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I finally got some pictures back from my backup disposable camera. Heres a tip: If you want to email pictures, make sure you get them developed on a CD, not a disc. The quality (as you will see below) varies quite a bit. It will be easy for you to figure out which pictures are which.
Let's start with some shots from my sister Georgette's BBQ in Connecticut last week. She had her in-laws and my family over. That always makes for a good time, since we all grew up together. The good thing about coming from a small town is that some things never change.
Also in Connecticut I was pleasantly surprised to find out my cousins started organizing monthly mini- family reunions to try to fill the void my grandmother left when she passed away several years ago. Every Sunday when she was alive, you would find me and the rest of my million cousins at her house for the best pasta around. She was in her 90's, deaf and almost blind, but she still cooked incredible feasts. God bless her. I never thought anything could come close to those memorable days but it happened last Sunday at Italia restaurant in Norwalk. The food was as close to grandma's as you can get. When I asked where the chefs were from, it made sense: They came from the same island in Italy as she did (Ischia). Italia Pizzeria Restaurant: 285 Main Ave, Norwalk, CT, tel. (203) 846-2555.
The next day Amber Airplane and I rode the NYC subway with my dad. We were there to see my sister Carol and family. Amber Airplane decided to follow my sister's lead by getting her eyebrows waxed by Eliza at the Avon Salon in the Trump building. Eliza is a famous woman who waxes all the big stars -- including Madonna and Oprah -- and charges a whopping $62. That's right: $62 for a 15-minute job. I think I'm in the wrong business. Don't get me started. Im sure the guys will back me up on this one, but I'm not counting on you girls. If you want to be a sucker -- I mean, a beautiful waxed brow -- then go to Avon Salon, 725 5th Ave. New York, NY, tel. (212) 755-2866.
Last week I told you about our aborted takeoff in D.C. Here's a picture the flight attendant took just before takeoff. When we finally made it to Cleveland, we went to Amber Airplanes parent's house for a good ol' family dinner. I don't know how her dad made that corn bread, but dang was it good!
Speaking of Cleveland, after I made those comments about her beloved city, Amber Airplane wasn't too happy with me. I had to get out of town quickly, before her family ganged up on me. So I went to see my sister and her family who were back in Erie, PA. Erie is about 100 miles away from Cleveland. The cheapest way to get there is Greyhound. It's only $13, and is always an adventure. If you haven't taken Greyhound, let's just say it's a different clientele than you find on an airplane.
Here is what I wrote on the bus in my travel journal: I showed up at Greyhound 30 minutes before departure. You are supposed to be there one hour early, but every time I have done that I just sit around. This time the line didn't move. There was one agent for 15 people in line. No one was happy, including me. Everyone in the terminal looked tough, so I put on my hat and a frown and started doing a twitch so people could relate to me. I made small talk with the nice guy in front of me. He seemed like a normal businessman, until I looked closely at his clothes. There were holes all over. I felt bad, but he didn't seem to mind. Finally I got my ticket, boarded the bus and jumped in one of the last empty rows, which was near the front.
The kid across from me had a tattoo on each finger of one hand. It spelled C-h-r-i-s (good thing he had a five-letter name). It looked like he wrote it himself with a pen, but it was really a cheap tattoo. People were still boarding the bus, and I hoped no one would sit next to me. Then I saw a crazy dude who had been walking around the terminal yelling at people with a bible in his hand. I prayed that he wouldn't sit next to me. The good news is, it worked: He didnt sit next to me. The bad news is, he took the seat directly behind me which was prime for his torturing of me. I felt so bad for the lady next to him (she eventually switched her seat). The guy was in his 40's, medium built, and had a slight accent. When the woman started ignoring his ridiculous questions he pulled out a tape recorder and started dictating short statements into it (very loudly). We are leaving seven minutes late, he would say. Thirty seconds later he would add: We are now going around a dangerous curve. A minute later it was: I don't want to win a Jaguar. I didnt know they were giving them away!
When he ran out of things to say he played back his gibberish. I grabbed my carry-on and dug around for my earplugs. The only ones I could find were way at the bottom, covered with dirt. Normally I wouldn't dream of touching them, but this guy called for desperate measures. Still, even those dirty earplugs werent enough.
He cranked heavy metal music through his walkman. He apologized to everyone, which was nice, but he did it in a sketchy way. He yelled: I am sorry everyone for playing my music so loud, but it is my only pleasure I get in life and I don't get out much. After I heard that, I felt badly for him but I still wanted to kick him off the bus.
I have all kinds of other crazy stories from my trip to Erie, but they have to wait until next week. I will mention that I played around the house with my spoiled niece and nephew. Played golf with my sister and brother-in-law Tom. I love Tom but honestly, the guy has no golf etiquette. It's actually quite amusing. He doesn't wait for anyone. He just hits his ball and takes off, even on the tee. Carol and I stand there with our mouths open and say, Is he serious? When we realize he is, we laugh. Then we hide behind trees to escape his slice. It's quite an adventure. When I wasn't ducking from Tom's balls (that doesn't sound too good) I was throwing my clubs in frustration. What a game!
Check back next week for stories from Erie and ?, plus my brother Frank's journal of his life-changing trip to Jordan
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|QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK:|
|READER TIP OF THE WEEK|
Join all the frequent flier clubs you want, but it's best to concentrate your mileage and moreso, gain some sort of elite status. It means extra miles, more, perks, premium seat locations, and allows you to board the plane ahead of the heavily laden vacationers (this way your bag doesn't get "relocated" to another section of the plane or worse, gate checked).
Burt Spiegel from New Jersey|
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|LOS ANGELES TIMES|
|NEW YORK TIMES (Free Registration)|
When should call off a trip? Just after Sept. 11, 2001, one-third of the business travelers surveyed told pollsters that the threat of a new terrorist attack would make them change their plans. How about a war? A survey found that more Americans postponed their trips after the start of Gulf War II. And sickness? More than half of corporate travel managers said the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in Asia precipitated a fall in travel (and, presumably, some cancellations). But those aren't the only reasons. > Details in Power Trip
OTHER STORIES FROM CHRISTOPHER ELLIOTT:
Dude, Where Are My Miles? Avoid SkyChoice Rescheduled on Delta The Lowdown on Rule 240
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Trouble-Free Travel with Grandkids From
Bottom Line Secrets.com
Traveling with grandchildren can be a rewarding experience... or it can be difficult ... or both. Success for both kids and grandparents depends on planning, patience and creativity.
Some ideas for making your trip enjoyable, especially if traveling with kids five to 10 years old...
Be reasonable. Your energy level probably isn't what it was 20 or 30 years ago. Added to this, young kids can be particularly draining. Don't try to do too much traveling or sightseeing each day.
Contact Mom and Dad. The needs of each child are different -- but children in general must feel confident that they can talk to their parents whenever they want.
Best: Make sure children call home when they reach their destination. After that, tell them they can call home whenever they want.
Keep trips short. This varies among children. Older children can stay away from home longer than younger kids, especially if the younger ones haven't spent a lot of time with their grandparents. For children five to 10, keep initial trips to no longer than a week.
Take it easy. Problems are going to occur -- logistics, sickness, weather. Don't let them ruin a trip. If you're uptight, this will transfer to your grandchildren and that will only make the trip unrewarding and difficult.
Consider kid's time. No matter how you're traveling, you're on kid's time. That means it will take longer than expected. Make sure you're relaxed about it.
Pack medical supplies. It's always good to keep a few things on hand, especially when traveling with kids. Include: Tweezers, adhesive bandages and a spray disinfectant, children's nonaspirin pain reliever.
TRAVELING BY CAR
Rotate toys, seats and food. There are lots of things to keep in mind when traveling by car. The first rule is to rotate -- seats, toys and food. The diversity will keep the kids occupied and happy.
Important: Make sure you have the right car safety seat(s).
Keep stomachs full and bladders empty. Children are always happiest when they're comfortable. Keep them content with full stomachs and empty bladders. So -- leave time for pit stops.
Minimize mess. Bring food that doesn't create mess. It is also important to pack low-sugar foods. Bagels, some cereals and fruit are good choices. Bring cold water instead of juice, ice tea or soda. Reason: Kids drink water only when they are thirsty -- so this will keep bathroom stops to a minimum.
Keep fun high and noise low. Pack different games and activities to keep kids occupied. This might include books, simple travel games -- plus a portable radio and tape player with headphones. For everyone's sanity, take games with low noise levels.
Take excursions. If you're going to be traveling by car for several days, build in some sightseeing stops. Just trying to get to a destination as quickly as possible becomes stressful.
Go direct. Air travel brings its own set of challenges. Yet because it involves a restricted area over which you have little control, it is best to keep it as simple -- and quick -- as possible. Take direct flights whenever possible.
Leave treasures at home. It is always a good idea to pack some activities along with you to keep the kids occupied. But it is also wise not to take anything on a plane that's treasured or easily lost.
Pack snacks. While food is almost always available on a plane, it might not be available when you want it. And kids aren't always patient. Take something along to meet those cravings, like fruit, juice or a granola bar.
Travel north/south. Kids adapt to many things better than adults. Jet lag, however, isn't one of them. Therefore, it is best to avoid time changes by traveling north/south rather than east/west.
Kids adapt surprisingly well to going overseas. They almost always find something they like to eat and they are usually curious about seeing new sights and meeting new people.
However, it is wise to take a few things along. You might bring a letter from their parents stating they're on a trip with their grandparents. That could come in handy at a border crossing. Also remember to pack a soft washcloth, mild soap, tissues, a half roll of toilet paper and... a jar of peanut butter.
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