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120x60 - Hotels JOHNNY JET'S
September 8, 2004
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Greetings! We had a lot of positive feedback from our first Johnny Jet video (It was a 30 second clip of a helicopter ride). If you couldnít view it, you probably didnít wait long enough for it to download (I tried on a few different computers and it took between 20 seconds and 4 minutes). Weíre including another Johnny Jet video from this weekís trip to Erie, Pennsylvania. Itís half the size and pretty funny (of my dad playing golf).

Because I go to Erie so often, instead of writing long stories I will just tell you some of the highlights, and post a ton of pictures from my 3-week trip. Enjoy!

My sister Carol and her husband Tom are very fortunate to have a gorgeous piece of property right on Lake Erie. Itís so nice that I hardly want to leave their place. Every day we played games, rode bikes, swam in the pool or went down to the beach. Itís also a fine place to nap in a hammock, underneath two huge oak trees.

Both Carol and Tom are awesome chefs-- which means plenty of home-cooked meals. Thatís a real treat for me, since I eat out almost everyday. Great food and eating outside overlooking Lake Erieís spectacular views is hard to beat. Did you know that Lake Erie was ranked by "National Geographic" as having the third best sunsets in the world? Thatís behind Hawaii and Japan. I donít know if that is an accurate fact because I heard it from a local, but Erie sure gets my vote. Every summer, the sunsets are spectacular. On the flip side, Erie also always has some wicked thunderstorms. Thatís actually a treat for me too, because I live in L.A. and we very rarely if ever get any of those storms --let alone rain.

If you donít know by now my niece Amanda is quite a character. Check out these pictures. One day we played Wiffle Ball in the yard. I turned around for a second, and look what she did. How funny is that? Later we were hanging out in the backyard. She came by with a serving tray with cookies. Of course I popped one in my mouth. When I looked up at her as she served my father I almost choked. Is she classic or what? I think Tom had a cow.

The great thing about eating at home almost every day is that we get to go to Wegmans grocery store to stock up. Wegmans is one of my favorite grocery stores in the world --they have everything you need, and more. By the end, though, I think little Johnny was tired of always going with me.

We did eat out a few times and those places are worth mentioning. The best food was at Petra Restaurant. I met the owner/chef who is originally from Jordan and used to cook at a fancy restaurant in Washington, D.C. Carol told me he was the nicest guy and after speaking to him for a few minutes I agree. Not only is he nice, but the boy can cook. Petra Restaurant, 3602 W Lake Rd., Erie; tel.: (814) 838-7197.

My favorite restaurant was Gregís probably because itís in the Erie Airport. I know it sounds crazy but the people who eat there usually arenít even traveling. Thatís something you donít see all the time--an airport restaurant that caters to locals. We went there the night I was supposed to fly back to L.A. on the last flight out, but USAir cancelled it (something they have done a lot in Erie, according to our waitress). It turned out to be a good thing for me. Not only did I get to stay in Erie longer, but I was able to try "Gregís." Greg used to run Gregís Place in downtown Erie. He serves the best steaks and chicken parmigiana in town, and now itís at a more convenient location (for me, anyway): the airport.

Since Erie has so many chain restaurants, Iíll throw in one I went to for the first time: The Texas Roadhouse. The food is good, and the atmosphere is fun (waitress sing and dance, they give out all the peanuts you want, and you can throw the shells on the floor). But my favorite part about this place are the sweet rolls that come with cinnamon butter! Holy cow, are those good! I think I ate a dozen of them. Texas Roadhouse, 7475 Peach St., Erie; tel.: (814) 864-9494.

If you still have room for dessert then head over to my new favorite place in Erie: Creamland. They serve both soft and hard ice cream. My favorite flavors are "Piece of Cake," "Moose Tracks,: and Ö. Forget it, I like them all. Creamland, 6221 West Ridge Rd.

Carol and Tom have a great group of friends. Every Thursday night we went to their friend Gregís house (not the same Greg from the restaurant) for "Steak Night." It was a lot of fun for everyone. The kids all play together, while the adults fire up the grill and the stories.

Next to where we go for Steak Night is also where Carol and the kids ride horses. Itís up in the middle of the boonies but itís beautiful farm country. The day I went Johnny didnít feel like riding so instead I chased him around the parking lot and talked to my sisterís friends.

Whenever I go to Erie, I always bring my golf shoes. Thatís because we get to play at the Kahkwa Club. This country club is so nice that they had the 2004 U.S. Womenís Amateur Championship going on while I was there. We watched the finals -- it was open to the public, free of charge. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be interested in watching anyone play golf, let alone two amateur women but it was actually entertaining and relaxing. Itís incredible to watch how far these ladies could hit the ball and so straight.

That brings us to our second-ever Johnny Jet video. This is a 15-second clip of my dad teeing off on a par 3. FYI: He is going to kill me that I am posting it for you to see so I have to make sure he and his friends donít get this weekís newsletter. Otherwise, Iím dead. In my fatherís defense (to cover my butt in case he does hear about it), when I showed this video to him-- he was so mortified that he took a lesson with the golf pro. The lesson worked, because we played a week later and he came within four feet of the pin on this same hole. Kahkwa Club, 3300 Kahkwa Club Rd., Erie; tel.: (814) 838-1901.

Speaking of video: Carol does a weekly TV segment for the Erie Humane Society. She does a great job organizing it all, then putting adorable homeless animals on TV. She has saved thousands of animals through her work and we are all very proud of her for making a positive difference in this world. Well, guess who else has been getting in on the action when Carol is unavailable for the show? Amanda! Itís so cool to see a 7-year-old do her own segment on TV. Sheís a natural, and every time she goes on the animal(s) gets adopted.

Hereís a funny story: One morning I woke up to Johnny and Amanda fighting outside my door. I walked out of my room with just a towel around my waist to see what was going on when suddenly I found myself like a deer in headlights. I wasnít the only one there to break up the brouhaha. The other person was a new babysitter I had no idea existed. Since I hadnít shaved in days and my hair was sticking straight up, I looked just like Captain Caveman. I was so embarrassed, that I couldnít even say a word. Instead I just made a beeline to the bathroom. We spent a lot of time with Kassy, who is really nice and the kidsí best babysitter.

If youíre in Erie in the summer, make sure to hit Waldameer Park. You canít miss this amusement park if you have kids (Thrill ride seekers should go to Cedar Point, a few hours away in Ohio). Waldameer doesnít cost anything to park or to enter Ė you pay just for the rides (and those prices are very reasonable). This year Waldameer introduced a brand-new roller coaster, the SteelDragon. It spins while you ride. Luckily, no one in our group is into spinning rides so we stuck to our favorite: the log ride. We all got soaked. My dad and I spent most of our money playing games trying to win cheap stuffed animals for the kids. My dad did well throwing darts at the balloons but not at throwing the popcorn in his mouth (I'm a dead man). Waldameer Park, 220 Peninsula Dr., Erie; tel.: (814) 838-3591.

Next to Waldameer is Presque Isle State Park. This place is beautiful, and its 10-mile paved surface is perfect for bicycling, skating, jogging or walking. Presque Isle also has seven miles of guarded, sandy beaches that have earned a spot in Condť Nast Traveler magazine as one of the nation's Top 100 Swimming Holes. And you thought Erie was dreary!

Here are some bonus pictures. Every time I go to Erie I attend a party. This trip I made it to two. The first was at my sisterís house. It had a beach party theme in celebration of their new winter house in Florida. Of coucrse, that was before the hurricanes hit.

The second party was a lot more dressy, so I made a quick stop at TJ Maxx and DSW to buy some clothes and shoes for cheap. This party was a fund raiser for a school that serves inner-city kids with a passion for the arts. My sister helped organize it. The turnout was great, because Pat Monihan from the band Train is Erieís very own rock star. He came up with the idea, and also performed. That boy can sing. He is also a really nice guy.

The following day I packed my bags and flew back to L.A. (through Pittsburgh) on USAir. I remember walking by USAirís lost baggage office at LAX and saying to myself "Iíve never seen a place so full of bags, I hope they donít lose mine." I jinxed myself. They did indeed lose one of my bags (as well as a few other passengersí). I hadnít packed anything valuable, but I was still bummed because I had two new comfy pillows from TJ Maxx (for $7 -- yeah baby). I was looking so forward to using them. The guy running the office was way overworked. When I handed him my bag receipt so he could scan it and tell me where my bag was, he said, "We donít scan bags." I was like, what? Are you still in the Stone Age? I said, "This isnít Bedrock -- itís L.A.!" He laughed and said, "Tell that to our executives." To make a long story short, I had to fill out a form. To my surprise I did get my bag back Ė although it wasnít a few hours like they promised, it was 36 hours later. But thatís okay. Iím just happy I can finally get a good nightís sleep.

Happy Travels,

Johnny Jet
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  • Excellent story. Funny too. Frank - Connecticut
  • The video was absolutely awesome!!!! Great job! Marcus - Sarasota, FL
  • Just a quick not to let you know how much I have enjoyed 'tagging along' on your journeys! Hope you are doing well... Keep up the unbelievable travels and wonderful story telling! I look forward to my newsletter every week! Tracey R. Stamford, CT
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  • I am just responding to this subscriber comment: "Enough about your personal, private life!!..." Um--Verna needs to RELAX! One of (the many) things I love about your newsletter is how personable you are. I feel like I KNOW you and your family. It's different from any of the other newsletters out there. It's what makes JohnnyJet so UNIQUE -- don't change!! :-) Desiree - Providence, RI
  • Johnny, I love hearing about your personal life. Please don't stop telling us about it along with your travel stories! Amanda B - Texas
  • Hope you've recovered from your nephew's kicking! (And BTW, way cool helicopter video!) Stephen L - Boston
  • Hey Johnny Jet, I love your columns, especially your visits to Erie, PA. When I go "home" there, I often feel like I'm in the twilight zone, too! Mary K - Scottsdale
  • Some nice photos but the video didn't work despite a cable broadband connection. Keep the psychic stuff to yourself - way too wacky! Brian - Berwyn, PA

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TGV the French High speed train
Here's my best airline customer service story this year. It's a story about great customer service from several people on one plane - enough to make you forgive some of the other, worse experiences :-).

I was traveling through Chicago on a business trip, and was very busy working in the United Red Carpet Lounge. In fact, I was so busy on a phone call I forgot to watch the time. When I finally hung up and looked, my flight was leaving in 10 minutes. I re-packed my bags and raced to the plane which (luckily) was right across from the lounge. I boarded the plane and took my seat in first class (yes, an upgrade!) and started to settle in. Then I realized something was missing. My cell phone - oops. I looked around and couldn't find it. This isn't the first time it's gone missing and I have found it later in some seep dark recess of my bags so I wasn't too concerned. Then I remembered how much I rushed out of the lounge. Maybe I did forget it. My seat mate sat down just then. I asked if I could borrow his phone to try mine. He agreed. Sure enough, it wasn't there. He encouraged me to go get it. And, he even told the flight attendant. She encouraged me to go get it too! So I started to rush out the door and the plane manager was at the door. He also encouraged me to go get it. But, I decided that it wasn't worth making the plane late to get my phone (I travel through Chicago a lot), so I backed off and started to go back to my seat. He asked me to give my address to him so they could mail it to me. And, he said he would bring it to the lounge after he closed down the plane so it could leave. So, I sat down again, really happy knowing everything seemed like it was taken care of. About an hour into the ride, the same flight attendant popped over to me and told me that the pilot had my phone (and that he was calling all my friends on speed dial to tell them I had left it at the airport :-)). My seat mate and I looked at her, astonished. She explained. The plane manager had taken my note to the lounge - who had already found my phone - and he then took my with him down to tarmac where he was closing out the ground crew. He talked with the pilot - and the pilot OPENED the front window of the plane. They put my phone in a glove from the crew, and amazingly threw it up to the pilot who caught it! The attendant told me I'd have the phone back a little later once the pilots opened up the front cabin. A few minutes later, she showed up with my phone perfectly in tact (and on!). She said,"they can fly the plane but they can't figure how to turn these darn things off"! We all laughed pretty hard....and then I promptly turned the phone off and thought, now that was awesome customer service!

Kristin Peterson

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