Thursday, April 24, 2014
Monday, April 21, 2014
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
When it comes to popular events, is there ever too much of a good thing? Several seasonal events in the Southeast are again stretching over an entire season -- or longer.
And a major festival in Savannah, Ga., seems to be converting from once-a-year to through-the-year status.
International bestselling author Tami Hoag will headline the Savannah Book Festival’s Spring 2014 event, at The Landings Plantation Club on Skidaway Island. Hoag’s luncheon and signing is the first of the 2014-15 festival’s expanded slate of author events that will continue throughout the year.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Thursday, April 3, 2014
I have a same-name cousin living in Huntley, Ill., and I just might call him to let him know that gas in his area is expected tomorrow go down a bit. But if he needs to refuel right now, the lowest price -- $3.63 per gallon -- is at the 7-Eleven at 4500 W. Algonquin Road, between Wentworth Road and Lakewood Drive.
No, I didn't get a call about this. In fact, I've never been to his house, which is somewhere in the Elgin area west of Chicago.
All I did was punch his ZIP code into Fuelcaster -- www.fuelcaster.com -- an incredibly handy new website. It tells you whether the price-per-gallon of gas is expected to rise or fall in the next day. It also tells you what the going price is at up to 10 gas stations in the area.
When you click either the "cheapest" or "closest" link once you've input the ZIP code, a Google map opens up, pinpointing where the desired gas pump is.
The website debuted in February.
While this is great for at-home use, think of what it can do when you're running low in an unfamiliar area if you have a palmtop computer or a smartphone in your car.
If you don't, call someone you know who is glued to the home computer and get your information that way.
First, identify what ZIP code you're in (www.usnaviguide.com works for me).
Enter that ZIP code and enter it into fuelcaster.com.
When you've decided where to go for fuel, click that link to open up the map; just zoom out until you see where your exit is.
Move the map around, zooming as needed; write the directions to the gas station. If you have a passenger, that's even better: He or she can give you "turn here" verbal directions.
Or punch the "here" and the "there" locations www.mapquest.com) and get exact directions.
If you're getting close to "empty" you'll know exactly how close you are to a refill.
And by the way, Cousin John, that best-price Seven-11 gas is 12 minutes away (6.28 miles), according to Mapquest, based on current traffic conditions.
I think you know how to get there.
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Some believe a downside to modern living is the ease with which almost anything is possible.
Searching for crocodiles is as simple as buying a spot on a safari tour. Or just heading down to Alligator Adventure in Myrtle Beach. Or just turning on the TV.
But turning the pages in "Jungleland" makes it clear that edgy adventures -- and true-life adventure writing -- survives in our high-tech times.
The subtitle of Christopher S. Stewart's book, now out in paperback (Harper Perennial, $15.99) is "A Mysterious Lost City and a True Story of Deadly Adventure."
While that makes it sound like a riff on an Indiana Jones caper, Stewart's travel book hearkens to the age of great explorers as well as the days when National Geographic was black-and-white and treks into the unknown often involved danger.
Stewart, a New York-based journalist, is trying to pick up where adventurer Theodore Morde's quest led in the 1940s -- to Honduras, where Morde reported discovering an ancient "White City of the Monkey God" in the jungle. Morde returned to the States and was feted as a derring-do trailblazer. But Morde was loathe to offer too many details about the lost city's whereabouts, and was soon swept up in World War II. He never got the chance to return to Cemtral America and -- like his discovery -- became a largely forgotten footnote.
But his experience intrigued Stewart, whose research led him to North Carolina and to a nephew -- David Morde of Cary -- who had come to possess the late explorer's diary and other artifacts.
The diary helps set in motion Stewart's journey and is a key to powering this book. Chapters of "Jungleland" deftly switch between Theodore Morde's experience and that of his 21st-century successor.
Non-spoiler alert: You'll have to read just about to the end to learn whether Stewart located Morde's lost city.
The parallels between the twinned tales strikingly show how some things haven't changed in the seven intervening decades. Then as now, the swampy wilderness is vast and the national bird of Honduras is still the mosquito; its official animal may be the bandit. Political instability was rife for both -- a coup was in progress when Stewart was there in 2009.
And there are intriguing differences. The paraphrased story of Morde's experience is a pretty much a diary-based chronicle. Stewart's account of his own trip points up his eye for irony and the absurd. More important, his writing is always pulling you to the next page.
Stewart's first-person story is straight-forward. (One early chapter begins, "We came across the dead body a few hours into our road trip.")
Adding credibility are the author's periodic
self-doubts about why he's risking live and limb while his wife and little daughter are back in New York.
"You don't have to do this," he occasionally remembers her telling him.
But as a reader, I'm glad Stewart went.
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Articles and ads for vacations are fine for tickling your fancy, but nothing beats the opportunity to get face-to-face with the people who can make it happen.
That's why this time of year brings travel shows -- your opportunity to get answers, suggestions and tips from those in the know.
Coming up fast:
Jan. 31: Meet Arthur and Pauline Frommer (above), the creators of Frommer's Travel Guides, at 7 p.m. at Park Road Books, 4139 Park Road. They'll discuss their new line of Easy Guides and offer some top travel destinations for 2014.
Feb. 1: Mann Travels’ annual travel and cruise show will be 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Charlotte Convention Center, 501 S. College St. Mann specialists from nine area locations will be there to help consumers sort out vacation deals. There will be reps from the major cruise lines, resorts and tourism boards; interactive exhibits; Hawaiian dancers and entertainment from Radio Disney. Seminars will be offered in four theaters. Admission: free. Details: www.manntravels.com.
Feb. 6-9: The Mid-Atlantic Boat Show returns to Charlotte for its 42nd year. Exhibitors at the Charlotte Convention Center, 501 S. College St., will be displaying a variety of pleasure boats, as well as equipment for water skiing and fishing, swimwear, docks and lifts and real estate. Hours: noon-9 p.m. Feb. 6-9 (Thursday and Friday) 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Feb. 8 and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Feb. 9. Admission: $9; $8 for military and for 60 and older; $5 for ages 6-12. Details: www.midatlanticboatshow.com