If you are a skier then arguably you already know how to dress for cold weather activities. But if still seeking the secret to staying warm during a Chicago winter or are visiting friends and relatives in Minnesota or northern Michigan, you probably could use some tips.
You may just think you know the warmest winter jacket and best gloves to buy or how to layer. But before buying such items, talk to the experts at a sporting goods store such as Erehwon, Dick’s, Sports Authority or REI. They can talk to you about how an ultra-thin, long-sleeved shirt under a thin sweater will keep you warm without the bulk. Same goes for thin tights under jeans or slacks.
Take advantage of sales. Even though January has come and gone, don’t put off buying cold weather clothes until next winter. The good stuff that costs hundreds of dollars in December typically is marked half price in late January and in February.
Plan outdoor activities near or around a place to get an indoor snack or take a meal break. It doesn’t take a lot of exposure to below freezing temperatures to get frost bite or breathe in too much icy air. Your ears and insides will thank you for that hot chocolate break. In addition, try to do healthy calorie loading and not over-eat before heading out.
You already know a well-dressed traveler has a handy cell phone. Now, go one better and charge it before leaving and remember to pack two chargers, one for a regular outlet and one for a vehicle.
Bring home more than a souvenir from a trip. Take a class in something you always wanted to try.
Travel does not have to be the old if it is Monday this must be Madrid scenario. Arguably the best way to see an area is to remain unpacked for more than a day. Even better, do something special while there.
There is nothing wrong with renting a cottage or condo in your destination of choice for a week. But when you need an excuse to take off time or some extra incentive to visit a region, look for classes to take.
The second of a series on combining a class with travel looks at two travel destinations where visitors can take art classes.
If you have a yearning to visit the fishing villages, forests and coast of Maine, look into Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. No prior craft knowledge needed unless you are seeking an advanced class. You can take a one week summer workshop here in fibers, clay, metals, wood, glass and even blacksmithing.
The only problem is that you might be distracted by the scenery. Haystack overlooks the Atlantic Ocean on Deer Isle. Indeed, just driving there from the Bangor Airport or Boston if doing New England this trip, is about following back country roads to Deer Isle.
But you are not there yet. You skip across the Eggemoggin Reach and tiny islands to reach the school. Haystack’s scenic location gives new meaning to the phrase “tucked away.”
Classes are Monday through Friday and the studios are open 24/7 so students don’t have to stop work on their projects when the instruction for the day is done. Students stay and eat on campus during their workshop period.
Because Haystack is on the middle of Maine’s coast, about 70 miles from Bangor, 160 miles from Portland and 250 miles from Boston, taking a class here can be bookended with a weekend near any of those towns.
The state is all about water: 5,000 miles of coast, 6,000 lakes, 32,000 miles of rivers. So enjoy its scenery and, of course, lobster. The yummy seafood is about half the price you pay at home.
Door County, Wisconsin, a peninsula that juts like a thumb into Lake Michigan from the southern edge of Green Bay, is known as a vacation destination.
The county is also known as a haven for sculptors, painters, photographers and ceramicists. It is also a good place to go gallery hopping and take a class at the Peninsula School of Art.
Workshops run anywhere from one day to a semester. Best plan to combine a class and a travel stay is to look at the offerings during your vacation time. Classes range from ceramics, jewelry and metal arts to painting and photography for all skill levels.
The school does not have a campus but The Door, as the peninsula is popularly known, has a wide choice from cottages and condos to inns and B and B’s.
The art school is conveniently situated in Fish Creek which is dotted with interesting shops and places to stay. When not in class, explore the Peninsula’s winding roads through woods and farmlands.
Green Bay, the waterway, not the town, borders Door County on its northwest. Lake Michigan laps up to the southeast shoreline or underside of the thumb.
The closest major airport is Green Bay but guests also fly into Milwaukee.
Combine a scenic getaway with an interesting class
New Year 2011 stretches ahead ready for your imprint. It’s time to drop a few fun things into the calendar that give you something to look forward to as a break in your routine.
Not sure how? First, think fun getaway. Secondly, think interesting class.
You don’t have to be a chef wannabe to take a cooking class or an aspiring artist or photographer to attend an art school or crafts camp. Not only will you meet and learn from experts, you will get to know another region. A Travel Smart with Jodie series on places to combine a fun class and trip begins today.
First in the series is all about cooking (coming up wine, photography, art). Here are two of many places where the scenery is fine and the cuisine is yummy.
Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls
Stay at the inn or at nearby lodging to explore the forests and rock formations of Southern Ohio’s famed Hocking Hills State Parks while taking a cooking class at the inn’s renowned kitchen.
Combination cooking and stay
Overnight guests will prepare dinner under the guidance of Chef Anthony Schulz in “Weekend CookInn Classes,” Jan. 21-22, March 18-19 or Sept. 16-17. The price of $485-$649 person (depends on single or shared room) covers wine and dessert on Friday, dinner preparation on Saturday. Reservations are limited to eight people.
Stay in the Hocking Hills but take a cooking class at the inn
Chef Anthony Schulz shows how to make easy but impressive dishes at his “Summer Entertaining Foods CookInn Class,” June 29 and how to do perfect meal endings at “Summer Desserts CookInn Class,” Aug. 2. Each class is $55 and includes lunch and recipes.
Although the CIA is justly famous for training tomorrow’s top chefs, anyone can the take the school’s “Enthusiasts” classes. They are offered in three places: at the home site in Hyde Park, NY, at a longtime popular second branch in St. Helena, CA near the top of the Napa Valley, and at the institution’s newest site in San Antonio, Texas.
Classes have such enticing names as “CIA Favorites,” “Gourmet Meals in Minutes,” “Indian Feast” and “Spain and the World Table.”
Reservations must be made well in advance of a class because word has gotten out that these are a chance to go into CIA’s kitchens and learn some excellent culinary tips.
Combining a cooking experience with a trip to Napa Valley for a class may sound like a perfect weekend getaway, but really needs some advance planning.
“CIA Favorites” featuring recipes and dishes from The Culinary Institute of America Cookbook, currently has a waiting list for the class at Greystone in St. Helena on Feb. 5 but has openings for that Greystone class on June 11.
The $250 tuition for the class covers hands-on-cooking, demonstrations, tips, plating techniques, a CIA logo apron and cookbook.
If scheduling a CIA Enthusiats class doesn’t fit into the calendar you still can get the Culinary Institute of America Cookbook: Favorite recipes for the home chef, (Lebhar-Friedman Books, September 2008)
World War II WAC Mollie Weinstein Schaffer takes readers from Michigan to California and on to England, France and Germany.
But the book is not a travelogue. Told through the letters she had written home and received from relatives and other correspondents, it is about the challenges of a young woman in medical intelligence who grapples with military restrictions, war conditions and what it is like to be one of a few females among, well, an army of men.
In an effort not to give out information that might worry her parents or alert the enemy as to military positions and intentions or be stopped by military censors who read the mail, she dwells on romantic relationships, friendships, requests for sweets and toiletries and living conditions. But she also tries to be upbeat.
In a November 2, 1944 letter to her sister Rebecca “Beck” Winston from Paris, Mollie writes: “Regarding the weather here -it’s no military secret that it is very cold and rains quite a bit. Almost like the weather we have in Detroit. However, we don’t have any heat here which makes it rather uncomfortable. I believe I also told you that we have hot water only one day a week. But other than that Paris is grand.”
The picture that emerges is of a young, spirited, intelligent woman who has numerous choices to make that include abiding by her Jewish upbringing amidst the turmoil of a beleaguered England, France right after the Allied invasion and Germany after VE Day.
It is also a picture of WWII WACs. That these women were very important to the war effort though often ignored in tales of WWII, is well explained in an introduction by Leisa D. Meyer, associate history professor at William and Mary College.
Mollie Schaffer (nee Weinstein) now lives near daughter Cyndee Schaffer, a Northbrook writer who compiled the letters. Cyndee Schaffer added the text that introduces each chapter and some of the correspondence.
Mollie’s War, McFarland & Company, Inc., Jefferson, North Carolina, 2010, $35 can also be purchased from Amazon.com
The flying portion of your holiday trip can be enjoyed instead of merely endured.
Yes, security lines will probably be long this holiday season and you will have to adjust your packing to what can be brought on board. But that doesn’t mean the flying portion of your holiday trip is something to be endured instead of enjoyed.
Airports have changed over the past decade as they have become more aware of travelers’ needs.
Taking advantage of the changes is easier today than even a few years ago thanks to electronic devices that tell you where the good stuff is.
With a click of an internet link you can find out about an airport’s amenities before you leave home or from touch screens and information specialists when you arrive.
Here are five suggestions that can up the level of your airport experience:
1. It’s child’s play. If traveling with children, go to the airport’s website to see if and where there is a play area.
In Chicago, O’Hare International Airport has an airplane and other airport related build-outs for let’s pretend and role-playing. They are in the Children’s Museum area of Terminal 2 across from the Travelers Aid Office. The area is accessible to Terminals 3 and 1 after going through security.
The Dallas-Fort Worth Airport has a McDonald’s Play Area in Terminal D near gate D33 and another children’s play area at D10. DFW also has a Pepsi Junior Flyer’s Club in Terminals B and C.
2. Sometimes it’s about the food.
Although this traveler does not miss the often strange and limited plane food service that once was part of the ticket price, now that airlines charge extra a good option is to plan to eat or buy food to go at the airport.
The problem is if you don’t know what food kiosks or restaurants are in your terminal or near your gate you might merely snag something at hand and find out later there was a better choice.
Many airport websites list food kiosks and restaurants so you can think about options and know the locations ahead of time.
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airportis so traveler friendly it has everything from food and shopping to parking options on its website and at vertical touch screens at the airport. It also has goHow, a free, downloadable application.
In addition, food coupons can be downloaded and printed for some choices. The touch screens are at either end of the shopping and food mall in Lindbergh, the airport’s main terminal.
3. Speaking of shopping
It’s OK to leave some shopping to the last minute. After taking care of work deadlines you had to squeeze family and packing time into the few minutes left.
Fortunately, major airports and even mid-sized ones stock jewelry, clothes, books and sports items that make good gifts for others and yourself.
This veteran flier and shopper recently found Native American items at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, electronic devices at DFW, CDs and Elvis memorabilia at the Sun Studio booth at the Memphis International Airport, jewelry and books at O’Hare and an extra travel bag at the tiny John Wayne Airport in Orange County, CA.
Go to your airport’s website to see if it has a shoe-shine or massage chair station.
Sometimes merely treating yourself to a service you don’t have time for at home is all it takes to make a trip’s airport portion feel like the first leg of the holiday getaway.
5. Bring your electronic devices and their chargers and down load a free application. Several airports now have apps that have all the information travels need.
Airports also now have WiFi. At many of them the WiFi connection is free. Wait time before boarding or between connections is also a chance to go online to learn more about where to visit and eat when you arrive.
It is also an easy opportunity to recharge your Blackberry or other devices so they will be ready to use at your destination. End tables in some of DFW’s seating areas have outlets.
You don’t have to stay at a Peninsula Hotel to book a spa treatment there. ESPA combines Oriental, European and Ayurvedic approaches. Because I live near Chicago, I book treatments at the Peninsula Chicago. But the hotel and its Spa by ESPA are also in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Beverly Hills, New York, Bangkok, Beijing, Shanghai and Manila.
A spa experience at the Joya Spa at Intercontinental Montelucia Resort and Spa, Scottsdale, AZ is a vacation. You don’t have to stay at the resort to use the spa. However, you may have to book a session before leaving home because local spa enthusiasts have found Joya.
Maybe the idea that a popular woman’s apparel store also has a spa may dissuade some people from trying it. But I have repeatedly gone to the one in Southlake, Texas for a pedicure that is pure bliss. The problem is there are just not enough Coldwater Creek Spas. There are two in Texas and on each in California, Oregon, Illinois, Colorado and Florida.
Throwing everything from the closet into a mega suitcase is a hard habit to break but holiday travel nowadays calls for smarter packing
You may think you need six pairs of shoes when visiting family or heading to a holiday destination. Maybe you think people care if you wear the same sweater twice.
Think again if you would like to lighten the holiday travel hassle.
Before switching from general features to travel writing, I really did throw five pairs of shoes into my suitcase and wore my comfy gym shoes on the plane.
I also brought clothes changes for every day and every evening. Of course I had to bring a large suitcase that I checked through to my destination or wrestled with into the car trunk and up the stairs of B and B’s.
By the way, even if my room was on the first floor of a B and B, it typically had stairs up to the entrance. And even if my plane arrived on time, I had to wait way too long for the suitcase to appear on the baggage carousel.
What a difference the change of writing assignments made.
I didn’t realize I had changed so much until I packed for a recent Washington DC trip and threw, well folded, everything into a carry-on that could fit into the overhead compartment.
For me it was no longer a big deal because I hadn’t used a large suitcase in two years.
The realization that I changed came however, when my husband pulled out his mega-sized bag and I asked, “why?”
“Because I need two suits and a sports jacket,” he said. He was attending a four-day conference where he had to speak one day, while I was doing my travel thing around the capital.
After rethinking what he had to pack (the two suits) and wear (the sports jacket) he saw he could fit everything into his carryon as long as he also took a small travel bag for books and the 3-1-1 bag.
Packing habits can be hard to change but after packing lighter once, you may also change. When changing planes, it is also nice to know you have what you need instead of worrying if you and your bags will ever meet again.
Here are some tips to lighten the load and stop worrying where you suitcase is.
1. Coordinate your outfits so you don’t have to pack more than two pairs of shoes. Wear the bulkiest third pair on the plane or in the car.
2. Limit slacks, shorts or skirts to two to pack and one to wear
3. Women can use tops for costume changes with different teddy’s and tees but should look for ones that are wrinkle free or hang out well. Jewelry also changes a look but don’t travel with favorite or most expensive jewelry.
4. Men also use different colored dress shirts and ties or casual shirts for different looks.
5. Instead of a purse, women can bring a Sac or other sling-over-the-shoulder bag to carry items that don’t fit into the small suitcase. Pills and make-up should go into this bag. Pack a dressy purse or neutral one.
6. Men will find that a small sports bag will carry items not packed into the small suitcase.
7. If presents are an issue remember that TSA does not want them wrapped so best is to mail ahead instead of packing them unless traveling by car. If returning with presents, mail the bulkier ones back home.
Finally, a new online travel magazine is running a holiday list of items that make travel easier. See the items at Striped Pot.
Start a family holiday tree choosing tradition and find out how to care for your tree
Probably you are not looking for a tree quite as large as the 70 foot blue spruce that was donated by a McHenry County, Illinois family to Chicago as the city’s tree in Daley Plaza.
However, if you live in the Chicago area chances are there is a tree with your family’s name on it out in McHenry County. That is where corn and farm stands bump up against orchards and plant nurseries and a USDA report listed the county’s growers as harvesting more trees than elsewhere in the state.
At McHenry’s Richardson Farm in Spring Grove you can do more than merely search for the perfect tree. You can turn it into an experience.
Ride out to the trees and have fun finding just the right one. Cut yours down and hitch a ride back to have it shaken, baled and receive twine to tie it to your car. Oh, and be sure to have a donut and cup of hot chocolate or coffee before you leave.
“Coming here is a family tradition,” says Carol Richardson who explained that families return there every year for their tree. “It’s the entire experience: going out in the wagon, choosing a tree, looking around for a wreath and sipping hot cocoa.”
However, before choosing be sure the tree will be happy in your household and look its best when most important.
Here are a few guidelines from Carol Richardson and from the farm’s website:
Some trees have a longer life after cut than others. If set on getting a tree with a short cut life such as a Balsam fir or Norway spruce wait until a couple of weeks before Christmas to cut it. Also, ask or look for signs that recommend trees that last from Thanksgiving through Christmas.
After bringing your tree home make a fresh straight-across cut (not diagonal) about ½ inches from the original cut and immediately put the tree into water (warm is better the first time than cold.)
A water reservoir stand is best for the tree’s life but it still should be periodically checked so you keep the water level up. Some houses are drier than others which changes water evaporation time. Also trees drink water at different speeds. You can slow evaporation by placing the tree away from direct sunlight or a heating vent.
Whether in or out of town, the next family Thanksgiving or winter holiday get together is also a chance to record old traditions and start some new ones.
Best, is to ink in some of the suggestions on the calendar so the holiday does not jump up before you are ready. Early November is not too early to start your planning.
1. Cell phone cameras are OK but if you want a high quality photo to save don’t forget to pack or have on hand a decent point and shoot camera. Some of them, such as Casio and Canon have movie capability. Digging into the turkey or ham, curling up on sofa or floor to play a board game or gazing at a tree or menorah lighting are memorable moments when someone says oops, who has a camera?
2. Add a new place to check out or a new activity to try. Sure it is tough to squeeze in research time before everyone comes or before you leave for the visit, but just adding a new adventure each year adds an element of excited anticipation. Chances are there are new exhibits at a museum you haven’t visited for ages, a nearby town that celebrates the holidays Dickens style, a forest preserve to hike or a family show, musical or ballet to see.
3. Seek an agency that is collecting gifts or food and where to bring the items. Family members can add the items to their shopping lists and increase the season’s joy by sharing.
4. Start a new tradition of trading reading material or recommendations during the visit. It will give people something new to read on the way home or even during down time while visiting. Donate finished reading material to libraries and senior centers.
5. No question holiday time is also eating time which makes it a good excuse to try a new restaurant. The place may even become a new family tradition. Consider ethnic eateries, breakfast places and some that are outside the neighborhood or town. Definitely make a reservation.
Even though the 2010 World Series is entering its final phase now that the playoffs are over, baseball fans don’t have to wait until spring training to get their “fix.”
“Roadside Baseball” (2003, Sporting News division of Vulcan Sports Media, Inc, St. Louis, MO, $16.95) by Chris Epting, maps out places where fans can find historic traces of a stadium, a home plate, a players’ home and a museum that recounts memorable moments.
An ardent researcher and appreciator of baseball and interesting culture landmarks, Epting divides up the places he has uncovered by geographic locations across the United States and into Canada.
All a baseball fan has to do when traveling to Florida or Arizona to escape winter weather or to any US destination to see friends or family is leaf through a state’s chapter to see what historic baseball location is nearby.
Even an armchair traveler who reads through the chapters will be saying, “I didn’t know that.”
In a foreword by Emmy award winning announcer Joe Buck, the sportscaster says: “Even if you consider yourself the foremost authority on the history of the game, this book can’t help but put a smile on your face. It put one on mine because its pages are filled with information that I thought I knew but really didn’t; stories of which I was totally unaware and now am glad I know.”