Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Devil Is in the Details

No matter where you go or how you get there, there’s lots of planning involved. The way we travel now is significantly different from the way we went places 30 years ago. Way back then we simply threw the camping gear in the Jeep and took off. Now we are more likely to explore places that are a flight or two or three away, making getting there much more complicated.

The plane, the plane…

Waiting to board an American Airlines flight
Choosing an airline isn’t particularly complicated. If you don’t have a preferred airline there are several ways to go about finding flights that fit your schedule and budget. There are many websites (Expedia, Priceline, CheapOair, Cheap Tickets, OneTravel, CheapFlights, Kayak, Orbitz, etc.) that will compare multiple carriers over a particular set of days and times. However, cheaper isn’t necessarily better. Some airlines have an extra charge for everything, including water. By the time you add on the ‘extras’, your cost may equal what you would have paid on a more well-known airline. Once you’ve chosen an airline from one of the ‘compare-all’ sites, it’s a good idea to take a look at the actual website for the airline. It’s not unusual to find additional flights, equal or better prices, and other information that you won’t find on sites such as CheapOair. You’ve probably heard that Wednesday is the best day to purchase your tickets and this is generally true, but the best day to fly is Thursday. On Thursday flights you can generally get better seats and have a better chance of an upgrade. My first choice is American Airlines and their affiliates partly because I live near an AA hub which makes getting good flights easier and cheaper. Several of my friends choose United Airlines for the same reason: they live near a United hub, making their travel simpler and less expensive. I also choose AA because Dave and I rack up ‘mileage points’, letting us qualify for upgrades, better seats, and free entry into the airline clubs and so forth. There is another website that is really helpful when you’re getting ready to travel: TSA. This site will tell you what you can and cannot take on a plane. If you’ve ever wondered what happens to things that are confiscated by TSA be sure to visit ‘What happens to things that are left with TSA’.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Springing to Manitou and Review of Restaurants

View from Sunkist Cabin, Crystal Park
I’ve been to Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs during all four seasons and I can’t decide which one I like the best. This winter I spent a week with my friends, Bek and Mr. Twister, playing in the snow. We always start out in Manitou Springs, but this year was a bit different. We did have a quick lunch but rather than wandering around the streets checking out the small shops, we headed ‘up the mountain’ to Crystal Park. Crystal Park, once a well-known tourist attraction, is now a 2000 acre gated community perched on the side of Mount Arthur (one of the several ‘foothills’ of Pikes Peak). This lovely residential area backs up on the Hurricane Canyon Natural Area with great views of Mount Garfield, Cameron’s Cone, Mount Manitou, Pikes Peak and the Garden on the Gods ~ when there isn’t a snow storm.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Home for the Holidays and Review of Area Restaurants

Christmas Cactus
This week ends our holiday celebrations. Spending time with friends and family makes November through January entertaining and many times expands our ideas about places to go and things to do. We didn’t travel far from home around Christmas, but I did spend a few days out of town at New Year’s (more about that later). One of the things we do over holidays is sample restaurants we haven’t tried and return to some of our favorites. We also spend one evening driving around the area to look at Christmas decorations and may take a walk through the town center.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Best of 2014 Near-Normal Travels

We’ve had lots of adventures this year and it is fun to remember the best ones. Here are our top picks (four carrots or better) for lodging, food and activities with links to the particular blogs entries from which they were chosen. Because this is the first year of our blog, we spent some time trying to standardize our entries; that's why some reviews are difficult to find. From this blog, you can easily go to the original posts. The Near-Normal Travelers hope you find this information interesting and entertaining. Happy New Year and happy travels!