An SPG Success Story. Do Try and Stay Awake Until the End.

I take this serious.  Points and Miles are a fine hobby for some but not for me.  There is no “hobby” about it.  I’m hunting for value and opportunity everyday and everywhere.  My traveling parameters?  The Globe.  I travel, I observe, I write…you nod off.  All is well and right in the world.

The costs to travel the world are, well…outrageous.  I don’t do outrageous, I do value and I use three main tools: Credit Cards, reaching Status with what ever company I’m using and by taking advantage of every points and miles “promo” “they” offer.

Example:  I’m in Vienna, Austria and I need a King room for two nights.  Nearest Hotel is a Starwood (SPG) property called the Hotel Bristol.  A Luxury Collection, 5 Star Hotel.  I’m swinging for the fences.  What do you do now?  My Mantra: “Always bite off more than you can chew”  Its a good thing that I’ve got a big mouth cause’ we’re going in the door!  How?

  1. Open the SPG app on your phone and check rates at the hotel using the SPG Lowest Standard Rates, SPG Free Nights and SPG Cash and Points options.  Here is what I see:

    Do the math:  SPG points are worth ~2.7 cents each.

  2. Option 1. Pay $283.22 per night x 2 = $566.44
  3. Option 2. Use 12,000 SPG Starpoints per night (12,000 x 2=24,000pts) x .027 $648.00 total
  4. Option 3. Use 6,000 SPG Starpoints per night (6000 x 2 =12,000pts = $324.00) + $110.00 per night $220.00.  Total $324.00 (in Pts Value) +$220.00 in cash =$544.00.

So what now?  You need “points”.  This is where the Credit card comes in.  Go to  Americanexpress.com, look for the Purple SPG Starwood card.  Simple; qualify, spend $3000.00 on whatever (bills,utilities etc…) within 90 days and receive 25,000 SPG points (that alone is worth ~$675.00 in value).  The card costs $95.00 a year but that fee is waived the first year.  Anyway, there’s your points.

Now you need Status.  Stay with me to the end and you’ll appreciate why.  You’ll want to be Gold or better.  Don’t forget that Gold with SPG, Marriott or Ritz is Gold with all three. Also, remember how I said I take this serious?  Well, the next Card you’ll need to explore is the Americanexpress.com Business or Personal Platinum.  One of it’s many valuable benefits is that you are automatically Gold with SPG and Hilton.  Read up, this is a serious card for serious people who love to travel.  Anyway, there is your Gold Status with SPG, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton and Hilton.  They all constantly offer opportunities to earn more points to keep growing if you choose.

Well, I went in and chose option 3.  $220.00 + 12,000 pts.  I booked a basic King room on my phone standing in the lobby.  Because of my Gold Status and room availability, I was upgraded to a Deluxe Executive King ~$530.00 a night ($1060.00 total value) for $220.00 and 12k in points.  Now, you’ve formed a mental picture of this Executive room.  It was everything your thinking.  It was Vienna, Austria Amazing.

There it is, serious Credit Cards for serious travel.  On a serious note, you lose value if you run balances and don’t pay these cards off EVERY month.  If you can do that, you’ll be amazed.  Study all of the benefits and costs and see if they are right for you!

Happy Travels!

 

 

 

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A Few Thoughts On Our Recent Trip To Austria With a Bonus Video!

It has been an interesting week.  Long flights, three Hotels, sightseeing, a car rental and some shopping.  I thought for fun, I would use a different format for this article.  This way I can chronologically praise or blast, this or that, while still keeping it interesting.

To:  Springfield, Missouri Airport (SGF). You are one of nicest regional airports in the world.  I didn’t realize that until now.

To:  The Airberlin Gate personnel in Chicago (ORD); are you insane? What a cluster that was.  You don’t board Special Needs, Families with Children and 1st/Business class ticket holders all at the same time.  It was a neck-in-neck race of strollers, children, wheelchairs and brief cases all bearing down on one clerk blocking a single door.  It didn’t end well.

To:  Airberlin A330 1st/Business Class.  Your staff is wonderful but only one bathroom?  I’m waiting in line with the Captain of the plane.  He finally gave up.

To:  The luggage handlers between Springfield and the Vienna Airport, Damn!, you are a brutal lot, our luggage is not your enemy.

To:  The Grandmotherly at the Berlin International Airport, please, PLEASE start wearing bra’s or thicker undershirts, ANYTHING! And please turn the heat up!  Lilly was having way to much fun pointing my attention here and there.  It’s like a car crash, you just can’t look away…the images, now I may need therapy.

To:  The Taxi driver from the Vienna airport to Le Meridien, really? You couldn’t get any closer to the door, everybody else did.  Didn’t appreciate the hike with our beat up luggage.

To:  Le Meridien Vienna, you can and will do better. You share the SPG Brand and on the outside, you are beautifully done.   For reasons discussed with SPG Customer Service, I left.  Members value their status, it can be challenging to earn and we take it very seriously.  So should you.

To:  Starwood SPG Customer Service, Thank you!  Your attention to the matter was prompt, appreciated and worthy of your reputation as one of the finest hotel groups in the world.

To:  The SPG Hotel Bristol Vienna.  You provided a level of service and patience with me that was extraordinary.  Subira, Miriam and Carlos, I was having a very bad day and you exceeded my expectations.  It was the effort you put forth that made it so special.  It mattered, it made a difference and I am humbled.  Thank you

To:  Lilly for not killing me for being “me” that day.  Yes, I can be quirky.  Thank you love.

To:  The City of Vienna for your beauty, architecture and the precious gift of Music that both your past and present Citizens have provided.

To:  The two couples we met at our business dinner.  The Biergarten afterward was incredible as was the lady bathroom attendant (in the men’s room) who walked up and down behind us mumbling, probably judging us like Madelyn Khan in Mel Brooks’, History of the World; yes, yes, no, YES!  Anyway it was creepy and there she was.  Too much beer later, we went back to the hotel and ultimately called it a night…after more beer etc…the next day was not good but hey, we socialized! For that, I thank you.

To:  The prolific bicycle riders of the world, you arrogant lot of roadway tyrants who consistently refuse to obey the laws and blaze through traffic lights and stop signs, yes, you who see pedestrians as an obstacle but refuse to yield.  And, ironically, it is you who whines the loudest when a vehicle does the same and you are the one “ass-up” on the ground, crying (and filing a lawsuit) for your suffering.  This is the long way of saying be on-guard in Vienna, or any city, as they rarely yield and are easily annoyed if you slow them down or impede them in any way.

To:  Salzburg for being incredibly beautiful and having actual pedestrian sidewalks to avoid those two wheeled maniacs.  For having the most glorious old town shopping areas and for your continued contribution and support to the music we so dearly cherish today.

To:  Eagles Nest in Berchtesgaden.  You weren’t always a restaurant with a view.  In another time, you were different.  I sit within your walls and even though you try and deceive me, I know you, I see you clearly.  The pleasant smells of your kitchen hide nothing.

To:  Humanity.  If we ever wanted to ensure the return of that which we loathe, we simply need to allow it to be forgotten, for this act alone, is the key that opens the door of that which separates humanity from its demise.

To:  The Autobahn, I was promised reckless endangerment.  Instead I received a Ford Fiesta with 3 cylinders and a 70 mph limit.

To:  Rogers and Hammerstein for the musical “The Sound of Music”, the Von Trapp Family and to Julie Andrews for blessing us with her voice and beauty for so many years.

To:  Janet for daring me to do my own twirling version of “The Sound of Music” on an Austrian hillside.  And a thank you to Ben for editing.  It’s basically 11 seconds of me earning a permanent revocation of my Man-Card.  Bob Fosse would not approve.

To:  Austria for having the most beautiful forests that I have ever seen, they are absolutely stunning to view.  If I had accomplished nothing more on this trip than to drive through the Salzburg countryside, that drive alone would have made it worth coming to Austria.

To:  The jerk who studied the Von Trapp family and the true story of The Sound of Music.  Thank you for crushing my idyllic view of the story and showing a picture of Maria Von Trapp, who by the way, looks absolutely nothing like Julie Andrews.  I hope this guy gets hit by a bike.

To:  The City of Salzburg Municipal Court and the eagle-eyed officer who noticed that I apparently didn’t feed some hidden parking meter when I parked in a group of other cars and gave me a 25 euro parking ticket.  This event provided great joy to the hotel staff who couldn’t stop laughing when I asked them to translate the citation.  “Didn’t you see the sign?”, my reply, “everything is in German, no English anywhere!” The clerks’ reply “you should learn German then”.   I gave up, he had me with that.

To:  Natalie at Hertz Vehicle Rental.  You would’ve thought the vehicle I had rented belonged to her personally.  When I returned it, she examined the car like it was a crime scene.   Somehow I passed, no damage whatsoever.

All in all, it was a great trip, made up of many special events that gave it a depth that allowed it to be wonderfully memorable.

Curiosity Killed The Travel Blog Writer (you were expecting the cat?)

One of the greatest gifts of travel is that it forces you to interact with the world.  I’m a lousy “interactor” but I love to watch people.  I like “interesting”.  I can sit in an airport for hours just watching people as they go about their lives.  It redefines what is “normal”, although I’m beginning to believe that “normal” doesn’t even exist anymore.

My problem is that there is not enough time to talk to everyone that peaks my interest;  I’m curious about everything and I want to write it all down.  Also, I assume that others are just as curious as I am. Wrong!  Unfortunately, I also haven’t figured out a way to approach people and ask, what can sometimes be difficult questions, without bothering or offending the person(s).

The truth is that the people that I’m interested in don’t have to explain their choices or decisions to me or anyone else.  But I wish they would.  I would like to truly understand and learn as I’m certain some of their answers would be fascinating and very enlightening.  I would love to spend at least 5 minutes, with each of the three listed below, and just listen…

  1.  Berlin Airport: Two Hari Krishna devotees, each wearing orangish  canvas brown colored “robes” and each sitting perfectly still, staring straight ahead. Each had a large urn sitting on the ground next to their right foot.  Each urn was wrapped in the same material as the garment they were wearing.  They did not flinch, nothing, for 45 minutes.  I wanted to know the “why” and suddenly they were gone…
  2. However you may feel about this person, there is most likely, a very fascinating life story here…img_9322.png
  3. Chicago Airport:  A Muslim family sitting together.  Four women, two fully covered including their faces, except for the eyes and the other two fully covered, except that their faces were exposed.  They appeared to be about the same age.  The men were in shorts and T-shirts.  I am curious about the “why” and I  don’t want to read it from a book.  I wish I knew someone who is a Muslim that I could ask.  I wish I could have asked them…

Three different stories, three different sets of lives.  What they appear to all have in common though, is that they are each very passionate in guiding the direction of the life they’ve chosen to live.   We should all strive to learn the “why” and then maybe, we too would understand.

Welcome to Vienna, Austria! Now let’s talk towing hitches …

I already have numerous intelligent articles to write about this trip to Austria, from the flight with AirBerlin (yay) to our Hotel at Le Meridian (ugh).

But I’m tired and feeling a bit silly from all the flights today so I’ll start with something that’s completely off topic;  Have you ever seen a European Trailer Hitch?  I’ve seen them here for years and I can’t stop grinning.

On the left is a standard, boring but highly efficient, US hitch and on the right, a common European hitch which seem to be attached to myriad of cars and varies in length, angle and well…size.  Oddly enough, it seems that the smallest cars have the largest hitches…This European hitch seems quite “proud” to be attached to it’s owner’s vehicle.

Yes, this is juvenile and a bit immature but I just can’t stand it any longer, they’re everywhere and, well…there it is.

I promise to write something useful tomorrow…:)

A Packer’s Whiny Lament

I’ve descended into suitcase hell.  We have traveled a lot this year, too much if you ask my Mother.  You would think, with all of the traveling we do, packing all our crap would be down to a “science” by now.  Nope, not even close.  It’s actually kind of embarrassing.  Lilly forgets everything, I pack for three.

We leave for Vienna and Salzburg, Austria soon.  This is a big trip so a large packing job would be in order.  (Where did I put that damn Klonopin?!) Truth is I just can’t do an overnight stay across town without some form of luggage and a list.

I have spent the last 6-ish hours packing a large suitcase, a medium carry-on and a backpack.  I have lists; put this into that, what if the sky falls etc…, things to do to the house before we leave.  I mean what if I forget to water a plant or leave the light on in the bathroom?  I have a list that covers that.  What if it’s cold, hot or I fall into a creek?  Better pack extra everything.IMG_8977

Well,  I think I’m actually done.  Problem is it’s 7:00pm and I have to sleep tonight, Ugh, did I pack the bathroom bag or the power thing-a-ma-bob?  Out of bed to check and make sure.  I still can’t find those rotten pills, I must have already packed them.  Where is “that” damn list!

I honestly don’t know how Santa did it with his “make a list and check it twice” crap!

I hate packing!  No one should have to do it sober.  Gawd, I may need an intervention…

 

 

July 4th, Don’t Mess With U.S. !

Dear America, do you remember what you were doing on July 4th, 2001?

As I think back, I have absolutely no clue where I was that day or what I was doing.  I was a Police Officer at the time, so most likely I was working; out spreading the holiday joy.  I expect most people don’t remember that day either.

Jump ahead to September 11th, we all sure as $&!# remember what we were doing and where we were on that day!  I was in Police Dispatch getting angrier by the minute and later heartbroken at the totality of the loss.  I’ll never forget that.

In January of this year, we went to NYC and to the new World Trade Center.

It is beautiful and represents to me and the world, the resilience of our great Country as NYC rose from the ashes.  The American people got kicked hard that day in 2001 but came back stronger and twice as determined to defeat those who would seek to do us harm and deny us life and liberty.

This July 4th, I know exactly where I’m at and what I’m doing.  Celebrating our Great Nation’s Birthday and to quote a part of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address ” we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”.

Happy 4th of July!

 

Las Vegas Palazzo IHG Success Story! #IHG @PALAZZO

If you are even mildly interested in the benefits of Points and Miles, this is a Must-Read!

The IHG card by Chase (Chase.com) won’t last forever.  It’s time to get one!  Here’s why; $49 annual fee, waived the first year, 60,000 points, after $1000.00 spend using the card within ~90 days of approval.  In addition, you’ll also receive Platinum Status plus a free award night after the first year anniversary.   Btw, IHG is Intercontinental Hotels and Resorts, Holiday Inn, Crown Plaza, Kimpton, Hotel Indigo, Staybridge, Candlewood AND Las Vegas Palazzo and Venetian (which are now Intercontental Hotels).  Here are some of the highlights from IHG.Com’s website.

Here’s what I did this weekend!  I had a free award night for my 1 year anniversary of card ownership (paid the $49).  I booked a night at the Las Vegas Palazzo in a Suite with two queen beds ($695.00 value)  The Free award night usually includes the room rate and taxes.  Platinum Status often gets you a one-step-up room upgrade (if space is available) and free parking.  (I didn’t print my weekend so the following examples are from the next weekend).  So this is what I was expecting upon arrival.

I arrived at the front desk, in a daze, as the Palazzo is breathtakingly spectacular to view and after a brief wait, was assisted by Alyssa who took customer service to a whole new, wonderful level.

She began by thanking me for being an IHG Platinum member, offered to extend my checkout time so that I could enjoy their glorious pool area and after noticing my two-Queen suite, picked up the phone and after a very brief conversion, upgraded my room to a “Siena” two-Queen, 1280 square ft, Suite.  I remember thinking, “I grew up in a 1200 square ft house and this is bigger?”  That is Customer Service that will be remembered!

We received our room keys and up we went.  Our room had a double-wide front door, my first ever.  We the entered into this massive two room, two bathroom Suite and just stared in complete awe…speechless.  The “there is marble EVERYWHERE!” kind of awe.

I stood in the livingroom and reflected on the total cost so far: $39.00 (resort fee) and of course, the $49 Chase yearly renewal.  This card is packed with value and remember the 60,000 Points you received the first year without paying out any fees? (Spend $1000 on the card get 60,000 points).  Guess how much a suite at the Las Vegas Palazzo in IHG Reward Club Points is? IMG_8876

You guessed it, 60,000 points.  We had plans for the evening but absolutely had to force ourselves to leave this room.  I forgot to mention the 36th floor view from both the livingroom and the bedroom, floor to ceiling windows…amazing!

Let’s close on a few additional important details; An IHG Reward Club Point is worth around .007 each.  So 60,000 points would have an approximate value of $420.00 (60,000 x .007).  So year one, spend $1000.00 buying and paying off whatever you normally do (within the first 90 days) and receive 60,000 in points.  At the end of the first year, pay $49.00 and receive a free award night valued at whatever the best value you can find (mine ended up being over $1000.00).  Also, for what it’s worth, I receive no financial anything from IHG and I seriously doubt that they even know I exist, although I quietly wish they did…

So that’s it.  I love IHG and enjoy benefits like this all over the world using their award Points.  Doctorofcredit.com has posted a link in which the author suggests that possible card benefit changes could be on the horizon, http://www.doctorofcredit.com/chase-ihg-survey-new-card-options/.  Happy Travels and remember to always bite off more than you can chew! ie. BE BOLD!   Travelinggump.com

Epic Fail at Kansas City International Airport….Again!

You think I would learn.  This Airport consistently ranks 3rd world in my book.  I feel bad for saying that as I don’t like insulting any place, especially a 3rd world country by comparing them to here.  My thoughts and complaints:

  1.  A strong sewer odor
  2.  Over crowded and lack of seating
  3. Carpets, walls, bathrooms and chairs are Filthy.
  4. Trash cans are overflowing
  5. If you need to eat, forget it
  6. A complete organizational nightmare
  7. Wow! Fly from ANYWHERE else!!

On a positive note, the staff is excellent.  They apologize….a lot

 

Chris Kattan; SNL’s Gollum Comes to Springfield, Missouri

Chris Kattan is coming to Springfield?  Now that’s worth a trip!

Chris Kattan, an incredible acting talent, famous for his time with Saturday Night Live and movies like Night at the Roxbury and Undercover Brother, came to the Springfield Blue Room Comedy Club on Tuesday night.  I’ve included an SNL video clip at the bottom that is hilarious.

He has performed or at least hobnobbed with some of Hollywood’s most elite actors including Eddie Murphy, Will Ferrell and Jimmy Fallen, just to name a few.   This is a big deal

I just can’t seem to let go of the ‘Why” though… Springfield is a great place but not exactly a prime hotspot for his level of talent.  So as usual, I’m counting heads and doing the math and the only conclusion that I can come to is that he must have pissed off his manager and now it’s payback time.

As I was pondering that question, a guy seated at a table to my left apparently ran out of mustard.  He soon spotted a bottle on the table to my right and staggered over only to find that they weren’t willing to part with it..  So, he opens the bottle, fills his bare palm full with mustard and puts the bottle back down on the table.  Problem solved.  His table companions appeared quite pleased with his resourcefulness and each scooped off their share.  I hid our salt and pepper and became familiar with the locations of the exit doors.

The MC had to come up twice to explain the 20 minute delay in the start of the show.  I began to form this silly mental picture of Chris Kattan having to be dragged kicking and screaming back through the bathroom window by the staff, as he was attempting to flee the building, while cursing his manager for booking him here.

After a short parade of warm-up comedians (yawn), Chris appeared and quickly reminded us of why we were there; he is a great Comedian and fun to watch.

The Comedy show was good and afterwards, Chris gracefully posed for pictures but looked less than thrilled when two drunk women wouldn’t let go, demanding more selfies and holding up the line.  His expression of “please, just shoot me now” to the staff saved him and the line continued to flow.   I wished him the best and thanked him for coming here.   To me, his SNL Gollum is my favorite.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

Did You Know That Kix Brooks, of The Legendary Country Music Duo Brooks and Dunn, has a Winery?

I love Wineries and am always anxious to try the latest offerings from newer vineyards.  This means Roadtrip!

Arrington Vineyards, which is about 25 minutes south of downtown Nashville, is located  on 75 acres of beautiful Tennessee countryside.  The Vineyard is owned by country music star, Kix Brooks, John Russell and winemaker Kip Summers.

The first vines were planted in 2004 with construction of the winery following in 2006.  The Grand Opening occurred July 1st, 2007.  Today, there are currently 18 different varieties of ultra-premium award winning wines available.  Wine tastings are available inside the beautiful rustic tasting lodge.   My favorite was the Petite Noir 2015 and the Raspberry 2016.

From it’s hilltop setting, the winery includes a gorgeous panoramic view of the Tennessee countryside.  Numerous picnic tables dot the landscape where families and friends are seen enjoying old-fashion picnic lunches and wines from the vineyard.  Live music is featured often and includes Jazz and Bluegrass.

It was a great day at the winery and I can’t wait to return.  Below, is a picture of me next to a gloriously large wine barrel and then a picture of me trying to figure out 1.  How to fit it in my SUV and 2.  How to do this without anyone noticing.  Neither of which were ultimately possible.

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The visit to Arrington Vineyards was definitely worth the trip.  For more information and travel directions go to http://www.arringtonvineyards.com.

 

 

What Matters To You?

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What “Matters” to each of us is subjective, be it racism, child abuse or whatever.  Dr King’s thoughts on what “matters” hopefully provoke a reflective pause within each of us, where we think not only of racism but also of those who are suffering in silence by the actions or inactions of others.  This list, unfortunately, can be tragically long.  I’ll make entry #1 as it’s happening today and it pisses me off.  Please feel free to add your own #’s 2,3,4 etc…

  1.  Yulin, China.  Dog meat eating festival.  The dogs are tortured (skinned alive) and killed. 10-15k a festival.  I’m not a dog lover but this is crap.  I’ve learned what I can.  My part: make you aware and piss you off, check.  Your part: read, learn and get angry also, then tell others.

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/06/24/world/asia/dog-eaters-in-yulin-china-unbowed-by-global-derision.html?mwrsm=Email&referer=

 

How To Start Traveling using Points and Miles, a Primer.

Let me “dumb this down”.  If you want to save money and improve your Travel Experience, this is a must-read.  If not, exit out and go back to looking for cute cat pictures…ugh!

I know that sounds “snotty” but today is about tough love ❤️.  I have racked up millions of various Hotel/Credit Card/Airline etc… points/miles.  We have the ability to travel in amazing ways and people always seem shocked.  It’s not hard but does require discipline.  So let’s get started….(follow the link below)

‪The Beginner’s Guide to Points and Miles: Essential Travel Tips https://thepointsguy.com/guide/beginners/ via @thepointsguy ‬

Branson, Missouri, Lake Life, Adventure and Family Memories

A trip to Branson Missouri means a trip to Table Rock Lake.  While in the City of Branson you can see an excellent Country Music show (yawn) performed by the very best in the business.  Or you get wet!  Brandon Butler provides and excellent lake introduction.

TABLE ROCK LAKE IS THE IDEAL PLACE TO UNWIND
By Brandon Butler

The Missouri Ozarks offer an abundance of spectacular outdoor destinations worthy of visiting. Few, however, compare to Table Rock Lake. With 45,000 acres of surface water and 800 miles of natural shoreline, Table Rock has both the size and scenery to make it one of the premier destinations in America to kick back, relax and unwind in the great outdoors.  The shoreline surrounding Table Rock Lake is protected from expansive development, so no matter where you are on the lake, you’re surrounded by natural scenery. The countless coves and deep pockets make for quiet hideaways, so it’s easy to find your own secluded place to anchor and swim. Pull over on the shore for a picnic in a relaxing spot under a shady tree, or stretch a hammock for a nap. At any time, a white-tailed deer, wild turkey or bald eagle may make an appearance, as wildlife is very abundant. This is just one example of how you can relax on the lake. Here are just a few more of the endless opportunities available to escape the hectic pace at Table Rock Lake.

I didn’t care for all of his examples and included the following as my own.

 

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Yep, Ride The Ducks is an amphibian – this thing really does go from land right into the river. Our Ducks resemble the WWII DUKW in appearance only. The Ride The Ducks vehicle is built, exclusively for us, from the ground-up using the latest in marine safety.  http://www.branson.ridetheducks.com

How About Parasailing?

 

Or an exciting visit to Silver Dollar City?

Silver Dollar City is a special place in the heartland of America where your family can gather together in fun, where traditions are created, memories are shared and where time stops for you to celebrate each other. Our 1880s theme park will turn an ordinary day into a best-ever day with fun that awaits you from a spring-time getaway to a Christmas celebration. What are you waiting for? Come explore new adventures. Experience record-breaking thrills. Discover a world of surprises. And create memories you will remember forever.  Silver Dollar City is located about 5 miles from the Branson Strip at 399 Silver Dollar City Parkway. For additional information visit http://www.silverdollarcity.com

Did I Mention the Famed Showboat, Branson Belle?

 

And for those of you who have completely lost your mind…

Personally, I’m quite happy renting a Pontoon Boat from the State Park Marina and cruising around with my family.  Find a cove, go swimming and eat lunch, simple.

So whatever you choose to do in the Branson area you will certainly have a great time.

 

 

 

Bricktown, Downtown OKC. Definitely worth a visit!

The area now known as Bricktown, just east of the downtown business district, was Oklahoma City’s first warehouse and distribution district. Founded just days after the Land Run of 1889, Bricktown was a central hub for the state and country, connecting via railroad, and later, major interstate highways. It was an area full of diverse activity, housing furniture and hardware stores, a biscuit company, a dairy, cotton producers, wholesale grocers and even a school.

Bricktown began to decline in the 1960s and 70s as Urban Renewal took hold and industry and residents began to move further out of the central city. The area became nearly vacant as buildings became dilapidated or were torn down.

After decades of decline, investors and other forward-thinkers started to show renewed interest in Bricktown. They purchased buildings, began renovations, recruited retail, restaurants, and attractions, and started to advocate publicly for the district.

With the passing of the Metropolitan Area Projects Initiative (MAPS) public facility enhancement project in 1993, Bricktown gained a baseball stadium, a canal with Water Taxi boats, river improvements as well as a nearby concert and sports arena.
Now a thriving urban entertainment district, Bricktown is home to more than 30 restaurants, many bars, clubs, and retail shops, along with family-friendly attractions, museums and galleries. Bricktown generates more sales tax revenue than any other single district in Oklahoma City, and is the gateway to our city for tourists, convention attendees, and day trippers from around the region.  (The prior text was reprinted from welcometobricktown.com  The pictures were taken by me with the assistance of two excellent Moscow Mules.  It’s a miracle I didn’t stumble into the canals)

A List of Norman’s? Seriously?

It appears that once again our Norman’s are out of order.  There is actually a list of famous Norman’s and it’s ranked 1 to 100. http://m.ranker.com/list/famous-people-named-norman/reference  The criteria for the ranking of the list absolutely escapes me especially when, in my opinion, the most important Norman is #28.  Let’s meet Norman #28, but first, let’s get some perspective on this…”List”.

#4  Norman Swartzkoph, U.S. Army General;  Commander in chief, US Central Command, Persian Gulf War.   A worthy top 5 choice.

#32 Norman Rockwell, Saturday Evening Post illustrator.  Greatest Illustrator on Earth…#32.  Really?

#2  Norman Reedus, Actor who plays “Daryl” on AMC’s The Walking Dead.  #2? WTF? He’s a great guy, but #2?

#..  Norman Bates, Hotelier, Bates Motel and complete psychopath.  He didn’t make the list but I just couldn’t resist.  At least Mother would be pleased.

Seriously the list is a mess.  But let’s talk about my favorite Norman #28.  Norman Ernest Borlaug was born in Iowa in 1914.  He went to school and ultimately earned his PHD in Plant Pathology.  He quickly realized that the world had a problem with wheat called “Lodging”.  Wheat, which would grow to about 4 ft tall, would blow over in wind and spoil on the ground, lowering yields to tragic levels.  People were starving.

In the early 1960’s he developed what is best described as a “Semi-Dwarf High-Yield Disease Resistant Wheat Variety” or “Dwarf Wheat”.  It grew to about 2 ft tall, had a thicker stalk and a much larger seed head.  By 1963, Mexico went from struggling to exporting excess wheat from his efforts.  Between 1965-1970, India and Pakistan adopted the Dwarf Wheat and more than doubled their wheat production.  Later in life, he focused on Asia and Africa and the results were equally as wonderful.

Pretty boring stuff right?  In 1970 he was awarded the NOBEL PEACE PRIZE for his efforts, in 1972 he was awarded the PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM and in 2006, the CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL amongst many other honors for his efforts in bringing world peace through increasing the world’s food supply.  He is also known as the Father of the Green Revolution.  Norman Borlaug died at 95 in Dallas, Texas in 2009.

This “nobody you’ve never heard of” is credited with saving over a Billion lives from starvation.  I challenge you to top that!  #28! Really?!  He is my Norman of choice and he should be nowhere near #28.  Food for Thought…