Mexican food at Casa De Pico .  We love that place.  After dinner we walked around the historic streets and checked out their touristy shops before heading back up to L.A. 

Next week I will be in ...    

*** The power of word of mouth *** Johnny Jet wants to ask you to please help us grow. Forward this newsletter to other people, like you, who love to travel the world and tell them to sign up here. Thanks for your support and I wish you safe travels. Cheers, Johnny

  • I was very excited to read that you got on the stage at the LA Convention Center at the big travel conference.  This will be great.  Meeting AF was a big treat, and it was your magnetic personality that convinced him to have a drink with you.  BINGO, BABY!   Anyway, your many fans and I are touched and impressed with the treat you are giving your dad, who looks absolutely great, not to mention enjoying himself beyond description. You are one of a kind, my friend, and a singular model as a son.  I am honored to know you and call you a friend.  Good luck with your rising star.  Warm regards, Alan - Connecticut
  • Duuuuude, did you know notice you're in Frommer’s newsletter?  Gerard from SF
  • I just read your account of your LA Travel Show experience. Sounds like you had a great time. Congratulations! Much continued success to you. - Charles McCool
  • Its just getting better and better.  Amazing.  Simply amazing. Just like Tony Robbins says, when you are truly outstanding, the best of the best, you get it all.  You get the Quan.   Johnnyboy, the Quan is coming.  I can feel it. Francis J. DiScala, Jr.
  • With a smile on my face I am reading your newsletter again. How thrilling to read that you had the opportunity to meet and talk at length with your idol and legend, Arthur Frommer. Best of all-- he is a fan and supporter of --WAY TO GO! - "Carolyn Concierge, San Francisco"
  • Just found your website, dear Johnny.  Bear with me... I'm overwhelmed by your loving tribute to your mother. God bless you, kiddo, you're the kind of guy I dream of introducing to my sister. You're off the hook: both sisters are married and so am I.  Question: who does your PR? I'm stunned by the publicity you're getting!   
  • I meant to tell you last time that I think the new format looks great!  Much clearer.  Audrey- NYC
  • Cool story about meeting Arthur Frommer!  You are truly an extraordinary net worker! Randy - TX
  • Johnny - I just got on your site and absolutely love it!!  You're great!  Beth – Virginia
  • Johnny Jet, Your newsletter looks great and I love the pictures. UDAMAN! Willem - Chicago
  • By the way, I got a great note from your dad, who enclosed the info about the LA travel show -- he's (justifiably) proud of his son! -- Dan
  • That was cool to see pix from the LA Times show. Cheers...
  • I have to respond to Carol D- don’t let your husband’s fear of flying hold you back! My husband not only hates to fly but also doesn't truly enjoy traveling like I do. I have found my sister to be the perfect travel companion. There is no way I would wait around for my husband. Life is to short! My sister and I have been all around Europe and last fall went "leaf-peeping" in New England. We plan to have an annual vacation for the rest of our lives. We started when we were both young and single, now it has become a great retreat from our husbands and kids. Carol D, find someone else to travel with and go see your "exotic places"!   P.s. Love the pictures of Taverna Tony, I have been there and it is awesome. Your pictures brought back some long lost memories.  Katie - Minnesota
  • Johnny:  Great new look on the newsletter!  I really like this.  Very professional. John - L.A.
  • I prowled around your comprehensive site for a while and was quite impressed. And I came across your pictures (hey, you're extremely cute!) And your tribute to your mom is very touching. She was a lovely, lovely lady. P.S. I like your real Italian name better than the JJ one -- but I'm biased. California
  • Man that is awesome about being a panelist for the LA Times...congrats.  I think you should totally write a book about your travels and what not across the world.  There may be many books like that out there, but yours would be the bomb as your personal insights and funny jokes would take it to a whole new level. I am hitting the road next week, and flying my favorite airline Midwest Express...I am telling you, it is the best airline EVER!  Brian - Boston Response: Thanks Brian!  Have fun in the Midwest. I love Midwest Express' cookies.  Ummm Ummm
  • Q> We are going to be in St. Thomas March 1-8, and then going to Virgin Gorda the following week.  We want to be kept advised of the U.S. situation with Iraq, but we have no TV on Virgin Gorda.  Do you know if there is any radio reception there that would keep us in touch?  Thanks for your help.  Linda Reply: There will definitely be radio and for sure the top story on their local news stations will be Iraq.  You have nothing to worry about.  Just go down there and relax.  When the news comes (if it does) it will come to you (The locals and/or other tourists will let you know when and if it happens).  
  • Well, Gosh, I just signed up for the newsletter, and thought I would take a quick look at your site. It all looks fabulous, and I know will be very helpful, and lots of fun. Now I've just read your page about your mother, and am sitting here in tears. What a lovely lady she was, and what a beautiful tribute to her. She must look down on her family and be so proud! I only hope my family will remember me so lovingly some day.  Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful, vibrant, courageous woman with all of us. Sincerely, Patti Feller 
  • Hi Johnny, just a quick note to say that I have not yet had a thorough look at your website -(its so huge!) but I did look at your personal page, and had tears running down my face when I read about your mum.  I have a son just a year younger than you (3 sons and a daughter actually) and I thought to myself it would have meant so much to your mum to have a son like you. So greetings and best wishes from New Zealand.  BTW: I am impressed with your personal approach, I feel like I am getting to know a super-nice guy. Cheers, Di
  • Thanks for your always-GREAT newsletter.  Although I've somehow gotten myself subscribed to a lot of travel emails, yours is just about the only one that's consistently interesting and fun to read, plus it's convenient to get all that great info and those links in one email.  Also, I love your new format - looks good and is easy to read. Susan, Westport, CT 
  • I have a friend who went to Mongolia last July and loved it.  He went with an adventure travel outfitter (can't remember which one but it might have been KE Adventure Travel) and they did some trekking and lots of mountain biking.  They went during the time when the Mongolians have their festivals, which are supposed to be spectacular and involve colorful pageants on horseback, and provide a rare glimpse into their ancient culture.  My friend said that the mountain biking was also incredible, so he got a great dose of exciting adventure and physical activity mixed in with a completely new culture.  So, with all due respect to both you and Arthur Frommer, apparently there is a reason to go to Mongolia! 
  • Thanks again for your great work.  Your writing shows the genuine care that you have for others and their travel experiences, which is very refreshing and is one of the many reasons you stand apart from the rest!  Your dad, Amber, and your entire family and friends seem like a special group of people, with a great zest for life...I can only imagine the jokes and banter that must go on between all of you.
  • CONGRATS on your participation as a panelist with the LA Times Travel Show!  
  • From a friend:  Well, I spoke to my dad briefly this past weekend until we lost connection. I was just happy to hear his voice, which let me know he made it around Cape Horn .  He spoke of the 50-foot sailboat being tossed over and him being thrown into the ocean-thank god he was tethered to the boat! Some of the other crewmembers that had been sleeping had stuff fall on them and trap them. I guess the boat eventually turned right side up. Scary stuff!!

Looking for *UPGRADE STRATEGIES*, 2-for-1s and other *advanced ticketing techniques*. Look no further...these hot deals and more are available at First Class Flyer's Web site SECRETS of First Class air travel are REVEALED to you every month in "Mr. Upgrade's" First Class Flyer newsletter. View a ** **FREE SAMPLE**** issue today:

Starting yesterday morning at 7 a.m. (Tuesday, Feb 25) expect heavy congestion and delays on the roadways leading to Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport
Size Matters: Atlanta Police has began inspecting *ALL* trucks, vans and SUV's entering the Atlanta Airport. But police will only perform *RANDOM* searches on smaller sedan-sized cars.
The inspections will continue, 24/7, until the current Orange threat level as determined by the TSA is changed.  Although the exact location not been announced, airport authorities say that the inspections will occur on roadways leading up to the main terminal building and parking lot entrances.
Airport authorities are advising passengers to arrive at the airport up to THREE hours prior to their flights at peak traffic times, like Monday mornings. (Since this is an airport first, no one knows yet what type of traffic backup these inspections will cause.) Keep an eye on the Atlanta Airport web site for more information as it becomes available)
1) If you don't want to be inspected, park your car in private park-ride lots off airport grounds. However, be aware that park-ride shuttles will be subject to the same traffic back ups as all other vehicles entering airport grounds.
2) The safest bet for on-time arrival at the airport this week and at peak times is MARTA. Consider MARTA at all times until the Orange threat alert changes.
3) If you are a frequent traveler, consider using any vehicle other than a truck, van or SUV when driving to the airport. (And be sure your vehicle does not contain anything like bags of sand, fertilizer or anything else that might lead to a lengthy inspection.)
4) Similar inspections are taking place at some, but not all, airports across the country, so beware of similar delays when, say, returning your rental car at these airports. 

From: Chris McGinnis who runs THE TICKET which is a monthly e-mail newsletter written for Atlanta-based frequent travelers. When you sign up, you will receive a monthly newsletter, plus periodic "NewsBites" (only when news warrants) and invitations to participate in "Insta-Polls."

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Many early mornings, at airports in cold cities such as Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis and Montreal, technicians are out in the dark and the cold and the wind. They stand on top of their trucks, high over the airport runway, and carefully inspect the wings and bodies of 747s, DC-10s and MD-11s for ice or frost. Their inspection is the first step in the crucial business of de-icing an aircraft. Judith Ritter spent a morning at the de-icing center at Dorval Airport in Montreal, Quebec, and has this report.  Read Full Story

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