Tuesday, August 30, 2011

WellsWorld on First Coast Connects: Wild West, Fishy Festivals and Hurricane Havens

Cody, Wyoming - Has a LOT to offer for a town of 9,000: Wild mustang tours, rodeo every night, rafting down the Shoshone River, the heartbreaking Interpretive Learning Center at the Heart Mountain Internment Center where 10,000 + West Coast Japanese-Americans were herded behind barbed wire during World War II and the world-class Buffalo Bill Historical Center.

Within those 9,000 residents are experts on guns, battles for the West, Native Americans from across the country, geology, jewelry and wild horses. Their knowledge and enthusiasm rivals those of PhDs.

During a stop at the Historical Center I met the great grandson of Sitting Bull,
saw the world's largest and  most important collection of arms dating from the 1500s to the present ...

learned about then life, teepees and artistic skills of the Plains Indians as well as the evolution of the landscapes and wildlife of the West....

Enjoyed the Whitney Collectionn of Western Art with its Bierstadts, Morans, Remingtons, Russells, Fritz Scholders, NC Wyeths, Catlans - even the studio of Frederick Remington...

learned how to make delicious Cowboy beans...

saw the camp of Prince Albert I of Monaco, the first crowned head of Europe to visit the American West, including the paw print of the bear shot by the Prince thanks to the guiding of Buffalo Bill Cody....

and learned the fascinating history and accomplishments of that unique visionary who, by the age of 30, had ridden for the Pony Express, scouted for the U. S. Cavalry, hunted buffalo to feed railroad workers, won the Congressional Medal of Honor and starred on the American stage.Then he really got going!

If that isn't enough to tempt you to Cody, it is the perfect starting point for Yellowstone National Park,with access to two stunning routes into the park.

Find out more at

The town founded by and named for Wild West showman Buffalo Bill Cody, adds  events in the fall.

Game on! There are several hunting seasons in the fall – for pronghorn, deer, elk, moose and bighorn sheep. Dates for each season vary, so check online for this year’s at http://gf.state.wy.us/admin/Regs/. You will find all the rules and regulations there, too.

Just Looking? See wildlife with help from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s online wildlife watching guide at http://gf.state.wy.us/services/education/wtw/index.asp.

Hit the road. Scenic doesn’t begin to describe the drive between Cody and the east entrance of Yellowstone. This 50-mile Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway through the Wapiti Valley and Shoshone National Forest may result in some of that wildlife-watching. Look for grizzly and black bears, pronghorn, big horn sheep, deer, elk and moose. Keep a camera handy. There also are some amazing rock formations and, if the timing is right, fall colors. For complete information about viewing wildlife in the area visit www.yellowstonecountry.org/things-to-do/wildlife/wildlife-viewing. 

Indoor fun. The Cody Wild West Show Concert Series brings a bit of Nashville to the West with such noted artists as “Whispering” Bill Anderson, Mel Tillis, Suzy Boguss and Asleep at the Wheel gracing the stage of the historic and intimate Cody Theater downtown. Three times larger, with 900 seats, is the newer Wynona Thompson Auditorium where some acts also appear. For a current schedule of shows, go online to www.yellowstonecountry.org/cody-wild-west-show/.

Special events. The Rendezvous Royale happens the fourth week of September, and is one of Cody’s biggest and most prestigious events. There’s the nationally rated Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale, with Western-themed art from every genre: oils, watercolors, pastels, ceramics, sculpture and mixed media. There’s a quick-draw contest (between artists, not gunfighters), an auction, a Western fashion show, seminars, studio tours and a fancy-dress ball to top it all off.  For more about the rendezvous, go online to www.rendezvousroyale.org/.

Labor Day Catfish Festival, Sept. 3-5, U.S. 17 and Hwy 40, Kingsland, GA. Catfish, parade, catfish, entertainment, catfish, crafts and catfish.

Rock Shrimp Festival & Parade, St. Marys, GA, Saturday, Oct. 1.
7:30 a.m. Pancake breakfast
10 a.m. Parade
11 a.m.-6 p.m. Rock Shrimp dinners
9 a.m.-6 p.m. Arts & Crafts
11:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. Entertainment and demonstrations.

For details, 9122-882-4000.

Hurricane Getaways

What: Rosen Hotels & Resorts offers special rates to Florida hurricane evacuees for the 2011 season. Only $49.99 a day ($10 per day for pets) at Quality Inn International, Rosen Inn, Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando and Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista. Another $10 gets you two adult breakfasts (order at time of booking). 

To book: 866-337-6737 or www.orlandohotels4less.com/hurricane.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Raleigh, NC apps

Try the "Greater Raleigh" I-phone app. It's free from the Greater Raleigh CVB. For other smart phone users, there is the visitRaleigh.com mobile site.

The NC Museum of Art in Raleigh has a free virtual tour of its 30 Rodin sculptures on "Rodin," an Iphone app available at the iTunes App Store.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Visit Hogwarts for Halloween

 Ireland's Ashford Castle turns into Hogwarts for Halloween.

Universal Studios' World of Harry Potter is bound to make a big deal about Halloween but wouldn't it be better to spend the night in an 11th century castle that resembles the famed wizardry school, complete with secret rooms, hidden alcoves and mystical surroundings?

A lot better if the castle is Ireland's Ashford Castle on the shores of Lough Corrib and the River Cong, a spectacular facility ranked Best Resort in Ireland by Conde Nast Travelers's 2011 Gold List and a Trip Advisor Top 10 pick for European castle hotels.

Halloween at Ashford is costly but what price a lifetime of magical memories?

Two Hogwarts packages are being offered.

Oct. 28, 30, Nov. 1, 3 or 5:
noon- "Forbidden Forest" treasure hunt for the whole family
3 p.m. - A visit to the hiding place of Dingle, the castle's resident owl (supervised)
4 p.m. - Afternoon "Chamber of Art" painting class (supervised)
5-6:30 p.m. - Kids' dinner in the Ardilaun Suite (supervised)
6:30-9 p.m. - Harry Potter movie evening (supervised)
From 7 p.m. - George V Table d'Hote dinner for Mom and Dad

Oct. 29, 31, Nov. 2,4 or 6:
noon - "Hidden Garden" treasure hunt for the whole family
3 p.m. - "House Elves" cooking class (supervised)
4-5 p.m. - Afternoon "Chamber of Witchcraft and Wizardry" (supervised)
5-6 p.m. - Kids' dinner in the Ardilaun Suite (supervised)
6:30-9 p.m. - Harry Potter movie evening (supervised)
From 7 p.m. - George V Table d'Hote dinner for Mom and Dad

Costs: The one-night package approx. US$709; the 2-night package approx. US$1,361, for two adults and two children under the age of 12 in a Deluxe Family Room; approximately US$122 per night for each additional child.

To book: Go to www.ashford.ie.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Splashy Geogia Deal

 Albany lemurs

What: Albany, GA, "Wet, Wild and Away" family getaway package.

Deal:  One-night stay at any of six participating hotels, breakfast for a family of 4 plus four tickets to Chechaw animal and adventure park, Flint RiverQuarium, Thronateeska Heritage Center, Albany Museum of Art, Albany City Rights Institute and new Radium Springs Gardens starting at $124.

Dates: No expiration set.

To book: Contact a participating hotel.

Merry Acres Inn                     229-435-7721        rates from $124

Comfort Suites                      229-888-3939                          $129

Best Western Albany             229-446-2001                          $130

Hilton Garden Inn                 229-888-1590                          $139

Country Inn & Suites             229-317-7100                          $140

Wingate by Wyndham          229-883-9800                           $142

Splashy Orlando Deal

What: Rosen Shingle Creek "SeaWorld Package." 

Deal: Package includes two-nights in a deluxe double queen room, 2 adult and 2 child tickets for Sea World Orlando with second day free,  25 % off all food and drink at any Rosen Shingle Creek restaurant (alcohol excluded), a SeaWorld-themed amenity and nightly turn-down service and complimentary scheduled transportation to and from SeaWorld (with reservations).

Dates: Any 2 consecutive nights from Aug. 5-9, 13-16, 19-28 or Aug. 31-Sept. 6,

To book: www.rosenshinglecreek.com or call 866-996-6338.