Friday, December 28, 2007
Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra kept us spellbound during three hours of explosive musical talent during their recent performance in Austin. This #1 rated live band is conclusing their biggest season yet. Over the past 8 years, TSO has also donated over $3 million dollars to charity, with $1 from every ticket sold going to charity.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Lone Star Flight Museum at Galveston
Here is a sneak peak video from our upcoming new segments on Galveston
Island. The museum houses the most extensive collection of WWII fighter
planes in the southwest U.S. Want an experience you will never forget?
The Lone Star Flight Musuem is now
offering flights in a vintage B-17 or B-25 bomber.
Stay tuned. We will have lots of new videos and features on Galveston coming up after the holidays.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Coming soon - Galveston for the Holidays
Just returned from the historic port city of Galveston. We explored many places and met some very interesting people. From antiques, artists, bed & breakfasts, cruises, and historic haunts, the city has it all. Look for our new expanded segment on the island in the coming weeks. Our Galveston segment will be expanded to include lots of new places to see. Here is a sneak peak of some photos from our trip.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
The Evils of Eminent Domain in Hollywood
Small businesses make up the core of the livelihood of an area
oftentimes, blazing the way to develop or to revitalizing areas to be
Such has been the case in Hollywood. In the 1990s, businesses like Daddy's Bar moved into the area along Hollywood and Vine known as an undesirable area prone to crime. In time, the bar and other small businesses made the area attractive for tourists and locals. These small businesses have now been forced out by eminent domain, and the city then sold to redevelopers to make the whole block into a new upscale W hotel. Watch the video as Drew Carey interviews the people involved.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Exploring Alaska's Heritage on the Riverboat Discovery
In grasping a picture of the Alaska frontier and history, nothing beats a tour on the Riverboat Discovery in Fairbanks, Alaska, which we took a few years ago (visit our Alaska state guides for more features and photos). The Binkley family has operated sternwheel riverboats since the Gold Rush way back in 1898. Captain Jim and Mary Binkley first offered riverboat tours in Fairbanks in 1950. Their three sons are all riverboat captains and their grandchildren also joined in by age five. Four decks allow great views from the sternwheeler aboard the Riverboat Discovery III as it chugs along the Chena and Tanana Rivers during a 3 1/2 hour tour. Three of the decks are heated and glass-enclosed, with the fourth a sun deck. A live commentary is given describing everything we were seeing and gave us interesting details on the area with video clips.
As we travelled along the Chena River, first we watched as a bush pilot took off in his bush plane on a very short runway right next to the river. Many bush planes have a small wheel under the tail to help them take off on short runways.
We passed many modern log homes along the river, some very large in size. Most were made of huge white spruce logs and had huge picture windows so they don't get cabin fever during the long winter months. Some even had wood-fired outside hot tubs made of wood slats.
Next, the riverboat stopped by the house of Susan Butcher, 4 time winner of the 1,100 mile Iditarod dog-sled race held every March that runs from Anchorage to Nome. Little did we know then that Susan would pass away of cancer a few short years after our visit. Susan kept over 100 dogs at her home where she trained them. We saw a few of the older dogs and some puppies while there. The older dogs that no longer race help train the young dogs. Susan and her husband and two small children came out to wave at everyone and Susan talked to us about her dogs and dog-sledding over a microphone which was piped into the riverboat.
The riverboat then stopped in front of a Native indian fish camp where we saw a fish wheel in operation. These fish wheels are used to catch salmon when they are running. Several kinds of salmon are caught here including chum salmon also called "dog salmon" and king salmon which get up to 50 pounds. We watched as an Athabascan indian woman demonstrated skinning and gutting a salmon and cutting it for drying. We could see a fish smoke house and salmon drying on racks out in the sun. We turned around in an elbow of the Tanana River and made our way to Chena Indian Village. Here the passengers disembarked to walk around the village. We stopped at about 4 different areas in the village where Athabascan women discussed their way of life with us. We saw the gorgeous bead and fur work of one Athabascan woman. She showed us several fur coats and dresses with very intricate beadwork. The work was of museum quality. Another Native woman showed us furs of all the wild animals in the area and a cache house where they were traditionally kept. Another woman showed us a group of live reindeer and showed us huts, a canoe and baby-carrying baskets that were used by Athabascans years ago.
Reindeer are domesticated Caribou. They have hollow outer hair that insulates them and helps them swim. Reindeer and Caribou are the only members of the deer family where both the male and females have antlers. The antlers are shed every December except for the pregnant females who keep their antlers to protect their babies born in the spring.
At the village we also got to see some of Susan Buthcher's sled dogs up close while another Iditarod sledding woman told us a little about them. After reboarding the boat the woman hitched up the dogs to a sled and rode around the village several times while we watched. The riverboat contained several snack bars where donuts, water and coffee were complimentary and other snacks and drinks were available. There were also several gift shops on board. The riverboat is handicap accessible. This is a must see tour to glimpse a unique part of Alaska history while traveling through the Fairbanks area.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
The Blue Angels - San Francisco Fleetweek
For the airshow event fans, nothing beats the San Francisco Fleetweek held every year around the first week in October. In case you have a chance to see it if in the Bay area next year, mark your calendars now. Bernard Zee took some amazing close-up photographs during the week for the event, which includes a parade of ships, ship tours, air show acrobatics, and of course, the Blue Angels.
Be sure to read his interesting writeup exclusively for Southpoint of Fleetweek.
As noted by Bernard, "My favorite part of the Blues show is the high speed sneak past. This is where the lead solo pilot pops over the Golden Gate Bridge, gets really low to the deck, and jets past show center at a little under the speed of sound (700mph). Most everybody is looking the wrong way, at the formation of 4 doing a leisurely roll in the distance. There IS a reason it is called the sneak pass. If you see the formation of four start to do something nice far away, start frantically looking the other way!"
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Harbor Parade To Light Up the Galveston Bay
View a video of our
helicopter tour from our last visit to Galveston Island.
On Saturday, December 22nd, the Harbor Parade of Lights takes place again, with a spectacle of boats decorated with holiday lights, starting at 6 p.m. at Pier 21 near the downtown Strand area. We thought that we would be able to see it this year, but due to high winds was rescheduled to Dec. 22nd.
Get there early for this free event, as Santa makes an appearance at 4 p.m., with the Lone Star Flight Museum having vintage planes fly over at 5 p.m. If you can't make it, here is a glimpse of what the Harbor Parade of Lights event was like last year.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Southern California Ready for Tourists
With the wildfires that devasted portions of Southern California, there
has been concern voiced by some as to the impact on tourism. Although it
was tragic for many in residential areas, the effect on convention and
central tourism areas has been minimal. Now is a great time to plan for
a trip to the area to see all the best attractions.
Through our affiliation with Go USA Card, Southpoint provides these popular cards which gain you access to all the top local attractions at one low price.
The Go USA Cards provide admission to top attractions, including area museums, tours, theme parks, wine tastings, dining and shopping discounts,
These are great for vacations, and can be given as gifts. Many purchase several for use at different times of the year.
Check out all the great attractions included in each of these California area Go USA Cards:
or choose unlimited admission to all USA sites available with the Go USA Card:
Southpoint is now offering free shipping for a limited time for any attraction card they offer.
When ordering, just enter the coupon code "southpointfreeship".
1965 Chevrolet Commercial with Bonanza Stars
Although not travel related, this vintage commercial from yesteryear is
quite interesting, especially how movie stars from Bonanza, Bewitched,
and the Man From Uncle used to promote cars while dressed up and in
character. The video is not the best quality. These muscle cars fetch a
high price today. How I wish that I had that Stingray...
Enjoy a trip down memory lane.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Love hotel rooms? Here's your chance to own one...
Do you love staying in hotels? I mean REALLY, as in wanting to design
your bedroom or office like one? Well now here's your chance.
In one of the more unusual postings on Craigslist, this one on their Austin site caught our eye today.
The Amerisuites Hotel at 3612 Tudor Blvd. in Austin is changing into the new Hyatt Place Hotel. As part of the process, each corporate hotel room is being sold for a set price of $250 until this weekend. What does this include you ask?
Everything, right down to the chairs, desk, bed and headboard, sleeper
sofa, end tables, lamps, stainless steel bar sink, TV and VCR, armoire,
coffemaker, artwork, mirrors, vanities, toilets, fixtures, drapes, even
the carpet and padding. This may be a good bargain, as the quality of
the items appears new in many cases. If wanting a direct link, let me
know for details.
Upcoming Trip to Galveston
We return to Galveston soon as we update our section on the historic gem
of the Texas coast.
It was the first port of entry for many immigrants, as they went on to start a life in Galveston and beyond.
The downtown Strand area and surrounding neighborhoods have countless Victorian buildings, the most unique in the country. The Elissa (the 2nd oldest operating sailing ship in the world is here). Moody Gardens is a popular attraction for seeing aquatic and tropical wildlife.
We will have feature articles on "new" bed & breakfasts, each unique and historic in their own way.
Have stories to tell from visits to Galveston? Know of a restaurant that the locals swear by? Let us know.