Independent traveler

Love to travel, but hate tours? This blog offers insight on how to go it alone, from safe accommodations to seeing the best, and maybe the worst. After all, independent travel is an adventure. Flexibility and traveling on a budget are critical. No five-stars or all-inclusives. So hop aboard. Learn to enjoy travel at your own pace and price. Meet other adventurers like yourself and mingle with the locals. Remember: You may travel alone, but you wonʼt be lonely. gloria.independenttraveler@gmail.com

The “Land of Enchantment”, New Mexico, Pecos National Historical Park. - 9/22/2012 4:27 pm

All border crossings are not created equal... - 8/19/2012 7:58 am

Avoid Interstates, enjoy travel through middle America... - 8/12/2012 6:12 am

Right now is the best time to travel the Alaska Highway. - 8/4/2012 5:45 pm

Fifty Shades of Grey becoming a travel phenomenon. - 7/29/2012 6:46 am

Winners of the annual Independent Traveler Photo Contest... - 7/21/2012 10:00 pm

Independent Traveler photo contest, submit your favorite travel photo here... - 7/1/2012 10:38 am

How to get a good seat on your next flight. - 6/24/2012 9:26 am

Top ten gifts for travelers with links to more...

Every year I make up a travelers' gift list from scratch and find that I have thought of the same things from the year before. They are items that generally I leave in my suitcase for the next trip.

This year I'm adding online links to other blogs and sites with items not listed here. Happy shopping.

1. Tripod for point and shoot camera, for the person with a short arm trying to take a self portrait or for use when taking a timer shot.
2. A headlamp. This may sound more like a camper’s delight, but they are so handy when you travel, especially if you are traveling off the beaten path and are walking at night. You also can use a headlamp to read in bed or on the plane when the overhead light is way too dim or misdirected.
3. Mini flashlight to use in the middle of the night in your room so you don’t stumble or think the closet is the bathroom. (Don’t laugh, I’ve done that.)
4. Leg money pouch, to deter wise crooks. I met a couple in Peru that had to take off all their clothes when they were robbed, but what are the chances if you’re in a crowd.
5. Travel Alarm Clock. I think a girl or guy for that matter can never have too many travel clocks. When I’m not on the road, I set one for the time in Denver where my daughter lives and one for Nebraska where my mother and brother live. Make sure it has a face that lights in the dark.
6. Small folding travel bag. I always carry a small collapsible bag to put items in when I shop or to put items from my carryon into for easier access on the plane. That way I don’t leave my glasses case in the seat pocket nor do I have to lug down my carryon from the overhead rack to get my book or something else I need. I pack the small bag in the gate area and put my purse in it too.
7. TSA combination locks for your luggage. Like alarm clocks a traveler can never have too many. Use them to lock your checked luggage and also your carryon luggage. That way if the security dudes lose, cut or destroy the lock on your checked bag, you have an extra and don’t have to pay inflated airport prices. I always have at least two extra locks along. I also put them on my backpack and camera case too. Better to be paranoid than plundered is my motto.
8. A neck pillow. I love my beanie neck pillow. No matter what kind of airline seat I’m in, my head never feels comfortable . Plus my beanie neck pillow doubles as a bed pillow if I don’t like the one provided by my hotel.
9. A plug adapter. I take a travel hairdryer ($10 at Wal-Mart) and flat iron on trips. (Make sure they are dual voltage. Adapters don't adjust voltage, I leaned the hard way.) These multi-plug adapters can be used anywhere in the world to adapt their American style plug prongs to the local type used.
10. Travel Blankee. Since many airlines no longer provide pillows or blankets, you can pack your own. An alternative for the ladies is to wear a shawl. It works great as a cover and looks trendy slung over your shoulder when you're out and about.

Check out these site for other ideas:
7 Best Holiday Gifts for Travelers
10 Best Travel Gifts Under $30
Off beat big ticket ideas from Forbes

Would love to hear your ideas too. Post a comment below or e-mail me.

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Alec Baldwin goes on an ego trip and gets booted off plane…

Some things never cease to amaze me like the size of Alec Balwin’s ego, not to mention his ignorant behavior.

Baldwin was kicked off an American Airline's flight for refusing to turn off his cell phone and trash mouthing the crew.

Boeing Corporation has reported that cell phones and other electronic devices can interfere with navigational equipment, but this jerk either doesn’t believe it or thinks he’s God. Maybe both.

Kudos for you, American Airlines for kicking butt for the rest of us that fly.

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Casa de Suenos Magicos, VRBO in San Pancho, Mexico not a dream...

Beautiful, but...Beautiful, but...

It looked so good on the Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBO 222047) website, but reality was different.

The beautiful home, Casa de Suenos Magicos, pictured above is not exactly the rental you get. Only the first floor. There is no mention that the owner lives upstairs, which wasn't all that bad, but we thought we were renting the whole house. First wrong impression.

Also not mentioned was that the casita, which is actually the third bedroom, is a separate dwelling located at street level below the pool and is not air-conditioned. Trucks begin rumbling down the well-traveled road at 7am and the drone of the swimming pool filter and pump sharing a common wall make it impossible to enjoy a daytime nap.

The owner calls both the house and casita “brand new”, but they are remodeled from old structures.

“Just 50 steps” from the beach” turns out to be more like 200 down a steep cobblestone hill and litter strew road. “ “Beachside Casa”, as listed in the VRBO headline makes one think that the property is beachside not up the hill with virtually no view of the beach unless you go up on the rooftop terrace above the owner's residence.

Viewed from the far end of the pool, this open-air restaurant is on the other side of the "six-foot privacy wall".Viewed from the far end of the pool, this open-air restaurant is on the other side of the "six-foot privacy wall".

Even more upsetting is the fact that the house and casita are right next door to an outdoor restaurant where the workers blast music while they are preparing or cleaning during the day and the dinner crowd can be raucous during the evening, one evening until midnight. Yes the owner did build a “six foot wall that protects your privacy”, but your privacy is from the restaurant employees and diners.

Lying by omission or exaggerating the truth is plain old lying and renters who pay cash (nearly $3,000) in advance have little if any recourse when they realize they have been duped. A shrug of the shoulders is little consolation.

Unfortunately, the VRBO website allows owners to only show positive comments if they wish. That's why this rental has 15, five star reviews. Plus there is no way of knowing who really wrote them.

As I told the owner, the lower part of his home that he rents is wonderful along with the pool, but the hot, bug ridden noisy casita is terrible. Making people think that the property is on the beach and only 50 steps away is wrong. Omitting the fact that the property is right next door to a busy restaurant is at best irresponsible.

Unwanted casita guest.Unwanted casita guest.

If you are looking for a VRBO beware. Any owner (or dishonest scammer) can advertise anything, true or not.

This experience has taught me, that if it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.

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Why are U.S. airports still using X-ray body scanners when the European Commission has banned them?

If you’ve been reading my blogs, you know that I don’t approve of X-ray body scanners. When I fly, I chose to ”opt out” if chosen to go through one. I’ve been groped, humiliated, bullied and made to stand still without moving for twenty minutes until the TSA finds a female to pat me down, but I still continue to “opt out”.

The reason I ”opt out” is because I’m suspect of the safety of the scanners. And now the European Commission has banned their usage stating in a press release:

"In order not to risk jeopardising citizens' health and safety, only security scanners which do not use X-ray technology are added to the list of authorised methods for passenger screening at EU airports."

Read this article before you walk through another body scanner.

Past blogs:
Are body scanners safe for children?

TSA held accountable for body scanner radiation

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San Pancho and Sayulita Mexico, but where are you?

The beach at Sayulita caters to foreign tourists.The beach at Sayulita caters to foreign tourists.

Read the hype and you think that you are going to some quaint villages when you go to San Pancho and Sayulita, Mexico about 25 north of the chaotic tourist Meca of Puerto Vallarta. While the literature makes them seem ideal, reality doesn't match the hype.

"You want massage?" Look no further."You want massage?" Look no further.

The influx of Americans, both U.S. and Canadians, have turned these once quaint villages into their newly acquired territories, replete with locals catering to their every need. “You want massage?” “You want mushrooms?” “You want hamburger or smoothies?” It's all at your fingertips.

Modern homes built by rich foreigners litter the hillsides of Sayulita's once quaint village.Modern homes built by rich foreigners litter the hillsides of Sayulita's once quaint village.

“You want local culture?” “You want laid-back local villages?” “You want to know you are somewhere outside of America or Canada?” Look elsewhere.

ATM machines allow foreigners to get cash, that is if the machines are working which they weren't.ATM machines allow foreigners to get cash, that is if the machines are working which they weren't.

Sorry, but San Pancho and Sayulita with their large resident population of foreigners and trained locals catering to their every need is just not my cup of tea. You won't see me going back.

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Feliz Thanksgiving from San Pancho, Mexico

A local restaurant tries to attract the American crowd.A local restaurant tries to attract the American crowd.

Amazing how our American holiday is now celebrated in so many countries, like here in Mexico in San Pancho 25 or so miles north of Puerto Vallarta.

Fire roasted turkeys cook all day long.Fire roasted turkeys cook all day long.

Then again there has been an American invasion with thousands of US citizens and Canadians living here year round. So I guess it's really not that unusual.

I'm sure the turkey is wonderful, but when in Mexico, I prefer to enjoy fresh Mahi Mahi and a margarita. I'll wait until I'm home to enjoy my turkey dinner.

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Trying a VRBO in San Pancho a village north of Puerto Vallarta.

Our vacation rental house outside of San Pancho, north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.Our vacation rental house outside of San Pancho, north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

It seems like a distant memory, running through the airport parking lot at -20 windchill factor to retrieve my purse that I inadvertently left in the car. Tears of frustration froze on my cheeks as I was dressed for my impending departure for Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, a mere 110 degrees warmer.

However arriving at our VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) about 30 miles north of Puerto Vallarta in the sleepy village of San Pancho make it worth while. Above is the view I woke up to the following morning.

Suffice it to say, the 90 degree temperatures are worth it. Our rental house is amazing. If you'd like to know where I'm staying, e-mail me.

Buenas Noches!Buenas Noches!

Until then buenas noches, I'm off to finish my margarita.

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Santa Fe, New Mexico in photos...

I am truly enamored with Santa Fe. One reason may be that it is such a contract to my homestate. Its Pueblo buildings, long history with the Spanish and Native Americans along with its modern day flair, make it a wonderful city to visit.

The forever changing movement of the sun creates shadows on the surface of adobe buildings creating delicious eye candy.The forever changing movement of the sun creates shadows on the surface of adobe buildings creating delicious eye candy.

Of course, in the New Mexico tradition, churches abound.

From the grand Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi.From the grand Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi.

to the modest.to the modest.

Sculptures abound as well.

Outside of Santuario de Guadalupe is the demure Saint Bernadette of Lordes.Outside of Santuario de Guadalupe is the demure Saint Bernadette of Lordes.

This bronze sculpture of Estella Loretto outside of the Basilica commemorates the first North American Indian saint.This bronze sculpture of Estella Loretto outside of the Basilica commemorates the first North American Indian saint.

Santa Fe is a photographer's city. Around every corner lies a photo.A traditional ladder displays tempting souvenirs.A traditional ladder displays tempting souvenirs.
Even a simple wall entices shutterbugs.Even a simple wall entices shutterbugs.

On the weekends, local Native artists display their goods outside of the Palace of the Governors on the city plaza.

Artists at the Palace of the Governors.Artists at the Palace of the Governors.

Looking for a place to stay, check out the Inn and Spa at Loretto.

Smack downtown just off the Plaza, this is my choice of where to stay in Santa Fe.Smack downtown just off the Plaza, this is my choice of where to stay in Santa Fe.

For more information on the subject of these photos, check out the following links.
Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi
Saint Bernadette
Estella Loretto
Santuario de Guadalupe
Palace of the Governors

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Santa Fe, New Mexico in photos...

I am truly enamored with Santa Fe. One reason may be that it is such a contract to my homestate. Its Pueblo buildings, long history with the Spanish and Native Americans along with its modern day flair, make it a wonderful city to visit.

The forever changing movement of the sun creates shadows on the surface of adobe buildings creating delicious eye candy.The forever changing movement of the sun creates shadows on the surface of adobe buildings creating delicious eye candy.

Of course, in the New Mexico tradition, churches abound.

From the grand Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi.From the grand Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi.

to the modest.to the modest.

Sculptures abound as well.

Outside of Santuario de Guadalupe is the demure Saint Bernadette of Lordes.Outside of Santuario de Guadalupe is the demure Saint Bernadette of Lordes.

This bronze sculpture of Estella Loretto outside of the Basilica commemorates the first North American Indian saint.This bronze sculpture of Estella Loretto outside of the Basilica commemorates the first North American Indian saint.

Santa Fe is a photographer's city. Around every corner lies a photo.A traditional ladder displays tempting souvenirs.A traditional ladder displays tempting souvenirs.
Even a simple wall entices shutterbugs.Even a simple wall entices shutterbugs.

On the weekends, local Native artists display their goods outside of the Palace of the Governors on the city plaza.

Artists at the Palace of the Governors.Artists at the Palace of the Governors.

Looking for a place to stay, check out the Inn and Spa at Loretto.

Smack downtown just off the Plaza, this is my choice of where to stay in Santa Fe.Smack downtown just off the Plaza, this is my choice of where to stay in Santa Fe.

For more information on the subject of these photos, check out the following links.
Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi
Saint Bernadette
Estella Loretto
Santuario de Guadalupe
Palace of the Governors

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Do you know the way to Santa Fe? Take the high road from Taos...

There are several turnouts along the "high road" providing sweeping views of the  dessert landscape.There are several turnouts along the "high road" providing sweeping views of the dessert landscape.

I am headed to Santa Fe for the rest of my New Mexico visit. Last time I followed Highway 68, but this time I am taking the ”high road” as they call it, guaranteed to be more scenic with lots of vistas and cultural sites along the way.

Indeed it is. Following Highway 518 out of Taos to Highway 75, my first stop is the Picuris Pueblo. Unfortunately the Pueblo is closed to visitors. When visiting Pueblos, it is best to phone ahead to see if they are open.

San Jose de Garcia Catholic Church in Las Trampas on Highway 76 was contructed in 1760.San Jose de Garcia Catholic Church in Las Trampas on Highway 76 was contructed in 1760.

My next stop on highway 76 is a beautiful old mission church, San Jose de Garcia Catholic Church constructed in 1760 in Las Trampas. I and my husband are the only ones viewing this magnificent adobe structure. I can't enter the church as it is locked, but it is well worth contemplating from the outside.

Santuario de Chimayo mission church was constructed over the holy dirt found on the site.Santuario de Chimayo mission church was constructed over the holy dirt found on the site.

My favorite stop is ”El Santuario de Chimayo” and the Santo Nino Chapel. The church is open and and I marvel at the beautiful, rustic interior taking a small handful of the holy dirt that is claimed to have healed hundreds.

The gate Santuario de Chimayo is made of traditional adobe.The gate Santuario de Chimayo is made of traditional adobe.
My heart is heavy when I visit the Santo Nino (Children's) Chapel and see dozens of tiny shoes representing souls of loved ones that have departed earlier and their photographs on the wall.

Nearby Santo Nino Chapel is a short walk.Nearby Santo Nino Chapel is a short walk.

I highly recommend taking the ”high road” to Santa Fe. The high dessert scenery is spectacular on a sunny day and the spiritual stops along are truly moving.

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Don't miss this amazing canyon carved by the Rio Grande outside of Taos, New Mexico...

This canyon carved by the Rio Grande is 650 deep.This canyon carved by the Rio Grande is 650 deep.

Ten miles outside of Taos, New Mexico on highway 64, lies the Rio Grande Gorge, 650 feet below the dessert plains. While driving to the Gorge, I was really questioning if we were driving in the right direction.

We passed community after community on the hill-less, flat land that parallels the highway. It seemed impossible that a deep canyon lie ahead. It wasn't until we were upon it that the canyon revealed itself. I was glad I wasn't on a galloping horse across the wilderness, that in retrospect must have claimed at least a few lives.

This award winning bridge allows vehicles to cross the canyon via Highway 64.This award winning bridge allows vehicles to cross the canyon via Highway 64.

The Rio Grande Gorge and the bride that crosses it is a must see and a site to behold. Walking across the bridge on the narrow walk way is not for the faint of heart, especially when an 18 wheeler rambles across shaking the bridge and its occupants. Maybe that is why an engineering crew was working on the bridge supports during our visit shutting down one lane. Best not to think about that when you are peering 650 feet down.

A shadow of the bridge and water below is only visible mid-day when the sun is directly overhead.A shadow of the bridge and water below is only visible mid-day when the sun is directly overhead.

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Taos, New Mexico a great winter getaway...

San Francisco de Asis Mission Church is a Taos don't miss.San Francisco de Asis Mission Church is a Taos don't miss.

I love Taos and New Mexico in general and one of the major reasons is the culture and history of the area. Many Americans think that you have to visit Europe to visit sites that are hundreds even thousands of years old, however we have sites in our own backyard that are just as old.

One thing I'm really drawn to in New Mexico and Mexico as well, are old churches. Here in Taos the San Francisco de Asis Mission Church is an architectural wonder.

Entrance to the Mission.Entrance to the Mission.

Constructed between 1772 and 1816, it is made of adobe that is a mixture of clay, sand, water and straw. It remains an active church today, hosting masses and other religious activities.

A mission window inserted into the adobe.A mission window inserted into the adobe.

For other adobe structures and a wonderful cultural experience one can visit the Taos Pueblo just south of Taos. I visited last April, but it is closed for three days this time around.

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Oh deer, urban wildlife outside of Denver...

Urban wildlife outside of Denver in Evergreen...Urban wildlife outside of Denver in Evergreen...

It's a beautiful day in Denver. 70 degrees and the fall colors are turning rusty. Residents abound raking yards filled with fallen leaves, many still in shorts running the tails and Sunday drivers out for what may be the last of the Indian Summer. A big winter storm is forecast for Tuesday.

I'm visiting my daughter, who grew up in Anchorage and her hubby. We're taking a drive to Evergreen, a 30 min. drive up into the Rocky Mountain foothills. While I'm use to seeing moose galore, I'm not use to seeing deer, Mule deer, and am quite memorized by their numbers and their lack of fear of the human species.

They are all over in the yards of residents like they share their lots. And why shouldn't they?

If you get to Denver, don't sequester yourself in the city. Get out to the burbs where you too will see the local wildlife.

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Zion National Park, a great October getaway.

Zion National Park is one of America's grandest.Zion National Park is one of America's grandest.

It’s a fairly easy on, easy off for Alaskans to visit Southern Utah. I flew into Las Vegas via Seattle on Alaska Airlines, rented a car and drove to Springdale, Utah located at the entrance to Zion National Park.

Officially 169 miles from Vegas, driving times differ depending upon how much you want to go over the speed limit. One local told me he has a radar detector so he can make it in less than two hours. It took us three plus going the speed limit with a stop.

The shoulder season, Sept., Oct. and Nov. are the best. Fewer crowds and temperate daytime highs. Nov. 1st , visitors can drive private vehicles into the park. Before then you have to take a park shuttle bus into the recesses of the park. However, hotel swimming pools officially close on Nov. 1st too. Therefore, I feel October is the best month to visit.

The main road through Zion is open to the public year round.The main road through Zion is open to the public year round.

Vista, upon vista of towering sandstone towers, mountains and canyon walls, cause travelers to “ooh and aah” at every corner or twist in the road. I was asked at least a billion times, “Isn’t this amazing?” by fellow tourists on the bus and ones on the trails.

The vistas are more dramatic around sunset and sunrise as shadows are more prominent.The vistas are more dramatic around sunset and sunrise as shadows are more prominent.

Yes Zion National Park is amazing and definitely worth a visit. I stayed three nights, but could have stayed longer and hiked the many trails within the park.

Caught in action, this is the only wildlife in the Park that I saw.Caught in action, this is the only wildlife in the Park that I saw.

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Whittier, worth a visit?

Whittier harbor on a beautiful, brisk fall day.Whittier harbor on a beautiful, brisk fall day.

Okay, called me bored, but Tuesday I went to Whittier. We headed south on the Seward Highway and “oohed and aahed” at the fall colors. I’ve been to Whittier once to catch the ferry to Valdez, and once to do a glacier cruise, but never just to visit Whittier.

The ticket agent, seller, travel informer at the entrance to the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel (the longest combined rail and highway tunnel in North America) was enthused to see us. She handed us a map of “don’t miss” points and pointed us to lane “1” to wait for the tunnel to green light going our direction. Given we had 15 mins. to spare we made a stop at one of the cleanest restroom facilities I’ve ever seen in Alaska.

The silvers are still running in this isolated cove just outside of Whittier.The silvers are still running in this isolated cove just outside of Whittier.

We drove the tunnel deciding not to hold our breath (due to the length, two and a half miles), but blared the horn a couple of times for the heck of it. It’s an amazing tunnel (even my husband who doesn’t like MRIs enjoyed the ride). I already felt my $12 was well spent.

Emerging in Whittier was kind of a thrill. Prince William Sound was white capping and the wind put the wind chill down into the teens.

All businesses appeared closed for the season, so we just took our dear sweet time and drove every available road. One road led past a picnic park and fishing hole. The silvers are still running in the Sound and a couple of fishers were very, very happy.

Most businesses are closed, but this one had an open sign.Most businesses are closed, but this one had an open sign.

Our drive trip took about 10 mins. so we stopped in the local grocery, fishing gear, souvenir store (next to the Anchor Inn) where I managed to drop $40 bucks.

All and all it was a great visit to Whittier and one I suggest to get away from of the hustle and bustle of Anchorage. Or if you're bored!

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October, a perfect time to visit southern Utah's Bryce Canyon National Park...

Bryce Canyon National Park, from the rim.Bryce Canyon National Park, from the rim.
We flew Alaska Airlines to Las Vegas, spent time with friends and are now en route to Bryce Canyon National Park, 270 miles north. It's a blessing to escape the 100 degree plus weather. It's guaranteed to be cooler in Bryce Canyon National Park due to its elevation of 8,000 to 9,000 feet.

Late afternoon colors on our drive through Zion National Park.Late afternoon colors on our drive through Zion National Park.

En route we drive through Zion National Park, but not via the most popular route that is only accessible on the Park's shuttle buses this time of year. We'll hit Zion on our return to Las Vegas.

While Bryce is less visited than Zion getting accommodations this time of year was difficult given the word is out that it's a great time to visit. No summer travelers to bump shoulders with and no summer high temps. We are staying in Cannonville, a 10 mile drive to the park entrance, in the one and only hotel.

We arrive at Bryce Canyon National Park before sunrise. Want to get sunrise photos. There are few others here and that, I really, really like after the hustle and bustle of Vegas.

Bryce is know for its hoodoos that rise from the canyon floor.Bryce is know for its hoodoos that rise from the canyon floor.

The Park is know for it's hoodoos, spires of eroded rock, that mesmerize the eye. Rainbow viewpoint at the end of the Park's road is 18 miles one way with many pull outs for views and many designated view points.

Bryce Point, my favorite viewpoint.Bryce Point, my favorite viewpoint.

Bryce Point is my favorite view point. Its hoodoo amphitheater is eye-candy with rocky spires of every shape, size and color. I'd love to stay here all day to see the different colors and shadows, but alas I'll miss too much if I do.
A hoodoo that looks like a "who"?A hoodoo that looks like a "who"?

I'm already thinking that Bryce Canyon deserves a second visit. Two full days are just not going to be enough.

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London bridges falling down, falling down...but one is reconstructed in Arizona.

Lake Havasu's London Bridge is an arch bridge.Lake Havasu's London Bridge is an arch bridge.

It's true. A real London Bridge was transported from the UK, brick by brick and reconstructed in Lake Havasu City, Arizona connecting the city to an island in the lake. Completed in 1971, it has become Arizona's second most popular tourist destination and the city has become a Mecca for retirees and water lovers.

I'm here the end of Sept. and temps are still in the 100s, but better than the record summer high of 126 F set some years back. We rented a car in Las Vegas, which is equally hot, and drove 153 miles to the Lake.

Shops, water toy and boat rentals abound on the shores of the canal.Shops, water toy and boat rentals abound on the shores of the canal.

Lake Havasu City's major attraction is the reconstructed London Bridge that was purchased by Robert McCulloch (inventer of McCulloch chain saw and more) in the early 60s. He then transported it stone by stone to the States. Prior to the bridge purchase, McCulloch bought the 26 acres of barren land near the Lake in Arizona that is now Lake Havasu City.

The bridge was meticulously reconstructed replete with the original lights.The bridge was meticulously reconstructed replete with the original lights.

McCulloch's purchase is not the infamous Tower Bridge that still stands in London, but it is the London Bridge that expanded the River Thames constructed in 1831. Due to its decaying condition it was sold at auction over 100 years later.

The beautifully, meticulously reconstructed bridge is a delight to behold if you can block out a plethora of tacky (some vacant) tourist traps that line the walkways on the shore. There are also some tasteful hotels and small malls that make up for some of the junk.

The major draw of Lake Havasu City is the lake and water sports it offers. Mega, mammoth speed boats rumble under the bridge passing through a channel that McCulloch also had constructed that links the lake. There's an incredible assortment of water toys from paddle boards to paddle boats. Inboard monster speed boats to modest slogging house boats.
Speed powerboats abound costing several thousands of dollars.Speed powerboats abound costing several thousands of dollars.

For a mere quarter of a million or more you can own one of the mega luxurious powerboat speed demons. Take off your shirt, stick up your nose, slather on the sunblock and motor along with the best of them.
The island side of the bridge provides great views.The island side of the bridge provides great views.

While I chose to forego the water sports and just sit on a canal side bench and observe the cacophony of engine noise, merry making, and hard rock music, it was great entertainment. That was until my bottom side became so hot from the baked cement bench that I was forced to move my get along. And this was at 8pm!!!

Worth a visit to Lake Havasu City? Yes and no. If you are in Vegas and want a break from the maddening crowds or you love water sports, yes? As far as natural beauty, no.

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A dam great site you shouldn't miss.

View of Hoover Dam from the bypass bridge on Highway 93 opened a year ago.View of Hoover Dam from the bypass bridge on Highway 93 opened a year ago.

Utterly amazing. Utterly humbling. Utterly awe inspiring. Hoover Dam, the massive mammoth mind boggling mass of concrete that blocks the flow of the Colorado River en route from Arizona to Nevada proving electricity to millions.

Nearly a million people visit the dam each year, crossing the dam by foot from Nevada to Arizona or vise versa, dropping into the bowels of the dam to see its mammoth turbines, learning the dam's history at its visitors' center and just plain contemplating how it was possible to construct this feat of man over nature in a mere five years, two years ahead of schedule for a mere 676 million dollars (today's cost) that provided desperately needed work to thousands during the 30s.

Hoover Dam, that deterred the flow of the mighty Colorado River, created Lake Mead as seen here from atop the dam.Hoover Dam, that deterred the flow of the mighty Colorado River, created Lake Mead as seen here from atop the dam.

There's an important lesson here too. Hydroelectric power is a renewable resource. The dam paid for itself through the sale of electricity within a few years and now operates at a profit. Hoover Dam employed thousands of workers in dire need of jobs. It put new pride in being an American. All things we need today, right now!

Politicians get a clue, that is if you're capable and can put your own self-serving needs aside to help the people you supposedly serve.

The new bypass bridge on Highway 93 was opened in October 2010 and saves drivers several hours of travel time.The new bypass bridge on Highway 93 was opened in October 2010 and saves drivers several hours of travel time.

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Baggy pants smarty pants gets booted off plane…

Call me old fashion, but I think there should be a reasonable dress code when one takes a commercial flight. Personally, I don’t want to have plumber butt flashed in my face by a fellow passenger or heaven forbid one climbing out of my row to use the facilities.

I applaud the Southwest Airlines’ flight attendant who booted Mr. Baggy Pants Billie Joe Armstrong off the flight after he dropped the F-bomb when asked to pull up his pants.

I don’t applaud Southwest Airlines’ management for kowtowing to Mr. Smarty Pants. What about the rest of the passengers who might have to look at his ugly @## in-flight?

AND, what if passengers had to evacuate and Mr. Baggy Pants slipped below his knees rendering him an obstacle in the aisle. Plaeeze, I don’t even want to go there, but it is a possibility.

Baggy pants are a hazard to onboard safety. (Put that in your pipe and smoke it Southwest (non-sportive of workers) Airlines.)

It’s not the first time airline has enforced a dress code.

What do you think? Should a dress code be or not be?

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Hate red-eye flights? Follow these tips to get a little shuteye.

My husband hates red-eye flights because he says he can't sleep. I don't like them either, but I have found ways to take a little snooze.

1. Get a window seat. This allows you to learn against the side of the fuselage for extra support and you won’t have people climbing over you to use the facilities.
2. Sit in the front of the plane where it is quieter, but not over the wings to avoid engine roar. Agents tend to seat families in the back of coach where you also have to contend with the flushing of toilets and the chitchat of flight attendants in the galley.
3. Bring earplugs. If you forget the flight attendants usually have some. Noise reduction headsets are great, but can be spendy.
4. If you have room, pack a neck pillow. If you’re a lady, bring a shawl to wrap around you. Guys you can use your jacket. Remember unless you are traveling international you won’t get a pillow or blanket.
5. Don’t drink coffee or other beverages that hype you.
6. I take a half tablet of an over the counter sleeping aid and find it’s just enough to make me sleepy. If you take a prescription sleeping pill you run the chance of not waking up on landing as you won’t have time to sleep it off if you are flying domestically.
(Note: Do not drink alcohol if you take a sleep aid or any other relaxant as alcohol increases the potency of the medication. One flight attendant told me a passenger on her flight had to be awakened with smelling salts after arrival by the paramedics after doing so. Moral, don't drink and fly while using drugs.)
7. Tell the flight attendants you want to sleep and make sure your seatbelt is visible so they don’t have to wake you when the seatbelt sign is illuminated.
8. And remember if you think you can’t sleep, you most likely won’t.

Check out these sites for more tips:
FemaleTraveler.com
ComfortableFlights.com

You can get a little rest in airports too. Just remember someone might snap a photo.You can get a little rest in airports too. Just remember someone might snap a photo.

Any other suggestions?

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